Reflective Surfaces Are Scary!

Shannon Kernaghan Beholder-400 Reflective Surfaces Are Scary! Humor

When do you consider yourself old? Do you base aging on a number? Or on how many daytimers you’ve filled with events through the years? Or do reflective surfaces have the final say?

Anyone with an opinion will argue that age is a state of mind. Me? I say that age is a state of mirror. I’m putting my money on the reflective surface theory.

There are other ways to remind you of the dwindling sand in your hourglass. I call them “age assisters.” My age assister caught up with me recently in the form of a teenager. She did the unthinkable: she offered me her seat on the LRT.

In theory, this gesture sounds generous and thoughtful. Her offer was the sign of a well-behaved youth, aware of the world around her and alert to more than what’s happening on her Instagram page. 

After declining the offer, I thanked her, saying I’d be getting off soon.

Despite my short ride, there was plenty of time to study her flawless skin while I stood and gripped the overhead bar. There was more time still to wonder when my hair last shone like hers, without the boost from caustic chemicals and pricey products.

Then I weighed the facts: I wasn’t carrying bags of groceries and none of my limbs were bound in a cast. Here’s where things turned ugly. Instead of being thankful for her generosity, I screamed in my head, “Does she think I’m old? It’s not fair! I’m not ready!”

Sigh. “It’s official, I’m getting old,” was my next thought, with less drama. My self-assurance came to a clichéd screeching halt as quickly as my LRT ride.

But I’m over that negativity today. I’m back to my positive self with little more than an unexpected kick start.

Why such a turnaround? This morning a group of young men in their twenties drove by and whistled at me from their car, yelling a phrase that included “Hey baby!” and “nice [undecipherable body part]!” I spun around to make sure no one else was standing behind me, at least no one younger. And then I scanned my own body, in case I was dragging toilet paper on my sneaker.

Since the vehicle traveled past quickly, those young men had no idea what was beneath my ball cap and sunglasses.

But who cares? As an aging woman, I don’t mind occasional attention from strangers, even those who yell from their vehicle and confuse me with someone younger, or someone else entirely.

Today I’m fast-walking to the gym where a good workout might hold back a few of those falling sands.

Wait . . .  the gym has mirrors. Better leave my glasses at home. What I don’t see will thrill me, not kill me.

Welcome to My Hairy Bubble

Shannon Kernaghan hairy-shan-website Welcome to My Hairy Bubble Humor

The topic of hair leads the list of everyday challenges for humankind. Is there any other body part so regularly fussed over and featured? Note: while writing, I’ve entered a brain bubble called “denial” to pretend that I’m living in a post-COVID universe where all we have time to complain about is our hair. Plus, the re-opening of hair salons in my neighborhood has bolstered me with enough courage to expand on hair, in all of its timeless (and annoying) glory.

Now, on with my bubble: we have either too much or too little of this exasperating dead protein. And wherever hair grows, it’s never quite the right color or texture or length. 

Fashion choices are extensive: you can braid, bleach and back comb; consider a cut, crimp and curl; flip, fluff and feather if ya got it; perm or straighten; and finally, trim and tint ‘til the cows come home. Or, more likely, until you run out of money. Hair care is spendy!

For unwanted hair, you can laser, pluck, shave, sugar, and wax.  Hair is constantly in the process of coming or going. Not long enough? Walk into your salon short and severe; walk out long and luxurious with Lady Godiva extensions.        

At least there’s gender equality in our suffering. Men deal with eyebrows that join to form a uni-brow, five o’clock shadows that arrive before noon, and backs with enough hair to keep a horse warm through winter. Worse, hair sprouts from ears and nostrils yet gives up the follicle ghost where most needed – on top.

If your head is beyond hope, you can fake it with falls and wigs. There’s also instant hair in a spray can for those shy spots, but better hope your date doesn’t decide to run a few fingers through your locks. Spray-on hair is a serious form of false advertising.

More recently there’s a battalion of ‘manscapers’ across the globe who define ‘tidy’ for women and men alike as no pubic hair. None. Now ‘clean’ I can understand, but tidy?!

“Have you done something with your hair?” is a loaded question. If the word order is altered – “WHAT have you done with your hair?” – the observation becomes more insult than compliment. Those critiques should be reserved for concerned parents and brave partners. True friends will love your hair, no matter how badly you destroy it, even when they’re thinking, “Yikes! What size bowl did you use for that hatchet job?”

Mother Nature and her pixie tricks have created an unfair handbook on hair. Where you want it, hair grows skimpier or not at all, and where you don’t want it, it reappears within days. The true winners are manufacturers who sell hair their add and subtract products along with the advertisers who convince you to buy them.

If anyone knows any good jokes, please send them my way. I’d appreciate a detour from hair screaming for a touch-up, eyebrows aching for an arch, legs longing for a shave, and other parts waiting for an eye-watering wax.

Time to slip on a ball cap so I can enjoy this hairy bubble while it lasts.

And stay back! Everything looks better from a safe distance of six feet.

Patent Doll
Freedom Trail Studio

WAY Below Deck

Shannon Kernaghan Captain-Sandy-porthole-portrait-400 WAY Below Deck Adventure  sandy yawn captain sandy yawn below deck

Captain Sandy Yawn is anything but a yawn – she’s a warrior! She’s also the captain of huge yachts that sail the seas of Croatia and Italy to the French Riviera and currently Spain.

My husband and I watch the series Below Deck Mediterranean for many reasons: the stunning views Captain Sandi charters, the azure waters, the exquisite food and frosty cocktails. And we watch it for the combustible relationships between crew members.

We used to live full-time in a 26-foot trailer and learned countless lessons about sharing close quarters. For example, with every year you live together, your RV grows one foot shorter. We intimately understand small space etiquette.

Speaking of intimate, Below Deck serves up crew relationships that bloom and fizzle full speed ahead. Young people live in a microcosm that includes hot temps, long days, hard work and harder drinking on days off. Quick-forming sex-charged relationships often turn flammable. What could be better for entertainment when there are cameras and mics capturing every move and groan!

Paul and I have enjoyed boats of many sizes during day trips and short-term excursions. But the only ‘vessel’ we ever owned was a two-person inflatable with oars. We bought it from a man in Las Vegas. Yes, the word ‘gamble’ is implied when buying pre-owned toys.

We waited until we reached California to inflate our boat for an afternoon of adventure on the Colorado River. Like the cast from Below Deck, we planned to have it all – water, sunshine, mountain views, maybe even romance.

But that river was cold, and its current was strong. As much as we paddled, we never made it to our friend’s campsite upstream. And who could feel romantic when your partner keeps yelling to “Paddle harder! Faster!’ Wait . . . are we going down?’

Yup, we were sinking, thanks to the multiple leaks we never noticed when we filled our inflatable.

“Head to shore!” Paul yelled and I worked to turn to boat.

By the time we dragged our hole-y inflatable onto the sandy bank, more than half the air had leaked. I felt equally deflated. FYI Paul didn’t put the wind in my sails that day; in fact, he didn’t get to put anything in me. While we disposed of the leaky inflatable, we’re still paddling together after decades of togetherness.

Week after week, Captain Sandy makes everything look effortless: she docks her 185-foot yacht into narrow slips with impressive precision; she acts as a cool-headed mediator between crew and guests alike; plus, she takes no shit. “I’m not your friend. Call me CAPTAIN Sandy,” she corrected a new crew member.

Our favorite Captain Sandy rocks it as she docks it – thanks for making the voyage look so easy. Anchors aweigh!

song “Head Candy”
William Rosati

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Risky Behavior

Shannon Kernaghan Social-Distance-Please-400 Risky Behavior Adventure Challenges Covid-19 Health Obsesive Behavior  taking risks

The expression of the day is “risky behavior” compliments of Covid-19 warnings on how to avoid transmission: don’t congregate, don’t shake hands and don’t expect coffee shops to touch your refillable cups. From quarantines and closed borders to canceled schools and supply shortages – the daily number of confirmed cases is alarming.

The meaning of risky behavior sure has altered since I was a teenager. As with previous generations, we had the usual collection of risks, but most referred to the perils of running with scissors and the prospect of having sex.

Fast forward to 2020. As the coronavirus sweeps the globe, I’m convinced that life for young people is becoming more restrictive by the hour. 

How easy I used to have it! When I went to a New Year’s Eve party as a teen, I brought along two invaluable things: taxi fare in case I couldn’t find a sober driver and a roll of mints for breath protection. Locking lips at the stroke of midnight was a given. I can’t recall every name or face, yet I do remember the kissing.

With the present-day virus risk, a few breath mints won’t cut it. Today, if people plan to kiss, they’ll need a hazmat suit as if handling radioactive isotopes. Add the caution of “spread the word, not the disease” – forget about sharing drinks or borrowing a friend’s lipstick. And make room, taxi fare (or Uber account): pack a supply of sanitizing gel, rubber gloves and face masks. If I were currently dating, I’d be a nervous wreck. I’d also need a larger purse for all the required items!

How do these findings translate to modern-day youth? If you’re brave enough to venture out on a date with someone you’ve been drooling over, even a brisk glove-covered handshake is going too far. Instead, blow a kiss from at least six feet apart.

Come to think of it, try not to drool. You might be contagious. I hope you two make a compatible duo because you might end up quarantined together.

Yikes! Dating never felt so risky.

audio song 
Vibe Tracks

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Did You Say Tampons?

Shannon Kernaghan Tampon-Box-cover-400 Did You Say Tampons? Health Relationship Sex  taking risks risk health risk covid-19

“Want me to buy more tampons?” I called out, standing at the door and ready to walk to Rexall for coffee cream. In this age of Covid-19 and social distancing, a quick friend-free walk followed by a speedy purchase has been the extent of both exercise and social life.

My husband joined me in the hall, saying, “Yes please, but don’t get me scented ones.”

That’s when I started to giggle. “What the fk happened to us? You used to ask for wine or beer, and now it’s tampons!”

Paul had used the last of my supply. Not for the intended reason but to soak up his spit.

Before anyone phones me in concern for my husband’s well-being, he’s fine. He’s so fine that he decided to whiten his teeth with bleaching trays.

Now that we’re in almost-self-isolation – until we run out of cream again – Paul has more time for self-improvement. But sitting with bleach-filled trays in his mouth for an hour a day in this week-long regime makes him drool. A lot.

When you live with someone for years, new behaviors aren’t shocking. But the first sight of him watching TV with a string hanging down his chin made me shriek: “Is that a tampon or the tail of a mouse?” I wasn’t sure which answer would make me feel better. My next comment: “Don’t move, I’m getting the camera!”

Scanning the shelves at Rexall today, I reached for the cheapest $3.49 sale box. Brand names and testimonials weren’t required, only the no-scented request.

Then I told my husband/drool/tampon story to the cashier. Sudden snorting and laughter wrinkled her surgical mask while I handed her my money.

Before I walked more than three steps outside the store, I thought, Wait a minute, $13.25 for sale tampons and a pint of cream? That’s not right.

I returned to her line, positioning myself an acceptable distance from the shopper ahead, and showed her the receipt when it was my turn. “I didn’t intend to pay $10 for a few drool catchers!” She laughed again and hurried with me to the tampon shelf to compare bar codes.

“Sorry, our mistake,” she said, and pointed to the correct sale box. I grabbed it and followed her back to the register for my refund, which required a signature with her non-sterilized pen. Luckily, I had my own pen handy.

Outside again, I swabbed my hands with sanitizing gel. Halfway home, I decided to double-check the new tampon box and . . . Scented, dammit! How did I miss that?

I refused to return a third box so walked further to another store. The place was busy! Aren’t we supposed to stay indoors, I thought, at least until we run out of cream for our coffee?

If anyone needs any scented tampons, let me know. Just wait until we’re pandemic-free before we meet up. I’ve crossed paths with enough people for one day.

And If I do contract the virus, you know I’ll blame Paul and his sparking white teeth.

Audio story song “Feeling Good”
Doug Maxwell

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Stay Young, Cinderella

Shannon Kernaghan octo-drawing-400 Stay Young, Cinderella Romance  young love romance love

For women, finding romance after 40 is like searching for a restaurant with perfect lighting – too much is glaring, just enough is mood and too little is dungeon.

Lighting problems aside, I haven’t met a woman yet who’s lived under a rock. That means she has baggage by the time she reaches 40.
Baggage can be the size of carry-on; for others, we’re talking a steamer trunk, the kind travelers once took on lengthy ocean voyages.

When the voyage involves a 40-plus female seeking new romance, get ready for a choppy sea. After all, when you were young, single and dating, your main worries were getting your hair to cooperate and ensuring you had taxi fare home, in case Mr. Right turned out to be Mr. Octopus. 

Today, the typical 40-year-old has bigger concerns than hair and fare when she goes on a date: will she be able to enjoy dinner while wearing tight Spanx, especially with her lactose-intolerance? Should she order that crème brulee for dessert (see above re: Spanx and potential gas)?

Once upon a time, a young woman only had to deal with sneaking home past her curfew, or  trying to cover hickeys with a turtleneck in the heat of summer.

This same grown-up woman, back in the dating scene, must now seek dating approval from her children!

Since I haven’t been single for a while, I sought the wisdom of a higher power – Google. One article I found offered “dating guideposts.” Here are three top tips:

1) “Release your tiger – young and buff is hot, but seasoned and savvy is even better.” I’m allergic to cats. Perhaps I’ll release the hounds instead, payback time for the eight-armed “handsy” octopi I dated when single. And while I admire the writer’s optimism, there’s a fine line between seasoned/savvy and weary/jaded.

2) “Rebuke age myths – show ‘em that when it comes to love, it’s not too late.” For me, it is too late, at least when the subject involves sleep. Most nights I’m ready for beddy-bye before midnight. How will I ever stay up to party at hot clubs with a new date? Cinderella and the stroke of twelve never looked so scary.

3) “Ride the wave – no need to be a barfly or a party hopper. Post a profile with an online dating service.” I get seasick if I ride waves, and I rarely purchase online because I like to see and touch the merchandise. That means I’m not brave enough to rocket myself into cyberspace, or trust what crash-lands in my dating Inbox.

Suddenly, my husband is looking really good. ”Honey, can I rub your feet, how about a snack? . . . I am being serious!”

And how about a dimmer switch, for both your new love life and your restaurant table? It might be time to turn up the heat on romance, but remember to turn down those unforgiving lights.

Audio version song
“The Opening” by Dan Lebowitz

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You Call This Retail Therapy?

Shannon Kernaghan Therapy-400 You Call This Retail Therapy? Fun Humor Lifestyle  retail impulsive shopping impulsive behavior

I enjoy a good sale. The best experience is one that melds impulsiveness with rock-bottom prices.

Last week I set out to buy a box of bandages. Instead of going directly from the store’s First Aid aisle to the cashier, I wandered past a section filled with sale items. 

The write-up on one of those items read: “Sick and tired of snoring? Relief is right under your nose.” The front of the box pictures a couple in bed. The man is asleep, mouth open, while the woman is wide awake with eyes that stare towards the ceiling. Her expression? “Kill me now.”

Flip the box over. The “after” shot shows the couple sleeping contentedly. His mouth is closed and hers is upturned in a happy smile. She wears glossy lipstick.

I bought it and saved $6. When I finished pawing through instructions and packaging, all that remained was a tiny piece of opaque plastic resembling a clip-on earring.

At bedtime I re-read the instructions: “Once in position, you can move about, lie down to sleep and even take a run.”

Now why would anyone wear this when running? People might pant, but they don’t snore.

More helpful notes: “The nasal dilator tips are to fit comfortably against the septum.” Since the illustration was too tiny to be useful, I looked up the definition of septum: “The dividing wall or membrane between bodily spaces – compare dissepiment.” I did compare and found “See septum.” 

I was running out of patience. And night.

Then I applied lipstick. Not really but I should have, as a courtesy to my husband. After all, the contents in my bedside drawer scream anything but sexy. The foam earplugs shout, “Turn down the TV, I’m trying to sleep, dammit!” and my cumbersome mouth guard hollers, “Stop clenching your teeth!”

Did I mention the snoring gadget is for me? My husband also snores but with my earplugs in place, I’m oblivious.

By 4:30 a.m. I yanked off the contraption. The instructions had referred to a dilating action; I only experienced pinching, like the slow strangle of tight socks.

As for the dilator with its claims of no sticky strips, no skin irritation and no side effects, I’ll add my own critique: no work.

If my husband doesn’t like my occasional snorts and snuffles, he can move to the couch. At least I won’t have to bother with any lipstick.

After all of this retail therapy, I may need some actual therapy!

audio version song
by Topher Mohr and Alex Elena

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Happiness is an ‘A’

Shannon Kernaghan Happiness-is-an-A Happiness is an 'A' Adventure Challenges  high score getting good grades

I’m someone who strives for high scores and enjoys any that come my way. For example, I like getting an A on tests, even if I’m taking a class for my own pleasure or if it’s a course I don’t like.

Somewhere during my formative past, my parents must have impressed me with the benefits of good performance and honor rolls. As a result, receiving an A in anything still makes me feel all shiny and new.

While I haven’t been to school for the past few years, I did recently take an exam. An eye exam.

Luckily, I didn’t have to cram for this one although I did rest my peepers, keeping them closed in the waiting room. I wanted to hear three simple words: “Everything. Is. Fine.” A healthy diagnosis is like an A on a math test.

Now math I can live without, except when I’m scanning my bank account or taking inventory of the chicken nuggets in my Happy Meal, but I am concerned about my vision.

Before meeting with the optometrist, I badgered the assistant during my pretest: What does this machine do? Should I be seeing those squiggly lines? Has my prescription changed? Did I pass?

The woman smiled, trying to keep up: It checks for glaucoma, yes, no, and yes, with flying colors. 

Now give the girl a lollipop or better yet, a red pepper. I read that peppers are the stuff of good eye health.

And give that optometric assistant a raise, for being so patient.
When the doctor invited me into his office to conduct further tests, I immediately started babbling a nervous shtick as he went through the “better or worse?” drill.

Perhaps it was the physical closeness or the dimmed lighting but while he examined me, I felt the need to share self-deprecating anecdotes, as if fishing for a compliment or trying to get a laugh.

The doctor likely thought, Too much information, I’m only interested in your corneas!

By the time I finished my stand-up (in this case sit-down) routine and he completed the exam, I realized I hadn’t asked a single thing about him. I left the office knowing exactly what I already knew about myself – how boring.

I didn’t mind handing over my credit card to pay the bill, not only because of the efficient treatment and high-tech equipment that put my mind – and eyes – at ease, but because these friendly professionals were forced to spend 30 minutes with high score-seeking me.

For the record, I did get an A – no prescription change and no deterioration. Unless you include my nervous banter during the exam, which needs some improvement.

Next month, I’ll be shooting for an A with my family physician. That gives me a few weeks to brush up my routine. In a small room with stirrups and cold instruments, you know there’s going to be plenty of nervous chatter in the opening act.

At least from my end. 

Audio version song
Fascinating Earth Objects 

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On Remembering You

Shannon Kernaghan bat-and-coffin-400 On Remembering You Uncategorized

Call me weird, but sometimes I check the obituaries of cities where I’ve lived. I don’t have a morbid obsession with death. On the contrary, I’m more concerned with who’s still alive.

What fascinates me about obituaries is how lives are encapsulated and celebrated in mere paragraphs. Some folks are remembered for their song and dance, or their curling and Tai Chi. Others are recollected as feisty and humorous, or generous and patient. 

One woman had an interesting 89 years. Her tribute began, “Departed this world, looking glamorous as usual.” How’s this for an active life: she was passionately interested in wildlife conservation and international travel; she went on 13 safaris and two bat expeditions in Africa; and she was part of a field research team with the Royal Ontario Museum that discovered a new species of bat in Cameroon. She even had a bat named after her.

I’m not done: she sky-dived twice in her mid-70s; survived a plane crash en route to touring Antarctica; was a loving mother and lived a fiercely independent life, touching the lives of many throughout the world with her joie de vivre and courage.

The final words from her family? Bon voyage. Wow, if I deserved a third of her tribute, my life would feel well spent.

I am touched by the importance of pets in obituaries, which shows a kindness that transcends any list of accomplishments or academic degrees.

And food is often a focal point. Both men and women are celebrated for their sweet and sour pork buttons, their teenie-weenie sandwiches or their famous fudge cakes.

These small but poignant details allow me a peek into their aromatic kitchens and into their lives.

Some obituaries are historical, describing how parents struggled to raise a family during the Great Depression, with children recalling times so grim that furniture had to be broken up for firewood. One obituary revealed how the family went on to prosper in large part due to a mother’s relentless determination.

Who needs medals and certificates of merit when you have praise from people who truly love you?

Others tell a story in few words, such as this woman’s: “Dedicated to family, her character was her own and built on many passions such as the love of fast cars, fast horses, fast dogs and, of course, hollering Bingo!”  I would have liked this woman.

The most important aspect of an obituary? Remembering our loved ones, in whatever meaningful form that takes.

Have I written my own? Nah. I’m too busy living my life. The best news from today’s obituaries? I didn’t find my name!

Go out and live a little. For that matter, live a lot!

Audio song
“All For”
by Ralph Real

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