Risky Behavior

Shannon Kernaghan Social-Distance-Please-400 Risky Behavior Adventure Challenge Challenges Comedy Culture Dating Friendship Health Humor Lifestyle Love Memories New Years Parties Recreation Sex  warnings uber stories by shannonkernaghan spread the word sharing drinks shannon kernaghan sex risky behavior present day virus kissing hazmat diseases covid-19 audio story alberta

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.

Stay Young, Cinderella

Shannon Kernaghan octo-drawing-400 Stay Young, Cinderella Adventure Challenge Comedy Dating Fun Humor Lifestyle Love Memories Parties Relationship Risk Sex  turtleneck shannon kernaghan romance ride the wave restaurant dates octopus mr.right hickeys dating curfew cinderella audio story adventure 40 plus female

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

Happiness is an ‘A’

Shannon Kernaghan Happiness-is-an-A Happiness is an 'A' Adventure Career Challenges Childhood Comedy Family Fashion Health Humor Lifestyle Memories parents Relationship Uncategorized  striving stress stirrups shannon kernaghan receiving a prescription optometrist optometric nervous chatter medical learn english math honor rolls high scores family doctor doctor cramfor exams audio story A

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
Elevator
by
Fascinating Earth Objects 

Look Out For the Rats

Shannon Kernaghan Look-Out-for-the-Rats-400 Look Out For the Rats Belongings Childhood Comedy Family Fun Gifts Humor Lifestyle Memories parents Pets and Animals  shannon kernaghan rodents rats pizza rats left brain thinking #shannon kernaghan

I discovered a few rats downtown, and last weekend I brought three of them home with me. They’re not real rats (or married people who pocket their wedding rings when going for a drink after work), but art rats.

A nearby gallery recently held a one-year anniversary and celebrated by selling donated art to raise money for the artist-run shows.

The gallery showcased a roomful of rodent-themed pieces designed from paint, ceramics, wire and needlepoint.

I’m not overly welcoming towards rats, unless they’re the cartoon or stuffed animal variety. But I do like to support our determined artists.

It takes exceptional people to bare themselves for public critique. And it takes courage to enter a creative field when there’s no guarantee of gain or glory. But try they must.

Besides, how many rat sculptures can you create and give to your mother before she stops accepting deliveries? Good thing we have our galleries.

It’s an indisputable fact – artists create because they must.

Why such admiration? Because I’m a left-brain thinker and can’t draw a convincing stick figure. I don’t even have a consistent signature when signing my name to the back of my ID and credit cards. 

My first artistic foray most likely involved Popsicle sticks, gold glitter and glue that ended up everywhere except the target. Years later, my high school dalliance with textiles resulted in a crooked gingham apron that only a mother – the same one with rat ornaments lining her curio cabinet – could love.

I appreciate those who pilot a potter’s wheel or wield a welding rod. For that reason, I’ll continue to collect and cherish their creations.

Will I end up with a Banksy Girl with Balloon piece that sold for $1.4 million even though it was partially shredded at auction? Who cares. I buy art because I like it.

For our wedding, my sister gave us a sculpted piece, a weird little monster named Theobold who wears a turtleneck and holds a cup in his gnarly monster grip. I’m happy to say that the marriage has fared the storms of time better than Theobold.

Although I try to be careful, poor Theobold has been broken on four or five occasions. Last summer he fell off a ledge while I read in a chair several feet away.

Luckily, I’ve retained good gluing skills from kindergarten. As for any financial appreciation over the years, Theobold has too many missing pieces to ever increase in value, but I’ll never say good-bye to him.

Please, no one send me a Rodin sculpture for my next birthday – if my monster is jumping off his ledge, just imagine the trouble The Thinker will get into.

Hang on . . . now my new clay rats are starting to eye me with suspicion. Better buy more glue.

Audio story backing track
Mind and Eye Journey
by
Emily Sprague

I Need a Dentist, Not a Survey

Shannon Kernaghan I-Need-Dental-Work I Need a Dentist, Not a Survey Adventure Career Challenge Fashion Fun Humor Lifestyle Memoir Memories Parties Read Along Travel

I never forward chain letters or dire warnings that turn out to be hoaxes.  

But when a friend from Ottawa sent me a “Four things about me” email, my interest was piqued. She likes to watch TV crime shows, for example. And I’d forgotten that she’d traveled to Africa.

Not only did I enjoy reading her responses, I started filling in a few of my own.

I don’t suggest you take too much time from your day for questionnaires, especially if you’re the dentist scheduled to fill my tooth this afternoon. Please, I want you to concentrate on my molar, not your catamaran trip to the Galapagos Islands. 

Here goes . . . Four jobs I’ve had:

1. lingerie model
2. product demonstrator
3. realtor
4. bartender

Lingerie modeling was exciting and filled with crazy chaos; it also required too much attention to detail. Every part of me had to be polished and my appearance was always under scrutiny. How tiresome. And I would never be tall enough or attractive enough to make the pages of Vogue, although I had a fun run.

Fortunately I never fell off any dimly lit stages although my catwalk days are long over – I’m currently balancing a bag of frozen peas on my shin after walking into my own coffee table!

My product demonstrator career lasted one week. It’s difficult to sell an expensive manicure kit and it’s disheartening to hear “No thanks” all day. Total sales? Only one. I bought it out of guilt, considering I quit before the promotion ended. Lessons learned? Again, only one. Stay in school.

Working as a licensed real estate agent gave me confidence. Move over, manicure kit, a house was a big ticket item to sell. When purchasers invited me for dinner in their newly constructed homes and everybody was smiling, I loved my career.

But when their homes weren’t ready on time and those once-smiling customers had no place to live for a month, I felt less delighted. My ringing phone began to give me anxiety.

As for bartending, I enjoyed the high energy parties and celebrations but grew tired of dealing with of inebriated people. Drunks can get cranky and unreasonable. Wish I could still remember how to make a flaming Pousse Café.

See? There’s plenty you can discover about people. 

How about  . . . Four places I’ve been:

1. Cap Haitien, Haiti
2. Miami – both Florida and Manitoba
3. Minsk, Belarus
4. Cal-Nev-Ari, which borders California, Nevada and Arizona.

In Haiti, our tour guide had an artificial foot that spun in circles when he walked. Sometimes the foot locked in a backwards position and he’d realign it by a swift kick with his other foot.

In Cal-Nev-Ari, every second resident owned a small place. Their garages were plane hangars and their neighborhood streets were designed as runways. Paul and I explored the area for a month, which included a casino Christmas party with fascinating and off-the-grid locals.

There are more categories to this survey but I have to see a dentist about a tooth. Maybe I should add teeth to the survey under: Four things that need better care!

Hormones & Horoscopes Don’t Control Me

Shannon Kernaghan Hormones-and-Horoscopes-450 Hormones & HoroscopesDon't Control Me Adventure Challenge Culture Family Food Fun Humor Memories Read Along Risk Sex

I enjoy the wisdom that fortune cookies hold. You can’t drag me away from my restaurant chair until I’ve read mine and everyone else’s. No fortune should go undigested, even if all are computer generated and duplicated into the millions.

Sometimes the advice is clever: “Never wear a watch that has more buttons than one has fingers.”

The best fortunes I’ve ever had were from my sister. Linda gave my husband a box called Miss Fortune Cookies – Fortunes for the Real World. The first one I opened read: “You will soon spend time in a foreign jail.” How cheering. Another was: “You’re paranoid, but that doesn’t mean the CIA isn’t tracking you.”

I have as much faith in fortune cookie advice as I have with my daily horoscope. I smirk at the fiery love life my stars promise to deliver: “You’ll find yourself in a romantic clinch that really sizzles tonight.”

Or, is this insight intended for my husband, since we share the same sign?

If I believed in horoscopes, that last one might worry me because Paul’s working out of town tonight . . . better give him a call and tell him how much I adore him, just to be on the safe side.

Rather than dwell on dashed romance, I’ll share more of Miss Fortune’s insights: “No matter how hard you lobby, they will not put a TV in your prison cell.” (Miss Fortune must have done some hard time, with all her references to incarceration.)

And then there’s my fave: “Hats lined with newspaper offer some protection against falling debris.” These are logical fortunes that go well with my mood.

Speaking of mood, my newsfeeds suggest that women should plan their schedules around their hormonal cycles. The findings are great in theory, but as with fortune cookies and horoscopes, not everything has practical applications.

This hormonology recommends my actions during a 28-day cycle. From days one to 14, I’m going to be interested in sex; however, on days 22 and 23, I might as well re-caulk the tub. The fireworks aren’t going to be spectacular.

I’ve no idea how these experts coordinate their lives, but postponing events isn’t always feasible, or friendly.

Let’s compare sex to camping. Some days I don’t feel like camping. Perhaps I’d rather lounge with a book and a glass of wine.

But there’s my husband to consider. He’s already packed the truck and is eager to hit the road. What am I supposed to say, “Sorry fella, my hormonal chart isn’t in your court today”?

Instead, I pull on my hiking boots and bring the marshmallows. The campfire is quickly lit and . . . whatya know? Once we toast our marshmallows, we both end up having fun. Spectacular fun.

For me, a tailor-made approach works best, not a one-size-fits-all, whether we’re talking cycles or stars.

The only certainty is that retailers aren’t behind this cyclical wisdom when your horoscope or hormonology reads: “Don’t make any major purchases today.” And imagine those poor credit card companies, but that’s the way the (fortune) cookie crumbles.

Miss Fortune will have the last word: “Get under a sturdy piece of furniture or door frame and hold on.” Now that’s advice I can wrap my head around.

Audio story music
“Fancy”
by Saidbysed

‘Smoke Genie’ Grants Two Wishes

Shannon Kernaghan Legal-weed_Kraven-Cache_400 ‘Smoke Genie’ Grants Two Wishes Challenge Challenges Culture Health Lifestyle Memories Recreation Weed

It’s the late 1990s and I’m seated in a restaurant with two people. Before we’ve even ordered our meal, one says to me, “I hope you don’t mind if we smoke.” The other person smiles and reaches for her own cigarette pack.

By the time the appetizers arrive, my eyes are burning and my nose is plugged. I know that in less than an hour I’ll have a full-blown headache.

Now, if the two people were my friends, they’d be considerate enough to go outside, or I’d be brave enough to ask them not to smoke at the table. Since both are my employers, I say nothing. If only, I think, I live long enough to see smoking banned in restaurants.

To my surprise and delight, my wish is granted in the 2000s. Between the Smoke-Free Environment Act and the Tobacco Act, I don’t have to suffer the wrath of other people’s second hand smoke in a myriad public places. No more gasping over my glass of wine or arriving home in clothes that reek.

My wishing didn’t stop at cigarette smoke. Let’s be blunt: I’m not old enough to claim hippie status. Yet I am old enough to know that I’d be laughed out of a Pink Floyd-infused party with the prediction that pot will be legal in Canada by 2018.

No matter how clairvoyant (or high) the prognosticator, legalized marijuana was a dream until recently. It’s not that I smoke – see above allergies – it’s that I’m appalled at how people have been arrested for possession of a few joints.

If a criminal record isn’t enough, this black mark prevented people from crossing borders. They had no choice besides pony up money to apply for a legal pardon and be patient as the process takes years. If only, I think again, I live long enough to see pot decriminalized.

Again my wish is granted! But . . . is legal weed good or bad news for our communities?  I’ve read reams of logical argument and support. If I make one prediction, it’s that the jury will be out for a long while. Toggling the benefits of creating new opportunities in the marijuana market and the challenges of figuring out how to monitor drivers who toke (merely two of the issues), these early days will be interesting.

Until then, I’m happy to enjoy a smoke-free meal in public and to know that recreational pot smokers won’t be demonized and criminalized.

Thank you, Smoke Genie.

Audio music track
“Cumulus Nimbus”
by Quincas Moreira

Dad Wins ‘Best in Show’

Shannon Kernaghan Leon-boat-photo-e1548017023153 Dad Wins 'Best in Show' Childhood Family Memories parents Relationship

It’s that time again, the third Sunday in June when we tip our ball caps to the good fathers in our lives. I treat this day with plenty of respect, which is easy to do because I had a great dad.

Bottomless patience. That was one attribute that made him wonderful. While other dads shouted at their kids for denting cars or coming home late, my pop rarely lost his temper.

Take the time he bought a boat so we could cruise the river or enjoy a dozen rides on the lake during our weeks at a rental cottage.

Once, while my dad was tying our boat to the pier after one of those excursions, my brother dropped his glasses into the water. They quickly disappeared through the murk.

Some fathers would have yelled at their son’s carelessness. Not my dad. He donned a pair of goggles and dove once, twice, five times through gasoline rainbows until he found Randall’s horned rims on the lake bottom. That’s how Dad took care of business, without finger pointing or threatening words, and without expecting big thanks.

On another occasion it was my turn to test his endurance. I entered our teacup Chihuahua, Mini, in a local dog show. When Dad and I rolled into the parking lot, there were no cars, only a notice on the building’s door: DOG SHOW MOVED. The new address was a 45-minute drive.

On his day off – only one each week – Dad could have said, “Oh well, try again next time.” But he didn’t. We sped across town through pouring rain and hurried inside with Mini, who wasn’t overly excited about imminent fame, fortune or Best in Show.

Unfortunately, we were too late and I missed my turn in the ring. Tears streamed down my face as I stood in a crowd of milling people and their pooches. Again, my dad could have been annoyed for wasting his afternoon. All he said was, “Let’s get a hot dog from the canteen before we leave. They look like good ones.”

And that was it, all part of being a father and spending time with his children, supporting their dreams.

Remember to cherish your own dad, whether he’s near or far. To all the patient dads on Father’s Day, I raise my hot dog to you.

And for the record, Mini could have won that Best in Show trophy. At least that’s what I’ve told myself since age thirteen.

*Note* music backing track is Airport Lounge by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

This Valentine’s Day, Oh Poo!

Shannon Kernaghan valentines-oh-poo This Valentine’s Day, Oh Poo! Adventure Challenge Culture Dating Humor Lifestyle Memories Relationship Sex

If you trace the origins of Valentine’s Day, you won’t find a pretty picture. One legend claims that a Roman priest named Valentine was executed on February 14, 269 AD, for marrying couples against the advice of Emperor Claudius II. He figured single men were more enthusiastic about fighting his battles than family men. Somehow this grim tale resulted in heart-shaped cards, chocolates, red roses and candlelit dinners on February 14.

Humans are hopeless romantics, considering all the quaint love-infused traditions. Many I heard as a child. For example, if you twist the stem of an apple, you can predict the last name of your future love interest. Each rotation represents one letter of the alphabet. My search for sweethearts was restricted because the apple stems generally broke off at the letter D or E. I wonder how many eligible Xangs, Youngs and Zedenkas I overlooked in my quest for romance.

Another example features birds: if a robin flies over your head on Valentine’s Day, you’ll marry a sailor. Finding a sailor in my prairie city was no simple feat. If sailor was a misprint for tailor or wholesaler, my chances might have improved. The maddening catch with traditions is that they’re tough to apply universally.

Continuing with the legend, if a sparrow flies overhead, you’ll marry a poor man but you’ll be happy. Based on personal experience, poor men are always plentiful, no matter where you live. So are sparrows. Erect a birdhouse in your backyard and see what stakes a claim first, yellow canaries or sparrows.

But if a goldfinch flies overhead on Valentine’s Day, you’ll marry a millionaire. The legend doesn’t expand on whether you’ll be happy with your millionaire. Apparently hooking up with one is reward enough. Since I don’t know what a goldfinch looks like, that sweet bird of opportunity might have flown past without my knowledge.

Now, let’s say you’ve met Mr. or Ms. Right and you’re ready to start a family. How many children will you have? Go back to that dubious apple, the one missing its stem. Cut it in half and count the seeds. If nothing else, I know why we’re statistically producing 2½ children in each household. All of this apple-dividing is giving us fractional kids.

Despite the strange legends, Valentine’s Day holds a special place in my heart and funny bone. It was February and I was staying in a hotel for a work project in Prince Albert, Sask. Waiting next to me at the elevator was a cute young man. When the door opened, we walked in together and pressed our floor numbers. Simultaneously, we glanced down at fresh dog doo in the corner.

“Did you do that?” he asked.

“No, I’d remember that.” He eventually convinced me to go out with him. And the rest is history.

I wonder if there’s a romantic legend about discovering your sweetheart over dog poop.  If not, I should start one. It worked for me because a few years later I said, “I doo!”

Audio backing track
“This is a Jazz Space” by Midnight North
YouTube Music Library

Good Intentions, Bad Gifts

Shannon Kernaghan Good-Intentions-bad-gifts-400-2 Good Intentions, Bad Gifts Culture Gifts Lifestyle Memoir Memories Xmas

What’s the worst gift you ever received? Is it hard for everyone to open a bad Christmas gift and pretend to be excited? I’ll never win an Oscar for acting because the moment I unwrap a bad gift, my facial features alter. As I try to smile, a smirk tugs down the corners of my mouth. My pleasant “Oh, how lovely!” sounds hollow and now everyone in the room is watching!

What defines a bad gift? You tell me. When I was in my twenties, my mother-in-law gave me big beige underwear (‘old-lady panties’ according to my husband) three Christmases in a row. Each year it was the same thing; after Xmas I’d trade in the 6-pack for something sexy.

After years of nervous anticipation during tense moments around the tree, I’ve devised a few logical suggestions to sail us through the giving and receiving:

1) Avoid buying the ‘practical’ gift. An ear and nose hair trimmer is the ideal choice for Uncle Louie, but he didn’t know he had a hair issue until you came along;

2) If you’re bold/foolish/uncaring enough to pawn off a previous bad gift, remove all evidence. My friend received a present from her aunt, a glass punch bowl with 12 cups. When she broke down the box for recycling, she discovered a gift tag addressed TO the aunt from someone else. FYI my friend doesn’t have a dozen friends to share punch, so this gift was both recycled and kind of sad;

3) Before the dreaded day, I mean Christmas, do some practicing: “Thank you, how kind, it’s just what I always wanted” in front of the bathroom mirror. Do you look sincere? If you can’t fool yourself, you won’t fool your holiday crowd;

4) Reserve comment UNTIL you’ve unwrapped the inside tissue. Just because there’s a picture of a can opener on the box doesn’t mean there’s a can opener inside. It could be a diamond tennis bracelet and here you’ve already gone and gasped, “How wonderful, I really need a can opener!” Chances are, if you already own two can openers, it’ll be a third;

5) Apply a generous coating of lip balm before the festivities begin. When your mouth dries at the sight of a poorly knit sweater in a shade of orange not found on nature’s palette, the extra lubrication will prevent your lips from sticking to your teeth;

6) At the first sight of a bad gift, visualize a favorite day at the beach. If that doesn’t make you smile when you open the gift certificate for an hour of electrolysis, nothing will. (Now you know how Uncle Louie feels);

7) And finally, suggest that next Christmas be gift-free for adults. Why put ourselves through this stress year after year? Wait a minute . . .  who says I haven’t given MY share of bad gifts? My mother had a suspiciously cheerful voice when she opened my childhood creations of melted crayon-covered jars and Popsicle stick pen holders. So much glitter . . . the horror.

Forget the angst of receiving bad gifts. Now I’m too paranoid to shop. HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Audio story backing track
“Clouds”
by Huma Huma.