Wrinkled Wisdom: Death and the Tone-Deaf

In the 1980 movie Fame, the theme song included the lyrics: “I’m gonna live forever.” The British rock band Queen took the opposite tact in their 1986 song “Who Wants to Live Forever?”

The book of Genesis claims that Noah lived to be 950 years old and that Adam lived to be 930.  At odds with those numbers, the bible quotes the Lord saying, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.”

Who knew?  Right on!  Recent research indicates that the maximum life spans for humans are now projected to be between 120 and 150 years. OMG! That’s a lot of social security dollars and makes IRAs look pretty useless.

Living longer also means attending a lot more funerals. That made us think. Kudos to those who warn friends, who have recently lost a loved one, to prepare for the tone-deaf comments that unthinkingly tumble out of some peoples’ mouths. Maybe all of us could use some tips about what to say to the one fighting back tears. But, first, a sampling of the tone-deaf remarks made to grieving friends.

Are you going to get married again? Huh?? My husband has been dead for less than a week! No, I’m busy planning his graveside ceremony, dealing with paperwork, and trying to keep breathing. Why aren’t you having the memorial service at the club? He didn’t like the club. But, he won’t be there.  What?? You can’t fix stupid.

Gee, I know just how you feel. My dog just died. Okay, we all love our pets dearly. But, is that really an appropriate analogy?? To the widow of the man who died on the golf course:  At least he died doing something he loved. This is not a comfort or helpful in any way. He’s still dead!  Actually, when talking to the bereaved, avoid starting any sentence with “At least….” You are sure to be headed for trouble. Like…At least she’s in a better place. But, she’s not here!

Grief counselors have some suggestions to better handle expressing sympathy. For example, “all I can say is how sorry I am. They were a special person and will be sorely missed.” Or, “I know no words can ease your pain but please know I’m thinking of you.” Less is more to keep from stumbling into that dreaded tone-deaf category.

Since it is so tough to put yourself in another’s place and say the right thing, just admit that to the heartbroken. One of our favorites from the grief experts, which can also be written in a sympathy note or card, is: “I’m so sorry. I can’t imagine what you’re feeling right now and I honestly don’t have the words. But I care so much about you. I’m hurting with you. Love you.”

Friends who recently suffered a loss say they most cherished comments that mentioned activities done with the deceased. “Our golf games won’t be the same without his sense of humor.” “I’ll so miss our Wednesday lunches together.” If you want to keep it simple and heartfelt, you might say: “I just loved Bud. We all loved Bud.” (Bud was our dad’s nickname.)

Empathizing with words can be tough and even unhelpful. One grief expert points out that people experiencing loss are so grateful knowing that their friends and relatives care. Don’t underestimate the power of showing up and being present in that person’s life. Get them out of the house and surrounded by friends. If you don’t live close by, continue to call, text, and email.   

So, our Wrinkled Wisdom for today? There is no exact science to loss. Each individual grieves differently. Applaud the grief experts who are attempting to give us some guidance in expressing sympathy to those who have recently suffered a loss. Save this Wrinkled Wisdom with experts’ advice on some tried and tested things to say and do. Yes, create a new file and name it “don’t be tone-deaf.”  We all think we’re going to remember stuff, but haven’t we all experienced a bit of short-term memory loss?? Come on; admit it! And, do your newly-grieving friends a huge favor. Give them a heads up about the tone-deaf. Many people aren’t walking talking Hallmark cards. P.S.  We do not mean to insult anyone who is really tone-deaf by lumping them with people who make insensitive comments. The medical term for their condition, the cognitive inability to discriminate between pitches/musical notes, is called Amusia. Although it’s not very…well…amusing to sit next to them at a concert as they sing along off-key.

Wrinkled Wisdom – The Advertising Industry Has a Problem

We hate ads. We’re not alone. People of all ages hate ads. Companies worldwide spend more than $300 billion annually on advertising that over 90 percent of us pretty much ignore! People also complain that ads today are more intrusive. No kidding. We’re bombarded on television, Facebook, YouTube, apps, games, and even old fashioned billboards.

We will admit to enjoying some humor in ads and those featuring “our” music. Loved learning that most ads for wristwatches have them set to 10:10. That way, the hands frame the brand name and create a smiley face.

And, yes, we do raise our heads and look at the TV when commercials feature classic rock. California Raisins once used Marvin Gaye’s I Heard It Through the Grapevine. Carnival Cruises once used Bobby Darin’s Beyond the Sea. But, Geico made a blooper using the Allman Brothers’ Midnight Rider to promote its motorcycle insurance. Duane Allman and the band’s bassist were both killed in motorcycle accidents. Oops!

We are especially ticked by the ageism that is alive and well in advertising. What’s the key to marketing to us?  Use some common sense. Don’t call us old in the ad. We also aren’t excited about being called seniors citizens, elders, or even boomers. Okay, got to admit those terms are better than the days when people our age were labeled geezers, codgers, duffers, and old farts.   

A recent focus group came up with calling us advisers, coaches, wise ones, masters, experienced, and seasoned citizens. Huh?? Seasoned? What are we, food?

The view of the human race would be distorted if it were based on primetime advertising alone. You barely see older people. Only about five percent of U.S. advertising focuses on people over 50. Fifty! Apparently, we don’t exist… except for Depend diapers and ads for drugs that reportedly improve memory.

Yet, in a study polling people of all ages asking when you’re too old to do things like go back to school, start your own business, or date romantically, an overwhelming majority answered that you’re never too old. So there. Quit focusing on age as an indicator of consumer habits.

America does have an obsession with youth so most marketers focus on millennials and Gen Zers. Not smart! Not only do they not have the big bucks; apparently, they are not very loyal to products and services. Ageism in ads could be the consequence of the average age of employees in the advertising industry…34.  Hey, run some of your ideas past mom and dad!

Ignore us at your own peril! There are lots of us and we’ve got money! Respect “seasoned” citizens!

Eureka!  How about ads that focus on our actual needs and lifestyles instead of our age? This would increase the ad’s appeal to all potential buyers. Heck, we eat in and dine out. We drink alcohol. We wear clothes and wash them. We take care of our lawns. We update our homes. We use hair products and lotions. We exercise. We own computers and cell phones. How else would we communicate with the younger relatives? And, we buy lots of stuff at the pharmacy like everyone else for the sniffles and headaches, in addition to the Rogaine for our thinning hair.

Laughing over a number of news articles recently talking about Facebook and Google banning ads for sexual wellness products aimed at people over 50. Are their employees aghast that “seasoned” citizens are having sex?? Read the stats, millennials. ED can hit at any age!

So, our Wrinkled Wisdom for today?  Social media gives us a voice to criticize condescending and stereotypical ads. Let ‘em have it on Facebook. Boycott brands whose ads tick you off. Don’t underestimate our clout! Yelling obscenities at the TV doesn’t do a thing, but sure makes us feel better. Smile when you see age-appropriate actors pushing products. Otherwise, hit the mute button and tackle a crossword puzzle till the show comes back on. Oh, and, could we dump the “I’ve fallen and can’t get up” ad? It’s been on and off TV for 33 years. How about, um, I ate too many edibles and can’t get off the couch!

Wrinkled Wisdom – Post Holiday Ruminations

Hanukkah…Winter Solstice…Christmas…Kwanzaa…New Year’s. Well, we’ve just lived through another holiday season as the Omicron variant surges throughout the world. This year, thankfully, even the grandkids were vaxxed and home tests were available to confirm that no one had to stay in lockup while we partied. We hugged! We stashed the masks!

Wow…some of our friends, who haven’t seen relatives or pals for two years, actually celebrated together. That is, if their flights weren’t canceled because Omicron is hitting airline employees hard. Yes. Omicron! For inquiring minds, the World Health Organization skipped over the Greek alphabet letter Nu because it sounds like “new.” That would be redundant. They skipped over Xi because China’s president is Xi Jinping. That wouldn’t be politically correct. If these variants keep popping up, we’ll need to find a different alphabet!

We all might consider avoiding trips to the mall for a bit since experts predict that about two out of three of us will return at least one gift after the holidays. An alternative? Regifting! Reportedly, the most commonly regifted items are socks, alcohol, and scented candles. Huh? Socks?  We’re not regifting that scotch, for sure. Candles? Maybe. We regift sugar things. The mailman loves candy, and we sure don’t need more calories.

Food, which translates into calories that translate into fat, is a huge part of the holiday season. Some of us look forward to holiday celebrations just because of the specialty foods that will be welcomed on our plates. Some may not be seen or eaten for another year! Home-grown turkey.  Noodle kugel (not kegel).  Yummy mashed potatoes, stuffing, and orange gravy.  Coconut cheesecake.  Carrot cake.  Forget the fruitcake. 

The food is, of course, complemented by multiple wines and our favorite mixed drinks. Yup. More calories. We used to be able to handle three drinks. Now it’s two since hangovers aren’t fun. That’s one of the perks of hosting the party. Yes, you have to cook, prep, and clean up, but you don’t have to worry about driving home.

Then there is the holiday Annual Sugar Exchange. That’s what we call it when the neighbors think it’s neighborly to gift us with their favorite homemade cookies, cakes, or candies, much of which ends up in the compost or trash bin. Of course, that means it’s incumbent upon the receiver to reciprocate with a sugar gift. Oops, be careful about regifting food. One of us once did; then was asked for the recipe. Ouch.

After decades, gifting, in general, has become a challenge.  No one in the family really needs anything, except the grandkids who, of course, want things. So, we’ve established some traditions in giving. It works! We don’t buy that imported canned tuna fish we love because we know we’ll get a bunch for Christmas. We look forward to receiving an expensive scotch we wouldn’t buy but just love. Donations to favorite charities in our name.  Gift cards.  Lottery tickets. 

We had no problem with the answer to a crossword clue recently that read:  Thanks, it’s just what I’ve always wanted. It’s a lie! Well, fib would have fit too. Three in five of us have lied about liking a gift we just opened, according to a recent poll. Guess the others just say thanks and give it away.

One of the positive things about the holidays is that spam calls usually drop. What a relief! But, spam emails increase like crazy. Why? They are trying to dupe us with fake shipping notifications for holiday gifts. With age comes wisdom. If it lands in our junk mail, screw it.

So, our wrinkled wisdom for today? The simplest way to make a person happy with a gift? Ask them what they want. Gifts don’t always have to be a surprise. A wanted gift makes people smile. Hope you got a cute baseball cap this holiday. According to our hairdressers, the pandemic has apparently caused lots of hair loss. Thought that was aging. And, don’t instigate a holiday Sugar Exchange with neighbors. Trust us on this.

Wrinkled Wisdom – Did You Know?

We hope you will smile and laugh at some fun facts we’ve uncovered as we continue to ignore the news.  Smiling and laughing trigger the release of endorphins, making us feel happy.  But, oh, dear, they also cause wrinkles, which are, of course, emphasized as we age.  Crap.  Botox??

While feeling a bit guilty about deepening those wrinkles, we are going to share these tidbits with you.  Enjoy!  Smiling and laughing are optional.

Did you know that Purina has launched a line of pet food that uses bugs?  Well, specifically the food includes black soldier fly larvae and plant protein.  They are promoting it as a way to better use the planet’s resources.  Bugs are a great protein source and our pets have no mental hang-ups about eating them. 

Heck, that should come as no surprise.  Remember, people eat bugs too!  The selection on Amazon is mind-boggling.  Crickets, ants, and even beetle larva, can be found, covered in rich, dark chocolate.  Something called EntoMilk is used in some ice creams.  It’s made from the larvae of that popular black soldier fly.  But, let’s talk ants.  Did you know that all the ants on the Earth once weighed as much as all the humans?   No longer, as one expert points out, “We’re not just increasing in population, we’re increasing in fatness, so I think we’ve left the ants behind.” 

Speaking of fat, the Washington Post has published its Annual Neologism Contest winners, who offer entertaining alternative meanings for common words.  Our favorites?  Flabbergasted: appalled by discovering how much weight one has gained.  Abdicate: to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.

And, don’t forget that the majority of the brain (60%) is fat!  That explains so much.

We were very surprised to learn that Competitive Art was once an Olympics competition.  Painters, sculptors, writers, and musicians battled for the gold, silver, and bronze.   After the Olympics were put on hold during World War II, the new IOC president insisted that the Olympics be absolutely pure.  He believed that winning an Olympic medal for Competitive Art was an advertisement for the artists’ work and made them more money on their sales.  Another victim of war.

Oh, my God!  That was our reaction to learning that the ubiquitous text abbreviation OMG is more than 100 years old.   A British Naval admiral included it in a 1917 letter to Winston Churchill.  What is old is new!  Recycling at its best. 

Air fresheners, perfumes, and aftershaves can cause allergic reactions in cats.  Makes sense.  They have a keener sense of smell for survival.  We know how they feel.  Ever been in an elevator with a heavily-fragranced individual??   Thank heavens, we don’t react like some cats and vomit or have diarrhea.  Even our Covid masks don’t help.  When it comes to fragrances, less is more!

Pope Francis worked as a nightclub bouncer in his hometown in Argentina to support himself when he was a student.  Not sure what implications to draw from this!

Historians guess that Genghis Kahn’s conquests killed around 40 million people.  Yet, one in every 200 men today is descended from this murderous Mongolian.  Huh?  Scary?

Before mercury, brandy was used to fill thermometers.  What a waste of good alcohol! 

Hot water freezes faster than cold water. We knew that but forgot.  Because, who cares?

The first McDonald’s drive-thru was created in one of its restaurants in Arizona, located near a military installation.   Military rules at the time forbade soldiers from wearing their uniforms in public.  The manager had a hole cut in the restaurant’s wall so military members could pick up their Big Mac and fries without stepping out of their cars.  Thank you for your service!

So, our wrinkled wisdom for today?  Amuse yourself with interesting facts.  Get with the program; eat bugs and help save the planet.  Suggest to your young relatives that they get an ancestry DNA test for their fiancé before marrying the guy.  And, know when you think someone is a fathead, you are right.  OMG!

Wrinkled Wisdom: STILL Locked Up at Home??

“Coloradans can now get tattoos.”  That was the lead of a news article discussing the end to our governor’s stay-at-home order.  Under the new safer-at-home approach, we are not ordered to stay home, just “strongly advised” to stay at home. Will this make a difference for oldies?  Not much.  We’re retired.   No escaping the house to a workplace.  

It’s going to be a long time till we can hit a bar or restaurant with friends and family.   We do some social-distancing with them; but, time together is usually cut short because we have to get home to hit the john.

Is vanity playing a big part in decisions by some governors to relax stay-at-home orders?  Salons are now open!  Looking good; feeling good.  We have been struggling with manicures and especially pedicures.  Just not as flexible as we used to be; bad news for our toes.  And, we strongly recommend against cutting your own hair after a quarantini or two.

Some governors are allowing gyms to open.  Familiar with the term “Freshman 15”?  That is how much weight students are expected to gain in their first year of college, 15 pounds.  Hmmm.  Worried about the implications of the term Covid-19??? 

Okay, the good news is that we haven’t run out of toilet paper.  And, we’re saving money on dry cleaning.  It’s not like we’re getting dressed up to go to grocery, liquor, and hardware stores or pharmacies or marijuana dispensaries.  

Our water bill may drop too since we’re living in our PJs most of the time and doing less laundry.  But we are washing our hands more often.  Hmmm.  Guess that might be a wash.  (Did we just hear a giggle or was that a groan???)

Saving money isn’t any consolation.  While the media often refers to staying home as a lockdown, we jokingly describe it as being locked up.  Yes, yes, we know it is absolutely the right thing to do; but.  We are getting lots of emails from friends with the same message:  this is getting tougher.  The novelty has worn off.   We’re antsy.

It’s fun to hear from people we haven’t heard from for ages, suddenly checking in to see if we are alive.  And, it’s been entertaining to get lots of inquiries from young neighbors asking if they can pick up anything for us at the store.  Huh?  We can still drive!  Then we realized loads of organizations have urged people to help the elderly.  And, by definition, we are the elderly!  Hate that term.

Since we are oldies and at a higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19, we asked ourselves: is it smart to take advantage of senior hours at grocery stores?  Does lumping a bunch of vulnerable seniors together at one time make sense—even if we might get to the toilet paper first?  We all have a pre-existing condition—aging.

Good thing we can’t walk into our banks.  Wearing masks could create panic.  Now we just bring multiple disinfectant wipes when we drive through or use the ATM.

We have used some of our new-found free time to do a bunch of stuff around the house.  Some projects are just so boring that we stopped.  And, social distancing at Home Depot is a challenge.  Besides, it’s just so easy to say: I’ll do that tomorrow.  Ah…procrastination!

We still don’t know for sure whether Covid-19 will result in more babies than breakups.  But, one national law firm reports that they’ve gotten so many calls about divorce that they’ve added extra hours.  Divorce mediation is now online.  A hint, maybe?

So our Wrinkled Wisdom for today?  Hang in there.  Don’t forget your mask.  Call your insurance company and drop insurance on that second car for a couple of months.  Step outside at 8 p.m. and scream and shout and howl to honor our healthcare and frontline workers.  Think pork plant closings and hoard bacon.  If you are bored, count Dr. Birx’s scarves.  And, take note.  A Maryland police department just issued a warning:  “Please remember to put pants on before leaving the house to check your mailbox.  You know who you are.  This is your final warning.” 

Visual Acuity

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Ghosts!!?? Apparitions of some sort!!??

Okay, we don’t believe in ghosts.  But, what are those flickers of light in the corners of our eyes that create the illusion of elusive shadows lurking around the house?

Time to visit the eye doctor for a reality check.  Hmmm.  Just manifestations of eye issues, we’re told— “floaters,” leaky vitreous fluid, double vision (there are not two dogs coming toward you), macular pucker, stressed retinas, cataracts (get the upgraded lens), and corneal conditions….take your pick.

Ah…..another sign of aging.

Everyday visual challenges are exasperating.  Can’t read the number on the prescription bottle to reorder.  Can’t read the amount owed on bills.  Can’t read the due date for paying the bills.   Don’t these organizations realize that some of their customers are oldies?  Use larger print!  Seeable colors!  The easy answer?  A magnifying glass.  Oh, and yes, perhaps we should opt for paying bills online.

Wow.  Amazon really hypes magnifiers with lights for seniors, emphasizing that they end struggling to read tiny print.  The promo language also points out that these magnifiers are great for reading in bed without waking your partner, and are useful for parents and school nurses inspecting children for lice.  Okay.  Hadn’t thought of that.  Bad image!

We’re oldies, but we do own a cell phone and have learned to use its flashlight to read menus in dimly lit restaurants.  Carrying around a magnifying glass would be a bit embarrassing.

Not only has a magnifying glass now become a necessity to read fine print, a magnifying mirror has become essential paraphernalia.  Essential for nailing those black and white hairs growing from our chins, those errant hairs emerging from our ears and noses, and those seemingly foot-long ones jutting out of our eyebrows!  Yes!

Other visual challenges?  How about coping with the glare from headlights while driving at night or sun reflections during the day?  Yikes, those low, huge, setting suns are stunning…stunning in their ability to blind us!  What’s happening?  Those darn lenses are scattering the light as it enters our eyes rather than being focused precisely on the retina, creating an exaggerated glare.  Listen for glare warnings from traffic helicopters.  Really, weather reports include glare!  Wow, who knew?

And, it’s tougher when we are going someplace we haven’t been before at night because reading street names in the dark from a distance is almost impossible.  Love it when it is a numbered street.  Easy, 112th comes after 111th.  But, then they squeeze in a street with a name!  Rude!

Got a giggle when older friends would jokingly say they only dated individuals who could drive at night.  Thought they were kidding.  They weren’t.

“Visual acuity” is defined as the sharpness of our vision.  The test for visual acuity is our ability to identify which vile line of those tiny letters we can still see when tested at the eye doctor’s.  We flunk.  Who doesn’t need reading glasses at our age?  Thank heavens the eye chart for drivers’ licenses is more forgiving, and we don’t have to wear glasses while driving.

We recently wrote about being both literally and figurative thin-skinned.  Visual acuity is the visual equivalent.  We can’t see some stuff, and we really don’t want to see some other stuff.

So our wrinkled wisdom for today?  Make your ophthalmologist your best friend.  Forget hoping for good grades on that visual acuity test.  Can’t read something?  Forget your pride and grab the magnifying glass.  When searching for that least noisy restaurant table, check out the lighting, too.  And, remember, the CEO of Uber said people won’t own cars in 10 years, so night driving won’t be a problem.  Of course, it won’t matter to us since by then the kids will have taken the keys and put Uber/Lyft apps on our cellphones.

Senior Moments

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What was the point I was about to make?  Did I close the garage door?  Lock the car?  Why did I come into the kitchen?  Ah…we label these senior moments.  Is dementia or Alzheimer’s just around the corner?  Nope.

Stop worrying!  Oops.  Actually, worrying about senior moments—those familiar lapses in memory—is healthy.  People with dementia aren’t aware that they just had a senior moment.

Let’s get real.  We’re oldies.  Our brains change, making it more difficult to dredge up certain facts or memories.  The hormones and proteins that repair brain cells and stimulate growth have begun to decline.  Age-induced forgetfulness is normal just like bad knees, sagging skin, and cataracts.

We oldies have probably brushed our teeth 50,000 times and closed our garage doors 40,000 times.  These repetitious activities are now automatic.  We are often thinking about something else while doing them…like…shall I listen to classic rock or jazz on my car radio?

Reality monitoring is a term used to describe focusing on common activities we do so frequently that we have difficulty remembering if we actually did them.  A reality check is easy, we’re told, because the actions we perform leave behind memory records that are different from actions we think about.  Okay, if you say so.

But, we do like the concept of reality monitoring to help us determine which repetitive activities we most frequently fail to remember.  Once identified, develop a ritual.  We put our seatbelt on as the garage door clatters down.  Done.  No worries.  Garage door closed.

It’s not just us oldies.  At any given age, we’re improving at some things and getting worse at others.  The brain’s processing power and detail memory peaks at age 18, according to research.   The ability to learn unfamiliar names peaks at age 22.  And, facial recognition peaks at 32.  Okay, we think we feel better now.

Research also found that people of all ages often forget who someone is and personal details about them.  And, forgetfulness isn’t limited to someone we’ve just met.  We forget acquaintances, coworkers, classmates, and friends.  We forget shared experiences.  Most younger people excuse the “forgetter;” but, apparently, the individual loses points in a dating relationship.

Oldies are even more forgiving because, well…been there, done that.  Plus, we’ve probably already forgotten what you told us.

And, we found this interesting theory called memory decay.  Hmmm.  How appropriate.  We know something but can’t retrieve the information.  The reason?  We don’t use the information regularly.  Yes, we once knew who sang Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head.  Storage of new information is also believed to interfere with recalling older information.  Never did “use it or lose it” make more sense!

We’ll close with one of our favorite lines we often quote to each other walking out of a store after shopping.  It’s okay to forget where your car is parked.  It’s not okay to forget what your car looks like.  Another reason to value handicapped parking.  It’s close in.  Makes it easy to spot your car!

Our wrinkled wisdom for today:  Write yourself notes.  Don’t be naïve.  You won’t remember in the morning.  Same with New Year resolutions.  Did we break them or just forget what they are??  Have a place for everything and everything in its place.  Don’t overdo it.  But, put your keys in the same spot when you walk in the door.  Have fun playing word games and online bridge.  Do crossword puzzles and Sudoku.  Great for keeping that aging brain with it.  Pay attention to each action you perform even if you’ve done it tens of thousands of times already.  And, remember that you said you would never drink that much again…ever again.

Huh??? What???

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There are a plethora of humorous greeting cards for sale that make fun of older individuals and hearing loss.  Surprised?  Nope.  Just think of it as a form of market segmentation aimed at us oldies!

Three old guys are walking together.  “It’s windy today,” says the first.  “No,” responds the second, “it’s Thursday.”  The third says, “I’m thirsty too.  Let’s have a beer.”  They can even get a bit racy.  Take the card with the doctor with a stethoscope who says to his aging female patient, “big breaths.”  “Yes, they used to be,” she answers.

Hearing loss ranks third among chronic health conditions affecting Americans.  And, researchers say the culprit is simply the noise that we all encounter in everyday life.  Teens and young adults are also at risk of noise-induced hearing loss.  Think about the impact on hearing from rock concerts and action movies.

But, let’s get real.  Age is the strongest predictor.  Nearly 25 percent of us between 65 to 74 and 50 percent of people over 74 are more apt to miss a bridge bid or mishear a comment.  Men are twice as likely to lose their hearing.  As they age, women have more difficulty with lower frequencies.

We’ve had some personal glitches.  We thought you said earring, or endearing or….  Oh, you are talking about hearing?  And, while listening to the financial channel, we couldn’t understand why they would be talking about vaginas.  They weren’t.  They were referencing something “for China.”  Then, it was prostate for pro state.  Euthanasia not youth in Asia.  The list goes on.

We love to eat out.  But, loud restaurants seem to be the norm.  We’re not alone.  It’s the top complaint from diners, according to the 2018 Zagat National Dining Trends Survey.  Restaurants’ modern, minimalist décor may be trendy, but those high ceilings and hard surfaces make conversation difficult.

Love the guy who wrote: From a health perspective, we should be as worried about the rising decibels of our favorite neighborhood joints and national chains as we are about their ballooning portion sizes.  Restaurant reviewers are ticked off as well and often list noise levels in their reviews.  Wow.  Our dining habits could be damaging our hearing.

You can ask the restaurant manager to turn down the music.  Sure.  As if that’s going to happen.

AARP to the rescue!  The group for oldies suggests choosing a booth not a table, sitting along the perimeter of the dining room so sounds aren’t coming from all sides of the restaurant, and avoiding tables near the kitchen.   But, here’s our favorite.  Tell the waiter that you read lips, so he or she will enunciate clearly.

Yikes, there are even apps.  One called SoundPrint takes a decibel reading to help you choose the quietest area of the restaurant to sit, drink, and eat. Normal conversation is about 60 decibels.  If the restaurant’s noise is 70 to 80 decibels, you’ll need to lean across the table and yell.  For perspective, know that New York City restaurants average 77 decibels.  New York City bars hit 81 decibels.  Yes, that’s New York.  But, we’re betting restaurants all over the country are equally jarring.

The best news?  Musicians’ earplugs.  They filter out loud sounds and allow you to hear quieter sounds.  Etymotics Research makes the earplugs, which can cost as much as $300, but sells a version for $15.  Amazon ranks these inexpensive earplugs at No. 386 for all electronics products—every electronic product you can think of.  That means that a fair number of people have already bought them and wear them to concerts, football games, movies, and, yes, noisy restaurants.  Imagine.  Enjoying the entertainment while being able to hear what your friends are saying.

Our Wrinkled Wisdom for today:  Go online to Amazon today and order the musicians’ earplugs.  Carry them everywhere!  Think of it as you would defensive peeing.  Let restaurant managers know you aren’t happy about the noise level and cite research about hearing loss for those working in that environment.  If he or she blows you off, just roll your eyes and know that the manager will be losing his or her hearing at quite an early age.  We guess that’s what is known as serving revenge cold.

Our Midnight Confessions

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Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.  It’s been quite a while since we uttered that opening line in a confessional—when we were young and practicing Catholics.  But, like Stephen Colbert of The Late Show, we admit we are guilty of some embarrassing things we keep secret.  Aren’t we all???  We reiterate Colbert’s standard disclaimer: “I don’t know if these are technically sins, but I do feel bad about them.”

Well, we don’t feel guilty enough about these secrets to actually go to Confession. And, admittedly, our “sins” may not fall into the venial category—a relatively slight sin—much less a mortal sin—a gravely sinful act that can lead to damnation if a person does not repent before death…or so we were taught.  However, like Colbert, we feel we will be better for confessing—even if we aren’t all that sorry.

So, here is our version of Colbert’s “Midnight Confessions” segment.  And we promise Stephen we won’t write a competing book.

  • Sometimes we don’t use toilet seat covers in public restrooms. We just sit down.
  • We drink directly from the juice container when no one is around though we spent years, nay, decades telling children and spouses it’s a no-no.
  • Even though it’s not green, we sometimes run the dishwasher when it’s not full.
  • We have mixed our darks and lights, overstuffed the washing machine, and generally abused it. Amazingly, it still works.
  • Now that the phone or television announces who’s calling, we sometimes don’t answer—especially when we recognize certain names.
  • We have arrived at parties with food we didn’t make, but put them in our own dishes and let people think we are talented cooks.
  • We aren’t adamant fans of professional sports. We do like the cute players and their cute butts, and an excuse to order pizza.
  • Sometimes we have candy or cake or cookies for breakfast. We just tell ourselves they are no more caloric than doughnuts.
  • Sometimes we correct grammar on signs and menus—in ink. Sometimes we email the company and point out the grammatical error in their advertisement.  Sometimes we actually get a thank you!
  • When we dropped the roast and the dog licked it, we wiped it off, put it on the table, and didn’t tell.
  • We’ve removed a rock from a national park, carried agricultural products over states lines, and washed dry-clean-only clothes. (We do dry them flat.)
  • Sometimes we pretend we took a shower, but we really just washed our armpits.

So our wisdom for today?  Confession is good for the soul, or so we were taught.  It generally makes you feel lighter—at least for a few minutes. And, we hope that our unburdening lets you know you are not alone.  However, honesty is not always the best policy.  Beware of collateral damage.  Think about listing your confessions on our comments section.  No names necessary.  We guarantee absolution!  And, hopefully, we’ll all have a giggle.

About That Bucket List

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A drop in the bucket, slime bucket, sweat buckets, come down in buckets, kick the bucket….and finally, wait for it: bucket list.

Bucket idioms have been around for centuries, and now it’s the bucket list that is all the rage—for all ages, not just seniors.  Bucket lists are ubiquitous.  So, if you need inspiration, just check out the list of 10,000 things to do before you die.  Lists have been concocted for visiting foreign countries and big cities, for particular seasons, and even for cooking new recipes.  Google at will.

The term appears to have originated with, or at least been popularized by, the 2007 movie The Bucket List, which starred Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson.

Wow, who knew that 90 percent of people over-55 have already created a bucket list?  That’s what surveys say.  Okay, most of us oldies have an idea of some things we might want to do before kicking the bucket, but are those ideas realistic?  Let’s take a look at some common online ideas.

Defying gravity seems to be very popular.  Our movie stars, Morgan and Jack, had skydiving on their bucket list.  However, they also had stunt men.  We were very impressed that the first President Bush parachuted to celebrate his 90th birthday.  But, he’s a longtime skydiving fanatic.  If skydiving or other feet-off-the-ground adventures like parachuting, paragliding, or parasailing make your list, we suggest a tandem jump with a professional as Bush did.  We also suggest you update your will and have your life insurance paid up.

A hot air balloon ride makes many lists and seems to us a reasonable way to get high without… well…getting high.

A tattoo?  Nope. That ship has sailed for us oldies.  Sagging skin is not the best canvas for tattoo art.  Just get a temporary one.

Of course, traveling the world and eating exotic foods is popular limited only by bad backs, knees, and hips; planter fasciitis; and medical issues…such as GERD.  You get the idea.

Many bucket lists tout running a marathon, learning a new language, writing a book, or taking music lessons.  Really?  And, you have waited until now because?

Conquering a fear lands on many lists.  And, there are such creative names for these phobias.  Fear of spiders—arachnophobia.  Claustrophobia—fear of small, confined spaces.  Fear of heights—acrophobia.  Fear of rats plays a huge part in the novel 1984.  Even that phobia has a name—musophobia. We prefer to think of bucket list items as fun and adventurous objectives.  We are happy to die with some fears.

Scuba diving sounds exciting; but, sadly, we’ve pretty much missed the Great Barrier Reef, which is fading fast.  And…questions: are you willing to don a bathing suit?  Can you swim?  Are you willing to come face to face with sharks, giant squids, electric eels, and flesh-eating bacteria?

Going on a cruise is quite doable but potentially fattening.  Prolific food and drink.  But, beware of Legionnairesdisease and leaning too far over the railing if you’ve had a few or irritated your partner.

A new study reports that, on average, oldies are willing to spend about $13,000 on their bucket lists.  Looking at lists online, we don’t think that would cover visiting all seven continents, highlighted by an elephant ride in Thailand.  But, you could visit all 50 states, see the Northern Lights, learn to crack an egg with one hand, swim with a dolphin (in a wetsuit, please), go on a whale watching tour, or plan for the next total eclipse…all popular choices.

Pity our kids.  With life expectancy rising each year, they could be working forever.  Heck, one in 10 oldies now say they will have to work until they are over 71.  Expect future bucket lists to include…retirement!

So, our wrinkled wisdom for today?  Creating bucket lists can be fun, but maybe start waaay before you might actually kick the bucket.  Hear that young people?  And, think realistically.  Heck, there is always virtual reality and you don’t even need to get out of bed.  Give it a Google.  And, since some degree of memory loss is a fairly common part of aging, be sure your bucket list is on your smartphone, lest you forget.