Written by K Thompson
Wednesday, 25 May 2011 15:43
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I Have What?

 “If I’d known you were going to obsess about this I would have never told you,” Mike, my physical therapist, carped. “If you were a woman you would not have been so blunt or surprised by my reaction,” I thought to myself.

Indeed Mike’s pronouncement, delivered casually as he massaged my neck, did propel me into a major panic. “You know you’re developing a Dowager’s Hump,” is not what a 68-year old woman wants to hear. An image of an elderly woman walking shakily with a cane, a large hump visible under her fuzzy sweater, flashed through my mind.

Not surprisingly, when I got home I researched Dowager’s Hump on the internet. Apparently there are three potential root causes; genetics, lifelong posture issues, and a bone fracture in the neck which causes the head to tilt forward and the upper back muscles to overwork. While the first two do not respond to meds or surgery, a bone fracture does have a possible remedy. A newly developed technique involves injecting medical glue into the fracture stopping further back humping caused by a tilting head.

Detecting a fracture requires a MRI test. “You don’t need a MRI,” Mike declared incredulously. “My doctor and my insurance company beg to differ,” I responded.

The MRI did not detect any fracture requiring me to consider other causes. A lifelong habit of walking with my head down and poor posture were the obvious causes.

Subsequently I have begun a regimen intended to improve my posture and hopefully halt the progress of my odious Dowager’s Hump. Mike added exercises to focus on neck strength to my gym routine. I redesigned my computer space as, due to poor posture, my nose often migrated toward the screen.

I had barely adjusted to this assault when I noticed that the hair on the sides of my head was flipping up, giving me a kind of wild, out of control look. John, my hairdresser of many years, had never given me a bad cut, so this development was a surprise.

When this unexpected phenomenon appeared I was out of the country visiting a friend. Because I thought a bad haircut was the cause, I snapped a photo of myself in the bathroom mirror. My intent was that upon seeing the photo John would correct his mistake.

John’s clientele are almost exclusively female, skewed to women of a certain age. Unlike Mike, John knew what my reaction would be to his disclosure of my hair issue. “I noticed the problem beginning about a year ago. Your hair is thinning due to aging,” he explained in calm, understanding manner. “You see, your hair now weighs less so your natural curl makes your hair flip up,” he continued.

Fortunately I have fat hair so that the thinning was only apparent in the flipped-up side areas. John’s plan was to let the sides grow out, making them heavy enough to straighten.

Despite more length, a shampoo for thin hair, and copious amounts of hair gel, my hair continues to curl upwards. I now have a curly, flippy hair style, kind of chirpy and a little unruly.

Having squashed my desire for quieter hair, I have to admit my thinning hair has created a cute look befitting my happy, sometimes undisciplined personality. When you can’t dismiss a problem, change your attitude.

Still, I’m not taking this aging process passively. Head up, spine in an s-curve position, shoulders back, and hair longer, I march smiling into the future.


 Bucket List Quest

March 2013

It is 7:15 AM when I leave the house and am greeted by darkness, overcast skies and a misty rain. Cranking the car I notice the temperature gauge on the panel reads 44 degrees. What would bring a retired person out on such an unappealing morning? Item #1 on my Bucket List; “Appear in a movie as an extra. Must be recognizable and seen for three seconds or more.” That will be my legacy. Look, there’s my Mom/Grandmother,” will be shouted as I lurk in the background of an unremarkable scene.

On the way to the casting call location I stop at the bakery and get a dozen cider doughnuts. I am now fully prepared along with a folding chair, umbrella, and my smart phone and a sketch pad to combat boredom.

When I arrive the town of Blue Ridge is still asleep with the exception of a few senior citizens walking for their health. The call location set by the movie casting agency is Ted Weaver’s Auto Repair Shop. Ted specializes in restoring old cars and the film Need for Speed will be a muscle car film. It is quiet as I set up my folding chair. Later there will be a car show on this street, a community Easter Egg Hunt, as well as the Blue Ridge Scenic Railroad’s train going in and out of town with its engine whistle going full blast.

Shortly after I am settled impressive cars begin to arrive and park nearby. A black Porsche and a red Corvette arrive simultaneously, their engines purring. Then a turquoise and white 1957 Ford roars by.

I spot a pick up truck parking nearby with a company logo that includes a movie camera and an Illinois license plate. Could that be the movie people? False alarm, the couple inside are here to try out as I am and could not remember if it started at 8 or 10 AM. In the meantime they regale me with photos of movies in which they had small parts a long time ago in their youth.

Eight AM and still no sign of anyone official or any of the people who I thought I needed to precede before the line got too long. Ted Weaver, the owner of the shop is now sitting inside where it’s warmer and I join him. Ted holds court here every morning except Sunday. Interested in history, he can date old photos accurately based on the ages of cars seen in the image. With Ted are five members of his informal group, four men and one woman, all over sixty years of age. Discussions center around local events and people with stories stretched three times past accurate. Having lived here forty years I can tell tales with the best of them. The bench in front has “BS Bench” carved in it for a reason.

Nine AM and the movie people arrive. I’m still the only extra applicant, along with a few car owners. Ted, who OK’d the use of the building thinking it was for Relay for Life, and his group leave. He adds as he meets the agency owner, “Make sure this lady gets a part, she has been here since 7:30 AM.” Tammy, the owner, is all about organization and announces nothing will happen until ten. They go about the process of setting up.

Finally more people appear and by ten there is a small group. My friend, who just arrived, notes “Look at that guy, he clearly has had facial improvement surgery and has head shots to leave.” Doesn’t matter to me, I’m just a retiree having fun. I walk to the application table. As I do someone who just turned up objects as I pass him. “Excuse me, but I’ve been here since 7:30,” I snap back. Tammy gives me the first photo number and application.

After our photo Rita and I wander off to have a leisurely lunch. When I return to my parked car the line has become long and snakes around the parking area. Wow, maybe I was right to get here early. Well not as early as I did, but early.

The actual process takes only five minutes including a photo. We will not be notified pro or con for several weeks.

It is early and when I go home I write this article (This paragraph was added later). Knowing the movie booth closes at 3 PM and I am due at 3:15 to board the train in Blue Ridge for my part-time job, I hatch a plan. Having forgot my own head and body shots I print them out, and then label the back. Arriving in town my hunch is correct; no one is lined up at the movie booth. Smiling I give them my photos, a dozen cider doughnuts and my humorous diatribe on being an extra. I do not tell them I forgot to eat the doughnuts and am afraid if I take them home I will get fat. One young man begins reading the story and all three appear to think I am wonderful. What some people won’t do to get in a movie.


The Short but Efficient Sales Force


The Unexpected Costs of Being a Grandparent

  Years ago my brother-in-law Frank noted that every student in the local public schools had a grand career awaiting them in sales. It was true then and is true now. Except that I am now being hit up by my grandchild, not my children.

 It starts young, before school. This year Lucas played t-ball. Besides the registration fee, there was the uniform, bat and glove, cleats, and eventually photos. “I like your spiked shoes,” I said to Lucas as he modeled his full uniform. “Grandma their cleats,” he responded with a look meant for uninformed sports duds. I thought we had gotten off scott free as his parents took the financial soaking. Then I was informed about the team t-shirts with your grandchild’s number and name on it.

 Now that Lucas has started kindergarten there are school sales. We live two hours away, but that contingency has been covered by the companies profiting from such sales. I can order online. There on the screen I found overpriced cookies, candy, wrapping paper, and other items I do not need. Trying to be reasonable I ordered three less-expensive items. After entering my credit card information I was notified that the transaction did not go through. Being concerned that Lucas get the prize he wanted I reordered. When I checked my e-mail there were two, completed, identical orders. I hate to sound like a conspiracy theory nut, but I wonder. I almost called the number of the regional rep to get one order cancelled, but decided to use the duplicates as Christmas gifts. For sure with these two orders he will get his prize.

 One day later, a sale booklet signed by Lucas arrived in the mail. With two items ordered Lucas gets his “free Glow-in-the Dark” shirt on PRIZE DAY.” Free my eye. This time it was magazine subscriptions to benefit the computer classes. Again I made a selection to be used as a Christmas gift. At this rate most of you will be getting a holiday gift that got Lucas a special prize. Expect nothing less.

 At this point Lucas is less than two months into his school career. What lies ahead? There are pop corn sales for the boy scouts, candy bar sales for schools, and who knows what else. Remember class rings in high school. Now they sell them in junior high as a “dropout prevention incentive.” Honest.

 I understand the needs of schools and youth groups, after all I taught for over thirty years. Still it’s a racket. Who can say no to a grandchild or a neighbor’s child standing on your porch step with a plaintive facial expression? I can almost read their thoughts, “One more sale and I’ll get that prize.” Who am I to deny such greed? Well at least I only have one grandchild, it could be worse. When I am approached by short and familiar looking sales persons, I remind myself that the county has an unemployment problem and our children need all the vocational training we can give them.
Last Updated on Monday, 03 June 2013 04:16