BOOMERBROADcast

Baby Boomer's social commentary on life in OUR sixties for those who rocked life in THE sixties.


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It’s not easy being a trophy wife

We definitely earn our keep.

Just ask Melania Trump, our club founder and honorary chief about how difficult it is to always be viewed as nothing more than arm candy. In her wonderful book I Feel Bad About My Neck the late Nora Ephron lamented the exorbitant amount of time and money required to keep ourselves looking presentable as we age. She reckoned the time factor alone would total a full-time eight-hour-a-day job by the time we reach our eighties. Which isn’t that far off.

The rising cost of personal maintenance as we age is something that is becoming increasingly difficult to bear and definitely something our husbands/partners don’t need to know about. The price of keeping up my “natural” highlights and trim is locked in the vault; the costs of quality makeup, skin care products and body creams are just too scary and embarrassing to share with anyone; my electrolysis appointments are made and carried out in secret. The price of vitamin supplements, probiotics, fish oil and all the other potions required to keep our gears oiled is enough to bring on early cardiac arrest.

Massages can be designated as therapeutic health care in the same way chocolate and fashion magazines can be called groceries. They’re in the family budget and the costs are easy to hide. The other day as I was making an appointment for a mani-pedi, I recalled the days when I performed those tasks myself—for free. The results were generally reflective of my skill level at the time but at least they didn’t require the vast cash outlays I’m now forced to endure. I won’t even start on the price of quality fashion designed to camouflage our so-called figure flaws. Which brings me to the cost of Weight Watchers, gymn memberships, tennis lessons and yoga classes. Not to mention having to subscribe to every fashion and decorating magazine currently in publication to stay abreast of what’s in and what’s out. It’s a lot of time and a lot of money. The work never ends.

Will I ever not care?

I’ve often wondered if I’ll ever reach the point when I’m living in the “home” surrounded by the urns of ashes from all my dead dogs, that I won’t care what I look like. Imagine waking up in a comfy flannel teddy bear printed nightgown, brushing your inch-long “pixie” cut and putting on a fresh pink sweat suit over your soft cotton undershirt and grannie panties. Finish the ensemble with fuzzy warm socks inside Tender Tootsies and we’re set to go. Wouldn’t it be lovely if our daily makeup routine consisted of just a slash of clear lip balm to prevent scabs, a few drops of Systane to keep our dry old eyes from crusting over, and we’re ready to rock n’ roll. No more probing in a 10X magnifying mirror for stray chin hairs, new wrinkles, age spots or suspicious skin growths.

The work to stay beautiful never ends.

My husband is either discreetly grateful or sadly indifferent to what it takes to keep me looking so fabulous when he takes me out on the town to McDonald’s or for special occasions like my birthday to Swiss Chalet. When I ask how I look, his answer is always, “fine”. Good enough seems to be good enough. And we haven’t even ventured into such premium procedures as Botox, fillers and cosmetic surgery yet. Keep those pension cheques coming—it isn’t getting any easier.

That’s why we trophy wives have our own Visa cards and bank accounts. This allows us to make discreet lump sum transfers from the joint account into our own account to skillfully bury the high cost of maintenance. Life’s just easier if he doesn’t know the details. Although, considering what it costs him to golf, by my calculations, I’m still a bargain. And with his handicap, he’ll have to be content with me being his only trophy. But, I’m worth it.

To order  I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron from Amazon.com, click here.

You’ll love it and it’s only $6.52

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From this day forth, all male citizens will be circumcised

Imagine if Parliament passed a law that required every male in the country to be circumcised. Or, what if getting a vasectomy required the written permission of the local Catholic priest, regardless of your religion. What would the reaction be if every male in the country was forced to undergo a rectal exam before he was allowed buy condoms. As bizarre as this sounds, that’s exactly the kind of obstacles and unwarranted control over their bodies that women in the United States are now facing compliments of a reactionary, misogynistic government.

There are reasons the original fathers of the American constitution insisted on separation of church and state.  Removing funding from Planned Parenthood has eliminated access for millions of women to assistance in health-related services like breast and pap examinations, STD testing, birth control and other counseling. Students, low-income women and minorities are not the only beneficiaries of services related to women’s health and particular segments of the population are totally dependent on them.

It’s difficult for men to comprehend the challenges faced by women on many levels in everyday life. We cope with lower pay, gender discrimination and general lack of support for “women’s issues”. Many men are oblivious and it’s our responsibility to educate and inform the men in our lives about the importance of fairness and equality. I wish I’d been more vocal when I was younger. If I had, I would have made more money and had a much fatter pension plan waiting for me upon retirement. But, it’s still not too late to make our voices heard.

This won’t hurt a bit. Trust us. We know what’s best for you.

Fortunately, as a Canadian, I live in a more enlightened society. We take care of our sick through universal health care and are more progressive in recognition of women’s issues than our southern neighbours. Canadian women are able to access maternity and health care services our American sisters only dream of.  Perhaps they should start lobbying for reciprocal restrictions on males in health, economic and social issues. Many health plans reimburse men for the cost of Viagra but do not reimburse women for birth control pills. Imagine the backlash if men earned just seventy-six percent of what women made? How would they react to being told they had to get the approval of a fusty old doctor before they could father children or alternatively, choose not to father children. The threat of mutilation or something physically invasive happening to their little boy private parts might get the attention of the alpha neanderthals running the country. Only then will they truly understand what it feels like to have a third party have the final say on what happens to their body, i.e. to be a woman. Religious dogma notwithstanding, men as well as women are the beneficiaries of freedom. America’s founding fathers understood this, but unfortunately the current government can’t read.

Tracey Ullmann captures the essence of women’s struggles brilliantly.

If you haven’t seen it already, you’ll understand the imbalance when you watch this YouTube Video by British comedienne Tracey Ullmann. Click here.

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Sometimes . . . you just gotta have a hot dog

McKeith's bullying was scary but effective.

McKeith’s extreme bullying was scary but effective.

Deny. Deny. Deny. Not only was it Bill Clinton’s favourite mantra, but too often our daily food choices are based on the dictates of healthy eating which are more about denying ourselves the pleasures of eating rather than indulging. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could live like Sumo wrestlers who equate big and fat with powerful and strong? Sadly, the dogma of healthy living is so ingrained in Boomers’ brains that every time we enjoy a wonderful, heaven-sent slice of German chocolate cake, crispy bacon or a deliciously overflowing and dripping butter pecan ice-cream cone, we are so consumed with guilt that it almost negates any sensory pleasure we might experience.

A few years ago I watched a TV program called You Are What You Eat featuring British health guru Gillian McKeith. Her commitment to educating common folk on the error of their eating habits was both inspiring and off-putting. She once produced a galvanized bucket of salvaged pig parts including snouts, teeth, eyeballs, tails, anuses and other lovely bits and informed us that this amalgam represented the contents of a wiener. That visual was enough to put me off eating hot dogs for years. We are constantly warned not to eat deli meats, to eschew sugar and bad carbs, and avoid anything processed or packaged lest we burn in hell while downing a Big Mac. What’s the fun in going to the movies if you can’t enjoy the chemical-laden popcorn and a gallon of ice-cold Diet Coke?

I'll have what she's having.

I’ll have what she’s having.

Generally, I’m very conscientious about what I eat. I do all the right things, most of the time, but let’s face it, what’s life if you can’t treat yourself to half a dozen Timbits once in a while. So after years of abstention, I recently descended into the depths of hell and bought myself a Costco hot dog . . . and giant Diet Coke. They were soooo wooooonderful. Sure, they made me feel bloated, burpy and uncomfortable afterward, but, damn they were good. And at less than two dollars for the combo I should get a Canada Council Grant for my economic virtue. The wiener was long, fat, hot and juicy and the steamed bun was warm and soft thanks to the (in some countries banned) azodicarbonamide (rubber used in yoga mats and sneaker soles) content. I piled on the fake, chemical and sugar-laden condiments and enjoyed a feast of culinary and nutritional depravity. To misquote Marie Antoinette, “Let us eat cake”, before we lose our heads. What harm can it do at our age.

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What’s the deal with selfies?

Mirror mirror on the wall . . . what the hell happened?

Mirror mirror on the wall . . . what the hell happened to us all?

The rest of the world must have a whole lot more self-confidence than I do or perhaps they’re just incredibly vain because I totally don’t get everyone’s preoccupation with taking pictures of themselves, a.k.a. selfies. I’ve tried it a couple of times and after seeing the results I needed trauma counselling. It’s one thing to look at yourself in the privacy of your own bathroom mirror but something else to see yourself how others do. Unfortunately, this aversion to selfies excludes me from a number of potential career and lifestyle choices:

  1. Girlfriend, wife or mistress of Prince Charles or Prince William.
  2. Prime Minister of Canada, Chancellor of Germany or Queen of England
  3. Fashion model or cover girl.
  4. Instagram sensation or celebrity of any kind

Fortunately I did not pursue any of these career paths and was graciously spared the constant high-definition scrutiny of paparazzi with telephoto lenses trained on me leaving Loblaws. However, this does not exclude me from being worried about the possibility of my picture turning up without my permission on Entertainment Tonight or the evening news, inadvertently photobombing someone who does earn their living from their looks. It’s a constant worry.

Is it because I just don't measure up that I choose to abstain?

Is it because I just don’t measure up that I choose to abstain?

It’s not easy being a baby boomer who was raised to be modest and told that it was shallow and vain to draw attention to one’s self. When we were still in our twenties and still sporting firm, flat tummies and long slim, wrinkle-free necks, we participated in the odd sassy group shot with our besties and perhaps a rare head-shot when the hairdresser had just given us the teased and sprayed hairdo of our dreams for a special event. Otherwise, we absolutely never turned the camera on ourselves.

It’s not recommended you pull a Justin Timberlake in the voting booth or you could wind up with a mug shot for your portfolio. And while I’m still recovering from the shock of seeing a picture of myself up close, I continue to marvel at those who snap selfies in front of Abercrombie & Fitsch or while chowing down on their lunch. Their fascination eludes me and you can be sure I will never again snap a selfie, at least not until I’ve totally mastered PhotoShop or finished therapy, which will probably be never.

Stay tuned Boomers.

We’re featuring a guest blogger in our next post—a genuine millennial

who appreciates what our generation has to offer.

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“New research” proves what women always knew about hot flashes

flash6Just like the Bristol Stool Chart which has seven categories to describe bowel movements, science has now miraculously come up with a similar grading system for the levels of hot flashes experienced by women in mid-life. It’s called the SWAN (Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation) study. This revelation is hardly genius or new as most women have known for centuries that there are different levels of suffering from whew to hose-me-down-immediately-before-I-ignite. For the record, here’s what the experts came up with to describe the varying degrees of hot flashes:

  1. Early onset hot flashers who start before menopause and finish around menopause.
  2. Late onset women start after menopause.
  3. Lucky few who never suffer a single hot flash.
  4. Super flashers which is self-explanatory.

flash1Sadly, I fall into the fourth category, along with most of my friends. I’ve been having hot flashes for more than twenty years now and don’t see an end in sight. At their worst in my late forties, I experienced them several times each hour, 24/7. Combined with lack of sleep and gaining twenty pounds, I was a wreck until hormone therapy miraculously and immediately allowed me to function like a normal human being again. But the memories remain. I clearly recall sitting in my office at work with rivers of sweat running down my spine, my neck, my chest, my scalp, even the fronts of my legs in pantyhose. I was a walking, talking nuclear meltdown.

There are relatively few natural remedies that work.

There are relatively few natural remedies that work.

I personally know of only one person who did not get hot flashes and believe me, she’s an anomaly. The rest of us are veterans. Years ago we tossed blankets and duvets, started dressing in easily removable layers, installed ceiling fans in every room of our homes, and permanently turned down the thermostat. What no one tells young women is that hot flashes are not necessarily a temporary inconvenience lasting a few months or maybe a year. More than twenty years later, I still get them although they’ve been reduced to three or four a day. I remember chatting with a woman in her eighties at my mother-in-law’s funeral who said she still gets them. Not encouraging.

The experts have further categorized the degree of severity according to race, weight and cholesterol levels. But as any Boomer woman knows, we don’t need SWAN or genealogical charts to track our discomfort. We need fans, ice packs, breathable light clothing and occasionally a fire hose. If the energy we emit during a hot flash could be corralled into reusable power, there would be no more nuclear plants, inefficient windmills in farmers’ fields or insane hydro bills. It totally would solve our energy crisis but until men start having hot flashes, we’ll just have to power through and keep running the air conditioning in winter. There’s no measure of comfort but relief.

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‘Tis the season for the fashion fascists

It’s spring once more in the world of fashion. That means it’s the silly season—time for all the fashion magazines to roll out their latest advice for the great unwashed, the poor, vulnerable idiots like me who consult their hallowed pages for inspiration. Remember last year when they all suggested we should be wearing saucy little rompers or Daisy Duke short shorts?

Ninety-four-year-old Iris Apfel demonstrates it's possible to be fashionable at any age by projecting your own style.

Ninety-four-year-old Iris Apfel demonstrates it is possible to be fashionable at any age, by projecting your own personal style.

Like millions of other women, I love poring over the glossy pages of Vogue, Elle and similar magazines. The colourful eye candy tantalizes and tempts but rarely convinces. At 568 pages, the March issue of Vogue was almost as hefty as their iconic September issue. The fact that Adele was featured on the cover gave me hope that those of us without stick-thin bodies might find something relatable within its covers. The fact that it was only a head shot of Adele with some gratuitous cleavage should have tipped me off that I was mistaken.

Here’s what the fashionistas are offering up this season:

  1. Off-the-shoulder ethnic blouses are being featured everywhere. Back in the fifties, we called them Mexican blouses. Imagine yourself in a bare-shouldered blouse with a flounce around the bust in cotton eyelet or a snappy print. If I tried that look, I’d resemble a fat, lumpy sack of flour.
  2. Baby doll skirts have not gone away. Nor have dresses with short flared skirts. I used to have nice legs, back when I still had a waist-line but those days have been replaced by saggy knees and lumpy inner thighs. Not conducive to short skirts. Forget that look.
  3. They're joking . . . right?

    They’re joking . . . right?

    On the subject of pants . . . remember gauchos a.k.a. culottes? Yep! The mags are once again trying to convince us they’re flattering. Maybe on Isaask Dinesen or Tarzan’s Jane, but not on anyone I know, young or old. Your choices are dumpy, dumpier or dumpiest. If you insist on buying culottes, pick a fabric that can be recycled into sturdy cleaning rags.

Pant lengths and widths are all over the place. That’s a good thing. Shoes are always fabulous and even though many aren’t meant for walking, size really doesn’t matter. Scarves, necklaces, earrings and other accessories can turn a plain basic outfit into something utterly fabulous without spending a fortune, and one size fits all. Combine these with cobalt blue eye shadow, pink hair extensions, black nail polish and dozens of new and improved skin care products guaranteed to make me look twenty years younger and twenty pounds thinner . . . how can I resist? It sounds too good to be true, and you know what they say about that.

Not gonna happen - ever!

Not gonna happen – ever!

But it’s still fun. Even though I can’t relate to ninety-nine percent of what is shown in fashion magazines, I still subscribe and read them cover to cover. It’s called eye candy for a reason. Certain publications like ELLE Canada and the June 2016 issue of LOULOU are to be commended for giving print space to women with normal bodies. For that reason I often prefer fashion spreads showing the clothing items laid out flat on the page in a “cut-out” style rather than on a totally unrelatable anorexic teen. Just sayin’.

I feel pretty, oh so pretty!

I feel pretty, oh so pretty!

I may no longer be a candidate for belly-baring crop tops, saucy short shorts or figure-hugging short spandex dresses, but this old boomer still loves fashion. If someone would just design fun, interesting fashion that cleverly disguises long-gone waistlines, upper arm jiggles and pug-faced knees, they’d make a fortune. Boomer Broads have the interest and the bucks. All we need is a supplier. Hello? Are you listening Michael Kors, Kimberly Mimran, Joe Fresh? Anyone?

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It’s time to tune out . . . again

badnewsEvery few months I experience a severe aversion to news media. The symptoms present as anxiety, temporary depression, frustration and anger. The solution is to once again (as Timothy O’Leary said)  tune out. I know I’m not the only one who gets sick and tired of all the bad news we are confronted with every day from various sources. The evening news on TV is a predictable, formulaic lineup of updates on never-ending wars, robberies, stabbings or gun violence, consumer rip-off scams, car accidents and the resulting traffic chaos, political mismanagement, or trials related to any or all of these events. I know it’s the media’s job to report these tragedies but I don’t have to be part of the cycle by listening, watching or reading about it. It sucks the life out of me.

Notwithstanding this position, however, reading the daily newspaper is one of my greatest pleasures. I can spread it out on the kitchen table with my pot of tea and spend an hour reading the funnies, my horoscope, Dear Abby, lifestyle columns, business news and whatever light, interesting bits of information my eyeballs land on. The thing is, newspapers are conducive to skipping over the nasty bits. Television doesn’t allow that option. I realize I should be informed about the dark side of life but a steady diet of gloom is stressful and soul-destroying.

Canadian news sources  are only marginally better than those in the United States because:

  1. We’re not involved in the American election and therefore have more than one issue to report on.
  2. Canadians understand that an entire world exists beyond the borders of the United States so we get a more comprehensive, balanced perspective.
  3. We know and understand that guns are dangerous and stupid. Therefore, there are fewer gun deaths to report on Canadian news.
No news is good news.

No news is good news.

My inner voice is telling me it’s time to take a news sabbatical. The less I know about ISIS bombings, mismanagement by Wynne’s Ontario Government and Ontario Power Generating Company, the expense account abuses by Federal senators, boring celebrity non-news items, the horrible possibility of Donald Trump winning the American election, and other issues beyond my control, the better I’ll sleep at night. I’ll take my chances on not knowing about the latest cancer-causing foods, how to increase my sex drive or the negative impact on our health caused the latest lifestyle activity. So, for the time being, I plan to concentrate on my monthly magazines, library books and whatever offerings pop up on my Yahoo home page. I feel lighter, healthier, safer and happier already. And I feel a baking spree coming on.

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