BOOMERBROADcast

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


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Fashion . . . are we in or are we out?

Diane Keaton. My style inspiration.

In my mind’s eye I have the quirky fashion panache of Diane Keaton, the adorable personality of Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally, the casual savoir faire of the mature Lauren Hutton and the smarts of Samantha Bee. In reality, there’s a significant spread between what I am and what I would like to be. Let’s just say my fashion style is more aspirational than inspirational. In reality, I resemble the hapless middle-aged lady from the television commercial who falls off her exercise ball or crashes down from the pole as she attempts the latest dance moves. In my attempts to remain current and relevant, will I ever get it exactly right?

Perhaps my frequent missteps are the result of fashion magazine overload a.k.a. fake news for gullible boomers. In our efforts to remain au courant, we sometimes misinterpret what works and what doesn’t work. Obviously, no one since Caroline Bisset Kennedy (late wife of the late John Jr.) has been able to successfully pull off a slip dress. And now the fashionistas are telling me all I have to do is pop a saucy little tee shirt under it, pair it up with some strappy sandals and I’m all set to go? Or that a one-shouldered pin-striped blouse with acres of ruffles across the front and on the single sleeve will qualify me for the eternal hall of fashion shame? Both looks are too horrifying to even contemplate and I really don’t want my picture circulating on the internet’s “Seen shopping at Walmart”. . . again!

Some things that may look great on supermodels are not quite as successful on real-life boomers.

I don’t need to paint a picture of what boomer gals would look like in a spaghetti-strapped mini length sun dress or, conversely, an oversized chunky knit boyfriend sweater with a cowl neck the size of a tractor tire. Spare me the embarrassment of trying to wear wasp-waisted sailor pants, a tube dress or the agony of five-inch platform heels. It’ll be a frosty day in hell before I expose my saggy knees in ripped three-hundred dollar designer jeans or my sun-damaged décolletage in sheer, gauzy plunging necklines. Rompers and jumpsuits don’t even warrant discussion. I have a drawer full of fabulous leather belts that will never again see the light of day. But I hang on to them in case I get lucky and acquire a parasite that causes me to lose twenty pounds and the return of my long-departed waistline. Haircuts are predicated on making the most of a losing (literally) game.

Despite the challenges, I keep subscribing to fashion magazines and poring over their ridiculously Photoshopped glossy pages in the vain hope they might feature something boomer women can confidently strut out in. We may not be the chicest or the trendiest nor may we ever be short-listed for the Best Dressed list, but most of us have finally found our groove despite being a demographic that is completely ignored by the fashion industry. It’s more about personal style than wearing what’s the latest fashion.

I think the best we boomer gals can hope for is a little bit “in” and not too much “out” sprinkled with a dash of fun and originality. Walking a balanced line of fashionably stylish and stylishly comfortable suits me just fine. And if I manage to capture even a teeny slice of Diane Keaton’s style, then I’ll count myself “in”. In the meantime, I think I’m talking myself into those weird silver earrings I saw yesterday but didn’t have the nerve to buy. Yes?

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Boomer sex . . . what’s your position?

It was definitely the start of something big.

Remember the good old days when Boomers had sex like we were rewriting the Kama Sutra? During the sexual revolution in the sixties, we became convinced no one in the history of the world had enjoyed better sex than we did. In the days before worrying about Aids, herpes, HPV and other STDs, our mantra was “Make Love, Not War” and boy did we make our share of love, steaming up the inside of cars and enjoying the freedom of having our own apartment for the first time. Although we probably should have been more careful, our biggest worry was getting pregnant. The introduction of birth control pills eliminated that obstacle so we made the most of being young and free.

Then, we got married, had children or we may have divorced and changed partners, though not necessarily in that order. Life became more complicated. Many of us found ourselves dating again in middle age or even later. But the playing field had changed. We no longer had firm thighs and upper arms or just one chin. The days of freedom from self-consciousness were also gone. Lovemaking required pharmaceutical intervention and we needed our glasses to read the instructions. STDs have become a blight and a barrier to enjoyable sex for everyone, not just single boomers. As if those libido killers weren’t enough, we are also faced with . . . well, how to face it. We’re self-conscious about our backsides, unhappy with our muffin top middles and underarm jiggles. If we’re on top, gravity makes our face look like a basset hound. On the bottom, our boobs settle down under our arms like melting ice-cream.

But, it can be complicated.

Not that our partners fare much better. Oh dear, no. Although most males are completely oblivious. Remember the scene from the movie Terms of Endearment when Aurora and retired astronaut Garrett have their first intimate encounter? Shirley MacLaine’s no-longer-young character Aurora spends the entire afternoon prepping physically and psychologically. She experiments with negligees, hair and lighting, generally trying every trick in the book to present herself in the best possible light. Jack Nicholson’s character, on the other hand, spends the afternoon drinking without a thought to whether he’ll be able to rise to the occasion. When the big moment comes, she’s a bit nervous but ready. He prances in wearing a giant, lecherous smile and a dirty old bathrobe which he gallantly throws open to reveal a hairy beer belly. Men are so blessed with self-confidence.

So, what’s the best approach to boomer sex? Beats me.  Let’s try to recall the summer of love, 1967. Put on the oldies music, drink copious amounts of wine or other mood enhancers and relive the good old days. To paraphrase Timothy Leary’s famous quote in 1966, “Turn on, tune in and let the good times roll.” Put on some Everley Brothers, Roy Orbison or Tommy James and the Shondelles. Get lost in the fifties with Ronnie Milsap’s In the Still of the Night. Just turn out the lights and ignore the jiggles.

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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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