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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Funny girl Amy Schumer serves up more than humour

amy1Amy Schumer’s autobiography The Girl With The Lower Back Tatoo” is her personal vagina monologue. Anyone who has watched her television specials or her movie Trainwreck” understands that Schumer’s humour isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. She’s smart, talented and totally unfiltered which not everyone appreciates. As a Boomer reading her account of growing up in a blended family where both parents had multiple marriages, we see her living and enjoying a moral freedom we did not experience growing up in the fifties and sixties. Our generation laid the groundwork.

Schumer’s descriptions of the progression of her thirty-something life cover the spectrum from innocence to humour to lessons learned and as with anyone’s life story, some pain. While her humour is obvious, her smarts and work ethic rise above. Top comediennes make it look easy but years of being on the road, living in uncomfortable conditions, working for little or no pay and enduring more than their share of insults and rejection go into developing a career in comedy. The title of her book refers to her regrettable decision while still a teenager to get a massive tribal tattoo on her lower back which ultimately became infected, left keloid scars and is lopsided. We all make mistakes. I once had kakki green hair but that was fixable.

One surprising piece of Amy Schumer’s life that she shares is her experience as a victim of domestic abuse. She warns that despite being a strong, smart woman, she was not immune to believing “It’s not abusive if they feel really bad afterward and promise to love you the rest of your life, right? Right? Wrong.”  Sharing her story and the conflicted feelings surrounding the experience will hopefully make other women aware of the insidious and dangerous path to abuse. This chapter was particularly enlightening and provides valuable insight into the issue.

Another topic worth reading about in this book is Schumer’s position on body image.  She condemns body shaming that drives innocent little eight-year-old girls to go on diets or should-know-better big girls to aspire to heavily Photo-shopped images of unrealistic, unnatural models in magazines and social media. I share her beefs in this regard and hope someday we will see a return to more realistic role models. She also had her only one-night stand with a guy who sounded a lot like Prince Harry (but he wasn’t).

And for anyone doubting the effectiveness of on-line dating, she has some good news. Her boyfriend of several years is a guy called Ben whom she met on a dating site. She and a girlfriend signed up on a lark, were members for forty minutes, got four matches and Ben was one of them. Don’t expect a joke book; it’s a memoir. Overall, I really enjoyed The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo. It’s a fast, easy, informative read written by a savvy, entertaining and hard-working woman. I had to wait a long time for my name to come up on the waiting list from the library, but it was worth the wait. If you don’t want to wait, click here and order it from Amazon or download it.

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What on earth was The Hudson’s Bay Company thinking?

A Canadian icon?

A Canadian icon?

All I want for Christmas is not Mariah Carey. The marketing people at The Hudson’s Bay Company should have their Canadian citizenship revoked. My sense of national pride has been replaced by outrage over their recent selection of American “superstar” Mariah Carey to unveil the new Christmas (yes, I said Christmas, not holiday) windows in their downtown stores at Queen and Yonge Streets in Toronto. Founded more than three hundred years ago as a fur trading institution, The Hudson’s Bay Company (the Canadian equivalent of Macy’s) is one Canada’s oldest national icons, ranking right up there with much younger Tim Horton’s.

Mariah f#$%#ng Carey? What’s wrong with hiring a genuine Canadian such as our own beloved Jann Arden, Drake or even Justin Bieber? And on the subject of cost, apparently they gave Carey one million dollars to lip-sync (that’s the rumour) two songs. Even Céline Dion might agree to lip-sync a couple of tunes for a million dollars. This marketing faux pas only exacerbates my ongoing beef with Hudson’s Bay Company about their serious and persistent lack of sales staff to help customers and the invisibility of checkout counters in their mall stores. Trying to find a sales associate or a checkout counter at a Hudson’s Bay store in any suburban mall is like searching for a healthy food choice at Timmie’s.

Where's the sales staff?

Could someone please help me? Where’s the sales staff?

Just imagine how many Canadians could have been employed to assist customers in their stores for one million dollars, not to mention the increase in sales resulting from said assistance. Hell, I would have put on a Canada Goose parka or striped Hudson’s Bay point blanket wool coat (depending on the weather) and my trusty Sorel’s (click here for great Canadian boot companies) and turned up to sing at the event for nothing. I guarantee that would have driven customers into the store faster than any blast from Mariah Carey.

Do I sound a little angry? Apoplectic is a more appropriate word. I’ve written numerous letters and emails to various Hudson’s Bay managers over the years encouraging them improve their approach to customer service but this one really takes the cake. I just wish they would consult me first on major marketing issues. You’ll get more than your fill of Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas” in every retailer’s P.A. systems before December 24th, to the point you’ll want to throttle her. Am I right or am I wrong in being angry?

Click below for links to previous related Boomerbroadcast posts about retail service:

Love their merchandise and provenance. Hate the way they treat customers.

Love their provenance and love their merchandise (as evidenced by my recently purchased Hudson’s Bay Barbie doll). Just hate the way they treat customers.

How to improve sales at The Hudson’s Bay Company

The solution for Canadian retailers is as easy as 1, 2, 3

Retail rant hits home

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Caitlin Moran celebrates feminism

Moran's bravado has made me feel more comfortable with my own "smiley face".

Moran’s bravado has made me feel more comfortable with my own “smiley face”.

Ya’ gotta love a woman who is so self-possessed, during an interview in front of hundreds of people in a packed auditorium, whips up her shirt and grabs her loose belly fat to make a smiley face, complete with eyes drawn on her bra. In the course of reading her book Moranthology (written five years ago) I viewed a couple of interviews on YouTube and Caitlin Moran did just that. One interview I watched was at our own Bluma Appel Theatre here in Toronto and the other was in Denmark.

British author, columnist, feminist and married mother of two daughters, Caitlin Moran is totally without guile and her strong views on feminism have me rethinking some of my own opinions. Growing up in a three-bedroom council house in Wolverhampton, England, Moran is the eldest of eight children of a disabled father and stay-at-home mother living on social assistance. In her family’s unique interpretation of home schooling, the children were banished to the local library twice a day to read and learn whatever they fancied. “I spent days running in and out of other worlds like a time bandit, or a spy. I was as excited as I’ve ever been in my life, in that library: scoring new books the minute they came in; ordering books I’d heard of—then waiting, fevered, for them to arrive, like they were the word ‘Christmas'”, she writes. Her experience alone is a strong justification for never reducing funding or closing local libraries, particularly in underprivileged neighbourhoods.  Fortunately for Moran, what her education lacked in the basics, she compensated for in a love of reading, learning and personal growth.

caitlin2Through a series of serendipitous events, Moran landed a job as a journalist at a very young age. You can read more on her fascinating story in her other books How To Build A Girl and How To Be A Woman. Moranthology outlines her philosophy of life. Her coarse, no-holds-barred delivery is not for everyone but she is totally honest and sincere and I admire her for that. She is committed to the greater good, particularly for women and minorities.

I’ve always been opposed to quotas in hiring of women and minorities as being a form of reverse discrimination but Moran’s argument has me rethinking my position. She writes, “But Cate—if you insist fifty percent of your workforce is women, and force employers to hire them, that means you’re gonna get women who are wildly ill-qualified desk-meat . . . . That can’t be right! . . . Well, it’s not right. It is, however, totally normal. After all, in an office that’s seventy percent men, at least twenty percent of them are going to be wildly ill-qualified desk meat . . .  People who are anti-positive-discrimination are ignoring the fact that we’ve been giving jobs to MILLIONS of stupid, unqualified people for millenia: men.” Boom! I never thought of it that way and as someone who has witnessed many unqualified men over the years being promoted to positions senior to me in business and making a lot more money, Moran definitely has a point. It was more common when Boomers were building careers than it is now to watch men being promoted to Office Manager, Bank Manager, Principal, Supervisor, Vice-President or even President when there were more qualified, capable women sitting in the wings and being bypassed.

caitlin3Moran also challenges young women who claim to not be feminists and casually dismiss the subject. She reminds them that unless they work in a sweat shop for barely subsistence pay, have been denied the right to marry whomever they choose regardless of gender, unless they are not allowed to vote or drive a car, or are denied birth control or the right to a legal abortion, then they should be thanking the feminists who worked on their behalf before them and therefore they are feminists. I share her frustration. There’s more work to be done in raising women’s salaries to equal that of men and changing the current laws that punish women who have been sexually assaulted or otherwise abused by men, along with a host of other issues.

One of the most fascinating aspects of reading Moran’s book for me, however, is how some women rise above circumstances that ordinarily would be considered dead-end or at the very least challenging to become successful beyond their social and economic origins. Moran likens the yoke of poverty to being “passed down like a drizzle, or a blindness . . . if kids from a poor background achieve something, it’s while dragging this weight behind them . . .  it takes ten times the effort to get anywhere from a bad postcode.” One of my favourite authors, psychologist Catherine Gildiner (author of Too Close To The Falls, After The Falls and Coming Ashore) is currently researching this subject for an upcoming book she is writing. Jeannette Walls author of The Glass Castle is another example of such a woman. None of Moran’s siblings achieved the level of accomplishment she has despite being raised in the same home, in the same circumstances by the same parents. It’s a fascinating subject and Moran is a fascinating woman.

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Eddie and Patsy are still Absolutely Fabulous

If I have one complaint about Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie it’s relatively minor. British comedy tends to be rather formulaic and this is definitely evident in Jennifer Saunders’s new movie about the latest adventures of Edina Monsoon and Patsy Stone. The Globe and Mail was accurate in their rating of three stars out of four and even as a fanatical fan of AbFab humour, I’d be hard pressed to give it any more.

Ab fab3The best part of the movie and what I enjoyed the most were the visual elements, not the rather predictable dialogue and plot. Most of the original cast members were revived along with a long list of wonderful cameos by such celebs as John Hamm, Kate Moss, Stella McCartney, Jerry Hall, Rebel Wilson, Lulu, Baby Spice, Barry Humphries (Dame Edna et al), Joan Collins, Jean-Paul Gaulthier and many others.

The slap stick and unspoken jokes were delicious. Unlike most of us whose morning routine consists of waking up, showering, brushing our teeth, Patsy casually picks up a hypodermic needle and starts injecting her face and inserts a liposuction tube down her pants from her personal in-home machine, while engaging in small talk with Eddie. The costume designer must have had a ball dressing the characters, particularly the eternally incompetent Bubble. Perhaps it says something about my questionable taste in fashion, but I have always envied and admired Patsy’s wardrobe and the clothes she wears in this movie are yummy. Of course having a body like a mannequin helps enormously.

ab fab4Both Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley are wonderful as Eddie and Patsy and it’s hard to believe nearly twenty-five years have passed since they first introduced their characters. Joanna Lumley is a particular genius at turning a raised eyebrow or subtle nuance of expression into a wicked inside joke.  I won’t disclose any of the plot as it’s already “out there” and I would like you to experience the movie with minimal preconceptions. You will find the closing scene reminiscent of the closing scene of Some Like it Hot. Enjoy your popcorn and have fun. I did.

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Start the car sweetie dahlings, start the car!

abfab2Eddy and Patsy are in town—or more accurately, now in a movie theatre near you, if you’re lucky. The long-awaited Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie has finally been released and I can’t wait to see it. As a long-time fan of British humour and in particular the BBC series starring Jennifer Saunders and Joanne Lumley on which the movie is based, I’m beside myself with excitement. It’s one of the few television series for which I own the entire boxed set of shows dating from 1992.

Absolutely Fabulous chronicles the lives of Edina Monsoon and Patsy Stone who personify past-their-prime fashionistas and best friends who selfishly embrace every new fashion, diet, beauty and social fad that appears. Edina runs her own faltering PR firm and Patsy has some vague position with a fashion mag. Both are brutally self-centred remnants of the hippie era who embrace all of life’s vices including smoking, lite drug use and drinking copious amount of “bolly”.

abfab1Jennifer Saunders is the creative genius behind Absolutely Fabulous which she writes and delivers with piercing humour. The Globe and Mail actually gave it three stars out of four and while I don’t usually agree with movie reviews, I have a feeling they’re pretty close to the money this time. It’s a cult movie for mature women everywhere. Stay tuned for my review; I’m heading for the movie theatre now. Start the car, sweetie dahling!

 

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