Wednesday, January 6, 2010


It's been a while since I posted something 'funny'--I can use a little funny right about now.

Yesterday I went to the dentist. I have had a very bad toothache for over a week now that has intensified leaving the left side of my cheek slightly swollen and my mouth in massive pain.

It's never simple, is it? God forbid it could be that a filling just came loose. No, it had to be that a root canal is needed.

We have crappy dental insurance so it would cost over $800.00 out of pocket.

Well, who the hell has that????

So, since the tooth in question is one of the upper ones in the back of my mouth, I'm just going to have the damned thing pulled.

That happens Friday which means until then, 'Ibuprofen' is my best friend.

So, in light of this, I need some cheering up and after visiting some blogs this morning, I got inspired (stop by to see Steven Anthony's picture of 'a naked snow shoveling guy with wings'--too funny!).

Today's inspiration comes from Mary and Jenny over at 'Writing Without Periods' (you can get to their blog via their blog button I have towards the bottom of my sidebar).

Two very funny writers over forty who in addition to having a very clever blog title (get it? 'Writing Without Periods'. You'll catch on), also share their wit and humor about middle age.

Below is a true story I wrote three and a half years ago, shortly after I turned 40 (I will be 44 this May), about what happened on the actual day of my 40th birthday.

I submitted it to several women's magazines to no avail.

However, I'm happy that I was able to share it with a few people who got a chuckle--and now I get to share it with you.


I had hinted to Ed that I wanted a big 'fish and goose soiree'. Forty is indeed a milestone, after all, and I wanted to accept it with grace and festivity.

Didn't happen.

Read on to find out what DID happen and how I spent my 'special day':

'So…This Is Forty?'

Forty. A symbol of the first stages of middle age. People either look forward to it or perhaps some, like myself, are ambivalent about the whole “turning forty hoopla”.
Oh, I can admit now that I bought into it. I went through the whole gamut of emotions from anxiety (“Is that yet another gray hair???”) to girlish enthusiasm (“Yay! I just know I’m going to have the best party ever!!!”), and finally settled on the ever neutral ambivalence.

Pummeling head on into middle-age, I really wasn’t sure what I was expecting. Some great epiphany or clarity? Perhaps I thought I would suddenly be thrust into Tuscany riding on the back of a Vespa wearing a white dress.

However, as I quickly learned, reality, and life’s changes, is not as it is portrayed in the movies and I am not Diane Lane.

A day shy of a month after my fortieth birthday, I lost my father. Instead of fields of sunflowers and sheer lucidity, I instead found myself in mourning. The loss of a parent was more reality and clarity than I had bargained for. Wasn’t I still too young to be half an orphan? Apparently not. Of course, and just to be clear, forty does not mean that death looms in our midst, but for me that was certainly the case.

On the actual day I turned forty, I kept thinking that I would feel differently, look differently and be treated differently. Didn’t happen. Alas, I was like every other schmuck that day.

What proceeded was instead a normal day in my life where, par for the course, few things seemed to go right; chaos and rushing from here to there, I ultimately found myself lost in the hills, out of town no less, searching for my son’s baseball game.

This is where Map-Quest comes in handy. However, courtesy of our broken printer and, subsequently, my husbands rushed, handwritten directions (who was already at the game waiting for me), I missed my turn, and being one of the few people who did not have a cell phone, I was clearly on my own. Driving further up a very secluded hill and deeper into obscurity—I was indeed not only lost but I was also now late.

Happy birthday to me.

Only upon hearing the theme to 'Deliverance' in my head did I finally turn around and start heading back down the hill—asking road workers and truck drivers along the way if they knew where this mystery street was. Being met by confused glances and scratching heads was not a good sign.

Oh, yeah—any minute now the confetti and balloons will fall from the heavens in my favorite shades of purple with all my family and friends popping out from the fields, hills, trees and from behind the workers trucks yelling “SURPRISE!” and bearing gifts.

Yep. Any minute now.

Only now I recognize that I was clearly in the early stages of delirium.

Well, I finally got there thanks to a man in a gas station parking lot who not only took pity on this sweaty, shaking and half-crying woman in a state of sheer panic (F.Y.I. nothing says “pity me” like smeared mascara and hair matted to ones forehead!) but who also knew the area and got me on my way.

My arrival was met by my husband who was sitting quite comfortably in a lawn chair, in the shade, front and center enjoying the game that was already in progress, AND who then said the 'wrong-est' words any man could say to a woman in my state; “What took you so long?”

Being more mature (now that I was forty and all), I believe I handled myself with the best decorum I could muster for such a situation as this; I 'carefully and thoughtfully' picked a few choice words that I, of course, 'quietly, calmly and--eh-hem--privately' flung in his direction.

I then stormed off to my car which was parked next to his, took out a bright green marker from my purse, took out the directions, circled his grossly misspelled street name and clipped them underneath his windshield wiper facing the inside so it would be the first thing he saw when he got in. (What did you think I was going to do with that marker?)

I’m nothing if not calm and rational.

I then proceeded to make the hour plus drive back home, crawled into bed and took a nap.

Forty never felt so good.

Oh yeah, and I got myself a cell phone.


  1. I love your short story! You have a lovely and sharp writer's voice. Thanks for putting our button on your blog.

  2. I turned 40 last summer and no big hoopla so I told my hubs since we're getting our life back I will be re-doing my I will be 39 for another 5 months....again

  3. I LOVED your story...well done.............I pray all goes well for your tooth my's always something


  4. Hi Jo,
    Good post, hope all goes well with your tooth.
    Keep warm.

  5. Jo,

    Great story. It's nice how we can look back at moments like that and laugh later on. In fact, it's almost necessary that we do in order to keep our sanity.


  6. I saw your comment about getting comment at SITS. I wanted to come over and say hi!

  7. I saw that pic on Steven's blog too. I thought it was him at first.

    I loved your story. You are a heck of a writer.