High Tailed

The cover of Depraved and Insulting English.

She was so bored but only needed to hide her acute detachment for another minute. Two minutes max.

She hated the performance art required to do staff reviews for the useless staff. He was very earnest in offering her a wider swath of his skills. She wasn’t using all he had. He could do so much more.

She had no interest in his offer. She fidgeted in her head. She had to hear his languid if not meandering narration. She imagined his words to be the babble of a brook. Great, now she had to pee.

She provided the required thanks and hearty if not heartfelt praise as she lowered the screen to her keyboard. She knew as she stood up he would too, and it’d be over. He stood. He articulated his hope for his place in the organization. Sure, she thought, if this place was a museum of old puppets or old muppets. Hah! That was worth an internal giggle. She led him out of the conference room, showering him with her waxy Madame Tussauds smile–you couldn’t hardly tell it was fake–and almost collided with a woman.

Why did she nod to me? Why is she stupidly standing at the door? The bored woman brushed past. She needed to get to the toilet before her next meeting.

The stupid woman called her name. Wait, the bored woman knew her.

The stupid woman called her name again. She reluctantly turned. More time wasted. She was on her way to see her boss. Her meetings were back to back. The woman, upon recognition, was no less stupid.

She motioned to the conferences room. “We have a meeting scheduled,” she mostly asked.

The bored woman shook her head. She styled her layered hair this morning and her mid length flip bounced its objection, too. She usually wore a ponytail. She appreciated today’s emphatic ‘do. She marked this power up feeling. She needed to use the big round brush more often.

She flicked open her laptop. She balanced the device on the heel of her left hand as she started reading the stupid woman her schedule that definitely did not include another stupid meeting with another useless staffer.

That stupid woman was so stupid she didn’t even care. She whipped out her phone and shook it in front of her face, pointing at the appointment that was marked as being initiated by the bored woman and sat plainly at the current time slot on the phone’s calendar.

The bored woman made an obligatory apology and closed her notebook. She really had to go. The stupid woman looked at her stupidly–no surprise there–and offered a taste of small talk. Maybe she was trying to get the bored woman’s attention long enough so she would acknowledge her and reschedule, but that wasn’t going to happen. The stupid woman didn’t want to reschedule anyway. She simply was inoculating against being blamed for a meeting not happening.

She looked at the bored woman’s torso and congratulated her.

The bored woman looked up at her, on the cusp of being interested. “Oh, yes! The new project launch?”

“No,” said the stupid woman. “On the baby.” She seemed genuinely happy for the bored woman who was quite pregnant.

The bored woman wanted to avoid a personal conversation with the stupid woman–and, quite frankly, with anyone at this moment. She had someplace to be and someplace to be before that place.

“Oh, this?” She matched the stupid woman’s eyes and followed them to her swollen belly. “That’s old news. The project launch? THAT’S my baby!”  She was okay connecting on work, just not on her private life.

Did that stupid woman just flinch? Or was it a cringe? No matter. Enough time was sucked out of her morning. She missed her chance to pee. Thanks stupid woman, she thought. You rank up there with that other useless staff member who’s inchoate wordstream caused this need to pee to begin with. She turned.

The stupid woman watched her walk away. Her bouncy high hair reminded her of one the kids’ favorite words from the Depraved and Insulting English dictionary. Feague is a verb that describes putting something (peeled raw ginger or a live eel) up a horse’s arse to increase the lift or the liveliness of of it’s tail.

The stupid woman grinned as the bored show horse trotted away, off to the races.

Post #95

The top of a male lion's head with a really weak mane. Such bad hair day!

My hair kept sticking up in the back. It’s so not fair. I did more than smooth it this morning. Yet unruly it became.

There are many mornings when I wake up and am bed-head free. This occurs most mornings, as a matter of fact. On a rare morning that it folds funny on itself or presents as a fluff ball at the back of my head, it’s usually simply a brush or a dab of product away from being tamed.

When did we start calling hair stuff product, by the way? When did hairspray, hair cream, hair mousse, hair gel, hair oil or hair wax–for starters–become product? It’s one of those words that do not really add to the understanding of the thing.

Product. It used to be Dippity-do or Blue Magic or Brylcreem or Aquanet or Vitalis. It was sometime after those products morphed into Vidal Sassoon shampoos and styling products on the way to Paul Mitchell and now dozens and dozens of “salon” products. You know the ones, with the bottles printed with labels that say:

Guaranteed only when sold by a professional hairdresser, otherwise it may be counterfeit, black market, old or tampered with.

But you can buy the product at Target. Target seems pretty legit. I get that you might be worried at Marshall’s, but if the product is available at WalMart, just what do those warnings mean? I say, nothing.

Back to this morning.

I don’t wash my hair every day. It’s not that time consuming, but you are talking to a Doc who has argued with The Spouse over coffee beans. Spouse brings home whole beans, and I complain bitterly about having to grind them in the electronic grinder for fifteen seconds. Seriously, just get me to the Joe fast. I’ll scoop but not grind. The Spouse still tries to sneak beans in the house with the idea that I will grind. I see beans and go out to buy a bag of pre-ground at lunch.

Back to the hair.

I didn’t notice the hairs sticking out at the back of my head until I had already spread some Moroccan Oil through to the ends. You’d think that would have subdued any recalcitrant locks. But, when I moved my head to the left to check the time on the wall clock, I spied that wayward curl in the mirror.

I’m not an overly-groomed person, but the one portion of hair was sticking out from my head in a ninety-degree angle, AKA straight out. If it were just a few hairs, I could brush my teeth and move on. But it was ringlet sized plus pointing away from my head perpendicularly. Unavoidable to the eye. Unacceptable for the office.

I tried some product. The damn hairs bounced back up like a reflex.

I tried holding my hand over the product covered cowlick for a few minutes. BOING! Back up. Next up was some water. Since the hair was primed with various forms of product, the water must have activated some latent management properties. Sadly this reactivation only worked around my right ear. The sticking up part behind my head remained in that position.

Not to be defeated, I applied heat to the productized and wetted hair. Voila! Tame achieved.

In the office, I looked in the mirror in the restroom. I looked to the left and saw the hair sticking out, again! It was the damn wind. The damn wind that thinks it’s still winter and drives the windchill into the twenties. The damn wind that should be a welcome breeze but instead presents as a precursor to the nannies flying in on umbrellas from London. The damn wind that re-agitated my controlled hair and let that one piece go wild.


I took my hand and placed it on the back of my head, over the sticking out part of my hair, and put my other hand on my hip and sashayed out of the toilet.

If you can’t beat ’em, act like you don’t care. “Fiddle-dee-dee!

Anna Karenina and Cancer

f*ck stupid cancer right in it's stupid cancer face

Reading Michael Gerson’s account of his, thankfully, successful encounter with cancer, I found myself bastardizing Tolstoy; that folks without cancer are all alike, but those of us with cancer face it in our own ways [sorry Leo].

I bet, though, that everyone who gets a cancer diagnosis does entertain thoughts about mortality. But what does that mean? I don’t know, but Gerson leads me to explore what I was thinking.

First off, there is something wrong and you go through what that might be. Me, I’m healthy as a horse. I just easily and smartly dumped a (metaphorical) ton of weight and all was well on the home and professional fronts.

I figure that the pain in my mouth is likely due to the fact that I am that person who hates going to the dentist to admit that I am a lousy dental flosser. My punishment is some popcorn kernel stuck in my gum. Maybe I’ll need a root canal. Ugh.

I studiously cause much gum bleeding with my newfound flossing fervor. But the pain is up toward my ear. Good job on the flossing, but it seems to be something else.

Yikes. I get it now. It is a stupid sinus infection. Headache. Earache. Pressure under my cheekbones. This I can deal with. A call to urgent care. A ‘script for amoxicillin. Plenty of liquids. Been there and done that.

The pressure relieves as the ten-day of antibiotic regimen winds down. I finally recognize that I have been having pain when I eat, mostly when I swallow. This is a new finding. And I also recognize that the pain is increasing in frequency and severity. Not frequent and severe, but a definite upward trend.

So, as a star troubleshooter, I spend time chewing on one side of my mouth and then the other. Nope, chewing is not the problem. So it’s my throat. But it only hurts when I swallow sometimes. Sipping wine? No problem. Gulping water? Fail.  I further localize it to the right back side of my mouth, base of my tongue.

I bet you never thought about your tongue as a big muscle. When you eat like a pig and bite off alot, your tongue moves the food around in your mouth so you can grind and pulverize it enough so you don’t choke when you swallow.

I find myself eating daintier bites to avoid pain. I eat more slowly. I begin to prepare myself mentally for each meal. I pull out the calendar to try and figure out how long this has been going on. I can’t exactly pinpoint it, but it wasn’t an issue on vacation. So let’s say it started in mid-August. I get my antibiotics at the end of September. Twelve days later I call for a follow-up.

Making the appointment they tell me that I can see my doctor some time in the future, but I can see the resident in 3 days. I jump on it. I know that I will need some kind of additional diagnostics, so the sooner I get on the medical referral train, the better.

And, for the first time I admit to myself that this is something. I recognize the somethingness as I’m making my notes for my appointment. I mentally mark my dear friend Kris who was put off by her doctor more than once. Her advanced colon cancer took her away from us too soon. I’m thinking that I am NOT going to let them put me off. And, I realize that I am thinking that this might be, you know, uhm. Okay, deep breath and think it for real. Maybe it’s cancer.

Off to the Google. Is mouth cancer a thing? Yup. Oh, and that Beastie Boy guy had salivary gland cancer, and it killed him. Step away from the Google. Wait to see the doc.

I am now taking four Advil every 4 hours for the pain. I decide to go to the doc without pain numbness to help them diagnose me. I know that the resident will bring in the attending. She does. They see that it hurts. That the recent antibiotic course rules out an infection. They palpitate around my throat. They use the word mass. Order at CT scan. And tell me to make an appointment with the ENT as soon as the test is done.

Mass. That’s a cancer kind of word. I walk across the street and sit at one of the tables in front of the Whole Paycheck. I’m a little rattled, but get on the phone to get the scan scheduled. Turns out that it’s considered two tests, neck and head. So they need to find me two slots. Have to wait three weeks. Can call back to see if there are earlier openings. Make the appointment with ENT for the day after the scheduled scan.

I go back to the cancer site. I tell my spouse there is a mass. He knows but doesn’t say it.

I can’t take the Advil because of the scan. I can’t take enough Tylenol to kill the pain and maintain kidney health. Move up the chain to Tylenol-3. Have the scan. See the doc.

It’s a few weeks later and my mouth is really sore. Painful. I eat a little bit at a time. It’s too much work to eat. The exam is very painful. The doc is very apologetic.

And then he says that it’s cancer. And that he thinks I knew. And I did.

More flurry of appointments to verify what we know. But he’s confident that I’ll be cured. Phew.

I don’t know why I cry. It is just a little squall. Over while he left and came back to the room.

I don’t know why I cry. The doc was right. I did know it. I cry a little more in the car. Then I take a deep breath. I remind myself that I am not going to die. At least not right now.

I take another breath and start to prepare. Need to tell my husband. Need to tell the Big Guy. And likely Skype the Little Guy who goes to school in the Rockies.

I’m getting treatment now. Have a second round of menacing poisons that attack my fastest growing cells on Monday.

I read Gerson’s post again. He talks about cancer as a metaphor for our mortality. Maybe later I will know why I cried. For me, at least right now, it’s just stupid.