How The Hell Did I Get This Old?

oldladydrinking

How The Hell Did I Get This Old?

If I ever get my hands on Father Time he’ll pay big time for schlepping me kicking and screaming into the so-called Golden Years.

Did you ever notice that life is like a roll of toilet paper? The closer you get to the end the faster it goes. So you’re asking yourself if I’m comparing life to toilet paper, which would be the obvious conclusion and yet you’d be wrong. Life is far more complex than paper and the ability to explain or analyze it as a phenomenon is for wiser minds than mine.

However that said, life isn’t without its moments of perplexing and insufferable crap, but I shall choose the high road and say that as one nears the end of the journey we are left with a conundrum…if we were given the chance for a do over, would we?

So as we face the goldest part of our golden years filled with wisdom, experience and a sheer and flagrant who-gives-a-damn-anymore attitude are we truly prepared to jump back on for another ride on the scariest merry go round of all, youth?

Of course most agree that another shot at life would be counterproductive if we couldn’t do the do over with the information we’ve garnered from this ride, so I’d probably wonder if it were worth making that journey without benefit of what I’ve learned and even a few lifeline calls to a friend along the way.

Not sure I’d want to go through natural childbirth again, but I hope next time around I’d opt for an epidural from their conception until they finish high school.

Ah, but would I, you see that’s the rub, because who’s to say one wouldn’t make even worse decisions than before and find an even more challenging life waiting as we begin again?

And of course what a journey it is and the trite and misguided belief that we’d do things differently given the chance doesn’t hold much water for the simple reason most of us never do when we are given the chance every day.

That’s the catch of course. We wake up each morning more wise and experienced than the day before, at least that’s the theory, and yet most of us cling to the same paradigms and behaviors that have created our lives.

Larry David one of the most gifted and out-there comic minds of my generation took on this topic on Seinfeld in the fifth season. Entitled The Opposite, Jerry proposes the theory to George Costanza, “If every instinct you have is wrong than the opposite would have to be right.”

In simplicity there is genius. Of course when he enacts this new mindset his life changes for the better and all is well for George.

Yet, although this seems like a great solution done in a comic forum, we actually are faced with this choice each day. In the end it can work to a degree, but the problem may be that just doing the opposite is not always an option.

Not every choice in life is black and white, up or down, yes or no. So many of the decisions we make are sideways and complex, requiring so much more than a simplistic way of thinking.

Doing the opposite doesn’t mean choosing one thing over another because it can also pertain to behavior choices.

If you walk down the street with your head down, perhaps you might try lifting it up, saying hello and smiling at passersby. I’m not certain that would change your life, but because someone may have needed your smile that day to make a life changing decision of their own it was a good decision. May even garner you a few positive karma points.

So in the end often what we do doesn’t just affect us alone.

If we have the chance for a do over every day of our lives how many actually embrace the opportunity? Since I can’t find any study done on the issue I’ll surmise not many.

Every experience in our lives is the opportunity for change and growth. A lesson learned either to be embraced or discarded and we make that choice constantly.

The answer to whether or not you’d live your life over isn’t yes or no, it’s have you been doing that already.

I’m a firm believer in instinct. That little feeling or whisper in the pit of your stomach that tells you when something isn’t kosher. Of course so many of us just tell the voice saying, “don’t do it,” to shut up and go blindly ahead only to regret our decision later.

What in the world would ever make us think that simply coming back into the world starting anew would be different, whether or not we had prior knowledge?

I’ve heard people say, “so and so has great instincts.” So begs the question did they actually hone them or were they some sort of cosmic gift to allow them to make better choices. Perhaps it’s a bit of both in the end, but I do believe that it’s never too late to change.

I as many others have made some pretty pretty bad choices in my life and of course we all pay a price. Very few of us escape unscathed from our own bad decisions yet too many continue to act on instincts that have proven unwise in the past.

I needn’t list them because I have neither the time nor enough memory in my computer, but we all have our own little box of bad choices to rummage through.

Since I’m actually so much older than I ever thought possible I’ve decided to use my situation for the best. From now on I’m opposite Norma and I shall indulge myself in a bit of an experiment. When faced with a choice I’ll simply ask what would I usually do and create an option quite out of character. Will it work? Who knows, because in the end I believe some choices are made for us somewhere in some cosmic storehouse that contains the road map for our life. Yes we have free will, or do we? That’s a question neither old Norma nor opposite Norma would even attempt to answer.

So because getting old allows for a what-the-hell attitude toward life, I’m game for most things now. Although there’s tons of new scary stuff out there in this crazy world I have to remind myself it’s no different for any generation.

We are all born into one world and wind up leaving another.

So have fun and try something new or choose not to, your choice.

Getting old has many benefits, not the least of which is not giving a damn what anyone says and doing exactly as you choose. We fear no one and we ain’t afraid of no ghosts.

Just don’t tell your children what you’re up to and have a ball.

 

 

 

 

We Need to Watch Blazing Saddles Daily

puffychicken

We Need to Watch Blazing Saddles Daily

“Look at Jewish history. Unrelieved lamenting would be intolerable. So for every ten Jews beating their breasts, God designated one to be crazy and amuse the breast beaters. By the time I was five I knew I was that one…” Mel Brooks

I was about ten or so and I knew I was the crazy one when my fellow campers nicknamed me Giggles. I was often reminded of this designation by my father’s constant inquiries about my remarks and behavior when he asked, “What are you, some kind of comedian?”

Yep, Dad I guess I was. I learned at a young age that the only escape from the unpleasantness of life was Milton Berle, Sid Caesar and Jackie Gleason.

My escape always included someone saying or doing something stupidly funny. Milton Berle in a dress, Sid Caesar spouting some outrageous accent, or Jackie Gleason and Art Carney exhibiting their brand of the sublimely ridiculous week after week. Stupid equals funny always worked for me.

“Does anyone of our generation not laugh when they remember Art Carney’s attempt at addressing a golf ball, “Hello, Ball.” Or Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks as the 2000-year-old man or Jack Benny’s alleged stinginess? Perhaps you had your own favorite comedian on The Ed Sullivan Show; Myron Cohen, Richard Pryor, Jackie Mason, Flip Wilson, Jack Carter, Totie Fields, Henny Youngman, Senor Wences, Jack Benny, Godfrey Cambridge, George Burns, Bob Newhart, George Carlin and so many many more.

One could count on little in life except that there would be one of the world’s great comics performing on Ed Sullivan each week.

I’ve been asked countless times why so many Jewish people are comedians and the answer is not all comics are Jewish, perhaps they are just more obvious. Maybe their pain is more palpable than others. While many comics of that era observed the times, Jewish comics observed their own circumstances.

Laughing at their own existence is what made life bearable in a strange new world where so many struggled to feed their families.

For example Melvin Kominsky, AKA Mel Brooks was two years old when his father died leaving his mother with four young boys to feed. She worked tirelessly and suffered for her children and it would be impossible for Mel not to have been affected by his mother’s plight.

So many young Jewish comedians of that era found their release in laughter.

I can’t honestly remember any Rockefellers or Carnegie’s stepping on stage to tell jokes to the masses, can you? Not too many comedy clubs in Newport or Palm Beach back then.

Humor comes from pain and the greater the suffering the higher form the humor.

There is a legacy of suffering in Europe and throughout time that has forced Jewish people to look toward laughter to lighten their load. Humor is one of life’s greatest gifts that can be had for free.

The ability to destroy one’s enemies with a joke is an art that has been cultivated for centuries by Jewish and all people and must continue to be embraced in these harrowing times.

I won’t even get into the fact that anti-Semitism has had a great resurgence, suffice it to say we need our senses of humor now more than ever.

Yet, that is the conundrum we now face as a people.

The Jewish people have throughout time been credited for two healing discoveries aside from their other numerous accomplishments, chicken soup AKA Jewish penicillin and their sense of humor. I’m willing to bet the king’s jesters were the Cohens and Goldbergs in the kingdoms.

If nothing else the Jewish people discovered that laughter is the best coping and defense mechanism and have honed comedy as a method of survival. Sadly, today many lack understanding of the power of humor to heal and restore.

Great comedians like Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock and others have lamented the fact they can no longer work on college campuses because young people are too politically correct and according to Jerry, “Don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.”

This lack of a sense of humor and understanding the true essence of how to do funny has been seriously corrupted.

Today too many comics bring the mean in lieu of the mirth. There is an art to humor and just insults and mean spirited attacks do not “bring the funny” but only add to the anger filling up space. There is a way to punch a hole in what one feels compelled to destroy and letting the air out of a negative balloon.

Being critical and destructive is no substitute for humor. There is a path to hilarity in every unhappy situation in the human condition and true comedians can find and exploit it with wit and skill.

Despots possess no sense of humor but have honed the art of ridicule. Humor should never emulate criticism laced with cruelty and far too many comic posers can no longer discern the difference.

Aside from Mel Brooks, one of the comedians capable of taking someone to the distant outposts of discomfort is Larry David.

Yes, some of Larry’s humor can make you squirm, but if you get his joke it can also make you laugh harder than anything. Great humor must occasionally broach thorny subjects to achieve its goals, but without that bravery humor is only a superficial laugh and no more.

Great jokes dig deep down into your soul where pain lives and exorcise that ache to rid it from your life.

At times winning a war is not always enough to destroy residual pain.

Case in point, “Springtime for Hitler.” Come on, is there anything funnier than a bunch of Nazis singing and dancing about their attempts to take over the world with chorus girls dressed as beer and pretzels? Mel Brooks is the master at doing Hitler but he is not alone.

Charlie Chaplin created the little tramp character to imitate the most evil man on the planet and reduce him to an object of ridicule, and he succeeded beautifully.

Laughing at or mimicking someone plunges a knife into their bubble of evil and contempt  puncturing the harmful effects and deflating the injury.

No one can be taken seriously when we are doubled up with laughter at his antics. Not too hard to figure out why becoming the class clown was preferable to becoming the class punching bag.

That’s why kids today miss the point. They mistakenly believe that by not mentioning it they can destroy the bugaboo. They are patently wrong. Hate cannot be eradicated by ignoring or legislating it out of existence.

If there is one thing I’ve noticed over the years it’s that comedy clubs are the great equalizer. People who are laughing together are not shooting one another.

No one screaming in pain at a joke is spouting hateful remarks toward others. Humor creates camaraderie among all people and bonds them in their suffering.

No society can exist without laughter and more than anything else I’m witnessing today that must give one pause is that the lack of humor is palpable. Laughing at our fears diminishes them while anger elevates. Everyone is allowing rage to fill his or her spaces in lieu of hearty laughs.

We need to chuckle together to solve many of the world’s problems, to seek out the tenth crazy among us to entertain with hilarity and we must chill out and let it all go. More than ever it’s imperative comedians bring the mirth not the malicious.

Every laugh lowers the level of hatred and pain, so laugh your asses off daily and encourage everyone else you know to do the same.

Watch Blazing Saddles, The Producers or your favorite comedy or comic and roar hysterically until you’re writhing in pain. If you do this I guarantee you’ll consume less calories and live a far happier and more positive life.

Puffy Chicken Apple Cheddar Bake

6 boneless breasts pounded until thin

Grated cheddar cheese

6 thin apple slices

3 strips of cooked bacon

1 box of puff pastry

Salt and Pepper to taste

½ tsp. Paprika

1 cup of heavy cream

Season chicken and place 1 slice apple, cheese and ½ slice of bacon on top and place inside square of puff pastry. Place egg wash around the square edges and cover with another square. Crimp the edges together with a fork. Brush with melted butter or if you prefer an egg wash and place on cookie sheet and bake according to the package instructions. Before serving pour cheese sauce over the top and sprinkle with grated apples.

Apple Cheese sauce

2 cups of cream

Grated cheddar

Salt and pepper

1 Teaspoon of apple cider vinegar

½ tsp. paprika

Grated apple

Mix together and pour over pastry or serve on the side.