Apr 012017
 

April 1, 2017 — We’ve known about the three family weddings for a year.  Three of our nephews are getting married this spring, each blessed day six weeks apart.  The first wedding is a week from today. Somehow, it evaded me that I might need to have something to wear to these special family events.  My Beloved bought new Florsheim’s a month ago, so he’s a bit ahead of me.

As aunt and uncle, we have no visible role.  We buy an acceptable gift. We show up and try to stay low key.  This means looking normal, not like a flamboyant Auntie Mame character or Marvin from “Office Space.”

The bride and groom tell everyone the same thing; we want you to be at our wedding.  Don’t worry about the details.  You being there is the most important thing to us.

But we know the underlying message is that we need to stay in the background. Our day is past.  Basically, we want to have a Low Profile. This is difficult because we both possess qualities of each character, well, mostly me.  (Ones of my prized possessions is a red stapler I won from Radio WOWO in 1973.  Sad life.)

My Beloved generally knows how to stay beneath the radar. He looks nice every day, because (unless it is Saturday) he won’t go out in jeans and a sweatshirt. He wears nice slacks and neatly pressed collared shirts (by the dry cleaners, not me) every weekday. (We’re not counting that time we ate the 100 Swiss franc lunch in Lugano when he was wearing his Allis-Chalmers orange sweatshirt from Rural King.  I’m telling you, he’s Ralph Lauren business casual most of the time.)

We rarely dress up. The suits I wore when I worked for a Fortune 100 company are long gone.  Husband has the requisite weddings and funeral suits.  Wednesday night we canvassed his closet and had a “try-on” session.  He was wearing no shirt and Marvin the Martian fancy pants.  Real sexy stuff.

He found three identical blue sports jackets.  Nice for when we summer in the Hamptons.  Seriously, why does he have these?   My theory is that in the last 21 years (that’s as long as we’ve lived in this house), some occasion arose that he needed a blue sports jacket, so  he bought one.  And then another.  And then another.

Then he found five nearly identical suits in dry cleaning bags.  One of the suits had two red Christmas tapers packed in plastic attached to the bag.  Was it a giveaway from the dry cleaners?  Were they in his pockets when he took the jacket in?  We thought we might surprise the bride and groom as we walked up the aisle each carrying a red candle, but realized that would put is in the Being Noticed category.

Four of the five suits fit, and I insisted he put the fifth (a leftover from about twenty years ago) in the Goodwill pile.  He didn’t want to, but I reminded him that having four identical suits that fit qualifies him for a new career as a funeral director.  He’s not really interested in changing careers.  We agreed to find a shirt and tie to match whatever I wore.  This is problematic.

I have nothing to wear.  

Nothing.  I purchased a dress for another nephew’s wedding in 2015, and well, the dress was hideous.  There was also a minor incident with a slip.  A slip is a piece of women’s lingerie from Queen Victoria’s era.  The only other dress I have is my “funeral dress.”  I wore it to my mother’s funeral because my father requested I wear a dress. (I will not be wearing one to his funeral, should he proceed me, as he won’t be there to observe.)  There is something acceptable I can wear to Wedding #3 because it’s colors are black and gold and I happen to own a summery, shimmery black and gold two-piece top with a pair of black summery, shimmery slacks.  This fits into the vision of looking gracious but not overly visible.

I made a trek to the mall today (a place I never ever visit) and found a helpful clerk and found something acceptable and low key.  Now if I remember not to call the groom by his childhood nickname, not carry lighted tapers down the aisle, pull my red stapler out of my purse, and for God’s sake, not dance at the reception, we will be under the radar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dec 212016
 

This is an old but goodie from my book, “Whitley County Kid,” (available on Amazon).  The time and some descriptions have been changed to protect identity, but the gist of the story from my childhood is true.  And bears retelling every year.

In the 1960s, I was an elementary school student. My primary concern each December was what presents Santa Claus would bring for Christmas. From the moment the Sears Wish Book arrived, I leafed through the slick pages, highlighting the toys I wanted.

Before big box stores, our rural village had a bustling business district. Farmers came from the country to visit the Farmer’s Elevator. Wives bought flour, sugar, and necessities at the G & G Market. People gardened and canned, so few bought vegetables or fruit, except in December when the high school’s Sunshine Society sold Florida oranges to benefit Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis.

Citizens visited the brick post office to see Postmaster Clarence Pook, pick up mail, and catch up on local news. Across the street, a comfortable white house served as the town’s busy library with a real-life Marian the Librarian, Marian Bollinger. Edna Michels, the Story Lady, donned a bonnet and old-fashioned long dress to host weekly story hours for children.

The day after Thanksgiving, the volunteer firefighters hung giant red and white plastic candy canes from the lamps on State Street and displayed a life-sized manger scene near the three-way stop on the south end of town. Snow came early and blanketed the ground until after the IHSAA boys’ basketball tournament at the beginning of spring.

My father bought our real Christmas tree every year from a local tree farm. Our ranch-style home lacked a fireplace, so my brother and I hung our red and white flannel stockings on the windowsills. Mom used Elmer’s glue and green glitter to paint our first names on the white furry part of the red flannel Christmas stockings.

My father taught high school science and agriculture and advised the Future Farmers of America chapter. Each year the FFA chapter raised money, bought the high school a real Christmas tree, and decorated it with blue, green, and red bulbs and fragile, sparkling glass ornaments. The school community enjoyed the tree until the semester ended.

Tradition dictated that the FFA boys and my father take the tree, decorations and all, to a needy family chosen by the other teachers. Our 1965 Chevy Biscayne station wagon was inadequate to cart the nearly nine-foot tree to this family, so Dad borrowed the school’s World War II-era Army truck from Willie Sims, the maintenance man.

School was out for the semester a few days before Christmas. Dad let the chosen family know they would be receiving a large, fully decorated Christmas tree. Dad and several of the FFA boys would bring the tree to their home.

The children ranged in age from an infant to an eighteen-year-old, with ten other children in between. The father was out of work, a rarity in Middle America then, when manufacturing and farming jobs were readily available. There were no subsidized school lunches, free books, or heating assistance.

Dad had his students put the decorated tree in the back of the old truck. The three of them—the thirty-something schoolteacher and the two teenage boys in blue corduroy Future Farmer jackets—were in a festive mood, congratulating themselves on the good deed they were about to do.

They traveled east on the state highway past well-manicured farms, bright, freshly painted red barns and white fences. As the old truck turned onto a county road, pieces of packed ice and gravel spit up from the vehicle’s worn tires.

Nearing the family’s home, Dad turned around and looked in the truck bed to check on the gift.

No tree.

No lights.

No decorations.

No green and red metal tree stand.

Nothing but an empty and scratched truck bed.

Dad turned the truck around. He and the students retraced their steps to town where the shops were closing for the night. The twinkle of holiday bulbs and the lights from the Evangelical United Brethren Church signaled evening.

Nothing could be found. Now past five o’clock, stores were already closing, if not already closed, on State Street. It was two days before Christmas.

Dad thought about it. “What should I do? Should I go home and get our tree?”

He did not believe that was a reasonable choice, with his two small children enjoying the tree, but he steeled himself for that option. If need be, he thought, his children could learn about sharing.

With darkness coming, the gray truck and three not-so-wise men arrived in town. A tree lot at the used car place was closing for the night. Dad reached for his wallet and bought the healthiest tree that remained on the lot. Then, off to Huffman and Deaton’s Hardware for lights and ornaments and a new metal tree stand. Joe Huffman was closing his register for the day but recognized my father and let him in.

With a new tree in the bed of the beat-up gray truck, the group headed east again. As they tentatively approached the family’s large farmhouse, they could spy children watching them from each window. The family’s older children greeted the group and set up the tree in their living room. Dad noticed a stack of presents and bags of candy and fruit donated by the Lions Club and other community groups.

The scent of anticipation and cinnamon apples hung in the air. The teacher and the teenagers left the family with happiness and wonder.

Our family had our usual Christmas celebration. I am confident we went to our German Lutheran church on Christmas Eve, and my brother and I sang in the children’s program.

I am certain nervous children in Sears’ plaid robes re-created the manger scene.

I am certain we sang carols about a needy couple two thousand years ago who had their child in poor surroundings.

I am certain my brother and I ran from our bedrooms early the next morning to see what treasures lay wrapped and waiting under our tree.

I am certain my brother and I balked when our mother made us eat breakfast before unwrapping our numerous gifts and toys.

I am certain Christmas was delightful though I cannot remember one specific gift I received or what we ate at our holiday meal.

I don’t know what happened to the large family. I haven’t lived in my hometown for more than thirty years.

What I do know is this: my father spent much more on the family’s tree and decorations than he did on ours. Dad and those long-forgotten high school students received a huge blessing when they saw the lights in the eyes of those children.

My family receives a blessing in the annual retelling of this tale, with its message of the power in giving.

š

Several weeks later, Dad went into the brick post office to pick up the mail and chat with Clarence Pook, the postmaster. A man Dad did not know began talking to Clarence in a loud voice.

 

“Clarence,” the stranger said. “It’s the oddest thing. You know, I was driving out east of town a few nights before Christmas, and you would not believe it, I found a completely decorated, beautiful nine-foot Christmas tree that someone had thrown in a ditch!”

 

Jul 062016
 
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Sunset, Seagrove Beach, FL, 2005

July 6, 2016 — Over the weekend, we watched a TV show that features people hunting for a perfect private island. A couple, Larry and Lubya, toured three islands near Fiji, with a realtor.  Each island had fantastic views. Who can imagine purchasing an island for several million dollars? No wonder these shows are popular; most of us probably fantasize along with the couple about our private island.

Something the male half of the couple said stuck in my mind as he pondered an island with great views.

“You can put your lawn chair toward the sunrise, and turn it around for the sunset.”

Well, duh.  I’ve thought about it ever since. The sun rises everywhere, and the sun sets everywhere.  You can put your lawn chair toward the sunrise, and turn it around for the sunset in Thailand or Abilene, Texas.  While there may not be the Pacific Ocean spread out before you, there are amazing, wonderful surprises all over the world.  It’s just a matter of perspective.

While I’ll never see a sunrise or sunset in Fiji, I’ve viewed beautiful sunrises and sunsets.

I’ve been blessed all my life to enjoy sunsets such as the one pictured above in my beloved Florida. I prefer the moments just after the yellow orb dips into the horizon, and colors up and down the spectrum glitter across the water.

Sunset in my backyard is amazing almost every evening.  Deer like to traverse our yard from the neighboring woods to travel to the lake across the street. We’ve seen as many as seven in the dim, amber light after sunset. To be honest, I’ve not seen that many sunrises in my life, but one stands out. If I never saw another, this morning on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon would fill my soul with enough joy to last a lifetime. We stayed at the Grand Canyon Lodge and got up early (not usual for us) and walked to an area where a large, wooden cross stood against a view to the east.  Seeing the sun rise over the canyon with the cross in the foreground lacks appropriate words or pictures to describe its magnificence. The sunrise view was a once-in-a-lifetime, take-your-breath-away experience. If this scene had a score, it would be “How Great Thou Art.”

Not all our days are beach days or sunrises over a sublime slice of the earth.  But, we have been given a gift; we can “move our lawn chairs” either way and catch the sunrise or sunset, wherever we are. The day after my mother died, the sun rose as it always does. The day my son was diagnosed with autism, the sun set.

Move your  Adirondack or camping seat or cushioned wicker couch often and take in the beauty around you. It’s a matter of perspective.

 

 

Apr 162016
 

COFFEECUPApril 16, 2016 — My husband is the Love of My Life. But high on the list is coffee.

I love coffee. I love everything about coffee. I love the smell of coffee. I love the feel of coffee on my tongue. I love the sound our coffeemaker makes as the fresh brew gurgles through the filter. I love the sight of my familiar pink and green mug filled to the brim with the sublime medium-roast.  I love the taste of rich, full-bodied coffee, black with no irritating powders or creams.

Most important, I love the things that coffee does for me. Coffee helps me in ways I beyond my ability to spell them out. Here are a few: coffee gets me up and going.  Coffee kills the morning troll that’s been hiding under my side of the bed since I got up to use the bathroom at 2 a.m. The troll that wants to throw a rock at Wretched Morning Breath Spouse when he speaks nicely to the cat before the sun is up.  That troll that makes me swear every day that I’ll never watch “The Today Show” again if Matt and Savannah don’t stop being so effing chipper. The troll that makes me hate every other human being on the planet.  Dr. Phil (and what does he know?) says that the first 15 minutes in the morning are key to a couple’s long-term happiness.

Really?  Before I have my coffee, I would like to clean Dr. Phil’s molars with a rusty meat hook.

Coffee provides the routine I need in my life.  I’m not talking about connecting with my Android calendar.  If I drink my coffee, as  I normally do, between 8 and 8:30 .m., life is glorious and joyous at 9:30 a.m.  Butterflies, Unicorns and fairies appear, and life is good.

We don’t even want to think about what happens when The Editorial We doesn’t get coffee until, say, 10 a.m.  Bad, bad things happen. The earth stops revolving around the sun.

We’re ending a long week. I had four days of meetings either at 7:30 a.m. or 8 a.m.  I am not a morning person, despite my mother telling me every day of my childhood that I would magically turn into one someday.  Mom, you’ve been dead for four years.  I’m almost 59 years old.  Never going to happen.

We slept in late today, and I nearly killed the Love of My Life when he made goo-goo eyes at our ancient cat and asked him, “Are you my baby kitty?”

No, he is not your baby kitty. He is eighteen years old and just had diarrhea and threw up in my bathroom.

The cat would probably do a whole lot better if he just drank some coffee with his fish crunchies in the morning.

Crossposted at BlogHer.

 

Mar 282016
 

characterpic022

March 28, 2016 —  I mistakenly referred to a calculator as an adding machine at work.  Everyone burst into raucous laughter, followed by taunts about my age. Senior moment?  Or generic brain fart?”

Did I conjure up the image of Eustis, the bookkeeper from “It’s a Wonderful Life” from my co-workers?  I doubt that any Gen Xers or Millennials can identify Eustis.  And it’s a black and white film.  Younger people don’t like black and white movies.

Being one of the oldest at my workplace is new for me. I started full-time work in May 1980. This was before the Challenger blew up, before “Tear Down this Wall, Mr. Gorbachev,” before 9/11.  Before diagnostic related groups, Obamacare, electronic medical records, and lung transplants.  Probably before you were born, co-worker. Five years later, I started my first leadership level position in a hospital at age  28, which was (yes, indeedy, 30 years ago. People who have worked thirty plus years say “indeedy.”)   

In 1985,  I sat at the table with the big kids;  I was the only one in my twenties. My co-workers were, at least, fifteen years older than this brunette with long hair, high heels, and eyelids lined with powder blue shadow. We lived in an apartment; my husband was in graduate school.  Our second car was a ’73 VW Beetle.  Our “good car” was an unairconditioned Chevette. All of my leadership team co-workers had homes and sedans or SUVs and kids and mortgages. Grown-ups.

Until my present job,  I was among the youngest on my team. 

The man who hired me in February 2014 was seven or eight years younger; my current boss is somewhere in her early thirties.  My organization has about 120 employees.  I guess that less than ten outrank me in age.

At work, I’m frequently lost in the conversation. I don’t get my co-worker’s jokes, and they certainly don’t get my quips.  They talk about the eighties as ancient history. They see me as a child reading “McGuffey’s Reader” while a boy in overalls sticks my pigtails in an inkwell.  They don’t listen to NPR. They understand nothing of the classics.  

“Never at dusk.”  Steve Martin

“Dave’s not here.”  Cheech

“Nixon’s the One.”  The 1968 Republican National Committee, now known as conservative Democrats

No one at work understands my jokes, literary references, or anything I say.  I used the phrase “a pox on our house” the other day after a series of computer outages.    My colleagues thought I was babbling in gibberish.  

I referred to Mercutio’s triple epithet on the families of “Romeo and Juliet.”  A quick Google search revealed  Mercutio said “plague” a word which any hospital worker should know. One of the sources I used said “pox” was an archaic word not used today. Yes, indeedy.  My co-workers probably don’t believe it, but I wasn’t around in Shakespeare’s time.

(Time for a pop culture reference none of my colleagues will get. They often  call what I say “random.”  Perhaps it’s authentic frontier gibberish, as originated in a 1970s Mel Brooks flick. “I think we’re all grateful to Gabby Johnson, for clearly stating what needed to be said.”  It’s a double entendre.  You can’t get the pop culture reference from the 1970s without knowing who Gabby Hayes is from the thirties and forties. You know, like black and white?)

I don’t  see myself as old.  I don’t feel old. Isn’t sixty the new forty?  Three of my grandparents  looked ancient at sixty (one grandfather died in his early fifties.)  Maybe it was the hats?

A 2015 study surveyed attitudes about aging in Europe.

“Someone who is 60 years old today, I would argue, is middle-aged, but 200 years ago, a 60-year-old would be a very old person.

Dr. Sergei Scherbov, from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria, led a joint project with New York’s Stony Brook University, looking at how life expectancy has increased.”

The study, published in the journal “PLOS ONE”, found people across Europe were currently viewwed as “old” when they hit 65.”

So what is Middle Age now?  Remember the old saying Life Begins at Forty?  If you married at 18 or 20 and started a family, you were footloose and fancy-free at forty.  
(Of course, most males had a job for life, and looked forward to a pension at 65, but that’s an entirely different story.)  

We are healthier,  working longer by choice or financial resources, and looking better than our parents or grandparents at the same age.  Perhaps it was the hats?

Or paraphrasing the fake Fernando Lamas said on vintage “Saturday Night Live,”We look mar-veahluss.”

Google it, kiddABACUSos.

Let my co-workers laugh.  They might learn something from me.  And I’ll take it in stride.  Tomorrow I’m taking in my son’s abacus to show them how we cave women used to count in the days before adding machines.  Believe me, I can give it out as well as I can take it. When I drove the company van the other day, I changed all ten pre-sets on the radio to NPR.  That’ll teach ’em.

 

Cross posted on BlogHer.

 

 

Also posted by Senior Wire News Service with some editing, May 2016

 

REFLECTIONS May 2016

The Raven Lunatic

Older than Dirt in My Workplace

By Amy Abbott

They see me as a child reading McGuffey’s Reader while a boy in overalls sticks my pigtails in an inkwell. They don’t listen to NPR. They understand nothing of the classics, and by classics, I mean everything from Steve Martin to Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire to Beethoven.

I mistakenly referred to a calculator as an adding machine at work where I’m administrative staff in a hospital. Everyone burst into raucous laughter, followed by taunts about my age. Senior moment?

Did I conjure up the image of Eustis, the bookkeeper from “It’s a Wonderful Life” from my co‑workers? I doubt any Gen Xers or Millennials can identify Eustis. Besides, it’s a black and white film. Younger people don’t like black and white movies.

Being one of the oldest at my workplace is new for me. I started full‑time work in May 1980. (Yes, indeedy, 36 years ago. People who have worked four decades say “indeedy.”)

I started before the Challenger blew up, before “Tear down this wall, Mr. Gorbachev,” before 9/11. Before most of my co‑workers drew their first breath. Until my present job, I was among the youngest on my team.

At work, I’m frequently lost in the conversation. I don’t get my co‑worker’s jokes, and they certainly don’t get my quips. They talk about the 80s as ancient history. They see me as a child readingMcGuffey’s Reader while a boy in overalls sticks my pigtails in an inkwell. They don’t listen to NPR. They understand nothing of the classics, and by classics, I mean everything from Steve Martin to Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire to Beethoven.

No one understands my jokes, literary references, or anything I say. I used the phrase “a pox on our house” the other day after a series of computer outages.  My colleagues thought I was babbling in gibberish.

I referred to Mercutio’s epithet on the families of Romeo and Juliet. A quick Google search revealed Mercutio said “plague” a word which any hospital worker should know. One of the sources I used said “pox” was an archaic term not used today. Yes, indeedy. My co‑workers probably don’t believe it, but I wasn’t around in Shakespeare’s time.

(Time for a pop culture reference none of my colleagues will get. They often call what I say “random.” Perhaps it’s authentic frontier gibberish, as originated in a 1970s Mel Brooks flick “I think we’re all grateful to Gabby Johnson, for clearly stating what needed to be said.” It’s a double entendre. You can’t get the pop culture reference from the 1970s without knowing who Gabby Hayes is from the >30s and >40s. From black and white films, the ones the kids won’t watch?)

I don’t see myself as old. I don’t feel old. Isn’t 60 the new 40? Three of my grandparents looked ancient at 60 (one grandfather died in his early 50s.)

A 2015 study surveyed attitudes about aging in Europe. “Someone who is 60 years old today, I would argue, is middle‑aged, but 200 years ago, a 60‑year‑old would be a very old person.” Dr. Sergei Scherbov, from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria, led a joint project with New York’s Stony Brook University, looking at how life expectancy has increased. The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, found people across Europe were currently viewed as “old” when they hit 65.

So what is middle age now? Remember the old saying “life begins at 40”? If you married at 18 or 20 and started a family, you were footloose and fancy‑free at 40. (Of course, most males had a job for life, and looked forward to a pension at 65, but that’s an entirely different story.)

We are healthier, working longer by choice or financial resources, and looking better than our parents or grandparents at the same age.

Or paraphrasing Billy Crystal as Fernando Lamas said on vintage “Saturday Night Live,”  “We look mar‑veah-luss.”

Let my co‑workers laugh. They might learn something from me. And I’ll take it in stride.

Tomorrow I’m taking in my son’s abacus to show them how we cave women used to count in the days before adding machines.

Believe me, I can give it out as well as I can take it. When I drove the company van the other day, I changed all ten pre‑sets on the radio to NPR. That’ll teach ‘em.

 

 

 

Mar 232016
 


“After you die,

You will meet God.”

 

The large letters of the billboard almost screamed at me when I drove north on Interstate 69.

“After you die, you will meet God” was the text in foot-high white letters against an ominous black background.

The billboard cited Hebrews chapter 9, verse 27, which according to the New International Version Bible, reads “Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.”

Was the giant advertisement meant as a threat?  Or a promise?blackberry pictures 010

Either way, the public pronouncement was curious, because  I’ve known God all my life, and She is awesome. I also know her Son.

She knew me when I was “knit together” in my mother’s womb, pieces of my parent’s DNA.

She was with me when I breathed my first breath.  As my mom slept from the 1950s Twilight Sleep anesthesia, God watched my father hold me for the first time. Dad examined me from head to toe, hoping not to find a club foot identical to the one he had at birth.  She shared in his joy over my perfectly fat ankles and feet.

We formalized our relationship a month later with the Rite of Holy Baptism.  She was present as my parents, my maternal grandmother, and my paternal aunt stood around the baptismal font at the same altar where my parents married two years before. She was present when I married there 27 years later.

She and I have had a good run for nearly sixty trips around the sun. She’s always been there for me – during the dark times when our son was diagnosed with autism or when my mother suffered and passed from dementia. When I’ve ignored Her, She has still been right by my side, listening, watching, caring, loving, advising. She has provided strength to me on days when I didn’t even know she was doing so.

Perhaps you are confused as I was by the billboard.  But here’s the real deal. You don’t need to wait to meet Her.

She’s all around you.

Look inside yourself – you will find Her in your heart, in the deepest very goodness of your soul where love abounds.

Look at those around you – do you see and feel their love?  You can catch a glimpse of Her in a newborn’s eyes, or a child’s laughter, or the women washing dishes after a church dinner. She is the man who stops to change your flat tire. She is the one working tirelessly at the homeless shelter. She is advocating for Syrian refugees with her weekend fundraiser at the grocery story. She is the junior high child on the bus standing up to the bully.  She is driving in the car with you, and She is with your friends and your enemies.

Look at the beauty around you – the first buds of the spring flowers coming up, the dogwoods, azaleas, and redbuds.  The daffodils that poke up from the cold earth —  even when there is snow on the ground — offer the hopeful truth of Her presence.

She has many names; She is our mother, our father, the divine masculine, the divine feminine. She is the One who gave us the Prince of Peace, the one who gave us Abraham, with whom we share many faiths.

Call Her name.  She will answer, but you must listen. She is already there.

Amy McVay Abbott is an Indiana writer who pens “A Healthy Age” and “The Raven Lunatic” for Senior Wire News Service.  She is the author of four books and lives online at www.amyabbottwrites.com.

 

Feb 032016
 

edbadge_FeaturedFebruary 11, 2016.  This post was selected as a Featured Member post at BlogHer.  

Earlier this week I took a Facebook quiz on IQ. My results were astounding. I scored higher than Nicholas Tesla, somewhere in the range of 170. I’m a teacher’s kid, and I was frequently tested as a child. I know that my IQ is nowhere near 170. I think the quiz was reporting my seventh-grade weight.

Now here’s the thing. The fact that I took this stupid quiz makes me think my IQ might be half to a third of what Tesla’s was. You would guess I would see the irony in this. Taking a Facebook quiz is like filling your car with gas, making sure the oil is full, and offering the keys to the guy who just robbed the bank. Sure, go ahead, take a good look at my personal information. Of course, I’m as smart as Tesla.

A November 2015 BBC article showcased the privacy nightmare behind these seemingly innocent issues. Remember the famous Facebook word cloud? Click on this app and words from your Facebook page show up in a cloud. I did it, of course. I was happy to see that “read” and “write” were large words. Perhaps “sucker” should have been a highlight. According to the article, the South Korean company Vonvon pilfered personal data, profile picture, age, sex, birthday, entire friend list, everything you have ever posted on your timeline, photos, hometown, education history and everything you’ve ever liked. Uh huh. And I signed up for this willingly, and I’ve done it before.

burgess meredithIt doesn’t seem hardly worth it. Tonight I took a “what celebrity most resembles you” quiz and I got “Burgess Meredith.” And not even The Penguin Burgess Meredith, no, I got the nerdy librarian from The Twilight Zone.

Yesterday it was “what state is from soul really from?” I got Massachusetts. Seriously, not my beloved home state of Indiana. Yes, I like it here and consider myself a real, true Hoosier. We have our bad points, but I moved away for six years and came back. There were reasons I came back. I also love my secondary home state of Florida where I lived for those six years and spent a lot of my childhood vacations. But, Massachusetts, no way. Sure I like to visit Boston and the Museum of Fine Arts. We’ve sat on the third base line facing the Green Monster at Fenway, and I love the Cape area. But, live there, part of my soul? No way. Can you say 100 plus inches of snow?

The horse, for my Facebook stuff, is most likely out of the barn. Save yourselves! The next time you are tempted by “Who is your evil twin?” run screaming from the room.

© Amy McVay Abbott 2016
Posted on BlogHer at Do you take Facebook quizzes?  You may want to rethink that….

 

 

May 092015
 

ChevytruckBorn in the summer, I was a year behind  my classmates on almost everything. I was one of the youngest in my class. Classmates with autumn and winter birthdays owned cars before I ever took my first driving lesson or got my permit. In 1973, you could get a permit at age 15.

My friend Arlene had a blue two-door Pontiac LeMans and my friend Cheryl had a green and black Chevy that we called the Roachmobile.  This had nothing to do with mary jane, which I had nothing to do with in high school.  The word roach sounded vaguely like her last name so I christened her car the “Roachmobile.” Arlene and Cheryl provided most of the transportation for our friends.

Living in a rural area with many gravel country roads, my friends and I learned to drive in the country.

I did not own a car of my own until I was in my early twenties. My grandparents gave me their second car.  My grandfather wasn’t driving much, so I got the car he used to visit the farms, a ’71 Cutlas-S with a 350 engine. Vroom. Vroom.

In learning to drive I was stuck with the family trucksters, a four-door blue Impala sedan and a lime green old Chevy truck with a manual shift on the column.  How cool were those vehicles!

Back then the schools offered driver’s training in the summer and had a fleet of relatively new automatic sedans for teaching. My teacher was named “Sparky” for reasons I cannot explain and for a month-long period in the summer of 1973 we drove to neighboring towns, through the country, mostly in search of drive-ins and ice cream places.  Four sixteen year olds rode with the teacher who had an extra brake on the passenger side.

He worked with us individually on parallel parking, approaching a two-way stop with a yield, but we were convinced his main mission in life was to go to the Flag Pole in Warsaw as many times as possible. The Flag Pole is an iconic ice cream place which, as far as I know, is still there and offers multiple flavors and variations of dessert treats. We also visited the Dairy Queen in North Manchester and a root beer place in Columbia City.

At the end of the training, we had a special trip to Fort Wayne.  Were we visited the zoo or the botanic gardens? No, Penguin Point for it’s wonderful French fries was our mission.

Along the way, we did learn how to drive, as well as gain the  special skill of approaching a drive-in speaker to place your order for five root beer floats.

I earned my driver’s license in August 1973, days before I started my junior year at Whitko.  Again, we had a car and a truck, and somehow I convinced my mother to let me drive the car to school.  My dad taught at the school, so that meant both the car and the truck sat in the parking lot for the entire day.  And would I take my brother, an eighth grade, and drop him off at South Whitley Junior High?  Well, of course not.

On my first morning in to school, I drove the car up onto the curb on one of the side streets heading back to the high school. I overcorrected and ended up stopped on the sidewalk on the other side of the street. I am so grateful I am always late because all the elementary school children were already in their classrooms and not on the sidewalk.  That early lesson taught me the car was much bigger than one sixteen year old.

My driving to school sans little brother lasted until my mom; rightly so, couldn’t handle being home without transportation all day, out in the country.

Then I was only allowed to get the car for special occasions, like Saturday night bowling in Warsaw (which really meant driving around South Whitley endlessly, from Carol’s Corner back to the school parking lot back to the M and R and back to Carol’s Corner.)

My dad figured it was time for me to learn how to drive a manual transmission.  We practiced in the country for days, and Dad wouldn’t let me drive the truck alone until I learned to downshift on little inclines leading up to the numerous railroad crossings in our area.  Our town was on the train route to Chicago and multiple trains pass through the area many times each day.  There were also many unmarked and unsafe train crossing in the country.

I lacked the coordination to learn how to shift on the column.

Today, I can’t drive a standard stick much to the chagrin of friends and relatives who want me to test drive their sports cars.  That’s okay, I’m perfectly happy with my seven year old Mom car.

And I still have my own driving instructor.  My husband behaves as if he has his own brake, and when he’s a passenger in my car offers wise counsel often.  I don’t much hear this screams anymore.  And why should I even pay attention to him? While I was taking driver’s training at Whitko in automatic sedans, he — being only a month older — was taking driver’s ed at Madison-Grant in similar automatic sedans.  His parents only had manual transitions so something was lost in the translation.