Column Classic: We Are All Ferraris

By Lisa Scottoline

By the time you read this, you will have survived Valentine’s Day. 

Congrats! 

I spent mine with dogs and cats, but I’m not all pathetic and sad about it, and if you were in a similar position, you don’t have to be mopey, either. 

Here’s why. 

You’re not alone. You may feel that way, thanks to TV commercials for conversation hearts and bouquets you aren’t getting, but you’re not the only one. There’s lots of women like us, who end up manless in middle age, whether by choice or not. I know, because I get lots of heartfelt emails from widows and divorcees, as I am fast becoming the poster child for inadvertent celibacy. 

By which I mean, not woe-is-me celibacy, but more like, Oh, has it really been that long? 

Also, why don’t I miss it, when I used to like it well enough?  

And why aren’t I on a mission to find a man? 

To begin, let me tell you about a recent blind date. Most of my dates are blind, as that gives me a fighting chance. 

I thought he was nice, handsome, and smart, which is three more things than I ever expect. And we were having a great time, yapping away though his first and second vodka. But by the time he got to his third vodka, his words slurred, his eyes glistened, and he blurted out the following: 

“I miss my girlfriend. I don’t know why she broke up with me. The kids didn’t like her, but I did.” 

Uh oh. 

This would not be a happy ending. He told me the next day that it was the only time he’d ever tried to kiss somebody who was putting her car into reverse. 

That would be me, and can you even believe he went in for the good-night smooch? 

Could it be worse? 

No. 

So, take a lesson from my horrible blind date. He was bemoaning the loss of his girlfriend, when he had a perfectly fine woman sitting across from him, ready, willing, and able. 

Oh, so able. 

In other words, don’t miss out on the fullness of your life merely because something is missing. 

A man is not a passport. Having one is nice, but not the law. And if you’re alone, you can’t go into suspended animation. You have to live your life and you can be happy. So, make yourself happy. 

How? 

Flip it. If you think that being on your own is the problem, turn that idea on its head.  Make being alone a bonus. For example, if you’re on your own, you don’t have to ask anybody’s permission to do anything or take anyone else’s feelings into account. You can paint your kitchen orange if you want and make all manner of dumb mistakes. 

You’re not single, you’re a cappella! 

Which sounds a lot more fun, plus it’s Italian. 

But how do you figure out what makes you happy? 

Try things. Try anything. Paint. Draw. Take piano lessons. Read a book. Keep a journal. Write a story. Go to night school. Volunteer. Sing. Rearrange the furniture.  Rescue animals. Join a book club or start one. 

Dance! 

Bottom line, any verb will do. 

Do whatever you like. And since I bet you’ve spent most of your life taking care of others, take a little care of yourself. Get your hair done, and your toenails. Especially the amazing disappearing pinkie toenail. 

If you can find it. 

Spend a little money on yourself.  Buy a new sweater and parade around. 

Look at you, girl! 

Here are some of the things that make me happy: Daughter Francesca, dogs, friends, work, books, reading, cats, a big TV, a pony, opera, and chocolate cake. My life and my heart are full, and though I live alone, I don’t feel lonely. 

As for the occasional date, if it happens, great. Maybe I’ll meet a man who doesn’t like vodka that much, but no matter. 

The point isn’t him. 

It’s me, and you. 

Think of yourself as an exotic sports car, like a Ferrari, that leaves its garage only occasionally. 

Not everybody can drive you, and you don’t wait to be driven. 

You’re not that kind of car. 

And neither am I. 

So hit the gas, and live. 

Copyright Lisa Scottoline 2011

I’m a Little Teapot

By Lisa Scottoline

Once again, I learned something from Daughter Francesca.

I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to be the other way around.

Either she’s a really smart kid or I’m a really dumb mother.

We begin last month, when Francesca had a cold and comes home with a neti pot.

If you’ve never seen a neti pot, it looks like the small pot they serve tea in in restaurants, which is cute.

Except a neti pot is not cute.

This is where it gets disgusting.

If you’re eating, move on.

But if you want to change your life, keep reading.

When Francesca came home, I asked her to show me how to use a neti pot.

So she fills the neti pot with distilled water, puts in a little packet of God knows what, and screws the cap on. Then she inserts the spout of the neti pot into her right nostril, tilts her head to the left over the sink, and pours water up her nose.

You know what comes out her left nostril?

Water and snot.

I almost threw up. It gave me nightmares.

Until I got a cold.

And I bought a neti pot.

And it changed my life.

My sinuses felt clean for the first time ever.

And my cold went away.

Meanwhile I didn’t even know I had sinuses beside my nose.

But my neti pot did.

I get more oxygen now than ever before.

I breathe like a champ.

My sinuses sparkle.

So I’m addicted to my neti pot. I use it every night, whether I need to or not. I can’t even wait until bedtime to clean my sinuses.

It’s sex for middle-aged women.

Meanwhile I barely shower.

I can’t be bothered.

And my hair never gets greasy like it did when I was young and normal.

It’s straw now.

At this point, I’m pretty sure it repels water.

Anyway to return to point, it’s easy to use a neti pot, once you practice.

All you do is stick it up one nostril and start pouring.

At first you’ll feel like you’re waterboarding yourself.

Don’t worry.

You are.

I forgot to mention, you have to keep your mouth open and breathe.

I forget that sometimes at night.

Basically I drown myself before bed.

If you forget the directions, remember the song:

“I’m a little teapot, short and stout.

Here is my handle, here is my spout.

Now stick it up your nose.”

Okay, that’s not the song.

I remember on the show Welcome Back, Kotter, when Vinnie Barbarino used to say “up your nose with a rubber hose.”

My mother always thought that was hysterical.

But that’s exactly what using a neti pot feels like.

It’s like a douche for your nostrils.

Meanwhile, does anyone even douche anymore?

I found a website for womenshealth.gov, which said that about a fifth of women between fifteen and forty-four still douche.

Why?

Why did anybody ever douche?

Way back when, Mother Mary did. She told me that women were supposed to so they were clean down there.

Where?

The sinus of the south.

Are you throwing up yet?

I remember there were commercials for douche on TV, telling you in sneaky ways that your vagina was stinky.

But I’m pretty sure it smelled like a vagina.

I checked online, and all the websites I found recommend unanimously that women should not douche.

Your vagina is self-cleaning. Like your oven.

But not like your sinuses.

It reminded me of another memory of my mother, and I have so many I think of them as mommaries.

Mother Mary was in a hospital gown being wheeled into surgery, and when the orderly moved the sheet aside, there was spotting underneath. The orderly hastily covered it up, embarrassed for her.

Mother Mary shrugged. “Don’t worry, it’s rust.”

Copyright Lisa Scottoline 2024

People People

by Lisa Scottoline

I love people.

I’m what people used to call a people person.

As in, I hug you whether you want me to or not.

And lately, everybody wants to be my friend.

Normally this would make me happy, but not this way.

Let me explain.

Like everybody, I’m on various apps for various reasons. For example, I have a Peloton and when the weather’s too crummy to go outside, I hop on my Peloton bike and pedal away, listening to a twenty-year-old instructor yell “put on your crown, girl!”

Which I find surprisingly encouraging.

And the Peloton screen has so-called leaderboard that has a list of people in order of who’s working out the best.

I’m usually number 2038487392033.

I’m not exercising to compete.

I’m exercising to stay alive.

The only person I want to beat is the Grim Reaper.

Sometimes, somebody will give me a virtual high five, so I give a virtual high five back.

Peloton wants me to add this person as a friend but I don’t.

Because I don’t want to compete with a friend.

That would make me their enemy.

Duolingo is the same way.

Duolingo is an app I’m on to learn Italian, since I’m about to start a novel set in Tuscany, so I’m going there soon for research.

Nice work if you can get it.

And you can get it if you try.

I mean, if I can, anybody can.

Anyway, I’m learning Italian before the trip because it would be nice to be able to ask for the bathroom in Italian.

That’s all a middle-aged woman needs to know.

I don’t care about the train station anymore.

There’s only one room I’m interested in.

Il bagno.

I got on the Duolingo app because Daughter Francesca told me about it and she really loves it. She already speaks Italian and French, but got on Duolingo to learn Spanish, so right there, you know that mother and daughter are different.

If I knew Italian and French, I’d say, enough already.

I don’t need that many words.

I’m good with spaghetti, couch, and book.

Okay, dog, cat, and pony.

Plus bathroom.

Francesca added me as her friend on Duolingo, so I added her back as my friend, only because I actually gave birth to her.

They don’t have a section for that, but they should.

They could call it the C section.

I didn’t want to compete with her, because I love her.

Also, I knew I’d lose.

I raised her to be diligent and hardworking.

Unfortunately, she is.

Francesca’s on Duolingo practicing Spanish every single day. In fact, she’s currently on a 113-day streak.

My streak lasted 2 days.

It ended when I found out where the bathroom was.

But since I added Francesca as a friend, she can send me a virtual “nudge” to get back on the app.

Which I “ignore.”

I used to check on whether she was doing her homework.

Now she’s checking on whether I’m doing mine.

If that wasn’t bad enough, I’m getting email from Duolingo: “Hi Lisa! Keep your two-day Italian streak going!”

I didn’t answer, so they sent another email:

“Hi Lisa! Duo missed you yesterday!”

It took me a minute to realize who Duo was, then I realized it was the corporate owl.

He’s never going to be my friend.

I don’t give a virtual hoot.

Copyright 2023 Lisa Scottoline