By Lisa Scottoline

I’m writing this in the middle of the night.

And here’s why.


I’m not complaining.

I’m recommending.

Let me explain.

We begin two months ago when I develop a head cold and can’t shake it. On book tour, I can’t even hug people and that’s the reason I write books.

By the way, it’s not Covid.

I’m still a Covid virgin.

You think I’m lucky?

You never met Thing Two.

So I called my doctor and he refers me to an specialist, whom I go see.

He looks up my nose and says it’s “frothy.”

Froth does not belong in your nose.

It belongs in your cappuccino.

And now I’ll never drink cappuccino again.

The specialist diagnoses a sinus infection and prescribes an antibiotic and steroids.

Thus changing my life.

I don’t understand how I could go from feeling so bad in the morning to feeling so good at night. In fact, I could paint your house.

If you want, I’ll be right over.

I’ve never felt this good in my life.

I don’t know why I can’t live on steroids.

Maybe I’ll grow big muscles, but that’s not the worst thing in return for feeling like you could run the world.

Should I give it a try?

After I paint your house?

I’m happy I’m cured because I’m a bad patient. All I did was complain. In my defense, I live alone. So I was talking to dogs.

But I was extremely profane.

Somebody needs to explain to me the science of steroids.

Are these the same steroids that make people hit baseballs into the next state?

I think they’re different because you inject those steroids in your butt.

Or maybe that’s testosterone.

And maybe you inject it somewhere else.

All I know is now I have two working nostrils, one on each side. I’m breathing like a champ. I’m pretty sure I’m using up all the oxygen in the universe.

Please be careful.

Don’t exert yourself.

You’re only left with nitrogen or whatever.

The other weird thing about steroids is the dosage. You take six pills in a one day, then five, then four, you get the idea. I’ve never in my life taken five of the same pill one day.

Now I want six hundred.

This is why I don’t do drugs.

The only drug I do is chocolate.

That’s why I don’t buy chocolate cake.

Now I won’t buy steroids.

I have no portion control when it comes to steroids.

I’m gonna grow chin hair, but what else is new?

Plus I can write in the middle of the night. By the way, I apologize for not writing new pieces lately, but I’m on book deadline and my nose is frothy.

Now all I have to do is fall asleep.

I’ve been trying for four hours and I’ll succeed in four days.

Meantime I’ll mow the lawn, wash the car, and run the world.

I think I could run it better.

In my world, everybody would be nice and all waistbands would be elastic.

We’d clean up the Earth, the sea, and our bra drawer.

There would be shows on Netflix we haven’t seen already.

Books would never be burned, but Spanx would.

There would be a price cap on prescription drugs and highlights.

Salted caramels would fall from the sky.

Bradley Cooper would be my husband.

The Supreme Court would have the ethical obligations of a traffic court.

Trials would be televised because we saw everything on Netflix. Also, justice.

That would just be my first day on the job.

Mine would be a government on steroids, literally.

Either that or I’m coming over.

Say when.

© Lisa Scottoline 2024

Column Classic: Twisted Sister

By Lisa Scottoline

So, it turns out I have an occupational hazard. 

I’m not complaining, because at least I have an occupation. 

The only problem with my occupation is that I spend a lot of time occupying a chair. 

And the first occupational hazard is that my butt is spreading. 

What, I can’t blame that on my job? 

Fair enough. 

Thanks a lot, carbohydrates. 

Actually, the best part of my job is that I get to sit around all day in a chair, and I have set up my office so that my desk is in the middle of the room, with the TV to the left. I keep the TV on while I’m working, just to have some background noise that isn’t dogs farting. 

But a year ago, my back started to hurt. I ignored it for a while, and then when my book deadline was finally finished, I got my big butt to the doctor, who said: 

“We x-rayed your back, and you have scoliosis.” 

I thought he was mispronouncing my last name, which everybody does, and I don’t blame them. I tell them Scottoline rhymes with fettuccine, but this word sounded different. Lisa Scoliosis isn’t a good name. I asked, “Scolli-what-is?” 

The doctor answered, “It means a rotation of the spinal column, but in your case it’s not congenital. So, you’re an author?” 

“Yes,” I told him. I always put that on my medical records, so that my doctors will buy my books. I would say it’s free advertising, but given the general cost of a doctor’s visit, they would have to buy 3,293,737 of my books for me to break even. 

The doctor continued, “So you probably spend a lot of time sitting and you must be turning to the left. Why are you turning to the left?” 

“Because that’s where the TV is?” 

“Hmmm,” he said, just like a doctor in the movies. 

Or on TV. 

I was getting the general drift, because I’m a mystery writer and I don’t need a lot of clues. “So, you mean to tell me that just because I sat on my butt and watched TV while I worked, for twenty-five years, I rotated my spine?” 


So, this was all TV’s fault. Thank God it wasn’t my fault. It can never be my fault. 

The doctor added, “And you’re probably crossing your legs, too.” 

I thought about it. “I probably am. How else can you keep a dog on your lap while you work?” 

The doctor laughed. He thought I was kidding. 

You and I know I wasn’t. 

Maybe he should start reading my books. Or this column. 

Anyway, I got serious. “Now what do we do?” 

“Work out.” 

I tried not to groan. 

Why is “working out” always the answer? 

Why is the answer never “chocolate cake?” 

Meanwhile, I tell the doctor that I walk the dogs, ride a bike, and even sit like a lump on the back of a pony, but he says none of this counts. He sends me to physical therapy, telling me to dress comfortably. 

I don’t need to be told to dress comfortably.  

I’m a middle-aged woman. 

We’re too smart to dress any other way. 

I’ve already gone to two sessions of physical therapy, which are held in a big open gym with a lot of other people who were sent there for respectable reasons that had nothing to do with watching too much television. 

There, I do twenty reps of the Backward Bend, the Press-Up, Bridging, and an array of other horrible exercises, all of which require a Neutral Spine. 

This doesn’t come easily to me. 

Not only because I hate working out, but because I’m not neutral about anything. 

I have opinions. 

My least favorite of the exercises is one called Isometric Stabilization, and the directions on the sheet say that I’m supposed to, “Tighten abdominal muscles as if tightening a belt.” 

In other words, suck it in. 

Oddly, I’ve been doing this exercise my entire life.  

In any photo of me, I’m engaging in Isometric Stabilization. 

Now I have a sheet of floor exercises to do three times a day at home, with pictures to show me the correct form. 

Oddly, none of the pictures show my dogs jumping on my head, licking my face, or walking across my chest while I do the exercises. 

Any pet owner who tries to work out at home knows how helpful dogs can be. 

If you have twenty reps to do, good luck getting through rep two. 

Or maybe they are helpful? 

Copyright © Lisa Scottoline

Peach Forever

By Lisa Scottoline

There’s something worse than losing a dog.

Losing two dogs.

Which just happened in my family.

But this column isn’t about death, it’s about life.

By way of background, Daughter Francesca lost her wonderful Pip during the holidays. He succumbed to cancer at the age of fifteen, and we were able to be with him at the end, which was blessedly peaceful. And then, unexpectedly, my dog Peach fell ill last week when her kidneys failed, and we were able to be with her at the end of her fourteen years, which was also peaceful.

It was the worst instant replay ever.

But losing both Pip and Peach got me thinking that the sadness over their passing is part-and-parcel of the unique happiness they gave us, as the older generation in our dog family of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. Pip, Peach, and the late Little Tony were the older generation, and Pip and Peach were even half-brother and half-sister, having the same father. I still have Peach’s two sons, Boone and Kit.

At two human beings and five dogs, we were outnumbered.

Leg-wise, that’s four to twenty.

Though my legs are hairier.

People say dogs are a member of their family, but in our case, the reverse was true – we were members of their family.

And it was a hoot to watch them relate like a human family.

Peach was the smallest, but she barked nonstop, keeping everyone in line. If she smoked, she could have passed for Mother Mary.

Every night starting at 7:00, she would stand at the window overlooking the backyard and bark until 11:00 at night. The window was in the family room, so it was impossible to watch TV.

Bottom line, there was too much family in the family room.

Most nights I would let her out in the front yard so she could bark at the backyard, and the only thing missing was a side yard so she could bark at the front and the backyards at the same time.

Like stereo agita.

All of this barking kept squirrels, birds, deer, and passing clouds in order.

In fact, I’m pretty sure the world is safe from atomic warfare because of Peach.

And don’t think my neighbors hate me, because they’re too far away to hear.

Even as she got older, she never stopped barking. She had heart issues severe enough for the vet to tell me not to walk her anymore, but she barked forever.

Meanwhile her barking never bothered me.

I have nothing against a woman speaking up.

And she bore two terrific puppies, then got to live with them all her life, a terrific mother from day one. All of her feistiness was reserved for anything or anyone who tried to mess with her puppies. We whelped them in my bedroom, and just once Uncle Little Tony stuck his head in to see what was going on.

Peach got busy.

Mother grizzlies have nothing on mother cavaliers.

And she barely slowed down as she got older, except that she got mitral valve disease, which caused her heart to enlarge.

She was a little dog with a big heart, literally.

She slept on the pillow next to me, and because her heart was too big, I could actually hear it beat at night, in the stillness of my bedroom.

And I could feel its vibration on my pillow.

It was a comforting sound that lulled me to sleep, like nature’s lullaby.

To love a dog, or any animal, is to fully realize what it is to be a human being.

And how connected we are to animals, and honestly to everything in the world.

I have a dog family, but I believe there is a much larger family we all belong to.

That family includes people of kinds, and dogs, and trees, and various bugs and even the sky and the stars.

It was my little dog with the big heart that brought me to that realization, every night from my pillow to the sky entire.

I will miss my little Peach.

But I will always have her with me.

And so will you.

Love each other.

Copyright Lisa Scottoline 2024