Column Classic: Clipped

By Lisa Scottoline

If you raise your daughter right, eventually she will know more than you.

Which is the good and bad news.

We begin when Daughter Francesca comes home for a visit and finds me engaged in one of my more adorable habits, which is clipping my fingernails over the trashcan in the kitchen.

This would be one of the benefits of being an empty nester. You can do what you want, wherever you want. The house is all yours.


In my case, this means that everything that I should properly do in my bathroom, I do in my kitchen.

Except one thing.


I keep it classy.

Bottom line, I wash my face and brush my teeth in the kitchen. I’m writing on my laptop in the kitchen, right now. My game plan is to live no more than three steps from the refrigerator at any time, which gives you an idea of my priorities.

Anyway, Francesca eyes me with daughterly concern. “What are you doing?”

“Making sure the clippings don’t go all over the floor,” I tell her, clipping away.  Each snip produces a satisfying clik.

“It’s not good for your nails, to clip them that way. You might want to use an emery board.”

I know she learned that from Mother Mary, who carries an emery board everywhere, like a concealed weapon. “I don’t have one.”

“I do, and you can use it.”

“No, thanks.  It’s too much trouble.” I keep clipping. Clik, clik. Hard little half-moons of fingernail fly into the trash. My aim is perfect, and wait’ll I get to my toenails. Then I prop my foot up on the trash can and shoot the clippings into the air. Now that’s entertainment.

She adds, gently, “You clip them kind of short.”

“I know.  So I don’t have to do it so often.”

“But your nails would look so pretty if you let them grow longer.”

“I don’t care enough.”

Francesca looks a little sad. “I could do them for you, Mom. Shape them, polish them. Give you a nice manicure. Look at mine. I do it myself.”

So I look up, and her hands are lovely, with each fingernail nicely shaped and lacquered with a hip, dark polish. It reminds me that I used to do my nails when I was her age. I used to care about my nails, but now I don’t, and I’m not sure why I stopped. Either I’m mature, or slovenly.

“Thanks, but no,” I tell her.

She seems disappointed. It is a known fact that parents will occasionally let their children down, and this will most often occur in the area of personal grooming or bad puns. I’m guilty of only one of these. All of my puns are good.

But to make a long story short, later we decide to go out to dinner, and since it’s a nice night, I put on a pair of peep-toe shoes, which are shoes that reveal what’s now known as toe cleavage, a term I dislike.

If your toe has cleavage, ask your plastic surgeon for a refund.

Anyway, both Francesca and I looked down at unvarnished toenails, newly clipped though they were. I had to acknowledge that it wasn’t a good look.

“I can polish them for you,” she offered, with hope. “I think it they would look better, with these shoes.”

“But we’re late,” I said, and we were.

“It won’t take long.” Francesca reached for the nail polish, and I kicked off the shoes.

“I have an idea. Just do the ones that show.”

“What?” Francesca turned around in surprise, nail polish in hand.

“Do the first three toenails.”

Look, it made sense at the time. The other two toenails didn’t matter, and no one can find my pinky toenail, which has withered away to a sliver, evidently on a diet more successful than mine.

But Francesca eventually prevailed, and did all five toenails.

Like I said, I raised her right.

Copyright © Lisa Scottoline

Column Classic: Women’s Rights and Wrongs

By Lisa Scottoline

Everywhere you look you can see enormous regard for women, especially among big business. 

I’m talking about two great new products. 

The first is the wine rack. 

No, not that wine rack. 

Not that shelf with the holes that hold wine bottles. 


I’m talking about a bra that has two plastic bags, one in each cup, and you can fill the bags with wine, which you can drink through a tube attached to the bra. 

The “wine rack.” 

Get it? 

It’s so punny! 

Anyway, what a clever idea, right? 

I’m sure that every woman has wondered whether she could drink wine out of her bra. 

That is, everyone but me. 

Although to be fair, I have wondered if I could eat chocolate cake out of my bra. 

Then I could have cupcakes! 

See, I can think of stupid puns, too! 
By the way, I don’t know where your breasts go if the cups of your bra are occupied by wine bags. Evidently, you can’t be picky when your underwear doubles as a beverage delivery system. 

And who doesn’t want their wine warmed by body heat? 

In any event, it’s good to know that American business is constantly thinking of innovative ways to meet the needs of women. 

Alcoholic women. 

In fact, if you look up the wine rack online, they call it “every girl’s best friend.” 


More like every girl’s best frenemy. 

Because, let’s be real. It’s a bra. 

Every girl’s best friend is going braless. 

Amazingly, in addition to the wine rack, I came across another genius product for women, called the Shewee. 

Yes, you read that right. 

According to its website, the Shewee is “urinating device that allows women to urinate when they’re on the go.” 

In other words, if you have to go while you’re on the go. 

I’d like to describe a Shewee to you, but good taste prevails. 

For a change. 

The bottom line is that it’s plastic and it’s shaped like – well, it’s for girls who have penis envy. 

In other words, no girl ever. 

Only a man would come up with the idea that women have penis envy. Because anybody who has ever seen a penis knows that no woman would want one.  

You know what’s in men’s pants that we want? 

A wallet. 

To stay on point, the Shewee is the “the original female urination device.” 

Copycats, beware. 

Accept no substitutions. 

Like a Tupperware funnel. 

The website says that the Shewee is perfect for “camping, festivals, cycling, during pregnancy, long car journeys, climbing, sailing, skiing, the list is endless!” 

It doesn’t say anything about being middle-aged. 

Too bad, because I’m pretty sure that if you’re middle-aged, you’ll want one of these babies. Even if you don’t camp or go to festivals, and your days of pregnancy are behind you. 

We know why, don’t we, ladies? 

Do I have to spell it out for you – in the snow? 

I myself am about to order a gross. 

Because it’s gross. 

My favorite thing about the Shewee is that it comes in seven different colors. 

Oddly, there was no yellow. 

If you ask me, that’s a no-brainer. 

Get your marketing together, people. 

My favorite color was “Power Pink.” 

Because nothing says empowered like being able to pee where you want, damn it. 

Sayonara, rest stops. 

I gonna pee in my car! 

Woot woot! 

Now you know the perfect gifts for all your girlfriends. 

If you get them the wine rack, I guarantee they’re going to need the Shewee. 

Copyright Lisa Scottoline 2014 

Column Classic: Thought Bubbles

By Lisa Scottoline

You’ve probably seen the Dove commercial in which a forensic artist sketches a woman according to her own description of her face and it turns out terrible, and then sketches a second picture of a woman according to a description of her by a stranger, and it turns out great.

Who is surprised by this?

Not me.

I could’ve told you that women are their own worst critics.

I also could’ve told you that composite drawings make everybody look ugly.

If you ask me, even the second pictures of the women didn’t look as good as the women did in reality.

Felons are never that hot.

But the tagline of the campaign is, “You Are More Beautiful Than You Think.”

And everyone is hailing this as a brilliant marketing campaign and a profound way to look at women, or for women to look at themselves.

But you know what I think?

I think it really doesn’t matter if you’re beautiful or not.

Let’s be real.

I don’t need a composite artist to tell me what I really look like, because I have a mirror.  And to tell the truth, every time I look in the mirror, I have the exact opposite reaction:

I thought I looked better than that.

It’s not like I have a big ego or think that I’m especially attractive.  But I can tell you that when I look in a mirror, it’s a disappointment.

I don’t even want to think about what would happen if I ran into a forensic sketch artist and he started drawing me.  I might take his pencil and stick it where the sun don’t shine.

In other words, my own personal tagline should be, “I’m Not As Beautiful As I Think.”

But who cares?

I’m not a model.

I’m a writer, a mother, and a middle-aged woman.  Bottom line, I’m fine with how I look, even though I’m not beautiful.

And all I want from Dove soap is to get me clean.

When did a soap company get to be our national therapist?

I wish Dove would get out of the self-esteem business and figure out how to get me even cleaner, longer.  Or how to make soap with more suds, because I like a lot of suds.

Dove, don’t flatter me by telling me I’m not only beautiful, but more beautiful than I think.  Because I wasn’t born yesterday, and I don’t look it.

In other words, don’t lather me up, just lather me up.

I guarantee we’ll never see a soap commercial like that for men.  Nobody will ever sell soap by talking about how men are handsomer than they think.  In the first place, most men aren’t half as handsome as they think, but they don’t care about that.

And they’re right.

I like Dove soap, but I don’t need it to build my self-image and I don’t want it to pretend to do so by convincing me that I’m in fact more beautiful than I think, because it assumes that beauty is and should be the key to our self-esteem.  What should matter to women is who we are and how we act, and if we set our own dreams and fulfill them, in our lives.

And none of that has anything to do with what we look like.

At all.

And even ugly women deserve to feel good about themselves.

Dove might know something about soap, but their analysis is only skin-deep.

I don’t even give them an A for effort.

I think that this is the softest sell ever.

And you know who’s taking a bath?


Copyright 2013 Lisa Scottoline

Column Classic: We Are All Ferraris

By Lisa Scottoline

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


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? 


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. 


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. 


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

Column Classic: I Like Big Brains and I Cannot Lie

By Lisa Scottoline

I have excellent news, ladies.

And its excellent news for men too, depending on how they feel about big butts on women.

But, men, whatever your opinion, I’m advising you to keep it to yourself. Don’t go spouting off to your wife or significant other while you’re reading. You will start a conversation that can go sideways pretty quick.

Or more appropriately, south.

Bottom line, no pun, I came across an article reporting that women with big butts are less likely to develop disease and are even smarter than women with average or smaller butts.

Finally, some good news!

Even if it does seem completely unbelievable!

According to the article, women with bigger butts have lower cholesterol levels because their – correction, our – hormones process sugar faster. And we also have less of a risk of developing cardiovascular conditions or diabetes.

I know that sounds totally wrong, but I read it on the Internet, so you know it’s 100% correct.

When it comes to medical information, the Internet is always dead-on.

But if you rely on it, you end up dead.

Just kidding.

I absolutely do rely on the Internet for medical advice. In fact, I don’t even know why we have doctors anymore.

Oh, right, we don’t.

Because if your deductible is $6500, like mine, you basically don’t have a doctor. Or you better hope that if something bad happens to you, it ends up being really catastrophic, so you get your money’s worth.

Fingers crossed?

To return to point, the article said that women with big butts have a surplus of omega-3 fatty acids.

Or fatty assets.

Or a fatty ass.

Anyway, I believe that. Because I’m a woman with a big butt and I have a surplus of everything.

Including goodwill and happiness!

And in even better news, omega-3 fatty acids are related to improved brain function.

How great is that?

Aren’t you glad you came?

You can thank me anytime!

In fact, I hope you’re sitting on your nice big butt as you read this column, and now you know that you’re comprehending it at warp speed because of your superior brain function.

Who knew that your brain was connected to your butt?

Unless you’re one of those people who have their head up their ass.

The article even said that the fatty tissue in our butts “traps harmful fatty particles and prevents cardiovascular disease.”

Wait, what?

That’s basically saying that fat traps fat – but maybe it does!

After all, birds of a feather flock together.

Who are we to question Dr. Internet?

More excellent medical advice!

So, from now on, just look at your big fat butt and visualize it as some extremely fleshy Venus fly trap, trapping all the fat in the tri-state area, strengthening your heart and increasing your IQ.

Fat is genius!

Now, if the medical advice in this article is true, that would mean that the Kardashian’s are the smartest people ever.

Laugh away, but the joke’s on you.

They made zillions of dollars selling pictures of their butts.

And we bought them.

In other words, they made asses out of us.

With their asses.


I must say that I have never weighed in, again no pun, on the whole big-butt phenomenon. My butt is big and always has been, but I never viewed it as positive. When I was growing up, the cool thing was to have a flat, skinny, or nonexistent butt. Happily, those days are over.

Or behind us.

Nowadays, people pay to have butt implants, and since this article, I finally understand why.

So, people will think they’re smart.

Copyright Lisa Scottoline 2016

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, which said that about a fifth of women between fifteen and forty-four still douche.


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.


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

Column Classic: Lift and Separate

By Lisa Scottoline

Once again, you’ve come to the right place.

If you read this, you’re going to LOL.

But this time, I can’t take the credit.

Sometimes the world hands you an ace. All you have to do is set it down on the table and play.

I’m talking, of course, about the Smart Bra.

Have you heard about this? If not, I’m here to tell you that at the recent consumer electronics show, a Canadian tech company introduced a Smart Bra, which is a bra that is smarter than you are.

Or at least smarter than your breasts.

Microsoft is reportedly developing a Smart Bra, too, and I’m sure the other tech companies will follow suit.

Or maybe bra.

If it creeps you out that the male-dominated tech industry is thinking about what’s under your shirt, raise your hand.

Just don’t raise it very fast.

They’re watching you jiggle.

Bottom line, the Smart Bras contain sensors that supposed to record your “biometric data” and send it to an app on your mobile device.

It’s a fitbit for your breasts.

Or a fittit.

Sorry, I know that’s rude, but I couldn’t resist.

Like I said, the world handed me an ace.

Anyway, to stay on point, the biometric data it monitors is your heart rate and respiration rate, but Microsoft has taken that a step further. According to CNN, their Smart Bra is embedded with “psychological sensors that seek to monitor a woman’s heart activity to track her emotional moods and combat overeating.” In fact, their “sensors can signal the wearer’s smartphone, which then flash a warning message to help her step away from the fridge and make better diet decisions.”

Isn’t that a great idea?

It’s a bra that tells on you when you’re hitting the chocolate cake.

Forgive me if I’m not rushing out to buy one.

I already know when I’m being bad, and I don’t need to be nagged by my underwear.

By the way, the Smart Bra sells for $150.

If that price gives you a heart attack, the bra will know it.

Maybe the bra can call 911.

Maybe the bra can even drive you to the hospital.

Don’t slack, bra.

That’s for breasts.

The Canadian company says that wearable tech is the latest thing, and that it developed its Smart Bra because it had “a plethora of requests from eager women who wanted in on the action, too.”

Do you believe that?

I don’t.

On the contrary, I know a plethora of eager women who wish they didn’t have to wear a bra at all.

I also know a plethora of eager women who take their bra off the moment they hit the house.

Plus, I know a plethora of eager women who skip the bra if they’re wearing a sweatshirt, sweater, or down vest.

Finally, I know a plethora of eager women who would never use the word plethora in a sentence.

Okay, maybe I’m talking about myself.

Frankly, I don’t want “in on the action” if the action means a bra that will tell the tri-state area I’m pigging out.

However, I want “in on the action” if the action means Bradley Cooper.

And nobody needs a Smart Bra to monitor what would happen to my heart if Bradley Cooper were around.

By the way, researchers are not currently developing a pair of smart tighty whiteys for men.

That’s too bad because I have a name for it.


But maybe men don’t need underwear with a sensor that detects their emotional changes.

They already have such a sensor.

In fact, they were born with it.

Too bad it doesn’t make any noise.

Like, woohooo!

Copyright Lisa Scottoline 2016

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