Patsy Porco

Archive for May, 2012|Monthly archive page

The Sporting Season

In Humor on May 26, 2012 at 12:24 am

It’s spring, the most uplifting season of the year … unless you live with sports fans. Then it’s crazy season–a time when three major sports are on television. It’s the playoffs for basketball and hockey, and baseball season. It’s a time when your spouse and children ignore you, unless you’re bearing food. I love this time of year, but I also dread it.

I love baseball announcers. My father was a baseball fan. I never paid enough attention to how much of a fan he was, but I recall my youthful summer days overlaid with the soundtrack of baseball announcers. Even today, I love the heat of summer and the sound of baseball announcers in the background. It doesn’t really matter who’s playing, as long as it’s hot, flies are buzzing, and laconic baseball commentators are droning on. That’s summer to me.

I have grown quite fond of my local Yankees announcers but, in a pinch, any announcers will do. Summer heat and low-pitched, measured voices announcing hits and catches go together like swimming and sunbathing (and margaritas and guacamole).

My favorite things to do during the summer are to go for a swim and then take a nap, with a baseball game being announced in another room while a light breeze blows over my sunburnt skin. That combination brings back memories of napping with my six siblings in a loft in Rehobeth Beach, Delaware. After returning from the beach, my parents would put up the steps leading to our sleeping loft so that they could be alone downstairs for an hour or two. Meanwhile, we would either sleep or terrorize each other. We couldn’t escape, but we could wreak havoc. Or, we could spy out of our A-frame cottage’s window on the people at the pool.

During the day, all you saw was families and kids. At night, it was a different story. The maids who cleaned the A-frames during the day were men. During the night, some of them adopted women’s names. All of the maids, along with other men, partied poolside at night. Looking back, it should have been apparent that we were at a gay resort since there was only a men’s room by the pool. The sign for the women’s room was indicated by an arrow that led out of the pool area. My parents knew, of course, but they liked the A-frames and their proximity to the beach. They minded their own business. We, the kids, minded the maids’ business.

After dinner, we would gather up in the loft with binoculars and look over the fence into the pool area. My parents were aware of what was going on—we were reported at least once to the management—but I think they liked being alone downstairs. Having to placate the manager was a small price to pay.  But back to sports.

Several weeks ago, after work, I had a problem of sorts. You see, three years ago, I encountered a great deal at our local supermarket, Stop and Shop, on slingback patio chairs, but I could only find three of them. I needed six. After visiting four Stop and Shops in neighboring towns, I gave up. Today, I found the same chairs at a local Stop and Shop. I bought them. I knew that I was driving our sedan, but I figured I would somehow get them into the backseat. And I did. However, it took almost an hour. I have to congratulate the people in the parking lot. The majority of them were exceptionally helpful. But nobody could get the chairs into the backseat of my car. I managed to get two of them in, but I couldn’t get the last one in to save my life. Finally, with the encouragement of the parking-lot crowd, I called my husband to come get me with our SUV.

My husband is the most patient and understanding man that I have ever met. However, the Devils, Knicks, and Yankees were all playing within the hour. That changed everything. When he heard that I needed him to come get me and my chairs, he became less reasonable than usual. He even compared me to Lucille Ball, but not in a good way.  After the phone slammed down on his end, my adrenaline kicked in. I forcefully jammed the last chair into the car and called him back to say that he didn’t have to come.

When I got home, we wolfed down dinner and then he and my son disappeared. My son commandeered the family room to watch the Knicks, while my husband went downstairs to watch two televisions, one featuring the Devils and one the Yankees.

I did laundry. It was surreal going from one floor, where my son was groaning over the the Knicks’ loss, to the lower floor where my husband was celebrating the Devils’ win and grieving over the Yankees’ loss. Fortunately, the Yankees’ loss didn’t matter that much, since there are many months left in the baseball season. However, it’s the end of the basketball and hockey seasons, so I had to remember who “we” were rooting for, and congratulate, or console, whoever needed it. I hate seasons when sports overlap.

I also hate seasons where clothing choices overlap. The temperature was in the 80’s on Monday, so I wore a light dress and sandals to work. The next day, it poured and the temperature was in the 50’s, so I wore a turtleneck and boots. Other people at work wore sandals and tank tops. They must have been freezing. The next day was milder, so a sweater was needed over light clothing. Some of my coworkers opted for winter clothes.

Dressing at this time of year in Connecticut is a challenge. You can’t totally switch over to your summer wardrobe until July. And then, by the time you get everything ironed, it’s time to start wearing winter clothes again. But at least with clothes, you know that eventually you will be wearing one season’s worth of clothing.

With sports, however, seasons are always overlapping. As soon as basketball and hockey have wrapped up, football season encroaches upon baseball season. I don’t know where soccer, lacrosse, tennis, and golf come in, but no doubt all together.

Maybe if I were a sports fan, I would love the lunacy. But I’m not and I don’t. So today, when sports dominated the inside of our house, I went out back with the dog and settled myself into one of my new patio chairs. I closed my eyes and listened to the sounds of the insects and birds. And then, I heard it: the sound of a baseball announcer coming through a neighbor’s window. Finally, summer seemed within reach.

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On Beauty, Slugs, and Homeopathy

In Humor on May 25, 2012 at 10:02 pm

Today, while cutting flowers in my garden, I found a pale green inchworm on a peony and I was thrilled. Later in the day, a rabbit ran across my lawn and again I was delighted. If I had seen a slug on the peony and a rat on my lawn, however, my reactions would have been very different. I wonder if there’s a parallel universe where slugs and rats are preferable to inchworms and rabbits?

I often think about why some animals are preferred to others—why we recoil from some, eat others, and keep certain ones as pets. I have also pondered beauty. We’ve all heard that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” and I’ve witnessed this many times. One person will think a celebrity is beautiful while another will disagree. But neither of those people would call the celebrity ugly; well, they might, to make a point, but they wouldn’t truly mean it. They would actually mean that the celebrity doesn’t meet their criteria for beauty. What one person perceives as human beauty does not always mesh with the opinion of others. It might be due to one preferring blondes to brunettes, or brunettes to redheads. It could be related to what a person was raised to believe was beautiful. So why doesn’t anyone prefer a slug to an inchworm? Or a rat to a rabbit?

Speaking of nature, the other day, or maybe a few weeks ago, when I was driving to who-knows-where, I heard a radio ad for a homeopathic natural supplement that improves one’s short-term memory within 60 minutes. I wish I recalled the name of it, but I hadn’t taken the supplement, so just knowing about it did me no good. The ad got me thinking, though. In the recent past, whenever I heard the word, “homeopathic,” I would think of natural remedies. However, I looked the word up not long ago and learned that homeopathic remedies, if given to a healthy person, would cause symptoms of the disease that sick people are trying to get rid of. My brain shorted out when I read that. If people knew what homeopathic meant, I doubt they’d brag to their friends that they only used homeopathic drugs. I would venture to say that many people think homeopathic remedies are natural remedies. And anything natural is good, right?

Socrates might disagree with you. He was sentenced to commit suicide by drinking hemlock, a poisonous plant. There are plenty of poisonous plants found in nature. I would think that the perfect murder would involve giving someone a freshly brewed cup of hemlock that one grew in one’s garden alongside tea leaves. Persuading a jury that you mixed up the plants would be a cinch. This makes me wonder why our society looks on natural remedies with such a favorable eye. The medical profession is aware that certain herbs and supplements can be detrimental if taken willy-nilly or in tandem with prescribed medicines. Even grapefruit juice can interfere with certain medicines, and what’s more natural than grapefruit?

Today, I was filling pots with soil and my friend called. When I told her I was gardening, she asked me if I had lost my mind since I had already contracted ivy poisoning twice this year and it was only May. The outbreaks were severe and required heavy doses of Prednisone. I reassured her that my gardening endeavors today were pot-related. She thought that it was interesting that I was growing marijuana and asked me to tell her where the plants were located.

While this exchange was in jest—take note FBI— it also made me think about the beneficial plants in nature. Just as with beauty, opinion varies. I love string beans, but my husband doesn’t. My inlaws salivate over broccoli rabe while I would use it as a poison, in place of hemlock. Certain fruits and vegetables are universally appreciated like apples, bananas, oranges, lemons, tomatoes, lettuce, and potatoes. Others, like lychee, prickly pears, plantains, rhubarb, beets, rutabagas, turnips, and spinach are as much disliked as liked. The same goes for marijuana. Some don’t like it and some do—especially when they’re stoned. What’s not to like when one is stoned? Hell, even broccoli rabe is appealing. (Not that I would know this from experience, law-enforcement agents.)

So, we’re back where we started: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, except when it comes to slugs and rats. Although, I’m sure some will disagree with that statement. To them I say, “How’s the weather in your parallel universe?”

Physical Fitness for Free

In Humor on May 22, 2012 at 2:11 pm

I’m getting a physical examination on Thursday. My last one was a long time ago, way before my memory took a permanent vacation. I can’t remember where I’m going when I’m driving, so I’m not surprised that I can’t recall my last real physical. I remember my fake one, though.

It was about six years ago—when I applied for life insurance. The insurance company sent a guy over to our house with a bunch of medical testing equipment. Looking back, I can’t quite believe that I let a complete stranger into my house and then allowed him to extract blood from me. He could have been anyone—a DNA thief, a cat burglar (an unlucky one since we have a dog), or an insurance salesman.

He turned out to be legit, I think. I received a letter from the insurance company approving my application and supplying me with the results of my tests. Knowing insurance companies’ wily ways, I’m pretty sure they hired a real medical tester to weed out the high-risk applicants. Now, if a credit card company sent someone to my house for blood, I’d tell them that they had already tapped that stone, or turnip.

So, six years ago, I had my last physical, if you want to call it that. I did call it that, and even had the insurance company forward the results of my tests to my doctor. When my doctor raised his eyebrows at my unorthodox physical, I pretended not to notice. I just asked him to put the results in my permanent file. He said he would. Who knows if he did? He might not even be a real doctor.

My fake physical got me thinking, though. An enormous percentage of the U.S. population is lacking health insurance. I remember the times when I didn’t have health insurance; I lived in fear that I would develop a fatal illness or fungus nails, and that I wouldn’t know until it was too late. Death I could face. Not being able to wear sandals in the summer, however, would be tragic.

I needn’t have worried, though. I could have applied for life insurance. I would have gotten a free physical and peace of mind, to boot. Those insurance physicals are thorough; they even test for AIDS/HIV.

Of course, if I had gotten bad news, then the peace of mind benefit would have been out the window. But, at least I would have known where I stood. That’s not always a good thing (ignorance being bliss when it’s folly to be wise, and all), but at least I would have had the option to find out how I was—instead of imagining the worst.

And then, after my insurance physical, I could have gone over to the Red Cross and donated some more blood. They give you juice and cookies.

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