Click any letter for a look at my prize-winning essay from the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition. You don't even have to buy a vowel.

Monday, March 3, 2008


Yesterday I spent a satisfying afternoon soaking up the sunshine and weeding my stick garden. Today, I spent an agonizing morning trying to move my legs and get out of bed.

My muscles were as stiff as the mummifed ragweed border by the walkway, my sinuses felt like they’d been roto-rootered without anesthesia, and my scalp held in heat like a solar panel. My joints sounded like a roll of bubble wrap in a blender.

The old saying is painfully true: after 40 it’s patch, patch, patch.

Looking around, I find that perhaps the old saying reveals itself differently these days. I have a friend who wears a patch on her shoulder to help her quit smoking, one who plants a patch on her hip for birth control, and one who pastes a patch on her thigh to help her avoid Weapons of Mass Chocolate Distribution.

I’d have to put that last one across my mouth for it to do any good. I borrowed one once and stuck it on the Haagen-Dazs label where they print the fat and calorie content, but it didn’t help much.

As it is, I’m holding out for an over 40 patch: one that can tell me where I parked my car, and why I went to the mall in the first place. A patch that can clue me in to why I went to the kitchen carrying a stack of folded underwear and two Dora the Explorer videos and where my glasses are hiding before my teenagers find them on my head.

I need a patch that warns me that not to bend down to pick up any denomination of money that can’t be folded, because loose change won’t pay the doctor bills to help me recover from the bending episode. A patch that reminds me sometime before supper that my morning coffee is warming in the microwave, and that helps me keep up with what destination I had in mind when I’m aimlessly circling the block with my head bowed, attempting to peer through the top of my trifocals for familiar landmarks.

I haven’t always been this way. When I was younger, my Mom always took me along to fill out forms because I could remember important information such as our current address and her birthday. I knew who she was supposed to buy birthday cards for during any given month, what kind of pizza to watch for when we went to the buffet, and to check the backs of her Scrabble tiles when she announced that she had six blanks and an “I.” I could thread her needles, stir the corn before it smelled like scorched corduroy, and read the fine print on the packet when she wanted to plant daisies. So how did I end up this way?

The answer came to me like the first sneezing fit of springtime. I was fine until I had children. So the next time the kids tease me about the patches I use to help me through the day I’ll put their priorities in order. “Just remember the cabbage patch. Without it you wouldn’t be here.”

Now if you’ll excuse me, I seem to remember putting on the kettle for tea this morning. Or was that yesterday?


the Bag Lady said...

Well, Amy, you've done it again. If you keep this up, you really should buy stock in the Depends company!
So; if children are the reason for the decline in ourselves as we once were, do step-children count? 'Cause the Bag Lady never had kids, and she's scrambling desperately for a reason she can use to account for standing in front of the open medicine cabinet, wondering why on earth there's a pair of socks in there...

Amy Mullis said...

Of course stepchildren count! My husband blames his loss of hairline on my two kids. But you really shouldn't put socks in the medicine cabinet. That's where your underwear goes!

the Bag Lady said...

I'll try to rememb...

plaidearthworm said...

Since I just turned 40 today, you've given me so much to look forward to! ;)

Amy Mullis said...

Happy Birthday Plaid! What I meantwas,um,Look How Exciting Life is After 40! Everything is new. . .new teeth, new glasses. . .see what you have to look forward to!