I’m in Love with My Plastic Surgeon

I’m in love with my plastic surgeon. Well, maybe not in love, but something verging on wanting to eat dinner with him every night, and if that’s not love, what is?

Sure he’s older than me … by a lot. How old? If we must get technical, he’s old enough to be my father. That is, if he knocked my mom up in college. (Not pre-med college. Pre-med would have gotten me out of the, “weird, he’s too old zone.” But if I were a medical school knock-up baby.)

I picture dating him. We’re in his car, and it’s no doubt fancy and made in Europe. This is when the age difference becomes a problem. (Even in my fantasies I allow reality to sneak in.) I point out he’s driving too slow, or that he can cut in front of that car ahead. I ask him for medical advice. He tells me to make an appointment to see a doctor. I remind him he is a doctor.

Why do I love him? Could it be his Spanish accent? Perhaps the way he oozes class? Is it how he examines my body so intensely that I can practically see the artistic wheels of his brain turning? His eyebrows dart up, and an expression that he just witnessed something extraordinary flashes across his face.

It’s none of those things that make me love him, though they do help make the visits more bearable. You see, he is giving me back something that was taken away. Four days after my 40th birthday I was told I had invasive cancer in my right breast. The angry tumor had infiltrated blood vessels, all the while encouraging other cells to start multiplying in different areas.

Mastectomies are amputations of sorts, and how very fortunate we are that (if a candidate) our breasts can be reconstructed right away.  Before we even wake from the anesthesia initially given to use for the breast removal, plastic surgeons slip into the operating room and take over.

This does not make the process any less traumatic, though. The day before my mastectomy, I said farewell to my right breast. I apologized for wanting it larger in junior high and high school. I thanked it for nursing my two children when they were infants. It did its job and served me well. It was a fine little breast, and now it was sick and needed to be removed before it made the rest of me sicker.

The first time I met with my plastic surgeon, I wept gulping messy sobs. All of the biopsies, tests, and other doctor visits I could detach from, but not this. As he showed me where my breast would be removed and what he would do, panic set in.

“But I like my breast,” I said weakly (as if that would change the course of events, as if that would make him say, “Never mind then! Let’s call this whole cancer thing off!”).

“I understand,” he said. “But it has cancer.”

We sat in silence as I digested this, until I was ready to gather myself and listen.

Then he started measuring my shoulders, chest, and my other breast. His eyes lit up. He got that look he gets. He told me how he would take skin from one part of my body and use it. He was confident, and his confidence made me feel confident. I went from despair to hope.

It has been three weeks since my mastectomy. Seeing my body for the first time after was unsettling. I looked lopsided and unfamiliar. I felt less feminine. I still feel less feminine. But my plastic surgeon understands this, and he quickly fills the uncomfortable contraption inserted under my muscle and skin with saline. I watch in fascination as a new breast is formed right before my eyes. I look at him and we smile.

Cancer tries to steal dreams. It tries to infest our healthy body parts with its angry, jealous cells. But we can fight back just as viciously. And we can fight back beautifully and artistically, something cancer cannot do.

My plastic surgeon’s work is pristine and I am overwhelmed. I tell him he is a magician and he agrees (he does not lack pride in his artisanship). It was then I realized I loved him. Not that kind of love, but a love of gratefulness and appreciation.

But I’d still have dinner with him every night, too.

 

 

 

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Are You Married to a Birthday Moron?

When it comes to birthdays, there are two kinds of husbands. The first type delight in giving fabulous birthday gifts. The amount of thought that goes into these birthday extravaganzas implies planning has taken place months in advance. Gifts include (but are not limited to) treasure hunts, weekend getaways, breakfast in bed followed by a full day at the spa, and surprise parties. These enigma gentlemen must have Pinterest accounts or peruse discarded Real Simple magazines.

Then – then there are the other half. This group falls somewhere in between the categories of, “Wait. Is her birthday the third or the thirteenth?” and, “Crap. Today’s her birthday? Maybe I can get something in the gas station on the way home from work. My tank’s on empty.”

These less than impressive gift givers aren’t bad guys. In fact, many of them are incredible human beings. They just fall short – really short – every 365 days. For whatever reason, when their spouse’s birthday comes creeping around the calendar, something bizarre happens to their brains. Science has yet to explain it, but the evidence is there: these men turn into Birthday Morons.

Listed below are the types of birthday that ladies who are married to Birthday Morons have experienced. This list proves they’re not alone. The next time they hear of some gal’s husband making a special dinner (and doing the dishes) while she takes an uninterrupted bubble bath, they can refer to this list for comfort and solidarity. They can think, “Ahh, she too is married to a Birthday Moron.”

The Absolute Forgotten Birthday – you wait all day, knowing deep down he has forgotten your birthday but hope prevails that maybe, just maybe, he has a surprise planned. You make dinner. You clean up. The sense of dread and disappointment is intensifying. You peek in his closet, then his car trunk. No gift. Not even a card. There will be no surprise. He forgot.

The Last Minute Birthday – These birthday gifts are a tad better than the Absolute Forgotten Birthday, but not by much. They involve a hearty “Happy Birthday” greeting or text (yay!) but that’s about it. Your present is usually a,

“How about I bring you to the mall and you can pick out what you want?”

This lackluster offer to drive you to the mall proves there was no planning, or thought, whatsoever. Some women will jump on the invitation and buy the most expensive thing in the mall out of spite. Others are simply too exhausted, and they just want to get in bed and have a good seething cry. They also vehemently promise to never have sex with their Birthday Moron again.

The Hasty Birthday – Damage control people! The Hasty Birthday is when he looks at his desktop calendar and utters a, “Oh %&#$!. Today’s her birthday?” The Hasty Birthday knows an offer to go shopping at the mall won’t fly, so he stops on his way home from work and buys the easiest thing possible. Flowers from the grocery store with the price sticker adhered to the clear cellophane, and a gift card randomly chosen from a gift card kiosk. You tell yourself, “It’s the thought that counts,” but here’s the thing: THERE WAS NO REAL THOUGHT.

The Backpedal Birthday – There is no card, gift, or celebratory outing. His reason?

“Remember how we went out for dinner and that movie two weeks ago? That was your birthday gift.”

If only you had known! You would have ordered an appetizer and asked the waiter for a free piece of cake.

The Self-Serving Birthday – These birthday gifts are complicated. The guy remembers your birthday, but the gift is more for him than you. You unwrap your present only to find a book on massage and massage oil. Meanwhile, he has removed his shirt and is pointing to his left shoulder.

“Could you get right here? My trapezius? It’s been sore for weeks.”

Other Self-Serving Birthday gifts include lingerie, tickets to watch his favorite sports team, or a power tool. The Self- Serving Birthday Moron has also been known to be sneaky. These gifts involve jewelry, a day at the spa, or dinner at your favorite restaurant. The magic quickly evaporates when you realize your Birthday Moron is expecting sex later that night, or he is hoping you won’t be angry when he announces his fantasy football losses.

The Clueless Birthday – Similar to the Self-Serving Birthday, these birthday gifts are tricky. The Birthday Moron remembers your birthday and made time to purchase a gift, but all consideration (and common sense) left the brain as soon as this Birthday Moron entered the store. Clueless birthday presents have been known to include hand held vacuum cleaners (“but you’re always cleaning!”), salad spinners (“since you make salad every night”), and bedroom slippers two sizes too big. The Clueless Birthday also involves an offer to make dinner, only to be served hot dogs or Kraft macaroni and cheese.

There is hope for Birthday Morons. Legend has it that one or two have morphed into those great gift giving husbands – the ones who love to plan, and have no secret agenda hidden in their gift giving. But until then, the wives of Birthday Morons can unite and commiserate. They can hope that next year will be better.

Wages for Egg Laying Chickens

In case you haven’t noticed, egg prices have soared. According to a recent CNN article, the price of eggs has increased 84.5% due to the Avian Influenza that wiped out most of the egg laying chicken population in the mid-western states. (Click HERE to read article.) Household staples, such as mayonnaise and other foods that contain eggs as their main ingredient, have also seen prices skyrocket as a result of the egg shortage.

Yet, these surviving egg laying chickens, how are they profiting from the increase cost of their eggs? Nothing has changed for them. They can only lay one egg a day as nature intended. Meanwhile, that egg they painfully birthed? It’s being sold for double the original price! All the while, the chickens are clucking away, oblivious to their lack of participation in the increase profit margin of their eggs.

They have no agent, and they are certainly not unionized. When an interview was attempted, the chickens did nothing more than stare at me with their beady little eyes. A braver one strutted forward and pecked the microphone on my recorder. When I listened to the recording later, I heard nothing more than loud explosions.

Local congressmen were incredulous.

“Reimburse chickens for their eggs?” said one after I finally got through to him after several phone calls. “The actual chickens, you mean?”

“Why of course, the actual chickens! They’re the ones laying the eggs! The very eggs that are now selling for double! Hello? Hello? Mr. Congressman? Hello?”

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) was less than helpful. First, they dismissed my suggestion that their acronym should really be PFTETOA (People For The Ethical Treatment OAnimals). Second, unbeknownst to me, they are against the entire egg industry. Reimbursing chickens for their eggs was not an option. They don’t want us eating eggs in the first place.

It seemed I was on my own. What would a solid wage be for egg laying chickens? I checked my wallet. Since I had just spent eight bucks on two cartons of eggs, all I had left was two dollars.

I decided to pay the chickens the difference in cost.

“Here chickens!” I said, “Here is two dollars. This is what you are owed. I used to pay two dollars for a dozen of your eggs. Now I pay four. You deserve the difference.”

The chickens watched as I threw the money into their pen. All at once, they scrambled for the dollar bills. Several grabbed the bills with their beaks. A fierce game of tug-of-war ensued, until one chicken (the one who had earlier pecked at my microphone, come to think of it) snatched the money and took off, swallowing it whole.

The second dollar bill was torn to shreds. The chickens pecked at the remains before losing interest. It seemed they had no use for monetary compensation for their egg laying efforts.

“You’re an idiot,” the chicken farmer said.

I tried to explain that I was advocating for the chickens; that they’re underpaid and have no representation. The chicken farmer informed me chickens are never paid. They don’t understand, or care, if their eggs are sold for profit.

The drive home was a let down. I had expected to leave the chicken farm feeling fulfilled, knowing that I had helped a lesser being. Instead I felt foolish. Of course chickens don’t need money! What was I thinking? Now what was I going to do?

Ostriches! There was a bird that needed my help! I’ve heard rumors of ostrich races, where people dressed like jockeys straddle these mammoth birds and race them towards the finish line, feathers flying everywhere, the ostriches looking panicked and thirsty.

I must find an ostrich race to boycott, maybe start an online shaming campaign that targets the owners of racing ostriches. But first, I had to make an omelet.

Facebook Broke the RSVP

You see the invites hovering in the upper right hand corner of your screen. There are now sixteen of them, two more since you last logged into your Facebook account. The last time you checked, the invitations were an odd assortment of events, mostly things you would never be interested in attending: make-up and 31 parties, political fundraisers, and a local marathon. They seem to be the online equivalent to mass mailings. You are one of three hundred people invited to the online candle party this Wednesday, one of twenty invited to a neighborhood wine tasting party (that has been cancelled and rescheduled twice), and one of sixty-two thousand invited to the online political fundraising event next week.

After a while, you stop glancing at the upper right hand corner of your screen. The Facebook invitations continue to arrive in droves, sometimes from people you vaguely know. Do you really need to RSVP? Will the host of the online political fundraiser who invited sixty-two thousand people really care if you’re not attending? You should acknowledge the invite to the neighborhood wine tasting party, but this twice canceled and rescheduled event makes you suspect the date is vague, only a possibility. You log off, telling yourself you’ll RSVP later.

It is this reason, this overload of Facebook invites, that you neglect to acknowledge the other invitations in your life. The invitations of days past: paper invitations arriving in your mailbox or in your child’s school bag. You take note of their appearance; perhaps even tack the invitation to the front of your refrigerator. You may glance at it while reaching into the fridge for milk and think, “Oh! I still need to respond!”  But your mind wanders to the milk and its expiration date. Eventually, just like those mass Facebook invites, you stop seeing the paper invitation hanging on your refrigerator.

Meanwhile, the date for Aunt Dottie’s party arrives. Her dining room table is set for the fifteen people she invited, even though only three people called and said they would attend. She feels flustered, not quite sure what to do about the twelve guests who did not RSVP. Aunt Dottie now wonders if she made too much punch, and if the extra place settings will look foolish if no one fills them. Yet, what if someone who didn’t RSVP does show up?

If Facebook broke the RSVP, what is to be done? We could try and stop the source, ending the deluge of shotgun invites that populate the upper right hand corner of our Facebook screen. Or, we could bring back common courtesy. We can respond to the invitation, whether it involves clicking the “decline” button on the screen, or even (God forbid) having an actual conversation with the host who took the time to handwrite a paper invitation.

Because at the end of the day, Aunt Dottie needs to know how many cupcakes to make.

Amazon Sells Controversial New Items

In order to maintain its status as the largest internet company in the United States, Amazon has begun selling brides and grooms. Last week, the company announced the introduction of its Family Department, which joined the ranks of its other divisions – such as Electronics and Health and Beauty.

Buyers can now type bride or groom in Amazon’s search bar and be directly linked to their Family Department, where they will see pictures of available brides and grooms for purchase. With a simple click of their mouse, buyers can add their future spouse to their cart.

“It’s quite fabulous, really,” said Tiffany Blakely of Woonsocket, New Jersey. “I was so tired of dating jerk after jerk. Those online dating sites are a gamble. But now with Amazon, I can scroll through and pick out exactly what I want. Hair color, eye color, height, weight.”

Brides and grooms are included as Amazon Prime items, so members will receive them within 2 days of ordering.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Adam Cunningham of Underwood, Iowa, “when I picked my bride from the dozens offered by Amazon, she arrived safely packaged on my doorstep, only two days after I placed my order! And I should mention, the electric shaver I ordered at the same time was also in the box.”

Amazon states that returns on brides and grooms are free. All one must do is print out the return label and squish their Amazon spouse back into a box and bring him (or her) to the nearest post office. Amazon does stress the importance of punching air holes in the box. (Deceased brides and grooms are generally frowned upon.) Once your return is received, your account is credited, and you are free to choose another spouse.

Many Human Rights organizations find Amazon’s Family Department an appalling addition to its electronic commerce.

“These brides and grooms are bought by complete strangers. They’re wrapped in bubble wrap, packed in a box and shipped. And not just any kind of shipped -Amazon Prime shipped. You can only imagine how rough that is! I bet they’re tossed around like an old football,” said Lisa Gustov, spokesperson for Help The People Amnesty Group, when interviewed.

But Amazon assures the brides and grooms being sold volunteer for this arrangement.

“These people are completely on board with this! We don’t pick strangers randomly off the street. Since our Family Department started, we have received tons of requests from people who would like to be happily married to complete strangers who chose them off the internet.” An Amazon spokesperson said on the condition of anonymity.

But it’s not always love at first sight. Often, the buyer has high expectations based on the photograph Amazon displayed on its website. Additionally, spending forty-eight hours in a cardboard box does not bode well for the person being purchased. Bobby and Shauna Jackson had a rough start to their romance.

“When I picked Bobby from Amazon’s website? He was gorgeous, like Abercrombie and Fitch modeling gorgeous. But what did I get? Some weirdo who ate the bag of Snyders pretzels I had also ordered. I got a weirdo and a bag of pretzel crumbs.” said Shauna Jackson.

“What’d she expect? Did she think someone who is really handsome would sell himself on Amazon? Plus, I forgot to eat before Amazon’s distribution warehouse rolled me up in bubble wrap and folded me in the box. I was starving. That bag of pretzels packed next to me was pure torture.” Bobby Jackson said.

The Jackson’s toughed it out, with Shauna deciding to keep Bobby since he could fix the transmission on her 1998 Hyundai Elantra.

“Even though returns are free and all that, I’d still have to pack him up and haul him to the post office. And the guy weighs a ton.” Shauna said.

The Underground Writer Reporting

Kale Causes Cancer

Kale causes cancer. Well, not yet. But it will. It’s only a matter of time before a national study reveals that this esteemed leafy green vegetable is wreaking havoc on our bodies. Just look at fish! For decades we have been told to “eat more fish!”, “fish is good for you!”, “fish has healthy oils for your brain!” Then along comes this pesky neurotoxin called mercury – which has apparently infested our fish.

It’ll be no surprise when kale is considered deadly. First, it has a rough, rubbery texture, which is nature’s way of saying, “hands off!” Second, it’s bitter. An acquired taste? Or similar to the bad taste that bugs excrete to keep predators from devouring them? Lastly, it has an ornamental look to it, implying it should surround our steak and potatoes, not be in lieu of them.

People are very proud when they eat kale, as though they have just saved someone from drowning. Smoothie establishments offer drink concoctions that contain kale as a main ingredient. Women – wearing yoga pants – brandish these smoothies in their hands, feeling good about themselves, when in reality it looks like they are drinking the contents of someones’s stomach after an intestinal virus. These smoothies also contain a variety of other fruits and vegetables, which are supposed to add to the smoothies’ nutritional content. But we all know what is really going on: they’re just trying to cover up the taste of the kale.

Facebook and Pinterest are full of kale recipes. Soon there will be kale coffee and kale cupcakes. That is, until it is announced that kale causes cancer. Then everyone will breathe a sigh of relief and admit they never liked the vegetable, that they always found it bitter and disgusting – how they pretended to like it because it was cool. They never should have dressed little Sophia up as a kale leaf for Halloween, or made Simon eat dried kale chips for snack everyday.

Support groups will form, and not because kale has given so many people cancer, but because there is now a vacant spot – a rift – in their lives.

“It’s that feeling I miss … the pride of having something so healthy in my grocery cart. Nothing quite matches the euphoria of another grocery shopper glancing at my groceries and seeing my kale, while they were buying nothing but cheese doodles and soda.”

“Mmmm … I hear what you’re saying. And how about you, Sue? What are you feeling right now?”

“It made me feel smart. Like, I was playing a trick on someone. Why else would I eat something so awful? But I knew it was supposed to be good for me. So I ate it. But without kale, I’m just boring. I’m like everyone else.”

“Those are very strong feelings, Sue. Thank you for sharing them. How about you, Stephanie?”

“I’m really regretting naming my daughter Kale. I should have gone with Emma.”

People will wander around the produce section of grocery stores. Spinach may gain some new attention, like an ex girlfriend who suddenly seems appealing again. Others may briefly try broccolini, only to find it’s been around too long, they’re familiar with its taste, it doesn’t feel like it’s doing anything.

In time, another vegetable will be heralded as the “nutrient packed”, “immune-boosting”, “cancer fighting” food that kale was once considered to be (before it was discovered that it causes cancer). Everyone will breathe a sigh of relief and rush to ingest that plant. Until, of course, it is announced it causes heart disease.

How This Family Paid Off Debt Using Unusual Tactics.

It seems the media is full of impressive testimonies on how couples paid off debt by tightening their financial belts. But none of these tales come close to matching the hardship and ingenuity of Brad and Angie Dickerson, of  Parsimony, New Jersey.

The Dickerson family knew they were in trouble when they no longer had money at the end of the month to pay the mortgage on their 4,000 square foot home.

“It was rather alarming,” Angie said, “I’m not sure how it happened. Brad and I have always been frugal.”

The Dickersons point to how they chose the base model Porsche Cayenne, skipping certain luxuries so the ticket price would hover around $60,000.

“And restaurants? We never use valet parking. We park our own car and walk. Even in the winter,” said Brad.

But desperate times call for desperate measures. The Dickersons knew their credit score would be squashed if their lifestyle continued. So they cut back.

“The first thing we did,” Brad stated, “was sell our house. Got rid of that pesky mortgage for once and for all. The only problem, though, was that we realized after the closing, we didn’t have anywhere to go.”

The Dickersons went to the nearest homeless shelter, where they were warmly welcomed.

“We were each given a cot, so we pushed them together to make our own queen sized bed.” Angie said, “it was romantic, in a depressing sort of way.”

The next step? Unloading the Porsche and Angie’s BMW. The Dickersons soon found themselves in a quandary: they had no way to work now that their vehicles were sold. The Dickersons brainstormed and decided to try public transportation. But there was a problem.

“Do you know you have to pay for public transportation?” Brad was incredulous, “have you ever been on those buses? Why would anyone pay to ride those things?”

The Dickersons went back to the drawing board. They decided to rely on friends and family.

“I started asking friends for rides to work, or asking to borrow their car,” stated Angie.

Cell phones, with hefty service plans, were another financial drain on the Dickersons. They quickly cashed those in and now communicate through the use of Native American smoke signals.

“It is inconvenient,” Brad admitted, “especially when I’m in a meeting and see Angie signaling me. I’ll have to excuse myself and go outside to answer her.”

Food bills are no longer an issue for the Dickersons. The homeless shelter provides free breakfast, and most churches offer lunches and dinners.

“It requires a lot of networking,” Angie admits, “the Methodists are fond of baked hams on Tuesdays, while the Protestants? Turkeys on Thursdays. Non-denominationals are anybody’s guess.”

But there are certain things the Dickersons can not part with, such as their Hyannis beach house and membership to the Tennis Club.

“I mean, come on,” said Angie, “we may be thrifty now, but we’re not stupid.”

 

The Underground Writer Reporting