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.

 

 

 

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.

Is It Cancer?

You notice a pain in your left elbow. Now that you think about it, the pain has actually been there for a few days. Maybe even weeks. You don’t remember hitting your elbow, or doing anything to injure it. What could be going on?

You Google “pain in left elbow” during your lunch break. The selection of websites that flash on your computer screen are overwhelming. You had no idea the subject of elbow pain was so important. You click on a link, one that has the word “medicine” in its web address. According to this website, your elbow pain could be due to anything from bumping your elbow, to arthritis, to cancer.

Cancer? Your fingers freeze, suspended over the keyboard. You are absolutely certain you did not bump your elbow. In fact, now that you think about it, you’re very careful with your elbows: tucking them in when you walk through doorways, never resting your hands on your hips so your elbows aren’t protruding like wings. And arthritis? Bah! Just yesterday you carried a laundry basket overflowing with dirty clothes up the stairs and never broke a sweat. You’re in your prime.

It must be cancer. You can’t recall anyone in your family history battling elbow cancer, but isn’t everyone getting cancer these days? Because of the food we’re eating … or not eating. And doesn’t cancer spread? You sit back in your chair. Maybe your elbow cancer has spread to your shoulder and now you have shoulder cancer. All at once your left shoulder seems achy.

You need to have this elbow (and now shoulder) examined immediately. You call your doctor to schedule an appointment. After listening to the options in the prerecorded message, you accidentally hit the wrong option and get the medical records department instead of the scheduling department. The medical records person transfers you, only you’re disconnected and need to call back and start all over again.

After choosing the correct option you are put on hold, though a friendly recorded voice reassures you that your call is very important to them. (So important that you are made to wait several minutes.) Finally, your call is answered. You inform the receptionist that you need to see your doctor as soon as possible for serious elbow pain. She tells you that your doctor’s schedule is booked. You feel that making an appointment with your doctor is some sort of race and you have lost.

The receptionist manages to “squeeze” you into your doctor’s busy schedule, making it sound as if it’s a favor and you should be grateful. You are, because since you’ve been on hold your elbow pain has grown worse.

The two weeks until you see your doctor seem endless. Mentally, you have decided who will inherit your most valuable assest. You wonder if you should make amends with the cranky neighbor you haven’t spoken to for three years. Or better yet, wait until he reads your obituary. How you died from elbow cancer. Won’t he feel bad then!

When you finally see your doctor, he seems rushed.  You remind yourself that you were inconveniently fit into his schedule, after all.

“Does it hurt when I do this?” he asks, bending your arm at a ninety degree angle.

“No,” you say sheepishly.

But it had hurt when you did this same movement five hundred times the past two weeks to verify if the pain was still there.

“How about when I do this?” he asks, moving your arm in a different direction.

“That’s okay too.”

“Everything seems alright to me. I don’t see anything to be concerned with. Maybe you just whacked it.”

“I’m certain I didn’t hit it,” you say.

But he’s not listening. He has written in your chart and left the room to see a patient who was not squeezed into his schedule.

That night you tell your friend about your elbow pain, and how you fear it is cancer that has now spread to your brain. She commiserates, and recommends you see her doctor. But her doctor is a holistic doctor, not a medical doctor.

Your friend’s holistic doctor answers the phone on the first ring. Not only are there no phone trees or being put on hold, the holistic doctor will see you first thing in the morning. When you arrive at her office, there is music playing. She smells of patchouli oil. The holistic doctor takes your elbow pain very, very seriously. She explains that discomfort in any part of the body indicates inner pain … as well as a deficiency of vitamins and minerals.

When you leave her office, you have spent two hundred dollars on a monthly supply of vitamins and minerals. You have also bought a manual that will guide you towards inner peace, and a packet of tea bags whose name you can’t pronounce. The holistic doctor promises that, in time, these will heal your elbow and shoulder pain.

As you drive to work, you think about your elbow and how it used to not hurt. Then suddenly you realize it is no longer hurting, as you remember hitting it on the banister while you were carrying that load of dirty laundry up the stairs, without breaking a sweat.

 

Milk is Ruining My Life

I pour the creamy, white liquid into the glass. I’m just about to take a sip, but then freeze. Wait. Wait, just one minute. Did this milk come from a cow treated with artificial growth hormones? Is this milk lactose free? I wonder if the cow was injected with resistant building antibiotics. Was the cow humanely treated? Did it enjoy being milked – or did it feel violated?

How did such a benign substance become so risky all of a sudden? When we were children, we were told to drink milk because it was good for our teeth and it kept our bones from snapping in half. But now everything seems so complicated! Fat free milk, skim milk, 2% milk, whole milk. Milk with DHA added.

Should we drink pasteurized or unpasteurized milk? Supposedly, unpasteurized milk has not been meddled with, and contains more nutrients and healthy fat than pasteurized milk. On the flip-side, because of the pasteurization process, pasteurized milk doesn’t harbor pesky deadly bacteria that is more likely to be found in unpasteurized milk. Hmmm … healthy fat verses dangerous bacteria …it’s a tossup.

I grab my keys and drive to the grocery store. I’m relieved to find they have an entire section devoted to milk substitutes. Thank goodness! Problem solved! Or so I thought.

The first option is rice milk. This looks like a great choice, until I remember it was just all over the news that arsenic was found in rice products. (I need to consume arsenic like I need a hole in my head.) And rice is a grain, right? Isn’t there this whole paleo diet movement? The diet rage that says we shouldn’t eat grains because our ancestors didn’t eat grains and they lived to be nine hundred years old, so we should abstain from grains too, so we can live to be nine hundred years old with no teeth and incontinent and yell at our children because they never visit us.

I scan the shelves. How about soy milk? Oh. Estrogen overload. Well, then. What about almond milk? Hmmm … Not only am I not a fan of almonds, but what if I develop a nut allergy? What if I’m standing in my kitchen, enjoying a nice cold glass of almond milk, and suddenly my throat swells shut? There I am, gasping and writhing for breath because I need an epi-pen in order to breath. (Which I don’t happen to own since I’ve never had a nut allergy prior to this whole milk dilemma.) I drop dead on the floor all because of a glass of stupid almond milk.

There’s coconut milk, but isn’t that high in fat? Or is coconut fat considered good now? I keep losing track. I’m fairly certain that coconut fat is considered healthy fat … or was that avocados? Maybe avocado fat is good to consume – and not coconuts – but I can’t find avocado milk. Maybe they’re making that next month.

On the shelf under the coconut milk is … hemp milk. Hemp milk? Hemp milk? Is that even legal? What would hemp milk even taste like? Sucking on a wet, burlap bag?

Not to mention, all of these non-milk products come in a variety of options. Organic, non-organic. No-sugar added. Sweetened and non-sweetened. Vanilla. It feels eerily similar to when I’m in the milk aisle.

I storm out of the milk substitute aisle and pass the frozen food section where gallons of milk sit innocently lined up for those who don’t know the dangers of drinking milk from another mammal (and yet another issue). I grab a bottle of soda – suddenly the safest choice – and head towards the cashier.

 

 

 

 

 

A Metal Pole And The First Day of School

On the first day of kindergarten, I walked into a metal pole. This is completely understandable, given the fact I was gawking at the big kids streaming into the building. There I was, watching the big kids, when all of a sudden: SMACK. My five year old blond head rammed into one of the poles that supported the school entrance’s overhang.

I stumbled backwards, dropping my lunchbox. Whether it was from the pain of the welt forming on my forehead or the sheer humiliation, I began to cry. This was also completely understandable. I still cry easily. Frantically, I looked around for my older brother who had received strict instructions from my mom to keep an eye on me.

When Vincent heard my wailing I am certain he groaned. (Remember, I cried easily.) Through watery eyes I saw him leave his group of cool third grade friends and make his way to where I was standing. I don’t remember what he said, but I do remember his sheer embarrassment. Couldn’t I even walk into the entrance without incident?

Vincent led me to the nurse – walking ahead in hopes that no one would realize I was his little sister. Cool Vinnie couldn’t possibly have a whiny, blubbering little sister who walks into poles? Well, let me tell you – he did.

Upon arriving to the nurses’ office, Vincent turned and fled, leaving me alone with the school nurse who seemed large and old. And grumpy. She handed me an ice pack and told me to sit on the brown vinyl chair next to her desk. I heard morning announcements on the PA system. I watched stronger, braver kids who didn’t walk into metal poles pass by the office.

I wanted the nurse to call my mom so I could go home. I needed my mom to kiss my forehead and make this all better. The ice pack wasn’t doing anything, except freezing my skin so it felt like it was being pinched. Where was my mom? She was supposed to rescue me from these situations.

Eventually the school nurse remembered I was there, removed the ice pack and sent me to my kindergarten classroom. Miraculously I remembered the way my brother had led me, and I retraced my steps to the school’s entrance. At the end of the hall I could see my kindergarten classroom – the door open – waiting. I hurried to the class, my Smurf lunchbox thumping against my leg.

I burst through the door to find children sitting primly at their desks.

“You’re late,” my teacher said.

It was then I realized my mom couldn’t rescue me from all situations. I was going to have to handle these life events on my own. I found my desk, sat down, and turned my eyes to the teacher. But only after I started crying first.

My Disease

I have a disease. Although it’s not recognized by the American Medical Association, it is actually quite common among women. It is referred to as the Melting Flesh Disease.

The symptoms of Melting Flesh Disease occur quite suddenly – in fact, moments after giving birth. The skin on one’s abdomen suddenly sags as though it has lost all hope. Victims of Melting Flesh Disease can go to the gym as much as their hearts content, but this only causes psychological trauma because no matter how many crunches they do or abdominal machines they use, there is no hope for Melting Flesh Disease. The damage has been done. The skin will continue to wrinkle and sag like a deflated balloon. Once round and taught, belly buttons resemble a puckered face.

Some women victoriously avoid Melting Flesh Disease. These women are either 6 feet tall and/or had babies weighing no more than five pounds. For those of us who had hearty-sized babies and are of average height, we paid severely.

It is easy to blame the media for our angst. Every magazine cover, underwear sale flyer, and commercial show women sporting flat abdomens with suspiciously perky breasts. Yet, we can’t fault the media entirely. While at the grocery store recently, a woman in a halter top was sashaying through the aisles. She was not a model, but she had a stomach that did not have Melting Flesh Disease and she clearly enjoyed flaunting it. My reaction? I stood up taller and sucked in my breath until my stretched-out belly muscles ached.

“What can be done?” I asked my physician, “Is there hope?”

“Not really. Multiple pregnancies stretch out abdominal muscles and skin until their elasticity is lost. The only thing that can be done is surgery.”

Upon returning home I did an Internet search. The cost of curing Melting Flesh Disease would be around $10,000 and it’s considered major surgery. There is hope, I suppose, if I had nothing else to use $10,000 on and had a full-time nanny to help me while I recuperate.

Thus, the only option is to make Melting Flesh Disease attractive. Like a war wound that someone is proud of displaying (“See this scar? I got that in ‘Nam”), Melting Flesh Disease must be embraced. When our loose skin peeks out from under our shirts, people would nudge one another and whisper, “See her? She carried another life in her body for 9 months. She then went through intense pain to deliver the baby. Her body and heart were forever changed. She is so brave.”

When society looks at models prancing around in string bikinis they would scoff, “She doesn’t have a mommy tummy. She’s got a long way to go.”  Tummy tucks would be dismissed – a sign of hiding the ultimate sacrifice. Melting Flesh Disease would be renamed. Instead it would be called Warrior Stomach.

Losing It On The Job

“Would you care for some more lemonade?” the waiter asked.

“No thank you,” I said, studying my glass, “I think I’m good. But thanks anyways.”

The waiter stepped back – as though slapped – and held his hands up, palms facing outwards. After the waiter walked away from our table, my husband and I exchanged looks.

“Was it something I said?” I asked him.

“I don’t think so … but he did seem a bit offended.”

“Good grief! It was only lemonade!” I looked after the waiter before continuing, “Maybe he’s starting to snap and my declining another glass of lemonade is the tip of the iceberg.”

While we’ve all experienced bad days at work, most of us have managed to hold it together during those times. Granted, we may have been a tad snippy, but we didn’t tell our boss exactly what we thought of her, or lashed out at the difficult customer.

What would society look like if suddenly all social mores were tossed to the curb?

Here’s a glimpse:

The barista: What was that sir? You wanted a quad venti soy white mocha latte? Well, la-te-dah! Aren’t you all fancy and sophisticated. Here. Here’s a large coffee with good old fashioned milk. It tastes better than that fru fru stuff you call coffee. NEXT!

The gynecologist:  Hmmm … so it burns when you pee? I should have gone into psychiatry. Hell, I’m going to need a psychiatrist after doing this for a living.

The guest service desk at a hotel: Your room service hasn’t arrived yet?  Who do you think we have working in the kitchen? Superman? Guess what: You are one of hundreds of guests here and you’re no more important that the other ones. If you’re that hungry go find food on your own. Or better yet: go stay at another hotel. Have a nice day.

The historic tour guide: Hey listen, if your kid touches that vase one more time I’m gonna break it over his head. Seriously. And you! Over there! Didn’t I say no flash photography? What part of NO FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY do you not understand?

The waiter: This isn’t what you ordered? As my kindergarten teacher used to say, “You get what you get and you don’t get upset.”

The fitness instructor: Who are we kidding? We both know you’re not going to stick with this diet and exercise regime. Don’t give me that look! This is the third time you’ve been to this gym and you joined two years ago. And spare me the, “but I rarely eat” song and dance.

The psychotherapist: Lemme guess: It’s not your fault and your parents were terrible. Newsflash: life isn’t fair and it never will be.

The classroom teacher: Why am I crawling out the window? Because I can’t take one more second of your incessant chatter. The 24 of you sound like mosquitoes buzzing in my ears. You’re going to tell your parents? Go ahead! I’m a member of a teacher’s union. Good luck!

If I Could Change The World: Thongs, Bacon and Checkout Lines

If we were each given a magic wand that could end social problems, we would all probably wish for the same things. Poof! No more war, hunger, suffering and abuse. Poof! Good-bye global warming. Poof! Hasta la vista loneliness. Suddenly, every child would have a best friend and live in a loving home. Terrorism would be equated to Small Pox – a scary, deadly thing that had thankfully been eradicated. All at once, the world would be a friendlier, happier, more peaceful place.

Once those larger issues were taken care of, perhaps we could use those wands to fix smaller problems. The wand would still have to help society at large, mind you. You couldn’t swish your wand and expect to win millions of dollars and for your kids to suddenly sleep through the night.

After some thought, I decided the first thing I would wish for would be that bakers suddenly realize no one eats the end of the bread that sticks out of the paper sleeve. All loaves of bread would come completely wrapped so people would be able to enjoy every inch of bread without worrying about what the exposed piece had touched.

Second, thong underwear would be recognized as the torture devices they are and would be banned. After the massive thong recall and subsequent burning, I would wave my wand around and every shopper who uses the self-check out line would receive a significant percentage off their order (since they’re doing all the work).

Next, bacon would be considered heart healthy. Then, phone trees would be obliterated. The next time you call your bank or health insurance company, an actual living person would answer the phone. While we’re on the topic of phones, I may as well get rid of all telemarketer calls. Let’s make the National Do Not Call List actually work. Poof! (You’re welcome.)

While not an everyday occurrence, door-to-door solicitations can be really intrusive. Now, instead of selling new windows, vacuums, or cookies, the people who ring your doorbell with the intention of selling something would suddenly be brandishing a bouquet of flowers. That’s right. All door-to-door solicitors would all at once turn into flower delivery people.

Before my wand runs out of wishes (all good things must come to an end – including magic), the very last small thing I would change would be that milk would never expire. No more sniffing the carton and wondering if milk always smelled that way. Pouring sour milk into a cereal bowl and realizing it had gone bad after that horrifying first taste would never happen again. Last minute runs to the grocery store for a fresh carton of milk would be a thing of the past.

Perhaps other people would use their wands to wish away high gas prices or obnoxious drivers. Maybe someone would wish mosquitoes to become extinct, and teenagers to offer to babysit for free. After all, the little things in life are often the big things.

Summer Etiquette Suggestions

Northeast residents are joyfully embracing the warming weather. Off with the winter coats, long pants, gloves, hats, and boots! Out come the shorts, t-shirts, and sandals. All of this signals the joyful message that winter has left the premises!

Now. With that comes some suggestions for summer etiquette. Please don’t take this personally; we are all known to show some lapse in judgement in our unbridled excitement in welcoming the long awaited spring and summer months.

Feet: Indeed, it is a wonderful feeling to shuck off those winter boots and slip our feet into sandals. But let us not forget that to whom sandals are given, sandal wisdom is expected. This includes toenails that are trimmed; corns and callouses that are removed. The only people who want to see gnarly feet are podiatrists (and even they charge a fee to look at them).

Shorts: Girlfriends, I detest the Kate Moss/emaciated runway model look just as much as you do. Society places unrealistic (and unhealthy) expectations on today’s females in regard to weight. However, let’s not shove our healthy-sized thighs into shorts that are too short. Here is a test: if you lean over and a butt cheek escapes, your shorts are too short.

Shirts: Men, I am talking to you. Let’s be honest. Many of you take advantage of being allowed to walk around shirtless. Yet, how do you know if it is truly acceptable to remove your shirt and bare all? If you have more hair on your back than your head: Unacceptable. If you look down and see the flesh of your stomach instead of  your feet – keep that shirt on. Lastly, if you have man boobs and require a Manzier (or “Bro”), then being shirtless is an absolute no.

Music: With the warm weather comes fresh air. We all love to roll down our car windows and play our favorite tunes (I am partial to Bruce Springstein’s Lonesome Day in the summer. For whatever reason, it sounds better with the windows down and the volume up). However, let us all remember that not everyone enjoys our taste in music, so consideration must be made about the volume that we play our favorite songs. This especially goes out to those of you who enjoy PSY’s “Gangnam Style” or music in which expletives outnumber all other words.

 Deodorant with Antiperspirant: This is a must. Please remember to apply liberally. And I am talking the old school kind: Sure, Ban, Secret. Worried about antiperspirants causing cancer and want to opt for the all-natural kind that allows you to sweat and “masks” odor? Um… it’s great that you want to avoid cancer, but please don’t punish the rest of us in your quest to do so.

Hopefully, if we can agree to adhere to some of these suggestions, it won’t be (as Bananarama sings) a cruel summer.

Special thanks to Adam J. Holland of The Unorthodox Epicure for his help with this post.

You’re Not So Different From Your Car

Unlike an aged cheddar or bottle of Balvenie, people and automobiles generally don’t improve with age. As my husband once said after visiting my great aunt in a nursing home, 

“There is nothing glamorous about growing old.”

While attending graduate school, I drove an ancient Honda Accord that was held together by a lot of prayer and encouragement. The cassette player would run even when the car was turned off. Rain would get trapped in the moonroof and proceed to gush onto my lap when I put the car in reverse – soaking me to the point where I would have to go inside and change. It also seemed that as soon as I had one of its parts replaced, another would decide to break.

How I hated phone calls from my mechanic! As soon as the phone would ring I would squeeze my eyes shut and brace myself. He always started the conversation with,

“Hullo, it’s Karl, I’ve got some bad news. Your  _____ is shot.”

Your front wheel axle is shot. Your alternator is shot. Your motor mounts are shot. Your master cylinder is shot. Shot. Shot. Shot.

As I age, I have noticed how people are not so different from cars. Our body parts eventually become “shot” – just like my old Honda.  Arthritis is the human form of rust and corrosion. Our hearts – the fuel pump of the human body – stop pumping efficiently. Unless we can afford the services of a cosmetic surgeon (auto body shop) our exteriors become dented, scratched, and faded. Akin to transmission fluid leaking, we need to use the bathroom frequently during the night.

Some men tend to upgrade their cars – going from a practical Ford to a speedy red Porsche. Similarly, some men have the nerve trade in their wife for a newer version. One who doesn’t have dents or scratches. One who is younger, sleeker, and peppier. One who is fresh off the lot.

Ambulances are the human version of flatbed tow trucks. The mechanic – or car doctor – uses terminology we don’t understand. Similar to CAT scans and MRIs, your mechanic will run diagnostic testing that costs a bundle. A new car warranty is the automobile version of health insurance.

Food is our gasoline. The cost of filling a car’s gas tank can be equated to the expense of a large grocery order. Opening the refrigerator and seeing its bare shelves has the same feeling of frustration as noticing your gas light is on.

Cars are also like people in that there are big ones and small ones. Black ones and white ones. There are high maintenance, complicated people (Mercedes) and low maintenance, easy going people (Toyotas). There are people born in this country (Ford, GM) and people who immigrate from Europe (BMW, Lamborghini) and Asia (Mazda). Lastly, some people would rather avoid the snow (front-wheel drive cars) while others enjoy winter sports (the 4×4).

Thankfully,  that is where our similarities end. When a car reaches the end of its lifespan, it is sent to a scrapyard and crushed. When we reach the end of our lifespan, we are put in an overpriced box and buried in the ground.

It is unfortunate that cars and people don’t age as gracefully as say, a bottle of wine or a Redwood tree. But a bottle of wine and Redwood tree won’t drive your family on vacation or share the memories of their childhood.