Sitting with a group of girlfriends at a local vineyard, enjoying the expansive view and yummy wines, and the wine server gave us napkins inscribed with gold letters, asking: “If you could have one wish, what would it be?”
We settled in for a lively exchange of ideas. We agreed to include only the wishes we have for ourselves. No mentions of “I want world peace,” or “I hope my kids don’t grow up to have visitation days as guests of the State,” or “I wish my husband would stop sleeping with my sister.” This discussion was about us.
The answers ranged from the predictable (“I’d be supermodel thin, no matter what I ate”) to the unique (“I’d own a current model, metallic Jaguar, right off the showroom floor”), and even a few we-never-knew-that-about-you (“I’d run with the bulls in Pamplona”).
As we explored these very specific wishful achievements, we couldn’t help but laugh as we determined that with the average age of our group at 62, the chances of any of these happening without a genie or a fairy godmother was pretty much zero.
We informed Skinny Minnie wanna-be that many supermodels keep their anorexic bodies by eating cotton balls, which they claim reduces hunger pangs. We checked the Happy Hour menu and asked the waiter, but the establishment had no cotton balls on hand, so we were left with no other options than Death by Chocolate Double Fudge Cake. With ice cream. And eight forks. Skinny Minnie is currently rethinking a new wish.
Current model Jaguars, even if you could afford the purchase price, will cost you your firstborn and the entire family heirloom Plates of America set (all 50 States), to maintain. We discussed the possibility of everyone chipping in and buying one car, then time-sharing it out amongst ourselves. Nope. Half of us wanted convertibles, half wanted hardtops, and everyone wanted Christmas.
And excluding that one uber-woman we read about all the time who still chases bovines at 62 (yes, we hate her, and yes, we’re jealous), we’re all at least a decade past the age of participating in any activity that includes the words “running” or “bulls,” especially when used in the same sentence.
Other items that didn’t make the reality cut:
- Alcohol shooters on girls’ night out. These make us feel super bad-ass, liberated, and uninhibited. After the first two or three, however, they make us stupid and drunk, neither state being our best presentation. If you believe that at age 60+, you can get drunk and still be sexy, have your bestie take photos of you (or better yet, a video), and show them to you the next morning. Make sure she gets the one of hubby holding your hair back while you puke in the bathroom. You got to know, he’s turned on.
- Structured diets. We’ve all imagined how thin we’d be if we had private chefs like the rich and famous do. But, actually, we do. They just don’t live in our house. Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem are the big guns. The food is prepackaged, ready to heat and eat, with charts and instructions so you don’t go off the rails and accidentally eat two entrees in one sitting. Of course you’re going to lose weight. Everybody does. But if you’re 50, and you’re going to live another 40 years, that’s 43,800 meals yet to eat. 43,800 prepackaged, frozen or microwavable, repetitive meals. The question isn’t if you’re going to go off this plan, but when. And when you do, a couple of triple meat pizzas and a roll of cookie dough, and you’re back at square one.
- DIY holiday projects. Unless you’re really good at these and they come easily to you (and if you’re not sure, this isn’t you), most DIY projects are more reminiscent of the year your 10-year-old son was suspended for a week when his paper mache volcano prematurely blew up like faulty fireworks and burnt down the school gym. Or how your family repeats the hilarious tale (every year) of Thanksgiving 1973, when your handmade origami turkey-shaped place settings bore a striking resemblance to Sweets, Cousin Daryll’s prizewinning porker from that year’s county fair, forcing you to make a last-minute menu switch from turkey to ham. If you know someone who can DIY like Martha, treat them like the rock stars they are. Sometimes they’ll teach you how to do something super cool and simple, and sometimes, when the planets collide (and you ask while holding an offering plate of frosted brownies and a bottle of wine), they’ll do it for you.
- Tiny houses. All the rage right now, and a total mystery to me. Claustrophobics should avoid these at all costs, as should people with kids or pets, and anyone who doesn’t want the entire family to hear their bathroom business. There’s no privacy, because the house is, well…tiny. If you and hubby are pleasantly plump or God forbid, double chubbies, you’ll need a schematic to get both your butts in the kitchen at the same time. Storage space is virtually nonexistent, so poor hubs will have to get dressed in the garage, because your 18 pairs of black boots will take up every available square inch of the one closet. The bathroom is often the biggest room in the house. I refuse to entertain guests while on the toilet.
- Tiny sports cars. One question: Where do you put the shopping booty? Get me a car with a trunk, please. I’m headed to the wine country and I just paid off my credit card.
- Sex in the shower. This is just stupid. Despite those phony steamy passion scenes you see on TV, unless your shower has two heads, one of you is going to be standing in the cold. Not to mention soap in your eyes (and a few other places the Good Lord never intended to get sudsy). And it’s slippery. You’re on wet, smooth surfaces, wiggling around like squirrels in a sack because the shower is so frickin’ small, until one of you accidentally gets rocket launched out onto the bathroom floor. Save this one for the next generation. They’re younger, bendier, and they heal faster.
- Holiday dinners with the fam. We love our families. But all together in one room, for an entire day, with Norman Rockwell-level expectations of how it should go because “It’s Christmas, damnit,” often results in a holiday crash-and-burn. If Timmy and Tommy, the twins, haven’t spoken since Timmy totaled Tommy’s car in college and lied about having insurance, they probably won’t have a spiritual bonding over the green bean casserole. If Bitsy and Buffy don’t get along because Buffy married a wealthy neurosurgeon and has three kids in private school, while poor jealous Bitsy is still single and a diner waitress with six cats, you might want to seat them at opposite ends of the table. Or if Dad retired last year, and now spends every day driving Mom insane by instructing her on how to do things she’s been doing “for the past 47 freakin’ years without his freakin’ help,” they probably won’t be disappearing for a Christmas quicky in the guest room while the rest of you are singing Silent Night. It might help us all to lower our expectations a bit to something we can actually achieve. If everyone goes home happy, full, and sober, I’m calling it a win.