Pimples and the AARP

Posted by: on Jun 28, 2010 | One Comment

In a recent post, I bemoaned the fact that my face is showing a few more wrinkles than I’d like to see or admit to having. In a strange twist of karma or fate or latent adolescence, the next day a pimple magically appeared. Nice big whitehead on the side of a nostril, which I popped and squeezed dry (as I write this, Linda is completely grossed out).

Next day, another one, another yesterday and another one this morning, all right on my upper lip. These were not quite the whoppers the first one was but still has me thinking what the hell is going on? Am I regressing? Eating badly?  Early (very early) symptoms of male menopause? Do you get pimples when you go through menopause? Is there really such a thing as a male menopause?  But I digress.

You’d figure that once all those monthly mail solicitations telling me that it was time for me to join the AARP started coming I’d be past the pimple stage but noooooo! The pimples must not be opening my mail. Besides, isn’t having pimples and being a member of the AARP some sort of oxymoron or reason for membership disqualification?

Speaking of the AARP, these folks must really want me to join and I especially love the call to action each membership solicitation contains. I got my first AARP membership enrollment form last winter, a month or two before the big 5-0. Since than, I get one a month like clockwork. Each one telling me “Join now before the 15th of the next month” or I won’t be able to get all those special discounts and privileges they keep promising and which I’m pretty sure I get with my AAA membership. When I don’t join, viola…another letter magically appears offering me the same thing. Obviously the direct mail folks at the AARP think senility kicks in the day you turn 50 and the potential members don’t recognize the repetitive and redundant nature of these letters. Why else would they send me the same thing every month?

As I have said before, I really don’t feel 50 (most of the time) and I can’t quite bring myself to cave to one of the AARPs offers to join. It would be like throwing in the towel against the daily battle not to act my age, which I proudly never have. So the next time I get one of these solicitations, I’m just going to wait for the next big pimple, pop it right on the application, put it in the return envelope, send it back to the AARP and tell them a guy with my complexion (facial and emotional) really isn’t ready to sign-up.

A picture doesn’t lie…

Posted by: on Jun 22, 2010 | One Comment

…but the mirror does. That’s a strange statement, don’t you think?  In my case, I just think it’s true.

I was born in 1960 and this year I celebrated the big 5-0. My theory on how well a man ages has always been based on two areas: His head and how much hair is covering it, and his waistline. I probably developed this theory based on the fact that I still have a full head of mostly brown hair and I have managed to keep my waistline at 34″ for many, many years with very little overflow. So my theory works great for me!

When I look in the mirror, I see the same face I have looked at for 20 or 30 years. The same twinkle in the eyes, a boyish grin, overall a youthful face. But when I look at recent pictures taken with my son before last week’s senior prom or at his HS graduation, the twinkle and grin are the same, however the face ain’t so boyish anymore.  There are now subtle (cough, cough) wrinkles in my forehead, crows feet around the eyes, other signs of age.

What’s the solution? First, I’m not taking anymore pictures next to my son. The difference in age is just to easy to see. So you’re thinking that maybe I should have a little work done or have toxins shot into my face. Holy shit!  Are you kidding? Anyone who knows me or has read anything I ever posted on facebook knows one of my favorite targets is “those” people. Nothing like an overblown set of collagen injected lips or a set of cheeks looking like they are being pulled tight like saran wrap on tomato for creative inspiration.

So, with a little help from Linda, I have decided to embrace what life is dealing me and my face. Linda and I used to watch Nip/Tuck (until it went off the deep end). In one of the early seasons, Joely Richardson’s character falls through the glass shower door and the plastic surgery boys need to do their thing. Right before they start she is asked if she’d like some of her wrinkles and other signs of aging removed. Her response, “I like my lines, they let me know where I have been.” Is that a great line or what? And from Nip/Tuck of all things. Who’d have thought?

People, there is nothing wrong with aging. It’s part of life. Every time I see someone who has had work done, do you know what I think and freely express to anyone around me? “Look, they’ve had work done!” You’re not hiding the fact that you are aging, you are only telling people I’d rather look “starched” than look my age. Looking your age isn’t the worst thing in the world but that’s easy for me to say because I look good for my age.

As far as you know

Posted by: on Jun 18, 2010 | 11 Comments


My son Zach and his friends survived last night’s post-prom festivities, and are just about done with their high school daze. My years as a parent has taught me many lessons and here is one of them that I like to call “As Far As You Know.”

I want all parents to repeat after me…”as  far as you know.” Did you repeat it?  Just for emphasis, say it again…”as far as you know.” Now, every time one of your friends tells you “oh my child would never do that,” just look at them and say “as far as you know.” Or you can turn the tables on yourself and say “as far as I know,” which I often do.

I sometimes think parents walk around with their heads in the sand or swimming through the long river in Egypt….De Nile.  If you are away for the weekend, than the party is at your house.  I know that from personal experience of raising two children.  I’m not proud of it, it’s just the way things are.  It amazes me that I know parents whose kids were at my house during these times and they walk around saying “oh my child would never do that.” Really? Did you enjoy your swim in De Nile? What exactly do you think is in those red cups that abound at every party in town?

Here’s the classic. Many years ago, we were out celebrating a friends 40th birthday in NYC. During the limo ride, one of the other guests kept telling everyone about her perfect daughter (which we all knew not to be true), how her child was so innocent (which we all knew not to be true), how she should have never raised her children “here” and yada yada yada. After dinner, we decide to go to a club. Just as we are about to head into the club, the birthday boy’s daughter calls to tell us that the Miss Perfect Innocent Daughter got shit-faced and is puking her brains out. Congratulations, clueless in suburbia has a new poster mother.

Listen, I remember my HS and college daze extremely well. I know what my friends and I did, and I know what my friends and I got away with. To think that kids today aren’t doing the same thing just because you think you are more “aware” than your parents were, just proves how unaware people really are.

Growing up is all about experimentation, trial and error, finding your equilibrium in this world, when you are sober and when you are not. It’s staring out at the abyss…backing off, falling in or puking in it, and learning to appreciate how nice and cool it is when you are curled up next to it.

And yes I know, your kids tell you everything because you are such a good parent or an involved parent or a cool parent or you know so much more than your parents did.  Well, if you think your kids tell you everything because you are whatever makes you a good parent (and you probably are a really good parent), I have one thing to say to you…”as far as you know.”

Graduation Daze

Posted by: on Jun 15, 2010 | 3 Comments

Graduation Daze

On Monday, my son will graduate from high school, and his Ferris Bueller-esque existence of the last few months of HS will come to an end.  By my count, this will be his 4th graduation ceremony, although they haven’t been always called “graduation.” There was a ceremony for his last day in pre-school, elementary and middle school. There was moving on, moving up, moving off, moving over, moving to ruin my day ceremonies for each of these “momentous” occasions.  And at each one of those moments, there was some way-to-eager-to-please PTA mom there to make speech as if she was reciting the State of the Union or the Gettysburg Address.

Good grief, give me a friggin’ break. I have had 2 graduation ceremonies:  Great Neck North and Syracuse University. I would like to know who the brain surgeon was from Hallmark or FTD or Pomp & Circumstance Inc. that determined that a 5 year old needed a ceremony when he finished his Pre-K education. Holy shit…what a waste of time, money and energy.

Speaking of a waste of time, money and energy, let’s take a minute to look at senior year in HS in the 21st century. Yes, for some kids, senior year is much like every other year in high school filled with last minute AP tests, striving to achieve all their goals, yada yada yada. However, for many others in the waning moments of their high school existence, there are no tests, no quizzes, no projects, no homework. There’s pool parties, house parties, trips to the beach, trips to Great Adventure, days in NYC and so forth. The big decision is whether to drink from the red cups or try to fool everyone by switching to the blue cups. Cheap light beer is replaced by kegs (gotta love those pictures on facebook) and other types of beverages.

All that’s left for Linda and me is to survive the next 6 or 7 days: The prom, the post prom, the weekend after the prom, graduation, the night after graduation, the inevitable long good byes as my son and his friends realize that their HS daze are behind them.

So to my son and all his MHS friends, congratulations on finishing high school. The college daze are right in front and I won’t really care what color cups you are drinking out of.

Mumbai Calling

Posted by: on Jun 14, 2010 | One Comment

Mumbai Calling

For what has to be the 5 or 6th time in the last few weeks, I got a call from some telemarketing type person claiming to be from local.com. Not to be confused with the seemingly endless calls from yellowpages.com, yellowbook.com, localsearch.com or advertiseonmyass.com.

The 90 Degree Rule

Posted by: on Jun 10, 2010 | 3 Comments

Today I’d like to discuss that male ritual – The Annual Guys Golf Trip. Starting in 1998, every spring I have gone on a golf trip. From 1998 through 2007, we went to Las Vegas. Ahhhh….Vegas.

The evolution of the Vegas years can be explained quite easily: It started out as a golf trip to Vegas but became a trip to Vegas where we played golf. Don’t get it? Let me explain.

In 1998, for my 38th birthday, my wife and parents sent me to Vegas with guys for a few days of golf. On the 2nd day, we played 2 rounds at Primm Valley, just over the border in California. A great day which I finished up by having the cart girl follow my group around for the last few holes so I wouldn’t be without a cold beer. When the round was over and the sun was setting over the desert and the surrounding mountains, I called Linda and said “Honey, this is the biggest mistake you ever made. I’m not asking you, I’m telling you I’m doing this every year.” So far, I have.

But I digress. That first year, the group flew from NY to Vegas on Thursday morning. Most of us on the trip were in our 30s. We played one round Thursday afternoon, 2 rounds on Friday, a round on Saturday, a round on Sunday and than we flew home. 4 days, 3 nights, 5 rounds of golf. I saw the pool for a couple of hours, never saw the spa, dinner was at the buffet.

As the years went by, we eventually ended up flying to Vegas on Tuesday. We played one round each day. If we weren’t eating lunch at the pool by 2 PM, golf took too long. I loved to nap in the spa. We never saw the buffet. 5-6 days, 5 nights, great dinners, 5 rounds of golf. By now, most of us were in our 40s and the trip was becoming more about Vegas and less about golf.

After the 2007 Vegas trip, our fearless leaders – Dave and Artie – decided it was time to put the emphasis back on the golf in golf trip. For the last 3 years, the trip has gone to Bandon Dunes on the Pacific Coast of Oregon. Ahhhh…Bandon Dunes. Golf heaven. 2 rounds a day, all walking (with caddies but still that’s lots of walking), great courses, great views of the Pacific Ocean, no pool, no spa, lots of scotch. And many of us have crossed the line into our 50s.

But what does all of this have to do with theme of this post? Don’t worry, I’m getting there. While we were in Bandon, my friend Gregg wrote on his facebook account “Ten years ago on this trip after the rounds, all of the ice went into glasses surrounded by vodka and scotch. Now all of the ice is in bags nestled upon our joints. We all love our 50s.” Luckily for me, a prescription strength Ibuprofen and a large glass of MacCallan’s still does the trick but I suspect my icing days will come

So now, let’s get to this 90 degree rule. When you are a golfer driving a golf cart, the course might give you some options on how to drive on the course. One of those is the 90 degree rule. Drive your cart on the path until you are in-line with your ball, than turn directly towards your ball driving into the fairway at a 90 degree angle. On the other hand, I have my own 90 degree rule, which doesn’t really have anything to do with golf. In Ira-Land, when your gut puts so much pressure on your belt buckle that it faces straight down at your feet, that’s the 90 degree rule. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just one of those things us thin people get away with saying. I also get away with telling people that are follickly challenged that they are losing their hair because I still have most of mine.

Someday, maybe I will be a victim of the 90 degree rule and maybe I will even lose my hair. For now, I will just enjoy my smallish gut and full head of hair and continue to do what I do best. Make fun of those less fortunate than me.

Honeymoon daze

Posted by: on Jun 9, 2010 | 11 Comments

Today Linda and I celebrate 25 years of marriage but we nearly didn’t make it through the first week of our honeymoon and here is why. Let me start by saying that, for the most part, my wife is a major low maintenance operation. For example, she would rather spend money fixing up our house than on herself or on material things. She was that way when I met her and it was one of the many reasons that I fell in love with her.

With that said, we now turn to day June 12, 1985, day 3 of marriage. We awoke to a wonderful breakfast on the balcony of our hotel room overlooking the Arno in Florence, Italy. Linda was giddy with excitement as she had her list of places to shop and in 1985, prices in Italy were really good. First we hit Parri’s Leather. Parri’s was like a discounted Bottega Venetta as it was owned by a former BV employee who used all the same goods and designs but not the same prices. A friend of my in-laws knew one of the sales people and told us to ask for this lady. We walk in and Linda goes shopping. Pocket books, wallets, leather skirt and jacket. I buy a wallet.

On to the Modava glove factory outlet where Linda goes shopping. At Modava, you walk up to doorway counter, tell them size, color and lining. They have labels of all the major department stores hanging up as they are a major supplier. Linda buys black gloves, brown gloves, red gloves, cashmere lined gloves, rabbit lined gloves. She buys 8, 9, 10 (I lost count) pairs of gloves for herself, gloves for her mother, her sister, her aunt, the doorman…I have no idea what the hell is going on. Oh, I get a pair of gloves.

Are we done yet?  Not on your life. On the way back to the hotel to drop off the morning haul, we pass a shoe store and Linda just has to “look.” Fortunately, she can’t find anything to her liking and I think I’m getting out unscathed. Unfortunately, Linda tells the salesperson she is really looking for boots. Just so happens they just took those off display but have no fear, they’ve got boots here, so Linda goes shopping. Holy shit…4 pairs of boots. None for me.

One morning in Florence and we…and by we I mean Linda…has completely used up all the cash and traveler’s cheques we brought with us for our honeymoon. I collapse in the hotel room and I must have looked like I was about to go into shock (because I was), when Linda asks “what’s wrong?” I essentially look at her and say “who are you and what have you done with my wife?” probably sounding like I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown (because I was).

But the honeymoon went on and the marriage survived. We discovered Univeral Turismo, where you can get more Traveler’s Cheques. I recovered from my shock and that shopping version of my wife has rarely (maybe never) been seen again. I even managed to smile my way through Fendi in Rome.

So Linda, on our 25th wedding anniversary, I want to say that I love you now as much as I did on that day in Florence. You are a wonderful wife, friend, companion, mother. You make me laugh and smile everyday with your “Lindaisms” even when you don’t know why the kids and I think these things are funny.  Someday soon, I hope we can return to Florence so that you can replenish your supply of leather goods, gloves, boots, etc. I promise not to go into shock as long as you promise to give me a Xanex before we go shopping.

How I got on the FAA watch list

Posted by: on Jun 7, 2010 | No Comments

Yes folks, I am now on a list with lots of folks with names I dare not try to pronounce or sit next to when I fly. Never thought I’d think of myself in the same vain as a terrorist but according to the FAA, I might be and here’s how it happened.

Saturday night I was traveling to Portland Oregon on my way back from the annual boys golf trip, which was at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort on the Oregon coast. At the Southwest Oregon Regional Airport in North Bend (where TSA security outnumbers the passengers on many flights), I made it through the security checkpoint without a problem.  Got to a seat in the waiting area when my name is called out by the gate attendant. I go up to the desk and the United Express counter person asks me “did I have any lighters or matches in my checked bags?” My initial response was no but as thought about it, I vaguely remembered a box of matches that might have been in my toiletry bag. Bingo! He takes my license with all my info and tells me to expect a warning letter from the FAA. Holy shit! Can you believe this?

You should know that those matches have been in my toiletry bag at least a year as I picked them at Quality Meats restaurant in NYC when I had dinner there last year. Coincidentally, all the men at that dinner were also on the golf trip (but Gregg I blame you as the dinner was in your honor).  In the past year, I have gone through airport security 10…12…14 times…who knows? Before it was Quality Meats matches, it was probably someplace else because my daughter collects matchbooks and I am always bringing them home from somewhere. If airport security missed them all those others times, has to make you wonder what else they are missing (teeth not included).  At least they didn’t touch what was left of my MacCallan’s, which happened to be right below my toiletry bag. Now that would have been a problem.

Ira Berkowitz on the FAA watch list. I am so ashamed.