Thursday, December 5, 2019

On Brushing Teeth

My dentist convinced me that he wouldn't have to fill my cavities so often if I would just brush my teeth after eating.

So I bought a toothbrush and Crest 3D White toothpaste which promised BRILLIANCE. I asked my dentist if such cleansers actually whitened teeth. "Yes," he said, "but the paste must be ground in." Not much fun. 

Since I eat on the main floor, I thought I'd put my new brush and paste in the main bathroom, next to Paco's bedroom, but when I looked, I burst out laughing.

I use this bathroom, of course, but I had only three things in it: a hand sanitizer plus soap in the soap dish and a hand towel for guests. Every other available space—on the sink, on the back of the toilet, and all over the four shelves of a cabinet—was cluttered with hairspray, hair gel and beard oil, shaving kit, extra razors, scissors, nail clippers, tweezers, deodorant, prescription medicine, toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, mouthwash, hair brushes, combs, shampoo and conditioner, sunscreen and face lotion, wipes and q-tips, and other personal hygiene articles.

Where could I put my new items in this jam-packed bathroom? Nowhere. Instead, I placed them over the kitchen sink on the window sill.

Then one day, Paco asked, "Why don't you put your toothbrush in the bathroom?"

I laughed. "Because I'd never find it again."

The next time I entered the bathroom, Paco had transformed it. A handful of items remained on the sink and toilet back. The rest he had shoved into the cabinet shelves.

A few days later, Paco caught me still brushing at the sink.

"You didn't put your toothbrush in the bathroom."

"What's the matter, you don't like it if I spit in the sink?"

"No, no. It's not that."

I relented. "If I put my toothbrush in the bathroom, I have to recall to brush my teeth. But with it here at the sink, I remember as soon as I bring my dishes into the kitchen."

We never discussed the matter again, but I noticed that personal hygiene articles did not trek out of their tight new homes in the cabinet. Instead, my toothbrush had swept clean an orderly new world in the bathroom.

Thursday, November 14, 2019


Life offers multiple surprises. Take yesterday for instance.

In a hurry to buy a new Aveeno moisturizer, I stared at Walgreens Aveeno display of all shapes and sizes. But I couldn't see the Big One I wanted. Oh, hell, they all say "moisturizing." Any one must do. I grabbed a little boxed item. 

My first surprise came at the cash register when the cashier rang up $18 for that little box. $18!!! I bought it anyway.

That night I compared the $18 little box with the Big One I wanted to replace. Half the weight and twice the price.

I opened the little $18 box and pulled out a bottle. It looked nothing like my Big One; it even had a curved plastic beak.

Oh durn. Mistake. That's what I get for being in a hurry.

I put the bottles on my cosmetic shelf and went to sleep.

The next morning I decided to return the $18 Beaked Bottle and locate a clerk to help me find a Big One to buy.  I put my sample Big One in a bag, then grabbed the $18 Wonder and stuffed it in its box.

I couldn't close the lid, but I took it to Walgreens anyway.There on the big cosmetics counter, I unpacked everything.

The clerk, dressed like a gypsy in a flowing flowered gown, marched away with my sample Big One and returned with its twin. 

"Is this what you want?"

Surprise number two: Was it ever! Now where did she find it? Not on the Aveeno shelf.

Then the clerk picked up my $18 Wonder, now a little box full of a too-big bottle. 

"It doesn't even fit!" she cried.

I knew that, but the surprise was that she credited my card for $18 anyway.

Then she pulled the ill-fitting bottle out of its little box.

"Why look! It's not even the same brand."

I looked. She was right. The bottle label read Neutrogena, not Aveeno.

I signed papers and went home with my $18 credit, my twin Big Ones, both old and new.

That night, I couldn't sleep for wondering about this. I finally crawled out of bed, turned on the light, and looked for my half-used Neutrogena bottle. 

It was missing. I had packed it in the small box and taken it to Walgreens. In its place stood the new $18 Beaked Wonder that I'd paid nothing for.

An unexpected swop.


Thursday, October 31, 2019

Teaching Ruby to Purr

My orange tiger cat, Ruby, is a big cat, but she has such a little purr I can barely hear it. 

Not only that, but she hardly ever purrs, only when I slick the top of her head and not every time, even then.

"Ruby," I tell her, "it's not seemly for such a big cat to make such a little noise."

She rolls her eyes at me, but she says nothing.

The veterinarian says Ruby's purr is normal, and so does the humane society, but I disagree. What do they understand about social niceties? 

Obviously, it's up to me to teach Ruby how to purr louder.

First I trained myself how to make a low continuous vibratory purr, like a cat's but much louder. Then every time I stroked Ruby, I purred. Whenever she purred, I purred louder. 

This went on for weeks, but she didn't change an iota, except she laid her ears back.

Maybe cats don't learn from humans. Maybe I need another cat. I think I'll go to the humane society and pet kittens until I find one with an appropriate purr. Then I'll bring him home and shut him in a room with Ruby. Maybe that will work.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

OCTOBER 24, 1986 - 2019

no more booze or daily hits of Mary Jane
sober & clean for 33 years
you can do it; I did it

Marilyn June Coffey

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Hail Barney!

On a visit to my dentist, I turned up Omaha's 90th. Street work signs, tall and orange striped, kept me inching down my single lane. Men working prevented me from reading street signs, but I felt certain I had a ways to go to turn left on Maple Street.

After a while, I wondered if I'd missed my turn, a major street with traffic lights galore. Then I realized I had.

No problem. I'll just hang a left at the next major artery. 

Miles flew by before I found an artery and turned. The new street looked unlike a city street. Few buildings. Few cross streets. Even some yellow blossoms. Where am I? 

I drove and drove. Then I saw a sign: Fremont 20 miles. Oh my God, I'm halfway to Fremont, a town northwest of Omaha. 

Spooked, I whipped a left onto a deserted two-lane highway with a 55-per-mile speed limit. I drove south, I thought, but I wasn't sure. Miles passed before I saw a place to ask for help. 

I turned into a complex of high-end homes, the kind where many sport names. I pulled into a road and stopped to check my iPhone. 

Then someone pulled up beside me and stopped his shiny black truck. An older man rolled down his window. "You okay?"

I rolled down mine. "I'm lost."

The man smiled. "Where you going?"

I told him.   

"I'll take you there. Just follow me."

He turned around and I followed, thinking are you crazy in the middle of nowhere following a man you don't know? Even so, he seemed a better option than my iPhone which had never heard of 129th and Maple Streets. Just like her!

We drove and drove mostly along 168th Street. We crossed Military Avenue and Fort Street, familiar names. When the man pulled his truck off the road, I pulled in beside him.

He got out of the truck, taller and older than I'd thought. "Hi. I'm Barney."

He stuck out his hand and through my rolled down window we shook. 

"I think you can take it from here. Maple is the second stoplight. You take a left and—"

"Barney, thanks so much, you've really made my day."

In the Omaha World Herald, I've read about people like Barney, who do you a kindness without being asked. Usually they're folks who pick up your tab in a restaurant. I never thought I'd live to meet one. I'm so glad I did. 

Thursday, October 10, 2019


The first time I fell down, no one could have been more surprised than me. One moment I walked in my neighborhood and the next instant I lay flat on my face on the sidewalk. I didn't seem hurt, so I got up and went home.

The second time echoed the first, only I noticed that I tripped on a crack in the sidewalk.

The third time I tripped on a crack as I walked to some Lincoln, Nebraska, event. I crashed face first to the cement, but got up and carried on. A friend with me observed, "Marilyn, you really ought to get a cane." So I visited Kubat's Pharmacy and chose a simple style: black to match my shoes and my belt.

The fourth time I fell as I walked in my garage. I held my cane in my right hand so I couldn't fall on my face. Instead, I fell on my left side, into a display of snow shovels. I fell hard. This time it hurt. I got up, all right, but I lived for a week with a magnificent bruise on my left thigh.

The fifth time I fell, I missed one step as I stepped down two indoor steps in a church. My cane lay in my car. I managed the first step down but when two friends moved forward to talk to me, I looked at them and forgot to look at my feet. One foot stepped completely over the second step into pure air. I pirouetted and slammed to the floor on my back. My head cracked  louder than thunder.

What to do. I didn't feel hurt, so I rolled over and pulled myself to my feet. The teacher brought me ice and a towel. I sat out most of the exercise class. By then I noticed a swelling as large as an egg on the back of my head, but I didn't feel dizzy and I had no head ache so I drove home. There I treated my disaster with more ice packs and with a huge bowl of ice cream.

I don't experience myself an expert in falling, since I've never fallen on my right side, but I'm getting ready. I use my cane everywhere I go, and I hold it with my left hand to prepare myself for that right-side descent. When it happens, then I can brag that I've mastered the four forms of falling: front, back, left and right sides.  

Thursday, October 3, 2019

ON LEARNING TO WALK Or what the physical therapist told me:

Don't slump. 
Stand straight, 
shoulders back, 
head up. 
That's right.

But don't shuffle, Marilyn. 
Lead with your heels, 
not your toes.

Stand up straight. 
That's it. 
Pull your shoulders back.
That's better. 

Keep your head high.
Don't look at your feet. 
Look ahead of you. 
Look at where you're going.

Now swing your arms; 
Let them hang loose
Don't bend them.

Coordinate your arms and legs: 
right arm, left leg. 
Left arm, right leg.
That's it.

Now speed up.
You've got it.
Just relax.