Whimsy Within Blog

…this…that…the other…



oxygenMy friend needs a ride to the hairdresser. She has to sit frequently. She gasps for breath and coughs from the 30+ years of being a smoker. She doesn’t like the way her new tank ‘pulses’ intermittently instead of releasing a steady stream of oxygen. But the tank with the steady stream empties quickly. It costs too much money to keep refilling it so often. She can’t afford it, this luxury of comfortable breath.



I think of the days when I was a smoker. A cool, hip teenager. Years ago. The corners of my mouth turn down in disgust at the thought of smoking again and polluting the new healthy version of my temple body. A shiver of disappointment in my past unwise choices rattles down my spine. My breathing exercises during yoga classes would be labored if I were still a smoker. But now, I breathe deeply, completely. I fill my lungs and fully exhale through a series of pranayama breath practices. Each breath a precious gift. I am grateful for my desire and the accompanying discipline to quit all those years ago. I am grateful for the luxury of my comfortable breath.       

But I wonder as I sit in the waiting area at the hair salon inhaling toxic chemical fumes, will those days of lung abuse eventually show up for revenge? Will I have to carry around a tank full of pulses of air everywhere I go? Have I sold my lungs for a fleeting moment of delusional, youthful cool?

I hear my friend tell her stylist the story about her new oxygen tank that ‘pulses.’

The stylist says, “Oh, that’s not good.”

My friend says, “No, it’s not.” Cough. Cough.


Not cool

They talk about eucharistic ministers and choir members from a church they both attend. They are excited about the music they will hear during their Christmas service. My friend says she misses singing. She says she wants to sing so badly, to “feel the music in her throat”, but her lungs “get all locked up” when she tries.


I can hear my friend drag her walker to her chair. She rolls into the waiting area. I can hear the pulse, like a slow, drawn-out heartbeat magnified on a machine in the hospital, raspy like the hissing voice of Darth Vader. Her haircut looks good. She is lighter. Refreshed. She coughs as she pays the receptionist. We walk slowly to the car. We make one more stop for her blood test. I carry the extra oxygen tank that we always keep in the trunk in and out of each building we visit. “‘Cause you never know,” she says.

I help her out of her coat and back into her chair just in time for Wheel of Fortune. The oxygen pulses as a contestant spins the wheel. The pulse is a normal sound now, a resigned acceptance of the interruption to the rhythm of our conversations. We say our goodbyes until next time.

I think of my friend in her chair, watching television, struggling for breath and coughing. I wish I could fix it for her. I fill my lungs with air, appreciating a taken-for-granted life-giving gift. I turn on the radio and sing softly as I drive home. “Cause you never know.







Page 162

My husband and I were basking poolside at our hotel last weekend. The chaise lounge chairs were lined up in tight rows. There was no room to squeeze in between. The only approach was either crawling up from the foot of the chair or crawling down from the head of the chair.

After the standard sunbathing preparation ritual – suntan lotion, book, sunglasses, hat, bottled water – we leaned back and settled in. I took a little more time to fluff out the skirt on my bathing suit bottom, pulling the edges wide enough to cover the most obtrusive parts of my upper thighs.

Me: (looking at my partially covered thighs) There, that’s not so bad. 

swirls1.jpgA younger couple approaches. Skinny Girl is maybe 25, tops. Hungry Wolf is older, maybe 33. But who knows these days. She is pretty with brunette hair down to her waist. She takes off her wrap to reveal a sparse bikini with blue and green swirls. They make me dizzy. She walks in between the chairs (how’d she do that?) and sits in the one directly to my left.

Me: (I discreetly pull the edges of my skirt out a little farther) Really? Of all the available chairs and you have to sit here! – I want to be her.

Hungry Wolf takes the chair next to Skinny Girl.

Skinny Girl: (hands him a bottle of lotion) Put this on my back.

Hungry Wolf does what he is told, of course. They too settle back and expose their younger bodies to the sun. Hungry Wolf runs his fingers softly over the fine hairs on her forearm. I turn my book to page 162, where I left off, and pretend I’m reading. I’ve got good peripheral vision.

Hungry Wolf: Does that tickle? (hopeful smile)

Skinny Girl: (giggles) Yes.

She rolls over to his chair. The fronts of their bodies fit together like stackable measuring spoons. She’s one half to his full teaspoon. They kiss.

Me: I want to be her.

I roll over to my husband. He turns to welcome me. Our bellies kiss before our lips touch. It’s a short-lived effort. I roll over onto my back again and return to page 162.

Hungry Wolf: Want to walk on the beach tonight when it gets dark?

Skinny Girl: Maybe. (sits up to reapply lotion, there are no folds in her stomach)

Me: I want to be her.

Hungry Wolf: Do you have brothers and sisters?

Me: He doesn’t know? Oho. A first date and a hotel room. Ahhh, youth.

Skinny Girl: I have two older brothers. When our mother left, they did too. They moved to Texas with my father. I haven’t talked to them since.

I place my finger at the midpoint of page 162. I think it looks like I’m really into my reading this way.

Hungry Wolf: Would you like to see them again?

Skinny Girl: I have no idea where to look. They’re in Dallas. That’s all I know. I don’t want to talk about that right now.

Me: Good girl.

Hungry Wolf: I’ll take you there. I have a good friend in the Dallas Police Department.

Me: Sure you do. I can almost see him sneering as he twists the corner of his black, pointed mustache. mustache1

Skinny Girl: I don’t know.

Hungry Wolf: He can help us find them. Do you want me to take you there?

Me: No. I’ve seen that place in “Dallas” before.

Skinny Girl: (impressed) Okay, I guess. That’s so sweet of you.

Me: (turning to page 163) I’m glad I’m not her.








Inside and Out

“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?”


I’d be as old as delicious, sharp, aged-provolone cheese on the inside and as young as a freshly made batch of cruelty-free vegan nut cheese on the outside.

I’d be as old as a well-worn pair of reliable walking shoes on the inside and as young, carefree, and reckless as a bright, multi-colored pair of flip flops on a rainy day on the outside.

I’d be as old as the great and mighty, majestic sequoia trees on the inside and as young as a newly planted sapling, tender-moist with its first drink on the outside.

I’d be as old as a profound, ancient spiritual text written by scholars and sages on the inside and as young as the gratifying high of a first best-selling novel on the outside.

I’d be as old as the mystery of the Universe, the Cosmos, and the galaxies on the inside and as young as the definite first spark of stardust released from the Big Bang on the outside.

Inside and out, I’d be balanced, timeless.

Inside and out, I’d be eternally ageless.

How old are you?



(This post was born from a prompt exercise in one of my writing groups.)