Give it up

Hey, Bananawolf,

What’s up girls? Behaving? I doubt it. I have been reading your blog, and really think you are lunatics. I am appalled at the answers you give to the questions on your advice column. Why anyone would ask you for advice is beyond me. I mean, what credentials do you have? Does being old qualify you for this position? Does being sarcastic and cynical give you the right to direct these poor souls when they need help? You really ought to be stopped. However, before that happens, and it will, I have one question for you. And try not to be acerbic.

I am addicted to tattoos. My entire body is covered in snakes, eagles, hearts, names, and meaningful signs. Well, almost. I still have my head and face left. And I have this urge to get just one more, and am considering having it applied to my cheeks. It is the most gorgeous thing: An amazing creation. The crème de la crème. A wonderful rendition of American culture. Obama. And Michele. One for each cheek. What do you think? Not that I care what you think, but really, isn’t that just the ultimate? I know it will make me more beautiful than I already am.

Yours truly,

J Reno

Hey Janet,

No way. Nothing you can do to your face will help. You are beyond help. Give it up Girl. For heaven’s sake, stay out of the public eye. That will be the best thing you can do to beautify the country. You really are a dog, woman.



Unpredictably Predictable

Dinner with my mother-in-law, Tess, is an unpredictable event. She rarely acknowledges my presence, and focuses on her doting son, my husband. They have a running dialogue on the state of her health, and the need for her to see her son frequently, before she dies. She is 85 years old and says she is fading fast.

This is the same woman who drives a 4×4 truck, sky jumps, and is the president of her gardening club. The only medication she takes is for high blood pressure. She runs 3 miles daily and is a vegetarian. Fading fast, my ass.

She knows that I am writing a book, and gets her digs in, whenever she can. Last night, for example:

“How’s work going, Wolf? Oh that’s right. You don’t work. What do you do all day, anyway?”

Jeff chimes in, “Mother, you know she is a writer. She writes. You know, books.”

“Dear, that is not a real job. No one with any ambition sits at that computer all day, like she does. It just isn’t healthy.”

I just love being referred to as “she”, and talked about in the third person. I don’t even have to respond. The two of them do it for me.

“Mom, we have been through this before. She has a passion for writing. She is pursuing her dream.”

“Oh, how I wish I had that luxury. I raised you on my own, through the good times and now the bad. My health, you know, it is fading.”

My husband gets up from dinner and hugs her. Tess has tears in her eyes. “I just don’t know how much longer I have. That’s why we really need to have dinner more often. And you really need to stop by on your way home from work, Jeff. I need you to check on me, to see if I am still breathing.”

“Yes, I promise. I will stop every night, to make sure you are ok. “

“Good. And I will have dinner waiting. You don’t mind, do you, Wolf, if Jeff has dinner with me? You can have more time to write that way.”

I have not said one word yet. I open my mouth to tell Jeff he is a Mommy’s boy, when Jeff answers for me.

“Don’t worry, Mother. Wolf understands. She is concerned about you too.”

“Good. Then it is settled. I will make a nice tuna casserole for you tomorrow night, and we can pick fresh tomatoes from my garden.”

I finally open my mouth: “I am blocked.”

Tess says, “What did you say? Blocked? Whatever do you mean? Are you still eating red meat? You really should get more exercise. I just don’t know how you can sit at that computer all day and expect to be healthy. Why don’t you apply for a real job?”

Like I said, dinner with my mother-in-law is unpredictable, yet somehow, it is always the same.


Blow your horn

Dear Banana-Wolf,

Before I start, why is your name BananaWolf? Do you really think that is a catchy name? Do you think that the millions of internet junkies search under that name? What ever possessed you to use that ridiculous name? It really stinks. And it has no relevance to anything. Oh well, I do need free advice, so I will give you a shot.

I have a horn, on my head. My husband calls it an antler, and won’t let me out of the house during deer hunting season. My doctor tells me I am a unicorn, and says it is harmless. My pastor claims it is a religious experience and not to worry about it. My co workers use it for a coat hanger. My kids call me Bullwinkle and charge their friends 50 cents to view it. My hairdresser refuses to give me an appointment.

When I go shopping, people stop and stare. Yesterday a woman at the grocery store asked me if I knew there was a large thing on my head. I thanked her for noticing and then decked her. I had to get a new car with a sun roof, to accommodate the horn. My friends greet me with, “So, how are you and the horn today?” My mother tells me that I am getting paid back for all the years I tormented her. My sister told me she is sick and tired of looking at it, and is secretly hoping I will grow another one, so I can at least look balanced.

What suggestions do you have?

Tootie Hornblower, aka Horny

Dear Horny,

It appears that you have grown quite fond of your appendage. So quit your whining. I checked the want ads and there is a job at the Christmas store in Kalamazoo, for one of Santa’s reindeers. Apply for it.

And quit blasting our name. We have a reason for it. My dear friend Banana eats a lot of yellow veggies and has acquired a yellow jaundice. And I am quite hairy and howl at the moon.


Let’s go camping

Sometimes it is amazing how we Seniors think. Like last week, for example. Minnie and I went to the RV show in Philadelphia. We took the bus, got a Senior Citizen discount at the show, and ate junk food. We were not interested in buying an RV. Or were we?

We began reminiscing about our childhood days, when our families decided to purchase a camper, to take on vacations. Dad loved the thought of taking a cheap vacation, where he could fish to his hearts content, come back to the camper, eat and sit by the fire. Mom thought it would be a relief to take a break from housekeeping, and to prepare our food outside, where there would be little fuss or clean up. And we kids were eager to get to the site, where we could swim all day.

The reality was that it cost more to purchase the camper than it would have cost to take a first class 2 week vacation. It rained when Dad wanted to fish, and Mom was forced to cook inside, on a tiny stove, with miniature pots and pans. We kids were restless and unsettled and wanted to know why there was nothing to do. So much for the romantic ideas of camping.

Now that Minnie and I have grown up, or should I say, have grown older, and were living at the Home, we felt it would be good to reconnect with nature and go camping. We didn’t have any kids to haul around, and we didn’t care if it rained or not. We needed a change.

We approached the sales guy who was standing next to one of the large RVs and asked him, “how much?” He replied, “$200,000.” So much for that.

We kept moving down in size until we finally found one that we could afford. A tent for $300. A real steal. And it was Senior-friendly. It popped open and was ready to use in minutes. The nice young man who sold it to us, carried it to the bus for us.

We set it up in the backyard at the Home. And it has been a fantastic hit. We use it all the time, whenever we feel the need to get in touch with nature. We hold meetings in it, have coffee and doughnuts brought in, and invite our grand kids to sleep over. And when it rains, we love to listen to the rain drops on the roof.

Last weekend, Minnie’s daughter asked her if she had plans. Minnie winked at me and said, “Oh my yes. I am going camping.”

We Seniors are amazing.


The Fly on the Wall

So, I get to meet with the President of the company. He will be here tomorrow, his first visit, and 8 people were chosen to meet with him for a round table discussion. Why was I picked?

1. I am the oldest person working at the facility.

2. I am harmless.

3. I show up every day, very dependable.

4. I have a positive outlook.

5. I need some excitement in my life.

A harmless old fly, sitting on the window sill. Smiling and nodding and creating no controversy. Until I start buzzing. A single fly can create more havoc and annoyance than something 100 times its size. A fly can be irritating, but gets noticed. A fly gets into your face, and invades your space. It lands on your nose, your ear and your head. It can choose its victim, even the President.

His actions could be very revealing. Will he wait for me to land on his arm, and catch me in his hand, reining me in? Or will he decide to wave me off, and let someone else deal with me? Will he ignore me as I fly around his face, pretending I don’t exist? Perhaps he will be decisive, and on my first attack, strike me and wound my tender wings. Will he watch as I hover overhead? Or will he be relieved when I settle down on a co-worker’s chair and watch in silence?

I intend to make my presence known, and to ask the questions that will not be expected. The questions that we all would like to ask, but don’t. I am one of his people, one of his flies. And even the most harmless looking of us has a curious nature, abounding energy, and persistence that keeps our company strong.

Perhaps I should restate what is happening tomorrow. The President of our company gets the opportunity to meet with 8 of his exceptional people. I hope he is up to it.


The Bad Apple

Sometimes one person can ruin a work environment. One such office, in rural Connecticut, is staffed with a fun loving, hard working, bright group of people. Except for one.

The lone wolf is a middle aged woman, not exceptionally intelligent, but smart enough to have garnered a clear understanding of the systems, and who is a resource for technical problem solving. Her purpose is to make her presence known as a key contributor, with higher management as her target. She loves being called upon to assist those in authority, galloping to their rescue, whenever a problem arises.

This would be do-gooder, however, is not so helpful to her peers. She stalks a victim, usually one who is female, cheerful and compliant, and runs a fearless campaign against her. She starts out by befriending the hapless co-worker, discovering her weaknesses and short comings, and then using those characteristics to exploit and torture.

Dressed in sheeps’ clothing, the office wolf, gossips about her victim, sharing intimate details that she has discovered befriending her. She shares these morsels with those she secretly detests, and does this in a cruel, heartless manner.

“Can you believe….? Did you know that…..? Don’t tell anyone, but….Did you see what she is wearing today? How stupid can a person be?”

The path of destruction against the co-worker is relentless. At some point, the wolf grows bolder, and makes damning statements, loudly, within earshot of the victim. The wolf’s so called supporters join her in the attack. It becomes a game. See what damage we can do today.

The victim is confused, hurt, bewildered. What did I do to deserve this onslaught of ridicule? She does not enjoy coming to work. She has no friends. She is demoralized. She cannot continue to allow the torture. She resigns.

The wolf is enraged. How dare she quit and spoil the fun? But she is not deterred. There is a new employee, who is cheerful, friendly, compliant.

Let the games begin.


Mother’s day, at the Autumn Years Rest Home

I don’t have any kids, but I love Mother’s Day. The home is full of people who are visiting their often forgotten Moms and Grandmoms. They bring the little ones around that day and they are hilarious. I sit on the patio, if it’s nice, and watch the comings and goings.

The first car shows up at 11am. A man and woman in a van, with 4 teenagers. The man stays in the van, while the woman steps out with the 4 kids, who are protesting loudly. “Why can’t I stay in the car with dad? It stinks in that home. And Grandma never gets my name right anyway.”

“I hate old people. Except for Gran. You know I love her, but she tells us the same stories, every time.”

“You promised that we would only be here for half an hour. If it is any longer than that, I am leaving.”

“I don’t feel good. I have a sore throat. And I need to stay here in case my cell rings.”

The woman says, “Once a year. That is all I ask of you. Once a year, to see Grandma. It’s bad enough that your father won’t go in. Believe me, if any of you act up when we go in, you will be sorry.”

I recognize the woman. It is Minnie’s daughter. I can’t wait until they look for Minnie. She was asked to go out for a fabulous brunch by one of the eligible bachelors at the home, and they are just about to leave. Her date, James, called a limo to take them to the brunch, and they were dressed to the nines. She waltzed out on the patio just as the daughter and 4 kids were walking towards the home.

The limo drove up. The kids said, “Wow. Look at that. I wonder what it is doing here. Neat car. Wish we could take a limo, just once. The driver must be lost. Who would be taking a limo in this place?”

Minnie and James are walking arm in arm towards the family who are standing there with their mouths open.

“Oh Emily, how thoughtful of you to come, and the children too. Is Darren ill? I see him sitting in the van. I am so sorry dear, but we will have to make it another time. I have a date.”

The limo driver opens the door. Minnie and James wave goodbye.

Emily and the kids watch the limo leave. They walk back to the van. Emily is grumbling something about her mother, being ungrateful. The kids are taking photos of the departing limo.

I give a high five and say, “Minnie, you are the bomb.”

I love Mother’s day at the home.


The movie never ends

There are morning people and then there are non-morning people. It’s fun to watch the two types collide, in the office at 8am.

My supervisor is a definite afternoon delight. She does not enjoy the mornings, even though she is always there, early. But she is not bright and cheery. She tiptoes into her cube to avoid the madding crowd, takes off her coat and settles down for a slow but steady dance into consciousness. It is inevitable that the chipper morning-ites bounce over to her desk, to wish her a fabulous day, after unloading their myriad of problems on her shoulders. She forces a smile, and is very pleasant, but deep down, she is most likely thinking, “Hey turkey. Buzz off. OK? I am just waking up and need my caffeine.”

At the other extreme is Ann-Marie. She makes her entrance in a dramatic sweeping way, wishing each and every one of us a very good morning, and a fantastic day. She makes her rounds, and misses no one. “Good morning, Wolf! How you doing? What a beautiful day. I can’t wait for our meeting today.” Most of us humor her. We answer with a thanks and a half hearted good morning, hoping she will go away and find someone else’s life to brighten.

Then there are the tired people. No matter which day of the week it is, they are tired. “How are you today, Sue?” “Tired.” “I didn’t sleep well.” “I almost took the day off.” “I just can’t wake up.” “I don’t know how I will make it through the day, I am exhausted.” The tired group takes longer than the rest of us to settle in. They are late for the morning meeting. Their computers take longer to start. They barely get their daily reports done by 9, and they won’t answer their phones until 10am. I guess their phones are tired too.

By noon, the tired people are raring to go, usually to lunch. They make plans with their other tired co-workers and dash out to a restaurant, smiling, laughing and chattering. “Thought you were tired?” “Huh, what you talking about?”

Ann-Marie is quiet. She has swung to the other side. She eats fruit for lunch, at her desk, alone. She has crashed from her morning high. She suffers all afternoon, clock watching until the stroke of 5pm. Then she whisks out the door. Doesn’t even say goodnight.

And my Supervisor? She is alive, fresh, focused. She is in her element as the day goes on. She never leaves at 5. She is just getting started.

I love watching the daily office movie. As they say, “It never ends. It goes on and on and on.”


Our sick little girl

She’s in heat again. Poor little thing. Howling, crying, pacing around. She is so miserable. But we feel blessed to have her.

2 years ago, she was thrown out of a car. In a plastic bag. My husband , CW, just happened to drive by when he saw the bag being thrown in the woods. The driver of the car sped off furiously, which made CW very suspicious. He stopped his truck and retrieved the bag. She was inside, and was not breathing. Being a cat lover, he gave the little kitten mouth to mouth resuscitation, and she started to breathe.

He brought her home and she would not leave his side for 3 days. She slept on his chest, exhausted. We brought her to the vet.

“What a beautiful kitten. She is so precious.” The Vet picked her up and carried her throughout the facility showing everyone this perfect kitty. She was white, with red markings, and she had a huge tail, fluffy, puffy and reminiscent of a squirrel’s tail.

The Vet said, “I am so sorry, but you have a very sick little girl here. She has a heart murmur, and a very severe one at that. She can never have any kind of operation, and she must not ever have a litter of kittens. She will be sick most of the time, very quiet, and will sleep a lot. I’m sorry but it would take a special person to take care of her, as she will be in and out of heat, most of her life.”

We brought her home, to live with us and her 2 cat siblings, Y and P. They were not overly fond of this little puff of a kitten, but they tolerated her. We named her Puff, and were resigned to her condition, knowing we would be taking care of this sick little thing for as long as she lived.

Oh yea? Well, this sickly little wisp of a cat is a holy terror. She is the chief instigator of mischief in our home. Not only does she terrorize her sister and brother, she is the nosiest cat in the world.

CW cannot do anything that this cat does not approve of. If he goes out to cut the grass, she runs from window to window, watching his every move. If we eat, she is there, at the table, waiting for us to share our dinner. If we have ice cream, guess who shares with us? She knows when I get home from work and is sitting on the computer desk, waiting for me, every night. We have this game. I throw her toy, she chases it. She has at least 20 toys, and she insists that I throw every one, every night, and will not give up until the last one is on the floor.

If she is not getting the attention she thinks she deserves, she finds things to do to irritate us. She climbs walls, jumps from chair to chair, scratches the windows, runs wildly from room to room, lays on the computer keyboard, all the time, looking around to see what else she can get into.

She is fearless. CW’s friend brought over his German Shepherd to visit. And this dog was a very very large Shepherd, with a head bigger than all of Puff. She went right up to the dog, looked at him and hissed. Then walked away like she had put the fear of God in that dog.

Then when she is tired, she climbs on CW’s lap, and God forbid, if he talks, or coughs or tries to move. She protests, loudly, until her nest is quiet and just the way she likes it, so she can get her beauty rest.

Puff is a special cat. She brings joy to our life. And we suffer with her through her constant painful bouts of being in heat. We try to comfort her during these times, to make her feel loved. But she already knows we love her. And when her pain subsides, and she is back to her wild side, we sit back, laugh and enjoy our “sick” little girl.



It’s a sad day. Banana tells me she is quitting her job, giving it up, retiring. She and I have worked together for 5 years now. I have never met her, but I consider her my very dear friend. I will really miss her. We work in different cities, but we work together, on the same account. She makes me laugh, makes me cry and tells it like it is. We can say anything to one another, disagree, argue, fight, but in the end, we are still buds.

I have decided to keep the blog’s name, BananaWolf, in her honor. And since there will be only one zany, half crazed woman blogging, you will still hear me mention her. I intend to keep in touch with her.

Thank you Banana, for being a bright, hilarious spot in my life every day. And the inspiration for many of my crazy stories.