The World in a Cup of Coffee

Filed Under All Posts, Health, Parenting, Prudence Baird | 26 Comments

For Prudence, a chance encounter at the local co-op reveals a road less traveled and the journey ahead

I noticed the woman’s skirt first. Made from a stretchy black polyester from another era, the skirt brushed the tops of her shoes, which peeked out from underneath like two pointy black snouts. She stared at the gleaming push-top coffee thermoses perched just out of reach as she fidgeted with an orange paper coffee cup, turning it over and over in her hands.

“May I get you some coffee?” I asked.

“No, I can manage,” she said, and promptly dropped the cup, which rolled under her wheelchair.

Our eyes met and both crinkled at the corners.

“Well. I guess maybe you’d better.” Read more

The Waiting Game

Filed Under All Posts, Courage, Health, Prudence Baird | 15 Comments

As time tests her patience, Prudence is not amused

The waiting game. Just because this phrase rhymes with the iconic Jim Lange-hosted TV game show of my youth, I am not amused.

I object to coupling the word “waiting” with “game.”

There’s nothing joyful, fun or amusing about waiting, therefore waiting is not a game. Read more

The Bermuda Triangle Century

Filed Under All Posts, Politics, Prudence Baird | 15 Comments

Prudence digs deep into an ocean of insight

In 1998, if you hadn’t seen The Titanic by week two of its release, you were in danger becoming marginalized; a social misfit unable to contribute to the main topic of conversation du jour—a shipwreck from 86 years before. Sheesh.

This brings me to chair number 18 at Umberto, a Beverly Hills über-salon where—for the right price—even nobodies like me can rub foiled locks with B-list celebrities.

David, my stylist and a dog show aficionado who could have walked straight (so to speak) out of Best in Show, was trying to ignore overtures from a buff young man in a tight black t-shirt sweeping up shorn locks from Umberto’s imported Italian marble floors. Read more

“How To” Vermont

Filed Under All Posts, Humor, Prudence Baird | 23 Comments

Hollywood’s loss is Vermont’s gain, as Prudence celebrates her fourth anniversary and lessons learned in the Green Mountain State

For those of you who think that sparsely populated, Yankee-pure Vermont is the antidote to the ills of urban life, here is a quick set-up guide that will acquaint you with “how to Vermont.”

1. You kahnt get thay-yer from hee-yaw.
You can live full-time, own property and pay taxes in the Green Mountain State, but becoming a bona fide, card-carrying Vermonter is earned the old-fashioned way—you must be born here. Furthermore, your parents must have been born here; your grand-parents (both sides) must have been born here—and so on back for four generations. Seriously. Otherwise, you are considered a “flatlander,” even if you come from Machu Pichu or Boulder, Colorado.

2. “Massholes” are from Massachusetts.
Although Massholes come from the eponymous state to our south, you can also use this label whenever encountering an attitudinous anyone who is making an ostentatious show of wealth and power. Example: “That tailgater must be a Masshole.” (See “flatlander” above.) Read more

Naked Motherhood

Filed Under All Posts, Health, Parenting, Prudence Baird | 41 Comments

As if being a mother wasn’t difficult enough; Prudence illustrates what its like to be a mother of an autistic child, navigating familial relations, good intentions and bureaucratic ignorance

The popsicle stick-thin figure in rumpled pajamas who is my 16-year-old son stands in the darkened corridor in a fighter’s stance, small white hands clenched into fists. His face, lit by a shaft of light from the laundry room, is contorted with rage at being roused from his slumber—probably by me shutting the dryer door.

Casey’s eyes dart from the lit laundry room to the clothes in my arms; then to the crack of light under his brother’s bedroom door.

This could go any direction, including ones I cannot imagine, so I float a storyline: “I’m going downstairs with these clean clothes; time to go back to bed.”

“Mom? Who are you talking to?” comes from behind my oldest son’s door.

I dart a warning glance at Casey, whose free-floating anxiety wicks towards the sound of his brother’s voice. He erupts, “Shut-up! I’m trying to sleep!”

“You shut-up. You’re the one who’s yelling,” comes big brother’s voice. Read more

Long Live the Mademoiselle Makeover!

Filed Under All Posts, Beauty, Prudence Baird, Style | 18 Comments

She waves her ink-filled wand and…poof! From frumpy to fabulous! Marvel at Prudence’s dedication to the magic of the makeover.

Like an annoying jingle that—with the right prompt—goes viral in a neural nanosecond, there’s a bit of pop culture ephemera skulking near the surface of my gray matter, ready to be triggered any time a certain visual cue crosses my line of sight.

And what, you might ask, is that cue? I’ll give you a hint: Drab to fab.

Yes, I’m talking about the legendary “Mademoiselle Makeover,” a regular installment of the now defunct Mademoiselle magazine, that glossy monthly that competed with Glamour and Seventeen magazines for smart young ladies’ attention for 66 years before it finally folded in 2001.

Maybe you can relate if you, like me, were a devotee of the column that featured normal-looking (okay, somewhat dowdy) young women, who, with the help of the Mademoiselle fashion and beauty editors (and products from the magazine’s advertisers) morphed into beauties from their former beastly selves. This monthly step-by-step narrative implied that behind every lumpy Plain Jane lurked a paint-by-numbers Anne Hathaway-like princess yearning to emerge from her cocoon and fly off to a new-and-improved life on gossamer wings.

The message: Magic can happen; all you need is the right makeover! Read more

The Muddle of Middle Age

Filed Under Ageism, All Posts, Prudence Baird | 21 Comments

teapot and teacup in front of a window with snow covered trees outside

A telephone survey has Prudence coming to grips with middle age and beyond

Recently, a marketing firm contacted me looking for a Baby Boomer willing to talk candidly about a variety of subjects ranging from plastic surgery to (ahem) performance-enhancing supplements.

Never shy about broadcasting my opinions, I agreed. I am, after all, a member of the me generation that was promised 15 minutes of fame. Each. Never mind that the infant terrible who made this promise is long dead, so can’t be held accountable. And talking to a telemarketer isn’t exactly fame, per se.

The thirtysomething professional on the other end of the phone reminded me of myself—albeit a two-decade-earlier self, when I, too, thought of age 50 as an impossibly faraway place that would somehow recede into the distance the closer I got to it. Read more

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