When Valerie Monroe calls me

Sometimes I give in to this fantasy about when Valerie Monroe calls me. Ms. Monroe, for those of you who don’t know, is the Beauty Editor at O The Oprah Magazine. When she likes a product, its sales skyrocket. When she loves a product, its developers can go buy themselves rockets, and yachts, entire islands, and whatever else their little hearts desire. She knows what the beautiful people – celebrities, socialites, and scores of Instagram influencers – use and trust to maintain their beautiful people beautifulness because she asks them.

And one of these days, when I’m famous for my words and renowned for my unyielding gorgeousness, she is going to ask me, too.

I’m ready, Ms. Monroe. I think about my response when I’m between deadlines, have photographic evidence that my both my sons are safe and sound, my workout and laundry are done for the day, I’ve spoken with my mom, my dad, and my boyfriend (and confirmed as best I can that my dad and my boyfriend are not currently in cahoots), the plants are watered, dishes are put away, my bed’s made, and I’m between books. This is also known as When Susan Has Too Much Time on Her Hands.

I imagine the scenario unfolding this way.

My phone rings and I say, “Ms. Monroe, it’s so lovely of you to call! I can’t tell you how flattered I am!”

To which she responds, “Please, call me Val.”

Val! I can call her Val! We are so on our way to being BFF’s!

“Val,” I say, with all the confidence of someone who just talked Kim Kardashian in off the ledge over the flack for her Kimono line, “what can I do for you?”

“Well Susan,” she responds, “you can give me the answer to the question women the world over are clamoring for: What is your secret to staying so young and beautiful?”

I pause for a moment. One can’t come across as too eager in these situations. It’s just not what Beautiful People do. Furthermore, it’s not what pretend Beautiful People who just received an imaginary Beautiful People club membership card do. It would be heartbreaking to have that sucker rescinded.

“Val,” I say, “you’re so sweet. I am neither young nor beautiful, and I really don’t have a beauty secret.”

“But there must be something,” she insists, “some particular product you love, trust, wouldn’t be caught dead without!”

“Well you know, Val,” I say conspiratorially,”there is one item I use everyday, sometimes several times a day. In fact, I use it so frequently I keep extras all over the place. In my desk, my bag, the car, the kitchen. Actually I have dozens in the kitchen. I’d be lost without it.”

“Susan!” she exclaims. “The women of the world are waiting! What is this item?”

“It’s my Plackers Micro Mint Dental Floss Pick!”

“Get out!” she responds and I flash on Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Elaine on Seinfeld giving Jerry or George one of her character’s trademark, over-the-top shoves. I love that show. Should I ask if she’s a fan? I mean, who doesn’t love Elaine? I should ask. I’m going to ask. But no! That’s not what Beautiful People do. Stay the course, Suzy, I tell myself. Stay calm, cool, collected. It’s too soon to lose that imaginary card!

I take a deep, Beautiful People breath and respond.

“You know, Val,” I offer. ” I’m 57, and if I so much as look at my refrigerator I get food stuck between my teeth.”

“Stop!’ she says, elongating the word so it sounds like stahhhhhp which thrills me because it’s exactly how my besties and I banter back and forth and that can only mean one thing: she likes me. She really likes me! Oh my God. I feel faint. I’ve made a fabulous new friend, and I’ve given the women of the world a beauty product that actually works and it’s under ten bucks!

Dear God, I’m such a good person.

“Susan,” she says, ” I can’t wait to share this with our readers. Dental floss picks are going to be flying off the shelves! It’s been delightful talking with you and, at the risk of overstepping my bounds, I just want to say that I love your books.”

She loves my books! And my dental picks! This fantasy can’t get any better! Unless of course she actually calls. I’m ready. My response is planned. My phone is charged. And of course I’ve flossed.

Comparison is the thief of joy

This week’s episode of Flaws Are The New Black is about the pitfalls of comparison. Maybe you’ve heard the expression, “comparison is the thief of joy” and maybe you haven’t. But I’m here to tell you, it is. When we compare ourselves or our lives to others’, we suffer. When we compare our current selves to our past selves, we suffer as well. Just look at this teary pic of me feeling bad for myself because I don’t look like the photo on either of my book jackets any more. Oy vey, Susan. Knock it off!

The trick to ending this suffering is throwing out every single solitary photo of myself. I’m kidding. I plan to burn them.

No, the trick is GRATITUDE. I need to be grateful for the fact that I’m awake, alive, safe, healthy. (Maybe not mentally healthy but hey, you can’t have everything.) I need to be grateful that I have two incredible sons, friends and family who love me, work I enjoy, and yummy wine to drink at night.

Aging sucks but it’s better than the alternative. Comparison sucks too because it makes me ask myself, “how bad could the alternative to aging really be?” 

Comparison sucks us down the rabbit hole. Gratitude takes our hand and pulls us out. I hope you’ll watch the episode. It’s called Comparison is a Killer. Worse yet, it makes you cry!



Why do I keep this stuff?

Why do I keep this stuff? Not the skin creams and pore fillers and primer, I know why I keep those (and keep my fingers crossed when I use them). Not the makeup. I know I have to keep — and use — that lest I scare the entire world (not to mention myself) silly. But the barettes and hair bands. Why have I kept them? I have short hair, for God’s sake. The sparkly barrette below makes me look like I’ve lost half my tiara and all of my mind,

and this hair band makes me look like a post-menopausal Pebbles. Can you even imagine how fast Bam Bam would bolt? (And check out those dark bags. Poor Pebbles has really gone to pot.)

I haven’t held onto this stuff because I want my hair long again. I don’t. Going from short to long is best left to gorgeous “kids” like Kaley Cuoco (who’s short “do” I adored). At my age less is more. Shorter is better. Napping is a necessity.

And taking selfies in a room lit with anything but a 40 watt bulb should be against the law.