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Fire Away! by Dee Jay Gude
Toward the end of the school year, I noticed something about myself. My neck was often tight, my jaw clenched and my head ached. Now normally the end of school means only one thing to me - kids going away to be with their other parental units! Yes, I was fortunate enough to divorce well then marry even better. For the whole month of July, all four of our kids go to visit their other parent, leaving Larry and I in a quiet, clean honeymoon nest. We don't cook unless WE want to eat, laundry and dishes are greatly diminished and, best of all, I come home from work each day to a house that looks exactly the way I left it. Did I mention the silence? It's kind of creepy at first but after awhile we start having drinks on the deck while we grill salmon filets. We invite childless friends over for conversation. We go to movies. Life is good.

So why the headaches and general feeling of malaise? One look at the Washington Post headlines gave me my answer. The news was making me sick! Watching Al Gore (who I've nicknamed 'Lurch') do his "I'm not Bill" dance; watching George W (who I've nicknamed 'Sparky') furrow his brow at simple questions; reading newspaper articles that tell blatant lies, yet influence millions. Yes, it was making me crazy!. So I decided that, just for the month of July, I would go on a media blackout. Not all media, of course - just the news and anything political.

Instead of having breakfast with the Post and Times, I stocked up on all those women's magazines you see at the grocery checkout. I didn't see Tim Russert or Cokie Roberts for a whole month, spending my television time instead with Nick-at-Nite and VH1. And a whole new world opened up for me! I marveled at Katie Brown's ability to transform a plain wooden chair into something you would be proud to seat your mother on. I picked up several new casserole recipes that were bound to simplify that feeding thing that goes on each night in my home. I started actually doing the exercises that Prevention recommends. And I realized that, somewhere in the last few years, I went from being a Cosmo Girl to a Redbook matron. But, most of all, I learned that...celebrities are weird.

The Gwyneth Paltrows and Sylvester Stallones of the world are doing all kinds of strange things to their bodies in the name of health and beauty. And 20-something ladies seem to want to follow their lead. Several magazines touted the benefits of colonic irrigation, which is exactly what it sounds like - an enema. Apparently Princess Diana had one once a month. And Cosmo was suggesting that I have one, too! They said it would make my skin glow and my hair healthy, not to mention boost my energy through the roof. "Yuck!" says I. If I tried something like that, my skin would glow just from trying to explain it to my hysterically laughing husband.

And the new Brazilian Bikini Wax! How immodest can you get? Am I so old that I would rather scour my bathtub than get that, um, personal with the lady at the beauty shop? (Gentlemen: if you do not know what a bikini wax is, please consult your wife/girlfriend/mother/sister.) Are celebrities just so used to disassociating themselves from their bodies that they're not embarrassed know... display themselves like that? Or maybe they feel the need to humiliate themselves because they realize they make tons of money for doing very little.  Who knows?

Many celebrities are getting Botox treatments, which involves injecting a botulism derivative into your frown lines, which paralyzes the surrounding muscle so you can't squinch your face up. Couldn't you just rub your face with old leftovers and get the same result? Now, I'm a person who gets squeamish using an alpha-hydroxy acid on my face - what do you suppose the chances are that I'll let some doctor inject poison into my crow's feet?

Women's magazines just aren't what they used to be. Or maybe I'm not what I used to be. Because on July 31st, as the house filled with the raucous noise of children returning home, I realized that my media blackout was over...just in time for the Republican Convention! How's that for timing? And I noticed that Tipper Gore seems to be putting on a little weight. But it's nothing that a little liposuction wouldn't take care of.

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