Time to toss some words!

I’m a writer, so obviously I love words. My problem lately is that certain words and phrases grate on me. Take “adulting “for example, which is the current mantra for young people who happen to believe they’re doing something adults might do. Something mundane, but necessary, like cleaning your house, doing the laundry, and paying the bills. The word comes out as a whiny groan, because who wants to act remotely like a grown-up?

Then there’s “swol” which is a term ascribed to a person who works out and develops muscles. The word sounds like a nasty diagnosis, not a compliment. Then again, maybe the term is meant derisively, because working out involves—as the word implies—work, so maybe that means being “swol” is a physical form of “adulting.”

I almost don’t want to mention “cancelled” but the current meaning ascribed to the term is so prevalent it’s hard to ignore. While we are used to cancelled appointments, the modern version actually cancels people. The visual itself is disturbing. The idea of speaking out against someone with whom we don’t agree is a Constitutional right in this country. However, the general idea is that we protest against someone’s actions or beliefs. The notion that the entire person should be relegated to a trash heap has never been the point  If you’re a student of history, perhaps you can see why this type of public shaming might be problematic, especially if it’s applied to a group of people and not a single human being who’s behaved like a boob. The other issue is that if one does not jump on the cancelled bandwagon, then they too are threatened with being cancelled. Wouldn’t it be better if when we disagree with someone or something, we just avoided them? Don’t like what an author put in a book? Don’t read it. Offended by a movie, TV show, or comediane? Don’t watch. But please don’t tell others what they should do. Stick to your own lane.

Do we really need to cancel other human beings?

And how about “my truth”? Something true is defined as “that which is in accordance with fact or reality.” As a former journalist, I take facts very seriously, and it’s my understanding that facts are the same for all of us, despite political folks who think “alternative facts” are a real thing. “My truth” has been defined as “what is true to me based on my own experience and understanding.” That suggests that one may believe whatever they want without justification or proof. I did find another definition for the expression which I think is spot on: “’My truth'” is a pretentions substitute of non-negotiable personal opinion.”

The most ridiculous expression is “we’re pregnant.” I mean, does the man have morning sickness? Does he suffer discomfort caused by a new person growing inside him? Does he experience the trauma and agony of labor? Does he have breasts leaking milk? No, no, no and no! So how, please tell me, do men get included in the pregnancy equation? Note that, yes, men do have to deal with a pregnant partner, but that’s not even remotely the same thing.

I understand that verbiage changes over the generations. When I was growing up we said things like, “Take a chill pill.” “Catch you on the flip side.” “Do me a solid.” “Far out.” and “Groovy.” The difference, I think, is that none of these phrases were the least bit meanspirited, judgmental, or factually incorrect.

So let’s try to be accurate and positive whenever we come up with new ways to say things. Wouldn’t that be better?

Anne Montgomery’s novels can be found wherever books are sold.



Here’s an idea! Let’s stop breeding dogs

Sure this Petits Bassets Griffons Vendeens is cute, but is it any better than your average mutt?

As I was zipping around the TV options recently, I happened on the Westminster Dog Show where a Petits Bassets Griffons Vendeens—whatever that is—won Best in Show. The pup’s name was CH Soletrader Buddy Holly, so the dog’s sobriquet was as ostentatious as it’s breed.

Don’t get me wrong, I love dogs and have shared my home with many of them over the years, but the folks at the Westminster Kennel Club have me annoyed. If you are unfamiliar with the group, here’s how they describe themselves.

“The Westminster Kennel Club, established in 1877, is America’s oldest organization dedicated to the sport of dogs. It hosts the iconic, all-breed Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, the second-longest, continuously held sporting event in the U.S. The annual dog show—a conformation competition for purebred dogs—and the Masters Agility Championship and Masters Obedience Championship— where dogs from all backgrounds are eligible to compete.”

That last part about the agility and obedience championships was added in 2014, after animal rights activists complained that mixed-breed dogs were barred from competition, because, well, they were mutts.

Just about all my dog friends were mixed-breed creatures, most from the streets or shelters. I’m not looking for a pat on the back here, just stating a fact. It never occurred to me that any of them might be lacking because they didn’t have a breed nametag affixed to their lineage. Some of us can look past the droopy ears, mishmash of colors, and uneven body parts mutts often display and see the beautiful creature beneath the surface. But for some reason other folks feel the need to go all designer doggy, which leads to the problem of breeding dogs to display certain characteristics.

Before I go any further, note that humans and canines presumably got together about 30,000 years ago, probably when wolves discovered that those odd-looking, biped creatures were known to kill things and sometimes left juicy bits of meat and bone lying about. So, being clever creatures, they started following humans around. Somewhere along the line someone—I’m guessing a woman, mom-type—maybe found an abandoned wolf pup and raised it, which no doubt had other cave dwellers agog, after which the woman was probably named president of the clan.

Both Sadie and Bella were cattle dog mixes, and I never felt I was missing out because they weren’t special breeds.

Later, dogs were bred to perform services for humans, the canine version of singing for one’s supper. We’ve trained dogs to guard and hunt and herd and find lost humans in disasters. There are service dogs that help disabled people and police, and dogs that sniff out bombs and contraband at the airport. Important work.

Today, however, most dogs don’t have jobs. They’re just pets. Don’t believe me? All you beagle owners, when was the last time you were out hunting rabbits with your dog? Most of us do not contend with flocks of sheep or herds of cattle, nor do we need our Dobermans and pit bulls to protect us from random robbers. When was the last time those of you with Great Danes went stomping through the brush, trying to flush out wild boar? And all you fans of chihuahuas—I probably shouldn’t even mention this— but do you know what you’re little darling was bred for? Food! Yep. The Aztecs herded those wee dogs along with their warriors so they might have fresh meat when they were off doing warrior stuff. I mention this because I’m guessing you’re not sipping a nice Cabernet as you prepare to sauté your little pup with garlic and onions.

So, the question is, why are we still breeding dogs when millions go unadopted in shelters every year? Why are we breeding dogs with traits nature never intended, purebreds that suffer from genetic conditions. I’m talking French bulldogs, pugs, and Pekingese whose “adorable” features can lead to breathing and eye problems, as well as infections. Why are we willing to shell out big money to backyard breeders who prioritize profit over animal welfare?

I know some of you may be looking at your canine friend and thinking I don’t know what I’m talking about, because your dog’s breed is the best breed ever.

But is it? Really? Here’s hoping the next time you’re looking for a pet, you open your mind just a little. Maybe that shelter dog is a bit funny looking, but that’s doesn’t mean he won’t be the best friend you ever had.

Give it a try.

Anne Montgomery’s novels can be found wherever books are sold.



The problem with shorts

Shopping for shorts is hard, because this is pretty much all you’ll find.

I’ve lived in the desert for going on 35 years. I mention this because there is at least one article of clothing one can’t be without, especially since we are pretty much guaranteed close to 110 days a year where the temperature exceeds 100 degrees. I’m talking about shorts, of course.

Growing up in New Jersey, I rarely donned shorts. The reason? I’m of the fish-belly white crowd, so much so that Jill, my best friend growing up who had lovely, dark skin, used to ask me to sit next to her on the beach on those trips to the Jersey Shore.

“You always make me look better,” she’d say, patting the towel next to her.

It wasn’t until I got a job in Phoenix, Arizona in the late 1980’s that I finally gave in and acquired some shorts and I’ve been wearing them ever since. For years I wore the same shorts. I probably had ten pair, purchased at Chicos. White, cotton, comfy, styled like Bermuda shorts but looser. Then suddenly, and even though I’d purchased them at different times, they all fell apart.

I felt stranded, so I headed off to the mall only to find that Chico’s didn’t make them anymore and what I discovered at every store I went into was just plain depressing. Later, when I returned home looking dejected, my sweetie pie creased his brow. “What’s up?”

“I can’t find any shorts.”

Ryan gave me a look like he couldn’t believe such a thing would ruin my day, then he smiled. “Why?”

“They don’t make shorts for people my age?”

“What do you mean?”

“You should see them. Even in the women’s department, the shorts barely cover your butt. Who wants to see my butt?”

He paused, searching for an appropriate response.

“You remember the airport?”

See those nice shorts? Unfortunately, the guy didn’t come with them.

He nodded.

If you’ve been anywhere near an airport lately—or a mall, grocery store or pumping gas, for that matter—I bet you’ve seen a host of older women sashaying about in cutoff jeans exposing much more of their bums than anyone wants to see. They might as well be wearing thongs.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m far from a prude. (Stop tittering!) But there’s a time and place for such attire and in the general public it’s just not a good look. And, let’s face it, most of us, even you younger ladies, just don’t look good in those Daisy Dukes. Sometimes, I find myself wanting to scream at my sisters, “Did you look in the mirror?” But, of course, I don’t. What other people wear is their business.

Another issue is that short shorts are seriously uncomfortable in my desert. You’ll see if you ever come here and sit on anything left outside during the summer. You’ll look like you fell asleep in the sun and you can suffer serious burns.

My dearth of shorts continued despite several trips to the store and numerous online searches. Then, one day, I took Ryan with me. We rarely shop together for anything but food, since neither one of us finds joy in shopping. I could see that he was just as frustrated as I was.

He stood there, considering. “Why don’t you try men’s shorts?”

At my wits end, I followed him to the men’s department, where a miracle occurred. I found shorts that were both comfortable and less revealing.

So why do guys get comfy clothes and we don’t?

I think a revolution is in order.

Anne Montgomery’s novels can be found wherever books are sold.



Flight attendants: We have them all wrong!

Stewardesses are now flight attendants and they’re on board to save your life. Really?

Some of you may remember that storied time long ago when flying was fun. People actually bathed and changed out of their pajamas before heading to the airport. There was no need to arrive two hours prior to boarding. No long security lines to traverse. No explaining to an angry TSA agent that, no, you’re not a terrorist and that you didn’t mean to leave a half a cup of liquid in your water bottle. There was actual food served on actual plates with actual utensils by smiling stewardesses.

Now that I’ve mentioned stewardesses, note that they don’t like to be called that anymore. They are flight attendants. Which is fine, especially since today many of them are men, but back in the early days of commercial flying no males could apply. United Airlines “invented” the stewardess in the 1930s, and in 1967 the airline bragged that they’d trained over “15,000 smiling reasons to fly the friendly skies…Everyone gets warmth, friendliness and extra care. And someone may get a wife.”

Stewardesses were incased in cute little outfits and held to exacting standards of beauty. Weight between 100-118 pounds. No shorter than five-feet tall, but no taller than five-foot-four. Between 20 and 26 years old. She had to be unmarried with no children. She had to be attractive with no visible blemishes. Her hair had to be her natural color—one wonders if there was some kind of test— which had to be neatly styled and worn no longer than shoulder length.

And, of course, she had to have a pleasant personality.

Considering the qualifications, it appears the primary purpose of a stewardess was to be a eye candy and a glorified waitress quite suitable for marriage, hence the reason the average “career” only lasted 18 months.

Last year, a lovely young woman came to stay with us. While she was here she became a flight attendant with United Airlines, so I had a professional sounding board the day I returned home from a trip seething about the way I was treated on a flight.

Memo to the airlines: If your flight attendants are there to save us in an emergency, could you hire some women like these.

I had gone through rotator cuff surgery and had suffered a severely broken leg that had to be surgically repaired, both in the year-and-a-half prior to the day I walked onto the plane. The injuries required long periods of rehab. While I was doing well, there were still some restrictions. Like not lifting things. When I wheeled my bag to the back of the plane, I saw two flight attendants standing in the galley.

“Excuse me.” I smiled. “Could you help me put my bag in the overhead bin?”

One of them crossed her arms over her chest and yelled out, “If you can’t handle your own luggage you should have stowed it under the plane!” The other one just stood and stared at me.

I almost gasped. It’s hard for me to ask for help with physical things, as I spent much of my life working around men, where one didn’t want to show weakness, lest they be sized up for the next meal. Luckily, a male passenger appeared and quickly took care of the problem, still I was smoking mad.

If my plane was crashing, I’d feel much better with this woman onboard.

When I explained what happened to my house guest, she calmly explained that I had the job of a flight attendant all wrong. “They’re not there to serve you,” she explained. “They’re on board to help you in case of an emergency.”

I squinted. “Then what’s with the outfits?” She looked at me quizzically, forgetting that she had recently complained about having to wear a skirt and pumps to work. “So, flight attendants are going to save me from the burning wreckage of a downed aircraft in heels and an A-line skirt? Really?”

I could see her brain whirring.

Here’s the thing, if the airlines want us to believe that flight attendants are there to rescue us in a disaster, I want them dressed like friggin’ Navy Seals, don’t you?

And a return to the pleasant personalities might be nice, too.

Anne Montgomery’s novels can be found wherever books are sold.