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It occurred to me, as I was driving through a local mall parking lot, that I’ve come a long way from the cautious, afraid to try anything, paranoid young woman I used to be. In fact, I’d venture to say that, if my kids knew the extent of my daredevil approach to life now, they’d ground me.

I was raised by over-protective parents to do only what was safe so I would never get hurt. Ha! That didn’t work out so well. But such a long-standing habit is harder than you would think to break. But break it I have.

Take the aforementioned trip through the mall parking lot. It was a maze-like construct, designed, I feel certain, by drunk engineers and children recently taken off their ritalin meds. No rhyme nor reason to the driving lanes. I had to visit two stores in this complex — each about a city block from the other. I parked near Store One. Got out, made my purchase, and got back in the car to drive to Store Two. (Yes, I can hear Gill’s expletive now:”Ma, for f___’s sake! You aren’t seriously going to DRIVE that short way? What, you don’t have legs? This from the woman who walks miles every week (and made US walk everywhere) and you can’t be bothered walking a block?”

To which I would reply in a huffy voice meant to annoy and egg her on: “Of course I have legs  but, as a true suburban, never use them when driving works just as well. I’d lose my standing in the neighbourhood.” I would also have pointed out that, since I was wearing shoes with heels, walking wasn’t feasible. But that would have precipitated a Gill diatribe on my stupid ‘lady shoes’.)

So, as I zoomed diagonally across the lot(checking for other drivers with a similar Nascar sensibility), I did so without my seat belt fastened. My rationale was that I wasn’t REALLY in traffic. It would be fine. Did I mention that I recently flunked a ‘field vision’ test that measures one’s peripheral vision? (I did better the second time I took the test). I mean, really, doesn’t every mother get a pass on peripheral vision since it is a well-known fact that we come equipped with eyes in the back of our heads?

Of course, if I’d caught Gill playing stock car racer, I would have taken the car away from her.

Life is definitely more challenging — and interesting — when you live on the edge. I do that all the time with food…not food somebody else will eat, just me. Past due dates rarely have the scare factor for me. I prefer to rely on my faithful schnoz. If it smells off, I pitch it. If it’s slimy (and wasn’t that way when it came to me), I pitch it. If it has sprouted anything blue, green, or fuzzy, it’s a goner. But I do admit, especially now that I live alone, that often I simply can’t bear to throw out what is most likely perfectly fine food just because its ‘best by’ date has come and gone. I mean, if I had aimed for the ‘best’ in life all these years, I’d have been sadly disappointed by now. Why, I know for a fact MY ‘best by’ date has long since expired, but no one has given me the hook yet.

One thing that concerned Gill recently was the new warning labels on Tylenol. I suffer from many headaches — although not the massive migraines that she remembers from her childhood. Many was the time when Mommy took to a darkened room with ice packs and ‘her special meds’ (yes, there is a time and place for narcotics) and cautioned the kids to be quiet like little angels tip-toeing on clouds…or Mommy’s head would explode. While they were generally fascinated with the concept of a brain explosion and were almost willing to test me to see what it would look like, something about my pasty white demeanor and barely audible whisper clued them in that they’d rot in hell if they pursued this line of thinking. The older I got, the fewer and less severe were the headaches. So I am now able to cope with only extra strength Tylenol. But the new warnings gave Gill pause. She quizzed me.”So ‘fess up, Ma. How many do you take in a day?”

“Enough.”

“What do you mean ‘enough’? I don’t trust you. Do you mean enough to cure the headache or enough to kill an elephant? I know your somewhat lackadaisical view of medications.”

“I plead the fifth…”

Hey, what’s life if not a crap shoot? And so, until my children find out what I’m doing and ground me, I will continue to live dangerously…refusing to do up my shoelaces on the walk to the pool, standing on tiptoe atop wobbly stools to clean or paint, playing my own version of chicken with the neighborhood kids on scooters as they careen down sidewalks on their way to school. I believe preference (or space) should be given to seniors such as myself, walking innocently on those same sidewalks. Then again, I could just  put a tiny foot out and trip them…they’d never see it coming.

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