By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

Me - on a slope that looks nothing like the Downhill.

Me – on a slope that looks nothing like the Downhill.

Today is a sad day for me – the Olympics are over.  Champions were crowned, losers were consoled, and the women’s hockey team grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory.  I am a huge fan of the Olympics – Winter more than Summer.  I think that’s because I relate more to winter sports.  Oh sure, I was on the swim team in high school and did some gymnastics well into college, but let’s just say I wasn’t too graceful at either sport.  In fact, someone rather close to me commented that I moved like a hippopotamus in three feet of mud.  But the winter sports! Just strap something on my feet and put me on a slippery surface and I’m golden.  So for the past two weeks I have watched the skiers and the skaters with envy and unbridled enthusiasm.  I have to admit that the slopestyle skiing and snowboarding of any ilk is way beyond me and my knees hurt just watching  the aerial skiers.  But I actually commented to my husband during the downhill ski race, “I could do that!”.  He ignored me, sure that I was just making another of my Walter Mitty-type  comments.  But in my heart, I really do think that I could ski an Olympic downhill course.  Because even though I’m 63, I think I’m 45.

I'm a Gold Medal winner in Doughnuts

I’m a Gold Medal winner in Doughnuts

I mentioned this to a friend the other day and she told me she had suffered from the same delusions until she took the Real Age Test.  She suggested that I go online to Dr. Oz’s website and see just how old my body is.  Simple enough.  I began by answering some obvious questions – Do I Have Aches and Pains?  Do I Suffer from Digestive Tract issues?  Am I Often Anxious?  I was sailing through these questions – any moron could answer this stuff.  But then wise Dr. Oz started throwing in some trickier subjects like “How Much Do You Drink?”.  Hmmmm….this was a stumper.  Our doctor told us that he automatically DOUBLES the answer his patients tell him when asked this question.  So my first quandary was to determine if Dr. Oz is as wily as our doctor.  Not that I drink that much anymore but still…I was trying to determine my Real Age here and I didn’t want to have the alcohol algorithm adding any extra time.  Secondly, there’s the whole seasonal factor.  I drink more in winter because we go out more in winter.  So do I average the number over the whole year or answer for right now?  This was not going to be easy.  I moved on to food.  Fruits and vegetables have never been my strong suit.  We bought a VitaMix a couple of years ago thinking that we would make green smoothies every day but so far I’ve found that it whips up a pretty mean ice cream gin fizz.  Actually, we’re fairly healthy eaters but when faced with a piece of cake or a fresh piece of sourdough bread I have all the willpower of a six-year-old at a birthday party.  Finally, the smartypants people who devised this test ask about your “feelings”.  But not just depression or how often you laugh inappropriately.  They ask you to rate your belief in statements like “Most People Would Lie To Get Ahead”.  Jeez!!  OF COURSE most people do that.  I worked in Human Resources for 32 years and I could tell you stories about made up crap on resumes that would make your hair stand on end.  But…I could see the sneaky Dr. Oz baiting me on this one – if I answer truthfully he will “age” me because I am a negative, cynical, old bitty who always sees the glass half empty.  So I lied.

Proof that Attitude is Everything!

Proof that Attitude is Everything!

When I completed their barrage of questions I felt like I’d been grilled by a prison guard at Gitmo.  I was sweating bullets, just waiting for them to calculate my Real Age.  Turns out I’m not 45, I’m 57.   They gave me all sort of pats on the back for some healthful living and congratulated me on being younger than my actual age.  Still…even at 57 I guess I’m too old to ski the downhill course.  So instead I’ve decided I’m going to focus on Figure Skating.  A few years ago I laced up some skates in Sun Valley and made it around the WHOLE rink once before falling.  Oh sure, it wasn’t exactly a double Axel but it’s a start.  And my new hero is Yvonne Dowlen, pictured here, who is still figure skating at 87 years old.  She says that if she can walk, she can skate.  I like her attitude; I’d venture a guess that she’s never even come close to taking a Real Age test.  And I suspect that when the doctor asks her how many drinks she has per week she gives him a steely-eyed look and tells him to mind his own damn business.

Samoans Vanish from the Face of the Earth

by Bob Sparrow

real Samoan

No, not this Samoan

It’s February and my New Year’s ‘diet resolution’ was already as precarious as a politicians promise; then along comes those adorable, freckled-faced girls in green uniforms to push it completely over the precipice.  Yes, it’s Girl Scout Cookie time and I was first approached by those purveyors of baked goods as I came out of my local super market last week.  I rationalize my purchase by telling myself I’m supporting a good cause, and deep down I knew that I was really not going to get much thinner . . . again this year.  So I walked up to their card table set up outside the grocery store door and pondered my options.

I like Peanut Butter cookies and Thin Mints, but I love the Samoans – those vanilla cookies topped with caramel and sprinkled with toasted coconut and laced with chocolaty stripes – they are ‘good-bye diet’ delicious!  I said, “I’ll take a box of Thin Mints, a box of Peanut Butter cookies and 5 boxes of Samoans.”  Yes, 5 boxes. I knew I could polish off one box by the time I drove home from the grocery store.

The next words I heard temporarily shattered my cookie-eating world.  “OK, thank you, but we don’t have Samoans anymore.”  I froze all cookiesand stared at this little person delivering this tragic news and started to put my wallet back in my pocket, “We now call them ‘Caramel deLites’ – they’re the same thing”, she continued as she handed me a box to examine.  I was offended on two fronts, although I tried not to show it as I knew the young lady standing and smiling in front of me with a tooth missing, had nothing to do with either. First, these cookies are not ‘Lite’ anything – a serving, which is 2 cookies about the size of a silver dollar, is 130 calories – that’s more than a pint of Guinness! Just sayin’.  Secondly, and more importantly, are we no longer calling them Samoans because by doing so we could be offending Samoans everywhere?  Was the name changed out of concern for being politically correct?  Give me a break!  What country or ethnic group would not want to have that delicious cookie named after them?!”

who am I     I almost gave the boxes back, but I was fairly sure that the Girl Scout standing in front of me probably didn’t have much to do with the name change and certainly wouldn’t follow my comparing and contrasting the calories with a Guinness.  So I tried to take the high road and paraphrased Shakespeare saying, ” I suppose a Samoan by any other name doth taste as sweet.”  At that point the Girl Scout’s mother, not knowing what her daughter was going to be subjected to next, stepped between her daughter and me and encouraged me to either buy something or move along, that there were people behind me who didn’t care about the name, the calories, or Shakespeare for that matter, saying, “We’re just trying to sell cookies here to send our girls to camp.”  Which was code for, “Quit creeping my daughter out and either buy some cookies or get the hell out of the way.”

On my way home, while finishing off that box of Samoans (I refuse to call them ‘Caramel de-Lites’), I was thinking, about the misuse of the word ‘Lite’ in advertising as well as the hyper-sensitivity to being ‘politically correct’.  I get it that some Native American Indians don’t want to be a ‘mascot’ of American sports teams, but if we’re insulting the Samoans by naming a cooking after products from their islands, then we need to look at changing a number of other food items if we are genuinely concerned about being politically correct’.  To wit:

–       I’m sure we’ve insulted the English by naming a muffin after them?

–       We’ve certainly insulted the Brazilians by naming a nut after them!

–       I suppose Italian pizza should be called ‘Lo-Cal Mediterranean Cheese, Meat & Sauces on Lite Bread’

–       Are we still insulting the Polish by naming a sausage after them?

–       I’m not sure if Scottish folks are insulted by having Scotch named after them – or were they named after the Scotch?

–       And what about the Turkey sandwich?  Oh, never mind.

–       Should Maine lobster with drawn butter now be called ‘Northeastern crustacean with Lite oleo’

–       How about renaming French Fries ‘Anti-American, bath-needing, sniveling, wine-sipping, bastards Fries’frenchman

Well perhaps I do need some political sensitivity training, and I’ll get some as soon as the Girl Scouts bring back the Samoans.


By Suzanne Sparrow Watson


The Original

Those of you who follow my brother or me on Facebook know that last Friday would have been our dad’s 100th birthday.  For those of you who don’t follow us…it still would have been his 100th birthday.  He was a much-loved man, affectionately known as “Poppins” to one and all.  Whenever our family gets together we tell funny stories about him and do “The Poppins”.  What is that, you ask?  Well, whenever Pop’s martini ran dry, he would set the empty glass on top of his bald, round head, signifying that a refill was necessary.  He did it at home, of course, but also in restaurants, bars, and airplanes.  It never ceased to get a laugh…and an immediate refill.  So now that he’s gone, anyone who puts an empty glass on their head is doing “The Poppins”.

Last Christmas as the family was gathered at Bob’s house we talked about how we might turn “The Poppins” into a marketing tool for a liquor company.  We agreed that we first needed to make it a “thing” – kind of like Miley Cyrus and her twerking, only funnier and not disgusting.  We had a fun conversation about it and plenty of laughs and then forgot all about it.  But last week, on what would have been his 100th birthday, we posted a picture of him and requested that everyone  hoist a glass in his honor.   We got some amazing toasts but also received pictures of people doing “The Poppins”.  We thought it might be fun for everyone to join in so, really as a public service, herewith is a primer on how to do “The Poppins”.

1.  Start Simple – and Unbreakable.  This is critical.  No one thinks it is funny or cute to have broken glass and red wine spilled on their white carpeting.  So startphoto (4) slowly.  A plastic cup is perfect.  In fact in my opinion the Red Solo cup people ought to be jumping on “The Poppins” bandwagon.  Next, a little bit of liquid adds weight and makes it easier to balance.  Trust me on this.  At our dad’s memorial service I took a plastic cup up to the podium so I could demonstrate “The Poppins” to the SRO crowd.  I knew I was on thin ice to begin with and didn’t want to further annoy the minister by having the cup tumble all over the altar.  So I filled the cup half way with water.  It worked like a charm, although I think I am still going straight to hell after that stunt.  In any event, as pictured right, our good friend Marge Dunn sent us a picture on Friday of her doing “The Poppins” and she has done everything right – plastic cup for outdoors, still filled with liquid, and grinning from ear to ear.  Perfection!


Jeff doing the Poppins2.  Improvising is Key .  Sometimes, it is not just a martini or wine glass that needs filling.  As you can see from the picture at left, Bob’s son Jeff chose to do “The Poppins” at work.  Since pretty much every workplace frowns on consuming alcohol during working hours, he chose to improvise.  Smart boy!  A coffee mug is a perfectly acceptable tool and is also good for beginners.  My husband has been putting his empty coffee cup on his head for years now.  Long ago he figured out that whenever I saw him do that I would chuckle and think of my dad.  So instead of saying something like, “Gee, dear, why don’t you get up and pour your own cup of coffee?”, I gingerly pick it up off his head and toddle off into the kitchen.  I suspect he is secretly teaching the dog how to balance his bowl but I can’t be certain.


3.  “The Poppins” Masters.  Eventually, with enough practice, you will be able to graduate from plastic cups and coffee mugs to fine stemware.  This gets tricky and should be done with some amount of judgement (assuming that anyone who is putting a glass on their head has some judgement).  For example, if you’re going to your new boss’ house for the first time, I wouldn’t try doing “The Poppins” with their Waterford wine glasses.  However, I once was at a corporate retreat (“retreat” meaning 10 minutes of business and 5 hours of golf) followed by a small cocktail party, where I demonstrated “The Poppins”.  We then repaired to the hotel’s snobby dining room where the waiter apparently thought we were in a gulag.  No water, no bread, no service.  But…at the slight encouragement of my teammates, I put the very fine wine stem on my head and VOILA! the waiter came rushing over to our table.  So…”The Poppins” really does have some practical applications.  Two of the best practitioners of “The Poppins” in our family are daughter Wendy and brother Bob, pictured here.  You can only aspire to be this good.

photoBob doing The Poppins

It is truly a skill worth learning.  You will have fun, make people laugh, and get your glass refilled at record speed. What could be better than that?  So help us popularize “The Poppins” at your next outing and let us know how it goes.  Disclaimer:  Breakage, dry cleaning bills and humiliation are to be assumed by the trainee.

My Evening with the Eagles

by Bob Sparrow

Eagles      I have a friend, who happens to know a guy, who is an acquaintance of the road manager for the Eagles, so I felt distantly-connected for getting good tickets for the kicking off of their History of the Eagles concert tour at the ‘Even More Fabulous Forum’ last week.  My friend said, that his buddy told him, that the road manager indicated that we’ve got great floor seats with back-stage passes AND we’ll have an opportunity to grab a bite to eat with the Eagles prior to the concert – are you in?  “Am I in?  You’ve got to be kidding me – the Eagles are my all time favorite group.  Book it!’


The limo was real

Our limo was waved up right next to the entrance to the Forum Club, a well-dressed gentleman escorted the four of us into ‘the club’ and then into a separate room where there were only about twenty people.  Among those twenty were Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Timothy B. Schmit and Joe Walsh – the Eagles, who were casually moving amongst the guests, meeting and chatting with them.  I personally got to meet them all and in fact carried out a plan to give Don Henley a $2 bill saying, “I sang one of your songs, For My Wedding, at my daughter’s wedding, but changed the words to fit the occasion, so I figured I owed you a royalty of some kind.” I held out a $2 bill.  He looked at me sternly, grabbed the $2 bill, then smiled and said, “It’s about time you paid up!” and we both had a good laugh.  He kept the $2.

I thought I was too excited to be really hungry, but the food looked and smelled so good I had to try it – I ended up trying it a lot.  I didn’t think I was that thirsty either, but how do you pass up ‘having a cold one’ with the Eagles?  OK, maybe a couple of cold ones.  OK, OK, it was more than a couple, but it was free . . . and it was the Eagles for crying out loud!   After about 30 minutes the Eagles said their good-byes and went off to prepare for the concert.  We stayed a while longer, eating, drinking and thanking the people that made this all possible; we were then escorted to our seats – floor level, middle, 6 rows back – perfect!

The concert started with just Don & Glenn (yes, we’re now on a first name basis) coming on stage with guitars and singing Whatever Happened to Saturday Night?’   Other band members, including former member and guitar virtuoso, Bernie Leadon, gradually joined them on stage.



Pink’s hotdog

Reality first struck when we picked up our tickets at Will Call, which I now refer to as ‘Won’t Call’ – no backstage passes!  So instead of a gourmet meal with the Eagles that I had envisioned, we bought a Pink’s hot dog from a vendor wandering through the masses in the Forum lobby.  Don’t get me wrong, I like Pink’s – it’s an LA landmark that started with a funky little hot dog stand back in 1939, but it wasn’t the beef filet tornados sliders on Hawaiian rolls that I had imagined.  Of course, there was no personally meeting the Eagles and the seats . . . well, not exactly floor level, but we could see the floor from where we were, more importantly, we could see the ‘Jumbotron’, which is where we watched most of the concert.  Right before the concert began, I was almost expecting to hear the announcement, “Sitting in for Glenn Frey this evening will be Stir Frey, Glenn’s older, tone-deaf brother.”

top of stadium

Not our actual seats – I was visiting a friend . . . really!

Further reality sunk in when the concert actually began – the Eagles are still amazing – great harmonies, great musicians and great guitar riffs.  They talked to us between songs and provided stories around the history of the group and the songs.  Glenn Frey said he wrote Lyin’ Eyes’ after the divorce from his first wife, whose name was ‘Plaintiff’.  The sound system, which was an integral part of the recent $100 million makeover of the Forum, was second to none in the world (so I’m told, I haven’t actually heard them ALL).  In my opinion, the only thing they neglected in that makeover was to move the Forum out of Inglewood.

All in all it was a wonderfully entertaining evening, both real and imagined.

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