11. Culinary adventures
My mother used to call me a picky eater. These days I'm an exploratory one, having sampled haggis, snails and, most recently, raw oysters (which I adore). Next stop on the menu: octopus!
12. Close friends
They're the ones who talked me down off the roof —literally — after my husband's death. They're the ones who keep me going through bad times today. I've vowed to be there for them in turn, and I've kept it.
13. A side of me that people don't know
When I turned 44, I started writing song parodies to perform in cruise ship talent shows. "You brought the ship down," my husband would tell me, "but in a good way." Can't wait to unveil one of my compositions at the next holiday party!
14. Turning people on to things that turn me on
These include Citizen Kane, T.H. White's The Once and Future King, Monet's water lilies, Jethro Tull's Thick as a Brick and the Museum of Sex (talk about your educational displays!).
15. Mood-matching books
When I'm feeling genteel, Jane Austen; when I'm feeling murderous, Dorothy Sayers; when I'm feeling festive, A Christmas Carol; and when I'm feeling wistful, The Wind in the Willows.
16. My inner B-word
After a lifetime spent playing Little Goody Two-Shoes, it dawned on me that the squeaky wheel gets not just grease but traction. Although I draw the line at lying, stealing or harming the innocent, I'm no longer afraid to throw a tactical tantrum or two.
17. My cleavage
High school: 32AA. College and for years after: 32A. Menopause and post-menopause: an inexplicable growth spurt up there. The new arrivals bugged me at first — what am I going to do with all these tops? — but I've since made peace with my 36Cs. And they do have their admirers (see "friend with benefits," above).
Mary-Ellen Banashek has been a magazine writer and editor for more than 40 years.
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