Black Don’t Crack

02 Jun

Do you know what I’ve discovered?  My birthday is coming up during this next week and I suddenly realized that I’m getting old—really old!  Two days ago it seemed as if I were in my twenties; dreaming twenty-year-old thoughts of grandeur (I was going to change the world for the better along with all the other Jesus Freaks of our baby-boomer generation). . .

1960’s Time Magazine Cover

Now I’m more than disillusioned by the failures of a movement that changed my life, and I can’t even sneeze without peeing my pants or take two steps without my ass exploding in a cacophony of farts, no matter how much I “pinch and hold.”  (Dairy, thou hast become my sworn enemy!)

Image from

Last week I spent a lot of time having a very interesting discussion with people all around the world (online and off) about whether there was a devil (see last week’s post: “The Devil Made Me Do It”).  It was stimulating, spiritually enlightening, and mentally invigorating.  This week my mind has turned to addled mush as I try to comprehend a news article about how soon my children and their friends will be able to know that I’m within a mile of their vicinity by my “distinctive smell.”  Because, apparently, the older one gets, the riper one becomes, and wherever an old person is, his or her smell lingers forever and a day and is distinguishable from every other age group’s smell!  Think:  Nursing home smell.  Holy Mary, Mother of God!

Elderly Woman by Mary Cassatt||Wikipaintings

Wait a minute. There’s something unusual about the subway seat you just claimed. It’s awfully warm, and a peculiar odor seems to hover in the air nearby—a stale, musty odor tinged with something as acrid as mothballs. You know this aroma: it’s ‘old person smell.’”  ‘Old Person Smell’: Study Confirms You Can Recognize Age by Scent, By Ferris Jabr||

What is this smell the author is talking about?  Is it the smell of death?  When does it start?  How much time do I have before my children have to start hosing me off before I can enter their homes?

Well, screw last week’s blog!  Right now I could care less whether there is a devil or not—I have a more pressing issue to deal with.  I cannot get old and start to stink!  Yet, next Sunday, if I haven’t fainted dead away from the sheer horror of it all, another candle will be added to my birthday cake, ratcheting me closer to the finish line of living and toward an unfathomable, unearthly B.O that I’ll take to my grave, apparently!  Is it because I believe in a theology that marches me to the grave first and then onto resurrection at some point?  Would this “old people curse” still make its claim on WW and me if we got recycled, instead?

Horrified, I asked my husband, WW (the smartest person I know), if we could incorporate reincarnation into our theology and return in another life as something—anything—that didn’t have the potential of becoming Pepé Le Pew in our golden years?

 Warner Bros.||Google Image

But WW (White and Wonderful) just kept on playing with his new iPad and barely looked up when he answered:  “NO, absolutely no reincarnation theology—don’t start getting crazy on me in your old age.  I’ve just gotten used to your Lucille Ball zaniness in this life; I can’t imagine having to survive your antics in another life!  And besides, speak for yourself, ‘pale face,’ I don’t plan on stinking—ever!


I don’t know what WW is so bent out of shape about.  Reincarnation simply means “reentering the flesh.”  I wouldn’t mind a do-over in life in spite of WW’s reticence.  My husband was born white and male so the deck has always been stacked in his favor.  I’d come back so much wiser and richer and take the helm with the people holding the power and the money, and see what it’s like to start off life “ready to rule.”  I wouldn’t waste my time with gnarly people or shit that didn’t matter.  And I’d take better care of my body from the very beginning so that my old age would be free of disease.  In fact, maybe I’d come back as a scientist and eliminate this “old people funk” that’s been discovered by Johan Lundström of the Monell Chemical Senses Center who, IMHO, should have used his smarts to determine whether there is really a devil and come up with a plan to eradicate mayhem and chaos from the Earth rather than giving me something else to be mortified about as I get older.  Then we wouldn’t have had horrific “devil” instigated massacres in Syria this week, “devil” inspired zombie cannibalism stories freaking me out so badly I can’t sleep, and a “devil-led” Fox News 4-minute, blatantly false, attack ad against our President—dropping the illusion that they ever were “fair and balanced.”  (Talk about something smelly this way cometh!)

But I digress.  When I did a little bit of research about reincarnation, I realized WW had reason to be concerned.  I discovered that one is not assured to return as a human on a higher plane (richer, thinner, smarter) and much depends on karma.  One could come back as a Fox News anchor or as an insect which means one could be destined to go through life stupid as all get out or squished by something as delicate as a child’s sandal on any given Sunday just because one was considered to be “icky.”   Either way, I’d be screwed.

Image from

Since karma is a bitch, I just know given some of the stupid choices I’ve made in life (I was not always the charming person you’ve grown to know and love); I could easily come back as a really scary looking bug:

Grasshopper (Vietnamese)||Google Image

. . . or too small a bug to keep a donut hole from crushing me to death.

Or, horrors upon horrors, maybe the smell issue would become all invasive because of my ungrateful complaints, and I’d come back as something 100 times smellier than an aging Baby Boomer:

SWAT!  SQUISH! RETCH!  WTF!  There goes Eleanor’s recycled life and all because she didn’t want to own and “rock” a mature old-age smell—vanity thy name is Eleanor.

I think I’ll leave well enough alone, be grateful for what I have and the God I love, and trust that I will be able to grow old gracefully and in my right mind (maybe I’ll add another shower in the evenings).  And maybe, just maybe, when I finally do die, I’ll discover that “who” and what is “beyond the veil” is so fantastic, the thought of recycling back to an Earth with a Devil, brutal despots, wannabe zombies, crazy-ass terrorists, and Fox News won’t interest me in the least bit.


I am discovering that part of my blessings from God in this life, of which there have been many, is that he’s included me in the Black Don’t Crack club and given me a heart that easily loves in spite of the fact that I was born a poor black child in the “mistake on the lake” city, currently nicknamed, “The Cleve.”  (Translation of ‘Black Don’t Crack’:  An urban legend that African-American skin doesn’t age as quickly as Caucasian or Asian skin due to the melanin that seems to have caused us problems in so many other arenas in life.  Go figure!)

Case in point:  old Asian? Caucasian? lady in her 80’s

Image from

The African-American singer and actress, Lena Horne, in her 80’s

(no she hasn’t had any face lifts)||

I’m just sayin’. . .urban legend or no, some of that non-crackin’ mojo got bequeathed to me and I will be eternally grateful!

So I may take on this alleged “eau du elderly smell” as I get older—God didn’t promise me a rose garden—but by God, I’ll still have the skin of a twenty-year-old when I die and the heart of someone who loves deeply and profoundly—that’s got to count for something when the younger generation scrunches up their noses and exclaims:  “Peeeeeuw, Grandma”!  Right?

Happy Birthday to me!

The Author:  Old, really, really old, and getting older by the day

“Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what happened?” —Jennifer Yane

“I am not afraid of death, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”—Woody Allen

“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”Mark Twain

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eleanor Tomczyk and “How the Hell Did I End Up Here?” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Posted by on June 2, 2012 in Uncategorized


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39 responses to “Black Don’t Crack

  1. mary i

    June 2, 2012 at 7:34 am

    I am new to you. Anyhoo I go with Mr Twain. He was very astute in most matters. Great Post. Happy Birthday to you. and hello from alabama.Very glad to meet you 🙂

    • etomczyk

      June 2, 2012 at 8:09 am

      Hi Mary. Thanks so much for stopping by and liking my story. May I ask how you heard about my blog?

      • mary i

        June 2, 2012 at 8:43 am

        Long road. I follow alot of bloggers,then I follow their lists. I belive I found you through Murrmers list of folks. Its one of those 6 degrees things make sense??? Or in the south: you are a cousin 6 times removed 🙂

      • etomczyk

        June 2, 2012 at 2:33 pm

        Mary. It does make sense. I’ll be sure and thank them. Y’all come back soon now, ya hear! 🙂

      • mary i

        June 2, 2012 at 4:10 pm

        Just reading comments, had a ah-ha , it was Lee aka Stormlover..I find many great people through her(she has good taste) Not to worry I will be back 🙂

      • etomczyk

        June 2, 2012 at 4:38 pm

        Mary: Oh yes, Lee is a doll. All the best.

  2. Cdn Stormlover

    June 2, 2012 at 8:43 am

    Thanks for the morning laugh! You had me “cracking up” (and yes, it a white thing! LOL).
    I heard a while back that the reason why blacks don’t crack is because of their built-in spf factor of 80+ (I heard it on Oprah so it MUST be true!)
    You, my dear, are very blessed indeed. We should all be so lucky to look so young 🙂

    • etomczyk

      June 2, 2012 at 3:40 pm

      Lee: You’re absolutely correct–it is the built in spf factor. The more sun I get, the more my skin produces oil (thinking its in Africa trying to protect me from a brutal sun). It’s definitely a wonderful thing.

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a fun comment.

  3. imagesbytdashfield

    June 2, 2012 at 9:22 am

    I don’t know WTH is going on but I’m having difficulties finding you! Damn subtle nuances of technology. Gonna click follow again (hope you do/have done with mine too). Anyway. Yeah, I got a birthday coming up next month and it’s making me feel like somebodies grandma (hold up! I am – oh snap!) I mean the grandma sitting on the front porch with her hair in a bun in her rocker yelling at the kids to get the hell offa her lawn. You got me with the sneeze/pee/pinch and hold bits!!!! But now on top of that I am sitting here sniffing trying to see if that “aged aroma” is anywhere near me. I will cut you if you try to get near me, stank!!! On the other hand you forgot to mention the other old and evil minion which is little old ladies putting on so much perfume they could fumigate the Empire State Building from a block away. There are some younger ones out there too that are toooo aromatic. Keep your funk to yourself, thank you very much!
    But to cheer us both up – I can honestly say that many people of various ages from young to old reside in the country of Stankonia. You and I are moving to Ocean Breeze estates 🙂 Happy Birthday

    • etomczyk

      June 2, 2012 at 4:03 pm

      Hi TD: Sometimes that happens to me–the disconnect thing. I think it is a WP problem.

      I must confess TD that I am one of the ones with too much perfume. I am guilty–I’m sorry but I am paranoid about being Pepe Le Pew! And now that I’ve read that article, heaven help the people who follow in my wake. I’m sure they will be able to see billows of per-FUMES engulfing them. I beg forgiveness ahead of time because I will not “stank”! 🙂

  4. Elyse

    June 2, 2012 at 9:54 am

    Great post — Happy Birthday to you, Eleanor! Many more for you.

    I read the study about the smells of younger vs. older. Older was found to be better: “Middle-aged man musk took top prize for intensity and unpleasantness, whereas volunteers rated the odors of middle-aged women most pleasant and whiffs of old man as least intense.”

    So see, you are fine! In the sweetest smelling group. Well, maybe with a little bit of Gas-X (the best product ever made — I know this because I have had 40 years of bowel problems)!

    • etomczyk

      June 2, 2012 at 4:20 pm

      Elyse: I feel so much better! Happy birthday to you as well. Thanks (as always) for stopping by. You’re the best.

  5. Sondra Smith

    June 2, 2012 at 9:56 am

    Ha Ha I was just thinking about the same thing this week! Wondering what might have been….and how in the hell did 40 + years fly by! I also read the article about the old age smell, are you f***ing kidding me! Not only do I have to deal with sagging everything, wrinkles in places no one should have them and now I am going to SMELL…lol!

    • etomczyk

      June 2, 2012 at 4:24 pm

      Sondra: Since you were one of the “ragamuffins” with me from the earliest part of my grown-up adventure, you know what a shock I’m in now that I am 6____ and just found out that I could a smelly boo-boo. Good God Almighty!

      Thanks for stopping by and reading my story. Keep on keepin’ on, Ragamuffin! xoxo ET

  6. talesfromthemotherland

    June 2, 2012 at 11:00 am

    Happy birthday Eleanor! I had a similar “age crisis” when my son turned 20, in early April. It all hits pretty hard, depending on what day you ask me. Nice!

    • etomczyk

      June 2, 2012 at 4:54 pm

      Thanks Dawn. I think because I’ve never looked my age, I’ve never had a problem with getting older. But once I passed 60 and saw it fading in the dust as I careen toward 65, 66. . . and then before you know it–70. WTF! Where did my life go and who do I plead with to get it back. Yikes.

      Take care. ET

      • talesfromthemotherland

        June 3, 2012 at 12:20 pm

        I wrote an entire panic post about my son turning 20… and how that 20 went by so fast, that soon I’d be 70! Talk about jumping the gun (I’m 49)… It got a lot of reads because I think this just touches a nerve with a lot of people. Aging.. it’s a good thing and a real stumper. 🙂

      • etomczyk

        June 3, 2012 at 9:47 pm

        Dawn: Isn’t it the truth. It seems as if when we are young with all the time in the world, we haven’t a clue how to live our lives to the fullest, and by the time we figure out what is important in life, we’re racing toward the finish line–barely able to catch our breath. As the kids would say, ‘It’s just soooooo not fair.

      • talesfromthemotherland

        June 3, 2012 at 10:07 pm

        Not fair at all. Now that I’m close to having something done with my novel, I just want more time, more energy, more youth… but then, I would probably not appreciate what I had, because I’d be too young! 😉

  7. Lori-Ann

    June 2, 2012 at 11:05 am

    Is it possible lactose is an invention of the devil? I know I said in our previous discussion that I didn’t anthropomorphize the devil, but it does seem strikingly plausible that a malevolent personality is involved in this particular cycle of joyful craving and its cruel consequences. As for the rumoured smell of old age, I encourage you to smell the roses instead. 🙂

    Have a great birthday!

    • etomczyk

      June 2, 2012 at 4:57 pm

      Lori-Ann. Yes, lactose AND GLUTEN intolerance are an invention of the Devil. Oh, the humiliating stories I could tell. Do you know how much I love cheese, bread, fruit and wine? Oh, the pain, the agony! Thanks for the b-day wishes.

  8. Tina

    June 2, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    Congratulations! You’ve earned it! (The b-day and everything that goes with it.) Celebrate! I too have been lost in WP problems but catching up now.

    • etomczyk

      June 2, 2012 at 5:15 pm

      Hi Tina. Celebrate I shall. I loved your aging list, by the way. What a riot. Thanks for stopping by.

  9. An Observant Mind

    June 3, 2012 at 1:52 am

    By God your right! Do you think I could get some of that skin DNA of yours? My face is aging my the minute (it seems) and I’m desperate to look like YOU! (I’m not yet 40, so old age is not looking good for me…) I don’t smell (yet) So maybe we could work some kind of trade…

    • etomczyk

      June 3, 2012 at 9:29 pm

      Karyn: Ha! That might be a good deal! I’m still stunned that the years flew by so quickly. I am shell shocked. I’m reaching back to you in your 40’s and saying: stop, drop, and sit and enjoy your ife because it’s going to fly past in a nano second. Thanks for spending some of your very valauble time reading my blog. I am truly touched.

  10. momshieb

    June 3, 2012 at 9:06 am

    Haha! I am right there with you! Wondering how on earth I got to this point on the road of life; wasn’t High School just a couple of years ago?
    As for that smell thing….huh…have you ever been in a classroom full of “we-haven’t-discovered-deodorant” fifth graders right after recess on a hot day? Now, THAT is a nasty smell! I’m sure you smell like flowers and sweetness!
    And, finally, I can match your Lena Horne with a photo of Sophia Loren! We Italians don’t age too badly, either!
    Happy Birthday; may it bring you joy, love, and at least one sinfully delicious indulgence!

    • etomczyk

      June 3, 2012 at 9:43 pm

      Hi Momsheib. Yes, yes, yes, I almost forgot that smell of a classroom full of 5th grade boys. My god, I almost didn’t survive that year! The smell was practically unbearable, especially after phys. ed. Yep, that gives me perspective.

      Thanks for the b-day blessings. Much appreciated!

  11. composerinthegarden

    June 3, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    Eleanor, happy birthday – just celebrate, don’t count! That said, I’m looking down the jaws of 60 in less than a month and a little freaked out, so this post hit home 🙂 My two “staying younger” weapons are yoga every morning so I can move through my day without creaking, and a book called “Younger Next Year for Women” – combination of hilarious stories and great scientific advice to ward off the steady decay of getting older. Now I’m thinking, maybe a bright new hair color as a birthday present to myself, hmmmm. . . Lena Horne – a role model in SO many ways 🙂

    • etomczyk

      June 3, 2012 at 10:00 pm

      Thanks Lynn. I was fine with this aging thing until I turned 60 and then it hit me: I’m no longer on the ascent to the summit of my life, I’m now on the other side of the mountain on the descent (a bit melodramatice, I know–please forgive) and what is done is done with no time to cry: “God, I want a do over.” I’ve been in a state of shock ever since.

      Thanks for the lovely b-day sentiments. I think I may get a copy of the book you’re reading. Cheers!

  12. Lindy Lee

    June 4, 2012 at 11:53 pm

    The ageless beauty of Lena Horne aside, as it just has to be some kind of anomaly. It is this reader’s opinion, having experienced more age than you, that the so-called golden years will be spent looking dead before I actually die…

    • etomczyk

      June 5, 2012 at 12:23 pm

      Lindy: I don’t believe for a moment that you are older than I–no way, Jose. 🙂 Actually, I do know a lot of women who have wrinkleless skin and look 20 – 30 years less their age (no plasti surgery at all) but they are all African-Americans (including my sister). I think there must be something in the makeup of the melanin in the skin. I just visited my mentor who is 85 and except for the fact that she’s nearly blind and has grey hair, she doesn’t have one wrinkle. I’m stunned. Personally, I think being “slightly chunky” helps! 🙂

  13. aFrankAngle

    June 5, 2012 at 8:01 am

    That a way … no lookin’ back. Happy Birthday to the two-steppin’ fartin’ machine. 🙂 … and many more my friend. So here’s a musical gift for you.

    • etomczyk

      June 5, 2012 at 12:32 pm

      Thank you, Frank! What a nice b-day serenade. I was a little worried when the bell choir went into “lullably and goodnight” before going back into the birthday song; I don’t think I’m ready for the final curtain yet! 🙂 It was loads of fun. You’re the best. Take care. ET

      • aFrankAngle

        June 5, 2012 at 12:53 pm

        Actually I thought the same thing … but it is a nice piece and fitting for the Queen of Bling.

      • etomczyk

        June 5, 2012 at 3:27 pm

        Thanks Frank. You’re the best!

  14. carlos cordero

    September 22, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    Great, great stuff. Sorry I hadn’t read them already. I’m so blessed, the people I’ve come to know.
    Keep up the good work.

    • etomczyk

      September 23, 2012 at 12:27 am

      Thanks Carlos. I’ve been doing this for a year so you’ll have plenty to read for a long, long time. Hope you enjoy getting to know WW and me via my blog. Cheers!

  15. amaya73

    January 3, 2013 at 8:52 am

    Hopping around your blog onto “random posts.” You are so funny! Thanks for the laughs;D

    • etomczyk

      January 3, 2013 at 6:53 pm

      Welcome Amaya. Please come back and join me anytime. Cheers!


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