It’s not easy being Big Green

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‘Nah. I take it back. It’s actually pretty sweet.’

Last weekend I got to catch up with Gouda and Crud and JookBock and Sex and The Mole. Because last weekend Dude Man and I went up to Hanover, NH, to attend his 50th reunion at Dartmouth College. Yes, folks, I said 50th.

Dude (circled) in the bosom of the Class of ’74, in front of Dartmouth Hall

It was very well-attended, especially by The Dude’s pack of pals, the aforementioned Gouda et al. Dude Man was in a fraternity there, once known as Kappa Kappa Kappa, or, affectionately, Tri-Kap, but renamed Kappa Pi Kappa a few years ago. Why? Just picture them attending intermural sporting events decked out in sweatshirts with KKK on the front.

A Big Green gaggle (Dude circled) in front of the once-called Kappa Kappa Kappa House. Look closely, and you’ll see one of them sporting a freshman beanie

There were other renamings that got most of the 50-year classmates’ heads spinning around. Like, not only did they stop calling the sports teams “Indians” and rename them “Big Green” (which I kind of understand), they also renamed the medical school the Geisel Medical School — after Theodor Geisel, the children’s book author. (Yes. A medical school named after Dr. Seuss.) I guess the Geisels gave them a ton of money. When this guy came up to us in one of the buffet lines soliciting class donations — “Hey! Let’s get the class to 100% participation!” — we asked how much money we’d need to give to rename the medical school — no, not the Dude Man Medical School (or even the Whitmore Medical School), but to put it back to what it was: the Dartmouth Medical School.

What Dude Man (circled) looked like as a frat boy

Other than griping about names, did we have fun? You betcha. You haven’t lived till you’ve seen Seventy-Somethings parading around in Dartmouth-green bedecked straw boaters. Why, some of the attendees, including Dude Man himself, dug out their freshman beanies for the occasion.

That’s the best shot I have of beanied Dude Man…seen walking ahead while pal Lex points out a shadow

Incidentally, as I’ve mentioned before, the Nickname Thing is a Dartmouth Thing. The Husband Known as “Dude” got his moniker because he wore a tie to the Freshman Mixer. (Not sure if he also wore his beanie.) The others got theirs in various colorful ways. “Gouda” because his mom sent him cheese. “The Mole” because his last name is Molinari. I don’t want to know how “Sex” got his. (That’s Sex and his long-suffering wife posing in front of the guys’ dorm in the photo at the top of this post.)

That’s Chee-Hee with Dude Man sporting (and holding) reunion merch

In case you’re wondering, not many guys — and it was all guys at Dartmouth till about halfway through Dude Man’s tenure there, when girls were admitted and dubbed “Cohogs” by the welcoming male student body — not many guys lived in the Tri-Kap house. There wasn’t room. The Dude and his roomie Sex lived in a dorm called Gile Hall (the doorway of which is pictured at the top of this post). Trust me, even though the rooms at Gile were teensy, they were worlds better than the accommodations at Tri-Kap. One of the other wives (hi, Susan!) couldn’t even go inside the frat, it was so junked-up and smelled so bad.

A couple of Tri-Kap wives seated in the only place one could sit with impunity: outside

Me, brave soul that I am, not only when into the frat house, I went down into the basement. Where, after countless beer pong games, your feet stick to the floor and your nostrils are assailed with an aroma equal parts beer, pee, and cake. (There was plenty of beer and pee; I’m not sure why the smell had cakelike topnotes, but it did.)

The rest of the place wasn’t much better. There was another 50th reunion attendee who oversaw the renovation of the Tri-Kap house a few years ago who wandered around going “Oh noooooo!” and shaking his head from side to side in wonder at the destruction and disorder. If Kappa Kappa Kappa wasn’t the model for Animal House (It was Alpha Delta), well, it should have been.

Dude, sporting his reunion straw boater, with a few other intrepid guests inside the frat house. That’s the moaning man in the background

Speaking of “Goats,” Roger Federer (Greatest Of All Time, in my opinion as well as many others) was the commencement speaker. The whole Class of ’74, spouses included and topped with those Class Straw Boaters, was supposed to lead the graduation procession. Dude Man and I were game — and thrilled to see Fed speak — but we woke Sunday morning to rain. Not just a sprinkle, either. It was coming down in proverbial buckets.

Me, not in the rain in a graduation processional

So we scored some Starbucks, and watched the rain come down on Occom Pond, right outside the window of the gorgeous house that one of Dr. Dude’s patients loaned us for the weekend. 

Thank you, Dartmouth, for a terrific Reunion Weekend. Sorry I didn’t keep my straw boater.

New York City. June 2024

 

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When told your age, people say, “Gosh, you look GOOD.”

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‘And other things that make you realize that you are really, truly, finally OLD.’

Dude Man had another birthday Sunday. But still, no matter how many birthdays he has, I will always have more.

His Dudeness celebrating his 70th birthday — six months after I did

See, I am six months older than Dr. Dude. I guess it didn’t bother him back when we met, because, well, we got married. And, no, I wasn’t an heiress or even a rich widow.

Of course, back when we met, I looked younger. Not just younger than I look now, but younger than most people my age. “You’re kidding” or even “You can’t be serious,” is what people would say on those rare occasions when I had to divulge my age. “You look much younger.”

Me, back when I wanted to look older than I really was. Gosh, that was a long time ago

Not anymore. Now, when pressed for my age or when I must recite my birthdate (something that happens with more and more frequency as I pick up a prescription or check in for an unpleasant test of some sort) I get no reaction. None.

But if I’m in a social situation where ages are shared, like when I celebrated my birthday on a birding trip to Brazil a couple of years ago, I get, “Gosh, you look GOOD” — with the “good” emphasized and sort of drawn out. Like GOOoood. Trust me, this doesn’t mean that you look “good.” It means that you look old. And if someone says, “You look amazing“? You might want to pick out your burial outfit.

I got a lot of “You look GOOOooods” that night. The cake helped. So did a few caipirinhas

Dude Man has yet to get “You look GOOOooood.” He’s much more likely to hear “Has anyone told you that you look like James Taylor?” Um, yeah. Like a zillion times. James Taylor’s brother Livingston even told him he looks like James Taylor. I’ve mentioned this doppelganger deal before, of course. In “I’ve Seen Fire and I’ve Seen Birthdays,” and “Sweet Baby Wayne,” among other posts.

No comment

And if being told you look “good” isn’t bad enough, just wait until you’re mistaken for your parent’s sibling. Yup. That’s happened to me. More than once. And people don’t ask, “Are you two sisters?” No, they look at Mom and me and go, “Sisters, right?” (Check out the photo at the top of this post for irrefutable proof that this is the case.)

Oh well. It could be worse. People could mistake me for my Mom’s brother.

Happy Birthday, James. Er, Wayne. Er, Dude.

Dude (71) and Cousin Charlie (72) youthfully yuck it up on yet another birthday

Amagansett, New York. June 2024

 

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The client who wanted to have breakfast at Tiffany’s

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‘Memories and more for Memorial Day’

Nah, that’s not a Tiffany’s breakfast special in that photo at the top of this post. That’s a typical breakfast at the diner we used to go to on our Cape May birding trips. I say “used to go to” because this place, our beloved Uncle Bill’s — which we had frequented faithfully for 30 birding years or so — was under new (very crabby) management last time we went. (They wouldn’t seat us till our “entire party” was there! And we were literally the only ones in the joint!) So we took our business elsewhere.

Three of our intrepid birding group — full of delicious Flight Deck breakfast — just a couple of weeks ago.

Now we go to the Flight Deck Diner, with much better food (Real fruit! Not canned! And they have grapefruit juice!) and service so thoughtful and sweet (Our waitress brought me real milk for my coffee on the second morning! Without me asking!) that we tipped 20 bucks on a 15-dollar tab.

But back to the point of this story.

As most of you know, I used to work in advertising. Back in the glory days — or at least my glory days — the eighties and nineties at Ogilvy, New York. Ogilvy was exciting and sophisticated; New York was exciting and sophisticated. The clients, sometimes not so much.

Annie (who never ever changes) and unrecognizable me, back in our Ad World Glory Days. We’re on an AmEx shoot on Okracoke Island

We had this one Kimberly-Clark client who liked to abuse his clienthood. Not only did he always want to go to the most expensive places, once there he would always order the most expensive things on the menu. I say “things” because sometimes he’d get the steak and the lobster — because he couldn’t decide, he’d say. It was really because, as a client, he could.

I spotted these signs from my Jitney window on the way to A’sett for Mem. Day. I don’t know which is sillier: “Waxing Facial Lashes” or “Walking Tea”

He was greedy, but not necessarily lacking a sense of humor. Once, while dining at the Palm, a very pricey steakhouse indeed, he excused himself to use the men’s room. Well. Apparently, there was something going on in there that is usually done by adolescent boys alone in their rooms, because after he reported it to our shocked-into-silence table, he added, “Well, I guess that’s why they call it the Palm.” Hmmm. Now that I think about it, I wonder if what he said happened really did happen, or if he just wanted to make up a dirty pun?

Anyway. One time he came to town and asked if we could go have “breakfast at Tiffany’s.” Honest. None of us knew where to look.

The Child et moi not at Tiffany’s. But on Amagansett Main Street some Memorial Day in the misty past

These and other stories came up in breakfast-time conversation over Memorial Day Weekend because our nephew and his wife were here visiting. Not only do they like coming to Amagansett, they like hearing our stories. Here’s an excerpt from their thank-you email: “You and Wayne have so many interesting stories. I think Sally [Mrs. Nephew; not her real name] is going to be dealing with some snake trauma (from the things that can f**king kill you segment) for the next few weeks 😄”

Nephew and Mrs. Nephew hiding from snakes

Of course, this nephew is referring to “Crocodile Dumdee,” my piece about how everything in Australia can kill you. Read it and see what else can kill you, not just snakes. If you dare, that is.

We also told a bunch of awful jokes. If you’re in the mood, you can get a taste of these in “Kangaroo Walks Into a Bar.” Here’s one that’s not in that piece and probably shouldn’t be in this one, either, but I can’t help myself. Middle Younger Brother Roger gets the credit. (Or the blame.)

The Child, ready for her standup routine, is introduced by her Grampa at his retirement party. Get the gist — and the jokes — in “Kangaroo Walks into A Bar”

This guy is visiting his friend when he notices his friend’s dog “giving himself a bath.” (If you get my drift.) The guy sighs, looks at his friend and says, “Gee, I wish I could do that.” The friend replies, “You might want to pet him first.”

Mr. and Mrs. Nephew loved that one. They’re welcome here any time.

Amagansett, New York. May 2024

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Vancouver, I miss you already

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‘And my Mom and Sister too, of course’

Guess what? This plane has WiFi (!) And I’m stuck here for upwards (hah) of four hours with a choice of watching a movie or writing this post. Heck, the flight is so long I’ll probably have time for both.

Anyway. I wrote last week about how lucky I was to get to go visit my Mom. I’m lucky because A) I actually have a Mom, and B) she’s very nice to visit. Time spent with her at her senior living place in Vancouver, Washington, is very mellow.

Mellow random shot of Gary Cooper from Instagram. Just because *sigh*

So mellow that, when Oldest Younger Brother Scott phoned to tip us off to the presence of a great basketball playoff game on TV, Mom and I ended the call with, “Thanks! Now we need to get back to doing nothing.”

The school still hasn’t hired a proofreader. I’m available

We did watch that game. Forgive me, for I am not a dyed-in-the-wool hoops fan like Mom and Scott (and Laura, for that matter). I believe it was the Timberwolves and the Nuggets. The Wolves basically gnawed those Nuggets to shreds. Must’ve hurt their teeth something fierce.

Hit “Guide” a couple of times, and a whole TV World reveals itself

We also watched the Kentucky Derby. Which I found by discovering a cool trick on Mom’s remote. If you hit “guide” twice, you get a menu of little icons for stuff like movies and game shows and news. Then, if you choose the “sports” one — it looks like a little football — you can find any sport you like. Even horse-racing. (I know, I know. This is super-boring. Sorry. But it made our day, which should give you an inkling of what our days were like.)

First three-way Derby photo finish ever. Or practically ever; forget which. Mom picked the winner!

My days started with my walk through Mom’s nabe. If it was raining, I waited for “the window.” You’d be surprised how many people do the same thing. I said “hello” to a nice mailman one otherwise-raining morning, who merrily said, “Gotta take advantage of the window!” right back at me.

Blossoms and trash bins adorn this Vancouver street during a “window”

We didn’t get around to Scrabble this visit. Too many sports events to watch. Lots of Happy Hours too. There were two regularly-scheduled ones during my visit, plus one Mexican Fiesta in honor of Cinco de Mayo. They have entertainment (besides wine and cheese, and margaritas for the Fiesta) at these hoedowns. You know you’re getting old when they play “All The Leaves Are Brown” and “Downtown” at your Mom’s senior living facility.

I’d love to know the story here. Or maybe not

There is a hardcore group of line-dancers who never fail to get up and do their line-dancing thing at Happy Hour. I swear they’d line dance to the Star-Spangled Banner. They kinda drive my Mom crazy; we have to position our chairs so as not to see them.

Other than the line-dancers and the bossy woman who planted my mother’s paper whites outside in the January cold and who Mom has sworn to never speak to again, everyone is terrific chez Mom. At this point, I’d like to give a special bye-bye shoutout to Jeff and Leonard and Carole and Betty and Renee and all the various Shirleys: Shirley with the dog, Shirley with the purse, short Shirley, Shirley who lives down the hall, and Shirlee with the two “ees.”

I miss you all already!

Bye bye, Mt. Hood and Mt. Whatsits. I also saw Mt. St. Helens

En route from Vancouver to New York. May 2024

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“Lucky”

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‘I have a mom and I get to go visit her today’

Whenever somebody in our family does something that my Middle Younger Brother Roger wishes he could do, he says, “Lucky.”

So I’m crediting him with the comment before making it myself. But this time I get to do the lucky thing, not just hear about it: I get to go visit my mother.

Me, hanging around JFK prepping for a previous Mom Visit

I’m getting on a plane in a few hours — writing this post is one way to keep from pacing around the very small Ken & Barbie House and wearing a path in the tile — so I may have to cut this post short. But maybe not, especially if I keep it short.

I should take this card along with me. Or maybe get a “keep calm” tee shirt. Or maybe just get a manhattan in the Delta Lounge

Basically, what I do when I visit my mother is sit around with her, drinking coffee and/or wine and reading and knitting. Talking a lot too, of course. Reminiscing. Gossiping. Solving the world’s problems.

Oh, there’s also walk-taking. Since I get up super-early (I’m on Eastern Time but even at home I’m up irrationally early), I go for a long walk through Mom’s nabe while she’s still sleeping. Then later, fueled up by coffee, we go on walks together. I do a lot of walking on these trips.

I can hardly wait to walk by this school again so I can check the grammar on their sign

Sometimes, if we’re feeling really frisky, we play Scrabble. (That’s me celebrating a seven-letter word in the photo at the top of this story. Talk about lucky.) But Scrabble is more fun with more players, so we usually skip it and do more reading.

My lucky necklace. I wear it every time I fly. Guess who gave it to me? No, not Mom. But close: my one and only Sister

Oh, did I mention that I sleep on Mom’s pullout couch? Actually, it’s much bigger than my bed at the Ken & Barbie House. But it is in rather close proximity to Mom’s fridge, which rumbles off and on through the night.

But hey. Those are not problems. Not at all. I have a Mom — and I get to go see her. Nyah nyah nyah.

Added bonus: A Sister Sighting! Here’s Mom and me with Laura

New York City (but not for long). May 2024

 

 

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Only connect

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‘Reflections on small town life in New York City’

Well. I’m either really late with this week’s post, or extremely early for next week’s. I guess I’m not much like Larry McMurtry, the Lonesome Dove guy, who died not long ago. Here’s what his biography, which I just finished, had to say about good ole Larry:

“When he’s in public, he may say hello and goodbye, but otherwise he is just resting, getting ready to write.”

Larry sure sounds like a good guy. And his small town was even smaller than mine

I do spend a good part of each day writing — mostly emails, but still, it’s writing. Problem is, I spend a good part of each day doing bunches of other stuff too. Today I rode my bike to East Hampton and back, finished a baby sweater, made a vat of pea soup, and did my Vector. (Which is what I call my one car trip per week: to the dump, the IGA and the post office.) Oh, and I read one of Larry’s novels, All My Friends Are Going to Be Strangers. See, I like to read a writer’s biography while reading — or re-reading — his or her books. I just finished “doing” Larry. I think Alice Munro‘ll be next.

One of today’s many projects

Anyway. Here’s the real subject of today’s post. (Not how busy I am nor how quickly the days go by when you’re retired. Kitty Carlisle Hart nailed that one: “By the time you get to be my age it’s like you’re having breakfast every fifteen minutes.”)

It’s how living in big ole New York City (sheesh! I’m channeling Larry!) is really like living in a small town. True, a small town that’s butted right up against many other small towns, but still. See, in New York, your neighborhood — the four- or five-block area in which you live — is just like a small town. You have your grocery store, your post office, your dry cleaner, your coffee place. Your locksmith, too, which you might not find in an actual small town, but in NYC they repeat every four or five blocks just like drugstores do.

You don’t go to the Gristede’s ten blocks away; it’s not in your neighborhood. It’s not your Gristede’s. I’ve written about this before, in “Small Towns, Big City.” (Getting older means you repeat yourself, too.) But I haven’t touched on the emotional aspect of New York City small town-ness.

I’m talking about how the City rewards you with little moments of personal contact. Since it’s a street town, like small towns are, you actually encounter people. People who are not in their cars. People who are free to connect with you.

And they’re off. At the very least, their dogs will connect with other dogs

Now, this doesn’t happen all the time. After all, if you made contact with everyone you met on the street in New York City, you’d be exhausted, at the very least. But when you do make smiling eye contact with the guy whose dog is staring down a squirrel, or share cousin stories with a car service driver, or get a hug from your doorman when you share a piece of family news, it’s pretty nice. And, to a small town girl like me, feels like home.

I haven’t been in the City all week. The baristas at my Starbucks are going to wonder where I’ve been.

Amagansett, New York. April 2024

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“Is is safe to watch the eclipse on TV?”

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‘Honest-to-God questions for my eye doc hub’

Unless you live under a rock or on the West Coast, you were probably watching the solar eclipse yesterday. Dr. Dude and I were out in Amagansett, where we peered at it through a fancy-schmancy sun scope.

Dude Man with a solar scope. This was an earlier, easier-to-use model. The one he has now is waaaay more complicated

I also had a backup device: a sheet of 8 1/2 by 11 copier paper that I punched three holes in with a letter opener. It was delightful projecting tiny little crescents all over our upstairs deck while Dude Man hogged the scope. “Get me a black tee shirt! I need to block the light from coming in around my head!” “Okay,” I said, while gaily waving my paper around, making my “mini-eclipses” dance.

The Paper Plate Method. One step up from the copier paper

But more annoying than orders from Mr. Fetch-Me-This-Fetch-Me-That were texts and calls from his patients.

See, Dr. Dude, as you may already know, is an ophthalmologist, which, you certainly must know, is a fancy word for an eye doctor. And, to experience an eclipse, one must use one’s eyes, preferably shielded by eclipse glasses, which you could get pretty much anywhere for free or practically nothing. Some libraries gave you a pair if you checked out a book. My friend T scored hers when a helpful library patron in Summit, NJ, upped his order from two to three when he realized the librarian was not going to let T have glasses without checking out a book — even though T volunteers at said library for umpteen hours a week. (Stingy librarians. No wonder people are turning to e-books.)

But back to safe viewing. I don’t know about you, but in the days leading up to The Eclipse, I found it hard to miss instructions and advice on safe viewing. It seemed like every piece of news I encountered had tips, pointers — and warnings.

Yup. You can use a straw hat to make teensy little mini-eclipses

There were articles about how to make your own viewing devices: Cheerios boxes figured big here, as well as colanders — here’s a piece from Fox News, for heavens sakes. There was even a piece in The Times about how to safely watch without eclipse glasses. Here it is if you want to save it for the next U.S. eclipse, um, twenty years from now. In addition to fun facts about straw hats, sieves, straining spoons and loosely-laced fingertips, there was this at the end: Do NOT look directly at the sun during the eclipse with your naked eye.

Basically, the warnings were everywhere.

An example of viewing tips — and a warning — from the East Hampton Star

But, swear to God, Dr. Dude got calls from patients asking things like: “Can I look at the eclipse through my fingers?” Or “Is it safe to go outside?” There was even a guy who traveled up to Maine so he and his family could experience totality and asked if it would be safe to drive home. But my absolute favorite — and no, I am not making this up — was “Is it safe to watch the eclipse on TV?”

Oh — yes. Lest I forget. Later in the afternoon there were several calls from panicked patients who — in spite of all the warnings — had looked directly at the eclipse and wanted to know what to do now that their eyes burned and hurt and their vision was blurry. “Not much you can do at this point,” was his reply.

I only hope that none of these people has passed on any genetic material.

Looks like an emoji for “I looked directly at the sun during the eclipse”

Amagansett, New York. April 2024

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“What’s that bird?” “Heck if I know.”

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‘Confessions of an Experiential Birder’

I’ve often said that birding is like jury duty with feathers. (See “Jury Duty, Only with Feathers.”) Or that bridge is indoor golf. (See “Bridge? It’s Basically Indoor Golf”.) I also used to say that Hell is other people’s children. But I must be getting soft in my old age — or maybe I’m just craving grandkids — because other people’s children don’t bother me as much as they used to. Unless they are seated behind me on a plane. (See “The Four Seatmates of the Apocalypse.”)

One thing I haven’t said much is the name of a bird if someone asks me.

This is what one of our guides would call a “fancy bird.” Some kind of woodpecker; just don’t ask me which one

That’s basically because, unless it’s some bird that the asker probably already knows the name of — think “robin” or “blue jay” or “wren,” if you’re not too picky about the type of wren — I won’t know. I’m a birder, but I’m not the kind of birder who keeps track of names, much less genus and species and other technical whatnot.

I do keep track of funny signs. (See “Oh no, Danger Man!”) Like this one somewhere in Brazil indicating parking for those over 60

Why, I don’t keep track of anything about the birds. Unless it’s some really interesting experience associated with that bird. Like, on our Northeast Brazil trip, there was this macaw — the Lear’s, or Indigo Macaw — that lives only in a very specific type of canyon. You can read more about this macaw here, but basically, there are only a few hundred of them, they weren’t recognized as a species until 1978 — and, if you want to see them, you have to go to this one sandstone canyon via four-wheel-drive at daybreak to watch them come out of their nests and swoop around. Now that’s an experience — and that I remember.

Waiting around the sandstone canyon for the Lear’s Macaw to show up. They did. And so did some listers

I’m most definitely not a “lister.” Listers are birders who keep a list of all the birds they’ve seen. And, trust me, they care about that list. I’ve had encounters with listers a few times on our trips. Mostly, they’re okay. Though it can get a bit old to have someone constantly piping up “6499!” (the number of birds in their Life List just achieved) or “Lifer!” (meaning the bird just spotted is the first time the person has seen it in his/her life). Variations on this rack-’em-up theme include “day bird,” which is the first time that bird has been seen that day, and “trip bird,” same thing, only for the trip. “Day bird” can also mean a bird that’s been seen every day of the trip. On our most recent excursion, it was the black vulture. Which should tell you something about that trip.

Iguazu (or, in Brazil, Iguacu) Falls. Another terrific experience, especially with these swifts that go dive-bombing through the falls every evening

At the end of every birding day, the group gets together with their checklists and the guide/leader goes through all the birds seen that day. Fortunately for me, this happens at cocktail hour. I dutifully check birds off as I sip, say, a cold local beer or a  caipirinha.Three guesses what happens to the lists.

Paddling on a hot river where there were many caiman — and lots of cool birds too

So. If you see me after one of our birding trips, feel free to ask me about my experiences. (I have lots of good stories — like the one where we had to go to a water park on a Sunday to find a certain rare mannikin. The beautiful Brazilians in their bikinis didn’t quite know what to make of us.)

Just don’t ask me the names of any of the birds.

Amagansett, New York. April 2024

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Sweet Baby Wayne

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‘I may call him The Dude, but it’s not Jeff Bridges he gets mistaken for.’

I was going to write about our most recent trip to Brazil. This last trip was our fifth time there, and some people I know (well, Oldest Younger Brother Scott, actually) were starting to call us the Brazil Nuts.

But heck. Maybe it’s because we just got back and I’m sort of Braziled out. Or maybe it’s because my gal pal Debi (Hi, Debi!) said Dude Man’s picture on Facebook (the one at the top of this post) reminded her of James Taylor. Whatever the reason, I’d rather write about The Dude.

(Hey! Maybe it’s because our — gasp — 40th wedding anniversary is coming up this weekend. Yeah, let’s settle on that.)

Brazil has been there for a long time. It’ll keep. For a week or so, anyway

Other people besides Debi have noticed Dude Man’s remarkable resemblance to James T., Carly Simon, his once-wife, among them. She once passed him on a New York City sidewalk and did a romcom-worthy double-take.

In fact, I’ve written about this uncanny twinship before. If you like, you can skip over to “I’ve Seen Fire and I’ve Seen Birthdays” for some cool comparison photos.

Which twin has the Toni? (er, shiny head)

They even looked alike in more, ahem, tender years. With intact heads of hair:

As I’ve also recounted before, in “Hangin’ with Gouda, Jook and The Dude,” “Dude” was a nickname bestowed upon Wayne when he was at Dartmouth. He unwisely wore a tie to the freshman mixer, and The Dude was born.

Hey. I just realized I’m writing about not just one, but two things I’ve written about before. Gosh. Maybe it’s time to quit this blogging thing and run for the Senate or something. Everybody else is.

I know I haven’t written about where the heck the word “dude” comes from. That’s because I just found out. Oldest Younger Brother Scott called my attention to a feature that the NY Times runs about words and their origins. While we were in Brazil, they dug into the history of “dude.” You can read the whole thing by clicking here.

Basically, the piece says that “’dude’ probably came from ‘Yankee Doodle,’ and the British slang ‘fopdoodle,’ meaning a foolish dandy.” There’s also some stuff in there about dudes being “young, slender, brainless and imitating what they thought was high British culture.” After a while, dudes were associated with dude ranches and suchlike. But it wasn’t until Jeff Bridges came along in The Big Lebowski that the word took on its present-day totally dudified dudeness.

I suppose it would be more fitting if the celebrity My Dude looked like was Jeff’s Dude instead of James’ Sweet Baby. But heck. I like him just the way he is. And there’s one person he looks like more than anybody:

Happy Anniversary, Dude Man! (Ours, not hers.)

New York City. March 2024

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The creative director who put my kid through college

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‘RIP, dear Bob Neuman’

“What’s she doing writing a blog post on a Saturday?” you might be thinking. Though no doubt you have better things to think about.

Well, I haven’t posted in a while. And besides, Dude Man and I are heading off on our fifth Brazilian Birding Adventure (Oldest Younger Brother Scott calls us the “Brazil Nuts.”) Our airport car is picking us up in a few short hours (!) so it’s good for an antsy traveler like me to have something to do besides pace.

Me, pacing the balcony on the last day of our last trip to Brazil — which was just a month ago (!)

So. Bob Neuman. Bob left us for the Great Creative Department in the Sky just a few days ago. When I found out (Thank you, Richard E!), all kinds of memories popped into my head. Like how Bob collected wine corks and kept them in the most humongous glass beaker I ever saw. How he smoked big ole cigars. How he was droll and witty and had a sense of humor drier than the driest martini. (He liked those almost as much as cigars.)

Me, back in my Ogilvy Days

I worked for a lot of creative directors back in my Ogilvy Days, and Bob was one of my faves. One day he stepped into my office — and shut the door. Well, in advertising (or in any kind of business, I imagine) your boss closing your door is not a harbinger of good news. I was definitely wary.

No, this isn’t Bob. This is another late lamented CD. Read about him in “Harvey and the Grilled Half Goat Head”

Then Bob says, “I understand your husband is an ophthalmologist.” “Yes, he is,” I replied. Then Bob — who was in his late forties or early fifties at the time and wore thick thick glasses — tells me that he’s been to two eye doctors about his cataracts. One told him to have them removed; the other told him to wait. “I need a tie-breaker,” he said.

So I gave him Dr. Dude’s info, and the next thing I know he’s not only seen The Dude, but he’s having his cataracts removed by none other than The Dude. “You’re still a young man,” His Dudeness had told him. “You deserve to be able to see.

Me, at an Ogilvy reunion, clutching a martini and looking alarmed while hearing about how I almost died on a shoot. (The speaker had mistaken me for some other Ogilvy alum)

Needless to say, the night before Bob’s surgery, I made sure Dr. Dude got plenty of rest. “You don’t want to mess up,” I needlessly reminded him. “That’s my boss you’re operating on.”

Also, needless to say, the surgery went beautifully.

One of my favorite shots of those golden Ogilvy Days (again not featuring Bob; I, alas, have no photos of Bob)

After a few weeks, when both his eyes had been successfully rid of their vision-clouding cataracts, Bob again stepped into my office. And again — shut the door. What now?

Well, Bob just wanted to thank me. And while doing so, I see tears in his newly clearly-seeing eyes. He was that overcome with emotion at having his vision back.

And that’s not the end to this lovely Bob Tale. Bob was so pleased with how his surgery turned out — and so pleased with Dr. Dude in general — that he told all his friends and all his colleagues to go to Dr. Dude. Pretty soon, Dude Man was seeing everyone in advertising: not only creative directors (Hi, Tom R.!), but writers (Hi, John G.!)  and art directors (Hi, Grant P.!) and producers (Hi, Nancy V. and Annie L.!). They all told their friends and colleagues and soon we got directors and editors and actors and even clients. Basically, everyone who is anyone in the Ad World now goes to Dr. Dude.

My Ogilvy sample reel. I’m pretty sure at least one of the editors there started going to Dr. Dude

And we owe it all to Bob. So yes, you could say that Bob Neuman put our kid through college.

Thank you, Bob. I hope the angels don’t mind cigar smoke.

New York City. March 2024

 

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