The A-Hole Car


‘Dealing with a gang of turkeys on Amtrak’

Actually, I wasn’t sure what to call that bunch of turkeys. Except not to call them for dinner (ba-da-bum). So I checked good ole Google. Turns out there are a variety of terms: ‘muster’, ‘posse’, ‘rafter’ being among them. The only one I decided against was ‘school’, since the ‘gang’ I’m going to describe seemed decidedly uneducated. At least in the mores and folkways of polite train-riding.

The story I’m going to tell happened when Dude and I were Amtraking our way home after spending a most delightful day and a half with The Child up in the Boston/Cambridge area where she lives and works.

You’ve probably heard enough already about The Child and her cool job at the amazing-and-recently-bought-by-Standard-and-Poor Kensho. Suffice it to say that The Dude and I are not only proud as punch but relieved that she won’t be couch-surfing at our place any time soon.

The Child showing us around Kensho’s new C’bridge digs. If you look closely you can see that her door has ‘Troll’ written on it (not by us)

Kensho’s new spread is one of those designed-so-the-workforce-never-wants-to-leave sorts of places. With not only two kitchens stocked with every kind of snack imaginable (even Goldfish, The Child’s personal catnip), but also a gym and a game room and (I am not making this up) a meditation room. The Child and The Dude worked up a bit of a healthy sweat at the ping-pong table, though, sadly, this went undocumented.

The Dude test-swings one of Kensho’s more, um, interesting new ‘office chairs’. (Yeah, I stole this shot from The Child’s Instagram feed; could have cropped the bottom, but wanted to keep those Dude Feet)

Anyway, we had a very pleasant time even not at the fantastic new office — an afternoon walking around Cambridge with Child and BF, capped with a nice dinner in a Millennial-friendly Williamsburg-hipster-esque spot near Inman Square.

Bumping into a few turkeys on a walk around Cambridge. Much better behaved than the turkeys we encountered on our train

Next day, for a change of pace, we went to the Isabella Gardner Museum, which is like one of my favorite haunts in New York, the Frick, in that it is a big beautiful house filled with the art and objects that the big beautiful benefactor left in it. It is my dream that, one day, The Child will be so successful that she can buy me one of these houses. Either one will be fine.

Meeting the benefactrice. Incidentally, if your name is ‘Isabella’, you get in free. We had to pay

Yes, we were allowed to take pictures inside the Gardner House. (I asked a guard, just to make sure.) Here are a few more to enjoy before I get back to the incident-on-the-train part.

This house has, among zillions of other attractions, a four-story courtyard. Sigh

Dude and Child taking in the courtyard while I measure the rooms for the movers

The Child, making like a Sargent

All right, enough with the art and the day-dreaming. Sooner than you can say “Gosh, that visit went fast!”, The Child had ushered us into an Uber, and off we went to the station, where The Dude enjoyed a fortifying Carvel cone before boarding our train back to New York.

We had suffered through a bit of a misadventure on our way up to Boston the day before. See, I can’t sit backwards without getting carsick, so we had dragged our bags through car after car of ‘backward-facing seats’ only to discover when the train started moving that the two ‘front-facing’ ones we finally found (next to the bathroom, ick) were actually backwards. We, duh, thought the train was pointed the other way.

But that was bliss compared to our ride home. Turns out a big snowstorm was predicted for Boston, so our train was crammed with not only experienced, polite train-riders, but a rather unruly mob of, I’m guessing from their (loud) cellphone conversations, o-no-our-flight-was-cancelled airplane-flyers.

You know how on the train they have this thing called the Quiet Car? We didn’t sit there, since we knew we might want to, you know, kvell a bit with each other over The Child. (Besides, the Quiet Car was, no doubt, full already with nice, quiet, and super-smart-for-choosing-it Quiet-Car-riders.)

The Dude, sitting quietly (even tho not in the Quiet Car), reading his Jack Reacher book on his phone instead of talking on it

So we sat in a ‘normal’ car. Which we quickly dubbed the A-Hole Car. (Only we didn’t call it ‘A-Hole’) This car was populated with peeps who coughed a lot, marched up and down the aisle bonking you on the head with bags and briefcases, ate smelly food, were accompanied by loud screaming children, dropped their tray tables so they made resounding bangs, slept with their feet on the adjoining seat, and watched movies without headphones.

Yup. It was just like being on a plane! But worse, since (at least for now, thank the Transportation Gods) you can’t talk on the phone on a plane. And this bunch of turkeys were indeed gabbling on the phone. Loudly, and a lot. One guy a couple of seats up, over the course of several calls, told us in booming detail all about the deal he was closing. He referred, several times, to his clients as “all pre-sliced, like bread in buns.” Once he even said he was “shaving down the buns”. I’m not sure what all that means, biz-wise, but I sure hope his deal wasn’t a secret one, because everybody in that car knew all about it by the time we pulled into Penn Station.

Oh, speaking of marching up and down the aisle, there was a woman who paused mid-march to ask what I was doing. (I was knitting some mittens.) She admired my handiwork, which was nice, but then she picked up my finished mitten and without as much as a by-your-leave or a how-de-do, she tried it on.

My mittens-in-the-making, pre-disturbance

Well. We made it home, sanity — and mittens — intact. And before the storm hit too. Thanks again, dear Child, for a wonderful visit. We hope to be back again soon. But next time we might drive.

New York City. March 2018


The Process of Elimination


‘What to do when the blog clock is ticking’

People sometimes ask if I have trouble thinking of things to write about. Nope, I have the opposite problem — too many random ideas doing battle in my brain. Usually I look through photos to help me decide. But today that only made things worse. I kept finding photos I’d wished I’d used in previous posts. Like, here’s one that would have been perfect for last week, when I wrote about good times in and on the Lake of My Youth:

Look! I found a photo of the front of Sir Launch-A-Lot, complete with sign. That’s Gramma Henry, flanked by Only Sister Laura and Only Mom, um, Mom

Oh, and here’s one that would have been dandy to include in my riff on weddings (“I do, I do. I really do like weddings”)

Looking “back” on my first, “Polio-Shot” wedding. This was the rehearsal. But I guess you could say that about the whole marriage: that it was a “rehearsal”

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Yup. Even Slackers get the Labor Day Blues


‘Summer, I miss you already’

I know, I know. Summer isn’t officially over till, like, September 21. But even if yesterday wasn’t Labor Day, I say that if I have to grill my burgers by flashlight it’s Autumn. Okay? And today it’s back to Reality (and the Big City), since even sporadically-employed freelancers like me have obligations and responsibilities. (See ‘I love the smell of SoftScrub in the morning’ for envy-inducing examples.)

But before I go, I’d like to recall a few of the summery things I miss already, along with those white bucks I never got a chance to wear:

Glam home upgrades. Look out. If the Southampton Hospital Designer Showhouse Committee gets wind of our new propane tank, they’re sure to come calling.

Nope. It's not the Oscar Meyer WeinerMobile. It's our snappy new propane tank. Now everybody's gonna want one.

Nope. It’s not the Oscar Meyer WeinerMobile. It’s our snappy new propane tank. Now everybody’s gonna want one.

Newsy neighbors. Due to an amazing stroke of parental luck (The Dude’s Dad had many famous–and grateful–patients*), we live in a neighborhood of BoldFace Names. One of our neighbors was recently on the front page of the Post for erecting an electric fence to protect the ‘Hillary for Prison’ signs he put up in his yard. Another, Jerry Seinfeld, was in the East Hampton Star’s Crime Log for running an illegal lemonade stand: Continue reading

I love the smell of Soft Scrub in the morning


‘An Advertising Executive cleans up’

To be honest, not having been raised with ‘Help’ (Hah! If anything, my sibs and I were the ‘Help’), I am a tad uncomfortable with same. For one thing, I never know where to go when the Cleaning Person is there. I feel a little odd going out for coffee all morning.

And there is that Lutheran Guilt Thing. If I’m not working (as in Earning Money), I feel funny not cleaning. (Though I don’t seem to have a problem spending The Dude’s hard-earned money on Starbucks lattes.)

Besides, I have a dirty little secret: I’m really really good at cleaning. And I kind of like the fact that when you’re done, everything looks gorgeous and smells good. Totally different from advertising.

In fact, I’m so good at cleaning, that one time, when I was ‘between jobs’, I toyed with the idea of starting my own cleaning business.

I have no idea what this sign was referring to. But Mom instilled in us all a strong (house)work ethic

Looks like Mom had my business idea even before I did.

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‘Is it safe?’


‘Mommy hit me with a plate’ and other dental tales

So. I was toying with an idea for a post involving Helen Mirren, whom I adore. But I’m smack-dab in the middle of getting a crown (and I don’t mean the royal kind), and dentistry is, understandably, on my mind. So Helen will just have to keep. Shouldn’t be a problem. She’s done very nicely so far (see awesome photo for proof):Helen Mirren, looking fantastic (of course)

Too bad we can’t see her teeth.

Speaking of which.  Continue reading

Auld Lang Sally


‘A very Harry New Year to you and yours’

The Dude and I rarely venture out on New Year’s Eve (‘Amateur Night’, he calls it. Though I think it’s really because it’s impossible to get a cab.) You can see from the rather undignified photo at the top of this post that this was not always the case. (If it looks a little blurry, that’s because it is. Unless, of course, you’ve already started celebrating. In which case, it’s really blurry.)

Instead, we like to stay in and drink champagne and watch movies then drink more champagne and watch more movies. Though one year we did drink champagne and build a paper model of the Empire State Building on the coffee table. I think watching the movies is marginally more exciting.

Speaking of which, the movie to watch on New Year’s Eve is, in my humble opinion, ‘When Harry Met Sally’. It’s one of Nora Ephron’s funniest scripts and a much more successful directorial effort on Rob Reiner’s part than Continue reading

Oh no, Danger Man


‘Somebody’s gonna get hurt’

As some of you blog fans know (‘blog fans’; ow, how unattractive does that sound?), I was toying with the idea of writing about Scots and New Yorkers. But I thought that might be a tad incendiary, at least before The Vote. So Danger Man it is.

You’ve seen Danger Man. He’s everywhere: not riding his horse, not riding his skateboard, not riding his motorcycle.

Danger Man has kids who walk to school. He has a wife who lives on bathroom doors. He has dogs, cats, farm animals, and lots of machinery. But most of all, Continue reading