Yes, there are plenty of fish in the sea.

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‘I know because I had my share of stinkers.’

I don’t want to embarrass The Child. Well, not any more than I have to. But I must say that she has excellent taste in boyfriends. So far, fingers-and-all-toes fervently crossed, she has managed to choose ‘dates’ who have not inspired The Dude or me to put on that Fake Nice-to-Meet-You Face. Or not very often, anyway.

(I put ‘dates’ in quotes because I don’t think that’s what Young People call ‘guys you go out with’. But, for my purposes today, it’ll have to do.)

Now, before I dig myself in deep here, let me say that this is not going to be a story about The Child and her ‘dates’. (I can hear her ‘whew’ all the way from Cambridge.) Nope. It’s going to be about me and mine.

See, I was about as opposite from The Child as a young dating girl could be. It seems I had a rather bad habit of picking ‘dates’ that my poor long-suffering parents most definitely found, well, ‘inappropriate’ if not downright cringe-worthy.

Part of this, I’m convinced, had to do with the fact that I was the oldest child — and a girl to boot. My mother has actually gone on record (see the comments section of ‘Double-Dating at the Drive-in with Bonnie and Clyde’ for proof) admitting I was her Test Cookie.

Me. Age 14, but I look all of 11, when I was allowed on my First Date. Bowling. On a Sunday afternoon. But still, it was a date

But, speaking of ‘testing’, if I’m honest — as honest as a Lutheranliar can be — I must admit that I was testing them a little. The more they showed their disapproval/dismay/disgust with a boyfriend, the more I liked him. I call this the Romeo and Juliet Syndrome. Because, young and naive as I was, I thought it was infinitely romantic to cling to a ‘love’ that my parents opposed.

Some of these guys I honestly couldn’t see anything wrong with. That guy in the picture at the top of this post, for example. Brad was his name. He was handsome, he was popular, he was sexy. Oops. Now I get it.

Speaking of ‘handsome, popular, and sexy’, here’s The Dude during his high-school days. Though if my parents liked him, I might not have. Or would I? OK, now my hair hurts. You can read about how I met him here

And then there were the guys who were so obviously wrong that I can’t imagine (now) why I ever gave them the time of day, much less went out with them — some of them for Very Long Periods of Time.

There was the Really Old Guy Who Wasn’t-Even-Divorced-Only-Separated Who Had Kids Closer To My Age Than He Was. But much funnier than That Old Guy (and who wouldn’t be?) was the Walloon. So here goes.

In my defense, the Walloon was the Very First Guy I Met When I Moved To New York. He was handsome. He had a big important job. He was a few — but not too many — years older than me. And he spoke French. I thought he was very sophisticated. And, to my parents’ dismay, allowed myself to be totally swept off my feet.

See, my parents could see right through that accented veneer to the creep within. In fact, their nickname for him was (and is) ‘Philippe the Creep’. Well, they had learned (by then) that to outwardly oppose any of my Bad Choices only served to bind me more closely to them, so they kept their nickname — and their dismay — a secret from me.

But just the other day I was on the phone with my Mom, praising The Child’s BF, and talking about some of my, er, lemons, when Mom said, re: the Walloon, “Yes, no one could stand him. That time you brought him to Gramma’s for Christmas? When he had you carrying the suitcases? And when he brought his own coffee and coffee maker? Marilyn (Mom’s sister) and I would have to go out and walk around the block, he made us so mad!”

It was Marilyn’s husband, my Uncle Arlyn, who coined the (kept secret from me at the time) epithet “Philippe the Creep”, and my Gramma who muttered “I thought so” when I explained that he was a Walloon. No, I’m not going to share a photo of myself with said Walloon. But I will tell you that the romance crumbled when I visited his family in Belgium and his mother served our dinner, then ate by herself in the kitchen.

Mom and Me. Not talking about the Old Guy, or even The Walloon. Or at least I don’t think so

Anyway. Belgian Bullet dodged. Now, back to The Child. So far, she has not exhibited any of those unfortunate Romeo-and-Juliet tendencies. And, like I mentioned, we’ve liked her boyfriends. But, even after she’s moved on, we make it a point never to say anything negative, even if prodded. Because you never know. She just might get back with Mr. Whomever, and we will have said something bad about him. Which can never ever be unsaid.

Couldn’t resist this pleasant pictorial interlude: The Child at her prom. Dates not shown to avoid embarrassment (mine, not the dates’)

We know this for a fact because The Dude had this extremely close friend, his college roommate in fact, whom we adored. He spent weekends in Amagansett. We visited him in Arizona. He even came to Thanksgiving. (And you Faithful Readers know how I feel about Thanksgiving.)

He was dating this Woman We Could Not Stand. And they (whew) broke up. He told us all about it, sobbing, over dinner. We did our best to console him, patting him on the back and saying soothing things like “No one liked her. She was really mean to you behind your back. You deserve much better.” I think we may even have muttered something (god help us) about there being “plenty of fish in the sea.”

Well. You guessed it. They not only got back together, they got married.

And no, we did not get invited to the wedding.

New York City. October 2017

 

 

 

Those were Banner days indeed

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‘An ode to my first job that did not involve cleaning up. At least not cleaning up after other people’s children’

Again, apologies for being a slacker. I seem to be getting later and later with my Tuesday posts. And I don’t even have the turkey to blame this week.

‘Curses, foiled again!’ said Mr. Turkey upon spying this clever foil

Hey, at least we didn’t use a slingshot, an idea suggested by a relative at that Fab Family Reunion I recently attended.

But I wasn’t always a slacker. I was a hard worker, even at a very early age. For one thing, my parents were firm believers in Kids Doing Chores. (I remember we got docked a nickel each day we didn’t make our beds; since our weekly allowance was only 25 cents, there were weeks when my brothers owed my Mom). I won’t go into a whole long list of these chores, but suffice it to say that I got my fill of ironing. And my brothers don’t often volunteer to clean out basements or dog pens. Continue reading

Looks like we got ourselves a HooHah!

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‘The Family Reunion, taken to a whole new (Henry) level’

Well, no one who appeared in one of my commercials died this week. (Are you still out there, Betty White?) Or not that I know of, anyway. So “HooHah” story it is.

Now let me be clear. The Henrys did not invent the “Family Reunion.” Family reunions have been around, oh, I’d say probably since the invention of Large Extended Families. No doubt some of you readers can recall sticky gatherings of seldom-seen aunts, uncles, and cousins featuring picnic tables laden with summer dishes like jello salads (urk) and glorified rice (yum). Games like Corn Hole (a real “thing”, I kid you not) and wiffle ball and sometimes even croquet would be played (though our “croquet” was decidedly non-Downton-Abbey-esque, involving lots of violent “sending” of opponents’, i.e. younger cousins’, balls, resulting in much wailing).

Gathering of the Henry Clan featuring sweaty, crying cousins (I’m down in front next to the boy sucking his thumb)

The other side of my family, the Petersons, had Family Reunions too. They even gave theirs an idiosyncratic name. I dimly recall attending something called the PAL Reunion in Belvidere Park. (This was in Belvidere, Illinois, the closest metropolitan area/gathering place for my farm-residing relations.) The “PAL” stood for, I believe, Peterson, Anderson, and Lindstrom. Yup, these were the Swedes.  Continue reading

HooHah Time is Story Time

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‘The one about the Big Midwestern Paper Company’

First, big fat apologies for being late with my story this week. I was Out West for a big ole family reunion (referred to in my fam, with infinite fondness, as a ‘Henry HooHah’). Many adventures were had which I honestly do not have the time nor the photos (yet) to go into right now, including a last-minute extra bonus day with my Favorite Sister Laura, courtesy JetBlue:


The one thing I can report right now is that, yes, many amusing stories were told at this HooHah, most while holding a glass of wine, and sometimes, if the story-teller was really really lucky, with an extremely cute baby in his or her lap.

Me, mid-story, no doubt, pacifying fussy-yet-still-adorable teething baby with nice cold wine bottle (chewy rubber spatula not having done the trick)

Oh, before I forget. The picture at the top of this post — the one showing me not really smoking but scaring my teensy niece by pretending to do so, was taken at one of the very first Henry HooHahs, held in Amagansett in, oh, I’m thinking, the early 90s. Yes, I was telling a story at the time. The one about the Chicago Manicurist shouting “Hold on to your son!” after being frightened by the sight of Middle Younger Brother Roger wearing a beret. (Someday, maybe, I’ll tell this one. But it involves using an accent, in a non-PC way at that, which would be tricky to relay in a blog post.) Continue reading

I just flew in from The Coast

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‘And boy, are my arms tired. (Old joke, couldn’t resist.)’

Ah, the miracles of modern travel. Sunday I was within wave-crashing distance to the Atlantic. And Monday I was smack-dab next to the Pacific. Funny, we say things like “It’s SUCH a long flight from New York to Portland — six whole hours!” Which seems like a long time till you consider that it once took months to get there in those wagon trains. Day after endless day heading due west. And those poor pioneers didn’t even have sunglasses.

I have to keep reminding myself that air travel is a wonderful miracle because I am such a nervous wreck when it comes to flying. Those of you who are my Facebook Friends already know this, and responded with great kindness (and many funny comments) when I posted this the other day:

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Stars in stripes

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‘Looking back and forth on the Fourth’

For the past several summers we’ve had this fun Fourth of July tradition where we let The Child fill up our house with as many of her friends as we have beds to lay their pretty little heads on. Sometimes it’s guys and girls; sometimes ‘just’ girls. The Dude and I are happy with either arrangement, though we have noticed that when it’s girls-only, the Young Friends seem more inclined to activity — like going to the beach, hopping on the bikes, or heading into town to catch what’s up at The Talkhouse.  

Last year’s crop of Nation’s Birthday Beauties. Haven’t wrestled this year’s photo out of The Dude’s camera yet. But, trust me, they’re equally sparkly

(The guys, when the guest list includes them, seem content to hang around The Compound, sipping beer and, well, being content. Sometimes they bestir themselves to demonstrate their CrossFit routines; there was a Matt-shaped indentation in our lawn for a few post-Fourth days one year. Oh, and one other memorable Fourth, Somebody’s BF soaked his iPhone in our hot tub, though not intentionally. BTW, putting a soaked iPhone into a jar of rice does not dry it out, no matter what you may have read on the internet.)

Speaking of food, this year I inaugurated a new tradition: The USA Birthday Cake. From Carvel, of course. No, we didn’t sing

But hey, anything anybody wants to do — or not do — is A-okay with me. I’m happy to provide food — beaucoup de food — and stay the heck out of the way. I was in the kitchen in the midst of doing just that when one of this year’s Young Lovelies (and they are — lovely — each and every one of them) strolled by on her way to the pool, and I happened to catch the unmistakable whiff of — Coppertone.

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The Process of Elimination

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‘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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