Remembering Betty White


‘She was a real softie in a couple of Q-Tips commercials’

Okay. So maybe her work as Sue Ann or Rose is more memorable, but I will always treasure the experience of working with Betty White.

Q-Tips — along with Shake ‘n Bake, another brand blast from the past — was one of my first writerly assignments when I came to Ogilvy in 1979. (Read all about how I got there in “Take A Letter, Miss Henry.”)

70s KC Me, dreaming of a job in the New York Ad Biz

In those days (and probably now, too) you couldn’t write a commercial for Q-Tips that mentioned cleaning your ears — even though that’s what most people did with Q-Tips — without including a rather harshly-worded warning:

An actual Q-Tips Box with the actual warning. Only it’s too small to read, so I’m putting it here, too:

So we did these rather namby-pamby spots with mothers and babies that talked vaguely about “softness” and included cloying scenes of an adoring mother tapping the Q-Tip on, say, a little girl’s nose. I was responsible for at least one of these, called “Still My Baby.” Forgive me; here it is:

Well. After my co-workers and I got through cracking ourselves up with parodies like “Not My Baby,” “No More Baby” and the lovely “It’s Not Really A Baby,” my partner and I decided to break out of the Baby Box and try something new.

Our idea? To make a commercial for Q-Tips that was all about the warning. That way, we could actually mention the reason that people bought the product: ear cleaning.

A gaggle of Ad Girls on a shoot from about this time. We all had very clean ears, but I was the only one who worked on Q-Tips

Well. My fingers are sore from typing “Orson Bean Q-Tips TV Commercial” into the Google search pane. Can’t find the darn thing. But I do remember it well. It featured this minor celebrity at the time (game shows, talk shows, etc.) named Orson Bean. We dressed him in a rumpled bathrobe and gave him these lines:

“Everybody’s always telling you how to clean things: your hair, your nails, your sink. But has anyone ever told you how to clean an ear? First, find an ear. Then take a nice, soft, gentle Q-Tips Swab and go like this. (strokes ear) Careful! Gently…only on the outside. And remember: never put anything inside your ear — except your elbow.”

See? It’s the warning. And it was a big hit. I remember that the Account Guy taped a copy of the script (with its fantastic recall number magic-markered on it) to my boss’ office door.

My boss with me on a Country Time shoot. He was also my art director partner on the Orson Bean spot, my “real” art director having quit unexpectedly. Read more about the inimitable Harvey in “Harvey and the Grilled Half Goat Head”

Everything was hunky-dory, Q-Tips-wise, till we realized: What on earth would we do for an encore? We scoured our brains for another celebrity famous enough to be recognized but not so famous that we couldn’t afford him (or her.) Bonus points if he/she was funny and/or had a bit of an “edge.”

A-hah. Betty White. It was after her run as Sue Ann, but before her turn as Rose. She was busy, but not too busy. (Or too expensive.)

We kept the bathrobe-in-the-empty set setup, only hers wasn’t rumpled. But what to have her say? We couldn’t just recycle the same script — though now, with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, that might have been a pretty good idea — so we thought of a couple of approaches. One implies ear cleaning (nudge nudge wink wink) without actually mentioning it. (Notice how she stops short on the word “ear.”) And heck, now that I’m watching it again, I rather like the ending.

And here’s another one that’s okay, but well, you know. I suppose I’d rather run out of soft, safe steam by this point. Not Betty’s fault; in fact, the Betty-ness of Betty saves the spot from sheer awfulness.

Incidentally, we had rather a diffy time with the director on these spots. At one point, I went up to consult with him on Betty’s delivery, and he said, “But if she does it that way, it will be funny.” Well, yeah.

Speaking of funny, It’s a funny thing that I didn’t even remember doing these spots until I heard that Betty had died. They were never on my sample reel and I didn’t brag about them to colleagues, since, at the time, working on what was called “packaged goods” was considered sub-par. Everybody wanted to work on cars (Jaguar!) and computers (IMB!) and athletic shoes (ReeBok!) Heck, even working on truck rental (Ryder!) was cooler than working on Q-Tips.

Me, about the time I worked on Q-Tips, wearing a souvenir shirt from a stage in LA, the name of which has slipped my mind. (And no, I don’t have the shirt anymore so I can’t look at the back)

Those spots may have faded from memory — both mine and yours — but working with Betty? She was everything you’ve read or heard: sweet, kind, cooperative, professional. (The polar opposite of Karl Malden. Read about him in “Karl Malden’s Nose.”)

Thank you, Betty, for gracing my Q-Tips spots with your dimples and your charm. RIS (rest in softness).

Amagansett, New York. January 2022




Why Dude Man’s not dead


‘The crucial importance of a room of one’s own’

What with fun City events like birthday parties and opera performances and colonoscopies, I’ve been spending a lot of time in the Ken & Barbie House. I was there digging its leafy wallpaper and garden views all last week, in fact.

Me, snuggling into a birthday gift amidst the leafy wallpaper

It’s less than 500 scare feet, but this clever little hideaway has two bedrooms and two bathrooms. When I get a chance to show it off, like the other day when I ran into Barbara and Danielle and Ann (hi neighbors!) in the lobby, I often point out that I am awfully glad the place, though small, is not a studio.

K & B floor plan. We still have each and every one of those precious walls

“Here’s my husband’s room,” I say, “and here’s mine.” Oddly (or maybe not so oddly), if my guest is a woman — a woman who has been married for at least ten years or so — she never suggests “knocking down that wall to join the bedrooms.” Oh no. She just smiles and nods. Maybe looks a tad wistful.

“If The Dude and I had to live in a one-room studio, he’d be dead and I’d be in jail.” is my comment while sliding open the pocket door leading to my private little lair.

Added perk of a room of your own: any light fixture your little heart desires

Oh, it’s not that I don’t absolutely adore Dude Man. I do, I really do. And he is, actually, quite easy to get along with. For a man.

Look! He’s even pals with TR. (Note companionable man-spreading)

But there’s something about a man — a man “around the house,” as they say — that is just not, well, peaceful.

After a hard day spent descaling toilets and wrestling with bedsheets and swiffing floors and stamping bills and downloading boarding passes (See “Darn! I didn’t get last month’s issue of Toilet Today for more female fuming) I can easily sink into a chair and disappear into a book.

Instructions I gave The Child on how to make my “bed:” back cushion comes off, sides fold down, sleep sack on top. Voila! And pleasant (solitary) dreams

But not Mr. Man. Is that the vacuum cleaner? In the basement? At Cocktail Hour? “What are you doing?” I yell down the stairs. “Somebody’s got to vacuum down here!” he insists. (“Actually, no. It’s the basement,” is what I’m thinking.)

But at least he does that sort of thing in Amagansett, where there’s plenty of room for me to escape from these sorts of restless male shenanigans.

Dude Man blowing leaves in his wetsuit. Notice he is wearing protective ear gear as well

At the K & B House — which new Best Buddy Ann remarked should be relabelled the Alice in Wonderland House, bless her — we have no such spatial luxury. But, on the other hand, we don’t have a basement to vacuum. Nor a driveway to blow leaves from.

We do have a piano. But it has earphones. And, yes, by golly, we have plenty of walls — and pocket doors.

Amagansett, New York. December 2021



“Your turkey or your life!”


‘The time I was mugged on my way to Thanksgiving dinner’

I did a little calculating this week and realized that this will be the 25th time I’ve hosted Thanksgiving dinner out here in Amagansett.

Flippin’ the Bird at one of those 25 Flippin’ Feasts

Yup. My first turkey and fixins’ for a crowd was in 1995 — when the “crowd” was my Mom and my Dad and The Dude — and The Child when she was an actual child. There may have been Others here as well. If so, it would have been our Same-Age-Best-Friends, J and P. I’ll have to ask them. They (of course) will be here this year.

An even-earlier Amagansett T’giving, when The Child was so small that we tied her to a kitchen stool with a bathrobe sash, having no high chair out here at the time

If you’re good at math, you’ve no doubt found a discrepancy in mine. “But every Thanksgiving since ’95 makes 26 times, not 25,” you might be thinking. And you’d be right. One year (2009) I was persuaded to skip the Amagansett Thanksgiving because The Child, who was a college freshman at the time, wanted to have Thanksgiving in the City so she could see her friends.

Speaking of “seeing friends,” here’s a batch from a few Turkey Days ago

Well. That year we enjoyed a perfectly-nice (but rather sedate) feast at Wayne’s Club. But The Child was fruitless in her attempts to connect — turns out all her friends were celebrating in away-from-the-City family hoedowns of their own.

Lesson learned: if you want to see your school buddies over T’giving, invite them here

“Enough with Turkey History. What about that mugging?!?” you no doubt are asking about now.

It happened on my second Thanksgiving in the City. The first one, in 1979, was spent at a fellow writer’s apartment. I didn’t even work for (or even with) this guy, but this respected senior writer named Peter H. — who, incidentally, died earlier this year — asked some of us young Ogilvy “strays” to join him for the feast. I remember being very impressed, both with his hospitality and his sumptuous apartment.

By the time my second New York Thanksgiving rolled around, I’d made some same-age Ogilvy buddies, including Fab Friend Sande — she and I once were found “resting our heads on the nice cool tile” in the ladies room of Michael’s of Santa Monica during a particularly lavish L.A. shoot dinner. (More about this shoot — and our zany boss Harvey at Michael’s — in “The Most Fun You Can Have with Your Clothes On.“)

Harvey of Grilled-Half-Goathead Fame and I on set somewhere

Sande had just bought a coop — pretty sophisticated for our set — and was hosting Thanksgiving for a group of revelers including her mother and her brother Victor. Each of us invitees volunteered to contribute something; I had Salad Duty.

That’s Thanksgiving Hostess Sande there in the middle of this Twenty-Something Sandwich

So, there I was on Thanksgiving morning, waiting at 90th Street for the M1 bus, clutching my bag of greens in one hand and my purse in the other. (It was a small gold SportSac, never to be seen again after that morning.)

This was when I lived in a wonderful rental on 93rd between Fifth and Madison, just a half block from Central Park. (A place you can read about in “Horowitz Plays the Bedroom.”) I was the only one at the bus stop, craning my neck uptown hoping to spot my bus — with my back turned toward the afore-mentioned Park — when, all of a sudden, I felt my arms pinned to my sides.

A man — and his smallish son — grabbed my SportSac and ran off into the Park with it. And what did I do? I chased them.

This was back when I was a pretty darned incredible runner. (I had just run that Fall’s New York Marathon in under four hours.) I don’t know what those crazy crooks were expecting, but I bet it wasn’t that their thirty-something dressed-up mark would jettison her bag of greens and hightail it after them.

A lovely tribute from The Lovely Child mentioning a marathon of long ago

And I almost caught them, too. But every time I’d close in on the one with my SportSac, he would toss it, football-pass-style, to the other one. So on it went, Dad to Son, Son to Dad, until I finally gave up and ran, panting, into the big fancy lobby of a big fancy apartment building on Fifth Avenue and reported my crime.

Seen on a T’giving Hike: Maybe if I’d dressed like this the muggers would have left me alone

The police were called (“Oh? Those two! The father-and-son team!”) a report was made, and a good part of the dinner was spent getting helpful advice from Sande’s family and guests. Sande’s brother even helped me find a locksmith open on T’giving Day.

Luckily, there wasn’t a lot of cash in that SportSac. (I didn’t have a lot of cash in those days.) I never saw the SportSac again, but I received a big ole postage-due manilla envelope with all its contents inside about a week later. Apparently, muggers would often take what they wanted from a snatched bag and deposit the rest in a nearby mailbox. The post office would then mail this stuff to you, having deduced your address from, say, your driver’s license, which was part of the discarded stuff. (I guess there wasn’t such a thing as Identity Theft back then.) Sadly for today’s muggers, you can’t deposit snatched-bag-contents in mailboxes nowadays since they don’t open up on top anymore.

Anyway. It could have been a whole lot worse. And I learned a couple of valuable lessons: never stand with your back to the Park — and beware of father-and-son mugging teams who, apparently, don’t get asked to Thanksgiving Dinner.

Another Thanksgiving spent basting turkeys — which sure beats chasing muggers

Amagansett, New York. November 2021





So many doctors, so little time


‘I’ve officially turned into an Old Person’

So I’m sitting on one of those crinkly paper thingies in an exam room when the door opens and this incredibly gorgeous woman walks in. Sort of a cross between J-Lo and Giselle Bundchen.

”I’m Doctor Exotic (not her real name)”, she says, extending her hand for a shake.

”You’re the doctor?!?” I exclaim, taking in her voluptuous figure, leopard-print leggings and long glossy locks.

”Yes, I am,” she responded with a blindingly white smile. “Who were you expecting?”

”An old white guy!” was my immediate answer.

Dr. E laughed, then proceeded to point out that more than half of all medical students these days are women. “Oh, I know,” I interjected. “My husband told me. He’s a doctor — an old white guy.”

Two Old White People out on the town — out in Amagansett. One of us is a doctor

This exchange happened during my second doctor’s visit in one day — yesterday. Too many doctor visits on a Tuesday is one of the reasons I’m late with this week’s post. I also needed an idea to write about, and — Silver Lining Time — the doctor visit gave it to me.

So back to how my life is organized around doctor visits and how that’s one of the ways I know I’m officially Old.

Younger Sister Laura and me making a Mom Sandwich. Three guesses which one of us gets mistaken for her sister

Those of you who read my posts regularly (Bless you, one and all!) know that since retirement (“retirement,” hmmm. Another Old Clue) I have essentially relocated from the City to Eastern Long Island. Amagansett, to be exact. I used to come in to the City for two or three days a week to go to classes or museums or plays. Now I still come in two or three days a week — but to go to doctors.

And I’m not the only one. I have a friend (hi, Helen!) who was recently featured in a New York Times article about downsizing. Helen mentions that she and her husband wanted to keep a small apartment in the City for “doctor visits.”

Two Young White People out in Amagansett. Back when I hardly ever hung out with doctors — except on dates

Like Helen, there’s nothing (thank the Health Gods) particularly wrong with me. But I see the dermatologist and the gynecologist and the dentist (all routine) and the endocrinologist and the physical therapist and the pain management specialist (for bone and back issues; the picture at the top of this post is me wearing a contraption prescribed by my neurologist). Oh, and let’s don’t forget the gastroenterologist (for those super-fun colonoscopies).

The only doctor I haven’t seen lately is the ophthalmologist. Mainly because he’s my husband and when I say that I’d like to make an appointment he just says, “Oh, just stop in some time.” Which, of course, never happens.

Oh, and just when you think you’ve caught up with these doctor visits, you get another one added on. It’s kind of like Wac-A-Mole. You cross off a doctor visit, and another one pops up. Yesterday at the gynecologist: “You’re due for a mammogram, I see.” “But I just had a mammogram,” I protested. “That was in January of 2020. At your age you need one every year.”

Me, not with a doctor this time. But at an age when no one ever suggested I get a mammogram. Not even braces

Which brings me (again) to the Age Thing. I am in complete shock to realize that next week I will be celebrating a birthday that is so Big and so Old that I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around it. I will have attained an age so great that there aren’t any funny birthday cards for it. No silly rhymes like “Lordy Lordy, look who’s forty.” No sayings like “Fifty is the new thirty.” Nope. It’s just an age that’s — old.

Me, helping someone else celebrate turning The New Thirty

How old? I’m so old now that waitresses mistake me for my mother’s sister. So old that I scare myself when I glimpse my reflection in a store window. So old that, when I announce my age (as I did in Dr. Exotic’s office yesterday) people don’t react at all. Why, just a couple of years ago, if I had to state my age, the response was invariably “Oh my! You certainly don’t look it!” Now? Nothing. Just stone-faced silence.

The last time I celebrated a remarkable Landmark Birthday I was in Florence. Now I’m in Disbelief

But hey. Am I upset about attaining this Great and Venerable Age? No way, Jose. When I start to count up doctor visits and feel sorry-elderly, I just remind myself of what one of The Dude’s friends says: “Every day above ground is a good day.”

Of course, he is an old white guy.

New York City. October 2021



Stage Mother for a Day


‘The Child was a Star. Just not a Child Star.’

I must miss the Ad World. Or maybe I just like writing about it.

Just last week I wrote about how the client hated a brilliant idea for a bra commercial so much that I was yanked off the Playtex account. Which wasn’t really so disappointing — except that I was put on the Kimberly-Clark account.

Kimberly-Clark (or KC, as we called it informally, if not fondly) is a paper products company based in Neenah, Wisconsin. I’ve written about KC before, most notably in “HooHah Time is Story Time,” but, trust me, when it comes to tales from the Paper Valley, I’ve got reams and reams of them.

Over my years at Ogilvy, I worked on Hershey and the British Tourist Authority, Q-Tips and Swanson, General Foods and American Express (See “Karl Malden’s Nose”), among others. I even “helped” on Shake ‘N Bake.

I don’t have many shoot photos, but this is one of my faves. I don’t remember what the shoot was for — except that it wasn’t for KC

But no matter what else I was assigned to, I seemed always to have a KC brand in my quiver. Turns out I had an indefinable quality known around the Ogilvy Ranch as “Kim.” Which, basically, meant that the Kimberly-Clark clients liked you. Maybe it was because I was a Midwesterner. I guess the clients didn’t stop to think that I was a Midwesterner who spent a considerable part of her Midwestern residency plotting and scheming to get the heck out of there.

Safely out of the Midwest and on a shoot with the Late Great Harvey G. (Read about him in “Harvey and the Grilled Half Goat Head”)


This story is about the time I was working on Huggies, a KC diaper brand. For some reason which I can no longer recall — other than the fact that she was a seriously cute baby — The Child was asked (or I was asked for her) to appear in a Huggies print ad. She would be playing a magician. (This was when all the Huggies ads had babies portraying grownup occupations: artists, engineers, teachers. No advertising writers, not that I recall.)

On a Huggies TV shoot in — of all places — South Africa. Yes, there was a Baby Wrangler on set. But this wasn’t the set (!)

Before you get too impressed, the way print ads involving babies — or any ads involving babies — get done is to sort of hedge your baby bets. You have a casting call involving zillions of babies from which you choose about a dozen to photograph. With TV commercials, you pick even more.

See, actors can have Bad Days. Days when they wake up on the wrong side of bed, or eat something funny or miss their nap. And that’s the grownup actors. Babies are even more unpredictable. So, the more babies on set, the better. I’m thinking The Child was asked to the shoot as sort of a bonus bumper baby.

There’s even a job on diaper shoots called Baby Wrangler. Her job (she’s usually a “she”) is to corral all the babies, keep them calm, and — this is super important — keep them away from their mothers.

The mothers on shoots are, with rare exceptions, simply horrible. They hover and smother and boss everyone around, including their progeny. I was once at a casting call for Alpha-Bits where one poor little girl’s horrible mother wouldn’t let her go to the bathroom for fear of missing her turn on camera, and, you guessed it, she peed all over the carpet. And didn’t even get the part, poor kid.

Me, sporting a souvenir from a shoot in L.A. Maybe it was for Alpha-Bits

Well. I got a chance to experience Stage Mothering up (too) close and (way too) personal at that Huggies shoot. No one knew that I was actually an Agency Person, so the other SMs treated me as one of their own. After staking our ground by declaring how many months’ old our babies were (why is it always months, I wonder?) I was elbowed and glared at. Her Childness was even scolded for offering another toddler some of her Cheerios.

The Child, at 19 months, in her starring role as a magician

I wasn’t cut out for Stage Momhood, I guess. But it was not an experience I was destined to repeat. The Child was “shot,” all right, in costume and everything. But she was not chosen for the final ad. We did get a dollar for signing a release. And we got a swell copy of the photo. It’s the shot that appears at the top of this post — and in my kitchen — if not in a magazine.

The Child, at 362 months, in her starring role as a bride 

Amagansett, New York. October 2021

Whatever you do, don’t stare at the birthmark


‘Our presentation to the CEO of Playtex’

It’s been awhile since I’ve written about my Golden Olden Days in Advertising. But this weekend, as I was devouring the Sunday Times, I happened upon one of those paid obits that you can only see in the printed edition of the paper. (Yet another reason — besides starting fires in winter — to subscribe to an actual newspaper.)

It caught my eye — a phrase, incidentally, used waaaay too much by consumers in focus groups, as in “I don’t know if I’d buy that. Maybe if the ad caught my eye. And I don’t think this one would.” Well, this particular obit caught my eye because the deceased fellow pictured had not only a birthmark on his forehead, but a name that is quite uncommon. (Of course you know me well enough by now to know that I will not mention that name, out of respect for the dead, if not my own reputation.)

What I do these days instead of creating ads. Though I did knit quite a bit while on commercial shoots

Aha! That birthmark, plus that uncommon moniker, unleashed a whole-package-of-madeleines-worth of memories. Mainly centered around my experiences working with the late, great Mark Shap. (Mark’s name I will mention because I plan to say absolutely nothing negative about him.) Oh — a quick note here: If you think you will be offended by a story involving a person’s birthmark, please stop now and read one of my other Ad Biz Tales instead. I have a whole slew of them listed in the sidebar.

I don’t have any photos of me and Mark, so this one of Me and the Catskills will have to do

Back to Mark, who was an art director with long hair and a mustache. He was tall with a long elegant nose and rather reminded one of Big Bird on Sesame Street. That is, if Big Bird had an English accent. He was very talented and much sought-after as a creative partner. Like many creative geniuses, he could be difficult and demanding. I remember there was an editorial house that had a sign on the wall that went something like — Editing: $50 an hour. If you help: $100 an hour. If you are Mark Shap: $500 an hour.

Anyway. The story sparked by the birthmark happened when I was lucky to have been paired with Mark, but unlucky to have been assigned to the Playtex account. The Playtex clients hated Ogilvy. This was because — even though Ogilvy was then considered one of the greatest advertising agencies, if not the greatest — our clients had not chosen us.

Some biggie at Playtex played golf with some biggie at Ogilvy and the decision was made On High, without the involvement of the people who would actually be working with us. Assigning an account like this is kind of like your Dad making you go out with his best friend’s son. The son might be the most wonderful person in the world and just right for you, but the fact that your Dads cooked up the arrangement just sours the whole deal — for both of you.

Another nice Catskills shot. You know, to break up the story a bit. And no, no one set me up with this friend

Also, this Playtex assignment was for Playtex bras. Now, there’s nothing to be ashamed about working in underwear advertising. Just ask Marky Mark. But back then the networks had weird rules about bra commercials. Like, you couldn’t show a woman wearing the bra. Not over skin, anyway. You could show the bra on a woman — but only over clothes.

Now, this was challenging, to say the least. Commercials for bras showed some hapless woman dressed in, say, a sweater — with a bra strapped right over it. Like I said: weird.

And, what was worse, clients liked it that way. They didn’t want to experiment, uh uh. They wanted their creative team to show them yet another storyboard with a woman wearing a bra strapped over her sweater. Different color sweater? Sure. But that’s about as out there as you could get.

Now Mark was not the kind of art director who did things the usual way. He accepted the bra-over-clothing challenge and met it. He figured out a way to shoot the commercial using an early special-effects technique called “green screen.” The model would wear a leotard in a color that would “disappear” into the background when filmed. What you would see when the commercial was finished would be a bra moving around as if by itself — pleasantly “filled” with that part of a woman that goes under a bra — but you wouldn’t see the woman, or her leotard either, not to mention her sweater.

Too bad Roz Chast didn’t work on packaged goods advertising like I did

Well. This was a major achievement. We could hardly wait to present this idea to the client. In the car on the way to Playtex headquarters in Connecticut, we were prepped by the Suits (er, the account team.)

“Whatever you do, don’t say anything about Joe Blow’s (not his real name) birthmark.” (Like Mark and I were toddlers, and wouldn’t be able to resist laughing and pointing, I guess.) Upon hearing this advice, Mark and I did both start laughing. Rather uncontrollably. So maybe it was good they told us beforehand — so we could get that laughing out of our system.

The assistant AE was driving the car — the car was always driven by the assistant AE — but he did manage to throw in his two cents’: “Hey, it’s not funny. He’s the CEO.”

At this, Mark and I totally lost it. “Okay okay,” we snorted through tears. “We promise not to mention the birthmark. We won’t even look at the birthmark. If you like, we won’t even look at the guy.”

We go in the conference room, and there he is. And my gosh if he doesn’t have the biggest birthmark we’d ever seen. It was spread over most of his forehead and resembled the State of Montana. We quickly shook his hand — while focusing on his nose — and directed our attention to our storyboards.

We present our revolutionary idea, expecting, well maybe not cheers, but at least some level of surprised appreciation at our ingenuity. But the clients — including Joe Birthmark Blow — simply shook their heads in dismay while slowly intoning “Ogilvy…Ogilvy…Ogilvy” in a dirge-like singsong.

The CEO then clapped both hands to his head in abject despair — hiding the birthmark but not the fact that he absolutely hated the commercial.

It wasn’t the sunset of my career — but it was the end of my work on Playtex

New York, New York. October 2021




Beware the Rage Rover


‘The pitfalls and perils of traffic in The Hamptons’

I’m a little late today. I had to (gasp) leave The Compound by car. Which is something I rarely do out here in The Hamptons.

Why don’t I like to drive out here? Take a guess

Did I dash out to Citarella for a twelve-dollar loaf of bread? Or to Lunch for a forty-dollar lobster roll? Nah. I loaded up the Toyota for a trip to the dump. Er, “recycling center.”

I usually put off my Dump Run until Thursday, when I can combine it with my Groceries/Mail/Liquor Run for a trip I call my “Vector.” But I made grilled chicken involving a garlic-loaded marinade the other night, and the garbage bag which I hung on a hook in the basement (to discourage mice) was starting to, well, infuse the entire house with a not-very-enticing aroma.

There’s even traffic at the Forty-Dollar Farm Stand. But there’s a nice aroma of roasting corn. So there’s that

So I screwed my courage to the sticking place and nosed my way out of our driveway and into — Hamptons Traffic.

Continue reading

Pranks for the memories


‘Stuff you miss when working from home’

So I read in the New York Times today that there are some twenty-and thirty-somethings out there who are resisting going back to the office. “Is this mandatory?” was one Young Whippersnapper’s querulous query.

Some are even quitting their jobs when told to pull up their socks (make that put on some socks) and report to work in person.

Just because you can work remotely doesn’t mean it’s easy to work remotely

Now, I have heard the arguments for working remotely: no commuting time (or expense), the opportunity to prepare a healthy lunch, fewer dry cleaning bills. (That last one is a no-brainer, especially if you’re talking about pants).

Not everyone in the universe likes Zoom. Though it seems everyone skips the pants

And I’ve also heard the other side. As a pro-office guy in the Times piece said, “As a manager, it’s really hard to get cohesion and collegiality without being together on a regular basis, and it’s difficult to mentor without being in the same place.”

Hmmm. “Cohesion?” “Collegiality?” Using “mentor” as a verb? Sorry, fella. I think I’d stay home too.

Continue reading

If you can’t take the heat, stay out of the hardware store


‘Shopping local means lots of local color’

It’s been really hot here in Amagansett, though not as hot as it was the last time my Middle Younger Brother Roger was here.

That time it was so hot that you couldn’t walk on the sand without burning your feet. My poor wilted sister in law, the amazing Nobody-Doesn’t-Like-Jenn, was loath to leave the library, the one air-conditioned room in the house. (The AC is for the books, you see. To keep them from molding. People, at least most of them, don’t mold. So the rest of the house doesn’t need it.)

Before Roger and Jenn melted down into viscous puddles like the Wicked Witch of the West, they did manage an outing. Roger: “Where can I get an Amagansett hat?” Me: “Herb has Amagansett hats. Go see Herb. At the hardware store. Herb’ll fix you up.” (Now, I don’t have a photo of Herb’s hardware store — inside or out — but the shot at the top of this story shows The Child and me standing out front a few years ago.)

Everyone knows you can’t wear your Amagansett hat in Amagansett. Here Dude Man is seen wearing his on a plane to Borneo

Now, my Brother Roger is the kind of guy you could drop into the middle of the Sahara Desert and he’d make ten new friends in the first ten minutes. And Herb? Well, suffice it to say that Herb is a Local Character who defies easy description.

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My Almost Arkansas Commute


‘How I narrowly escaped working at WalMart’

It’s hot here. So hot my brain is mush and my funnybone has rickets. I’m so filled with Summertime Lassitude that I tried to republish a post from a couple of summers ago called “Who Wants To Go On A WalMart Run?”

It’s a zillion degrees out. So glad I just finished this sweater

This is the first time I’ve tried to do a sort of “rerun,” and, since it didn’t work and I hate to disappoint, I’m gonna compromise. Instead of dreaming up an entirely new story, I’ll tell you another one about WalMart.

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