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

 

 

 

“I’ll take a hot foot sandwich, please.”

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‘It’s August. Grab those beachy memories while you can.’

Somebody wise once said that August is like the Sunday of Summer. (I think it was me, actually, but it’s the kind of thing that more than one wise person certainly could have come up with.)

Now I’ve written about this bittersweet end-of-summer stuff before, in ‘Yup. Even Slackers Get the Labor Day Blues’ and ‘The Days Are Long, But the Season is Short’. But, hey, it’s my blog and I’m feeling, well, a tad ‘Augusty’.

How many times did I get out the boogie boards this summer? Do you have to ask?

I’m pretty sure you know what I mean. It’s like you’ve just dusted off your white bucks on Memorial Day and then you realize Labor Day is coming up and you’ll just have to put them away again without having worn them even once. Or like you told yourself you’d have plenty of time to go through all the photos from that birding trip to Africa and make a book out of them already. And, speaking of books, please don’t get me started on yes, this summer I’ll get my act together and find an agent and/or a publisher to turn my stories into a real pages-and-ink book.

Stories? You bet I have stories. Some didn’t have such a happy ending. Just ask that Belgian guy in the back

But enough whining. Speaking of summers and beaches, here’s a joke that’s a favorite of my mom’s. She tells it best, but I’ll give it a shot. Continue reading

“Swim, Sandy, swim!”

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‘Equal time for dogs’

My Porn Star Name is ‘Sandy Peterson’. In honor of Sandy the Dog, the beloved Pet of My Youth, pictured above in a moment of not-unusual adorableness.

But before we get to Sandy, a quick word about that word game. Maybe you played it too. It’s the one where you take the name of your beloved pet, add your mother’s maiden name, and, voila!, you’ve got your Porn Star Name. (The Child’s is ‘Tuna Henry’.)

I must admit ours are pretty tame. Over wine at my dining room table I’ve heard some easy-to-imagine-clad-in-fishnets doozies: ‘Pinky Parker’, ‘Missy Goodbody’. Though the Dude’s is ‘Duffy Miltner Flockmaster Cromartie’, which is pretty darned racy.

But back to pets, which is the point of this piece. A couple of weeks ago I waxed nostalgic about felines of yore in ‘The Cat Who Ran Away from Home and Broke My Heart’.

I finally found a picture of me with Aunt Marilyn’s Herkimer, the first cat I adored. And tortured with two-year-old abandon

Continue reading

“I’m watchin’ him!”

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‘The “Playdate”, back in Midcentury Modern Times.’

Last week I wrote about the Midcentury Modern custom of sending a high-school social studies class on a field trip to a maximum-security prison. I say “custom” because, frankly, I was astonished to find that many of you readers out there had done the very same thing. (And that’s not counting those of you who went to the very same high school as me.)

This week I’m curious to see how many of you grew up experiencing the Midcentury Modern version of the “playdate”.

“Playdates”, for those of you who don’t have, haven’t had, or don’t know anyone with children, are when parents or caregivers (what we used to call “babysitters”) set up specific times and places (“dates”) for kids to get together to “play”.

I just love that there is an actual Wikipedia entry for “playdate”. If you don’t feel like clicking, here’s what it goes on to say: Playdates have become common because the work schedules for busy parents, along with media warnings about leaving children unattended, prevent the kind of play that children of other generations participated in.

Hmmm. Just what “kind of play” was this? Continue reading

Many happy returns

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‘Observing Boxing Day, the American Way’

Yes, yes, I know. ‘Many happy returns’ is something you say on someone’s birthday, not Christmas. But yesterday was ‘Boxing Day’ (and, incidentally, Monday, which is when I start pondering what the heck I’m going to write about on Tuesday).

I sort of knew that December 26 was a British Holiday that originally had to do with boxing up Christmas goodies for the servants. Who had to work (duh) on Christmas Day (see Holiday episodes of ‘Downton Abbey’ for colorful detail) so they did their celebrating the day after, with the help of said donated largesse from The Master.

But — voila! — when I looked up ‘Boxing Day’ on good ole Wikipedia, there was this secondary explanation:

In modern times, it has taken on the meaning of boxing up unwanted Christmas gifts and returning them to the shop.

Yesterday I also happened upon an article in the Wall Street Journal about stores gearing up for our kind of Boxing Day. Apparently, about 10% of all gifts bought in stores are returned, and 30% of gifts bought online are. But guess how most are returned? In stores. So the smarty-pants stores stock up on stuff that you might really like in exchange for That Thing Uncle Joe Got You. Continue reading

The gift that keeps on giving

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‘It really is the thought that counts’

First, I must extend my heartfelt apologies to The Child for using that photo up top from a Christmas-morning-in-her-early-teens-when-she’d-dyed-her-hair-an-unfortunate-hue. But it’s the only picture I could find of her actually presenting us with Christmas Coupons. So I simply could not resist.

As for the Christmas Coupons themselves, here’s one I had the foresight to save. Too bad it has, alas, expired.

I don't have a photo of The Child presenting me with this, but she was not a teen, and had normal-tinted hair at the time. I'm thinking maybe 8 or 9

I don’t have a photo of The Child presenting me with this. But I’m betting she was 8 or 9 at the time, with untinted hair and pretty impressive cursive

The Child came up with the idea of Christmas Coupons when she was barely able to scrawl with a Number Two pencil on lined paper. Instead of going to the Ben Franklin store to buy her Mommy a teensy vial of Evening in Paris (like I did for my mom, and which she probably still has), The Child would inscribe small bits of paper with promissory notes, usually for personal services. (Her foot rubs were in great demand, by her Dad anyway; I’ve never been able to let anyone anywhere near my feet.)  Continue reading

How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

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‘Practice practice practice. But please don’t fake your practice notes and forge your parents’ signatures’

If there’s anything I’m more tired of than reading about the election, it’s writing about the election. So this week, I thought I’d switch gears and write a story that makes fun of inept people in positions of power. It also involves some lying and cheating.

It’s about the time The Child faked her violin practice notes.

First, I have to say that the whole situation was absurd from the get-go — the fact that she had to take the violin. See, The Child had been playing the piano basically from birth. And playing it very well indeed, I’ll have you know.

The Dude introduces The Child to Mr. Piano

The Dude introduces The Child to Mr. Steinway. She is, oh, two days old here

 

Here she is, actually touching the keys. This piano was in the soon-to-be-pummeled-by-storms teeny-tiny beach house

Here she is, actually touching the keys. This piano was in the soon-to-be-pummeled-by-storms teeny-tiny beach house

She played the piano so well that she played in competitions and gave recitals. She and some of her fellow piano prodigies once played for the residents of a nursing home in New Jersey, where a little boy was startled enough to almost miss a note when he was in the middle of Chopin’s Fantaise-Impromptu and all these oldsters started swaying in unison and singing ‘I’m Always Chasing Rainbows’. Continue reading