Her Personal Truck

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‘From zero driving to truck driving in no time at all’

Back in the early 80s I dated this guy who also worked in the New York City Ad Biz — he was a producer; I was a copywriter — but he, unlike me, owned a vehicle. This was (and still is) somewhat unusual for a New Yorker.

The few New Yorkers who own cars are all out here

Anyway, this guy was really cool. Still is, I imagine. He was so cool that he not only owned a vehicle, he owned a truck. This was so unusual — and, to me, so cool — that I dubbed this vehicle — I don’t remember the make but it was white — his Personal Truck. As in, “Oh, do we get to go wash your Personal Truck?”

Yup, that’s me. During my ride-around-in-the-Personal-Truck period

I say “go wash” because Cool Guy did not keep his Personal Truck in the City. He kept it at his childhood home in New Jersey. We would hop on the train, pick it up (well, it was a pickup truck, after all), wash it (this was back when you could ride through a car wash, which I enjoyed immensely) and then he would drive it around while I made those swoopy hand-fish motions out the window and felt the wind in my hair.

Please forgive this long meander down Memory Lane. It was inspired by the fact that The Child — yes, that Child — just bought a truck. A F350 pickup, in fact. (You can admire it in the photo at the top of this post.) Which makes my Personal Child only the second New Yorker I’ve ever known to own a Personal Truck.

That’s a diploma she’s clutching, not a driver’s license

What’s truly amazing about this truck-buying is that, until recently, The Child has shown absolutely no interest in driving, much less vehicle ownership. And the fact that her very first vehicle is a truck is, well, to say that I am gobsmacked is putting it mildly.

You gotta crawl before you can walk. But I guess you don’t need to own a car before you own a truck

This truck is, apparently, such a gonzo vehicle that an excited male cousin appeared over his Dad’s shoulder during our weekly Henry Family FaceTime to pipe up with, “Hey! About that truck. We have questions!

Well, so did I, Cousin Joe. So did I.

Turns out that she, The Child, being a Worker in Tech, can perform her job-related duties from, basically, anywhere. So she and her BF (with a similar do-from-anywhere-type job) decided to give up their Boston rental and, well, take off. They’re gonna hit the road and live pretty much wherever they want. (Ideas include Montana in the summer and Arizona in the winter.)

Here they were, driving in Alaska. Well, BF was driving in Alaska

Again. I cannot stress enough how surprising this is. We are talking about a person who had to be forced to take driving lessons. She: “But I live in New York and take public transportation. I don’t need to drive.” Us: “Driving is a Life Skill. Besides, you might not always live in New York.” She: “You don’t need to drive in Boston or even San Francisco! And where else would I live?”

She jumps out of airplanes (on purpose). But does she drive?

She wins alumni awards. But does she drive?

She scuba dives — in Iceland — but does she drive?

She finally did get her driver’s license. After taking the course — and the test — twice. But I’m guessing that she’s logged (and I’m being charitable here) maybe 100 hours of driving in the ten years since she got it. Incidentally, she did drive on that trip to Iceland. But the door of the rental car blew off in a gale, which kind of put a chill on driving for a while.

I don’t know what happened. At one time, she enjoyed driving

But during the last couple of years, now that I think about it, she has indeed done a bit of driving. For one thing, she went to Hawaii by herself to attend Laird Hamilton’s fitness camp. (She must have gotten her taste for pickup trucks on that trip; she rented one which famously got a flat tire outside a fire station. The Fire Guys — of course — insisted on changing it for her.)

So now she’s the proud owner of a 2019 F350. (She saved a chunk of change getting last year’s model. Girl does her research.) We’ll get to meet this truck in a few weeks. She and the BF are driving it down to store some belongings in the attic while they pursue their itinerant lifestyle. (We just cleaned out that attic, but who can resist The Child?)

Ridding the attic of things like this: the World’s Ugliest Vase

I have to admit, now that I’ve gotten over the shock of The Child not only driving but owning a truck — and not only owning a truck but planning to basically, travel the country in it with no fixed address — well, I’m pretty darned proud.

Now let’s see if she can handle the Honda.

She can drive an F350, but can she drive our ’91 Honda (which, yes, we still have)? Three guesses. Hint: It has a stick shift

Amagansett, New York. July 2020

Time is indeed fluid

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‘Coffee Time flows smoothly into Wine Time’

When I was a kid you’d see signs advertising Dr. Pepper in places like gas stations or in the drugstore (where there was a soda fountain and racks of ten-cent comic books). These signs would say “10-2-4,” and it meant that you should give yourself an energy boost at those times by quaffing a bottle of Dr. P.

Kenya dig it? Dude Man loves Dr. Pepper, but he loved Stoney even more. Too bad you can only get it in Africa

Well, around my house these days we don’t limit ourselves to sipping occasions at ten, two and four.

I’m basically drinking something all the time.

Many mornings I reach for my trusty Incest Mug. You can get the story about why it’s called that right here

I roll out of bed, go for a “health-giving walk,” then grab one of my collection of mugs. Which I fill, and fill again. And sometimes fill again again. In between refills I Accomplish Chores. (When I retired, I decided that a Healthy Structure For My Day would be to do things I have to do in the morning and things I want to do in the afternoons.)

They used to call coffee the “Think Drink,” which might explain my winning NY Times entries, for which I received several of these mugs

I must say, though, that hopping up to presoak the whites or write an email to my senator or call FedEx to find out what the heck happened to my wallpaper can make me pretty absent-minded. Yesterday I left my beloved Incest Mug outside on the deck all day. When I found it I thought, “OMG, I’m turning into Dad.” Who famously left coffee mugs everywhere: not only on decks, but behind grills, under rose bushes, and once, famously, wedged into the notch of a tree. (Oh! Excuse me. That last example was what he did with the cordless phone.)

My Dad liked coffee at ANY time, day or night, even when everyone else had moved on to wine

When in The City I cheat and grab a Starbucks. Sometimes, as you can see below, my vente quad skim latte comes spiked with hilarity. Incidentally, I haven’t been in The City since March. I sure hope the barista who calls me “Elas” is doing okay.

Yup. That drink is for me, “Elas.” Reminds me of the story about the guy who said his name was “Marc with a ‘C’.” His cup came Sharpied with “Cark”

Like I mentioned, my Dad would pretty much stick to coffee, and pretty much all day long. Once, when I was fresh to New York and trying to impress my visiting parents, I took them to dinner at Windows on the World. Dad gave the waitress his order, ending with “and coffee.” When she brought his salad he asked, “Where’s my coffee?” She didn’t understand that he wanted that coffee not as a meal-capper, but right now.

This time Dad has his coffee simultaneously with his Rob Roy. And a cigarette

And the Petersons were even more all-coffee-all-the-time than my Dad’s family. They were Swedes, after all. And Swedes, they say, have the highest per capita intake of coffee in the world. (Also alcohol. Though somehow my teetotaling Grandparents P missed that memo.)

My Grampa P and my Mom with their bottomless coffee cups. Note how they are drinking coffee with food — and it is not breakfast food

Nope. What’s new in These Times is how seamlessly Coffee Time turns into Wine Time. Whereas there used to be a break between beverages — a break where one might, say, go to the Frick or the Film Forum or Bloomie’s or either one of the Mets (hmm, make that three Mets if you count baseball) — now there is no place to go, really, except for the kitchen. Where you switch your coffee mug for your wine glass.

Could this be wine my Mom is sipping on that couch while I, clad in sandals with socks, peruse a Doonsebury book? How scandalous

I don’t have photos of myself just hanging around puttering and reading and sipping wine, more’s the pity. But I do have some others I can share. Because why not? Wine is fun, and documenting people having a fine old wine time is almost as fun.

Now in this shot, I know that’s wine. I was Mom’s Scrabble victim. Yes, I had wine too. I needed it

Younger Middle Brother Roger and I sipping wine during the day, pre-pandemic. Well, it was a birthday. At least that was our excuse that particular afternoon

A wine-infused Thanksgiving back in The Days Before Social Distancing. Seeing this (sob) is sending me straight to the kitchen for some wine

OK. All good. Looking at this picture makes me feel (almost) as happy as drinking wine 

Some people might feel a little, well, guilty about segueing seamlessly between Coffee Time and Wine Time. Well, if you’re one of them, may I offer this clever way to divvy up your beverage day parts?

Cocktail Time. Nothing like a Manhattan to break the day into two clean time periods. Oh, if you feel guilty, knit a baby sweater while you sip

Amagansett, New York. June 2020

Small place, big personalities

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‘The Colorful Characters of Clinton County’

I was watching a clip of Donald Trump slip-sliding his way down that ramp at West Point and immediately thought of Dennis Rose. “Gription,” Dennis would have said. “Trump’s shoes ain’t got enough gription.

Well, if “gription” isn’t a word, it oughta be. Dennis used it to describe what was wrong with his own sneakers during a basketball practice one afternoon long ago in the Carlyle High School gym. (I didn’t witness this word coinage myself, those being pre-Title IX days, when the sportiest we girls could get was playing dodge-ball in that same high school gym. While wearing bloomers. Honest. Bloomers.)

Dennis’ locution was colorful, but, trust me, there were other Clinton County denizens who made him seem pasty-pale in comparison.

There was the guy named Bill who rode his bike everywhere. Sure, no one bats an eye at an adult on a bike now (even sealed in Spandex), but back then a grownup riding a bike caused, well, comment. Indeed, we kids were told to “stay away from that man.”

Kids riding bikes was another kettle of handlebars entirely. We went everywhere on bikes. Well, except not to school. Bike riding to school–even on a swell banana bike like Rog’s–was considered very uncool and just was not done

Come to think of it, there was at least one other bike-riding adult in my very small town — Orie, the guy who ran the Linotype machine at the Carlyle Union Banner. And yes, I stayed away from him too. But mainly because he didn’t suffer summer-job-holding high school girls gladly. (Read about these, my first workplace adventures, in “Those Were Banner Days Indeed.”)

Me, in the Carlyle Union Banner office. I wish I still had that dress

In addition to Bill and Orie, the bike-riding adults, we had Skinny Man and Skinny Lady. (Note the capitalization; this is what they were called, by one and sundry.) Skinny Man and Skinny Lady was a mother-and-son duo — and we are talking a grown son here, like in his forties — who were indeed very skinny. Maybe because they walked everywhere. They walked to church. They walked to church chicken-and-noodle suppers. They walked to church fried chicken suppers. They ate a heck of a lot of pie at those suppers. And still they were very skinny.

Alas, I have no photo of Skinny Man or Skinny Lady. So I will share another shot of my colorful Dad. Not eating pie, but balancing a spoon on his nose

Oh, before I forget, there was also Regina, whom I dubbed the “uncleaning lady.” Regina had the most colorful language of anyone in Carlyle or even Clinton County. What came out of the mouth of that tiny little lady would make a sailor blush. I missed most of her tenure, my mother not having “help” when I was growing up. But I sure heard the stories. “Out of your nests, you $%#&%&* kids!” she’d shout as she stomped up the stairs to move dust around and gather laundry to shrink. Bless her heart, she was a terrible cleaner, but no one had the heart to tell her, much less fire her. Besides, she adored my Dad, whom she called “Henry Dale.”

Henry Dale and his clan at a hot sweaty Henry Reunion in hot sweaty Carlyle sometime in the early aughts

One of our town’s most colorful characters — besides my Dad himself; we’ll get to him in a sec — just passed on to the Technicolor Land On High. My Middle Younger Brother Roger, he of the scandalously short shorts in the photo above, sent me the obituary. Until I read it I never knew his real name was Clarence. This guy, known by one and all, young and old alike as “Dugie,” was a legend in his own time.

When Dugie wasn’t playing wiffle ball (“He put the game of wiffle ball on the map,” Roger says) he was hanging out at the Texaco Station, trading stories and Dugie-isms with the other local characters. One day, completely out of the blue, he announced he was getting married. “Man can’t spend his whole $#@!!! life hangin’ out at the Texaco Station,” he famously proclaimed.

Here, just to break things up, is a rather colorful float in a Clinton County Fair Parade, mid-90s

Speaking of the Clinton County Fair. My Dad, as previously mentioned, was pretty darned colorful himself. Not only did he have a wide circle of Coffee Buddies he would regale with stories every morning at the McDonald’s at the edge of town, he did things like compete in a Clinton County Fair contest called “Mr. Legs.” Well, maybe it was the Chamber of Commerce. But at any rate, some civic group cropped the heads off photos of a bunch of local men wearing shorts and displayed the photos around town, whereupon the citizenry was urged to vote for the one with the prettiest legs. Dad, of course, won.

I don’t have a photo of him holding his Mr. Legs trophy. Darn it. But here he is in his pickup truck. Too bad he’s not wearing shorts

Now it’s time for me to wave bye-bye too. Until next week, here’s wishing you shoes with great gription, a banana bike to tool around town on, and a bunch of buddies to hang out with at the Texaco Station. Or whatever colorful equivalent floats your particular boat.

Amagansett, New York. June 2020

“Can’t we just pretend we’re dating?”

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‘There is such a thing as being too comfortable’

I was glancing through my notes looking for something fun to write about this week—yes, I keep a list of things that might go into a blog post, a practice The Child finds, for some inexplicable reason, hilarious—when I came upon this fragment: “The lady who’d take her teeth out to scare us.”

Now who would want to scare a cute little girl like this one?

See, when we were very little–little enough that a woman pushing her false teeth halfway out of her mouth would scare the bejesus out of us—we were allowed, nay encouraged, to run around our neighborhood. We respected no boundaries, rampaging across front and back yards with impunity. Apparently, this one Neighbor Lady didn’t cotton to us free-ranging around her magnolia trees (we would use the buds as ammo in our “wars”) so she used her partial plate as ammo against us.

But, as I’d already written a pretty nifty piece called “I’m Watchin’ Him,” which is all about Mid-Century Children roaming free, I decided to use my next set of notes, which included this sentence: “Can’t we just pretend we’re dating?

Another photo from our Dating Days (in addition to the one at the top of this post)

See, even before the Pandemic put us into super-close super-long proximity, The Dude would, how shall I put it, get on my nerves when we were thrown together for extended periods. Yes, even way back in the Before Times, I found that, Dude-wise, there could be such a thing as too much togetherness.

I’ve already told you about the Pants Thing. The Pants (or should I say No-Pants) Thing got its own piece, for heaven’s sakes. (“I’m the Sheik of Araby”) I wish I could blame the coronavirus for this no-Pantdemic, since that would mean pants might reappear when things get back to “normal.” But, alas, The Dude has been marching around in his undies since our honeymoon—when, hey, it was kind of exciting—and I can’t see him stopping, not for health or high water.

The Dude, sporting a motorcycle helmet — but no pants

And then there’s the Loud Bodily Noise Thing. You Married Ladies don’t need me to spell this one out. Let’s just say that the high-decibel belching is the lesser of two evils. Oh, yes, there are other Loud Things that are not Bodily. These are endemic among all Whitmores, not just Dude Man, and include, but are not limited to, cabinet-and-drawer banging, door-and-slider slamming, and deck-clomping. I swear, the heavy-footedness of Whitmores—and not just the male ones—is so pronounced that the barbecue grill jangles when one of them “strolls” by.

And then there’s the Yelling. Again, this is a Whitmore Thing. “Why talk when you can shout?” I imagine them agreeing. I remember sitting next to The Guy Who Married Wayne’s Sister (we called ourselves The Outlaws) mainly so he and I could marvel together at the incredible volume at the dinner table. There were only six or seven of them there at any one time, but the noise would “go to eleven.”

Hah! Don’t let those composed, genteel faces fool you — these folks were LOUD

Okay okay, I’m almost done. No spousal rant would be complete without mentioning the Clipping. Again, Married Ladies, what’s with clipping one’s nails in public? And I don’t mean just fingernails. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever clipped in company, and I’m certainly not what one would call a Fancy Person. But Dude Man will, at the drop of a hat, whip one of those long legs up eye level and have at those toes. At least he does clip them. I had a college BF whose toenails looked like he was training to climb trees.

And, I ask you, who put me in charge of Locating Glasses? I swear, it’s “Where did I put my glasses?” at least four times a day, in close competition with “Where did I put my phone?” At least with the lost phone I can call his number so he can zero in on its ring. Hey, that would be a great new feature for Apple: “Siri, find my glasses.”

The Lost Glasses. They were exactly where the nail clippers should have been

Now, long before the Time of Corona, when these behaviors got out of hand, I would catch The Dude’s eye and say, “Hey, can’t we just pretend we’re dating?” Meaning, of course, that if we had just met and were trying to impress one another he wouldn’t belch out loud or clip his appendages in front of me. Though, come to think of it, he might have done the No Pants Thing. But back then it wouldn’t have been for comfort.

The Dude in a rare-but-adorable pants-wearing session where he has NOT mislocated his phone. Note the double hats, not to mention the boots. No wonder I forgive him his foibles

Well. Gosh. That felt good. Now, before I close up the blog shop and go rustle up some lunch, I feel in all fairness I should note that I am sure there are things about me that drive The Dude nuts, isolated together or not. But if you want to hear about them, Dude Man will just have to start writing his own blog.

What’s that I hear? An ice cube, being loudly crunched, Whitmore-style—in hell.

Amagansett, New York. June 2020

I love the smell of Coppertone in the morning

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‘Wishing you and yours a most odiforous summer’

Before you correct me in the comments, yes, I know that “odiforous” isn’t a real word. According to Evil Spell-Check, it should be “odorous,” but I’ve been saying “odiforous” for years and, if you ask me, “odorous” isn’t any fun at all.

So what’s with the odors, “iforous” or not?

Well, unless you’ve been spending the last 75 days alone in a cabin in rural Vermont, you know that losing your sense of smell is one of the symptoms of Covid-19. But before we get into that, how about that guy, huh? True story. Daniel Thorson emerged after spending March 13 through May 23 in isolation at a monastic retreat and asked, “I’m back from 75 days in silence. Did I miss anything?”

Once he heard I bet he skedaddled right back into that cabin. Kind of like the Groundhog and his shadow. Except in Poor Daniel’s case it would be the pandemic and the protests. Not to mention the fact that there’s no major league baseball.

Wouldn’t this scare you if you just emerged from 75 days alone in a remote cabin?

Okay, back to Covid-19 and losing your sense of smell. A few weeks ago I started dabbing on a little perfume every couple of days not because I was going anywhere (hah) but to see if I could still smell it. I mentioned this to my Mom and she does it too. I often say that I’m turning into my mother; I guess this is just one more piece of irrefutable proof.

Not-So-Cosmic Twins

Though I suppose it wouldn’t be the end of the world to lose one’s sense of smell. I can think of a heck of a lot of worse things than not being able to catch a whiff of, say, durian. Though these days if the scent of dead-animals-and-garlicky-sweatsocks wafted my way I might just be transported back to Borneo. (Read more about durian and Borneo in “Social Distancing, the Borneo Way.”)

A trunkful of totally odiforous durian along a roadside in Borneo

Because that’s the other thing about smells — the way they can transport you. Just last week The Child walked through the kitchen on her way to the beach and I was immediately taken back to the “beach” when I was a teenager: lying on top of the picnic table in our back yard in Southern Illinois, slathered with Coppertone and listening to the Yardbirds on Radio KXOK.

Not a beach photo, but you can see that I was a participant in another odiforous 60s trend: the use of Sun-In

I also get transported to my youth by the smells of chlorine and cut grass and — not that I ever get a whiff of it any more — mosquito repellent. Nope, not that lemony mosquito repellent you spray on your skin; I mean the kind that got sprayed out of the back of a truck and made a big old cloud that we kids would ride our bikes through. It’s a wonder we grew up at all.

Those transporting smells aren’t all summer ones. How about Christmas trees? Though for the past few years ours has come from this evergreen candle

In closing, let me wish all of you a healthy sense of smell that can transport you — at least in an olfactory memory sort of way — back to the Time Before Corona. And, speaking of summers past, here, just for fun, are three generations of babies enjoying a “beach.” Can’t you just smell those delicious baby napes?

Elderly Baby goes first. That’s me, of course

Now here’s The Child

Last, and yes, least — in years, that is — here’s Baby Madeleine

Amagansett, New York. June 2020

 

“Don’t be in such a hurry,” said my wise mother.

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‘”You’re going to be a grownup for a very long time.”‘

I had my heart set on using this seriously cute photo of The Child wearing my shiny brown hand-tooled cowboy boots. (They look more like hip boots on her three-or-four-year-old form.) In this lost photo she is also sporting a pair of big ole dangly pearl clip-on earrings. Painfully cute.

Never fear. I have a plethora of painfully cute Child photos

I could keep on looking, but the clock just keeps on ticking and it’ll be Wednesday before this Tuesday post is done if I don’t just forge on ahead.

Speaking of clocks ticking, I’ve had time on my mind as well as on my hands during this period of pandemic pandemonium. Mostly as in “gosh time goes by so quickly.” I don’t know about you, but it seems like the part of the day where I’m drinking coffee turns into the part of the day where I’m drinking wine alarmingly fast.

The Incest Mug. Grab a cup of java and read all about it here

But back to the bit about The Child dressing up. She was, of course, pretending to be a grownup. I used to do the same thing, only with my Mom’s high heels instead of cowboy boots. (I doubt if my Mom ever owned a pair of cowboy boots, though nothing would surprise me. She was once thought to be what was known at the time as a “Party Girl,” which wasn’t in fact the case, but sure made a great story.)

Not only did I raid Mom’s closet, I begged to paint my nails and wear lipstick. And don’t get me started about the Bra Thing. I wheedled my way into a “training bra” (training for what exactly?). Oh, and I used to round my age up to the next year. To this day I have to stop myself from doing this. “No! You are not 69 yet. That’s not until November.”

Me, flanked by my Peterson Grandparents, proudly sporting my “training bra.” You can read about that in “I Seen Smallah”

At any of these antics, my wise mother would simply shake her head and say, “Don’t be in such a hurry. You’re going to be a grownup for a very long time.”

And, boy was she right. It seems like it’s been about a century since I declared myself a Grownup with a Capital G. (It wasn’t when I turned twenty-one; it was when I got married. Which was at Age Twenty; early marriages also being a Thing in the Olden Days.)

So, at this point in my life I’ve been a Grownup for, like my mom said, a very long time. Of course, she has been a Grownup for even longer.

Grownup on the left is The Child. Grownup on the right is my very wise Mom

Anyway. The Corona Craziness has had me thinking about all this more than I usually do. And hoping against hope that my Mom’s saying holds true — that we all can keep on being grownups for a very long time.

Amagansett, New York. May 2020

“I’m the Sheik of Araby”

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‘Everybody sing: “with no pants on”

So my Mom and I were on the phone the other day and I happened to mention that while The Child and her BF were playing some card game she (The Child) kept singing “Do your ears hang low” with (intentionally, I gather) the wrong lyrics. As in “Do your ears hang low…do they dangle on the floor” and so on and so forth.

But, instead of driving him quaran-crazy, she just got that song stuck in her head.

So then Mom and I started talking about those songs she’d sing when we were little and how they would get stuck in our heads: “Ay yai yai yai…O, My Sombrero” was one, and so was “On Top of Spaghetti.” (Ask your mom; she’ll probably know these too. Just don’t ask her to sing them — they’ll get stuck in your head.)

Then Mom happened to mention “The Sheik of Araby, ” which is the one where you insert “with no pants on” after every line, comme ca: “I’m the Sheik of Araby (with no pants on)…at night when you’re asleep (with no pants on)…into your tent I’ll creep (with no pants on)”

Well, after we sang a bit and cracked ourselves up (don’t judge; we don’t get out much anymore), I said, “Hey Mom, what is it about men and pants?”

It seems like all these men keep getting caught doing Zoom meetings with no pants, or hosting TV shows with no pants, or broadcasting the news with no pants — whatever, guys everywhere seem to be up to all kinds of sans-pantdemic shenanigans.

But it’s worse than that.

Even before Corona Craziness, men had a problem with pants. At least the men in my life did. I remember that my own dad would shed his pants whenever he had the opportunity. Don’t be shocked; he would be wearing his boxers. And they were kind of cute. I particularly remember a pair with ducks printed on them. Not Donald Duck type ducks; manly hunting type ducks.

That’s me with my Dad. You can’t see his tightie whities. Thank goodness

But, as the years went by, his taste switched from boxers to briefs. And not just briefs, but tightie whities. Now you can be shocked.

If any psychologists are reading this, they can probably make some clinical hay out of the fact that, yes, I have married a man who resembles my father — at least in the pants-averse area.

The Dude models one of many a pair of natty boxers

Yup. Dude Man sheds trou at any and every opportunity. When we were first married, this meant stripping down to his boxers. And, like my Dad, he had a pretty snappy boxer wardrobe. Then he went through a Hanes-ish phase, though his hue of choice was never white: he sported black, mostly, with a shot of red now and then to liven things up. He still looked snappy, if not a bit chilly when he was relaxing around the house.

I don’t have a shot of Dude Man wearing briefs. Even if I did, I’m above sharing it. But here he is in a Speedo. You get the idea

These days he’s into (literally as well as figuratively — and don’t get me started on “figuratively”) those under-trou that go from waist to kind of mid-thigh (which is the good part) but are, well, clingy. Under Armour makes a model called the BoxerJock. Uh-huh.

I don’t think The Dude owns any Under Armour (lately it’s been Saxx in the laundry), but I do know he has this style in all shades and patterns. (The camouflage pair is my favorite. When he’s sporting these I like to say, “Where are you? I can’t see you!” He is not amused by this.)

Very hunky Young Dude wearing (for some reason) a sport coat with no shirt. I have no idea if he is wearing pants

I think the camouflage was the pair he was wearing Sunday when I snapped the photo at the top of this post. Incidentally, when I asked him why on earth he was wearing a motorcycle helmet, he answered, “I’m checking the electronics.” Oh.

Now, what with the two of us thrown together in semi-forced social isolation, I’ve become very familiar with his non-pants wardrobe. In fact, I can tell the days of the week by which underwear he’s got on. (See previous paragraph’s Sunday reference for proof.)

As for myself, I can’t recall feeling all that comfortable clad only in my unders. (I’m more of a sweatpants girl.) But (pun intended), while searching for photos for this post, I did happen to come across this gem.

The end

Amagansett, New York. May 2020

“No one goes there nowadays; it’s too crowded.”

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‘Yogi must have had a crystal ball.’

I’m sure there are many of you who do not remember Yogi Berra. Maybe you do remember Yogi Bear, one of the most cleverly-named cartoon characters of all time, or at least in my opinion. (Incidentally, I just found out by reading this Wikipedia entry that the Human Yogi sued the Cartoon Yogi’s creators, who claimed the name was “just a coincidence.” Yeah, right. And the Kirwood Derby wasn’t a goof on Durwood Kirby. Read more about him in my piece “Eenie Meanie Chili Beanie.”)

But back to the Yogi of Yogi-isms fame.

A study in checkerboard: my foot and the floor of the Mexican Place in Amagansett that was so crowded that no one went there. Well, except that one time

To cut to the chase, Yogi was a Hall of Fame baseball player and manager. (You can read more about his amazing career right here.) But even if you’re not a fan (and, yes, there are people out there who don’t like baseball; they also hate tv and eat pizza with a fork) — yes, even if you’ve never even seen a baseball game I bet you know some Yogi-isms.

Yogi’s the guy who said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.” And “It gets late early out here.” Also “If the world was perfect, it wouldn’t be.”

“Take it with a grin of salt,” Yogi would have said

And Yogi’s the genius who came up with “When you come to a fork in the road, take it” — the inspiration for today’s photo at the top of this piece. I came to that particular fork in the road when I was out on my morning walk the other day. Yes, I took it. And then put it in the trash.

My beloved Favorite Sister Laura doesn’t throw her corks in the trash: she uses them to make smiles. Follow her at uneedtheschneed on Instagram

But the Yogi-ism I find myself pondering most in these days of sheltering-in-place is “No one goes there nowadays; it’s too crowded.” Which kind of sums up social distancing, n’est-ce pas? (And yes, please pardon my French.)

“Why buy good luggage? You only use it when you travel.” Which I hope to be doing again sometime in the not-too-distant future, along with having coffee with a person — in person

As I say in my subhead: Yogi must have had a crystal ball. Because no one is going anywhere much nowadays — everywhere we used to go is just too darned crowded for our own good.

There was nothing in this road — not even a fork — but this was rural Illinois, where every day is social distancing day

Which brings me to my last Yogi-ism for today: “The future ain’t what it used to be.” You can sure say that again, dear Yogi.

Amagansett, New York. May 2020

 

The Zoom Zoom Room

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‘Connecting in the Time of Corona’

I don’t know about you, but my head is spinning these days. No, it’s not from the craziness of the News Cycle — though the suggestion of ingesting bleach or zapping the inside of my body with “light” is rather mind-boggling — no, my noggin is spinning from all that Zooming.

I’ve been Zooming (or FaceTiming or Facebook Messengering) with West Coast Cousins of The Dude, members of my New York City Ladies’ Club, the Curator of the Frick Museum, and even Stephen Colbert and Trevor Noah. (I’ve already written, in “Apocalypse Now,” about Zooming with John Krasinski.

Why, the whole Earth is zooming! (Thanks, New Yorker)

And that was just this week. It’s kind of funny, actually (if anything about this Corona Crisis can be funny), but I’ve been feeling more connected than ever during these weeks of isolation.

Somehow I thought that isolation would be more, well, isolating. But, as it turns out, I’ve got my coffee with the ladies on Mondays, my art lecture on Tuesdays, my Family FaceTime on Wednesdays. And this week, I’ve added a Cocktail Hour with my Bridge Buddies on Thursday. I hardly have time for those endless hours of curled-up-in-a-big-chair-under-an-afghan reading I’d pictured myself doing.

I have, however, found plenty of time to knit. Turns out I can do it while Zooming

Why, if I wanted to, I could be Zooming every single day — and not just once. I’ve turned down Zoom Bridge and Zoom Birdwatching and even a Zoom Birthday Party. Why, a girl’s gotta make time for her new Best Friend:

I have forged an intimate and satisfying relationship with my Garland Range

I’ve written enough already about Cooking in the Time of Corona. There’s some funny stuff — and great recipes — in last week’s “Pots and Pandemics”, in case you missed it. Oh, that pork shoulder calas? Let’s just say that tonight I’m back to chicken thighs. Specifically, NY Times Cooking’s “Sheet-Pan Chicken with Jammy Tomatoes and Pancetta,” only I’m using bacon, “pancetta” being a bit frou-frou for this Midwestern Gal. (Besides, if my IGA doesn’t have TP, I doubt it’ll have pancetta.)

Back when kitchens had people in them, and not just bacon

My favorite Zoomarific weekly activity is the aforementioned Family FaceTime. Every Wednesday, at 10 AM PDT, all five of us Henry sibs get on the virtual horn to our mother. (You can see us — all of us, divvied up like Hollywood Squares — in the photo at the top of this story.)

Mom lives alone and has been sheltering safely in her Oregon apartment ever since This Nonsense began. Mom has fantastic, caring neighbors who get her mail, run her errands and bring her goodies. But still: she is alone and has been alone for what seems like a century now.

We spend about an hour on our Zoomy call, sharing our experiences and fears, showing off our pets, looking out each other’s windows. It’s not like actually being together, certainly. But we live so far apart — New York, California, Maine, Washington, Illinois — that being “together” once a week is the most we kids have seen or talked to each other in, well, years.

A non-virtual moment from our last non-virtual get-together: Mom’s 90th birthday party last October

Speaking of Family, there is an exception in my Inner Circle to the Zooming Craze, and that’s The Child. She’s not that into FaceTiming or Zooming, maybe because she has to do it so much for work. But she has graduated from texting to talking. That’s right — The Child calls us up to speak to us. And this is a person so unfamiliar with talking on the phone that she had no idea what to do with a dial on an old phone we found in a closet. Seriously. You can read about it in “Touch M for Murder.”

FaceTiming in the Olden Days: Thanksgiving 2013, when The Child was studying Across the Pond. Gosh, maybe this was Skyping. Remember Skype?

So gosh. I guess if there is a silver lining in the Corona Cloud, it would be this new craving for connection. And, even though it’s virtual, I’ll take it. For the time being, that is. I hereby make a resolution to get on an actual plane so I can make an actual visit to my actual mother — as soon as Dr. Fauci says I can.

Amagansett, New York. April 2020

 

Social distancing, the Borneo Way

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‘Forget masks and Purell; just crack open a Durian’

A couple of weeks and a lifetime ago, we were birding our way along a highway (and I do mean “high”) up in the mountains of Borneo when a ramshackle car sputtered to a halt on a steep stretch of roadway right alongside us.

Another roadside attraction. Nope, The Dude isn’t looking at that gorgeous mountain. There’s a bird over yonder somewhere

Our guide sauntered over to see what was what and reported back that the driver was on his way to the City (in this case, Kota Kinabalu) with a load of fruit to sell. He and his load couldn’t make it up the incline, so he pulled over for a smoke.

That’s Mt. Kinabalu, at sunset of the day we survived the durian episode

Now, we’re in Borneo, remember, so by “load of fruit” I don’t mean a whole batch of apples or pears. Not even pineapples or bananas. Nope, these “fruits” were completely unrecognizable. Our guide Hamit (a name I committed to memory by using the mnemonic “hah! meat!”, because what passed for meat in Borneo was pretty darned amusing) — well, Hamit thought it was pretty darned amusing to offer us tastes of some of these fruits and then watch our faces.

That’s Hamit on the right. I not only forgot the guy on the left’s name, but also his mnemonic. He was our driver, and he didn’t make us eat any fruit

Most of these strange fruits were pretty tasty, if weird-looking (at least to the innocent gringo eye). Like the litchi, which rather resembles a cross between a plum and a sea urchin — and tastes rather like neither.

But then Hamit moved to the rear of the vehicle and had Fruit Man open the trunk.

There’s a reason this fruit is in the trunk. And isn’t because there’s a lot of it

We should have realized there was something fishy going on with that trunk. For one thing, it smelled fishy. Well, maybe not “fishy”, exactly. More like a septic tank full of fish. Fish that had been laced liberally with garlic. And then left out in the sun for a really really long time.

“What the heck is that?” our little Birder Band collectively gasped. “It’s durian, a Malay delicacy,” Hamit smirked. “Wanna try some?”

Well, before I tell you what happened, here’s what Wikipedia has to say about the durian:

Its odor is best described as pig-shit, turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock. It can be smelled from yards away 

Yup. That’s about right. But, believe it or not, there were those of us — myself included — who decided to give the durian a go. “Hey, we’re over here for an adventure,” we agreed. “We may never get to Borneo — or get a chance to taste a durian — again!

One of our Band tries a taste while taking a selfie. He claimed to like it. (Note cigarette-smoking Fruit Guy. He claimed to “eat a durian every day”; he also had very few teeth)

Yes, as I mentioned, I too tried a taste. I did not document my durian sampling, since my iPhone-filming hand was busy holding my nose. Suffice it to say that I was not a fan. Even while blocking my nasal passages to avoid the smell I thought it tasted (at best) like creme brulee with a burnt garlic glaze.

Not everyone, of course, agrees. Or no one would be buying Fruit Man’s durian stash. Wikipedia also says:

The nineteenth-century British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace described its flesh as “a rich custard highly flavoured with almonds”

Apparently, there are many Durian Fans in Southeast Asia who agree with Mr. Wallace. There are Durian Festivals and Durian Fairs and the fruit is used to flavor ice cream and candies and puddings — there is so much Durian Appreciation that social controls have had to be enacted:

The persistence of its odour, which may linger for several days, has led to the fruit’s banishment from certain hotels and public transportation in southeast Asia

Nope, that’s not a sign warning against durian consumption. Tho it very well could be

So. Maybe if there is a mask shortage and a dearth of Purell, we should just import a bunch of durian and have every man, woman, and school-avoiding child here in the States — particularly in crowded urban areas — crack one open. Trust me, we couldn’t get six feet apart fast enough.

Amagansett, New York. March 2020