Saturday, January 21, 2023

Fashion, Turn To The Left, Fashion, Turn To The Right

Christie Brinkley.  Cindy Crawford.  Claudia Schiffer.  Gisele Bundchen.  Names associated with top models that girls like me aspired to be...if only I was 5'9' tall, weighed less than 113 pounds and had large eyes, chiseled cheekbones and jawlines. Those women made the tough job of modeling look effortless whether it be for a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit or Vogue Couture cover. 

When I was in high school, I got a call from the manager of a department store in town, saying that I was chosen by a teacher to model in an upcoming fashion show.  It was to be a selection of sportswear and prom gowns...was I interested?  I envisioned wearing a Twiggy mini dress and replied an eager YES.  Days later, a notice came over the school intercom: "Would all girls who were called about a fashion show, please report to the office?" Upon arrival, not only were there a couple of dozen girls from all grades, but waiting for us was the principal-a nun with a hawk-like nose and blue-eyed stare that scared the bejesus out of you.  With her was a police officer who, in actuality, couldn't hide his amusement and the very upset real store manager. It seems that there was no fashion show, and all of us had given away vital information to the guy on the phone.

We told him our bra size and whether or not we owned a black one. In the eyes of that nun, the Rosenbergs passing atomic secrets to the Russians was less serious. Whoever the "manager" was (and my guess is one or more guys in school) became the first phone-scam criminal on record. The Chinese and Russians took lessons from that prank to get social security numbers and bank accounts from unsuspecting people decades later.

Wingman's college roommate and his first wife started a photography business as a side hustle. To help them out, three women and I did a photo shoot, modeling our own sportswear and bridesmaid dresses in lieu of prom gowns.  When the official photos were finished, the guy pulled me aside and asked if I would consider doing some "tasteful" nude shots that they could include in their portfolio. In my mind flashed not only Vanessa Williams giving up her Miss America crown over nude pictures, but the steely stare that nun gave me a decade before over just revealing my bra size.  I politely declined so no one needs to troll the internet to see if any nude photos of me exist today.

Flash ahead almost 40 years and the idea of modeling was the farthest thing from my mind until the company I work for sent out a notice that they were looking for associates for the upcoming holiday catalog. I looked at the photos from the previous year's catalog and the only "senior" in the shots was half-hidden behind a gay couple. What the hell-I sent in my photo and resume. 

A month or so later, our store was informed that they wanted two young women AND ME in the catalog.  We were sent "the look" we would be modeling, with a time and place.  Although the jeans and striped tees screamed anything but holiday, we excitedly drove the three hours to the studio. I brought along cookies baked in the shape of the company logo with the tagline stamped onto them.  It worked to get me the job in construction so I figured it couldn't hurt.

Being photographed that day right before us was the perfect family: the blonde mom and her four blonde haired, blue eyed kids looked like they stepped out of Ralph Lauren. Meanwhile, a makeup artist was breaking out in a sweat trying to minimize my under-eye bags and wrinkles.  The two other much younger women from my store spent probably half the time TOGETHER in hair and make-up than I did.

After spending nearly two hours with the perfect family, the photographer spent about 10 minutes with each of us separately and another 10 photographing us together.  Not only did we not get to keep our clothes, but they didn't even give us lunch!  
They ate my cookies though. When the catalog arrived, the youngest of us scored the front cover, and both the second woman and myself were on page two.  But there, on page eight was the quarter page photo I still shake my head over.  Because, while every other associate has a wide toothy grin or seductive smile, I have on a Santa hat and a "Resting Bitch Face". And not only was it in the catalog-it flashed on TV screens in stores all over America.  A college kid who worked in the store this past summer sent me a shot from Boston. Another friend forwarded one from Texas.  Kristen Stewart's RBF has nothing on me.

Days before Christmas, a box sent FedEx arrived from the company's photo department.  Shaking it, I envisioned a nice frame with one of the shots enlarged as a thank you.  Instead, they sent ten copies of the catalog I had already taken from the store's ample supply before they disposed of them for the resort catalog.

And without needing to look in a mirror, I knew that my RBF had turned to ABF…ACTIVE Bitch Face. Not only was I already obsolete in press but in days ahead had to face the onslaught of shoppers returning all of the clothes worn by those smiling faced Generation X/Y/Z’s. 

By the way, if you haven’t returned those Christmas gifts you don’t want yet, YOU’RE LATE. Don’t humor me with your excuses, I’ve heard them all. Just like Miranda.

Monday, October 3, 2022

I Wanna Run Through The Halls Of My High School, I Wanna Scream At The Top Of My Lungs

Janice Ian nailed it when she wrote about the angst that I, and probably a lot of my female classmates suffered in her song "At Seventeen." Those of us who watched from the cheap seats at school dances while the cool kids laughed breezily and danced dreamily with each other. I didn't have eighty already established friendships from going to the same grammar school as they did. I didn't go to a beach club, much less go to the right one. I carried a hobo bag and wore faux suede shoes from a discount shoe store-so unlike the expensive leather Bass Weejuns and Aigner wicker basket purses that it seemed everyone else had. If the Island of Misfit Toys had people, I was the train with square wheels.

When I met Wingman, it was different.  At his high school, he was a cool kid; the cliche jock who dated the cheerleader. The bass player in a band.  When we started going out, I eagerly became part of his group. Every five years I would go to my reunions alone, see my old friends, but never mix with anyone outside my circle. I would also go with Wingman to his reunions, talk to a multitude of his friends and acquaintances, and marvel at our circles' differences.

After we had kids, I joined a beach club (yes, one of the right ones) and actually made friends with one of the cool women I graduated with.  She had two beautiful young daughters and I had...well, a normal day in my life was when son #2 threw up on her blanket while son #1 got fruit snacks stuck up his nose.  My misfit sons joined me on the island.

Over the years, Wingman spent less and less time with his former friends and refused to go to reunions. I conversely, got more involved with mine.  My forte was researching people's addresses, sending emails and making lists. And there I discovered that the people who organized the reunions may have been cool back then, but now they were cool and professional. They got stuff done and the rest of us enjoyed the fruits of their labor.

A year ago, I went with the BFF to her 50th reunion.  It was a summer weekend filled with varied outside events that took into consideration that Covid was still heavy on people's minds. And everything was fabulous.  At the meeting for ours, we chose similar ideas and even booked two places they used without the Covid fears of the previous year. But locating other venues this year was tough and there were no hotels in the area with reasonable room rates due to the backlog of weddings not held since 2019. Trying to locate the 332 graduates minus 35 who passed was another daunting task.  Social media, local newspapers and church bulletins didn't amount to much. A committee of ten volunteers to each locate 30 people resulted in only four of us doing the legwork.

Like previous reunions, I loved finding and connecting with people I hadn't spoken to since graduating, or in many cases, people I had NEVER spoken to. Like the smartest guy in Calculus with the foulest mouth who ended up being one of the most successful. When visiting friends in North Carolina, I located three classmates living in the next town. The one I never knew turned out to have been instrumental in building the new sports complex at the school. It was equally disturbing to talk to people that refused to come because they hated high school. Wait-you hate it??? Didn't we, the uncool, elect you, the cool to Student Council? Didn't we, the un-athletic not make teams because you did? Didn't you laugh and dance while we watched?

Last week, we held our reunion. A golf course, an oceanfront restaurant, a church, the high school, a country club and a boardwalk bar were our venues.  People were there who are seen around town regularly and some who haven't been "home" in fifty years. Everyone got along famously, with gasps of recognition, claps on the back and plenty of hugging. As one woman commented "its so nice to reconnect with such wonderful people because we were all so kind in school."  

She was so right about that. Those of us who sat on the sidelines back then, didn't know it or feel like we were cool, but we were, because we were always kind to each other. We held our peers' heads when they got sick and died, when marriages broke up, when parents, siblings and spouses passed. When Wingman died, it was my classmates coming to pay their respects that touched me. The peer who paid for my dinner in his restaurant after Sandy flooded my home. The one who gave my son insulin at her clinic when my insurance to cover him ran out. The many who generously donated money to this reunion so that others without the means could attend.

I came away from the weekend with great conversations, plenty of photos and a renewed respect for my peers. And I giggle because I also came away with a slew of new phone contacts-a lot of of them men I never spoke to in high school, because, you guessed it-they were cool and I was not.  If I should get run over by a bus, my kids will not question any of the women's names like Kathy, Mary, Janet or Bunny, but they will ask themselves and each other who Bill and Jay and Jack and Dave and Dennis and Brendan and Kevin and Lee and Marks 1, 2 and 3, among others, are in my phone. They needent wonder.

I changed their Company name to "Cool Kids" so they'll know.

Bought me dinner when my house flooded

Football team reunited 50 years later.
Don't anyone mention their 0-7-2 record.

This photo got traction because I looked decent &
was with a guy I never spoke to in HS.

My spirit animal widow-friend and our music man.

We didn't run through the halls but got a tour
of the HS and student center.

Sat next to him alphabetically for two years.  
Hadn't seen or spoken in 50.

Another never-knew cool guy.  
Wants us all to take river cruises in the future.

He admitted he had no idea who I was in HS.
Laughed about it for days.

Guys who have and have never attended a reunion.

A guy who never misses one.

Every cool kid who could make it.  Twelve got sick or had other issues and were last minute cancels.  We wish they could all have been there.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Take These Broken Wings And Learn To Fly

Well Wingman, I almost drew a blank when it came to choosing the song that would memorialize the 10th anniversary of you being gone. I waffled between “Rock N Roll Heaven” “Forever Young” and of course, “In My Life”. None of them conveyed the suffering that both you and our family went through with your illness and death. I finally decided on The Beatles’ “Blackbird”. Yes, I know that it was written about a black woman during the Civil Rights Movement. But bear with me.

The first songbird my third grade teacher taught us to identify in nature class was the red-winged blackbird.  She claimed that the appearance of the bird would give us the confidence to do things in front of crowds and at events.  I assumed she meant just at school until I met you. You were the blackbird.  With your fireglo Rickenbacker bass you were my first guitar hero. True, you couldn't read music and sang slightly off-key (and never learned the correct lyrics to "Two Tickets to Paradise") but you always had the confidence to play, and sing in bars and with Mr. Mustard, almost win Beatlefest.  It killed your creativity when that band broke up and the band members went on to play with other groups that you weren't invited to join.  All you had left was playing that bass to records and CD's by yourself.

Blackbirds move in groups and protect each other. Male birds protect nesting females and fledglings from predators.  Like a blackbird, early on you were always your best within your circle of friends and family. You were destined to be the caregiver of your handicapped brother had you lived and been healthy. You tried so hard so remain the center of each son's life and it broke your spirit when they rebelled against you and insisted on their own independence. And you retreated further when I rebelled against you as well. You couldn't protect me, the boys, your parents, your job. I was angry and embarrassed with you, with me, with us. Intervention, rehab and therapy didn't work. Getting your work wives involved so you could keep your job didn’t work. The seams of our marriage strained to the breaking point.

There were 23 days from the time you were found convulsing in the bedroom to the night you died. The surgeon lied to me when he said you had a 30% chance of making it off of the operating table that night-he later admitted that he was pretty sure you had zero chance, but live you did.  So when I learned the blackbird's spiritual meaning is that we get to choose how and when we want to go, it became abundantly clear. You wanted to live on for 23 days. The same number your favorite Yankee Don Mattingly wore.

On the night you died, you had an aide that helped you stand up and walk your first two steps to a chair. (She later admitted that a blood clot probably loosened and moved to your heart that night which killed you).  You ate mashed potatoes mixed with chocolate pudding which you thought was gravy. You didn't know my name, but told the aide that I was "the bitch" which I wholeheartedly accept. Returning to the hospital later that night, I saw you laying there, sunken eyes open, surrounded by ugly medical waste used to try and revive you.  I didn't cry at all-only your mom did when she saw you. I'm sorry that I never found those tears in the days following.  People may hate me for saying this, but I'm not sure that in the past ten years, I ever did. It isn’t easy to admit even now.

Today, t
he red-winged blackbird still evokes memories of you. Blackbirds are diurnal which means they eat day and night and they're indiscriminate eaters-not uncommon in our house where you could be found eating whatever was leftover right out of the fridge at 3 am. While watching the John Lennon 75th Birthday Concert, the company promoting his CD’s and CD/DVD’s was named Blackbird Presents.  Is it fate or irony that while traveling I found a company called Blackbird that makes your poison of choice: vodka? That Jameson Whiskey touts a signature drink called The Blackbird?

The sea otter may be your spirit animal but the more I spot blackbirds, the more I think that their influence on me relates directly to you. They have taught me since you died to be more flexible and forgiving. They have shown me that I have to avoid toxic people and places and that I have to, and always will, defend my flock. And their beautiful song reminds me that music has and always will lighten my spirits.

Tonight, what was your flock and is now mine will dine together,  We’ll walk to the river and send off some floating candles, wistful that there won't be any sea otters to receive them. And we’ll play “Blackbird” because as the song says, you were always waiting for this moment to be free.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to be free.

Blackbird fly, blackbird fly
Into the light of a dark black night
Blackbird fly, blackbird fly
Into the light of a dark black night.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise.
You were only waiting for this moment to arise.

Monday, July 11, 2022

God Bless The Child That's Got His Own

When son #2 asked me what I had going on at the end of June, I was fairly certain that he had no interest in my active, post-pandemic social life.  My instincts were correct-he and his bride planned a trip for their 10th anniversary and needed "someone" to stay with their kids. Someone able to coordinate the daily schedules of the three; two of which were in softball/baseball tournaments in different parts of the state on the same day, music lessons, camp, fussy eating habits and whatever else came up. I enthusiastically said "yes" and added my own list of things to accomplish, like crafting every day, house cleaning and ultimately matching every pair of socks in their house. Dwight Eisenhower as supreme commander during WWll could have taken lessons in my battle plans.

I arrived with seven bags of crafts, and after sending their parents off to the airport, we worked on creating a volcano until they discovered the gummy candy making kit in one of the bags.  Soon, these three plus three friends (including one whose religious background prohibited him from eating gelatin) were busy making rainbows, unicorns, clouds and even sculls in a mold I found in the pantry. I sent the neighbor kids home well-sugared up. Score a walk in the grandparent park on day 1. 

My granddaughter had a softball tournament that night, and it was pre-arranged that a coach would take her.  That left the two boys easily entertained with my phone and iPad playing Paw Patrol and other games while I started " project #1", organizing their hall closet full of hats, scarves and gloves and emptying way too many book bags full of stuff.  Suffice to say that I wish I owned stock in Crayola and Pokemon.

Saturday brought a coordinated effort with the other grandmother.  My grandson and I headed 1-1/2 hours NORTH to his baseball tournament while she headed an hour SOUTH with the other two to the softball tournament. And let me say that baseball tournaments for seven years olds are in one word: STUPID. His main concern was having sunflower seeds to spit. They split two games which put them in the losers bracket and eight hours later we headed home, stopping at a big box hardware store for spray paint, flowers and a small tree.  I had other projects in store...

But first, dinner and promised trip to the ice cream parlor where the youngest threw up in the parking lot on the way into the store, and again when we got home.  The grandma walk in the park was sullied with splashes of vomit on her Sperrys.

From that point on, the days were filled with way too many things to go into individually.  Every day, I'd ask them what was the best and worst part of their day. Best parts changed, depending on the kid.  Worst was always the same: they missed their parents. A lot. 

Babysitting without parental interference is the equivalent of a petrie dish under a microscope.  Each one had his/her own uniqueness.  My 9 year old granddaughter is an avid reader, aspiring Kids Cooking Championship contestant and mimics many of her mama's mannerisms. My observations predict that she will be a normal teenage slob in a few years when it comes to cleaning her bedroom. My 7 year old grandson is the typical middle child, not able to be boss or baby so he's the people pleaser. He's the ultimate sports nut-never without some kind of ball in his hand, a miser when it comes to money (reminded me multiple times that I owed him $10 for helping clean his mama's van), a wicked drummer and the family artist with a bedroom gallery currently featuring sharks. The 4 year old "baby" was always the first to pop out of bed and give me a hug to start my day. He's allergic to nuts, fur and I can't count how much else.  Like his dad was as a child, he can throw up, immediately smile and a few minutes later, repeat the process without ever complaining.  He loved to help me clean, adores Marshall on Paw Patrol and stubbornly attempts everything his siblings do.

I really got to see the best of them in their pack. When we crafted, they did it together. When we watched TV, they picked shows they all liked, like Sing 2 and countless episodes of Paw Patrol. While I started laundry, the two oldest read Paw Patrol books (anyone seeing a pattern here?) to the youngest and helped each other get ready for whatever we were off to do, be it filling water bottles, getting snacks or buckling car seats. One day, I was frustrated after a bedroom door accidentally got locked and we had no key. I started taking the knob off to jimmy the lock when I heard a crash. A jar of 22,000 (yes, the zeros are correct) iron-on beads went flying all over the living room floor, sending the youngest wailing because he reached for something he shouldn't have.  Just as I was ready to start yelling, the other two sprung into action: my granddaughter consoled him while the middle one grabbed a broom and said that they would help pick them up.  I watched in amazement as the three of them worked together to pick up every stinking bead and the youngest kept thanking them profusely for helping him.  In thinking back, I'm pretty confident that if it had been my own three sons, it would have been every man for himself. 

On Friday, I dropped the two oldest off at their last day at camp and couldn't help but get a little misty-eyed as they ran off.  Could I be missing them already? A while later, the other grandmother arrived to get the youngest and headed off to pick up his siblings to spend the last two days at her house before mom and dad got back. I looked around in satisfaction-their house was clean, garage straightened, flowers planted, rocking chairs painted, pies baked and most of the laundry done...but I just ran out of time to match those darn socks. I loaded up the car with all the crafts. 

And I had to giggle as I plugged in the Waze app to get me home. Days before, we programmed Ryder from Paw Patrol to be the Waze voice and replaced my car on the screen with Marshall's fire truck. Saying "no job's too big and no pup's too small", he reminded me that I had just finished the biggest, most important job of my grandparenting career. (To be continued I'm sure!)

Washing Mom's Van (cost me $10 each kid)
State Champion!

Blueberry Picking
Pool Time
Crayon Art
They get along so well together

Crazy hair day

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Remember When I Was Young And So Were You

 Dear Wingman,

Today I will say to you what I wouldn’t say ten years ago on our 30th: “Happy Anniversary.” Agreed, that year was a sucky time, but if I had just heeded Three Dog Night’s advice in “Try A Little Tenderness” I might not still feel so bad about being a bitch that day.

Anyway, that was then; this is now and I want to remember our wedding day. If you were here we’d be rolling our eyes about everything from getting married in a nor’easter to having the top of our wedding cake stolen.

I remember the priest saying such sweet, personal things about the two of us.  Did you know that my parents went to a wedding two weeks after ours and he gave a verbatim homily about that couple? Pretty crazy that our doppelgängers became drug addicts and one robbed a bank!

Remember them still putting up wallpaper at P-House the night before our reception?  It looked so awful and we were convinced that it wouldn't be done in 18 hours. They got the wallpaper up but the varnish on the trim was tacky. After it burned down, it was an empty lot until the town built the new firehouse there after Sandy. I considered having a celebratory drink in front of it today, but I'm pretty sure the police next door are not using the traditional 40th anniversary ruby handcuffs.

Who could have thought that our huge wedding party would, for the most part, still remain my/our friends? Two are still single but the rest are all married with only one in a questionable relationship. True, I don’t speak to three of them anymore but they were the three that wouldn’t speak to you either.  As it turns out, I was out with one of my bridesmaids on Friday and she said she "still has some of you on her nightstand".  After she took "you" to the Mike Mussina statue at Camden Yards and Babe Ruth's House, she was going to sprinkle you on your high school football field but never made it there. She said you've been in her sock drawer for a while, and yes, I did joke that it was better there than in with her undies. Or in the spice cabinet. Besides her, I know I’ll hear from one of your guys this morning like I do every year, just saying he remembers. We made good choices in all of them, whether they were there for a reason, a season, or most importantly, a lifetime.

Hearing “Pretty Lady” reminds me of you and the Chazz guys playing that day, which was great since our paid band never learned the song we picked. Or did you tell them that the Gladys Knight and the Pips song I wanted was lame compared to the last song you chose? True, Ronnie is up in Rock 'n Roll Heaven with you, but I still see a couple of them along with the female sax player...and I need you to tell me why she and the rest of the horn section weren't invited. Two band members came to your mom's funeral service last December and we spent the night doing a lot of remembering.  And aside from the band, I wish you were here to laugh about the guy who went home with your co-worker's underwear. To look at the pictures and be shocked at how many of the couples are no longer together.  And how many have passed.

Remember Italy and honeymooning in Venice, Florence and Rome? Seeing fireworks from the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa? Me working on a holiday candy line at the factory in Perugia?  Well, besides two trips to Italy, our cruise from hell and our last trip to Korea, I've traveled with the kids to Hawaii (you're at the Arizona Memorial and in the Pacific from a Booze Cruise), with the girls to Amsterdam (you're in a tulip patch), and Ireland with my mom (sorry, I forgot you that time), but, you'll be back there next summer when son #1 gets married in Sligo.  And maybe you'll get to go to Italy if I can convince son #2 to take you along. He wasn't there when you went to Yankee Stadium with us, so don't count on it.

Our kids have grown up to be great guys with some of your better traits and fortunately, very few of either your or my flaws.  The oldest just started a vegetable garden to rival yours, doing his best to outsmart the hungry neighborhood deer. The middle guy has a grill and smoker that you would kill to own and master as he has.  And the youngest can grill or pan-fry a steak to perfection...minus your addition of pine-scented rosemary-still a running joke at dinner, as is the Uncle Buck salute and the Wachovia toast.

So let me say it again: Happy Anniversary. This is the one day that you being gone bothers me more than any other.  Your birthday is your day, just as mine is celebrated by me.  This one should be ours and it's not anymore. Tonight I'll click my ruby slippers, sip a ruby cocktail, and remember a rainy day filled with lots of family, friends, laughter and love.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Living In A Material World, And I Am A Material Girl


A day or so after Wingman passed, and while I still had the boys around, I asked them what if any, of their dad’s things they might like to keep as a memory. Although I knew for certain they wouldn’t want any of his extensive collection of tank tops, I was surprised when they didn’t take anything. Even when I went into his “box” a small chest which held everything from concert stubs to a ribbon-wrapped pile of letters from his first love, they left empty handed. So along with two brand new suits with the tags still attached, all of his clothes went to a friend who worked with men coming out of prison to give them a fresh start. His first love’s letters, while amusing, went in the trash.

Three months later, Superstorm Sandy mercilessly claimed so much more. Sentimental things like all of Wingman’s and my record albums. Beautifully written books. Even things I had no thought of ever getting rid of, like two composition books of sappy high school poetry and copied love song lyrics went in the muddy trash. I will admit now that there were things that went into the storage unit that I should have parted with then, but didn’t. More about that in a bit.

Two years ago during the pandemic, I hosted my first-ever Thanksgiving for just my kids. With my best china and gold-rimmed stemware, I mentioned to my daughter-in-law and son’s GF that this would all be theirs someday when they hosted their own Thanksgivings. Their glazed deer-in-the-headlight looks as they pointed to each other and said “you get it” “no, you take it all” was shocking. What? Who wouldn’t want not only all this gold trimmed stuff but a pheasant soup tureen, gravy dish, creamer and salt and pepper shaker? Obviously, no one sharing my last name.

The Wall Street Journal had an article last year about how this generation of young adults has no interest in the things we've acquired or inherited. When my Mom got her Grandmother's turkey platter-a gift from the woman she was employed as a maid for, my sister and I would grouse for hours over who should get it.  To see it now with its' slight crack and chipped edge, barely big enough for today's oven stuffer, my kids would laugh at our quibbling.

With the recent passing of my Mother-In-Law, there was a full household to dispose of, and rather than "inherit" more things I didn't need, I declared that all I wanted was the nativity set I made for her. Then, like Steve Martin in "The Jerk", I took some wine glasses and swore to take nothing else.  Cutlery, and no more. Magazines about the World Trade Center attack, but that's it. An expensive painting Wingman bought for his parents one Christmas, even though it was butt-ugly. All in all, a trunk load of stuff that the kids will eventually hate me for.

What went into the storage unit after Sandy?  It included a bin of everyone's grade school and high school yearbooks, glued together with river mud and altogether unreadable ever again.  I moved them back into the house, then into storage twice more before settling into the townhouse.  Just recently, I made the ultimate decision to toss them.  As the high school ones are available on the internet, I'm the only one sad to part with the hard copies.

Son #1 put a stop to me giving my hand me down cashmere sweaters and other clothes to his GF because like Wingman before him, he didn't want her "dressing like his mom". Things were too expensive to give to charity, so I found an online site to sell them.  And sell I do.  Everything from a brand new pair of Valentine's Day boxers to the the dress I wore to son #2's wedding. I've listed an embarrassing total of 174 mostly used things dating back to 2008 (the brand I worked for had season tags in them) including shoes, bags, costume jewelry, tee shirts, dresses and coats. And to think that I use to make fun of Carrie Bradshaw's obsession with shoes and clothes in "Sex and the City." Someone should beat me with my credit cards.

I'd like to say that since I started selling my clothes that I haven't bought any replacements. I'd also like to say that without working out, I have the body of a 25 year old.  Both are lies.  Just today, a sweater arrived that of course, I didn't need but really liked. I can however, say that the KonMari method of only keeping what speaks to the heart has some merit.

Because it allowed me to make enough money to buy my own computer that speaks back to me as I type. Something that the kids can't complain about and may actually want in the future.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Did You Ever Know That You’re My Hero?

The first time I went out with Wingman, he remarked about how much I reminded him of his mother.  When we finally met, I just didn't see it: she was a tall, chain-smoking blonde, with a Lauren Bacall-esque voice, while I considered myself just an average size brunette with no distinguishable qualities.

She and I began our own relationship with stories about our lives, and she won every round of "Can You Top This". At 10 years old, she helped deliver her brother when her mother went into labor at home. Later, her alcoholic mother walked out on the family and was never seen or heard from again, so she dropped out of school to help. At 19, she and her husband eloped, and thought no one knew.  A photographer however, took a picture of them outside City Hall which became the cover of the afternoon edition of the NY World Telegram. (Oops.) A couple of years later, her very pregnant self drove her father and his equally pregnant girlfriend to City Hall in Newark to MAKE them get married.  Her half-brother was born a week after Wingman. Mouth dropping stuff that urban legends are made of.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Well I Hear You Went Up To Saratoga And Your Horse Naturally Won

It never ceases to amaze me how often we experience six degrees of separation. Take my family for instance. We weren’t wealthy but growing up, we did have an in-ground pool.  As common as it was for a bunch of kids to be swimming, it was the same for the guys Dad worked with, or the trainers and jockeys he knew from the track to pop over for a swim on hot summer nights. After a quick drink at the bar next door of course.

Being a regular at the restaurant son #3 works at, the track announcer and he became friends. He joined us once for Christmas dinner and was there when Wingman died. A man with a quick wit when calling races, he had a memorable one in 2010 that led to a contract with NBC calling the Triple Crown. For a couple of summers, my son and I visited him in the call booth at Saratoga. At dinner on one of those trips, a local trainer came to the table with his son and while the men chatted, I spoke to the son, a senior football player.

The day this March that I started working back in retail, the store manager resigned. The assistant manager was promoted to store manager-I worked with her seven years and two jobs ago. She in turn hired a woman who filled in during maternity leaves. Through introductions, she said her family consisted of her high school senior daughter, her son, a college student who played football in high school, and her husband, a horse trainer.

That’s right, I’m working for the woman whose husband and son I met in Saratoga a few years ago.

Last Saturday, I went to the track with my friend/manager. Her husband had a horse in the stake race, so for the first time since my Dad raced Shining Lindy, I got to enter the inner Paddock-the area exclusively for horse family. 
I have a love/hate relationship with the track over this race. When Wingman died, son #1 lived in Korea and needed a day to get home. I planned the wake for Sunday-forgetting it was the same day as the stake race. The only way from my house to the funeral home was THROUGH the track traffic, so our 8 minute drive took 30 minutes. My Mom always said I’d be late for my own funeral but we were embarrassingly late for Wingman’s wake. Three years later, I watched Triple Crown winner American Pharaoh gallop to victory. I imagined my Dad in his free stakes hat, toasting with a Manhattan. Damn, I miss that man.

The race ended with a jockey being thrown, an inquiry, and the disqualification of the 1st place horse. The trainer’s horse, although not the winner, finished in the money so while sad to see a jockey hurt, at least it was a profitable day for them. And when I mentioned the people I was with to my Mom, she remembered that the trainer’s dad and mine were good enough friends that he use to come swimming at our house. 50 years before meeting this Cali-raised gal, my dad was friends with her father-in law.

And the announcer who knows the trainer who is married to the woman I work for, with the father in law who knew my dad? This is the race that got him national attention. It sure is fun to listen to. 

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