Considering how much I adored my father, it was astonishing to me that I fell in love with and married a man who was so different from my dad.
Take Sports, for example. My father was a true sports fan. Football, basketball, baseball, golf. Though I am a horrible athlete, I know a lot about sports, because I loved sitting with Dad on Sunday afternoon. The only sport he didn’t have much affection for was auto racing. So guess what is the only sport my husband likes? And not only auto racing, but specifically drag racing. He and his brother actually campaigned a dragster quite successfully for a long time. “The cars that race for five seconds and a parachute comes out?” my father asked. Yeah.
And speaking of cars, Dad had a sharp technical mind and engineering background. But he was just fine to let ALL the car repair get done by someone else. He had absolutely no inclination to open a hood. Hubby, on the other hand, can take apart and build a car from scratch. He actually built a dump truck early in our marriage. Mostly out of scrap. And it ran for years, and then he sold it – for a profit.
My father and my husband have completely temperaments too. My father was always such a light-hearted guy – he woke up smiling and stayed that way. He sang – not well. He told corny jokes – also not well. My husband is serious. A born worrier. An earnest soul who takes everything to heart.
And they are a world apart in their willingness to express their opinions – especially concerning their fellow man. My father never said a bad word about anyone. I remember a boyfriend I had way back when who was a complete arrogant jerk. I was playing cribbage with my father one night and Dad said very softly to me, “I’m sorry, but I just don’t like that guy very much.” If my husband had met that same person, he would have been a bit more forceful. My husband has the most extensive vocabulary you have ever heard – he knows more synonyms for ‘moron’ that I ever knew existed. With a colorful range of adjectives to precede the noun.
Yes, I married the complete opposite of my father.
Just last week, we were in the car and my husband sneezed. And he took out his handkerchief and blew his nose. While steering the car WITH HIS KNEES!
Oh My God!
My father did that all the time! I remember knee-steering happening from the time I was sitting in my little very unsafe car seat.
Do all men blow their noses while steering with their knees? Or has my father reappeared?
And the very next day…
My husband farted. And walked away as he said with complete nonchalance, “Oops.”
I received an enticing offer from Groupon this week.
I actually received it twice. I guess because I bookmarked it, Groupon figured I must be really interested, so they reminded me the next day.
And I am VERY interested.
For $19.00 I can take an online animal psychology course. (A $175 Value!)
To quote the offer:
“Students work their way through 11 online modules that delve into the psychology behind the behavior of dogs, cats, and rabbits. They’ll learn how to relate to animals and how to resolve or reduce undesirable behaviors.”
These modules include:
3.5 The hidden language in dogs’ smells/urine/feces/sniffing
5.1 Rolling over and rolling in poo
5.7 Eating grass
8.1 Body language – tails, whiskers, eyes &
8.2 Ears, posture (I can see how a separate module is needed for ears)
10.4 The impact of environmental stress
11.2 Rabbit noises
Now I don’t have a dog or a rabbit, but I’d definitely like to know more about rolling in poo and the interpretation of rabbit noises, so those modules are well worth it. But I might skip 5.2 – Tummy tickles – as I know my already how my cats feel about that (Not Good). The dog module, Eating Grass, however, is applicable to all my cats.
I would also gladly pay double the $19 fee ($175 value!) if I could just skip the courses and have the cats directly take the course themselves. I don’t have Skype, but I would get that app immediately, if only I could sit the little buggers in front of the screen and have the pet shrink work directly with them, leaving me out of it completely.
Despite the many many years I have had cats sharing my address, I don’t speak cat. I have told Stewart 1,000 times not to eat grass, but he pays absolutely no attention. He appears to enjoy throwing up.
And I have already decided what I need the pet-shrink to tell them.
Lillian: “We recognize that your mother was feral, and she told you in your first formative weeks that you should eat whenever you can, because you never know where your next meal will come from. However, You have lived with the Romans from the age of seven weeks. You are now five years old. So you have spent the vast majority of your life with people who feed you more than regularly. You DO know where your next meal is coming from. You do not need to eat your brother’s food too. And while we are discussing how long you have lived with the Romans – yes Mr. Roman is very sweet. But Mrs. Roman is NOT evil. She may vacuum, but she has never attacked you with the vacuum cleaner. In addition, her perfume is not evil Her shoes are not evil.”
Stewart: “This is 2015. We are a tolerant society. No one cares that you are gay. The Romans love you anyway. Yes, you love to kiss Mr. Roman on the lips, and he accepts it even though he doesn’t particularly like it. Try not to surprise him with a wet kiss in the middle of the night. The Romans are glad you were there to be a mother to Lillian, since you sister Snickers was not interested. And they appreciate that you do not retaliate when Snickers smacks you in the eye as often as she can. You are a gentle guy, not a wimp, no matter what Snickers calls you. You do not have to prove your manhood. Please stop killing chipmunks.”
Snickers: “You have had an amazing, wonderful career as an aerialist. Everyone has been astounded by your ability to climb trees, ascend ladders, jump from porches to windows, hang out on rooftops. We know your tiny size makes you want to stand out. We get it. But you are now 18. It’s time to retire. It appears you understand that and we appreciate your quest for a new vocation. May we politely suggest something other than Opera?”
Groupon has my credit card.
I anxiously await the joy of well-adjusted pets.
WARNING: I hate the thought of offending anyone, so if you do not want to read about lots of man-parts and lady-parts, please come back on a different day.
I considered not writing this at all, but an author-friend of mine said, “Are you crazy? All that fabulous material – and you aren’t going to use it???” She had a point.
I also wrote a completely different version of this experience – concentrating on the silliest aspects. I’ve always prided myself on my superior silliness skills. But after I re-read what I had written, I thought it was too trivial – even for me – the Queen of Trivial.
Sure I can play it for laughs. But I think there is something to SAY.
So here goes.
When my husband and I vacationed in Jamaica recently, we took a side trip. We got ourselves a day pass to a different kind of resort. A nude resort.
I didn’t promise my husband I would go through with it. “When we get there, I may chicken out,” I warned. And he was okay with leaving that option open.
But I was curious. Not especially curious about everyone else. Curious about ME. Curious about how I feel about completely revealing my body.
I did it. I revealed my body. I discovered my body. And I discovered a few interesting ideas.
1. The friends we vacationed with did not come with us to the nude resort. I discovered that this was an advantage. I don’t think I could have done it with my friends there. Anonymity can be emboldening. And that itself is interesting. I can walk around naked in front of strangers but not in front of my best friends. Why is that?
2. Private acts should still be private. Most of the people at the resort were just having fun and feeling free. I enjoyed watching people swim, sunbathe, stroll the beach, laugh and play – wearing nothing but sunscreen. But there were a couple of couples who indulged in public sex. I found that yucky. Clothes may be optional. Discretion is not.
3. Although I did not find it too difficult to walk around naked, I found it incredibly difficult to speak to anyone. It was one thing for people to see me. I felt I was in some out-of-body experience and I almost felt invisible. But it was too concrete somehow to have a conversation. I suddenly lost my cloak of invisibility, and became a real naked person. I wasn’t embarrassed until I spoke.
4. My husband didn’t have that issue. From the first moment, he was completely relaxed and happy. It was awesome how natural he is au naturel. He is literally comfortable in his own skin. And comfortable with mine too. I was delighted to find that he was really proud of my 60-plus body. How sweet is that?
5. There is a great benefit in age. At 64, I did not feel that my body was in competition with anyone else. There was an abundance of beautiful young women there. What did that matter to me? There’s an exhilarating freedom to finally relinquishing the constant comparison. Who knew that nakedness and old age were so compatible?
6. I can’t NOT find some amusement in the experience. I found it (among many other moments of humor) in the ladies’ room. For much of the first several hours I didn’t move too far from my lounge chair on the beach. But sooner or later we all have to use the bathroom. It was my first long walk – I think the ladies’ room was about 2.4 miles from my beach chair. But here’s the fascinating part. You know how there is always a long line for the ladies’ bathroom but none for the men’s room? Well, I always thought it was because women wear a lot more clothes, and have to get more undressed to pee than men have to. But guess what? There was still a line to use the ladies’ room and none for the men’s. And we women didn’t have to undress at all. And yet we still had a wait. So there goes that theory.
7. Most important: BODIES ARE LOVELY. There were so many kinds. Sometimes I’ve thought, “You’ve seen one body, you’ve seen them all.” So not true. There were big bodies and little bodies. Dark bodies and pale bodies. Small breasts and pendulous breasts. There were flat tummies and stretch marks. Poochy abdomens and six-pack abs. There were floppy penises and perky penises. Wrinkly scrotums. Post-childbirth vaginas. There were wide hips and bony butts. There was plastic surgery. There was supple youth and there was bent old age. There were scars.
And the more I looked, the more I loved them all.
I’m currently working on a very special (and adult-oriented) blog, but Easter weekend needs something more wholesome, so here is a reprise of my Easter post from two years ago.
BUY ME FLOWERS
Lest you think that my fashion-plateness (platedom, platability?) is a recent avocation, let me present to you little Nancy – Easter Sunday, 1958:
Not only do I have a stylish pink dress with matching coat, I have a new Easter bonnet, white gloves, patent leather shoes with matching purse, and a corsage. (And Daddy’s face.)
My hair is naturally fine and poker-straight. I’m sure my mother must have set it in rows of pin-curls, with beer for setting lotion. And she obviously had enough bobby-pins left over for her own Mamie Eisenhower do.
How I loved that coat. We called it a “topper” back then. it was a plush material – sort of like the foam rubber inside your sofa cushions. Both my sisters wore it before I did. I thought the single big pearl button was an elegant touch.
That little black purse held my prayer-book, which was especially prayerful because it had a red ribbon to mark the page. I also carried a handkerchief with lace edges – imagine blowing your nose with lace! – and a dime for the collection plate. I was already counting the days until I could have a lipstick in there.
I particularly call your attention to the corsage. You may think seven is a little young for a corsage. In my family, my mother got a big corsage for Easter, and all three of us little girls found a tiny corsage right near our Easter basket on Sunday morning. I don’t think I have any baby pictures of me in a corsage, but I probably had one, held on with a diaper pin.
I don’t know where my mother bought these little children’s corsages. I wonder now if they were expensive. We didn’t have a lot of excess cash lying around when I was a kid. But I guess Easter corsages were a necessity.
The tradition certainly carried on.
This is about nine years later.
I am on the left – which is really about the center of the photo. My mother is a genius is a thousand ways, but centering a photograph is not one of them.
We were still wearing hats to church in 1967 – but probably for the last time. White hats were apparently the IN thing that year, especially those hats that made it look like you had really big hair. My sisters are also still wearing gloves, but at sixteen I was quite the rebel. (but they were in my purse). And yes, that is a mock turtleneck under my double-breasted suit. I was supposed to have Jesus in my heart, but my heart really belonged to Carnaby Street.
And do you see? We still have corsages to wear to church. Our Easter baskets had been replaced by a box of chocolates (except for my little brother – he was still receiving a basket). And on top of each chocolate box was a corsage. Sometimes I liked my sister’s better than mine, and if I got up really early in the morning, I could check them out and make a switch.
And through the years, my fashion-platidutiness drew me further away from white gloves. Then the hat went – which was a good thing, since I have the head the size of a cantaloupe. Where most of my girlfriends had boobs like ripe melons, a cantaloupe-sized head is unfortunate.
Eventually I also abandoned suits, but not before my shoulder pads were much bigger than my head. And of course, the pantyhose – although truthfully I still like the imperfection-smoothing look of nice sheer pantyhose. (Thank you, Princess Kate.)
I told my husband that I didn’t want chocolate for Easter this year. (But I’d secretly be happy if he bought me just a few dark chocolate truffles.) I told him to buy me flowers.
I am hoping he knows that I want a bouquet for the table and not a corsage.
Because today, if I saw a corsage, I would certainly think:
- Are there any bugs in there?
- Do I have to put a pinhole in my expensive blouse?
- Will this leave a stain?
- Where is my allergy medication?
So much for sweet memories.
My housecleaning diversion this weekend: What five possessions would I save if my house were on fire?
(Assuming my husband, my kitties and my family photos were all safe, of course.)
In my last post, I revealed my one big item – one thing that I could enlist my husband to help carry: My antique camelback sofa.
My self-imposed rule required that I can only make one more trip, so my other four choices have to be all small enough to be carried out together. (Since Hubby will be busy carrying shit that has motors or triggers.)
So here’s my most precious small things:
1. My Grandma’s Beanpot:
Since my sofa is a memory from my mother’s side of the family (indirect though it may be), it’s only fair that I choose something from my father’s side. This was his mother’s beanpot. My Grandma made the world’s best baked beans. I haven’t tasted anything like them since 1961. But I still remember them. I wanted to inherit this pot very much. My mother owned it all these years, and last year she gave it to my oldest sister. My sister and brother-in-law actually still bake their own beans, so it made sense. But I was so sad I actually called my sister and told her that I really wanted the pot. “You can’t make beans in that now…it’s so fragile…something terrible could happen to it.” And you know what? She agreed and right away gave me the pot. Can you imagine? Now I not only have the beanpot that I cherish, but I love my sister more than ever. I get a two-for when I save that pot.
I picked up this cast-iron doorstop at a flea market for $15. Though definitely creepy, something drew me to this guy. I keep it at the end of the bed in my guest bedroom. Maybe a challenge to test whether guests really want to spend the night out in the woods with us. Five years ago, I had a mini-health crisis. I was calmly watching TV one evening, and was suddenly overcome with severe chest pain. I managed to get to the guest bedroom, heading for the bathroom, but I didn’t make it. I collapsed on the floor. My husband thought I was having a heart attack. And I did too. I lay on the floor waiting for the ambulance to arrive. And this creepy cat was standing right near me. I grabbed onto it and somehow its heavy sturdy little body comforted me. It took about 15 minutes for the EMTs to arrive, and I held onto that cat for dear life, wondering the whole time if it was perhaps the end of my dear life. I had my first ever ambulance ride with sirens wailing. It turned out to be only a severe gallbladder attack. I said goodbye to my gallbladder two months later, but I won’t say goodbye to Creepy Cat.
3. This Drawing.
This is my own artwork. About eight years ago, my husband gave me a great set of drawings pens for Christmas. It was a wonderful surprise. I hadn’t asked for the pens. But he knew I loved to draw. The pens reminded me of the Christmas when I was sixteen when my parents gave me oil paints and canvasses. They thought I was good enough for expensive paints! And here was my husband saying the same thing. My problem with drawing and painting is concentration. I end up losing patience and making some stupid mistake. But with this drawing, I took my time. I took a month to draw this. I liked it enough to frame it. It reminds me of my family’s encouragement. And how much I can accomplish when I just PAY ATTENTION.
4. Lastly, here’s my dining table centerpiece.
It’s not expensive or old or rare. And it doesn’t really have any sentimental attachment. But I’ll need something to carry the other things in – so why not a pig soup tureen with an asparagus ladle?
What would you save?
We’ve all had the discussion.
Sometimes spurred by a TV show, or an article in a magazine. Most likely, though, after several beers at the local bar.
What would you save if your house was on fire?
First let’s eliminate the obvious.
OF COURSE, I would save my little pets.
And my family photo albums.
And probably my spouse. Yeah. Definitely my spouse. Of course. Yeah. My spouse.
So let’s assume those precious things are all safe.
Then it’s a matter of deciding what are my most meaningful possessions.
I made a little game of this question as I cleaned the house this weekend. I looked at all my things – the dust-worthy and the usually forgotten – with an eye for how much they mean to me and how irreplaceable they are.
I set myself some little rules. 5 items max. Two trips only. And only 1 can be a big item. My husband (who I am going to save. of course. right?) can help me carry the one big thing. Then the other stuff has to be carried out at one time by me in my second trip.
So here’s my Big Thing:
I have had this sofa for more than thirty years.
You could say I inherited it.
My maternal grandfather was an immigrant from Poland. Dziadzi (“Ja-jee” – Grandpa in Polish) struggled all his life to support his family. He left Poland at 17, and lived for a while in Baltimore and Pittsburgh before settling in the Polish enclave in New Britain Connecticut. He and my grandmother and their two daughters lived in a cold-water third-floor one-bedroom apartment. He barely survived the depression, as someone who wanted his WPA job nearly killed him for it.
He didn’t have an easy or a particularly happy life. But he loved his family. He used to make me a little mouse out of his handkerchief, and sixty years later, I still know how to fold a cloth into a mouse.
He never had a car. He did get a television around 1962. He liked Walter Cronkite.
When he died at 88, he didn’t have much to show for his life. Except of course for two amazing intelligent and warm-hearted daughters and seven genius grandchildren (and yes, I am including myself… I am proud of those genes.)
But possessions? None.
Bank account? Miniscule.
When my mother settled up all the bills and final expenses, she divided the little money Dziadzi had left among her and her sister, and the grandchildren. Nine shares total.
What was our take? $300 each. Eighty-years on this earth and my grandfather had less than $3,000.
Well, it’s easy to spend $300. I could easily have blown it at one time on something trivial. But I wanted something that would last. Something to show for my Grandfather’s life.
Not long after his death I happened upon a yard sale. An old woman was moving from her large house to a small apartment, and she was selling her beautiful things. And there on the lawn was this lovely antique camelback sofa. For $300.
My Grandfather gave me this sofa.
I would never part with it.
(Next Up: My other four choices)
I consider myself a Type-B person. Laid back. Relaxed. Too cool for school.
In my dreams.
But when I wake up, I am a nervous, anxious, middle-aged lady always trying too hard.
And full of fears.
Among the things I fear (and you can find more here):
Firecrackers (I like fireworks though – but not the kind that are just horrid ear-splitting noise, that you also know will blow someone’s fingers off)
Eating weird food – and I define ‘weird’ broadly, like sushi and calamari (and jello – it’s a texture thing)
Dobermans (with good reason)
The part of flying where you hit the ground and scream down the runway
Talking to strangers
Watching my husband (or anyone) use a chainsaw
But when I go on vacation, I find my brain calming down, my nerves unjangling.
And all those billions of little fears falling away.
And I get brave. Really brave.
We just came back from six days in Jamaica.
The last time we vacationed, I did incredibly brave things. Like standing up in a Land Rover and riding a jet-ski. And I had a beer at ten in the morning. And I almost touched a snake.
I rode a horse!
This may be totally unexciting to you, but I only rode a horse once before, and it was not exactly a success for either of us.
But this time was great. I actually had two different horses. The first guy was named Clumsy, which didn’t bode well, but I managed. Clumsy must have sensed my nervousness, and he was not thrilled. He kept cranking his head around and giving me dirty looks. The guide rode over and told me that sometimes Clumsy gets a little ornery, and I should just loosen the reins and let him be boss. I don’t think in general that is very good advice for horsemanship, but I gladly let Clumsy be the boss of me, since I didn’t want to be the meal of him.
And the second horse! Wow! His name was Dark Star. He was energetic but gentle at the same time. And he had a crush on me. I could feel it. We had a swim together.
And that’s not all!
My husband (who can out-worry me under the table any day of the week) and I played Tarzan and Jane. Yes, we swung through the trees in the jungles of Jamaica. Zip-line! We truly did. My husband checked my harness about seven hundred times, and I still wasn’t sure until the very last moment that I could actually step off that platform. But once I did – I knew I was meant to be a swinger. Here’s how much I liked it: I didn’t even care that I was dressed like an idiot.
Literally. A Swinger.
Back to my last post, where I said I wanted to go a clothing-optional beach and avail myself of the option?
(And I may write about it eventually. When I stop blushing.)
I’m taking a little time off, but I don’t want to take a chance that you’d forget me, so here is a repeat from three years ago.
But it’s still true – except for the 61 part. Now I’m 64.
And more than ready.
I’M FINALLY READY
In the winter of my junior year of college, the brief phenomenon known as Streaking streaked through our campus. Boys in thick work boots and wool hats and nothing else ran by the women’s dorms every evening.
One night, a dozen boys staged a relay. We watched from our windows as they ran by in one-minute intervals. We cheered like mad for each one, and didn’t mind that they could all have been just one guy – they were interchangeable in their blue-skinned sameness.
About an hour later the gaggle of them reconvened (dressed) to holler from the yard that it was the girls’ turn.
We discussed this both laughingly and seriously, and decided that we would stage a different kind of show. An exhibition rather than a run. Yes, we were classy girls.
Because the exhibitionists would be coming out of our own dorm, and because they wouldn’t be a bouncy blur, we were a little more worried about anonymity than the boys. So my roommate donated a mardi gras mask and her long velvet cape. It was a two-act show – first a blonde and then a brunette went out. Each girl walked slowly to the middle of the snowy yard, and then dramatically opened the cape.
The boys applauded with profound appreciation.
I won’t identify the girls, except to say that neither was me.
Fourteen years later, I was an up-and-coming young executive (and thirty-five is STILL young; so shut up) – in desperate need of a little vacation. I just needed to take a short break from the long days and cold winter.
I had two problems – I couldn’t find anyone who wanted to go with me, and I couldn’t get a last-minute reservation at any of the good resorts.
A tourist-agent friend solved both my issues. She made me a reservation at Club Med in Haiti. Club Med was still the hot-spot resort – but Haiti wasn’t exactly top-tier. And Club Med would assign me a roommate, so I would have someone built-in to have my meals with.
After a ride in a scary old plane and an even scarier bus trip through unimaginably ugly towns, I arrived for a long weekend at a resort in the poorest country in the western hemisphere.
The weather was gorgeous, the beach was perfect, and my roommate turned out to be a very nice woman my own age. Not so bad.
Haiti was not a vacation destination for Americans. Including me and my new just-for-the-weekend friend, there were six of us. The other eighty guests were French nationals.
There is a difference between French women and American women. An American woman will show off her body if it is beautiful. To a French woman, her body just IS beautiful. The French women at Club Med wore bikini bottoms only. All the women: the old, the young, the skinny, the voluptuous.
I was mesmerized. Mesmerized by women walking on the beach, lounging by the pool. One young mother played with her children, read paperbacks, and chatted – with her parents. She was all but naked… in front of her father. Her mother was also nearly naked, and read her magazine with her breasts comfortably drooping against her round belly. I could hardly imagine it. These ladies bared their breasts like breasts were something natural.
On my last evening in Haiti, I went down to the beach, dropped my bikini top, and ran into the water. I was French!
Of course, there was no one there, and I redressed as quickly as I could.
It’s been forty years since I didn’t walk out naked for some enthusiastic college boys.
It’s been twenty-six years since I almost got naked on a Haitian beach.
I see now that these moments would not have changed my life.
I want a do-over.
I’m sixty-one. Before I’m seventy I want to go to a clothing-optional beach, and avail myself of the option. I’m not going to worry about whether my body is something I’m proud of. I’m proud of it because it’s mine. I’m French.
I am greatly amused (when I am not greatly annoyed) by the Humblebrag, and the subset that I have classified the Bummerbrag.
Yes, people love to sound humble. It doesn’t matter if they are secretly boasting, if it’s just a modest, self-effacing little brag.
And I’ve noticed yet another branch of demurely-wrapped arrogance.
The Job Interview Weakness.
Did you ever notice that when a job interviewer asks a candidate “What’s your greatest weakness?” that the answer is much closer to a virtue than a fault?
Perhaps EXACTLY like a virtue?
“I’m too trusting.”
“I’m too stubborn. When I am faced with a problem I won’t stop until I find the solution.”
“I’m too self-effacing. I let others take credit for my ideas.”
“I’m such a perfectionist.”
“I put in too many hours at the office, and I find myself at the end of the year with all my vacation time.”
“I hate to see someone struggle. I will stop and help others no matter how busy I am.”
I never liked playing that game. So although I am just chock full of virtues I could pretend were faults, I always tried to give a real weakness in answering that job interview question.
However, I made sure my weakness didn’t have anything to do with the job.
I usually said, “Weakness? Well, I can’t really carry a tune.”
Weirdly, I never got the job.
But don’t you just wish someone would tell you what their REAL on-the-job weaknesses?
Think what an accurate impression you’d have about work life with these guys:
“I sometimes lash out at my co-workers for no reason.”
“I don’t have the patience to proof my work, so I make a lot of careless errors.”
“I’m late three times a week.”
“I hate pressure and deadlines. I usually wait until the last minute and then ask for an extension.”
“I need to check my text messages at least every minute.”
“I cry once a week.”
Yeah, we have lots of co-workers who got the job, but instead of answering,
“I’m too hard on myself” –
They should have been honest and said,
“I don’t always remember to flush.”