True stories with a twist!


People have many different ways of showing happiness and celebrating.

New Year’s Eve is a perfect example.

Many of us plan to be with good friends, either at home or enjoying dinner at a restaurant. Or at a friend’s house for a party.

Others enjoy larger parties, like the largest one in the world, The New Year’s Eve Party in Times Square, New York City. Watching the ball drop at the moment of the New Year, followed by tons of confetti dropped from above is the highlight and big thrill of the night. If being in the  midst of huge crowds is your idea of fun, you’ll be very happy there. There is no larger crowd getting together to scream, shout, jump around and do whatever else people in large happy crowds do.        

The police presence will be enormous. They will search every bag and will not allow any alcoholic beverages to enter the area. Screening the entrance to the area will be equivalent , and as exciting, as the TSA screening before boarding an airplane. 

Uniformed police, mingling with the crowd will be armed. We are told not to be alarmed at all the uniformed and plain clothes police officers mingling with the crowd, carrying their automatic weapons. 

Even on a stormy, rainy night like this New Year’s Eve promises to be, umbrellas are forbidden from the scene. Any umbrellas that are found will be confiscated! With the increased security around Times Square there is no chance of smuggling even a tiny mini umbrella into the area. Assisting the police in their surveillance will be a squadron of drones overhead. And there will be an armed presence of Homeland Security.

There will be NO public restrooms of any kind. If nature calls, well, deal with it! Is this scenario still holding some appeal to anyone? No wonder the huge majority of celebrants are teens and young adults. One young man from the Island of Jamaica said “I haven’t had anything to eat or drink since yesterday.” He’s in training for the hours of bathroom deprivation.

Doesn’t this sound like a fun New Year’s Eve? You know you’re getting older when this kind of adventure is no longer appealing. Does a quiet evening at home by the fireplace, munching snacks, eating carry-out dinners and watching fun movies appeal to anyone? It certainly does to me!

However you choose to celebrate, I wish you a Healthy and Happy 2019. May all the surprises coming to you in 2019 be good ones.

“No,” I said confidently. “I don’t plan to move away from here. This is my home. My children live here. All my friends live here.”

“That may be true now, but what makes you think that they’ll all live here indefinitely? You might decide to stay, but your children and your friends might move away.”

This conversation took place several years ago, and has come back to haunt me. 

Not one of my children settled in our community or even in our state. As I worked my way through my address book this year, sending out holiday cards, I noticed a strange phenomenon. Many addresses have changed. 

One friend, who was alone after the death of a spouse, moved to Michigan to be near his son.

“Well, that’s understandable,” I thought: “His son and his young family will be company for our friend. He’ll feel useful around his grandchildren, and they’ll be amusement for him.” But that’s not a typical situation. Most people don’t have such a reason to move away; he’s an exception.

As I continued addressing holiday cards I found surprises. The address book brought me to the names of friends who have vacationed in Santa Fe, New Mexico for years. They loved the culture, the weather, and the art, and often said they would love to retire there. Before we realized it, retirement eventually arrived. Their wish was not a pipe dream we often hear; they  actually did move to Santa Fe. images-5.jpeg

A close friend and neighbor of ours always suffered in the cold winter weather of New Jersey. Lots of people feel that way, and many leave for a warm climate for three or four months. Our friends tried that for a while, and then decided to move to Florida permanently We miss the casual invitations to “Come over and see the beautiful Clivia plants in bloom.” images-1.jpegAnd other reasons to get together. We miss their company. 

There are many reasons to make a new start and move to a different community in a different state. There also are many reasons to stay in the place you have always lived. 

It takes a certain kind of courage and bravery to cut ties in a place you know and have known for most of your life. But that place becomes more and more unlike the community you knew before: the reason you lived there in the first place. None of our three children live here any more, and friends are scattering more and more frequently. The town we lived in is not the same town it was. It is crowded, overbuilt, and full of new people of a different age group.

If we saw this town for the first time, and it now was the way it is now, would we still be attracted to it as a place to spend our lives?

Despite any dissatisfaction, we have discovered years ago that there is no perfect place to live. There is no paradise; every state in the union has advantages and disadvantages 

Measuring them and considering options is confusing. I still don’t know what the right thing for us will be, but I do know that my address book is becoming thinner and thinner.

We were shopping at a grocery store that specializes in selling prepared home made dinners. What a great way to start a weekend: with a full refrigerator of different dinner choices: no need to buy separate ingredients, carry home heavy packages, sort and put them all away. 

My husband Harvey and I don’t have similar food preferences and rarely want to eat the same foods, which makes meal preparation quite a hassle. This store eliminates the necessity of cooking two separate meals every evening while still enjoying a comfortable evening at home. 

The first counter featured a wide array of entrees. These selections included containers of Italian meatballs and stuffed cabbage. Next to it were about six kinds of chicken preparations: Southern Fried Chicken and The Chickens, Murphy, Caccatore, Parmesan, Oreganata and Arroz con Pollo. As we wandered down the aisle, labels of our many choices filled our minds and rumbling stomachs with delightful possibilities.

The first package to make contact with a hungry hand was a serving of Stuffed Cabbage.But in his haste to pull a container of the delectable treat free from the others in the case, my husband inadvertently pushed in the plastic top of the container, causing the sauce to spill over the top. 

It would have been easy to simply leave the damaged, squished container in the  case and select a perfect, sealed replacement in its place. But my girl scout morality caused me to catch the eye of the store employee stocking that case, and confess the mistake of our ways. He simply said, “Give it to me; I’ll fix it.” So I did and he did, and Harvey and I continued on our way.

After a long trek through the aisles, filling our cart as we went along, I decided to visit the rest room before heading back to the car and the long, pot-holed ride home. 

As I opened the swinging door images.jpegleading to the back room where the rest rooms were located, I saw the man who had taken care of our damaged package earlier that morning. He was walking out of the work area with both hands full of more packaged meals to put into the counters. 

I backed up to make room for him to exit the area, and held my side of the swinging door open so he could pass by.

Just then he moved to the other side of the swinging door and kicked it open with his foot. Then he walked back out to the main shopping area without making eye contact with me or showing any recognition of my courteous gesture of holding the door for him.

So, my blogging friends, what do you think? 

Was I insulted?

JURY DUTY

It’s a privilege not all countries offer their citizens. In our great fortune, our country  does offer this privilege.

So why, when someone gets notice of jury duty the first thing they want to do is “get out of it?” People try obtaining Doctors’ notes with excuses such as, “She cannot serve on jury duty because the hangnail on her left thumb is under strict observation for signs of infection.” These jury duty escapees attempt being excused because they are desperately needed somewhere else.

Anything in their lives is more important than serving on a jury.

“Too busy.” “Conflict.” “ Not now; I have a headache,” oops, that last excuse is for getting out of something else.     

Once I was called for Jury Duty and, having never encountered the experience before, went to serve on my assigned day and time. I would be a good citizen and fulfill my proper citizenly responsibility. And I would surely learn valuable life lessons to boot!

All prospective jurors were seated in black metal folding chairs in a large empty auditorium, waiting to be told what to do and where to go. In front of the room were three fully armed police officers, pacing up and down the aisles. That gave a rather less than welcoming feeling to a room of well-intentioned citizens there to support our free society. At 9 o’clock A.M. sharp, a spokesperson addressed us.

‘You are required to stay seated until you’re called. If your name is called please rise and follow me. Otherwise, stay seated where you are now. There will be an hour break for lunch at noon, and you will return here until dismissal time, 4 o’clock.” This message was delivered in blunt and unnecessarily cold tones. I felt more like a prisoner of the state than a law abiding citizen willingly and freely serving my civic duty.

My name had not been called yet, so I settled back and looked around to discover that I was among interesting but odd company. The man to my right kept gnawing at his left index finger. I wished I had a cuticle clipper and an emory board to offer him so he would stop that annoying crime against the defenseless cuticle. I shifted my gaze to the woman on my left. she had a motion thing going on with her leg. She sat with the right leg crossed over the left and relentlessly elevated that right leg up and then dropped it down;  down; up and down and up. A choreographic symphony was going on in my very row. And it was making me dizzy. No matter how hard I tried I could not make the swinging leg stay still. And I couldn’t ignore it; I tried to avert my eyes, but it swung endlessly. The person in front of me was busy texting. She must have had a clever co-texter, because she kept bursting out in a high pitched cackle, indicating her amusement with her electronic pen-pal. Someone directly behind me was heartily chewing gum and snapping it in my ear. After a while I was dizzy from the swinging leg, deaf from the snapping gum and repulsed by the finger-munching molester. And that action was just from my co-jury pool of people. The presiding officers were intimidating, scary and nightmarish.

After all those hours my name was never called.  I was forced to sit in that one place all day. When it was finally dismissal time, I left gratefully, hoping that I would never again be called to serve on jury duty; civic duty be damned.

D is for Disney

Disney: a name that lights up the eyes of youngsters and lightens the wallets of adults.

We’ll make childhood fantasies come true and take the family on a Disney cruise.

Violet, 3, asks, “Can I bring “Piggy?”

Big brother, Sebastian, 5, asks, “Will pirates come on our ship?”

Xander, bigger brother, 7, wonders, ”Can we eat hot dogs every day?”

Matthew, eleven, asks, “do they have an ice hockey rink?”.

Younger brother, David, 9, says, “Can I eat all the free ice cream cones I want?“

Twin sister, Julia, asks, “Will I meet Cinderella?”

As we board the ship, we notice a few adults, and children, children, children every where. Surely there have never, in the history of the world, been so many children together in one place. They’re jumping, running and screaming. The adults look befuddled, confused and uncertain.

A honey toned voice coos us inside. As we walk from one area to another, a staff member offers each of us a pop-up, pre-moistened, antibiotic infused towel. We are now fit for Disney: cleansed, sanitized, deloused.

“Hi!” a cheery voice says to our group, “So happy to meet you. I’m Mary Lou. Let me show you to your rooms. What adorable children,” she says, with a smile the size of a crescent moon.

“Here is your room, sweetie,” she gushes to the youngest family members. “Isn’t is perfect? Mommy and Daddy will be right next door.”

To the next oldest children she ecstatically announces, “Your room has three beds and a bathroom all to yourselves. Your parents will be right through this door.”

Finally, she croons to us as she leads us to our quarters next to the others, “You can have privacy but still be near those darling children.”

She sounds as if she is announcing our winning the lottery. I never saw such ecstasy in the plebeian act of showing guests to their rooms. Her satisfaction is practically orgasmic.

We unpack and report to the dining room for lunch. “Welcome, welcome. We are so happy to see you,” another happy staffer gushes as if we were old roommates.

We are seated and Violet spills her glass of milk. Before anyone can react a cheerful staffer swoops upon us with, “Oh, honey, don’t worry. It’s alright; we’ll clean this up and get you another glass of milk.” And the new offering appears before a tear can even think of emerging.

“I don’t like this menu,” complains David, our terribly sophisticated, opinionated nine year old gourmet. At home he’d be told: That’s what’s for lunch. Eat it or wait for dinner.” But not on a Disney trip.

“That’s OK.” says our waiter. “Come with me and I’ll show you the whole kitchen. The cook will make you anything you like.”

Is this place for real? Who could live up to this kind of attitude or attention at home? 

At the pool comes a confrontation. Xander has a special fondness for his shark patterned bathing suit and wants to wear it everywhere, poolside or not. “Xander, put on something reasonable,” his parents demand. Suddenly a dulcet voice from nowhere croons, “That’s a great and very scary bathing suit. Let’s put this jacket on top, so the shark doesn’t get cold.” Score another point for Disney.

“Come on, buddies, let’s all go and watch the parade”  suggests a Pied Piper wannabe suddenly appearing before us. The children jump up and follow, sublimely anticipating the appearance of their favorite cartoon heroes.

“Where’s Cinderella?” asks Julia. “Come here and you can shake hands with her,” warmly offers yet another Disney disciple. Julia is overcome with excitement.

“Where are the pirates?” Sebastian challenges. “Oh” says a staffer who must be an agent for the Pirates’ Union, “that’s a special surprise. Shhhh; don’t tell anyone,” he says, as he takes hold of Sebastan’s hand. In the next instant we are under attack from a pirate ship. Sebastian shrieks with delight and fear, as the patch eyed pirate approaches. “Take this,” says the staffer, and hands him a toy sword.

But his little sister, Violet, is unhappy. She announces her distress with ear splitting screams. “I don’t want to take a nap.”

How do children keep from rupturing their own eardrums with their loud screaming? Mine are just about gone!

But sugar coated Disney gal approaches with a Disney promise.

”Children who take naps right now will dream of Mickey Mouse. Of course you want to see him, don’t you?” And just like that, Violet approaches nap time with a smile of anticipation.

These Disney folks are all so happy, cheerful and sweet that it just isn’t normal. It isn’t real. In fact it is becoming quite irritating. I don’t believe this over-happy, overly sweet world they’re perpetuating.

Oh, how I long for just a smidgeon of sarcasm. A smattering of selfishness, A degree of dissatisfaction. I can’t take much more of all this sweetness and endless understanding.

How I long for one honest grumbling, grouchy, irascible someone just like the dear folks at home! When that happens I will finally be able to put my feet up on a soft, cushy ottoman and let out a big sigh of relief.

PET PEEVE

I close the clasp on the pin that would convert an ordinary sweater IMG_1971.jpeginto an interesting one.

Now I am ready to go to my book club meeting to discuss the classic, “The Good Earth” by Pearl Buck, which our book club chose to discuss at this month’s meeting. Although most of us read the book years ago, we decided to compare our school-aged impressions with our adult ones.

I find the the book to be beautifully written, telling a compelling story, and populated with interesting characters with questionable motivations. I am looking forward to the discussion.

We arrive at our hostess’ house at 2P.M. and greet each other before today’s hostess, our moderator, begins the discussion. Once it begins there will be no small talk: nothing but book talk. But first, before the meeting there is nothing but small talk.

“Hi, Bethany; where in Cape Cod did you stay?”

“Steph, how’s the new grand baby?”

“Nora,what’s going on with your kitchen renovations?”

Then Sandy says to me, “What a pretty pin. Is it new?”

 

Unknowingly her question, ”Is it new,” touched a hot button.

Why do people ask if something is new as an addendum to a 

compliment? Is it better if it’s new? Does it matter when I bought it? 

Would they like me to verify the purchase date by seeing a copy of 

the sales slip?

Why can’t a compliment stand alone?

If I am introduced to my son’s girlfriend, would I say, “She seems very nice; is she new?”

Or a friend’s hair color. “It’s very becoming; is it new?”

Does anyone ask a middle aged man if “she is new?” when he’s introducing his trophy wife?

So why do they ponder my pin?

I guess I just don’t understand human inquisitiveness. It seems to be a standard question that people ask when admiring something.

When we moved into our new house recently a stream of friends came over to see it. A particularly close friend noticed the new table in our dining room. 

What do suppose she asked?

She said to me, “That’s a beautiful table. Is it old?”

RUSSIAN CHILD

BYE BYE, GOODBYE,” my grandson said to me as I was leaving his house. That simple farewell ignited wonderfully fond memories.

It was back in the 70’s, when Russia first allowed their citizens to emigrate to the west and to  freedom. I was offered a job teaching English to a small group of newly arrived Russians to our community.

Although my training was in speech pathology and not in ESL (English as a Second Language), helping people learn to speak our language was not a far stretch, and I accepted the challenge.

I didn’t know any Russian, but was able to speak and to teach English with the help of pictures and using simple sentences. 

The determination of those wonderful people to learn our language and become part of the community was heartening, and their progress went along admirably.

I took them shopping to familiarize them with our stores. They told me afterward that they were terribly uncomfortable with all the selections on display. If someone wanted a pair of curtains for example, they were overwhelmed with dozens of colors, patterns and sizes available in our stores. “In Russia,” they said, “There might have been one or two to choose from. Nobody had ever imagined there were so many kinds of curtains in the whole world. How can anybody ever make a decision?”

One couple had a four year old daughter, Svetlana; an adorable child with long dark hair and a charming demeanor. They brought her to all the classes. She spoke snippets of English, including greetings like “Hello” and “Thank You.” But with a twist of her own style. images-3.jpeg

Each time she prepared to leave the classroom she cheerfully said me, 

“Bye-Bye, Goodbye“.

I was so charmed by her that I started saying “Bye Bye, Goodbye” to my own family members at the end of our get-togethers.

Svetlana’s mother, Julia, also adopted an endearing way of expressing her opinion of living in the United States. She often said, 

“Very do I love this country!”

How could anyone tell a person that her sentence structure was incorrect? That her adverb was in the wrong place? Her sentiment was so sweet: so genuine. I loved the sincerity it expressed. Julia spoke from the heart, whether or not her sentence structure was correct.

And so I say to you: 

Very did I love those people, and very do I hope their adjustment to America was successful.   images-6.jpegimages-6.jpeg

Tag Cloud