My first book has been released!

My first book has been released!
Available on Amazon and Kindle

Monday, November 21, 2011

Tuning Out!

My question is “If the US falls, but no one tunes in to view it, did it really happen?”  Is your life really in decline?  Ok, let’s agree that there are people who are suffering dramatically.  But, can we really do something about it?  Beginning 45 years ago, as a Catholic school student, my classmates and I collected money for people starving in Africa on a yearly basis.  We did this as a plaid uniformed  army filled with compassion along with millions of children like us across the globe. Every year, we went door to door, bar to bar, store to store, collecting money in little red boxes decorated with photos of starving children.  We believed we were doing good.  Yet,  I noticed on the news the other day that people are still starving in Africa. 
My husband and I spent a combined 60 years trying to bring change to education at the local level.  When I look back at our school, things are pretty much the same.  Yet, I do vaguely recall transforming the lives of individual students.  Is it possible that we will all have the most meaningful and dramatic impact on the universe if every individual worked hard to positively impact those we come across daily in our own little worlds?  If everybody turned out from the “global connection” and tuned into the actual human beings that are right in front of us, will we make a difference? What if we really cared about the people we know and shared ourselves and our resources with them?  Could this have a ripple effect on the universe?
I’m going to tune out and try it.  I’m going to buck the trend and stay far away from Facebook, Twitter and blogs and give my attention to persons.  I will begin by reminding my own little circle that things in my country are better than ever in so many ways that I can’t even count.  In my lifetime, women were offered limited career choices. Many stayed in loveless marriages for decades because they had no choice. Minorities were excluded from opportunities and gays were routinely shunned and beaten.  Meanwhile, children with handicaps were institutionalized in filthy places, like one called Willowbrook.  When I was in 7th grade, an exceptional journalist named Geraldo Rivera kicked the door down and exposed this disgrace.  He was my hero.
Okay, quality has declined in some areas and of course our politicians are scumbags and clowns…but they always were.  In my school uniform, I was also taught to pledge allegiance to a President called Kennedy who was the face of Catholic values.  We all know how that turned out.  But guess what?  Our peeps are still of the highest caliber.  On the left and right of me are exceptional persons.  Meanwhile, if I turn my head away, just six goddamn inches from the television or computer screen, life is freaking fantastic!
I’m signing off and stepping out where the sun, not a computer screen, forces me to squint.  I 'd rather shield my eyes from blessed light,  than from the burn of electronic visions of pathetic losers, child molesters, and greedy thieves that will no longer enter my home and my mind. 
Putting my head in the sand?  Better than putting it in shit! Real life is just outside your door.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Trick or Treat

I usually stopped at Duncan Donuts to pick up two old fashioned donuts and a black coffee.  This seems easy enough, but regardless of how I placed the extraordinarily hot coffee in the cup holder, it always seemed to spill across the white leather interior of my Lincoln Continental.  I was on my way to the Care Center to visit my ex-husband, whose entire left side of his body was paralyzed from a recent stroke.  For the first year, he couldn’t eat anything but thickened liquids and his mouth was twisted permanently preventing audible speech. But he progressed now and was able to eat whole food and most of his words could be understood. It was Halloween, so I decided to get him two pumpkin spiced muffins instead of the usual treat.

Since we were divorced for 12 years, I didn’t anticipate that one day my life would include visiting him every other day. His doctor warned me, when he was in the hospital, “If they learn that Steve has no advocate, they will warehouse him for the rest of his life. He needs you.”  For my son and because of the many times he helped me, I had to step up and be his “person."  After all, we had remained best friends after our failed marriage.  I was just 21 and he was 42 when we tied the knot and, of course, the marriage was doomed from the start.  Still, he spent every holiday with us and we were parents and partners together throughout our son’s life.
The funny thing is that he used to call me “AdvoKate” and “The voice for those who could not speak,” because of how enraged I became at injustice and how I placed myself at unnecessary risk for others.  For example, when I was a senior in college, I could not believe how many men were incarcerated because of dysfunctional childhoods. In my mind, they never had a chance, so I signed up to teach a poetry class at Rahway State Prison.  When Steve found out, he was furious.  “You know what kind of poetry you’re going to hear?”  Since he was a truck driver, most of his words cannot be repeated here.  But if you think of Andrew Dice Clay, you would be on the right track. 
Other times, when I was in a department store and saw a parent striking a small child, Steve turned his back as I approached the woman and said, “Why don’t you try f-ing picking on someone your own size?”  Even though I would be a terrible fighter if it came to that, the F word was usually enough to scare the parent and to make her stop.  I would walk back to Steve and he would growl, “Get him, Tiger!”
Still, my visits to the nursing home were not noble in any way and I didn’t approach them with a warm, giving heart.  I hated it.  The place smelled like urine and more. His rotating roommates were all in different states of being permanent vegetables and the aides were incompetent.  Steve was already in trouble for throwing a shoe at one after she left him on the toilet for 2 hours. Because even his trunk was paralyzed, he didn’t have the force to reach her with the shoe, but he tried.  When they wrote him up for “misbehaving,” I marched to that nurse’s station and ranted, “I’d throw both shoes at you!  How would you like to be left naked on a toilet for two hours?”
Meanwhile, Steve refused to leave his room to participate in any activities, even meals, because at 59, he was a full 20 years younger than most of the residents.  I would beg him to, at least, go to the dining room for one meal a day. He’d say the best he could with a paralyzed mouth,  “I’m not eating with f-ing people who need someone to cut their f-ing food!”  I would reply, “Steven, you need someone to cut your f-ing food too.” He would simply turn away and the visit was over.
I tried taking him out of the nursing home to eat, but that got too difficult for me.  He weighed 230 pounds and by the time I got him in the car and the wheel chair in the trunk, I was so exhausted.  The last time I tried to give him a fun day put an end to the idea for good.  I had purchased a new Sebring Convertible and I thought Steve would really enjoy going for a ride.  I struggled to lift him and drop him into the front seat, fold up the wheel chair and get it into the trunk without scratching my white exterior.  I put a New York Yankees cap on him and a Penn State cap on my head and dropped the top.  I put Born to Run on the radio and took off on Route 78.  The sun was shining and the wind was blowing my hair.  I turned to Steve and asked, “Isn’t this great?” He replied, “I’m going to throw up.”
“What? In my new car?”  I quickly pulled over and reached across him, unbuckled his seatbelt, and gave him a little shove so that his head would be facing down when he vomited.  Oh my God, I forgot that his trunk was paralyzed and saw that his head was going right towards the sidewalk.  I quickly ran around the car to catch him before he hit the cement.  We both decided, with me doing all of the talking, that I wouldn’t take him out anymore.
In addition to all of this conflict, despite painting the biggest smile on my face each time I entered his room for two, Steve seemed to not even care that I was there.  I was taking two hours out of every other day, after working full time, to stop to see him. I was basically a delivery girl… that’s it. “ Where’s my coffee?  Where’s my donut?” And then he would stare at the television.  The doctor explained to me that after having a stroke, his brain was so attracted to the television that it was such an effort to turn away and that I shouldn’t take it personally.
Well, since it was Halloween and I had to take my own son Trick or Treating, it was my plan to rush into Steve’s room, put the coffee and muffins on his food tray and leave immediately.  I reasoned that the aide could cut the muffin for him after I left.  As I entered the automatic glass doors, my stomach turned.  After adjusting my sight from the bright October sun, I focused and saw a line of twenty to thirty wheel chairs all along the hallway wall.  The first thing that I focused on was the plastic, orange and black, Jack O Lantern trick or treating buckets each wheel chair occupant had in his or her lap.  In the wheel chairs were grotesque wrinkled, toothless witches; nodding, drooling vampires; hideous fairy princesses with sparkly pink crowns atop dingy, grey teased hair.  Then, I saw Steve.  He was wearing a red, plastic too-small fireman’s hat and a plastic yellow cape that resembled a fireman’s coat with red strings tied under his double chin.  His wheel chair had a cardboard fire truck taped to the arm rest. My eyes scanned up from the photo of the ladder and hoses to Steve’s left arm, which was strapped in his wheel chair by a seat belt- like restraint. Within flashbulb seconds, my eyes scanned higher to see the elastic chin strap making a red mark beneath Steve’s unshaven chin.  A little higher, I saw his stroke-affected mouth with one side so low into the deepest, most despairing frown.  The last blow was the tear drop rolling down from his left eye partially erasing a red circle of makeup that was painted onto his face to form a rosy cheek.  That’s when I lost it.
“What do you think you’re doing?” I screamed.  Three aides, at different check points along the caravan of wheel chairs faced me.  He’s not a goddamn child! He’s a grown man! How dare you?”  I ripped off that plastic hat, undid the straps and ripped the cardboard fire truck into ten pieces within two seconds.  I cut into the line and grabbed the handles of the wheel chair and pushed as fast as I could, running at full speed, until I was in his room.  I quickly washed his face with brown industrial paper towels and Lysol smelling hand soap and carefully lifted him back to bed.  I gave him a sip of coffee through a straw and cut his pumpkin muffin into bite size chunks. 
When I calmed down, I had to do what I tried never to do in front of him.  I cried hysterically. I sobbed openly and loudly.  He reached his good hand out to take mine and struggled immensely to be heard.  Even with his frozen jaw, drooping lips, and sputtering tongue, I received his message loud and clear: “Get him, Tiger,” he said. He squeezed my hand firmly with all of the strength he could muster, and turned his full attention to the television where Casablanca was playing on the Turner Classic Movie Channel. 
I was relieved because within just a few moments, I knew in his mind, the real Steve was Humphrey Bogart saying sweetly, “Here’s looking at you kid.”

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Top of the Morning?

Let’s be honest, Ladies, no woman looks forward to her annual gynecological exam.  For men out there, you have no clue what we must endure.  The only remotely similar medical experience you undergo is the annual prostate exam.  And even this makes my big, macho husband tremble.  As he turns his back and hears the last snap of the doctor’s rubber glove secured in place, he turns his face over his left shoulder and threatens, “I better not feel your two hands on my shoulders anytime during this exam!”
Recently, I scheduled my first annual exam and PAP smear with a new gynecologist in Florida.  Since moving to paradise, I’ve become somewhat relaxed about schedules and have tried to avoid this important medical procedure.  At 53, this area of my expanding body more closely resembles a ghost town amusement park whose colorful flickering lights and joyful music has long gone silent.  Every once in a while, the caretaker may go for a solo ride on the roller coaster, but the screaming has been muted. In fact, the ups and downs are so much less thrilling that he might actually belch or nod- off in the middle of what was once a thriller.
Like all women, when the day for my gyno appointment arrived, I gave myself the “Let just get this crap over with” talk.  I paid great attention to the little details that a man would never even consider.  What shoes will keep my feet from perspiring so that they smell pretty mid day?  How does my French pedicure look on my big toe? If the doctor’s hand or arm should brush along my calf, with I feel smooth and silky?  What matching lacy panties and bra should I select in case the bitchy nurse should glance and judge them where they lay on the requisite patient chair? After a military quality inspection of the lower half of my body, I checked my face, added my rings and earrings and I was on my way.
Before being taken into the exam room, I was given the opportunity to meet with my new gynecologist in his well appointed office.  He was an upbeat, handsome man, with blue friendly eyes and neatly trimmed auburn hair and beard.  While he did ask me if I had any concerns, my too quick “no” response made the whole experience similar to speed dating.  No wine, no food, nothing before he popped up from his leather chair and said, “Off, we go, then.” Perhaps this was a one night stand.
I was trying to keep my feet and hands from sweating as I reclined on the vinyl exam table wearing a white, scratchy robe of the same quality as paper towels.  I followed the familiar instructions of the nurse who barked, “Everything off.  This drape on top with the opening to the front and this one covering your lower half.” So, there I was, as so many women have been before me, butt forward on the table, legs open, feet in stirrups, with only a thin paper drape covering what my grandmother told me I should never let a man touch.
The bubbly, doctor bounced into the room and his nurse immediately stepped to my left side.  He rubbed his hands together, to make them warmer, and said “Ok, let’s have a look.”  As he did, I focused numbly on the mysterious colorful mermaids that had been painted on the dropped ceiling panels.  I tightened every fiber of my body. Both of arms were extended to my sides and with defensive, white knuckles, my hands held metal grip bars on the side of the exam table. I heard the doctor sit on his short stool, and could hear the squeaky wheels as he rolled himself closer.  Gently, he lifted up the lightweight, white paper sheet.
 Instantly, he exclaimed, “Oh my God, who’s Irish?”
“What?” “Huh?”
Complete silence.
My mind processed rapid thoughts.  What the hell is he talking about?  Are parts of me a red head? Am I freckled?  Does anything, in that area, resemble a shamrock? Am I carrying a Leprechaun? Was this a rhetorical question?
Then, he freaking repeated the question again more emphatically, “Who’s Irish?”
Like a hundred year old turtle that has been flipped on its back and is struggling to get right, I floundered on the exam table and used my very few remaining “core” muscles (as my legs were still in stirrups) to lift my head and ask, “What do you mean?”
He said, “Your ring. Your ring.  I see you’re wearing a Claddah ring.”
He pointed to my right hand on the side of the exam table.
The three of us in the room laughed so hard that, at fifty –three (Ladies, back me up here) my instant prayer was that I didn’t pee my pants or lack thereof.
“I just bought my wife one,” the doc added.  
He had me at Erin go Bragh!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Mean Girl

Do you ever think back to a moment in your childhood to realize that you did something truly mean.  I hate to admit that every now and then, I participated in street urchin, gang mentality activities that hurt innocent victims. In my tiny NJ neighborhood, the people most targeted by our adolescent cruelty, were Annie and Tony—the owners of a candy store a few blocks from our house.                                         
Annie and Tony were Polish immigrants with thick, spitting accents who opened their eclectic store at daybreak and hustled until 9:00PM.  I never liked it when I was sent to the store for cold cuts or bread because nothing was organized and sinister cats tiptoed across the display counters throughout the day.  It was difficult to pick up a loaf of bread without the Wonder name appearing a bit furry from cat hair.
Annie and Tony, too, were unattractive because they seemed interchangeable. Maybe their bodies just looked the same because the two of them wore matching denim bib overalls daily.  They also had similar white hair that was tinged with yellow on the ends.  It didn’t glow like blonde hair, but looked dingy like white sweat socks that needed bleach.  It was dulled by the fact that to save on utilities costs or to keep the place cool, they rarely had lights on in the store.  From the outside, then, when they and the cats moved about on the inside, the big store windows turned them into ominous shadows working the meat slicer or pushing a straw broom.  This sent even more hair and dust into the air to settle on top of the Bit O’ Honey, Tootsie Rolls, or Sugar Daddy candy boxes.  Still, we went to Tony’s because no matter how poor we were, we always had enough to purchase three pretzel rods for two cents or a few long red licorice whips.  Looking back, I can’t believe that, after braiding these sweet, red strings or swinging them around to hit my brother, I still ate them.
Each day after school, three or four boys pulled open Tony’s store door, making the cow bells strapped on by a faded brown leather belt, startle the owners inside.  “Annie, do you want to suck my Sugar Daddy?” One pimple faced boy taunted.
Tony puffed up like a blow fish and put his fists in the air shouting, “What you strange boys want?  Git from my store!”  But the more he yelled, the more the boys laughed.  By the time Tony hurriedly cleared his products from a center portion of the counter on hinges, the boys grabbed a case of RC Cola, a bag of hot dog rolls, or any other item displayed near the front door.
One crisp fall night, I was sitting on our concrete stoop, when my brother and his two friends ran to the porch.  “Did you see that?” My brother Billy said, struggling to catch his breath.  “I nailed Tony in the head with a Ding Dong.”
The three boys chuckled.  My brother’s friend, Joey, reached inside his blue Yankee's wind breaker and said, “Yeah, well look what I took.”  His hand was filled with colorful jaw breakers, Sweet Tarts and other penny candies.  “Here, have some.” Joe turned to me.  “Why don’t you come with us next time?”  My heart leaped because Joe recently began kissing me every time I completed a pass when we played touch football.  I was steady quarterback and started throwing the best spirals in the seventh grade, even though I was a girl.
Just around 6:00 O’clock the next evening, the four of us headed to the store.  We all wore blue ski masks and our blue school windbreakers.  Our pockets were filled with eggs.  We used sewing needles to put holes in the top and the bottom of the eggs. Then we blew out the insides and filled them with Ajax and topped them with Scotch tape.  Joe went up to the store window first and whispered to Billy, “Annie is sitting in her chair at the counter.  I don’t see Tony.”  “Perfect,” my brother replied.  With that, Joe pulled open the glass door and the four of us pelted Annie with the eggs.  White and green speckled Ajax covered her shocked face and she started rubbing her eyes and screaming.  Just then, Tony came out of what seemed like a secret hallway swinging a baseball bat.
As he struggled to connect with one, another boy ran behind him and kicked him in his seat.  “Leave him alone!”  I screamed. “Stop it! Don’t hurt him!”  I didn’t realize, at first, that I was talking to the boys--not to Tony.  I ran home terrified.            
A few weeks later, I was forced to return to Tony’s candy store for my great grandmother's quarter pound of ham bologna.  I never knew if she wanted me to ask for ham or bologna. When I asked for clarification, she spewed curses at me in Polish and added, “Stupid girl, get ham bologna.”
When, I entered the scene of my previous crime, I guess Annie didn’t recognize me in my plaid Catholic school uniform. My blond hair was angelic compared to my navy ski mask. She stood from her badly scratched  maple rocking chair and said, “Come, here, Sweetheart, is this not beautiful?  Listen."   She pointed to her ear, then squinted, creating deep wrinkles on each side of her face. She lifted her head proudly and read slowly and clearly from her Readers Digest.  “Be careful of the words you say.  Keep them soft and sweet.  You’ll never know from day to day, which words you’ll have to eat.” 
She pushed a crumpled Kleenex across her shriveled face and asked, “What can I give you today?”
Nervously, I stuttered and said, “My great grandmother wants ham bologna, but I don’t even know what that is…”
Annie mistook my shame for innocence and said, “I take good care of you, honey.  Don’t worry.  Grandma be happy.  You are a good girl!”
It was on this day, in Tony's candy store, that it clicked for me that words have power.  As Annie handed me the small, brown, package of meat, I smiled and said, "Thank you, Annie. Have a good day."  In that moment, when our eyes met, I put my mean days behind me.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Tides of Life

When I was growing-up, my family spent memorable summers at the Jersey Shore building sandcastles to be washed away again and again by the thundering surf. Now that I live on the beach in Florida, I learned that in addition to all of the fun associated with a day at the beach, the event has many lessons to teach.
You see, what most people, who only go to the beach for the day or a week may not realize, is that the beach is not always a beautiful place.  It's a completely unique beach every single day.  One morning, you walk along the shoreline and your feet are warmed and massaged by smooth sand.  The seashells you find are all perfect, whole treasures, and the waves are just big enough to tickle your soul as they carry you, giggling like a lover, safely back to shore.
Other mornings, the beach is littered with ghastly, stinging jellyfish.  Your toes are stabbed and scratched by jagged shells.  Your arms and legs get bound and tangled in webs of foul-smelling seaweed.  Overpowering waves batter you and spit in your face, stinging your eyes, forcing tears, as you struggle find your balance.
Sometimes, you smell a rotting fish that sea gulls, which a day before appeared so graceful and beautiful, are fighting brutally amongst themselves to salvage. One flies away celebrating with a sinister laugh as it carries bloody chunks. You can't imagine that you were deceived into seeing it as a dove once.
Despite its cosmic beauty and its gloomy ugliness, its daily certainty and its growing mystery, the one thing that the ocean has taught me to remember in life is consistency.  No matter what happens; no matter what my marital or income status; no matter what time of the year it is, the waves keep rolling into the shore and out to the sea--over and over, with nothing to stop it, forever and ever into all eternity.
As we move through “our times” often made bleaker by the media, we must realize that there are always going to be wonderful days of smooth sands that form perfect shells of memories. Likewise, there will also be days where the dull sky and murky water seem to meet to form endless grey.  Like the surf rolling in and out, what you must keep in your mind and in your heart is what remains constant.  Here is what I have learned:
First, you are never alone.  Let the waves remind you of the support of your family; regardless of how your family is defined.  If you don’t have a family in the traditional sense, know that you will always be part of the human family and someone is here for you.  Take the risk and let someone know that you need help. I promise a pool of support will be captured by your openness.
Second, as you weigh the burdensome questions and decisions, stand firmly on the shores of the core values of honesty, trustworthiness, respect, fairness, and compassion.  These will always keep you afloat, above the bottom feeders, who will eventually be consumed by larger scum.
Finally, if pressure seems so great that you think that you can't possibly make it  another day, just close your eyes and remember the sounds of the ocean.  Listen in on your soul for the greater than you waves rolling in and rolling out that have been there everyday since your birth.  Your worrying will never change or impact that in any way.  No problem in your life will ever be more significant than the tiny grains of sand.  They are continuously stripped from the shore as the wave rolls out and redeposited in a completely different circumstances, as the tide rolls in.  Nothing will ever interrupt that rhythm.  Tomorrow will still come, and you will be able to face it.
This is the give and take of life. It reminds us to appreciate and celebrate our rightful place as children of the universe.  ALL the rest is just some crazy sunscreen—colorless, meaningless, layers that we apply as humans.  It's as if we think we actually have the power to combat forces as powerful as the sun. Put your hand up to stop the glare of electronic humanity and look within.
Surrender. Grab a beer.  Sit in a beachy chair.  Close your eyes. Remember what matters.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Nature vs. Nurture?

Recently, friends and I were weighing the pros and cons of presenting the concept of “being gay” to elementary school children.  Some were concerned that the mere talk of it could be the equivalent of notifying children that they have options from which to choose.  Yet, from my experience raising my son, Aaron, an only child, I observed that children are who they are at a very young age.
 Even in Kindergarten, when I had 11 little boys joyously celebrating my son’s 6th birthday on an apple farm in PA, there were clear divisions among the guests.  They drastically differed in size and shape as well as personality.  Ten boys would be pleasantly engaged in a 5 on 5 Wiffle ball game.  Sure, a few barely knew what was going on and one or two may have been picking their noses instead of fielding a grounder.  Two others would be off to the side—one trying to put a firecracker in an apple and another, riding my son’s Big Wheel down a steep hill to see how it would feel to crash into a birch tree.  Then, there was the one sweet boy, who followed me around the kitchen suggesting that the pale blue napkins would make a better color palette then the Yankee's themed napkins.  One other boy iced the cup cakes and asked if he decorate them with pink and blue sprinkles, instead of malt ball baseballs.  
Meanwhile, I thought I would have some control over shaping what type of man my son would become.  I insisted that he would never play with toy guns.  In the early 80s, there were many experts claiming that violent movies and toys were “turning” America’s children aggressive.  Meanwhile, he loved Legos, Transformers, and his amazing little Computron Computer.  He was having fun and guns would never be allowed in my house.  Was this too strict?

 I thought I might have been and was more than a little concerned when I took my son to Toys R Us to select any toy he wanted after he received perfect scores on first grade report card.  My grandmother started this tradition with us when we were younger.  Back in the 60s, she was shocked when my brother selected a baby alligator as his prize after making the Honor Roll in 4th grade. Nanny kept to her word and my brother got whatever he selected, despite her disgust.
I stood back in Toy R Us as my son went up and down the colorful aisles assessing which toy would be his best reward.  I knew immediately that he found something when he jumped up, and then “skipped” a bit as and declared, “This is it.”  My heart sunk…but if my grandmother accepted an alligator, I too had to keep my own mouth shut.  My face instantly tightened, yet I was able to force a really straight smile that more resembled gritting my teeth.  “Are you sure, Aaron, honey?” I asked.  He said, “Yea, I love this!”  He handed me a clear bubble package that contained a pink plastic blow dryer and 8 pink curlers and rushed to the register.   Did this mean what I thought it meant?
I begrudgingly paid for the selected item and sighed as my little blonde haired boy excitedly skipped through the parking lot to our white Ford Tempo.  He was  giddy.  I was sick with worry.  I asked, “Aaron, you seem so happy.  Why do you like this toy so much?”  He stopped, took the bubble package out the plastic bag, letting the bag drift away in the wind.  He pointed to the hair dryer and said, “This, here, is my ray gun.”  Then he pointed to the pink curlers, “And these are my bombs.”
 I sighed relief.
Still, to ensure that I was an open-minded mother, I decided, against his father’s strongest objections, that my son would have a doll. I wanted him to be able to demonstrate his nurturing side. One day, I bought him the “My Buddy” doll, which was a 36 inch stuffed boy doll wearing blue cover-alls, an orange and yellow striped shirt, and a red baseball cap covering blond hair.  I wanted to prove that I was able to let my son enjoy gender neutral toys. 
When I came home late from coaching basketball one night, I walked into the living room to find my son on the couch with his doll.  He had his left hand on the doll’s cap and the other on the crotch.  “What’s going on here?” I asked on the inside.  Aloud, I said, “Hey, Aaron, what are you up to?”
Aaron stood up on the coach and lifted the blue clad “My Buddy” doll over his head.  He nodded to direct my attention downward to the drab beige carpet, where seemingly hundreds of olive green plastic army soldiers were lined up in rows as if they were advancing on him to “take” the couch.  He said, “Look, Mom, this is really cool!”  He shook the doll above his head and shouted, “This is a huge bomb that could take out all of these soldiers at once.”  With that, he threw the cloth doll with great force, knocking most of the soldiers onto their sides.
He jumped off the couch, danced around in his Ninja Turtle briefs and tee shirt, and shouted, “USA, USA, USA!”
Ahh, that’s my boy?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Repeat: Lost in Translation

My day job has kept me too busy recently to add a new blog, so I'm going to post one that I posted earlier in May because I think it's funny.  I hope you agree.

My husband and I are fortunate to be surrounded by wonderful neighbors, who are year-round residents, in our Florida condominium.  To our left, lives a remarkable couple, who just celebrated their 50th anniversary.  Like many successful seniors, they came to America from another land and worked tirelessly to secure the American Dream for their children.  Their three daughters have all earned college degrees and have been extremely successful.
However, with the economic downturn, one of their daughters was unemployed last year.  My neighbor, Maria, approached me while I was walking my dogs and asked if I would consider reviewing her daughter’s resume to see if it could be improved.  I work as a grant writer, but while teaching English for 12 years, I always included lesson plans on resume writing, so I had some experience.  Later in the day, Maria gave me a Post It size paper containing her daughter’s e-mail address, so that I could introduce myself and encourage her daughter to e-mail me a copy of her resume.  When I sat at my computer to write to Maria’s daughter, I struggled to read Maria’s printing.  The letters and numbers, comprising the e-mail address, were printed neatly but they were so tiny.  Even with my most powerful reading glasses, purchased in bulk from BJ’s, I couldn't make out all of the characters in the handwritten e-mail address.  I struggled and came up with the best e-mail address I could manage.
The next day, when I was walking my dog again, I saw Maria.  Humbly and gratefully, she inquired about whether I was able to e-mail her daughter.  I stuttered a little as I explained that I tried to do so.  I said, “Maria, I’m so sorry, but your writing was so very tiny that I could hardly read the address.  I sent the e-mail anyway, but honestly, I’m not sure if it went through to the correct address."
Maria, who would rather die than inconvenience anyone, reached for my hand and put the other to her head.  “I’m so sorry,” she said with a broken accent.  “My daughter, Katerina, told me, 'Momma, make sure when you give Katie the   e-mail address that you use only small letters.'  So I tried really, really hard to write it as tiny as possible.  I even did it two times.”
I burst into laughter.  I gave Maria a hug and said, “Maria, Katerina meant that you should not use capital letters in the e-mail address--not that you should write really small!”  We laughed so hard that my dogs thought we were crazy.  Fortunately, Maria's daughter did get a job and all is well.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Child Rearing?

Recently, I attended a picnic at my friend’s house.  I got relief from the heat in heavenly air conditioning as I helped her to carry-out some trays of food.  While inside, I heard a car arrive.  It was the grandparents of the children whose parents were hosting the picnic.  I was stunned as, from the sliding glass door,  I saw the grandfather struggle to get to the house.  His baby steps allowed him to cover just inches at a time as his son helped him.  I heard he had been seriously ill, and his arms displayed the tattoos that were dark bruises from IVs.  His face was fully crimson as he struggled to reach the glass storm door.  Clear tubes connected him to an oxygen tank that his wife managed behind him. As he got closer, I looked into his piercing blue eyes and saw nothing but determination.  If he could have spoken,  he would have voiced his deep commitment to see his family at one final picnic before he died.

As he stepped through the doorway into the living room, his 10 year old grandson spun around in a burgandy Lazy Boy chair and said, “Hi, Grandpa,” but made no move to get up.  This cushy chair was the only reachable piece of furniture near the door that Grandpa could get to before collapsing from his immense struggle to enter the house.  I waited for it to be said, but heard nothing.  I tried to keep quiet, but couldn’t.  Eventually, in my most stern teacher’s voice, I took a step towards the grandson, who was still swiveling in the Lazy Boy.  I said, “Jason, you get out of that chair this moment and let your grandfather sit down!”  Immediately, I knew I had crossed a boundary by speaking to someone else’s child this way, but I couldn’t stop myself.

Jason squished his tan face into defiance and stared back at me with wide brown eyes.  He exclaimed, “I was here, first!”

As if slapped across the face, I opened my mouth in shock and looked from his face back two steps behind me where his mother was wiping her hands on a dishtowel containing sunflowers.  Inside, I’m thinking, “Okay, now she’s going to let Jason have it!’

The mother's face turned to stone as she put her right hand on her hip and said, “He’s right. Jason had that chair first!”  Then, her raised eyebrows asked me how I dared to talk to her son that way.

I was raised by a schizophrenic, catatonic, psychopath and yet every hair would be ripped from my head if I ever failed to give my seat to an elder, a pregnant woman, or a disabled  person. What is Jason learning?  Who will pass down our society's basic courtesies in the future?

Crazy, Mom, thank you for all you did right.  Maybe a kick in the rear is a good thing every now and then.  The truth is that there are probably no bad children or bad dogs, only bad trainers.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Bad Season Finale?

Many of us, who are in our middle years, will never forget the historic season finales of beloved television programs.  Immediately, I think of MASH, Newhart, Seinfeld, Friends, and Sopranos.  Because of exquisite writing, it was difficult to say good-bye to characters that shared our living rooms with us for years. Collectively, as a nation, we grabbed our favorites snacks and settled in on our couches to see how skillful writers would force us to bid farewell to Hot Lips, Kramer, and Carmella.

Well, here in Central Florida, this week, we faced another television loss, as the most watched program of the season, The Case Against Casey came to an end.  The daily broadcast of the Casey Anthony murder trial, couldn’t have been better scripted by a Noble Prize winner.  Central casting couldn’t have selected better actors and actresses.  On a daily basis, we watched for emotion on the face of the shapely, attractive mother accused of murder.  We felt as frustrated as the stammering Defense Attorney hearing “Sustained” over and over again. We joked that he could have starred in “My Cousin Vinnie.”  We admired the verbal sparring skills of the aggressive blond lead prosecutor, always wearing sexy pumps, and supported by her white-haired Perry Mason-like teammate.  And then there were the grieving parents, broken and emotional, but always available for a “Meet and Greet.”

Despite the fact that I was utterly disgusted by the television promotions: “Customize your Casey coverage on your phone, Twitter and Facebook,” I couldn’t turn away.  In fact, even on vacation in Las Vegas, the perfect place to escape all reality, I turned on the television whenever I went back to my room to see what was happening in the trial at home in Florida.

Why?  What compelled us to watch this case?  Was it that television has become so grossly inferior as a form of entertainment that no modern program could equal the caliber of character and plot development that this trial offered?  Was it that every day was as compelling as a season cliffhanger leaving us with more questions than answers? Why wouldn’t a mother call the police after her daughter was missing for 31 days?  Why would a former police officer call the police to report a gas can stolen?  Who is more reliable, the medical examiner that conducted John F. Kennedy’s autopsy or reality TV star, Dr. G? Where was the DNA, hair fibers, and other stuff we learned on CSI, CSI NY, CSI Miami?

Then, the worst possible thing happened.  We’ve experienced the same emotion in the past when Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer were let out of jail and went their separate ways. It was a bad Season Finale.  The show didn’t end the way we expected.  Casey Anthony was found not guilty.  How could this happen?

It could happen because Radar never really died. Jerry was never really arrested for being inconsiderate. Bob Newhart didn’t really wake up in bed with his old television wife.  Television is not real.  Even our news is not real. What we saw every day and every night, related to the case, was not the same thing that the jury saw. We never saw the photographs that the jury saw.  We never saw any of the real evidence that the jury shared.  We only saw what a camera could capture. We saw the distorted perspective that is broadcast as entertainment. At the same time, our perception of the little we did see was constantly reshaped by talking heads—so called experts who spent every single day 24/7 telling us what we should believe we saw.  It’s not real—just as it is not real as it relates to any other aspect of our society.

While on our summer hiatus, I hope viewers remember this because every, single one of us, could be put on trial by this same media and could someday swim with the fishes, like Big Pussy. We have to get a grip on reality! At this moment, I could point a camera at the water hitting the ground from our sprinkler system and any viewer would believe wholeheartedly that it was raining.  But it's not.  The sun is shining. The limited camera cannot take in all of the perceptions that we are blessed to enjoy.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Topsy Turvy Tiff (Update)

On May 26, 2011, I posted a blog about my retired neighbor’s Topsy Turvy Times.  To recap, in an effort to give her retired husband a hobby, my friend Rosie went with Henry to Walmart to buy a Topsy Turvy Tomato. For the price of $ 14.99, they would have all the tomatoes they could eat. That’s how the saga began.  Here is a quick summary of the events:

·         They realized that the Topsy Turvy doesn’t come with tomato plants. They headed back to Walmart to spend $30.00 on tomato plants.

·         Henry planted 15 pounds of tomatoes in the planter and then hung it outside on the balcony wall.  He realized there was not enough sun there for tomatoes. They went back to Walmart to buy a longer wrought iron plant hook for $10.00.

·         Henry drilled the balcony wall and hung the plant on the new hook.  Later in the day, he realized that half the container would always be against the wall and wouldn’t get any sun.  He decided it would be better if he built a stand for it. He drove to Home Depot to buy $20.00 worth of wood and $12.00 worth of screws.

·         He built a plant stand in the exact shape of the stick stand you would draw on a piece of paper if you were starting to play the Hangman word game. Henry was still unsatisfied.  He said, “You know, I can’t just keep this wood natural.” Henry ran to Home Depot to buy the best quart of white semi-gloss paint for $14.00.

·         Once Henry painted his plant stand bright white, he put it onto the balcony, hung his Topsy Turvy tomato plant.  But, all the next morning, Henry realized that his plant was only getting a few hours of sun a day. Henry took the wheels off Rosie’s favorite huge cactus plant and added them to his tomato stand.  This way, he could wheel the stand around all day to catch the sun for his Topsy Turvy tomatoes in various locations on the balcony.

·         After three days of peace, Henry called Rosie outside. He was red, sweaty and upset.  He noticed a round water stain on the floor of his balcony. Henry headed to Home Depot to buy a few 2” x 2” and 1” x 12” pieces of wood for $16.00.  He built a rectangular tray to catch the water that drips from the Topsy Turvy plant.

·         Henry was still unhappy because he didn’t want the new wooden tray, he just built, to get ruined by dripping water.  He ran into the kitchen pantry and grabbed one of Rosie’s favorite serving trays to put it onto the wooden tray he build to protect the wood from water stains.

·         When Henry invited me over to see the Topsy Turvy tomato. I said, “Henry, I hate to even say this, but the leaves on your tomato plants look shriveled.” He said, “You know, you’re right. I knew it too.”  He walked over to a small plastic tool cabinet and said, “I didn’t tell Rosie, but I went Walmart’s and bought this tomato food for $12.99.  I mix a ½ capful of food with a gallon of water.” I said, “Henry, Let me see that bottle.”  He passed me a yellow plastic bottle and after putting on my reading glasses, I read aloud, “Mix 1/3 cap of food with 2 gallons of water for 20 square feet of garden every 14 days. “Henry,” I added, “I think you’re killing your tomatoes with kindness.” Henry paused and stared, thinking hard. He walked around the plant stand once and said, “Rosie, get in the car.  I have to go to Walmart’s to get some new tomato plants.”

Well, recently when my husband came home from one of his food gathering expeditions, he mentioned that he ran into Henry and Rosie at Walmart.  Chuckling, he said, “Rosie and I couldn’t stop laughing. It turns out that the new tomato plants Henry planted in the Topsy Turvy Tomato stand were patio tomatoes.” My husband, an avid gardener, added, “Patio tomatoes are hybrids. The leaves are darker than most tomatoes. The fruit is much smaller and some consider the skin really tough.”  He continued describing how in the store Rosie was crossing her legs, trying not to pee her pants when she told my husband the update.  She said, ' Henry picked three tomatoes and put them on the table. 'That’s it?' I asked.  ‘They’re putrid!  I’m not eating those. You eat one first.’ Henry took one look at them and said, ‘I ain’t eatin that shit either!’  He picked up his three golf ball sized tomatoes and chucked them right into the trash. In the store, facing my husband, Rosie rolled her eyes behind Henry and used her pointer finger to make small circles around her right temple indicating that Henry was crazy. My husband chuckled again, “ When Henry turned around suddenly, Rosie stood like a statue and tried to look sad about Henry’s tomatoes."

A few moments later, when my husband saw Henry and Rosie in Walmart again near the cash registers, their moods had changed completely. Both of their faces were filled pride as they each pushed their own shopping cart as if they were baby carriages in which babies were nestled.  That’s because each cart, Rosie’s and Henry’s, contained one tall hearty new tomato plant sitting up straight in the toddler seat portion of the metal cart.  They delicately moved their tomato plants to the register and Henry pointed to his and said, “We’re starting from scratch.  We don’t want hybrid cars and we don’t want hybrid tomatoes!  These are normal!”

A week later, Henry and Rosie had a repair man in their condo to service their two central air conditioning units.  Henry, a former union tradesman, welcomed the opportunity to converse with another man who knew his way around a tool belt.  After the two men traded war stories, revealing their knowledge of complex cooling units,  the air conditioning service man mentioned that he spent some time after work in his garden.  With that, Henry invited the service man to step out onto his balcony for an exclusive private viewing of the Topsy Turvy Tomato stand.  After taking a step back to take in the six foot tall, bright white, hang man style, ornate Topsy Turvy Tomato stand-- with its custom-made humidity tray, the air conditioning man nodded his head and seemed quite impressed.  He said, “Henry, I can really appreciate the craftsmanship of this stand.  It’s outstanding work. ”  He paused, put his thumbs inside his tool belt and added, “I hate to tell you this, though…but the truth is that it’s WAY too late in the season to plant tomatoes.  They’ll never grow now.”

Rosie, who was standing just inside, behind the screen door listening, heard the air conditioning man’s comment and her shoulders sunk.  Without a word, she pushed the sliding glass door over to th side until it was fully closed, locked it, leaving the two men on the balcony. She left and went to the grocery store to buy a big juicy tomato to make herself a BLT for lunch.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Mucho Macho Men

Watching the Belmont Stakes and seeing a horse named Mucho Macho Man reminded me of a funny story that my husband told me.  Anyone who knows him would acknowledge that he is a big man with massive shoulders, developed in his early twenties, when he invested time in intensive body building.  Throughout his thirties and forties, he demonstrated his amazing athleticism and earned the nickname, “The Vacuum” because of how adeptly he fielded grounders as the short stop for the local softball team.  Meanwhile, well into his late forties, he was arguably the best racquetball player in our local tennis club-- where he spent every Friday night participating in a round robin league. 
He would dupe new players by walking onto the course wearing complex knee braces leading his opponent to think that he would be playing against a virtual cripple. Then, when my husband entered the court, his sheer size, although he is just 5 10, so let’s say… his notable width, pervaded the court.  He would position himself in such a way that a mere flick of his wrist would send his opponent scurrying after that blue ball, in every direction, until he was spent.  Dripping wet, the new player would shake hands and concede that my husband was, indeed, the best racquetball player in the club.
It’s true, that now that my husband is 65, some of his shoulders have sunk into a sloping belly, but he’s still an imposing figure.  With his dark black hair and beard, gold horn and pinkie ring, black Lincoln Continental and trunk, big enough for cement shoes and a body, he’s someone not to be messed-with.
That’s why I was surprised when he entered our condo dripping with sweat after leaving the cavernous underground garage in our building.   He heaved to catch his breath and was doing that dance little boys do when they have to go to the bathroom urgently.  At the same time, he was bending over laughing and laughing, unable to stop.  After visiting the bathroom, he resurfaced again, still bent over, holding his stomach, unable to control his laughter.
He eventually told me the story.   Our neighbor, Benny, and he were in the basement garage area talking.  Bennie is a former Wall Street trader that resembles Sean Connery, with his salt and pepper hair but with tough New York talk and city swagger.  Benny and my husband had the main building garage doors opened to let in the ocean breeze because they were both going to do projects in their respective garages.  While they chatted, my husband saw a spider enter the garage.  He said, “This spider was so big, it cast a shadow.  I swear to God.  It was walking towards us.”
 “Step on it, Bennie.”
Bennie jumped back and grimaced. “I’m not stepping on it.  I’m wearing sandals.  You step on it.”
My husband said, “No way, I’m not stepping on it either.  It’s too big. I’m not going near it!”
Like Batman seeing the Bat Signal and heading to the Bat Cave, Bennie’s tone turned ominous and he instructed, “Wait, here.”
He went to his individual garage with his unit number 207 on the outside in fake gold letters.
Like Bruce Wayne, he punched a secret code into his keypad.  His garage door opened, revealing his sky blue Mercedes convertible.   My husband waited, a little confused, as he heard the tweet of the key fob and soon Bennie pulled- out of the garage, moving his arm to push the button to roll down the front window.  He called my husband over to him, pointed to the tires, and said, “We’ll run him over!”
They both guffawed and then instantly took on the serious tone of former leaders of men with a mission.  My husband used his broad shoulders to take a position in between the car and the spider. He lifted both arms simultaneously like a member of a ground crew signaling a plane’s arrival at the gate.  He put his pointer fingers up and waived Benny forward.  The men’s eyes met and mirrored each other’s intense focus.
“To the left, Bennie, left.  A little more.  No, missed him.  Back up.  Back up now. Go back!”  Frank mumbled, “Get in the game, for Christ sake!  Concentrate.”
Bennie, who is a little hard of hearing, put his head out the window and asked, “Did we get him?”
“No!  We didn’t get him.  Come on!” Frank shook his head in frustration.  “No, we missed him.”
 My husband moved closer to Bennie than back.  “Try it again.  Finesse it!”
My husband took his position, spread his legs to give him extra balance, lifted up his arms and directed Bennie.  The wide Mercedes tire was eventually directly in front of the spider.
“Little more.  Little more. Go Right. Right.  Little More…  Got him!”
My husband’s feet left the floor as he and Bennie cheered.  They hooted as if the NY Giants had just scored a field goal to again win the Super Bowl.  My husband rushed up to the car and the two Olympians high fived.
“Good job,” Bennie shouted.  “That was teamwork!”
Bennie backed up his Mercedes passed his garage to the one for Unit 210.  Then, turned right and pulled his car into the garage.  He closed the garage using the keypad and said, “Hey that was a workout. I’m going to have a scotch to celebrate.” 
“See you later,” my husband said feeling content.  He headed up the steps instead of using the elevator to get to the second floor.  Midway up, he partially collapsed because the ridiculousness of it all hit him at once.  He just couldn’t stop laughing.  “I was laughing so hard I was afraid I wasn’t going to make it up here without peeing my pants.” 
His laughter was contagious so the two of us stood in the kitchen laughing as we haven’t had in a while.
Then, when my husband finally caught his breath and said, “Another job well done.  Time for a nap."

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Couples Credit?

As someone who was once employed by my spouse, I had lots of experience with him getting credit for what was actually my work.  If I wrote a grant, newsletter, or article for him, inevitably, he read it, paused, contemplated, grabbed a pen, and made one tiny swipe of his huge hand to add a comma.  He smiled, sat back in his high, burgundy-upholstered office chair and said, “That’s better.”  He looked over his glasses at me on the other side of his mahogany desk, as if I were a peon and added, “That comma made all the difference.” 
Instantly, the unfairness of it all simmered in my chest and I came close to erupting into an explosive argument, but I held my tongue.  After all, I reasoned that his organization paid me for my words, so they were now his.  But does the same rule apply in our personal relationship?
For a few years, my husband and I drove every Sunday from our home in PA to NJ to visit his mother in a nursing home.  Each time, we had the same argument.  All the way down Route 78, until we exited into the suburban town, I instructed, “Pull over.  We’re going to a bakery.  We’re bringing your Mom some pastries.”
“She doesn’t need any damn, pastries!  She gets all the food she needs.”
“You pull over right now.  We’re not going there empty-handed.  Where are your manners?  A few baked goods really make her day.  She can share them with her friends.”
“I’m not pulling over. You’ll be in there for a freaking half hour.”
“Pull over, now!”
Inevitably, I won.  I rushed into the bakery and pointed to various display cases filling one box with Italian cookies, another with brownies, and still another with a cheese Danish ring.  I fumbled through my wallet to pay and tip the lady in white because she responded to my anxiety and got everything ready so quickly.
I felt content and proud of myself as I carried the tower of white bakery boxes, tied with string, to the automatic glass door of the nursing home.  But, since I was unable to navigate ice and snow with my hands so filled with delights, my husband said, “Here, let me take those for you.”
 I relinquished the boxes, so that I could ensure that my Sunday best outfit was not covered with powdered sugar.   I brushed off my skirt and did my final primping as we walked down a maze of hallways.  Then, just as we entered my mother- in-law's room, where she waited facing the door in her wheel chair, my husband inched in front of me like a thundering race horse, nose to nose, with another at the finish line.  He’d lift up the three boxes slightly, with just a barely noticeable shrug of his shoulders, as if to say, “Lookee, here!”  Then, the celebration started.
His mother’s arms lifted towards the ceiling, in a Baptist Halleluiah gesture, and came back down as if folded in a prayer of Thanksgiving.  She put her eyes down for a moment and shook her praying hands forward and back.
“My a son, My a son.  Look what he brings me.  He’s such a good boy!  I’m the luckiest Momma on earth.  Come give me a hug.  Oh by the way…Hello to you.”
So what’s wrong with letting my husband look good in his mother’s eye? But what about when he does it with my own family?
When we lived in PA and had a pool, deck, hot tub, and volleyball court, our place was the spot to gather for Fourth of July and Memorial Weekend events.  My husband pushed a stocked shopping cart through BJ’s while I selected baby back ribs, flank steaks, and sausages.  All the while, he tagged along behind me mumbling swear words --that cleaned up a bit amounted to, “Throw a freaking hot dog on the goddamn grill!  Why do you have to get all this crap?  Because they're your brothers?”
After an amazing day of drinks, volleyball, swimming and incredible food, my brothers and sisters and their spouses lined up at the front door to say their goodbyes.  Each one passed me by, grabbed my husband’s hand in a hearty handshake, then rethought it, and wrapped theirs arms around his big shoulders in a grateful bear hug, and said, “My man, Frank, you throw the best parties!”
It’s one thing to be recognized for fine backyard grilling, but now that my husband has retired, his credit- seeking ways have penetrated other areas-- like the kitchen.  He would have never dreamed of getting involved there before.  As I rush from the refrigerator to the stove, putting the final touches on pot roast, stuffed cabbage, loin of pork or filet mignon, he has been known to enter the kitchen from the other doorway.  He waits until I’m in the dining room setting the table, he looks left, then right, to make sure the coast is clear, and stealthily adds a dash of pepper to whatever I’m cooking.  That’s it.  One dash of pepper. 
After guests take their first bite and I straighten my posture in my dining room chair preparing to be garnished with accolades, my husband clears his throat.  Just in time to interrupt the first tidbit of praise, he states, “Ya know, she’s a good cook, but I put the finishing touches on this dish with my secret formula.”

Amidst the “Ohhs and Ahhs” and “Delicious, Frank!” I fume.  What?  You’ve got to be kidding me?  All you did was add pepper-- which it didn’t even need, I might add!
The thing that I find most upsetting about this credit stealing conduct is that my husband has so many of his own talents to be recognized.  He has a PhD.  He was a successful Superintendent of Schools.  He can do any home repair.  He recently added crown molding to our living room and raised panel molding to our dining room.  He installed hanging lights above our kitchen counter—demonstrating electrical skill.  He’s even a better golfer.  Why does he need to take credit for my only skills, writing and cooking?
When couples recently visited our condo in Florida for an indoor Memorial Day barbecue, they were so impressed with how beautiful our tile floor looked. My husband had purchased beige grout stain online.  He spent an entire weekend, on his knees, applying the grout stain with a toothbrush into every dark line of our 1800 square foot condo that has tile in every single room.
As each guest asked about our floors, since grout lines are a big topic of discussion in our neck of the woods, I stepped in front of my husband and said, “It took me hours.  I rolled up and down the rooms in my office chair, leaning way over and painting every single line by hand, myself, with a tooth brush.  It was backbreaking work!”  I put on my best martyr face.
My guests were interested for all of one second.  One wife turned fully away from me, rubbing her hands together in anticipation, and said,
“I can’t wait to see what Frank made for dinner tonight.”