Thursday, June 30, 2011

Happy Fourth of July--A few Days Early!

"Susan Says..." will taking a few days off in observance of the upcoming holiday.

The Fourth of July has always been a big deal in my family. First, as the daughter in a family where my peeps appreciated exactly what the United States stood for and were very grateful to be safe in its sheltering arms.

Though the immigrant experience may have faded a wee bit with the decades, I live with a man who reads the Declaration of Independence aloud every year to whomever happens to be within earshot.

He then posts, with a flourish, a true-to-size copy of it --purchased at the Smithsonian and made to look all crinkly and yellowed like the original -- on the wall. 

Seth takes it pretty darn seriously.
The original. Or is it?

When the boys were young, he would try to appear stately, bellowing and gesticulating his way through the famous document.

Things haven't changed much and we are pretty sure our neighbors have come to wonder who the escapee from the loony bin is at our house and why is he reading the Declaration of Independence just like Foghorn Leghorn....

However you celebrate, we wish you a wonderful weekend.

Let's remind ourselves that no matter what Anthony Weiner has done or that Michele Bachmann --the latest candidate to throw her eyebrow pencil into the ring -- attributes the fight to abolish slavery to the founding fathers as well as confusing serial killer John Wayne Gacy with the actor, or that the pants Seth is wearing were made in Bangladesh, we are still lucky to live in this great nation.

So, be careful when handling those firecrackers, keep in my mind that mayonnaise spoils quickly on a hot day and read the Declaration of Independence (in a crazy voice) to your family this Monday--Happy Fourth of July to all my readers. 

See you back here ( random miscellany may appear in the interim) on Tuesday!
I apologize to my constituents, but mostly to my wife, Houma, for leaving the potato salad out in the sun.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Summer Parties....

This is a column from last year that I haven't shared with you reflects the activities of the day and the time of year that seems to have finally arrived....summer!

I love throwing a party.   

I love staying up really late the night before, dipping strawberries in chocolate and garnishing platters until my back is broken and I rise from my task, a cross between Martha Stewart and Groucho Marx.   

I love making lists, deciding on menus and sending out all the invitations at once with this new-fangled device called a computer. I love the last minute trips to the supermarket and the sojourn to Costco where, especially before big holidays, the camaraderie between shoppers equals that between soldiers in foxholes.
I am writing this the day before July fourth and, actually, was at Costco today. If anyone else was there, too, you know that the lines stretched from the check-outs to the rotisserie chickens in the back but, nonetheless, the atmosphere was festive.  

I realized that I had forgotten an item upon noticing it another shopper’s cart and had to argue with her as she good-naturedly tried to force me to take hers. Stories were exchanged between those waiting, with our towering carts piled high with giant bags of Asian snack mix and plastic tubs of Brownie Bites. 

We compared notes about the longest line we, as hardened shoppers, have ever endured, trading war stories of how we survived—writing letters home, scratching calendars into the wall and ticking off the days--as we waited to reach the register. We all agreed, with feigned bitterness and knowing nods, that this might very well be the longest line in the history of the universe.
I love coming home and organizing my purchases, shaping them into the appetizers and dishes they were intended to be. I love phoning my friends and asking, as if I’ve never asked before, to borrow a cooler or some plastic chairs. I love the self-righteousness that all this work allows me around the house, at least for a few days. After all, I say to my family, “this is hard work!”  Meanwhile, it may be work but it’s for a party, for goodness sake. By definition, that makes me one lucky lady.
As we all know, the weather has been very challenging lately. We have gone, for several weeks, from bright sun to torrential rain in a matter of minutes but tomorrow is supposed to be dry and, one of my favorite words ever—breezy.   

We’ve all been cooped up for weeks and the recession has kept many of us close to home so tomorrow, with the Fourth falling on a Saturday, I suspect that it will be the “perfect storm” of entertaining.  I am concerned that the combined grill-smoke from all the cook-outs in the northeast corridor may well punch another hole in the ozone and Al Gore will make a new movie about it. Hopefully, he will wipe the ketchup from his upper lip before he steps to the podium to accept his next Nobel Prize.
I love the morning of the party.  There’s that little nervous flutter that accompanies inviting people to your home.  What if I suddenly lose my memory and forget what to do when everyone arrives? What if I have the day wrong and the party is really tomorrow? What if, this year, Brad Pitt finally shows up but insists on bringing that skinny nutjob he’s been hanging around with lately?

You know--the completely normal anxieties that any hostess experiences before the fun starts.
I love that my sons’ friends come, too. Our summer parties are almost two separate events. We’ve all been together for quite a while now and it’s always been the older generation up on the deck, near the food and bathrooms and the kids below on the grass. They still do what they did when they were little—play wiffleball, except now there are lots of pretty girlfriends to cheer them on and, as of this year, one new wife and, the best part—a baby, too. 
I love it when it gets dark and the familiar summer smell of citronella joins the day’s aromas. I love the hanging lanterns and the dessert table and the general din of all the voices and I love standing at my kitchen window watching it all. 

They don’t notice me.  

It seems as if  I’m just washing a few dishes to try to get ahead of the clean-up but I am really taking it all in.  Summer parties.  Friends.  Family.  An occasional firefly showing off in the darkness beyond the line of noise and laughter. 

Honestly, who could ask for anything more?  Not me.
I would definitely buy this.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Dying at the Movies: Three Celluloid Certainties

Certain things in life, and especially in Hollywood's version of it, are very predictable.  Here are three:

1. You know that if you are watching a movie with an opening scene that includes a happy family driving in a car, especially if they're playing innocent travel games like "spot the license plate" or singing "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" that a horrific accident is about to befall them and they will either all die or their lives will be radically altered by tragedy.

Often this will occur at night while navigating snowy roads or driving through heavy rain.

You wouldn't be so happy if you knew what's coming.
They more well-adjusted they appear, the quicker they will perish.

There is no way around this so brace yourself.

2. You know that the minute someone coughs in a movie, no matter how apparently insignificant, they are going to die.

This is absolutely inevitable and irreversible.

Since the beginning of cinematic history and, perhaps, as far back as theater in ancient Greece, a cough is the go-to indicator of a characters' imminent illness and subsequent demise. Do not get attached to a character who coughs.

It's as certain as the fact that a Kardashian daughter is going to either get knocked up by some playboy with diluted royal ties and a weak chin or marry a professional athlete who will buy her an engagement ring the size of a recliner.
They are terrifying.
Whoever coughs in a movie --or marries a Kardashian -- is doomed.

3. You also know that if a movie, other than but not excluding a Disney film, is about a dog, that dog will die at the end.

You will meet the dog as an irresistible puppy.

You will fall in love with this dog as he rescues small children from pedophiles and romps adorably through at least one mid-movie montage in which he scatters autumn leaves, engages in playful tugs of war and chews up a feather pillow. 

Everyone laughs indulgently as feathers fly but this dog is going down.

You will know the end approacheth when one of the rescued children, now slightly older, notices that Fido can no longer play frisbee.

Soon that movie dog will be dead and you will be sobbing loudly and inconsolably in front of your TV, squeezing the life out of your still very much alive kitty cat who is sick of all these formulaic movie sequences but is too polite to mention it.

At least we can depend on certain things.
Greta Garbo set the standard for a cough =death in the classic movie from the 30's---"Camille."

Friday, June 24, 2011

Driving to New York City...Part Three: Destination and Return

The Brooklyn Battery Tunnel is no picnic.

Tunnels, by definition, are, well...tunnels.

Long dark tubes surrounded by water, just waiting to spring a leak and ultimately sweep me out to sea or where I await the inevitable ball of fire that is heading right at me as I sing along to Billy Joel's Greatest hits, Volume III.

This is why, the proverbial "light at the end of" is so nice. It's especially so when it's Brooklyn light. Because that's home.

Plus I'm out of the tunnel.

After navigating through suburbia, whooshing around the island of Manhattan on it's western edge and taking my chances under the east River, I emerge onto an elevated, congested stretch of road called the Gowanus Expressway.
An enduring landmark

From this altitude, Brooklyn lies before me. There's the Williamsburg Bank Building with its landmark clock, the giant "Bruno Truck Sales" sign that has been there forever, the old factories--now mostly empty and the various familiar church spires and painted-on-the-bricks signs.

But I am headed to my old neighborhood so I keep my eyes on the road with only an occasional glance towards the water or the streets below. Unlike Manhattan, these buildings seem to be huddling together, leaning against each other for support. 

You can see straight down the residential streets leading from the water into the congested neighborhoods. Even though those streets seem quiet, you know they lead to the beating heart of the city's most populous borough.

Here drivers look neither bored nor awed. They simply, for the most part, look a little crazy. Brooklyn drivers couldn't care less about the majesty of the Hudson or the architecture or anything....except getting where they're going. And getting there fast.

Vans with signs that announce the electricians, stonemasons, plumbers and carpenters seated within, hurtle by as I grip the wheel, eyes straight ahead.

There's no room for error as bread trucks with no side doors pass me with only a few inches to spare. Police cars hurry along, oblivious to the speeds, lack of seat belts or drivers yammering into their phones. It's all about getting home, to the job, to the scene of the crime or to the Vegas Diner for a Greek salad.

Once off the highway, the neighborhoods change quickly. Taking a detour to see my old stomping ground of Boro Park,the traffic is so noisy, aggressive and insane that I regret my decision. It's here I worry about getting hit because the streets are, literally, a free-for-all. No European city could be crazier.

It's here I'm reminded of how homogenous my current neighborhood is as opposed to the myriad of ethnicities, religions and languages sitting behind the wheel of every car, standing on every street corner and gazing out of every apartment house window.

I make my way to the peace of Shore Road which runs parallel to, and is best buddies with, the Belt Parkway--my route home at the end of my visit. 
Beauty ain't cheap: $13 toll

The Belt is yet another highway in New York City with buildings on one side and water on the other. Here, the water is the glittering narrows spanned by the Verrazano Bridge, the most beautiful suspension bridge ever built.

Tankers, container vessels and passenger ships glide by throughout the day. In he distance, the yellow of the Staten island Ferry can be seen as it makes its way between the St. George Terminal and the tip of lower Manhattan.

Despite the calm of this atypically quiet section of the city, Brooklyn breathes can feel it's pulse everywhere. Especially on the highways that lead you in, out and through its busy streets.

At the end of my visit, after hugs, kisses and "see you soons, " I am back on the road.

Back looking at buildings and water and digging for the Easy Pass I'd put in my bag so in case the car got stolen, they wouldn't get that, dammit.

I'm back to weep at the missing Twin Towers, back to sneer at the svelte runners, back to trying to look bored because this time, it's the city melting away in my rear view mirror.

Catch you later, NYC. Miss me, 'cause I miss you.
Yes, of course, I let cats drive my car.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Driving Into New York City...Part Two: The West Side (don't read if you're a hipster)

Just as the suburbs fade behind you, the bored look goes through a bit of a metamorphosis.

As the yellow arm of the Easy Pass Lane raises, admitting you to the greatest city on earth, to be bored would make no sense.

Apprehensive? Sure. Awestruck? Absolutely. Bored? Never.

I sneak in via the back door--the west side. 

The West Side Highway which skirts along the Hudson River and coaxes you right into the Battery Tunnel downtown, is the easiest thoroughfare in New York. To your left, stands the noisy cacaphony of the city---simultaneously repellant and alluring. To your right, is the peaceful expanse of the river, restful and calming.

Oh, hold on...there's a steady line of women wearing almost nothing but their abs, taking their daily run along the water's edge. Half the drivers are staring at them and drooling and the other half, to which I belong, are mentally reminding them that middle age, lack of will power and the free M&M market might blur those goddam abs one day, bitches.
City on one side, river on the other.

Then there's the construction downtown that's affecting the traffic uptown, as well as the lights that -- every once in a while (when you're in the biggest hurry), appear to be completely off sequence.

Crawling and honking from red to red to red, you begin to plot against the life of the misanthropic little prankster who's eating his sliced turkey, no mayo on a roll in a dingy office and playing with the traffic lights in between playing with himself. 

And he's doing it just to screw with YOU. 

The Circle Line--a great way to enjoy the city!
So, you tootle along. You watch the tourists run like bats out of hell across the highway on their way to the Circle Line for a boat trip around the island and the hipsters by the piers--once the entry point for shipping traffic but now the playground for young New Yorkers with enough money to pay between eight and ten bucks a game.

Based on what most people are wearing, the uniform to bowl must be skinny jeans, crazy eye glasses and a small crocheted hat.
Waiting to bowl

As I hurry past the the Hustler compound and cover my nose and mouth, hoping to avoid inhaling the spores of any sexually transmitted diseases that have escaped through the vents and the meat packing district which now packs meat of a different kind, I find myself passing the spot that held the Twin Towers.

Try as I might, I can never keep the tears from flowing.

There is lots of activity down there over seen by dozens of cops, many of whom look way too scrawny to have passed the NYPD's physical tests or a new breed of muscular behemoth cop, biceps bulging from short sleeves, looking way too pumped to have passed the drug tests.

I observe everything from behind my rolled up windows and locked doors. Even though my sons tell me that the city is different, that crime is down and people are way more chill, I grew up in the era when New York looked exactly like the city depicted in the movie Taxi Driver starring my ex boyfriend, Robert DeNiro. And that wasn't good.

You kept your doors locked so no one hopped in to rob you.

According to my sources, you only get robbed these days by hipsters down by the bowling alley at the Chelsea Piers because no one can afford the rates.

Stay tuned for the final installment tomorrow.....
"$10.25 so I can bowl or I end you."

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Driving Into New York City...Part One: The Approach

Whenever I hit the road to head back to my ancestral home -- the streets of New York City -- for a visit, I join an elite group of drivers.

The highways leading to the city are a challenge. The speeds are high, the drivers high strung, and there is little room for bumbling about.

Some drivers are daily commuters. They are the super elite. I choose to leave a little later in the morning in order to avoid the congestion of the true rush so these are off-peak daily drivers but that doesn't detract from their exalted status.

Jaded and experienced but capable of surprising tolerance for those lacking their steely-eyed resolve, they know exactly when to cut across three lanes of traffic for a left exit, reach for their Easy Pass or at what split second to change lanes before the merge sign actually appears---all the while never slowing from a brisk 85 mph.

And, here's the best part--they look totally bored while doing it all.

That's the trick-- to look bored while hurtling through time and space as you aim for your exit or casually shift lanes to allow those entering the highway an easy merge. Looking bored is recommended if you want to be taken seriously.

So you try to look bored, too. Even if your soul is screaming in fear as traffic zooms by or you miss an exit, you maintain the  blase expression of your fellow drivers, many of whom are probably as stressed out as you. But you know the rules.

Never let them see you sweat.

You're not always stressed out. Sometimes you're apoplectic. Like when you're unable, due to traffic's flow, to pass the well-dressed woman -- not all that much more advanced in years than yours truly  -- driving way too slow in her older model Mercedes.

She's often leaning forward and gripping the wheel with two bony but well-manicured hands. There's no point in glaring at her. She's too terrified to notice what's happening around her.

You also experience fear as you pass the text-er or the distracted phone talker and a combination of scorn and amusement as you lean in for a glimpse of the young executive gesticulating to no one as he orates into his blue tooth.

He's probably ordering Chinese food but looks as if he's making a deal to save the national economy or buy NBC from whomever owns it for the foreign businessmen he represents. Then you catch a glimpse of the empty car seat in the back and he suddenly becomes just another dad on his way to work.

There's the Toyota full of women heading into the city for a show or a meal in Little Italy or Chinatown.

You resist a sneer even though you've been them more than once. But now you're alone and feeling smug about the importance of your mission. It's no more pressing than theirs but they don't know that.
In better days....

They are easily intimidated and you know how to pick your victims so you glance in and pass with a flourish, leaving them in the dust just for the hell of it.

Of course this is all in your head because you've forgotten that this is not 1982 and you are just another middle-aged woman, not David Hasselhoff driving that talking car from the TV show.

You steer clear of the cars full of teens. They're heading to the beach in the summer or skipping school in the winter and are either wearing too few clothes or laughing too hard. They remind you of the fun you never had or the fun you will never have again so you avert your eyes  as you fly by them and the cell tower disguised, or so it hopes, as a tree in order to fit in with the landscape.

You pass the broken-down minivan on the right which, apparently, contained about 35 people because they have all (including a grandmother in a wheel chair and several coolers) emerged to mill about way too close to traffic. Two or three men wearing wife beaters (even in the winter) scratch their chins and decide how to handle the situation.

You always think how glad you are not be them and fly onward.

You fiddle with the radio even though you've told your kids not to and you lean forward to find the hand sanitizer even though your hands are not any dirtier than they were ten minutes ago and you approach the city.

Grey buildings loom up ahead and the houses suddenly stand closer together as the suburbs melt behind you.

The fun is just beginning, stay tuned.....

Am I a tree? Am I cell tower? You decide.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Achieving Closet Nirvana or Who Wouldn't want an Electric Back Massager?

You only feel as calm as the crap that lurks behind the scenes of your home.

I realized this on Friday when I literally had to lean on a closet door to get it shut. It's contents were so jumbled and squeezed together that it needed an aggressive approach -- and more than one try -- to simply close the door.

Please don't send me in that closet.

Once closed, a visitor would never know the roiling hell throbbing behind the passive neutrality of the door's wood grain. But, if they mistook it for the bathroom, and opened it accidentally, I would be sending in search dogs to lead them to safety

Then yesterday, I attacked a different closet in the house. It was Father's Day and my gift to Seth, upon his suggestion*, was that I pretend he wasn't home, so I busied myself with chores while he enjoyed this respite.

Before I began, I set up a system that involved garbage bags, a continuous loop of Al Green's greatest hits, a xanax or three and one of those hats that has a contraption to hold cans on top that dispense liquid to the wearer through straws. Often used for beer, I put Diet Coke in mine.
"Hoist One for Sarah!"

These hats are, typically, worn by Sarah Palin's campaign workers.

This closet was half linens and half miscellaney. I finally (and very grudgingly) put the boy's --the oldest one is 26 -- crib sheets into the Goodwill bag along with half of the 600 washcloths and kitchen towels I have accumulated as well as two of four ice bags and three of five hot water bottles. I threw out the half eaten Whitman's sampler I had, apparently quite successfully, hidden from myself a few years back.

I found eight tubes of toothpaste (plus there were enough toothbrushes for Angelina Jolie to cheerfully distribute at a foreign orphanage before adopting another child) bought on sale and tucked away that were so old, they were glowing slightly. Out they went along with the giant bottle, also glowing, of Multi-vitamins purchased on sale as well.

I also discovered the electric back massager I gave Seth one year that he claimed to love but, sadly, was "broken." Oddly it, worked just fine when I plugged it in.

Sucking on Diet Coke and singing along with Al, I tossed things into garbage bags, stuffed more into boxes and organized that closet into a shining example of order and clarity. 

This order and clarity reflected back on the remainder of my day and I felt refreshingly rational every time I walked past the's door as neutral in appearance as its companion's down the hall. Only I, and the search dogs called in previously, knew the difference.

I've learned that even if your house is relatively (and I use that term very loosely) neat, if there is a pulsating mass of junk and debris compacted into your closets and drawers, true serenity cannot be yours, Grasshopper. You must make neat in order to approach the Zen-like state called "Closet Nirvana." I shall continue striving towards this challenging goal in the days ahead.

*Seth's Father's Day Requests
1. Do not ask me to measure anything. Tape measures are very simple devices. You can do it.
2. Do not make eye contact with me if we meet on the stairs.
3. Do not attempt to engage me in conversation about that "funny article" you just read about kitty cats because I do not care. At all.
4. If you notice me napping, do not wake me even if there is a serial killer at the front door. Ask him to come back later or deal with him yourself.
5. Relinquish all remote devices to me starting at 12 am on the morning of Father's Day and ending at midnight. And yes, of course I get the big TV.
6. No matter how much you want to talk to me, resist. But please make sure I have three delicious meals available exactly when I so desire and discern these times strictly through intuition since there will be no spoken communication between us for 24 hours.
7. Don't hurt me once Father's Day is over even if you find the electric back massager that I hid in the linen closet because it was a stupid gift in the first place.
"Hey, Baby, I'm here to help you clean those closets...."

Friday, June 17, 2011

Ahhhh, So That's What A Father Is Supposed To Be...

I wasn't lucky enough to grow up with a father in my life.

As a result, "fathers" were a total mystery to me. The fathers of my friends seemed very nice but since I didn't have one, they made me a little nervous.

Years passed. I endured many questions during a time while single-parenting was an exception to the rule of family life and fought back tears through every Hallmark commercial that involved a daddy and his little girl.

What was this thing called "father?" I knew I was missing something but I wasn't sure exactly what.

Now I know.

The day it all began...with a newborn Tommy.

My husband became a father in 1985 with the birth of our first son, Tommy.

Six months later, without coaxing, he gave up a job he loved because it took him away from his boy.

The merchant marine who had dreamt of the sea since he was eight years old now had a different dream: to be home with his children every night. To watch them grow and be there to provide comfort and support every day.

And he did just that. Rushing home daily from a job 75 miles away, he coached them in sports and cheered at their games. He conversed with them at dinner, kissed them goodnight and gave them a sense of safety and security that has served them well as they grew, learning to navigate through a surly world.

He wrestled, listened, worried, hugged, counseled and understood. He was patient, kind, truthful and gentle. He knew when to stand back and when to leap into the fray. He fought the fight, salved the wounds and worked his way from "Daddy!" to "Hey, Dad!" with the love and respect of his sons.

And their mama.

He gave his boys what they needed to become confident, capable men. As a father, he set the bar high.

So, I wish my beloved husband Seth and all you fathers out there a very happy Father's Day this coming Sunday. I hope you have a wonderful day.

Fathers no longer make me nervous. I understand what they're supposed to do and who they're supposed to be.

It's made my sense of loss at not having grown up with one more acute and personal because I've seen what I missed.

And that has been a very good thing.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Nicholas Sparks and the Strawberry Moon

It's been cloudy at night lately. I had no idea that a full moon was percolating up in the heavens.

Full moons affect me.

What, you don't believe in that?

If the phases of the moon can affect the tides of the ocean, it makes perfect sense that they would affect the human body which is comprised of, roughly, 80% water.

Why do many hospitals not schedule certain elective surgeries during a full moon? It is said that it affects the bleeding. Or, just ask a nurse about the ER during a full moon. It brings out the crazies.

I learned that last one on "Grey's Anatomy."

Last night was the "Strawberry Moon." Named by native Americans for the relatively short growing season of the strawberry plant, it was as full as a pancake and glowing like a light bulb. I'd wondered why I'd been moody all day.

Before going to bed, I decided to watch a Nicholas Sparks movie. 

Nicholas Sparks is the king of blatant and purposefully heart-wrenching prose and situation. His world is one in which love is always lost or convoluted, people drop dead willy nilly and countless glances of frustrated longing are moistly exchanged between starcrossed lovers.

While an easy crier, I have always been immune to Nicholas Sparks. He has always made me kind of nauseous.

After all, the man has written passages like this: "When I sleep, I dream of you and when I wake, I long to hold you in my arms. If anything, our time apart, has only made me more certain that I want to spend my nights by your side and my days with your heart."

That is the kind of thing my left ass cheek would say to the right if it could speak. It should not be earning  millions and milions of dollars for anyone. 

And, of course, I'm deeply jealous of his success.

Regardless, he just has never been able to make me cry. If subjected to a movie adapted from a Sparks novel, I have waited patiently for the lovers to either die, become hopelessly senile or sacrifice true love for the good of another, with a dry eye while those around me go mad.

Until last night.

It seems that the power of the full moon and Nicholas Sparks is a potent one.

The movie was "Dear John." It tells the story of a soldier and his true love and the roller coaster spins and drops of their lives after the fateful day they meet on a beach. Parted by war, they are ultimately reunited after a series of circumstances that would have made Josef Stalin need a Kleenex. Or kill again. It's a crapshoot with him.

I started sobbing from the very first goddam scene.

I cried off and on during the entire movie with only two breaks--utilizing one to search for pretzels and the other, to lure Buzzy back to my lap. My sobs had sent him to the other chair from which he eyed me in surprise. He's not -- typically -- moved by Nicholas Sparks either but does get extremely emotional during "Milo and Otis."

I awoke this morning looking like Rocky after Apollo Creed got through with him and will have to apply a bag of frozen peas to my eyes before I can face the world. 

It was worth it. There's nothing like a good cry.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Well, That's Obvious!

Last night, I fell asleep during the debate between the current crop of Republican presidential hopefuls. Buzzy was on my lap, the room was was inevitable.

I awoke at the very end. Just in time to hear Mitt Romney and his hair finishing up a comment in response to a question asking what he had learned there in New Hampshire and during the debate itself.

Mitt Romney: "New Hampshire loves the future."

Thank you, Mitt.
I knew this.

How about that, New Hampshire? Since your calendar doesn't end next year and neither Harold Camping nor Jack Kevorkian is pictured on your state flag, I guess you do "love the future." But what does that even mean? And why did it creep me out just a little bit?

I bet Jon Stewart will have fun with that tonight.

Then today on the morning news, there was a story about how it can now be "confirmed," through scientific research, that dogs are sensitive to the moods of their masters.

Does this surprise anyone?
I knew this, too.

I have never had a dog, but I always assumed this was a given.There's a dog on my street named Otis who hardly knows me but can tell when even I'm in the dumps and does everything in his power to lift my spirits.

Wouldn't you agree, dog owners? I'll check with Mitt Romney first, but I'd have to say that this is kind of an obvious statement, too.

Not five minutes later, Seth called as I was looking out the window. The morning is a grey one and the rain was falling so hard that the drops seemed to be hitting the ground and bouncing upwards and wetting my neighbor, who was retrieving his newspaper, twice. I waved to him and answered the phone.
What a great idea!

The first thing Seth said to me was, "It's raining." It was then that I realized that this was going to be a day of the very obvious.

So here are a few more for you before I head out to face the rain and dogs that want to cheer me up:
1. There is only one good Baldwin brother (and even he's a little scary).
2. Pinocchio never achieved any credibility even after he became a "real boy."
3. Roberta Flack is unrecognizable.

If you can think of any more, let me know
What has this woman done with the real Roberta Flack?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Never Eat Clams Casino While Driving

Today's post is a little later than I'd hoped due to the fact that I did everything in my power, including faking sudden on-set coma, to keep Charlie from heading back to D.C this morning.

Man, that kid is strong.

But I am a middle-aged woman, after all. While my physical strength may be ever-so-slightly on the wane, my guile is intact. Or so I thought.

For some reason, Charlie didn't buy my it when I mentioned that I was having lunch with Taylor Swift later and she'd shyly mentioned that she'd been hoping to meet him. What he didn't believe was that she'd been shy....he totally believed I was having lunch with her.

But he still wouldn't wait.

So, off he went. I told him not to drive too fast, lock the car doors so no one can leap in at a light, don't talk on the phone, text a friend or eat clams casino while driving.

Yes, you read correctly. I told him not to eat clams casino while driving. And I am speaking from experience.

Eating in cars was my generation's texting. When I was Charlie's age, a driver might enjoy a full meal with a placemat and a napkin while navigating the Brooklyn streets.

You'd eat anything while driving around the neighborhood. Pizza, ice cream, White Castle hamburgers from the bag on the seat next to you. A knish, maybe. Or, if you were ambitious: clams casino.

Many years ago when "Smart Ass" was my official job description and common sense still had a few years left to relax on the stoop with its' friends responsibility and good judgement, I ate an entire order of clams casino, from the shells with the little fork and a lemon wedge, once when behind the wheel of a moving car.

Talk about distraction--they were from my favorite restaurant in Bensonhurst, after all. Who could possibly wait until you got home? 

That might take all of ten minutes, for crying out loud.

Later, my mother found the remnants of the meal in the car and asked the obvious maternal question, "Who was the moron who ate clams casino in your car, Susan? Tell me it wasn't you!" 

I had no problem, whatsoever, telling her that I, myself,  had been the moron. Remember these were the days when no one wore a seat belt.

She was horrified. Not because I hadn't saved a few for her -- although that did come up -- but because I couldn't possibly have been watching the road or properly gripping the wheel while coaxing savory morsels from a clam shell with a tiny fork. Her words rolled off my back like the grease from the clams had dripped down my chin.

But, of course, Ma, you were right.
No kidding.

Back then, however, you didn't see people eating clams casino on the highway while driving 70 miles an hour, either. But when I'm on the turnpike and glance over to see someone tippy-tapping away on their phone in the adjoining lane, I not only fear for my life but remember my mother's concern over eating and driving.

So, heed my warning: don't speed, lock your doors, don't talk on the phone or text and, for the love of God, wait until you get home to dive into the clams casino. You'll enjoy them more anyway.

I'm off to lunch with Taylor Swift, now. I told you, Charlie, you should have stuck around....
Hi, Charlie.....

Friday, June 10, 2011

Foghorn Leghorn for President

I just started reading an article about the 24,000 emails of Sarah Palin's that are about to hit the fan and became so bored just reading about it that I almost slid out of my desk chair and oozed to the ground in a puddle.

On one hand, all this disclosing is insanity. I don't care if somebody smoked a joint in college, do you?

But, to some degree -- of course -- candidates must be scrutinized and "vetted" (Just where did that word come from?? Who does that word think it is?) but who is going to comb through all those emails? 

Yet, because of my intense aversion to having Sarah Palin as president of the United States, I hope something delightfully incriminating is found.

I hear that newspapers are actually requesting volunteers to go through them.

I value you all too much to suggest that any of you consider this, but wouldn't it be nice to receive credit for catching her in some horrific revelation ("Yes,Todd and I had such a wonderful weekend clubbing baby seals into seal juice that we joined the KKK to celebrate!") that will force her back to Alaska where she can live out her days stocking the shelves in a live-bait and burrito emporium in Wasilla.

In other words: We can do better, America!

Here is a list (in no particular order) of people I would prefer to see in the Oval Office rather than Sarah Palin:

1. Kim Kardashian
2. Regis Philbin
3. Any one of my cats
4. The weirdo who used to hang out in front of the deli who smelled of peanut butter all the time
5. Pat Sajack
6. Foghorn Leghorn
7. LL Cool J
8. Charlie Sheen
9. Jose Reyes
10. Anthony Weiner

Have a wonderful weekend. Thanks for reading and signing up this week--I really appreciate it!  See you all very soon!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

How to Give Your Kid A Good Scare

I once told the boys that the day would come when they noticed that Dad and I were "slipping."

It might manifest in a memory lapse-- possibly very subtle, or the inability to operate something familiar like the microwave or the remote for the DVD player.

I don't think any of us expected it to occur as soon as it did.

Charlie came home the other day for a week's stay. I had spent the days prior to his arrival cooking, baking and twirling about in small, tight circles, clapping my hands.

I also spent time worrying that I might forget to buy that one special food item for which he might randomly hanker. So I bought everything in the supermarket.

As the hour of his arrival approached, Seth and I were a-twitter. Though a bit cramped from crouching by the window with our noses pressed to the glass, when we saw him pull in, we all but trampled each other as we rushed to be the first to greet him-- nearly getting stuck in the door a la the Three Stooges.

Except we were just two stooges. I'm Moe--the mean one.

Seth and Charlie performed all the male "greeting" rituals of back slapping, nipple twisting, wrestling and a bit of mutual hair tousling.

I rushed towards him with lips puckered, arms open and my emotions in such a frayed state from buying everything in the supermarket that I could have either see-sawed towards huge elation or have been hugely crushed, based on the slightest nuance of events.

Luckily, Charlie tolerated my endless, clawing hugs, babbling and overwrought elation ruled the moment.

As the evening progressed, it was time to catch up. After Charlie answered all the questions we shrieked at him, I launched into my stories of who I've seen, what I've done and any and all news of the neighborhood I could recall.

Strangely, it appeared that I had told him all this stuff already but had absolutely no memory of having done so.

When, with more than a glimmer of fear in his eyes, Charlie informed me of this, I immediately reverted to my default setting of defensive belligerence and having immediately forgotten I'd just told him these things, started telling them again.....

Seth was in just as bad shape--insisting on talking, at length, about a book he'd recently read that Charlie claims the two had discussed in great detail recently on the phone.

Like me, Seth remembered nothing.

At this point, Charlie's personal vision of his future went right down the drain as he would certainly have to give it all up to care for two unhinged parents who'd lost their memory and were showing disturbing signs of being unable to work simple devices (Seth suddenly couldn't open a beer bottle and I was flummoxed by a package of cat treats) and, who would quickly progress to wearing their undies on the outside of their clothes.

I'm pretty sure it was all a result of being over-excited but, honestly, I'm don't think neither Seth nor I could have figured out a zip-loc sandwich bag at that point.

The growing look of sheer terror on Charlie's face, as he imagined his future as a caregiver for two deranged imbeciles, was so funny that Seth and I added insane laughter to the evening's growing list of irrational behaviors.

Once we'd all calmed down and, to some degree, regained  our memory and dexterity, at Charlie's request, we recited the alphabet -- without singing it -- and counted backwards from 100 by seven. He seemed satisified but still seems wary.

I can only wonder what will happen when he leaves in a few days.