Living without mommy- and then it happened. The fear, the sorrow and the ultimate in never mores- Square in the face, the pain sits quivering. Hey, mom I published a book. Every word had you center stage. I read it aloud to you, as you were the only face staring back at me in the dark. Yes, I hear you now. Wow, really? thank you Mamala. 5 years later Soph and I am once again publishing and dedicating it to you. Focusing on your words gets me through on the murky days. Looking forward toward the prize in the “just have fun” ways is my biggest take away from our life long dialogue. Ok, hold on mommy it’s in the works. BH
“The radio and the telephone and the movies that we know may just be passing fancies and in time may go – but oh my dear our love is here to stay.”If I could clone “Grandpa Ira,” every grandchild from near and far would be inoculated with a locked in love and a fail proof, safe haven. Side effects Prodigious Proportions of sharing, caring and lingering on the sunny side of street.
One day we woke up and the miasmic film like filter that shrouds the cataracts of life was gone. Our foresight replaced hindsight allowing us to see the forest in spite of the trees. I wish this on everyone.
Definition of Recidivism-a tendency to relapse into a previous condition or mode of behavior; especially relapse into criminal behavior. Is there a fine line between addiction and recidivism? Let’s consider how popular prison romances are and seem in no danger of dying out. One theory is that prisoners create a literal wall against closeness. Conjugal visits preclude hanging out Sunday morning with Russ and Daughters and The New York Times. They certainly eliminate variegated activities i.e. strolling through The Whitney and eating french toast at Bubby’s in TriBeCa.Delving into a veritable pantheon of theories that depict the profile of personalities enraptured by the incarcerated is a thesis unto itself. Far from the cover for every pot concept. I recently viewed Jacob Ephron’s documentary on his mom Nora Ephron. I watched it for the second time, can’t wait to see it again. Oh, Nora you hated your neck and we loved you. We so related when Harry met Sally and they were Sleepless in Seattle. We followed as Julie and Julia Got Mail. Your self-deprecatory humor was comforting. And I quote “when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” Amen! The converse rings ever so true. When you understand that burnt pot roast doesn’t necessarily taste so good, negating that we grew up eating it, you throw it out and start again. Sensibility does not kick in by chance. Don’t wait for the next ship to come in to carpe diem.” Seizing opportunities and disregarding discouragements are our modus operandi.How many rapprochement’s succeed? When we get sick and tired of being sick and tired, we move to another table in search of our eight card fit. I know cliche counters, I know. Last eve a couple of The Julia’s – acronym for (Just Us Ladies Into Aging) had dinner. Our portfolio sports 57 years of round tables together. From our early days of sharing french fries at Wassers and Awful Awfuls at Bonds, we got another chance to embrace our history. “Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim. It will be a little messy, but embrace the mess.” Nora Ephron you get us!
Goodbye Eugene- hearing the news of your passing has given us the “Biloxi Blues.”
Whether we were “Barefoot in the Park, while “Lost in Yonkers” or hitching a ride home from “Brighton Beach” we waited to hear Jonathan Schwartz “Playing our Song,” on WQXR American Standard Radio. Marvin Hamlisch played Carole Bayer Sager’s lyrics to his music with his particular Zip-a-dee-doo-dah enthusiasm. We swayed along and knew all the words. Your collaborations with Mike Nicols and Gene Zaks prolifically chronicled our youth. Oh Neil, we got hooked when we read your name amongst the credits as we watched Sgt. Bilko, played with such guile on The Phil Silvers show. We waited to hear your interviews with Joan Hamburg on 77 WABC to learn what play was next to be “Broadway Bound.” Her interviews typically came at the end of her show after the bargain shopping and food segments. (Shout out to Shelly Fireman, my forever friend and his spin on delicious Italian fare.) Even if we left the house to spatzere around our favorite thrift shops we heard your familiar very New Yawkish sounding voice broadcasted live. The two of you had a repartee we so enjoyed, although we considered you quite the “Odd Couple.”
We marveled at the big city duplex apartments with sunken living rooms, and gilded cage appeal that set the stage for many of your playbooks. Was Willy’s (Walter Matthau) apartment at the beaux arts Ansonia really that big? We thought it could possibly the best pad ever to play hide and go seek. Did Jane Fonda actually run around “Barefoot in the Park” as she pleaded with Robert Redford to try again to save their marriage? We wanted to live in her apartment as soon as we moved to the Village. We knew we didn’t want to live uptown and become a “Prisoner on Second Avenue.” We weren’t sure you could top the episode when Felix Unger walked into Oscar Madison’s cluttered apartment to try to get back together with Gloria. You certainly did when you portrayed the classic “Northeast distributor of Guilt,” and had Molly Picon threaten to keep her head in the oven over the troubles with her bachelor sons.
Our take away quote of yours is “ if you can go through life without experiencing pain you probably haven’t been born yet.” RIP Neil Simon- we’re sure you’ll be filling them with laughter in Suite 203-04 during your “Chapter Two.”
“Whatever We Got Going” Turning 70 this year after one that was recently stolen from us feels lopsided. Are we less developed by one year? Can we recover experiences and deepen relationships now that we can be tactile again? We are racing against time lost. Only this time, out of commission rings oh so true. At every point in our precious lives loosing any time to live our lives as we know them is a huge loss. This round number in particular feels frayed at the edges. In a “where did the time go way,” we plunge ahead and bring back our activities in “every day ways.” Cut to yesteryear. We find ourselves day dreaming, the year is 1963. We are starting camp the next day. We lay out our new sneakers, chose a pair of pedal pushers and a sweat shirt we got at Ginsburgs and one of the many tee shirts we got at Alexanders in Paramus. Ah, we remember it well. Not unlike the first day of school camp offered unparalleled excitement coupled with a grouping of will I meet new friends feelings. With our camp bag complete we get ready for bed. We finish reading one of our favorite Nancy Drew books , The Secret of the Old Clock, turn off our record player that was spinning a 78 Johnny Mathis album and ”Get Misty” as we shut the lights. Euphoric recall is medicinal and certainly helps minimize the startling tone of we are turning 70 years old. This is a defining moment for cleaning out your figurative closet. What shall stay and what shall go? My take away is that there is a religious and spiritual component where forgiveness and celebration hold court. The central theme of Yom Kippur is distinguished by atonement, renewal and amends. On New Year’s Eve we make resolutions to change our ways, add promises to do more. On the precipice of this 70th b-day as we enter our 71st year let’s use the empty space that we made room for in our closets. Celebrate more and count Blessings more frequently – a great start. Oh, hey Lionel Ritchie this time we are going to “Make the Magic last for more than just night.” BH
Starting tight, inter-woven-young and new with few experiences beyond those of small town life. With time new threads, color, textures, spreading out–the weave looser, stretching, growing; the fabric changing size and shape. There to wrap in if it’s cold. Looser with big, loopy openings if space is needed. But there, always there. Whether in long loose, thin tendrils or tight knots for hanging on-Experiences and life demands determine the shape, the weight, the size, the colors of the fabric that is always there. “The Fabric of Us.”
Whether burlap or brocade-Synthetic or silk, vinyl or velvet, used and abused–stretched to its limit-Comfy and crushed-every now and then-“The Fabric of Us”-gets a new thread. Renewing it’s strength, it’s glow to shine with or without sun.
Fifty plus years of being there. Not many can boast that. Let’s add a new color, a new thread to-“The Fabric of Us.”
Recipe for long living, long ago. How many had grandparents who lived well into their 90’s? Maybe they knew Vic Tanny existed but they were too busy working hard, cooking and baking and smoking cigarettes to get to know him well. My Grandmother, (Bubby Chicken), for those in the know, led with an indomitable spirit. She had a startling ability to push unpleasant thoughts down the block and across the street. She was too busy to worry about what so and so said or thought. With rolling pin in hand and her grater not far away she filled part of her days. I often wondered if she slept with her apron on as it was ever present and the first thing we noticed when we ran in for her endless Hug.
We believe she was the prototype for the ” I’m gonna live forever, I’m gonna learn high to fly” lyrics. So, noodle and or potato pudding, apple cake, rugalach with raisins and jelly and her famous candy bowl filled with hard candies were things we came to depend on. We never knew how we would make it to dessert as we were left stuffed with carbs, salt, schmaltz and gribenes (for those in the know.) And- just in case, she had her trustworthy mylanta, gaviscon- or “here mamala have a tums” waiting on the counter next to the left over flour and right under an old plant that still had the ribbon and card on it from last Mother’s Day.
In the absence of probiotics, papaya enzymes, lactaid free whatevers,Pilates, colonoscopies, portion controls, calories counts on products, my grandmother and her friends lived forever.
Were their stomachs better equipped? Was it not considered abuse to reach for the sugar and go for the salt first? Perhaps endemic to generations long ago who focused less on Vit. D levels and more on how good Halavah tasted, whether it was marble or chocolate covered. The conundrum eludes me, how about you?
A three pronged example of a lifestyle fast forwarded is a workout on the treadmill, a bullet green shake and dashing off to have our blood work tested after a 50,000 Vit.D unit regimen to pump up the numbers. Bub, we all miss the high caloric, straddled with confectioners sugar way you celebrated life. By the way thanks for palming us the good luck gelt every time we left your side. Have a Great Day.
There’s a hold up in the Bronx, Brooklyn’s broken out in fights. There’s a traffic jam in Harlem- that’s backed up to Jackson Heights. There’s a scout group short a child, Khruschev’s due at Idlewild- “Car 54 Where Are You?” Gunther Toody and Officer Muldoon- where are you when we need you? Indelible visuals of their caricatures implanted in our minds. We only wanted them to get back together as partners. Their chemistry was real. My go to is Barbra with an A. “Was it all so simple then or has time re-written every line?”
Johnny on The Pony was a fave, rough housing at its best. Great memory and first glimpse into early on-set competition was watching the boys play skully. Remember flicking bottle caps on to a chalk made skully board? Object not over-flicking–nope it’s on the line.
When the going was good, with euphoric recall, we remember the days of no wine, maybe sweet sixteen roses. We drew the hopscotch board on the part of the sidewalk that was flat. Throwing our skate key as our hopscotch shooter was the thrill- where would it fall? Happy to land with two feet on 3 and 4 or 6 and 7 (double squares). Jumping rope, (sorry no double dutch here) trading Barbie clothes and discussing what happened on last nights episode of The Patty Duke Show are such comforting memories of times well lived. A simple worry was that the street light would go on before we found our skate key en route home to watch the latest episode of Dr. Kildare, (Richard Chamberlain) was very cute . We loved playing stoop ball- loosely based on baseball, only we used a Spaulding and retrieved it from the stoop steps, rather than from a batter. Big favorite was the game of Jacks. We didn’t care that we were often left with scrapes on the side of our hands from pinky to wrist. Bacitracin and band-aids were big in our house. The boys on the block played Stickball, (baseball with a stick.)
And then came the “Whistle.” I think our father practiced it a few times before we heard it coming as a “it’s time.” We did not look forward to hearing that sound at all, and in the middle of a game-ugh! “But Daddy we aren’t done. Please, just a little bit longer.” Denominations of time didn’t matter. Ten more minutes would have done. We cherished these after dinner nightly reunions. Our early childhood friends are still part of us. Now we share Nexium, diet tips and compare blood pressure meds. Just sayin. The crescendo of childhood memories was getting our baby bead bracelets with the letters spelling our names and encased in gold. Our piece of the sky, indeed. Ok, then, so with resignation and dismay we left the street. Bath time, Dr. Kildare and maybe some of Pinky Pinkham( Dorothy Provine) singing a few tunes at the Charleston Club. The corners of our minds are filled with the innocence of skate keys, Nancy Drew books and red licorice; never a clue that Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five would become the thundering moral statement of our time. Oh, what I would give to hear that infamous whistle beckoning me to come in, just one more time- And Daddy this time I would come in and right away. Make it a good day!
The feeling of being excluded stinks! We recently learned of a reach out program called #operationshabbotshalom. It was started by a lovely guy we know who heads a modern orthodox day school in Westchester. We met him 18 plus years ago through one the modern orthodox temples in New York where some of the grandkids attend school. He is renowned and in fact the son of the Rabbi Emeritus at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun. Shout out to Josh Lookstein. Fast forward, post (bh) pandemic and we are out and more about. One pervasive and lingering side effect for so many resulted from the feeling of being isolated. The common denominator was negotiating our safety from our own ships during the the many phases of the universal storm. #operationshabbotshalom was set up as an “effort to bring people together after a year of distancing.” Friday afternoons are designated to reach out to people who could use a call. Come one, call all. You in turn get the calls too. Social lives have an ebb and flow. There are times when we are inundated with invites to join the party. There are periods where empty calendars feel iitalicized in yellow marker fashion. Differentiating between alone and lonely is a tough call. In an attempt to make up for lost time we schedule our days and nites in bulk. Some days we almost look forward to cancelled plans. We can then get into our sweats, no make-up and hair pulled back mode. It gives us a moment to get off the treadmill of activity, tap into an evening of take-out Chinese food, netfiix and a Vodka we nurse through binging Mare of Easttown. We are tired. Tired of the reboot. Lots of time and sometimes tortured energy to create a syllabus that is new but contains components of what was. Unplug and hope we what we lost, was either no longer serving us any good, or in fact stored in the elusive cloud. So just for today, when you find the time, perhaps reach out to someone who may be going through a narrow calendar of events. Leave the door open and let them know in a more than merrier way, that they will never walk alone, as long as you are around.