sweater and shuffle the cards. Short term goal, in house Virus Clearance. Let’s go over to a friend’s home, grab a seat and start all over again. Our dreams realized (soon enough) when we will have an increment of control over our short term destiny. With the scientists at the helm as our Generals and precautionary actions strongly positioned, perhaps we can reboot close to where we left off 10 months ago. The days when some of our challenges were remembering to take our talon, or not overlooking an available tile to replace with a Joker on the rack across the table. Our days of glory during The Golden years when deciding between tuna or chicken for lunch was knee jerk familiar, as our knees jerked. Yes, we remember them well. Let’s spin it forward and look toward exhuming our “prior normal,” when we didn’t mind all that much whether we left the day with our “change purses” filled with quarters. Our sleeves are rolled up, we are ready to be vaccinated, when called. Come one, call all- as we know now more than ever there is always room for one more.
As that was the year that was… is coming to an end- and happier days will be here again- exuming memories of easier days gone by feels like the right thing to
do. Repost from 2017-
I took myself to the Lincoln Plaza Cinema to see a movie about an early period in J.D. Salingers life called “Rebel in the Rye.” I walked up to the ticket booth, money in hand and said “one senior please.” The gentleman selling tickets questioned whether or not I was 65 and could he see proof. I unbuttoned the top button of my blouse and pointed to my neck. He proceeded to hand me a ticket marked senior. I chuckled to myself aloud. Shout out to Nora Ephron, at the Algonquin Table in the sky. Her poignant book “I Feel Bad About My Neck And Other Thoughts On Being A Woman,” is a real feel good, feel better about yourself read. Read it in one sitting, especially if you are put on hold when waiting to speak with a social security representative. My take away from the book was a permission to come aboard, take off the perennial turtleneck and don’t think twice about what to do with Lemons. Ok now to Holden Caulfield main character in “Catcher in the Rye. To skip around counters, I know I’m skipping. Holden liked the Natural History museum because, no matter what else changed in his life, it was always the same: it was like a little freeze-frame picture of his own childhood, a safe spot he could always come back to. Nowadays freeze-framing memories and continuing traditions help keep the balance. So with Nora Ephron and Holden Caulfield in mind, we will say yes to playing “I spy” in a warm waiting room, when a grandchild is there for his speech lesson and complaining about his newly acquired blue braces hurting him. Just for today be a pacer, not a miler and make it a good one!
“Let the Children’s Laughter remind us how we used to be.” As we round out the year that was… It is June 2025 and I am getting ready for my high school graduation. I am graduating with honors and excelled at the top of my class in creative writing. I was bestowed the honor of delivering a speech on my take away of the Covid-19 virus that plagued the world in 2020. It is 5 years later and although it took the better part of 2 years until the eye of the storm subsided, we were left with a brave new world. The last five years have defined our world and my youth in ways that could never have been believed with no preparation in site. We were human shock absorbers. In guinea pig fashion we were isolated in our own boats navigating a storm flooded with fear, rage and no real answers. The virus knew no limits and left it’s mark on millions of innocent bystanders. We never knew if it was our turn to suffer on the front line of battle. We spent time dodging bullets, while baking blueberry pound cake with our siblings in lockdown mode. There were months on end where no expiration date was just that. As 13 year olds while forming friendship’s was top of mind, we were concurrently learning to fight an enemy that could come from around any corner, on any block. The streets crowded with people wearing masks was a clear visual of the enemy at hand. As lucky kids, the worst we knew was strep or a wrist sling from breaking a fall on the basketball court. Yet, we came to understand we were now dealing with deregulating the rules of the health cards as we knew them. Belly aches, scrapped knees and irritated gums from braces were mere annoyances compared to what we were up against. Fast forward and with no braces in sight, I am dressing in a new suit and sporting a tie decorated with happy faces. We survived and are thriving as a vaccine and maintenance program is in place. While overcoming an act of G-d, and a human disaster that has left us with emotional scars, I will address my graduating class today with honor. I will look in the eyes of my friends and know we developed strong friendships in spite of the scariest of times. My take away dear friends is if anyone one of us falls a little behind, we will wait till you catch up. We all started behind the starting line and emerged stronger and knowing together is “hashtag” better.We listened to what Dr. Fauci suggested!
T’was the Night before Christmas and all through the lab Not a creature was stirring As we wait for a jab Our sleeves are rolled up Bated breath we do have On the brink of inoculation Our freedom we’ll grab We got our new sneakers To wait on the line Fauci has spoken He says give it time The reindeers were fed along the path to our door We are waiting for Santa Fauci To tell us some more In the absence of malice, no forethought or greed
Dear kindly Dr. FauciToday is your Big dayWith grace and adoration we’re all here just to sayYou’re celebrating “80”This year we came to learnWith scientific knowledgeTake a bow as it’s your turnYou imparted so much wisdomYour research proven through factWe are on the brink of gettingA piece of our world backWe’ll raise a glass to honor your grace and gravitasYou never once did waiver your path was well definedSo Kindly Dr. Fauci, Our treasure and Our findWe’ll toast another go round, the planet needs you hereYou worked toward a solution You are Precious and so Dear!
Ma Nishtana מה נשתנה), On this night we unclench our teeth, sigh a breath of relief and feel we are headed toward a way out. An uncharted year, unprecedented and riddled with devastation has a glimmer of hope in sight. A “Happier” New Year, as we add the corner piece to our puzzle. Hit it Joni- “ I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now, from up and down and still somehow, it’s clouds illusions I recall, I really don’t know clouds at all. “Moons and Junes and ferris wheels, the dizzy dancing way you feel, As every fairy tale comes real, I’ve looked at life that way. So just for today, let’s pick ourselves up, wipe ourselves off and start all over again. Hashtag Options Strong.
And then one day we just stayed in bed, under the covers, eating Hebrew National pigs in the blanket and drinking Whispering Angel. A day of feeling sorry for our mess of a country moment. With so many things on our “to do” list, the pathetic state of affairs has immobilized us. With devastation we are getting through the Kavanaugh Countdown. The only panacea is time. We long to watch reruns of Dobie Gillis, I Married Joan and Topper. One episode at a time, pre- binging. We derive comfort in exhuming memories of eating a can of Buitoni ravioli after school before leaving to go to our algebra tutor. Did anyone really need to know what a parallelogram or a quadrilateral was, ever?
Ah, the simple joy of listening to AM radio and Cousin Brucie, who is now 80 unbelievable seven. The glory days when one of our pleasures was listening to the Temptations, cause we were “not to proud to beg” while we waited to be built up by buttercups, knowing at this point it was the “worst that could happen.” Run on sentence counters I know. Guilty pleasures were driving under the tressel at Third Ward Park and the endorphin rush in spotting our friend’s cars.
The long ago and far away days, we so long for now. If only the worst of frustrations came in the form of busy signals and not because we had to upgrade our cell phones due to out dated-technology. We lovingly remember setting our hair with big, pink plastic rollers, spritzing Aqua Net hairspray and adjusting the awkward tubes from our portable hairdryers. We looked forward to our snacks of peanut butter cheddar crackers, Ring Dings or Funny Bones and always grabbed our can of Tab, the acronym for the first (Totally Artificial Beverage). They all came without hangovers. With lots of quarters, nickels and dimes we’d stop for snacks at the candy store next to Jan, Jill and Jon’s on Main Avenue. Shout out to Rhoda and Seymour Zucker ( antique aficionados) for 50 years . What a run. So back to today – under the covers with bated breath waiting to hear if our future decisions will be weighed in by one more unstable narcissist who has perfected the art of lying through his porcelain veneers. We pray for the times when Cosmo Topper, married Joan the only thing unstable were the rabbit ears on our black and white Tv’s and -that was an easy fix.
“Wasn’t it yesterday we used to laugh at the wind behind us? Didn’t we run away and hope that time wouldn’t try to find us? We might not have tomorrow, but we had yesterday.” And the memories linger on.
We all got the memo. We showed up brought a wing and a prayer in hope that revisiting the site of our youth would play out without too much disappointment. The evening more than overrode the old adage “you can never go home.” We theoretically put on our tennis sweaters, madras shirts and dexter’s mentality and double hugged each other.
With cataract improved vision we entered the time machine and there we were, the place the cafeteria at PHS, the late 60’s only obvious difference was cocktails replaced chocolate milk.
And so the juke box of our past, that held all our secrets, preconceived notions and memories of who stood with who before the bell rang and our days began, was replaced with the here and now.
The beauty of last eve was we were all one. We talked over each other, left quick catch up stories mid stream to get up and sit next to another very familiar face. Perhaps our personas remain in tact but our storied lives over the past “50” holy mackerel years have added the depth and Kodachrome patina that adds to our allure, our glow.
We held on tightly to the remember when’s and were equally glad to share pictures of our children and grandchildren. The sense was that we were on a veritiable speed date, get all you can at the supermarket game before the buzzer sounds.There were no whispers, only out loud emotional confessions of how very thrilled we were as we looked around the table and stole visual moments of our youth. “So do you think there were other towns like Passaic that offer this kind of welcoming,”was the ever present buzz throughout the night. Was it something in the Passaic River, or Rutts relish? Perhaps Awful, Awfuls or the steak sandwiches on Friday nights at The Bonfire in Paterson. We marveled at how well we looked in the absence of not too much Botox. There was no height requirement to get on the ride and exhume a very big piece that fills the shadow box on our mantles.
My take away as I debrief the evening was how easy it was to pay subtle attention to who ordered the dressing on the side, as we were really all there for the main course. I’ll double down this time and go for seconds. “Oh what a Night.”
In a binge like fashion- one episode at a time- we reconnected with old friend’s, while streaming our constants
and rearranging the table for some new welcomed additions. Run on sentence counters you got a whopper there. At any given moment a text, an email or a rare phone call could get us engaged in exuming memories, catching up on daily doings of our everyday peeps, or learning something new about someone new. “The Luckiest People in the World.” Yes, Barbra with an A – you got that right. No better stocking stuffer, in the absence of an eye to eye, mano to mano, or a great big , juicy bear hug than an interchange of sharing with no limit on caring. Wow, so you liked Columbo too. Really- “ in the hours before the morning walking home I passed your door and sent a special prayer up to the room on the second floor.” In that one sentence the idea of crooning, swooning and dancing the night away feels right outside our door. Johnny Maestro, so glad you had a love affair with The Brooklyn Bridge. As the sun is rising and the dailys kick in- I position myself for my virtual canasta game and learning about the new blood. We continue counting the days until the gates are opened and we welcome a side swap in the form of someone cutting in line at Bloomy’s, and not having to sanitize the outside skin on our avocados. So for today as we prepare to start binging The West Wing, we defrost some chop meat for dinner and look ahead all the time remembering “The Way We Were.”