Back to School — FINALLY

So we have been torturing our son with our rendition of the parents’ back-to-school jig made famous on last year’s Staples commercials.  Our son is alternatively amused, and a bit peeved, at his parents’ dancing around like we’ve won the lottery.

After much lobbying, we agreed reluctantly to buy our son Lunchables for the first day of school only.  Lunchables is some chemical and saline combo-fest that passes as food per the FDA.  There is a special place in hell for parents who feed Lunchables to their kids.  Of course, the mushballs that we are, we also ate dinner out and let our son have french fries since it was — after all — the night before school FINALLY starts.  He did have a grass-fed beef burger at least.  POB (partner of blogger) swears we are just going to put a salt lick in our son’s room to satisfy his salt lust; we are not sure how to deal with the grease lust.  Seriously, he would give us up in a New York minute if someone guaranteed him french fries every day for life.  No contest.

It is the middle of September and he is just now going back to school.  Now I understand it when my parents used to say — sarcastically, I assure you — that they paid private school tuition so we could have more vacation than at public school.  In 1971, when SOB (sister of blogger) started at a private school in Manhattan (where nearly all the students were Jewish), my dad had to go to school and speak to the headmaster to make sure that a teacher had to postpone a test scheduled for Yom Kippur.  Even in 1981 at our little private school, Jewish students were excused from class on the High Holy Days but school was open.  Now, schools in Manhattan give off the major Jewish holidays, as a matter of course.  A lot has happened in 30 years.  Maybe next year, the kids will have off for the festival end of Ramadan.  It is only fair.

Pre-High Holy Days Mayhem

So, because POB (partner of blogger) reminds me that in “good homes” the carpets and the furniture are cleaned annually, and the windows are cleaned twice, before Passover and before Rosh Ha-Shanah, we have been in a cleaning frenzy.  Also the mice episodes gave the cleaning rituals a bit more fevered pitch this year.  Also the bed bug scare in New York had us getting new mattresses, etc.   In short, we are doing what we can to raise the retail sales numbers nationally.  Now, that is patriotism.

Our housekeeper comes on Fridays.  Our housekeeper is a wonderful and robust woman in her 60s who comes from Poland and, as she says, “knows hard vork”.   But since she is in her 60s we try to get others to the hard vork.  In this case, POB and I wanted to lay the cleaned rug down in the dining room (we had already done the heavy lifting in the living room).  This endeavor also involved cutting the mat underneath so that the rug laid properly. 

Here are the many dramas that came into play:  Our housekeeper said, “[Blogger], you are educated; I know hard vork.  Step avay from the mat and I vill cut!”  Ok, POB and I were raised to respect our elders and never to let someone older do work we could do ourselves.  We are also the “employers”, adding another level.  Also, POB is strong like you-can’t-imagine strong. 

So we are all on the floor playing out our social, economic and cultural dynamics.  The window cleaner walks in (we had left the door open for him after the doorman announced him) and sees three woman on the floor with scissors and box cutters arguing over who is cutting the mat that goes under the rug.  He asks, “where do I start?”  Really?  Really?  Is this a usual scene for the window cleaner?

We all stop.  I agree to cede the fight to POB and our housekeeper in order to get the window cleaner guy started as long as I get to move the dining room table.  Pause.  I seeing nodding and I retreat.  A little victory of sorts.

Of course, I should have known that even though I was allowed to move the dining room table, everyone would have an opinion on its precise location.  POB was the most forceful in her opinions.  “A little to the right.”  “Closer to the windows.”  “No, too much.” 

Are you listening??” 

NNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, I scream in my head, but all that comes out is “Yes, dear.” 

Back in my head, I am thinking you thought we should get our windows cleaned before a hurricane.  This is not like wearing good underwear in case you are taken to an emergency room.  The hurricane won’t treat us any better.  But then the hurricane passes us and POB is right — again.

Child is teacher to the parent

All of the talk of Hurricane Earl has my son asking about other types of natural disasters.  His questions are very specific:  why are there earthquakes in California and not in New York City (where we live)??  I didn’t want to tell him that earthquakes are possible in New York and we have had tremors before.  He is only 8 years-old after all and that could freak him out.

Where to begin?  So, I start with, “Not all the land under the oceans are connected.  And deep down, the earth is actually so hot and pressurized that it is liquid.  That is even true under dry land.  Sometimes, the pieces of land bump into each other and move apart and —- ”  My eight year-old son interrupts me, and says, “Oh, you mean plate tectonics?  It also causes mountain ranges.”

Well, all right then.  I actually thought I was doing a good job answering the question, way better than my answering of the Tampax question.  Apparently, I failed to give him new information even though I was essentially making up the connection between earthquakes and plate tectonics.

I knew there would come a time when my son knew more about stuff than I did.  I didn’t realize that it would happen when he is EIGHT YEARS OLD!!!!!  But don’t tell him that earthquakes can happen in New York City; he is still a little boy and might really get scared.

Behind the scenes at my son’s 8th birthday party

First, let me say that my son had a great time.  Second, let me say that POB (partner of blogger) and I did the least we could do.  Everyday we star in our own MasterCard commercial.  In this case, paying for an all-in party at Chelsea Piers bowling alley, $___; seeing your kid smile, PRICELESS.

We were greeted by the shift manager, a friendly enough woman. She failed to enunciate when she said her name and between the thumping music (which I forced them to turn down) and my middle aged ears, I couldn’t catch her name.  Not to worry, my middle aged brain would have forgotten it in seconds anyway.  She asked who was the mother and we both said, “we are”.  Shock and consternation showed on her face.  She then asked, “are there two birthday boys?” Ok, maybe she was thinking she needed to charge extra or maybe she was worried that there was some foul-up.  But this is NEW YORK CITY on GAY PR IDE WEEKEND.  (As for our family, we’re here, we’re queer, we are sooooo over it.)

Ok, so it took a few screams in all of our ear canals to get the point across (remember there was the thumping, party tape playing — another gift by the gay community) in order for the manager to understand that there were two Moms and that all was the same as planned.  Phew.  One small step for us, one giant step for GAY families.

My dad arrived early but not as early as usual so I was tempted to start a police manhunt to track him down.  (He is almost 90 and I worry.)  I waited outside and caught him as he was passing the place.  He noted the loud music and then I wondered to myself, how can he hear the loud music but not hear me screaming “DAD!!!!” on the pier.  A cosmic puzzlement.  One of the moms of our son’s friends asked Dad, “whose father are you?” (as in is your daughter POB or Blogger?).  My dad misunderstood the question, and answered, “No father.  Two moms.”  He came over to me later and suggested that someone didn’t realize the family dynamics and whether he should have a word with her.  G-d bless my Dad.  I didn’t have the heart to tell him that the mom-in-question already told me about the mis-communication. So, I said, “Another time, Dad, and thanks.”

It is my son’s day, but I need to have a moment about my Dad.  Sometimes, being the sandwich generation has it joyful moments.

I have spent the day putting together Star Wars lego battle cruisers, whatever.  Every parent can relate.  That’s why we don’t march in the parade.  Who has time when there are Lego projects and Little League and Hebrew School and birthday parties?

I get emails from my college friends asking about the birthday party.  I did NOT tell them (not that I wouldn’t but we had facial moisturizer to discuss).  But one is “friends” with my sister who posted pictures of the event.  You can run but you can’t hide.

And so it goes

After four days of being free of all family and work obligations, and being totally concentrated on re-uning and having fun, life resumes. I am in better shape this week than most, having eschewed the Dartmouth “boot and rally” battle cry [Blogger’s translation: If you have drunk too much, just throw up (i.e., boot) and keep drinking and playing beer pong (i.e., rally)].

I think people are tired of hearing me talk about Dartmouth, and POB (partner of blogger) had heretofore only heard me mention it in passing and only in relation to my dear friends from there.  So, it is surprising to most (including me) that I would drone on about it.

Who said, “youth is wasted on the young”?  So true.  I wish I could go back to the College on the Hill now as a 46 year-old.  A community waiting to welcome me back after 25 years of ignoring it.  The Prodigal Daughter returned and was embraced as if no time had passed.  That is extraordinary and humbling.

But if I had to choose that dream world or my life before the weekend, Dartmouth (and the dream) loses by more than the football team used to lose to everyone (except, of course, Columbia).  I guess I am belatedly enjoying the gift given when I was far too young to enjoy it and make the most of it — four years devoted to making me a scholar/athlete/artist.  Of course, I wasted the time and am none of these things.

What this weekend did do was make me want to redouble my commitment to accessible college experiences for everyone, without the overhang of outrageous loans, etc.  Because having prosperous parents shouldn’t be the litmus test.

And so it goes.  Back to life and the mundane and magnificent.  And back to supporting my tax dollars for higher education.

I am your mirror (just one more reunion story)

We were at a sit-down, dressed-up dinner on the lawn in front of the library at the College.  We were sipping champagne in a beautiful setting and we were nostalgic and wistful and glossing over the really bad things that happened there.  It felt like we were in a film about British aristocracy before World War I.  My inner snob was momentarily overwhelming my otherwise egalitarian (and self-satisfied) character.

And, then . . .

And, then

From stage left, I heard a loud booming voice breaking through my revelry, rising above the din and seemingly causing the sumptuous scenery to fall away: 

“[Blogger], I hear you have a partner!! How could I have been your roommate for a year in college and not have known you were gay? 

I think you’ll agree that I am pretty intuitive?!

So, I decided you didn’t know either.  Am I right?  I am right, aren’t I.  Yup, I knew it. 

You look great by the way.  You have a son.  Did you have it or did she or neither?” 


And I thought my sexual orientation was just about me.  And I thought people didn’t ask about paternity and maternity in polite company.  Nah, this is reunion after all, and I am “radically” different than I was 25 years ago.

I adore this person.  And her comments were so authentically “her” that I just smiled, laughed and enjoyed the feeling of 25 years just melting away. 

Beauty Hints

The craziest people in our class are plastic surgeons.  You might expect that they would wield knives, but not necessarily for good or ethically neutral purposes if you know what I mean.

So, one of our group compiled a list of beauty secrets:

1. Still a #1 choice in the lip category — Chanel. Twinkle is a bit more gold tone, and Blizzard more rose. Both are frosted, not matte. Chanel gloss stays on well and is very moisturizing. Unlike regular lipstick and some other glosses, I find it has no taste. I am giving this product 4 out of 4 stars, with a high $$$. Available in most department stores.

2. Trish McEvoy. Excellent cosmetic line in general. I use her pressed powder and eye shadows. This line sells the items with magnets on the bottom so they all fit neatly into one small compact organizer. This is a mid-tier price line for cosmetics, but very high $$$$ for skin treatments. I use her Beta Hydroxy pads, but I cut them in half to stretch them further. Her Beauty Booster moisturizer is expensive, but could change your life.

3. Trish McEvoy lip products. Really love her Esential Lip Pencil in Baby Pink. These pencils are not like some other pencils which are liners or stain — these are all over coverage like lipstick. They are not drying. I use her lip gloss over the pencil in the Very Sexy shade, which is essentially clear. But these lip glosses are very moisturising and also have no taste. The lip pencils and glosses come in other shades, but Baby Pink and Very Sexy are my choices.

4. Cle de Peu under eye concealer and liquid foundation. These are very $$$$$ products, but if you have dark eye circles like me you would pay any amount for the concealer. The foundation is like silk and does not break my skin out like many other products. Has SPF 22. Have only seen this line at Neiman Marcus and Saks — recommended by In Style magazine.

5. Yonka Masque for Sensitive Skin. Had a facial with this line of products at Mandalay Bay. My skin felt like a baby’s butt. I called the spa afterward to get the name of the products. Sold only in salons, I prefer the Trish McEvoy beauty booster, but love the masque.

You cannot go wrong with this list.  The provider of the list looks FABULOUS!!!!!

Gender Neutrality and other things

At Reunion, we stayed in the dorms.  Because there is one (count with me, ONE) inn in the entire town.  Don’t think Jesus in the manger.  Think Daniel Webster, as in, “it is a small college, Sir, but there are those of us who love it.”

Our dorm was a “gender neutral environment”.  None of us knew what that meant.  We felt a little dumb asking undergraduates who weren’t alive when we were at the College to explain it.

Apparently, all the bathrooms are co-ed but the toilets and the showers are single room occupancy only.  But the toilet is separate from the shower.  Maybe teenagers and 20-somethings don’t have to pee before they shower (let’s not imagine the Seinfeld episode, for surely it will blind us), but 46 year-olds do.  So we have to go from our rooms into the hall way into a toilet and then out into the hall way and back into the shower.  Too many opportunities to flash too much flesh even though we were wearing our granny bathrobes.  And, as earthy as some of us (me) are, we all wore flip-flops into the shower, because as one said, “there is hair in there and it belongs to someone we don’t know and that is just gross.”

I believe I overheard someone saying she Purelled her feet after taking a shower but I could be making that up.

And, and, many people complimented me on my fragrance.  It was my friend’s bug spray.  I’ll get the brand and publish it in another blog.

What a difference 25 years makes

Ok, so I was “chubby” (work that euphemism with me, please) in college.  Once leaving college, coming out and feeling the rhythm of post-college, I lost weight — a lot of weight — and resumed being the skinny kid I was before 11th grade. 

Of course, many people haven’t seen me in 25 years.  (Some one asked me, “so were you thin in high school and then just went out of control for the college years?)  Now the guys, now a little chunkier with a lot less hair, were checking me out.  I was amused by it, and a little creeped out because they were married. 

In fact, two of my married friends were hit on by married-men-not-their-husbands.  Really?  Really?  I thought one of the waitresses was really cute (a grad school graduate picking up extra money — I was in the back talking to a fellow classmate who owns the catering company and she introduced me to her husband the chef and the entire staff).  Hey, if everyone is checking out people, I could, too.  And besides it would be too ooky to check out my classmates, even though many clearly did.  One of my friends, a straight woman, saw this same waitress seemingly sweltering in the heat in her uniform and said to her, “You look hot!”  As in, “it is Hot Like Africa Hot here and you must be sweltering and sweating into my food and that is too gross!”  Still, my friend reported to the group that she told the waitress she was HOT!  I love my friends.

In a too-weird-for-words episode, I was standing with some friends on Main Street and a guy comes barreling out of the nearby café to talk with one of my friends. The guy says “how’s the film business in NY?”  Ok, my friend isn’t in film anymore (as in not for 20 years) and he isn’t in NY.  So, my friend says where he is and what he does and the guy says, “you may know my brother! He died in 1996 but, before he died he was the foremost authority on [the most obscure crazy thing NO ONE has ever thought about].” Ok, now that is a conversation stopper. What do you say, “So, you like staying in the dorms?” or “Got kids?” 

Somethings a person doesn’t need to remember:  nicknames like Crabs, Stain, Fiend and — yes — Swivel

Finally, in the too-late for this reunion, but something to remember for next time

When someone asks you what you do after blowing hard about all the fabulous things he or she does, just say, I just released an album about yodeling.  You might recognize certain cuts from the Sound of Music, but I included more authentic tunes and some new, really edgy stuff.  If you would like, I can put on my lederhosen and bring out my trumpet-like instrument and demonstrate.”

The 25th College Reunion That Was

According to the new-ish President of the College, Dartmouth alums are different because we cry when we sing the Alma Mater.  I am not a sentimental type about my college years and it is hard to cry when part of a verse talks about having rocks in our brains (see below).

Dear old Dartmouth, give a rouse, For the College on the hill,
For the Lone Pine above her, And the loyal ones who love her [words omitted]
Though ‘round the girdled Earth they roam, Her spell on them remains.
They have the still North in their hearts, The hill winds in their veins,
And the granite of New Hampshire In their muscles and their brains.

Crazy, right? I cried like a baby.

It was good to be back on the Hanover Plain.  The campus is just beautiful and being in an environment with undergraduates reminded me of the gift of learning.  In the midst of this beauty with a diverse undergraduate body of scholar-athlete-artists, it can be hard to remember how racist and misogynist the campus was in the early 80s, but that, too, must be acknowledged.

And, that, and for a group of friends, who have known each other for 29 years, we celebrated our years there, and also 25 years of life since then and the friendship bonds that have sustained us. 

I think what makes us unique is how we celebrated.

  • First, we talked about deal breakers for new relationships (some of us are not married; and we also talked about when we are — G-d forbid — widowed).   One mentioned that her much older aunt was seeing this man who was terrific in every way (wait, he was really cheap – so not every way) but when they were both in the airport traveling east to see family, she said, “Watch my bags, I am going to the restroom” and his response was, “Oh, I don’t bother; I wear Depends”.  Thereafter, ensued a spirited conversation about medical versus recreational use of adult diapers as a bright line deal breaker.  [Blogger comment: we are 45 but we like to be ready for big life decisions so we start thinking about these things ahead.  Also, many of us after childbirth cannot sneeze without worrying about leakage.]
  • Second, we got teary-eyed about the meaning of our friendships and how we are each other’s go-to people in a crisis.  We laughed, we cried, we hugged and we clasped hands and celebrated being together. [Blogger:  some random people tried to break into these deep moments and change the mood and we wouldn’t let them.]
  • Third, some of us played beer pong until 4:30am just like in college.  Others of us, not so much.  [Blogger comment: Of course, everyone was tired because college beds and prison beds are not that dissimilar.]
  • Fourth, we really played it to the bone. We were direct with each other and with our other classmates.  One asked another, “are we supposed to be ok with your drinking this weekend?”  Another said to a surprise attendee, “You really need to apologize for [disappearing without a word for 23 years after his best friend asked him to be his best man].”  [Blogger comment: This was not for the faint of heart.  We asked and wanted answers.]
  • Fifth, we were each other’s memory-recall buttons and coaches.  One of our number kept asking us, “did I have a fling with that guy?” and we did our best to keep the record straight.  Another gave us a real teachable moment when, being introduced to someone, she said, “Nice to meet you” and he said in a slightly hurt (possibly belligerent) way, “we know each other”.  Then the friend remember the fling that happened more than a quarter-century ago.  The resulting advice was to say, “good to see you” to everyone and anyone.  [Blogger comment: This is in addition to the old standby, “Good for you!” Really, good, GOOD, for you!”.]

Next blog entry will be the crazy things that happened while we were there.