Sunday Dinner

FOPOB (father of POB (partner of blogger)) is a hard guy to pin down.  He doesn’t like to “commit” to coming over for Sunday night dinner when he is in the City (and not at his beach house).  This weekend was no exception: he wasn’t able to say yes or no when asked again yesterday. He’d let us know.  Ok.

In fact, he let us know by coming over at 3:15pm, unannounced.  That’s so early even for MY dad who would come at 9am, if we let him.  That’s ok.  I couldn’t even emerge from the bedroom until 3:45pm.  Then I felt guilty and let POB escape to the kitchen.  At 4:15pm, FOPOB was itching to watch the Giants game.  And in a slightly-passive-but-really-overly-aggressive move, I told SOS (our son, source of sanity) to keep FOPOB company, believing full well that SOS would get bored within 5 minutes and start trying to convince FOPOB to change to either Nature or Discovery channels.  And it would drive FOPOB nuts.

You think that wow I can be awfully mean sometimes.  Yes, yes, I can.

Somehow, despite my best-laid plans, SOS started to get into the game.  (My son:  the child who went from worrying about the euro crisis to watching people gratuitously concuss each other in 48 hours.  I am having whiplash and I will remind him of this indignity until the day I die or the guilt kills him — whatever.)  The Giants versus the Redskins.  The Redskins?  Really?  Do we still have teams with humans (in this case, Native Americans) as mascots?  Haven’t we progressed as a civilization?  Oh, wait, that is my way left-of-center whine.  I am a centrist now.  I digress.

FOPOB was impatient at cocktail hour (6pm) because the Redskins (pause, take a deep breath) were beating the Giants.  And, because HOSOB (husband of SOB (sister of blogger)) and CB (cousin birder) were talking about bird nerd things that even a loving and adoring  sister-in-law and cousin could not possibly abide.  SOB was seeking shelter in the kitchen with POB, leaving me to referee the “boys”.

So I threw out random things, like the blue inner feathers of a mallard and the way hummingbirds make their calls with their feathers, to bring the conversation within normal nerd parameters.  Nothing doing.  DOB (Dad of blogger) rather adeptly tried to steer the conversation away from what could have been mortal boredom (did I mention how much I adore HOSOB and CB?) by musing about the difference in conversations he had when he was our age 20 years ago.  OK, DOB, that was 40 years ago when you were our age, but who is counting.  Yes, it was just after the 60s and you were wearing mustard colored bell bottoms and Mom was wearing floral halter tops, “hostess” pants and Elvira the Vampiress make-up, but I am sure your politics had sound bases. Still, he had a good point.

FOPOB, who had a moment to shine, instead said flatly that the conversation was boring, he’d rather watch his team lose and did anyone realize that Casablanca was on TV tonight?  I poured everyone more wine.  DOB mentioned he liked it and I told him it was NOT Trader Joe’s $3.50 special Merlot.  “Really?”  DOB was genuinely surprised.  I excused myself to the kitchen where POB was hiding out.  I asked POB to kill me before SOS ever had to have this conversation with me.

Thank G-d Cousin Gentle arrived.  And time to eat.  FOPOB wanted to take dinner-to-go but we locked the door.  SOB had to take a call from the hospital.  SOS wanted to run back and forth from the dinner table to the TV in our room to watch the football game.  I considered Crazy Glue to keep him in his chair but I settled on the Evil Eye of Doom and Despair that I inherited from my mother that kept us in line.  It is amazing how a few moves of the facial muscles can subdue a child.  It worked. Luckily, I also still have the brute strength in my arsenal, if necessary.  But only for a little time more.

At the beginning of the meal, we toasted the many sides of the family that were present.  We toasted our good fortune in being together.  We remembered the victims of the attack on our Nation 10 years ago.

At some point in the conversation, we started talking about the different sources of the Bible and how women may have been writers.  HOSOB asked what I knew about this.  So, of course, I held forth, but with a caveat.  I started with, “Unencumbered as I am with fact or knowledge about the subject matter . . . .”  Cousin Gentle was impressed that I said this.  I was shocked.  I thought this was an implied caveat in any conversation in our family history because clearly Uncle Loud, Cousin Gentle’s father and DOB, would have otherwise been mute for most of their lives.

After that, someone complained that the chicken was salty.  Someone wondered about having added marjoram (a spice I still don’t understand) to the quinoa dish.  FOPOB wanted to take dessert to go (keep trying, dude) in order to watch Casablanca at home on his ginormous TV.

So, we were deep, we were shallow, we were loving, we were honest. .  .and in so doing, we gave meaning to the statement:


I love you all.

Dear Yenta, see that he’s gentle . . . .

I introduced my college friend to my cousin.

I understand, through my sources (not yet disclosed on Wikileaks) that they are meeting tonight.

I am like a mother waiting for her daughter to come home from the prom.  Oy, what was I thinking?  They’ll hate each other.  This is not a match.  Worse, they’ll hate me and it will be awkward when they see each other at my wedding.

But who really knows?  They could really groove on each other although, if they listed what they are looking for in a mate, they would not seem suited.  But my high-powered doctor sister married an artist and they are in love, these many years later.  My Jewish brother from New York City married a Southern Baptist from a small town in Texas and they are in love more than 14 years later.  I found my love at Camp Wingate at age 10 (and then we re-met many years later) and we are similar in as many ways as we are different.

I don’t usually make matches (shitachs (with a guttural “ch”) in Yiddish), but this was just staring me in the face.  Maybe only a connection that will lead to introductions that will lead to future romance.  Or tonight’s summer evening could hold romance . . . .

But if I don’t get an email tonight, I am driving back to New York for a full debriefing, and if necessary, interrogation.  Someone ought to be VERY afraid.


Though ‘round the girdled Earth they roam, Her spell on them remains.

This is part of the Dartmouth anthem.

CAFOB (California friend of blogger) is staying with us and I feel blessed by 30 years of friendship.  Even after months of no contact, our conversation starts up again with, “as I was saying”.  No beat skipped.  It is the best of what Dartmouth offers: enduring friendships arising out of a small community. (There is the underside to the Dartmouth experience, but let’s leave that, for now.)

CAFOB just left our house for another liaison with same “unavailable” guy (I have the name, phone number and address now, phew). I kept opening the door while she waited for the elevator to make sure she had money for a cab if she felt she needed to come back tonight, to make sure she knew where she was going and to make sure she knew her “friend” would take care of her.  And finally before I closed the door for the last time, I made sure she would tell him I knew where to find him and that he should be afraid, very afraid.  I don’t care if we are all nearing 50.  Adults are simply children in expensive clothes.  So, I worry.  Sue me.

I am grateful for the friendship that are etched in ♫ the granite of New Hampshire that is made part of us ’til death.♫  And the granite of New Hampshire does indeed keep ♫a record of [our] fame♫.  I like to think that line of the anthem refers to our triumphs in things that matter — love, enduring friendships, and healing the world.  (Tim Geithner, ’84, we expect a lot.)

CAFOB, I’ll be waiting up until morning when you come back.  No guilt. No pressure.


Nine of Us, Thirty Years and Going Strong

I often write about my college friends.  (See  Us, in a Rear-View Mirror and, one of the many posts about our 25th college reunion.) 

We nine friends have sustained each other through ups and downs in our lives.  

One of the Nine, CAFOB (California friend of blogger) is staying with us for a few days.    Another of the Nine, NYFOB (New York City friend of blogger) emailed about what CAFOB was up to.  I emailed back that CAFOB was staying downtown some place that night. 


NYFOB was soooo right: I failed in my obligation to question her comings and goings with the detail and precision (and techniques) of a seasoned New York detective. 

There are some rules we Nine live by:  “you do it, you live with it” and “if you want to dance, you pay the fiddler”  (both courtesy of the now much-mellowed DCFOB (DC friend of blogger). 

In other words, CAFOB had a responsibility to spill her guts and break all confidences about the — hmmm — liaison.  And it was my responsibility to enforce the rules.

Utter and total failure.  I am sensing a group visit and intervention being planned.

Luckily, POB (partner of blogger) was available and got the whole story.  POB says to CAFOB, “You have a choice:  you tell the Nine or I will tell the Nine.  Choose wisely.”  Sad things can wait; juicy gossip among us must be revealed with great dispatch.

I love that POB enforces the laws of the Nine if I am not around.  POB is a true life partner.


RIP, Cousin Bernie

Cousin Bernie died yesterday,

Cousin Bernie wasn’t really my cousin.  But I didn’t find out that Bernie wasn’t related until my mother’s shiva.  Trust me, that’s when you learn everything about everybody, whether you want to or not.

It turns out that Cousin Bernie was the cousin of Betty, one of my mother’s closest friends from college.  Betty and my mother married two brothers, so Betty was my Aunt Betty by the time I was born.  Cousin Bernie also was (for time enough to have two children) the husband of Blossom, one of Aunt Betty’s and Mom’s other close friends.  For the record, Aunt Betty’s only successful match was Mom and Dad.  The rest were, shall we say, short-lived.

Not only was Cousin Bernie, and therefore, his wife Susan not my cousins, but Blossom wasn’t, and Blossom’s second husband, Aaron, wasn’t and his third wife, Marjorie, wasn’t.  All of which I found out at Mom’s shiva.  And Marjorie was the only one who asked POB (partner of blogger) if we were having a child by a known donor or unknown donor.  You mean she asked that and she wasn’t even related???  You have to admire a woman who picks up the beat of the Blogger family.  No boundaries, ever.

What makes them my family is more important than blood or marriage.   They are related by love.  And if not, love, then time.  After a few decades, even my mother, who would cringe at Bernie’s cursing like a sailor (he was one, in World War II), loved him even though he divorced Blossom and swore in front of her children.  Family is family, however it is constituted.

And so my heart is breaking for his wife Susan, Aunt Betty and Bernie’s kids.  Bernie, my Mom, Aunt Betty, Uncle Willy and my Dad were among the generation that bridged the divide between immigrant children and Americans.  They were the generation that fought in the war that American won.  They all put their foot on the gas pedal and roared into the American dream.  They laid the foundation for my generation’s successes.

And they were characters.  In his later years, Bernie was a caricature of himself.  And we lovingly laughed at his meshugas (craziness).

He used to be president of the New York Runner’s Club.  I ran in one of the New York City Corporate Challenges and, as I crossed the finish line, Bernie was there to hug me.  I said, “Bernie, it is great to see you!” He said, “[Blogger], is that you?”  So, in fact, he was hugging any sweaty, young woman who would hug him back.  “I won’t tell Susan,” I said as I kissed him.  At the next family function, OF COURSE, I told Susan.  Bernie’s response: “Jesus Christ, all of these f*%$ing young beautiful, sweaty women!! What the hell do you want me to do? Wave? How else would I get anyone to hug me. [more profanity].”  That was Bernie.  (You should know that he hit the jackpot with Susan.  He knew it, too.  To use his parlance, he would have been a schmuck to do anything untoward.)

I drove Bernie and his wife Susan to Uncle Willy’s unveiling a few years back. Bernie called and said he hadn’t seen Willy in a while and would I include them in the Great Schlep.  SOB (sister of blogger) and I didn’t know whether he remembered that Uncle Willy had died.  So, during the Great Schlep, we asked leading questions intended to elicit some acknowledgment that Uncle Willy was dead.  We were afraid that Bernie who had a defibrillator and pacemaker in his chest might go into cardiac arrest if he thought he was actually going to see Uncle Willy and then we pulled up to the cemetery. Thank G-d, he knew.

We saw Susan and Bernie at Dad’s 90th birthday party in October.  He looked frail. He was cursing about all the doctors he needed to see and how he had no more room in his schedule.  He also was singing the praises of prune juice as an elixir he recently discovered.  Cousin Bernie never changed.

I just called my Aunt Betty to express my condolences and I started reminiscing about the prune juice and the cursing and the doctors.  She has buried a son, a husband and countless other loved ones.  It was good to hear her chuckle as she mourns another loss in our greatest generation.  As we mourn right along with her.

Rest in peace, Cousin Bernie.

I was unfriended

The danger of Facebook is that someone can unfriend you.  Or defriend you, I am not sure.

I was hurt.  I was confused. No explanation.  Just  — one day — IFOB (Italian friend of blogger) was not among my friends.  And this, after POB (partner of blogger) showed up to make sure that I was not swooning over his elegance and grace in a moment of heterosexual weakness.  Indeed, IFOB is handsome, charming and so very intelligent and well-read.  But I don’t have moments of heterosexual weakness; I am for my beloved POB and she is for me.  IFOB is a good catch for those of you straight women out there who are single.  (Just FYI.)

Being the straightforward person that I am, I emailed IFOB and asked, “Did you unfriend me?”  He did.  He was angry that I was ambivalent about the equality in marriage legislation.  I should be happy.  In truth, you have to stand in my shoes to understand. When you are discriminated against, it is hard to be thankful when people realize that they ought to stop discriminating.

Of course, I am happy.  And, I am grateful to those who championed the cause.  Mostly, I am happy because I have POB and, with TLP (the little prince), we are a family.  And, love and family cannot be legislated.

POB and I were planning a ceremony before the legislation seemed possible.  Now, it will be a marriage.

IFOB: next time, talk to me if you have an issue with something.  After all, we seem to navigate being political opposites.  Besides, if you are not my friend (forget FB, just generally), you can’t come to the wedding (in 2012).

Non-bloggable moments

College friends were in town this weekend and those who were in town on Friday came over at our house for a late bite.  We were all catching up on each other’s news, and I was telling a story, and my dear, dear, friend, let’s call her DCFOB (DC friend of blogger), exclaimed, “this story isn’t on your blog!! I thought everything was on your blog!!”

Dear, dear, DCFOB, not everything can be on my blog.  Then, no one would talk to me.  So, yes, there are wild and crazy stories — just ask IFOB (Italian friend of blogger) but there need to be blog-free zones.  In fact, one of our dear friends prefaced one conversation this weekend by stating, “this is a blog-free conversation!”

So, everyone, I try to be tactful where others are concerned.  I am not always (or often) successful, but I do try.  Really, really, hard.  And some stories . . . well, I think I have shown exceptional restraint.  But, when senility starts to eat away at my discretion, just hope that the memories get lost too.  Otherwise, be afraid.  Very afraid.


Dear IFOB (Italian friend of blogger):

First, let me say that I do like your critiques of my views and my blog.  You challenge me to define and refine my positions.  And you are right, recently I conflated three issues: the deficit, taxes and entitlements.

I believe in social programs and safety nets.  Ideologically and emotionally, I am all-in on these.  But we can’t go into debt to provide them. 

If everyone paid taxes even at Bush tax levels with no deductions or loopholes and, excluding war costs, we couldn’t pay for the social programs and safety nets, then we have to re-prioritize and cut.

Unencumbered by facts or education in this matter, I just don’t believe that we would go into debt to provide these programs if people paid their taxes and we didn’t go warring in quagmires.

Separately, we have a huge debt right now.  We spent on credit and now we have to pay the bill.  Forget about the reasons for now.  The bill is big and we owe it.  I think that means higher taxes, at least for a while. 

And just for icing on the cake, President Obama is pissing me off a lot lately.

Oh, and IFOB, I think you still owe me lunch.  We can just eat tuna fish sandwiches — nothing fancy. 


~~ Blogger

Dinner at Eight

POB (partner of blogger) and I have the same couples over for New Years each year.  A decade-old tradition.  But every now again, we like to gather a sub-set of the group for a “mid-semester” dinner.

POB really enjoys cooking new recipes.  But she needs a sous-chef.  I look to my left, I look to my right and then I realize, “le sous-chef, c’est moi”. I am good with that.  We set up a play-date for TLP (the little prince) and the two of us hang out companionably in the kitchen, each at our own stations, chopping and marinating and chatting.

POB accidentally purchased un-pitted olives.  She needed pitted olives for the fish marinade.  Two cups.  So, of course, I pitted the olives (and smell like Kalamata olives even today — two showers later).  Only when taking out other ingredients for the meal, did POB discover that she, in fact, had pitted olives in the refrigerator.  Hmmm, I thought.  Was there a passive-aggressive undertone?  Nah.  We just have an over-stocked refrigerator and we forget what is in there.

Guests arrive.  Wine and hors-d’oeuvres are warming up the crowd.  The smelling of delectables cooking in the kitchen puts everyone in a happy mood.  Time to be seated.  I help with the plates coming out.  The fish, which has a roasted tomato and olive marinade (along with various spices), looked very red.  As no no olives.  I look in the kitchen and there, on the counter-top next to the stove, was the mountain of olives I had pitted, a task that stained my hands and caused a noxious reaction with the perfume I had put on.  WHaaaaaaaat? Maybe there was something passive-aggressive after all. . . .

I turn to POB, my eyes wide with a sense of betrayal.  “Oh, no, sweetie, people were talking to me and I forgot to roast them . . .  and . . .  I am soooo sorry!!”  “No worries,” I say.  I bring the olives out, pour them over the fish as a garnish and explained to everyone, “I personally pitted these, so everyone is going to eat them — no excuses and no dispensation.”   I overheard someone say to Sabrina, “if I got [her partner] to pit olives for an hour and didn’t use them,  I would be making up for it for — I don’t know — YEARS.”  I caught POB’s eye and she looked at me and I smiled.  POB responded, “I think, it is only a question of months with [Blogger]; she is the forgiving sort.”

POB and I both smiled.  All is good and, as you all know by now, the “bravas” from our guests over my pitting the lives made up for everything.  I even washed the pots and pans.

Ode to COB

Dear COB (colleague of blogger) took care of almost everything while I was away on vacation.  He tried to hard to let me rest, refraining from telling me — how shall I say — “human interest tidbits” so I could really disconnect (as much as one can) from the office. 

Occasionally, he would catch me on Facebook with an off-line sidebar on the trials and tribulations of being both of us for one week.  I get that.  Being one person is hard enough.  Talking like me while wearing my clothes is really close to impossible for such a big guy.  His poor back.

In these days of shifting allegiances and loyalties in every area of life, it is good to know someone has your back at work, so you can focus on your family.

COB, you rock.  And I got yours, too.