The crazy coincidences of life

33 years ago, my sister met another freshman at college because of random dorm assignments.  Two 18 year-olds, one from NYC and another from a small town in Wisconsin, became friends and that friendship has spanned the decades.

The friend is one of eight (yes, eight) children and, long ago, our mothers bonded over the trials, tribulations and –yes — tragedies from which they could not protect their children.  And the families have, by happenstance, and good fortune (for our family) literally kept bumping into each other throughout life.   I think Kurt Vonnegut had a word for this phenomenon.

When I went on college interviews, there was invariably a sibling nearby to greet me and show me around. When, years later, an out of town colleague of my ex was in NYC and wanted to bring a friend along for dinner, in walked another sibling.  (They are instantly recognizable.)  So, into my then home walked OMIGOD [name withheld] FROM WISCONSIN!!

When POB (partner of blogger) and I set up home and family in the very Upper West Side, who should be teaching at a pre-school nearby?  That same sibling.

Years later, who is dancing at my sister’s (ahem, long awaited) nuptials?  That college friend.

And whom do I see when I go for a run, on my way to work or out for coffee?  You bet, the sibling.  Sometimes we sit and chat about life.  Sometimes, I just yell a greeting.  If my sister’s college friend is visiting town, I always try to pop over to my sister’s and say hi.  Even if I can’t make it, I know that will — and do — bump into that college friend during her stay.

Because our two families — from different backgrounds and along different life paths — were intended to know each other.

I emailed my sister today because I, of course, saw the sibling.  My sister wrote back that this coincidence is not as crazy as how I met POB.

POB and I were in the same bunk at a camp on Cape Cod in 1974.  We were 10 years old and best friends.  Our families both lived in the City and subsequently we went to the same synagogue and Hebrew School.  She did her homework; I was in the rabbi’s office.  We continued to learn with the rabbis after Bat Mitzvah and Confirmation, until we graduated from high school.  We lost touch for 20 years and re-met, first casually, then as good friends, and after our own relationships imploded, as life partners.

All I remember is that POB’s mother randomly picked a camp because they were building a summer house and needed the girls to go somewhere.  POB’s father was not pleased at all with the facilities at the camp.  When POB’s mother was alive, I often thanked her for not consulting with her husband as that might have changed the course of history.  I still remind POB’s dad that going to that camp was one of the best things that happened to his daughter (I only say that when POB is not perturbed with me).

Life is crazy like that.  Which is another reason to listen to your grandmother’s warnings about not wearing torn underwear or never going out without lipstick because the doctor in the emergency room could be your first boyfriend.  And, no matter what happened since then — even if you are lesbian — you want to make sure that the guy regrets letting you get away.

Wednesday Date Night with Friends

I arrive early.  A possible stolen moment of mindfulness and relaxation out of a harried day.  But this is New York City, where quiet was expunged from the lexicon long ago.  And I am a consummate New Yorker so I must email something to somebody.  And so I did, to POB (partner of blogger) and FOPOBAB (friends of POB and Blogger) who were joining us for dinner.  Witness my descent into madness.

—– Original Message —–
Sent: Wed Jul 28 18:00:35 2010 [I am 14 minutes 25 seconds early, standing outside a pulsating restaurant]

A hopping place we picked. Such an active bar scene that if you were here early I wouldn’t be able to tell. I am sweltering outside listening to Dancing Queen (they pipe out the music for the pleasure of the passersby). I am trying not to sing along.  I wish there were drag queens around to dance with. My inner 20-something

Sent: Wed Jul 28 18:03:45 2010 [3 minutes and 10 seconds later]

Cabs are so plentiful I want to hail ALL of them.

Sent: Wed Jul 28 18:08:58 2010 [5 minutes 13 seconds later]

Men’s fashion is getting pushed to the limit. It is only ok if [husband of FOPOBOB, who always looks fabulous] would wear it. That is my litmus test.

Can you tell I am overwhelmed by the bar scene raging inside. Ok, a couple with a two year old are considering coming into the restaurant. Mean, evil parents. Toooo much. I am going to try to take a picture surreptitiously. [Unfortunately, I was unable to get my blackberry camera in focus quickly enough]

Sent: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 7:10 PM [one minute two seconds later]

I am going inside. I am brave.

No one would seat me even though we had a reservation.  We ALL had to be there.  I had visions of being in a suburban steak house located in a mall where they say, “Ma’am, if you have a seat after your party has arrived, we will call you.”  And then you wait to hear, “Blogger, party of four!! Blogger, party of four!!”  Ok, I CAAAAN’T GO THERE.

We all arrive and sit down and everybody is chatting and happy to see each other.  I turn to the wife of FOPOBAB and ask, steeling myself for the answer, “how is your sister?”  [note: her sister had cancer].  I knew it was gutsy. 

Although time seems to evaporate when we all get together, it has been quite a few months and ANYTHING can, and does, happen.  I see the look on her face. 

Pause.  Pause.  Momentary out-of-body-experience.  Back in my body and wishing it lacked a mouth.

“She died.” 

[Why do I forget that I have a big S on my forehead for SCHMUCK?]

“We’ve seen you since then but we were with the kids, and I couldn’t go there.”

“Some hors d’oeuvres?” I say.  NO, NOT REALLY.   She tells me a hilarious story that happened as her sister literally lay dying that involved a nun.  There is humor in these moments.  I remember with my mother.  And if you been there, you can very comfortably listen and laugh along.  Because those stories help those still alive cope.

Meanwhile, POB and husband of FOPOBAB are talking about something else.  There is a break in the conversations.  I decided to catch up the others on our conversation. 

I turned to POB and said, “So, I asked about [wife of FOPOBAB]’s sister and she is dead.  But still we both have our appetites.  And, as you know, I have schmuck written on my forehead.”


I turn to my friend and say, “in the future, just text us “worry” or “cry” and you fill us in on the details later.  Ok?”

A Bar on the Side of the Road of Life

Our goddaughter is in the midst of taking the bar exam — a two- or three-day hazing ritual — so that some day soon she will have the dubious honor of practicing law with a license. (In our family, many consider themselves lawyers even though actually allowing them to be licensed would be tantamount to yelling fire in a crowded theater.)

Any way, back to our goddaughter.   She’ll do fine.  She is smart and capable.  And those are not even prerequisites — have you looked at who gets admitted to the bar?  And then what percentage of those also get put behind bars (at penitentiaries)? 

Anyway, my sweet, I can’t wait to welcome you to the club.  Just remember, it is just a bar on the side of road. 

Life is bigger, wider and better than any heights of any profession.  I know you know that.  But you also know that, as I am in loco (LOCO) parentis in the State of Blogger, I must tell you anyway.

POB (partner of blogger), SOPOBAB (son of POB and Blogger) and I love you and POLTB (partner of lawyer-to-be) VERY, VERY, VERY much.

~ Blogger

Rosy Big Picture; Details, Not So Much

Police officers on horses look so majestic.  (I got this picture from the Internet.)

Also, a little tie with New York’s past.  Also, it is urban legend that being a Mountie is a reward for extraordinary valor.  So, these officers on mount deserve to stand taller than the rest of us.

Yet . . . .

As I was walking to the subway on another hot day, a Mountie passed by and his horse was pooping as they walked along.  I didn’t have time to catch a picture of the Mountie, but here is the goodies left over:

The next day the scene looked slightly better, after some time and a little traffic could run over it.

I bet you are wondering what is on the sidewalk right next to the horse manure.  You are, aren’t you?  Yes, you are.  I know it:


The Kids Are All Right but the Moms need some help, big time.

POB (partner of blogger) and I went to see the movie, “The Kids Are All Right,” about a lesbian couple and their two kids and the sperm donor who is invited into their lives by the elder child (who turned 18 and can get the information).

It got great reviews.   After seeing it, I realize that these reviewers are straight.

Based on the (straight people) reviews, I was looking forward to seeing how my life turns out (not really, but sort of really).  Two happily married lesbians raising their kids.  Sounded like a Utopian fantasy come to major motion picture.

Of course, I have my own issues — I am not a biological parent.  At least, each of these moms was biologically related to a child.  That is firmer ground than that which I will stand when coming face to  face with FOS (the face of sperm man), should it happen.  (OF COURSE, it will happen, but I intend to be in a state of dementia at that point.)

Back to the movie.  The hetero sex scenes were more enthralling than the one (count it, ONE) quasi-I-didn’t-understand-what-the-f$%^-was-going-on scene with the women.  Gay male porn and one woman under the covers while that other woman is watching man-on-man and showing no signs of arousal?  Ok, ok, ok.  I went to EVERY class on lesbian indoctrination given by the proponents of the gay agenda.  NO WHERE DID I SEE THIS.  This is NOT how any couple I KNOW gets romantic or has sex (yes, they can be mutually exclusive).

(While being indoctrinated all those many years ago, I did read about some things I decided were safer NOT to try at home, but in a passive-aggressive moment, I left those pamphlets for my mother to read and weep about.  I still feel a little bad but by the end of my mother’s life, she was not focused on fisting one’s partner.) 

I am going to have t-shirts made up that say: 


So, in this movie, child is parent to the mothers.  A usual Hollywood turn of events.

And the sexual excitement was spent on one of the mother’s extra-marital affair with Sperm Donor Man.  It was enticing, even though Mark Ruffalo has too much hair.  Also, what is with THAT?

If a lesbian has an affair (I am told) it is often with a woman and, if not a woman, a co-worker or client.  (Well, he was in fact a client at some point in the movie.)

NEVERTHELESS, in our first major motion picture about aging lesbians and their children, couldn’t the producers have made the sex a little steamy?  It isn’t like the L Word didn’t break some ground here.  Couldn’t the producers throw a bone to us true-life lesbians with families?  Keep hope alive for those of us in the midst of parenting and working and dreaming of beautiful sunsets with our partners when the kids are out of the house?

I always thought we were lucky — no Cialis, Viagra, etc. — now I am scared that I have man-on-man porn to look forward to while someone “services” me under covers.  I am soooooo grossed out.

This movie about a “solid” lesbian family is enough to cause therapists to cancel their August recess just to keep up with the demand of freaked out Moms.

Maybe this film touched a nerve (ok, it did) but I have to believe that it needed to please heterosexual America.  And so our lives are casualties.

Paging the L Word.

When worlds collide

If you live, work and love in New York, sometimes old worlds and old orbits collide. Sometimes, the reunion is comfortable; sometimes, there has been too many years of avoiding contact about issues. Quite frankly, sometimes we are in fact so shaped by our current circumstances, that the overture across worlds would require the universal translator that always saved Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock in the original Star Trek.

And in life (in contradistinction to movies), epiphanies are few and the hoped-for catharsis even rarer. Mostly, those who were on the peripheries of your prior worlds are only proxies for the unanswered questions and unresolved feelings of something much bigger.

So I declined the opportunity to invade someone’s performance at an outdoor cafe to re-greet a person of the past. She was performing and it would have been selfish at that moment. There are certainly opportunities — I have her number, etc., but I have chosen for 11 years not to reach out.  Why do so in her space during an expression of her art? If I really wanted to bridge the worlds, I would do so on terms acceptable to both of us. And after a decade, what do you say?  “How are you?”.  Sounds so stupid and pedestrian.  Some things are left better unsaid.  And these are not opportunities to reconnect — reconnect with what?  A life and circumstance that no longer exist?

I enjoyed her performance.  She has a beautiful voice.

Bridal Diapers???

I have been meaning to write on the subject of bridal diapers (no, not as in horses).  You have to read this.  Truth IS stranger than fiction.

A college friend emailed this article around shortly after our 25th reunion in mid-June.  (As I mentioned in an entry then, at reunion we discussed relevant topics such as, “if we were dating when in our 70s and 80s, would someone’s use of “Depends” diapers for convenience only be a dating deal breaker?”)  We thought it was.  We determined that one should maintain as much control as possible for as long as possible and resist smelling like a cesspool if at all possible.

But, apparently, according to the article, the bridal gowns are so cumbersome that going to the bathroom is a 20-minute ordeal or could possibly end in unsightly leakage.  EEEEWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW.

You would think the sensible answer would be, of course, GET A DIFFERENT DRESS!! 

Nope, not for these bridezillas.  The answer: DIAPERS, so they can wet themselves while talking to guests and dancing with their fathers or cutting the cake or being danced around on a chair. 

Think about that the next time you go to a wedding.  Think to yourself, could that dress be hiding a diaper?  Could I be congratulating the happy couple while the bride is . . . ?

And we wonder why our civilization is rounding the drain.

Youth, Age and Beauty

So, I am still fixated on the events at the gym yesterday.

I must have a magnet in the shape of an S (for schmuck) implanted in my forehead, just above my eyes.  Why else would I notice things better left unnoticed? 

Yesterday’s magnet caused me to see the following:

In the locker room at the gym, a mid-twenty-something woman is prancing around, checking herself out, all in preparation for her performance of the daily nude hair-drying ritual.  She had dyed hair, sported a tattoo and was bronzed (but not orange like House minority leader Rep. John Boehner).  These fly under the radar these days.  No one notices those things anymore. 

But what shocked me — maybe I am naive — is that she had breast implants.  At her age!! 

Didn’t people use to wait for a sag before a lift? 

Then I walked upstairs to a work-out floor and saw an older woman who had way too much work done and looked Joan Rivers-like only not as good.  Now, that is tragic.

Then I got on the bus and there was a 30-something woman who had had plastic surgery to restore her nose and mouth and part of her cheeks.  You know, that look when plastic surgery is necessary after something really bad happens. 

An unfortunate reality check on beauty and the medical reasons for plastic surgery.

I don’t think I’ll go to the gym today.


SOB (sister of blogger) and I walked our dad (FOB — father of blogger) to Fairway on Sunday after brunch with POB (partner of blogger) and our son. 

FOB is doing great, but he is aging.  SOB and I walked back uptown.  She was going home to write a chapter of a medical book and I was going to find a neutral place to read and comment on documents.  SOB offered that I could work at her house but we both knew that two couches in the living room would call our names and we would lie there and chat about stuff and then take out the Shrine — the picture album that SOB keeps of our mother — so we could have a long, cleansing sob.

With this in mind, we both decided that trying to work in the same room, or apartment for that matter, was not a good idea.  So, SOB walked me to the cafe at the gym where I was going to set up shop.  She sat for a moment and, of course, since the Shrine was mentioned, we had to have a moment about how long Mom had been gone and all that has happened in that time.  

SOB left me to work, but kept emailing me, “Are you still working?” every five or so minutes.   I am 46 and she is 50.  I don’t think we will ever grow up and I am grateful for that.

A Gym Moment

I stopped off at the gym for 20 minutes of cardio (how does someone with a family find time for more).

I bumped into my sister (one of the things I loved about the City being my hometown).  She was on her way to the locker room to take a shower.  Not a bead of sweat on her.  And every time I see her, I think cows sweat, men perspire and women glow.  But, SOB (sister of blogger) has a sparkle in her beautiful blue eyes but no glow on the skin (other than the fabulous skin courtesy of our mother’s genes).

She passes me again as she leaves and I am on the recumbent bike, sweating.  SOB remarks, in that genuine way that only an utterly charming, yet clueless person can pull off, “Wow, you’re sweating!  Isn’t that wonderful!” as if this a discovery of an as-yet-unknown by-product of exercise.  Being the doctor, her knowledge comes from the results of clinical trials reported in the New England Journal of Medicine (that mag rag, as I’ve named it) or CHEST.  CHEST is really a medical periodical and not a late night pay-per-view show.  Only doctors don’t see the irony of the logo on the t-shirts distributed at conferences: “CHEST” written right across, well, er, the chest! OK, I digress.

Back to SOB.  I have seen her exercise and I can confirm that she never experiences sweat as a by-product of exercise .  She does the least she can do.  It is remarkable.  She should be able to deduct her gym membership as a charitable contribution on her taxes.

Our memberships in the same gym give us a common point of reference.  For example, the other day, I asked SOB if she saw the young woman with the BIG curlers preening NAKED in front of the mirrors.  I see this woman every time I go to the gym.  She has fake boobs and fake hair color and wears “come hither” panties as she struts in front of the mirror.  We had a communal “EWWWW” moment.

A sister-bonding moment.  Worth paying a lifetime membership at the gym.  And more.