Wedding Dresses Part III

The wedding dresses are coming in two weeks.  Once here, they must be fitted.  And, depending upon how well behaved POB (partner of blogger) and I are, let out a little.  I learned about Spanx which comes in full body casts — I mean, corsets.  I also learned that I cannot wear tennis shoes under my flowing dress.  Really?  Someone is going to make me wear heels on MY wedding day.  Well, yes, if that someone happens to be POB or anyone of the Soeurs (dearest college friends).  For these people, I do what I am told.  SOB (sister of blogger) also can order me around, but thank G-d, she couldn’t care less about these details.  What a wonderful big sister.

Can the wedding come any sooner?  No, actually, because we just decided on the Save the Date cards and we don’t have a band yet.

We have a rabbi, a place, a photographer, a caterer and two unfitted dresses.  I understand that if we weren’t 48 years-old with a child, there would be an epic intervention that might, if televised, rule Sweeps Month.  Thank G-d we are all ready committed and this is just a public and religious affirmation.

Otherwise, I fear Kym Kardashian would be giving me nuptial tips.  Of course, the only thing I know about her is that she had a short-lived marriage after a much celebrated courtship.  So, I don’t need advice from her.  Last thing I need is to try to keep up with the Kardashians.

A Merry Little Jewish Christmas

Even though I believe that one respects other’s traditions by not co-opting them, I do live in the real world.

In the real world, my partner and I are lesbians moms to a boy, my sister is married to a Catholic, my Jewish cousin has secretly (all his 67 years) wanted to decorate a Christmas tree and my son thinks that Hannukah wouldn’t be Hannukah without presents.  There, you have it.  A typical American family trying to navigate the traditions without losing our minds in the process.

Friday night, we started the festive weekend at the children’s Hannukah service and potluck at our synagogue.  Our synagogue meets at the Church of the Holy Apostles (Chasidim Kadoshim, to the Jews).  As if to show me that I am not the clueless among Jews, someone said, “It smells so wonderful in here, like pine trees!”  Really?  Really?  Ever hear of “deck the halls with bows of holly .  .  . ” and the recipe, “kill a tree,  attach chachkas to them, and one week later reduce to mulch.  Repeat each year.” ??????

We also stayed for the adult service.  It is difficult to take seriously a rabbi who has a Santa’s elves’ styled hat with a menorah on it but she did take it off when she spoke some words of Torah.  It was an important drash to hear.  There were three main themes:  our viewpoint is imbued with our baggage, for every light there is a shadow and vice-versa and, finally, don’t accept the heroes of a story at face value.

First, the baggage.  The story of Hannukah is simply the miracle that oil enough for one day lasted eight days so that the Jews who recaptured the Temple could perform the necessary re-sanctification rituals.  But if it is 1948 Palestine, the story is about a military victory by a small group against mighty armies.  If it is 1498, during the Inquisition, it is about the subjugation of a people.  If you gather rabbis, it is about a miracle.  If it is 2011, you might wonder if the Maccabees were zealots somewhat akin to today’s radical fundamentalists.  (In fact, history bears that out.)  So, who you are, where you’ve come from, and who you want to be, can shade the way you tell the story, and emphasize the elements.

Light of the Hannukah candles casts a shadow.   For advance, there are detractors, some of whom are merely engaging in a power struggle.  The shadow can be dangerous and it can be restful.  The light can be the path but it can also burn.  Light and shadow need each other.  Success lies in the right balance.  And that is the greatest challenge.  The rabbi told us of settlers in the Israeli occupied territories who, whenever there is a threat to their settlement or way of life, burn down a mosque inside Israel.   (Israel immediately rebuilds the mosques and other Jewish organizations provide Qurans and prayer rugs.)  In the light of peace there is darkness.  Darkness of zealots who use the cover of Judaism to perpetrate atrocities.  Have they forgotten their parents’ and grandparents’ ordeals in Europe?  How could this be?  The light needs to shine a light on this darkness.  These “Jews” do not deserve a place in Israel or anywhere in the quasi-civilized world.

For the first time in a long time, I was glad to to synagogue and learn about things that the mainstream media doesn’t cover.  It made me think, rather than go to synagogue again, I should visit a mosque, Sikh temple or a church and listen.

After leaving synagogue, we looked up at the Empire State Building.  Blue and white adorned two sides, and red and green, the other.  I love New York.

Saturday, the Blogger family gathered with assorted cousins and in-laws to celebrate both traditions.  In my sister’s house was a small Christmas tree decorated in blue and white with a rabbi as an ornament.  Cousin Gentle was so excited because he thinks ornaments are sooooooo adorable that he wants to decorate the tree next year.  I told Cousin Gentle that it had to have an irreverent theme, like that the Hasidic rabbi and the dreidel that was at the foot of the tree.  He had a look of total inspiration that I believe he may have been visiting after-Christmas sales these last two days.

I LOVE how politically and religiously incorrect it was.  And, of course, there was a Yahrzeit candle burning for my Catholic brother-in-law’s father who recently died. And my brother-in-law made the latkes.

Saturday night, everyone was Jewish and Christian and all was good with the world.

The Rights and Responsibilities of a Free Society

Forget Kumbaya.  Forget Elvis Costello’s “What’s So Funny About Peace, Love and Understanding?”  Let’s have a civics lesson.  What prompted this?  A near altercation on the subway.

This is what happened:  An older woman asked a young woman to lower her music.  The younger woman, responded by saying, “No, she didn’t ask me that?” over and over.  And then she offered that someone who made that kind of comment should get “bitch-slapped”.  That went on for a while.  The  young woman seemed a little crazy — or an aggressive sociopath.  A reasonable answer would have been, “No.”

The two women — strangers to each other — got off at the same station.  Then the young woman accused the older woman of “touching” her as they got off the subway and started to go off about her rights to play her music in a public place.  I was afraid for the older woman and almost got off the train (which meant jumping over people) until I could see that the older woman hurried away and the younger woman appeared more interested in yelling than in giving chase.  By then, someone had taken my seat.  Oh well.

After the doors closed in our car, a young man talked, ad nauseum, in a loud voice that the older woman was wrong and that she was lucky that the young woman didn’t get violent.  Because the old woman deserved to get beaten if, for example, she interfered with his entitlement to play his music the way he wanted, even if that meant he played it loud in the subway.  I was tempted to interject but after my last near altercation in the subway yesterday (where I told some teenagers to stop harassing a young woman), I learned that idiots are not worth my health or life.

The younger woman was troubled.  The man in the subway who agreed with her either was grand-standing or is an ignoramus.  I assume the latter.

So, let’s talk about rights and entitlements. The Constitution doesn’t confer the right to do anything and everything.  It creates a system of obligations with safeguards to prevent tyranny. Entitlements are creatures of legislation; otherwise, you have the right to free speech and to starve to death.

The right to free speech is limited to reasonable time, reasonable place and reasonable manner.  Inherent in that limitation is that speech cannot unreasonably interfere with other’s people’s and the states’ rights to the public peace.  So, it is pretty well settled that you cannot hold a rally in a residential area after 10 pm.  I don’t know whether  playing music loud enough to fill a New York subway car is free speech.  This may be part of the delicate balance that makes our country great.  But I do know that the older woman had a right to ask and the younger had the right to say no.

Entitlements?  A safety net for those who, try as hard as they can, they can’t earn enough to feed their families.  The social compact is that, once able, these people will give back to the system.  Just like my parents proudly paid their taxes to a country that gave them a free, excellent education.  And just as I am proud to pay my taxes so that other strivers, like my parents and grandparents, will be able to make it.  But I don’t recollect that the social compact went beyond sustenance, shelter and education to, let’s say, the entitlement to play music as loud as one wants in a public place.

I grew up knowing that democracy doesn’t guarantee a human’s survival (but if that human survives, he or she can stand on a soap box in Washington Square Park).  Our society is a complicated web of social compacts that hinge one upon the other.  Two of the underpinnings of this web are civic and civility.

If this episode is any example, this great experiment that is our nation is in the process of implosion.  Unless, of course, that man would be good about my playing Patsy Cline out, loud and proud.



The Wedding Dress Part II

Dear Mom:

First, I never thought I would get married.  Second, I never thought that if I ever did get married, it would be without you.  I will be 48 (52 if you’ve read my other blog entries) at the wedding, so what did I expect? You ask.  You’re right.  But I am your last born, the baby of the family.  I expected that you would live until, I don’t know, forever.

I know you are hovering in Heaven, but, right now, that is not good enough.  And I am a conscientious objector when it comes to G-d but, because your soul cannot have dissipated into nothingness and because POB (partner of blogger) and I found each other, I hold out some specter of belief in some divinity in a world that is otherwise in decline.  So, it is big that I believe, and this belief thing is, how they say these days, “on you”.

As an aside, does this Jewish guilt work on the other side?  Am I wasting my time here?  Drop a lightening bolt if guilt doesn’t matter in the hereafter.  I won’t tell anyone.  I promise.

So, I couldn’t call you when POB and I found the dresses.  (Did you register any guilt feeling? Ok, I drop the question.)  You would have been so excited about it (and relieved that we didn’t make you schlep to SoHo).  You would ask about the wedding plans and then let your preferences be known in a velvet fist way that sounded soothing yet non-negotiable.  Confrontational and gentle all at the same time.  You should have been Secretary of State.

Thank G-d DOB (Dad of blogger)is healthy (for a 91 year-old) and seems like he will be there, G-d willing.  (There I go again, with the G-d thing.  I might lose my objector status, if this keeps up, so really let me know if guilt works up there.)

Speaking of DOB, I spent Sunday morning trying, in vain, to reconnect him to his email and the internet.  SOS (our son, source of sanity) came with me on this mission of uselessness.  I got DOB all reconnected and did a learning-by-doing tutorial that I custom-tailored for him.  I did that tutorial more times than I can to tell.  Nothing.  NADA.  He can play Free Cell and access his list of  of charitable contributions without assistance.  But, when it comes to the Internet, he can’t really type, he can’t really see the screen and he can’t really understand how to read and send emails.  Still, he is righteously indignant that he doesn’t have much personal email in his inbox.  SOS tried really hard to understand why DOB didn’t really understand computers, the internet or, quite frankly, the 21st century.  Imagine if I listened to BOB (brother of blogger) and tried to get DOB on Facebook.  Neither DOB or I would have survived the attempt.

But I digress.  Back to me. I mean you.  I really mean you and me.

It is crazy how something as anti-feminist as parents walking their child down the aisle seems so quaint and wonderful now.  If only we could hold hands as you walked me down the aisle.  Yes, life has dulled some of my sharp edges and quieted my doctrinaire ways.  Because life, love and loss are complicated and our responses to them are idiosyncratic.

But what is simple is that I wish you were here to celebrate with us.

Really, come visit in my dreams and tell me about guilt in Heaven.  It is the least you could do after having left us almost 9 years ago.  (Did that rate on the Heavenly Guilt-o-Meter? Just asking.  No offense intended.)



Epic and Less-Epic

Saturday, POB (partner of blogger) and I had an appointment at a bridal salon.  We arrived fashionably late at the SoHo boutique.

We were greeted by a girl who looked too young to drink or smoke legally. She is our WDE, wedding dress expert.  I wondered, “Expert? Expert? Do you get a diploma in this?”  I started humming “Beauty School Dropout” (how else does someone become a WDE?) but stopped in a great show of restraint and good manners.

We were ushered into this large room with a rack of sample WHITE and off WHITE dresses on either side.  WDE says in a half question/half statement, “There are two brides?”  Yes, I said, motioning to POB and me.  She looked surprised momentarily, but recovered surprisingly gracefully.  Nevertheless, I immediately started rethinking my haircut next week.

She offered water and wine.  I asked for red wine.  Pause.  Now she had the upper hand — what kind of idiot asks for red wine in a room with white dresses?  Ooooops.

The dresses looked so, so, so, soooooo bridal.  I know, I know, what did I expect?  But, but, but, after 12 years and a child, I just didn’t see us, in this room, with a WDE of the tender age of 23 (I asked; ok, she is marginally beyond the legal drinking and smoking threshold).

We decided to take turns trying on the same sample dresses (some were a little worn out and in need of a good cleaning or retirement).  POB put on a dress that was spectacular.  I tried it on and we all scrunched our noses.  POB tried on another dress — half tried it on, because she knew she hated it even while she was putting it on.  I, however, loved the dress.  And so it went.

We settled on a different dress for each of us (so no match-y-match-y ookiness), but we wanted to put a hold on them until January.

Why? Because we had appointments at Kleinfeld’s, the wedding mecca for Jews.  We thought we should experience this rite of passage even for our non-traditional wedding.  At Kleinfeld’s, each bride is limited to five guests at the appointment.  Really?  I was surprised.  I was told that I need to watch, Say Yes to the Dress,” and then I would understand the limit.  But I didn’t understand why I would bring anyone.  Another reason to go — I obviously need a lesson in my heritage.

WDE, who is young but still good at the hard sell, convinced us that we were losing the opportunity to have these limited edition dresses and we might not be able to purchase them in January and then there wouldn’t be enough time, and then what would we wear . . . (I was thinking, we would wear a dress of all the money we saved by NOT finding dresses) . . . .

Then I had a vision of one month before the wedding, my combing through the Lands End catalog for dresses, with free shipping and complimentary flannel nightgowns.  I started to feel a little sweaty  — panic or hot flash?  Oh, damn this wedding craziness!!!

POB and I looked at each other.  This WAS in fact the least we could to find dresses.  And we always do the very least we can do.

I handed my credit card to our young, yet sly WDE.  I emailed SOB (sister of blogger/bride) and my college friends (the Soeurs) — so, no turning back.  POB and I don’t have our mothers (on this earth) but we have our 10 sisters:  SOB, SOPOB (sister of POB) and the Soeurs. Now that I think of it, we would have just made the Kleinfeld’s limit, without a seat to spare.  Pheeeewwwww.

Just another Saturday

Every other Saturday, SOS (our son, who is (mostly) our source of sanity) has Hebrew School.

POB (partner of blogger), G-d bless her, takes him, while I have a trainer session at the gym.  I meet POB and SOS at the synagogue afterwards.  Usually, I get there for the lunch and kids playing.  We eat, we schmooze and I desecrate the Sabbath with loshen hora (gossip).  Just the kind of religious experience I like: light on G-d; heavy on bagels and lox.

This week there was also a parenting discussion.  In the past, there has been a know-it-all couple who dominated the discussions and I long ago decided that I would rather hang by my toenails and sway in the wind than sit through one of these roundtables. This family moved away, so there is a possibility, however scant, that I would come off the clothesline and in from the cold.

Last month, the parenting discussion was led by our male queer-identified social justice rabbinical intern who is married to a woman and they have a young girl whom they gave a traditionally male name.  I needed to hear about parenting from Rabbi Gender Bender?  We are just a lesbian couple raising an emphatically heterosexual boy in a Jewish home and we are trying to navigate the issues that come up socially and emotionally — both the mundane and those created by our non-traditional family — so that he grows up to be a mensch.  Rabbi Gender Bender’s additional parenting issues made me tired just thinking about them.  So, I took a nap in one of the side rooms, while POB was at the discussion and SOS was playing with the other children.

This week, after my trainer session, I really didn’t want to schlep down to the West Village for gluten-free bagels and soy cream cheese (new rules in the shul intended to put us at the forefront of the digestively hip).  And the parenting roundtable was about how to deal with Christmas.  POB and I decided that the best way to respect other’s traditions is by not co-opting them.  What else is there to know?  And “No” is a complete answer to following requests: mega-sized, expensive presents for the 8 days of Hanukkah and trees in the house.  There, discussion over.  Let’s also collect our kids and have a Saturday afternoon nap.

Still, my family was expecting me and what if POB or SOS fell ill?  What if I needed to save them from tasteless, though hip, food?  I had to go.  On the way down I saw mini-Santa flash mobs on the streets and in the subway.

(This was taken by my dear NYCFOB from another part of town, but it gives you the idea.)

It made me rethink going to the parenting discussion (but only for a New York minute).

I arrived after lunch (people were benching the blessings after the meal).  SOS was having too much fun with his friends to want to kiss me hello.  As a parent, I took this as a great sign.  As a Jewish mother, I see it as something I will hold over his head for a lifetime.  Win-win situation, I think.

POB had had a very hectic morning. Two people sign up for each week’s set up and clean up.  Apparently, my ex signed up with POB for this week (my ex has a daughter who is in SOS’s class).  My ex didn’t show up (don’t know if I should read anything into that).  That meant there were no bagels.  So, POB had to run around the West Village where you can get any type of fancy, schmancy bread from anywhere in the world, but a bagel, a BAGEL, is too low brow to carry in any quantity.  REALLY?  REALLY?  This is New York, for Goodness Sakes.

POB is one fierce and determined woman, and saved the day.  Unfortunately, the shul was not digestively hip this morning.  Necessity must prevail.

POB recovered, SOS was having a blast, and I was tired.  I kissed my family and friends and went back to the Upper Upper West Side and had such a wonderfully long and luxurious snooze.

I could really get into this religious thing, in blogger-size, small quantities.

Time Again for the Stupid, Stinking, Painted Ponies (with apologies to Joni Mitchell)

Dear Mom:

SOB (sister of blogger) and I had dinner tonight.  FILSOB’s (father-in-law of SOB’s) death has startled us anew about the fragility of life and the incomprehensible temporal divide between life and death.

FILSOB’s death also made us think of you, even though it is a week early for the “dark days” — the time, 9 years ago, when you started your month-long goodbye — December 13 to January 10.  In truth, the “dark days” of 2002-2003 were not all sad; some, in fact, were the most honest, most hilarious and most screwball-comedic of our lives.  The others were, well, depth-defying in their crushing pain.

You died before your peers.  They were there to mourn you and comfort us. What will happen when Dad, MILSOB (mother-in-law of SOB) or FOPOB (father of partner of blogger) — each should live to 120 like Moses — dies?  Who will still be alive, other than us (G-d willing), to mourn them?

Marty Hertz from the synagogue died and his funeral was today.  SOB saw it in the paper and told Dad.  He was grateful to SOB for telling him and glad he went to pay his respects.  He heard that most people get these announcements on email and so he wants us to fix his email so he can have access.  But we have tried dozens of times, and then we get calls from Dad saying, “somehow I can’t get on”, as if it has nothing to do with his pressing buttons in an arbitrary and explosive fashion.  The definition of crazy is to keep trying day after day, month after month, to teach Dad how to use the Internet.  So, since you’ve been gone, your daughters have become certifiable lunatics.

(As an aside, BOB (brother of blogger) wanted us to sign Dad on to Facebook.  What a nightmare that would be.  I told BOB not to have a thought about Dad unless he cleared it with SOB or me first.  Talking Dad down from the Facebook ledge took some serious cajoling.  “Are you telling me I CAN’T be on Facebook?” Dad asked defiantly.  “Yes, yes, I am, Dad — not because we don’t want you to be on Facebook, but because you can’t master email yet.”)

What to do about the email Bulletin of Death from the synagogue?  SOB and I decided that we will ask the synagogue to put us on the recipient list.  Then we can call Dad every day for his Day in Death minute and recap the day’s sad events.  That way, he’ll get the news and we will keep what is left of our sanity.

SOB and I can’t linger on the negatives for more than an hour or so.  We also talked about all of the fabulous life experiences you and Dad gave us.  You had no role models for parenting.  You both grew up poor and in dysfunctional homes.  And yet, you gave us things you never had and were loving and wonderful parents.  And your loving relationship has been a model for your children.

We, your children, are the culmination of generations of strengths, weaknesses, aspirations, stubbornness, love and combativeness.  Who will remember you, your parents and grandparents when SOB, BOB and I are gone?

Maybe, by remembering us, our children will remember the part of you that is in us.  Because your time on this earth cannot be forgotten.

I love you, Mom.

~ Blogger



A night out on the town

POB (partner of blogger) and I went out to dinner with the parents of SOS’s (our son, source of sanity’s) betrothed.  As a couple, they are our MT (machertunim, a Yiddish term for the relationship between the parents of the married couple).  For the record, HMT (husband MT) finally went to WMT’s (wife MT’s) hairstylist, and he looks younger and fabulous (said with that sing-song falsetto).  Why didn’t he go sooner, you ask?  WMT wants to know, too.  But I digress. . . .

We met at an Indian restaurants in the west 20’s.  It used to be a club/late night lounge.  You can just tell by the layout, and by the incongruous clubby music playing ever so quietly in the large entryway and bar and lounge area.  In the restaurant, it was more traditional.  It was definitely a “fusion” of some sort.

It was an odd place.

The sommeliere brought out the bottle, tasted it first, then poured more in her glass and took a second swig (hey, she may need that extra swig just to get through the pomp and ceremony in front of us, the philistines).  The rest was more traditional — she poured more in the glass and proceeded to coat each glass and the decanter.  Then she poured for HMT to approve.  If, after all of that, HMT sent back the wine, she would have spit in the next bottle. I was tempted to test my theory, but the place was already a little disorienting.  Also, the sommeliere spoke heavily Japanese-accented English, in an otherwise heavily Indian-accented environment AND we were drinking Spanish wine.  No wonder my stomach felt like a UN general assembly meeting.

Anyway, it was fancy and expensive enough to have microscopic portions, so as POB and WMT talked, HMT and I kept grabbing at any extra morsel.  I leaned over at one point, and said, “you eatin’ that?” while pointing to something already on his fork. You understand why POB and I don’t go out much.

Before we ordered dinner WMT excused herself to the women’s room.  When she returned, she said, “[Blogger], there is a comfy couch outside the restrooms that looks perfect for you!!” (She knows that, on the weekends, I will nap on her granite counter if that is my only opportunity for a little extra snoooooze time.)

POB visited the women’s room and upon her return, noted that a couple was chatting on the couch. 

MY couch?  The one that was going to host my pre-dessert power nap?  Whaaaaat?

I needed to go investigate.  Everyone at the table made me promise I wouldn’t ask them to stand so I could test out the couch.  We made eye contact and smiled.  They didn’t look so happy or so into each other.  And she was sitting uncomfortably (maybe it was the hue of her red dress?) as the man (who could have been better dressed) slouched somewhat dejectedly.  Still he has time to check his smartphone incessantly.

Since we are all in our forties, even HMT could not last without a trip to the men’s room before dessert.  Upon his return, he confirmed that they were still there.  We ordered and ate two courses and the wine ceremony and they were still there!!

HMT recognized the couple as having been seated when we arrived.  The young man gave the young woman a necklace.   I confirmed that the woman definitely wasn’t wearing a necklace around her plunging neckline.  Were they breaking up?  Did the necklace just not fit?  Why were they hanging out in the lounge in front of the restrooms in an Indian restaurant in the West 20s, after they have already paid and their table was re-set?

So many questions and I needed answers; too many people (POB, HMT and WMT)  restraining me as they escorted me out of the restaurant.

ODD (and I am not just talking about me).

Strawberry Letter 23

“Hello, my love, I heard a kiss from you.  Red magic satin playin’ near, too.  All through morning, I gaze . . . rainbows and waterfalls run through my mind. . . .”  I don’t understand any of the lyrics, but the Brothers Johnson remind me of summer at camp in the earl 1970s and singing into my hairbrush along with my bunk mates.

I also just listened to “The Best of My Love” which, years later, made Karen Clarke jump up during rest hour, defying the rules, and start dancing while singing into her hairbrush.  The rest of the bunk followed suit and our version of civil disobedience, circa 1977, ensued.  Far from cracking down on the rebellion, the counselors joined in.

I am more attuned to music now that POB (partner of blogger) and I are talking to bands about our wedding.  Since we met at camp, these songs have resonance.  Camp, and the mutual trust that was embedded in that experience, is the bond upon which we were able to start building wonderful life together.  So, these songs need to be part of our celebration.

Because these are the ties that bind.  And those of you who spent idyllic summers at Camp Wingate in the 1970s know about that bond.  And how it shaped us.

And I am lucky to be marrying a Wingate girl.

As heard on the subway

This morning, I was having my usual full-body experience with complete strangers on the subway.  At 86th Street, three guys got on the subway together.  It sounded like they were neighbors.  They were in their 40s and 50s, but they could have easily been kids in a school yard.

The short, balding, rotund guy with bad teeth (Nebisch) was trying to impress his two friends by talking about a pending lawsuit over unauthorized use of information.  He apparently knows the person who is suing for a significant sum.  This guy signed a confidentiality agreement, but didn’t read it — at least that is what he said.  He wasn’t allowed to talk about it or the name of the case, but it rhymed with . . . and well it is a matter of public record. . . .  And, thanks to the conversation on the subway, a matter of subterranean record.


I think Nebisch wanted his “friends” to know that he knows/is related to/hangs with a person who stands to make a lot of money.

One of the “friends” is a taller guy, full head of hair, with expensive coat and shoes, that didn’t work with the pedestrian shirt and tie (Bully).

Bully egged on Nebisch to breach his confidentiality agreement and pushed him to say more than he wanted.  At his core, Bully is insecure.  He looked around every time he said something to see who was noticing him.

Bully used the usual tactics he has honed for thirty years — diminishing and challenging everything Nebisch said.  And, Nebisch, wanting to undo those childhood memories with any number of bullies, had something to prove and was pushed to say more than what was comfortable.

The third guy had his back turned to me, so I couldn’t get a read on him, other than he did nothing to help or hinder the conversation.  But he is necessary to this vignette because his presence, together with his silence (Enabler), enabled both Nebisch and Bully to assume their school yard roles dance the age-old dance.

I was able to block most of it because I get embarrassed listening.  Besides, I generally operate on a need-to-know basis (if I don’t need to know, then, really, really, I don’t need (or want) to know — mostly because my brain capacity is shrinking daily).

Eventually, Nebisch got very frustrated with Bully and Bully got bored (people were not paying enough attention) and, without more, Enabler was no longer a catalyst. I guess people do grow up and don’t run into on-coming traffic to prove they are tough enough.

At 59th Street, the subway car cleared and there was enough room to move away from the trio.  As I maneuvered through the subway car, a woman asked if I wanted a seat.

“No,” I said, “I just need to stop listening to that car crash of a conversation.”  She laughed and offered me the seat again.