My Life in Abbott and Costello World

It was 6:30pm and I was at a stopping point in my work.  I thought to call Dad and check in.

The phone rang busy.  Hmmmm.  It was 5:30pm BOB’s time, so maybe he was calling Dad.  But there was something about the busy signal that was more like a phone off the hook or a downed telephone line.  Of course, the image of a land line with an actual wire into the house is such a dated one.  Still, in my father’s house, where time has virtually stood still since my mom died in January 2003, it is not entirely outside the realm of reality.

I called compulsively for 10 minutes.  6:40pm.  I called SOB’s line in case she was talking to Dad, although she calls around 4pm.  Like clockwork.  Still, I call SOB’s house.

[SIDEBAR:  We, the kids and the kids-in-law, all have our roles that create the web of Dad oversight that we lovingly refer to as the “[Blogger family name] Protocol”.  Some day it will come out in major motion picture.  Don’t you worry.]

HOSOB answered.  Ok, Dad is not talking to HOSOB or SOB.  Problemmmmmmm.

I called Dad’s cell phone.  Ring.  Ring.  Ring.  Seven more times.  “The subscriber has not yet set up voicemail.”  BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP. 

Ok, panic was setting in.  But I knew it could take Dad a few minutes to react to the ring and then realize it is his cell phone.  Also, I know he has Life Alert, so I was much more calm than you would imagine.  (I.e., hysterical, but without the weeping and wailing.)

“Hellooooo?”  Dad answered.  PHEW.

“Hi Dad, it’s [BLOGGER]!” I say loudly.


“Dad, it is [BLOGGER]!”

“[Blogger] darling!! How are you?!!”

“I’m great, Dad.”  I get right to the point.  “Your home phone doesn’t seem to be working, because I tried you a number of times.”


“Dad, it is [BLOGGER]!”

“So good to hear your voice!!  Are you home?”

“No Dad, I am at the office, and I want to hear about your day, but, first, your land line is off the hook.”

“My whaaattt?”

“Land line.  Off hook.” (if you speak slowly and loudly, even a nonagenarian can hear you.)

“But, sweetheart, I am talking to you.”

“On YOUR cell phone,” I CELL-YELL.

“Your brother called just a moment ago and your sister called at 4pm and I am talking to you now . . . ”  Now, I was screaming into the phone.  The COB (my law partner) ran into my office to check on me.  I wave him away.

“Dad, since then, something is wrong with your land line.  So please check to make sure the phone isn’t off the hook.”

Of course, there are no “hooks” anymore, but for those of us who remember the days of rotary phones and the handset that needed to be securely in the cradle before the line cleared, you know what I mean.

“Ok, I shall check.”  [One of the only people who conjugates that verb correctly.] “No, nothing is wrong.  Hellooooo????  I hear you fine.”

“Dad, you are holding the cell phone so you hear me.  Dad, go into your office and check but Dad, please DON’T HANG UP.”

Ok, he hung up.  I called back.


“Hi Dad, it’s [BLOGGER]!” I say loudly.


“Dad, it is [BLOGGER]!”

“[Blogger] darling!! My phone is fine.  I can hear you!!”

“Dad, I am calling on your cell phone.  I will call Time Warner and find out what is wrong with your LAND line.  I will call you back on your cell.”

“Ok.  I shall wait for your call.”

I spoke with Angenette, a lovely, lovely, customer representative at Time Warner.  She could not find my dad’s number or name in the system.  I called Dad back.

“Dad, Time Warner doesn’t have you listed.”  I tried to contain my alarm.

“Of course not.  I am on RCN.”

In my mind, I think:  Who’s on first, What’s on second and SHIT is on third.

“By the way,” he continued, “since you called, I received an automated announcement about a temporary disruption in phone service that has been successfully resolved.”

Before I could respond, Dad’s land line rang and it was SOB from the hospital.  HOSOB had had her paged because there was a potential “episode” requiring the EMERGENCY [BLOGGER FAMILY NAME] PROTOCOL.  This involves ambulances (for all members of the immediate family), a hospital ward (for all members of the immediate family) and sedation (again, for all members of the immediate family).

“Hi, dear!! Oh, yes, everything is fine.  [Blogger] is on the phone.  But I don’t hear her, so she must be disconnected.”


Ok, now COB rushed in from his office in a panic.  I am so loud that the building is shaking.

“Oh, dear!  There you are.  It is so wonderful to speak to all my children.  What a gift.”

What a gift?!  I have grown more gray hairs in this hour than I care to count.  But, he gets to speak to all his kids numerous times within one hour.  We continued to chat about our days and ended with mutual “I love yous,” as always.

I walk into COB’s office and lied on the floor and told him the story.  “Hey,” he said, “it sounds like he had a great time.  At the same time, however, your life? It sucked.”  The Oracle from East Windsor.

Another day in the life.

Geraldo, I wear a hoodie, too.

A friend told me recently that he enjoys my blog because I write about things on the micro-scale, even though the world (the macro-scale) is going to hell in a hand basket (sidebar: whence that phrase?).  The truth, I told him, is that our problems are so large, so scary and the politics of them are so venal, that if I wrote about that I fear I will slip irretrievably into the abyss.

But I can’t continue to blog about the wedding without taking time out to meditate on the killing of one unarmed young man by some self-appointed and armed neighborhood watchman.

And the police didn’t even arrest the shooter or bring him in for questioning.  It is a moral outrage.

The final straw was the statement by Geraldo Rivera, that young Trayvon Martin should not have been wearing a hoodie.

(Sidebar:  Geraldo, the man who never quite recovered from finding nothing in Al Capone underground safe.)

Is Geraldo saying that a plausible defense is that “the hoodie did it?” 

Geraldo, I am a white, Jewish, middle-aged, lesbian and I wear a hoodie when I go to the gym.  Of course, you would not suggest that my hoodie would somehow be the reason for an assault on me.

Geraldo, you know that you meant that young black men should know better: if Trayvon Martin don’t want to get killed, he should have dressed like a model straight from the Brooks Brothers catalog.   You seem very comfortable with acknowledging and codifying this undercurrent of deadly racism.

Are you kidding me?  

People don’t carry guns unless they are ready to use them.  So, the shooter is responsible every time that gun is fired.  But, if I follow your logic (I can’t really get my head that far up my rectum), Trayvon practically put the gun in the shooter’s hand and begged him to pull the trigger.

Shame on you and all of the other people on that TV show who let you spew this stupidity and insanity without challenge.

I am a mother and my heart is breaking for Trayvon’s parents and all parents who have lost children to this kind of insanity.


The Undergarment Day

Today was the day.  It is a ritual in every woman’s life, especially on the occasion of one’s wedding.

At least once in your life, you go to a place where a woman says, “just as the doctor says, naked from the waist up!!” and then leaves for five minutes.  When she comes back, she sizes up your breasts.  All this in the elusive search for undergarments that give us shape, without the need to re-enact post-partum Scarlett O’Hara trying to get into her pre-pregnancy whale-boned corset.

With the wedding looming large, POB and I walked into The Town Shop, a storied place, where the owner (until the day she died) would “cup” each customer.  WITH HER HANDS.  So you stand naked from the waist up and an old lady comes over  (WITHOUT drawing the curtain on your dressing room) and grabs you and yells out the size and model.  First, humiliation and then triumph.

Even though the proprietor died, her family keeps up the place, and there are enough old women who are brutally honest to make the process just as humiliating and then triumphant.

Bessie helped us today.  She had the air of a Southern black woman whose mama taught her well. Except, she started by telling us she just got the cast off her right arm and made me feel the pin that the doctors inserted.

We told her that we needed help getting the right, supportive undergarments for the wedding dresses we brought with us.

“Which one of you is the bride?”

“We both are”.

“Hmmmm,” with some incomprehension.  It never ceases to amaze me how this still happens in New York City.

She turned to me.  “Let me look at you first.”  Ok, Bessie studied my breasts.   She looked at the dress.  “I am going to have to concentrate very hard here.  Come out here where the light is better.”  That meant I had to step outside the dressing room in full view of everyone in the store — man, woman, child and cat.  “I am thinking D cups for all that! And [looking at the bra I had been wearing] you have some ratty old bras, doncha?” she yelled.  I looked at the floor hoping that the earth would open up so that I might crawl in.

“I also need something for the waist down . . . ” I said as force-ably I could muster after she was off for my new bra.

Bessie came back with a bra.  She strapped me in and then said, “Lean over and let them things settle!” I did as bidden.   “I said LEAN, not pray!”  “Now sit down and jiggle.  Hands up!!  Jump up and down!”  I have never been to Club Med, but this is sounding familiar.  “Ok, now PRAY!” Bessie asked for quiet while she concentrated “fiercely”.  “We need to get you something tighter ’cause you all over the place.”

We settled on a bra that lets me shake, rattle and roll without falling out all over the place.  Then we got to the knee to waist issue.  She brought something so tight, I didn’t know how I was getting into this.  “Well, this will cover that pooch,” as Bessie pointed to the area below my two-pack abs.  “Water gain — she has been traveling,” POB said indignantly and in my defense.  (I POB.)

“How many people are helping you get dressed?”  A question that implied it would take a village to get us ready on the morning of our wedding.  And she hadn’t even started on POB.  I was ready to call off the wedding, until I thought of Elinor Donahue in Father Knows Best winning the basketball game and having her friends crowd around her and get her into her prom dress so she could be crowned queen.  So, I am thinking about a scrum in rugby, except that we will emerge looking FABULOUS in our dresses.

In order not to embarrass POB, I will just say that POB fared only a little better with our straight-talking Bessie.  POB doesn’t have ratty bras because she came from a good home (as she reminds me).  Ok, except when it came to the zipper for POB’s dress.  “Did you try this dress on before you bought it?” Bessie offered “helpfully” as others needed to assist us because of Bessie’s healing arm. REALLY?

After we were finished, I asked POB if she had arranged for us to be Medi-vac’d home.  “No,” she said, “but we could have a snack on our way to the shoe place.”

This wedding stuff is NOT for the weak. (As for Bessie, I am going next Saturday for some new bras.)

What? Where?

Today, instead of Sunday night dinner, we planned Sunday brunch at 12:30pm at Edgar’s, a cafe on Amsterdam Avenue between 91st and 92nd Street.  SOB and HOSOB live around the corner.

It is well established old people always arrive early and then get impatient.  Dad is always 30-45 minutes early (“Dad time”).  And then, operating on Dad time, Dad gets impatient to move onto the next activity at the very moment we were scheduled to gather in real world time.  So, if you arrive on time in real world time (and not on Dad time), you might as well take your food to go.  Generally, we all arrive on Dad time because it is really unpleasant if Dad is asking for the check before we’ve ordered.

We arrive late for Dad time, at 12:15pm.  No one was there.  Dad is NEVER late (no, Daylight Savings Time is NEVER a factor).  So, he is either dead or in an ER.  And SOB wasn’t there, either.  Clearly, she was rushing to the scene of my father’s demise.  You think I am being histrionic.   I am, but this is how blogger family views the world.

I called SOB from my cell phone.  I am so used to calling from anywhere and having people answer a call from anywhere, that I don’t think about where a person might be when I call.  I usually ask, “are you in the midst?” just like my mother would ask, to give the person a graceful way to put off a phone conversation if necessary.  But not today.  Dad was missing and presumed terminal.

I reached SOB.

“Where are you? Where is Dad?”

“We’re here.  Dad arrived early.  We are just sitting.”

“I don’t see you,” as I look furtively around the small cafe.  “Where are you?”

“[Blogger], you called me at home.  I am here at home.  We’ll be over in 5 minutes.”


Ooooops.  In my stressed state, my fingers automatically dialed her home number (as in,  a land line), rather than her cell.

Who remembered there was such a thing?

The Checklist

In my professional life, I always having a closing checklist for each transaction.  Every piece of paper, every action, every issue goes on a centralized list, with responsible parties, deadlines and status.  Good practice (or malpractice) starts with organization.

As for my personal life, well, not always.  I try to maintain some type of order amid chaos, but let’s face it:  without POB, my life would be a compost.  Even POB was surprised, initially, at what lurked under the veneer of successful urban professional: my bespoke blazers and trousers held together with staples and scotch-tape (but never spit).  Indeed a metaphor for my life then.  The saving grace:  I did have someone come in to clean, do laundry and re-stock toilet paper and other essentials.

So, I wasn’t joking 10.5 years ago when, during a discussion about whether to have a child, I asked POB, “am I not baby enough for you?”  And now we have SOS and I have matured beyond my post-adolescent years.  I am now a somewhat disciplined person in my personal life.

Still, a wedding.  That is a huge undertaking and our mothers are not alive (and even if alive would not be young enough) to take over the process, make it their own, and forget about the two main characters.  How I long for that.  Yes, I said it.  If I could outsource this to our mothers, I would in a heartbeat.   I would get endless blog material.  So, clearly, outsourcing to a professional wedding planner is, well, no fun.

So, here is where we stand (using lavender, as the official color of gay weddings):

  • Dresses:  
  • Undergarments: next weekend (stay tuned)
  • Shoes: next weekend (stay tuned)
  • Flat tummy and chiseled arms:  works in progress
  • SOS’s suit, shirt and tie: next weekend
  • Rabbi: 
  • Venue: 
  • Caterer:  tasting ; final menu:  open
  • Photographer:
  • Band:
  • Centerpieces:  in process
  • Wedding cake:  
  • Invitations: in process (proofed; waiting for printer to send)
  • Ketubah: in process (actually waiting for feedback from rabbi)
  • Chupah: in process (poles reserved; cloth to be determined)
  • Ceremony:  needs work
  • Vows:  oy, don’t ask
  • Our song: still need to tell the band
  • Get:  get what? 

A get.  Let’s just say that one of us needed a religious separation from a long-ago prior commitment.  Traditionally, a get is something that a man gives a woman.  But a man can say no and still, he can remarry (I think).  If a woman doesn’t get a get, she is in limbo; she cannot remarry and her community will shun her.  Forever.  And there are horror stories even today about women in this very circumstance.  It is a terrible rule that confirms a woman’s second class status in traditional Judaism.

In our case, the prior commitment was with a woman, so no need to get a get, right??  Pretty good argument, eh?

Well, since marrying two women under religious law isn’t exactly, let’s say, kosher, our rabbi considers that the getting of a get should also be gender neutral.  Especially since, according to our rabbi, in its best sense, a get is a mutual release from the past.   Really, rabbi?  Sometimes, the past should just hang out there in the ether.  No one ever got bit from a sleeping dog.

Ok, ok, ok, ok, ok.  Service of papers at last known addresses, summons to appear before a Beth Din, a religious court of three rabbis.  Pretty serious business.  The religious court convened on Friday, in the West Village.  The three rabbis, two lesbians and one transgendering person, conducted the proceedings and finalized the releases.  (To show our diversity, the rabbi officiating our wedding is straight.)

The ancients and the current, living orthodox would have keeled over.  But they would have keeled over at the thought of the wedding.  So, I say, let ’em roll, let ’em roll, let ’em roll.

So, to update our checklist:

  • Get:  GOT

The Gym

It is a cruel truth of quantum physics that if there are five people in an otherwise empty gym locker room, all five will have lockers in the exact same corner.

And, two of the five will be half-naked and bent over shaking out their wet hair, another two will be full-on naked about to get into the shower and there will be one (me, in this case) who contorts herself in such a way as to avoid being with in a hair’s breath of someone’s sweaty or writhing body while she tries to open the lock on her locker.

I don’t use my lock that often, although I carry it around in my bag. The other night, I just couldn’t get the combination to work, even after many of the women left so I could stand straight up in front of the locker. After many unsuccessful attempts, I decided that I needed to ask the manager to cut the lock. It was late and I was meeting POB and Cousin California for dinner.

The only person at the front desk was a young man with Justin Bieber hair (or is it the other tweenage idol?). Without looking up, he said, “you’ll have to wait” while he attended to certain meaningless tasks.  I was tired so while I was irritated, I simply waited a few minutes. 

As I waited, I noted various serious looking managerial types (i.e., the adults) going into a “closed door” meeting (except there are glass walls so nothing is ever secret). When the young man finally listened to my predicament, he told me that the manager went into a closed door meeting and I would have to wait until the meeting ended.  How did I know that would be his response?

“When will it be over?”

“I don’t know. It could be long.  And, I can’t interrupt.” Customer service at its best.

“Well, I can interrupt!”

He saw that I was serious and he ran around to beat me to the door. It is amazing how quickly “can’t” becomes “can” when a lazy person realizes that his bad service could be detrimental to his continued employment.

The manager came out immediately. He was very cordial, although he did ask if I was sure it was my lock and locker. As I was about to get angry, I realized that he had a point — locks and lockers look alike and I am sure people make mistakes. I was quite sure because I bought my lock for its unusual design.

A young woman accompanied me with jaws-of-life size clippers – the kind that TV police use on locks when they don’t shoot at them.  As she 0was about to engage the jaws of life, she said, “I’ve never done this before and I am a little scared!” At that, everyone ducked and I yelled, “Cover your heads, we are in foul ball territory!”

Luckily, I was right about it being my locker and no one got hurt by the flying debris.  The young woman pivoted and started to walk out.  I had to stop the young girl so I could show her some identification but she waved me off saying, “I trust you.”

“You don’t know me. You need to ask for identification.”

The young woman left, still not comprehending why she ought to ask for some corroboration of my story.  She would hold the door open for a man in a ski mask and machine gun.

After all started to calm down in the locker room, a half-naked woman started telling me about the time her locker was mistakenly cut by a confused gym user.  And then she showed another woman and me that her combo is on the back of her lock, so she doesn’t worry about remembering it.  A little like telling a stranger at the bar how to disable your home alarm system.

The other woman was then looking at the first woman’s stuff,  “to see if I like any of it enough to steal.”  REALLY??? 

Ok, neither is a fashion plate.  And the second woman, whom I see a lot, could use a wardrobe refresher, but now I was thinking that the young ingenue who trusted me had already let in the thief.  I reminded both woman that, in women’s locker room, everyone looks fabulous and has fabulous stuff but we don’t burgle.

Exhausted, I crawled out of there so ready to be welcomed into the bosom of my family.