Bespoke Blog

Sometimes you meet a person at work whom you just know, from that first moment, will tell you — when nobody else will — that you have schmootz on your blouse or you sat in mustard.  I am lucky that there are a few of us like that in our office.

But one colleague, in particular, takes you into her office and shows you all the supplies she keeps for “women’s issues” — from Motrin to safety pins to tampons.  And when she shows you, that means you can just take what you need, whenever you need it.

And this colleague often ambles into my office to one-up me, playfully, in our never-ending contest for whose family has the most bizarre stories.  (She is winning by a landslide — the blog she could write. . . .)

Today I asked my friend and colleague, via email exchange:

“How are you feeling?  Are you up for visitors?  What was the extra procedure?  What can I do to help?”

“Blog about me.  You know I love the media spotlight.  My acronym should be COBWARB (colleague of blogger with almost rocker body)”

“My pleasure, COBWARB.”

Why? Because COBWARB is recovering from a bilateral mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.

In the weeks preceding the procedures, we talked about what was going to happen and the mechanics of reconstruction.  The negatives are obvious; on the plus side, COBWARB was going to have her entire tummy suctioned into new, well-sized breasts.

“I am going to have smaller breasts because who needs to be so big if they cause back pain and I am going to have your flat stomach without working so hard on the Rings!”

Okokokokokok.  I didn’t have three children like COBWARB did.  So, I should have a flat stomach (but I don’t really).  And, I would gladly work out every day and eat quinoa and kale (G-d help me) not to make the choices and options forced on COBWARB.

But, hey, a rock star body? Flat stomach and perfectly shaped breasts?  Go, girl.

Still, you were beautiful as you were, and I fear, my friend, that the rock star body cannot replace what this episode has cost you, in mind, body and spirit.

Speedy recovery, COBWARB.


The Challenge, Part X

The challenge of the Rings keeps calling my name through the haze of the summer and my various responsibilities in elder care and elder posthumous clean-up.

Without lots of practice, with many weeks in between, I give you, my status as of two weeks ago (as pathetic as it is):  IMG_1068

Yep, you and I — both — thought that, by now, I would be soaring through the air like a slightly ruffled, slightly uncoordinated, bird.

Nope, not there yet.

My agility this weekend was less than I had hoped.  And, Wendy, my trainer and my friend, was not available to push me and coach me from the sidelines.

But, soon, maybe even before Rosh Ha-Shanah.  Oy, it is early this year.  No time to waste. I may have to take days off from work and conquer the beast.

In the interim, CLSFOB has been reading my blog and decided that I needed to try her way of stress relief, running. She poo-poo’ed the “Ring thing”.

“You need to sweat this out; not dislocate your arms.  We are starting, ‘Operation Forrest Gump.”

SIDEBAR:  Is it just me, or do friends show their love and affection this way?

So, last weekend, dutiful and afraid, I dusted off my running shoes and met CLSFOB at the appointed place.  CLSFOB had already run her regimen in case I flamed out. To add insult to injury, she parked her car far enough away to run an extra mile before we met.

“Do you listen to music?” she asked.

“Why would I listen to music when I am running with you?  And I hate those ear bud things.”

“Ok, since you will be gasping, I will tell you stories to keep you going.”

“Horror stories?”  I asked, because it seemed appropriate for our undertaking.

“Shush.  Let’s start!”

Off we went.  We were not going very far.  Two miles down, stop for water, and two miles back.  And because, more than 30 years ago, she was a younger camper/counselor, I needed to do this and not flame out or look like a duck waddling on land.

I am 49 years old (or 53 depending on my blog), and I have not run any meaningful distance (except for the occasional cab or bus) in 5 years.  I had a pulmonary “issue” from May until early July.  What was I thinking?

True to her word, CLSFOB told me stories to keep me going.  She didn’t break a sweat.  And in truth, they were funny stories, except that gasping and laughing are not a great combination.

I was able to do two miles down, water, and less than one mile back up and walk another mile.

This weekend, CLSFOB had to work, but insisted that I run alone.

Her texts:

“Try three miles straight!”

“Don’t text back, run!”

“Don’t drink too much water, or you will cramp!”

Oy, I liked her stories better.  But I did run more and faster.

Then, the best text:

“You are awesome, I am so proud of you!!  Don’t forget to stretch!!”

Thank you, CLSFOB.  You are pretty damn awesome, yourself.  I can’t wait to hang out with you at our reunion and complain about my knees and hips because of this Operation Forrest Gump.

P.S.: what does stretching mean?

Hairless and Fearless Part II

(For Part I, see:

This weekend, I saw my dear friend who has cancer.

SIDEBAR:  I would say, “had,” but I am too superstitious. There is still radiation, to eradicate any stray cells.

I had arranged to drive up to her house in late April, but I got sick.  And no one who is a friend goes, when sick, to see someone undergoing chemo.  And I knew that to battle my friend’s cancer, the doctors were taking out the big “chemo” guns.  The remedy would eradicate the cancer, but she had to survive the remedy.  I worried every day about that.  (The perils of having a doctor in the family.)

This weekend, the stars aligned.  She finished chemo; I am healthy; and she has a break before radiation therapy to make sure the “big guns” got it all.

I drove to the suburbs of Boston.  I was early, so I parked a street away and let my thoughts run wild — through the fears of what chemo had done to her body; through the fervent belief that my friend would be there, just as she always was, although maybe a little paler, a little weaker, and little less hair; through everything in between.

I waited 30 minutes, and still I was early.  I couldn’t wait anymore.  I pulled up to the house.  Her husband and I hugged.

“She’s upstairs resting.  I’ll get her.”

NOOOoooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!  Let her rest!!”

Very soon afterward, my friend comes down the stairs.  Thinner.  With a head scarf.  But, same smile.  Same beautiful eyes.  My friend.   An indomnitable spirit and with a certain grace that even poison cannot kill.

Letty Pogrebin’s article about her friend’s fight with cancer prepared me for the difference in my friend’s appearance.  I knew to focus on the windows to my friend’s essence — her smile and her eyes.

And then she took off her scarf and showed me that her hair was growing back.  I ran my hands over the short growth.  It was good to feel softness.  The regrowth process started gently.  I was glad to think that recovery might be as gentle and kind from here on out.

And she is beautiful without hair.  And she was relaxed and happy to laugh and recount some of the crazy, Seinfeld-like, stories of various people’s reactions.  And eager to listen about the crazy stuff in my life and in Soeur J’s life. Soeur J lives not too far and rearranged her schedule to match mine (thank you).

We had a fun, funny visit.  But it was too soon time to go.

I told my friend not to wait for me to pull away because I had to input GPS coordinates back to Boston.

In truth, I needed to let the tears stream down.

Tears? Of gratitude that my friend survived chemo.  Of gratitude for her and Soeur J’s friendship.  Of gratitude that I, a healthy person, and my friend could look each other in the eyes and be grateful for the moment, the years of friendship, and an abiding love.

Radiation starts on Wednesday.  Keep my friend in your thoughts and prayers.

Hairless and Fearless

Below is Letty Pogrebin with her friend, who lost her hair to chemotherapy.

tWGdjCO - Imgur I don’t know these women, but I see something in Letty’s friend that we rarely see in anyone — the drive to live.

I have a dear friend who is battling cancer.  She recently had her beautiful black hair (no gray) cut off because it was falling out in clumps.  She was scared to look in the mirror.

I haven’t seen my friend without her hair, but I expect she looks beautiful.  Just as Letty’s friend is beautiful.  Because, when I look at my friend, I won’t see her lack of hair.  I will see her love of life and family and a resolve to live.  Even with horrible treatments that would test anyone’s will.

I used to think, if I had cancer, I would just let it run its course.  I would not go to extraordinary lengths and live in misery for months on end, just for the possibility of a cure.  I would die young and leave lots of life insurance for my family.

But I see my friend now.  And my plan is not so easy anymore.  I see that she needs to live for her husband, her children, her parents and, yes, us, her friends for 30+ years.  My friend is fighting hard and her friends are fighting mad that this happened.

And despite the anger and despair of standing by helplessly, my friend inspires me to love life even though I am not facing an existential threat.

I look at my friend and, all of a sudden, my aging body is not a tragedy of lost youth but proof of life and my vessel into the ensuing years.  If I am so lucky.

And, through my friend, I learned that my clever plan was just plain selfish.  I need to live for my family, my friends and all those I love. And I need to live for me and the joys (and pain) that come with every day on this earth.

To my dear friend:  You are beautiful and the power of your life force resonates hundreds of miles to me here in New York and, in possibly the most perverse twist, gives me strength when I should be shouldering some of your burden.

I love you, my friend.

My morning with Bessie and other things in a random day

I am sick (with the flu) and have been home almost all week.  The problem with being home (besides cabin fever) is that you notice every imperfection in your house, every age spot on your legs and those barely perceptible (to the naked eye) and asymmetrical droops in your breasts.

I was feeling pretty ok this morning.  And I needed to get out of the house.  And I was despondent over missing a Soeur reunion in Cancun.  And my bras didn’t provide the necessary level of support.  So, off I schlepped to the local mecca for women’s undergarments.  This is the place where, for decades (until her death), the Dowager Countess of Ladies’ Undergarments would cup your breasts in her hands and yell out a size and style and point you to one of the dressing rooms.  And if she determined that your current bra was ill-fitting, she would pitch a loud fit.  You had to have self-esteem or you needed to be high to deal with her.  I never went while the Dowager was alive.

POB and I went to here to get our undergarments of steel for our wedding dresses.  Bessie, an older Southern woman, helped us.  She noted that day that I was wearing “some kinda ratty bra.”

Today, I walked in and saw Bessie and strode straight for her and said, “you helped me with my wedding undergarments and I promised I would be back and here I am.”

“I remember you.  You was with a friend and you was both gettin’ married.”

“To each other,” I  responded, gently.

“You had a ratty bra that day, I’ll tell yoooooo.”

Sidebar:  OKOKOKOKOKOKOKOKOK, really?  She remembered?  And I was here to rectify that.  I was thinking that I wasn’t feeling better; I was just delirious.  And why do you think I don’t go bra (other than sports bra) shopping often, huh?  A little humiliation every other decade or so lasts a looooooong time.

I spent 90 minutes topless in a dressing room that others had no problem entering at will.  I must have tried on 30 bras.

Bessie commented on each:  “Now that one make you almost look perky!” “You don’t fill that up anymaw.  Betcha you did once!”  “Now, that is a beautiful cup on you!!

“But, Bessie, it is electric blue!!!”

“It don’t matter what color it is.  A good fittin’ bra is a good fittin’ bra.  You don’t turn your nose at a good fittin’ bra.  Not when we’s our age!!”

Pause.  We are NOT the same age.  I may be going on 50 but she is 70.  Wow, I really was delirious.

“I’ll jest put this in the buy pile.”  She walked away.  Ten bras (of varying colors; some electrically so, some not) later, she went to find matching bottoms.  I prevailed on nixing the dull blue and brown striped one that was almost like a bikini top.

“You a full-cut or a thong type?” She yelled for everyone to hear.  Of course, the entire conversation was for everyone to hear.

“How about we look at the matching bottoms and then I will decide.”

Bessie packed up all the things she decided I needed, less the bra that I would not, could not, buy.  “Now, send your friend on in here, hear?”

Wow, I needed a long snooze.

POB and SOS were doing G-d’s work, by having lunch with my Dad, so I could rest.  Or be delirious, whatever.

We arrived home at the same time and had a little rest hour.  And then POB and SOS set about making a cheesecake for SOS’s friend who is recovering from serious back surgery.  Our hearts were on standby to be broken if anything went wrong.  An 11 year-old’s undergoing serious back surgery is a parent’s every nightmare.  He came through like the champion he is.   And he wanted cheesecake.  “Then, give the boy a cheesecake,” said (and did) POB and SOS.

So we all hovered in the kitchen while POB did most of the heavy-lifting, SOS helped a little and I helped not at all.

SIDERBAR:  Hey, there needs to be a slacker in every family.  I proudly claim that mantel.  In fact, I “gold-medal” in it, without the need for performance enhancement drugs.  (It is a non-performing sport.)

Then SOS remembered that Cousin Gentle and he are going to visit a Sikh enclave in Queens tomorrow and he needed to learn, “hello”, “good bye” and “thank you” in Punjabi by tomorrow.  Cousin Gentle sent a link to a primer on Punjabi.

So, now, I sit in a warm kitchen with wonderful smells wafting through the air, blogging about my day and over-hearing my son practice words in Punjabi.

Yes, yes, I must be delirious.


The COB Removes a Blob

Sidebar:  I promised that my blog entry today would be more upbeat than these last few weeks (ok, months).

Everyone should have colleagues and friends as supportive as mine.  I have many (some, even, who do not yet have acronyms).  But this entry is about The COB. (He really likes having “The” as a part of his moniker.)

The COB, being a kind and gentle sort, was really disturbed by my decidedly gloomy (read: depressing as hell) blog entries, and took to heart my pledge to write less about death and aging and navel-gazing.

So invested is he in my mental state (and my blog) that, not only did he undergo a procedure so I could blog about it (ok, not really), but he took a picture for me and gave me title options for this blog entry.  “The COB Removes a Blob” won.  Here is why the other entries didn’t win:

  • “Don’t Sob, Dear Cob” — a potential winner, except my sister is SOB and that could be confusing.
  • “The Cob Gets His Head Bobbed” — my brother is BOB and he is a peaceful man.
  • “Corn off the Cob” — when you see what was removed, this doesn’t do it justice.
  • Using “Blob” was ok because I determined that that acronym would not go over well for anyone and so there would be no risk of confusion.

So, here is how the story that led to this blog unfolded:

The COB walked into my office one day, closed the door and sat down in a guest chair, all with an air of something important to say.

“You know that thing on my head?” he started.

“What thing?” as if I didn’t know.

“The thing-on-the-side-of-my-head thing!”

“Oh, the thing that I stare at when I lose interest in what you are saying?  That thing?”

“Hey, you can only tell when I get a haircut!!”

Really, are you sticking to that fantasy?  Stop, stop, stop.  Tell me!!”

“I am getting it removed.  It is time.”

“But what will I stare out when you are droning on?”

“My ears.  I stare at yours when I can’t possibly pay attention to you anymore.”

Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait.  What’s wrong with my ears?  Still, it is about him and his thing and, showing uncharacteristic restraint and selflessness, I let that slide.  For now.

The COB had the procedure this week, and as I was waiting impatiently (ok, somewhat frantically) to find out if he was all right and if it was a benign growth, I get an email entitled, “It is what you think it is!!” with the following attachment:

FROM COBSo, based on the tone of the email, I knew all was ok.  Based on the picture, I realized that it wasn’t really a thing; it was a gross thing.

I emailed him: “We have broken the grossness barrier in our friendship.  It looks to be about 15% of your brain.  How is the other 85% doing?”  Based on the grossness factor of his email, I am thinking that his intelligence was heavily weighted in that 15%.

“That could be another good title for the blog!!” he emailed back.

Dear COB, I adore you so.



A Remarkable Family

Like most remarkable families, they are not famous.  And they don’t look at each other and think, “gee, we are remarkable”.  It goes without saying that they don’t have a reality TV show.

A man, a woman and their four daughters.  Not the Brady Bunch.  Not hair of gold (like Carol Brady) and their skin was so white that a flash light could give them a sunburn.

I met them at Camp Wingate for Girls.  Not all at once.  First the eldest and then the third child.  A year later, the youngest.  A year or so later, the second child.

1971.  The eldest was someone whom people respected and she was engaged to a counselor at the boy’s camp.  I looked up to her and knew her every move, because she had an air about her.  I don’t think we ever spoke.   The third sister was an oldest camper and the oldest campers were too cool for words.  And I remember that her freckles increased with every beach day.  The weird things you remember 40-odd years later.

Our parents were connected through my aunt and uncle.  The men had survived the war that America won — good triumphed over evil.  Their father lost his leg and my uncle lost some of his soul.  But they soldiered on and their wives healed their wounds because they were our greatest generation and that what just what they did.

For the parents, camp visiting days meant seeing your kids during the day and gathering with the other adults for dinner to eat all of the seafood (tower of treyf) that could fill a stomach.  Being in the hell of war, and healing those wounds at home, entitled these couples to a few non-kosher meals.  At least that.

The youngest came to camp in 1973(?).  She wore tragic danskin top-and-short sets and really pointy keds.  Mom sent me with pointy keds as a second pair of sneakers and I hid them under my bed.  So, I felt for her.  Her legs had mosquito bites all over them.

And then there was the second born.  The photography counselor.  As crazy as this is, she seemed not of this world, and yet the world was too much with her.  I remember that she spoke softly and people listened.  I admired her ability to command that type of attention.

After ten summers at Camp Wingate, the friends you made were for a lifetime, no matter the decades in between communication.  And, even more, these four girls and their parents were family, indirectly, through my aunt and uncle.  But the fourth child  — the one with mosquito bites and tragic danskin outfits — she was my friend.

When the second child died, I knew that bubble of Camp Wingate had burst in some way.  I wrote a letter to the camp director that — however irrational it was — I believed that a cloak of immortality protected us and that belief was shattered.  I mourned the loss of a life and the loss of our collective Linus blanket.  The camp director never wrote back.  What would she say?

Time passed.

The eldest married.  The second was gone.  The third went her way.  And the fourth, dyed part of her hair purple and was a roadie for a rock band.

More time passed.  We aged.  Our parents aged.  Some of our parents died.  Some of life’s waves buoyed us, while others beached us with a mouth full of sand.  Life’s trajectory was no straight line for any of us.

And, yes, I have to thank Facebook for reconnecting with the youngest.  Although I saw her mom at family gatherings, I didn’t have a way of connecting in a way that wasn’t so stilted until Facebook came along.

POB and I decided to have a wedding even before Marriage Equality passed in New York State.  I had mellowed in my rather doctrinaire ways that it had to be legal or I wasn’t doing it.  I thought about the people whom I would want at that ceremony and so many had died already.  Did it really matter more that the Bible Belt accepted it or that Dad and Aunt Betty and Uncle Larry and Aunt Roz were there to celebrate? And if Aunt Betty, then her best friend of 65 years, Phyllis, must come.  And, if Phyllis, then my friend of 41 years, Janet2 must come. Because they are part of us.  Even the daughters I am just getting to know and the daughter whose pain will forever be unknowable.

At the wedding, I couldn’t stop hugging Janet2.  I needed to make up for the decades lost. I still may have to visit her just to hug the stuffing out of her, such as is left after her latest health craze (P.S.:  Kale is really hard to digest.)

Generations of family who are friends.  A remarkably resilient family and resilient lifelong friendships that don’t need to be watered or fed on a daily basis.  Because love runs deep in the earth that sustains us.

(P.S.: To the eldest:  If your kids need anything in the City (or just need a home-cooked meal), they should just come to our doorstep.  We are family.)


To Us, The Soeurs

Yes, I am a lucky person.  I am one of nine Soeurs (please see Glossary to the right of this entry). Also see:;;

We have been friends (or connected through friends) since 1981, our college freshman year.

Many years, many tears, many happy times, and oh-so-many epic journeys. 

The stories have been told and retold among us that they are canon.  If someone misses a key detail, a Soeur who was not even there at the original event will chime in a correction.  Yep, we all remember that we were all there (wherever “there” was) — all nine of us.  We were all in the coat closet when, just after college, Mi Casa Es Su was scamming with he-who-shall-not-be-named?

Oh, absolutely.  We could pass lie detector tests.

Sidebar: Mi Casa Es Su also had a tag line in college, “so many men, so little time.”  Just sayin’.

Our memories are that collective.  CTFOB had pneumonia (nearly so) but had to go to a frat party to see a guy she liked.  We told her to rest, but she insisted:  “I’d have them wheel me into that place in an iron lung!”

I remember being turned back from the Canadian border on a ride to get Bradoors.  NYCFOB, Mighty and two Soeurs who don’t yet have sub-category names [Sidebar:  JT and HH, YOU HAVE TO COMMENT, GIRLS and then you can choose your “handle”] were REALLY on the expedition.  But twenty-odd years later when we were re-uning in New York during the Winter Olympics, we all stood up in the hotel room and sang the Canadian national anthem, just as we (or they) did all those years ago for the border guards.

Mighty has these long tapered fingers and long nails.  When she pointed her index finger at you in an up-and-down motion, you had to spill your guts to the group because she detected you were hiding serious good gossip.  She used to have to say, “if you want to dance, you have to pay the fiddler,” but after a while, just the finger motion was enough.

Didn’t we all fall asleep in the snow outside ΑΔ fraternity only to be saved by mystery man?  [Oh, hiiiiiiii, JT and NYCFOB.]

And which of us had crushes on Boring Tall Man and Tall Boring Man (different people)?  I remember!!! JKGB (another Soeur who needs a subcategory name) had a crush on Tall Boring Man who was a grad student who hung out at the undergraduate library.  She wore electric plaid pants (on a diagonal) in a sytlistic send-up to the uber-prep.

And then there was Tie Man who used to get drunk and ask people to talk into his tie.  He had a thing for CTFOB.

JT was perpetually on the latest fad diet and I joined her on one and fainted a few times.  (NYCFOB has my fat pictures, and if anything should happen to her, those pictures will go to Woodward and Bernstein). JT also had a thing for ΒΘΠ frat jocks.  They wore boxers that were longer than their outer shorts.  They also had a rare disease, U-trou-creep-up-ium, coined by NYCFOB and CTFOB.

CAFOB, who is rock solid and an old soul, did have that period during which she went from computer star to capturing essence of North Star.  We are grateful that she found balance in between.  And she has been our counselor and sage all these years.

HH, did you really, really think you would avoid mention?  HH is a Soeur who has opened her home and heart to those of us who have had a long journey to adulthood.  Gentle HH, a Soeur who judged, if at all, out of earshot.  And whose husband diagnosed the Chuppah problems at the wedding.  The challenges, losses and happiness of her life made this gentle spirit more gentle and more accepting.  And forgiving of me and accepting the true friendship that I can offer all these years later.

So here we are: CAFOB, CTFOB, NYCFOB, Mighty, Mi Casa Es Su, JKGB, HH, JT and Blogger.  For 31 years.

At the wedding, we had to have a picture, just us.  No one else, so no need to worry about someone being in the photo-croppable position should a relationship not work out.  We are bound by love, by time, by a secret handshake and by crazy stories.

Sidebar:  I mean STORIES, like driving on a dark road when a dog that bit a deer, staying at the Norman Bates Motel and the rodeo hotel (because the neighbors next door), the time JT had a terrible “flu” or so we told her younger sister who was visiting when she asked why I was holding a trash can near JT’s head and propping her forward or my “fat” pictures which the Soeurs will admit to only under oath (or if NYCFOB goes missing).

When I thanked Mi Casa Es Su for schlepping across the country after chaperoning her child’s class trip to Yosemite until Friday, only to turn around and pack and fly to New York on Saturday, she said, “I wouldn’t miss this, are you kidding?”

These are the ties that bind.  The people who can show up on your doorstep any time. No questions.  The people who need to be there in the good times and the bad times.  The people who descended on my home the week after MOB died and soothed me just by their presence in my living room.  Peeps.

I love you. And you danced at my wedding until your feet were bloody stumps (ok, gross, but a phrase of ours).  Looking at all of you dancing at the wedding, well, I was walking on sunshine.  Remember, Katrina and the Waves?

Sidebar:  POB made sure the band played this for us because I have told her about Mighty’s happy keds many times.

We are nine.  We are an amoeba.  We are separate yet we are one.  Discuss.


On Monday, I was checking my personal email, which I do every other day or so.  SNOBFOB sent an email blast late Sunday night that her father had died and the funeral was Tuesday 10 am.

SNOBFOB has lost both parents in a two-year span.  Her mother had cancer and her father was in a long decline.  She was the child in charge.  Painful and stressful on a daily basis.  It makes my heart break.  I quickly rescheduled things to make the funeral.

This time, the trip to New Jersey was not schlepic; the Never-Lost Lady came through, although when the Never-Lost Lady announces the route or street in New Jersey, there is a pause after which she switches to this crazy-sounding phone-sex voice.  No, really, I am not making this up, well, because I am not that creepy.

I walked into the room reserved for family members of the deceased and saw SNOBFOB.  We hugged and then she said, “Oh [Blogger], my life has been soooo bloggable these last few days.  I will have to tell you.”

Sidebar:  Ok, I did NOT see that comment coming.  But I do hope that SNOBFOB’s thinking about how her life would appear in print on my blog somehow offered a few moments’ comic relief from the sad realities of life and loss.  (And, stay tuned for those bloggable moments in future posts.)

I sat in the chapel, and an elderly — no ancient — woman stopped by my seat and said, more as a statement than a question, “we know each other, don’t we?” 

Sidebar:  Ok, I did NOT see that comment coming, either.  0 for 2.

After an uncomfortable pause during which I was trying to stand (out of respect), make room for her AND come up with a polite way of saying, “well, no, we have never met,” she continued, “we saw each other at [SNOBFOB’s mother’s] house and, of course, the funeral.  So, we shared good times and bad together.  And now here we are, sad again.  I am glad we know each other.”

All I could do was take her hand and say as meaningfully as I could, “I am, too.”  Because by that point, I really wished I knew her.  She did not sit with me but preceded toward the front, just behind the family.   I was more than a little relieved that I didn’t have to keep up a charade.

SNOBFOB gave a wonderful eulogy of a man who loved his family, did what he thought was right and stood by the people he loved.   I thought of the prophet Micah’s imperative, “Do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with thy G-d”.   I see where SNOBFOB’s gets her sense of fundamental fairness and parameters of acceptable behavior.  Strong genes.

Sidebar:  But it wouldn’t be my life without a Seinfeld moment.  All I can say is that since I am glad I had a rental car, so those people who followed me back to New York, erroneously thinking I was part of the processional to the graveside, can’t identify me.  (And I am REALLY sorry.)  OOOoops, I guess they can now.

I wish I could ease my friend’s pain.  May her father, Benyomin ben Mordechai, rest in peace and his memory be a blessing.


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.