Friday, September 26, 2008

Marty's Party

Marty & Me

Marty Fischer was my friend for more than 20 years. He died of a heart attack Monday night at age 61. He was the big brother I never had.

I did have a big sister, who was a lesbian and quite the dike to boot, but Doreen, gone now 11 years from drug abuse and taking herself too seriously, really didn't fit the brother role as well as Marty did.

I could count on Marty. I could count on Marty to council me and to comfort me and yes, to let me know when I disappointed him. He was a sensitive soul. He was sweet coupled with an irritating way that each day was a new day to prove my allegiance and love to him.

That part sucked. But, that part was only a small part of Marty. Marty lived to make people happy. He'd be the first person to party more after the party ended. His recent hangout was the downtown restaurant La Mela, but Brooklyn born Marty was Mr. Diner.

Oh, and Mr. Chinese buffet. This is where "Marty's Party" began. Years ago a Chinese maitre d directed Jimmy and me to a backroom gathering that Marty was hosting, "You here for Marty's Party?" Since then I called him this and began all my e-mails to him, "Hi Marty's Party,"

No one could pile a plate higher and dig in deeper than Marty. And, the check always mysteriously disappeared, paid by, you guessed it, Marty.

The man loved to eat because he loved to live. For him, it was all about excess. Maybe, it was his play for broke habits that killed him. Or, maybe, acutely aware that his father died in his early sixties of heart disease, Marty was racing the clock.

He struggled to get it all in. He did it his way. He played Blackjack just enough that it hurt to lose. He invested in edgy businesses he had a passion for, mainly comedy clubs. This is where Marty shined. He immersed himself in comedy management. He drank in the comedy scene and comics loved and respected him. And, not for nothing, he was funnier than most.

He beamed when a comedian came off the stage, went right to his table and thanked him for the opportunity. He beamed even larger when big name comics were introduced to him and they shook his hand and said, "Of course, I know Marty Fischer!"

Ten years ago Marty sponsored me for Friars Club. I'd watch him schmooze with the staff, the members, the waiters. He had a special relationship with the waiters because "They give me stuff that's not on the menu."

As generous as Marty was, he had an area that prevented him from spending. We all have it, I guess. Jimmy could spend a fortune on a horse, but buying paper cups was "wasteful." With Marty if he got something for nothing it was not only a coo, but it must be used.

His business card printer misspelled his name, Martin FISHER - left out the c. He let Marty have them for free. Marty gave them out and then bitched that people misspelled his name.

A man about town, he loved most being with his grandsons, Alex, 5 and a half and Evan 2 and a half. And they worshipped him. The other grandpa is also named Marty, so the boys called him "Grandpa Marty Who Lives Alone." But, he was never really alone.

Marty was a fixture in so many lives and it's almost impossible to believe he's gone. Little by little, if we live long enough, the people we love disappear. We can't call them on the phone or touch them, but we can remember them. I know this isn't an original thought. It's universal. It's human.
In a few weeks Marty's friends, comics and family will gather to have a Comedy Tribute to him, a parade of loved ones to celebrate his life. We will attempt to give him the last Marty's Party.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Real Kodak Moments Don't Need Photos

I heard that photos are the most googled. People don't care about reading the text. They want to look at the image. Sarah Palin (Don't get me started...) is now the "person most googled" Although, she may be grouped in with Tina Fey.

I was always the picture taker in our family. Jimmy's theory was if it's important enough it will be etched in our memory. In other words, if it's a Kodak moment we don't need Kodak.

That said, he never anticipated the need to look over our life the way I do. Had I died maybe he'd be sorry that I was behind the camera and not in front of it. Okay. I take that back. Here I am assuming he'd be continually pouring over pictures of me. hahahahaha...Wait...Why am I laughing?

The other day an incident happened that forced me to consider that maybe kinda sorta Jimmy's theory had a speck of truth to it. As you see, it's difficult for me, even now to admit that in 33 years of marriage he may have been right - once.

Jackie was busy and I got Skylar off her school bus. I will never ever forget (although, it's only been 48 hours...ask me next year) the bus door opening to that little blond angelic face wearing grey sweatpants and a pink and white striped dress and an Ariel backpack. She stood on the top step and screeched"Grandma!" She leaped into my arms. Luckily I caught her.

We were still hugging as the bus pulled away. Later I thought of my in-laws. I remembered how overwhelmed they would be at a simple moment with my kids. They would both say,

"This has been the most wonderful day of my life!"
I'd think, "What the f%#@ is wrong with you?"

Now, I know. There was nothing wrong with them. They were grandparents...

P.S. If I had a photo I'd post it...See - Jimmy was wrong again!

Monday, September 08, 2008

House (Not the TV show)

72% of widows move within the first two years. hahahaha...I just made up that statistic. How would I know?

Many non-widows (is that like non-Jews? ) suggest I sell the house and start fresh. We bought this house 21 years ago. I remember this because Jackie was ten and Doug was six. Erma Bombeck said, "If we didn't use our kids as a gage we'd never remember when things happened." I guess she was right.

So, here I am. I continue to put my energy into house projects. I won't bore you with a list, but it's significant. So significant that my friends Alex, Richie, Anderson, Robert, Nadia, and Lynn came over yesterday and maybe they were thinking what Jim Scoroposki yelled, " So this is what you did with the insurance money!"

My latest project? I paneled and put a drop ceiling in the garage. Okay. Perhaps, that wasn't necessary. Still, it's a terrific looking garage and it adds value to the house, doesn't it? Am I selling? AHHHHHHHHH...I think that's panic speaking.

Our house has always been the "go to" house just like Jimmy was the "go to" guy. We had most holidays, even the "little" ones like Prom party, Mother's Day and Fathers Day and July 4th (wait...that's not so little)

When my friends Blondie and Barry moved to Florida and came up to New York they stayed here. Same with my cousins Marion and Marcel and my brother-in-law Robert and sister-in-law Carmela. My nephew Chuck has stayed weeks at a time.

Since Jimmy died all of the above have flopped in my guestroom. I wanted to establish early on that Jimmy wasn't the only gracious one. (When my friend Connie saw my pristine garage she said, "Now we know who the slob was.") When a couple divorces see who your friends find out who the 'dead wood' is. In death, it's simpler.

In keeping with tradition, this Sunday will be the third bridal shower in this house since Jimmy died. Over the years we hosted a million (give or take) bridal showers and baby showers here. This house has heard more "oohs and ahhs" as the bride opens her presents than Brad and Angelina hear from the crowd as they walk the red carpet.

The famous baby shower line? "Wouldn't it be funny if her water broke right here!" Not really.

Can I move away from my next door neighbors, and close friends Sheri and Fred? And, what about Debbie and Henry, a town away. AHHHHHHHH...Jackie got divorced in July and I encouraged her and Skylar to move closer to me. Happily, they did so where am I going now?

Without getting into the tragic circumstances, just last week I even held a Shiva here. So "they" think I should move, huh? Between the kids and the friends and the overnight guests, not to mention the showers and the shivas, I'll never be able to get the &%$#@ out of here.