Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tempting Fate

Facts you need to know before reading this.

1. Jimmy had a convertible. He’d hop in – well, maybe not ‘hop’ and shout out 
    "Oh, I love the wind in my hair!"  After 2 miles on the highway my hair   would be a rat’s nest. Guess how often we took the convertible?

3. We both loved to gamble in casinos and  9 out of 10 times I lost. He called me his anchor, but not in a good way.

4. Jimmy hated Steve Wynn and would have refused to step into his latest casino, Encore.

5. Bob is a web designer who I was going to Vegas to meet for business. There you have it...

I didn’t mean to rent a convertible. As I scrolled along the Hertz website there it was – a baby blue Volvo convertible with a beige interior. Isn’t this what I needed, a classy, yet not too obnoxious a car to pull up to the Encore?

Before I could say "Maybe I shouldn't" my finger clicked on to print out my confimation number.  I called my buddy, Connie.

"I did something" I said.

"What did you do now?"  She sounded like she was scolding a puppy.

"I rented a car for Vegas so I could drive to Bob's.  He's 40 minutes off the strip."

"Good. Very grown-up. So?"

"It's a convertible.  I rented a convertible."

Laughter was all I heard.

Finally, Connie composed herself and said,

"Oooooh. Forget about your life-long losing streak. A slot machine will probably fall on you!"

Connie may be right. Perhaps, staying at Encore was tempting fate enough.

"I can just hear the news report now" I said. "In a freak accident today a slot machine tipped over and pinned a 60 year old widow. 

As the casino workers pulled the machine off the unhurt, but dazed grandmother from Merrick, New York, she was heard to say, "Okay, Jimmy. That wasn't funny."

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I Even Asked my Friends on Facebook: Do I Go to the Funeral?

Yesterday I wrote that I went to a funeral three months after Jimmy died. Some readers asked me why I brought that up more than four years later? A few felt that I was going backwards. “Slipping” another said.

I meant to write about my friend Lewie Bernstein who just died on Friday. Lewie and I knew each other slightly in high school and until our 40th reunion a handful of years ago I hadn’t seen him in all these years.

My close friend Vera (from Junior High) is wonderful about keeping up with people and after that reunion she and her husband Jeff made sure that Lewie was invited to a bunch of occasions at their home.

Lewie and I made pleasant conversation. He owned a restaurant, married, divorced and has two grown children like I do. I’m always astounded that someone who I haven’t seen in years has lived a life, too.

I assume that they are stuck in some sort of time warp. Are they hovering in the school yard or something else creepy? It makes no sense, I know. I never really thought it out. I guess that’s obvious.

Anyway, Lewie looked similar to Mr. Burtish, our assistant principal, except Mr. Burtish had a twitch. I always thought he was winking at me. Vera told me I was retarded (it was okay to say retarded then) that I hadn’t caught on about the twitch, but I still think he was playing it up. Once he established he had a twitch he knew he could get away with the winking.

Tom, a blind piano tuner I know does the same thing. He gropes. Can’t he 
 sense that his hand is headed straight for my breasts? And, then he doesn’t feel where he’s landed? Come on!

Anyway, Mr. Burtish is who I saw when I reconnected with Lewie, a middle aged man. When Vera sent me the e-mail with the subject “Sad news” I knew that Lewie had died. He was diagnosed with kidney cancer eight months ago and he wasn’t doing well.

 The e-mail was sent to our high school group along with the information about when and where the service would be. Was this a suggestion, a strong suggestion or an expectation?

Do I go to the funeral?  Who is Lewie to me, anyhow?  He and I shared some of the same recollections and a handful of mutual friends.

An e-mail by Lily followed: “Are you going?” I answered her quickly, without thinking, as is my habit and probably explains the odd way people sometimes stare at me.

“Lewie was a nice guy, but I’ve decided I will only go to funerals on a ‘need to go’ basis.”

Look at me. When did I become so smug? As if that wasn’t enough smugness I continue, “No one’s going to ask ‘Where’s Carol?’ so that’s my criteria for attending or not.”

Her response was approaching admiration. “Good for you. I applaud your attitude” or something like that. Her e-mail is lost in cyberspace. Still and all, Lily went. True, she’s not a widow, but at this stage of the game we’ve all lost people close to us. It’s painful for everyone to face those resurfacing emotions. And, time is not on my side. My widow card is losing its juice.

Sunday morning, the day of the funeral I was still cocky about my decision but doubt or guilt must have jumped into the mix causing me to run it by Doug, my 29 year old son.

I presented my case by first making Doug scrambled eggs, an act that legal minds may point to as a bribe but they haven’t tasted my eggs.

As precedence, I compared the case to one many years ago when an acquaintance wanted to borrow $2,000.

“Your Dad and I were about to write the check when we realized we didn’t know how to spell her first name, “Phoebe”…was it P h e b e? or F e b e? We just looked at each other and laughed. A person should know how to spell a person’s first name if they are going to lend them money. That became our criteria. Too bad for Phoebe that her name wasn’t Jane."

Doug listened as intently as he ever does which means that he glanced up from the newspaper and said, “What? I’m sorry. Did you say something?”

The bottom line is that Doug didn’t think the Phoebe/Jane story had any bearing on the Lewie funeral dilemma.

“You don’t have to know someone well to pay your respects. The hot dog vendor outside Lewie’s building may want to stop in and tell his kids what a good tipper he was. Lots of people came from all over to Dad’s funeral. We probably never met them or remember they were there. If it’s in your heart to go it’s in your heart. If it’s not – it’s not.”

My son is a wise man all right. The best is that he didn’t put any judgment on it. In the end, I didn’t go. At least, I didn’t reach for stuff to base my decision on to ease my guilt.

And, it’s funny, but I must have spent many more hours thinking about Lewie and weighing our relationship than most of the high school friends who just got off their couch and went to his funeral.

Rest in peace Lewie. In time our high school reunions will be where you and Jimmy are.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Three Months, a Funeral & a Whoopi Goldberg Moment

About three months after Jimmy died my good friend Henry’s father passed away. I needed to be there for him and his family even though it broke up my routine of staying home and feeling sorry for myself.

It was bad enough walking up the steps to the funeral home but it was impossible for me to cross the threshold into the room where the body was laid out. I tried. I willed my legs to step forward.
Just like my kids, they paid no attention to me.

My body reacted like Whoopi Goldberg in the movie “Ghost” when her fingers locked onto the huge check as she struggled to hand it to the nun. My legs had a ‘Whoopi moment.’

Henry was aware that it was ‘too soon’ and he and many other friends stood outside the lobby area with me. Even the widow came out to say ‘Thanks for coming.” To someone passing by it must have looked like a major turnout, an overflow of people waiting to pay their respects.

It was simply “Poor Widow Me” surrounded by love and understanding.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Why Didn't Mathman Call?

Mathman hasn't called me.  Did he lose my number?

I guess I didn't make the grade.

I weighed the pluses and minuses of our relationship.

Maybe we weren't equal.

When I mentioned pie, I meant apple and he was talking 3.14.

No bras have ever been truly comfortable on me, especially algebra.

Apparently he didn't think we were compatible...too divided.

I fantasized about having sex with him on the times table.

Oh, well, it's Mathman's loss.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Can Math Be Funny?

I met a man. 

We had lunch. 

He's a math teacher.            

Something doesn't add up.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Would a group called "Man Haters" be Successful on Facebook?

“There’s a fine, fine line between love and a waste of time.” That’s a lyric from a song, from the musical Avenue Q.”  I posted this on Facebook and women thought I was starting a man hating group - and wanted to join.

Personally, I can see a group called "Men Are Annoying."  Hate is reserved for huge discressions like the time Jimmy called my new haircut "a non event."  That was mean.  I hated him for the moment...and my hair.

Those Avenue Q. lyrics jump out at me and it stirs up a pack mentality similar to what "I Will Survive" does to woman when it's played at weddings. 

 You can guarantee that at the first note even the happiest of married women growl at their husbands and leap up to join their circle of sisters on the dance floor. 

Our intensity is palatable.  We'd be smearing war paint on our faces if earlier we hadn't spent so much time getting our make-up just right. 

You'd think only at a divorce convention would women be tempted to run from table to table toppling the centerpieces into the men's laps.

What makes us women, even widows who yearn to have their 'more perfect than when he was alive' husbands back, become drum beating, crazies when a "Woman: Hear Me Roar" song comes on?