It’s been awhile since I’ve actually written anything beyond Facebook posts. Damn Facebook — it’s become my new worst habit; doesn’t leave much time for productive pursuits.
However, for the past two days, Facebook and I have broken up temporarily and I’m working feverishly at editing my novel. The goal today was to finish 20 chapters (18 for today plus the two by which I fell short yesterday). In celebration, I’d like to share one of my favorite chapters with you.
I hope you enjoy it. 🙂
I don’t do emotion very well. I figure that sucking down some food will make it all better so I don’t have to hear it.
What? That cold is making you miserable? Oh, honey; I feel your pain. Suck down some chicken soup – preferably with a matzoh ball to fill your mouth so I won’t have to hear it.
What? You lost your entire paycheck gambling? Oh, dear; I feel your pain. Suck down some onion dip – preferably with a bag of Ruffles to fill your mouth so I won’t have to hear it.
What? You boss’ wife caught the two of you shtupping and now he’s fired you, kicked you out of your love nest and taken the keys to the Beamer? Oh, poor baby; I feel your pain. Suck down some chocolate fudge cake – preferably with a big scoop of Haagen Dazs to fill your mouth so I won’t have to hear it.
Last week I listened patiently as I avoided the swollen and reddened eyes of one of my friends as she related the story of her efforts to keep her pregnant daughter out of jail. It seems that with the assistance of the girl’s now missing ex-con boyfriend, she stole her mother’s identity and racked up several tens of thousands of dollars of debt. My friend wailed mournfully as her head dropped onto her folded arm, just missing the plate of chocolate chip cookies I’d just shoved at her to fill her mouth and shut her up so I wouldn’t have to hear it.
I am saddened when I hear my friends’ tales of woe regarding their children. Parents should be proud of their children. Their chests should jut out beyond their bellies, their eyes should mist over and they should beam proudly from ear to hairy ear as they brag about their offspring.
Sort of like my daughters do.
It’s not often that one has two commencement exercises – on different coasts – on the same day. Such a problem to have. I am so very proud of my girls.
It took Liza awhile to figure out exactly what she wanted to do. Despite the fact that she was being courted by some of the finest schools in the country, she decided to take a break and spend a couple of years at a community college – no pressure, no stress – while she sorted things out. Then she spent a year on a kibbutz teaching Hebrew to English-speaking children. The princess who left Simi Valley with two sets of 1000 thread-count bed linens monogrammed with her Hebrew initials – after all, the sheets on the kibbutz were only changed once a week – came back with the goal of becoming our country’s first female African-American rabbi.
David – a very, very proud dad — and I agreed that he would be there with her as she received her bachelors in Judaic Studies while I flew back to Massachusetts for Mel’s commencement. Yes, even though spiders – okay, and public restrooms – are the only things that scare me more than flying, I wouldn’t miss this miracle for the world.
Smith was one of Mel’s no-way-in-hell-will-they-let-me-in-there schools. Even before she was admitted, she advised the representative who’d flown to LA to meet her – as she crossed her ankle over her knee – that the only reason she wore nylons, pumps and a “damn dress” to the interview was because I’d forced her to. In her second year – several of thousands of dollars into what had once been my retirement fund – she abruptly announced that she would no longer entertain my questions about her grades because it stressed her out. Besides – she added – she was switching her major to theater. Of course, at that point I ceased being the supportive and indulgent Jewish mother and reverted – much like my hair after it’s gotten wet – to my urban roots and loudly convinced her she’d fucking better make her degree worth my money. I was happy she placed such a high value on the life that flashed before her eyes. She wisely decided to only minor in theater. After all, it might come in useful when she became an attorney.
What could possibly have threatened to ruin such an incredible day?
Actually – it was a “who.”
Dick and I flew coach from California to Massachusetts. I couldn’t afford business class; only one of us was working and that one was paying tuition at two private colleges. Fortunately the flight wasn’t full; there was an empty seat between us. But that didn’t stop the squirming five-year-old who’d inhabited the body of the unemployed half of us from waking me up to whine about the seats.
Last spring – as soon as she figured out they were going to let her graduate – Mel had warned me to make my hotel reservations.
“The Hotel Northampton is where you want to stay, Mom. It’s old and historic – built in 1927 — just the kind of thing you love. And it has five stars! Everyone wants to stay there, so you have to reserve your room at least a year in advance.”
My daughter knows me well. From the fireplace in the lobby to the glass-enclosed conservatory to the lush bedding covering the antique furniture in our room, I adored this charming colonial inn. Meeting Elizabeth Dole in the lobby didn’t hurt either.
“This place is old and musty; my asthma is bothering me. I need some regular foam pillows; I’m allergic to down. I don’t see anything I like on the tavern’s menu; maybe we can go into town to look for a McDonald’s or something.”
I wondered how many skeletons were buried beneath this place. Would they really notice just one more? If I stop writing and run this pen through his head from ear-to-ear, could I avoid staining the beautiful comforter?
I opened the little packet of Polaroids Mel’s friend Judy had taken after the ceremony. In that tactful manner that only a Smithie could pull off, she’d smiled and suggested Dick step aside so she could get some mother-daughter shots. Mel had apparently forgotten to warn her of his inability to comprehend subtlety. Either you forcefully shoved his ass aside or you were stuck with him.
I could only smile as I flipped through shot after shot of Mel and me with Dick’s arm.
Or Mel and me with part of Dick’s belly.
Or Mel and me with Judy’s thumb.