My Celebrity Crush

bozotheclownIf you believe my mother, and I don’t know why you would — she’s a notorious revisionist historian — my first “celebrity crush” was on Bozo the Clown. I was, to hear her tell it, quite obsessed with his shenanigans. Hmmmm —- Perhaps in writing this I’ve managed to unlock what in years of therapy and self-examination I could never quite put my finger on. Could my exposure to Bozo, at the tender age of three, be the root of my shoe addiction or my affinity for brightly colored sweaters? Maybe. It just goes to show you that, given my mother’s complicity in the matter — I couldn’t have turned the television on myself! — the genesis of my mental problems are, in fact, my mother’s fault.

As I matured and, I would imagine, grew tired of Bozo’s clowning around, I had a brief fling with Bob McAllister of Wonderama fame. Oh, yes. He could certainly whip a group of grade-schoolers into a frenzy! While he enthusiastically mastered the ceremonies of a very silly kiddie program, Bob was really the anti-Bozo. He wore sedate plaid sport coats and sensible shoes. This attire was most probably obtained from the very same places my father shopped, places like Ed Hall or Thom McAn. That Bob bore a resemblance to the father’s of his audience members was, I’m sure, a calculated decision made by the Wonderama producers.

While Bob may have looked like everyone’s father, I daresay he didn’t behave as such. bobmcallisterwonderamaHe adopted personas, such as “Bert Beautiful” and “Chuck Roast”, distributed cans filled with spring-loaded snakes to audience members (one lucky can would hold fake flowers!), led games which featured things like stacking coffee cups and picking up bagels with a dowel, and encouraged exercise (if memory serves, Bob was fond of the jumping jack). He was spirited and energetic. Oh, and he really seemed to like kids. (In a good way. Not in a creepy Uncle kind of way!) For three hours every Sunday morning (we were Saturday night mass Catholics, thank God!) I got to indulge my crush on one Mr. McAllister.

It was my dream, of course, to be an audience member. To go home with a bagel necklace that spelled out my name (MY NAME IN BAGELS — hello! I would have been THE COOLEST kid in the neighborhood if I’d had one of those!) The show was filmed in New York City, so it was certainly not out of the realm of possibility that I could have been taken there to participate in a live performance AND given the aforementioned bagel necklace, but I never was. My father, unlike Bob, just didn’t have a taste for this type of adventure nor did he have the time or the wherewithal for Bob McAllister’s brand of tomfoolery. His daughter owning a bagel necklace AND, thereby, becoming THE COOLEST kid in the neighborhood, wasn’t, I guess, at the top of his list of “things that are important in life”. (My father often referred to this list when I was denied something on my “things that are fun in life” list.)

donnyosmondwithhatJust as “Little Jackie Paper” would eventually abandon “Puff the Magic Dragon”, I abandoned Wonderama. Bob, as it turns out, was no match for one Donald Clark Osmond. Sure, Bob was cute in a “Daddy” sort of way, but Donny Osmond was cute in a more age-appropriate way. Bob sang a bit, he would launch into the occasional ditty about good news and exercise, but these songs couldn’t hold a candle to classics like “Puppy Love” or “Go Away, Little Girl” (I was certain Donny would sing this one to me, as ours would be a May-December romance). I was crazy for Donny. Crazy. I even wore purple socks under my navy blue cable uniform socks, an act which earned me many, many demerits and countless minutes in the chair outside of Sister Maria Michael’s office. (Where I was sent by the insufferable Sister Agnes Ann, who had taken to doing a heretofore unheard of “sock check” when she got wind that I might just be “out of uniform”.) Sister Maria Michael was a good egg, though. My minor sock infractions usually resulted in a simple stern warning “not to wear them again” (a rule that I broke over and over again, which resulted in the aforementioned demerits). Occasionally, but not always, she would actually make me hand them over to her (she always gave them back, though!). In retrospect, I guess she really had no place to store smelly contraband socks in her neat little office. These exchanges, between Sister Maria Michael and myself, always included the dispensation of a few of the ever-present cherry Lifesavers that the good sister carried, along with her beautiful mother-of-pearl rosary beads, in the right pocket of her sensible skirt. I always felt a kinship with Sister Maria Michael. She was always kind to me. I got the impression that she, too, had a rebellious nature. Unlike my nemesis, Sister Agnes Ann, who had, it seemed, made it her life’s work to break my spirit, Sister Maria Michael just wanted me to dial it back a notch or three.

My affection for Donny Osmond lasted a good, long time. Longer than it should have, really. While other kids had moved on, discovered the allure of, say, the Mick Jaggers or the David Bowies of the world, I was still pining away for Donny. But that all changed the day I heard “Love Needs a Heart” by Jackson Browne. The minute I heard the line, “Baby, the hardest thing I’ve ever done/Was to walk away from you.”, Donny was done for. I fell, and fell hard, for Jackson. I took my babysitting money and bought “For Everyman” and every other Jackson Browne album the store had in stock. I was pleasantly surprised to discover (the music store carried posters!) that my newfound love was also, in my estimation, a beautiful creature. (The long nose! The chiseled cheekbones! The full lips! The silky black hair!). When I returned home and while shelving my newfound treasures, I discovered that my father actually owned the first album. Frankly, I felt a little betrayed by this. My father was always trying to shove Cat Stevens, Linda Ronstadt, and The Rolling Stones down my throat — in a fruitless effort to cajole me out of my Donny phase. Why had he held out on Jackson? Unforgivable.

My father had an extensive and pretty impressive record collection. It also bears mentioning jacksonbrowneincarthat when I was 13, my father was only 33. It came to pass that we shared, as I grew older, similar musical taste. While my mother was stuck on Sinatra, Aznavour, and The Four Seasons, my father’s tastes had evolved to include a dizzying array of genres. It was from my father that I received my first album, at the ripe old age of six, which he won for me (or so he claimed, I suspect he really won it for himself) on the boardwalk in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. The album? Tapestry by Carole King. Why? Because I loved “I Can Feel the Earth Move”. I wanted to play only that song, over and over and over again, as six-year-olds are wont to do, but my father had other ideas. He forced me to listen to the album in its entirety. He explained to me who Carole King was and what she had managed to accomplish in her musical career. Remember my father’s “things that are important in life” list? Music made that list.

Jackson wasn’t my first, my last, or my only crush, but, with the exception of my father, he’s the man that’s been in my life the longest. My relationship with Jackson predates my relationship with my husband. I’ve had my dalliances over the years. I won’t lie. There were brief interludes when I flirted with the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Eddie Vedder, Adam Levine, and Dave Grohl, to name a few, but I have always returned, often with renewed enthusiasm, to my main man.

There have been some disappointments along the way, but that’s to be expected. All long-term relationships have their ups and downs. I’m not the only one who doesn’t like “Lawyers in Love”. I would argue, though, that any album that gave the world “Tender is the Night” is worth a listen.

Having a crush on a singer/songwriter had hidden benefits. How many people can say that their “crush” showed up on their wedding day? Not in person, of course. That would have been downright weird and, quite frankly, Jackson would not have been warmly welcomed by the groom. Who could blame him? I wouldn’t want to be overshadowed on my wedding day by someone Time magazine described as “The Poet Laureate of Rock and Roll”? Would you?

daddystunelyricsMost women wouldn’t choose “Daddy’s Tune” (from “The Pretender”, 1976) as their father-daughter dance, but I’m not like most women. Nor is my father like most fathers. Ours is a unique relationship. In many ways my father and I grew up together. He was young. I was precocious. We were close, but like most parent-child relationships, it wasn’t always smooth sailing. My adolescence, difficult as it was for me, was, I daresay, harder on my father.

We share similar personalities, my father and I, which didn’t always serve us well. We are both headstrong. I learned from him to temper this quality with compassion. In other words, forge ahead, but do so with as much tact as you can muster. I often applied this lesson very successfully — with other people; not so successfully with the man from whom I learned it. As a result we had our fair share of knock-down, drag-outs.

Given the nature of our relationship, “Daddy’s Tune” was an appropriate choice for us. For those of you unfamiliar with the song, it is, essentially, an apology from a child to a parent. As such, it was, in a word, perfect for us. Choosing this song, rather than something more traditional, like “Daddy’s Little Girl” or “Sunrise, Sunset”, was my way of offering to my father the proverbial olive branch; agreeing to my unorthodox song selection was how he accepted it. Jackson said better and far more eloquently what needed to be said. It was in that very moment that the adult relationship that my father and I now share began. Jackson was there to usher it in.

And so it was that the three most important men in my life came to figure prominently in one of my happiest and most lasting memories. I think it’s fitting to wish a very Happy Valentine’s Day to my father for providing the framework in which forgiveness can occur, to my husband for his almost limitless capacity for accepting, understanding, and loving an often difficult woman, and to Jackson Browne for providing the music and lyrics in what has been the soundtrack of my life.

Photo Credits
Bozo the Clown
Bob McAllister
Donny Osmond
Jackson Browne
“Daddy’s Tune” sheet music

This piece was written for the GenFab blog hop… see these other stories!

My Exciting Thursday

moodfabriclogoSomewhat guiltily, I shoved aside hovel purging and did a few more interesting things yesterday — not, perhaps, as necessary as hovel purging, but, still in all, far less mundane and back-breaking than filling more bags and boxes with the detritus of my life. Following what turned out to be a bus ride that had it’s equivalent in the expression “slow boat to China”, I went to Mood Fabrics in NYC and drooled over toiles, velvets, and the hundreds of other beautiful fabrics they have to offer. For a fabric hound such as myself, there is no better place to while away a few hours than on West 37th Street in Manhattan. Maybe they have more toile at, say, The Palace at Versailles, but I suspect that they would frown upon my clipping a swatch. Mood and the other fabric stores in the area actually encourage the swatching that will, no doubt, land you in a French prison. (I wonder if they still use The Bastille?). Also, I can’t just hop on the 163 Local to gaze at the toiles enjoyed by Louis XIV and his ilk. Sampling the Versailles toiles and enjoying three hots and a cot on the French government would require airline travel and a passport. I’m adventurous, but I’m not THAT adventurous. Frankly, I was antsy on the OVER ONE HOUR bus ride to the city (see “slow boat to China” reference above) — it normally takes about 45 minutes midday — a seven-hour plane ride would be out of the question.

I spent an hour trying to find the Joe Fresh location that was supposed to be on 34th and Fifth. They were supposed to be having a sale on sweaters. And they don’t sell online. (Can you even imagine?) There was no Joe Fresh on 34th Street or anywhere in the surrounding area. No one that I asked had ever heard of such a store. I did, however, manage to stumble upon a place called The Manhattan Mall. I only ventured in because I thought that Joe Fresh might be tucked away inside of it. It wasn’t. Don’t worry, though, I didn’t come home empty-handed. I still managed to feed my cashmere addiction at, of all places, JC Penney. (You all need to check out what they’ve done to JC Penney — it’s not just Worthington anymore, boys and girls!) I managed to leave the store with a cashmere sweater for myself and one for my daughter. And, GET THIS, it only cost me $40 total. Forty bucks for TWO cashmere sweaters. Unheard of.

I downed a delicious and much needed vanilla latte at Starbuck’s on 33rd Street (the one thatstarbuckslogo is literally in the shadow of The Empire State Building). I even managed to have a moment of self-awareness and a mini-adventure in the bathroom line. In a city known for its dearth of public restrooms, Starbuck’s should be commended for the fact that they have at least one in all of their locations (at least the one’s that I’ve been in). Also, there is no need to ask a barrista for a key nor have I ever seen a sign indicating that only Starbuck’s customers are welcome to use the facilities. This appeals to my sense of fairness and democracy. While I applaud the Starbuck’s bathroom policy in theory, the reality, as is often the case, is somewhat different, especially when this reality has a direct and deleterious effect on me. (Communism looks great on paper until you’re the one subjected to a lifetime of potato peeling based solely on your inability to read as well as some of your classmates in the first grade!) So, there I was. About to break out into the “pee-pee” dance in the shadow of one of the greatest architectural wonders of the Western world when it hit me that I am not as egalitarian as I like to think I am. As excellent corporate policies tend to do (Rite-Aid takes back opened/used cosmetics — no questions asked!) word has gotten out regarding Starbuck’s lax lavatory regulations. And not just to the folks that work in the area. No. Word has spread to those folks that live in the area. More specifically, word has gotten around to the local homeless population.

I have nothing against the homeless. In fact I think it’s shameless that there are homeless and hungry people living in this country at all. That being said, I must tell you that yesterday at Starbuck’s I harbored a fair amount of ill will against a few homeless people who had managed to scooch in front of me on the restroom line. And scooch they did. One minute I was alone and next in line for the W.C., the next minute they were in front of me. I honestly have no idea how this happened. Perhaps I was daydreaming or looking at The Empire State Building. Maybe I had a small seizure. I really couldn’t tell you. All I know is that they had somehow taken up residence ahead of me. Sure, I could have said something. I could have made a scene. But I’m a middle-class, middle-aged suburban white woman who has never even considered voting for a Republican. Tangling with homeless people in a public place istheempirestatebuilding just not my style.

I should have taken it as a bad sign when I watched as the two women went into the loo together. I should add that they did so with all of their goods and wares in tow. This, as you might imagine, took some time and maneuvering. Oh, and there was still one more poor soul with his cartful of supplies ahead of me. I weighed my choices. I could stay where I was or I could make the mad dash across Fifth Avenue to the Starbuck’s across the street. It was a classic case of choosing the known versus the unknown. I opted for the former. At the end of the day, I don’t know whether or not I made the right decision, having no knowledge of the goings on across Fifth Avenue. Though I imagined, as I stood there with a nearly exploding bladder (why? why? why? did I order a Venti? A less gluttonous person would have gone for the Breve!) that there was no line for their, more likely, swanky and sumptuous facility. I had, by this time, reached the point of no return. It was too late to get across the street in anything resembling a dry state. Having already shopped for sweaters and been successful, I could not imagine that I would have the same luck procuring new jeans and underwear (and, God forbid!, socks), but don’t think I didn’t consider it.

I stayed put and counted the minutes (13!) that the pair spent in what I was beginning to think was a mirage of a lavatory. I assumed that they were showering and doing some laundry. I cannot tell you how disappointed I was when they finally emerged (only to have their bedraggled compatriot go in behind them) looking much the same as when they had entered. For whatever reason, this annoyed me. I expected to see that they had at least made some minor improvements to their appearances. So, there I was, judging the homeless, tapping my foot, doing some kegel exercises, and, I am sure, rolling my eyes when one of the fine folks who is employed by Starbuck’s actually took notice of my discomfort and allowed me to use the employee bathroom. He was not wearing a name tag and I plum forgot to ask him his name. Whoever he was, I would just like to say that he is a fine human being who, in addition to rescuing a soon-to-be covered in urine person from her latte excesses, also has excellent taste in footwear. His patent leather kicks were to die for! Also, he wouldn’t even hear of taking the tip I proffered after emerging from the restroom. Who says New Yorkers don’t have a heart?

On most days this young man and the kindness that he showed me would have been the highlight of my day. But not yesterday. No. Yesterday I had the pleasure of being surrounded by exciting people. You see, the reason that I went to the city at all was to have dinner with a group of women from GenFab. GenFab is a Facebook group of (mostly) women of my generation. We’re not Boomers. We’re not Gen-Xers. We’re the ones that fall in between. I came to be a part of this group a few months ago at the urging of my friend and fellow blogger, Amanda Fox, over at The Fur Files. (Thanks, Fern!) They are a great group of supportive, talented, and wonderful women. Over the last few months they have been working on launching a website dedicated to issues that are pertinent to our age group. (Don’t worry, I’ll promote the launch!) They asked for contributions and have agreed to publish one of mine. This is not what drove me to join them for dinner last night, though. No. I really just wanted to be in the company of these dynamic women. (I’m hoping some of it will rub off on me!) They were all so welcoming and, given their accomplishments, not the least bit pretentious. Usually at 8 o’clock on a Thursday evening I am apologizing to some moron for bringing him what he ordered and/or dealing with my immature co-workers while covered in the barbecue sauce that I had spilled on my shirt during the lunch shift. Do I need to tell you what a nice departure this was from that? I didn’t think so.

genfabdinnernyc2713This was first “in real life” meeting with folks that I have met through blogging. I won’t lie, the idea of this was a little daunting. More daunting, though, was knowing that I was going to meet virtual strangers, most of whom I admired. For a couple of weeks prior to the dinner I was both excited and a little bit worried. I thought about dying my hair, getting my nails done, wearing better clothes, whitening my teeth, and making other adjustments to my appearance. Basically, I wondered if I should change who I ultimately am. In the end I decided to just be myself, warts and all. I’m happy to report that it went well. I don’t think anyone cared that my hair was in need of a dye job and that my nails were in need of a manicure. If my teeth weren’t white enough, no one mentioned it. And my attire? It was fine. Here’s the thing: these women were more interested in WHO I was than in what I was wearing. Many of them seemed genuinely interested. And some of them had even read my blog. And they admitted not just to reading it, but to actually liking it. Wow!

So, now comes the hard part. I really want to mention, by way of a “thank you”, everyone that I met last night. I want to encourage you to read their blogs and their books, subscribe to their web magazines, watch their movies, and, just generally, get to know them, but I fear that I will leave someone out. I’ve decided to put that fear aside and not squander this opportunity to promote them and GenFab. I’ll do the best I can and list everyone that I can remember. If I forget any of you, please remind me who you are and what your blog/website is and I will update my list. I promise you that my intention is not to exclude anyone! For those of you who fall into this “fabulous” generation, consider joining GenFab. You won’t regret it.

Better After 50
Grown and Flown
An Empowered Spirit
The Chloe Chronicles
stylesubstancesoul
Connect with your teens through technology
The Louise Log
Relocation: The Blog
100 Sleepless Nights
Books is Wonderful
Second Lives Club
Oh Boy Mom
Boomer Wizdom

photo credits: starbucks logo (starbucks.com), The Empire State Building , GenFab dinner pic (Cathy Chester), Mood Fabric logo (fashion how-to.com)

How I Met My Husband: GenFab Blog Hop

80shairI don’t remember the exact details, but I know that I was refusing to go to the club that summer Sunday evening. My friend, K, who had promised to meet up with “Mr. Right Now” had other ideas. I had just come off of my first real heartbreak and was really in no mood for the dating scene. So, I wasn’t going to go. And I wouldn’t have gone, except that she needed a ride. Grudgingly, I took her to the club. I told her to go inside and find whoever it was she was trolling for and I would wait outside until I got the thumbs up from her that it was safe to leave. She came out a few minutes later to tell me that he wasn’t there, but that she KNEW he’d be coming. Couldn’t I just come in and wait with her until he got there? “Ugh!”, I remember thinking, “Why do I have to be such a good friend?” For sure most people would have just left her there, but I couldn’t do it. Plus, if he didn’t show up, I’d just have to come all the way back to get her. So, in I went.

I was not dressed for “clubbing” in the ’80s. I had on a tank top, sweatpants, jelly sandals, no make-up, and my hair wasn’t even teased or shellacked, nor was I wearing the requisite Jersey Girl bow. (After the big break up I had actually gone “punk”— short hair, shaved at the sides, but with a long pink tail that I braided down my back. I am fairly certain that all photographic evidence of that particular hair style has been obliterated— at least I hope so!) In any case, I was a sight. But, in I trudged for what I was hoping would be a short stay. I got a beer and hung out on the sidelines, like the proverbial wallflower. I did not want to engage with or be seen by anyone. I thanked God it was dark in there.

Within a few minutes my cover was blown. Someone with whom I was acquainted (we’ll call him B1) came over and asked me why I was hiding in the corner. I explained to him the circumstances under which I had found myself there at all. He shook his head in an understanding way (he, too, knew K) and asked me to join him and some friends. (They had found a coveted table!) He introduced me around. Ho-hum.

One of the guys told me I looked familiar and asked me if I had worked at the local supermarket. I told him that I had, indeed, worked there. He said that he had worked there for several years, so he must have seen me there. “Yeah, that must be it”, I replied. I can’t help but think that I must have been delightful company. At this point I spied my friend talking to a guy. “Great!”, I thought, “I can leave now.” Of course, this guy turned out to be just A guy, not THE guy. So, I went back to the table for more pointless and boring conversation about where we all knew each other from.

At some point, “Dancing in the Dark” came on. I think I said something along the lines of, “I love this song.” The supermarket worker (we’ll call him B2) asked me if I wanted to dance. Up to then I had really not been all that engaged in the conversation and I felt bad because he seemed like a nice enough guy, so I said, “Sure. What the hell.” We danced. We talked. As it turned out, he was a pretty nice guy.

We returned to the table to discover that someone new had joined us. I knew this woman, F. She was actually friends with K. I was pretty psyched to see her because I just wanted to get the hell out of there and I figured she could take K home. F agreed. She told me that she was supposed to be meeting someone there, a blind date. F wanted me out of there nearly as much as I wanted to be out of there. Because F and I had a weird history. The night that I had met my former boyfriend, it was she who had dragged me to a party to meet this “awesome guy” that she had connected with the night before. As it happens, I met an “awesome guy” at that party and dated him for two years. Unfortunately, my “awesome guy” turned out to be her “awesome guy” from the night before (in the end he didn’t turn out to be all that “awesome”, either— still, he was cute and she was pissed). Oops!

During the scintillating conversation with B1 and B2, prior to F arriving, it was established that B2 and I actually lived a couple of blocks away from each other, on the same street even. When I saw my opportunity to leave the club, B2 told me that he had come with B1, but since I lived so close, would I mind dropping him off? Early shift at the supermarket and all that. I agreed.

As we were walking out, there was a line of people waiting to get into the club. As we were passing the line, someone grabbed my hand and said, “We should talk.” My former boyfriend. In the flesh. We hadn’t seen or spoken to each other in months. It was the strangest thing. Because up until that point I would have done just about anything to see and/or speak to him again. In that moment, when the opportunity presented itself, instead of telling B2 that he would have to go back in and get a ride home with B1, I said, “Sorry. The Chestnut Street Express is leaving. And, what would we talk about exactly?” It was liberating and exhilarating.

As B2 and I got into my car, he looked at me and said, “Now you look like the girl I remember. You’re smiling. It’s your best feature.” I was confused. “Remember?”, I asked. He said, “Yes. I told you before I remembered you from the supermarket.” “No”, I said, “You told me that I looked familiar.” “No”, he said, “I remember you. How could anyone forget you?”

He’s spent the next 28 years making sure that I never forget him.

P.S. The guy that F was there to meet up with? Her blind date? B2! He revealed to me on the ride home that she was the reason he wanted to leave so suddenly, that she wasn’t his type. That was the first time I wanted to smack him, but surely not the last. (So much for “Mr. Nice Guy!”) Oh, and not that I blame her, but F? She never spoke to me again.

THIS IS A BLOG HOP! <<<Click for more info!

Here are some more posts from the blog hop. Enjoy!

How—and Why—I Met My Husband – Empty House Full Mind

How I Met My Husband – Books Is Wonderful

How I Met My Husband – CarPool Goddess

Shopping at the Man Store – Midlife 2nd Wife

A Date with Destiny – The Giggling Truckers Wife

Soul Mates and Angels – Connie McLeod

How I met the Big Bison – Wild Life In The Woods

How I Met My Husband – The Boomer Rants

The Love Story With A Warning Label – The Chloe Chronicles

How We Met – Joy’s Book Blog

How I Met The Men Of My Dreams – Daily Plate Of Crazy

Joe And Heidi – Did You Exercise Today?

Bald Men Have The Prettiest Wives – Home Place

It Takes Two To Make a Thing Go Right – The Fur Files

Blind Date = My Fate – Forever 51

Rites of Passage: Mid-life Marriage – juliedanis.com

Over 50 and Happy – Wanna Wrestle?

The One Night Stand That Lasted 25 Years – Really Real Atlanta Housewife

Don’t I Know You? – Life on Wry

photo credits:80’s hair