Friday, September 26, 2008

He Blinded me with Science!

Last weekend Evil Surfer Dude and I went to a party. Yea, I know. I dumped him but like all bad pennies...

The party was held at the Oceanside estate of his Scientist friend, Edwina. They worked together at Pfizer. Edwina has her PhD noteworthy only because I had called into question Evil's education. I stumbled upon his resume (not that I cared) He has his Masters in Chemistry.

The party was held to celebrate the 50th birthday of Edwina's husband. More then one over-weight middle aged woman looked me up and down with disapproval. If they had wanted to wound me, me they did. If they had given me the opportunity,I would have have offered then better reasons to hate me.

The house was gorgeous and the party was catered.

After dinner the entertainment; a pianist, singer/more like DJ arruved. That is when I stopped being miserable.

Who knew Evil loved to dance? Who knew he would be any good at it? We danced like crazy and let's face it, people were staring. He had no shame. I think he did "the pogo". The other notable dancers of the evening included a beautiful family from the Czech Republic. They grabbed me to talk. Finally I was having fun surrounded by fascinating people from Prague and dancing like a fool with Evil on the hard wood floors in the middle of the living room.

The next day Evil arrived at my house with a couple of New York Steaks, a huge bouquet of flowers and a DVD of Saturday Night Fever. "We've got to practise our dance moves", he said.

We worked out at the beach then played Frisbee along the shore. He taught me some trick moves. The man can play Frisbee. I no longer doubt that he was once an athlete. Little children got caught up in our game. We threw the Frisbee to them or to their fathers who were taking their children into the ocean.

When a fluorescent green Frisbee lands in your hand unexpectedly, you can't help but smile.

Israel Schmizrael

Bill and I left for Israel on a dismally cold winters day fom New Jersey. We’d arranged to rent a car and drive to JFK. When we arrived at the car rental shop it was closed. Panicked, we hailed a cab. We summoned the only cab driver in the state that did not know the route to JFK. After several wrong turns, we backtracked over the George Washington Bridge as twilight descended. I stared bleakly out the window. I was bleary eyed so when I noticed a black orb (UFO?) sail, in apparent slow motion, up and over a lane of traffic then into the Hudson River, I did not react. A horrific screeching noise ensued followed by wave of yellow sparks that shot from the rear of the cab.

We had blown a tire. Honking horns, mayhem and panic ensued. We were, after all, in the middle of a bridge. Another cab was behind us. We paid the first cabbie, grabbed our things and ran to the second cab and sped off.

We were at mission critical with regard to time. Arriving at the airport we ran to the ticket counter. No tickets. Bill's face was red and I believe he raised his voice. The mystery was soon solved. Our tickets were in first class, not coach, and under his partner’s name. We rushed to the gate as the doors were closing.

Bill was traveling to Israel on business. There was going to be an exchange of money (Bill had a check) and a new branch of his business would open in Israel.

After settling into our expansive seats and toasting with champagne, Bill asked me to marry him. My response was to laugh nervously and say, “Don’t be silly”. After receiving this deflating answer, he asked me to hand him his brief case. He wanted to review the reams of documents and contracts pertaining to the deal he would negotiate shortly.

"I don't have your briefcase." I said. "What?" he replied. "Didn't you take it out of the cab? I told you to." "No, you didn’t, I said defensively".

A million phone calls were made from the airplane. How would we ever remember the Cab Company or driver of the first cab, much less the second? Frighteningly, there was a blank check for $50,000.00 inside the brief case. How Bill could have an MBA and a blank check in his briefcase never made sense.

Back in those days people could smoke on airplanes. Bill was smoking. An ash sailed from his cigarette and landed on my Haynes Pantyhose dissolving them into ribbons of nylon stretching from my thighs to my feet. I left them on because I could not wear my gorgeously uncomfortable French pumps without them.

We landed in Tel Aviv and made our way to baggage claim. We would be gone for over a month so we had more then a few bags. I was standing alone when a small dark haired man approached. In broken English he queried, "Is this the luggage from Brazil?" I'm from New York," I snapped. I was accustomed to unwanted male attention. Further, it was a stupid question since everyone knew that just one flight arrived at any given time in this Airport.

Bill returned advising that my bag had been lost. “What care I for luggage when there is love such as this to be found?” Um. That’s not what I said at the time.

We proceeded to customs. Embarrassed by my frayed stockings which were decidedly destroying my New York City Slicker look, I bent forward drawing my long black coat down and around my legs. I clenched my coat closed with my right hand and took baby steps. In my left hand, I held a black guitar case meant for the son of one of Bill’s soon-to-be business partners. That's when it happened.

Two soldiers appeared out of nowhere. They grabbed me beneath both arms, lifting me into the air. I suppressed the urge to squeal, “wee”. But the soldiers were frowning. They wore military camouflage uniforms and had rifles with bayonets strapped to their chests. I could see hand grenades dangling from their belts. "Come with me, Police" they said.

They were dragging me through the airport. Every now and again my French pumps would graze the ground. I couldn’t move fast enough. Bill ran behind us pushing the luggage cart. He was literally, freaking out. "What do you want?" Bill screamed. I turned my head around as they pulled me forward. I could see Bill running behind us, pulling things out of his wallet, a passport, his driver’s license...the soldiers were not interested.

They continued to drag me (they were hurting my arms) through and eventually outside of the airport to a large dirt clearing surrounded by 20-foot crumbling stone walls. Every part of me was covered with dirt. They were dragging me towards a small guardhouse at the end of the clearing. Oh Dear God. They were going to shoot me. I started resisting. At the time Israel was at war with Lebanon. Danger lurked in the air. The military in the streets outnumbered pedestrians.

They pulled me to the guardhouse and went through my luggage. That was it. "Okay, you can go", someone said. As I turned to leave more soldiers rushed in. They brought with them, a man in handcuffs. One of the soldiers was a woman. "He can go (Bill) but she (me) stays” she shouted. How do you know this man?" she screamed pointing her finger at me and gesturing to the man in hand cuffs. "What did he say to you? Do not attempt to lie”.

The man in handcuffs was the man who had approached me in baggage claim. "He asked me if the luggage was from Brazil". "I've never seen him before. I'm from New York", I said.

If you are ever speechless and do not know the proper thing to say, take my advice, utter; "I'm from New York". Try it. It works.

After several tense minutes while the female soldier stared intently into my eyes, waiting for a confession, as two soldiers held tightly onto my arms, she let me go.

I was a dusty ragged mess. I was, perhaps 24 years old. I no longer cared to conceal my raggedy nylons. I was happy to be alive.

Bill and I found our driver (a couple of old guys in a tiny beat up car). They drove us to our fancy hotel on the Mediterranean Sea.

Of course the hotel did not have a record of our reservation. Why would they? The hotel manager probably took one look at me and said, “Achmed, do not let hair in. Dis man, he want take woman from refugee camp in hotel. No. Tell him we no have reservation.”

I sat, looking indeed like a refugee on the velvet circle couch in the Lobby thinking, “ I don’t think I like traveling”.

After 30 minutes, Bill waved me over.

“Charmaine, we have to check in upstairs. We’re in the Penthouse”.

Checking in at the Tele Vista Lounge was an elegant affair. Butlers served us champagne, spa technicians offered to rub our feet, massage our hands. There was classical music. My hands were dirty so I declined.

Imagine a butler in a tux, extending a flute of champagne to me as I tried to smooth my dress over my dust-encrusted strings of pantyhose. This action turned into a Linus dust-cloud situation so I abruptly stopped and smiled. There may or may not have been twigs in my hair. Glancing at me, as Bill signed the forms, he gestured with his right finger and touched the side of his mouth. I got the message and removed a blob of dirt from the corner of my lip.

Behind my sweet smile was, “Please God, Please Dear God let this ritual end. God, I know you are here. We are in the God Damned holy land. If one more person sees me I will die. Please let this ritual end so that I can get to the roooooooooom. Ahhhhhhhh.

After approximately 4 years, or so it seemed, we were led to our Penthouse Suite.

“Who do they think you are, the King of England?” I said to Bill. There were vases of flowers, roses, fruit baskets, buckets of champagne everywhere, including the bathroom.

“I AM the King of England. Didn’t you get the memo?” he replied. “I guess they didn’t recognize your Royal Highness at the airport”, I said. He gave me a huge bear hug and we laughed until we fell down on the bed.

Sadly, there was no time to rest. We had dinner with “the business partners and their wives” at 7:00 PM. I showered and changed into a fancy beige backless number with my pointiest red high heels. And yes, back then I wore dresses and had great legs. No one believes it, but it’s true.

There had to be 20 of them, the business partners. Just to make matters more surreal, we had Chinese food. Everyone was speaking Hebrew. Bill found this rude and started speaking in Spanish. I played along.

We returned to the hotel. To say that we were tired doesn’t cover it. I went into the bathroom to wash my face. I remember it as if it had was yesterday. I can see my right foot taking the step. I see the Channel Number 5 cream bottle hanging over the edge of the sink where a small pool of lotion had accumulated on the floor. I step onto it with my right shoe. The faucet from the bathtub rose up and hit me in the eye.

That is what it is like when you take a fall with jet lag followed by too much wine. It is as if the floor (in this case bathtub) raises UP to strike you. I was in the bathtub now, in my dress and heels.

“Oh brother. I can’t believe I just did that”, I thought.

I pulled myself up and out and sat on the edge of the tub. I sat there for a minute with my head slumped over my knees. I planned to continue sitting until the pain over my left eye subsided. Something stopped me. It was a pool of blood on the floor the size of an apple. Wha tha? “Billlllll” I screamed. Bill was in bed. Blood was running down my cheek now (the area over your eyes is highly vascularized.) Bill would not wake up. I was shaking him and shaking him. Of course he was exhausted. But I was wide-awake. I went to the bathroom, got a glass of water, and poured it on his face.

That did the trick. He looked at me. Bill was a well-educated, well spoken man. That is why I expected him to say precisely what he did. “Shit!”

He called the front desk. They were sending the house doctor. It was 3:00 AM. An hour went by. The doctor arrived. “Please, you must get her to a hospital for stitches, now”.

We were outside now, hailing a cab. They gave us the name of two hospitals. One was westernized and one was not. We opted for the closest. It was not westernized.

I have never seen anything as disgusting in my life. I attempted to go to the bathroom but the floor was covered with mud or “something” that smelled revolting. You know what it was. It was too spectacularly impossible to believe. We went to the waiting area. A Hasidic Jewish woman took one look at me and rushed in front of Bill screaming at him and wagging her finger directly in his face. “You hit hair, you hit hair. You air bad man”.

“He didn’t hit me” I said. “You hit hair bad man” she insisted.

They called me to meet the surgeon and plopped me onto a gurney. A man anesthetized over my right eye commenting, “You look very nice”. The surgeon arrived and attempted to place a stitch over my left eye and I screamed. Bill rushed in. “What are you doing to her?” he screamed. “Please leave sir”, they were forcing him out of the room. The Hasidic woman rushed in, “You hit hair”. Then, she spat. “It’s Ok Bill, I reassured. “They anesthetized the wrong eye, no biggee”.

We left at 8:00 AM. I was still in my cocktail dress but now had 7 stitches over my left eye. When we returned to the hotel, I slept for a day. Several dozen roses were delivered by the hotel. They send a battery of people to question me, to determine if I would sue them. Certainly not, I said. I slipped. It was my fault.

Looking back, I’m certain that the people in the hotel did not think I was a refugee. Rather, they thought I was a prostitute. Each day there were flowers and notes waiting for me in our mailbox. One night after dinner, Bill went to the Business Center. One of the managers offered to escort me back to my room(s). “Take good care of her”, Bill said.

En route the man said, “You are very beautiful, unlike my wife. You wear silk dresses, unlike my wife. I could give you many things” he said. I was taught to respect my elders and this man was old enough to be my father. When we arrived at the Penthouse I closed the door but he stuck his foot out. “Please remove your foot from my door, sir,” I requested. He would not. “If you do not remove your foot within ten seconds I will call the police”. (This meant nothing) “Remove your foot from the door or I will scream. Then I will instruct my husband to kill you,” I said. He relented.

From that day forward, I learned to suspect advances from older men. I instinctively knew they thought they could take advantage of youth. In my case, nothing could have been further from the truth.

Shortly, Bill and I left for Egypt.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Deja Vu

(Aplogies for the re-found re-post on Kavenagh). I don't know how to post it into the past, where it belongs.

I rented a film called "Deja Vu", directed by Henry Jaglom. I watched it 4 times back-to-back.

It's not the first time. I've done it before. The film is poorly directed; yet it charms me. One of my favorite Schubert pieces, “Serenade” runs throughout the film. Vanessa Redgrave appears in it. That is reason enough to rent it or pick it up at the library. It could have been a great film. Vestiges hint at this potential, for example when Venessa Redgrave speaks.

The film explores how people react when they meet the love of their lives. According to the film, true love is felt the moment you meet the gaze of the one you were meant for. This is a platitude, of course. My friend Patrick Kavanagh once said, “If platitude should claim a place, do not denounce his humble face”.)

You might be happily married or about to marry. Then you meet “the one”. Do you believe in love at first sight or go about your business and dismiss the feeling?

For me, watching the film conjured a sensation of Déjà vu because it was filmed, partly, in Israel, where I traveled with my first love, Bill.

The opening scene features "Dana" (female lead) strolling down a marketplace outside of Tel Aviv. Strange fabrics stretch over and cascade beneath crumbling walls, blotting out the sunlight from above. Trinkets, or belly dancer coins, faintly tinkle as people brush past.

I can still smell the sweet exotic spices that clung in the stifling absence of air as I inched along the cavernous passageways so many years ago. Goats and the skinned flesh of unknown creatures dangled from hooks, strung up overhead in rows for purchase, covered with flies.

Vendors in traditional long garb with missing teeth and mud crusted feet pushed past me selling coffee from strange brass contraptions or pita bread filled with gobs of Hummus.

In the film, the marketplace is overrun with Western tourists. When I strolled down these shadowy cobblestone streets, it was a different world. I was an oddity. Bombs were flying in from Lebanon. It was not tourist season. To say that people stared, is an understatement. My guide and best friend Carol, (a.k.a. loyal cab driver) was with me. Sometimes he would grab my hand and drag me away from a group of men selling bread or... He negotiated my purchases. I spent each day with him while Bill worked. Carol waited in the Taxi line up outside the hotel until I arrived. He would accept no other commission. He waited. He reminded me of my dead father, affable, kind and protective. 30 years later, he is as real and vivid as any friend I have ever known.

Later in the film, Dana meets a mysterious woman (ghost) at a cafe overlooking Jerusalem. This sets into motion a journey that leads to her true love. I sat at, perhaps, the same table and remember watching the boys riding donkeys below. Later she strolls along the Mediterranean, in Tel Aviv, past a cafe dotted with tables by the sad sea. It wasn’t a happy place when I was there. The city was in shambles, literally crumbling. I can still see Bill sitting at such a table by the Mediterranean Sea, beneath an enormous white umbrella. He's smiling his crooked smile and waving at me. I don't sit with him because he is conducting business.

What happened next, I will never forget. (Cliffhanger, courtesy of Pool Boy)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Patrick Kavanagh

Nope. I didn't date him either.

I’m still sick of dating. Let’s try obscure literary references for 100 please. Then, we’ll tie it in with my family’s criminal past. It’ll be fun. Join me, won’t you?

Patrick Kavanagh was a poor poet born in Inniskeen, Ireland. My uncle, the same one responsible for the Satie book, gave me a book of his poetry when I was in college. He was trying to help me understand who I am. I’m Irish, but American. I thought the poetry was puerile. But what did I know?

In the book I found the first poem, Prelude, I ever liked before discovering the Sonnets. I’ve concluded that I only like poems that I feel are basically about me. I memorized the poem. I was trying to impress my Uncle at some point. But how do you impress my Uncle? He’s a brilliant intellectual and classical musician. I’d be lucky to get a word in edgewise. He’s as hilarious as he is hilarious looking. Picture Einstein without the mustache. He’s a psychiatrist on the side. I worked with him one summer. I had my own floor of crazy people. That summer is it’s own blog.

Patrick Kavanagh quit school when he was 13. He was the son of a cobbler. After being diagnosed and recovering from a near fatal disease he began to write in his 20’s. He published a slightly famous poem called, “The Great Hunger” The man was basically illiterate, self-taught, yet he touched people.

My Uncle tells tales of meeting Patrick in pubs in Dublin and Dundalk. University students loved Patrick and flocked to him to talk and drink Guinness, which is good for you by the way. My Uncle was in medical school and like the other students, adored the slightly drunken, outrageous, blasphemous utterances of this simple, yet profoundly self-made Irish peasant.

Being Irish is complicated. Especially when your grandfather was second in command of the IRA. (I tell my friends that criminal behavior skips a generation) My grandfather was sentenced to death, shot and imprisoned more then once. In fact, that is how he met my grandmother. She was a nurse. He was in a hospital room after he was shot. Guards were guarding the door. The intent was to get him well enough to execute him. She distracted the guards by inviting them to tea in the hospital cafeteria. When they returned, my grandfather was gone.

She was arrested and imprisoned for helping him. They marched her down the center of the road, made her walk to the jail through the streets to secure her humiliation. (When you’re related to quasi-criminals, it’s okay to romanticize their suffering.)

In prison, she was in good company with several intellectual female writers and such. They were an enterprising bunch. One day they dug down through the mealy dirt of the prison floor until water rushed in. The jail was closed and they were moved to better accommodations. My grandmother was educated woman in a time when women were not educated. She was released after a few months, no charges. But she had been humiliated and emotionally hurt. She never let it show. Throughout her life she struggled with depression and acted a bit crazy according to my Uncles but not according to my Mother. Had the war not broken out, she would have completed her music scholarship in Germany. She would have been a pianist. Maybe that is why she was so sad.

Later a plot within the IRA was hatched to get my Grandfather out of the country. He was sent to the shipyards. These shipyard folks would select men to work on ships heading for America. It was pre arranged that my grandfather would be selected despite the fact that he had no skills for such work. He escaped to New York. My grandmother joined him soon after.

Later my grandfather was granted amnesty by the Irish government. They returned to Ireland for good.

I spent summers on Castle Road in the bleary overcast rain. Everything was gray yet cozy with fireplaces in every room. Porridge every morning for breakfast, brown soft-boiled eggs and the most delicious blackberry jam. I would stare out the third floor window, watching people stroll beneath umbrellas on the wet streets below. People with greyhound dogs on leashes headed to the races. Children dressed in gray playing in the streets. I gazed down at them through panes of glass dappled with raindrops. When it wasn’t gray, it was marvelously green.

My Grandfather took us to the sea where there were cliffs and miles of rocks. There was a murky smell, I learned to adore it. He wore a three-piece suit every day of his life, even at the beach. He bought a restored “Gypsy Caravan” in which we played. We picked blackberries on the side of the road.

Ireland was magical. I was fond of walking to the neighbor’s houses, which were conjoined, one by one. This is something I did as a child. I walked to other peoples houses, alone, and just knocked on the door. I must have seemed an American oddity, dressed in bright colors, very spiffy in my short dresses from I. Magnin. The neighbors, well, each one had a special treat. The Gormlys, had my favorite. It was the Fairy game. I would stand in the corner and close my eyes. When I opened them I would check my pockets. Every time a “Fairy” managed to place a small sweet, button or toy in my pocket.

When my father came to visit (he was working in the states) we would go for drives in the country with my Mother and sisters. My father always pointed out the Leprechauns. “Look Charmaine, there’s one right over there! Oh, you missed it.” I never saw one because, as you know, they run very fast despite having extraordinarily short legs. They have to hide from people so that folks don’t discover their pots of gold, which, apparently they take everywhere. I grew to hate the little bastards for only showing themselves to my father.

If you get the chance, go to Ireland. Make a point to mingle with the locals. Like I did as a child, just walk up to a door…and knock.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Bad Blog Day

I've been depressed. I inadvertently deleted two of my favorite posts. A post on Patrick Kavenagh (which I found on google and re-posted above) and another I was working on that chronicled a trip to Israel. (I was was briefly suspected of being a terrorist at the airport). The post tied in nicely with the lost post Patrick Kavanagh and my IRA grandfather.) I was so mad that I decided never to blog again. I can never re-write the one on Israel. But I'll try, later.

I had agreed to attend a live concert with Evil on Friday night. Yes, we broke up. But I had promised. He took me to dinner at a restaurant suggesting it was the best in town, "The Orange County Mining Company". It's the kind of restaurant you'd remember (if you could remember that far back) that you visited on prom night. This restaurant featured the, always popular, decor of a mining shaft.

He ordered his New York Strip "well done". I gently advised, "you know, the chef is probably going to spit on it." "Huh?" he said with irritation. "They hate it when you ruin a perfectly good steak, that's all I'm sayin'". I was a waitress in college. If a chef was not sailing a saucepan over "the line" in a trajectory designed to make direct contact with my forehead (after requesting a steak "well done") he was spitting on it.

Later I realized, there was no "chef" at all. It was likely an affable immigrant merely supporting his wife and kids. I don't slam immigrants. I'm the daughter of immigrants. Further, I don't care how you got into the country. If it was too easy, we made it so for a reason.

We arrived at The Grove Theatre and took our seats in the 7th row.

The last concert I was at featured, I believe, the Jackson Five. Yes, it's been a while. This concert featured Lindsey Buckingham. The attendees would all me middle aged fans of Fleetwood Mac, like me so it would be a tame evening.

Seconds after the show began I noticed the distinct splitting of my right eardrum followed shortly by the cracking of the left. An invisible man was pelting, apparently with a sledge hammer, the rhythm of the base beat upon my chest leaving me gasping for air.

I plugged my ears for the duration so that I could hear the music. Otherwise, I heard nothing except pain. (Is pain a sound?) Evil Surfer Dude stood up, whistling and making a devil mark gesture with his hands which, evidently, communicated a silent message to Lindsey that he "understood the secret message" being communicated.

Later, a bearded man seated to my right offered me some drugs. He offered them in the same manner (extending the tin) that one offers Altoids to one's colleagues in a meeting.

I shook my head, "no thank you". As he pulled the tin away I noticed they were actually a small assortment of earplugs.

"Wait", I screamed. "I've changed my mind". He didn't hear me.

When the concert ended, Evil said; "You're not a rocker are you?".

"You're legally deaf, aren't you?" I replied.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


I don’t know about you, but I love the dude. Don’t get me wrong. In High School I didn’t understand a word he said.

My failure to “understand” occured three times in the ensuing years. Once in college reading “Ulysses” by James Joyce. Slightly earlier reading “Beowulf”. Later, in a Sailing 101 with my first love, Bill.

Bill and I were provided with the reading materials,in order to learn how to sail, from the Newport Yacht Club. It was mandatory that you read them. We were intent on learning how to sail. We were alike in our thinking, “I don’t need to read this.” We will learn by doing.

On our second class on our 40 foot sailboat, it happened.

I removed the floatation thingees, Bill steered us out of the slip. We managed to get into the harbor. There are so many yachts on the harbor on a Saturday afternoon. I wasn’t thinking about that. I was thinking, where are the cucumber sandwiches?

Bill and I lived on the water on Lido Isle. We’d watched a million boats pass by our living room thinking, “how difficult can it be?” In a similar act of hubris, Bill once called the coach of the Angels to advise him that he would be a better coach. I received the return call. Bill wasn't home. The coach and I remained on the phone for over an hour as I parroted what Bill had said to me a million times. I had no idea what I was saying. The coach almost raised his voice and suggested after 90 minutes, “why don’t YOU come down here and apply for my job right now?” Anyway…

In the harbor, I took the helm. Nice big steering wheel. Nothing to it. The instructor asked me to do something with a “wench” and a “leed” referring to some “jib” thing. I wanted to scream, “Speak English”. I did as instructed . The “leed” slipped out of my hand. (It’s the rope that holds the Jib which is the big sail that stretches out in front of the boat.) The “jib” was flapping in the wind making the sailboat rock.

Suddenly I heard a plunk. It was the “Boom Vang” coming unleashed from the “Mast”. It secures the main sail to the mast. It’s major. Without it the mast (big piece of wood) swooped like crazy from left to right with enough force to knock anyone overboard who attempted to sneak past.

At this point, I was holding onto the helm for dear life.

At that moment, I remembered an item mentioned in the instruction manual. Surely it was on first page because that’s all I read. It said, smaller vessels give larger vessels the right of way. (Larger boats have less maneuverability. ) That’s when I heard a frightening, deafeningly loud, droning HOOOOONK. I looked behind me. It was an ENORMOUS yacht towering over us. My first instinct was to wave. But there was going to be a collision. Remarkably, I heard another sound. Ka chink, Ka chink, Ka chink. The anchor slipped overboard because of the rocking from side to side. We were all going to die.

The moral of the story is; even when you deserve to die, you won’t if you surround yourself with the smart people. Choose wisely. The other moral is that even if you don’t understand something, you will if you keep trying. So don’t give up.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Teleportation Device - My Porch

As Pool Boy aptly named it, my porch is a teleportation device. People just pop up, like magic.

There is no call, no annoucement...nothing. I look out the glass panes of my front door and...POOF, there is a man.

When I used to hang out with "Vern" he used to do the same thing. His excuse was, "You have this effect on a man". Huh? Wha? The reason they do this is because they know if they call in advance, you will leave.

Today, I was innocently commenting on a post from Pool Boy and POOF! Evil Surfer Dude was on my porch.

I treated him to my usual polite response; "Go Away". He wouldn't. He asked, "Can I use your bathroom I've had a long drive?". I locked the door. (We can see each other through the glass.)

I replied, "No, go away". He retored, "Can we please talk Charmaine?" I replied, "No. Go away".

I'm repetitive when cornered.

"Can we work out?" I thought he was talking about our relationship. "No, go away". Then it dawned on me he was talking about literally working out. I haven't for over a week.

On the heels of a less then successful date with Pool Boy, I pondered for a second. Then I thought, what the hell. I need to work out.

We went to the beach and played frisbee in the ocean up to our knees. When we were done, we came back to my place. I thought I heard somthing on the stairs. Two seconds later, I looked out the door and it was "The Vern". He was wearing a hideously bright red t-shirt I bought him in Costa Rica. It has either shrunk considerably or the man has developed a belly. He had a scraggily beard and looked like a "Mountain Man".

Vern is in the doorway and Evil Surfer Dude is standing beside me. Both men stare at each other like deer caught in headlights. I panicked. Then I introduced them.

Vern commented, "Jee, it's looks like you have quite a sunburn".

Hell no. It was NO sunburn. It was my famous, amazing blushing. I can turn redder then an heirloom tomato in 2 seconds. I had nothing to be embarassed about. But was. I was embarassed that I had let Evil Surfer Dude in. I knew that Vern probably wanted, in a friendly way, to simply take me out to dinner. I would have liked that.

Vern looked particular scruffy, which is no small accomplishment. They shook hands. "I see you have company so I'll leave", said Vern. He did, then skipped back up the steps to give me a coupon for tires. (He knows I am shopping for tires). Then he left.

"So, you must know this guy really well if he just pops up on your doorstep", said Evil Surfer Dude.

Dear God.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Tool

I'm utilizing a tool that Pool Boy taught me. It's called, quick change the subject and start a new post so that we can get on with the business of forgetting the last post.

After reading a poem on "New York Woman's" blog about being single, which was heartbreaking by the way, I started thinking about the men in my life. I'm having a midlife crisis. (I dare you to read her poem and not cry, if you have been single for a long time. )

Not you Pool Boy. It's for women. Oh and, tricks are for kids. That's all the wisdom I have tonight.

I wanted to survey the men of my past. The one's I have loved. For me, that means the men I have been intimate with. I know what you're going to say; "You didn't love Evil Surfer Dude". But you're wrong. I was well on the road. It's old fashioned. You don't have to believe me. But it was true for me. I can count the men I have been intimate with on one hand.

Maybe that's alot in some circles. Some might remark, "Yea, maybe that's a good number if I you were in High School".

I looked, searched to find the common element. What is "my type" anyway?

I have no type. This is what I concluded. I have no idea what I am looking for, who I am or what I want. I have no idea whatsoever. Tonight I'm gonna think about it.

No I'm not. Who am I kidding?

Maybe I'll marry Evil Surfer Dude. Perhaps I like to suffer. I've written funny short stories when I was in bad relationships. It amuses me. (But then my cousin called to "confess her sins". Her "sin" is usually a man she just slept with. For some reason this adorable young lady thinks I'm priest. ) I always absolve her of her sins. Then call her a whore. We laugh like school girls.

It's important to know who you are. I'm edgy. You'll never see me sitting in a field of daisy's wearing an apron. I can yearn for this alternate existance, it doesn't make it who I am or what I want.

My guy will get that. Oh my God, my guy is "The Producer".

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Pool Boy

Neither Pool Boy nor myself wants to tell you about our date.

I mean, why traumatize the children? Just moments ago as I was about to place this post, the power went out. Was it a sign? Should I just leave it alone?

A compromise. Here is the summary of our date in tiny tiny print to make it more difficult to read. You have to want it...and I know you do. Pool Boy has a fan base.

I was driving down the road and noticed him walking down the street. He saw me too. That's when I knew. That's how long it took. The first glance, a mere fraction of a second. I stopped in the middle of the road. He caught up with me and helped me find a parking space. We walked to the restaurant together.

He mentioned it first, that I was having a wardrobe malfunction. Ok. He wasn't REALLY talking about me. He was just making a random remark. But it WAS happening to me.

I had worn a little shirt. One of those halter cross-over-in-the-front numbers that never works unless you pin it.

I didn't pin it. I had tried, mind you. But it was made of silk and the pin showed. I thought with a few slight posture modifications, I could pull it off.

He didn't notice, but every man who walked past us as did and was staring at my boobs which kept slipping out, just slightly, despite my constant grabbing at the shirt, trying to re-arrange "things" so that it would fall properly.

I became obsessed with it. I'm not even sure I heard a word he said because I was so intently focused on the shirt. (I heard you Pool Boy. I just said that for dramatic affect.) All I was thinking was, "must keep boobs from popping out. Must keep boobs from...". I had limited success. He didn't pretend to notice.

He did however, kindly notice/remark that I did not look like I was 100 years old. (I had dyed my hair brown that day. Probably shouldn't have.) I change my hair color as frequently as the wind changes.)

The date reminded me of my date with cute surfer dude with the addition of awkward silences and less eye contact.

No harm, no foul. The man was charming. He's a good man. I already knew that. He's better off with a Fancy Nancy who has mutliple children from different husbands, fibromyalgia and lives on disabililty. She doesn't have to work. Marrying men is her career. She's a "pro". I am ( at best) an aspiring amateur.

The conversation did not flow. It got better after the second martini but never left the ground. Our table was precisely 2 inches from the table next to us so I just started talking to them instead. I wasn't trying to be rude. They were an adorable couple. I actually panicked for a minute because I thought the woman's husband was a man, Dirk, that I used to live with. Of course, he was about the same age my Dirk was when we lived together. Which was 16 years ago. I stared at him, wondering, OMG is that HIM? Did he dye his hair brown today TOO?

The service was rushed. After 30 seconds the manager asked"how is everything?". 30 seconds later our drinks arrived. After two sips down came the entree. I had literally just placed my fork into my fish and waiter was back "how is everything?". "Um, don't know yet", I replied. The service irritated Pool Boy and he said something about it, which I liked about him.

I think that eating with a stranger is difficult. I'd rather"do" something. Walk on the beach, go bowling (ok. Not bowling) just something active. Making polite conversation with a stranger, trapped in my chair, is not my forte. I need to move. Further, eating for me on a first date is a fiasco. My knife and fork might as well be sticks. I need a bib. I once had a "first date" wherein we did use chopsticks. My date wore a white shirt. By the end of the date it was a modern art piece compliments of the 30 items that fell into my soy sauce and splashed on him. Hee Hee. (Secretly I love this about me.)

Every woman knows within seconds if a date is going to work. You can see it in the eyes of your date. It boils down to whether or not he finds you attractive.

That's the reality of it. There is nothing you can do... but smile. I'm not saying that my feelings regarding the matter were any different. I'm just saying, that is where it starts. After the date (Pool Boy was literally driving 100 miles an hour up the PCH to place distance between us), despite everthing...I missed the Vern.( I missed feeling loved.) The next day, I missed evil surfer dude who called me three times on my way to meet Pool Boy. I didn't answer. (But I missed feeling pursued.)

I like Pool Boy. We will be blog buddies.

I have another date in 5 minutes. But I'm loading up the truck and going on a road trip. I have a rumble with a 9 year old boy with a mohawk in Denver to get to. And some electric guitar playing with an 11 year old followed by some basketball with a 12 year old.

Younger men? Okay.


Charmaine's Incredible, Simply Amazing Stain Removal System
As you may have learned from the post above, I spill alot. I spill on myself AND on other people. In college, I was a cocktail waitress. I once spilled an entire tray with 10 beers right on a mans head. (No, I'm not extraordinarily tall. He was sitting down.) "My spills" she remarked with pride, "are legendary".

Out of necessity I have learned how to remove a stain.

Get some hot water in a bowl. Add a 1/4 cup of "White King" Water Softener. Now add a 1/4 cup of BORAX.

That's it. Place whatever is stained in the solution and let it sit there for a bit. Even red wine that's baked in (I don't know what that means either) will come out. Go ahead. Try it. You'll see. Play around with the measurements until it works.

You're gonna thank me.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Producer

He's strange. He’s a writer/producer. He produced “Seventh Heaven” and some other stuff. We spoke on the phone for 3 hours (he was a slow talker) until my phone died. .

He told me that I am a gifted writer, which probably means he wants to have sex with me.

Still, when a “real” writer tells you that, it should make you happy. It would indeed make me happy if he didn’t also happen to be, frankly, insane. Further, based on his emails, writers are terrible writers.

We talked about politics. We have similar views which is an important thing to have in common. What we don’t have in common is the fact that I am not taking psychotropic medication (he does) and I have not been in “therapy” for 25 years (he has).

The man is edgier than a serrated knife. Near the end of our 3 hour conversation we had a “tiff’ when he mentioned that some of his friends dogs are on Prozac. That’s Hollywood.

He commented that he sometimes helps friends out “in a pinch” when they need to put their dog down prior to sending it to the gallows. (I could hear his dogs barking in the distance) He will visit the home of friends and sedate their canine. He said; “Dogs know what is happening. They know if they are going to the Vet that it is going to be bad. It is kinder to sedate them before actually taking them to the Vet.”

I responded, “How in the hell do you know what a dog is thinking? Are you the “Dog Whisperer” or "Doctor Doolittle"?

Before I could utter another phrase, my phone died.

I thought that was the end of it. But he just emailed me asking if I wanted to meet. Additionally, he is trying to psychoanalyze me. According to him, I am afraid of men. He also commented that I am interesting and bright.

I am always "interesting and bright" to men on drugs.

He invited me to some party about a show he produced in the 80’s starring William Katz. I declined. Now there is some 60’s party. I’m tempted.

Who wouldn’t want to wear bell-bottoms, a mood ring and a poncho? But me, drive to Hollywood?
It’s not going to happen.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Rules

I want to tell you about my upcoming date with Pool Boy. But I promised, as a reward for having discovered my blog, not to write about it.

But he just wrote about me so…does that mean all bets are off?

The rules are nebulous, Ladies and Gentlemen. Furthermore, I never met a rule I didn’t want to break.

I keep this character flaw under wraps for the most part. But now and again, I cannot contain it. I blame the women in my family.

Once my grandmother was visiting us in California. She was a religious woman. She went to church everyday. She was a hat and gloves kind of woman. Very proper, well spoken and as mentioned, educated.

My parents were having a party and she was sitting in a chair, tolerating the American heathens. At one point, someone asked about her thoughts on Ian Paisley. (He was this guy of considerable political influence with considerable contempt for Southern Ireland and it’s Catholics.)

My grandmother placed one gloved hand over the other and politely remarked, “I think someone should shoot the fucking bastard.”

My father, they say, passed out and my grandmother became the “hit” of the party. In real life it doesn’t always work out that way.

Just days before I was “laid off” from my former job it became clear that our CFO was escalating the words and actions of the peons. I was one of the peons. She would often get the story “wrong” because she didn’t really understand what any of us did for a living. Everyone knew this was happening. Everyone censored their remarks around her. As my former colleagues will attest, I constantly forgot. I would make incriminating comments all the time to the “shhh” of my colleagues. This woman was formerly an ally so I couldn’t believe it. One day, I believed it after watching the grown woman whispering like a schoolgirl in the office of our President.

When she returned to her office I waltzed in and accused her of being a “ratfink”. That is the word I used. I further went on to query, “where, exactly, in the job description of Chief Financial Officer does it say “must be a ratfink?”

She confessed immediately because, after all, she was a Christian woman. She said something about it being her “fiduciary duty”. I cleverly retorted, “bullshit”.

I was not the hit of the party. I was gone 3 days later.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Erik Satie

No, he was not my last date.

Let’s take a break from dating, shall we? Let’s explore classical music.

Click. Was that the sound of you closing this post? Hey, come back here!

I rarely play the piano anymore. But sometimes (when I’m a tad depressed) I play something by Erik Satie. His simple harmonic pieces are whimsically forlorn, funny and original.

In some parallel universe I am a piece of music composed by Erik Satie: Gnossiene I or II, maybe a Gymnopedie. But I flatter myself…no one else will.

They are simple. But don’t let that fool you. Their simplicity requires the most profound level of interpretation to reveal the hidden, haunted beauty within. Most people cannot interpret his music well enough to do it justice.

After my father died, I was 20 and fond of pounding out with intensity, an exquisitely morose Funeral March by Chopin. I was particularly fond of playing it loudly. Loud enough to make the crystal jiggle in the china cabinet. I wanted everyone to know what I did not have the words to express. As in most Irish families even a Funeral March played at 100 decibels in the middle of the living room can be ignored. My Uncle was visiting and gave me a book on Satie. (I was butchering the more complicated Funeral March and giving everyone a headache.) I didn’t stop playing the Funeral March until the neighbors called the police. I remember opening the door to greet the officer. It was 2:00 AM. My response was, “What? They don’t like Chopin?”

Satie was an ECCENTRIC man. (You might have heard his music in the film, The Blue Veil”. ) He would walk across Paris in the pouring rain. A passerby once queried, “why don’t you use your umbrella?” He responded, “It is far too valuable to get wet”. When he died, they found 8 umbrellas in his room.

He was the father of the modern or “Impressionist” movement in classical music. Most people are familiar with music from the “Romantic” period. Chopin, Schubert…etc. But I’m not sure. Sometimes I just make stuff up.

In music, the pianist (performer) reads the notation (music) of the composer, which offers instruction as to interpretation (how to play) a particular movement or passage. An example of an instruction might be, “with great feeling” “very quickly” or “slowly”. In one of Satie’s pieces the instruction was to play like “a hummingbird with a toothache”.

After his friend, Debussy, suggested that his music would be improved by more attention to form, he wrote a piano duet, Three Pieces in the Form of a Pear.

That crazy guy.

He never achieved success until after his death. (That way they don’t have to pay you.) Maybe after I'm dead and gone some future civilization will find my blog and see what it was like to be a woman over 40 dating in Orange County, CA. Maybe I'll get a posthumous medal, for bravery.

The following youtube link contains an example of someone interpreting Satie correctly. The link after that is an example a cross dressing punk band, oddly, also doing it well.

That’s what’s so great about classical music, life, and middle aged dating…

It’s all in the interpretation.

Bonus Link: Below is the Funeral March I was playing, until the cops arrived. Try to make it to the 2 minute mark. If you do, you will learn exactely how it feels to be 20 with a dead dad.


Friday, September 5, 2008

Pool Boy

Ladies and Gentlemen. A moment of silence please.

I would like to commemorate the great men who have made historic contributions to to the world.

Armstrong walked on the moon, Jarvis invented the artificial heart, Galileo discovered the constellations, Shakespeare wrote some cool plays and Keano Reeves...well, the lad doesn't have to do anything except stand there.

But never in a million years did I think a man (whom I have dated or will date in the future) would discover my blog.

I mean, I've had nightmares about it, of course.

Today marks another historic day in the history of the world. A man I met on discovered my blog. He told me so. In fact, he is probably reading about himself, right now. "Hi Pool Boy". He even created a blog identity so that he could, er...comment on my comments about him. Clever man.

Pool Boy still wants to meet after reading my entire blog.

You know what they say, curiosity killed the cat.

Don't be scared Pool Boy. I'm just messin' with ya.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Memories...light the corners of my mind.

Some things need to be remembered. This is a re-broadcast of a former date. The one that keeps me up at night because...I just saw this man drive down my street the other day. He doesn't live around here.

Date Report - Dr. Cop-A-Feel

My second date with a 59-year-old physician from India. On our first date I had charmed him with my spectacular knowledge of India, Salman Rushdie, Ganges River issues, the whole Hindu/Muslim thing. I fascinated him with my understanding of Neru, Lord Mountbatten and Edwina. (I had studied, uh hem…prepared for our date.)
Before that first date my Uncle had generously called to offer relevant material, current events in India so “I would have something to talk about on my date”. (Dating for me… it takes a village)
On the actual date I had added my own unique contribution. I recited a Shakespearean sonnet from heart. He was impressed. “ Why would a person just memorize sonnets for no reason? I responded in an academically serious way, “Um, just cuz”.
After that he was smiling, grabbed my hands and rubbing my arms. “I had no idea that we would have so much in common” he said “And you are much more attractive in person”. He was crazy about me. There would definitely be a second date.

5 days later he called. 5 days is a long time.Doctor Cop-A-Feel picked me up at my house in Corona Del Mar in his shiny new Lexus. I got in the car and noticed a wry grin on his face that communicated….”I’m hot”. Did I mention he’s 59? You have to admire his confidence. Soon we were gliding down the Pacific Coast Highway. I adjusted my personal climate settings, jacking the temperature down because I was sweating, literally.

We arrived at Sapphire in Laguna Beach. It’s a hip joint. Lost of women my age, alone and in pairs...watching....looking....strolling around. No one was going to get their hands on my doctor…No way.

We drank wine for 1.5 hours waiting for a table and had an excellent meal. The doctor was giggling and enjoying my sparkling conversation. He ended dinner with the “would you like to come to my house for a night-cap” “or was it “would you like to see my paintings”? I don’t recall because of the wine haze. I replied, sure…hiccup…why not. (I told you I’ve changed).

He gave me the tour of his overly decorated Newport Coast mini-mansion. After pouring two amber glasses of desert wine we strolled to the tiny couch in front of the gargantuan plasma screen. Then…it happened. It’s basically what I dread, the second date kiss. I’ve been known to bob and weave, accidentally trip, anything in order to dodge the terrifying second date kiss. BUT...this time, I was going to go for it. My date had been married for over 24 years. I expected a tried and true well rehearsed kiss.

Seconds after our lips touched, with the focus of a pit bull, the doctor began to attempt to suck every last drop of blood OUT of my lower lip. I couldn’t believe it. The sheer pain of it. I moved, adjusted, pulled back and in ever other manner tried to shake him loose.

If you can visualize, me pulling away from his face…my lower lip stretching out between us because HE WON’T LET GO OF IT. I pondered for a second, maybe this is some new technique... but my eyes started tearing up… I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to pull away.

You don’t think it ends there, do you? It gets better.

After extricating myself and tracing my lips with my fingers to check for blood, Doctor Cop-a-feel looked at me quite seriously and exclaimed, “Are you breasts real?”

I tilted my head to the side like a dog responding to a high-pitched whistle and replied, “…yes”.

Then, in a moment that I replay in my head in slow motion, the man reached out his hand and grabbed my right breast. This was no fondle or any other manner of caress, it was a grab. “Yes, you are right, they are real” he said.

My mind was in a swirl. I didn’t know how to behave. Panic makes me very calm so I looked him square in the eye and said, “I cannot believe that you just grabbed my breast”.

Smiling a wry grin and with a considerable Indian accent he retorted, “It’s O.K. I’m a doctor”.

I confess I laughed out loud.

Then I went home.

The next morning in the mirror brushing me teeth I noticed, I had a bruise on my lip. Doctor Cop-a-feel gave me my first lip hicky. Wha the?

Restaurant Date ReviewSapphire Laguna This is the place to see and be seen. Formerly The Pottery Barn. Just try to get a reservation on Friday night. Go ahead. Try. The vibe is cool and casual. Lot's of locals. It almost feels like 230 Forest which is my other favorite local spot. I had the braised short rib atop a potato puree with little pieces of carmalized turnip and carrot. The short rib was lightly perfumed with clove or allspice and melted off the bone. Dr. Cope-a-feel had the Pan-Seared Barramundi which was ok. Mine was better. Next time I'll try the lamb. Yum.
Posted by Charmaine at 11:54 AM