Friday, April 29, 2016

Plain Jane?

Another remarkable wife has shown up in the 2016 election season:  Jane Sanders.  Bernie was so little known when he first piped up that I didn't know he even had a wife.  And, I have to admit that my first reaction to her was very bitchy:  "Please don't wear those print overblouses." And, "she is going to need one of those major makeovers you see on daytime TV."  Well, shame on me.

Her presence is the perfect complement to the bombastic Bernie and the perfect antidote to the over-manufactured Hillary.  Jane Sanders is every bit as determined as Bernie . . . and she is calm, friendly, and steadfast in her optimism.  She reminds me of the nurse who walks into the room and convinces us that we are going to get well again.

Boy, do we need that.

Friday, April 22, 2016

My Private Prince

There are some people who step up in such extraordinary fashion that  they deserve a pass for whatever happens from that moment on.  In public, I put Jackie in that category.  After the assassination and the funeral, she could marry the ugly Greek or spend as much as she wanted and I would still wear those signature sunglasses proudly.

My friend Phyllis doesn't need a pass but would get one willingly any time.  She was the one who was determined not to let me feel like a loser when I was reeling from a second divorce.  She was the one who introduced me to all of her great friends and made me feel like something new was possible.

When Prince died yesterday, I immediately thought of Phyllis and how she took me along with her friends to see Purple Rain.  I loved it.  Yes, life is always waiting.

I didn't follow Prince's career.  But I never forgot that moment and I'm certainly thinking of it now.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

In the Neighborhood

Last night I went with my school chums to a restaurant at Fullerton and California.  My friend Trudy and I wound up driving around the side streets a few times and I thought:  "Yes.  Here is it.  Chicago is a city of neighborhoods."  Coming out of a sea of tiny houses was a mansion on the corner.  (Modern architecture even.)  There had to be a story there.

My late friend Marilyn, who lived on the Gold Coast and managed a store on the Southwest Side, knew all about the surprises to be found in the neighborhoods.  She would say:  "I found this marvelous bakery.  Here, taste this!"  Or, "there's a tailor down the street who does my pants for next to nothing!"  This was way before it became chic to explore the neighborhoods and report back to the rest of us.

Thanks Art, the school chum who arranged the outing.  And thanks Marilyn, for reminding me that there's always lots of explore.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Spelling it Out

My Senior Center is hosting a Spelling Bee for us oldsters.  If Marvin Berntein shows up, I can only hope for a second place finish.  He was my grammar school nemesis -- beating me year after year.  I know exactly how those NBAsters felt during the Jordan years.  MB was my own private MJ.

Maybe Marvin has ascended to the Spelling Bee in the sky and it's safe to sign up.  I'm sure the judges won't be so cruel as to give us those complicated words -- the ones the asian kids always get right.

Nah.  Spellcheck has messed me up.  And the most I can remember are a few latin roots and "i before e."

Not enough . . . not enough.

Friday, April 15, 2016

A Taxing Day

Income Tax Day and, between Bernie and the Panama Papers, I am feeling more cynical than ever.  As one of the "little people" of course I will file knowing how many giants say: "zero for me."  Thom Hartmann says the best investment a company can make is to buy a congressman or two.  It's about a 150% return on investment.

It amazes me how many public people don't bother to file.  Harold Washington and Alan Iverson skipped years and that sad sack Mel Reynolds is in trouble again.

When I was with Len I participated in his Tax Day (actually night) ritual.  We would wait until a few minutes before midnight to head downtown to the big Post Office to hand over our cash.  So many others had the same idea that mailmen were out on the street taking our envelopes from our cars. Tax protesters livened up the scene.

I loved paying my property taxes when I lived in Oak Lawn.  There was a gorgeous park with tennis courts and swimming pool across the street and in the winter I could take exercise classes or walk at the indoor arena.

And of course I am so grateful for medicare and social security.  Yes, that's how I will celebrate Tax Day.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Jackie and Barack

What was Barack Hussein Obama thinking when he married Michelle Robinson?  Was he hoping to forge an alliance as strong as that between Rachel and Jackie Robinson?  Couldn't hurt to think that way.  When the President and First Lady appear in Ken Burns' biopic Jackie Robinson and Michelle describes her role as"ally in chief," I thought:  "Maybe it's Michelle who understands the destiny attached forever to her name."

There's a theory about the Obama presidency:  if only he had spent more time at Washington cocktail parties and watering holes; if he had hung out more with his Congressional brethren, he would have accomplished more.  He is criticized for insisting on spending his free evenings privately with his family.

Rachel Robinson talks movingly about how she and Jackie knew they needed a safety zone where Jackie could unwind as much as he could from the continuous assault he endured on the field and as a public figure.

With the Senate willing to deny the President even his constitutional duties, those family evenings make a lot of sense.

Men do come along who are exceptional enough to move the needle.  Not often though,  because it's so damn hard.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Good for You!

Jason Benetti is the new play-by-play voice of the White Sox on TV.  Everyone is cheering him on. Even the national news picked up his story.  It's only a week into the season and already I am fond of his voice, and the way he describes the action.  He may be new, but he's a pro.

Jason is literally living his dream.  When he was in elementary school he wrote a paper describing his dream job: White Sox Announcer.  Some boys would have gone for White Sox player but for Jason, suffering through surgeries and body casts because of cerebral palsy, announcer was probably top of the mountain.

And now here he is.

I know the Cubs are getting all the World Series hype this year, but what if Jason gets to call the ultimate win?  It would be a second dream come true.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Painted Lady

The other day, a woman complimented me about my makeup.  We chatted and I said:"I never go anywhere without makeup."  (Thinking to myself:  "Not even to the emergency room, having a heart attack.  While waiting for my ride, I "put on my face" and carefully packed my cosmetics kit into my bag.")

I have many friends who wear no makeup.  They are women who have extraordinary intellectual prowess and stellar careers.  Does my unbreakable habit reflect some mourned upon deficiency that requires an extra layer to hide behind?

Or maybe it's my mother.  I don't remember ever seeing her without makeup.  Or heels for that matter.  Even her bedroom slippers had little heels.   I'm only exaggerating a little when I say she went to the beauty parlor and died that night in her sleep.

 Like I said, this makeup habit stays with me to the end.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Down on the Farm

My friend Yvonne asked me if I knew how to ride a horse.  I told her that once, in an act of total foolishness, I had climbed on a horse.  I lasted about 30 seconds before the horse shook me off and walked away.

It was summer vacation when I was 14.  The neighbor boys asked me if I wanted to go with them to their family farm in Arkansas for a few weeks.  I jumped at the chance and the adults said "yes."
I thought I was going to be lying around the 'ole swimming hole and doing summer camp games.

The boys' mother put us all to work right away.  We picked corn in the fields and tomatoes from the garden.  They milked cows and I helped make lunch for the farmhands and cleaned up the kitchen. There was no swimming.

The boys knew how to ride so how hard could it be?  When I landed on my backside I cried and cried from pain and shame.  The mother added to the noise by screaming at me for being so stupid.

It was altogether not so bad a summer.  I learned that in some families, the kids are supposed to do real work and not because their parents say "please" and give them an "allowance."  I learned that I was pretty good at doing stuff I had never done before (or since).

Riding a horse wasn't one of them.