“There is always something to glean from Molly's life stories--hidden gems tucked away deep inside. But as a shallow person, I'm usually just racked with laughter, which results in milk shooting out my nose when I eat breakfast cereal in front of the computer.”
Barbara E. Brink, author of “Entangled.” 

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MY DINNER WITH JON VOIGHT

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The saleswomen at Chico’s were so excited. I sashayed in and said, “I am going to the Emmys. I need an outfit.” They nearly died, but then recovered in time to sell me lots and lots of stuff. The necklaces alone weighed five pounds.

Actually, my daughter was taking me to the HBO Emmys afterparty. But that was too much explaining. It sounds a lot better just to say EMMYS. Anyway, I carried the necklaces on the plane, because what if my luggage was lost? I figured that if I wore a pair of pajamas with the necklaces, nobody would notice. Because BLING.

We went in a limo, with my daughter’s client, Josh Brener, from Silicon Valley. He is a very cute man. The party was huge. We watched Josh and his mother walk down the red carpet, which was really turquoise. I had my phone out, and managed to get shots of a whole bunch of stars. Here is the thing: I don’t really watch TV. So when a gorgeous person would walk by, I would ask my daughter, “Is that a celebrity?” She would nod emphatically and say, “Yes.” I then would take a photo with my cell and ask, “Who was that?” To which my daughter would say, “I have no idea.” Let’s just say she knows a star when she sees one. There are so many of them. Not even the talent agents know them all.

After wandering around with my phone, shooting John Oliver, Brian Cranston, Russell Simmons, Peter Dinklage, and some other obvious stars whose identities were a mystery, I sat down to dinner with my daughter. We were at a table that was empty. So the two of us sat there, chatting about all the skeletal women in evening gowns, and about how there must be zillions of dollars worth of diamonds at this party. My Chico’s necklaces were holding their own, however.

Suddenly, my daughter murmured, “Here comes Jon Voight.”

It was pretty loud in the venue. “Huh?” I replied.

“Jon Voight!” She hissed.

“Jon White?  Who’s he?” I answered.

She poked me in the ribs, sending my necklaces in all directions. “JON VOIGHT, FOR GOD’S SAKE.”

Oh, my God. I raised my phone and shot him at about eight feet. That made my daughter even more unsettled. “Mom, not at point blank range–it is RUDE.”

But it was too late. He caught me. And he gave me a little high sign. I felt like a rube. But then, YOU GUESSED IT–he came over and said, “May I join you ladies?”

I died. My daughter died. He sat down, all dapper and handsome. Have you ever had to make small talk with Angelina Jolie’s father?  Who just lost an Emmy Award to Ben Mendelson? The actual night before Angelina announced her pending divorce from Brad Pitt? I didn’t think so. But I was so totally prepared. I had read the article in my Facebook newsfeed about what the stars do to prepare for the awards ceremony, and I happened to remember what Jon Voight said.

“So. You are wearing special socks?”

My daughter started squirming. What in God’s name was  her Ohio mother talking about? Asking Angelina’s father about SOCKS?

He smiled. “You know about my socks?”

I nodded. “Yes, special socks that your grand-nieces gave you?”  I was so smug. I looked at my daughter and smiled.

“Yes. They give me a pair for every ceremony.”

We ate our dinner. It was awkward. Where do you go with the conversation after socks?

As soon as the last tortellini was consumed, my daughter leaned over and said, “Ok, let’s go now.”

Concerned, I said, “But we can’t just leave him ALONE!”

“MOM. It’s JON VOIGHT. We don’t have to worry about him. He will be alone for a millisecond.”

Reluctantly, I got up. But she was right. Immediately, he was surrounded. The rest of the evening was a blur. Amy Shumer. The cast of VEEP. A very tall, gorgeous, blonde star of Game of Thrones. It was great. I was thrilled to be there, and proud of my necklaces.

Who knows? Next year, it might be the Oscars. Don’t tell the ladies at Chico’s just yet.

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Marion and Jon. After the sock discussion.

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A FINE MESS

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I visited some homes today. A tour. Most of them were as expected. Neat. Tidy. But there were some that were a glorified compendium of stuff. There were the things that we were supposed to be looking at: art, collections, and sculpture. But in some of the houses, there were also, proudly displayed, indications that real people lived there. Assorted Legos. The lunch dishes. Stacks of magazines. Dog bowls. Pots and pans. A bowl of half eaten cereal.

The hosts in these homes seemed just fine with the tourists seeing the way they lived. They seemed proud as could be of the daily detritus that was on display along with their temple rubbings, ceramic vases, and framed lithographs. They proudly showed us around their houses. Where they actually LIVE.

I am not like this. I live in fear that someone will come over and notice the grit along my baseboards, or the dog toy under the coffee table. I worry that I might forget to put a clean towel in the powder room. I vacuum everything. Twice.

My house doesn’t reflect who I really am. The person I really am–the person who leaves the Apple Butter on the counter all the time, because I use it every morning. I am the person who has a pair of shoes in every room. I stack things on the stairs to take to the second floor, but I walk upstairs past them for weeks. I leave my coffee cup in the sink until dinner. I change the sheets once a month, whether they need it or not.  This person–the real me–it’s a person that nobody knows. God forbid you might just STOP OVER. Because that would entail a frenzy of last-minute tidying before I would open the door, and I might break a leg in the process. NO. If you are invited to my house, I have to clean first. And thus, I am not often a hostess.

Life would be so much easier if I could open up and be me. Dustballs, overflowing wastebaskets and all. It would be so freeing, so Bohemian. I could maybe even wear different clothes: a caftan, or perhaps leggings as pants.

It all sounds great. Turning over a new leaf. I think I might try this. I’ll start small. Maybe have someone over and not empty the wastebaskets. Or just invite a neighbor inside without first checking to see if all the toilet seats are down.

Never mind. The real me just had an anxiety attack. Call before you stop in.

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HOME

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Lots of couples our age are fed up with property taxes. Yard maintenance is a pain, literally. Cleaning the gutters is a menace. Raking in the fall. And despite labor saving devices, these chores get old. Just like us. So every so often, my husband and I discuss maybe moving. To a cool loft downtown, or a smaller, even older historical house in the great old neighborhood surrounding Dayton called the Oregon District. There are a lot of lovely brick houses there, There are bay windows, postage stamp yards, and you can walk a block or so to fantastic restaurants.

We just talk, though. Because here, at this house, is where all the family holidays have been. My kids ran home from school to this house. It is where we had all the family dinners and the heated discussions. This is the house I fell in love with and then after we bought it, I had the most searing case of buyer’s remorse, because Oh My God my babies were born in that OTHER house.

We have lived here for 25 years now. The kids probably won’t be coming here for Christmases any longer, as they have there own families. We will travel, most likely.

But we are determined to stay here as long as we can, even though the tiny house shows look sort of like those might be fun (for about a week), every time we visit an acquaintance living in one of those “open plan” city lofts, or whenever we see houses built along lakes or river beds. We certainly do NOT want to move to one of those fancy retirement neighborhoods, where the sound of children bouncing balls is frowned upon, and where my daughters would find not one nook or a single cranny.

So we stay put here. But sometimes, when I can’t sleep at night, I remember how very very sad my mother was when she got too frail and began to fall inside her dream condo. A widow, she could no longer live alone, and despite begging us otherwise, my sister and I were forced to move her to a retirement home that morphed into a nursing home when needed. My mom never liked her room, no matter how many trips I took to HomeGoods to decorate it. She didn’t like the other residents. It was all “old people.”

I don’t want to leave my house that way. So I think about moving more often. But then I hear the kids outside riding their bikes and shrieking with laughter. So once again, I resolve to stay here. Just a few more years.

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NIGHTLY

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My husband infuriates me. Every single night, he gets into bed, closes his eyes, and BOOM. He is asleep. No fuss. No muss. Not a toss, not a turn. Just out like a light. I, on the other hand, take at least an hour to drop off.

Not only that, because if it were just the odd hour, during which I could imagine myself in a romantic movie starring someone ruggedly male, or walking on a beach collecting blue beach glass, or standing on the terrace of my five million dollar New York City co-op, I would not be so furious with the slumbering accordionist beside me.

It is so much worse. More often than not, I can’t get to sleep at all. My eyes close, only to open again to look at my watch. Yup. Another wakeful hour has passed.

I don’t hate this all the time, because I managed to utilize many of those wakeful hours completing my first novel, and now that I am approaching the end of revisions for novel number two, I also have logged in many wide awake hours writing.

Here’s the thing, though. Countless evenings go something like this: We sit in the TV room, watching a fascinating documentary about fish gills. The accordionist loves the science. I, bored out of my skull, start to drift off. I jolt myself awake at the mention of spawning habits, sit up a little straighter, and try to concentrate on the underwater closeups of salmon cavorting upstream. Not five minutes later, my head drops to my chest. I begin to dream about tuna salad sandwiches (I hate salmon, btw).

My entire body is relaxed. I open one eye. Something clicks in my brain. Hurry upstairs, it says. Pop right into bed. You are already asleep-just continue up there!

I stumble up.  As fast as possible, I strip off my clothes and throw on a tee shirt. I rip off the covers and drop into bed.

Five minutes later, every single nerve in my body is on high alert. My eyes snap open. I tense up.

Two hours later, when my husband tiptoes in, undresses in the dark so not to disturb my slumber and creeps under the covers, I poke him in the arm and say “Thanks, but I am wide awake.”

He doesn’t answer. Because he is already asleep.

 

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OLD NEWS

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I used to look at the news for inspiration for this blog. Things to write about. The news was full of the odd, the quirky, the human interest stories. I wrote one time about a couple somewhere who didn’t have AC. They sat in their house,  and they were very, very still. All summer long. There were those “believe it or not” items: the huge, concrete horseshoe crab in Ohio–the largest in the world–and we visited it. To say it was not a huge highlight of my life is not only a pun, but an understatement.

There was a time when people got in the newspaper for doing unusual things. The woman who married the Eiffel Tower. The backyard gardener whose zucchini weighed fifteen pounds. I remember marveling at the story about the identical twins who still dressed exactly alike and had never spent even one night apart, and they were both 95. Spinsters. But I bet they had some rip-roaring Canasta tournaments at their house. Dear Abby. Such sage advice. I think her daughter or granddaughter still writes her column, but where would one find it (rhetorical question)?  There used to be a “ladies section” in the paper, where they featured recipes for things that always included Cream of Something soup.

Today’s news is nothing like it was in the old days. War, horror, terrorism. The election. And all of that seems upbeat when compared to Donald Trump. I want to move to Mayberry, and invite Barney Fife and Thelma Lou over for dinner, and then we can watch The Olympics together. Here is what we’ll have:

TUNA SUPREME

 

  • 1/2 cup sliced celery
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons margarine
  • 1 can Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 can tuna, drained and flaked
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pimento
  • Chopped parsley
  • 4 slices toast

In saucepan, cook celery and onions in margarine until tender. Blend in soup. Gradually stir in milk. Add tuna and pimento. Heat; stir now and then. Garnish with parsley and serve over toast.

Along with this, I would serve Barney and Thelma Lou some nice molded lime Jell-O with fruit cocktail in it. Arranged on top of a lettuce leaf, on my Haviland salad plates. Maybe a dollop of Hellman’s mayonnaise on top–you know, special occasion. I would also garnish each serving of the tuna with half of a hard boiled egg, for an added touch of color.  Recommended vegetable side? Canned peas. For dessert? Either Table Talk Apple Pie a la mode, or maybe Betty Crocker Fudge Brownies.

You will never find any of this in the New York Times or on CNN.

YOU ARE WELCOME.

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