“I don’t want to debate you, Jerry”

the kidnappers

‘Words to the wise from ‘Fargo’ — In my humble opinion, the Best Coen Brothers Film and quite possibly the Best Film by Anybody Ever.’

Like zillions of other Americans (and even unAmericans) I can’t get that Debate out of my head. It was like watching a train wreck. With sniffling. Was I the only one who wanted Lester to hand The Donald a tissue? But just because I’m thinking about it doesn’t mean I’m going to write about it. I’ve built a big ole politics-impermeable wall around LutheranLiarLand.

But the whole idea of a ‘debate’ got me to thinking about a scene from my Favorite Coen Brothers Movie (and Favorite Movie, Period): ‘Fargo’. (Feel free to click on IMDb or the Times to brush up if you need to.)

Now, there quite a few of you ‘Big Lebowski’ fans out there. And granted, the Coen Brothers Film Featuring The Dude has its attractions. A character named ‘The Dude’ being a big one. (See one of my many stories under the tab ‘Life with His Dudeness’ or jump to this one if you like.)

the Dude abides. Here he is, doing his bowling thing with buddies Buscemi (also pictured at top in Fargo) and John Goodman

The Dude abides. Here he is, doing his bowling thing with buddies Buscemi (also pictured at top in Fargo) and John Goodman

And those Coen Boys have made a ton of other let’s say ‘different’ films. Some I love, some not so much. Like, there’s ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’ Several of my most esteemed family members (including my Mother) adore it. But seeing George Clooney obsessively combing his hair left me cold. And don’t forget les Freres Coen also brought us ‘No Country For Old Men’. Four Oscars, that one got.

My personal favorite, aside from ‘Fargo’, of course, has got to be ‘Burn After Reading’. What’s not to like about watching Brad Pitt play a dim health club guy called Chad Feldheimer? Well, if you’re offended by the Eff Word, you may wish to avoid this one. The Brothers C reached into their bag of profanity and did some liberal sprinkling, especially when John Malkovich is on the screen. Brace yourself and watch a blue sampling, if you dare. (I, ahem, love both Malkovich and his use of the Effing Eff Word.)

But back to ‘Fargo’. It’s the one about the guy who hires a couple of hoods to kidnap his wife so he can steal the ransom money to get himself out of the financial trouble he’s made for himself at his father-in-law’s car dealership. If that sounds complicated, trust me, it’s not really. And, like any Coen Brothers creation, it really isn’t just about that.

Fargo: cold calculations that go horribly, heatedly wrong

Fargo: cold calculations that go horribly, heatedly wrong. Plus fun accents

Fargo’s got violence — there’s that kidnapping, you know, and a couple of shootings, and (how could we fail to mention) a gruesome scene involving a woodchipper and a white sock. And it has sex (sort of). There’s a hilarious scene involving Johnny Carson and a couple of hookers who describe the Buscemi Bad Guy as ‘kinda funny looking’. Which, darn it, he is.

The hookers perk up when asked about their high school: 'Go Bears!'

The hookers perk up when asked about their high school: ‘Go Bears!’

I love this movie so much and watch it so often that I can practically do the movie, complete with accents. (It helps that I grew up in the Midwest, where most everybody talks that way all the time. And they’re not being funny. Not trying to, anyway.)

Yes, I believe in watching movies more than once, a practice that The Dude just doesn’t ‘get’. ‘You know how it turns out,’ he’ll say. But I say there’s more to enjoying a movie than knowing how it ‘turns out’. I see something new in The Godfather every time I watch it. (Hmmm, maybe that is the Best Film by Anybody Ever. Close call.)

I just get in the mood to watch ‘Silence of the Lambs’ or ‘All About Eve’ or ‘The Women’ or ‘Singing’ in the Rain’ or ‘Gladiator’ or ‘Woodstock’ or ‘Jaws’ (all movies I’ve seen many many times). After all, I tell Dude Man, you’ve listened to, say, the Chopin Etudes more than one time. Touche! (And hand me that remote!)

Oh. In case you thought I forgot, the scene pictured at the top of this post (and the one I was reminded of by so much ‘debate’ sturm und drang) is where Jerry meets the Bad Guys in a bar to discuss kidnapping his wife for the ransom. (Memorable bit: why don’t you just ask your father-in-law for the money, Jerry?) They haggle a bit over whether they get money up front or just — wait for it — the tan Sierra — and then Buscemi goes “I’m not going to debate you, Jerry.” With an extra little snarl on the word ‘debate’.

I guess I’ve watched Fargo, oh, at least once a year in the twenty since it’s been out (yup, it was released in 1996). If you were here, yes, I’d ‘do’ the whole thing for you. Even if you didn’t ask me to. So much fun, those accents. But I bet you’re glad you’re there, and I’m here. And that, instead, you can just (if so inclined), watch this piece I found on YouTube:

“There’s more to life than a little money, you know,” says Marge. Even more to life than being President, I’d like to add.

See you next week, and thanks for stopping by. “It’s a beautiful day,” as Marge would say.

New York City. September 2016

The House Guest Hall of Fame


‘I hope you had a really really good time’

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a woman in possession of an extra room must be in want of a house guest. (Sorry, Jane Austen.)

When I told The Child about my plan to write a post about house guests (both the really great ones and the really, um, not-so-great ones), she was concerned.

‘Mom! What if one of the Not-So-Great Guests reads your post and sees that you’re writing about him (or her)!’ And I’m like ‘So? Maybe he or she would benefit from being thusly outed. And besides, I don’t think any of them even reads my blog.’ (Another reason they find themselves in the Not-So-Great File).

But then, just the other day, when I was thinking of writing a post featuring a television appearance by Yours Truly in a documentary that appeared on British TV back in the 90’s called ‘Skyscraper’. (I know, I know. You’re very excited and impressed.) I was nervous about appearing, well, self-aggrandizing, and the self-same Child said, ‘Hey. It’s your blog. You can write about whatever you want.’

So. House guests it is. The TV appearance will just have to wait, maybe forever. (But if now you are curious, click here, and go to episode 4; you can watch me get lost finding my new Ogilvy office in said skyscraper. Pop plenty of corn first. Maybe pour yourself a nice glass of wine.)

Okay. Back to Jane Austen. I bet she’d make a swell house guest. But since she’s not a possibility, I have to make do with live people. Speaking of which, check out those seriously adorable house guests in the photo at the top of this post. That’s The Child and a couple of her friends, enjoying themselves mightily at a relatively-recent Thanksgiving, which is my Very Favorite Holiday. Just look at them: Happily (and quietly) pursuing a shared activity not requiring any labor-intensive hostess supervision. Sharing a bed, even (if only for the afternoon). Not eating any food in said bed. Model house guests.

More recently, I entertained a few female friends of my own. We had sort of an adult ‘sleepover’. I don’t have a photo to show you, but this particular house guest experience reminded me very pleasantly of the great time I had with my Mom and my Sister and Nobody-Doesn’t-Like-Jenn as guests for a couple of days. Both of my more-or-less-same-age Girl Groups, I must admit, were not nearly so quiet. Oh, and there was no bed sharing.

The Girls 'unwind' during a seriously successful females-only Amagansett Event

Girls just wanna have fun. On a beach. At night. With wine.

To be honest, most of my guests are, in fact, model house guests. Even the men. If they weren’t, well, I wouldn’t keep inviting people to stay, now would I? It’s kind of like that thing they say about babies: if it were all that awful having them, everyone would be an only child. Right?

Of course, even model house guests sometimes sit on the couch in wet bathing suits, or walk around with sandy and/or muddy feet, or even set wet glasses down on prized hardcover books. But that’s (sort of) okay and eminently forgivable. And kind of within the bounds of ‘make yourself at home’. That is, if you live in the kind of home where books serve double-duty as coasters.

Speaking of ‘make yourself at home’. When your hostess says ‘Make yourself at home’ (which I never do, by the way) imagine that you are at, say, your mother-in-law’s home. Would you pare your toenails in Mother Smith’s living room? Or give your spouse a scented-oil massage in her bed? Would you ever ever think of dying your hair (yes, this really happened, and no, red hair dye does not come out of a chenille bath rug) in her bathroom?

Oh, and then there are the guests who bring food. Now, I don’t mean a nice jar of jam or a home-baked pie (usually from a hideously-expensive farm stand, but delicious, so who’s complaining?) I mean I’ve had guests who’ve brought rafts of provisions, as if they were going into a Cold-War bunker or on an Antarctic expedition instead of to my nicely-equipped sort-of-Hamptons home. And these provisions are for themselves. Like they can’t trust me to provide food they can actually eat.

Actual cooler of provisions brought by a guest for her own consumption. Deer skull added by me, for scale

Actual cooler of provisions brought by a guest for her own consumption. Deer skull added by me, for scale

Now, think about this. It’s kind of like taking your own food to Lutece (Wait! Lutece is gone) or, hmmm, Gramercy Tavern, or (wait!) it would be like going to Shake Shack and taking your own burger.

Speaking of bringing things. You don’t really need to. But it is awfully nice when guests do. If you’re stumped for an idea, think ‘consumable’. You know, something that everyone can enjoy together, and that someday will be gone. Hostesses have short memories. They might forget to drag out and display the purple majolica soap dish the next time you spend a weekend. So think fancy olive oils in pretty bottles. The afore-mentioned jams. Chocolates. Wine. Did I say wine? When in doubt, bring wine. Just don’t keep it in your room and drink it all yourself. Which one house guest did once. Really.

A lovely bottle brought by a lovely young man who wasn't even a House Guest. He just wanted to park in my driveway for an hour or two

A lovely bottle brought by a lovely young man who wasn’t even a House Guest. He just wanted to park in my driveway for an hour or two

There’s an old saying (maybe by Woody Allen?) that comedy equals tragedy plus time. Which must be why Bad Guests are much funnier (after the fact) than Good Guests. All I know is they’re much more fun to write about than actually live through.

Like the guest who couldn’t sleep in the guest room because she found an ant (not an ‘aunt’, of the Glorified Rice kind) in her bed. Or the couple who left one Sunday morning for a nice brunch, ‘forgetting’ to take their child along. Or the guy who sneaked (snuck?) downstairs in the middle of the night to turn the pool heat to 90. Or even the one who declared that ‘you needn’t cook us dinner tonight because we are going to The American Hotel’, but, yup, failed to include their hosts (um, us).

Well. When these various guests waved good-bye after their respective (interminable) weekends were over, I politely waved back. But did I say ‘Come back again soon’? Or ‘It was great having you?’ Or even ‘Thank you for coming?’ Nope. I smiled sweetly and said ‘I hope you had a really really good time’.

The unsaid part being, of course, ‘Because you are never ever coming back.’ Ah, Lutheran lying at its very very best.

Now I do realize that this whole post has rather a one-percentish taint. After all, at least I have a guest room. Quite a different situation from how we ‘summered’ when I was growing up.

Family Vacation, Nimrod camper style

Our Summer Home when I was a kid

Hmmm. Come to think of it, that Nimrod camper did have one big advantage: no guest room.

New York City. September 2016




‘The bears are watching a movie’


‘A getting-into-school back-to-school story’

Out on my walk today, dodging double-wide strollers and long-legged schoolgirls clutching Starbucks pumpkin-spice lattes, I felt a bit of a nip in the air. I’m a person who really hates to see summer end (see last week’s ‘The days are long, but the season is short’ for a nostalgic riff), but even I was getting tired of walking through what felt like hot dog breath — at 6 in the morning.

I was going to write about houseguests. And I still might, though The Child has cautioned me that some of my subjects might recognize themselves. But then again, she also told me that ‘this is my blog and I can write whatever I want’.

But all those schoolgirls — and the nip — reminded me of the story of how The Child got into nursery school. So I decided to tell that one instead. (Besides, I have to go to the dentist in about an hour, and this is a quick story.)

See, here in New York City (and in other Big Cities, too), getting into nursery school is a Very Big Deal. Apparently, if you don’t get your 3-year-old into the ‘right’ one, he or she will miss her (let’s stick with the feminine pronoun, since The Child is a girl) chance to grow up to be a Captain of Industry or a Supreme Court Justice. (Which is the job aspiration to have, not ‘President’; see my ‘Now Let’s play Supreme Court Justice’ for reasons why).

There are books written about getting your child into nursery school. Seriously. Someone tried to loan me one. You should have seen my face as I politely refused.

See, sometimes what you don’t know can’t hurt you. And this was one of those cases. When The Dude and I were on the hunt for a nursery school for our Precious One, we were blissfully unaware of how difficult it was.

We did have our own criteria. The most important of which was not ‘Do rich and famous people’s kids go there?’ or ‘Does the CEO of Morgan-Stanley’s kid go there?’ or even ‘Will my kid get into Harvard if she goes there?’ It was ‘Is it close to where I live so I can drop her off on the way to work?’

So we visit this school. It was close, it wasn’t very big, and the Headmistress (yes, that’s what they call her) greeted every child at the door with a handshake. We liked all of this, especially the close-to-where-we-live part.

Smallish, polite, and full of cute kids -- even to this day! -- we liked this school

Smallish, polite, and full of cute kids — even to this day! — we liked this school. And gosh, it liked us back

But, um. You can’t just go ‘Hey, I like you, Nursery School. Let’s sign right up!’ No. You have to apply. (This part is boring, and involves paperwork and letters of recommendation — honest, for a 3-year-old! — so I’ll skip it.)

And then, if you make it through that stuff, you have to interview. Again, I am not making this up.

So we show up at the appointed hour, The Child looking absolutely adorable in a little black (it’s New York, people) corduroy jumper with little silver stars printed all over it. Shoes to match. (I have them stowed away somewhere, they were so cute. But since I have to go to the dentist soon, I don’t have time to search for them to show you.)

The Dude and I were perched on the couch in the Headmistress’s office, ‘chatting’. While The Child was seated nearby on the floor with a Young Female Teacher, ‘playing’.

While we’re doing our best to wow Ms. Headmistress, we couldn’t help but notice what was going on just a few feet away.

We see Young Teacher hand The Child a round plastic container full of little bears. She tells Said Child that she can do whatever she wants with them.

What the bears that were in the plastic container looked like

What the bears that were in the plastic container looked like

The Child dumps the bears out of the container onto the beautiful Turkish carpet, arranges them into a semi-circle, and places the container smack-dab in front of them.

Young Teacher then goes ‘Tell me about your bears.’ (This ‘tell me about’ line is very big when you’re applying to nursery schools — and even later when you’re doing the same thing all over again to get into what they call ‘ongoing’ schools — as in ‘Tell me about your daughter’.)

We couldn’t help but overhear The Child explain that the bears were ‘watching a movie’. Good one, we think.

Young Teacher smiles, nods, then says to The Child ‘You can put the bears away now.’ To which she replies ‘The movie’s not over.’

Well. Needless to say, The Child got into the nursery school.

And, even if she did not grow up to be a Supreme Court Justice, at least she is not sleeping on our couch for a living.

Oh. Before I go. A quick note on what I was wearing during this interview. No, not a black corduroy jumper with little stars on it. (I wish.) But, since I was fully employed at the time, and since I knew I would be dropping The Child off on my way to work in the World of Advertising, I decided that dressing like an Upper East Side Mommy in a plaid skirt, velvet headband, and one of those jackets that look like a tea cozy would be rather a case of bait-and-switch.

So I dressed in what was, for the Ad Biz in the mid-Nineties, my ‘uniform’: black leather jacket, black boots, white tee shirt, and jeans. They were my best jeans, but they were, in fact, bluejeans. Levis, as I recall.

Later, when The Child was ‘in’, and Ms. Headmistress and I were Best Buds, I asked her what she thought about my outfit. She told me it was one of the things she liked best about me.

So there, Upper East Side Mommies.

New York City. September 2016


The days are long, but the season is short

Season is Short

‘Childhood and Summer. Both over way too soon.’

Some wit on Facebook said the other day that September was kind of like one big ole Monday. Well, I totally get that. Places to go, people to see, work to do, school to go back to.

But, hey. If September is Monday, then isn’t August Sunday Night? You know what I mean. Summer starts out so full of possibilities and then all of a sudden it’s August, and you’re filled with regret over all the stuff you didn’t have time for. That New Thing you were going to learn (yes, I mean you, bridge.) That project you were going to finish (the Christmas pillow I’ve been needle-pointing my entire adult life). That book you were going to write (or just, um, read).

If August were a book, it would be this one

If August were a book, it would be this one

When it comes right down to it, that unused paddle board in the basement isn’t so different, really, from that pile of math homework that used to confront you accusingly on the dining room table while ‘Sixty Minutes’ ticked away in the living room.

What makes things even worse is when you realize that you actually had the time to do all these things, but just didn’t get around to them — because, well, summer is so long, and you have plenty of time.

Which brings me to childhood. Same deal. It starts out like it’s going to just, well, go on forever. Remember when you could hardly wait to be older? I was ‘almost thirteen’ the second I turned twelve.

That's me, wearing white sandals (of course; it's summer!) with a couple of brothers and a cousin. Back when summer -- and childhood -- went to infinity and beyond.

That’s me, wearing white sandals (of course; it’s summer!) with a couple of brothers and a cousin. Back when summer — and childhood — went to infinity and beyond

And then one day you wake up and not only are you yourself no longer a child, you’ve got one of your own to shepherd into adulthood. And, well, when you’re changing your umpteenth poopy diaper or reciting ‘Goodnight Moon’ (yes, you have it memorized by now) for the zillionth time or answering ‘Why?’ after whiney ‘Why?’ with gritted teeth, you think it will never ever end.

But guess what. It does. Just like that.

This would be the place in the piece where I could get all advice-y and been-there-y and annoyingly know-it-all-y. But I’m not. You get it.

Instead I’ll leave you with this. A picture that feels like it was taken on this very day. Because it was.

The end of another summer. The beginning of another Childhood

September 6. The end of another summer. The beginning of another Childhood

Amagansett, New York. September 2016

The Perfect House meets The Perfect Storm(s)

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 5.38.04 PM

‘The Little House that could. For a while, anyway’

A few weeks ago I told you about sharing a very small beach house with a couple of necessarily very small people.

This week’s story is about an even smaller beach house. At 450 square feet (this included the deck), it made the share-with-the-short-people boat house seem like the Taj Mahal. But at least it was ours-all-ours. It was the first house we bought, and we didn’t have to share it with anyone. Well, at least not till The Child came along.

This house was so small (around 20×20; think about it) that the whole thing could fit into the kitchen of the house we have now. And, trust me, this kitchen is pretty much a normal-sized kitchen. But darn it, that Gerard Drive house was cute. And located right on the water. Gosh, it had water on two sides.

See that skinny strip of land that looks like an appendix? That was our street. Our house was on the northern bit

See that skinny strip of land that looks like an appendix? Our house was on the northern bit, where the road veers really close to the Bay

How could we afford this waterfront-front-and-back property? Well. The wiring was spaghetti, the insulation was nonexistent, and the plumbing? Well, when you turned on the shower, the water came on just fine — but in the closet. So we basically had to rip it down to the studs and start over. (The studs, incidentally, turned out to be recycled burned timber. Sigh.)

Looking from our bedroom into our kitchen. The good news -- and bad news? That's Gardiner's Bay outside

Looking from our bedroom into our kitchen during our ‘remodeling’. The good news — and bad news? That’s Gardiner’s Bay right outside

Well, every renovation has a silver lining. Or, um, a price that would equal, like, tons of silver ingots. But we ended up with the snuggest little shipshape house you ever did see. Everything was designed like we lived on a boat: no wasted space at all. No room for a closet in the (one) bedroom? Fine. We had a bed built with drawers in it. No room for a second story? Fine. We put a boat ladder up to a ‘loft’ (ten square feet with a futon). Add some skylights and sliders to the afore-mentioned deck, and we had ourselves all the sun-drenched room we needed. And boy, was that house easy to clean (!) Ten minutes, tops, and that included scrubbing the (one minuscule) bathroom.

Me, in the living room/dining/room/kitchen of our remodeled dream home

Me, in the living room/kitchen/dining room/Child’s bedroom of our refurbished dream home

And yes, not only was our house designed like a boat, living here, even if only on the weekends, was like living on a boat. Water to the front of you; water to the back of you. But unlike on a boat, there were neighbors Monopoly-Board close to the right and to the left of you.

Add water, and a few eccentric neighbors, and this is kind of what Gerard Drive was like

It worked, though. Because everyone played by ‘the rules’. Which meant that you sort of pretended that your neighbor wasn’t there. Even if the neighbor to the right was tinkering with hulks of junked cars. And if the neighbor to the left (a sex therapist) was sunbathing topless, tossing a big ole lobster pot at her husband, and/or breast-feeding her five-year-old.

This house may have been small. But it had room for a pool, as you can see

This house may have been small. But it had room for a pool. (Notice junker-car-neighbor-guy’s house just inches from ours)

I could go on and on about how fun it was out there on Gerard Drive. How we’d drive to the firehouse for potable water. (We had a well, but — urk — you couldn’t drink that mineral-filled stuff). How I’d bike to the Springs General Store for cranberry scones. How we’d toast the sunset with a sippy cup (Child) and a G&T (me). But I’d be here all day, and so would you. So I’ll cut to the chase and tell you about those pesky storms.

The Dude and The Child relaxing during a relatively storm-free period

The Dude and The Child relaxing between storms. I”m thinking after Bob and the Perfect and the Easter Storm, but before the Christmas One

The first one was Hurricane Bob. We’d only been in our newly-rebuilt (notice I’ve stopped calling it ‘remodeling’) house a couple of months when a guy dressed like Paddington Bear knocked on our front door and told me I’d have to evacuate. I was alone (well, except for The Child) and still on maternity leave, and I definitely did not resist. I got The Child and the heck out of there as fast as I could.

Well. Bob ate our front yard. But (pretty much–whew) left our poor little house alone. But then, just when we’d decided that half a yard was better than none, we got slammed with what everyone here called The Halloween Storm. But that everyone else called The Perfect Storm. Now, true. We weren’t out on a boat that ended up doing that crazy lodgepole thing like in the movie with George Clooney, but it was still pretty intense.

The Child helps The Dude plant some doomed shrubs. New bay windows visible in background. Chimney that looks like its on our house is really on our very-next-door neighbor's

The Child helps The Dude plant some doomed shrubs. New bay windows visible in background. Chimney that looks like it’s on our house is really on our very-next-door neighbor’s

Then we got hit with what we called the Easter Storm, which everyone else called The Storm of the Century. (Sheesh, I’m glad I didn’t know that at the time). We weren’t actually at the house when this one happened. So when we pulled up into our (small, of course) driveway, and everything looked peachy-normal, we thought we’d escaped unscathed. Until we tried, unsuccessfully, to turn on the heat. Well. Repair Guy said ‘There’s your trouble’, as he opened the furnace and all this dead-fish-filled salt water poured out. Turned out the air intake pipe for said furnace took in a few gallons of storm-tossed water instead. Oops.

Forget looking at the cute Child in the kayak. That white thing behind her is the fish-and-salt-water (er, air) intake pipe for our ill-fated furnace

Forget looking at the cute Child in the kayak. That white thing behind her is the fish-and-salt-water (er, air) intake pipe for our ill-fated furnace

But by far the worst storm of them all, the one that got us to reconsider living in a house on a skinny-ass strip of land between two bodies of water — cute though it may have been — was the Christmas Nor’easter of 1994.

We had spent a nice family-filled Christmas Eve with The Dude’s Dad over at his house in Amagansett. (Where I am sitting now, in the aforementioned sizable-but-normal kitchen, drinking my third cup of coffee and writing this.) Well. We were on our way home, and had just made the turn on to Gerard Drive, when we noticed the whole street — the whole spit of land, actually — was dark. Very dark. As in no lights on, anywhere.

Odd, we thought. True, this is more or less a ‘summer community’. But could it be that we were the only Gerard Drivers spending Christmas out here?

It was raining. And sort of windy. But we weren’t alarmed. Just tired from all that Holiday Hilarity. So we went to bed. The Dude and I in our teensy bedroom; The Child in her Sesame Street sleeping bag parked in the equally-teensy living room.

The Child, standing in her bedroom; i.e. where her Sesame Street sleeping bag was located at night

The Child, standing in her bedroom. This was before she graduated to the Sesame Street sleeping bag, but it was located in pretty much the same spot. That’s our sturdy wave-resistant Honda parked outside

We’re sleeping away when I hear a strange noise. Sort of a SLAM-pause-SLAM! I turn to The Dude to wake him, but he’s already awake. A bad sign. ‘What’s that?!?‘ I ask. ‘Waves. Waves hitting the house,’ he replies. ‘We have to get out of here.’ (Notice I don’t use exclamation points when reporting The Dude’s words. He did not panic; he never panics. Which is kind of scary, actually.)

So we throw on coats over our jammies, scoop up The Child, wrapping the Sesame Street sleeping bag over her head for protection from wind and rain, and we run to the car. (The ’91 Honda, which we still, bless its heart, own. I swear we’ll drive it till it doesn’t go anymore.)

The car is sort of underwater by this point. At least the tailpipe is. (A detail The Dude did not point out till the next day, fearing that I would, in fact, panic.) But it started, and we started on our way to The Dude’s Dad’s house, and safety.

But first we had to negotiate the causeway. This is a really narrow spot in the road, basically a cars-width bridge, that you have to go over to get to the mainland. The windshield wipers were furiously wiping, but didn’t have much effect against the waves, which were now not only washing over the causeway, but slamming into — and onto — our poor little Honda.

Well. We made it. Or I wouldn’t be writing this story, now would I? We found out the next day that the reason our street was so darned dark when we went home was because it had been evacuated while we were at dinner. We also found out the next day that our house withstood the waves — and the storm — just fine. In fact, the whole interior was sparkling like Christmas tinsel when we were finally allowed out to Gerard Drive to investigate. The sparkly stuff was salt, which had infiltrated the house through the cracks each time a wave crashed over it.

Needless to say, when an opportunity to buy The Dude’s Dad’s House came up, we jumped at the chance. You may not be able to see the water from here, but it’s behind the protective Atlantic Double Dunes, and is at least a few feet above sea level.

And the little house on Gerard Drive? It’s still there. Last time I looked, anyway.

Amagansett, New York. August 2016

Something everybody but me knows how to do

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‘And what happened the one time I tried to do it’

I grew up in The Midwest, where people drive. A lot. I can remember all seven of us piling in the station wagon and making the more-than-six-hours drive up to my Gramma Peterson’s and back — for the weekend.

So yes, I know how to drive. I can handle not only one but two stick-shift cars (’91 Honda and ’98 Toyota, if you’re curious). And I have my motorcycle license, besides.

But — embarrassing though it is for me to admit — I never learned how to pump gas.

See, when I was growing up, there were people at the gas stations whose job it was to pump your gas. They also checked your oil and washed your windows. While wearing snappy uniforms. Seriously! Here, if you find this hard to believe, is a TV commercial from the Sixties that now, darn it, I can’t get out of my head:  Continue reading

Clothes don’t make The Dude

Hunk of Dude

‘”But those are my favorite pants!” And other tales of sartorial splendor’

I made two Jitney drop-off trips yesterday. One in the morning so my Middle Younger Brother Roger and his wife Nobody-Doesn’t-Like-Jenn could spend a steamy day sightseeing in the City. The other was in the evening so that The Dude could spend a steamy week slaving in his office.

The Jitney, in case you’re not a New York City Area Reader, is a conveyance upon which many people travel back and forth to The Hamptons. You have to make a reservation to ride it, and they give you a thing of water and a teensy pack of nuts, but it’s basically a bus. They call it a ‘jitney’ because New Yorkers, well, are New Yorkers.

If it looks like a bus and rides like a bus, it's an, um, jitney

If it looks like a bus and rides like a bus, it’s not a bus. It’s, um, a jitney

Now, you’re probably wondering why I’m talking about the Jitney when the title (and hunky photo at the top) is about The Dude and his wardrobe. Well, hold your horses. I’m getting there. Continue reading