The Daydream Believer and the Homecoming Queen

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‘A song sends me rocketing down Memory Lane, and reaching for my tiara’

The other morning I was in Starbucks, practicing my New Post-Election Niceness (‘After you’. No, ‘after you’. No no I insist! ‘After you‘) when I realized that the Monkees were playing on the sound system.

Yup, it was ‘Daydream Believer’, sung by the Actual Monkees, not some cover band. And not only were the Young Moms Wrestling with Strollers on the Way to School Drop-off and the Scrubs-Clad New York Hospital Med Students and Orderlies bopping to the beat, but so were the Starbucks baristas. One of them, a young man with a most impressive set of dreads tucked up under his requisite foodservice cap, was actually singing along. He knew the words to ‘Daydream Believer’, a song that was popular about a zillion years ago when I was in high school.

Speaking of popular, speaking of high school. Scroll down a bit for a photo of me from Way Back When. As you can see, looks-wise, I wouldn’t exactly scare the horses, but my kind of long-haired lankiness wasn’t exactly in fashion back then. At least not where I grew up. The really popular girls — the ones who went steady with the Guys on the Basketball Team (we had no football team) or the Guys in Bands (and I don’t mean bands with trombones in them) — were ‘cute’ and ‘perky’, and with, um, more 3-dimensional figures than mine. They were usually also cheerleaders.

Now, I did try out for cheerleading. Once. Let’s just say I am choreographically challenged, since I most definitely bombed. In later years, I couldn’t follow along with Richard Simmons or Jane Fonda, so it should come as no surprise that I couldn’t master the art of the cartwheel, even as a sixteen-year-old. I did love some of the actual cheers, though: “Go go! Where where? We want a basket — down there!” and “Get that bee-ball bee-ball bee-ball. Get that bee-ball, go go go!!” are two of my faves.

I did go out with a basketball player there for a while, though. (He was so good-looking, he scared my parents silly.) His dad was the principal of our high school, but only for a year or two, and then Handsome Boy and his whole family moved away. (Much to my parents’ relief, I’m sure.) I never knew why. But we teenagers were vastly uninterested in what grownups did and why.

The thing I remembered most about the time I was going steady with the basketball player did have something to do with his parents, though. It was the time we were all watching TV in the basement rec room and I had to, um, “use the ladies’ room”, which was located immediately to the right and behind the couch where Handsome Boy’s mom and dad and brothers were sitting.

Me, when I was dating Handsome Guy. His ring is hanging on a chain around my neck under that sweater

Me, when I was dating Handsome Boy. His ring is hanging on a chain around my neck under that sweater, which I bought with babysitting money from a ritzy store in Centralia

I was mortified to think that Handsome Boy’s whole family — including his dad, the principal — might hear me “powdering my nose”, so I sort of perched on the very edge of the seat so what I was doing wouldn’t make that telltale splashing sound. Everything was going (pun intended) just peachy when I noticed this little yellow river heading for the crack under the bathroom door. If I didn’t stop it, and stop it soon, it was going to trickle out and appear right next to the parental feet. So, what did I do? I grabbed a couple of towels hanging next to the sink and sort of tossed them, forming a makeshift dam.

I was saved, but at a cost. See, those towels were fancy little guest towels. I’m betting the mom got them as a wedding present. They were pristinely white, with her initials embroidered on them in gold. They had probably never even been washed, much less used — until then, when I rinsed them out in the sink, wrung them out, painstakingly smoothed out the wrinkles, then re-hung them neatly. (I was in that bathroom a long time.)

But let’s get back to Homecoming. So we can talk about real mortification.

When I was in high school, the girls who got to be in the Homecoming Court were decided, quite literally, by popular vote. Everybody in the whole school voted, and the ten girls from the junior and senior classes who got the most votes were the Queen Candidates.

To be honest, I can’t remember how the boys were picked. By height, maybe. But for we girls, I cannot stress to you enough what a big deal this was. For one thing, the winners were announced right during school, over the public address system. There was nowhere to hide as the names were read, slowly, loudly, your fixed smile tightening as the total got to ‘ten’, and yours wasn’t one of them.

There was the year when I wasn’t picked (when I was a junior), and the year I was (when I was a senior). And I have to tell you, as superficial as it sounds, that I much preferred the being-picked year. It’s a lot of work pretending that you don’t care.

I made it! Here I am, in all my Homecoming Court Glory, clutching the arm of my uncomfortable-looking tall escort. Oh and wearing my tiara with the crushed-velvet gown I sewed myself

Here I am, in all my tiara-topped Homecoming Glory, clutching a bouquet and the arm of my uncomfortable-looking escort. Oh and wearing the crushed-velvet gown I sewed myself

Of course I wasn’t elected the Queen. It was heady enough stuff being one of the ten and wearing a long dress and a tiara. Being the winner would have been gilding the popularity lily, at least for me. No, this really pretty super-nice girl, kind of the Julia Roberts of our school, was Queen. Her name was Barbie, and she was going steady with a Guy From Another School (the coolest thing of all, dating-wise). Barbie wore his class ring on her finger, wrapped in angora yarn so it wouldn’t be too loose, even over her white glove. Red angora, to match her gown. Oh, the guy’s last name was Doll, and they eventually married. Think about it.

A quick note about dating when I was in high school. Basically, boys and girls ‘went with’ each other, one guy/girl pairing at a time. You wouldn’t, say, go with Tommy to the movies one night, then Jimmy to a dance the next. While ‘going with’ a guy, you usually wore his class ring to signify your ‘taken-ness’. ‘Going with’ someone lasted sometimes for a few weeks, sometimes a whole semester — sometimes, even, till you got married. Like Barbie and the guy named Doll.

The thing that was the saddest part of this whole social arrangement, though, was that if you smiled at a boy or — gasp — talked to him, it meant that you ‘liked’ him and wanted to go out with him. Basically, boys and girls couldn’t be friends. When The Child reached high school age and had actual friends who were boys — and not boyfriends — I found this both marvelous and strange. Just goes to show you that sometimes things weren’t better in the Good Old Days.

The Child at the same age as me in this story, wearing a medal instead of a tiara. She was on stage, too, but for Awards Night. And she didn't have to sew her dress

The Child, at about the same age as me in this story, wearing a medal instead of a tiara. She was on stage, too, but for Awards Night. And she didn’t have to sew her dress

But let’s end on a sparkly note. I actually have a tiara now, though it’s not the same one. I’m pretty sure we didn’t to keep those; that they went back into a closely-guarded Queen Candidate Cabinet or something. My sister gave me my current tiara, and it makes its first appearance in my story ‘All Saints’ (Birth)day’.

I wear it every chance I get. (It’s a little-known fact that a tiara goes with everything.) I dusted it off just a couple of weeks ago, when I celebrated a birthday with a frighteningly large number attached to it. Here I am, with two members of my court of lovely attendants. Oh, and that night I was most definitely a winner.

No, I wasn't up on stage. But I did get to clutch a glass of champagne instead of a bouquet

No, I wasn’t up on stage. But I did get to clutch a glass of champagne instead of a bouquet — and I did get to be Queen

New York City. December 2016

Flipping the bird

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‘The upside — and, alas, the downside — of Turkey Day.’

Bless his little birdie heart, that turkey up there looks like he’s flipping me right back. Well, I did roast him, after all.

Many of you will have already seen this photo, which I posted on Facebook before The Dude carved Mr. Turkey up into succulent slices, but after I’d imbibed beaucoup de glasses of wine.

I decided to use it here (the photo, I mean) because A) it got a lot of reaction from my Internet Friends, and B) it gave me lots of good material, in the form of comments. (My opening remark came courtesy Judy R. Thanks, Judy!)

Other clever comments came from Mary Ann B H, who asked if this was “going to be my Christmas Card”, to which I answered “Great idea! If in fact I sent Christmas Cards”. And Debi F, who asked “Did you paint that thing? It’s perfect!?!?!” (No, Debi. No paint was involved in the making of this turkey. But I do have two words for you turkey cooks: convection oven.)

I’m needing all the help I can get with this week’s post because even though Thanksgiving is quite honestly my very favorite holiday (read ‘Turkey Shoot’ for five Rockette-solid reasons why it beats the stuffing out of Christmas), it is also exhausting.

No no, not exhausting. Pretty exhilarating, in fact

No no. Pie-making is not exhausting. Pretty exhilarating, in fact. Especially with Van Morrison on the Bose

It’s not the preparation that’s exhausting. I rather like the pie-making and vegetable-prepping. I even like the table-setting. In fact, those who honor me with their presence on this Best of All Possible Holidays know that I can be rather a Kitchen Nazi, hogging all the chores for myself. (Though this year I did let the Young and Fit haul out the extra folding chairs.) Continue reading

How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

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‘Practice practice practice. But please don’t fake your practice notes and forge your parents’ signatures’

If there’s anything I’m more tired of than reading about the election, it’s writing about the election. So this week, I thought I’d switch gears and write a story that makes fun of inept people in positions of power. It also involves some lying and cheating.

It’s about the time The Child faked her violin practice notes.

First, I have to say that the whole situation was absurd from the get-go — the fact that she had to take the violin. See, The Child had been playing the piano basically from birth. And playing it very well indeed, I’ll have you know.

The Dude introduces The Child to Mr. Piano

The Dude introduces The Child to Mr. Steinway. She is, oh, two days old here

 

Here she is, actually touching the keys. This piano was in the soon-to-be-pummeled-by-storms teeny-tiny beach house

Here she is, actually touching the keys. This piano was in the soon-to-be-pummeled-by-storms teeny-tiny beach house

She played the piano so well that she played in competitions and gave recitals. She and some of her fellow piano prodigies once played for the residents of a nursing home in New Jersey, where a little boy was startled enough to almost miss a note when he was in the middle of Chopin’s Fantaise-Impromptu and all these oldsters started swaying in unison and singing ‘I’m Always Chasing Rainbows’. Continue reading

Laughter is the best medicine. Well, except for maybe a manhattan.

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‘Waking up to Mo(u)rning in America. Trumped’

When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. But what do you do when life (or, er, almost half of your fellow Americans) hands you a Big Ole Orange? Well, you can weep or rage or march. You can tear at your clothing or hair. You can move to Canada or even threaten to secede from the Union. (Bye, California, including Oldest Younger Brother Scott in Petaluma; just don’t take Mom with you.)

And sure, you can look for a way to try to squeeze a little orangeade out of that Big Ole Orange. Here’s a way that involves squeezing a trigger. (No, no. Do not call the Secret Service; this is perfectly-harmless-yet-remarkably-satisfying paintball, folks. And, yes, The Child approves the use of this message.)

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Caption to this pic on The Child’s Instagram feed: ‘Good way to let off steam after a tough week #stillanastywoman’

And of course you can indeed toss off a few Manhattans. I chose this other favorite beverage this time because I’ve already ‘done’ Martinis. You can read about my cocktail adventures in ‘Three, and you’re under the host’, in case you missed it or just want to bail already on this Trump post and skip right to drinking. Reading about it, anyway. Continue reading

Time for the Unusual No-Trump Overcall

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‘Hoping against hope that an Orange King isn’t in the cards’

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: politics really has no place in LutheranLiarLand. But these are, as that Chinese curse would have it, ‘unusual times’. Which means I’ve broken my rule once or twice. So sue me. (See ‘The Boss Who Got Banished to Belgium’ and ‘Libertarian Blonde’ for recent examples of quasi-political straying.)

But today is Election Day. Finally. I figure I’ve got very little to lose by venturing out on that Political Limb. Most of you have already made up your minds — or even voted already. (If you haven’t, please stop reading this right now and get out there! Unless, of course, you’re planning to vote for the Orange Guy, in which case you can keep right on reading. In fact, why not read all 135 of my posts? Maybe, just maybe, you can finish before the polls close.)

But back to the point of this post. Besides the obvious Donald Dig, did you notice the bridge reference? No, not like George Washington Bridge. Bridge as in the game of bridge. Lessons in which I am taking. Learning bridge is hard. So hard it makes my head spin around and smoke come out my ears. Kind of like what happens when I watch Donald in a debate.

So why take bridge lessons, you ask? Continue reading

Sixteen Candles. Plus another sixteen. Or so.

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‘Thinking flaming birthday thoughts today.’

I would light the candles on my cake this year, but I’m afraid I’d trigger the sprinkler system. I have reached a remarkable age. An age that is somewhere between ‘Can I please have a tea set for my dolls?’ and ‘Can I please leave a tea set for my Child?’

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I don’t appreciate having a birthday. After all, as our good friend Andy (who is a heck of a lot older than me) says: ‘Any day above ground is a good day’.

Andy, in fact, doesn’t just say this. He has it printed on birthday pens and birthday tee shirts and even birthday chocolate bar wrappers. Andy is into birthdays, big time. He’s also a Trump Supporter. So there’s that.

Andy’s attitude toward the inevitable accumulation of more and more birthdays is, alas, the opposite of my own late lamented father’s. He, when wished ‘happy birthday’ (or even when not wished ‘happy birthday’, like just on any ordinary, random day) would often remark: ‘Don’t get old’. Which, um, sort of triggers a response of ‘Hmmm. Okay. But I’m kind of not into the alternative.’ Continue reading

The Fat Lady ain’t sung. Yet.

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‘Expressions of glee from the Land of the Free and the Home of the Cubs’

I am (in)famous amongst Henrys for my lack of interest in team sports. I’ve been known to ask if baseball is the one where they throw the little white ball with the stitching, as opposed to the one where they throw the big orange ball with the pointy ends. (I do know that the big round orange ball is the one that gets ‘dribbled’; I didn’t attend Carlyle High School basketball games just to flirt, you know.)

Well. As some of you may recall from my ubiquitous Facebook presence, I recently spent a most pleasant long weekend with as many Henrys as could squeeze into Oldest Younger Brother Scott’s house in Petaluma. The ostensible reason for our get-together was to celebrate a couple of Henry birthdays (my Mom’s and Middle Younger Brother Roger’s).

That's Birthday Boy Roger on the left, Birthday-Venue-Boy Scott on the right

That’s Birthday Boy Roger on the left, Birthday-Venue-Boy Scott on the right

But what got everybody really excited was not the big ole dual-duty birthday cake (with a candelabra on top, seriously), or even the Second Presidential Debate (the Town Hall One with the Stalking), but watching the Cubs battle the Giants for a spot in the National League Playoffs. Continue reading