Sunday, December 21, 2008

PC is BS

The genesis of a movement:  First there's an idea, then views and opinions are shared, the bandwagon forms, people of all walks of life hop on and, before you know it, you have a full blown movement barreling through society like a runaway train.


Some movements are good: women should vote, for example; all people are equal and, therefore, should have equal rights; and, obviously, we should take care of the environment.  Others… well, some are just out of control.  How is it we've become a people who must walk on eggshells lest we offend someone?


Don't get me wrong, something needed to be done.  We couldn't continue to have Archie Bunker types roaming around, freely spouting off ethnically, insensitive racial slurs – but we are now so far off in the other direction that I had to recently tell my friend Kaoru, when she referred to herself as an Oriental person, that that was politically incorrect.  "It is?" she said.  "Yeah," I told her, "in fact, you really can't even say you're Japanese anymore."  "Why not?"  "Because it's insensitive and offensive," I said.  "You're Asian."  "Oh," was all she said as she processed this information.  After a beat, she added, "But I'm from Japan – I am Japanese."  "Nope, you're Asian."


Now here's another one I just don't understand.  First, let me ask you this: Who do you think listens to Christmas music on the radio?  People from the Jewish community? Muslims?  Jehovah's Witnesses?  See, I don't typically think those groups are tuning in to stations that broadcast Christmas music 24/7.  And, just to be clear, I don't have any problem with people from the Jewish community, Muslims or Jehovah's Witnesses; and, if there were radio stations that specifically geared their programming to these folks, I wouldn't care.  I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be tuning in; and I'm also pretty sure that I wouldn't feel offended or excluded by their very existence.


So, how is it that it's seemingly become politically incorrect to play Christmas (root word, Christ) songs that mention the birth of Christ?  There are a multitude of Christmas songs out there, probably thousands, but one local station here seems to have about 12 songs that they play over and over and over and over… I am telling you, at this point, I can hardly care any less that George Michael once had his heart broken at Christmas.  And, I really don't care, at all, if Clarence has been good this year and gets his new saxophone or not.  Furthermore, I do not need to be told, again and again, that there won't be snow in Africa this Christmas (of course there won't be snow, it doesn't snow there – a large majority of that continent is below the equator).


I don't understand why it's okay to continually walk in a winter wonderland, enjoy chestnuts from an open fire and deck the halls, but not hear anything from the angels up on high. 


Why can we roll out the holly and sing praises to our trees, but not go tell it on a mountain that away in a manger, in the little town of Bethlehem, Christ was born.  Why can't we join the herald angels and sing of joy to the world about that first Noel?  Why can't the faithful sing Oh come, Oh come, Oh come Emmanuel?


No, for some reason, we must stick with silver bells, jingle bells and sleigh bells.  Frosty the Snowman and frosty air – those don't offend.  We can hear Eartha Kitt, or Madonna, coo for goodies from that velvet suit wearing sugar daddy, Santa Baby.  It's okay to continually hear reports about Rudolph guiding Santa's sleigh.  And, we all know that Alvin is still hoping for a Hula-hoop.  We hope he gets one, too.  Don't misunderstand me, we all want Christmas to be merry and bright – it is the most wonderful time of the year, after all.


The thing is, Christmas is not a commercial/retail holiday – oh sure, that aspect has truly taken over, but don't ever forget that long ago, it came upon a midnight clear, when after the shepherds were asked, "Do you hear what I hear?" they met up with the three kings of Orient (Asia…well, Asia Minor) to welcome the baby Jesus on that holy, holy night.  


How can it be wrong to air these time-tested, traditional Christmas carols? As I asked before, who's tuning in that would be offended by these yuletide classics?  I gotta tell ya, I don't know how it is that we got in this particular handcart, and I don't know where it is, exactly, that we'll end up, but I did actually hear a version of Silent Night on the radio the other day, and in much the way that Christ's birth brought hope to the world, I thought that, perhaps, there may still be a little hope for us yet.  And that is what Christmas is all about.


God rest ye merry gentlemen (i.e., mankind – read: humankind)


 - M   



PS: For the loyal readers out there, I received another Vogel family greeting card this year (see 9-14-08 post Blast from the Past) which has left me, once again, shaking my head...


Fa la la la la la la la la J



Sunday, December 7, 2008

Christmas with Danny Aiello

Well, Thanksgiving is already behind us and we're knee-deep into the holiday season.  For many, this time of year unleashes a slew of holiday traditions.


Generally, the festivities are kicked off with the aforementioned, unusually large, autumn-themed dinner – I mean, does anyone actually make parsnips at any other time of the year?


Then, before the bloating even subsides, there are those setting their alarm clocks for the early a.m. – so early, that for some, it's still considered night – just to dash off to the early-early-early-bird Black Friday special sales that insanely vie for all the overeager shoppers – hoping to nab their cash, increase their credit lines and decrease their debit balances.  Ah, capitalism.  Why each year even my stepsisters rush out at 4:00 a.m.  Why?  Are they just being thrifty?  I think it's more for the fun of it (4:00 a.m. – I know, you're having trouble seeing the fun – me, too, truth be told) and the tradition of doing it, and doing it together.


Since living in Arizona, Kanna invites me each year for the big Black Friday shopping bonanza, and each year, after thanking her for including me, I decline.  It's not just that I'm not that much of a shopper – I'm not, though; and it's not just that 12 hours in a mall would probably kill me – it probably would, though; and, it has little to do with the fact that, by Black Friday, nearly all my holiday shopping is done – but it is, though.  You see, I have my own way of spending the day after Thanksgiving.


I traditionally use this bonus day to put out all my Christmas decorations and ready the house for the season.  I have a wide variety of holiday decorations, knickknacks and chotchke that I've amassed over the years; plus, my friend Nancy and her husband, Calvin, have done more than their fair share of adding to my collection of holiday décor.  There is hardly an available square inch of space in my home that doesn't have a Christmas something, sitting there, beckoning good cheer.  Honestly, if I put price tags on everything that's displayed, my home would look like a gift shop!  Anyway, I am inordinately organized (with just a splash of OCD) so it's probably needless to say, but I have a system.  First, I stash away all my regular stuff, then I wax the furniture, then I bring in the boxes.


These boxes aren't just filled with tangible items – no, they're filled with memories, too.  Memories of decorating my first apartment, memories of chilly holiday shopping in Smithville, and through the nostalgia inspired by my Kinkade (Thomas, not Reuben) Christmas Village, many memories of Christmases past.  The thing is, with all these memories that I routinely unpack, there is one that I never seem to remember until I actually see it again.


I have a very large decorative bowl that I fill each year with red glass ornaments – they're not expensive, in fact, each box was less than five dollars, but they are fragile, and so, to protect them while they're stored away, I have them wrapped in a few sheets of newspaper – a sleeve for each box.  Filling this bowl is one of the first things I do as I begin to adorn the house – and that is when I'm reminded of Danny Aiello.  You may have been wondering when and how Danny was going to enter the picture.  See, there is a feature story about him, accompanied by a large photo, on one of the papers that covers the glass balls.  As I remove the ornaments from the sleeve, I usually smile, and then say to myself, "Ah, another Christmas with Danny Aiello."  Assuming the date on the paper is accurate, and there's no reason to think otherwise, he has been with me for 14 years.  14 years!  At this point, Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without him…


You see, we all have our traditions

that keep the holidays hopping –

from turkey on Thanksgiving

to Black Friday shopping.


We have holiday lights and

decorations that charm,

and family trips

to the local tree farm.


We have Christmas wrappings

with ribbons and bows;

tinsel and garland

and Rudolph's nose.


We send greeting cards

to friends far and near;

and sing Christmas carols –

the ones we hold dear.


There's peppermint sticks,

and old St. Nick,

cookies and eggnog

that's creamy and thick.


There's Charlie Brown, Ralphie

and the Baileys, too;

but Christmas wouldn't be Christmas

without you know who…


Baby Jesus was born,

so tiny and small –

for you and for me,

for one and for all.


That's why we celebrate

Christmas each year.

That's why we're filled

with holiday cheer.


So hang up the mistletoe

and roll out the holly, 

Christmas is coming –

it's time to be jolly.


Have a very Merry Christmas –

and a Ho! Ho! Ho!

Warm wishes to you,

From me and Danny Aiello!


Enjoy the season…


 - M


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Fashion Forward

My nephew Griffin, although he still gets a kick out of watching SpongeBob SquarePants, would not be caught dead outside of the house actually wearing SpongeBob anything – not a jacket, not a shirt, and certainly not the hat and scarf set I got him last year.


And so it now goes for my grandnephew, Little Timmy, who, as he approaches 7 years of age, is embarrassed by his once way-cool Spiderman coat.  Sorry, Spidey. 


As Timmy fought back tears while putting on his coat the other day, Linda confided to me that she was saddened by this unavoidable, evolutionary step in the maturing process of her grandson.  "It's normal," I said, before sharing with her how Griffin, apart from some pajamas, has all but retired his complete SpongeBob wardrobe.  Just to be fair, I suppose condolences should also go out to that bug-eyed, yellow, marine freak from under the sea.


"All kids go through this," I told her.  "Don't you remember how we hated when Mom and Dad would make us go places with them unannounced – leaving us little to no time to prepare ourselves for being seen out in public?"  "Yeah, when we were teens," she said, "not 7."  This got me thinking.


My niece Olivia once remarked that I don't care how I look – she meant it as a compliment.  I'm a no-muss, no-fuss person – a real jeans and T-shirt girl.  You almost can't get any more casual than I do – not as long as it's still considered inappropriate to go out in public in your PJs anyway. 


So, when did this happen, I wondered.  We already know why I'm not flaunting my… girly assets, will call them (see 7-20-08 post Conservative by nature?), but when did I give up the style ship?  When did I conclude that Levi Strauss would be the name brand for me?  When did I decide that one can never have too many white T-shirts?  When? When?  Well, I think it may have been as far back as sixth grade – that's right, at 11 years of age, I jumped off the fashion train.  (How many modes of mass transportation do you think I'll mention here?)


It was 1975 and I remember leafing through the Sears catalog – hey, it was 1975 – when a dark green pantsuit, yes, a pantsuit – it was 1975 – with a butterfly theme caught my eye.  It was beautiful.  The bell-bottom pants were complimented by a leisure-style, man-tailored jacket with a huge embroidered butterfly on it.  Completing the ensemble was a white shirt, also stitched with colorfully winged creatures – as I said, beautiful. 


I pined for this pantsuit.  When my birthday arrived, I was thrilled when I opened my grandmother's gift to find that lovely piece of polyester haute couture just lying in wait for me amid a bed of wispy tissue paper.  I could not wait to wear it to school. 


Unfortunately, it brought me a lot of unexpected attention – a lot: "What's with the suit?"  Huh?  "Whadya tryin' to look like a teacher?" Hm?  "Where'd you get that – the Sears catalog?" "NO! I said as defiantly as I could, trying to mask my embarrassment.  In those few moments all my previous excitement was completely obliterated, and when I got home that day, having miraculously survived the failed foray into fashion, with a sigh, I hung up my fancy pantsuit – never to be worn again.


Boy, when you couple that experience with the confirmation gown episode, it's almost a wonder that I ever leave the house at all.  Of course, I was never forced to go out in public in my bedroom slippers like my brother once was – but that's a whole different story.  Look out – here comes the Slipperman!


- M

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Have you ever had anyone do something completely selfless for you? I mean completely selfless – going above and beyond – just for you? I have.


Last weekend I happened to be in New Jersey.  Yes, I took the redeye again, of course – and, no, I did not see Sonny again.  Thank goodness for the small things.  And I must say thanks for the big things – for the super-duper, really big, humongous, unexpected things.  My friend Elena is an amazing person.


As I said, I was in New Jersey last week where Elena turned what was supposed to be a small gathering with friends into my first official book signing for The Ones That Got Away – A Dating Memoir.  Elena orchestrated the whole affair:  A huge banner was hung, small signs adorned her yard, and people were invited.  She had finger foods, snacks, treats and goodies of all varieties, plus beer, wine, soda and juice – you name, she had it – if you wanted to eat or dink it, it was there!  A draped card table stood with an inviting potted Gerbera daisy beside a pile of unsigned books.  Manning this 'sales station' was her beautiful daughter, Lauren, smiling and eager to assist any attendees wishing to purchase an autographed copy of The Ones That Got Away – A Dating Memoir (not that anyone was obligated to buy).


Shortly after 3:00 p.m. people began to arrive.  Elena's husband Doug (a real trouper for allowing this event to take place at his home) helped me greet the neighbors who came in from all sides. 


First to arrive was Navy guy, Tom, who was joined by his wife, Karen.  Having already read the book, Karen knew all the sordid details of my past and, in a private conversation, she and I discussed certain 'details' pertaining to my story.


Dennis and Ellen came over shortly thereafter with their two boys.  Ellen cautioned her eldest, James, not to grow up like one of the ones that got away – James, looking quite uncomfortable, quickly left to go play with some of the other children frolicking in the yard. 


Many others arrived – Kathy, Kiley, Stephanie, Kathleen, Maryann, Kristina, Cheryl and Katie just to name a few – representing all types of women: teen, young adult, married, married with kids – each one obviously at different life stages, each one, a female with stories of her own.  One young girl shared with me that she loves to write and keeps a journal.  I encouraged her to keep writing, sharing with her how stumbling upon my 'Rita' story, penned at the age of 10, was the catalyst for the very book they were all there to support.

Some friends came from afar to partake in the event and help champion my cause.  There was Beth, a new friend, who only recently became acquainted with me through the reading of my book (don't compromise yourself just to appease your family – stay strong; there is nothing wrong with being single – do not settle!).  Trish was there – my college friend, a real-life character from my book (Chapter 24), who was as popular as I was to those who already read the story (you can see Trish Wednesday nights at The Squan).  And Sue, my childhood friend, came with her whole family just to be a part of it (lemon-curry!). 

It was quite the event.  I was blown away by all that Elena did for me.  Now here's the thing: I'm supposed to be a writer, and yet, I cannot come up with words adequate enough to express my appreciation for this unbelievably selfless act she did totally for me. 

See, this really exemplifies what I touch on near the end of my book.  You don't need to be in a committed relationship to experience love.  There are many types of love out there – love to give, love to take, love to share.  I don't want to burst into song here, but… love is all around.  There is the love you share with children, there is love expressed by neighbors responding to a friend's backyard book party, there's love on display when friends drive over an hour to share in an experience – showing support, and there is the love of a friend who spends over a week planning, preparing and hosting an event like this.

What Elena did reminds me of the Sex and the City movie.  I don't think I'll spoil anything here – didn't everyone see that movie already?  When I left that feel-good, fluffy, hangin' with the pals, NYC revisitation, I said to my sister-in-law, "That's what true love is all about," and I wasn't talking about Carrie and Big either – Kanna knew that.  I was talking about Carrie and her friends – Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte.  When the rug is pulled out from under Carrie's feet, and she's shattered, her girlfriends are there for her – 100% totally there – selflessly giving of their time, to help their friend.  There is nothing 'in it' for them – nothing other than the genuine concern for their friend.  That is true love.

I have always tried to do whatever I can to support my friends and loved ones – if there is a need that I can assist with, I'm more than happy to do it.  It's just my nature.  But to be on the opposite end of that, the receiving end… wow.  So, don't let me hear anyone say, "Oh, it's too bad she's single and doesn't have love in her life," because that's just not true.  I have true love, selfless love, pure love in my life.

Thanks Elena Sue – you're the best!

Filled with gratitude,




Sunday, October 26, 2008


Hay bales, pumpkins, costumes and more –

Carnival games and candy galore; 

With tricks, treats and everything sweet,

Highlands' Fall Festival cannot be beat!


Thousands of people will come, that's for sure;

But it's really the kids that we do it all for.

They'll be there in droves – in masquerade clothes

Having the time of their lives, as everyone knows.


Buzz Lightyear will be there, and a Batman, or two,

Mr. Incredible and Winnie the Pooh.

Belle and her friends will be there this night,

Cinderella, Jasmine and, of course, Snow White.

Darth Vadars, Tiggers and Black Cats will abound;

Devils and Angels will be easily found.

Spidermen, Vampires and Hobos in rags

Will play freely together, filling their bags.


There'll be Snickers, Skittles, Kit-Kats and Nerds,

Dum-Dum Lollipops and things that go squirt;

Starburst, Tootsies, worms and bears, oh so gummy,

And hundreds of other things good for the tummy.

Chocolates, Caramels and Gum Drops, too –

Peppermint Patties and a Charleston Chew,

M&Ms, Reese's, and the famed Baby Ruth

Will satisfy each and every sweet tooth.


After a few frenzied hours, it will come to an end;

But we'll set it up next year and do it again!


I'm off to man the Pumpkin Pitch booth…


Happy Halloween!  - M




Sunday, October 12, 2008

Disney Birthday

Another click on the timeline – another year older – yup, another birthday has gone by.  This year I celebrated my birthday in Disneyland – where everyone is a kid. 


I was there last week with my brother and his family where we hooked up with his childhood friend, Chris, and his family.  I hadn't seen Chris in about 20 years and yet, to me, he looked exactly the same.  He didn't age a bit – well, okay, he had a few more whiskers now, but other than that… he looked the same.  He said I looked the same, too.  Really?  The same?  Did I have gray hair and loose, flapping triceps 20 years ago?  I'm overdue for a color touch-up, and as far as the triceps go, what can you do – over 40.  Seriously, my upper arm measures only 10-1/4" in diameter, and yet, when I wave – or season food – my flapping triceps create enough wind to extinguish birthday candles.  


As a kid my brother and his friend liked to tease me.  Chris didn't remember that so much until I reminded him of some of the names they called me – Methuselah and Seven Ton Buns were among the faves.  Methuselah was a 969-year-old biblical man, and seven ton buns, well, I was a 5 foot 7 inch 92 pound teenager, so this one didn't really apply either – 2x4s are shapelier than I was back then.  Although these names incensed me at the time, we laughed as we reminisced and they've now become an endearing childhood memory.  


We were a group of 10.  Five adults (I use that tem loosely) and five kids, ages 6 through 11. Being with children, we naturally went on some of the attractions that would normally be deemed kiddie rides.  (I can never understand why adults, without children, go on these rides, but I digress.)  One of the popular choices for our group was The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.  This, of course, unleashed an entire array of 'poo' jokes.


Q:  Who's your favorite Disney bathroom character? 

A:  Winnie the Poo!


Q:  If Winnie was a rooster, what would he say?

A:  Cock-a-doodle-poo!


Q:  What is Winnie's favorite place on a cruise ship?

A:  The poop deck!


This evolved into a very sophisticated knock-knock joke:



Your turn:  (Who's there?)

I'm a pile up.

Your turn: __________________


Did you fall for it?  Do you get it?  I totally fell for it – didn't even see it coming – and when I responded with, "I'm a pile up who?" the kids went to pieces.  


This theme continued on into the night where, for dinner, we dined at the Café Orleans.  Although I thoroughly enjoyed the Monte Cristo, I couldn't help but wonder how long it would be with me – trapped inside (i.e. travel induced constipation) like Dumas' Edmond Dantes just waiting for escape, and thus was born the idea for book #2 (no pun intended): Le Log – The True Story of a French Poo!


What is it about bathroom humor? I think most times you can divide people into two groups – there are always two sides to the same coin: boys and girls; passive and aggressive; conservative and liberal.  You get it.  Bathroom humor is no different – you either think it's funny or you don't.  The majority of our group could appreciate a good fart joke. 


Being October, Disneyland was all tricked out for Halloween – large candy corn adorned the park, the Haunted Mansion took on a Nightmare Before Christmas theme, and a variety of oversized jack-o'-lanterns were seen throughout.  As I hobbled around – let me interject that coming from Arizona, where we barely just broke triple digit temps, I felt the predicted 81˚ would be chilly; so I was in full length pants, sweatshirt (wound up tied around my waist), socks and sneakers.  By the way, in Scottsdale, this is basically how we dress for winter. 


It was 93˚ and humid – we were sweating bullets – UGH!  My poor, enclosed, sweaty, little pieds were killing me as blisters formed a puffed up, fluid filled ridge between my toes and the balls of my feet.  Avoiding the normal heel-toe method of walking, I tried to step down more on the outside of my feet which made me look as though I had one leg two inches shorter than the other as my hips rolled up, and then down, to accommodate the herky-jerky awkward gait.  Seriously, I walked like the Edgar-suit from Men in Black.  Sticking with the Halloween theme, I contemplated drawing a skull and crossbones on the tops of my sneakers – to identify them for what they were – the killers! 


In spite of the heat and sore feet, I had an awesome time.  So what if I left there half crippled, hobbling around like Methuselah's older sister, who cares?  You can't beat being in a Disney park with the little ones that you love.  It truly is magical. 


Happy Birthday to me!


 - M

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Well, as someone who's nearly lost all interest in dating, I'm happy to report that I'm not completely dead inside.  Yeah, that's right – someone has recently captured my attention.  Alert the press!


It's not that I've been against dating; it's just that no one has really interested me in a while.  Oh, anyone who knows me, or who's read my book, The Ones That Got Away – A Dating Memoir, would tell you that I'm a good sport when it comes to dating.  I generally go on most 'Oh, you two should just meet' dates; and for a while I was chatting with someone from my past (no, not Adam.  Believe it or not – for the readers of my book – it was Boston Mark; but that's probably a whole different blog post – or at least half of one anyway), but what can I say?  If I'm not interested – if there's no spark – why bother?  See what I mean about dead inside?  


So, I just go about my business, living my life – confounding those who just don't understand why I'm not 'out there' looking.  Part of my life is the habitual hiking of this mountain near my home: Pinnacle Peak.  The non-loop trail is 3-1/2 miles long, but I only do 3 miles of it. Three is a nice, round number which fits beautifully into the OCD aspect of my personality – plus, the ½ mile that I lop off is very steep.  I already have buns of steel – seriously, my gluteus is so maximus that I fear my Irish-German heritage is at question these days due to the story my shapely posterior is telling.  I do not need any additional work back there – let's just leave it at that. 


Boy, I really do go off on the tangents, don't I?  Sorry.  What you don't know is that I'm sparing you my whole Pinnacle Peak Miss Congeniality story.  I think, perhaps, I'll just save that one for another day.


So… I hike this mountain – in the morning.  In the summer our sun comes up so early that it feels almost like mid-morning to begin hiking at 6:00 a.m. – and, while that's the time I start, there are some that are already done by then.  But now it's fall and the sun only starts to rise at about 5:45 or 6:00.  So what this means is that I must roll out of bed at o'dark thirty to be on the hill by 6:00.  This is no small feat.  There are those who can't even roll out of bed at that hour just to shuffle to the kitchen for a cup of coffee, let alone to climb a mountain.  A mountain – 2, 289 feet at the highest climbable elevation – a mountain! 


I do this hike about four times a week, sometimes more.  And, although I go by myself, I am not alone up there – there are the 'regulars,' the folks I see almost every time.  A regular doesn't start out as a regular, though – he starts out as a newbie.  It's not until you hear yourself saying, 'Oh, here's that guy again' that you even begin to notice a regular developing in your midst. 


This particular regular I'm telling you about – yes, that's what I've been working toward – reminds me of someone that I had an affinity for long ago.  Who?  Okay, he reminds me of Adam's father, George.  I was telling my friend Debbie about this when she nearly choked, asking me if I had 'a thing' for Adam's father.  I did not have 'a thing' for Adam's father.  I just really liked him.  There's nothing wrong with that. 


As I told Debbie, one day this guy and I each arrived at the same time and began our ascent together.  He was annoyed, and grumbled about how crowded it was – and where he had to park.  He told me he was a recent transplant from Lancaster, PA. (Amish?)   He shared with me that he missed the ocean as he used to have a summer home in Bethany. (Gay?  No wait, that's Rehobeth, right?)  When I asked what brought him to Arizona he said we used to vacation here; but when I asked him where he was currently living, he said I live in a condo nearby.  (We vs. I.  Hmm.  Divorced?)


Debbie asked me what he looked like.  I didn't want to go back to 'reminds me of George Vogel,' so I just said, "He's tall, has broad shoulders.  I think he's handsome.  I'd say he has light eyes (I could be way off on this one though), and brownish hair, but I'm not sure what's really going on up top because he wears a hat.  "A hat?" she said, somewhat surprised, then added, "What kind of a hat?"  What kind of a hat?  "A top hat," I told her.  Then, without missing a beat, through a laughter that welled up instantaneously, I added, "He looks completely out of place up there."  As I regained my composure, I said, "He wears a ball cap."


"So, how did you leave it with him?" she asked.  When we hit the 1-1/2 mile marker I told him that's where I turn around, then I asked him his name and said, "Enjoy the rest of your hike."


Of course, since that day, I've had my eye out for him – and, as the carrot motivates the donkey, I've been using him as the impetus to get me out of bed in the pitch dark of the early a.m. – in fact, I now refer to him as C (as in C for carrot, for those slow on the uptake). 


Unfortunately, I've only seen him a couple of times since that shared hike.  Each time we had flirty interchanges as we passed each other like two ships in the night, but that's it.  But that's okay – it's nice to have someone to look for.  It's nice to have an interest in someone again – however subtle it may be. So what if my interest lies in what may be a gay, divorced Amish man with a chip on his shoulder – it's still an interest.  And people say I'm picky.  C'mon.


- M

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Blast From The Past

I've been pondering my last post, "All Summer Long."  That song mentions how nothing seems as strange as when the leaves began to change, and "Night Moves" talks about autumn closing in.  I think it's funny that I happened to write that post on Labor Day weekend – the proverbial end of summer. 


What is it about the songs that make us revisit our past?  Why do they affect so much?  I'm sure there's probably some simple psychological answer.  In any event, it's had me thinking these past couple of weeks about those that I wonder about, as well as thinking about those who may wonder about me.  Of course you can guess who I may wonder about, assuming you've read my book, The Ones That Got Away – A Dating Memoir; but here's a little story that may surprise you.  I say 'may' surprise you because, who knows, maybe it will or maybe it won't, but for me, a year and a half later, I'm still completely baffled.


Let's turn back the hands of time to April 2007.  We can actually turn them back even farther than that.  We can go back 14 more years to the time I last spoke to him – which was while walking toward my car, saying, "I just need a little time."   


Ah, time.  Is it really linear or is it all jumbled up in a ball as in my understanding of String Theory.  I really don't understand String Theory at all.  Perhaps I should just get back to my story.


Where was I?  Oh yeah – Ah, time. Will time travel ever be possible?  If so, would you want to know your future?  Really know it?  I wouldn't.  I think knowing it today would adversely affect the outcome whereby you'd change everything anyway.  I am still not back to my story.


Take three:  Ah, time.  How about going back in time?  That's something most of us do quite frequently – whether it's reminiscing with loved ones, leafing through photo albums or getting nostalgic when hearing an old song (now I'm cooking…).


And, while we know who it is we remember, or wonder about, we can never be sure of who may be thinking of us.  I always believed that from time to time different men from my past must wonder about me occasionally – or remember me – they'd have to.  It goes against logic to think otherwise – now just what they remember, or wonder about, well, that's anybody's guess. You'd like to think that the memories that crop up are fond ones, and you'll be remembered somewhat nicely.  But if you're like me, mid 40s and still not married, then you probably have just as colorful a catalog of men in your past – from casual, to the more serious, to engagements and possibly divorce – as I do, so actually, what these exes may remember is truly, as I said, anybody's guess.  If, for example, you had a 'Jeff' in your life, as I did, then he could be thinking horrible things about you while sticking pins in and out of a crude voodoo-like effigy.  Derailed again, sorry. 


Anyhooooooooo.  A little over a year and a half ago, I picked up my ringing work line, naturally expecting the call to be a business call, when, from the other end of the phone, I hear, "Hi.  This is Adam Vogel."  Adam Vogel?  (See Chapter 11)  I tried to respond, "Ach," went my throat.  I took a breath of air and tried again, "Ach… whh… er… ach" was all that came out.  I was stuck in a spastic repetitive uttering of 'ach…whh… er' that was truly unbelievable – to say that I was apoplectic would be an understatement.  I wasn't sure what was happening to me.  Try as I might (and I tried like hell), I could not get one word out of my mouth.  Adam asked me if I was okay – I guess if he had been standing in front of me, he would have asked me to smile and raise my arms, you know, to rule out an actual stroke.  Finally I managed to say, "Yes, I'm fine," but when I tried to continue with the predictable 'and how are you,' I went right back into the spiral of monosyllabic guttural sounds.  


My mind was reeling.  Adam was on the other end of the line.  Adam!  Was it him? Really?  As I smooshed the phone as tightly as I could to my ear, and the cilia strained to reach out into the magic, invisible airwaves to connect with his voice, I was sure it was him.  It was him.  It was his voice – just like I remembered, the one I knew so well – on the phone, in my ear… from another lifetime.


I had not spoken with Adam since January of 1994.  Since that time I was nearly killed, became a shareholder and built up a business, acquired some property, sold the property, sold the shares and moved my life 2400 miles across our country.  And, I was 42. 42! I was only 29 when I last saw him.  Do you see what I mean about 'from another lifetime?'


Well, thankfully, I managed to pull myself together and answer some simple questions, and I'm proud to report that I managed to ask a few as well.  He asked me all about my family – mother, father, brother, sister… my sister's boys – the little guys.  (The little guys are grown men now. One is married with two kids.)  I, of course, asked him all about his family – mother, father, brother, brother.


He shared with me that he was married with two kids, girls.  I shared with him that I ran into his aunt years earlier who had told me that he was married and expecting their first.  And then, after he asked, I told him that I never got married.  He was curious as to why, but since my book wasn't published yet I was unable to give it to him saying, "Here, read this – " so I just went with the old, "Oh, I don't know – I don't think I'm the marrying kind."  


What truly floored me, other than the obvious, was the way he took me down memory lane – our memory lane, our very private and intimate memory lane.  "Do you remember Lars?" he asked.  I choked again, clearing my throat as I repeated it, "Ach… Lars?  Yes, of course."  (If you haven't already, you need to read my book to get the full impact of that question.)


He said that one of his girls came home from school and told him that she met a boy named Lars on the playground, and that naturally made him think of me – so he thought he'd call and say hello.  Call and say hello?  It had been 14 years and he made it sound like we spoke the previous week.  


I was still in such a state of shock that I was basically just answering questions.  Honestly, I put poor, little 13-year-old Rob Roget through a tougher grilling when he called looking for the French homework than I did Adam with this call.


Now here's what's really weird: He knew a lot about me – he knew about my accident, he knew where I lived in NJ prior to my moving west, he knew who I was working for and what I did, and… he knew the layout of my current home (rooftop view anyway).  Apparently, if you're a little computer savvy, you really can find out a myriad of information about someone on the Internet. 


He asked me some personal things like, "Do you still sleep with your hair in a ponytail?"  He shared with me his fondest intimate memory of us. Then, he emailed me pictures of him and his family – they looked very happy.  Nearly two hours later it was time to hang up – and re-close the time capsule, if you will.


That phone call blew me away.  I didn't know what to make of it then – I don't know what to make of it now.  What I do know is that last Christmas, eight months after he 'reached out and touched me,' I got a Christmas card from him.  It was a family photo of him, his wife and two girls – a beautiful family – with a caption below that read, "With love, from the Vogels."  What?!?  It was a stock family card and the caption was preprinted, but he addressed the envelope himself, and like his voice, I recognized his handwriting immediately.  We hadn't spoken since that April and then this card appeared.  Why?  I just don't understand it.  Do you? 


What was with that call? Was he simply reaching out to say hello?  Was it really just casual? After 14 years – and all those intimate memories?  I'll openly admit that I've wondered about people from my past, but I never Googled them – or looked up their houses on Sat-Maps-R-Us (or whatever site he was on). 


So, I don't know.  I've said this before, and I don't like to be redundant, but… I don't get 'em – guys, this male gender – very puzzling to me.  What I can tell you is with summer coming to a close, and the holiday season fast upon us, I can't help but wonder if I'll get another Vogel family greeting card this year.  Who knows?  And who knows what it means, if anything.  At the very least, whenever it may be, it's nice to be remembered… for auld lang syne, my friends, for auld lang syne.


Until next time.  - M      




Sunday, August 31, 2008

"All Summer Long"

Have you heard the song, "All Summer Long," yet? 


I have to tell you that I listen to so many of my old tapes – yes, tapes – can you believe I still have a cassette player in my car? To tell you the truth I'm reluctant to even get a new car (mine's an '04) for fear that tape players are now obsolete.  Yikes!  What'll happen to all my mix tapes?  Is the very existence of mix tapes at question these days?  Ya know, I've been given a mix tape or two in my day from perspective beaus – or at the very least, someone wanting to sleep with me – and I've given away one or two homemade varieties myself.  What will the lovelorn do? Enroll an interest-of-the-heart in Columbia House – 7 CDs for a penny? Do they even still have that? Boy – I am way off the track.


Anyway, I listen to a lot of… old… we'll go with… recordings, and even the radio stations I listen to play a lot of older music – they call 'em the classics.  Hey, the stuff from the 70s is classic.  So, I can't really be sure of the last time I actually heard a new release.  I'm not even sure this song I've been trying to tell you about – and for those of you dedicated enough to persevere through all this babble to read about – is new, but I think it is:  "All Summer Long" by Kid Rock.


What I can tell you is that I never imagined I'd be so taken with anything by Kid Rock.  Sadly, this has nothing to do with his music – actually this song, which has so recently captured my attention, is the only one I know by him.  I've never heard anything else he's done – and he's sold over 24 million albums (CDs ?).  I couldn't get beyond all his hair, tattoos, grungy fashion style – have you see the hats, and time-frozen personal tidbits on check-out tabloids.  Shallow – I know.  Judgmental – I know.  Superficial – I know!  I'm sorry.  It's just all that exterior stuff (hair, ink, hats – I know, now you're wondering, what on earth is it with her and hats?) gets in the way for me.


Anyway-------------------- This song is just so cool!  There's just something about the summer of your 17th year.  I think for many of us, we're like the singer – caught between adolescence and adulthood.  After that summer, it's all different somehow.


I think back (Don't say, "Oh, no!"  I'll be quick.) to Bob Seger's song "Night Moves."  The singer in his song tells of his own summertime coming-of-age story and while reminiscing back to 1962, he muses that it's funny how the night moves, when you just don't seem to have as much to lose, strange how the night moves, with autumn closing in.  I was 17 in 1982.  Back then when we sang that song, we naturally changed the lyric to 1982 – we thought we were clever.  None of us could possibly grasp all those lines really entailed.  But I can tell you, and with absolute certainty, I get it now. 


Okay, I promised I'd be quick.  Back to "All Summer Long." 


In this song, the singer reminisces about his summertime love – he remembers, for instance, "the way the moonlight shined upon her hair."  How gentle, huh?  Wouldn't you think that for guys their memories would be more like, 'she had some set of jugs on her, yuk-yuk-yuk…' but, moonlight?  I guess they're not all Beavis and Butt-Head types. 


He thinks back to their time together and tells us, "She'll forever hold a spot inside my soul."  How tender, huh?  There's just something deeper about a spot held in the soul vs. a spot held in the heart.  I mean, I know heart and soul go hand-in-hand, but for a guy to fondly remember a love past and say that – "She'll forever hold a spot inside my soul," ahh… doesn't it just hit you deep down inside. 


Throughout the song he tells us some of the things they did together that summer, including singing their favorite song, and he wraps up his tale by sharing, "Sometimes I'll hear that song and I'll start to sing along, and think, man, I'd love to see that girl again."  How moving, huh? 


I have to tell you, I never really thought guys looked back like that.  I generally think most guys fit into that Beavis and Butt-Head category I touched on earlier.  I must confess, I've obviously been selling them short. 


So I guess a fond, nostalgic sensitivity is not a guy/girl thing.  I guess it's a romantic thing.  You could be Kid Rock – wanting to go back in time to see an old love.  You could be Tom Petty – or any Wilbury for that matter, hoping to be remembered when a particular song is played (visit "End of the Line," the song is "Purple Haze").  You could be Bob Seger, realizing how the night moves differently when you're a little older, when you just don't seem to have as much to lose.  Or, you could be you and me, regular people, who listen to the music of these romantic poets, creating the soundtracks of our lives; and maybe, every once in a while, when caught up in the busy routine of our day-to-day, we'll hear a song that will stop us in our tracks, make us take a moment and say from our hearts, "Oh, I remember the time when… hmmm… I wonder what they're doing now."


Feeling a little wistful,

 - M



Sunday, August 17, 2008

Coffee Date

Hey, I've got some news.  I won the featured author/book contest on for the month of August.  That's quite an honor for such a new release.  I couldn't be more thrilled.  In addition to being recognized and congratulated for having the most hits on that site, I also enjoyed partaking in an interview. 


I don't want to tell you all about it here – you'll have to click on the above link and read it for yourself, but I do want to mention one specific thing.  In a lighthearted way I was asked to offer men five successful dating tips.  One of the things I suggested was not to ask, "When was the last time you had sex?" I culled this precious little tidbit, as well as the others, from my own actual dating experiences.  I even touched on this one in particular during an audio/podcast interview I did for Inside Scoop Live.


Here's the deal.  Arrangements had been made for me to meet a potential would-be dater, at a Starbucks, on a Saturday morning, at 11:00 a.m. – pretty casual; in fact, you almost can't get more casual.  So anyway, we meet, we get some coffee, and we begin the initial round of questioning.  "What brought you to Arizona?" (Pretty typical question)  "How long have you lived here?" (Pretty typical follow up)  "When was the last time you had sex?"  (Not so typical - WHAT?!?)  Who asks that?


As I mentioned, this story came up during my Inside Scoop interview.  As I told the interviewer, I didn't fault the guy for wondering – I don't even fault him, completely, for asking the question.  What I fault him with is how indelicately he asked it. 


For whatever reason, this incident made me think of Charlie Sheen's character on "Two and a Half Men."  I'm sure if Charlie Harper went on a date with a woman, who had been single for some time, he might wonder when the last time she had sex was.  The thing is, I don't think he would just blurt out the question.  I think he would shroud it in witty innuendo, skirt around the issue in a playful way, get a little cat-and-mouse thing going, you know, endear himself, someway, to his chaste, feminine quarry, don't you?  I mean, what the heck was that guy thinking? What answer do you think he wanted to hear? A couple of weeks ago? Yesterday? 10 minutes before I left to meet you?  I was completely turned off by this guy.  No refills, thank you very much.


So the other night, while watching a rerun of the aforementioned, critically acclaimed sitcom, I found myself completely turned off by Charlie Harper – and his kind (of which there are many).  In this particular episode, Alan runs into an old friend who is also divorced at this point in her life.  After a quick catch up, a hug and a 'we should get together sometime,' a dinner date is arranged.  Big brother Charlie, the seasoned lothario, counsels Alan to be prepared for sex later that night.  Naïve Alan, taken aback by Charlie's confident, intuitive assumption asks him how he can be so sure.  Charlie tells Alan something to the effect that the woman is pushing 40, her looks aren't going to last forever and her window of opportunity will be closing – so she's desperate.  And of course, being desperate, she'll sleep with Alan.


Here's where I take offense: 40 and the implied effects of aging = desperate.  As an aside, I'd like to point out that to hit 40 and discontinue aging, you'd have to be dead.  What I really object to is having the value of a woman reduced to nothing more than her MLF-sleepabilty factor as determined by overly sexed-up, shallow, horn-dog type characters like Charlie Harper; even if he isn't real, there are plenty of them out there who are – Starbucks Java Joe, for example.  Women are much more than just penis receptacles!  And just when I thought I couldn't care any less…


- M