I learned the truth at 17….actually I’d learned the truth at 11. Here I am at 17, having learned WAY too much. I can’t decide what is more alarming–the wallpaper in my mother’s kitchen…wearing vertical stripes on a 110 pound body, or my incredible Liz Taylor “Raintree Country” eyebrows. I still retain a good eyebrow, but nothing nearly as determined. Friends always wanted me to pluck. I resisted.
I was visiting my mom in her Hollis, Queen apartment, two years after I’d left home. They were rarely happy visits. Obviously
Many years ago—back in the fabulous early 1980’s (well, if you didn’t factor in AIDS), B. went off to Denmark. He was a medical researcher and was … researching in Denmark. B. was away a while. He loved Denmark. He loved the work he was doing and the people he was working with. Especially one fellow. Cute and smart. Doctor smart. Just like B. Mr. wOw was jealous.
When B. went off for a second stay in Denmark, he said, “Why don’t come along? Everyone would love to meet you.” This was odd. B. was and is a shy guy, who needs some prodding in the social area. One of the reasons he liked me is that I wasn’t shy, once I relaxed, and would always strike up animated conversations with strangers, and had friends, and brought people over. This eventually ended—it was too much work for me: I cooked I cleaned, they were my friends, I entertained. I got tired. I was working nine to five.
But B. gregarious himself, in another country?! This I had to see. So I braved my very first plane ride to Denmark. I was terrified, but made a hell of a lot of acquaintances during the seven or eight hours in the air. I also drank a lot. Not that it helped. (It was the beginning of many years of air travel, and imbibing way up there.) Denmark was wonderful, and in many ways B. was a different person. Not totally, but that’s another more serious tale I met B.’s friend and was really jealous. But, I kind of got over it. I loved Denmark too. And we often went to a park in the middle of Copenhagen and admired the swans. We loved swans, despite their famously irritable nature. They were always polite to us.
I left Denmark. B. followed a few weeks later. He returned — depressed, it seemed to me. Was he longing for Denmark and his doctor pal? Was he regretting me? I was so childish. So poor. Not his equal, I was sure. Finally, I asked him, “Do you want to go back? Do you want to separate? We’ve only been together six years, we’re young. You have time to make another life.” His answer was a curt, final, “no!” (Big girly conversations are not his forte, though he allows me an annual monologue.) He seemed to improve somewhat, but I thought he still missed Denmark. It troubled me. Then one day at the supermarket I found a large plastic swan. I brought it home, filled the bathtub and put him in to float.
When B. came from work I said we’d received a visitor, who was splashing around in our tub. B. hurried upstairs, and I wondered what kind of visitor he was hoping to find in our tub? (That cute kid down the block?) It was the plastic swan, serene. B. was amused, perhaps even touched. I was (am) so rarely sensitive when I should be. He seemed better after that.
We tucked the swan away, and I never thought of it again until Easter rolled around. I woke up Easter Sunday to find our swan jam-packed with sweet goodies of all kinds. I love candy. B. said: “I heard the flapping of wings last night, and he suddenly appeared with all this stuff. It was quite a journey. He can stay awhile, yes?” Of course! Who turns away a swan bearing chocolate?
We must have been hospitable enough. Every year since—more than 25, now—our Easter swan has arrived, loaded down with sweet gifts. He always comes when I am asleep. Sometimes B. expresses concern about the weather, and the swans great age, but he always comes through, not much altered by time, though no great conversationalist. He stays until we’ve pretty much finished off his gifts. He always leaves quietly in the night. Sometimes B. is awake and bears a message—the swan has had a relaxing time, loves us, and will be back next year.
All relationships have rituals. Funny little nicknames and habits. Sometimes they start out annoying but oddly you grow to depend on and even love them. The swan started out as a nervous joke by an insecure Mr. Wow, hoping to charm his B. Today, if anything happened to that damn plastic swan I think I’d have to be strapped down and medicated.
I’d like to go back to Denmark someday with B. Look at the swans again. And maybe bring a present back to our swan (he’s definitely a Dane.) After all, he’s given us so much. And I don’t just mean chocolate rabbits.
Happy Easter/Passover/Nothing but a weekend to you all—whether it is a time of spiritual contemplation, bunny rabbits and colored eggs. Or just a few days off.
I must go. Jelly beans are beckoning.
love, Mr. W and B.
Really? Honestly? Kidding me?
These are the only things that have come to mind in the wake of the ridiculous over-reaction, and over-analysis of Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi ad. I caught it—with dramatic buildup from CNN’s drama-queen deluxe, Don Lemon, Tuesday night.
I was braced for the worst. What did I see? Miss Jenner—who I wouldn’t recognize walking down the street, unless somebody was holding a sign over her head with her name on it.
She is seen drifting through a bunch of pristine, model-worthy protesters made up of various genders, colors, religions (a smiling woman in traditional Muslim garb is issue-placed, photographing the event.)
Kendall appears to be having some sort of internal activist struggle involving a blonde wig and her commitment to the cause—whatever the cause is. Finally, holding a can of Pepsi, Miss Jenner approaches a stern-looking policeman, and hands him her soft drink. Happy protesters dance and cheer. The End.
The CNN panel was, of course, horror-struck. OMG—it was trivializing Black Lives Matter and other important protest groups. Miss Kendall was not fit to place herself in such an ad. A pox on her, and Pepsi.
Well, I didn’t even think of Black Lives Matter, or any other particular group. It seemed very amorphous, insipid, hippie-ish, and it was an ad for soda! Since when is it new to trivialize, capitalize, sentimentalize or make money out of serious real life situations? Coke urged the world to sing and everybody join hands. Was that an insult to those to wanted peace on earth and general civility?
Was Natalie Portman ever the wife of a slain president? Was Bradley Cooper a military sniper? Was “Flying Nun” and “Gidget” actress Sally Field ever a poor, gritty factory worker for heaven’s sake?!
This is an absurd reaction to the perceived (not incorrect) superficiality of Miss Jenner’s image and her flamboyant family. It is also fake outrage and hyper-sensitivity at its most annoying—like college students wanting “safe places” from opinions they don’t share.
We live in a world where innocent women and children are the ho-hum collateral damage of battle in the Middle East; a world where hundreds of gay men are arrested, tortured and killed in Russia. But Kendall Jenner and Pepsi are monsters. The ad has been pulled. Apocalypse avoided.
Now, a commercial that does annoy me is the new Volkswagen spot. Here, a young couple are shown having sex in a variety of cars (we see the vehicle shaking, with fogged-up windows). Each time they do it, they have another baby and get a bigger car. I think it ends with five children.
Not only is it a bit tasteless (can’t these people get a room?) But it totally ignores the very real issue of earth’s overpopulation as well as cash-poor American states such as Louisiana, New Mexico, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, etc. (Are the down-and-out residents of these states thinking, yeah, let’s get a brand new car, every time we make a brand new baby—no problem.) I’d love to know who—other than Volkswagen–is sponsoring this paean to endless, cheery, childbearing? This, in a U.S. where middle-class families struggle to prosper, even with both parents working full-time.
And the ad was surely conceived by a man. After multiple back-to-back births the woman still looks trim and energetic. The husband has grown some stylish facial hair.
Let’s see Don Lemon and CNN do a six-panel 45-minute segment on that.