Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Month: February 2006 (page 1 of 3)

Sno-Balling

Dear Sophia,

Tonight around eleven p.m.  I was hungry for something — I didn’t know what.  So, I took a drive — not really knowing where I was going. 

It was pouring outside, so I drove one block to my local 7-Eleven.  Once inside, I walked up and down the aisles, trying to figure out what junk food to buy. 

And then I saw it — Hostess Sno Balls.

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I know that you probably don’t even know what Hostess Sno Balls are, but I have fond memories of eating them as a child.  I never had much of a sweet tooth, but I always had a fondness for Hostess Sno Balls

"Sno Balls were invented in 1947," says Mike Redd, vice-president of cake marketing at Interstate Bakeries, the company that bought Hostess in 1995. Accustomed to rationing flour and sugar during World World War II, Americans were now devouring manufactured sweets, and the Sno Ball was an instant hit. Even though there never has been a TV ad budget for Sno Balls, Redd says they continue to sell, though not quite as well as their heavily advertised siblings, Hostess Twinkies and Hostess Cupcakes.

It took some tinkering, though, before these perfect domes of fuzzy Day-Glo pinkness became the Marilyn Monroe of the snack rack. Sno Balls originally were chocolate cupcakes covered with ho-hum white marshmallow and shredded coconut, hence the name. Not long after, Hostess decided to jazz them up by using tinted pink coconut and, for added effect, using one white and one pink Sno Ball in each package. Later, for efficiency’s sake, two of the same color were coupled. And it wasn’t until 1950 that the icing on the cake, so to speak—the cream filling—was added.

What made Sno Balls so unique was that Hostess changed the color of them throughout the year, most notably on St. Patrick’s Day, when they turned green – and they tasted especially tasty from the green chemicals.  Hostess Sno Balls also had a sexy shape to them, much like the luscious curves of a woman.  What man, on seeing his first pair of woman’s breasts, hasn’t said to himself, "They look just like Sno Balls!  I hope they taste as good?"

As you know, my birthday is next Tuesday.  Yesterday, you asked me what I wanted for my birthday. 

Well, now I know.   Hostess Sno Balls. 

Easy, right?  Just go to Ralphs and buy them. 

No.  I want you to make them.

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Clone of Hostess Snoballs

Butter and flour, for tins
4 egg whites
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Rind of 1 lemon, finely grated
2 cups sifted cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2/3 cup milk
Frosting, recipe follows
2 to 3 cups sweetened shredded coconut
Red or green food coloring (optional)

Frosting:
2 egg whites, unbeaten
6 tablespoons cold water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Butter and flour muffin tins or dome shaped baking molds and set aside. Whip the egg whites in a clean bowl until stiff but not dry and place in the refrigerator while you make the rest of the batter. Cream the butter and add the sugar. Continue mixing to blend well. Add the vanilla, almond and lemon rind and mix well. Sift the flour 3 times with the baking powder then add it to the butter mixture alternately with the milk in 3 additions. Fold in the whites and pour the batter into the molds, filling about 3/4 of the way up. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until batter is firm to the touch in the center. Let cool in the pans then turn out so the top becomes the bottom (you may need to trim them a bit so they sit flat).

Frosting: Place all of the ingredients except the vanilla in the top of a double boiler (not over the heat yet). Beat with a mixer thoroughly. Place over boiling water and beat continuously until the frosting is stiff and holds peaks. Take off the boiling water and add the vanilla, then continue to beat until cool.

Place the coconut in a bowl and add 1 drop of red or green food coloring for a pale color. Toss until food coloring is well mixed in and the coconut is the desired color. Frost the top and sides of the cakes and dip/roll in coconut to make them look like snowballs.

Yield: 12 to 24 snoballs
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 2 hours

David Sedaris Ruined My Blog

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Most of my blogging friends think of me as a sophisticated bon vivant, a modern-day Oscar Wilde, known for his wit and clever wordplay.  So when a fellow blogger recently asked me for my opinion of David Sedaris, one of America’s best known humorists, I immediately said, “He’s excellent.”  This is not the first time that I’ve given someone my whole-hearted approval of a writer that I’ve never read, heard, or seen.   Have you read Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow?  It’s an amazing novel!  I never read it.

Today, I was driving past my local Barnes and Noble when I said to myself, “Maybe today’s a good day to finally read some David Sedaris.”  There were four reasons I decided to read him today:

1)  I have some socializing planned in the near future.  What if David Sedaris comes up in a conversation and I have to say something smart?

2)  I’m interested in impressing women, and I know women like it when a man is “sensitive” enough to enjoy reading a “gay writer.”

3)  I know David Sedaris writes essays, which are usually short and easy to read, so his writing won’t take too much time away from “Dancing with the Stars.”

4)  I could  read the book right in Barnes and Noble and save myself fifteen bucks!

I entered the bookstore and found David Sedaris right in the “Funny Gay Essayists” section.  There were a number of his books there, but I chose “Me Talk Pretty One Day,” mostly because the light green jacket cover matched the color of the Zen Green Tea that I had just bought at the in-store cafe.  I settled down at a table and started to read the book.

It was a mistake to read David Sedaris.

The first story, Go Carolina, was about Mr. Sedaris’ experience in his elementary school’s Speech Therapy Lab, which he was forced to attend because he lisped.

“Shit,” I said to myself, “He’s screwing up one of my stories that I was saving to put on my blog!”

When I was in elementary school, I lisped.  My friend, Rob, and I used to go visit Mr. Fox, the speech teacher.  We would repeat the same ridiculous statements over and over:

“Silly Sally sat by the seashore and something something something…”

Sucked Some Sailor’s Salami.  Or something like that.

When I went to sleepaway camp, I was nicknamed “Juice,” because at breakfast, I would lisp, “Please pass the juith.”  Even when the lisp disappeared (thanks to orthodontal work), I still was called “Juice.”  I loved my nickname.  Recently, I got an email from someone I haven’t seen since I was thirteen years old.  He went to camp with me and found me via my blog.   He is currently a therapist with two children.   He still called me “Juice.”

So what can I do with my lisping story now?  I certainly can’t write a blog post about my speech class.   I just know some jerk is going to write in the comments, “Hey, did you rip that idea off of David Sedaris?”  Or someone will send me an email, “What’s the matter, Neil?   So desperate for blog ideas that you’re stealing stuff hoping we don’t notice?  Well, I noticed!  And I’m taking your off my blogroll.  There’s no place for cheats and crooks on my site.  I’m disgusted with you.  I spit at my monitor — and at your second-rate blog.”

You can imagine how upset I was, sitting there in Barnes and Noble.   A great personal story, gone to waste.

I moved on to the second essay in the book, titled, “Giant Dream, Midget Abilities.”  In this essay, Sedaris’ father, a jazz aficionado, pushes his children into learning musical instruments.  David Sedaris is pushed into guitar lessons, but he isn’t very interested in the guitar.

“This Sedaris guy is a real bitch.” I said to myself.  “He’s screwing up another one of my great stories!”

When I  was a kid, my father pushed me (and my friend, Rob, again) into taking guitar lessons.  I found learning to play guitar incredibly boring.  My father kept on telling me that when I got to college, I would appreciate knowing to play the guitar.

“All the girls will gather around you in the dorm as you’re playing some beautiful song — and I promise you – they all will be falling in love with you.”

His image was more Peter, Paul, and Mary than Van Halen, but even so, as a twelve year old, I had little interest in girls “loving me.”  I quit my guitar lessons.  My guitar still sits in my room in Flushing, years later, leaning against the closet.

Giving up the guitar was probably the dumbest, stupidest thing I ever did in all my life.   In my Columbia College dorm, I had an ugly neighbor who used to have sex all the time with the most gorgeous girls, all because he would play Springsteen songs for them on his guitar, melting their hearts right into his bed.  I once tried to impress a sophomore girl by playing the “Theme from Star Wars” on my clarinet, but it just didn’t have the same effect.

I love my guitar story.  But now it is as good as dead.  Thank you, David Sedaris!    I know I could get in trouble with the gay community for saying this — but I hate your guts!

After reading this second story, I spit out my green tea and ran to the bookshelf.  My goal:  to skim through every essay that David  Sedaris has ever published.   My biggest fear as a writer is being told that “someone already wrote something exactly like you just did.”

Luckily, my next post is safe — a terrific autobiographical slice of life that really happened to me.  Thank God David Sedaris never wrote an essay about his experience going out to sea to kill a giant whale.  You’re going to love this story.

Carnival of the Mundane 5 Coming Soon

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Do you know what a  blog "carnival" is?   It is a link-fest which gathers together blog posts on a certain subject or theme.  These carnivals  usually come out on a weekly, bi-monthly, or monthly basis.  Most of the blog "carnivals" revolve around big-ticket themes. 

A few months ago, Dean Abbott at Inspired by a True Story had a terrific idea.   What about a blog "carnival" that focused on the mundane things of daily life — the stuff that most of us write about?  From that idea was born the "Carnival of the Mundane."

The Carnival of the Mundane is run by Dean Abbott and Postmodern Sass at Postmodernes Sprachspielen.  There have already been four Carnivals, each hosted by another blogger, each carnival topping the last with over-the-top surprises and life-affiirming ordinariness.

On Friday, March 3rd, I will be hosting the Fifth Carnival of the Mundane, right here at Citizen of the Month.  From all accounts, it should be a bigger event than the Oscars on March 5th.   And yes, I will be wearing a tux.

I’m hoping that many of you will submit to this carnival.  After all, the only reason Dean asked me to host it was because I told him that I knew the most mundane bloggers in the blogosphere, writers that could definitely put a hyperactive child to sleep.  Finally, don’t you deserve some attention for your God-given talent?

If you want to submit a post that deals with the mundane in a unique way – send your name, the permalink to your post, and your blog’s name to neilochka at yahoo [.] com. 

Update:  The carnival is now up!

Know Thyself…Very Little

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In the early days of my blogging "career," I was jealous of those who were asked by another blogger to do a "meme."   I used to ask myself:

"Why wasn’t I asked to do a "meme?"  Am I so unloved?  Doesn’t anyone want to learn more about me?"

I was ecstatic when I got  my first meme.  Finally, somebody cared!

Until then, I never had trouble writing a post.  But with the meme, I stared at the screen for an hour.  It was difficult for me to do.  It was like writing an essay for college admissions.

Since then, I’ve been offered other memes.   I’m hoping no one has noticed that I never actually do them.  I’ve only done that first one.  I hope you don’t think me snobbish, as if I’m too proud to answer your question about what type of underwear I wear.  I love reading your memes.  I love learning more about you.  But when I try to do one, I just break out in hives.

I’ve thought about my reasons, and I’ve concluded that I have a "fear of memes."   I’m afraid of memes because they require that I answer questions about myself.  

And in all honesty, I don’t know myself very well.

Here are some typical meme questions:

What is my favorite movie?  It really depends on my mood or who I’m watching it with.  Sometimes I watch a movie I thought I loved, like Star Wars, and the movie seems incredibly cheesy.

If I were a fruit, which fruit would I be?  Do any of you actually think about this shit?  I may have once harbored a fantasy of fucking the Chiquita Banana lady, but I’ve never dreamt about being the banana.

What’s in your bedroom closet?  I stuff my closet with dirty laundry.  I never open the doors.

Maybe I need to force myself to do these memes.  Maybe they will make me understand myself better.  Maybe I can use these memes as a cheap way to get some therapy.

A few years back, I did see a therapist.   It was, in fact, Sophia’s therapist.  At the time, Sophia was seeing Doris, a sixty-ish woman, a former schoolteacher, who always wore tweed, which is odd-looking in Los Angeles.  Sophia suggested that I see my own therapist.  I told her that I had no idea on how to find a therapist.  Soon, Sophia was seeing Doris on Tuesday and I was visiting Doris on Wednesday. 

Seeing the same therapist was a disaster.   Sophia and I would complain about each other to Doris, and then press this poor women to tell us what the other one had said behind his/her back.

"Whatever Sophia told you, was a lie," I used to tell Doris.

Our arguments at home grew more intense:

"I don’t care what you say.  Doris told me that I shouldn’t cave in to you.  That’s I’m too passive with you."

"Oh, well, Doris told me that I should stand my ground.  And that you manipulate me with your guilt."

"Why don’t we just call Doris and find out who’s lying?!"

Eventually, Doris said our arrangement wasn’t working.  She dumped me, since Sophia was her client before I was.   Doris suggested that I see her son-in-law, Josh, who just graduated from UCLA and was doing his "required hours" to become a licensed therapist.

My time with Josh was worse than with Doris.   I was his very first client.   He looked twenty years old.  I had this feeling that he had never been on a date before.  How was he going to give me any marital advice?

Like many inexperienced people trying to fake it, he overcompensated by doing everything by the book.  He sat there silently and wrote notes, like he must have seen therapists do in the movies.  I would get so bored just talking to him, like I was on a really bad date.  Sometimes, I would try to coax him into conversation:

"Surely you’ve had this same problem with women.  Right, Josh?"

He always gave the same stock answer.

"We’re here to talk about you, not me."

Because I did all the talking, I became anxious that I wasn’t interesting enough for him.  On the way to his office, I would jot down little notes and jokes, hoping that I would somehow amuse him.  But he never smiled.

One day, I was in an Italian restaurant in Westwood, and I saw Josh, eating alone at his table.  I started going over to say hello, but he turned away from me, ignoring me.  Later, he explained that it wasn’t a good policy for a therapist to interact with a client out of the office. 

Gradually, I began to question the sanity of my own therapist, especially after I found out that he was visiting a therapist himself five times a week.  Not only that, but it was a lot of work to come up with new material to entertain him all the time.

I hope this gives you some insight into why I have a problem doing those memes.   The questions are too difficult for me.  I just never had a good therapist and still don’t know who I am. 

But please continue sending them my way.  I really do appreciate it — even if I never do them.

Brokeback Birthday

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This weekend, we went away for Sophia’s birthday.  My plan was to come up with a theme weekend:  "A Weekend of Trying New Things." 

On Friday, we would drive to the Santa Barbara area.  

On Saturday, Sophia, a big fan of figure skating, would learn to ice skate at a rink in nearby Oxnard, California. 

On Sunday, Sophia would learn to ride a horse at a ranch in the Santa Barbara hills.

On Saturday morning, we arrived at the ice skating rink for our lesson with our instructor, Frederick.   Most of his students are usually children, so he seemed excited to meet two adults, who would challenge him. 

"Finally!" he must have thought, "I can finally teach some adults sophisticated skating techniques!"

What he didn’t expect was that both Sophia and I would fall on our asses the minute we touched the ice.  And neither of us knew how to stand up, so he needed to lift us both.  It quickly became clear that Frederick was not going to be teaching us any triple lutzes.  For the next half hour, he guided us slowly — very slowly — around the perimeter of the rink, as we gripped the railing for dear life with every muscle of our fingers.  Every couple of minutes, Frederick would ask, "Seems like you had enough.  Should we quit now?"  I’d nod yes, but Sophia was determined to make it all around the rink, even if it meant not finishing until the closing ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympics. 

Midway during our crawl around the rink, I noticed that Sophia wasn’t behind me anymore.  I looked back and saw that a terrified Sophia was being blocked by a six-year-old girl.  She was hanging onto the railing just like we were, but going in the opposite direction.   There was a standstill.  Each looked at the other, both in fear of letting go.  Who would cave in first?  Not Sophia.  The kid let her pass.

After the skating lesson, I limped to the car, traumatized by that horrifying experience.  Sophia looked like she was in a daze and her jeans were all wet from falling.  So, I was very surprised when Sophia said:

 "That was fun.  Let’s try this again in Los Angeles!"

The next day, we drove into the hills of Santa Barbara to a ranch.   Sophia was very nervous about going on a horse.  Victor, our cowboy/guide said he would let her ride Herman, a "nice" horse.  After the first five minutes, Sophia was feeling very unsettled, I heard her mumble that she’s "ready to go back right now," but she kept on.  I was given Hershey.  Victor said Hershey was "interesting."  I’m wasn’t sure what he meant by that.  When you say that about a person, you usually mean that he’s "weird."

As we rode the mountain trail on our horses, there was beautiful scenery all around us.  We even looked over the Pacific Ocean.   Some of the trails were very close to the edge, and I noticed that Hershey enjoyed walking VERY CLOSE to the edge, so close that rocks would start to fall down the hill.  I began to wonder if "interesting" meant that Hershey was suicidal.  When Sophia saw that I was having trouble controlling my horse, she called out to the guide for help, despite me telling her not to say anything.

"What’s the problem, Cowboy?" asked Victor the Cowboy.

"Nothing… nothing… everything’s great." I said.  "Just talking with Hershey."

"That’s good.  Real good.  Because he’s REAL interesting."

What was I supposed to say?  The truth?  Victor just called me Cowboy.  I couldn’t look like a wuss and complain about this old lazy (and depressed) horse.  And what cowboy has a woman speak up for him?  It just doesn’t happen.

"If he causes you any problems," said Victor, "just whip him in the back."

Whip the horse?  Is Victor crazy?  Surely, Hershey will like me better if I treat him with love and respect.

Of course, Hershey returned his love with a big "fuck you, city boy" by walking so close to the edge of the mountain that leaves, branches, and pine needles constantly smacked me right in the face.

But no, I never whipped him.  Stupid ass horse.

When we got back to the ranch, I was ecstatic that it was over. I was already in pain from the ice skating the day before.  Now, after getting off the horse, I couldn’t even feel my groin.   Sophia said she too was in pain, could barely walk and smelled like a horse.  Finally, something we could agree on.   Horses suck.   But no —

"But it was great!  Much too short though," said Sophia.  "Let’s do this again in Los Angeles.  This and ice skating!"

Maybe next year.

Happy Birthday, Sophia

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Dear Sophia, my favorite Aquarius —

Happy Birthday! 

Where would I be without you?  I would know nothing about life, love, sex, or buying bras if it weren’t for you.  Even during our separation, you’ve remained my muse.  Look how many blog posts revolve around you!   

I know some women look at their latest birthday with dread.  But you never do.  You always keep that inner child of yours alive — you’re such an outgoing, fun, and sexy woman!  

I frequently get emails from readers saying they are confused about our messy relationship.  It is confusing.  And it is a bit of a mess.  But our love for each other remains the same.

Much happiness to you on your birthday.  May all your wishes come true this year.

Love, Neil

Life is Like a Soap Opera

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Sophia stopped by my apartment today to watch "All My Children."  In the past, I’ve written about how she turned me on to this soap opera, and how I’ve been watching it every since.  Lately, the show has really sucked.  Bad stories and bad characters.  So, when a show gets stale, what can a TV producer do? 

How about a big explosion?

Here’s the recap.  Erica Kane (Susan Lucci) throws a big masquerade ball.   As everyone enjoys themselves, Janet, the deranged mother of Amanda, decides to blow up the mansion and everyone in it.  There’s a big explosion.  The mansion collapses.   But — what a coincidence! — the structure comes down in such an organized way that the guests are trapped and isolated under the rubble in neat groups of two.   And — get this — those stuck together just happen to be characters who have "issues" with each other.  It doesn’t matter if they were standing next to each before the explosion.  They still end up trapped with each other.

So, there’s Zach and Ethan together —  the father and son who hate each other.  There’s Kendall and Ryan, the ex-lovers who are having a baby together from sperm stolen from a fertility clinic.  There’s David, the brilliant ex-cardiologist and Palmer, his nemesis.  And then there Erica Kane with Josh, her young television producer, who she has she found out is really her son.  And so on.

Now imagine there’s gas leaking near you.   It is getting difficult to breathe.  Any false move could cause the walls to collapse around you.   What do you do?   Call for help? 

Of course not. 

You waste oxygen talking over your "issues."

Ethan and Zack:

Ethan:  "Did you ever really want to be a father to me?  Did you ever care?"

Zach:  "I love you, Son.  I always did."

Kendall and Ryan:

Kendall:  "Ryan, this is your baby!  But do you want me to be happy?  No!  Ever since you lost Greenlee, you’ve wanted me to suffer."

Ryan:  "That’s not true.  I care about you.  You and the baby.  My baby.  My baby that is inside you."

Erica and Josh:

Erica:  "Please, Josh.  Tell me more about your mother."

Josh:  "Why do you care so much about my mother?  Why do you ask so many questions?  Who are you to grill me?  The Great Erica Kane!  The woman who only cares about herself!  I’m nothing to you."

Erica:  "You are something to me, Josh.  More than you know.  It’s something we need to discuss.  Now.  Before it’s too late."

Of course, in typical soap opera fashion, this plotline is being stretched out so it takes up all week.  Today’s episode was especially ridiculous.  Sophia and I laughed up a storm over the show’s bad writing and corny plot gimmicks.

After the show, Sophia had an appointment, so we headed downstairs to the garage.  I live on the third floor of my apartment building, so we took the elevator down.  

As we were passing the second floor, we heard a rumble and the lights went out.

And then the cable snapped.

The elevator went careening down in a free-fall, at what seemed like 200 miles per hour.  Sophia and I held on for dear life,  each knowing that these were our final moments together.  But before it all ended, there was still one remaining issue between us that needed to be resolved:

"Did you ever install Photoshop on my computer?"  Sophia asked.

"Not yet."

"Well, when?  How many times do I have to ask you?"

"I’ve been busy."

"Blogging is not being busy."

"Look, I’m sorry."

"How many years has it been the same way.  You say you’re going to do things and then you don’t."

"Do you really want to bring this up now?  Right after Valentine’s Day?  We had such a nice time."

"Yeah, you love telling all your readers how wonderful and romantic you are.  Awwww, Neilochka… so sweet.  But do they know you promised me Photoshop a month ago?!"

"OK, so you’re right.  I’m bad.  I’m lousy.  But c’mon, Sophia, let’s not ruin our final moments we have here on Earth."

"OK, you make a good point.  At least we’re communicating here.  I’m sorry, too. "

"You don’t have to be sorry."

"I do.  I just blew up for no reason.  It’s just… PMS."

"Really… or are you just saying that?"

"Really."

"OK, lets just start this falling to our death over again, so we’re nice to each other.  Let’s just talk about something else."

"Fine.  Like what?"

"I have a better idea.  Why don’t we have sex?"

"OK."

"But sex like in the old days.  Before we got married."

"So, you mean bad sex?"

"Be nice."

"Just joking… come here, Neilochka.  Our last time together…"

Sophia pulled me over and we kissed.   Sophia pressed me against the wall.

"Goodbye, Neilochka."

"Goodbye, Sophia."

I paused.

"What is it?,"  Sophia asked.

"I really should say goodbye to all my blogging friends."

"And how are you going to do that?"

"I have my free Sprint Ambassador phone.  I can go online with it and write my last blog post."

"Right now?"

"Sure.  The others will get a real kick out of this post.  "Neil and Sophia:  The Final Moments."  Think of all the links on Technorati.  Especially if we post some photos."

"OK, just hurry up.  Before I’m not in the mood anymore."

I pulled my phone from my pocket.  I started to dial.

"Menu.  Click.  Type.   Go to URL.   W.W.W.C – I – T – I – X.  Shit,  that’s not a Z.  These keys are so small!  And who can read this without a magnifying glass?  Shit, another mistake.   How do you do a backspace?"

"Neil, is this REALLY that important?   Believe me, the other bloggers are just going to move on to someone new.  You’re really not that important to them."

"Maybe you’re right.  They’re not like you and me, are they  — living through the good and the bad?!  Screw those selfish bloggers who cross you off their blogroll just because you wrote one bad post!  Let’s make these final moments about you and me!"

I kissed Sophia.   Passions rose.  Suddenly, the elevator crashed down on the garage level.  Actually, it wasn’t really a crash.  It was actually a soft landing.  Just our luck — the superintendent had stored some leftover rolls of plush carpeting at the bottom of the elevator shaft, cushioning the landing.  

What a coincidence!   We survived!  Maybe those soap operas aren’t so unrealistic after all!

The elevator door opened, revealing Sophia’s car right in front of us.  Sophia headed for her car.

"What about our sex?"  I asked her.

"Sorry," answered Sophia .  "Now I have a headache.   Maybe after you install Photoshop."

Newsflash: Men Don’t Understand Women

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My Valentine’s day was great.  Sophia and I went out to dinner and then saw a comedy show.   After many years of experience, I was smart enough to hold my tongue when I saw that this overpriced "Valentine’s Day Romantic Dinner" was fifty dollars a person (and ten dollars for a glass of wine!)  

Ah, the high cost of romance.  

I even let Sophia eat most of the overpriced cheesecake herself.  So, yes, I was a real Prince Charming. 

Our only small bit of conflict was over whether or not we should pay the five dollar valet parking fee or keep on driving around Hollywood.  Let’s just say, we ended up paying the fee.

One of the comics we saw was particularly bad, telling unfunny jokes about venereal disease (a Valentine’s Day favorite!) — so I zoned out and just gazed at Sophia, this beautiful woman across from me. 

"For all the years I know her," I thought, " I still don’t feel I really KNOW her.  Isn’t that weird?  Why is it so difficult to know a woman?  Is it just Sophia or do I understand women at all?  Do women make themselves intentionally mysterious or is that their true character?"

When I sat down to think about this subject today, my first thought was about men themselves.  Men have a simplicity and comaraderie that women frequently lack.  Women can be sweet, but they’re also more complicated — and way more catty and backstabbing than any man can ever be.

Recently, I played Texas Hold-em poker twice — once with a group of guys and once with a group of women.  With the women’s group, I was the only male player.  The guys played poker — period.  At some point, we ordered a pizza from Domino’s, but we hardly talked about anything but poker. 

Things were different with the women.  The women brought pot luck dishes.  One woman brought a catalog showing the future locale of her wedding ceremony.  She kept on repeating, "My fiance… my fiance… my fiance," like I once saw in a Seinfeld episode.  One single woman looked like she was going to bust a vein.  At the other game, not one male ever brought up his wife or girlfriend.   OK, maybe I did — but now I’ve learned better not to.  We were there to play poker — and to get away from the women — not to talk about them.  On the other hand, the women wouldn’t shut up about their boyfriends and husbands.

At the women’s game, the poker was merely a backdrop for more important issues.  Two women got into a nasty fight because one of them took too long deciding if she was going "all in."  They started arguing about some weekend in Lake Tahoe from THREE years ago when they both liked this guy from Israel, but only one got lucky with him. 

This is poker?  I had prepared for this game by watching poker TV shows, hoping to learn how to "tell" when a player was bluffing.  But not one of these shows gave me any advice on how to play with women who were more interested in fighting over some hunky Israeli than what cards they had.

Will men ever understand women? 

One of best thing about the blogosphere is that we can turn to female bloggers for advice and information on the opposite sex.

Some bloggers are already doing a public service.  For instance, Trixie of Bated Breath, just wrote a post titled "Trixie’s Guide to Woman-Speak."   That’s perfect!  Just what we need:

Let’s face it. For men, understanding the inner-workings of the female mind is nearly impossible. At times, we can be incredibly vague, often leaving men searching for the appropriate answer so as not to find their nuts in a vise. On other occasions, we pepper our statements or questions with innuendo, leaving everything open to the males’ interpretation.

What a useful post!  I wish more women would help us clueless men.

Immediately, hundreds of questions come to my mind that I would love answered by some woman.  For instance:

1)  How can you be so neat and put-together, but your purse be such a mess?

2)  Why will you kiss me, but not use my toothbrush?

3)  Do women really talk like they do in "Sex and the City?"

4)  Are you really bullshitting about that PMS thing just to get some extra attention?

Valentine’s Day Blogger Serenade

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Happy Valentine’s Day, Sophia!

Happy Valentine’s Day, Mom!

Happy Valentine’s Day, Beautiful Bloggers of the Blogosphere

May We All Find True Love and Blog About it!

And now for your listening pleasure, I sing the classic "Love Will Keep Us Together," originally sung by the Captain and Tennille. 

My voice may not be perfect, but my heart is in the right place.

Mom, Don’t Forget to Wear Your Hat

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At some point in every adult’s life, the "child" begins to worry about his parents.  This is a passage of life because before that, it was the parents who mostly worried about the child.  For some, this happens at an early age.  A parent could be sick, unattentive, or die early, making the child mature early. 

This was not my case.   My parents never wanted me to worry.  Instead they were the ones who constantly worried about me.

Today, there’s a blizzard in New York.  Tomorrow, my mother will schlep from Queens into Manhattan to go to work.  I called her tonight and told her "to dress warm" tomorrow — knowing she had a bout with pneumonia last year.  It reminded me of when I was a kid and she used to make me wear a hat. 

Are our roles reversing?

She enjoys working downtown, but at some point, she might want to retire.  Would she enjoy being in the nice weather during the winter?  She recently visited her friend Shirley in Florida. Shirley lives in one of those "retirement villages" in Boca Raton.  My mother says she "wasn’t crazy about Florida," mostly because it made her feel older than she actually feels inside.

My mother brought up an example:

"Shirley and I went to the clubhouse for "Movie Night."  They were showing "Bull Durham."  Halfway through the movie there was a fire alarm.  Everyone got up to exit the clubhouse, but there were so many older residents with walkers and canes, that it took everyone twenty minutes to exit the clubhouse.  It ended up being a false alarm — but we skipped the rest of the movie, not wanting to wait another twenty minutes while everyone sat down again."

After she retires, the logical next step would be for her to move out here  — maybe during the winter months — assuming I’m still living in Los Angeles.  After all, I’m the only child.  But where would she live?  My mother doesn’t know how to drive, despite having a New York State driver’s license, which is the funniest thing in the universe to me.  My mother said that if she moves here, she’ll take a refresher course in driving.  Little does she know that if she is going to drive around Los Angeles, that’s the time when I move somewhere else.

All in all, my mother seems to be doing pretty well since my father’s passing.  Although she says it is "too quiet" at night, she’s been going out to concerts and movies on weekends.  In May, she’s even going with two women friends on a bus trip through Spain and Portugal.  That’s something she could have never dragged my father to do.

I’m still such a kid myself — still unsettled with work and marriage.  I wish I could be more of help to her, instead of it always being the other way around.  But, let’s see — at least I have my blog to entertain her with during the day!   I know she reads it every day, because I see her in the stats — she is my most consistent reader.

Although, this weekend, we did have a little mother-son discussion about my blog:

"Neil, one of my friends who I play Mahjong with reads your blodge and she wanted me to tell you something important."

"Is this Suzanne we’re talking about?"

"Yes, how did you know?"

"Because she’s your only friend who would know how to find a blog online.  What did she say?"

"She said she likes the blodge  a lot.."

"Blog!  Blog!"

"OK, blodge… but she has one small complaint.  There’s too much of "that thing.""

"What "thing?""

"That "thing" you talk about too much."

"What are you talking about, Mom?"

"That "thing" you talk to."

"Oh… that "thing.""

"Yes.  She said to just "cut it out."   I mean, not the "thing."   Don’t cut off the "thing."  She meant to "cut it out" of the blodge… to stop talking about the "thing," not  to cut your "thing" itself, G-d forbid."

"I understand, Mom.  You didn’t raise an idiot."  

"And I agree…"

"About what?  Oh…"

"I… um… who in the world talks to their "thing?""

"Yeah…"

"So, anyway…"

"Uh…well, uh…so, Mom, (changing the subject)… are you watching the Olympics…?"

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