the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Proof that I’m a Straight Male, Despite the ABBA


Last night, I fell asleep watching “America’s Got Talent,” which has to be the worst show ever created (and I love these types of shows). In the morning, I was awoken by Sophia calling for me from the bedroom. It sounded like a cry for help.

“Neil! Neil” she yelled.

I rushed upstairs, and saw Sophia frantically massaging her right leg.

“I have a terrible cramp in my leg!” she said.

I started to massage her leg, even though I was still half asleep. Sophia started to cry. I had enough of this misery. It was time to fix everything.

“Stop it. Stop crying and making those faces! I thought you were listening to those self-help tapes at night so you’ll be positive. SO BE POSITIVE. You told me that this author said if you think you’re healthy, you ARE healthy. So, you’re healthy. Think you’re healthy. You’re making me upset with all this crying and making faces! Enough already! How long is it going to go on?! Get over it!”

Sophia stopped crying, but looked annoyed. Well, at least I got her to stop crying.

“Why don’t you write that ON YOUR BLOG? Let all your female fans SEE THAT! Let’s see if they ooh and ahh now.”

If any of you are thinking of throwing tomatoes, remember — they are very expensive this year.

Note: If I don’t post here for the next couple of days, it means I’m feeling down. But I stil love to hear from you via email or phone. Wait a minute… that reminds me of a song…

(don’t worry, the current ABBA obsession is coming to an end)


  1. churlita

    Neil, you hard-ass. I guess you really are a man after all. I hope you left out the part that came after, where you cuddled Sophia and told her everything was going to be okay.

  2. tamar

    Your sharing is helpful to those of us who have walked your walk or watched others or soon will.

    I am interested in sophia’s roots. When/how/why she came to the USA. is she part of the refusniks? Asylum seekers who chose or were sent here (versus, say israel)? In case you answere all these questions, just shoot me the URL(s).

    Both of your courage, candor, and cheer — nothing fake — i follow, like a puppy seeking warmth.

    Last, while i (might) have your ear/eye, would you bring back the psychotic MD? he, too, offers gigantic dosages of reality, humor, and hope.

  3. Neil

    Tamar — It’s actually a pretty interesting story. She went to Israel as a teenager, and didn’t see her mother for years until her mother left Odessa.

    And you mean Psychotoddler? I think the name refers to his kid, and not he fact that he is a psychotic MD… I hope…

  4. Danny

    Heartless bastard. And yet that episode really just shows how agonizing it is for you to see Sophia in pain so I don’t think you’ll be losing any of your female fans. Especially since you probably feel really guilty for your outburst and have been apologizing ever since.

    Oy, I must say that these ABBA videos are scaring the bejeesus out of me. I keep calling my wife and daughter over to look at them and we stare with our mouths agape. (But I should talkÒ€”I’m the one who was sitting in the third row at a Liza Minnelli concert a week ago…)

  5. Neil

    Can Liza still sing?

  6. Finn

    Danny – Liza? Are you sure YOU aren’t gay?

    So Neil, you’re not perfect? Ahh, the last of my illusions shattered. Now I can die happy.

  7. deezee

    I like that you tagged this post ‘beast cancer.’ How Freudian. Of course now you’ll go fix it and everyone will think I’m a blind lunatic.

  8. plain jane

    Wow. Tough love.

  9. You can call me, 'Sir'

    Tough love is definitely all about timing it correctly. It doesn’t mean that it isn’t necessary and beneficial, though.

  10. Danny

    After years of sucking, Liza’s never sounded better. Losing the gay husband has done wonders for her vocal cords. Finn, there were lots of straight males in that audience. True, they were all over 70 and dragged in by their wives but still…

    Neil, if you recall, one of our first outings with you and Sophia was a screening of “Cabaret” at the Motion Picture Academy last year. Maybe Sophia would feel better if you played her some Liza rather than those wretched ABBA tunes…

  11. Beckie

    Ahh, so you’re only human after all.

  12. sarah g

    awww, you ran when she called you. ohhh you massaged her leg. theres your ooohh and ahhh πŸ™‚

  13. MichelleV

    Watching these videos feels like a recurring nightmare… but it was real.

  14. Atomic Bombshell

    Tough love, eh? πŸ˜‰

  15. Jenn

    So you forced her replace her pain and fear with being pissed at you? Bold move. Keep us informed how that works out…
    As for the ABBA, I had an ABBA album as a kid that played until it was grooveless. That song was on the album, but I haven’t heard it since then. The videos are a tad bit scary, but I still love the music!

  16. Bre

    I’m pretty glad you’re human after all.

  17. better safe than sorry

    tomatoes here are $1.99/lb, that’s a great price!
    ohhhhhh ahhhhhhh.

  18. psychomom


    Hey, that’s my blood type. I donated in Sophia’s honor today.

    I thought you were suppose to slug leg cramps. Ahhh you are so nice, you massaged, ohhhh.

  19. Eileen Dover

    Yeah, you just need to shut up and rub her leg.

    Or let your penis do the talking. Hah!

  20. Dagny

    You must be planning on cooking a fantabulous dinner tonight. And you might want to pick up some flowers too.

  21. Miss Syl

    I’m not gonna comment on the details of the scenario, other than to say that it sounds like both of you are–quite understandably–feeling pretty low and stressed; and I do hope that very, very soon the time will come when you both will feel better.

    Love to you both. Hang in there.

  22. Scarlet

    Um, what tape were YOU listening to?

  23. Kyra

    Actually, if all Sophia told you to do was blog about it, she’s my hero. I would have laid out Mr. Savy flat for that one… once I could have stood up again, that is. πŸ˜‰ I’ve had those leg cramps. Ugh. Especially when I was training for my marathon – I don’t scream and cry easy, but those brought me to it. (Hey, if she gets any more of them, make sure she knows to shove a knuckle into the center of the knot/cramp as hard as she can. It stimulates a natural reaction of release and causes it to subside lightning fast even though it hurts for a second – but you both probably knew that.)

  24. Not Fainthearted

    meh. so you were a bit testy. You think we didn’t know that?

    Rock on, Sophia.

  25. Dana

    I hope you went right back in there and kept massaging her leg. Calf stretches can help a lot. It will eventually just give up. “Ooh, ahh.” I don’t mean it.

    The first time I read this post I think I missed the line about the obsession coming to an end. Thank you. I heart ABBA but am drowning in a surfeit. This one really took the cake. $10 video budget and, um, the rest of their money in sequins and laceup shirts? Antique phones in the middle of the back garden??? I’d like some of those blue shimmer boots, though.

  26. Long Story Longer

    I love ABBA.

    Gosh, I was thinking of you guys earlier today. Big hugs to you both. That’s all.

  27. It's Me... Maven

    Perhaps a nice warm soak with some epsom salts might help those leg cramps… or perhaps eating a banana. I hope Sophia is taking plenty of good vitamins and minerals and keeping well-hydrated:) I know it must be hard on you. You’re a man afterall, and if a man can’t fix what’s wrong with us, the man gets frustrated. I usually respond to my husband with, “if you can’t say something supportive… I’d gladly accept your silence.”

    Good luck to both of you, as Sophia is on her road to wellness…

  28. Erin

    As a fan of any kind of massage, I can say, KEEP ON WITH THE RUBBING! And as for the ABBA…Come on Neil, even I’m getting tired of the never endless displays of exquisite fashion, dazzling dances moves, and polyester skin tight overalls. Oh, who am I kidding? WAAAAAAWAWAWAWWAWWAAAAAAAAATERLOOOOO…..

  29. Kate

    Sophia stopped crying, but looked annoyed. Well, at least I got her to stop crying.

    Why are boys always so desperate to get the crying to stop? It’s not that big a deal, boys!

    Hang in there Neil and Sophia.

  30. Marilyn

    I always feel better after a good cry, but annoyed might be healthier. I don’t know. I don’t think it was an exclusively male response. It’s hard to watch another person feeling down and not be able to cheer them up.

  31. V-Grrrl

    I hope you sat down and had a beer after this outburst and felt much better.

    A few years ago, I was wearing a heart monitor when my heart started beating erratically and wouldn’t return to normal. It was beating out of time at 180 beats per minute for over an hour. While I was planted in a recliner trying to stay calm and just breathe as my heart galloped out of my chest, my husband was outside weeding.

    When the cardiologist, who was monitoring readouts from my monitor, ordered me to get the hospital right away, my husband dragged his feet and bitched and moaned at having to spend a Sunday afternoon in the ER. “Are you sure we have to go? Who said so? Is this really necessary?”

    I should have dropped dead right then and there just to spite him, but being a good wife, I didn’t want to interrupt his friggin weeding with a death scene.

  32. Rach2

    It’s Me… Maven, you might be right:

    “Perhaps a nice warm soak with some epsom salts might help” — in Neil’s mouth?… πŸ˜‰

  33. Lisa

    No feeling down for you! There’s too damn much of that going around these days. Sheesh!

  34. marc

    well neil, i have had to go through similar things too, when with my ex; but u absolutely need to help ur lady in this…u shudnt have been mad at her. i guess her calf had cramped, it really sucks. if it is happening often to her, then get her to work her calves out a lil, also a few stretches at bed time and mebbe a few gentle strokes to her calves wud do her a lot of good

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