Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Month: March 2009 (page 1 of 2)

Dear Vivian

Dear Vivian,

I have never done this before — written to a blogger who I don’t know personally — but I must tell you how much your last few posts, your series on “Love and Happiness,” has meant to me.   Your words express ideas that have been in my heart for a long time, but have had no tunnel in which to escape and fly away, like a butterfly into the air.  You have shown me that path.  I have always been cynical, but now I realize that if I approach others with love, I will receive love back tenfold!

I loved what you wrote on Tuesday’s post, “Each Face is Beautiful,” — “Whenever I meet someone, hear someone, or read the writing of another individual, it is as if a piece of their wonderful, vibrant soul has surrounded me with a glowing light, and wrapped me warmly like a childhood blanket, and all I want to do is say “Thank You for being YOU and sharing YOU with ME.  I love.  I give love.  I receive love.”

Just beautiful.   As you are as a person.

Sincerely, Neil

Dear Vivian,

As usual, your latest post, “Seeing the World with the Third Eye,” has touched me beyond belief.  From this point on, I will also view the world “with my third eye.”  I will expunge all racism, sexism, and ageism from my life, and love everyone equally.  You are not only a writer, but a teacher.    In my tradition, we call that person a rabbi.

As you can tell from the link on the bottom of the email, I write a blog myself titled “Dispatch from Brooklyn.”   While the quality of my work is a far cry from your profundity, it would be a great honor if you would stop by just once and read my latest post, “Changing My Life.”  You were the muse for these brand-new insights.   I think you will get a big kick out of  reading it!

Sincerely, Neil

Dear Vivian,

Hello from New York City, also known as the Big Apple!   A few days ago, I mentioned that I wrote a post titled “Changing My Life,” which I completely based on the beautiful ideas expressed on your blog.  You are an inspiration.  You are the first blog I read in the morning, and as you must notice, I LOVE to comment on your blog every day.

I know you must be very busy, and I am sure you get emails like this every day from your many fans, but I was hoping that you might read that post I mentioned, or even comment on it.    Have you been trying, and facing some sort of  technical issue with my blog?   I hope there isn’t a problem with any of the new plug-ins.   I recently updated my WordPress template,  and you know how it goes when you update — sometimes it goes all crazy.   I apologize if that is the case.  I’m not the most tech-savvy person in the world.   If you’re having any problems commenting, please email me and I will fix it immediately.   Thanks.

Sincerely, Neil

Dear Vivian,

Hi, there.  Remember me?   How are you doing?  I’m still working on adding some plug-ins to my blog.   Recently, I added a few stats programs.  Do you use one too?   I know looking at your stats too much can drive you crazy, but I figured if I installed Google Analytics, Woompra, Site Meter, Site Counter, WordPress Stats, and StatsForever, I could get a pretty good overview of my readership.  Not that I have a big readership, like YOU, but just for fun!

I’m just curious — you still live in North Carolina, right?  I hear it is beautiful there, in that part of the country.   Hopefully, one day, if I am ever in town, we can go have a cup of coffee and gossip about blogging!

Sincerely, Neil

P.S. – so far, I haven’t seen anyone from North Carolina show up in any of my six stats programs.  Don’t be shy!!

Dear Vivian,

By now, I am sure you have seen my latest post, titled “Vivian is a Hypocritical Bitch.” I hope you realize that this is not a personal attack on your character, but random thoughts on a subject that I find fascinating — blog personality vs. real-life personality.  I consider my blog a fairly accurate representation of who I am in real life.   I do not know you, so I don’t know if you are a nice person or not.  You certainly SEEM super-nice on your blog, where you talk about “the little guy,” “those in need,” and all about love and caring and community.   I was even one of the first to go on Amazon and order your new book “Love and Caring and Community,” but sometimes I wonder if all this “loving” stuff isn’t just… well, a cheap gimmick to sell a book.

Let me ask you a personal question.   Have you ever read my blog?

I DON’T think so.

Again, I know you are busy with the book and all, but you certainly have enough time to read Oprah’s blog.    How do I know this?   Because I’ve seen you on it.  And, surprise, surprise.  Your book is going to be featured on Oprah’s show?  Of course!   That’s why you read her blog, and not the guy who has read your blog every day for the last two years and sent you cookies and that YouTube video of him juggling five oranges on your birthday!   So, that is how it works.  If it helps to sell your book, then you are all OPEN ARMS and ready to french kiss the person.  But if someone is a regular JOE,  then you say, “FUCK YOU.”   OK, I accept that.   I just wish you had been honest with me, or wrote that on your blog header,  so I would have been aware of your narcissistic game plan.   Believe me, I am not the only one who thinks  of you in this way.  You’re a fraud.  A fucking fraud!   And a bitch!”

Sincerely, Neil

Dear Vivian,

Holy shit!  I just got off all six of my stats programs, and my stats are through the roof!  Thank you SOOOO much for mentioning me on Oprah as “that crazy lunatic from Brooklyn.”  Once my blog address was outed on Facebook, I have been swamped with attention.  I even got a call from your literary agent!  I can’t believe my blog is finally getting some attention.  Like they say, the cream does rise to the top if you focus on your writing and perfect it!

Sincerely, Neil

Dear Vivian,

I have not had so much fun in all my life as I did with you during that session at Blogher on “Blogging with Authenticity.”  You can see the recap on my blog!  Everyone loved us!   Did you see what Guy Kawasaki said about us on Twitter?  He called us the “Woodward and Bernstein of Personal Blogging!”  I can’t wait to see you again at the SXSW.

And thank you so much for writing that touching blurb for my book.  “That Crazy Lunatic From Brooklyn” is already selling like hotcakes on Amazon.

You are a true friend.  When I started blogging, I had no idea what I was doing.  I was just writing little posts, navel-gazing self-therapy.  Never in a million years, did I ever expect to connect in such a powerful and intimate way with a peer as brilliant and awe-inspiring as you.    I love you, my dear friend.

Sincerely, Neil

Goat Stew

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I went for breakfast at the Dominican diner down the block.  I’ve written about this place before.  They have two menus combined in one folder — traditional Dominican cuisine and the gringo menu for those who want burgers and BLTs.   During my first few visits there, I went the safe route, ordering boring veggie burgers and turkey sandwiches.   Three blogger friends, Miguelina, Astrogirl, and Victoria of Veep Veep, all women with some part chica latina, scolded me for being so vanilla.

“Try something different, white boy!” said Astrogirl.

I ordered the goat stew.  It was delicious.   Tender, spicy, in a unique sauce.   Since then, I have ordered it countless times, as well as ordering other unfamiliar delicacies, such as cassava instead of potatoes, with my scrambled eggs.

At first, the staff was unfriendly to me, but once I ordered from their side of the menu, they accepted me as one of the community.   They yelled my name when I walked in, like Norm in Cheers, and they gave me the best table in the corner.  I talked to them about the Dominican music playing on the speakers; we chatted about life back in the old country.

I was eating my breakfast late today.  It was 11:30 and customers were now coming in for lunch.   Three burly Russian guys sat at the adjacent table.  They wore grey uniforms, and I assumed they were involved in some contruction or painting project nearby.  They were earthy guys, looking hungry.  One of the men — short, barrel-chested, and sporting a mustache — called over the waiter in a booming voice.

“Over here!”  he said.

His tone might have sounded rude coming from someone else, but it was clear that this mustachioed Russian spoke this way with everyone.   He also displayed a disarming smile that made you like him.

The Dominican waiter came over.   He told me his name once, and it sounded like “Chi,” so I will call him Chi.

“So tell me, my good man,” says the thick-accented Russian to Chi.  “What’s good here to eat for lunch?”

Chi looked nervous answering this question.    I studied the situation.   It was unclear if he concerned about his boss hearing his answer or giving the wrong answer to the three Russian guys?  Maybe these men were members of the Russian Mob and Chi was sweating in his boots?

“Fried chicken is good.” said Chi.

“Nah.” replied the Russian.

Chi tried again.  “Chicken parmigana.”

“No!   Nyet!   No chicken.  I’m sick of chicken.  My wife only makes chicken.”

Chi leaned against the wall, deep in thought, his eyes flickering back and forth from the back door to the kitchen.  I was completely involved in this drama, not quite understanding either the situation or the mystery.

I decided to help both Chi AND the hungry Russian trio.

“You should try the goat stew!”  I said, proud of my multi-cultural culnary knowledge.  “It’s excellent.”

This outburst was not a usual activity for me.  Sophia might have done this, but not me.  I rarely give advice to people I don’t know, strangers sitting at the next table.  I usually read the newspaper when I eat alone, or play on my iPhone, ignoring others.   But this story was so involving, I felt like I was part of it.  The three Russians turned towards me, hearing my advice, then quickly back to Chi, waiting for his response.

“No,” said Chi to the Russians.  “Don’t eat the goat stew here.  Have the chicken.”

For lunch, all three Russians ate fried chicken.

As I left the Dominican Diner, I noticed that nobody was eating the goat stew, even the Dominicans.

The Disappearing Video

I’m a cross between my mother and father.   My mother is optimistic, friendly, and efficient.   My late father was sarcastic, contemplative, overly-emotional, and somewhat negative.    I bounce back between my mother’s pollyannish attitude and my father’s cynicism, and for most of my life, this counterbalance in my brain has worked OK.

I think a positive attitude keep you happy and healthy, so I try to lean towards my mother’s direction, although I am stuck with my father’s chromosome.   I am not an advocate of those self-help books like “The Secret” that say positive thoughts are EVERYTHING.    I’ve seen too many happy people run over by a bus.     I do believe that your thoughts can help temper how you view the world.   We all have a soundtrack playing in our head that colors the action in front of us.   We’ve seen those YouTube videos where someone adds a new soundtrack to “The Shining” and makes it seem like a kid’s movie.   When I was in film school, I was blown away by the power of post-production.   So much of the emotional content is developed afterwards — in the sound, the cutting, the music.   This is where the director manipulates you into seeing things the way he wants you to see them.  POV is everything.

Point of view works the same in positive and negative thinking.   A butterfly comes into the house through the patio door.  Positive woman: “Oh look, a beautiful butterfly has visited us.   That must mean good luck!”   Negative guy: “Get that freakin’ insect out of here! Is there a hole in the screen AGAIN?!”

In my last post, I wrote about being discovered by old friends on Facebook during an inopportune moment in my life.

“Why couldn’t they find me on a day when I just got a promotion or a book deal?! ” I thought.

Of course, this is my father talking — the negative side.   I assume — wrongly — that everyone is doing wonderful, except me, and that all my old classmates, now smiling cheerfully on Facebook, are wondering what happened to me — (he’s living in the same apartment?!  he’s not with his wife?!)  — the guy who once gave the inspirational VALEDVICTORIAN SPEECH at our elementary school graduation, comparing our future to the NASA space program, with all of us reaching higher and higher in our goals and aspirations, until one day, we would meet again, all of us successful and happy, hand in hand with our spouses, watching OUR children graduate from their elementary school in 2009, at P.S. 1, the first elementary school on the outpost of Mars!

I was a nerdy kid.

My mother, the positive one, would say, “Perfect. What a wonderful time to reconnect with old friends!”

Negative is bad because it screws up the neurons in your brain and you start to see signs all around you that the world is against you, or laughing at you.   The black cat was MEANT for you.   It crossed the street, right in front of you, for a reason.   A positive person might not even notice the cat, or if it was black.   They would be too busy smiling at everyone passing by and enjoying the nice weather, even if the weather was crappy.  That’s what my mother would do.

I try hard to emulate my mother.

Today, I receive an email about the first ever blog proposal online!  Some male blogger was going to propose to a female blogger ONLINE!   I was invited to leave a link to one of my blog posts that related to love or marriage.  I thought it was a great idea and wanted to participate.  I love people falling in love.   I wanted to tell them that I love LOVE too.

I added a link from 2006.

At the time, I was in Los Angeles and Sophia was working on a movie in New York.   It was our anniversary.  I made my first (and only) video for the blog, where I recreated our first dance from our wedding while dancing with a mop.

Today, I started getting links from the proposal blog, and comments that read, “Where’s the video?” “No video” and “Where is it?”

“That’s weird,” I said to myself as I went to the post and clicked on the YouTube video that I had posted two years ago.

I received this message:

“This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by a third party.”

Now the only logical explanation is that the Andrew Sisters’ “Bei Mir Bist Du Schon,” the song we used for our first dance at the wedding, was playing in the background as I did my dancing with the mop, and someone from (the record company?) found this was a violation, which is odd, considering all the illegal crap that gets put on YouTube.

A negative person might see this as symbolic, like that black cat, or the broken mirror, as if YouTube was trying to send me a message that was more personal, less about the Andrew Sisters, and more about my marriage and my life.   Why else would this personal expression of love for my wife just go POOF, and disappear from the blogosphere?

“This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by a third party.”

Where is it?  What did YouTube do with it?   Is YouTube trying to tell me something?

I choose to go my mother’s route, the positive way, and just laugh at the irony.   I also have a copy of this video on my computer in Los Angeles, so try all you want, YouTube, but you cannot erase memories (or backups).

Sending Love to Shannon of Charming Bitch!

Shannon, a funny and charming blogger, who writes for Charming Bitch and has commented and guest-posted on this blog, is in the hospital.  Her immune system has not been doing so well since she started doing radiation and chemo for cancer.  If you know her, or even if you don’t, you can say hello over on her blog.

Shannon, please feel better and be strong!

Bad Time For New Facebook Friends

Nothing can lift the spirits of a man better than a long-time friend. My friend Barry called yesterday.

“I’m free tonight. You want to grab some sushi and then come coffee at the diner?”

“Perfect.”

I’ve mentioned Barry several times before. We have known each other since kindergarten. Although he has moved to the Island, his parents still live in my mother’s building, so he frequently drops by.

We have a ritual on our nights out. We eat somewhere. We drive past Shea Stadium/CitiField and talk about the Mets (well, in honesty, he talks about the Mets and I listen). We drive to the Palace Diner near Queens College. I order a coffee and linzer tart. He orders a decaf coffee and apple crumb cake. We look at the songs on the jukebox and make fun of them. We watch videos on YouTube on the iphone. We sit there for four hours.

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Barry knows very little about blogging and Twitter, but he has recently become obsessed with Facebook, mostly in reconnecting with people we knew in elementary school. He seems to have an amazing ability to find long-lost people.

“I found Josh. He sells real estate in Seattle. And I talked with Juan. He is a minister in Idaho.”

“Juan is a minister in Idaho?”

“He told me to give you his blessings.”

“How did he become a minister? All he ever did in school was smoke pot.”

“Maybe that’s how he found God.”

Now, if you recall, I closed the comments on my previous post. I titled it a “Trainwreck Post” and described how my life was falling apart. Some scholars say that God does not have a sense of humor. I should ask Juan about this issue. But I believe God IS a funny guy. Why else would Barry proceed to tell me this — ?

“Oh, I told him to friend you on Facebook. I told EVERYONE to friend you on Facebook. And I gave everyone the address to your BLOG.”

“My BLOG?! Why the hell would you do that?”

“Yeah, I thought it would be cool for them to see it. You were writing stuff even back then. They can see that you kept with it!”

“I don’t want THEM to see my BLOG!  Especially right now!”

It was too late. All weekend, I had classmates I haven’t seen in decades, happily married individuals who are now successful attorneys, professors, clothing designers, and ministers, coming to my blog and reading the post where I revealed that I am “rock bottom,” in need of medication, and STILL LIVING in the same apartment I was in elementary school.

“Interesting writing! I’ll read more.” wrote Sharon in a message to me on Facebook.  She was some girl I once dreamed about in sixth grade, now an assistant dean of a prestigious woman’s college.

For some reason, I don’t believe her.

When Barry told me this news in the diner, I knew it was going to be trouble.

“We all want to look good with old friends!  Having all these people reading my blog right now is like ME going to my college reunion with my fly open!”

“At least they’ll remember you as different,”  he said.

Barry handed me my iPhone.   As I was fretting, he had clicked onto Facebook and was showing me the current profile photo of Jane, who, back in the day, was considered the prettiest girl in fifth grade.

“Jeez, she’s still gorgeous!” I said. “Is she married?”

“To a neurosurgeon.”

I finished my linzer tart.

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Today, on Facebook, Jane posted this photo of Barry and me in the fifth grade during the yearly P.S. 154 “Dance Festival” in the schoolyard.

Rock Bottom: The Trainwreck Post

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Splat.  I hit the cold hard bottom.  Since returning from my visit with my mother and Sophia down in Florida, I have fallen apart.  My anxiety level is at an all time high.  All the strands of my life are converging — my marriage, my mother returning to Queens in two weeks, work concerns that pit living in NYC with moving back to LA.

I can’t live like this anymore.  I need to have a home AND a somewhat normal existence.

I need to have a wife that I either live with, or NOT be married to her.  I need to love someone and be loved.  I need to focus on my writing, on my career, on money, and on life.

I need to be able to feel up a woman before I go to sleep, or why else continue living?

All I’ve done for the last few days is go on Twitter and argue with people about Twitter.

I just took a Prozac.  I’m a little concerned on the Prozac’s effect on my Penis, but so far, it hasn’t fallen off.

First time, no comments.

The Easy Chair

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Young Renaldo was invisible to his parents.  He sat all day in front of the television and watched cartoons.  He wanted to run away, but where would he go?  It was easier to just turn into an easy chair.  This way, he could sit in the living room forever, and not have to worry about eating, sleeping, or doing any homework.

One night, after dinner, Renaldo’s parents finally noticed that Renaldo was missing.  They asked each other about Renaldo’s whereabouts.  They shrugged.

“Who knows?” said Renaldo’s mother.

Renaldo’s parents instantly forgot about him because they had a more pressing problem.  An easy chair had suddenly appeared in the middle of the living room.  Their apartment was tiny, and the addition of the easy chair made it difficult for the parent’s to pass, en route to the bathroom.  The next day, Renaldo’s father shipped the chair off to the Salvation Army.

The easy chair sat in the city’s Salvation Army store for the next twenty-five years.  Renaldo’s parents died, having forgotten about Renaldo a long time ago.  One day, Sarah, a divorced and anxiety-ridden woman, came into the store.  She had recently moved into a new apartment after being laid off from her job.  She was looking for an easy chair.  She noticed Renaldo, now a thirty-five year old easy chair.  She was not impressed with the chair.  It was dusty.  The attendant at the store, a balding black man with a silver tooth, appeared behind Sarah, eager to finally get rid of this old chair.

“You can have this one at 70% off,” he said.

Sarah figured it was a good deal, and bought the easy chair.  The attendant helped her tie the chair to the roof of her car, and Sarah brought Renaldo back to her small home, in a less-than-fashionable part of town.

Sarah cleaned up the easy chair, vacuuming away the dust, and placed it in front of her TV.  Renaldo was overjoyed.  He had not watched television for twenty-five years, and he sorely missed it.  And there were so many more cable channels now!  Food channels!  Decorating channels!  Cartoon channels!

In the morning, Sarah would turn on the Exercise Channel! — and do her aerobics with a group of health-oriented women on the screen, one of them, the always-smiling instructor, shouting out platitudes like “You go girl!”  Sarah would do her exercising in her panties and bra.  Renaldo was mesmerized by Sarah’s womanly body.  This was so much more interesting than any cartoon!   As Sarah did her “step” routine, Renaldo would watch her round ass move to the musical beat.  Renaldo’s favorite time was at night, during Sarah’s favorite primetime TV shows, “The Bachelor,” “CSI Miami,” and”American Idol,” because she would lean back in the easy chair, relaxed, and Renaldo felt her body next to hers.  He would feel powerful and exciting sensations, and have thoughts and feelings that were dormant for so many years.

One day, Sarah woke up in the easy chair, having spent the night dreaming her night with the shirtless Sawyer on the island of “Lost.”  She stood up from the chair and felt sick.  She threw up.  She went to her doctor.

“You’re pregnant,” he told her.

This was a mind-blowing announcement.  Sarah had not had sex with anyone since she was divorced from Andrew two years ago.  Sarah was a woman of reason, and would not even entertain the thought of some religious experience, or that she was carrying Satan’s baby, like in a movie.  There had to be a logical explanation for her pregnancy.

She gave the issue some thought, and concluded that she felt the most comfortable when she was sitting in the easy chair.  She had spent hours in that chair.  Sometimes, after a hard day at the office, she would just sit there, her eyes closed, and imagined that the easy chair was a handsome man who massaged her breasts and kissed her on the neck and whispered love poems into her ear.

“Are you my lover?” Sarah asked the easy chair, turning to Renaldo.

Her acknowledgement of Renaldo’s existence released Renaldo from the fears and hurts that had plagued him since childhood.  He was finally noticed by someone — a beautiful woman who he loved, a woman who was eager for his touch.

Renaldo suddenly appeared before Sarah as a handsome thirty-five year old man.  He had returned to reality, and he was happy.  And Sarah was happy.  Sarah stopped watching TV, not needing the distraction any more.  Every night, she would come home from work, and she would make passionate love to Renaldo.  Renaldo loved Sarah’s changing body and asked her to marry him.   She said yes.  Several months later, the baby was born, a boy.  They named him Sal, after the Salvation Army where Renaldo and Sarah first met.

Dealing with a baby was difficult for Sarah.  The baby’s crying kept her up at night and her focus revolved around the demanding child.  When she had some free time, Sarah just wanted to escape and watch TV.  Renaldo grew irritable, missing how things used to be with his wife.  Now, everything was about “the baby.”  Sarah had no patience for the nagging Renaldo.  One night, she had a dream that Renaldo transformed back into a comfortable old easy chair. It was so much easier back then.  When she woke up, Renaldo, the man was gone. Just like she hoped, Renaldo had returned to being a thirty-five year old easy chair.  That night, after putting the beautiful baby to bed, Sarah relaxed in the easy chair and watched Sawyer take off his shirt on “Lost.”  She was now happy.

Florida Vacation Photos!

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West Palm Beach, Florida

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Delray Beach, Florida

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Sophia and My Mother

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The water was much warmer than at the beach in LA.

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I kept on seeing these hunky guys on the beach with no hair on their bodies, so I tried to shave my back, but mostly just cut myself.

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Palm Beach — the good ol’ days (for everyone except the guy pushing the chair).  Look at the contrast in expressions.

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The Flagler Mansion in Palm Beach.   Flagler is the man who “created modern Florida” through his building of the railroad and his somewhat shady dealings with the government.   Our tour guide was a very well-dressed older man who I think just lost his fortune in the Madoff ponzi scheme and was forced to take a job giving visitors tours of the mansion.

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The Flagler Museum offers a “high tea.”  It was fun, but the sandwiches were so measly that we went out to lunch afterwards.

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There are canals all along the coast, and drawbridges everywhere, especially in Fort Lauderdale.   I was surprised how patient  the drivers were, waiting in their cars with no honking.   This would not happen in New York.

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I know everyone is waiting for me to make fun of Century Village, with all the residents at “death’s door,” but it really wasn’t that bad.  Sure, there was a good amount of senior Jewish kvetching about their aching backs by the former New York residents, but let’s give kudos to modern science for keeping all of us alive longer, and in better health.    Here is my mother and a couple of her friends talking about the younger man who is taking a shower in the apartment next door and the size of his penis.   (Ha Ha, my mother was NOT happy with that post, because she just told all of her friends at Century Village to read my blog — and the first post they read was…)

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The “Clubhouse” is the central attraction at Century Village, much like the Student Union on a college campus.    Inside this nice building is a gym, a library, art studios, card rooms, and a theater.    Thousands of people live in Century Village and they have their own bus system.

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The lobby of the Clubhouse is as nice as one at any Hyatt Hotel.

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The clubhouse has several enormous Las Vegas sized card rooms.   My mother played canasta, mah jonng, Scrabble, etc.    Let’s admit it — this isn’t that much different than the stupid games we play on Facebook.   At least here, the residents are playing with REAL people, face to face.

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The entertainment offered to the residents is surprisingly good.   While I didn’t go to any of the recent shows, they included an ABBA and Beatles tribute band, Chubby Checker, and a night with Robert Klein.   Robert Klein!   Hey, I guess we all get older.   Would it really be that surprising to have Prince and Janet Jackson performing for us when we are at Century Village?

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Here is some belly dancer at a Greek restaurant that I am throwing in, just for the sex appeal.   We were there for the early bird special!   Since I was one of the younger men there, she invited me to dance with her.   Sorry, no video camera.

My mother returns to New York at the end of the month.   This year was an experiment, and she seemed to enjoy skipping the New York winter for three months.    But I’m not sure she’s ready to spend ALL her time playing canasta just yet.  I think she misses the big city.

As for me — and what I am doing next now that she is returning? — I certainly can’t live with my mother forever.   That is too weird, even for me.   I would grow despondent and spend all my time on Twitter.   Uh-oh.

So what is my next step?   Ha, I’m not going to tell you!   I’m going to keep it vague — just to keep you coming back to the blog, in the same way that you keep on watching “Lost,” despite having no idea what the hell is going on.  In fact, isn’t that WHY you watch it?!

The Planets Now Revolve Around Neptune

For the last four years, this blog has been all about my penis.  I’ve written about my penis, given voice to my penis, posted drawings of my penis, and emailed photos of my penis to most of my female readers, including that infamous 2008 Christmas card with the miniature mistletoe and the copy that read, “Let’s Make it a Happy Holiday — Kiss Me!” I have not discussed my penis here for my own amusement or whim. I am not selfish, crude, or misogynist.   As a people-person, I believed that I was giving my female readership what they wanted.   I respect women.   I just thought that women were ALL ABOUT the penis! Have I been wrong all along?

I’m sure my male readers will understand this logic.   A man lives in a world that revolves around his penis, much like the planets orbit around the sun.  So you can imagine the mind-blowing surprise that would come from learning that a woman’s world does NOT revolve around the man’s penis!  That is a major paradigm shift for a man, as if NASA scientists suddenly said that the planets now revolve around NEPTUNE!   In Galileo’s time, they burned people who dared speak this heresy.

On Friday, I wrote a little story about sex and senior citizens.  As a literary experiment, I wrote it from the POV of women.   I tried my hardest to capture the voices of women talking about sex, in case, one day, someone wants to hire me to write the screenplay to Sex in The City 5: The Retirement Years.

I asked a few of my online friends for an honest opinion on the post. I picked those bloggers who I knew would not be offended.   I went to my Google Reader and chose those women who seemed the sluttiest, kinkiest — women I imagined to once be hot-to-trot, easy-in-college girls, who now, despite being married with children, still think about having sex ALL THE TIME.  One of these women, the delighful MammaLoves, is a political consultant in Washington D.C., which I figured was a codename for “high price hooker for U.S. Senators (Democrats only – she has morals),” so I immediately asked her to read my post.

Her review:

There are good parts, but it’s a little stiff (no pun intended). The women would be more animated and less focused on penis. We like penises, but we don’t talk about them a bunch. We also don’t focus on them as the hot part of a man. We like chests and eyes and asses and legs. And we don’t write about ourselves as removed. Does that make sense? I like the concept, but here is room for much more humor. And you know humor.

Women don’t focus on our penises?!   Have I been blogging incorrectly all this time?!   No wonder this blog never makes those A-lists of “Best Blogs.”    Are you saying that you DON’T want photos of my penis in your inbox?!  I know women don’t date a man for money or status, because that would be wrong and superficial, so I thought it must be the Penis!   Are you saying that if I did push-ups and sit-ups, and developed my chest and abs, that this would be sexier to you than me undressing, taking you into the bathroom, and proving to you that I can pee into the toilet from a good six feet away, if I aim properly and have my “game” on?!   (note to men — the compass app on the iphone is the greatest tool ever to find the precise angle of impact)

After I unpack and get myself organized in New York, I need to start working on my new memoir that I recently pitched to the editors at Random House, “All the Clitorises I’ve Loved Before:   The Personal Journey of One Blogger’s Transformation from Penis-Centric to Vagina-Centric in the Few Months Before BlogHer (In Order to “Brand” Himself as More of a Giver than a Taker… Just In Case…)”

The Canasta Group of Boca Raton

My first observation when I moved into the retirement community at Century Village was the lack of men at the clubhouse. The ratio was 2-1.

“Where are all the men?” I asked.

“They’re dead,” said Rita, my blunt neighbor, a former buyer at Macy’s.

That made sense, as the women lived, on the average, for another seven-eight years after their husbands had passed.

My name is Birdie. Two years after moving to Boca Raton from Queens, my husband, Sam, a shoemaker and amateur trumpeter, collapsed as he was in line waiting to buy a 12-Pack of Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray soda at Publix. As his heart beat its last solo, Sam tightly gripped a can of his favorite soda in his wedding-ringed hand.

“Damn, and the soda was on sale!” he said as his soul floated to heaven.

Sam was a good man.

Today is my 76th birthday. In the morning, Rita drove me to the Bagel House on Glades Street. Rita always drove at 5 MPH, so it took us a half hour to go three blocks. Rita never learned to drive in Brooklyn, so after her husband, Donald, died of a stroke, she took driving lessons with an Israeli driving instructor named Tal, and after ten lessons, she knew how to navigate the roads, well… barely. Rita could drive to the Bagel House, to Publix, and to Walgreens, but she didn’t venture much further than one mile from the retirement village.

At the Bagel House, Rita and I met up with Eleanor and Sunny. We played canasta as the Century Village foursome known as the “Dorseters,” named that because we lived in the “Dorset section” of the complex. At the Bagel House, I ordered my favorite breakfast dish – pastrami and eggs, with an everything bagel and cream cheese. Normally, I would order the non-fat cream cheese, but since it was my birthday, I felt that I should treat myself special.

After breakfast, we all returned to Rita’s apartment for our Wednesday afternoon canasta game. We were mid-way into the game, with Eleanor in the lead, the Stella Dora cookies almost gone, when we heard the sound of running water. Rita gave me a knowing glance.

“Should we?” asked Rita.

“No,” said Birdie. I have been brought up to say “no,” even when I didn’t know the meaning of the question. I especially said “no” to Rita when she asked a question. I love Rita, but our personalities are quite different, and I know that a question from Rita, a firecracker despite her two hip replacements, always meant trouble. This time, I understood Rita’s question, and what it entailed.

“What are you ladies talking about?” asked Sunny.

Rita beckoned to us, and we all gathered at the window, stepping behind the yellow couch, a wedding present from Rita’s in-laws, that Donald insisted that they take with them to Florida from their old apartment in South Philadelphia. Rita never was sure whether his reasons for shipping the couch were romantic and sentimental about their marriage, or his perennial nature as a momma’s boy, wanting to keep the memory of his mother alive with the couch.

“Oh my,” said Eleanor, as we all looked through Rita’s living room window into the shower stall of the adjacent apartment, Apartment D. The bathroom window in the other apartment was ajar. A young man — 30ish? — was taking a shower, unaware that his entire body was visible to whoever was in Rita’s living room. The young man had a broad chest and strong legs.

“Who is he?” asked Sunny.

Rita explained that he was the son of the woman who had just moved in, a snowbird renter, like many of the tenants. The son was visiting for the week. He was recently divorced.

Rita had already mentioned to me, in private, about the young man’s daily showers.

“You should come over and take a peek.” she said.

I told Rita that I wasn’t a sleazy voyeur… like her.

“I’m a grandmother!” I said, tossing my white hair like an ancient supermodel.

Twice, during the last week, I ran into the young man while walking the Dorset corridor, as I made my way to the laundry room. When I passed him by, I felt a sadness surrounding him. He nodded, but never spoke.

“Every afternoon, like clockwork, he takes a shower.” Rita told the other women, sounding as if she was one of those retired women who become a docent at the Bronx Zoo, volunteering just to get out of the house. “A very interesting shower.”

It was a beautiful South Florida day. Rita, Eleanor, Sunny, and I peered through the slats of Rita’s blinds, gazing at the naked young man taking a shower, the steamy stream of water hitting his body as he pleasured himself.

“When a man strokes his c*ck with his right hand like that, does that mean he is right handed?” Eleanor asked.

The women laughed at Eleanor, a retired second grade teacher with a New York accent. They never expected her to say the word “c*ck.”

“Donald used his left hand.” said Rita. “Although, sometimes he used his right hand. He was ambidextrous.”

“Marvin used both hands at once.” said Sunny.

“Tiny Marvin used both hands?” asked Rita.

Sunny nodded.

“Tiny Marvin had a dick the size of a kosher salami. I just wish he had been a better kisser, God rest his soul. But he was blessed him with a penis to die for, so I guess you can’t have everything in life.”

I was very uncomfortable with the direction of the conversation. I grew up in an Orthodox Jewish family, and my dear, but strict, mother always avoided talking to me about the birds and the bees. Sex was for procreation and was to remain hidden from sight and thought.

I wanted to say to my friends, “Maybe we should return to our canasta game…,” but my lips could not form the words and I was unable to move away from the window, as if a magnetic force was keeping me fixed in place.

I sighed, accepting the fact that I was enjoying the young man. He seemed lost in his own world, his masculine hand moving up and down over his hardness. Who was he thinking about? Was he making love to a stranger or his wife? A childhood sweetheart? A movie star? A chance encounter on the beach? Was he making love to the woman the way she liked it — first entering her slowly, then faster, than slower again, as their bodies became one? Could his lover taste his sweaty salty lips as their tongues intertwined in a passionate dance? Was the woman as wet and eager as I had been herself in my younger days, when I used to make love with Sam after Shabbat dinner, riding him on the easy chair in the living room until he came inside of me, and I muffled my own cry so as not to wake up the two sleeping kids.

The young man in the shower had long brown hair, was tanned, and his penis stood proudly, at full attention, reminding me of that old photo of my husband when he was dressed in his captain’s uniform on that Navy ship, saluting the American flag. Captain Sam Horowitz. So handsome.

“What a good-looking young man,” said Sunny about the naked man in the shower, as she fanned herself with a take-out menu of the local Chinese restaurant. She was diabetic and always hot, but now she was hot for another reason. I could see Sunny’s nipples harden. I was always jealous of Sunny’s full breasts, still womanly despite her age, not sagging like mine.

I was feeling dizzy and tried to pull herself away from the window for a second time.

“C’mon, ladies, we have a game to play. We’re too old to be…”

“Nonsense,” said Rita. “Last week, I went out with Seymour Miller to Ben’s Deli for dinner. We’re not too old to be enjoying men.”

“There’s a big difference about having a deli sandwich with Seymour and THIS!” I said, always the moral center of any group, always the party pooper.

“The deli sandwich was the appetizer.” replied Rita. “He spent the rest of the night eating out my p*ssy in his apartment.”

“Oy!” said Eleanor. “I mean… WOW!”

“Randall was always reluctant to do that because he thought my vagina smelled like fish,” said Sunny.

“Donald said the same thing!” said Rita. “Stupid men. When I told Seymour what Donald used to say, he laughed. “I just had herring for dinner at Ben’s, true? I love the taste of fish!”

“What’s Seymour’s phone number again?” joked Sunny.

“Eventually, the darling man exhausted himself with all his work and fell asleep right between my legs.” continued Rita. “All night, as he snored, I could feel his breath against me, like a warm ocean breeze against my most sensitive spot. It was such a tender and warm feeling.”

I had to hand it to Rita. She had a young spirit. I wondered what Sam would be thinking, watching from his Laz-e-boy chair in heaven — as four old women in their seventies transformed into peeping Tom-isinas, and acted like shameless hussies. Sam would probably be laughing. Drinking a Dr. Brown’s soda and laughing.

A month ago, I bought myself a vibrator online. When I received the vibrator in a plain brown wrap envelope, I was surprised at the shape. The large purple object seemed more like a sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art than a human penis. I never owned a vibrator before, although I had friends who swore by them. I decided to try this model after I read about it on my daughter’s “mommy blog.”

Lisa, my daughter, became upset when I once commented on her blog, so now I make believe that I never read it. The whole concept is foreign to me. Isn’t there privacy anymore? Do others really care about her baby’s poo?

“Who reads this anyway?” I once asked Lisa.

“A lot of people, Mom. You just won’t understand. I’m very very popular. I’m considered one of the top 10 influential mothers of 2008, according to Online Advertising Magazine. Mothers come to me for advice. I’m my own brand!”

“You’ve only been a mother for three years. What do you know about being a mother?”

“That is soooo typical of you. You can’t appreciate my accomplishments. Being a mother nowadays is a lot different than when YOU WERE A MOTHER. It’s much more complicated. It’s a juggling act — being a mother, being a businesswoman, being a role model for other women.”

I didn’t tell her daughter about the vibrator. Lisa would have said, “That’s gross.” I was also hurt when Lisa made the comment, “When YOU WERE A MOTHER,” as if I wasn’t a mother anymore. This was further proof that Lisa knows very little about being a mother. A mother is always a mother. She has so much to learn.

The young man in the shower groaned in a deep animalistic manner. His body flew back as he had his orgasm and the bottles of shampoo and conditioner, sitting on an unsteady shelf, fell on top of him, as if the bottles were pissed at him for coming too soon, before they had their own orgasms.

The women of the canasta group laughed at the comedy of the attack of the bottles, as the man covered his head for protection and his dick rocked side to side. The young man turned towards the window, hearing the giggles, and the four women — Birdie, Rita, Eleanor, and Sunny — jumped back like little girls, the blinds quickly closing in a click. The retirees ran back to the table, their hearts beating from all the excitement and drama.

“OK, whose turn is it?” asked Eleanor, the sensible school teacher, hoping to return everyone back to the canasta game. She picked up a pencil, out of instinct, as if she was about to take attendance.

But the class was not ready to go back to their studies.

“He’s certainly a good-looking young man.” said Sunny. “We should introduce him to one of the yoga instructors at the clubhouse.”

“Nice body,” said Rita, as she munched on a Stella Dora cookie.

I stood up, feeling nervous, as if I were about to make an important announcement, or a toast, or a commencement speech.

“I enjoyed giving Sam blowjobs in the morning,” I told the other members of the canasta group. “Last night, I used my new vibrator for the first time, and as it hummed inside of me, I thought about my husband. And the humming reminded me of his trumpet playing. And a little bit of his pacemaker. I miss him.”

“I’m sure he was in heaven, playing his trumpet, and missing you too. Probably playing with himself, if I know men,” said Rita.

“I hope so,” I replied. “Or at least having a good time up there with someone else. He deserves it. As long as he’s not f**king my late sister, Miriam. She was always stealing my boyfriends. What a bitch.”

The other women laughed again. It was turning into a memorable day. My phone rang. It was Lisa, making her obligatory Wednesday afternoon phone call/birthday call. I shut off the phone.

“I’ll speak to my daughter later.” she told the others. “Right now, I’m enjoying my birthday with my girlfriends.”

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