Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Category: Life with My Parents (page 2 of 11)

Like “Jersey Boys”

My mother called up from her winter rental in Century Village, Boca Raton, Florida.

“Hey, Mom.  How you doing?”

“Good.  I saw a fabulous show last night.”

“Oh yeah?  What?”

“I forgot the name.   A singing group.  There is a show about them on Broadway.”

“I don’t know.”

“You do know.”

“Frankie…”

“You mean Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons?”

“Yes.”

“You saw Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons?”

“No.”

“Oh, you mean they had a production of Jersey Boys at Century Village?”

“No.  It was people doing the songs of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.”

“So, that’s Jersey Boys.”

“No, Jersey Boys is the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.  This had no story.  It was just the songs of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.”

“So, they were Frankie Valli and the Four Season imitators?”

“No, they were more imitators of Jersey Boys.”

“Jersey Boys ARE imitators of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.  So what you saw was an imitator of an imitator.”

“But they were very good.  Now I don’t need to pay $100 and see Jersey Boys.”

“This reminds me of when you went to Italy last year and the tour bus ran out of time, so they took you to see an imitation of the imitation of the statue of David.”

“Next week, I’m going to see Tom Jones.”

“Tom Jones is coming to Century Village?!”

“No.  Someone who sings like him.”

“Then STOP saying you’re going to see Tom Jones.  You’re not seeing Tom Jones.  You’re seeing a Tom Jones imitator.  It is confusing me when you say that.  Say that you are seeing a Tom Jones imitator.”

“It says in the brochure, “Hear the music of Tom Jones.””

“Yeah, it is the songs of Tom Jones.  But you’re not really seeing Tom Jones.”

“Eh, if he is good enough, does it really matter?”

“So, why don’t you hire someone who looks and sounds JUST like me to be your imitation son.  That would be the same thing, right?”

“Maybe my imitation son would actually send me a Hanukkah card, hmm?”

Please Come to Walgreen’s

“Please come to Walgreen’s with me and help me carry up a 24 pack of water on sale,” said my mother.

“I’m busy,” I replied.

For the first time in a long time, I wasn’t lying. I was finally out of my pajama bottoms and wearing real pants, even if they were unfashionably pleated, and seated at my desk, working on my laptop. Microsoft Excel was open and I was creating complex charts about “Female Bloggers I Would Shag if I Had the Opportunity To or If They Weren’t Married.” My research was going well, and the results were quite surprising. You would be astounded to learn how many of the obvious choices had to be filed away in the “Probably Too Much Trouble and Not Worth It” category.

So what finally motivated me to leave my bed after moping around for a week and start working like a responsible adult again? Like with many of us, it is music that inspired us. I dusted off all of my old LPs and cassettes, and replayed them, reminding myself of my youthful dreams and the themes that would haunt my consciousness over and over again.

It was in the middle of the 1970’s song, “Please Come to Boston” by Dave Loggins, that I had my eureka moment. I was in the middle of sobbing to the lyrics —

Please come to Boston for the springtime
I’m stayin’ here with some friends and they’ve got lots of room
You can sell your paintings on the sidewalk
By a café where I hope to be workin’ soon
Please come to Boston
She said no, would you come home to me

{Refrain}
And she said, hey ramblin’ boy, why don’t you settle down
Boston ain’t your kind of town
There ain’t no gold and there ain’t nobody like me
I’m the number one fan of the man from Tennessee

Please come to Denver with the snowfall
We’ll move up into the mountains so far that we can’t be found
And throw “I love you” echoes down the canyon
And then lie awake at night till they come back around
Please come to Denver
She said no, boy, would you come home to me

{Refrain, with Denver}

Now this drifter’s world goes ’round and ’round
And I doubt that it’s ever gonna stop
But of all the dreams I’ve lost or found
And all that I ain’t got
I still need to cling to
Somebody I can sing to

Please come to LA to live forever
California life alone is just too hard to build
I live in a house that looks out over the ocean
And there’s some stars that fell from the sky
Livin’ up on the hill
Please come to LA
She just said no, boy, won’t you come home to me

{Refrain with LA can’t be…}

I’m the number one fan of the man from Tennessee

— when suddenly it occurred to me that this ridiculous, manipulative, “emo”-song that was emo before emo existed, was not about ME. I’m not a painter selling my work on the sidewalk. The only blogger I know really well in Boston is Miguelina, and she already has three kids, and since she went to that snooty Mighty Summit this year, she’s probably never going to say “Please come to Boston to me.” I’m far from a drifter. And the biggest difference of them all — I’m not from Tennessee! OK, I was there once, to visit Graceland, but still…

I turned off my turntable and decided to look towards the future. That’s when I make the decision to take action — to create an excel sheet about “Female Bloggers I Would Shag if I Had the Opportunity To or If They Weren’t Married.” Maybe it wasn’t a major step — like leaving the house and going to say, a museum, — but it was a start. A baby step.

Of course, this was all rudely interrupted by my mother with her selfish request for me to help her carry up 24 bottles of water from Walgreen’s. Hey, Mom, it’s not my fault you’ve gotten older!

My mother and I took the elevator to the lobby. I was wheeling “the wagon,” which would later help us carry the water down the block from Walgreen’s back home. As we stepped out of the apartment building, we noticed a NYPD car speed up in front of the mailbox. Two officer in well-pressed uniforms jumped out, ready for action. The headed for the front door of our apartment building, passing my mother, me, and our wagon.

Jose, the all-knowing super, was cutting the grass. He didn’t even look up.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

“Eh,” he answered, shrugging. Other tenants nonchalantly walked by the cops. It was as if no one cared. I turned to my mother.

“Doesn’t anyone blink an eye when a cop car speeds up and two cops enter the building? There could be a hostage situation!”

“Nah,” she said. “These guys are here every day. The woman in apartment 3B says the people in apartment 2B are smoking cigarettes and that the smoke is flying up and slowly killing her. So she calls the cops, saying that the other tenants should be arrested for attempted murder. The cops are forced to come because she calls them, and they always tell her the same thing — that it is legal for them to smoke in their own apartment so there is nothing they can do. She curses at them, then says she’s going to write a letter to the mayor and the New York Times.”

“She sounds a little batty. Do I know her?”

“Yes. She’s lived in the building for a long time. She’s the woman who used to be the crossing guard when you went to elementary school.”

“I always wondered what happened to her.”

Call to Mom

Sophia has been away all week on a job, so I have been here in LA, holding down the fort, like they used to say in the days when we lived in forts.  I’ve been spending a lot of time with Sophia’s step-father and mother at the hospital, which is stressful because they can only speak Russian, and my knowledge of the language is limited to food related statements like “Please pass me the blini” and exotic curses such as “Fuck you, your mother, every relative in their grave, and your two favorite horses.”

I’ve been spending a lot of time playing on my iphone, ignoring reality.  I do know what is going on in Haiti, and I am purposely keeping my head in the sand.  I just can’t deal with the news of the scope of the disaster.  Even the Leno-Conan O’Brien drama was too intense for me right now.

Speaking of iphones — did you know that the latest Facebook update transfers profile photos of your friends into your contacts, so if one of your virtual friends actually called you up, a large photo of your friend would appear on the bright screen as the Justin Timberlake ringtone played on your phone?

Why can’t real life run as smoothly as modern technology?

Playing with my iphone has helped release some tension (video apps!  Scrabble!),  but I have been quite cranky lately.  I would love to take it out on my readers, because I enjoy that, but since I am in the middle of a PR rehabilitaion, I have decided to take it out on my mother instead.  And I have good reason to.  Sophia’s parents are a little older than my mother, and I am seeing first hand how age can slow you down to the point where the child is caring for the parent.  This is when you wake up and realize that you are OLD.  My mother is in her seventies, but — knock on wood — KNOCK KNOCK — in great health.  She traveled through a million European cities last summer.   She is more energetic than I am.   But… old age comes fast.  I see it.

Usually, my mother calls me, bugging me like a stereotypical Jewish mother, reminding me to take my cholesterol medicine, or wondering why I still haven’t made a dentist appointment.   Today, I called her up to nag her.  It was MY TURN!

“How are you feeling today?” I asked, ready to pounce.

“Fine.”

“Didn’t you say your foot was bothering you?”

“It’s nothing.”

“I noticed in Queens that you sometimes had trouble standing up from the couch.”

“That’s because the stupid couch is too low.”

“It might be arthritis.”

“I have a little arthritis.”

“So, why don’t you see a doctor?”

“What is a doctor going to do?”

Normally, I would have given up with the questioning, but I felt as distrustful as an El Al security guard.

“Aren’t you taking yoga there?”

“Yes, every day.”

“But I know you.  You just do whatever the instructor tells everyone to do.  Speak to her.   Personally.  Tell her you want a special exercise suited for YOU.”

“Leave me alone.  I’m fine.  Did you make an appointment to your doctor yet while you are in LA?  And what’s going on with you and Sophia anyway?  Have you talked about it yet?  You can’t live like this forever…?”

“We’re not talking about me.  We are talking about you.”

“Me?  I’m enjoying life!  You’re the one who’s screwed up.  And besides, my cholesterol is lower than yours.”

“Do you know where I am going every day to visit Vartan?  This rehab clinic?  Do you know what it is LIKE in here?  It is awful.  You don’t FUCKING want to be in here.  I don’t want to FUCKING visit you in one of these places!”

“I know.  I’ve been there with my parents.  My mother was in a nursing home.  Half of Century Village ends up in assisted living.   Never put me in a nursing home.  I’d rather be dead.”

“Stop talking nonsense.  Go exercise your legs.”

“Right now?  I’m eating lunch.”

“You don’t want to EVER fall and break a hip.  Because that is BAD NEWS at your age.”

“I’m fine.  YOU need to exercise.”

“Stop being an idiot, Mom!  You’re getting old.”

“I am old.”

“You’re not old.”

“I am old.  So, if I fall, you’re not coming to visit me?”

“You’re acting a real jerk today.  Just don’t fall, OK?  And don’t eat too much deli food.  It’s not healthy.”

“I’m eating a chicken salad sandwich.  You’re the one who goes to McDonald’s.”

“We’re talking about YOU.  Sheesh!  You’re impossible!!”

Later that day, my mother called up, probably wanting to remind me AGAIN to make my doctor’s appointment.  At first, I didn’t know it was my mother because this Facebook photo appeared full screen in my iphone behind my mother’s name  —

Either this Facebook “contact” information app has a serious bug in it, or my mother really HAS been taking good care of herself in Florida!

I have no idea who this girl is in the photo.   Obviously technology is as fucked up as real life.

Reality Television

After three days of searching to buy something online during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, I ended up with nothing. Everything I truly wanted, like a HD Camcorder with a built in GPS and electric shaver, was just too expensive.

If I was ever going to be a decent consumer, I needed more money. And fast. But how? Blogging was a dead end street. Writing? Only complete idiots go into writing to make money. I took a long, hard, cold look at myself in the bathroom mirror and accepted that I had no marketable skills other than being a “social media expert” (code for being on Twitter a lot, telling silly jokes)

When times are tough, and they are in America in 2009, there is only one option available for someone unskilled like myself — getting onto reality television. From faking balloon dramas to crashing White House parties, the best and brightest of our country know the route to success is not hard work, but landing a reality show on Bravo.

I sat down with my mother during breakfast this morning to discuss my options. I assumed she wanted “in” on the deal.

“We need to come up with a stunt that will get us attention.” I said. “Something that will knock any mention of health care reform off the news. We want America talking about us.”

“I don’t know. Maybe I could smash your car window with a golf club.”

“Eh. That’s old.”

“You would have better luck getting a reality show with Sophia,” said my mother. “Maybe you can get a show called “The Weirdest Marriage Ever.”

“No. I think the two of us have a better on-air dynamic. Besides, she isn’t talking to me.”

We took a few moments to brainstorm as we ate our Cheerios. I suggested that we try to come up with an idea that said “New York,” to give our gimmick some local flavor.

My mother had an idea.

“I saw on eyewitness news that they are lighting the Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Center on Wednesday.”

“Perfect. The cameras will already be there for our stunt.”

But what would be our stunt?

“I got it!” I shouted. “How about — right before they light the tree — we CLIMB up the tree — shocking everything with our daring ways! We would definitely get a reality show from that. Can’t you see the promotion? — “Mother and son who’ll do anything! Every week, a different stunt!”

My mother was not impressed.

“I’m too old to climb the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree anymore. And seriously, are you going to be able to climb the tree?”

“I can try.”

“Have you ever climbed a tree?”

“No, but I am sure there are branches that you can hold on to.”

My mother continued to express her doubt.

“Besides, it is too dangerous. Some NYPD cop might just shoot you off the tree, and you would fall flat on your face, like King Kong. And then, there will be no reality show at all.”

“That’s true.”

I went back into thinking mode, or “put on my thinking cap,” as they used to say.

“Eureka!” I said, knowing that people are suppose to say “Eureka” at moments like this, even though I’m not sure why. “We can both streak naked across Rockefeller Center during the tree lighting — right in front of the tree — right in front of the cameras.”

“It’s going to be freezing outside.”

“We’ll just be outside for a second. Then we’d run into 30 Rock to get dressed. I know a soup place around the corner where we can warm up with some hot chicken soup.”

Then my mother said something that completely changed the tone of the conversation.

“I just realized I can’t do this with you on Wednesday!”

“Why not?” I asked, already disappointed.

“I’m flying back to Boca Raton tomorrow. Time for me to be a snowbird again!”

“Back to Florida? Tomorrow? Already? For how long?”

“Until April. Back when the birds and flowers return.”

“So, you mean — I’m back to living on my own?”

I bowed my head, acting like a drama queen.

“Don’t look so sad. You should be happy. The place is yours now. Your own little bachelor pad. Don’t you have those BlogHer and Kirtsy parties this week? Why don’t you bring a few of those blogging babes over here for a little partying and “getting it on!” I know you have been having dreams about ****ing ***** and ****** and ******* and especially ****** in the ******!”

“Mom, that’s disgusting!” I said, in total shock. “I’ve never heard you talk like that before!”

But when I looked up at my mother, she was drinking her orange juice, looking as if she never made that outburst at all.

“Huh? What are you talking about?” she asked, confused. “I said I am going to Florida tomorrow.”

“You didn’t mention anything about having wild parties in the apartment?”

“I said I HOPE you keep the apartment clean.”

“So, who…”

“Yoo-hoo!”

I felt a tapping on my thigh. I looked down under the table.

“Penis, is that you?!” I asked. It had been ages since I had heard him talking to me. I totally gave up on this crass literary gimmick hoping to never see him again as I made my blog into something more “classy,” hoping to appeal to a more educated demographic.

“Surprised to see me pop up like this?” he joked.

“I thought we were done with the cheap sex gags on this blog.”

“Sorry about that, sucker! You can’t keep a good Penis down.”

“But why? Why this sudden reappearance?”

“Reappearance?” he chuckled. “Oh, Neil, I never left. I NEVER LEFT.”

The Free Turkey

turkey

My mother doesn’t like to waste money, and similar to many other Jewish mothers of her generation, she can sense a sale at Loehmann’s from miles away.

Which brings me to Thanksgiving.

Recently, a new supermarket took over in the space across the street.  At first, everyone in my apartment building loved the shiny new store because it was clean, had a brightly-lit produce section, and the check-out people said “Thank You,” something previously unheard of in a Queens supermarket.  The local customers froze in shock upon hearing these words, as if they had just entered an alternative universe.

But these niceties came at a huge price. The supermarket was stingy on sales.  The previous supermarket had a cluttered appearance, like a desk covered in post-it notes.  Everywhere you looked, there were colorful, mismatched stickers and hanging banners screaming out a new promotion, such as “Canned Peas!  Buy One, Get One Free!”

These constant promotions served two purposes — they created excitement and they distracted the customers from focusing on the unorganized shelving and inept customer service.

There were few sales at this new, more upscale store, and never on anything that people really needed as a necessity.  Last week’s big promotion was for “Fresh Halibut at $8.99 a pound.”

The bomb dropped this week when rumors spread throughout the apartment building that the supermarket wasn’t even going to offer a free turkey for Thanksgiving (usually for spending $25 dollars in purchase, with one per customer, of course)!  This had been a Holiday tradition with the supermarkets in this spot for the last forty years.   It was a tradition held as sacred to Queens residents as nativity scenes are to those who live in the mid-West.

My mother was very upset at the supermarket.

Now I can hear some of you grumbling and snickering at home.

“How cheap are you people in Queens?  Why don’t you pay for your own freaking turkey?  That’s what is wrong with liberals — always looking for a hand-out!”

Before you pontificate, let me try to explain this in a language that you will understand.

Imagine that you wake up tomorrow morning and go on Twitter, and you are greeted by a smiling cartoon Twitter bird with  the message, “We have finally figured out how to make money with Twitter.  Please pay $10 a month if you want access to your account.  Thanks.”   Are you going to say, “What a clever business model?”    Or are you going to be pissed, used to getting the milk from the cow for free?!

Think about that as you snicker!

You should also understand that my mother is a dangerous woman.  She is strong-willed AND retired, which means she is stubborn AND has too much time on her hands.

“I heard the supermarket on 164th Street is giving you a free turkey if you spend $25 dollars,” she said.

“You want to go all the way to 164th Street just for a turkey?  Is someone driving there?”

“No, I thought we’d walk over with the shopping wagon.”

“That supermarket is over a mile away!”

“So?”

“Let’s just get it downstairs.  I’ll pay for the turkey.”

“No, it’s the principle of the thing.  Getting the free turkey is an essential part of Thanksgiving.  It’s like the Indians sharing their food with the Pilgrims.”

“And look what happened to the Indians.”

“If you don’t want to go, I’ll go myself and schlep the wagon up the hill, along with the heavy turkey, so everyone in the building will see me breathing heavy, walking two miles, and wondering if you’re sooooo “busy” at home writing one of your porno posts for your blog that you couldn’t help your mother carrying the turkey.”

“Nice,” complimenting her guilt shtick.

“Besides, you did say that you wanted to exercise more.”

I lost the battle.  Off we went to get our free turkey.

When we returned home, we were exhausted, and my back hurt from pushing the shopping wagon, filled with groceries and a 14 pound frozen turkey.

“So, honestly, Mom…” I asked.  “Was schlepping all this way just to get a free turkey really worth it?”

“Absolutely,” she replied, as she placed the frozen turkey in the bottom of the refrigerator to start its long thaw.

(note to Sarah Gilbert.   Next year,  I will try a Heritage turkey, which I never even heard of before until you mentioned it on Twitter!)

A Master Class

Today is my mother’s birthday. This is her birthday card.

It was a windy and lonely October evening. I was in my bedroom, the overhead lamp flickering, as I IM-ed with Allison, a New Hampshire woman who wrote a knitting blog.

“Do you really want to do this?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“What do you want me to do?”

“Go down on me. That really turns me on.”

“OK.”

I took a deep breathe. I was nervous. Although this wasn’t real sex, I felt the same sense of performance anxiety. I tried to visualize Allison in her bedroom. I wish I had bought a web-cam so I could at least see her face.

“Are you undressed already?” I inquired.

“Yes. I’m on my bed with my laptop next to me.”

I started typing, touching the keys gently, fearful of what my lustful emotion might bring forth, bursting from me like water from a broken dam.

“I’m kissing your thighs. I’m kissing you around. I’m uh…”

“Are you kissing my sweet spot?”

“Yes. I love your sweet spot. Can you feel me?”

“I can feel your tongue. It feels so good.”

Wow. Wow. Wow. This was more intense than I could ever imagine.

“I love doing this to you. I love feeling you move to my touch.” I quickly typed.

There was a long pause on the other side.

“I don’t know if I can type and take care of myself at the same time.”

“So don’t type,” I replied, always the gentleman. “Let me do all the work.”

“You’re amazing, Neil. Really.”

Just as I was about to dive back into this virtual reality, my mother knocked on my door.

“Neil, there’s a phone call for you in the kitchen.”

“Not now!” I shouted.

“It’s that producer from Los Angeles!”

“Oh, shit!”

I had been waiting all week for the call from this producer. Had he liked the first 30 pages? Is this a good sign that he is calling so late in the day? Or a bad one? I had to make a quick decision between business and pleasure. Art and commerce won out. I ran into the kitchen, where my mother was making dinner.

“Ed, how are you doing?” I said to the producer on the phone, trying to sound as confident and polished as possibly without letting on that I am in the middle of giving virtual oral sex to a blogger/knitter in New Hampshire. “Oh, you mean you DIDN’T like the first act?”

I could see frustration on the face of my eavesdropping mother.

“What didn’t he like about it?” she asked. “What does HE know?”

“SHHH…” I said to my mother. The last thing I needed was getting my mother involved in any drama. Besides, the producer didn’t know my mother was here. I had told him that I moved to New York to shack up with this hot Asian NY model I had met in a Santa Monica bar, not to live with my mother in Queens.

I continued to listen to the producer’s notes, most of them making very little sense.

“Well, I can rewrite that first act if you want?” I said, pasting on a fake smile. ” Uh, I don’t know. Do you really see Jake as a Ben Stiller-type? Oh, you do? I think it is a, uh, great idea. I love Ben Stiller!”

“I don’t like Ben Stiller at all,” said my mother, shaking her head. “Jerry Stiller, yes. But I saw Ben Stiller in that “museum” movie on HBO. That was terrible.”

“Ma!” I said, scolding my mother, before I realized I was still on the phone. “My God, Ed, I meant — that is a exceptionally good idea,” I continued on, stumbling with my tongue. “I’ll get to work on it right away. What? Notes? From Evelyn? Now?”

The producer wanted me to talk to his brainy development assistant for more notes. She was not very fond of me. Our relationship turned sour when she caught me looking down her blouse during a “story” meeting at the Polo Lounge. Now I had to endure her nasty, passive-aggressive notes. This could take another twenty minutes.

“OK, put her on. I’ll be back in a second.”

I rushed back into my bedroom. Allison was still online, texting furiously.

“Oh, Neil, I never felt like this before. You are F*CKING AMAZING! I feel so bad, so dirty, but so good. You know exactly how to reach me with your tongue, with your hands. I want to feel you inside of me.”

Apparently, I was quite a stud while I was away.

“Uh, I’m not sure I can type anymore either.” I wrote back. “I need to take care of something.”

“Yes, yes. Take care of yourself.” said Allison, the friendly knitting blogger from New Hampshire. “I know your big, hard man-thing needs care. Stop typing and take care of it. Make me feel like a woman. Oh yeah, that’s it. I feel it. Oh, I love it. I LOVE IT!!”

While this was doing wonders for my ego, I didn’t have the time. Hollywood was calling. My career was on the line, and Evelyn was on the phone. I made a mental note to myself have more virtual sex in the future, because, as evidenced by Allison’s reaction, I was much better at it than real sex.

I ran back into the kitchen. My mother was nearby, chopping up vegetables for a chicken soup.

“Do you know where I put the extra aluminum foil?” asked my mother.

I shrugged and my mother disappeared down the hallway. I picked up the phone.

“OK, Hi, Evelyn.” I said to the young Harvard grad, the type of woman who at college would walk right past me with her nose held high. “Sure, I want to hear you notes. Will it take long? I was busy uh, writing, and I don’t want to lose the momentum when the blood is flowing. Ten pages of notes? Oh, sure. Go ahead. Yes, yes, I heard. The main character. More Ben Stiller-like, right right….

I faked like I was jotting down notes.

Meanwhile, my mother discovered the aluminum foil on top of the drawer in my bedroom, where we stored various bulky and duplicate items, like the 24 rolls of toilet paper that I had recently bought at Walgreen’s.

As my mother was about to leave the room, the foil in her hand, she heard a beep from the laptop. Allison, the knitting blogger, was busy sending messages on IM. My mother walked over, as curious as Yenta the Matchmaker.

“I love the way you take me.” wrote Allison. “You are like an animal. You make me so wet and horny, Neil. I’m such a bad bad bad girl when I feel you inside me like this. Make me come like a wild beast. Do it, Neil. Do it!!!”

My mother wasn’t sure what to do. Her maternal instinct was to help her son. At least he was coming out of his shell and interacting with nice women other than Sophia.

“Perhaps I should take a message while he is out,” she thought.

She sat down and typed a message.

“Hi there, Allison. I just wanted to tell you that Neil had to take an important phone call from a movie producer in LA. He’ll be back with you in a few minutes. OK?”

After a brief pause, came her response.

“Who is this?” asked Allison.

“This is Neil’s mother. I was passing by when I saw your messages.”

“Jesus Christ! Neil’s mother! My god, this is the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to me. I promise, I never did this before. This is my first time ever. Oh my god!”

“Don’t worry about it? Are you and Neil going to date? Are you Jewish?”

“No, we’re not going to date. I’m married. I have a a year old baby.”

“So, why are you fooling around with Neil on the computer? What about your husband?”

“It’s a long story.”

“What’s the problem?”

“It’s just after the baby, things changed. With Russell”

“Yeah, that happens. That happened with me and Artie, too, after Neil was born. Neil was such a demanding baby!”

“Maybe it was my fault. I’ve always had a bit of a problem with sex. I don’t know, it’s hard for me to have an orgasm.”

“Is Neil really exciting you THAT much?”

“Not really. He’s OK. But I was faking it a bit cause he seems so insecure on Twitter. He does seem very nice and funny, but not really my type. A little too insecure. Why are nice guys always so insecure?”

“Have you tried exploring your own sexuality with a vibrator?”

“I bought one online, but I don’t know. Maybe I just don’t know what to do with it.”

“Which one do you have.”

“The RabbitX.”

“Oh, that is a good one. I hope you didn’t pay full price for it. I know where to get them on sale.”

“Oh yeah?”

“You have your vibrator nearby?

“It’s in the drawer.”

“Get it. I’ll give you some tips on how to use it! I think this will really help you with some of your problems. Then you can show your husband what to do.”

“Thanks, Mrs. Kramer. You’re really cool!”

A half hour later, back in the kitchen, I finished my conversation with Evelyn. I had a migraine and my head was spinning. Now I was going to change the sidekick into a black woman to make the screenplay “different.”

“Thanks for the notes…” I said, but Evelyn had hung up on me before I had the chance. I love Hollywood.

My mother had just returned to the kitchen, and was back working on her chicken soup. Living for a year, as an adult, with my mother, has been a difficult experience. I frequently feel ashamed when I tell people about it, and I wonder if they are laughing behind my back. But one positive outcome about living with your mother is — her chicken soup! She may not be hip or trendy or know anything about Twitter, but you can always depend on a mother to cook her son some soup! But I need to get out of here. Once I build my confidence again, off I go — back into the real world!

I returned to my bedroom. I immediately noticed that Allison was online, waiting for me. She was in a ecstatic mood, as if she had just seen the sun shining after years of darkness.

“You just gave me the best orgasm I ever had in my life” she wrote. “Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

“I did?” I asked, a little surprised.

“That was like a master class in having an orgasm. How did you get so good?”

I sat up a little taller in my chair. I felt like a King. Maybe I SHOULD feel more confident about myself.

“Well, I’ve always been good doing research, from school. I’ve read a lot of pornographic books. Online videos. I learned. But who knows? Maybe it just comes naturally. Maybe being a great lover is all about genetics.”

“That I believe. Genetics. From now on, every time I have an orgasm, I will thank God for the Kramer family. See you, Neil. Gotta go. My husband just got home and I want to show him something!”

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Rock Around The Clock

I miss my father, who passed away four years ago, only a few months after I started blogging. Today, I took the Long Island Railroad today to visit the cemetery where my father is buried.

It is a Jewish tradition for a visitor to place a rock on the headstone.

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stone

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Rock

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One, two, three o’clock, four o’clock, rock,
Five, six, seven o’clock, eight o’clock, rock,
Nine, ten, eleven o’clock, twelve o’clock, rock,
We’re gonna rock around the clock tonight.

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David, Fake and Faker

mike2

My mother recently returned from a two week cruise along the Mediterranean in Europe.  When she first told me that she was taking this trip with a female friend, I thought it was a crazy and worthless trip — Barcelona, Nice, Cannes, Florence, Venice, Rome, Naples, Croatia, and Greece — each location for less than a day, sometimes for only a  hours.

“Why not just go to one place?” I asked her.

Now that she has returned, and told me stories of her travels, I am less cynical about her cruise because, for some, it is an ideal way to travel without the hassle.   If all you care about is a “taste” of a new locale, it is comforting to come back each night to your floating hotel.

I figured that it was seniors that mostly go on these types of cruises, but apparently I am wrong.  Families enjoy this type of trip because the kids have activities on board.   Young couples and groups of singles pre-arrange for a taxi or car service to meet them as the ship docked, and then sightsee at their own pace.  The local driver can give them insights into the city that are more personal and accurate than the script read by the typical tour bus guide.

My mother had a great time, although, as I predicted, she could hardly remember what she saw in each city.

Her travel review of each city was amusing to me because it was primarily based on the brief overview she got from looking out of  bus window and visiting tourist spots.   That’s why you need to be wary when someone gives you their opinion of a city or a restaurant.   You are never sure if  the person view is solely based on something so individual, that it makes no sense for YOU.

For example, if you asked me if I enjoyed visiting Seville, one of the world’s most beautiful cities, I would say, “No, I hated that city.”    But you would have to push me to get me to admit that the reason for my hatred of the city has nothing to do with the architecture or people, but with this hotel concierge who told Sophia and me to go to some “authentic flamenco club,” which ended up being terribly overpriced with atrocious food, and employed a dancer who was an elderly woman wearing a cast on her arm.   I hate Seville.

On the other hand, imagine some guy gets laid in Podunk.  That city could be now be THAT person’s favorite city EVER.

Are you thinking of taking a European vacation this fall?   Here are a couple of recommendations from my mother:

Barcelona:  “Loved it.  So easy to get around.  Amazing architecture.  Saw the “King Tut” exhibit that I missed when I was in New York.  Found a really cheap “chicken place” for lunch.  Would definitely return.”

Nice and Cannes:  “Pretty, but looked a lot like California by the ocean.  Not essential to go back.”

Venice:  “The most unique of all the cities I saw.  The water didn’t stink like you told me it does in August.   Elton John has a home there, but I think he mostly lives in Los Angeles.  I didn’t see too many pigeons in St. Mark’s Square.  I got tired from walking around because there are so many stairs.  Everyone needs to come to Venice at least once in  their life, although after a day, you’ve pretty much done it all, and can leave.”

Rome:  “I have to come back to Rome.  I honestly saw nothing because we were in and out of the city in a few hours.   You cannot see Rome in a few hours.    We went, we saw, but we didn’t conquer.  The Colosseum is a marvel, but I didn’t go inside.  I could spend a week in Rome.  And I had a gelato.”

Naples:  “I do not remember what we did there.  Italians put olive oil on everything.  Even at breakfast, they put their toast in olive oil.  The pizza was very thin.  I like the pizza more at Valentino’s in Queens.  We went to a leather factory, but I don’t remember if it was here or Florence.  It was way too expensive.  But the leather was as soft as butter.”

Dubrovnik, Croatia — This was the biggest surprise of them all, because I  hardly heard of the place.  Very quaint.  It feels like you are someplace exotic.  The tourist thing is this giant wall, but it is very interesting.  Not just a wall.  And they also had an old Jewish section that I heard was very interesting, but it was too far to walk.   Nice place to just relax.

Corfu, Greece — Corfu wasn’t particularly nice, and a bit dirty, but I took a bus trip up this mountain and it was beautiful.  We kept on going higher and higher and then you would look down at all the white homes and the ocean behind them, and it was like a postcard.  Or like that scene in Mama Mia.  And then we went back.

Florence, Italy – I know Florence is very famous and important, but I was not impressed.  The bus driver got lost.  There were so many churches.  Not that I have anything against churches, but there were  TOO many of them.  And we were supposed to see the David, so the tour guide brought us to see the David, and as we are all standing there, the tour guide  says that is not REALLY the David, but a FAKE David, because they moved the REAL David inside to the Accademia because it was wearing away, and we didn’t have enough time to wait in line and see him, so the first thing that comes to my mind is, “Why are we standing around looking at a FAKE David?”   And then, as we walked around courtyard some more, we saw ANOTHER David, and our tour guide said that this was a FAKER David, because at least the FAKE David was standing in the original spot where the REAL David once was once standing, so he was FAKE, but this one was FAKER.  So, we never saw the REAL David and we never found out why he wasn’t circumcised, since he was Jewish, so my impression of Florence was colored by that.  I don’t need to return to Florence.

mike

Barcelona, Spain – A+
Nice/Cannes, France – B-
Venice, Italy – A-
Naples, Italy – B
Rome, Italy – A
Dbrovnik, Croatia – A-
Corfu, Greece – B+
Florence, Italy – FAIL

Too Close For Comfort

One of the first rules every writer learns is that a good character does not speak “on the nose.”  When a person says something verbally, the true message and emotion can be quite different from what the person says.  I have a highly trained ear for these types of surreptitious messages.  When some of you, particularly the mommybloggers, were commenting  on my last post about this nation’s health care problems, I could tell that, despite your well-expressed ideas, you were sending  me another, more important, message,

“Neil, I wish you would dive between my quivering thighs right now.”

I understand and appreciate that sentiment.  It is one of the reasons I keep blogging, despite not making a penny from this endeavor.   This is my salary for blogging.  I would hate to do anything that would ruin this special relationship I have with some of my female readers.

Blogging requires TOTAL honesty, and I need to be truthful about my life, despite whatever consequences it may have on my relationships with those of the opposite sex.

Fact:  You do realize that I am currently LIVING with my MOTHER, don’t you?  Yes, just like that crazy guy down the block from your house  or Norman Bates in Psycho.  There is an epic story to be told of why I am here in Queens with my mother, but it would require an entire novel, one filled with intrigue, Russian women, Hollywood parties, intellectual New Yorkers, and Chinese gangs.  Unfortunately, I have not yet finished my “book proposal” or befriended the right people.

In the past, I wrote about my mother quite often, but then a kindly male blogger friend sent me a caring email, the gist of the message being,

“Dude, stop writing about living with your mother if you ever want to get LAID again.  Take it from me, no half-decent babe wants to suck your c*ck if she knows your mother made you your dinner last night, even if she does make the best pot roast in the East Coast!  When I lived with my mother after I was fired from my job for jacking off in the executive bathroom, I never told one woman that I was actually living with my mother.  I’m not an idiot.  We would always go f*ck at her place, and I would use the excuse that we couldn’t go to my place because I was taking care of my hermit brother who had some rare illness that made him go bonkers if he saw even one strand of a woman’s hair.  This worked out so well, because sometimes women, being all emotional and shit, would f*ck me twice in one night because they were so touched by me caring for my sicko family member.”

Thank you, dear male blogging friend, for your sage advice.  I know you are right, but I take my role as WRITER seriously.  I blog with integrity.  I disclose how many freebies I get when I post my positive review of the latest Lunchables snack, so I must admit that I am living with my wonderful mother.

But things are getting to the breaking point with my mother.  Within two days of her returning from her European cruise, we have see each other… well, undressed.  The world didn’t end when this happened, and no Freudian nightmare was unleashed, but it was a sign from Heaven that it might be time to make a move.

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It was two days ago.  My mother took a shower, and there was water flooding out of the bathroom and into the hallway.  We figured it was a one time event, with the shower curtain not being closed all the way.

Later that day, I took a shower, and there was water flooding again!  We could not figure out the problem, so I suggested we handle this scientifically.  Perhaps there was a leak.  I went into the shower, a towel around my waist, while my mother stood on the other side of the shower curtain.  I took off my towel, hung it on the towel rack, and turned on the water.  Tra la la, I sang some Beatles song as I showered.

Suddenly, my mother’s voice yelled out, “My god, the entire hallway is getting flooded.

I grabbed the towel from the rack, and rushed out.  Water WAS leaking out of the bathroom, creating a mess.  I ripped the towel from my waist and threw it onto the floor, desperately trying to soak up the water.

“What are you doing?” asked me mother.  “You’re naked!”

“I’m trying to stop the flooding.  What do you want me to do?  Roll in the water with my towel on?”

My mother averted her eyes as I bent down to soak up the water.  I wasn’t sure what the big deal was for her.  She had seen me naked before.   But wait — maybe not since CHILDHOOD.   Was there some unspoken tension for a grown man to appear naked in front of his mother?

Later on, I discovered what might have troubled her, and it had very little to do with her seeing my private parts.

“You’re getting so much hair on your back!” she said as she watched Bones, her favorite new show.

So, that was it.  She was not turned on by seeing a hunky young man in his prime.  She was feeling old seeing her cute little baby now with back hair and gray hairs sprouting on his chest!

Just in case you are interested.  the flooding in the shower was my mother’s fault.   The super came up and asked her if she had adjusted the shower head.  She said she is tall and adjusted the head upwards so it would hit her entire body.  This angle was good for me as well, since I am also tall.  Apparently, we had adjusted the shower head at an angle too high, so the water was shooting over the top of the curtain and out under the bathroom door into the hallway.

Problem solved.

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The next part of this story will sound fake, because it will seem like too much of a coincidence, but it is absolutely true.  Remember, I vowed to always be truthful, right?

The day after the shower incident, I was watching Obama’s speech on TV when our President’s charisma influenced me to go into the kitchen and make a grilled cheese sandwich.  My mother was getting ready to go play mah jongg with her friends at a neighbor’s apartment.  As I passed by the hallway en route to the kitchen, there was my mother — topless, putting on her bra!

“Oops,” she said, covering herself up.

“Why are you getting dressed here?” I asked.

“I was in a rush.  And I didn’t like my other bra.”

I was embarrassed for both of us, but in all honesty, it wasn’t THAT big a deal.  And maybe there SHOULD be a Playboy/AARP edition.  Just saying.

“Now we’re even,” I said to her as I passed, referring to how she saw me naked the previous day.

Awkward

I wanted to clarify something about my last post where I criticized the mean-spirited nature of  the viral website,  The People of Walmart, just in case someday, someone catches me one day making a joke at someone’s expense, and points his finger at me as being hypocritical.  Let me say this clearly:  I am PRO-MOCKERY and PRO-HUMOR.  In fact, I have been registered with this political party since grade school.

I believe it is my right, even my duty, to make fun of myself, my family, my friends, those who comment on this blog, those who follow me on Twitter, Dooce, any blogger who gets a free trip anywhere, mommybloggers, politicians, actors, and customer service representatives.

As one commenter mentioned in defense of the site, there are several other websites online that have a similar snark appeal as The People of Walmart, some of them amusing, such as the viral site titled Awkward Family Photos.  Unless I am mistaken, the major difference between the two websites is that in Awkward Family Photos, readers send in their own strange family photos, while in The People of Walmart, amateur photographers are secretly taking photos of other shoppers, much in the same way that perverts slip cameras under the skirts of women to get photos of their underwear, or if they are lucky, their privates, and then publish it on the web!  That is something that makes me uncomfortable.

But like I said, I am all for making fun of MYSELF and those close to me!

queen

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