the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Category: Life with My Parents (Page 3 of 11)

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.






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.


David, Fake and Faker


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


Family History


My great-grandparents travelled to New York from Russia on one of those unglamorous ships overcrowded with immigrants, hoping to leave the misery of Europe behind.  My great-grandparents had two daughters, Annette and Ruth.  Annette would become my grandmother on my father’s side.  Ruth would become my Aunt Ruthie, my favorite aunt, probably the greatest family influence on my life other than my parents, particularly in terms of creativity.

These immigrant ships were filthy and disease-ridden.  During the trip, my great-grandmother became ill and died on the ship.  My great-grandfather arrived at Ellis Island, greeted by the Statue of Liberty, with children to feed, but no job and no wife.

I’m not sure how long it was after his arrival in America, but my great-grandfather eventually remarried another Jewish woman he met in the Lower East Side of New York.  She had also lost her spouse.   This woman had a son, Benjamin.  The family blended, and the children – Anne, Ruth, and Benjamin became siblings.

I didn’t know much of this story as I was growing up.  My mother worked, so after school, I would walk over to my grandmother’s apartment, which was only a few blocks away, where they lived in some lower-income housing project building, built in the 1950’s.  My grandmother made the best tuna fish sandwiches because she added celery and dill to the tuna, and she sliced the bakery-fresh rye bread diagonally.  I spent most of my time at my grandmother’s house doing creative activities (or playing Scrabble) with my Aunt Ruthie, who never married and lived with my grandmother.    They were inseparable, so much so that when my aunt passed away while I was in college, my grandmother died a month later, as if an essential organ had been removed from her body.  My Aunt Ruthie was a five foot tall powerhouse of a woman, who worked in an advertising agency before women worked in the industry.  She read all sorts of intellectual books about socialism, psychology, sexuality, and feminism.  She loved to gamble on the horses.

My grandfather was a “character,” and was completely different in attitude than the rest of the family.  While most of the Kramer men were scrawny, brainy Jewish stereotypes, my grandfather was a union boxer of crates, rugged and well-built, with a full set of hair even in his eighties.  Unlike my grandmother, who was a homebody, and who I cannot recall leaving the house other than my high school graduation and my bar mitzvah, my grandfather had ADD before it was known to exist.   Back then, it was described as having  “ants in the pants” or “Shpilkes” in Yiddish.   He was an expert in which NY deli had the best pastrami sandwich.  He would travel at night from Queens to Manhattan to go “dancing at Roseland.”  To this day, I’m not sure what he was doing when he took the subway into the city.  Was he dancing during senior citizen night?  Did my grandmother care?  As a child, with a child’s point of view, I had no concept of the adult going-ons behind the scenes.   Aunt Ruthie and my grandfather always seemed to argue.  I figured it was because my aunt was smart and my grandfather was brawn, and this created that type of banter you would see  in old movies.    My grandmother always kept out of the arguing.

I found my grandfather to be a simple man, but memorable.  He loved Broadway musicals, but was too cheap to buy a ticket, so he would “sneak into” the theater lobby during the intermission when ticket-holders were outside smoking a cigarette.  On Sunday, he would come over to our apartment, carrying bagels and jelly donuts, and tell me the plot of the Second Act of each musical he saw, and I would try to come up with a scenario for the First Act to explain what he missed by sneaking in after the Intermission.

My father was the complete opposite of my grandfather, both in looks and temperment.  My father was a straight-arrow, always worrying about his responsibilty.  He never respected my grandfather’s devil-may-care attitude.

When I became older, I tried to piece together things that didn’t make sense.  Was my grandfather having affairs?  Where was he always going to and from?   He certainly seemed to flirt with every woman, and was popular with all the over sixty Jewish women of Flushing.

My father never talked about it.

My aunt and grandmother passed away while I was in college.  My grandfather passed away while I was in graduate school.  My father passed away during the first year of writing this blog.  My uncle, my father’s brother, passed away last year.  During my uncle’s  funeral, I spoke with my uncle’s wife.  Even though she married into our family, and wasn’t Jewish, she was fascinated by our geneology, even researching the whereabouts of the tiny shtetl where my great-grandparents were born.  She knew more about my family than anyone born into the family.   She talked to me like an adult member of the family, which was a new experience for me, and told me details that no one else had ever brought up before.

The most fascinating tidbit was about my grandfather.  His name was Benjamin.  My grandfather Benjamin was the same Benjamin who became part of the blended family when my great-grandfather remarried.

My grandfather and my grandmother were step-brother and step-sister.

My grandmother, my grandfather, and my Aunt Ruthie grew up together from childhood– all three of them — and then lived together as a family unit until their old age.

There is a story there, and I don’t know if I will ever know it.

Keeps On Ticking

This weekend was Father’s Day and my father’s birthday. My father passed away a few years ago, during my first year of blogging. I started to write a sentimental post about my father tonight, but then I stopped. I was writing it more for YOU than for me. I was faking my sentimentality. I don’t feel it. This is the first year I feel more angry over his death than anything else. It would be nice to talk to him during this transitional part of my life. Why have people alive if they are only going to die?

During my father’s last moments in the hospital — I stood by the bed with my mother, Sophia, my uncle, and the rabbi. The young doctor in his care at the time, overwhelmed with too many patients on a busy afternoon, took the respirator off of my father and we waited for my father’s last breath. Sophia came over and held his hand. But then something happened — the heart monitor kept on beating. And beating. For longer than it should have continued. We all stood there, during these painful moments, stuck in limbo. What was going on? Was he still alive? Or not?

“Does the patient wear a pacemaker?” asked the clueless doctor.

Nice. The medical staff had forgot to turn off my father’s pacemaker, so it kept on beating even after my father’s death, like the Timex watch with the metallic watchband that my father always wore on his right wrist, and which I still keep in the drawer in his memory. If it wasn’t such a gross error by the medical staff, my father’s last prank on the family would have been amusing.

Today, this memory makes me angry, not at the doctor, but at the whole concept of living and dying. Takes a licking, but keeps on ticking. That is a lie for anything other than Timex.

Hi, Mom

This morning, I was awoken by the voice of God.

“Neil, it is Mother’s Day.  Did you call your mother?”

“Nah.  What for?  It’s a dumb holiday.  I’ll call her tomorrow.”

“But Neil, you must congratulate her.  It is your duty.  After all, you have the best mother that I have ever created.”

“C’mon, God.  Let’s not go overboard.  Sure, she’s nice and funny, but there are billions of mothers out there.  How can you really say that she is the “best?”  Her cooking is pretty bad.  And she  refuses to watch the last ten minutes of the American Idol elimination night because it makes her “too nervous.”  That’s just weird.”

“I am the God of your Forefathers.  Of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  When I say that she is the best mother, I mean it.  I do not lie or do punk’d pranks like that crazy Kabbalah guy, Ashton Kutcher.  I speak the truth.”

“OK, bigshot.  Give me a sign.  A miracle.  Something that proves that you truly are all powerful.  Like a burning bush.”

“What are you crazy?  In Southern California.  One burning bush will cause a whole forest fire!  Can’t you come up with something a little bit less drama-queenish?”

“Hmmm… Ok, here’s  a challenge that is pretty impossible, even for you — let me see Julie Andrews, the biggest shiksa in the world, sing a song in Yiddish.  Only that will prove to me YOUR TRUE POWER!”

“I am the Lord, the One, and I shall produce this miracle!  Get ready to call your mother.”

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

The Shower Curtain

Blogging has become so popular that all meaning has been lost.  People call themselves “writers,” and ramble on about nothing, as if the minutia of their lives are as important as the big issues of the day, the tragedies that confront us all.

Which brings me to my story of the shower curtain.

It has always bothered me to come home from a trip, and be confronted with the house a mess.  What type of “Welcome Home” greeting is that?  I am always rushing before I leave to somewhere, frantically packing at the last minute, tossing my socks and underwear from the top drawer of my cabinet until they have flown clear across the bedroom, some brave Hanes briefs even hanging upside down from the overhead lamp, as if they are Russian trapeze artists performing in a circus act.

Before I left for Florida a few weeks ago, I promised myself, “This time I am going to CLEAN UP before I leave, so I can return to a nice, pleasant home.”  I did my vacuuming, dusting, and kitchen cleaning, using some new “green” product that promises not to kill any animals.  When I entered the bathroom for my final stop during my cleaning rounds, I realized that I had not cleaned the shower curtain in three months.  The bottom tenth of the curtain was black with mold.

“Shit, that is disgusting!” I said, turning my nose up snobbishly as I spoke to myself in the bathroom mirror, gazing at my own face, which I usually do when I speak to myself in the bathroom.

Now, I know bad economic times means frugality and making do with what you already have, but there was no f**king way I was going to touch the bottom of that shower curtain, even with a sponge in my hand and my entire body covered in a plastic six-foot condom.  I ripped the shower curtain from the hooks and tossed it into the garbage.

The next day, I flew to Florida.

Ten days later, I returned.

I was pleased.  The house was nice, clean, and inviting, just like I had hoped it would be.   I unpacked, undressed, and prepared to take a nice relaxing shower.

I bet you can figure out what happened next.  Exactly!

I walked into the bathroom, looked at my naked body approvingly, which I always do when I see myself in the bathroom mirror, stepped into the bathtub, ready for the warm water to wash away all my problems — when I realized that there was NO SHOWER CURTAIN!

I may be a lot of things, but I am not rude to others.  I COULD have attempted to take a shower without the curtain, but I was worried about the apartment below.   In the past, our downstairs neighbors had complained about leaks in their bathroom when I take a long shower.

I decided to take my first bath in ten years.

Let me just come out and say this publicly — I have nothing against baths.  I enjoy them.  As a child, I did not cry when I was told to take a bath.  Baths were fun.  I would play in the water, imagining I was in some sort of James Bond-like adventure, and I had to rescue some woman from some isolated island.  But at a certain point in my life, most of the bathtubs in the world just became too small for my six foot body.  What is UP with that?  Are most bathtubs made in Asia for petite women?  Or are bathtubs still modeled on the tubs of the 18th Century, when adults were shorter than they are today?  I don’t take baths because it is impossible to take a bath and have my entire body submerged in the water at the same time.  Either I have to keep my knees up, or sit up straight, exposing my chest and back to the cold air coming out of the vent.  Can you imagine how uncomfortable it is to have your waist down heated to a temperature of 80 degrees, while your upper half is stuck in the 50 degree wind?  You can get a cold, or a shiver.  Who needs it?

No shower curtain meant no shower, I had to take a bath.  And I did.  It was not a fun, but I managed, accepting it as something required, like a geometry class in junior high school.   Some people glorify the New York water system.  They say that it is the “water” that makes New York bagels the best.   But there is a dark side to New York water.  It appears cloudy.  When you pour a glass of tap water, sometimes you have to wait a whole minute until the water appears clear.  Taking a bath in cloudy water is depressing.    No man wants to look at his beloved penis, sitting there under the grainy, unclear water, like a long-forgotten ship wreck on the ocean floor.

The bad economy has a role to play in this story.  Until recently, there was a large “National Wholesale Liquidators” a block away from my mother’s apartment building.    Wholesale Liquidators was one of those enormous discount stores that has EVERYTHING and is always crowded with a masses of people speaking a hundred different languages, at least in Queens.  It was a great place to walk around and laugh at the  sheer amount of useless products created in this world.  Last month, the store went out of business.  The enormous store is now a boxy hulk of emptiness, a showcase for latest in the local graffiti artists and pigeon shit.

The Wholesale Liquidators was the only store within three blocks of my mother’s apartment building where I could buy a shower curtain.  Otherwise, I would have to take a bus or train to Kmart, or some similar type of chain, and that would require me to… uh, leave the house.

Some people might call this personality trait as  “laziness,” but I find that an ugly word.   I like to consider myself as “intensely focused on the trivial,” like blogging, or fighting with people on Twitter.    That is my only explanation for living in an apartment without a shower curtain for two weeks.   Every day, I would take another cloudy-water bath in the tub, until it became such a common experience, I developed a routine to wash my body:  first my upper half would be cleaned, and then I would slide up and clean my lower half.  Washing my hair proved awkward, but not impossible.  I would lower my head under the faucet-spout, carefully turning my head from side to side.  It was a difficult operation doing my hair, because if I wasn’t careful, I would end up dunking my face in the dirty water already in the tub, and that was is just as disgusting as the original moldy shower curtain.

Two days ago, I received a call from my mother.  It was March 31st.   Winter was over.  Her three month tour of duty in Boca Raton’s “Century Village” was over.  It was time for her return to the big city.

I was caught off-guard.  The house was a mess again, and I’m sure she wanted to return to a clean house, just the way I did when I came back from Florida.

The pressure was on.  I had one day to clean the house and do the laundry.  I worked my butt off.   I threw away the rancid Chinese take-out food that was in the fridge for two months.    I deleted all the bookmarks to “Librarians Gone Wild” on the desktop in the living room.   The clock was ticking.  My mother was landing at LaGuardia in an hour.   I went to the bathroom to pee, and as I was standing there — yes, you are ahead of me — I saw that there was something missing from the apartment, something that is pretty common for every bathroom to have hanging over the tub.

I saw that there was no shower curtain!

That would not be acceptable.  I did what any normal person does during a time of stress — I went onto Twitter and asked for advice.

“Where can I buy a shower curtain in an hour?”

Someone suggested Duane Reade, but when I called my local pharmacy, the guy on the phone did not seem to know what a shower curtain even was.

“Shower spray?” he asked repeatedly.

I was desperate.  I knew there was a dollar store a few blocks away, and I was reluctant to go there, mostly because everything that I have ever bought at this store has ended up being defective.  I was concerned that a dollar store shower curtain would emit dangerous fumes from the plastic, and poisoning my mother while she takes her first shower is not a very happy “welcome home” gift.   But I had no choice.   Better to have a dollar store shower curtain, than none at all.

I quickly put on my shoes, ready to dash to the dollar store, hoping to save the day, in much the same way that the guy in the movies runs to the airport to stop the girl he loves from flying to London and marrying the other guy, because he knows that  she will be unhappy with me, but instead of running to the airport, it was my mother flying INTO the airport, and I didn’t want to disappoint the woman I loved by her showing up, and seeing her apartment without a shower curtain.

But it was too late.  My phone rang.  It was my mother, calling from a cab as it pulled up in front of the apartment building.

“Can you come down and help me with the luggage?” she asked.

I went downstairs, ready to accept my fate.

As I wheeled the luggage into the bedroom, my mother inspected the house.

“Not perfect, but better than I expected.”

“There’s just one problem.”  I mumbled.  “I know this might sound weird, but we don’t have a shower curtain.”

My body froze, ready for her to ask me the journalistic questions of what, where, how, why, and when?

Instead, she shrugged her shoulders, and opened up the hallway closet.  Folded on top, were three other shower curtains.

“They were on sale a while back,” she said.  “You never know when you might need an extra shower curtain.”

I probably should have saved this post for mother’s day, because this story clearly says everything you need to know about motherhood.

Florida Vacation Photos!

West Palm Beach, Florida

Delray Beach, Florida

Sophia and My Mother

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

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.

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

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.


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


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.

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…)

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.

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

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.

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?

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?!


In one of the most astounding and innovative marketing campaigns in social media history, personal blogger Neilochka, knocks a PR grand-slam in his “Citizen of the Month Loves Mothers” blitz. In a carefully coordinated appeal to the his main demographic of mommybloggers, blogging professional Neil Kramer proves his commitment to those issues important to mothers nationwide by traveling thousands of miles in the snow to visit his mother in Boca Raton, Florida.

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