the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: family

Vartan’s Passing

I only took a carry-on with me to LAX yesterday because going to BlogHer was a last minute decision.  The health of my father-in-law, Vartan, was still shaky.  He had just started with hospice.   I got my boarding pass from the Virgin America machine and went through security.  I was about to put my shoes back on, post security, when Sophia called me on the phone.  She was crying.  Vartan had passed away.   Sophia, who had dropped me off at the airport no longer than ten minutes ago, returned to pick me up. We drove to her parents’ home.   The hospice nurse came to pronounce Vartan dead.   The nurse was a very caring Filipino who hugged everyone he met.   Soon after, the same sober-looking, deep-voiced guy from the funeral home who came to pick up Sophia’s mother just a month and a half ago, now came for Vartan.

The caregiver, who only knew him a short time, was in tears.

Vartan was an uber-impressive man.  A cancer surgeon in Russia, a chess player, a cook, a cabinet maker; a devoted and patient husband to Fanya.  I bonded with Vartan in ways I didn’t with Fanya — we both had to deal with “dramatic women,” as wives, and we frequently gave each other knowing glances.

The last seven months have been a slow and painful decline for Vartan.  He and Fanya aged 20 years each in less than a year.  It was so very sad to watch.  I’ve seen and done things I would not have expected to encounter just a year ago.  In some ways, I think it is better now that Vartan is in a happier place, with his beloved Fanya.   Today is the funeral.  Vartan and Fanya will be buried in the same plot of land.

Sophia has now lost both parents in a short amount of time. The hospice MD sent Sophia this SMS: Tried to call you.  I’m sorry and my condolences.  God’s peace & comfort w u.  You are truly a wonderful person and one of the most caring I ever met.”

This has been one hard year for Sophia.  If you want her address or email, contact me at neilochka at yahoo dot com or @neilochka on Twitter.

The Closing of the Eyes

This is what I was doing when Sophia’s mother passed away a few weeks ago.

I was waiting for my yearly exam at the eye doctor on Robertson Blvd.  I was hoping I didn’t need another prescription, because my last pair of “progressive lenses” cost me something like $600 bucks.   My eyesight is THAT bad.  Nearsighted and Farsighted.

I was reading an old Vanity Fair in Doctor Ko’s waiting room when the phone rang.  It was Sophia, hysterical, saying that “something is going wrong” at her mother’s house.  The ambulance was there.  I needed to go there immediately.  I was closer than Sophia, who was still in Redondo Beach.

Just then, the receptionist called me for my appointment.  I told her that I had to leave.  A family emergency.  She grumbled unsympathetically, as if she had heard this excuse a hundred times before.

“I will have to charge you a $35 co-payment because you need to cancel three days before blah blah.”

“Fine,” I said.

The next hurdle was the underground parking garage.  I handed my parking stub to the attendant in her cubicle.

“Eight dollars,” she announced.  A Spanish soap opera was playing on a 13″ TV next to the cash register.

I handed her my Visa.

“Cash only,” she said, unimpressed.  I looked inside my wallet.  I only had three dollars cash.

“Can I come back later?”

“No.  There’s an ATM machine in the lobby.”

“I need to go.   It’s an emergency.”

I was getting desperate.

“Sure.  Sure.  Emergency.  I hear that ALL the time.”

It was like the story of the boy who cried wolf, but I was stuck paying for the sins of others.  I never lie about emergencies.

“It IS an emergency.  My mother-in-law is sick.”

The phone rang.  Sophia was sobbing.  The attendant let me go.

It was surreal when I arrived at the home of Sophia’s parents.  My FIL was sick in the bedroom, unaware of what was going on.   My MIL was in the living room, a white sheet covering her body.  The aide was running back and forth between the two rooms, screaming.  Emergency workers and the police were on walkie-talkies.  Noisy Russian neighbors were pacing in the hallway of the apartment building.

Sophia arrived, lifted the sheet, and broke down.  Her mother’s eyes were still open.

I closed Fanya’s eyes.  There was nothing else for her to see in this world.  She had gone to another place.

I was scared of touching her eyes, of the gaze of someone who had just passed, as if it was dangerous to me in some ancient superstitious manner, even though I was just sitting at the kitchen table with this exact same person the day earlier, eating borscht, and taking the finished bowl from her warm hands.

Today I received the bill for the eye exam that I never had.  But I don’t need an optometrist to tell me that, since that tragic day, I somehow see things differently.

Sophia’s Mom

Sophia’s mother passed away on Tuesday. Today is the funeral. It was unexpected, since it was her husband who was bedridden.

Fanya had an interesting and adventurous life, which took her from the horrors of war-torn Soviet Union to present-day Los Angeles, in order to be close to her only child, Sophia. Fanya was so proud when she became an American citizen.

The love of her life was her husband, Vartan. She met him in Odessa, Ukraine, where he was her doctor. They had a long and passionate relationship. Fanya and Vartan were inseparable. When Vartan grew ill six months ago, everyone thought it best to put Vartan in a convalescence home. We told her that it would require too much work. She refused to discuss the issue. Despite having an aide, and the help of her family, Fanya was her husband’s primary caregiver, dealing with all the physical strain and lack of sleep. Even as we saw her weakening from the stress, she refused to leave her husband’s side.

Yesterday, Sophia told Vartan the news of his wife’s passing. He is very distraught, especially about being too ill to attend the funeral.

Out of a total coincidence, my mother had a flight coming to visit us today in LA, so she will be attending as well.

Fanya was a bigger-than-life woman. She was tough in spirit, but also extremely caring to others, and will be very very missed.

If you want to send a message to Sophia, you can do it here or send me an email.

Good Year

The year, 2010, started out promising, like the Goodyear blimp rising over the city, a whirring airship ascending slowly and elegantly, graceful in appearance, like a modern dancer.

“Happy New Year,” I screamed at midnight on December 31, drunk on champagne at the party at Joyce’s apartment on the Upper East Side.  It would be a good year!

It is now May.  Hmm… what happened?

I’ve always loved the Goodyear blimp.  “The Spirit of America” is stationed near my home in Redondo Beach, and on weekends, it flies over our home as it heads for the beach or some sports event in Pasadena.   If you are in the bedroom at the right moment, and glance out the bedroom window, you can see the shadow of the blimp covering the outside patio, like a huge umbrella giving shade.

What a joy it must be to pilot such a majestic blimp!   What an aerial view it must be from inside — not cold and distant like the view from a run-of-the-mill commercial airliner, miles above the ground — but close and intimate, only a few helium bursts away,  looking down at the houses below, like toys for the playing.

I started 2010 like a pilot in command of a Goodyear Blimp.   It was going to be a very good year.

But even a good year can be darkened by murky clouds, few pinpoints of light cutting through the gray mist.

It’s been five months since I returned to Los Angeles.  A broken hip of my father-in-law, Vartan, has morphed into one problem after another.  Despite the advice his doctors, his wife, Fanya, refused to put Vartan into an assisted living home.   And who can blame her?  She loves her husband.  But it hasn’t been easy.  Caring is a full time job.

Vartan is in the hospital again, with pneumonia and an infection.   Sophia and her mother are fighting with each other after Fanya fired the full-time aide.   Caring for my FIL has opened old wounds that can’t be fixed at a hospital.

And I’m… well, I’m still around.

Everyone is exhausted.

Today I took Sophia into bed.  Actually, I grabbed her and told her to GET INTO BED.   I told her we both needed to shut up — not talk about anything — and hug.  We hugged and slept for seven hours.

It was nice.  But I could hear the Goodyear blimp flying overhead, still hidden in the clouds.

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.

Earth, Wind, and Fire

Today I will continue my tradition of writing a blog post about my neighborhood without walking a block from my mother’s apartment building. 

I’ve introduced you to the supermarket downstairs with the crashing cars and the religious Jewish guy with the condo fliers.  I’ve told my tales of the worst McDonald’s in the United States and the seventeen year old black kid who is the assistant manager and the elderly Chinese saleswoman selling porno DVDs.  I’ve exposed the evil landlord from Palm Beach, Florida, who is trying to close all the small stores a half a block away to build some sort of Kmart.  Today, I’ll move across the street — to the mini-mall next to McDonald’s. 

In this non-descript Los Angeles-style mini-mall, there is a small deli, a chicken/pizza place, a hair stylist, and a “car service.” Other than using the car service to go to the airport, my mother doesn’t go into any of these stores.  They mostly cater to the Muslim, mostly Pakistani and Afghan community.  Now in my mother’s defense, she doesn’t go into the religious Jewish stores on Main Street either.  These small insular establishments are not very friendly to the outsider.  I’ve tried the pizza at the Muslim pizzeria a few times, and the food was pretty bad.  And for the record — women in burkas don’t like you checking out their asses.  But I have used the “car service” to go to the airport.  The drivers are excellent, despite all of them looking like Bin Laden’s brothers.

Over the car service is a small mosque, built into what seems to be a former dentist’s office.   A crescent moon stands proudly on the make-shift fabric domed roof.  From my mother’s living room, you can look directly into the mosque.  It is Ramadan now, so there are services at night.  I sleep in the living room, because the mattress of the convertible bed my mother put into my bedroom is like sleeping on metal.  While I lay on the couch, I can look inside the mosque window and in the brighness of the room, watch the religious praying, kneeling and facing Mecca. 

Later today, is my uncle’s funeral.  It has been a crazy week since he passed away.  He lived in San Francisco, but he wanted to be buried in New York — near my father, who was his eldest brother.  This opened up some neurotic family discussions, and also a debate over how to get him to New York.  He wanted to be cremated, which could be iffy in some Jewish cemeteries. 

And the big question — “Can you carry an urn with ashes on an American Airlines flight?”

This morning, I woke up to the sound of my mother’s loud dishwasher.  I also heard the sound of prayer.  It was comforting, even if it was coming from another religion – from a religious group that doesn’t usually see eye-to-eye with mine.    I thought about religion in general, and how we are all alike at heart.  All of us trying to make sense of life and death, all having the same hopes and dreams.

And then the whirl of the dishwasher stopped.  And what I thought was prayer was not prayer at all.  There was no one praying at the mosque.  What I imagined as sacred prayer was the janitor’s CD player blasting songs from “Earth, Wind, and Fire” as he worked on his old Toyota out front.

Dinner at the Kramers

My mother is hip for a long-time AARP member.  She still works a full-time job, commuting into Manhattan by subway.  She likes sex in the City, American Idol, and reading my blog.  Granted, she couldn’t tell you the name of a song by Justin Timberlake, but she has seeen him on “The View.” 

The one aspect about her that is completely old school is her view of “dinner.”  She is stubbornly holding onto the idea that dinner is some sort of special family time, like in TV shows from an earlier era.

When I was a child, dinners in the Kramer family were as close to Ozzie and Harriet as we ever became.  I tossed this lifestyle away after I left home.  Post college, dinner was a sandwich or a frozen burrito.  When I got married, Sophia classed things up, but since we didn’t have kids, dinner never really became the traditional family time.  We ate dinner while watching that day’s “All My Children.”   Dinner was frequently take-out Chinese food, and we usually rushed through the meal.  On the nights when Sophia cooked her delicious, but elaborate meals, I frequently spent more time dreading doing the dishes than eating my meal.

My mother is not a good cook.  She is efficient, seemingly making a ten course meal in ten minutes.  Her food is unfussy, served on mismatched dishes, but in form and function, her dinners are as regimented as a Julia Child recipe.

My mother’s meals always start with a fruit appetizer.  If you ever went to a Catskills resort or a bar mitzvah in your childhood, you would know that every dinner starts with a grapefruit or some fruit.  My mother’s favorite is a piece of melon.

“Why do we need this for?” I asked tonight.

“You always start dinner with a piece of fruit.  It readies the palate.”

“No one eats fruit before dinner anymore.  This is dessert.”

“No, cake is dessert.  This is an appetizer.”

After the fruit appetizer, comes the salad — always served out of this old wooden bowl with wooden spoon and fork.  Why?  I hate NO IDEA.  The only other time I ever saw this wooden bowl was in some old-fashioned “steak place” in Los Angeles, which hasn’t changed its menu (other than the prices) since 1938.  In this restaurant, they even serve you that ancient “wedge of lettuce,” which is basically a slab of iceberg lettuce thrown on your plate. 

I never liked iceberg lettuce.  My mother would still be buying iceberg lettuce if I didn’t finally teach her the ways of other lettuce, like green leaf.  Now, she has joined the 21st Century and buys her lettuce in those Dole lettuce bags. Her salads are always the same:  lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and some sugary bottled dressing that was on sale, usually honey mustard or French dressing.

In the winter, there might be soup after the salad, but we skip that during the summer months.

The main entree always consists of meat, chicken, or fish and TWO vegetables.  Always TWO.  One vegetable is the “fun” carby one — potato, yam, or instant rice, and the second is  the green “good for you” type — peas and carrots, broccoli, string beans.  Other than potatoes and corn on the cob, I do not recall my mother ever serving a fresh vegetable. They are either of the canned or “frozen” variety, and they always come out as soggy and overcooked as the ones you get at Denny’s.  Still, it’s not worth trying to change her ways.  Who am I to talk?  I’ve been so lazy in the past, that my dinner was eating vegetables straight from the can.

I AM trying to change my mother’s portion control.  For some reason, she has never been a leftover keeper, other than saving over food during big events, like holiday dinners.  Maybe her mother was told by her mother to always finish her plate — whatever was on it.   So, whatever is cooked is served, and is eaten.  If she has a big can of peas that she bought on sale, a bucket-full-of-peas is plopped on the plate.  We each receive a piece of chicken that could be turned into 20 chicken McNuggets.”

“This is ridiculous.  We don’t need so much food.”

“So, don’t eat it.”

“You end up eating what is your plate.  It is human psychology.  I read a book that says when you go to a restaurant you should immediately bag half of the food to take home.  You’ll be just as satisfied eating half the food.”

“I don’t like taking home food.”

“Why not?

“It never tastes the same.”

“You always say the leftovers taste better the next day, like during Passover.”

“That’s different.  I know how to reheat the Jewish food.  I’m never going to cook the Chinese food as well as someone Chinese.”

There is no arguing with logic like that.

Sophia told me to buy my mother a microwave to reheat leftovers.  My mother was always afraid of microwaves because of the “radiation.”  I’m going to be honest — I never had a microwave for the same reason.  Fears are inherited.

After the main course in the Kramer household, it is time for dessert.  Dessert is one area which has changed over the times.  I’m frankly embarrassed to tell you what “dessert” used to be when I was a child.  It was literally served in three courses.  I’m not joking —

First there was some sort of fruit cup or applesauce.  I know this sounds almost unbelievable — especially since we BEGAN the meal with fruit, but this fruit was to “temper” the palate — to ready ourselves for the real dessert.  This was the only part of the meal where I was a bratty child who wouldn’t eat his food.  Unlike many children, I loved my soggy vegetables.  What utterly disgusted me were these sugary canned fruit cocktails that my father loved.  Holy Crap, did I hate that crap!  Canned peaches.  Canned plums.  Ugh. Luckily these were eventually phased out as my parents learned the word “cholesterol” and changed their menu to the equally unhealthy low-fat, but full of trans-fats and sugar products which were the rage fifteen years ago.

After the fruit cup, was the real dessert — maybe ice cream or chocolate Jello pudding.

So, the meal is over, right?  Nope. 

No dinner is complete without coffee or tea.  Yes, we had to have coffee after dinner, getting me hooked on caffeine at an early age.  I blame my mother for my need to go to Starbucks. 

Of course, we couldn’t just have coffee without something to “nosh” on — so we would have a few cookies with the coffee or tea.

Three course dessert! 

Gradually, my mother realized that this was insane, and our dessert was truncated.   Today, we usually grab a  non-sugar ice cream bar an hour after dinner.  No fruit cocktail, cookies, or even coffee.

The times they are a changing.

The Wrong Apartment 1H

For the last few days, we’ve had guests in the house — my cousin Alan and his wife, Beth, came in from Cleveland.  I don’t know them well.  I only met them once before, during my bar mitzvah.  Both of them are in their fifties, and former hippies. 

“I’ve been to all three Woodstocks” Alan told me. 

I had no idea that there were three Woodstocks. 

During the last one, Alan camped out near the concert site with a friend.  On the second day of the concert, they decided to take a hike.

“Should we take the tent with us?”  asked his friend.

“Nah.  This is Woodstock, man!” he answered.

When they returned, their tent was stolen and they had to sleep in the van during a rainstorm.

Alan is also an obsessive baseball fan.  His main reason for coming to New York was to attend games at Shea Stadium and Yankee Stadium before both teams moved to their new homes.

Alan and Beth are nice enough, but the hippy shtick, which was probably once cute, is now annoying to anyone with a real life.  I hope I don’t sound too anti-family, but you just don’t walk around naked in the morning unless you are VERY close relatives.  And it wasn’t like they were coming here to build homes for the poor… or to even visit us.  They just drove to New York to see some baseball games. 

They also provided bad luck for our New York teams.  Both teams lost.  The Mets lost 11-0.

Ex-hippies may have XM radio nowadays, but they apparently don’t believe in suitcases.  I met my cousins by their car when they pulled in.  Their luggage was in twenty-five shopping bags.  Since they were vegans, three of the shopping bags contained food.  Two of the shopping bags were vitamins.  The rest were clothes.  What a pain in the ass.  It took a half hour to carry everything upstairs.  Alan also brought a guitar.

“Do you play?” I asked.

“No,” he answered.  “But I always wanted to learn.”

I carried the guitar upstairs and it sat unopened in the hallway until I carried it back to the car several days later, when they left.

Alan took a bit interest in me when he saw me in the kitchen with my laptop, and I told him that I was “writing a screenplay.”  He said that he believed in past lives, and that in a past life, he was “a successful New York playwright living in the late 1950’s.”  I told him that even though I am skeptical about “past lives,” I respected his belief.  I didn’t tell him that since he was alive in the late 1950’s, he could not possibly have had a past life as a successful New York playwright in the late 1950’s.  But who needs logic?

I hate to go for the stereotype, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this couple had, at one time in the past, consumed immense quantities of marijuana.  They had the worst sense of direction.  When hey wanted to go somewhere on their own, I gave them explicit instructions printed from MapQuest. 

They want to visit a local bakery.  They walked several miles the wrong way. 

They wanted to visit the Museum of Natural History.  They got lost on the subway and visited “The Museum of Sex” instead.  They loved it!

My apartment complex consists of two buildings.  Although the buildngs look alike, their entrance ways are located on opposite streets.  Each building has a different address, which is clearly printed over the entrance.   I’ve never heard of anyone mistaking one building for the other. 

On the way home from “The Museum of Sex,” Alan and Beth walked into the wrong apartment building.  They took the elevator to the first floor and walked to Apartment 1H, where is our apartment number, although the one in the other building.  Alan and Beth tried to open the front door with the house keys that I gave to him on the first day.  Neither of them could open the door.  They started arguing and jiggling the knob in frustration. 

Suddenly, Mary Fanelli, the tenant of the other Apartment 1H, opened the door, the doorchain still firmly attached, brandishing a steak knife and screaming for the police. 

Alan explained who he was, and luckily, Mary knew my mother from the weekly mah jonng game.

I can’t wait to hear the gossip at the next game.

The Family Nose


In the last couple of days, there have been several comments on this blog about Sophia looking like my mother.  That’s just crazy!   Sophia and my mother look nothing alike.   Why would anyone marry someone who looked like his mother?  That would mean… that this person wanted to… that…  I just can’t even put the words together because it is so unspeakable.


Sophia and my mother don’t look anything alike.   Really.   None of us think it is true.   If anyone looks like my mother, it is me.    The proof is in the photo on top, taken at the Dominican coffee shop where we ate breakfast this morning.

Parents Visit L.A.


My parents are in town and staying with me in my one bedroom apartment — so you can imagine how much fun that is.  They are real New Yorkers who don’t drive, so I’m also their limo driver. 

What’s been the highlight of my mother’s first day?  Going to Target!  I didn’t realize there are no Targets in Manhattan.  Suckers! 

My mother’s review of Target:

Mom:  It really is much nicer than K-Mart.

In between discussions about Sophia, saving money, and the lack of grandchildren, I showed my parents what’s really important in my life — my blog.  You can imagine how excited they were with all the money-making potential of blogging — none. 

Dad:  What should I read first?

Me:  On the side, you can see my most popular posts.

Dad:  Posts?

Me:  Items.  Articles.  Just click on a link.

Dad:  Huh?

Mom:  Let me show him.  I’m an expert with the computer from work.

She clicks on a link.   They start reading.  After a moment, my father shows a look of concern.

Dad:  You didn’t really sleep with Tom Cruise?

Me:  If only! 


Me:   Of course not.  It was a joke.  That whole thing with Rob Thom… oh, forget it.  It’s just a joke.

Dad:  Hmm.

My mother clicks on another link.

Mom:  This naked Batman is funny.

Dad:  Is that really Batman’s penis?

Me:  Batman is a cartoon character.

Mom:  That’s some penis.

Me:  Yes, Mom.

Mom:  Before I dated your father, I dated Sol "X."  Remember him?  His penis was like a…

Me:   Mom, I don’t really want to…

Dad:   (surprised)  I didn’t know you dated Sol.

Mom:   Just once.

Me:  And you saw his penis on the first date?

Mom:  Ha ha ha.  His penis was like…

Me:  (cutting her off)  Do you like the blog?

Dad:  Why is it called a blog?

Me:  Web log.

Dad:  So why not just call it that?   I like web log better.

Me:  I’ll relay your message to the authorities.

Mom:   Who’s this Brooke?

Me:  I don’t know.

Mom:  Is she nice?

Me:  I don’t know.  Some woman from Florida.

Mom:  She must be Jewish.

Me:   I have no idea.   Why do you think so?

Mom:  She’s from Florida.  Everyone’s Jewish in Florida.  Or Cuban. 

Me:  What about Jeb Bush?

Mom:  OK, maybe one.

Dad:  I think OJ Simpson lives in Florida now.  He’s not Jewish. 

Mom:  Thank God.   (after a moment)   Maybe Rita knows Brooke.  Does she live near Fort Lauderdale?

Me:   Mom, don’t be ridiculous.

Mom:   Now, I’m joking.   You have no sense of humor.

This weekend, I’m going away with my parents — and Sophia, my separated wife who hasn’t given my parents any grandchildren. 

I’ll report back…  if I make it through it…

Do your parents/family read your blog?

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