Labor Day Weekend ~ Long Ago ~ Saturday Night

ImagePlease remember, I am part of that “transitional” generation of women. Told we could “have it all” but raised by women who had migraines, asthma and ulcers because real life told them they couldn’t. Without an independent role model, I followed a path of predictability. Getting engaged at 19 was far from unusual.  In fact at 19 I was already a “godmother” and had been “maid of honor” at a totally “non-shot-gun” wedding.  I knew exactly what my life would be. Get engaged, married, have 2.2 children, swim and/or play golf at the country club and run the family restaurant.  Well, I did get engaged on my 19th birthday to a very nice boy with a very nice diamond ring from Fortunoffs.   We would live happily ever after.Image

Plans progressed.  We set the date. I went shopping for a wedding dress and was told by a friend who was already married, “when you put on THE dress you’ll feel the magic.” I tried on one dress and said “you’re right, this is it.”  But I didn’t feel any magic.  I just knew it looked better than the others. I lied because I didn’t want to be “different.”  We planned a very nice wedding, a honeymoon in Puerto Rico, rented an apartment on the bottom floor of a great house in Bayville and ordered a copious number of invitations that were never mailed.

Exactly what was I supposed to do now with the rest of my life?  Only one suitable decision ~  move to Los Angeles.

“She’ll be back in three months” seemed to be the general consensus among family and friends.   I’m not certain I didn’t disagree with them as I sat in a car with a friend awaiting our departure. It was all contingent on my father’s final “OK” ~ in the form of an envelope of cash and the guarantee that my little Triumph Spitfire would, indeed, be shipped.  As my mother – one of the kindest souls and neatest women I’ve ever known – stood next to the car with tears in her eyes she entrusted a large envelope of her own to me.  Inside were all the response envelopes from the not-to-be-had wedding, addressed to the family home and stamped.  Her simple goodbye – “you have no excuse not to write.”

Somewhere around St. Louis I realized my most marketable skills were making milkshakes and asking “would you like your burger medium or rare?”  A frightening few moments, indeed.  But Route 66 was fairly distracting despite miles upon miles of corn fields.  On Day Four we hit the all important fork in the road.   A very important decision had to be made…The Grand Canyon or Las Vegas.

While driving toward the “left coast” seemed an aimless endeavor, the current choice was clear.  Sprung from the cage of conventional behavior, I was on my way to Las Vegas. 

As I said in an earlier post, when my ex came to Locust Valley, he declared, “I now have the final piece of the puzzle,” dubbing me “the mayonnaise princess.”  While I had been known to put mayonnaise on cheeseburgers, the nickname had nothing to do with my choice of condiment.  On a visit back to Locust Valley in 1977 the cultural divide between my past and present became apparent, even to me, when I asked the very young man behind the counter of the delicatessen for “lox” and was told “none here, go to Britton’s.” ~ the hardware store.   I’d had lots of Wonder Bread but never a bagel until I moved to L.A.   But, I digress.

That Saturday night in Las Vegas ~ Labor Day Weekend 1970 ~  I had no idea how incredibly sheltered my upbringing had been and even less of an idea of what Las Vegas was about.  What I did know ~ I was on my own in a place lit up like a Christmas tree at a time when Christmas trees were still politically correct.  The thrill of sitting with that watered down drink at a slot machine wearing high heels was indescribable.  At that moment I was certain my life in Los Angeles was going to be everything I had never dreamed of and the possibilities were endless. 

My friend, Kate, and I wandered into the lounge. In Vegas during “the day” there were lounge shows of medium talent and those headlining Rat Pack type show rooms with untenable cover charges. The “Treniers” were appearing at the Sands lounge that evening.  As a Motown devotee I found this absolutely perfect.  No Four Tops or Temptations, but just what the night called for. The cover was two drinks which were definitely not watered down.  Kate and I enjoyed the show as four men at the table next to us were checking out their possibilities.  I was too enthralled with my first true rush of freedom and loud music where no one said “turn that down, Janet” that I didn’t pay attention ~ at first. 

After the first drink I smiled back, after the second we agreed to join them at their table. It turned out they were “friends” of the Treniers.  Men in their mid- thirties in town for the weekend from they didn’t mention where.  They were definitely the most sophisticated guys I’d ever seen, but then where would I have been hanging out with men in their thirties?  After the show we all went out to the “tables” ~ no slots for them.  They were playing roulette and planned to move on to another Casino. Did we want to join them?  We had our own car and felt perfectly safe saying, “sure, we’ll follow.”  

Two or three casinos later it was about three a.m. I wasn’t imbibing but I was certainly high on the experience.  One of the men was particularly attractive, and attracted, and asked if I wanted to head to Caesar’s Palace with him.  He would, of course, drive me back to our motel whenever I wanted – no doubt about that.  Kate drove away, as did Jake and I.  Caesars was beyond unbelievable. As we walked over to the roulette table I boldly put $2 down on my lucky number – 8. The wheel spun and I won! $72 return.  Today that would barely fill a gas tank but 1970 gasoline was 28 cents a gallon. I saw this stroke of luck as a positive omen for my future. 

As for the present, most certainly I was having fun.  Would you believe Jake lived in Los Angeles?  He  would love to take me to dinner once I got settled.  He recommended some great areas to look for an apartment – Toluca Lake in the “Valley” and Beverly Hills adjacent if I wound up “over the hill.”  At 21, I found that doubtful until he explained the geographic boundaries of the city I would be calling home in forty-eight hours.  But right now, flush with my winnings and a potential “Mr. Right” ~ oh, those life plans die hard ~ standing with me in this glamorous atmosphere I was certain I’d made the right choice to “go West young woman.” 

It must have been 5AM when I was ready to get some sleep and asked Jake to drive me back to the motel. While I was a bit embarrassed for him to see where we were staying, I knew wherever I wound up would make a better impression when we met up again in Los Angeles. 

Jake just happened to be staying at Caesars. How about we catch some sleep in his room before he drove me back?  After some back and forth conversation it became clear his driving me anywhere was not an option.  Mr. Right was really wrong.  We parted relatively amicably but as I walked out of the Casino I realized two things…it was a very long walk back to the motel and I didn’t even know this talent agents’ last name.  Using a large part of my winnings on a taxi ~ that motel was REALLY at the end of the strip ~ I had time to reflect on my first big night of freedom. 

I wasn’t nearly as smart as I thought I was a couple of hours earlier. 
Three years later Jake became husband #1…in Las Vegas. Image

As Forest Gump would say, “That’s all I have to say about that.”









Loving Long Island…Long Labor Day Weekend ~ home sweet home

ImageImageAfter a day resting my achy, thankfully non-breaky, bones we went out for a walk this morning.  We are experiencing hot, humid days that do not cool off at night, which is very rare for Southern California.  We are not dealing with it gracefully.  Jay is a native of Northern California so he thinks any temperature higher or lower than 75 degrees is totally unacceptable.  I call him a weather wuss.  I, however, should know better.  I grew up on humid Long Island, in a house without air conditioning and thought absolutely nothing of it.

Today the air smelled like a hot summer morning on Long Island.   Something I haven’t experienced in many, many years.  As we walked a slower and shorter route, I took deep breaths and remembered so much about summer mornings in Locust Valley.  First of all, the night before we would be out collecting lightening bugs and putting them in an old mayonnaise jar with holes punched in the lid.  They were usually alive the next morning but I don’t remember setting them free.  I do remember a few smushed on the driveway ~ I’ll say my little brother did it ~ exposing their luminous innards.  I am glad to learn, just today from someone still on “the island,” that this particular pastime did not lead to the extinction of the lightening bug community.   The summer days of my youth included a lot of backyard croquet ~ I was recently reminded how I loved “sending” other people’s balls vigorously ~ badminton, kickball and swimming.   As I grew older swimming became sunning at Stehli’s smothered in a baby oil/iodine mixture and working as a bus girl at the Pig N’ Whistle.

ImageAccording to Wikipedia, “Locust Valley is a hamlet in Nassau CountyNew York.  Locust Valley is an unincorporated area of the Town of Oyster Bay.  As of the United States 2010 Census, the population was 3,406.  Locust Valley is one of the wealthiest suburbs of New York City. The town is commonly identified with its W.A.S.P and “White Shoe” culture surrounding a group of polo and golf clubs, primarily the secretive Piping Rock Club. The town is also known for Locust Valley lockjaw.”

Additionally, “2010 Crime Rate Indexes Locust Valley, NY Total Crime Risk~36, Murder Risk~4, Rape Risk~20, Robbery Risk~56, Assault Risk~28, Burglary Risk~45, Larceny Risk~ 63, Motor Vehicle Theft Risk~ 68.”  I had to look up the difference between burglary and larceny~ the difference being illegal and legal entry to a premises.  Looks like there must be a lot of shoplifting going on at The Plaza and surrounding retail establishments.

Maybe you know all this, but “the rolling hills of the north Shore of Long Island were laid down as terminal moraines by the receding glaciers of the last ice age roughly 10,000 years ago. The Algonquian tribe that settled the area, spanning from Flushing to Setauket, called the area “hilly ground” or Matinecock and as a result the Algonquian Indians who settled there became known as the Matinecock Indians.

In 1667, Captain John Underhill negotiated with the Matinecock Indians to purchase land for a settlement that he and his fellow colonists would call Buckram. The town name lasted for nearly 200 years, until in 1856 the name was changed to Locust Valley based on the number of locust trees located in the area.

On April 19, 1869, the Long Island Rail Road opened the extension of the Glen Cove line, via a single track to Locust Valley, making it the terminus of the line until the railroad was extended to its current terminus in Oyster Bay in 1889. With the arrival of the Long Island Rail Road, a commercial center developed and thrived around the Locust Valley station and the nearby intersection of Forest Ave/Buckram Road and Birch Hill Road.

As the North Shore of Long Island grew into the Gold Coast in the early 20th century, the commercial center grew to serve the great estates that were being established in the surrounding communities of Bayville, Centre Island, Lattingtown, Mill Neck, Matinecock, Muttontown and The Brookvilles.Image

By 1927, the wealthy Harrison Williams had established himself at his 150-acre  Delano & Aldrich designed estate “Oak Point” at Bayville, on nearby Pine Island. Weekend guests (which several times included Scott Fitzgerald, the Prince of Wales, Cecil Beaton & Winston Churchill) arriving at the Locust Valley Station were often fetched in one of his fleet of Rolls Royce motorcars which would stop in the hamlet for last-moment provisions. At that time, Williams, a Wall Street tycoon, was considered the wealthiest American, and John Kenneth Galbraith wrote, in his book about the great depression, of Williams’ pyramiding of utilities holding companies, “If there must be madness something may be said for having it on a heroic scale”.

In the 1940s and 50s, Locust Valley was the country home of Robert A. Lovett, a partner (with Prescott Bush) in Brown Brothers Harriman Bank on Wall Street and a former United States Secretary of Defense; Elizabeth Shoumatoff, renowned portrait painter of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and other local luminaries; and finally, Leonard Hall, The National Chairman of the Republican Party. The hamlet was also a regular stop for rest and relaxation for the Duke of Windsor and Cole Porter.

As the commercial center, with the railroad station for the surrounding Gold Coast communities, the geographically small Locust Valley became the name of reference for all surrounding areas between Glen Cove and Oyster Bay. This larger community, which now constitutes the Locust Valley School service area, was associated with the upper-class accent prevalent on the great estates: “Locust Valley Lockjaw“.  While the accent is not heard as much as it once was, Locust Valley remains a social center for upper-class New Yorkers. Many are members of the exclusive clubs in the area: Piping Rock Club, The Creek, Beaver Dam and the Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club.”

If Wikipedia, computers that cut and paste and the internet had existed when I was in high school I would have been a really, really good student.  Instead I was repeatedly asked to leave the Locust Valley Library for…wait for it…talking.

Long Island was also the home of Typhoid Mary but I’m sure she must have lived on the South Shore.


Locust Valley…Kinder Time…Kinder Place ~ Second Edition

ImageOnce a year I trip and fall whether I need it or not.   Yesterday was that day.  Usually I’m just not watching where I’m going and there is always a broken sidewalk involved.  Today there was also a very rude driver involved.   We walk the dogs early every morning and our alarm clock, Harley, lets us know that we need to be out before 7AM.   We were a little late and the school/work commute had started.  I am usually a huge supporter of “all things women” but we live near an elementary school and, before that, a middle school and I have to say these ladies are like maniacs every morning getting the kids to their designated learning area.   Gone are the day of school buses.  Here to stay are tired, over or under-caffeinated women driving like Parnelli Jones, or rather, Danica Patrick.  It’s frightening.  But, I digress.

We were at the halfway point in our walk.  Crossing the street at a four-way stop sign.   Jay and Harley always walk ahead of me and recalcitrant Riley.  I was just about halfway across when a car turned toward us…far too close.  I turned to look at the car but kept walking.  Into the curb, not over it.  Down I went.  When I fall there seems to be a subconscious method to my madness.  I go down on my knees and palms.   And, thank God, nothing breaks.  I call it my annual bone density test.  This time I have a skinned knee, sore palms and general aches.  I was lucky.  I sat, stunned, while Jay held both dogs.  Getting up would be the challenge.  Don’t know about you, but leaping up from a seated position on concrete with a skinned knee and palms is not my long suit.  Jay was holding the leashes of two dogs, one of whom wants to go home for breakfast, right now.   For once, Riley is the good dog.  I think we were there for at least five minutes before I was able to rise, with Jay’s help, and know for certain nothing was broken.   As I said, we were at a four-way stop sign.  During those five minutes at least ten cars stopped and progressed past us in various directions.

Not one stopped to ask if we needed help.

I know.  People are busy.  People are in a hurry to get where they’re going.  We live in a suburb of Los Angeles where we have no idea of the names of most of our neighbors.  But I like to think if I’d been in one of the cars passing such a scene I would have at least slowed down and said, “is there anything I can do?”

As we walked home Jay and I both commented on how alone, and on your own you can be among a crowd of strangers.  I came home, cleaned my knee, and posted my mishap on Facebook.  I wrote “I miss Locust Valley,” the bucolic town of my upbringing on the North Shore of Long Island.  A friend wrote, “I miss the 1960’s.”  Then, he added “well, the early 1960’s.”  It brought to mind the true story of the difference between my fall this morning and my father’s fall during the summer of 1961.

Our house was on the top of a hill that entered onto a busy road.  Well, Buckram Road is busy by Locust Valley standards.  It was garbage day.  My father got up very early in the morning.  He was putting the garbage cans out and noticed a tricycle sitting close to the cans.  Thinking that perhaps the tricycle would be mistaken for trash, my father gave it a little kick.   The little kick propelled the tricycle down the hill.  Now thinking that perhaps the tricycle would continue down the hill and cause an accident on Buckram Road, my father took off running down the hill to catch the tricycle.  He was wearing bedroom slippers.  Need I say more?  As he looked up after landing, he watched the tricycle hop a curb and stop on a neighbor’s lawn.  Karma is a bitch, but that’s an altogether different story.  My father realized he couldn’t get up.  His leg hurt badly.  So he stayed on the ground waiting for someone to help.  We knew all our neighbors but remember, this was early in the morning.  No one was awake.   I’m not sure how long he sat on the ground but suddenly the garbage truck started coming up the hill.  The kind young men carried my father up to the house, placed him gently on a lounge chair on the front porch, rang the bell and waited until my mother came down and opened the door.  Suffice it to say, it was the happiest ending possible that early summer morning.  My father had, indeed, broken his leg and spend the remainder of the summer in a big old plaster cast.

Ironically, the day I fell was also garbage day.  I chuckle thinking about our garbage man ~ only one in a truck these days ~picking me up with the big claw they use for the plastic cans these days and dropping me in my driveway.   What I didn’t find at all humorous was the complete absence of the kindness of others.  I know people are occupied, and pre-occupied, with their own thoughts and lives but come on??!!

My friends on Facebook, both real and virtual, were incensed at the neglect we suffered.  As I iced my wrist I thought about how different the word is today than when I grew up.  We played kick ball in the circle instead of video games with strangers on-line.   We put on plays in the backyard and had a neighborhood newspaper.  Most of us went to the same school, belonged to the same church, sang in the church choir, and wandered around the most gorgeous cemetery you could possibly imagine.  ImageThere was a sense of belonging and friendship that forged a foundation I cherish.

I’ve heard it said that the older generation always feels the world is different and worse than it used to be for no reason.  Yet I believe my generation knows the difference between real and virtual connection.  I also believe the internet, and Facebook, has allowed many of us to stay in touch, or re-connect, virtually with people from our childhood.  To me, that’s been a very good thing.  We have a common bond in the lovely placed we were raised.  Perhaps it didn’t prepare me for the real world.  In fact, upon visiting Locust Valley for the first time, my ex said “Now I understand” and promptly began calling me either “Enchantra” or the “Mayonnaise Princess.”

I learned about the real world soon enough and am grateful that I still have the sensitivity to be saddened by the insensitivity of others.   And, then there is the wonderful sensitivity I found today after sharing my experience.   A childhood friend ~ actually, her sister was more my friend even though I shot her in the leg with an arrow in gym class when we were in 7th grade ~ saw my post yesterday.   Karen’s father was the minister of our church.   Reverend Dykstra was a warm, kind man with a smile you could see in his eyes.Image  This morning Karen posted on my wall.

Janet…I’ve been thinking of your story where you tripped and nobody stopped to help. Today while babysitting a friends animals I was feeding the goat, donkeys and rabbits last. The horses were on pasture and didn’t bother to come in. I could hear the goat but she didn’t come to eat although the donkeys did. Finally before leaving I figured I better find her because that’s not like a goat…and sure enough she was caught with her head through the fence. BUT… Cocoa a big Pinto Horse had stuck with her! He didn’t leave her side until she was out!  Actually the donkeys stayed but left when I called them for food.  But thinking of that big horse being kinder than people makes you think!

I like to think the goat bought the Pinto Horse a bottle of wine and some fruit to say “thanks, pal.”Image

I like to think that’s what I would have done if somebody had offered to help me yesterday.

Instead I’ll remember there are still a whole lot of wonderful people in my world and say thank you for them and the fact  that Wonder Bread helped me build a strong, albeit achy, body in 8 ways! Image


Sunny Sunday

Image  I married my second husband, Bruce Belland on July 11, 1980 in his parents’ backyard.  No one was there but two dear friends ~ Emily Severinsen and Roy Rogosin ~ and Bruce’s mother.  Bruce’s father was a minister and performed the ceremony, ending with the words, “what God has brought together…don’t let anyone else mess it up.”  Bruce was, and still is, fourteen years older.  Bruce’s life before television production had been performing.  He was one of the Four Preps.  You know, 26 Miles Across the Sea…Santa Catalina is awaitin’ for me.   Actually, he is still one of the Four Preps because they are performing again.  But the Bruce I met was in a completely different context.  I’d never heard him sing, but he did like to perform.  Great sense of humor…always on.  We had fun.  We had laughs.  We had drama.

When we married Bruce’s two daughters were 13 and 17.  They lived with their mother two miles away.  There is no need to go into detail.  Again, you hear what you want to hear and you see what you want to see.  We had “issues.”  By the boatload.  But we also had interesting, amazing times and experiences.  Since I didn’t know Bruce as a “Prep” it was always interesting when that part of his life crept into ours.  As in the time his little red car broke down on Mulholland one sunny Sunday afternoon, right after we’d started dating.  Now remember, this was long before cell phones.  I remember it was hot.  We started to walk toward a pay phone.  Remember them?  A great big car pulled up next to us and a man said, “Hey, Bruce…need a ride?”  We gratefully climbed into the back seat and drove toward Encino.  Bruce started talking to the man in the front seat.  They seemed to know each other pretty well.

Bruce introduced us…Kenny was the driver’s name.

“So, man..what you been up to?”  asked the man up front

“Not performing, television executive..how are things for you?”  Bruce replied

I don’t remember the rest of the conversation but it dealt with two successful men having gone through bad times and two bad divorces.  I kept thinking…that man driving looks SO familiar.  A few minutes into the ride the name Kenny rang the bell.   Oh…my…God…it was Kenny Rogers.  ImagePlease remember, that although I’d worked on The Tonight Show I was still the girl from Locust Valley.  Six degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon was not yet in vogue.   Kenny Rogers was a nice man…he drove us home and I have no memory of what was wrong with the car.

Life with Bruce was interesting.  I left NBC.  He left Ralph Edwards Productions and when went in totally different directions professionally.  I started working at the Los Angeles Suicide Prevention Center and Bruce started working on writing a musical about the Neiman Marcus story.  Quite a juxtaposition from the game shows that brought us together.  But both our endeavors made more sense to each of us.   Bruce’s writing the Neiman Marcus Story for Broadway was a roller coaster.  One of the greatest highs of the ride was Bruce and Roy performing the songs for Stanley Marcus and his family at his home in Dallas.   A Frank Lloyd Wright home filled with Marcus family members there to approve the “content”…in this case, meaning the lyrics and music.    It was likely one of the most amazing evenings of my life.  One of those “pinch myself, am I really here?” experiences that occur during a lifetime.  I will never forget that night on 10 Nonesuch Lane. Image The house has recently been amazingly restored, so you can “google” to see it if you’re so inclined. Image The music and lyrics were amazing.  They had put the show on at a summer theater workshop in Dallas.  Steve Lawrence and Edie Gorme’s son played Al Neiman.  There were big meetings in New York.  I so clearly remember ~ we had just seen Dream Girls on Broadway ~ we were standing outside the theater when Bruce and Roy’s agent got the call saying the Neiderlanders had passed moving forward with the show.   Sadly, the show never came to be, as the Marcus family had approval over “content” and there just wasn’t enough conflict in the “book.”  Two years’ work for Bruce and his partner, Roy Rogosin, was over.  When the Neiderlanders “pass” it’s a done deal as far as Broadway is concerned.

Since before we’d gotten married we’d rented a little apartment in Malibu.  A great actor, Paul Mantee ~ The Great Santini, you would recognize his face, I’m sure, if not his name~ had converted his garage into a charming big studio, right on the beach on Old Malibu Road.  ImageHe had an amazing rose garden, a giant dog, Tramp and a nice wife.  We’d bring the girls there on our “weekends,” but after we married each of them lived with us ~  intermittently and always unexpectedly.   None of us dealt with the continuing chaos well.  I do believe timing is everything and had I not lost both my mother and brother within a year of Bruce and I getting together, perhaps I would have handled things I couldn’t control better.   The little studio on Old Malibu Road was my refuge.  I would bring “Daniel the Spaniel” and walk along the beach collecting “sea glass” and a healthier perspective.  For me, water is essential.  Perhaps it’s growing up on Long Island.  The salt air smell brings sanity, or a reasonable facsimile thereof.

Shortly after our return from New York, I went to the beach for a few days.  Our life was definitely at a crossroads.  I was contemplating a return to game shows as working with people every day who had recently lost a loved one to suicide was wearing me down.   Bruce was no happy camper, either.  The beach was restorative and relaxing.   On one of my beach walks I’d seen Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft with their son, who looked to be about 8, playing on the sand and surf.  When it was low tide you could get around the rocks and walk the beach of the Malibu Colony.  I’ve never seen the houses “behind the gates” from the front but know the back and their beaches well.  I was always intrigued coming upon celebrities living like the rest of us.  Well, not that behind the gates of the Malibu Colony was living like the rest of us, but I could walk on the same beach during low tide.

Bruce and I were returning to the Valley that sunny Sunday afternoon, driving slowly down the road when we saw a rumpled man walking toward us.  “It’s Mel Brooks,” Bruce said, slowing down.   You may or may not remember my encounter with Henry Fonda.  Bruce was of the opinion famous people liked being recognized and complimented, when done respectfully.   So, he stopped the car and the rumpled man looked at us.  Bruce said something along the lines of, “You’re a genius.”  Mel Brooks, smiling broadly, came over to the car, rested his arm on my open window ledge, and responded, “Go on…go on.”

I have no memory of what they said to one another, but I will never forget Mel Brooks’ smiling eyes.  Image

Fun memories…


“Springtime with Hitler in Germany” and Dick Clark Live

ImageSo, a few friends have written comments about my blog.  Being the technical wizard that I am ~ once or twice it has taken me longer to upload and publish my post than it did to write it ~ it took a while to understand I had to “approve” the comment.  Then I could reply.  I know all who post comments, except for one.  I have a reader I don’t know and I find that oddly exciting.  Anyway, this reader commented on my post about being out of step mentioning, “Springtime with Hitler in Germany.”  I love Mel Brooks.  Then my nosebleed post mentioned previous marriages and that reminded me of Mel Brooks.   My mind certainly jumps around, doesn’t it?  Let me put this in context. 


A while back I posted about the anticipation of an exciting first date with a man named Bruce following a taping of Name That Tune.   I ended that post with, “it was an excellent first date.”  But I believe a bit more information is needed before we get to Mel. 


The taping finally ended. The lovely contestant was $100,000 richer and I was headed to Beverly Hills in Bruce’s red Mercedes convertible. We were going for drinks at the Luau – a Rodeo Drive Hawaiian style haunt that was owned by Lana Turner’s ex-husband, Steve Crane.  It was beyond cool in a kitchy way.  Much has been said about the romance of Rum, but I was already in a state of “this guy could be the one.”  At twenty seven, wouldn’t you think I’d have gotten over that notion?Image

We each ordered a Luau Grog. I can’t tell you what was in it but I do know that it had authority. I sipped slowly and listened to Bruce’s stories. He surely had stories and I found each one fascinating. Truth be told, even while not performing the man loved an audience. He told me he and his wife had been apart four years and raved about his two daughters. One was 11 and one 15. 

Three hours passed in a blink. 

On the drive back to my apartment Bruce spoke of all the things we would do together. He went to many screenings at the Writer’s Guild…he loved Santa Barbara…I would love his daughters and vice-versa. It sounded like a wonderful life was on the verge of opening up right before my very eyes. A small kiss at my front door and the promise of a phone call in the morning to make plans for the weekend.

I was euphoric…but the next morning he didn’t call.  In fact, he never called!  Color me crushed! 


My brother was coming to California for the summer and I decided to take a break from men.  


The respite from dating also provided the same from the drama my relationships seemed to always include. I concentrated on game shows, Midnight Special and a brand new variety show,  Dick Clark Live.  Dick Clark Live included interesting, different type of acts. I was assigned to monitor them for authenticity. Why you might ask? Well, to make sure these acts weren’t misleading to the viewers. As a bit of back story, NBC had been the network involved in the “Game Show Scandals” of the ’50’s. The producers of the most well known game shows gave some of the contestants the answers to make for “better television”.  Problem was this was unfair to the contestants who didn’t get the answer and to the viewers who thought, unlike scripted television, everything they were watching was real and honest.  So, to be certain this never happened again NBC put in a department called “Compliance and Practices”. Standards and Practices dealt with scripted television; C&P with “real” television.

Since Dick Clark Live had magic acts and the like I was a C&P person assigned along with a Standards person to ensure both good taste and honesty came into your home weekly. Dick Clark called us “Frick and Frack.”  The producer of the show, Bill Lee, had quite a temper. Many producers resented “the Censors”; we thwarted their creativity. Suffice it to say, we got yelled at a lot when things weren’t going well. In live television that was quite often.

There would be a dress rehearsal at 11:00AM – 2:00PM on the East Coast. The show would the go “live” at 5:00PM – to the East Coast. The West Coast would air it three hours later with a “previously recorded” identification at the bottom of the screen. The problem was I wouldn’t see the “act” until dress rehearsal. One day the magic act involved a burning rope dangerously up toward the precariously placed “assistant”.  Magic, of course. I didn’t think much was wrong with it, but needed to call my boss to let him know what was included.

I must explain about Alan Trankley. An ex FBI agent who sat at his desk with a picture of J. Edgar Hoover literally looking over his shoulder. Seriously. When our East Coast boss, Sam, had first met with him after taking the position, Alan informed him “I would kill for you.”, to which Sam replied, “I don’t think that will be necessary”. To say he took this all we did very seriously would be an understatement.

When I explained the act to Alan his first question was, “Is the rope really burning?”

Well, no, it was a TRICK!!! An illusion…magic!

“Well, if it’s not, they have to put up a disclaimer”, he responded.

Something along the lines of “rope actually not burning…kids, don’t try this at home” running along the bottom of the screen as the performance was happening above.

I knew Bill Lee would be less than thrilled.

His face turned purple as he sputtered, “Do you see how ridiculous this is? It’s f***ing magic. An optical illusion. Are you people f***ing insane?”

Alan’s other option was to actually set the rope on fire.  Even I felt there were limits to the lunacy of my job and chose not to pass on that alternative to the man with steam coming out of his ears.

I went back to the office following the dress rehearsal and wrote up my show report to send to send to New York in the interoffice mail.  Remember, this was the world of typewriters, no computers or e-mails.

I sat at my desk contemplating exactly how much trouble I’d get into when my phone rang.  It was Bruce from “Name That Tune.” Nine months after that amazing first date he’d gotten around to asking me out for a second.  I said yes and wondered if I made two mistakes that day! 


So, I went on the date.   And many, many more.


This is taking longer than I thought to get to Mel Brooks.  It’s the weekend and you have much better things to do and, honestly, I have to figure out how to say what comes next.

Maybe marriage not working out isn’t about being a “bad picker,” but about timing and a whole lot of variables. 


 So, until Wednesday?  







Love and the Nosebleed

ImageSo, I find it unfair that as we age and may actually have more time to sleep we tend to find sleep harder to come by.  For me falling asleep at night has never been the problem.  My problem is staying asleep.  I will awake and think.  I will awake and ponder the complexities of our recent ant problem.  I will awake and consider the vagaries of life in general and  my own in particular. Then I will turn on the light and read.  Depending on the book, it may be a few minutes or a few hours before sleep returns.   It’s just the routine me and sleep have at this stage of the game.

Tonight was no exception.  I was dead asleep at 10:30PM.  And then I was wide awake, hearing Jay call from the bathroom, “Hurry, I’m bleeding.”  Before I continue I will say he’s fine, but when I walked into the bathroom there was blood everywhere.  A nosebleed.  A really bad nosebleed.  Might I add, I am not good with blood.  I avoid gory movies and get queasy when my stepson talks about his EMT adventures. His girlfriend is an emergency room technician and posted something yesterday about taking staples out of a kids’ head and I quickly moved on.  I mean, I’m proud of them and proud that they can do it but for me, a resounding NOT.

Jay is normally the calm one about everything.  But he was a little nervous.  With good cause.  I mean this was bleeding like we’d never seen.  I got towels, ministered fairly competently, remembering the “put your head back” I must have heard somewhere along the line about nosebleeds.  I was also thinking I was glad we live close to an emergency room and was trying to remember where I’d left my car keys.  Yet another recurring theme in this process we call aging.  But, hey, at least I remember I have a car!

Let me say at this point, Jay is also the sane, rational one when it comes to health and I am the hypochondriac who diagnoses and confirms multiple ailments for myself on the internet on a regular basis.  Might I also say, the internet is not a good thing for self-diagnosis of any kind.  But, I digress.

I think the nosebleed lasted for about two minutes, but it seemed like a whole lot longer.   As things were slowing down and the clean-up had begun, dear man kept saying, “I’m sorry I woke you up.”  That’s the best part about marriage, I think.   His waking me up.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.   I also realized that my blood phobia had completely disappeared.  None of what happened phased me.  Especially when I knew he was alright and tightly tucked back in bed.

I started to think about the things we do for love…in the name of love…because we love.  It’s pretty awesome.   For those of you who found the love of your life early, I am impressed.  I came to this party pretty late after failed attempts that left the heart battered and the psyche cynical.   As I’d decided going it alone with my canine companions was a good choice, this guy entered my life.   We certainly haven’t had smooth sailing but we’ve always kept our ship afloat and had some pretty amazing adventures along the way. His history was similar to mine so as we celebrated our 15th anniversary this past April we were both mightily impressed.  Adding our four previous marriages together ~ before you gasp, that’s two each ~ we barely have a fifteen year total.    As the female minister who married us  ~ a multiple marrier herself ~ said, “it’s not that I’m bad at marriage, I just haven’t been great at picking.”   Oh, the reasons for “bad picking” could fill a book ~ or seven ~ and have.  Remember “pop-psychology” and the huge self help aisles in book stores?   We each have our personal book and, at this stage of the game if we don’t understand ourselves, well, let’s just say that ship has likely sailed.

Marriage is a daily work in progress.  Some days the work is easier than others.  Some days the reward is a warm smile over a shared memory or a moment you keep your mouth shut instead of offering a snippy reply to that universal question, “where’s the butter?”

I also believe that being on your own, alone, is very different ~ and better ~ than being lonely in a bad relationship but that’s a topic for another post.

Right now, Jay is sound asleep.

Suffice it to say I am wide awake.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.Image


Oprah, Depak, Riley & Me

ImageSo, I decided to take Oprah and Depak’s 21 Meditation Challenge.  I’d signed up for their first 14-Day Challenge but despite the daily reminders, tuned in about day 12 and unsuccessfully tried to catch up.  Apparently, I was not the only one who came late to the party as they now warn the meditation will go away after five days.  On Day Six you can forget about Day One…you snooze, you lose.  So far, I’m not doing too badly.  It’s Day 7 and I just finished Day 6.  I give myself an A for this effort.

Despite everything everyone has always said about the wonders of meditation I have one hell of a time turning off my mind.  Yet I decided to really give this a try since I know turning off ones’ mind is possible.  I am married to a man who has mastered the ability to switch off his mind completely.  Sometimes when I’m right in the middle of a sentence.  But, I digress.

Seriously, Jay does know how to meditate so after Day One I suggested we do this together.  Jay is not an Oprah fan so he enters when she’s done with her little introduction.  We settle in as Day Two begins with Depaks’ soothing voice.  But I got stuck on his lisp.  Seriously stuck.  When the word “personality” came out “perthonality” I began chuckling internally.  Forget the damn mantra.  My mantra became “perthonality, perthonality, perthonality.”  Day 2 was a wash.  I took Day 3 off.  And Day 4.  I posted my lisp issues on Facebook.   And somebody I figured should know how to meditate cause she’s a PhD agreed the lisp made her twinge.  So I felt redeemed enough to attempt Day 3 and Day 4 yesterday.    Jay has deserted the cause for the Turner Classic Movie Channel.

It worked…sort of.   My problem yesterday were the mantras.  I mean, “om” ok…but Om Bhavam Nama?  And Om Vardhanam Nama?  Problem being I didn’t look at the mantras before Depak said them.  We will not further mock, but come on?   I settled on the deep breathing, repeating the mantra, butchered as it may be.   I decided to accept both my imperfection and Depak’s, inhaling and exhaling silently.

The pressure mounted as I began Day 5 on what was really Day 7.  Would I ever catch up?   It certainly didn’t help that the mantra was once again far too complicated for me to easily remember.  I chose my solution.  I would use “om” every day.  Screw it!  Whatever works, right?Midway during Day 6 ~ I’m catching up ~ Riley decided to join me. ImageI looked ahead to Day 7 ~ the mantra is “So Hum.”

Riley and I can handle that.   First thing tomorrow.  Then we’ll only be one day behind.

Oh, the pressure of calming my mind.