The Camille Chronicles

images “But you’re not Catholic anymore…why can’t you come to Peter Lugers?”

Before I continue, Peter Luger is the quintessential steak house of all time located, since 1887, in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. If you want a steak and are willing to remortgage your house for it, this joint’s for you.

“Camille, I don’t eat meat on a normal day and it’s Good Friday, so forget it.”

“Did you not hear me the first time? YOU’RE NOT CATHOLIC ANYMORE.”

“I realize that Camille, but out of respect for the life I lived for 55 years, I’m not going.”

“But my coupon is going to run out.” Seems Camille has a 2fer she needs to redeem by midnight that’s sizzling, no pun intended, in her Fendi clutch. Joanne, who would have been the perfect companion since she eats like a Navy Seal, is in Wichita visiting her aunt, so that leaves me.

“So just come anyway, they serve other things…you can have sides…creamed spinach, those sliced tomatoes they’re famous for, and cheesecake.”

“You know I’m off cheese and the smell alone will make me faint. All that cattle slaughtering. You should be taking Teddy Roosevelt, not me.”

“If he wasn’t dead I would.”

“You have no right being this mad. Find some guy to take. What about Patrick. He’s always up for a free meal.”

“He borrowed a Donna Karan dress of mine and didn’t return it. We’re not speaking.” Patrick is our friend who likes cross-dressing on the weekends, but he does tend to keep whatever he borrows.

“Why do you lend him anything you care about…you should know better.”

“He showed up when I wasn’t home. Lucinda (the maid) let him in. He told her I said it was okay.”

“He’s such a scamp, and what’s wrong with Lucinda that she just let him ransack your closet?”

“He brought her donuts and I don’t have to tell you she’d do anything for a Krispy Kreme.”

“Takes so little doesn’t it.”

“But we’re getting off the subject. I really want you to come…please?”

I have to come clean. It’s more than just the aroma of beef and remnants of the Last Supper that’s keeping me from going. Unbeknownst to Camille, I had a little tryst with someone who works there, when my kitchen was still open for business. Camille has always had a yen for this fella so I couldn’t tell her, and I knew if I showed up the sea would part…not because he gives a shit, but because he doesn’t. Guilt. Once he was quenched, so to speak, I never heard from him again. We fooled around on his desk one afternoon following a flirtation that was becoming legendary…he kept sending me their special steak sauce UPS…I think it’s the sugar they put in it. Drives me kind of wild. That’s why I understand Lucinda so well. Simple pleasures reap big rewards, especially for the one pleasuring.

So after lots of verbal warfare, Camille thawed and invited Patrick who actually agreed to bring her dress.

I just hope he’s not wearing it.



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What’s Cookin Daddy

There’s something about an older man with a younger girl that rankles me. I know it shouldn’t, but it does.  images

My fur went up when watching this old coot maul this young lady who could have been his granddaughter. She was pretty with a little too much eyeliner, and from the looks of it, he had just taken her shopping since she was surrounded by Saks and Bergdorf bags.

I wanted to say, hey Grampa, you cashing in on your investment so soon? It’s a good thing I wasn’t drinking anything stronger than tea.

I can remember dating an older man who didn’t buy me a thing…a salad here and there, but I genuinely liked him.

images-1This little lady looked as if it was all about the perks the way she ALLOWED him to nuzzle and guzzle her. In other words, ardor was nowhere to be seen. You could just see her looking at her nails while he had sex, or at least his version anyway. He was old, so unless he has an IV of Viagra in his johnson, a term my father liked, his kitchen’s closed.

Camille say it’s very hard (well not really) when a man gets older to accept that he can no longer get a hot girl, so he simply pays for it. Maybe not in cold cash, but in shoes and accessories. She should know since her list of geezers wraps around the block. She tells me more often than not, all they want is company and to be seen with a pretty girl.

Not in this case though. This guy couldn’t keep his hands off of his little tchotchke who resembled a twenty-year-old Angelica Huston. His toupee, that looked as if it would take off any minute, was particularly alluring.

Of course I’m kidding. It looked as if it came with a tank of gas.

I sat sipping my mint tea thinking, I’ll write about you in an essay that you’ll never see… unless….

When the young lady escaped to the loo I leaned over and said, “Such a pretty girlfriend you have.”

He beamed like a tired theater marquee before saying, and grip your seats, “She is one of many.” Did I want to smack him, but had better ideas.

“You know I have a blog, and I write a lot about women.”

“You do?”

“Yes I do,” I purred, “and since you’re obviously an expert on the subject I would love for you to read it.” He immediately pulls out his mini iPad to take down my blog address.

Then the infant returns.

“I can’t leave you alone for a second, can I?” Oh please…I gave her a knowing look as if to say…who are you kidding Toots, before taking a polite leave.

Well, Gramps, if you’re reading this, I hope you took your heart medication, just in case it stops.   imagesWe’ll blame my strain of evil on the eclipse and the full moon. What the hell.


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Asylum Trainees

I got an email from someone who said I should put a lid on my list of good deeds. I have to say it threw me a little. Maybe I should refrain from writing about them, but the truth is, when my heart opens there’s little choice in the matter.

This doesn’t mean I’m a saint…far from it since I have a temper that lies dormant and guarded like a pair of fists, and not always successfully.

Take this past Monday for instance…

I was running in Central Park when a King Charles Spaniel ran under my feet practically knocking me over. Now, did I get mad or even complain? No, I was just happy I wasn’t on my ass along with Fido not being hurt.

But, to put it in a nutshell (pun intended), people are just plain crazy and this includes dog owners.

This particular one starts screaming at me. “You could of hurt my dog. What the hell’s wrong with you running when you should be walking?”

There’s a very helpful slogan in 12 Step: don’t pick up the rope…in other words, don’t engage with looney tunes. I had almost managed this until she said, “If I knew who you were I’d report you.”

Okay, fuck 12 Step and helpful rationale. I swung around and said, ‘HEY…YOU WANNA KNOW WHO I AM?” I watched her shrink like a wilted petunia as I started walking toward her.

Bullies, they’re all smoke and mirrors especially faced with a short fuse.

Then this other man decides to jump in snapping, “You know this area is filled with dogs at this hour. Why do you insist on running over here?”

“Because it’s my park too and I pay taxes and it’s not a dog run, but a path that you’ve just conveniently taken over?” Omigod, was I pissed, and Susannah the good Samaritan was nowhere to be seen.

“You just hate dogs,” he said. “I know a dog hater when I see one.” Me, Joan of Bark a dog hater? Tell me that’s not a riot I was all set to lead.

Despite my fury I began to laugh. Where’s Carmela the basset hound when you need a reference…or Frisbee Jack, or Anthony the pit? My God, I’d go to the chair for any animal, especially a dog and this asshole tells me I hate them.

“You think it’s funny?”  he said, furious I was laughing.

“Yes I do. You’re an idiot, and I’m outta here.”

Just another day in the life of a thin girl.        11



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I tend to listen in on conversations since,   images-2what else can you do when say, you’re on the train or stuck in line. You’re trapped into listening. The good part is material…how often do I think…omigod, I couldn’t write this shit.

There was the tall glamour girl standing outside of my building talking to her West Highland terrier as if they were dating. I had stopped to tie my shoe.

“You know Sam, I really think we need more alone time…don’t you? Hanging out with Rick and Cubbie is nice, but I’d so much prefer to just be with you.” I look around and who comes to meet them but a fella and his chocolate lab I’m assuming was Cubbie. Despite what she said, she gave Rick a great big smooch while Sam idly scratched his balls. He knew he was the man.

Two middle-aged men are sitting across from me on the 6 train piped in stereo. They’re dressed like old rappers with enough gold around their necks to be held for ransom. One says, “I dunno how you can like her so much…she’s too fuckin skinny. I’d be scared I’d break her in half…them legs…skinnier than toothpicks.”

“No, them legs are sturdy, like a wrestler’s, and boy can she do it all night…on top even.” He starts to demonstrate by rocking back and forth. Alright, I think, let’s hear it for the skinny girl. I was hoping for more, but then they got off

“I hate Obama,” said a black woman on her cell while waiting for the ladies room at the Le Pain Quotidian at Union Square. “He says he cares…ya know…Obama cares? But can’t even get-em on the damn phone he cares so much.”

When she hung up I tapped her and said, “You know, I heard since it’s a twenty-four hour number, you’re better off calling after midnight.”

She swung around like a loose wrecking ball. “Midnight! Are you crazy? I need my sleep. And what are doin listenin to my conversation?”

“Sorry, just a suggestion,” I said, pointing to the john. “The bathroom’s free now.”

Then of course we have those dueling couples that belong in a ring, like the two that were fighting at Fiorello, a restaurant I like on the West Side. Seems they couldn’t decide on a movie.

“I’m not sitting through that,” said the woman, “all that noise and killing. How about Monument Men? I hear it’s really good.” (I so wanted  to chime in, I did too)

“You just want to drool over George Clooney, and I’m sick’a him. He thinks he’s such a hot shot. Nope, I’m not giving him my money. Livin in Italy like America isn’t good enough for him.”

“Like you wouldn’t live in Italy if you had the money he had? Who you kidding George…I mean Vinnie.”


I watched Vinnie storm out of the restaurant like an Italian freight train. I guess he really doesn’t like George.

Ho hum.


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Crack Open That Heart, Would You Please?

images-5 I was sitting in Starbucks early in the morning watching a man ask people for change. It was teeming out and I’d say a good fifteen folk passed by without so much as a look. He didn’t even want money…from what I could see he was asking someone to please buy him a cup of coffee from what I call the cheap cart. They’re all over town…little grimy wagons that sell bad coffee and bagels you could injure someone with. We’re talking a buck seventy-five for both items, at best.

Let’s remember this is the Upper East Side, and as these roosters hurry to their gyms and yoga class they could certainly buy someone a bad cup of coffee.

I’m impoverished at this hour half awake, so I only have my trusty Starbucks card with little on it, and some change in my pocket. Hey, I’m lucky I’m not naked, that’s how sleepy I am walking out the door.

After getting madder and madder no one will help this guy, I decide to pull an Ella, a pal of mine who spends her life in service. While he stands on the corner beneath a humungous umbrella, the rain falls harder and harder. I half expect the Ark to pull up to see if he needs a ride.

Then his umbrella breaks.

He, turned out to be a she, all of seventeen when I poked my head out to motion for her to come inside.

Pretty as a doll, dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt, I asked her if I could buy her a cup of coffee, not even sure I had enough on my card to do so. Now I’m pissed that I’m probably going to embarrass both of us when the snotty cashier tells me, nope, you don’t have enough.

I kindly explain this to the girl who nods and orders a tall, small in Starbuck’s lingo, while I hold my breath. Yes, I still have coffee money. Then I decide to go for broke, probably literally. “Is there enough for a bagel?” Then I realize I didn’t even ask her if she wanted one.

“Would you even like a bagel?”

“Yes, please,” she says, flashing dimples I hadn’t seen before.

I look at snotty who looks at me like a croupier with a secret button under the counter.

“Yup, you have enough.” Whew…was I glad I didn’t have to negotiate for a baked good, something I was all prepared to do.

The girl thanked me while I left thinking, I’m sure glad I have a friend like Ella who always comes to mind in a situation like this one. I can hear her whisper…go ahead SB, help her out.

It’s a pity there weren’t more hearts like Ella’s, then I’d still have money on my Starbucks card.


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Incense Survivor

A_Retro_Cartoon_Woman_Coughing_Royalty_Free_Clipart_Picture_100603-003094-438053I read this term in an Anne Lamott book deciding it described my feelings toward Catholicism perfectly, being the recovering Catholic I am.

It also reminded me, Easter is upon us.  images-2

It was always my favorite holiday, even now, at least aesthetically. Though I don’t attend mass anymore there are many things I still miss…like getting dressed up Easter Sunday in navy and white, kitten heels mewing up those church steps…lilies, candles, priests drenched in gold and white while trumpets blare from the balcony. It truly is a happy, majestic Sunday which is why those pews are packed.

My mother was big on Easter clothes and the whimsical side of the day. images-1 Baskets filled with chocolate eggs and jellybeans, a stuffed bunny in its center. One year I actually got a stuffed Popeye doll because I gather she shopped late and all the bunnies were sold out.

Then of course you had the ham of God who took away the sins of the world, another  Lamottism unabashedly borrowed.

Pineapple rings, twenty different types of mustard served in tiny china bowls with matching spoons. Boiled potatoes the size of baseballs. Prosciutto to start. Yeah I know, that’s a lotta ham…one could say we liked eating our own, so to speak.

Dessert was cantaloupe with lavish scoops of vanilla ice-cream, melted chocolate drizzled over the side… cookies as far as the eye could see.

Did I mention the heaping platter of rigatoni in-between?

Besides Christmas, it was the one day a year we belched as a family.

I don’t miss being told God would strike me dead if I didn’t behave. In other words, clean my plate clearing everyone else’s at the end like a flight attendant. I grew up truly scared of God where now, still a believer, look up to a kinder one who supports my shortcomings instead of shortchanging me simply because I have them.

We’re supposed to have them. We’re just Bozos on the same bus after all, bumping our heads against the collective ceiling.

Parents tend to use religion as a weapon, at least in my house. God was very convenient to punish and browbeat which is the Catholic way.

Nothing is ever enough. For years I tithed ten percent of my income to two different churches. Didn’t matter how much I sent, there would be another envelope in the mail on the heels of every check.

The Catholic church expects you to fork over your money and then some always feeling you should have given more.

I have a problem with this. Giving is a grace regardless of what or who the recipient is. I know when I receive it, I’m on my knees in gratitude.

My mother would make me go into my piggy bank and take coins out to put in the basket on Sundays, an act I greatly resented. It wasn’t as though I were Diamond Jim Brady. It   definitely compromised my capitol, even though my grandfather would replace those quarters when no one was looking. He too thought it was a raw deal.

But like him, I now believe in the Church of Grace and Heartfelt Giving, a much nicer one to belong to.

It doesn’t even have to come in dollars and cents. A smile or word of encouragement, I’ve learned, is the greatest currency reaping the highest return.

Many of us, sadly, live in a perpetual Good Friday, so we need to rise up declaring resurrection for ourselves because no one else will do for us.

Till I was forty I was sure I was going to hell.

Now I think it’s more Paris or Palm Beach.

Sometimes all we need, besides that bunny and pretty dress, is a new travel agent with better and brighter deals.     images-1

Bet you didn’t know God came with frequent flyer miles :)





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On The Books

I just finished a book called Darling Monster…a collection of intimate correspondence Lady Diana Manners Cooper wrote to her only son, John Julius (now 85), between the years 1939-1952  Diana_Cooper-289x413  beautifully edited by him.

It was given to me by a friend who appreciates my love of letters. You truly feel like a fly on the wall, and a privileged one at that, peeking into the personal thoughts and feelings of another. Diana, I’ll call her, now that I feel we’re best friends, didn’t disappoint.

220px-Diana_Cooper01Diana Cooper, Viscountess Norwich (née Lady Diana Manners; 29 August 1892 – 16 June 1986), was a prominent and beautiful social figure in London and Paris. The young Diana moved in a celebrated group of intellectuals, but most of the men of this group were killed in World War I. She married one of the few survivors, Duff Cooper, later Ambassador to France who died in 1954 at the age of 63. 220px-Duff_Cooper_1941

The letters take you most vividly through the Second World War, prying open your heart since John Julius, at seven, NPG x132041; John Julius Cooper, 2nd Viscount Norwich; Diana, Viscountess Norwich (Lady Diana Cooper) by Yvonne Gregory is sent to America to live out of harms way with William and Dorothy Paley, friends of his parents. One forgets there ever was a Mrs. Paley before Babe (Barbra Cushing Mortimer Paley, famous social icon), but there was between the years 1932 and 1947. Bill Paley created The Columbia Broadcasting System otherwise known as CBS.

The Coopers were married happily for thirty-five years, if you discount Duff’s parade of mistresses Diana knew all about. The way I understand it, once a woman was past her childbearing years she was replaced by a series of younger ones right under her nose and often in her own home. Diana tells her son she approved of most of them unless of course, they were beneath his father…badaboom. I wish she really was trying to be funny, but alas, Diana was telling the truth.

This always throws me not being the type of woman who could ever share a man. I’d walk away before accepting duel partnership for lack of a sprucer term. Of course our culture disapproves of double-dipping and Diana, who too had a dalliance or two, was raised to accept and wisely look the other way. But according to her son who pens a little intro to each chapter, his mother loved his father passionately until she died in 1986 at 94.

When he asked her, didn’t she mind all these other woman, she said, Why would I, if they made your father happy. I always knew, they were the flowers, but I was the tree.

I cried when I read that. If you sift between her words you feel the pain she successfully disguised for those not wishing to see it.

Women love down to their socks and hurt when infidelity rears its ugly head. Sex means little to a man…like one more round of golf…and we’re expected to understand when he comes home weary from wandering, wearing another woman’s scent.

Made me think of L’wren Scot, Mick Jagger’s designer girlfriend who committed suicide three weeks ago. When everyone was blaming her plummeting business I was thinking, she didn’t exit because of that…she loved this man madly and it was the only way she could leave him. My theory was met by many arched brows, but first thoughts are always the ones to consider. Can you imagine being the long time girlfriend of the most famous rock and roller of all time? “But Mick was so beside himself,” my friend Joanne said. “It was obvious he was devastated.” All I could say about that is guilt and grief look very much alike, and if it were me, I don’t think I could resume my tour barely three weeks later. I might have mourned a bit longer, even to just make it look good to the press.

But back to Diana and Duff…

Duff Cooper was considered quite the stud in his day even fathering another child by Susan Mary Alsop, wife of American journalist Joseph Alsop, a fact that came out years later. I read her bio as well (American Lady, Caroline de Mergerie) and one could say, Duff broke many a heart along those white cliffs of Dover tossing them out like litter.

Brings up conscience along with penises that never know when to quit, and this was way before Viagra hit the nightstand.

Like Diana, when I love I love big, but certainly don’t possess her patience, politesse and equanimity.

No, I would have killed old Duff in his sleep then got myself a good lawyer.

However, I do recommend her letters where candor, poignancy and a hint of denial eloquently rule.



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