An Italian Bedtime Story

An old Italian gentleman lived alone in New Jersey .
He wanted to plant his annual tomato garden, but it was very difficult work, as the ground was hard. His only son, Vincent, who used to help him, was in prison. The old man wrote a letter to his son and described his predicament:
Dear Vincent,
I am feeling pretty sad because it looks like I won’t be able to plant my tomato garden this year. I’m just getting too old to be digging up a garden plot. I know if you were here my troubles would be over. I know you would be happy to dig the plot for me, like in the old days.
Love, Papa
A few days later he received a letter from his son.
Dear Papa,
Don’t dig up that garden. That’s where the bodies are buried.
Love, Vinnie
At 4 a.m. The next morning, FBI agents and local police arrived and dug up the entire area without finding any bodies. They apologized to the old man and left. That same day the old man received another letter from his son.
Dear Papa, 
Go ahead and plant the tomatoes now. That’s the best I could do under the circumstances.
Love you, Vinnie


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A Boring Day

I popped into Phil, the shoemaker, to visit Vanya, his wife, who asked me out of habit  what’s new. She’ll ask me this at least three times in our conversation, in case I forgot something.

“Nothing’s new,” I said. “I’m having a very boring day.”

“Tank God for dis,” she said, in her unrivaled Russian accent.

It got me thinking.

A week ago Friday I thought I was going blind…one of the worst days of my life. A week later I’m passively complaining to be bored.

What’s wrong with this picture?

I got up, had coffee. Went to an early work appointment out in Brooklyn. Came home, had lunch. Wrote a bit then read at the library.

How uneventful…how dull…how simply glorious.

Not one crisis to be had.

I’ve decided I want more boring days where nothing out of the ordinary occurs. Where I yawn every few minutes and stretch where I’m perched.

When no one expects anything of me and there’s nowhere pressing to go.

I can soak in a tub, change the sheets then leisurely drop off the laundry on my way to buy a birthday card.

I can eat while I’m strolling.

Maybe I’ll even leave my phone at home allowing me to just be in my travels.

The next time I think I’m having a boring day, I will say…

Tank God for dis, and remember…

God speaks through other people.


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The Last Will Be First

While having coffee out this morning, I spoke to one of the workers who last I saw was being trained.

“How’s it goin?” I asked Steve, I’ll call him, who brought my bagel without a chaperone.

“Good I guess, but I’m told I could pick up a little speed.”

This kid, all of twenty, has a little hitch in his giddalong, to borrow a line from a Lucy show.

One of his legs is slightly shorter than the other so he stumbles a bit, slowing up his pace.

My heart of course opened, being impaired myself, and said, “You are the nicest boy, and look how quick you brought my bagel.”

His face lit-up like a cherub’s caught in flight.

I’m a little weepy these days, so this got to me first thing in the morning.

Takes so little to encourage someone whose doubts are worn on their sleeve.

The manager came and sat in the booth in front me, so I got up and said, “You know that kid you recently hired that limps a little?”

“You mean Steve?”

“Yes, and I’m here to tell you how very special he is. He told me he’s concerned he’s not fast enough. Don’t you think politeness trumps speed? I do. He’s the sweetest boy, and I’m his new advocate.”

He laughed because we had words once before over him reading the riot act to a cashier he thought was rude to me. She was, but as I told him, everyone’s allowed a bad day.”

Just then Steve came popping out with oatmeal combing the booths for its owner (there’s a waiter and a delivery person). Uh-oh, don’t fuck up now, I thought knowing his boss was watching. Finally after several passes, he found the right table.

He then stood there for a few moments discussing I don’t know what, but when he turned to go back into the kitchen, his boss said, “Well done my man…well done,” causing Steve to grin like an ear of corn.

I pretended not to notice happy you couldn’t see the lump in my throat.


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Ebola…Silence…And A Bassett Packing

DSC01322I had three people ask if I was worried about contracting the Ebola virus since it hit New York City.

Well, not till you mentioned it. I have so many problems right now, it’s the last thing I need to keep me up at night.

I’ll begin with my hearing that’s at an all time low. When my eye sight took a dive then came back, my left ear took a powder. I’m hoping it will raise itself since it’s happened before, but so far after a week, it remains missing in action.

I’ve learned not to panic since in the past it’s cost me emotionally and financially. I have faith in my body to heal itself even though it takes its sweet time.

As you know, patience isn’t one of my strong points.

In the interim, I isolate so not to explain, grateful for the library where you can’t talk along with the few friends I still have keeping me afloat with a constant stream of hope and support.

Yes, my list of near ones has lessened. If you had told me this, I would never have believed it. For those of you who don’t know, hearing loss is not contagious…inconvenient, but not catchy.

I’m shaky where I live, the new owners of my building being rude and bullish, the biggest cause of my insomnia concerned I’ll lose my home.

I’m told I have rights, but the thought of fighting big business puts me in a swoon.

Nothing in my life is stable at the moment, and here we have the icing on the cake I’d like to send back to the bleakest of bakeries.

Carmela’s parents need to move since their rented town house is tripling in price. They’re looking in the neighborhood, but so far have found nothing they like. They did see a house 35 blocks away that sounds like a real possibility.

You know what that means…me and Tubala will more than likely part ways.

My friend Chris said, “You can go there…jog even, and see her anyway.”

Yeah, and don’t think I wouldn’t do that.

But her parents are strange. To this day I haven’t their number though I’ve given them mine several times, never to be used.

If I go there and no one’s home, I leave. It’s right around the corner.

I have visions showing up at their new house with Carm in the window barking her big head off, while no one’s there not taking the time to tell me.

They don’t treat me with very much consideration, something I don’t take personally training myself to ignore it because all I care about is Carmela and the time we spend together.

To my credit, I’ve made it work.

Her companionship these last six months has been the best medicine for me…that unconditional affection humans find hard to give.

Now for those of you who, due to circumstance, have had to be separated from a loving four-legged friend, then you’ll understand how my heart’s breaking.

Ebola? Doesn’t come close to losing my girl…and as the Tobey Maguire character says to Jeff Bridges in the film Seabiscuit, and I’ll paraphrase.


Love, it doesn’t always come with legal ownership, but that doesn’t make it any less so.


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Paying Attention

OOPS…can someone give me a hand? images-1

I’m frequently asked how is it I find so many things to write about.

By paying attention to my surroundings.

Due to achy joints, I’ve been walking around the Park lately rather than running. The upside of this is you see more.

When I’m dashing like deer with tunnel vision, I miss a lot.

This morning a raccoon was crossing the road. It was light so his presence surprised me and another woman coming the opposite way. We both stopped allowing him to make it to the woods without incident. I said to the woman,”He must have missed his curfew.” People assume a raccoon is sick if he’s seen in daylight. I say, he’s just late…hit traffic or got stuck in a tricky trash bin. I enjoyed watching him scurry into the brush imagining his mother waiting for him by the door saying, “That’s it Rocky, you’re grounded till further notice.”

Then there are the sequoias, the palomino of trees, I never noticed before…so majestic lining the Park like speckled pillars. It wasn’t until taking a walk with a friend who told me their name did I begin to see them.

The Park itself, whose landscaping of yore is still so stately and beautiful doing Olmstead and Vaux, it’s creators, proud 157 years later, is a privilege to be in. How lucky am I that its five minutes from where I live.

A writer catalogs these things, placing them in memory like gifts to use at a later time.

I took a creative writing class with a teacher who made us write about fruit. What a stupid assignment this is, I remember thinking.

She said, “Tell me everything you feel about your specific fruit.”

Mine was a peach.

I can’t recall exactly what I wrote, but found myself with a 300 word essay. I remember the word succulent, how a ripe peach dripping down your chin is very sensual. It brought up a chef I dated who, rather than flowers, brought me bouquets of thyme and dill.

She made her point…one could write about anything if their memory comes along for the ride.

Believe it or not, I don’t write about everything that happens to me. It just seems as if I do. My goal is extreme candor I still tiptoe around. The day I can show up completely naked on the page not caring you see my imperfections, will be one helluva great day in my creative life.

In the meantime, I’ll just keep paying attention hoping for the best.



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A Wild Wicked City Woman

images-1 I stole that line from a Lucy show when cousin Tennessee Ernie Ford comes to visit and says how his mother said “Ernie, you stay clear of those, wild, wicked city women, ya hear me?”

It’s dawned on me, this is how I’m often perceived.

Makes me laugh since the last time I felt sexy was 2003, but one can’t help how others see you.

What can I say?

Smoke and mirrors baby, and a really good concealer by Laura Mercier.

Men off the market are afraid to see me alone, which brings up the sad, simple fact, all the good ones are taken.

And why shouldn’t they be since some woman got there first, like at a sample sale.

When they say timing is everything, it’s true. If you were in that check-out line before the woman who couldn’t lift her case of Ensure, you would have met the guy who helped her first. Of course, if I was buying Ensure it would be home delivered in an unmarked box by one of the Laker Girls, but you get my point.

There’s a man I sometimes work with who I really like. He’s smart, funny, sexy and yes, married who I’ve invited for coffee. He trembles at the mere thought.

Was does he think, I’m going to pop out naked from the sugar bowl?

Even at seventy when his store is probably more or less closed, he doesn’t trust himself as if I have no say in the matter.

Just the idea of putting on special underwear would be enough for me to cancel. Affairs are exhausting if my memory serves me right. Trying to hold his attention, managing your guilt and his because before you could say…is that a wedding band? He blames you for his indiscretion.

“Why do you have to look so good…nobody’s still thin at your age…and heels…you had to wear heels? ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL ME?

I go from the most wonderful girl in the world to the Mayflower Madam without passing go.

I like an intelligent man since my own company is so preferable I need a person of interest to get my attention away from me…no easy feat.

And sadly, your average man has little to say. My first question when I meet a fellow for the first time is always, what are you reading?



Saves so much time.

The man with his price tags snipped off reads like a mother fucker and not just John Grisham either. He’s versed in all kinds of things you may know nothing about. His wife  quite often,, isn’t as interesting as he is which is why he’s glancing your way to begin with. He needs stimulation too, even if it’s just above the waist…besides…you should be able to have a friendship with a man without creating a crime scene. He’s married not dead.

Where am I going with all this?

To the bank to make a deposit.

Sometimes all a girl really wants is a cuppa Joe, not Joe in a cup.


Posted in Books, comedy, friendship, humor, Love, sex, Women and men | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments

I’ll Be Doggoned

be8jcudcqaagrzf I just gave my last buck to a beagle.

En route to Grand Central catching the train home, I notice a kid in his 20s sitting on the pavement sketching.

Next to him was a beagle so old it looked stuffed.

What got my attention was his cardboard sign that said..EASE ELP OD LESS

Mr. beagle was sleeping across it turning it into an eye chart.

His ears made me think of a certain basset we all know and love though hers are three times the size, causing my heart and wallet to open handing them my last dollar.

There’s something about someone in need who brings along their pet, whether it’s to stop a softie like me, or because they stick together no matter what, that’s humbling right down to your socks.

A man who worked at The Humane Society once told me, homeless people…those down on their luck, take better care of their animals than those with homes.

I was all set to buy a kaiser roll to go with the tuna salad I was making for lunch from a bakery I like in Grand Central. Alas, the beagle inspired me, if nothing else, not to eat bread but to give it away.


Dedicated to Chester Pop, a famous beagle we all know and will always love…see  picture.



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Laughter In Apartment 10

images After having one of my sleepless nights, I decided to get up and do something useful. No, I didn’t scrub the tub.

I made a list of some of my favorite jokes instead.

We all have them if you think about it. Here are some of mine:

I saw a kid on a leash. Have you seen this…a kid on a leash? How horrible. Put him in the pound where he belongs… Bill Hicks

What do you call a fake noodle? An Impasta.

I blame my mother for my poor sex life. All she told me was, “The man goes on top and the woman underneath.” For three years my husband and I slept in bunk beds…Joan Rivers

My wife, she says I never take her anywhere new…I said, okay, how bout the kitchen? Henny Youngman

Why are frogs so happy? They eat whatever bugs them.

I don’t have any kids, at least none I know of…Carol Liefer

Why was six afraid of seven…seven eight nine.

The lion will lay down with the lamb, but the lamb won’t get much sleep…Woody Allen

You never see a man walking down the street with a woman who has a little potbelly and a bald spot...Elayne Boosler

Why did the picture go to jail? Because it was framed.

What’s the two things they tell you are healthiest to eat? Chicken and fish, … You know what you should do? Combine them … eat a penguin…Dave Attel

Housework can kill you, but why take a chance? Phyliss Diller

I’m very proud of my gold pocket watch. My grandfather, on his death bed, sold me this watch…Woody Allen

There was a girl knocking on my hotel room door all night. Finally I let her out…Henny Youngman

I never got along with my dad. Kids used to come up to me and say, ‘My dad can beat up your dad.’ I’d say ‘Yeah? When? Bill Hicks

Who said insomnia can’t be funny?



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When The Lights Went Out

images I had such a scary thing happen on Friday.

I couldn’t see.

My vision in my left eye went south while the right took on a blur making it hard to even walk down the stairs.

Did I panic?


I called my eye doctor who decided to take the day off antiquing in Connecticut leaving no instructions in case a patient goes blind in her absence.

The 12 year-old receptionist said, “Nothing ever happens on Friday…slow day.”

Excuse me? I can’t see cupcake so that puts that little theory right out to pasture.

“So, would you like to see her next Friday?” God help me.

I hang up deciding to run to the Eye and Ear Hospital on East 14th Street wondering if I can actually manage this.

Why didn’t I call someone to go with me?

There was no one to call, and besides, time was of the essence.

As I’m bumping into walls readying myself to leave, I remember the eye surgeon who performed a procedure on me a few months ago ten blocks away.

I rush there…upset, hands shaking, and a young girl says, “Sorry, we can’t help you…you’re not a regular patient.”

“Yeah, but it’s an emergency, my doctor is away,” I said, “and I’ve been here before.”

She walks away leaving me standing there.

Remember in the film Terms of Endearment when Shirley Maclaine goes nuts in the hospital because no one would help her daughter?

Yes, just call me Shirley.

A doctor came out to say they’d find me one.

“Yeah but you’re a doctor. Why can’t you see me?”

“You’re not my patient.”

The whole thing was so insane and humiliating, though I stopped that in its tracks. I wasn’t about to take on their cold, heartless behavior. What ever happened to a code of ethics.

We’re healers, not heels.

So I leave and go to another doctor nearby who happened to be great. After every test imaginable, it was blamed on either allergies since my eye was severely swollen, or the antibiotic I had been on that could have relaxed my retina.

“Don’t worry,” she kept saying. “It’s nothing.”

“Nothing you say? I still can’t see.”

There was no tumor, no bleeding…my optic nerve is stunning, as she put it. She advised me to wear my distance glasses till my left eye corrected itself.

Talk about confidence in the human anatomy.

“So just go enjoy the rest of your day.”

“Okay Doc, if you want me, I ‘ll be at the nearest bar.”

Enjoy my day…I went to a church and sobbed.

My vision has gotten a little better every day since, thank God. My body truly retaliates to medication, but what do you do if you really need it?

The whole experience left me hating the medical community.

I thought of people without the ability to stand up who would have just melted away. I’m grateful I have it, but when it’s over and you know you had to fight that hard to be treated merely decently, it makes you sad, this is the way of the world.


Posted in Cinema, Gratitude, Health, New York City | Tagged , , , , | 25 Comments

Indian Bummer

images Be careful what you wish for.

It wasn’t too long ago when I complained about no summer. Well, we’re having it now and my head feels as if it might explode.

The 70 % temperature beckons me to bask in the balmy breeze, yet here I sit, 5 Tylenols later with ice on my head.

Spores, I’m told are the culprit. I don’t even know what they are, the little fuckers, but apparently they’re creating havoc for many.

Sabrina, the girl at the coffee shop said, “Be happa it’s not no hurricane comin this way.”

Oh yes, Gonzalo, Irene’s successor is gathering speed in the Caribbean. Who at the weather center came up with that name? Was he drunk, or just hung over?

It suggests quesadillas instead of strong winds.

At least we were able to say, goodnight Irene, that had a hopeful spin. Gonzalo doesn’t come with the same pith, just a name that makes me want to watch an Almodovar film, like Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.

Will nature throw us another curve and turn her ire this way? I always imagine her not taking her meds.

I remember the last time.

Manhattan panicked as if it were the Cuban Missile Crisis. You couldn’t get beans or even a Hershey Bar off the store shelves. Young boys were selling flashlight batteries for 20 bucks a pop. I gave mine to an old man I knew who was falling apart at D’Agostinos. Uncharacteristically, I was calm next to him and did what every New Yorker should have done…went out for an overpriced lunch.

Unlike other parts of New York, Manhattan with the exception of a few lights and a good 1000 trees, made it through unscathed.

I just noticed my West Wing T-shirt is wet. Wouldn’t you know, my icepack sprung a leak.

Will you excuse me while I toss it out the window?

Maybe it’ll hit a few spores on the way down.




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