John McCain…Eternal Hero

As I sat in a cafe reading in the New York Times that Arizona Senator, John McCain, is suffering from aggressive brain cancer, I began to cry.

A teenage boy seated near me asked what was wrong.

My first impulse was to just say, oh it’s nothing, but then thought I’d explain why a man I’ve never met could bring out such emotion in me.

“I’m crying for a hero,” I said, “a man who’s earned all our tears for his incredible bravery during the Vietnam War…

McCain was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam for five and a half years. He was kept in solitary confinement for two of those years after being tortured, beaten and interrogated every two hours. He lost 50 pounds, was in a chest cast, his gray hair turning as white as snow. His wartime injuries left him permanently incapable of raising his arms above his head.

When the North Vietnamese first agreed to release him, Lieutenant John S. McCain wouldn’t go, refusing to leave his men, fearing for what would happen to them without him.

He finally went home on March 14, 1973.

HE WOULDN’T LEAVE HIS MEN.  

I can’t say enough how that moves me.”

The kid listened like I was a storyteller merely passing the time with a good yarn, but then said, “I didn’t know any of that.  How come they don’t teach you that in school?”

“Good question,” I said, accepting the napkin he offered to dry my tears.

“Do you think he’s gonna make it?”

“I don’t know, but I sure hope so since, we need our heroes to remind us of who we are, not just as Americans, but as human beings.”     

He nodded, then got on his phone.

SB

Posted in History, Politics, media, war, men, words, violence, humanity, grace | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Pollyanna Snaps

I’m sitting in Starbucks at 5 A.M., when a young African American fella comes in with a filled up shopping cart.  He doesn’t look homeless, but it’s clear he’s been trash picking all night…bottles, bags, a pair of scuffed shoes stacked neatly like tiny treasures.

He sits in the corner without buying anything, so I get up to ask if I may treat him to coffee.

He nods showing me he’s missing two of his front teeth.

I get him exactly what I have, a Veranda Venti, bringing it over. ” He says, “Do ya think I can have an ice-coffee instead?”

Now iced-coffee costs more, but I go to Brianna, the sweet barista, who kindly pours it over ice at no extra charge.

I sit for a spell, write a bit, before getting my refill to go, stopping at the milk and sugar bar.  As I’m lacing my cup with enough sugar to launch, suddenly, there he is again, holding a ham and cheese panini.

“Can I have this?”

Now I’m annoyed.  “No, I said, “coffee is the best I can do,” and it was since that left 78 cents on my Starbucks card.  He goes to put to back, sulking like a Labrador I wouldn’t let swim.

Brianna, who’s watching, shakes her head.  “See, ya can’t win.  They always want more. Happens all day.”

Now if this was supposed to comfort me, it didn’t.  Rather than feeling good about my spontaneous generosity, I was now berating myself.  I heard my mother from the ethers say, “Oh Susannah, you could have fed that man…you have your Visa with you after all…how uncaring, how selfish, how cheap you are.”

So now I’m fuming feeling like Jack Benny who wouldn’t have bought God coffee, let alone an all-night shopper needing dental work.

So what’s a half asleep Thin Girl to do I ask you?

Excuse me while I change into my hair shirt.

If only Gucci made one in an extra small.

sigh

SB

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in grace, humanity, humor, money, New York City, parents, Starbucks | Tagged , , | 14 Comments

For She’s A Jolly Good Thingirl

When my friend Joan asked if I was excited about my birthday I said, oh yes, so much so, I’m draping black crepe along the windows like when Lincoln died.

Excuse me while I start on the mirrors.

It’s not that I’m depressed over my birthday, I’m just a little stunned at how many I’ve had.  I feel like Yul Brynner in The King and I, thinking it’s merely one more curtain call.

I also notice, no one asks how old I am anymore.  You’d think that would be a relief, but it’s a hint that I’m up there with the Chyrsler Building, still glamorous, but from ten miles away.

I can’t say I mind being remembered.  I don’t, providing it’s done on the QT.

When gifts arrive through the mail like spies in quilted envelopes, I’m just tickled as I fib to the doorman and say, oh, it’s that book I ordered. It’s about time for Pete’s sake.

Yes, I say corny things like that as if it were an episode of Leave It To Beaver.

Why I feel the need to lie to Tom, Dick and Abdule, is a mystery, but the Mata Hari in me lives, even if she’s a tad arthritic.

My super, whose mouth I’d like to stuff with a gym sock said, “Too bad you got no man to celebrate wit.  Wanna go for pizza? I’ll take ya, so you ain’t alooo-ne.”

Yeah I know, wasn’t that sweet.  Well, feeling like little geriatric Nell who can’t get a date so her super offers her a slice out of pity, didn’t exactly boost my spirits.

“No thanks Frank,” I said, “and who said I’m spending it alone?”

I was, but he didn’t have to know that.  I even went so far as to put on a dress and let him see me leave.  I came back when I knew he was gone bribing Enrique the night man.

Money never loses its appeal.

We like that.

I’ll admit, it would be nice to have a beau, one I could stand, one who would enhance my life as oppose to stealing it.  At my golden age, you interview, Google, get FBI records and blood tests including, whether they have body odor or not.

Not on my Bean comforter if you smell like Times Square there Mister.  No sirree.

Being self-possessed comes with a criteria after all.

Well, before you know it, my 300th birthday will have passed.

I do kinda like the black crisscrossing the front windows though .

Just might add some pearls.  

SB

 

Posted in alcohol, Beauty, Fashion, humor, New York City, Women and men, words | Tagged , , , | 31 Comments

Everyone In The Pool

Walking through the park on my way home, I spot a cardinal seeming to lead the way making me think of Robert Preston in The Music Man.

I watch as he rests on the railing, then a bench before settling on the bough of a tree.  As I glide by, he rises like a feathered gentleman escorting me on my right, as if keeping me out of harm’s way.

Suddenly he stops, diving into a water fountain, his red head now damp, his beak dipped for a nice long drink.  I stand and watch as he unabashedly bathes spreading his wings wetting them thoroughly.  To say I’m charmed doesn’t do my smile justice, as I’m now joined by a young woman and an Asian couple, the man making a video for the folks back home.

I long to sneak in to provide more water knowing, he’ll more than likely fly away, when a little girl toddles over barefoot in a sunsuit and does just that, holding the button causing a spray to appear like a sudden spring shower.

Mr. Cardinal, undaunted, stays put happy as can be, as I say to the Asian man, “Do you think you could send your little film to me?”

He laughs, says something to his wife in what appears to be Japanese, and I realize, he speaks no English.

Sigh

SB

Posted in animals, Beauty, grace, humanity, humor, kids, nature, New York City | Tagged , , , , | 14 Comments

God Bless America

I warn you, this is not one of my slaphappy posts.

I’m here, stunned into silence after going to the 9/11 Museum downtown.

A friend asked, what possessed me?

Well, I always wanted to go since, being a survivor of that hellish day, felt I owed it to the fallen.

I’ll begin by saying,  it wasn’t like a trip to see the Monets at the Met when you come out charmed and lighthearted.

After spending two hours, I sat outside where the towers once stood, and cried.

The museum itself is huge, with a timeline starting right before the first plane hit,  reminding you what a beautiful day it was before it began its devastating decline.

To say I was moved, by what I saw, puts it mildly.  Mangled fire engines, a burnt out ambulance…twisted remnants of the towers themselves that look like Richard Serra sculptures.  Slabs of concrete, coiled wire…and personal effects like an engagement ring and credit cards, shoes and a wristwatch still dated, 9/11.

Footage of funerals, firefighters and policemen from all over who came to pay their respects while Taps plays in the distance.

Two things really affected me.  One was an audio of the passengers on United Airlines Flight 93, that went down in Shanksville, Pennsylvania of those who called their loved ones to insure a last good-bye.  They warn you before it begins…that the information might be upsetting.

Might be?

Yet, along with six others sat and listened, grateful, probably for the first time ever, I couldn’t hear very well, rather reading what was said.

A flight attendant calling her husband to say, I love you sweetie…tell the kids I love them.  Tell my family.  Don’t worry, I’m comfortable, at least for now.

Todd Beamer, who orchestrated the take-over…the Let’s Roll man, called his wife, and if it weren’t for him and the heroes he recruited, that plane would have hit either the White House or the Capitol.  The hijackers, not realizing they could be heard on tape, spoke in Arabic, holding out as long as they could knowing if these men got inside the cockpit, their plans would be felled, so they crashed in Pennsylvania, killing all on board.

The last thing one said was…Allah is the greatest.

Throws you, doesn’t it, how they give Allah such a bad name because, guaranteed he’s up there screaming…NO NO..THIS HATRED IS NOT WHAT I INTENDED.

 The second remembrance that had me on my knees was…

In Memoriam…the room with photos of all, listed alphabetically, who perished that day, simply placed on four walls.  I stood, reading each name, looking tenderly, at each face.  What shocked me were children that must of been traveling by plane.  We forget, there was an array of people going home…families…never suspecting they’d never get there.

As I made my way around the room, slowly but determined to honor each soul, a lady was quietly weeping.

“I approached her and said, “Did you lose somebody ma’am?  Is that why you’re so upset?”

“Everybody. We lost everybody?”

I didn’t pry or ask what she meant. Was she one of the few people from Cantor Fitzgerald, who out of a 1000 workers, mostly those not working that day, survived?  Was it a collective…we lost everybody…the way I felt as I read each name?

I put my arms around her and said, it was good we came…it’s important to remember the 2,983 people who died that day, including the 6 from the attack in 1993.

She nodded, holding my hand, then quietly wept some more.    

SB

 

Posted in grace, Home, humanity, kids, media, men, New York City, parents, Politics, religion, violence, war, women, words | Tagged , , , | 34 Comments

G

 The G train is a subway line running through Queens into Brooklyn I rarely take.

As I wait on the platform longer than I should, when it does come surrounded by dust and fog, it makes me think of the Polar Express since, I can’t help being surprised to see it.

Its riders are diverse, more so than on any other line, questioning where they come from in their many getups and guises.

The robust woman squeezed in a red-white and blue striped tube dress, looking like a barber’s pole, doin a dance…her breasts spilling out as if they were laughing, and just can’t stop.

A man, shaking a Dunkin Donuts cup, in loafers without tongues, is shimmying down the aisle singing, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes…off key.

Next to me sits a young girl with pink hair that matches her shoes and handbag.  Does she spray her hair daily to go with whatever’s on her feet?

But the winning duo is the tattooed man with his Shirley Temple two year-old strapped to his chest in what looks like a rawhide papoose, her corkscrew curls bouncing buoyantly, pogo stick style.

He wears shorts and a tight cutoff T, brandishing artwork on every muscle. Even his clavicle is painted, along with his elbows and eyelids, ankles and knees.

A hefty, black workman getting on, his tools dangling from his belt, sits across from them, a seat away from me, instantly smiling at the little girl.

You can’t help it, she’s so happy, as her father gently gives her sips of water from a Cinderella cup, never taking his eyes off of her, ignoring all of us so collectivly, communally charmed.

A girl gets on and sits next to them buried in her phone, but once sees their mutual affection, even she stops texting and Tweeting, to absorb the love.

Barber pole and pink hair have now joined the vigil, as the G cruises along.

When it stops at Metropolitan Avenue, Dad and Shirley proceed to get off, but right before, he looks up and gives us all the biggest grin.

It was as if the sun, just got on the train.

SB

Posted in Family, Fashion, grace, humanity, kids, Love, men, New York City, parents, travel | Tagged , , , | 21 Comments

An Appropriate Word

The late, great Bill Hicks, when he was bored, read the dictionary.  I didn’t quite get it at the time, but sure do now, since I too have come to love words. Continue reading

Posted in Books, humanity, humor, words, writing | Tagged , , , | 33 Comments

Thanks For The Mammories

It’s self-care season, meaning, it’s a round robin of doctor appointments to make sure all is in working order, like an annual tune-up for your car.

Of course, as with anything, it comes with a downside.  Prodding and pushing, pressing and squeezing.  My favorite is when the dermatologist dons what looks like, a miner’s hat, while you’re butt naked on the table.

“See anything Doc?’

“Nope…all looks okie-dokie to me.”

Yes, he said that, but I’ve known him for so long I would never take offense, especially after the bag of samples he always gives me on the way out.

I’ve already discussed in my essay, Pap Text, how inappropriate the medical community can be.  One of my favorite tales is when a doctor who, because I’m so neurotically well-mannered, will remain nameless, got a phone call during a rectal exam returning to ask…”now, where were we?”

“Well, your finger was up my rear like a puppeteer, but feel free to move on.”

The alternative? Roll the dice hoping nothing fatal is lurking, very appealing to my boobs who, after a recent mammogram, still resemble pressed hams.

But I’m from Connecticut where we just didn’t do that, spring cleaning each body part, that way, if someone kicks your tires, they’ll sigh and say, now that’s what I call a great set a’ treads.

SB

 

Posted in Connecticut, Health, humanity, humor, writing | Tagged , , , | 17 Comments

Independence Day…2017

 The 4th of July makes me think of many things.

Cookouts at my Auntie Ida’s, chicken sizzling on the grill. A trash can filled with ice cold Coca-Colas, my mother’s famous potato salad served in a bright green bowl.

White pants and red, white and blue T-shirts.

Freshly mowed grass I’d run barefoot in.

The flag my Uncle Danny hoisted over their redwood picnic table fluttering in the breeze.

Watching Yankee Doodle Dandy on our old RCA Victor, waiting for James Cagney to tap dance down the White House Steps.

I also think of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, our second and third presidents, dying on the same day…July 4th, 1826, the fiftieth Anniversary of the signing of The Declaration of Independence.

Can’t deny God was in the details on that one.  

“Jefferson lives,” was what Adams said before he breathed his last, but old Tom had already left moments before, getting a head start to those Elysian Fields.

I see the Statue of Liberty standing proudly in the harbor, watching over all she represents.

My mother, who loved her so, when I was little said, “She’s always home, Lady Liberty, so, when you visit, you never have to worry about missing her.”

Despite all that goes on in our beloved country, it’s sure nice to know, Liberty, is always home.

Happy 4th     

SB

 

Posted in History, humanity, New York City, parents, Politics, words | Tagged , , , , | 22 Comments

Best Story Of The Week

My pal Hal’s wife, Kate, was once a flight attendant.  On one of her bicoastal flights, Lassie was seated in first-class.

What an indelible image that must be.

Were Lassie’s paws crossed while perhaps perusing the Daily Racing Form?  Did she give a little yelp...oh, it’s that awful dog track business again.

Note to self…send check, ASAP to Help the Greyhound Fund.  I really should do more.  Call Trigger and Ed,  Morris and that annoying basset hound who thinks she’s Lana Turner.  Oh God, what’s her name? Cleo.. ugh...to stage a benefit.

Call manager, ASAP… when I get home.

Did she linger in the ladies room powdering her wet nose?

Was she drinking water…Perier of course…from a champagne flute instead of a bowl? Or maybe Kate mixed her a Rin Tin Tin, the dog’s version of a Shirley Temple.

Apparently, due to all those stunts Lassie insisted on doing herself, she didn’t drink.  At least that’s what they said in TV Guide.

When she disembarked, did she give Kate her autograph?

Something like…

Dearest Kate,

Thanks for everything…especially that nice, cozy blanket.  It was all, such a big treat. Doggonit…I’m afraid I gave out my last 8 by 10 glossy…but if you tell me where, I’ll be happy to mail you one.

Love and kisses,

Lassie

Must remember to ask Hal…:)   

 

Posted in animals, Cinema, Family, humor, media, travel | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments