When singer Johnny Cash was asked, how his marriage to June Carter lasted for 35 years, he said without pause...separate bathrooms.
The journalist, Jimmy Breslin, gave the eulogy for his wife, Rosemary, the mother of his 6 children, when she died at 50 of cancer in 1981. One of the heartfelt things he said was…We of her family who remain have a special burden. We have lived with nobility… She was a woman utterly unspoiled. I thank God for the high privilege of having known her so well.
Yankee ball player, Joe DiMaggio, placed a twenty-year order of a half-dozen roses to be put on Marilyn Monroe’s grave, three times a week.
Elizabeth Taylor whom she married twice and was divorced from at the time of his death, kept a framed photograph of Richard Burton on her nightstand till the day she died.
When her former step-daughter, Carrie Fisher, asked why she received so many jewels, including a 68 carat diamond from Burton that cost 1.5 million dollars, she said…
Because I was loved.
Actress Carole Lombard for their first date, bought Clark Gable a used Model T-Ford, had it painted with hearts all over it, delivered to him with a note that said, “You’re driving me crazy.” They stayed married till her death in a plane crash, in 1942. Though wed to someone else at the time of his death, he asked to be buried beside her.
Mickey Hargitay, 1955’s Mr Universe, while married to actress Jayne Mansfield, built her a heart shaped swimming pool with…
I LOVE YOU JAYNE, written at the bottom.
I will end with what will always be my favorite love letter, by Sullivan Ballou, an officer in the Union Army during the American Civil War, written to his wife Sarah.
July the 14th, 1861
Maj. Sullivan Ballou Camp Clark, Washington
My very dear Sarah,
The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days – perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write you again, I feel impelled to write lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more.
Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me to you with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield.
The memory of all those blissful moments I’ve enjoyed with you come crowding over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them for so long. And how hard it is for me to give them up, and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when, God willing, we might still have lived and loved together and seen our sons grow up to honorable manhood around us….
…If I do not return, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I loved you, nor when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield, it will whisper your name.
Forgive my many faults, and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have sometimes been!
But, O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they love, I shall always be near you; in the brightest day and in the darkest night… always, always.
And when the soft breeze fans your cheek, it shall be my breath; or the cool air your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by.
Sarah, do not mourn me dead…think I am gone and wait for me, for we shall meet again.
Sullivan Ballou was killed a week later, at the First Battle of Bull Run.
Monday...I’m waiting for the crosstown bus. A pretty teenager is walking a Dalmatian who decides to say hello.
Charmed as can be, I call out to the girl glued to her phone and say, “So are the other 100 at home?” “Huh?” she says, scratching her nose, “like whaddyamean?” I was all set to tell her, when her phone rang.
Tuesday….I’m waiting for the sushi man who’s cheerfully making my salmon quinoa roll like he does every day. As he hands it over the counter, I discreetly hand him a few bucks, something I do occasionally as a gesture of goodwill.
A woman watching says rather loudly, “You don’t have to tip him.”
Before I answer, I know enough to count to ten.
“I know that, but I like to,” before heading to the cashier with her hot on my tail.
“Yes but now they’ll expect it.”
Now I’m stuck since, either I leave without the roll or suffer her while waiting to pay for it.
Not to be bullied, me and my roll hold our ground.
There’s an expression…don’t pick up the rope, meaning, do not engage, as she’s carrying on as if I’ve publicly sinned.
A woman behind her listening, clearly unacquainted with the rope advice says, “Ya know, they’re so nice, those two boys. They always give me extra ginger because they know I like it. I’m going to start tipping them too.”
Suddenly she’s fighting with El Cheapo who’s about to lose her mind over 5 bucks, as me and my lunch run out the door.
Wednesday…I’m strolling in the Park when I see a little green truck parked that says, Geese Chasers. I sidle up seeing there’s a guy in the driver’s seat.
“Hi, I say, “I noticed your name.”
He rubs his left eye making me think he was napping and says, “Ya got some geese ya need help wit?”
“No, but I do like them, and never knew all you do is chase them if they cause a problem.”
“Well, we try that first. But they’re pretty stubbun’ so we then have ta’ use schronga’ methods’.”
My good cheer vanishes.
“What does that mean exactly?”
Sensing trouble, he doesn’t answer.
“Do you hurt them?”
He rubs his nose.
“Are you a member’a Pota or somethin’?”
“That would be PETA, and no, but they have every right to be here same as we do.”
“Yeah? Tell that ta’all the planes screwed up cause of’em.”
“They were here pal, way before the Wright Brothers. Besides, haven’t ya ever read Mother Goose?”
Now I’m waiting for his phone to ring.
He thumps the dash before turning on the ignition.
“You’re a pain lady,” handing me a business card. “Give this ta’ya husband. Tell’em we’ll be happy ta come chase you.”
I’m in the local market when they first open adhering to, the early bird catches the worm, or fish, in my case since I’m shopping for sardines.
Not just any brand, but one with the lowest sodium count.
A clerk stocking tuna says, “They’re expensive. Why not get the cheaper one.”
“Because they’re better for you. Lower in salt.”
He looks at me like I have three heads.
“What’s wrong with a little salt?” It’s 7 a.m., and not up for a debate.
I just shrug and move on.
Me and my two cans, approach check-out. A middle-aged woman with a filled cart cuts in front of me. The cashier, reading the Daily News, looks at me and yawns.
The woman doesn’t even notice me, so involved with her groceries.
I wait and wait and wait and wait.
The other cashier is shooting the breeze with the bread man. I ask nicely if she’d check me out. “I’m not set up yet,” she says, still flirting with Levy’s Jewish Rye.
Patience not being one of my strong points, is about to knock all the cans of Chef Boyardee Ravioli on sale, 3 for 5, off their shelf.
Finally Madam Grocery and her 10 bags, leave.
When I hit the street, I see her up ahead, struggling. I have one word for her…DELIVERY. But they charge 5 bucks, so now I decide, she’s not only rude, but cheap.
Despite this, I mosey up to her, my Joan of Bark coming out. “Do you need help ma’am?”
Turns out, she works for a wealthy couple on Park and 90th as their cook. They were coming home for the first time since last year, so she had to stock up on everything.
When I say, you could have had it all delivered, she says, she feels bad costing them more money as if they’re on Food Stamps.
Though wanting to smack her, I like her right away, especially when she moves her mask without me asking, so I can hear her.
I take two bags and walk Mary three blocks, while she chats about cooking, soups and casseroles being her specialty. As a young ‘un, as she calls herself, growing up in the south, her mother who worked as a cook, taught her to be one too.
I have visions of Abileen in The Help, telling Mae Mobley…you is smart, you is kind, you is important.
As we get to the front of her building, I say only half kidding, “Mary, if I ever have the means, will you come cook for me?”
“Sure ah will,” she says, “and thanks for helpin’ an old woman like me.”
The journalist, Damon Runyon, when William Randolph Hearst who he worked for on the newspaper, the New York American, wanted him to write meanly of Franklin Roosevelt, he refused, saying...
You never knock a winner.
His runner-up quote...You can become a winner only if you are willing to walk over the edge.
Jimmy Breslin, another old time journalist’s philosophy on writing moved me greatly.
I look for the dust in the air, for that is where words live, tumbling lazily, remaining just out of reach, and staying there, staying, staying, staying, until something, an unseen waft of air, causes them to drift right up to your reach, gather into sentences, one sentence, two sentences, that’s all you need to get started.
He also said...If you don’t blow your own horn, there will be no music.
Love Dorothy Parker’s pithy quote…time wounds all heels, a remark perhaps sowed from her own pain since she died alone and broken from the effects of alcoholism. The fine writer that she was, left all her money to Martin Luther King that, upon his farewell, went to the NAACP.
On a lighter day she wrote...men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses.
I think I would have really liked her.
When Oscar Wilde lay dying in Paris at a fleabag hotel, he said...My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death…one or the other of us has to go.
Toni Morrison, when asked about aging replied...Every year I have lived, and every wrinkle I have, tell my story.
Winston Churchill, who wrote by ear said…writing is an adventure.
I’m most certain, we’ll all agree with that.
The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress, said Philip Roth.
But Stephen King said, the road to hell is paved with adverbs.
Maybe they should have tossed a coin.
It ain’t whatcha write, it’s the way atcha write it, cooed Jack Kerouac, a face that could launch a thousand women.
Beware of advice – even this, cautions Carl Sandburg.
My favorite might be what Natalie Goldberg said...writers, they live twice.
As I tool down East 83rd Street, in the middle of the block in front of a barber shop, stands an enormous cage with a sign that reads..
The Name’s Mable…Don’t Get Too Close...I’m Ferocious
Expecting a puma, I’m instead met by a plus-size parrot meditating on a swing.
You know I had to stop.
A woman passing says, “I’d be careful if I were you. There used to be two…rumor has it, she killed him.”
Always the defender of the underdog, in this case bird, answers, “If that’s true, I’m sure she had her reasons.”
Hmm, I think, no wonder she’s behind bars, and on the street no less, as an example to other disgruntled birds?
“Don’t say I didn’t warn ya,” the woman says over her shoulder. “I won’t,” I say, before shimmying up to the cage.
“Hi Mable, I’m Susannah, and are you really ferocious?”
She pretends not to hear.
Other than Lucille Ball, I had never seen such a redhead before, especially one with a bright green comb-over. Though appearing aloof as if to say, I’m not that kinda girl, I’m not discouraged the lady’s playing hard to get.
It just so happens, after stealing them off Fairway’s soup bar, had crackers in my bag, took one, split it, and offered it to Mable, eating my half as an act of good faith.
After bobbing her head left and right as if she couldn’t decide, should I? Do I need the extra calories? Slinked over to get a closer look.
“What, ya on a diet Mable? Come on, they’re low-salt.”
She demurely put her beak through the bars and like a real lady, takes it, nibbling, as if we were having cocktails at the Ritz.
I was so charmed, I didn’t see the guy now standing in the doorway like Luca Brasi. “Can’t you read?” he snaps, a toothpick sticking out of his mouth.
I had to think fast. What would Connie do if Carlo caught her with a parrot?
“Excusez-moi?” I say, winking at Mable. “Thee bird, how you say…magnifique…oui?”
I then mumble “see ya Mable,” dashing across the street not waiting for the light to change.
Maybe he should be in the cage, while Mable cuts hair.
There’s a little Irish guy, with a mane of white hair, I see most mornings in front of an apartment building hosing down its sidewalk.
How do I know he’s Irish?
He has that special twinkle, inspiring me to say hello.
At most, he’ll nod, blinking back eyes so blue, they shine in the moonlight.
I try not taking his aloofness personally, greeting him like a persistent puppy just the same.
It’s Sunday, en route home from an errand, when there’s a guy coming the other way in a dark suit…pants a tad too wide in the leg, a white button-down offset by a bright red tie, no overcoat over his suit jacket properly buttoned.
As I’m about to pass him, he says with a bit of a brogue, “Hey, how ya doin’? Beautiful mornin’ it is?”
Suddenly I’m seeing shamrocks and shillelaghs, that Irish lilt so pleasing to the ear.
It takes a second, but I see, it’s the nodder, 4 blocks up.
Well I’ll be.
We both stop.
“I didn’t recognize you,” I say, “ya know, without your hose.”
His face gets a little red as I’m kinda thinking mine does, but being members of polite society, both ignore my unfortunate choice of language.
“I’m on ma’ way to help at Saint Thomas,” he says, “to greet, and pass the basket,” a whiff of what smells like Old Spice salting the air.
“Oh yeah?” I say, “that sounds nice, to do a little service.”
He smiles, sharing a space in his front teeth along with dimples that could run for Mayor.
“Have a blessed day,” he says, giving his best nod, “see ya in the mornin’, God willin’ that is.”
I watch him go, a spring in his step, suddenly aware, of the one in mine. 🙂
I see the same people in the Park every morning, though now, some of who I call the seasonals are out that don’t run in the winter, like the 15 or so stalwarts, me being one along with a tall, beautiful blonde.
Despite her beauty, she’s almost spectral in appearance suffering from a clear case of eyesore anorexia, resembling a charcoal drawing, in flight.
I’ve been accused of being too thin, but if you placed me alongside her, I’d look plump which brings me to a painful childhood memory.
My mother, having major control issues, would overfeed me. If I didn’t comply, I’d be punished. My bedroom was in the attic with no bathroom, so being legitimately sick, would hurl into my wastepaper basket. You can imagine what that smelled like in an hour or two, since I had no way of emptying it, so my mother eventually sniffing it out like a bloodhound with pots, would punish me anyway.
If only it would have been, no supper for you young lady, but no chance.
But back to the blonde whose story I don’t know. I’ve actually seen her on the avenue dressed well, all eyes and cheekbones, legs like a rag doll’s with angles that could easily pierce.
Think E.T., with highlights…
a semicolon in pumps.
I wonder what she sees when she looks in the mirror. I’m betting it’s not what others see, a very sad, sick girl whose perception of herself is distorted and untrue.
Whether denying herself or purging, she’s headed towards Karen Carpenter Way and we know what happened to her.
I wonder if their mothers overfed them too.
I wish I could ask, but alas, one’s gone and the other, well…manners prevail, so praying for her will have to do.
My creativity has been up on the ledge lately dangling her feet. She feels alone and inept, underappreciated and forlorn, yet the well isn’t dry.
It still seems damp, way at the bottom.
I sit at my desk most days attempting to write. It’s been a long time since I’ve published, but like any triumph, it fades in the sun.
I’m not a particularly great self-promoter. Actually I’m terrible at it.
If I discovered the cure for cancer, you’d never hear it from me.
I’ve gone over reasons for this many times, but preening makes me feel foolish and awkward, yet find myself envious of others who have the knack.
A man I used to date, for a second, came back into my life. When I told him I had a blog, he said really? How fun. Then sent me his own book without even asking.
See, he has the knack.
Why can’t I ever take a bow? Half the people I know have no bows to take, yet take them anyway, convincing the masses through social media how outstanding they are.
I sit and scratch my head.
Could be that war wound from my mother who told me I was stupid.
This alone keeps my shrink in walkin’ around money.
With the exception of Twitter, I took myself off social media because of the creeps that came out of the woodwork. It scared me to be quite honest. I don’t like being pursued, especially by those who have hurt me in the past.
Hey, Suzana, memba me…we had sex in the back’a my Pontiac. Actually I don’t, except now I see my legs hanging out a window.
There’s a woman, a former follower, who had written the meanest comment over her loyalty to Donald Trump, attacking me with her Christian self-righteousness. I was kind by not retaliating, but then she came back, begging for forgiveness like an abusive lover. She even looked up my address and sent me a card. How inappropriate, and rest my case on the invasion of privacy.
She seems to have finally gone, at least I hope so.
So I’m here at my desk, wooing my muse who must be out of town.
If you see her, would you give her my best?
Maybe I’m just not that good of a writer.
Maybe that’s the real issue here.
I do rant over things the world doesn’t seem to care about…navy blazers and books, fits of kindness, American History, and deli men and dogs who know your name.
Therefore, what I’ve decided to tell my censor when he says…who do you think you are Susannah?
I’m just a plain, ordinary girl who loves to write.
There’s a smart looking woman, I’d say, in her early 70s walking up Madison I’m trailing behind.
She’s wearing black capris, a black boat-necked top peeking under a simple understated, slate gray gabardine trench, with Audrey flats beneath bare ankles.
I’m wondering if she’s cold.
I can’t help staring, finding myself, fashionably dazzled.
We both pop into the drugstore, emerging at the same time, so I stop to say, “I have to tell you…you look so great. I wish I owned your whole outfit.”
She’s clearly startled by this, but then says, “Thank you so much. I can’t say the last time anyone paid me a compliment.”
I now notice what look to be, gray raw pearls gracing her ears. Also that she’s not carrying a purse. A hint of lipstick taints her front teeth, but then again, it could be a shadow.
“Maybe people just aren’t as bold as I am,” I say, “because I’m sure I’m not the first to notice. You look… I pause searching for theright words…how can I put it…very Carolina Herrera, yes, that’s it…the way the lines of your coat fall just so.”
Suddenly a black sedan pulls up, the driver jumping out to open the door. Before getting in, the woman says, “You’ve made my day. Can I drop you anywhere?”
Suddenly I’m in a 40s movie.
“No,” I say smiling, “I’m very near where I live, but thank you for the offer.”
I watch her glide in, the well heeled driver closing the door, thinking, that’s that, when suddenly the car is alongside me.
She rolls down the window, grinning like a kid.
“So you know, it is Carolina Herrera. She’s all I wear.”