It Could’ve Killed You But It Didn’t So It’s Funny

Larry, the little black cat bent on stealing your soul, licks the back of his knee. I would need spinal surgery to attempt that maneuver. The cat is bathing himself languidly next to nine new transparent violet and golden orange glass balls I will hang from hooks in the ceiling all over our apartment. I’ve returned miraculously uninjured from the family birthday dinner, and I’ve laid out all my beautiful presents large and small on my gift carpet next to my handsome and irritable pussycat. Hear me squealing with glee? I am squealing with glee!

Last night, Siobhan stopped by to assist in the highly difficult two-woman medicate-the-kitty race. Siobhan speaks the secret language of the pussycats, which is just as shocking each time she translates something new for either delegation. Last night, she followed Larry, the little black cat bent on stealing your soul, into the kitchen and as I watched had a brief discussion with the cat consisting of clicks and consonant sounds that ended with the cat sitting peacefully in her arms. I stared. The cat would claw my face to hamburger if I tried that and he loves me. Siobhan frowned and tapped her foot. Startled, I wrestled the cat’s mouth open and squeezed the dropperful of icky medicine down the back of his throat. Siobhan scratched his head and put him down gently. Thus, today Larry has been both in a cheery, pain-free mood and unusually bitey.

I’m exhausted! Gleeful and exhausted! Earlier this week, John found the online portfolio of artist Elizabeth Hickok’s fantastic San Francisco in Jell-O. I do the Happy Dance each time I look at it. Liz Hickok was nice enough to grant Poor Impulse Control permission to resize and post one of these jewel-like photographs, though we’re strangers. The photographs reminded me of a story from the Onion, years ago: Pudding-Factory Disaster Brings Slow, Creamy Death To Town Below.

CENTRALIA, IL–Sweet, creamy death swept through this small Illinois town Monday, when nine 300,000-gallon storage vats violently burst at the local Snak-Tyme pudding factory, burying hundreds of residents in a rich, smooth tidal wave of horrifying pudding goodness.

The death toll from the lip-smacking tragedy currently stands at 350 and is expected to rise.

Tragedy is the shock-wigged mother of comedy, which we may realize with a start when we learn that in the North End of Boston, molasses flooded the streets on 15 January, 1919, killing 21 and injuring more than 100. That was the year my grandmothers were born. This evening, sixteen members of my family, including two baby girls under one and three little boys under seven, invaded a small Italian restaurant in Somerset, NJ. Other people had dinner. We had a gift-wrapped riot.

When I arrived just a little after 5 p.m., I brought with me three bags of Christmas gifts from Miss and Mr. Sasha. A waiter saw me struggling on the sidewalk and opened the doors for me. I’m sure he was sorry later he didn’t lock the doors and hide behind the reservations desk. As I turned the corner into the empty dining room, Daria said, “Ta knows what time our reservation was – ” Daria, Tyler, their three kids, Auntie InExcelsisDeo, Uncle Frank and Sandy are seated; after I sit down, Anya, Corinne, and Anya’s two small children turn up. Mom and Tom arrive last. The restaurant fills behind us. My back is to the room but in front of me is a wall-size mirror. My nieces are the flying babies passing from person to person; my nephews have napkin capes and play superheroes. Our waitress is unbelievably patient and unimaginably competent. During the course of the evening, she makes not a single mistake. Some of us worked a decade or more in food service. We appreciate her skill for what it is: a giant step toward sainthood – just as she knows what we are: a well-groomed punishment from God.

Anya: Tyler Two asked you not to hit him. He doesn’t think it’s as funny as you do.
Ezekiel: (Being very three) But it’s funny for me!
Mom: Why are you laughing?
Tata: Anya told Ezekiel don’t hit Tyler Two because Tyler Two doesn’t think it’s funny and Ezekiel said, “It’s funny for me!”
Tata: Did you just spit calamari past my head?

That was hilarious and not upsetting because when the waitress asked, “Would anyone like appetizers?” five voices said, “Calamari, please.” Daria, taking charge, narrowed it to three and ordered chicken fingers for her boys, while Anya, a vegetarian, ordered ravioli for Ezekiel. His ravioli looked great, which I noticed just as Sandro grabbed the parmesan cheese and threw it into Auntie I.’s soda. Daria responded sternly but I laughed and Auntie I. kept looking at me with mirth in her eyes, and back to little Sandro doubtfully. Other than Mom, Tom and possibly Daria’s husband Tyler, this is a group of people who’ve spent our lives at the kids’ table.

We pick at our salads and pay little attention except to each other. Corinne’s kids are with their father tonight so the usual family boy-pack is reduced in number by one. The little boys follow Tyler Two’s lead and throw napkins over their heads. After a while, we are grateful the little boys let us herd them against the wall, where they only scream somewhat. Our family used to eat with pinkies up and cluck when someone exclaimed loudly at another table. After seven babies in six years, we feel lucky to make it home without permanent sauce diagrams of our family dinner square dance splashed all over everyone. Sometimes I look around the table, surf the cacophony and laugh. The six-year-old has questions.

Tyler Two: Why are you laughing?
Tata: It is very funny to be me!
Tyler Two: You should ask people why they’re keeping secrets from you.
Tata: That is a brilliant idea! I’ll walk up to people and ask what secrets they’re keeping from me and why!
Tyler Two: They have to be like cashiers and other people you would talk to anyway.
Tata: I will do it!

Our dinner plates arrive with altogether too much food on each plate. We kind of cheated as we always do. Nobody ordered the same things. The plates touch the table. Everyone takes one bite of their pasta. And…and..GO!

Eleven people ask each other what you ordered, pass plates around and take a bite of pasta or dip a piece of bread to taste the sauces. It’s like a slow-motion food fight with more “Wow, that’s tasty” and “Have another shrimp.” For about ten minutes, nobody sees their own plate and when they come back everyone says the same thing: “I thought you’d eat more. Have some more of mine.” Nobody finishes their plates and everyone takes home at least a little of their main dish and we skip to dessert, where this shindig’s been headed the whole time. Once again, our waitress ought to have a halo around her head because she gets coffee and dessert orders for fourteen straight while holding a tray of Italian confections. I watched her hold the tray over Mom’s head, lay the order pad on her own forearm and note everything without dropping gelato down the back of Mom’s blouse. I thought that would end in lip-smacking tragedy for sure.

During dinner, an older couple on their way out comes to the table with slightly crazed smiles.

She: What a healthy family you have!
He: It makes me miss my grandchildren!
She: I’m going straight home and I’m going to call them all!
He: I love that we can send them home. To their parents.
Mom: Thank you?

When it happens a second time, I wonder if the restaurant’s lacing the grated parmesan with Ecstacy. I fully expect someone to cross the dining room for a turn at holding tiny Miss Fifi, who is wearing a red plaid onesy with a matching cap and spends the evening laughing at the flying baby in the mirror. I’m playing along and I’ve ordered dessert, which I do once a year so restaurants don’t bring me bowls of Bolognese sauce with crooked floating candles. The room behind me takes a breath when my tiramisu arrives on fire and everyone at the table sings Happy Birthday. I blow out the candle.

Tata: Thank you, thank you all! You’re like the Alpine Hillbillies.
Anya: Can’t we be the Tuscan Hillbillies?
Tata: We’re not actually from there. Do Tuscans yodel?

Daria’s ordered three desserts she wanted to taste and pass around. She reviews them for us.

Daria: This molten chocolate cake is pretty good.
Tata: What? If it were really good you’d tell us it’s terrible and stuff it in your purse.
Daria: The chocolate mousse cake has a nice light texture and the Ghirardelli cocoa doesn’t hurt.
Auntie I.: If it were really good, she’d shout, “Look! Tom Cruise is testing couch springs at the pet store!” and when we turned back, she and the cake would be nothin’ but crumbs.

When the waitress asks if I want more flavored coffee I tell her no, thank you. I’m too exhausted. That’s enough terrifying birthday goodness for me.


Friday Cat Blogging: Love Cats Edition

Larry, the little black cat bent on stealing your soul, slept all evening at my feet last night – at least, where my feet were when I napped. When I got up and did things around the house, he slept on undisturbed. He is, after all, the pussycat, a genius of peace and quiet. He seldom nibbles me unless I am exercising and temporarily failing to present him with delicious shrimp. I will reform! He’s only trying to help!

You have seen a picture much like this one before because I’m not much of a photographer and the cat is an impatient model.

Cat: Are we playing Peek-A-Boo again?
Tata: I’m trying to take your picture. Focus yourself, wouldja?
Cat: You’re not very good at this game. Despite the thing over your face, you still smell like prey in a light CK1 marinade.
[Click! FLASH!]
Tata: Remind me to Febreze myself later.
[Click! FLASH!]
Cat: …She’s got the opposable thumb…she’s got the opposable thumb…

We’re Never Gonna Survive Unless We Get A Little Crazy

Thank you, Mr. Wolcott:

Rich guys pretending to be Jeremiah Johnson is one of the many fascimile editions of rawhide authenticity being successfully peddled in the media with no one willing to stop and say that inflicting unnecessary pain and suffering on animals should be a source of sin and shame, and that the decent thing to do would be to break Cheney’s shotgun in two before anyone or anything else is harmed by his buffoonery.

The More I Travel Across the Gravel

I called at 7:13 a.m.

Tata: I’d like a cab at [none of your beeswax] to go to the library.
Dispatcher: Okay.
Tata: How long –

She hung up without telling me how long it would be. Blood pounds in my ears. I put on my coat and stare out the window, ready. Time passes.

Tata: This is [my address]. It’s been twenty minutes.
Dispatcher: He hasn’t cleared in Highland Park.
Tata: What?
Dispatcher: Ten minutes.

If I ever see this miserable human in line at the liquor store I’ll bash her over the head with cheap chianti. I am already late for work. I stare out the window. Time passes.

Tata: This is [my address]. It’s been an hour. Is that cab coming or not?
Dispatcher: Number 3, where are you?
Number 3: Benner and –
Dispatcher: He’s five blocks away.

Ten minutes later, the cab finally comes. I squeeze into the front. How I slam the door with all that steam coming out of my ears I’ll never know. By the time Number 3, who is truly making the best of frozen roads and inexplicable gridlock, drops me off at the library I am starting to calm down.

I eat weird food. Awhile ago, I stumbled on this vegan PBS cooking show that never mentioned the word “vegan.” The principles and this particular cook’s reliance on Chinese medicinal techniques interest me. I haven’t got the faintest idea why she advocates dark leafy green like they’re the Second Coming and only steams or sautes them. I plunk them on top of a frozen fish filet, other vegetables and some herbs, a little salt and pepper. When I get up, I throw them in the oven, exercise for half an hour with small weights, then let the packet cool a bit while I shower. Since I started eating this for breakfast, I’ve stopped looking for snacks mid-morning. This represents improvement over eating as if eating were my job.

Last Thursday, Larry, the little black cat bent on stealing your soul, became agitated as I sat down to breakfast.

Cat: Dude!
Tata: Dude?
Cat: Dude!
Tata: What is is, Lassie? Has Timmy fallen down a well and he’s in insulin shock and Farmer Jones is crop dusting the south forty with no idea?
Cat: What?
Tata: Come sit with me and explain your problem.
Cat: If you insist. Pardon me while I lick this fish.

Most folks would shove the cat on the floor. I have too much food and enjoy watching an antic play out.

Cat: So as I was explaining while I lick this fish some more, you should buy me more catnip. Mine, while amusing, is stale. Hope you don’t mind that I’m talking with my mouth full. In fact, why don’t I take this bite of fish and get my own plate?
Tata: Certainly, my delight. Care for another morsel, perhaps all the ones you licked?
Cat: You’re so thoughtful!

When I stopped howling with laughter, he was licking his lips and not at all thinking that I am made of meat.

It was warm out this afternoon, most of which I spent hunkered down in my cubicle and avoiding my co-workers. It is no secret that when I’m in a mood the office goes silent. The terror is palpable. I took a cab home. Because I’ve got my priorities straight, I watched General Hospital and couldn’t figure out what’s going on. Not on TV, either. Then I went outside, looked both ways for old ladies, and floored it in reverse until my car broke through the slush and snow and onto street. I parked my car where some decent human being shoveled out yesterday. Then I spent the evening avoiding my windows and small calibre weapons fire.

Tomorrow is my birthday. Tonight I Naired my mustache. Just in case. It’s a miracle innocent bystanders let me live this long.

Anything You Want, Hundred Dollar Bills

Yesterday, I dug my car out of its parking space with a windshield scraper, which is to say I keep looking out the window at my car behind a plow-reinforced wall of snow I’m going to try backing through, after which I’m going to screw over one of my virtuous neighbors by parking in a spot someone owning a shovel carved out via back-breaking labor and hours of effort. It’s a plan. I’m scheming, scheming, scheming – while my neighbors are still at work.

Blast! A squadron of old ladies is shovelling out a few Buicks. I cannot connive properly with spectators. I started my car for a minor thermal advantage and dumped clay cat litter under my tires. Then I kicked down the wall o’ snow with my workboots and – as Siobhan calls it – “almost superhuman core strength.” The snow had nowhere to go but into the street. One of the little old ladies wedged out her Buick, then drove by me in the cul-de-sac slowly, like a shark surveying a netted tuna. My car’s been running about half an hour. In another ten, I’ll go outside and rock the car some more. Perhaps later, I can run her over a little.

Snow and ice defeat me! I can move the car about a foot but no further. My thermal advantage proved only somewhat advantageous. I call Siobhan to commiserate. This weekend, we took turns failing to enjoy one another’s company.

Siobhan: [Insert logical argument here.]
Tata: I can’t talk to you now! [Click.]

Tata: I’m sorry I was dreadful yesterday. Please read me the recipe for crispy roasted duck.
Siobhan: I wasn’t nice, either. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees…
[Ten minutes later]
Siobhan: Sometimes you are such a bitch!
Tata: I hope your red hair goes green!
Siobhan: Talk to you tomorrow.
Tata: Okay. [Click]

I call her cell but wherever she is, she’s not there. I leave a message asking the immortal question, “How does one dig out a car without a shovel and nothing to use as a small snow plow?” While I’m outside, Siobhan calls back.

Siobhan: Hopefully, you’re outside using something as a small snowplow. I myself like using a teenage boy.

Sometimes, Siobhan can be such a bitch! She knows I don’t have one!

What’s the use of having a son-in-law if he’s a thousand miles away and noticeably not digging out my car? That is so selfish of him, to have joined the Air Force and moved Miss Sasha somewhere they can both work on their tans! I plan to spend my evening working up a fine lather of righteous indignation. And growling. Chances are good I will take a cab to work tomorrow morning. It is Mr. Sasha’s fault!

She’s My Bitch

I am sitting in a small room at the hairdresser’s. Rosanna has lightened most of my hair twice and has applied red dye to the roots. Frankly, I look like a tropical fish with an excited orange mohawk. You’d think this would be an obstacle on the path to beauty but you’d be mistaken. This is the exit ramp to Comedy Town, and my foot’s mashing the pedal.

This week, essays on Shakespeare’s Sister have delighted and depressed me. The appointment at the hair salon was made a month ago but I considered calling in sick, since the plan was to put in a full day in Rosanna’s chair and emerge from the chemical cocoon as my own light at the end of my mid-winter tunnel. I wasn’t sure this morning I had the gumption to put myself through a full day of anything, but I stood myself up straight and decided, to paraphrase the philosopher, if I am not for my new hair colors who will be?

My father’s mother was a hairdresser and a successful businesswoman. In my bedroom now stand the appointment desk and chair from Edith’s last salon, where Daria and I played dolls under the desk and read books or on many, many Saturdays. Permanent solution reeks, and yet it is one of the comforting smells of my childhood. To me, its meaning rather than desperation or oppression is carefree experimentation. Within certain limits, a person can recreate her- or himself, and why not? Edith told me all kinds of people came in with the latest photos of Liz or Sofia and said, “Make me look like this!” Edith never said, “I’ll just wave my magic wand…” but she thought it. One of the best things about growing up in the salon, under the desk, was watching the beauticians experiment with color, texture and length on themselves and each other. Edith, who was always the North Star for me even when I sailed off in other directions, did not disapprove of plastic surgery. She was cognizant of some of life’s harshest realities, and though she was both proper and funny, she was the toughest person I’ve ever known.

Beauty has meaning. Beauty is a light over one’s head, mostly unearned and it’s usually trouble. Beauty ought to come with instructions and disclaimers: beauty does not come two-for-one with happiness or beauty may be accompanied by the obsessive expectations of strangers. Beauty does not offer the free ride that may appear as an enviable blur to the stunned observer. My mother was a very beautiful girl and remains a wholly uncommon-looking blonde woman, resembling no one so much as the aforementioned Liz. It was a nightmare for me to grow into my own face and figure with Mom standing around, incidentally spectacular. In retrospect, I see it was no picnic for her, either.

Mom’s beauty made my teen life hellish for several reasons. Let’s make a list.

1. I have dark hair, hazel eyes and paler skin than my siblings by the same parents.
2. My body hair issues became a real problem when I was in gymnastics and Mom saw my maturation as reflecting her own aging. I had to shave my legs in secret. Picture that scenario: “What are you doing in the shower?” “Um…um…nothing…with soap…”
3. Mom and I walk down a street. Frat boys whistle. Not at me. I can’t tell if I should be pissed or if I should be pissed. So I guess I’m pissed.
4. Wherever we go, men turn to putty. Mom doesn’t notice.
5. Starting when I am 14, Mom mentions my weight constantly. We have nothing essentially, so she buys me a leotard I desperately want and tells me I can have it when I get below a weight I can’t meet, not even after I learn from a fellow ballet dancer how to make myself yak. Even after I stop eating, I never get to that weight. When she gives me the leotard later, it is because she’s given up.
6. I could go on, and on, and on.


Now I am at home, and my hair is three colors, and I love it. Five hours after I arrived, I left the salon in a snowstorm and picked up some delights at the grocery store. Food is not love or a reward; it is part of living a fulfilling life. I had a yen for a BLT. I made myself a BLT and I am going to enjoy it passionately and without excuses.

I could tell you a long, boohoo! story about how after my mother left off torturing me, accidentally and less so, society picked up the slack. In the seventies, muscular Italian girls looked like nobody on TV or in magazines. Oh, so sad! Poor me! Fuck that, the eighties meant everybody found a special, individual way to look awful in blue eyeshadow and spring-loaded shoulderpads. I was sorry when Brooke Shields tweezed her eyebrows but hey – they were her eyebrows, right? A girl should tweeze a little if she wants to, and she really wanted to.

Ugly and disenfranchised was going around. And around. Which brings us to the comments on Shakespeare’s Sister, which saddened me. Women are a mess! Fabulous, brilliant women are going down in flames; charming, enlightened menfolk seem powerless to influence the situation in any meaningful way: “Honey, you look meow meow scrumptious!” goes unheard or enjoyed.

Disclaimer: I am smart. I am stupid. I am no raving beauty but I have sometimes benefitted from being attractive. I am brave. I am afraid. I change with the wind. I have sometimes been unbelievably stupid about love and my lovers. I am rebuilding my life after paralyzing depression and stage fright. I cannot reach the ideal weight for my height on the insurance charts no matter what I do, and never will. I have no credentials but my lifelong struggle and a wild idea. A commenter on ShakeSis has pissed me off beyond what I can tolerate without response. Brace yourself. We’re not taking another ounce of that shit!

Women! If I could, I’d grab you by the shoulders and shake loose that lifetime of programming, failure, despair and self-destructive dieting, you’d need some Dramamine and a lengthy lie-down. Forget your doubts. Forget what you think about yourself for a minute. Rosanna said something this afternoon that made me think hard and long about you.

Rosanna: You have to train yourself to see what’s healthy for you.

Women! The ShakeSis commenter advocating shunning, punishment, behavior absolutes stated outright that we should discourage drinking, smoking, drug use, and behaviors leading to obesity. Fuck that. That kind of ill-mannered buttinsky behavior doesn’t go over big with Americans – ask those pesky bureaucrats who failed to foist off safety regulations on mining operations! Because I have a long public history of sampling at life’s buffet table, I won’t condemn others when they do it without hurting anyone else. I’d love for people to live healthy and exercise and enjoy prop comedy in public places but if you think I’m giving up martinis to stand around looking virtuous, forget it. And even though I quit smoking, I love the smell of cigarettes and won’t apologize for wanting my favorite dive bar to stay filthy and smoke-filled.

Being a Good Girl has gotten you nowhere. It’s time to be the Bad Girl you always hoped you could if Mom and Dad weren’t looking, your kids might not notice and the PTA wouldn’t ban you from bake sales. You’ve been good and you can’t win. Stop playing the beauty game in competition with other women. Your only competitor is that voice inside that says you’re not beautiful, you’re not good enough. Fuck that inner voice. Fuck that! Let’s go shopping for fishnets and fake fur. Let’s smash the mental projector and burn the film.

Remember the scene in John Waters’ Cry-Baby where the chubby Rikki Lake says, “Let’s give her a bad girl makeover…our bazooms are our weapons”? I love that scene. Let’s make it our model, shall we? Throw away your pastel jackets! Throw away your uncomfortable clothes and your Disney princess ambitions. You’re a tshirt and jeans girl? Wear ’em and walk away sassy. You’re a Betty Page vixen? Mrrrrrrrow! Your secret mojo wants fresh fruit and palm trees? Lutefisk and turtlenecks? Rooftop gardens and urban skylines?

What are you waiting for? Approval?

On ShakeSis, I said stop it, just stop it. Waiting for approval guarantees a lifetime steeped in misery, resentment and degradation. Stop waiting for the magazines to change; don’t read them! Stop waiting to see your type on TV. Stop waiting for that douchebag boyfriend to quit admiring Lara Flynn Boyle while you rub his back; dump him! Stop waiting politely for politicians to finally get it; vote them out! Register. Vote. Accept no substitutes for representatives who understand women’s political issues. Fat is political. Health insurance is political. Reproductive rights are political. Who has control of your supersexy self is political. There is no escaping it: you must stand up for yourself or you must accept that you are owned by someone besides yourself, and you must never, never accept that. Stop waiting for conditions to be right for you to fit in. Be the character you are and offer no apologies.

And while we’re here, what part are you playing in your own subjugation drama?

Tata: That’s a fantastic outfit you’re wearing.
Antonia: What’s wrong with it?!
Tata: It’s fantastic! You look great in it!
Antonia: What’s the matter with you?

When people offer you compliments, stop oppressing yourself long enough to say, “thank you.” Then consider what it means. You’ve succeeded at something. Register it, and if you like what it means, do it again. Then, you know what you have to do? Pass it on! When you see a woman doing something you like or admire, tell her! There are two kinds of divas: the ones who tear others down to lift themselves up and our beloved Auntie Mames, who make everyone within earshot more and better for their presence. Walk it, talk it, mean it.

You don’t have to be a size 2, a 4, a 6 or a 16. You have to walk with a straight spine and a purpose, even if at first you have to put it on. You take no crap. If someone belittles you, say, “That might really hurt…if I cared what you thought,” or “Gee, I’m sorry you’re having a Bad Self-Esteem Day. I’m not.” Think it through before it happens and spit out that snappy line like it just came to you. Bullies are never expecting you to be unhurt, and they’re frustrated when they fail. It’s good to thwart them with a smile and a bounce.

I can own a room, if I want it. It didn’t come naturally; I taught it to myself. I watched the behavior of the most confident people I knew and imitated them until it came naturally. If I can do it, you can too. Sometimes what you need and want is something life has not trained you to achieve. You have to teach it to yourself.

Stand up, you wicked, wonderful thing. Stand up, you spicy genius. Strut your fabulous stuff. Don’t wait another minute for society to catch up. You’ve got to train yourself that you’re just fine, and what you don’t like – change it. You want to lose some weight? Lose it because you want to, and for no other reason. You will find joy in change you orchestrate for yourself and your joy will be contagious.

I ate a second BLT. It was delicious and exactly what my mouth wanted, as Edith used to say. Tomorrow, I’m going to roast a duck. For myself. And why not? I’m not waiting. Next week, I turn 43. Like you, I am hot as lava.

See For Miles And Miles

Mary opines:

A quick glance at the calender took her breath way. It couldn’t be. Had it been that long? She looked around and slowly the feeling became a somewhat grim certainty. Though the location of her desk, her duties, and many of the faces had changed the harsh reality was that tomorrow it will have been 20 years ago that she started this job. Although there were many accomplishments along the way and her pay had risen dramatically from her meager first check (in point of fact, that was just a testament not to how much she currently made but rather to how truly low her pay once was) she was struck with a profound sense of melancholy. If tomorrow made twenty years that she was employed here and her 40th birthday was coming up in September the reality was that she had spent half of her life in a job she was ordered to get after being caught smoking pot in Johnson park. She stared blankly out the window at the tops of the bare trees, then wrote a note to herself to remind her daughter not to smoke pot in public places…

Ah, the folly of youth! If only we knew then what we know now: some of our high school friends would join the Army to see the world, and some because they knew where to find better drugs. Some would go on to universities and seek refuge in the academe, if you could call what they found there “refuge.” Some of our friends married young and remarried only slightly older. Some of us took our Budding Bad Girl act on the road and came back credentialed. Mary’s philosophical observation made me laugh so hard I almost peed.

Miss Sasha, if you’re reading the blog today please remember it is your mother’s duty to pass along her – which is to say my – worldly wisdom, no matter how hilarious its acquisition: Don’t smoke pot in public places…