Eat Your Heart Out, Carrie Bradshaw……

  barbie solo in the spotlight

 I’m rubbing my hands together fiendishly like Oil Can Harry as he ties Pearl Pureheart to the railroad track.  Why?  Because I’m excited.  I’m going to write about my idol, my role model, my childhood friend.  The woman who transported me from the comfortable, cozy walls of my little bedroom in Pasadena, Texas to beautiful, fantastic adventures that only an imagination can ever go.  A ten-year old imagination, that is. 

I accompanied this friend as she led the cheerleading squad — well, I never was quite sure just where she cheered; I just know she wore a nifty cheer-leading uniform.  We tended to the sick at some undisclosed hospital where she was on staff as a registered nurse, complete with the sharp white hat and impressive blue cape.  I shopped in Paris with her.  I tended her fashionable boutique.  I cooked with her in her lavish, ultra-modern house.  I sang a solo in the spotlight at some swank club with her.  We roamed the friendly skies as airline stewardesses.  Of course we did the prom thing.  She and I picnicked together, swam together, modeled together, taught school together and yet managed to attend school at the same time. 

And, then, unfazed by all this exhausting sprinting around the globe, we still managed to slip into a beautiful pink peignoir — with our hair and makeup still pristine — and retire until the next day. 

For the changing interests in today’s girls, she has even ventured into the world of space; she takes modern girls along on her journeys as an astronaut.  If I’m not mistaken, I believe she has even dabbled her tiny feet in the swirling waters of politics. 

Interestingly yet ironically, she owned a warehouse of wedding dresses, one to keep up with every style-trend imaginable; yet, sadly, I don’t think she ever actually married. 

Barbie.  I’m talking about Barbie.  No last name.  Just Barbie.  You might think she was an experienced, older woman of the world, considering the limitless activities I just mentioned; but, ah, no.  She was merely a teenager. 

In fact, when she made her debut in the hearts of girls all over the world in 1959, she was described as:   “New for ’59, the BARBIE doll: A shapely teenage fashion Model! Retail price $3.00…” Yes.  A teenager. 

The funny part?  Barbie was designed by Ruth Handler, who supposedly modeled the doll after a smoldering, sort of exotica —well — oh, darn; I’ll just say it — prostitute character from a German comic strip, Bild Lilli.  The Germans designed a doll after a sultry semi-porno character, and she bears an extremely remarkable resemblance to Barbie — or rather, Barbie bears an extremely remarkable resemblance to Lilli.  (Bild Lilli, alas, came first).  Ah.  But, whereas the German Lilli is rather a — how can I say it delicately — strumpet, her American twin, Barbie, is the wholesome girl next door — if you ignore her ‘teenage’ 36-26-36 measurements and her sleek, Cleaopatra-type exotic eyeliner.   Handler named the American bombshell — who walked into American history wearing nothing but a sexy black-and-white one-piece swimsuit — after her daughter, Barbara. 

And let me tell you.  Barbie didn’t waste any time getting right down in the trenches with the rest of the girls in the dating department.  You would have thought that, with her exquisite looks and her dynamite Marilyn Monroe figure — not to mention her mysterious wealth — she could have had any man she wanted.  Oh, no.  To this day, no one has really been able to put a finger on why this classy, well-educated (and I can only guess at this, since she did lead a cheer leading squad, she had to have attended school somewhere), beautiful dame never elevated beyond dating a penniless, playboy good-for-nothing, although extremely good looking (if you went with the molded hair type in those early days) gigolo.  It was always her house, her car.  To my knowledge, this lothario Ken never owned a car.  No pride whatsoever.  But as long as Barbie tolerated it, who was Ken to — as Paul Simon said — “blow against the wind”?  I suppose you can’t blame the plastic Romeo.

No other doll in the magical world of kid-dom has probably been plunked in so many imaginary scenarios.  My Barbie (the blonde model) played Jane to a teddy bear Tarzan.  She was a movie star.  Sometimes she was a housewife; again, faithful teddy bear enacted the role of her husband.  I didn’t acquire Ken until later; but, fortunately, Teddy Bear never had any complaints.  I’m sure Teddy Bear grasped the old motto, “It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it.” 

Curiously, though, my Barbie never played — in my imagination anyway — the role she was created to be: a teenager.  She was much too sophisticated, too culturally advanced, to be just a kid. 

Ah, yes.  Before Carrie Bradshaw, the nubile 11-1/2” Barbie grasped the world of the free-spirited, uninhibited single woman.  Sex in the City?  Barbie invented sex in the city!  Did she sit around moping and writing about dates with loser guys?  Nah.  She never subjected herself to that; just kept ol’ Rico Suave Ken on a leash, always keeping her own ego on a secure pedestal.  Oh, Barbie, my hero. 

Barbie was everything every girl wanted her to be.  Any career.  Any nationality.  Any hair color.  Barbie just was. 

So eat your heart out, Carrie Bradshaw.  You could never be half the woman Barbie is.  Only in your dreams! 

But, then, think about it.  Can anyone compete with a beautiful, sexy, talented, sophisticated girl who has been around for 50 years and yet is still … a teenager?  Try and beat that, Carrie.

 

 

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Do Guys Who Wear Glasses…?

 Harold_Lloyd_in_A_Sailor-made_Man

What is the old adage?  Do girls make passes at —- no, that’s not it.  It’s “Do guys make passes at girls who wear glasses?”  Ah, that age-old question. 

I mean, when Dorothy Parker’s famous quote hit print in 1937 — “men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses” —  it cemented the concern in spectacle-wearing dames from that day forward.  Doomed them to a life void of passes from gents.  The poor Janes were cursed for having four eyes. 

Didn’t anybody ever stop to wonder if girls make passes at guys who wear glasses?  Why did Parker single out girls to be the heirs of that blight?

I don’t suppose we’ll ever know.  But thinking about it did make me realize something: I adore men who wear glasses!  I’m not sure why, though.  I study men I know who wear glasses.  I look close at photos in magazines of men who wear glasses.  And I wonder.  What is the allure? 

Well, I’m not sure.  But I can tell you this…..

Anybody who knows me knows I’m a big fan of silent films; and, right up there with my beloved Rudolph Valentino is Harold Lloyd, the comedic genius of the silent era.  (Photo above).  Any comedy lover is denying themselves a huge treat if they don’t check out this man’s films.  His talent is unparalleled; and I laugh out loud when watching his antics.  He didn’t need sound to be funny.  

But what really attracts me to him?  His glasses!  Those horn-rimmed spectacles that stand between me and those you-know-there’s-a-tiger-lurking-behind-these-specs eyes; the optical paraphernalia that promises mystery just the other side of those two circles of glass.  A terribly handsome, sexy man perches behind those frames. 

If you don’t count Timothy from my second grade classroom, then Harold Lloyd is the object of my first imaginary love affair with a man who wears glasses.  I fell in love with the silent hunk with the manly charisma and boyish good looks the second I laid eyes on him. 

Oh, I know what you’re going to say.  It’s the Clark Kent syndrome.  You’re going to tell me that I think there’s a Superman behind those specs.  Nah.  It’s not that.  Or is it?  

You just might be right.  I stumbled across an interesting piece about him; and this piece would not only interest Superman lovers, but Harold Lloyd fans as well.  Seems that the character, Clark Kent, was based partly on Harold Lloyd.  Who knew?  And I found it even more interesting that Kent’s name was derived from combining the names of two actors, Clark Gable and Kent Taylor.  Go figure. 

So my darling Harold is a super man after all!

But still.  I couldn’t have known that in second grade, when I daydreamed about Timothy; but I still had the most agonizing crush on him.  Later, in high school, there was Michael.  And Alex.  Ricky.  And then later, Billy.  Bill.  Tom, my husband.  Well, he’s a bygone memory, but it had nothing to do with his glasses —- why, the glasses were his redeeming feature!

Forgive me for indulging this wicked pleasure; but I will tell you this delicious secret.  To me, there is something so very sexy about a man stopping to take off his glasses before he begins to — well, “neck.”  There.  Oh, geez, I said it.  Yes. I admit it.  What a wildly wonderful experience, as a guy stops to pull off his glasses and, with that careful deliberation (partly not to break them, of course) folds them shut and sets them on the table.  Now he’s ready for business.  Now sit there and tell me that is not kind of sexy?  He’s undressing without undressing? 

Oh, calm down.  I never “necked” with Timothy in second grade!  But maybe, just maybe, I sensed, even at that delicate age, the future allure those pieces of metal or plastic and glass would have on me. 

So.  To my darling Harold.  To Timothy, Michael, Alex, Bill, Billy — and Tom — wherever you are, I salute you!  May the women  you meet make passes at you!  May the women you meet see the Clark Kent hiding there!

 

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Happy Birthday, Thirty-Years-Old!

mother and child

 My family-themed blogs this year have been dealing with my feelings about my father’s death.  They’ve been heart breaking for me; but they’ve been healing. 

Today I’m dedicating my blog to another family member — my daughter. 

Today is the thirtieth anniversary of the most excruciatingly painful day of my life.  Aaarrggghhh.  The day I gave birth to my one and only child. 

Every year on this day, I force my beloved daughter to relive the agony and the ecstasy of that day, May 20, 1979.  It’s only fair, isn’t it, that she should have to be reminded of the horrific pain I endured?  Of course it is. 

I’ve already emailed, her, recounting that thirty years ago, at this very minute, I realized that the gas pains I experienced seemed to have a rhythm to them — a perfect, every-ten-minute sort of rhythm.  I was naïve.  I still didn’t make the connection that she was on her way. 

I’ll remind her shortly that at 8:00 a.m., I suspected these gas pains might indeed be labor; and that I told her father I was pretty sure the time had come.  I assured him we didn’t need an ambulance, and that he didn’t need to run through red lights.  He’d seen too many television shows, and I guess he was afraid he’d be forced to deliver our child in the car if he didn’t drive like a bat out of hell to the hospital. 

At 9:50 a.m., I’ll recount the story of how I was in the labor room, ready to start the process of earnest delivery.  No more playing around with gas pains.  No going back.  It had begun.

At this point, I’d like to make her feel guilty.  I’d love to tell her that I endured hours and hours of horrible pain. 

But I can’t. 

The truth?  Ah.  Epidurals.  Labor was like a Sunday picnic.  I say a ‘Sunday’ picnic, because she was born, relatively quickly, on a Sunday, at precisely 3:56 p.m.  I never felt another thing after the wonderful epidural.  Oh, sure, I did a lot of pushing and puffing.  But felt no pain.  This birthing thing was a piece of cake.

Her father had a more difficult time than I.  I couldn’t see him behind me, but I did hear the nurse say, “Are you going to faint?  Do you need to lie down?”  when the doctor pulled out a pair of forceps.  Who cared about him?  I was busy with two nurses pressing on my belly, pushing like I was a tube of toothpaste. 

Now this is the part I love most to tell my daughter every year.  The part where the doctor held her up and said, “It’s a girl.”  I tell her the same thing every year — every single year for thirty years:  that I cried and how my heart burst with love and I thought, “I’m so happy to have a girl.” 

8lbs, 12-1/2 ounces of girl.  Beautiful, smooth face, thick black hair.  Perfect. 

Our thirty years as Mother and Daughter have not been a fairy tale.  No parent/child relationship is.  But never, for one single second have I ever stopped to wish I had it to do over again.  Even if I had experienced hours and hours of torturous labor, I still wouldn’t have regretted her. 

My daughter.  I named her Lyndie Nicole.  It translated to ‘beautiful successful young woman.”  And she has done her name justice.  She is beautiful.  She is strong.  She is one of the smartest women I know and I admire her. 

If the truth were to be told, there have been times in our thirty years that she has been the adult and I have been the child.  Times we would be so broke, and yet she would be the one reminding me that at least we had a roof over our heads and a car to drive. 

Would that I had been as mature as her.

That’s her.  Strong.  Optimistic, even in the darkest of times.  Everybody is good in her eyes. 

So, my daughter, I’m only pretending to dwell on the labor pains of your birth.  It’s like they say.  You really do forget the pain.  Oh, not that our thirty year journey has not had its pains.  It has.  But, again, I would never change a thing.  I have no regrets for deciding to have you.  I can’t imagine what my life would be if I didn’t have you.

You are married now; someone else takes care of you.  Oh, and I know you take care of him, too, just like you did me.  He’s a lucky guy. 

I’m lucky, too. 

Happy, birthday, my beautiful daughter.  Here’s to another thirty years.  I love you with all my heart. 

 

 

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Happy Birthday, Valentino

son-of-the-sheik1

Ah.  I knew some excuse would come along for me to write about one of my most beloved fantasy men.  One of my favorite actors.  One of the most handsome men in my mind’s menagerie of gorgeous hunks. 

Rudolph Valentino.  The original gorgeous hunk.  The original heart throb.  The man who put the Latin Lover on the map of women’s hearts.  The sleek, brooding panther who invented “bedroom eyes”.  The young film idol who rode onto the screen in 1921 and put the word “sheik” into the world’s vocabulary, making the word an icon that symbolized exotic passion and smoldering eyes.  The first Great Lover of the Silver Screen. 

Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Piero Filiberto Guglielmi was born on this day, in 1895, in Castellaneta, Italy.  Today is his 114th birthday.  So—happy birthday, Valentino! 

I’m not going to go into a lengthy biography.  I only want to dedicate a birthday card to the man who came here in 1913, as a kid of 18.  The kid who, by the age of 26 became the biggest male sex symbol in history by shocking the world with his exotic, erotic tango scene in “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”. 

The story behind this legendary role was the stuff dreams were made of — a proverbial but true “rags to riches” story.  A powerful screen writer, June Mathis, by chance spotted him in a miniscule role in a film and knew she’d found “her” man for the role of Juan Gallardo in the much-anticipated production of “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” — the role that every big-name movie star vied for.  She used her weight to get the unknown, dark-skinned kid in the lead role for the film; her hunch paid off.  Rudolph went to bed the night of the premier as a nobody immigrant kid from Italy — a bit part player, usually cast as a “heavy” because of his dark coloring — and woke up a sensation with the face that would launch women’s hearts to romantic depths until this very day. 

The primo celebrità of all time was born.

When he played the role of Ahmed Ben Hassan in “The Sheik”, bringing to life the sweltering sexuality of Edith Hull’s novel of the same name, he only cemented his standing as the greatest screen lover of all time.  A position which, in my mind, has never been usurped. 

Rudolph Valentino.  You might have never seen one of his films.  But very few can hear the name and not immediately summon a vision of romance.  Even if you can’t place his face, you know when you hear the name Valentino that it means romance, it means sensuality, seduction.  You just know it.  Your mind is immediately swept to black lace and tangos, blacker than black hair, hypnotic eyes, kisses on the palms of hands, romance under the desert stars, lips speaking silent words of passion, tuxedoes, swank grace, feline masculinity. 

Behind the bigger than life veneer, though, stood a man who actually was very simple and very much in awe of his sex symbol status.  A man who loved good books and owned an extensive library.  A man who loved poetry (even had a book of beautiful poems published), good music, art, and who knew several languages.  An extremely educated man.  He loved animals.  He fenced, rode horseback with the skill of a seasoned equestrian (did most of his own riding in his films, even the dangerous scenes).  He loved to cook, especially for friends in his own home.  He was a man whose real life was a far cry from the sizzling persona on the screen — a sweet, decent, loving man.  A man who wanted desperately to shake his “sheik” image and find serious roles — he was, in fact, a very good actor. 

He separated from his wife, Natacha Rambova, in 1925.  Their parting at the train station was a highly publicized event  — a photo journalist feeding frenzy.  Photos still remain of their parting kiss as she stood on the train steps.  They were to never meet again in life. 

On August 15, 1926, during a stop in New York City for a promotional tour for his final film (tragically, no one could know it was indeed to be his last film), “The Son of the Sheik,” Valentino was stricken with an attack caused by a perforated ulcer.  He was hospitalized in New York and lingered until August 23, then succumbed to complications of this condition. 

His passing affected the public in a way unlike anything the world had ever seen.  Public pandemonium ensued.  At only 31 years old, The Great Lover was dead.  Over 100,000 mourners packed the streets in New York where his body lay in state.  His body was returned to California to be interred, where it still remains, in Hollywood Forever Cemetery. 

I’m not sure why I’m doing this tribute to him.  I have nothing to add that isn’t already common knowledge.  I suppose I do so, wishing that those who only think they know who Rudolph Valentino is would stop for a moment to know him.  Watch a silent film.  You’d be surprised how beautiful his films are — how really interesting silent films are in general.  A world of art that should be explored, where treasures of the senses wait, ready to delight. 

So, happy birthday, Rudolph Valentino.  You would have been 114 years old today.  My, my.  But, as tragic as your too-early death was, it served to forever stamp the picture of your youth, at the height of your beautiful life, forever in my mind.

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Dear Father

 

jonathan_seagull

I’m listening to Neil Diamond’s “Dear Father” from “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” right now.  Seems appropriate. 

 

Today is your birthday, Daddy.  You would have been 83.  I lost you on February 29, this year.  And, oh God, this is your first birthday away from us.  Before you tell me you’re in a better place, I do know that.  I find comfort in that.  Comfort in the fact you’re whole, healthy.  In fact, I still keep seeing visions of you at 18 years old, in the army.  Before I knew you.  And I tell myself it’s really you, not just a wishful thought.  It’s you, telling me you’re fine.  That you don’t need your oxygen machine anymore.  You can go anywhere you want now without having to lug your little portable oxygen device.  And you assure me that is something I should be happy about.  And I am.  Believe me, Daddy, I am. 

 

But.  Of course there is a ‘but’ to this.  I went to Walmart on the way home from work today, Daddy.  I needed to go the card aisle to get you a birthday card; and, damn it, I got hit with it.  Hit like a piano falling from a five thousand story building.  You are gone.  You are gone.  No more birthday cakes.  No parties.  No cards.  Never again. 

 

I mean, really.  Do you realize how hard it was to find the perfect card for you every year?  You hated those schmaltzy cookie cutter cards just as much as I did.  And they were not you.  So my yearly mission was to find the card — the card that reflected you.  And let me tell you.  It was hard.  Because you weren’t one of those Hallmark Daddies.  You were good ol’ Daddy, plain ol’ Daddy. 

 

The cards were right about one thing, though, Daddy.  Every single one of those pesky cards said, “I don’t tell you I love you as often as I should.”  How did those card writers know that most of us kids do not do that?  Well, I suppose they were all kids, too?  Well, they were right.  I did not tell you as often as I should.  Heck, looking back, I don’t suppose I told you much at all.  I figured you knew, anyway.  And I’m sure you did.  But I bet you would have loved to have heard it more often. 

 

Well, we won’t have to be bothered by those irritating American Greetings anymore, will we? 

 

Oh, Daddy, I wish it really did make me feel better to tell myself that.  That I’m glad to be relieved of that chore every year — that quest for the Ark of the Covenant of birthday cards, the Holy Grail of greetings. 

 

But it does not.  I’d gladly spend all night in stupid Walmart to find you a stupid card if you were just still here.  All night, I’d look for a card.   I wouldn’t care how sugary it was, how silly.  If you could just be here for me to give it to you. 

 

Well, I’ve whined enough.  Your birthday is nearly over now.  Good.  So maybe I’ll wake up tomorrow and not miss you so much?  Fat chance.

 

Daddy, I sure do miss you.  I miss you so much.  Didn’t get you a card.  But — wherever you may be — Happy, happy birthday.  I love you.

 

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Cry Me a River

camille 

I did something last night that I haven’t done in a long time.  I cried myself to sleep.  Yes, the old proverbial crying yourself to sleep.  And — surprise of surprises — it felt so wonderful.  In fact, if I’d remembered just how good it did feel, I’d have let myself go and done it sooner.

 

What did I cry about?  You name it, I cried about it.

 

I think it all started with Duncan Yo-Yo’s.  I stumbled on an advertisement for a vintage reproduction of the very same wooden Duncan Yo-Yo my father bought for my sister, brother and I when we were kids.  We couldn’t make the stupid thing do tricks, but my father could.  Oh, I remember watching him and thinking how talented he was.  I lost my dear father this January.  So that sweet memory made me cry. 

 

I cried about my daughter.  How much I love her.  How much I love my son-in-law.  And yet how I keep goofing up and making them want to hit me with a baseball bat and knock me unconscious.  I just can’t seem to get it right.  That made me cry.

 

I cried — or rather the writer in me cried when I fell into a grand funk — not the railroad — feeling I can’t write worth a flip.  Some days I feel like Margaret Mitchell, my writing seems so good to me.  Heck, no.  Some days I feel better than Margaret Mitchell.  On those days, I’m the undiscovered Pulitzer Prize winner.  Just a matter of being discovered.  But then.  But THEN — I get that smashing realization that I really just might not be that good.  In fact, a friend who is talented lent his hand at helping to critique and comment on my work-in-progress.  Oh, the feeling of realizing that your story might be a good idea, but someone with much greater talent ought to be writing it.  Someone with a greater talent could do your own story more justice.  He assured me that I indeed could write it; in fact, it could only be done by the person whose dream it was.  He was right, and I believe him.  But by the time I grow to that level of talent, I will be too feeble to type or write anymore.   That was a discouraging thought.  And that made me cry.

 

I cried because I think I may have lost a friend.  Oh, it’s just an internet friend.  But friends are friends to me, whether I can see their faces or not.  Everybody knows by now that internet friends turn out sometimes to be really, really good buddies; and, just like regular buddies, it smarts when their time in your life has run its course.  It smarts a lot.  Just as much as if they were right there in person.  But I feel they are put in our paths for a reason, and I try to find the good in that.  I think this friend opened up for me the panoramic splendor of what I can be as a writer.  If that’s all I was supposed to reap from the friendship, then I’ll take that and run with it.  And be grateful.  But I’ll still cry about it.

 

Then I cried for the friends I do have.  The friends whose shoulders reach for miles and miles when they’re needed.  Who send sweets through the mail.  Who read your story, no matter how many times you change it.  Who boost you up by promising with you that you’ll go on a joint book signing tour.  Because you’ll be just that successful.  Who care about you because you’re you.  Even if some of them are only internet, too, their mailboxes are perpetually open for you.  No matter how much you cry.  That made cry. 

 

I cried because while I was crying, my cat Buddy just reclined next to me, watching, quietly letting me just cry.  Gotta love him for his acceptance of me.  In a goofy, sentimental way, that made me cry.  I had no way to let Buddy know I cried about him.  Maybe he’ll know somehow. 

 

Then, somehow, it all came full circle and I realized something.  I was too stoic to cry as much as I should have when my father passed away this year.  I fought crying like the plague.  But when that Duncan Yo-Yo came across my path this week, I knew.  I knew.  It was time.  And wrapped up in a package of every poignant thing in my life, I knew it really was all about Daddy. 

 

For the New Year, I’m trying to eat healthier.  So I probably won’t succumb to Blue Bell Rocky Road to comfort myself.  I don’t even think I’ll try to write.  I think I’ll cry again.  I liked it.  It felt good.  What is the song?  “Cry Me a River”?  Well, I think I’ll do that. 

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I Don’t Like Shirley Temple

wee-willie-winkie-mclaglen-temple

 

Anyone who knows me knows I love my men.   I love my Valentino, my Gene Kelly, my Alessandro Gassman and Russell Crowe.  Hey, I’m just human.  I’m a red blooded woman who appreciates a handsome face and physique like the rest of you. 

 

But what do I really like?  What do I really dream about?  Nah, not what you think.  I don’t really want to lollygag around in 120 degree heat with sand in my hair with a Sheik like Rudolph Valentino.  If I have to dance my feet off to keep up with Gene Kelly—well, enough said. 

 

What do I want in real life?  For everyday?  For the real me?  Ah.  That’s easy.  Victor McGlaglen.  Remember him?  Big, lovable, strong, flashing smile, just a hint of naughtiness who always played the lug who lost out to the main star of the film.

 

Oh, he’s just an icon for the real men like him, just a movie star.  I realize that.  But still a symbol of what the perfect man, in my mind, is. 

 

In real life, who needs smoldering bedroom eyes when I’ve had a bad day at work?  Who feels like waltzing around the room to the soundtrack of “An American in Paris” when all I want to do is sit and watch a movie?  Mmm.  Watching a movie with a Herculean form like Victor.  Now that’s the perfect evening for me.

 

And yet—-and yet…….

 

Alas.  Seems he likes a different sort of woman.  And here’s a little tidbit I wrote once in protest of his poor taste. 

 

*********************************************************************************

The wind howls like a hundred moaning women.  Not that I’ve ever actually heard a hundred moaning women.

Something hits the windows.  Tree limbs, I hope.  Just tree limbs.  In my imagination, which has now grown to monstrous proportions, the raps at the window are the fingers of the hundred moaning women.  Only now they’ve multiplied into the fingers of two hundred moaning women.

The classic film station is on television and I’m watching it desperately, knowing very soon the electricity is going to be lost.  I’m watching Victor McGlaglen.  What the heck is the film?  What is this film?  Oh, who cares?

Victor McGlaglen. Wouldn’t it be nice to have him here now?  I mean, look at him!  Look at him. A mountain of a man!

 

Oh, look. Shirley Temple.

 

Now why in tar nation is a magnificent bulwark of strength like Victor McGlaglen being wasted on a scrap of a girl like Shirley Temple?  When there is a typhoon at my door and I’m alone?  Go get someone your own size, Temple.  She’s just a snort of a kid and she gets all the good guys!  Not fair.
You know, I’m really beginning to loathe you, Shirley.

The two hundred moaning women are now legion.  And they’re not
moaning any more. They’re screeching.

Even though McGlaglen is wearing a kilt, he’s still very sexy and—big.  If his sheer size didn’t send the screeching women running, his brilliant smile certainly would.He’s too nice for you, Temple, you pint sized vixen. I really don’t like you, Shirley!.  Very soon the electricity will be gone and her chubby little dimpled face will disappear from the screen with a silent flash.  Her and Victor.  But it serves him right, for falling for her wee willie winkie performance. By the way, what IS a wee willie—-oh, never mind.

The more I watch this film, the more I really resent Shirley Temple.  Oh, she’s so phony.  But Victor falls for her schmaltzy act anyway.  

Just keep it up, you annoying little curly topped snippet.

The screeching women are really, really kind of scary.  A monsoon is carrying out a horror scene right outside my windows and yet Shirley and Victor are smiling and—oh, wait, no.  Victor is smiling.  Shirley is crying. Good. Serves you right, old girl.  Whatever is troubling dear Shirley, I’m quite sure she deserves.

Why do I hate Temple?  Because if Victor was here with me, those howling banshees outside in the cyclone force winds wouldn’t bother me.  Everything would be hunky dory.  I’d feel safe. And, heck.  Even if I did get swooped away in a twister’s fury like Dorothy’s house, at least I’d go with a smile on my face because Victor was with me.  And because Shirley Temple would be mad.  For once.

 

 

 

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“Just Daddy”

 

 

This has been the hardest thing for me to write—ever.  No, no.  Not because grief consumed me and I couldn’t bring myself to think about it.  Oh, sure.  I’ve grieved.  I still grieve.  But the obstacles in the path of my thought process haven’t been emotional.  Really. 

 

My problem with writing about my Daddy?  I just couldn’t think what to say.  That’s all.   In the big scheme of things, he was just….Daddy.  My Daddy.  Just because he was the leading man at the house I grew up in wouldn’t really make him a figure of interest to anybody who didn’t know him.

 

We buried my father on February 2, 2009.  When the lid to the casket closed, a panic swooped over me.  I would never, ever see him again this side of Heaven.  Never.  And with the closing of that lid, everything I could have, would have, should have asked him about himself was sealed forever.  No more chances to “get to know him better.”  I had my chance and all I could do was hope I had learned enough. 

 

I grew up in an era when so many dads were—well—just dads.  They married our mothers which made them husbands and then they became fathers.  Simple.  Having kids was just part of being married for so many men in this era.  Part of the job—just went with the territory.  Well, that’s how it seemed to me.  So, to me as a kid growing up, he was just plain ol’ Daddy.  Nothing special.  Just a guy doing his job.

 

Oh, sure.  There were the other fathers, the exceptions.  And sometimes, as a little girl, I seethed with jealousy toward my friends whose fathers were the exceptions.  The dads who called their daughters “Princess”.  I honestly convinced myself that my dad would have been a better dad if he would have only called me “Princess.”  But my father, plain ol’ Daddy, didn’t anoint me with that coveted name.  Oh, well, I survived the beastly abuse of not being the little princess of my daddy’s eye.  I somehow managed to shoot to adulthood as a fully functional, well adjusted woman in spite of this atrocity. 

 

The beauty of it all?  I learned he couldn’t have been a better father.  Even considering the fact that he never had a pet name for me, that he didn’t take me fishing, that he didn’t play games with me—he still couldn’t have been a better father.

 

He supported his family on $2.15 an hour with his Post Office job (before it was union and before it was called Postal Union) and pushed a broom at a junior high school (in the days before they were called ‘middle school’) after work to make extra money. 

 

Times were hard, money was short.  Suppers consisted often of pinto beans and cornbread or, on Sundays we ate scrambled eggs (never knew the Sunday egg connection—have made a mental note to find out from my mother).  But we ate.  We didn’t want.  We were happy.  We were a family and our house was a warm sanctuary. 

 

I thought I knew my daddy as well as I needed to.  He wasn’t my best friend.  He was my father.  The man who raised me.  In the world I lived in (this is the world before time-outs replaced spankings), your daddy was just your daddy, and that was all he was supposed to be.  What more did you need to know?

 

Well, I had a startling revelation that he might be a little more than that when I got married.  The morning I was scheduled to leave my girlhood home to move to Alabama as a married woman, I got up early to say ‘good-bye’ to my daddy before he left for work.  He hugged me so tight that I couldn’t break his hold.  When he finally let go, he’d been crying.  Tears were in his eyes.  How dare he?  This man who was supposed to be as indifferent as I was?  Crying?  Yes.

 

From then on I realized he was more than just my father, but was a man with feelings and a personality I hadn’t gotten to know.  He was a man who had a whole life before I came along, a man I never knew. 

 

Thank God for revealing this to me while he was still alive.  For letting me learn about my father—the man who served his country in World War II in the Eleventh Airborne and earned a Purple Heart.  The man who did double duty and served in the Navy on The U.S.S. Wasp.   The man who sort of looked like a combination of William Holden and Paul Newman when he was young.  The good looking man who married my mother and conceived me and my siblings.

 

The man who, as it turns out, actually had a fascinating life, but who to me was still just Daddy. 

 

 

 

 

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You Can’t Drive 55…Even if it’s Sexy?

55

 

 

 

 

“You Can’t Drive 55…..Even if it’s Sexy?”

 

 

Hey, you!  You know who you are!  The Jeff Gordon Wannabe who tailgated then passed me this morning like a bat out of hell, weaving in and out of traffic with perfect synchronization—like you were in the Daytona 500. 

 

Okay, okay, I have to admit.  The professional drivers—the guys who lap up the tracks in the professional races—the guys who make the big bucks to drive at one million miles an hour—they are sexy.  Yes, there is something very sexy about them.  Jeff Gordon.  Bobby and Terry Labonte.  And my idol, Richard Petty.  Their slick, colorful high performance machines.  Ah!  Male adrenaline crashing head on with female hormones.  Sexy.  And don’t forget the money.  The big money. 

 

But you, my friend.  Not sexy.  As you pass me with lightning speed in your—is it Toyota?  Some compact Japanese model.  Sometimes you’re at the wheel of a pick up.  Yes, you.  Big Dog Daddy.  You da man!  Actually, you’re more than likely ‘da man’ with high blood pressure which is aggravated by an overwhelming need to prove your masculinity through your vehicle.  Oh, you probably do have an adoring female following.  Why, if studies were done, I’m sure the polls would prove that a percentage of females—ranging in ages from twelve to thirteen—-do find your reckless mobile theatrics very alluring.  To them, you probably are the next best thing to Jeff Gordon.  Without the millions, of course. 

 

Why am I not addressing reckless female drivers?  Oh, I could.  I should.  But I wanted to address the male NASCAR hopefuls so I could get to the point of this blog.  To tell you about the other male driver I saw while on my morning commute.

 

Yes.  You.  The guy who cruises Highway 90 every morning in your plain white, sparkling clean Chevy pick up.  I don’t what you look like.  That’s not important.  What is important is the way you drive the speed limit, letting all the hot headed runts pass you by. 

 

You.  The man who doesn’t feel the need to prove your virility through speeding.  Something in the calm, unhurried way you motor through the five a.m. traffic at a relaxed pace proves you’re in control.  You call your own shots.  You’re where you want to be. 

 

Something in the way you coast the road without succumbing to the high volume pressure around you makes you incredibly sexy, incredibly secure.  Incredibly masculine because self control is POWER. 

 

Then, too, you could be just sleepy and bored and just meandering your way to your job so slow because you don’t want to go.  You’d rather be fishing.  But, hey.  That’s even kind of sexy in itself. 

 

A man cruising the highway who can go 55.  Ah.  Nothing’s sexier.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Secret Love, Lawrence Goodbear

“Lawrence Goodbear”

 

 

 lawrence-goodbear

 

 

Want to know something?  I have a secret lover.  Well, I call him a lover for want of a better word. 

 

His name is Lawrence Goodbear.  I’ve never even met him.

 

My father and I thumbed through the pages of his World War II album, the photographs he’d taken when he was in Okinawa.  Smiling faces of happy-go-lucky soldiers in all their black and white glory—so happy-go-lucky, in fact, you’d never know they were there on big business—-war.  One gorgeous, well-built Adonis named Warren.  A handsome boy with a winning smile named Ortega.  And….Lawrence Goodbear.

 

There he stood with a slight, knowing grin on his face with one leg jauntily raised and propped on the ruins of an old concrete set of steps.  One dark, beautifully sculpted hand draped over the concrete and the other hand resting on a slender hip.  A ring flashed in the sun on his left hand—one of those rings fellows used to make in high school out of steel—you know the ones.  All the guys wore them. 

 

I know very little about him.  Daddy only knew he was Indian and he thought he might have hailed from Oklahoma.  All I know is he immediately became my World War II Valentino with his ethereal features and ravens hair, the second I locked eyes on his photo.  So lithe, yet with such subtle power in those lissome limbs.

 

Although his beautiful face was a portrait of serenity and gentility, Daddy said Lawrence couldn’t hold his booze very well and would get really rowdy when he drank.  He would often grab the diminutive Japanese cooks around the necks with a good natured grip then thump them on the tops of their heads with his knuckles.  As Daddy would tell this, I could picture it so clearly.  I’d already fallen in love with his dark, gentle beauty but the vision of his rambunctious shenanigans just made my “crush” deeper. 

 

That picture of Lawrence Goodbear is over sixty years old.  Yet as those soft dark eyes stare up from the black and white depths, I feel like he’s NOW, real.  He may be long passed.  He may still be among us.  Somewhere.  If he is still living, he’s no longer the supple, youthful dark Michelangelo’s David that is he is the photo. 

 

Like I said, the moment I laid eyes on the photo, I fell in love with him.  He’s one of those rare enigmas that I’d give anything to have known, to have been around when the photo was taken, to have heard his voice, see how tall he really was, known if his skin was as soft as it looked, if his hair was as thick as it seemed.   Was there some girl’s initials engraved on his steel ring?  Did he have a girlfriend? 

 

So, if he’s still out there somewhere with time claiming its right to his youth, I’m still crazy about him.  If he’s gone on to a final resting place, I’m still crazy about him.  My secret love.  Lawrence Goodbear.

 

 

 

 

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