Monday, October 31, 2011

Monday Reruns: The Morning After

(original post-date: November 3, 2010)

In the interest of full disclosure, I will confess that I am not writing this on Wednesday morning. Rather, it’s Tuesday night, and I’ve got the TV on in the other room. I’m listening with my left ear as I type with both hands. My mind is taking things in as I put things out. Call me versatile.

As with most years, I have been intrigued by the campaigns and rallies that have led up to this day of voting. In college, I majored in Poli-Sci, and electoral politics always held my interest most. Electoral politics reflect a combination of so many things: the personalities of elected officials and those who would like to hold office; the mood of the nation; the mood of individual groups within the nation; the economy; the income classes; the tragic tenacity of racism; what’s happening around the world; hopes and dreams; frustrations and difficulties.

This electoral season has been phenomenal on all those fronts. And what is abundantly clear is that a whole lot of people are pissed off. I’ve been sharing a quip for a few months now: if we Californians reinstate “Governor Moonbeam” as our chief executive, and if we simultaneously legalize marijuana, then make your moving plans. Please join me on the West Coast as we await the apocalypse.

That’s a joke, but the sentiment underlying it is not. Our country is having a serious meltdown. It actually might be a good idea for us to gather together around a fire, load up a very large bong, and sing Kumbaya for a while.

What concerns me most about the current angst is that it seems people are putting all the blame on the present. And, in my opinion, that is a huge mistake.

A lot of what is messed up today goes back to Reagan and deregulation. There also are the travesties of the first eight years of the current century…

I was on Amazon the other day, and I noticed their large advertisement for a book that will be released on November 9th. George W. Bush’s Decision Points.

I immediately questioned the title. Shouldn’t it be called Decidering Points?

As I thought about it, I realized there are many possibilities for the title of Dubya’s memoir…

How about Moments When Dick Cheney Told Me What to Do… ?

No? Okay then, here’s another option: How I Came to Support Halliburton While Hopin’ to Please Ol’ Pappy.

What do you mean you don’t like that one?

Too wordy, you say?

Alright then, how about My Delusion Continues.

Yeah, I agree, that might give him too much credit for introspection.

Of course, something extremely direct might be refreshing. Like… Check Out All These Ways I Fucked Up!

And here’s one that’s sort of obtuse: A Spine is a Terrible Thing to Waste.

(By which I’m speaking from the perspective of a librarian, not an anatomist.)

Update from my left ear: the news station I am listening to has projected Jerry Brown for governor.

Can you imagine spending $141 million in pursuit of a job and NOT getting it?

If tonight’s projections hold true tomorrow, then that’s what Meg Whitman did.

Everybody should be angry about that waste of too-much-money.

And if you think about it... and if you do so without partisan prejudice or any other ‘ism’s that might influence your perspective, you will realize that you cannot logically blame the obscene scenario of Whitman’s campaign on the Obama administration.

You just can’t.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Meet Me at Michelle's!

Dear Friends, Followers, and Passers-By,

I am very pleased today to be a guest at Michelle Fayard's blog. Michelle bills herself as a "pre-published author of edgy historical novels," and I will add that she is a generous presence in the blogosphere. She hosts fellow writers regularly and so provides a wonderful opportunity to build the dialogue with new friends and potential readers. I hope you will hop over to her site, where you will find Michelle's interview with me as well as the opportunity to win a copy of my novel, The Somebody Who.

See you there?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday Reruns: Approaching Los Angeles

(original post-date: October 27, 2010)

This past Sunday, after a week in Virginia, I headed to Dulles to take an afternoon flight back to L.A. When my seating group was called to board the plane, I followed the pack down the walkway. Shortly, I was at Row 13, where I heaved my little wheeled carry-on into the overhead bin and settled into my window seat. There, I closed my eyes for most of the ten minutes that passed before take-off.

I wasn’t trying to sleep, however. In fact, I soon began eavesdropping on the conversation taking place in the row behind me.

That dialogue began when the guy assigned to the middle seat arrived. The two women who would ride on either side of him had already settled in, and the gal on the aisle was quite cheerful as she stood so he could claim his place.

When one of the women made a joke about the middle seat, he said “That’s what I get for making my reservations three days ago.”

His new companions then learned that he was traveling to L.A. for a conference – some kind of software thing (that’s when I tuned out for a bit). And when, a minute or two later, window-seat lady asked him where he was from, he said Harrisonburg, Virginia. That got me listening again, only because I, too, was raised in the Shenandoah Valley.

He shared that he was going to the West Coast for the first time, and he was staying with a friend in Burbank. He also was looking forward to doing some sight-seeing, though he expected he’d only have about two full days at the end of the week.

And that is when the advice began. That is also when I began to cringe occasionally. As it turned out, both of the women on either side of him live in L.A., and as it turns out, they both live on Los Angeles’ west side.

I silently concurred with window-seat woman when she discouraged him from trying to go to Long Beach. Not that Long Beach doesn’t have much to offer – it absolutely does. It’s just that getting there and back (from Burbank) could possibly take four hours on the freeway. (Not the best use of vacation time.)

Aisle-seat woman fully embraced her travel agent role as the flight moved west, and it really threw me when she suggested he spend time on Melrose.


A part of me wanted to unfasten my seat belt, pop up on my knees, and turn around so as to present my head and shoulders to the three of them.

Melrose?! I wanted to say. Are you kidding? That is SO twenty years ago!

Aisle-seat woman continued with her suggestions. West Hollywood is nice, she offered, and yes, he should see the Hollywood sites – the typical tourist attractions, such as Grauman’s Chinese, etc. – but, she cautioned, Hollywood is “very dirty” and “you probably don’t want to go east of there.”

What?! I wanted to say. Do you not know?

Seriously. “East of there” is where the action is. East of there is Los Feliz. And Silver Lake. East of there is where the cookie cutter gives way to eclectic. And if you think it’s only for the unwashed, don’t say that to (be-still-my-heart) Jon Hamm, who apparently lives in my ‘hood. Apparently, he’s been seen in the little one-of-a-kind restaurants. Word has it, too, that he likes the no-franchise coffee shops that offer hot beverages in common English sizes.

(I’m not suggesting the Harrisonburg guy would respond to the Jon Hamm reference, but come on, west side girls, get with the program!)

Okay, I’ll admit it – I’m not a big fan of L.A.’s west side. I’ve always found it much too monochromatic. In fact, if L.A. were only its west side, I’d have moved back east 16 years ago.

On the other hand, the west side girls were absolutely right in encouraging him to visit the beach communities. One of them even knew to recommend the ever-funky Venice boardwalk. Good for her.

But… could they tell him, as a sightseer, the absolute best way to get there? From Burbank? Unfortunately, they could not. In fact, I believe one of them recommended a route that included the 10 Freeway. So wrong!

Here’s the deal: if you’re ever in L.A., and you want to see the beach, pretend you’re staying with a friend in Burbank. Because no matter where you’re staying, it will behoove you to find the Ventura Freeway and head west.

From there, take the Topanga Canyon Boulevard exit, heading south. Then, prepare to be awed. You’ll climb a tall winding hill that affords breath-taking panoramic views of the Valley. Then, you’ll enter the canyon, which is phenomenally rustic. You will be taking in that rusticity (great word, huh?) for probably 12 or 13 miles, and you will be blown away by the intensity of and changes in the landscape. Then, just when you wonder what could possibly come next, you’ll follow a curve in the road, and at an elevation that’s maybe 1,000 feet above sea level, you will see the grand Pacific Ocean. Your response will be audible.

… I know, I know. I should have told him.

It’s just that I felt like he already had been overpowered by women who know what they know. I was afraid I’d scare him. I also was tired. I needed to get home to my wacky neighborhood – the “dirty” one, just east of Hollywood.

But… now you know.

So: if you ever fly to L.A., and you sit next to some gal from the west side, ask her if she’s done that drive. And if she hasn’t, tell her she should.

I’m just sayin’.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


That's what I got this week.


Zilch. Nothing. Nada.

Neither a story nor an opinion...

But since so many people enjoyed learning about my cat, Lotto, in last week's post (scroll down to "Welcome Home" if you missed it), I thought I'd share some pix.


Looking regal on the bedroom bench. This was taken probably within a month or two of his arrival at my door in April, 2009.

Taken around the same time. He thinks it's funny that I gave him his own phonebook.

Probably a year later. Note, though, his weight has remained within 8 ounces of 11 pounds the whole time. I'm not kidding. It's all about the fur.

It seems wrong to post photos of Lotto and not also include the more senior cat here at Chez Katie.

What follows is a pic I took not too long ago.

As you'll see, Lotto adores Vesta (just as I do). And what is really cool is that -- despite her having no teeth (now 15, she had severe gum issues at an early age) -- Vesta harks back to Hemingway heritage, which means she has extra toes. And therefore extra claws! And so, she generally wins their mock battles, which are so much fun to watch.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday Reruns: My Literal Childhood: More Reflections

original post-date: October 20, 2010

In at least one previous post, I shared how, as a child, I had a tendency to interpret the meaning of things with a strong sense of the literal. I corrected my mother when she suggested that she might “tuck me in.” I assumed teachers were constantly bestowed with gifts by virtue of how many kids answered the roll call with “present.” I thought the phone’s busy signal indicated an inordinate amount of activity in the home being called…

Well, here’s another anecdote. It’s about the Beatles.

Back in the early- to mid-Sixties, our family had a few routines, and one of them occurred on Sunday nights. Martha and I would watch The Wonderful World of Disney as Mom and Dad would hang out in another part of the large basement room, preparing the main course of our Sunday night supper: square hamburgers (pre-made frozen patties) prepped in the electric frying pan and ultimately placed between two slices of white bread. Generally, dinner would be ready in time for The Ed Sullivan Show, which we would watch together, en famille.

The basement in question went through a nice metamorphosis during the summer of 1967, but before that, it was a little skanky. And on either side of the change were the insects and household creatures that are simply indigenous to where you live.

In our basement, the indigenous crop of insects included beetles, and although they showed up regularly, they never felt intrusive. A little less than an inch long and black in color, they always seemed innocent enough. (They certainly never seemed as gross as the cockroaches I would confront years later, when I lived in New York.) Beetles were simply part of rural life, and there was no denying our rural life: on the other side of the backyard’s barbed wire fence was a cow pasture (and the requisite cows).

So I guess it was late January, early February of 1964 when Mom started getting excited. She just couldn’t wait for the upcoming Ed Sullivan Show. “The Beatles!” she would say, enthusiastically. “The Beatles are going to be on Ed Sullivan!”

Just over six years old, I wasn’t up on current events, and because I never asked my mother to SPELL OUT her enthusiasm, I could only draw my own conclusions. So, for that week before the infamous debut of the Beatles in the states, I had a vision. I imagined these incredibly large bugs jumping through hula-hoops. I kid you not. And, by the way, if you were a kid my age watching Sullivan, you will have to admit that an act like that would not be out of the question. Sure, it might have made Topo Gigio and the venerable plate-spinners feel totally upstaged, but, come on, it could have happened!

Of course, and as we all know, it didn’t happen as I had imagined it. No insects jumping through hula-hoops that night, but rather a fabulous foursome of mop-headed boys, and among them, one who was (“sorry girls”) married.

Martha and I quickly identified our bachelors. For me, Paul. For my sister, George. And during the entire telecast, I don’t remember once looking back at the couch where Mom and Dad were sitting. I never once looked to see the joy that must undoubtedly have been spread across my Mom’s face. After all, she was the one who had been so excited about this event.

I do, though, remember so many instances, in the years thereafter, of jumping in the car when Mom would come to pick me up from school. Her smile broad, she’d share, “I just bought the latest Beatles album!”

I also remember working on a school report once. I was probably in 4th grade at the time. At that point, our family’s Beatles collection probably included no fewer than seven albums. As for my report? It was about friction, and a line therein contained the following phrase, “rubber souls help…”

My mother saw the line and was compelled to comment. “Look at that,” she said. “You’ve got two Beatle album titles in a row there!”

Of course, I could have corrected her in that moment. I could have pointed out to my mother that the album Rubber Soul is in the singular, not the plural. I think the thought even crossed my mind at the time. But I decided to dispense with any parsing. I clearly was growing into a different phase of my life.

Thanks to my mother and the band she introduced me to, I was beginning to view things a little less literally. And I would need that new mindset for the grey areas that lay ahead.

… In the liner notes of Flaming Pie, which – in my opinion – is the most Beatles-sounding of any album Paul McCartney has recorded since he became independent, there are comments from the artist regarding each song. I loved reading this note that Paul wrote about the song, The World Tonight: “The lyrics were just gathering thoughts. Like ‘I go back so far, I’m in front of me’ – I don’t know where that came from, but if I’d been writing with John he would have gone ‘OK, leave that one in; we don’t know what it means but we do know what it means.’”

I love that. We don’t but we do. It’s like spelling the name with a Bee or a Bea. Whatever is meant to take the stage will take the stage.

And history will unfold from there.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Welcome Home

More than two years ago, and just a day or two after he showed up at my door, I was curious about the breeding of the cat I would name Lotto.

I had a feeling he was a Maine Coon, and so I googled the name.

Within a hit, I saw a picture of a classic tabby Maine Coon.

Within a hit, I knew that was Lotto’s breed.

The description on fanciers dot com reinforced my conclusion: “Lynx-like tufting on the top of the ears...” (CHECK.) “The tail … at least as long as the torso.” (CHECK.) “ …most distinctive features … eyes … large, round, expressive…” (OH YEAH, BABY.)

Lotto’s personality emerged fairly quickly, and it followed the suggestions of those wise cat fanciers. Here’s more language I found on the site:

While Maine Coons are highly people-oriented cats, they are not overly-dependent. They do not constantly pester you for attention, but prefer to "hang out" with their owners, investigating whatever activity you're involved in and "helping" when they can. They are not, as a general rule, known as "lap cats" … Most Maine Coons will stay close by, probably occupying the chair next to yours instead.

Sure enough. To this day, Lotto hangs around me, and I love him for it. When I wash dishes at the sink, he sits on the counter and watches. When I work at my computer, he sits nearby, on his phone book. (Yes, Lotto has his own phone book. It’s the one I allow him to shred. It spares the others.) As for my lap, it took him about a year to consider its value as a resting place. I think that, because he saw Vesta sitting on it so often, he decided to give it a go. But, prior to that, his trespassings were clearly uncomfortable for him. He responded to my lap as if it were quicksand. He couldn’t wait to move on. To sit above me on the back of the couch. To watch over our world.

Yes, the fanciers have it right in most cases, but I’ve also realized – from reading the website’s descriptions – that Lotto is an exception.

According to the site’s language, Maine Coons “are not as vertically-oriented as some other breeds, preferring to chase objects on the ground and grasping them in their large paws.”

I beg to differ. Yes, Lotto’s paws are large, but the dude can catch, and he enjoys our games most when he’s positioned on the bed. From there, he’ll reach for the heavens.

In the bedroom, I stand in the open area and throw toys. From the bed, which is probably more than three feet off the ground, Lotto catches.

But I should be clear: I have not taught Lotto how to catch.

On the contrary, he has taught me how to throw.

… When I reviewed the website’s language on the Maine Coon’s growth potential, I was very impressed. It stated that most members of the breed “don't achieve their full size until they are three to five years old.” Although Lotto (now 3-and-a-half) has maintained his 11 pounds of body weight for a full two years, his coat has fooled me. Every month, something changes, and he looks bigger. Several weeks ago, when he was walking out of the room, I looked in amazement. “When the hell did you get jodhpurs?” I asked him.

But mostly, Lotto isn’t walking out of the room.

Mostly, Lotto is in the room with me.

… This past Monday night, I returned from 10 days on the East Coast, where I visited my mom, a few cousins, and some childhood friends.

I had a great time, but I also was happy to be home.

Happy to see my two cats.

And within an hour of my having parked my suitcase in the bedroom, Lotto joined me for a ritual he first introduced about a month into our cohabitation. Not two seconds after I sat on the toilet to pee, Lotto jumped in the tub and proceeded to pee over the drain.

It’s something we do together.

And it was totally his idea.

… There are all kinds of ways to make one feel welcomed home.

Lotto comes up with the best of them.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Monday Reruns: WORK, Dammit!

(original post-date: October 13, 2010)

Several months ago, through the disputable wonder that is Facebook, I reconnected with an old friend. And the timing was fortuitous. As it happened, she was only weeks away from traveling to the L.A. area to see her Dad. So, we made plans to get together.

On the day of our scheduled reunion, I found myself cleaning my apartment in anticipation of catching up with someone I hadn’t seen in 30 years. While reloading the Swiffer Duster, I thought about priming the CD player for a song that was part of our adolescent experience back in the mid-70s. But then I got sidetracked by the vacuum cleaner…

Later, after her arrival – which found us jumping up and down outside my apartment building as we squealed and hugged and squealed some more – we were settled on my living room couch in rapid-fire catch-up mode. On the one hand, it seemed as if we had been talking together only yesterday. On the other hand, we each had three decades worth of personal history to share.

At a certain point, I remembered the idea of providing a soundtrack from our youth.

“Hold on!” I said, interrupting our conversation. “I gotta find a CD.”

I then ran to my bedroom to retrieve the disc, and I quickly returned to set it up in the living room player.

My sound system, though, would not be cooperative. Sure, it would make busy moves, and it would click to convey that busy-ness, but no song was delivered as a result of its efforts.

I tried a few maneuvers that, in the past, had helped to kick the CD player into submission.

And then… I simply took a few steps back, looked at the machine intently, and yelled, “WORK, Dammit!”

Immediately, we heard the tender opening notes of Harry Chapin’s Taxi.

“I’ve got it on voice command,” I told my friend, smiling smartly.

If only.

(Voice command, my ass.)

The fact of the matter is this: I have a love/hate relationship with anything that involves a cord.

The love comes from what I get from the technology: music; netflix; the opportunity to share my writing in cyberspace; quick communication with my clients; and so on. The hate comes from the possibility that, at any moment, something could go wrong with that technology, and I feel completely powerless in those moments of malfunction.

More than two weeks ago, I bought an external hard drive, and then… I let it sit on the table for 10 days. I dreaded opening the box and going through the procedure of setting it up. Why? Because I might confront a problem.

(I’m still hoping to meet and fall in love with an IT Guy, but until that happens, I’m screwed.)

Finally, the other night, I got bold and took on the project of setting up the external hard drive. And as I was going through the install procedure (and, for the most part, it wasn’t difficult), I had an AHA! moment regarding technology and me. It is this: I don’t CARE how it works! Technology is simply not something I want to LEARN.

And that is very much the problem.

I am absolutely learning-oriented, and technology flies directly into the face of my modus operandi.

If I don’t care, then I’m not interested.

And if there is not a learning opportunity (that I care about – from my gut), then I’m definitely not going to stick around for all the hairy details.


End of discussion.

I don’t care what’s making the damn computer and all its software work. I don’t care if it’s a microchip or a fucking hamster on a treadmill. I don’t know megas from gigas, and I don’t even want to hear about them. You can just take that chatter to another Gates.

And speaking of names… the other night, after I plugged in the external hard drive and had moved on to the screen that allowed me to backup (but not to the 60s, unfortunately), the window indicated that the computer from which the hard drive was retrieving files was KATIENEW.

Seeing that title really jarred me for a minute. I swear, I have no idea where it got my name. (I know I didn’t introduce myself!)

But… maybe I shouldn’t complain.

It could have said KATIEOLD.

... I recently was sent an hysterical YouTube video that speaks to my frame of mind. It's about a Medieval Helpdesk, and the subtitles are therefore in English.

I just tried to load the YouTube here, and I am growing increasingly impatient. So, here's the link:

... I'm over it. I'm just.. over it!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Help: Memories from my Upbringing in Virginia

The movie has been out for a while, so I suspect that if you had intended to see The Help, you have done so. I saw it the first weekend of its release, and I was very moved by it. Among other things, I appreciated its depiction of the variety of relationships between whites and blacks during that era. As some of those scenes conveyed, the racist laws and customs of that time were much more cruel and inhumane than many of the white individuals living within that societal culture. With that in mind, I want to share some memories from my childhood…

On many occasions, we’d go to Grandma’s for “Sunday Dinner.”

In our corner of the Shenandoah Valley and in the world my father’s family occupied, Sunday Dinner took place at 1:00 in the afternoon, and turkey was always the main course.

Gathered around Grandma’s dining table, which was dressed in the finest linen and appointed with the best sterling, we’d partake of the meal that was delivered, in courses, by Hurley, Grandma’s cook.

When something was needed between courses, Grandma would ring the silver bell that was just north of her teaspoon. In response to that ring, Hurley would enter the room to receive her request.

Hurley would serve us throughout the meal, and – as a child – I never had a sense of our family collectively hurting Hurley.

In fact, Hurley always felt like family.

… My grandfather, who died 6-7 years before these memories, had founded a prep school in the small Virginia town where we all lived. And that prep school revealed – through its staffing – some southern ways. I didn’t even notice those “ways” until I was 14, which is when I entered the school as a sophomore.

It was a boarding school and so – even though my parents were less than 10 miles away – I boarded there. And so, every morning, my wake-up call came from George.

Every morning, one hundred plus of us adolescent girls would zombie our way down to the dining hall.

Every morning, George was there to make us smile and laugh.

George was awesome.

Into my third and final year at Fairfax, I realized his magic: Within one week of a fall semester, he knew every new girl’s name. Every girl. And he loved the opportunities he had, as Head Waiter, to wake us out of our somnambulant states and get us smiling.

Yes, we were all white, he was black, and something in that picture was terribly wrong, BUT: George loved his job, and we loved George.

… I remember the end of junior year, when my dear friend Barb needed to find a place to store her large reclining chair so that she’d have it for her senior room. There was no logical place to leave it, so she lent it to George for the summer. When we returned for senior year, George told Barb how much he had enjoyed that chair. He loved sitting in the breezeway, just outside the kitchen. Rocking back and forth, enjoying the down time before the fall semester would begin.

Senior year, George spoke of that chair often. And in doing so, his sense of home was apparent.

… The school had been taking losses for years, and so, just at the beginning of the second semester of my senior year, the announcement was made. Fairfax would close with the Class of 1975.

As a member of that class, I felt like a “meanie.” (I remember sharing that very word with a riding instructor, as we were ambling our horses through the woods that were part of the school’s property.) I mean, I already was planning to leave, so what would I care? But… there were others. Underclassmen… Girls who expected to reach their senior years at Fairfax, just as I had.

I wasn’t particularly thinking of the faculty and staff, but they also were looking at an unknown future.

... Graduation came and went. Tears were shed. Then, each of us walked away with our memories and our yearbooks.

Along with just about everyone else, I had asked George to sign my yearbook. And, as he did with others, he proudly pulled out his stamp, drew ink from an ink pad, and squarely filled the space below his picture in the faculty/staff section.

“George E. Stewart,” his stamp said. “Head Waiter.” He also signed his name, just above the stamped section.

George smiled and chatted happily as he met our requests for his autograph.

I don’t know if anyone asked George what was next for him. I know I didn’t. And if others also didn’t, it’s probably because we were more worried about ourselves than we were about him. And that’s not about color, either. Adolescent girls are simply and always more worried about themselves than they are about anyone – or anything – else.

I wish, though, that I could turn back time and find out what George was thinking. I wish someone would have pursued his inner thoughts. But I guess no one did. And later, that summer, George put a bullet through his head.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Monday Reruns: Don't Pity My Wardrobe

(original post-date: October 6, 2010)

Yesterday, one half of my “good” pair of flip-flops broke in an irreparable way, and this incident came on the heels of a broken sandal occurrence as I was rushing to my car on Sunday (late for lunch). I realize that for many women, the opportunity to replace a few pairs of shoes is exciting. In fact, many women would probably take this opportunity and parlay it into a spree in which they come home with more than a few new pairs of footwear.

Not me.

I consider it an inconvenience. I really don’t want to have to buy any new shoes. But: I need the basic starter set, and so I’ll have to make a trip to the cheap shoe warehouse in the next couple of days. Oh well. At least the discount warehouse is in my ‘hood…

No denying it: I am the antithesis of Imelda Marcos.

But it doesn’t stop there. I’m not really much of a clothes horse, either. I can “fix up nice” when doing so is required, but comfort is my preference. I also don’t set aside funds for clothes. It just never occurs to me.

Besides, you don’t have to pay top dollar if you’re willing to go with pre-owned.

Four or five years ago, after a dental appointment, I approached the receptionist’s desk to get the financial verdict. Kim, who was ringing up my sale (as it were) immediately complimented the shirt I was wearing. She clearly liked the design, and she noted particularly that it was somewhat unusual – or at least hard to come by.

“You don’t see that a lot,” she said. “… the short sleeves with the v-neck and the collar.”

I smiled in response to her comment. “Yeah,” I said, enthusiastically. “Isn’t this a nice shirt? I think I got it on the dollar rack at the thrift store.”


Oh dear…

The look on Kim’s face…

Not at all what I was expecting.

There was sadness in that look.


I mean, I think in that moment, she felt really sorry for me.

Poor girl, her look said, poor girl having to buy her clothes at the thrift store.

And here's my take on that whole transaction: Poor Kim.

Because what she didn't get was this: when I shared where I got my shirt? I wasn't looking to elicit pity. I was bragging!

Seriously. I think it’s great that I can pay a dollar for a shirt that elicits compliments.

…Reminds me of an evening in New York, many moons ago. I was walking to the workshop of the theatre group I had joined, and I was wearing an extremely faux fake leopard-skin jacket. (That’s right, I typed “faux fake.” I would have typed “fake fake” but Microsoft doesn’t like it when I do things like that.) Anyway, I loved this jacket. It made absolutely no attempt to look like the real thing. It just looked very hip, particularly in Manhattan in the 80s.

I had bought it for seven dollars at a thrift shop in Virginia, and it was actually two jackets in one, the reverse side being sheepskin (and every bit as fake as the leopard side). But although it was ostensibly reversible, there was no experiencing the sheepskin look. No way, with that thick fabric. Reversing the sleeves would have taken a team of Olympic medalists from the tug-o-war games. Doesn’t matter, though -- the leopard-skin side was the one to wear.

The jacket had a nice cut, too. It was relatively long, with a straight line. And the shoulders appeared padded (though that was probably just a result of the thick fabric). The sleeves were long enough to be cuffed, thereby featuring about five inches of fake sheepskin at the end of each leopard-skinned arm. I always felt like Veronica Lodge when I wore that jacket. (She’s the one in the Archie comics, in case I just went over your head.)

So back to that night I’m remembering. I’m on West 50-something, near Eighth or Ninth Avenue, and this was when the area was called Hell’s Kitchen. (I don’t know what its name is now, but I’m guessing all the kitchens are well-appointed and probably worth six figures.) Anyway, I’m walking on the sidewalk, and I pass a young man who’s standing closer to the parked cars.

He looks me over. He nods. “Twenty dollars,” he says, attempting a seductive tone.

Dude! I wanna say, the jacket was only seven!

But I’m glad I didn’t respond as such.

Like the gal at my dentist’s office, he might have felt sorry for me.

And when I’m feeling like Veronica Lodge, well… I just don’t need anyone’s pity!