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This is a repost from 3 years ago… it’s the anniversary of when I got stuck in the snow. A horrible thing I never want to repeat.

Bad-Roads

Let me start this post by saying I like snow. I enjoy the prospect of a storm blowing in, and me all safe and snug at home, with enough bread, milk and wine. I even like to shovel, and am usually out clearing our driveway before the flakes have stopped wafting to the ground.

Wednesday I had to endure one of the most harrowing experiences of my life. Bad timing coupled with bad weather had me at the mercy of mother nature and perhaps even fate – it was 3+ hours of sheer torture.

I knew a bad storm was coming in, but it wasn’t supposed to start until the evening – 5 or 6 pm. I get out of work at 6, but there was no way I was staying that late with the forecast they were predicting. Usually you can waive a dismissive hand at our weather folk, but this was different. Even the weather channel was on board with the predictions, so I worked through lunch and left at 5.

By then the snow had just started in town. Hubby had called and said snow at home had started a half an hour earlier. I wasn’t worried…it’s only a 25 minute commute and I was confident that I could get home with no trouble. After all, the snow had just started!

There was some traffic getting out of town, which was to be expected, and before long I was on the long and winding way home. When I was around 3 miles from pulling into my driveway traffic came to a dead halt. I was right at the base of a long and fairly steep hill that I have to travel up in order to make it home. I turned on the radio and discovered that there was an accident about a mile up the road and both lanes were closed.

Now I had to make a decision…stay here and wait or turn around and find another way home. At this point reader, you need to understand something – there are only 2 or 3 ways to get to my development, buried deep in the sticks of central Virginia. Making the decision to turn around meant traveling 5-8 miles just to get to the closest cross road that I could turn onto.

But, I figured that if I waited where I was, the snow (which was getting heavier and sticking) might make getting my car up that steep hill impossible. Besides, I had no water and I knew I’d have to pee within the next hour or so. That being said, I turned my car around and made the slow drive back, all the while figuring which way I should take.

The first route I took was a huge waste of time. I didn’t get more than 1/4 mile down the road before I was told the road up ahead was closed and we all had to turn around. When I got back to the crossroads I skidded on the snow and almost crashed into another car. My heart was pounding,  my knees were shaking, and I just wanted to go home.

The next road I took taxed me to my very core. On a sunny day this road is a pain in the ass…windy as hell…the girls always get carsick on it unless I travel at 20 mph or so. But, this road is the quickest way to get to where I needed to go, so I took it.

I was only driving at around 6 mph down steep hills and twisty turns. At one point I had to drive up a fairly steep S-curve. Letting the car just roll, and barely giving it any gas, I fish-tailed my way up that hill very slowly the whole while chanting “help me God, help me God, help me God.” When I made it to the top without landing in a ditch or hitting another car, I breathed an audible sigh of relief. It was mostly down hill from here.

As I was heading down the next hill at a record speed of 4 mph, a car in the opposite direction came zipping up the road, went to make the turn and ran straight into a rather deep ditch. Although I’m sure the driver turned their wheels, the car just didn’t respond on the slick roads and just rolled right off the road. The car was now at a 30 degree angle, half of it on the road, half of it in the ditch. I thought to myself,  that person is totally fucked – and that could be me very easily if I’m not super careful.

As if just driving wasn’t tense enough, my windshield wipers decided to start icing up at this point. I had the defroster blasted so hot and hard that I was sweating bullets all bundled up in my coat, but it was no match for the weather outside. Rather than wiping the snow off my windshield, my wipers were just smearing the snow and ice – I had about a 2 inch field of semi-clear vision.

Finally I made it to the next crossroad, which thankfully had a gas station. I got out to go inside and my legs were actually wobbly. The past hour and half of driving in the snow in beyond shitty conditions had exhausted me. I went to the bathroom, bought a couple of waters, called hubby and got back in the car to make my 3rd attempt at getting home.

I began to get hopeful…If I took it slow, driving wasn’t really that bad along roads that were fairly straight. I made the turn that takes me to my development and about a mile down the road, more tail lights. Hells bells, not again. One call to hubby confirmed it. There was an accident at least 7 miles up the road – all these people were just sitting there – along 7 miles of road just waiting for it to be cleared. So, once again, I turned around.

My only option at this point was to get on the highway and head East. This would take me past my house, but bring me to a pretty major intersection where there was a hotel, a Walmart and a few fast food joints. The highway was pretty good if you went slow. I don’t think I broke the 25 mph mark, but folks in 4 wheel drive vehicles were zipping past me. I also saw at least 4 cars off the shoulder with their 4 ways blinking. Again, I thought to myself, slow and steady and super careful. I was determined not to be a VDOT statistic.

25 minutes later I made it to Zion Crossroads and  headed straight for the Best Western. In the lobby I called hubby and asked if I should just get a room. It’s stupid because I was only 15 minutes from home now (in good traveling weather) but it would probably take me at least another hour of driving to get  home and I just didn’t think I had the strength. I had left my office two and a half hours before, and had been driving in blinding snow ever since. I was done.

As luck would have it, she had one room left and I took it. But before I went up, I got back in my car and drove across the road to the Walmart where I picked up some food, a toothbrush and a night gown. By the time I got back and in my room (thanks to a ridiculously slow cashier) it was 8:30. I called my family who were relieved that I was safe for the night, but bummed that I was not home.

They weren’t the only ones. But before I went to bed that night, I took a moment to thank God for getting me somewhere safe and warm for the night. I could have easily been in my car in a ditch, spending the night rationing my water and peeing in a snow drift. I decided I was one lucky gal.

The next morning I awoke with a sense of dread. One look out the window made me realize my morning drive home wasn’t going to be fun. About a foot of snow had fallen, but on the bright side the roads I was taking home were primary roads, and had most likely been plowed. After breakfast I dug out the foot high snow drift from around my car, cleared off the ice with the side of a ball point pen, and began my drive home.

The road from the hotel to the main road was horrible, and filled me with a sense of dread. But once I reached the main road I saw blacktop and my spirits lifted. This might not be so bad.

And it wasn’t. It was slow going, that’s for sure, but the roads were drivable if you were careful. The one part of my drive I was dreading the most was getting into the gate of my development. The one closest to my house is up a pretty steep hill. There were abandoned cars piled up at the base of the gate – they obviously couldn’t get up the hill and opted to leave their cars and walk home.

I made it up the hill fine, but got stuck at the top in a huge pile of slushy snow that the plow failed to remove. Ugh. Here I was a  mile from home and I finally got stuck. But not for long. Two very nice fellas came to my rescue and helped push my car out of the slush. Hooray! I was almost home!

When I reached my house hubby was there and had shoveled out a nice spot for me at the base of the driveway. I was never so happy to pull into that narrow driveway – I’d finally made it home.

After many hugs, and a hot cup of tea I took a much needed shower, put on some sweatpants and just flopped on the couch. It had been a long night and a long morning. Even though it was only 9:30 in the morning, I felt like it should be noon.

Do you know I fell asleep before 8:00 that night? I guess my body needed the rest.

I’ve come to a conclusion…I’m never taking a chance when it comes to the weather again. If my boss doesn’t like me leaving early…fire me. I don’t ever want to go through that again. Ever. Especially since I have the capacity to work fully from home. The only task I can’t do remotely is answer the phone…but really, who’s going to be calling during a blizzard?

Nope… from now on if they’re calling for bad weather I’ll just tap my snow boots together three times and say, “There’s no place like home.”

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The other day I found out an old family friend was diagnosed with cancer, and I have to tell you, this news bummed me out.

Growing up, my parents were good friends with Dan & Tina Morielli – and our families spent a good amount of time together, and I always looked forward to our outings…whether it was a trip to the Poconos or just a Saturday night hanging out at home, it was always a good time.

Dan & Tina had two kids, and we had four, and the six of us always managed to have a blast. A lot of our chuckles originated from the fights our parents used to get into over politics or whatever. I’ll tell you one thing, the visits were never dull.

We lost Danny years back, and now, Tina has cancer. I wrote this post years ago as part of a private collection I keep, but I feel the need to share it now. Because these people were such a big part of my childhood, and all the times with them were the best.

The Morielli’s Condo in Miami Beach – A Summer Playground

The summer we went to Miami Beach with the Moriellis was one of the best vacations of my entire life. It was  1973, which must have made me 8 1/2 – wow, I can’t believe I was that young. I remember so much from that trip, perhaps because it was made of the stuff that makes family legends. We retold these stories among us over and over during car trips and holidays growing up because we had a full week of hilarity and hi-jinx.

The Moriellis were, in my opinion, our closest and coolest family friends growing up. I have no clue how our families met – I’ll have to ask Dad about that one – but when we were getting together with The Moriellis you were in for a fun time. Parents: Danny & Tina. Kids: Anthony and Antoinette. Neither kids were close to me in age. They were about the age of my older siblings, but it didn’t seem to matter. I never recall being shunned or ousted from the action because I was a little runt.

A Car-Full of Yankees Heading South
The Moriellis bought a condo in Miami Beach, and our summer vacation that year, rather than heading to Martha’s Vineyard, was the long drive from New Jersey to Miami. I remember a few little things from the trip down. I recall our absolute glee upon reaching Florida (yay!), only to be told that Miami was still like 6 hours away (boo!). I also remember stopping at a “Welcome to Florida!” rest stop which had a machine that would cast a little figurine out of wax, I think. One of my siblings (can’t recall which) decided to use some of their money to buy a figurine, which was exciting as I would get to see this machine in action at no cost to myself.

Money was inserted and the machine did its magic and out popped a light blue statue of a dolphin jumping in the waves. We all “oohed” and “aahed” and whoever bought it decided it would be best displayed on the window ledge of the side back window in our station wagon. This proved to be a big mistake in the hot Florida sun. I don’t think that little statue made it to Miami before it melted and folded in on itself.

Mom, Dad (complete with belly flab) and Tina Morielli at the pool

Six Kids Run Amok
Once we arrived in Miami the fun began. the Moriellis condo was small and meant only for a family of four, not a hoard of 10. A bunch of us had to sleep on sleeping bags in the walk-in closet, which to a small kid was a blast. The condo had a pool, elevators, a gym and card rooms all waiting for us to explore.

We soon found out that this condo catered to much older, child-less clientele, and we were loose and on the prowl. When we weren’t at the pool, the beach or eating, we didn’t have all that much to do, so off we would go in search of adventures in a 15-story condominium.

One of our favorite games was elevator races. You would start in the lobby and the object was to race in 2 different elevator cars to the penthouse and back. The fun of the game was you never knew when the elevator was going to stop to pick up people, thus slowing your trip. I recall being amazed at how the hallway in the penthouse was wide and lavishly decorated with plants and statues, and that one floor always smelled of chicken soup.

The gym had some kooky machines!

We would also amuse ourselves by whipping bottles and other garbage down the garbage chute, which made quite a noise and was probably very bothersome to those who could hear it. We would often try to sneak into the gym which had a whole bunch of old-timey exercise machines, and medicine balls to goof around with, but eventually some grown-up would come along and yell at us to hit the bricks.

We were allowed in the card rooms only if no adults needed it. The card rooms were small rooms with felt-covered card tables designated for Men & Ladies.I recall one girl came along to play with us. She was a bit older and her name was Doralee, and I think she was a little slow. I used to make faces behind her back to make Antoinette and Wendy laugh, which I realize now was mean, but at the time I was young and doing what I could to get a laugh.

Hi-Jinx in the Florida Ocean

The Sparkler Affair
Another moment sealed in the memory vault was the great sparkler incident of ’73. My sister Wendy and Antoinette had gotten their hands on some sparklers and had decided to light them up on the balcony. Danny caught them out there and screamed at them to get the hell off the balcony. So, Wendy and Antoinette walked back into the living room and stood there with sparklers blazing, in the process dropping little bits of fire onto the new carpeting. It was funny because they had obeyed Danny, but were making matters worse by burning the carpet.

After being ushered into the kitchen, and sparklers doused in the sink, Danny proceeded to chase Antoinette around the condo, screaming, darting in and out of rooms trying to administer a few good cracks. I stood like a statue in awe taking the whole scene in. Danny walked back into the room shaking out his hand and muttering “that kid’s got an ass like a rock.” Repeating that phrase to family members is still good for a laugh today.

Tina, Judy, Antoinette and Anthony – Bathing caps were mandatory for women

Here I am with Judy in my halter and shorts in front of Cinderella’s Castle

The Clan Takes On Disney World
The highlight of the trip was our visit to Disney World. Orlando is quite a distance from Miami, so as an adult I’m impressed the adults dared to make this trek with 6 unruly and often wise-cracking children. Disney was going to be a one day trip; no hotel stay; just there and back. I imagine whoever had to do the driving was pretty tired at some point during the day because I know we left well before dawn and did not return till the wee hours of the following morning.

Disney Ticket Book – 7 whole adventures? Gee Mickey, where do I start!

Back in ’73, Disney operated a bit differently than it does today. Rather than fork over the equivalent of a mortgage payment to enter the park, and ride all you want for that once price, you purchased a ticket book. There were a certain amount of tickets for each park section (like Adventure Land, for example) and each ride in that section required a specific amount of tickets. This proved to be rather sucky, because there were sections of the park that had better rides than others, and you had to make hard choices as to which rides you wanted to spend your tickets on.

I remember the Grand Prix car racing being a very big deal, but I was too little to ride alone so I had to ride with somebody which sucked. I held onto my tickets for Fantasy Land because I wanted to ride the Dumbo ride something fierce. I also recall us all going to the Hall of Presidents. It was pretty cool for its time because they had animatronic robots portraying all the past presidents, and I could have sworn they were real people.

Space Mountain wasn’t open yet in 1973, so our favorite ride at Magic Kingdom was the Haunted Mansion. There was really nothing like it at that time, and we were amazed. The special effects were mind boggling, and we simply had to ride it more than once. But, the ticket book only had enough coupons for one ride. This would require the purchase of additional tickets. For four kids. Asking Dad was a crap-shoot at best because we were always on a budget with 4 kids to pay for. But dad came through and bought us the extra tickets. I guess even he realized this was a once-in-a-lifetime type of experience. As it is, I didn’t make it back to Disney World until I was an adult.

The Fire Drill
After the long drive back to Miami, the parents were exhausted and the kids were all asleep. It must have been a real chore to herd our group of zombies up to the condo, because they let us flop right down to bed in our clothes. The next thing we knew, we were up again with bells ringing. The building’s fire alarm went off, and we were required to evacuate to the lobby.

Once in the lobby we felt totally out of place – everyone else was standing in their pajamas and robes. Several woman had curlers in their hair with nets over them. But us kids were standing there fully dressed. I recall getting odd looks from people who were wondering why our folks would either (a) dress their kids before coming down to the fire drill, or (b) let their kids sleep in their clothes like a bunch of slobs.

It was a great trip, just as every adventure we had with the Moriellis was. It’s why I’m so sad about this news. I want to send Tina a card and let her know how much our family treasures the memories she helped to build…and that I’m thinking of her.

Because I know for sure, that until we are old and gray, my siblings and I will talk about our times with the Moriellis, and we will laugh.

 

hello-my-name-is

In response to the Daily Prompt Say Your Name, where we are asked “Write about your first name: Are you named after someone or something? Are there any stories or associations attached to it? If you had the choice, would you rename yourself?”

I am the baby of the family.

My brother was born first, and given every passed down name you could possibly get. First name after my dad (Stefan), and two middle names after both grandfathers (Andrew and David).

Then came my sister Wendy. I don’t know the origin of her name, perhaps Peter Pan, but her middle name is Maria after my father’s mother.

Then came sister Judy. My mom wanted to name her Tracy, but my father said no. “Wendy ends in a “y” and Tracy ends in a “y,” let’s come up with something different.”

And just like that my sister went unnamed for days and days. They just couldn’t decide on a name. When they were getting ready to leave the hospital, they had to pick something. My mom said the name “Judy” was written in at the bottom of one of the baby name lists, and they decided upon that.

Which we all find hysterical because it ends in a “y.”

My mom always told me that when they were expecting me, she told my dad “If it’s a girl, I get to name her Tracy. If it’s a boy, we’ll name him Adam.” But when I entered this world in December of 1964, my father’s mother was dying of cancer. He wanted to name me Mary.

Mary? I’m not a Mary. I know in song that Mary’s a Grand Old Name, but it just doesn’t fit me. Thankfully my mom fought, and won the fight. She finally got her daughter Tracy.

I like my name. It’s not too average, but it’s not far out either. And it’s spelled correctly. No “e” or “ie” – just T-r-a-c-y. I couldn’t imagine changing it. I wouldn’t feel comfortable with any other name. I mean, my mom had to fight for my name. How could I think of changing it?

Plus, there’s this groovy song written about me. How could I give that up?

This is going to be an odd story to tell, because while I remember certain key elements about this particular weekend, I don’t remember a lot of the connective details. Stuff like eating dinner or who I roomed with, or actually studying the Bible – these points are really nothing but shadows.

When I was in my teens a few friends of mine asked me to come to a Friday night youth group at this church that was just a few blocks from my house. We were not a religious family at all – I believed in God, but had not attended church or even read the Bible.

I will fully admit that my desire to attend this youth group was more social than spiritual. However, there were worse places a teenage girl could be spending a Friday night. And who knows? Perhaps the Holy Book might really make an impression on me.

What made an impression on me instead was this kid Jeff from Tenafly. He was ADORABLE – curly hair and a crooked smile. Uff da. While he has absolutely nothing to do with this story, I feel compelled to mention him because it was my crush on him that pretty much kept me coming back to the youth group week after week.

It’s a cringe-worthy admission.

That winter the youth group was sponsoring a Bible study weekend up in Vermont. I begged my parents to go, and I still can’t believe I was given permission, but on a cold Friday night I was picked up, put in the very back of a station wagon, and carted up to some resort in Vermont.

MEMORY #1 – The Car Ride

When I say “the back of a station wagon” do you remember the ones that had the seat that faced backwards? Yeah, that’s where they stuck me. I was bundled up for the cold, but the car had the heat blasting, and it also had roughly 7 people sitting in it. I got very hot very fast. And I was riding backwards.

I think we were somewhere in Connecticut when I threw up.

I had complained of feeling sick, so they moved me into the back seat, but it was too little too late. While I did manage to get a majority of it out the window, we still needed to stop at a gas station to a) clean me up and b) de-funk the back seat of the wagon. Shortly thereafter they stopped for dinner, where I stayed in the car both too sick and too mortified to do anything more than sleep.

MEMORY #2 – Horseback Riding

The first morning of our retreat we went horseback riding. I was thrilled to be doing this, having never been on a horse other than your average pony ride. The handlers had asked if anyone had riding experience, and my girlfriend Pam raised her hand, and also offered that she could ride an English saddle.

“Hmmm” said my brain – Pam lived in a tiny apartment with her divorced mom and older brother – where the hell did she learn how to ride an English saddle?

This would prove to be troublesome for me down the line.

The handlers let us know that the horses had to be kept in a certain order – horse A (my horse) did not like horse F (Pam’s horse), so they should be kept apart. Fine. Off we went down the trail.

All was fine n’ dandy until I heard a ruckus kicking up behind me. Pam, with her crackerjack English riding skills, was having trouble controlling her horse. It was moving out of its place in line and making its way towards me. Me, as in the gal who is currently riding the horse that hates Pam’s horse. Do you see where this is going?

Once my horse caught sight of Pam’s horse, they both started to run…slowly at first, but before long we were pretty much at a full blown gallop. Now this is where the day really got fun.

My saddle broke.

All I know is that while we were wildly galloping across the field, my body started to slide to the left. The saddle was slipping, and my whole body listed – I only had one leg over the back of the horse and I was frantically attempting to hold on to anything. We were approaching a line of fence, and I thought I was a goner. If the horse tried to jump it, I was fairly certain my head would not clear. Eating barbed wire was not part of my plans when I woke up that morning.

Thankfully one of the handlers caught up to us and was able to stop the horse. Once my feet were out of those stirrups and set firmly on the frozen ground there was no getting back on. After shooting Pam a glaring look, I marched back to the stables on foot.

MEMORY #3 – The Song

My last memory of this weekend actually isn’t a bad one at all. It was Saturday night and we were having a Bible jamboree in the big hall. There were tons of other youth groups from all around the area, and it was a huge crowd. Again, I don’t quite remember how push came to shove, but somehow my friend Carol and I volunteered to sing as part of the evening’s festivities.

The musical director suggested we sing “You Light Up My Life,” a song that was hugely popular at the time. While it was a #1 song, I didn’t know all the words, and I have to say, it made me a little nervous – could I learn them all in the span of a half an hour? We practiced a few times, and then the show began. I was scared, but I had Carol to go out there with me – a partner in crime so to speak.

Ha.

Right before it was our turn she chickened out. I was left with the decision to cut and run with her, or go out there alone and quite literally face the music. I thought of the time the musical director had spent with us rehearsing, and thought it would be a douche move to bail on him.

So I walked out there alone. Me, in my Dorothy Hamill haircut, and sensible Sears clothing. I stood on the stage next to the piano and whispered to him “it’s just me…is that okay? Are you sure I can do this?”

He nodded and smiled and began to play. I got through the song – I remember being too afraid to look out into the audience, which was, in my mind, massive – like Carnegie Hall massive. Instead I just looked at the Musical Director and plodded my way through the song. I’m pretty sure I fucked up the lyrics at one point, but it didn’t matter.

When I finished, he smiled and winked at me, and said “Great job.” And then there was the applause. I remember it being loud, and I remember that it was the only time I could look out into the very large audience. Wow. I’d done it.

When I left the stage, there were lots of pats on the back and congratulatory comments from both friends and strangers. I’ll admit, it felt awesome – I was really glad I hadn’t bailed. And Carol? She was a little envious – and perhaps a bit regretful.

Those are the three big memories from that weekend. We might have gone skiing, but I don’t really remember. I also remember I made the trip home without throwing up, which was a personal victory for me.

45 art

I was introduced to a ton of music when I was a young child compliments of my Aunt Carol’s collection of 45 records. They were stored in boxes just like the ones shown above, and when we were in the mood to jam to some tunes, my sisters and I would pull the boxes out from the cabinet in the “stereo console,” find as many insert adapters as we could, and stack ’em up on the turntable.

david-bowie-space-oddity-picture-sleeve-45-original-1973-rca_8096841Her collection was impressive. She had a ton of Beatles singles, not only on the Capitol label but also on the Apple label. There was lots of Elvis, which my sister loved. Me, not so much. She had a lot of odd tunes; weird little ditties that had to have been one hit wonders. She also had a fair share of surfer music, which I still find odd. And as long as we’re talking odd, she had the 45 to David Bowie’s Space Oddity. That’s a record I can’t see her buying at all – that was a little far out for my Aunt Carol.

Part of the beauty of these records were the labels. Decca, Bell, Atlantic, RCA – many times it was the easiest way to find your favorite songs in the boxes and boxes of records. Those labes were so recognizable – if I wanted to find “Knock Three Times” by Tony Orland & Dawn, all I had to do was look for the silver Bell label. I might find the Partridge Family instead, but that was fine too.

mOg1os7DgpqHlW686dyIRhQMy favorite of all the 45s was one by Gary Lewis and the Playboys. It had not one but TWO songs on the same side – “This Diamond Ring” and “Little Miss Go Go.” Everyone knows This Diamond Ring, but the best was when you got to the little known song two. Little Miss Go Go is just a kick ass song.

In keeping with the surfer-style music, my sisters and I used to love “Surfer Joe” by the Surfaris because it was a story song – you know those…like “Billy Don’t Be a Hero” or “The Night Chicago Died.” You can’t beat a good story song.

Another favorite of ours was Dizzy by Tommy Roe. My sisters and I would spin round and round while the song played so we could be dizzy right along with Tommy.

We always had to play Tracy by the Cufflinks. While I’m glad I have a song named after me, I wish it wasn’t so über dorky. And speaking of dorky…that lead singer? Yikes.

When it came to name songs my sister Judy had “Hey Jude,” but my sister Wendy had nothing. So, she adopted another 45 favorite of ours, “Windy” by The Association, as her own. Then Springsteen came along and put her name in the best song every written. Sigh. And I’m stuck with the Cufflinks.

Typical.

There were some real oddball songs too. One was “Surfin’ Bird” by the Trashmen. I don’t know who had the idea to put that record on for the first time, but I do believe after hearing it, it was the first time my tiny little brain registered a thought along the lines of what the fuck.

That wasn’t the only song straight out of the WTF Files. An insanely bizarre 45 is “They’re Coming To Take Me Away (Ha-Haaa)” by Napoleon XIV. It’s hard to describe, but as a small child I always found it creepy as hell. His voice changes pitches and there’s a siren in the background and this stomping/clapping back beat throughout the whole song and his voice echos and it was just really, really sccaaary!

And I can still remember all the words. What was even more wacked out was the B-side; it’s the same song played backwards.

My sister Wendy thankfully still has all these wonderful 45s because she realizes the value of them…not just on the commercial market (although it would be fun to take them on Antiques Roadshow), but because they were a real part of our childhood.

One day I’ll have to blog about MY 45 collection…and how I don’t have it anymore. See, my husband isn’t quite so sentimental about old 45s.

Skater

I used to be addicted to figure skating. It was my absolute favorite sport, and each year from fall to spring I would scan the TV Guide for any televised competition. I’d watch them breathlessly (except for Ice Dancing…zzzzzzzz) and size up each competitor, and pick my favorites each year.

But these days I know very little about who laces their skates or who sits in the kiss and cry. Do you know I barely watched skating in the Olympics last year? I have to tell you skating got dull for me once they changed the scoring system back in 2004.

Isn’t that dopey? I mean, why should that make a difference?

Well dammit, because old scoring system was fun! Judges from different countries would post their score, 6.0 being the highest. With this system, a viewer felt more involved. You could cheer the 5.9’s and the 6.0’s and jeer at the crusty judge who gave your favorite a 5.2. With the new system they just post a total – and it’s a number that I just can’t comprehend…Ok, his score is 65.35….well is that good or bad? WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

I lost interest real fast.

I tried to soldier on, but once the skaters were in the kiss and cry, there was nothing to look forward to. Waiting for those scores, which would flash up one at a time, sometimes, was part of the drama that was figure skating – as much of a nail biter as watching and wondering if they will land that triple axel.

I realized how much the scoring had played a part in my enjoyment of the sport. And suddenly a lifetime of love for figure skating just melted away.

Skating 1I’d been watching since I was a kid. I had a Dorothy Hamill cut when I was in the 6th grade. I remember watching Scott Hamilton in the days where he had hair…and a rather lousy cut, I might add. I remember watching Denise Biellmann and that wonderful spin, and Elaine Zayak, who was from Paramus, NJ – only a few towns away from my hometown.

skating 2I hated Katarina Witt when she came on the scene. She was too buxom and she was from West Germany…she was like an evil prison guard in my mind. I rooted for Debi Thomas in the Battle of the Carmens (where I lost) and rooted for Brian Boytano in the Battle of the Brians (where I won) during the ’88 Olympics. I mean, who wanted Brian Orser?

4f58f61de276b.preview-620But it wasn’t solely American skaters who piqued my fancy. In the late 80’s/early 90’s I fell in love with the Russian Pairs team of Gordeeva and Grinkov. They were so good, so elegant, and that little Ekaterina was just so cute! They could land jumps that other pairs teams couldn’t – and they made it look easy.

They wound up getting married, those two. But then, in 1995 Sergei died suddenly of a heart attack right on the ice while they were practicing in Lake Placid. I was heart broken – how in the world could someone so young and so fit just die like that? I went to see Ekaterina skate in a Champions on Ice show at Madison Square Garden the next winter, and I balled my eyes out.

CryingNow, we can’t have a serious skating discussion without bringing up the whole Tanya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan saga. Personally, I hated both of them. Tonya Harding looked like a thug, and Nancy Kerrigan, with her giant Mr. Ed horse teeth, irked me as well. I didn’t like anyone that year – not even Oksana the orphan – but I’ll tell you, the Olympics that year was riveting television!

MenIn the early 2000’s I fell in love with Men’s skating….well, Johnny Weir to be exact. Oh, he was so wonderful to watch, and so cute with his hair and his smile! How about when Rudy Galindo won the Nationals in 1996 – that performance was goose-bump raising. And then Evan Lycacek came on the scene – he was super easy on the eyes and a super skater to boot. What had I been missing all these years?

But my greatest skating triumph came when Champions on Ice started off their 2007 (and for a while, last) tour in Richmond. Hubby was the zamboni driver/ice tech at the time, and I got to hang out backstage more than once during the week they were rehearsing.

Johnny Weir called me one night to tell me my husband  had grease on his pants.

I held Evan Lycacek’s skate guards.

Rudy Galindo was jealous that I had a photo of Johnny Weir on my office bulletin board. he made me promise to add his photo as well. And I did.

evgeni-plushenkoEvgeni Plushenko? He smoked non-stop and avoided me like the plague.

I got to stand rink-side during the entire show, and was allowed to attend the meet & greet where my camera ran out of batteries. Typical. Thankfully a co-worker of my husbands had a camera and snapped photos of me with Weir, Lycacek & Galindo.

I was thankful until I saw them, that is. She had zoomed in so close that I was all face. Ugh. I was not Norma Desmond and I was not ready for my closeup. Here I had my photo taken with 3 of figure skating’s golden boys, and I had a gigantic moon-face that no amount of photoshopping could fix.

That was more than 7 years ago and nobody outside my immediate family has seen those photos. My Facebook bragging rights? Shot to freakin’ hell.

I was watching the US Figure Skating championships a few weeks back, and a young skater named Adam Rippon caught my eye. His free skate gave me chills, much like Johnny and Rudy had back in the day when I rarely missed a men’s skating event.

And then they flashed his score, and it meant nothing to me.

I turned the channel and watched an episode of Chopped instead.

bigstock-Quick-Dry-Cleaning-Retro-Ad-17348990

I recently listened to a podcast about jobs that are becoming extinct, and it made me think of George.

For as long as I can remember, a man named George came to our home every Saturday morning/early afternoon to pick up and drop off my parent’s dry cleaning. While the art of dry cleaning clothes is not likely to fall by the wayside like the milkman any time soon, this man actually delivered his services. And nobody does that anymore – not around here, anyway.

Except Domino’s and Papa John’s.

Each Saturday George would spend a few minutes standing in our foyer as my mom took dad’s freshly cleaned clothes wrapped in cellophane, and would hand him the week’s soiled suits. He’d hang them on one arm and talk with mom or dad for a few minutes, then he’d be on his way. He was bald and had a moustache – and he wore glasses.

George saw me grow up in an odd sort of way, one Saturday at a time. As a kid he saw me in my pajamas, in my bathing suit, and with curlers in my hair. When I got older, he cleaned my Leonia High School jacket, and my prom dress, and. And each Saturday someone would chat with him in our foyer. For years and years and years. It was really a very intimate sort of relationship.

And I had sort of forgotten about him until this morning. So here’s to you, George. Thanks for being a part of my family each and every Saturday.