Monthly Archives: July 2014

Don’t want to sound like a dick but …

Guy walks into my office, starts complaining, launches into the titular phrase, making me conjure up all kinds of sentences I never want to hear the rest of.

They all begin with a faux politesse, they all pivot on “but:”

No offense but …

Don’t take this the wrong way but …

I don’t want to complain but …

and my favorite:

Hate to break it to you but …


Women of a certain age complain of becoming invisible to men. Literally, the men who would once turn their heads to watch us pass, rake their eyes across chests and bottoms, seem not to see us at all.

This morning’s was a different kind of disregard: photographer Bill Cunningham studiously not noticing me. I took his picture, he didn’t take mine. Is that fair?



mistakes were made

Was there ever a more unapologetic turn of phrase? Acknowledging that something untoward has happened while admitting no part in it? Makes me smile, really it does, when said casually. But it’s not something to say in therapy, no it’s not.

The Swimmer

I was prompted to read John Cheever’s The Swimmer when I reported on the listing of his longtime home in Ossining. His widow died in the house they called Afterwhiles in the spring; he passed away some 30 years ago. The Swimmer is one of his darker suburban tales — and that’s saying a lot — chronicling our protagonist’s quixotic attempt to swim home by hopping from one backyard pool to another, crossing a big road wearing just his swimming trunks, braving the chlorine at the public pool (he’s more skittish about this than charging barefoot across what sounds like the Saw Mill River Parkway), crashing a pool party and so on. In the beginning he’s welcomed warmly and plied with stiff drinks. As he progresses, his neighbors greet him with apprehension (he has suffered some loss; there was a scandal, a fall from grace?) and then it’s no longer the same summer day and autumn is coming on and it appears that he doesn’t really have a home to swim to after all. It’s a haunting little story of a summer day spoiled, a season ending, a man forced to contemplate his failures.

Who knew Cheever was a magical realist? Who knew the perils that await WASPs when cocktail hour comes to a close? Everyone, I guess, and I’ve just forgotten. Next on my list “The Housebreaker of Shady Hill.”

John Cheever: swimming through suburbia

John Cheever: swimming through suburbia

Tagged ,

Last night I dreamt of Alison

Last night I dreamed that I met Alison, by chance, wandering across her property as she prepared for a party.
“By chance” seems improbable, doesn’t it? Skirting the boundary of her backyard, wouldn’t it be likely that I might see her?
But in my dream I stopped, as still as a deer detecting detection. Then tried to escape unseen, hustle-walking away from the scene. The scene? Alison appeared to be setting up for a costume party, stuffing a line of men into Tweedle Dee/Dum costumes (Wonderland-like, I know). She saw me, caught up with me without a glimmer of hesitation or apprehension. She looked beautiful, complexion gleaming, tarted up in some kind of dirndle and full skirt. She seemed confident and natural to my awkwardness and skittishness. It did not follow the script of the long dreamed-about confrontation that would have me the victor, she the vanquished. We squabbled. I don’t recall what was said but I was angry and I threatened to expose her to her gathering party guests. I shouted into the group: “Alison had an affair with…” but she cut in. “This is the wife of Joe, the guy I was having sex with,” she said over me in tones that were merry, even mocking. The party guests looked at me with disinterest, then carried on with their mingling.

“No one cares,” Alison said to me softly, as if we were co-conspirators. “Everyone is tired of that story.”

Last night I dreamed of Manderly

Last night I dreamed of Manderly



Tagged , ,

The quinqunx

This is an awkwardly spelled word for an awkward arrangement of stars and planets, says my astrologist. It’s also known as the blind spot, in which the meaning of things are hidden and major forces are unseen and unfelt until havoc has been wreaked. Like the undertow lying beneath the surface of a cool and glittering ocean. You have been warned.

The reading rapture

Three women of a certain age come to a certain beach during a certain summer week every year for sun and fun. What does “fun” mean to these women who went to college together and lived in and around New York City in the 1980s and then settled into their lives — which they escape during this week at this beach during this week?

What they’re reading, what they’ve read, books they loved from childhood (one six-hour car ride on a shared loved of fairy tales) and then some trolling through bookstores and sitting on the beach reading silently together and then retiring after wine and conversation (about books) to read ourselves to sleep. There are occasional breaks — memorably, to see Magic Mike, to get our hair cut and, once, to rent a pedal-power surrey with fringe on top.

Children have their Reading Rainbow. We have our Reading Rapture (why “rapture” is a story for another post) and I wouldn’t trade it for any other kind of rapture.

Can people trade in raptures?

Probably not but I wouldn’t, never ever.

book worms

book worms