All posts for the month March, 2009


Published March 30, 2009 by jean cohen

This is unfucking-believable!  ‘Nova advanced to the Final Four. I knew they could do it.  No, I didn’t; I thought they’d choke.


They beat the Pitt Panthers last night 78- 76.  God (the one who likes Augustinians) helped Scottie Reynolds in the lane with 5/10 of a second left in regulation to shoot a picture perfect short jumper.  The Panthers got a second back on the clock on a technical, but Levance Fields’ 60 footer was all air and bounced off the backboard.  It was the most exciting finish of the tourney so far; maybe in the whole history of the Big Dance.


My brackets were doing fine, thank you very much, until Louisville stumbled against Michigan State.  Come on…they were the #1 Seed overall.  North Carolina advanced, and UConn.  No surprises there.  ‘Nova plays NC in the Motor City on Saturday night; it could, potentially, be a Big East Showdown in the Final if UConn beats Michigan State, the creek don’t rise, and the Wildcats figure out a way to neutralize Ty Lawson.


I had a date with BPeter for dinner and a movie, too.  And he brought over his tool box (I adore a man with tools) to address some pesky little house ‘annoyances’.  He’s such a sweetie.


We opted for Italian at a cute little restaurant outside of the mall and it’s obsequious ‘chain’ restaurants. It was pretty nice. And we saw ‘Lesbian Vampire Killers’.  I don’t know about you, but I think it’s a lock for several Oscars next year.


Yes…of course I’m kidding.  We saw ‘Marley and Me’.  Save your money and wait until it’s on Sky.  It was cute and parts were funny, but I muttered to Pete that if Marley was my dog he would have gotten a one way ticket to the glue factory.  The best part was that I actually knew John Grogan (the author and main character).  When he left Miami, he came to work at the Inquirer and I did a couple trips for his family.  They were a referral from another client who was a sports reporter. 


So I could say stuff smugly like “John Grogan doesn’t look remotely like Owen Wilson” or ‘Thank God they didn’t take that fucking dog with them on vacation to Ireland”.


I have to add that I told them B&Bs were hit or miss.  I would never book my clients into a place like that.  Most of my regular clients wouldn’t stay in a place like that.


I covered a shift at Sam and wore my Villanova shirt.  I figured that the Jewish Dermatologist of my dreams (from Bala Cynwyd or Bryn Mawr, of course; here on vacation; English guys who are gentiles are so not the flavor of the month at the moment) could walk into the shop purely by chance.


Strangely enough, it almost happened. 


This guy came in.  I was stocking shelves.  He smiled when he saw my shirt and said “Do you think it can happen again?  What were the Wildcats—the Sixth Seed– when they beat the Hoyas?  My alma mater, by the way.”


“Nope.  The Eighth Seed”  I corrected him.  “And they won because they shot 78% from the field, 88% in the second half.  That was a championship record.  And it’s never been broken since.”  (I really do know a lot of totally useless factoids.)


The guy was fairly young – much too young – and he was a brother, with dreadlocks.  He was from Vienna… the one in Virginia.  We had a pleasant chat about Rollie Massimino and Jay Wright and John Thompson.  And our brackets.  I actually didn’t even mind that he wasn’t the Doctor I’ve been looking for. 


I did get a serious jones for a cheesesteak, though.


Published March 28, 2009 by jean cohen

Since I’m plagued with insomnia these days anyway, a 2:15 AM tip-off was not an issue.


Yes!  Yes! Yes!  Cue the fight song!  The Wildcats advanced to the Elite Eight.


It was practically a given that UConn would prevail over the Boilermakers and that NC would crush Gonzaga.  I had a teensy bit of hope that Xavier might… just might … beat Pitt.  They didn’t, of course.  So much for Cinderella at the big dance.


In a nutshell—please color neatly within your bracket grids:


East: (1) Pitt over (4) Gonzaga and (3) Villanova Wildcats over (2) Duke.


Midwest: (1) Louisville over (12) Arizona and (2) Michigan State over (3) Kansas.


South:  (1) North Carolina (Boo! Hiss!) over (4) Gonzaga and (2) Oklahoma over (3) Syracuse.


West: (1) Connecticut over (5) Purdue and (3) Missouri over (2) Memphis.

Nova was brilliant, clocking Duke for the first time in 50 years 77 – 54.  Dante Cunningham scored 14 and had 11 rebbies. 

In fact, the Wildcats outscored Duke 23-10 in the first eight minutes of the second half and totaled 51 points after halftime. The Blue Devils, who shot 28 percent in the first half, were even worse (25.7 percent) in the second. The Wildcats owned the paint (44-18), the boards (49-34), second-chance points (25-7) and bench scoring (21-11).

Note to British readers:  Never mind.  My team won; that’s all you need to worry about.

The only thing standing in ‘Nova’s way for a Final Four appearance is…you guessed it, Pitt.  I’m totally convinced that the Wildcats would have decimated Xavier.  Instead, we’re doing that intra-Pennsylvania thing.  People here automatically assume that because it’s in Pennsylvania too, Pittsburgh is, like, next door.  It’s not; it’s about a seven hour drive from Philly to Pittsburgh and a completely different culture. 

They don’t even eat cheesesteaks and hoagies in Pittsburgh. They eat this thing with French fries in it.  I didn’t make that up.  And they talk funny.  They have a totally different accent.  Ask somebody…anybody…from Pittsburgh to say ‘water’.  It’s hysterically funny.

This one is tough to call.  But I’m not doing too badly in my pool at the moment.  Hey, some people work so they can afford to shop; I prefer the ‘March Madness’ method.  The scenery is way better in college hoops.

One of my friends here remembered, and reminded me that I talked about ‘Nova and March Madness in my blog before.  I’d forgotten all about it.  That particular year, ‘Nova made it to the Elite Eight, coming in as the #1 Seed in the Big East. 

The blog he referred to was really about God and His Bracket.

‘Nova was going to play Boston College, which is a Jesuit school.  ‘Nova is Augustinian.  I just wondered if (Catholic) God preferred Jesuits.  Aren’t they a little radical?  Weren’t the Berrigans…both of them….Jebbys?If he likes Jesuits, how come the Hawks didn’t get an invitation to the Big Dance?  (I love the Hawks.)  And being God, doesn’t He already know who’s going to win?  Does He only get in for a quarter on the Final Four?  Valid questions all, if I must say so myself.  

But that’s not the point.  Traffic to my blog just keeps going up and up—all those new sites that keep picking it up.  That’s not the point either. 

The point is that someone, or maybe more than one someone, I can’t tell, has been systematically reading every single blog I’ve written.  The statistics say which entry was read and mostly it’s the most recent or it shows an RSS feed.  But every day, about ten older blogs show up.  It lists them by title.

I don’t even remember what most of them were about.  I seldom re-read the blog unless I want to use the same exact terminology or refer back to something I’d mentioned previously.

I wonder who it can be?  A publisher?  An agent?  Somebody with no life and a lot of time on their hands?  This is very exciting.

At shul today, the Torah reading was from Leviticus.  Mr. L was a bit obsessed about ‘guilt’.  In fact, he identified seventeen specific guilts that we should all embrace.  Frankly, some days I can hit them all before lunch.  But, naturally, I took it as a personal message to me that I have not been a particularly good or kind person lately, even though I really, really do try.  Like I’m not guilty enough about stuff already.  (Adonai…while you’re celestially IMing me, any advice on my bracket for the Final Four?)

On a more upbeat note, Cousin Bernie was the gabai at services.  He had on a tartan yarmulke.  It was so damned cute.  He was so damned cute. 

From 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM, right after I decide what to wear to dinner and the movies with BPeter, I’m going to be guilty about thinking how cute Bernie looked when I should have been listening to the Haftorah.


Published March 26, 2009 by jean cohen

I’m still getting mail from the Etcetera Guy blogs.  That fiasco was a fiasco on so many levels it is mind-blowing.  But ‘writing’ is what I do, especially in emotional situations.  I’m simply not a confrontational person, comfortable with face-to-face dialogues or shouting matches, where I inevitably end up at a disadvantage. 


No.  It’s better to marshal my thoughts clearly and succinctly, with just the right amount of biting sarcasm and a smidgen of hyperbole for maximum impact in written form.


I blog about the good stuff, the happy stuff and, God knows, the shopping stuff.  The bad stuff is every bit as rich a part of the mosaic of the life I’ve painstakingly reinvented.  So it has to be reported, too.


Frankly, if anyone should be embarrassed or humiliated by the actual details, it’s not me.  It’s interesting how many people who came across the blog by happenstance or design actually know him.


I still don’t understand it all.  I suppose I never really will.  That’s the part that will drive me crazy for much too long a time.  I always need to understand why things happened and what the motivation honestly was.


Here is the final chapter.  I’m putting the damned thing to rest once and for all.  And JAPs always, always, always get the final word.


Obviously, I knew he was a Rat; for starters, he was cheating on his partner.  Sure, he had a glib explanation for his behavior.  And I convinced myself that it was his issue to deal with, not mine.  Maybe I should have seen it as a portent that women really don’t matter to Mike except as a  sexual outlet at his convenience.


Historically, I dumped him the first go round.  I got tired of being stood up, cancelled at the last minute, and generally being treated like a slag.  Huffy emails went back and forth.  We almost never spoke on the phone, ever, another of his disquieting ‘control’ techniques.  So we were done.


If I’m honest with myself, I missed the sex.  I didn’t miss him – I certainly never saw that much of him anyway – he only came over when he wanted sex.


He contacted me.  A charming and conciliatory email… all about him.   We agreed to a no commitment, no expectations rapprochement.  In hindsight, I have to wonder, given Mikey’s control issues, if the bottom line wasn’t simply that he hadn’t been the one to end it the first time,  and this was his opportunity to seize the initiative – start it again and end it, as meanly as possible, when it suited him.


He said that after we ended it the first time that he stopped reading the blog because he ‘didn’t want to know what I said about him’.   I have to wonder now: Why?  Is it because he can’t handle acknowledging his behavior?


Being with him in an ‘affair/relationship-such as it was’ (his terminology) was disquieting and more than a little weird.  But the sex was great.  I guess one will overlook a lot of niggling doubts for good shagging.  Sad but true. 


Mike needed a lot – an awful lot – of long distance foreplay.  His time was 11:00 at night, after the ‘little woman’ was safely in bed.  That’s when he’d be esconced in his special chair (he actually sent a picture of it), with his music and his glass of red wine.  The erotic texts would fly.  And pictures.  He sure liked to send keepsake photos of his bits.  It was fun and it was a turn-on—for a  while.  And, yes, I reciprocated.  And frankly, I’d be more upset, if my pictures ever made it to the internet, that strangers saw my thighs rather than them seeing my vagina.  The vagina’s pretty ordinary; the thighs not so attractive.  We all have our little idiosyncrasies.


He even turned up once with suitable for framing snapshots of him in his kilt.  Is that not a little narcissistic and a lot vain?


A date with him comprised a fantastic shag, with a cup of coffee and a half hour of stilted conversation afterwards, and then he was out the door.  We never went anywhere together, did anything together.  It was never on offer and it was an unspoken rule that it never would be.  A friend who actually met Mike invited him to her upcoming birthday bash.  He mentioned the invitation to me, not very happily.  Honestly, I now have to wonder if Lizzie’s innocuous invitation as reciprocity for a favor he’d done her, got me dumped.  And maybe I compounded it, by suggesting he ‘stay over’.  I don’t think I was specific enough.  I didn’t mean with me.  I already have guests staying at mine for the party weekend.  I meant locally; there’s a block of hotel rooms booked.  I should have explained “It would be fun to shag in your hotel room instead of always at my house.”


I’m making him sound totally negative.  He wasn’t all bad.  Well he was, but I didn’t know it for sure then.  He was funny, and he remembered things I said, and seemed interested in my life.  In me.  We had cute little pet names for each other and private jokes.   He read my blog, probably to see what I wrote about him.


We’d had a problem when he went on vacation at the end of the summer.  In fact, that’s what precipitated the first break-up.  He came back not only not terribly keen to see me (Gee, didn’t he even miss the shagging?) but obviously disinterested and unapologetic about it.  His excuse in the ‘let’s at least be friends’ email was that he’d been ill.  True?  Who knows?  That’s what he said.


I’m not sure that anything he ever told me was true.  I guess he probably did have a mother, at least at some point.  Did she die in the summer resulting in the Rat being unavailable for several weeks?  I have no idea.  I always sort of suspected he was actually just interviewing replacements for me. 


I guess Karen, the partner, is real.  Maybe.  Maybe she was his partner at some point and he just uses her as an excuse now.  We didn’t discuss her very often and, truthfully, he never had anything good to say about her when he did mention her.  I wasn’t all that interested.   It wasn’t a competition about who’s cooler.  Obviously we’re from two different worlds; there aren’t any similarities or comparisons to be made.


With reference to the ‘biting sarcasm’ in my writing:  Karen, if you’re really his current partner and you’re really not giving Ole Mike any, I totally understand now.  Good on you, Girlfriend!


Anyway, The Rat and the partner (if she exists in that permutation) were going on vacation to Sri Lanka.  I guess people do go there.  We had a final shag and talked briefly about plans for when he returned.  I was moving house while he was gone. 


I got a couple of texts while he was away, and then nothing.  I texted him when I thought he should be back, but he never replied.  I honestly thought something had happened to him, and as I was simply one of his dirty little secrets, I’d never know.


I emailed him, asking for at least an explanation, noting that ‘vacations seem to be the kiss of death where you’re concerned’.  How accurate an assessment that proved to be.


Yes, I got dumped while Mike was on vacation.  If it had happened to someone else, if I’d read it in a book or seen it in a movie, I would almost think it was funny.  But it happened to me, and I don’t.


The first email, the one I dissected in my blog, was so insulting that I think that’s what actually set me off.  I mean, naturally, I realized I was dumped by like week two without hearing from him.  Although BooBoo, who is a really, really kind person, suggested that maybe a shark ate both his hands and he couldn’t manage texting with his tongue.


Nope, I knew it was that whole ‘Mike is in control’ thing.  So I got a lot of flimsy, not even believable excuses and hollow apologies leading up to ‘I started to realize that I didn’t want to carry on our affair.. blah…blah.’  


Yes, I can understand that.  I think.  He didn’t want to see me anymore.  Okay. That part is very clear.   And the reason is because???  Was I no longer interesting in the hour and a half he spent at mine when he felt like it?  Maybe I shouldn’t have put on the Eagles game… Maybe my coffee sucked…   maybe he got tired of hearing about shopping.   He neglected to explain the reason part.  I had learned not to expect very much from him, but this was unfair, even for him. 


I asked for an explanation.  All I really got were more excuses and mea culpas.  Everything’s always about him, even getting dumped.


He did embellish his story that ‘his feelings started to change before he went away’.  And ‘I think I was not attracted to you any longer’.  But this is the best part:  For me there always has to be an attraction to make any lovemaking worthwhile and to not cheapen it’.  I’m not making that up; he really laid that one on me.


He treated me like a cheap whore but he doesn’t like his sex to be cheapened.  How exactly does that work, I wonder?  Can you do exactly that without the other person ending up debased and soiled?  Didn’t he just make the entire whatever he wants to call it a million times lower than cheap? 


By the way, does that line actually work with any woman? 


Do I have this right?  Didn’t he really just say ‘I lost interest…you were never very worthwhile anyway and certainly expendable and at my discretion…it doesn’t matter if I hurt and insulted you because only my feelings are important’? 


Right.  That’s what I thought, too.


I’m so glad we clarified what Mike actually thought, meant and did. 


Now I have a beginning, a middle and an end.  And I can draw the line under his name.


Published March 26, 2009 by jean cohen

A few extra shifts at Sam, my creative writing group at the Hospice, Ladies Who Lunch, and coffee/wine dates – the abridged version of my week.  Plus shopping, of course.  I can’t forget to mention that.


I’m doing this ‘Beauty’ course with some friends.  It’s eight weeks and when we’re finished, the Instructor guarantees I won’t get dumped by a shitty rat in a dumb email.  (Um.  Do I have to explain that was sarcasm?)


It’s actually a fantastic program and a girl can always improve on perfection.  Maybe not exactly ‘a girl’; that’s part of it.  I got an email from License to Injure Slightly and Blood Relative, who were off to loll on the beaches and golf courses at Hilton Head for a month.  I pointed out in my reply email that they seem to be spending a lot of ‘lolling time’ these days and wondered when John had gotten so old and ‘retired’. I also mentioned, as an afterthought, that because I’m living in England now, age goes backwards, not forwards, and eventually (pretty soon) I will reach 50… and then 49.  Back came a zinger pointing out that Blood Rel Princess Maggie is exactly three years and twenty one days older than me.  I guess this means I have to be nicer to my cousins in Huntington Valley or they might comment on the blog.


Anyway, our first class was a color analysis.  I am a ‘Warm Autumn’.  This is very exciting because it means I get to throw away all of my grey, black and navy blue clothes and buy green ones.  Because ‘Warm Autumns’ wear greens.  They wear browns and beiges and burgundies too, but I already have stuff in those colors.  I don’t own a single thing that’s green, except my Eagles jerseys, which are not even the right shade of green.  I may have to become a Cleveland Browns fan, even though the jerseys are extremely unattractive.  But at least the color will be flattering.


Pinkie was so jealous that I got analyzed that she’s joining the class and asking for a private analysis.  “Gosh!  What if pink’s not your color?” I pondered.  “It’s providential that we’re going to Baltimore, King of Prussia, Secaucus, Tom’s River, and The Big Apple—to visit friends and family, of course.  You can get a whole new wardrobe of Bright Winter or Cool Summer or whatever.  And I absolutely desperately need some Hunter Green boots from Nordstrum’s.  How could I not own any green boots? And stuff to wear with the boots.”


Digressing slightly, Sister and I are off to London on Tuesday.  I have to pay a visit to my countrymen (the American ones, not the paisons) and file my Income Tax at the US Embassy.  So we’ve allocated fifteen minutes to get searched by cute Marines from Wichita, get my tax return date stamped, and then seven hours and forty-five minutes shopping for ‘the outfits’ for Pinkie’s Birthday Do.  It’s so fortuitous that I got analyzed already.  Obviously the Little Black Drop Dead Gorgeous Dress won’t work; unless it’s mint green.


And to prove I’m not completely shallow and narcissistic (I’m not;  no, I’m not.) Tuesday was Book Club.  We read ‘The Yiddish Policemen’s Union’ by Michael Chabon.  I’d already read it, when it first came out, but I borrowed it from the local library to read again.  (The chances of that ever turning up at Sam are about as good as Varmint Guy ringing up to apologize for being a turd.  WH Smith didn’t have a single copy either.)


It’s a tough book to describe.  It’s a murder mystery, it’s a satire, it’s a fantasy.  That was the easy part.  It takes place in Sitka, Alaska in an alternative reality where the Jews have been exiled after the Second World War and the failure to establish a Jewish state.  The ‘Federal District of Sitka’ is about to revert to Alaskan control, (it’s a separate country from America) which will prompt another massive diaspora, clandestinely supported by the Evangelical President of the United States.  The loser detective assigned to the murder investigation is warned not to solve it; by everybody.  There’s sinister ‘Black Hats’, an unwilling Messiah, a love story, and a Tlinglit/Jewish detective with an identity crisis.  It’s clever, and sly, with lots of ‘in’ jokes.  The cops, for example, refer to their gun as  a ‘sholem’, which translates as a ‘peace’.  It’s a thought-provoking read, and it’s fun.

I highly recommend it.


I’d mentioned in the last blog friends’ troubles.  Booboo’s family issues just keep escalating, and she’s taken herself off to Sunderland for a break, leaving me to cope with my little ‘crise du coeur’ on my own.  Surprisingly, she really was less than sympathetic.


Of course I was hurt.  I’m still hurt.  End of discussion.


Fortunately, the other ‘friend problem’ has had a pretty good outcome.  It was the Irish Lad, and he was really ill.  I didn’t say who it was before, for privacy’s sake.  He’d been sick and in terrible pain for weeks, and hadn’t even been able to go to work or the pub.  I prayed for him at shul.  When I popped over to Pinkie’s the other day, I got really freaked out.  He looked so awful; he was actually grey.


But after batteries of tests checking for positively everything, the doctors have determined that Tee has a humongous duodenal ulcer.  The Irish Lad has named it ‘Bob’.


I guess we all relate things to our own experiences, and, sniveling coward that I am, I thought “I can’t go through this again, even second or third hand.”  Pinkie was reassuring me.


Tee rang me first after they got the results.  I was so relieved that I started to cry.   His big business trip to South Africa next week has to be postponed, and some ‘life style’ changes are on the horizon for the Irish Lad (fags and beer will have to be given up), but it’s all good.  Thankfully.


Pinkie was dealing with her own medical problems at the same time.  In fact, when I spoke to her last night on her way to work, she commented that when she arrived at Charing Cross, it would be the fifth hospital she’d been to in one day.


Pinkie’s issues were arthritis and nerve problems.  The real ‘nerves’ not the ‘bad nerves, worrying’ kind.  So yesterday, in the middle of Tee’s endoscopy/colonoscopy she had an MRI of her hand.  Her hand was strapped down in position to be filmed from all angles, while she laid on her tummy with her face in a pillow.


Having experienced this before, she refused to don a hospital gown.  They’re uncomfortable and ride up, leaving one’s tush exposed to the world.   


No, Sister brought along her coolest pajamas – the Philadelphia Eagles ones – to enjoy her MRI in comfort and style. 


“You wore your Eagles ‘jammies for the MRI?”  I double-checked.


“Absolutely” she confirmed.


“That is so fucking cool” I complimented her.  “It deserves to be blogged.  Did ya get me copies of the pics of your hand and your ‘jammies?  I’ll post them.”


Note to Pinkie:  Consider yourself cool… and blogged.


Oh…and I have to mention Eamonn.  He likes being mentioned in the blog too.  Adorable little Ed is grounded until he’s 42.  He knows what for.


Honestly, I know of three people who died this week.  And none of them, unfortunately, were the one I made the voodoo doll for and stuck in all the little pins.


It’s like it’s been endless bad news and worrying about other stuff possibly happening lately.  At home and abroad (where I happen to be.)  One or the other might be manageable; simultaneously is just so damned unfair. 


I had a premonition before I moved that something awful was going to happen.  I was sure the move was going to be a nightmare.  The move was a breeze, but then I relaxed and was unprepared for anything or everything that followed. 


It might just be time for another visit with Pocahantas and Sitting Bull at The Church of the Poisoned Mind.



Published March 24, 2009 by jean cohen

Sometimes Life intrudes on my life.  I seem to usually sail serenely through my days, mostly having fun or at least being entertained.


Suddenly, everything is topsy-turvy.  There are the family problems still going on at home, the friend with difficulties with her family, the friend with the worrisome sick husband, and on and on.


Saturday was the Bridge Supper in aid of Sam Beare.  Three weeks ago, my Co-Chair’s husband was diagnosed with bone cancer – everywhere.  She pretty much dropped any work on the arrangements, not that I blame her in the least.  On Friday night, her husband rolled over in bed and broke his pelvis.  It took hours to get him from the bed to the ambulance to the hospital.  Saturday was an absolute madhouse.  Somehow the rest of us coped.  We misplaced a cheese tray for 60 for several nerve-wracking hours, discovered that we had to actually bake the chicken & pasta dinners for 136 people and keep them warm by borrowing hot trays from anybody we could think of, and other similar kinds of problems.


We got through it all, and the evening was a smashing success.  I was knackered on Sunday.  I didn’t even make it out for music at the Volly.  I spent the evening in my jammies checking b-ball scores and my brackets, and trying to catch highlights of my teams.


Villanova advanced to the Sweet Sixteen!  They beat UCLA 89 -69 and will meet #2 Seed Duke in Boston.  For informational purposes—color in those grids – UNC beat LSU, Oklahoma beat Michigan, UConn beat Texas A&M, and Duke beat Texas.  In fact, all five Seeded Big East teams advanced to Round Two, which has never happened before.


I did see a Public Service Announcement on Fox News.  Participating in a March Madness pool for more than $1.00 is a Class C Felony.  Tsk.  Tsk.  At least in Washington state.  The punishment is to spend a week with Kobe Bryant.  (Yes. It was a joke.)  I’m in for slightly more than $1.00, but it’s not a crime in Pennsylvania (so few things actually are). 


My Cinderella team is Arizona; they’re getting some very positive press at the moment.  I had to do my picks by phone, and I got baffled about the time difference (again) and turned up (in spirit and courtesy of Sky Talk) three hours late for the selections and ended up with a few sucky teams like Xavier.  Arizona wouldn’t have been my first choice—I think I might have opted for Syracuse given a choice – but it could possibly happen…   Nah.  It’ll probably be North Carolina or the damned Sooners again.  I predict they won’t even make it to the Elite Eight, let alone the Final Four.


It’s also hard to believe that it’s almost Pesach again.  It starts on the 14 Nisan.  That’s the evening of April 8 to you.  Wow!  My second Passover in England.  Time flies.  I’m invited to friends’ in Shepperton for the  First Seder, and I’m doing the NWSS Communal Seder the Second Night.  It’s kind of warm and fuzzy that last year I was invited to Michael and Kay’s as a ‘stranger’ and this year as a ‘friend’.  And I know I’m with a table of friends at the communal seder; last year I got stuck with the Anglican ministers.  At least the wine was pretty nice.


At the Oneg after services on Saturday, people were chatting about their cleaning rituals for Pesach.  One must remove all ‘chametz’, or grain products, from the house before the holiday starts.  This can involve digging into those crevices in the counters with Q-tips and toothpicks to catch every little crumb lurking there.


Note to self:  Buy Q-tips and toothpicks.  And bury the dishes in the garden for a few days to ‘kosher’ them. 


Further note to self:  Yeah.  Sure.


The only thing I cook during Pesach is fried matzah.


And I’ve decided to definitely do that trip to Israel after the holiday.  It’s not like I was planning on staying in the Marriott Gaza Strip anyway.  I’ll probably just stay in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem with the family of friends here. 


Not being funny or glib for a change, I need to seriously recharge my emotional batteries.  I’ve had quite a battering recently. 


I don’t expect to meet the ‘Ari ben Canaan’ of my dreams and it would be a waste in any case.  There are no plans for an Aliyah in my future.   




Published March 20, 2009 by jean cohen

Gosh.  It’s almost like….I forget.  What’s that season…you know, where it’s warm and the sun shines?  Yeah.  That one.  It’s sort of almost like that here.  I don’t think that season stopped in England at all last year.


I’ve stopped wearing my thermal underwear.  People, crazy English ones, are out and about on the High Street in tank tops and shorts.  I’m still wearing two sweaters and a coat, but Spring is definitely almost here.


BooBoo and I sat out in the sun in my lovely garden with our coffees.  Stuff is growing out there.  I can hardly wait to see what the stuff will be when it’s all grown up. 


And naturally, Spring makes a girl’s thoughts turn to … March Madness.


I know I said I wouldn’t keep the Sky Sports Package.  I didn’t.  I cancelled it after the Super Bowl, virtuously intending to not reconnect until Pre-season kicks off.  Yeah, but…


‘Nova is the #3 Seed in the Big East!  And the Owls won the Atlantic 10 Tourney (boy, was I surprised; I took Charlotte for a dime); they’re the #11 Seed in the South.  So I printed my grid of the Field of Sixty-Four and I’m ready for some action and hoops.  A lot of hoops.  Courtesy of hot guys in tight little shorts.  I pulled out my ‘Nova shirt; I’m wearing it proudly.


The top seeds, as usual, are Louisville, Pitt, UConn and North Carolina.  But statistically, “Nova has a good shot of making it to the Elite Eight, or at least the Sweet Sixteen.  They don’t play until the second round.  And they’re playing at home, in Philadelphia, against #14, American University. 


I’m not sure how many games I’ll actually get to watch.  I’m not keen on those 4:15 AM tip-offs.  But Sky does lots of recaps and re-broadcasts some of the games.  Stay tuned for exciting updates.


I’m working on a Sam Beare fund raiser taking place this weekend – it’s a Bridge Supper for 120 – so I’ve been a little overwhelmed with phone calls and meetings and begging for Raffle prizes.  And I’m doing a creative writing project with the Day Patients at the Hospice.  I resisted even going to see the Hospice for a long time; BPeter finally talked me into it.  Before I knew it, I’d agreed to do this writing project.  I’m a bit nervous and uncomfortable, and I’m really not sure how it’s going to play out.


Not that I’m focused solely on my ‘good works’.  Eileen popped down from Hampstead Heath for a few days.  A visit from Eileen (she stayed at Paula’s, not mine) always involves shopping—and always for shoes.  Honestly, she has more pairs of shoes than I do. 


We went out for a very posh dinner; Eileen only does very posh.  I wore the killer burgundy boots, just to drive her crazy.  (They did.)  She asked, totally seriously, if Scary could bring her some pairs exactly like my black boots (she lusts after those boots) in black, brown, grey, teal and red when Scary crosses the Pond in May.  I don’t think so.  I have my own necessities list going.


The conversation at dinner drifted to men and the serious shortage of suitable ones.  Paula, Eileen and I are all now widows, and Paula is testing the dating waters very gingerly.  I launched into a little rant about what absolute shits British guys are.  I didn’t even notice the waiter standing there with the coffee pot.  Eileen, naturally, asked him “Did you get all that?”  He just laughed and said “I’m a Kiwi.”  I hear they’re even worse.


But I had a lovely date with BPeter this week too.  We wandered up the High Street, picking up some fish & chips for dinner, and then took it back to mine and watched ‘Frost Nixon’.  The movie was excellent.  No, I’m not going to make any political statements whatsoever.


We went shopping, too, on Wednesday, at a huge garden center called Longacres.  Peter needed some supplies. I took pity on the plants; I didn’t buy any.  I did, however, buy some onion matzahs in their grocery section.  Carpe diem and all that.  If you’re lucky enough to spot a box of matzahs, and, even better, they’re onion, it’s a wise idea to snap them up.  I almost bought a jar of Welch’s Grape Jelly, but I figured out it cost about $6.00.  But they had Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Hershey Bars; I simply had to get a few of each.


Oh…the Grotto re-opened finally.  I called in with Lou and Karen, just to check it out.  They’ve put in a new smaller bar and painted the ceiling white.  And no more Thai food; they’re doing ‘pub’ food, whatever that is.  We met Colin, the new owner and Chelsea supporter.  And he is a jockstrap.  You read it here first.  He asked me out.  That part was okay.  I mean, so did Leechy; he was clinging to the first bar stool on the right when he wasn’t clinging to me.  I just ignored him.  Colin told me that a date includes ‘breakfast the next morning…a proper fry-up’.  I told him I don’t do breakfast.


We left the Grotto after a few drinks to head to Music at the Volly.  We walked in the door and Martin, the manager, immediately asked “What did you think?”  “About what?” We sort of looked at each other perplexed.   “Of the Grotto” Martin said, “How does it look?” 


How did he know we were even at the Grotto?  Did someone see us going in and ring him right away?  “Don’t worry, Martin” I reassured him, “The Jockstrap says he’s not going to be doing music—just Chelsea games.”    




Published March 14, 2009 by jean cohen

I started the week with two theatrical events, one on Tuesday evening and one on Wednesday. 


Who says I’m not endlessly fascinating?  I’m always up for expanding my horizons with something novel.  So to preclude any malevolent surprises in my love life in the future, I’ve resolved that I’m gonna be even more interesting.  And better dressed. 


Although…maybe I should just pick better men?


The two events couldn’t have been more different; different culture mediums, different genres, the Big Apple in the 1940’s vs. a turn-of-the-century Litvak shtetl in Russia.  


I went to see ‘Guys and Dolls’.  It was only at Rydens School, a local high school, but they’ve got a reputation for putting on extremely professional musicals.  My friend’s goddaughter was in the cast, although not in a starring role.


They did a bang up job.  Even their New Yawk accents were cute and pretty realistic.  The only time they slipped up was in the part where Nathan Detroit and Miss Adelaide decide to elope, by driving to Elkton, Maryland, which used to be the place to go for a no waiting period required quickie marriage on the Right Coast.  (On the Left Coast, it’s Reno, Nevada.) 


They probably should have changed the script to ‘Wyoming’, because nobody could pronounce ‘Maryland’.  People here seem to be able to pronounce ‘Wyoming’ just fine.  It drove me nuts every time one of the characters said “Mary-land”.  “It’s pronounced “Merr-a-land” I kept mumbling to anybody who would listen, “Even in New York.”


On Wednesday night I saw a film – ‘Tevye, der Milkhiker’ – in Yiddish, with English subtitles.  The film was made in 1936 in Poland.  See, I’m tahkeh more interesting already.


The translation is ‘Tevye the Milkman’, based on the short story by Shalom Aleichem, which many years later morphed into the hugely successful musical ‘Fiddler on the Roof’.    (Tevye only has two daughters in the short story and the Polish film.)


I saw it at the Film Club at shul.  If anybody was wondering.  I’ve seen a few other movies, mostly Israeli films, but I was keen to see this one, especially since it was in Ashkenasi Yiddish. 

Apparently the Yiddish film industry was quite big business in Europe in the ‘30s and early ‘40s, with a stable of well known and popular stars.  Tevye was played by Maurice Schwartz… yep, that Maurice Schwartz.  As someone at the viewing somberly pointed out, it was upsetting to realize that probably seven or eight years after ‘Tevye’ was made, most, or all, of the cast likely perished in the Holocaust.


It was a bit heavy handed and preachy on the ‘observant’ issue, and all of the gentiles were portrayed very one-dimensionally as stupid and mercenary.  Humorously, although there probably wasn’t any way around it, the Jewish-hating Russians, including the Eastern Orthodox priest, all spoke fluent Yiddish.


After every film, there’s a discussion over coffee and biscuits about relevant Jewish issues raised.  It’s always a broad spectrum from exceedingly orthodox to extremely secular, given the disparity among the members.


On Thursday, I did my shift at Sam.  I was really pleased to discover I was working with Mike R, whom I’d not seen since his wife passed away.  He’s my favorite fellow volunteer, except for BPeter, of course.


I’m sorry to have to report that the shop got robbed—not Books, Bric-a-Brac, and earlier in the week.  Some gun-toting junkie, presumably…  Oh, honestly.  This is England.  They don’t have ‘service’, but they don’t have ‘guns’ either.  Someone simply opened the till when the clerk was distracted and removed 280 pounds.  So of course there are strict protocols in force now in both shops about our tills, our keys and how much cash we keep on hand. 


I admit that I was a tad nervous when Mike went on break and to the bank to do the deposits.  Some knife wielding junkie could come in….  Yes.  There most definitely are scores of mellow knife wielders, not to mention bomb-making Asians and deranged jealous partners (if anything he said was the truth) who are ostensibly two or three tacos short of a dozen with extra salsa, and who might have read a blog or two they got in the post.  


Which leads into the shootings in Alabama, which I read about on-line.  Well, come on… it was Alabama.  They do that kind of shit in Alabama.   Go ahead…you all sing along to ‘Sweet Home Alabama.  I told you Alabama’s the armpit of America,


Anyway, MSN UK did a pretty low-key report of the facts until I got to the end of the piece.  I got so pissed off, I copied it.   I’m reproducing it here:


“Mass shootings have become a feature of life in the United States.


In one of the worst recent incidents, a gunman dressed as Santa Claus killed nine guests at a Christmas Eve party, before taking his own life in Covina, California, a suburb of Los Angeles.


On April 16, 2007, Virginia Tech, a university in Blacksburg, Virginia, became the site of the deadliest rampage in modern U.S. history when a student gunman killed 32 people and himself.


Guns are widely available for purchase in the United States, a country that prides itself on the right to own weapons for self defence and hunting.”


And what, exactly, are you guys proud of?  Queues?


Well, I’ve dithered enough.  Now I have to talk about the Quiz.


Several teams backed out of drawing names by lot for Red Nose Day, so we just played as our regular teams.  The Irish Lad was sick, so it was just Pinkie, Cheese Boy and me.  Our name was Rudolph’s Bitches.  Rudolph the Red Nose….  Get it?


Since the pot was going to Comic Relief anyway, teams could bribe the Quiz Nazi for cash, and get answers.  The team that actually won (they really are crap; they’ve never won) bribed her forty times.


We did okay, a respectable fourth place.  And we only used a bribe once, in the Wipe Out Round.  We were absolutely sure of nine answers, but we wanted to get all ten right to get the five point bonus and, hopefully, pass a couple other teams.


I knew the answer, but I wasn’t 110% sure.  The question was : Former Wimbledon Champion dubbed The Iceman by the press.  “Bjorn Borg” I said.  I have no idea why I knew that.  I don’t know diddley squat about tennis.  But I did.  Pinkie and The Boy looked at me askance and then verified with Leyla.


This was, most probably, because they were really, really pissed off at me for fucking up the second of the Top Five questions.


I’ve had a lot of stress in my life lately.


I guess I should just get it over with.


The question was: The First Five Cities mentioned in ‘Dancing in the Streets’.


I forgot ‘Philadelphia, PA’.  I’m sorry.  Okay? 


I got The Windy City, the Big Easy and the Big Apple.  I guess Baltimore (Balty doesn’t have a cute nickname) was in my head because of our trip, and Our Nation’s Capitol follows that in the lyrics.


The piss taking was brutal.  El Cheese-o actually stood up and announced to the entire bloody pub “Jeano forgot Philadelphia.  She’s from Philadelphia … where they make the cheese.”

All the other teams joined right in and teased me for the rest of the evening.  I hope people get tired of emailing me .mp3 clips of Martha and her goddamned Vandellas real soon.







Published March 11, 2009 by jean cohen

I used my dishwasher!  Trust me, it was exciting.  I used some china plates and ate with forks instead of my fingers so there’d be dirty things to wash, and after about two weeks, it was practically full.  I put in a sachet of dishwashing powder fortified with de-salter, de-limer, and de-something – maybe scaler- called ‘De-Fairy De-Washing De-tergent’, pushed a bunch of buttons, and nothing happened.  Naturally.


I got out the manual, which is approximately as long as ‘Gone With the Wind’, albeit sans the colorful ‘Negro’ dialect.  I was still baffled.  (A faithful reader pointed out that I use the word ‘confused’ a lot; so I’ve decided to be ‘baffled’ for a while, just to be refreshing, and then I’ll ease back into ‘confused’.)  The manual made things as clear as Mississippi Blue Mud.


I was going to push hold and call Pinkie, but she was due at mine anyway to kill a few bottles of Zinfy, dissect the whole Etcetera Guy debacle, discuss our trip to Baltimore and Philly in the Fall (we’ve actually booked it now),  and work on the plans for the Big 40th  Birthday Do, in no particular order.


Of course she took the piss.  But she got the damned thing running.  I expect she’ll simply have to pop ‘round to push the Start button whenever I get enough dirty dishes to engage in Mortal Combat with my appliance.


You know, I almost didn’t even mind emptying it.  I’m not sure that part will continue to be not too unpleasant, but I’ve finally exhausted my stash of Dollar Bills to bribe Eamonn to do it. In my prior life, some of our funniest family disagreements centered around whose turn it was to empty the dishwasher.


Me:  “Did anybody see my ‘Jewish American Princess Barbie’ mug?”


Family Member:  “Yo!  It’s in the dishwasher.”


Me:  “Clean or dirty?”


Family Member:  “Dunno.  There’s clean and dirty stuff in there…”


Me:  “Why the hell didn’t you unload it?”


Family Member:  “But it was my turn to do the trash compactor!”


And so on.


Pinkie and I are officially booked to cross the Pond in October.  We’re flying into Baltimore; that’s where her conference is.  After a day or two shopping at the outlet malls in Maryland (Jeano knows every one intimately) I’ll take Amtrak to Philly and visit my family (Yippee), leaving Sister to discuss Emergency Rooms I Have Known and Not Liked Very Much with the other nurses.


Then she’ll train it to Philly, too, and we’ll hit King of Prussia and the Church of St. Nordstrum Rack before we head north to Scary’s in New Jersey and Century 21.  Then, of course, we head (in some direction) down the Garden State to Pat’s and that other outlet mall near Great Adventure.  I’m afraid we can’t take anything in our suitcases heading to the States; we might even have to travel naked.  Where are we gonna put everything we buy?  And I have to squeeze American necessities of life (especially Hershey bars) into my suitcases.


I have so many friends I want to see too, I don’t know how I’ll fit them in between shopping junkets.  My friend, Georgia, has invited us to pop over to Cleveland for a visit.  Excellent outlets, but it ain’t around the corner.  And maybe I can get to an Eagles game?  Nah, it won’t be the same without Dawkins.


I wish we were going to the States before Pinkie’s Do.  So I could buy something to wear.  This matter has been uppermost on my agenda for weeks already.  And we’ve been shopping like six times, but no luck.  I haven’t found ‘it’ yet, whatever ‘it’ turns out to be.  My Failsafe is to order ‘it’ online and have Scary Fairy mule it over with the Hershey Bars and Sweet N’ Low when she comes over for the party.  But what if I don’t love ‘it’ when ‘it’ arrives?  Looking stunning is so complicated.


Pinkie and I agreed that I have to put that whole Etcetera Guy thing to rest.  Well, yeah; I know that.  It’s just hard to come to come to terms with the way it all played out, especially since he’s the one who initiated the second go-around. 


I knew he was a rat, and certainly enough people kept pointing that fact out to me.  Constantly.  The issue that I deserved better treatment – anybody getting dumped deserves better than that, no matter what the circumstances might have been, not to mention coming totally out of left field with no warning – is the crux of the matter.


I think it amazes me most how much despicable behavior a heretofore intelligent woman will put up with for a great shag courtesy of an extremely proficient circumcised putz. 


Friends from home have commiserated on my hurt feelings, but also chided me … hell, criticized me, for indulging in a modern day equivalent of a mesalliance.  The ‘The End’ that resulted sadly underscores their point.  The ‘right’ sort of man most likely would have handled it like a mensch. 


I guess I could share some of the messages, but I won’t.  I’m embarrassed enough that I was angry or some other female emotion and posted Mike’s absurd email and my comments.   (Hey…that blog got over 8000 hits.)  It is worth reading the Mule-ess’ comments on that entry; she put it in context for Americans…from the Right Coast…who are of Italian descent or just happen to be Italian citizens.


It was possibly over-kill.  And I wouldn’t want anyone to get the idea that his explanation, or the subsequent email that was basically the same regurgitated bullshit Piled Higher and Deeper, brought any closure.  That’s, obviously, going to be up to me. 

 I can’t help wondering, though, how he really justifies it all to himself.   


Published March 9, 2009 by jean cohen

Jeano brushed her teeth again.

Oops! Sorry… wrong blog.

It was a busy week, lots of social engagements, mostly arranged to keep me from indulging in the Jewish National Sport—Guilt, with a capital G. There’s a saying: ‘Catholics go to school to learn guilt; Jews are born feeling guilty’. I swear I won’t mention funerals and shivas and my absence from them, or what a coward I am, again.

I went to a fashion consultation with Hester and another friend. If one has been dumped, and is feeling kind of lacking in pizzazz, perhaps it might have been due to wearing the wrong color eye shadow or too much beige. Nope. My eye shadow is fine, and beige is definitely one of ‘my’ colors. So that probably wasn’t the reason.

And I went to a talk on good nutrition. Perhaps I wasn’t enthusiastic enough due to my basic three food groups comprising coffee, cigarettes and yoghurt. Nope. That’s a healthy diet according to the British Dietary Association. I just need to add a fourth group: copious amounts of wine.

I thought perhaps I might have been … boring. That one’s hard to get my head around. Me? Boring? So I dragged Sister Pinkie to a lecture at shul on ‘Writing a Family History’, which I thought sounded like an intelligent sounding topic to bring up after the shagging’s finished and those awkward silences ensue.

This one was quite interesting. The author used a family heirloom – a teapot shaped like a camel – to research and write a semi-fictional history of her family. The novel is called ‘The Camel Trail’ and the author’s name is Judy Jackson.

I bought a copy of the book, and I’m about three quarters through it. I can’t say that I’m loving it; the story goes backwards and forwards with several different third person narrators and it’s very confusing. And I don’t, and probably never will, have a burning desire to write about the Incollingos or the Cohens. Just being even tangentially related to both families was more than enough for any marginally well adjusted person.

I actually went to shul twice this weekend. Maybe I needed some extra Adonai-i-ness after all the shit that’s been going on. Not really, I honestly enjoy the Oneg Shabbat on Friday nights and I was invited to a Bat Mitzvah on Saturday.

Since Tuesday is the festival of Purim, that was the study topic after dinner (which was yummy—I never knew I liked all those strange foods).

I think adults generally loathe Purim, although it’s the only time of the ‘Jewish’ year when it is perfectly permissible to get shit-faced drunk and be loud and obnoxious. I think it might be mandatory. The story of Haman, the viceroy of the Persian king, Ahasuerus, and his dastardly plot to annihilate the Jews is read from the Book of Esther. Esther tricked Haman, and the Jews had their revenge by seriously kicking Persian ass. So this is a festival, the only one really, that celebrates reprisal and revenge. Whenever the name ‘Haman’ is spoken, the audience jeers, catcalls, and bangs on things. I love the part where Haman’s bones get picked clean by the vultures. The idea is to ‘trick’ people like Esther tricked Haman, by wearing a disguise, so everyone comes in costume.

I may have mentioned before that it’s also tradition to make the mothers of Chedar or Hebrew School children fall off the wagon of their choice by forcing them sew a costume for their little darlings for the Purim Play. You try making a costume shaped like a hamantashen with realistic looking poppy seed filling.

The Bat Mitzvah on Saturday was lovely. Lisa, the Bat Mitzvah girl, is not a ‘girl’, she’s a grown woman. I heard the story behind this at the service. Lisa’s severely dyslexic and at thirteen, the normal age for a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, simply couldn’t cope and gave up. She always felt badly about it, and finally decided to do it.

BooBoo has met Lisa, and when I was recounting all the details to her, she wondered if it was strange to see a grown-up on the bema. I thought about it, but I’ve actually seen some other grown-ups who’ve done the same thing. I mentioned that somebody very famous didn’t become a Bar Mitzvah until his seventies. I couldn’t remember who it was, but I have now. It was the comedian, Henny Youngman, who was 73 and had his ceremony in Atlantic City. (Where else should it have been?)

I suspect that Lisa read her Haftarah portion in transliteration not from the Scroll (she didn’t do a Torah portion) and memorized her speech, but there wasn’t a dry eye in the entire shul.

There was an elegant luncheon afterwards, with music and dancing. Interestingly, Lisa’s background is strict Orthodox, so although men and women sat together for the service, lunch was strictly segregated and only ladies danced the hora together (you have to hold hands) to congratulate her. Well done, Lisa. Mazel Tov!

I went on a date Saturday night. To the movies. I had to think really hard (pretty difficult for me) about when the last time was that I went to the movies on a date, not counting, of course, those hot summer nights with Jerry when we ventured across the bridge into Tomato-land to the Tacony-Palymyra Drive-in. “But we’re married” I used to whinge, “Can’t this wait ‘til we get home?” Apparently not.

Anyway, BPeter took me to dinner and the movies in Staines to cheer me up because I’d had such a terrible couple of weeks.

“What are we seeing” I inquired on the drive.

“’He’s Just Not Into You’” he replied.

I processed this information.

Hm. Was this a hint? Is there a full moon or something? Maybe it’s National Dump Jeano Month, and I missed it on the calendar from the Synagogue. I did see that Tuesday is Purim, but with Etcetera Guy dumping me, Silvio’s and Stuart’s sisters dying and everything, I simply forgot to buy the ingredients to bake the Hamantashen. (Laugh here. That was a joke.)

We ate at a place called the Arapahoe Spur, which proports itself to be an American style restaurant. Maybe if you’re an Indian who got a heads up on celebrating Purim with the fire-water. Actually, it was okay, even though the food was strictly English. No way was I ordering the Cajun Squirrel Croquettes.

Peter did ask me about the Arapahoe’s. I had to confess that I didn’t have a clue.

“Sweetie, I’m from Philadelphia. They don’t have Indians in Philadelphia unless the Redskins come to town to play the Birds. But I saw an Indian once, when I was in Arizona. I said ‘How!’”

The movie was cute; certainly several points hit home for me. I wish I’d written down some of the wry and very apt things the female characters said about men and dating. And I definitely could relate to the manly behavior of more than a couple of the male characters. Been there; got the email to prove it.