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All posts for the month October, 2009

HOLY SHIT! WAS THAT DERRICK JEETER?

Published October 21, 2009 by jean cohen

Back in Weybridge in real time, I had a scrumptious date with Tom, who looked quite cute in his Eagles boxer shorts.  He insisted I put on my Donovan jersey (just the jersey), and he obviously boned up on football terminology for the occasion.  I never thought football was particularly sexy.  Trust me, it is.  When somebody’s yelling “In the grasp!”, “Caught behind the line for another safety!” “Interference!”, “Score a touchdown…one…two…three!” (I emailed him the mp3 of the Eagles Fight song and he memorized it, the big Sweetie.)   I’ll stop now.

 

A warm welcome to the newest reader of the blog, Anthony John Dell Aquila, Jr. who was born on Sunday, grandson of Colonel Mickey and cousin Joanne.  I got an email from License to Injure Slightly.  As a relative of mine, I’m sure he’s already reading and eating meatballs of the Neapolitan style.

 

License mentioned in his email that I haven’t talked much about the Phillies.  The reason is that British readers’ eye glaze over and they immediately switch to that guy who’s backpacking in Guatemala’s blog if I get carried away with American sports reporting. 

 

But okay.  The Phantastic Phillies are now up three games to one over the Dodgers in the NLCS.  The last game was a masterpiece- a pitching battle of pure perfection.  J Rol had a walk off two run double with two out in the bottom of the ninth!  At least that’s what License said.

 

Note to British readers:  How’s that dude in Guatelama doing?  Did he get away from the Contras after they kidnapped him?

 

Back in Vacation Central, Scary Fairy had blown Pinkie and me off the day before we were due to arrive at hers.  Yeah, I totally agree with that assessment.

 

We could have stayed on at Stuart’s, he was up totally for it; he loved having us stay.  But we’d booked our return from Newark Airport.  And we’d booked our train tickets to Newark.  And we wanted to see Pat and Mike.  And I had a date with Israeli Guy scheduled.  What an inconvenience and a pain in the tush.  Not to mention deplorably ill-mannered.

 

North Jersey Babe graciously invited us to stay in their luxury penthouse apartment on the Upper East Side in Manhattan.  Gosh…what to do? 

 

Don’t be daft.  Get Princie to drop us off at 30th Street Station (after some final, final Philly shopping), cop a plea with the train conductor: “We made a mistake!  We thought we were booked to the Penn Station in New York, not the one in Newark.  Why are there two?” delivered in Pinkie’s poshest British.  “Well then don’t get off the train when we get to Newark” he suggested.  “Thank you” I piped up in my best British accent.  Pinkie said it failed miserably.  I think she called it ‘a train wreck’.

 

We grabbed a cab when we got to the Big Apple, and were whisked by the ubiquitous African person aiming directly at hapless pedestrians to Pat and Mike’s with hardly any accidents.  We came bearing gifts, of course.  Americans simply can’t not do that ‘hostess gifts’ thingy.  I thoughtfully had picked up several boxes of Tastykakes during our last Search & Seize in Philly, telling Pat “So you’re not, like, forced to eat Entemann’s for your sugar fix.” 

 

In my on-going war with Mike, I’d gotten him a special box of Eagles Tastykake Touchdown Krimpets, in a festive green and silver wrapper. He so got me back.

 

I think at this point I’ll mention the lovely snaps I posted of the Bolins proudly sporting the famous Eagles hat.  (Bet you guys are sorry now that you got really pissed that particular night in the Grotto.)

 

Pat told us “Mary’s loss is our gain” which was incredibly hospitable and gracious.  Mike poured us a giant glass of Zinfy, and asked “Where would you two like to go for dinner?”

 

We admitted to being a bit tired from all the shopping/socializing/fancy dinners.  “Can we stay in?” I asked.  “I’ll be happy with a real, proper American, New York pizza in my Eagles ‘jammies watching the wonderful, awesome amazing Yankees taking care of business.”  Okay.  So I lied a bit.   But we were at their house, and they actually like the Yankees.  And that guy- not the A Rod one – the other one…Derek Somebody… is extremely hot.  The one with the incredible grey eyes.

 

So that’s what we did.

 

Mike had thoughtfully made sure that my bedroom was crammed with every fucking piece of G-men memorabilia he could get his hands on.  Including a catalog of the shit for me to take home.  I love Mike.  If the Yankees end up playing the Phillies in the World Series, I will just stop answering my phone for a while.

 

Of course, we shopped some more.  Even though New York is outrageously expensive.  The weather had changed drastically, and it was actually snowing as we queued for an hour to get into Abercrombie & Fitch.  I would have said “Up yours” but Pinkie had to get a hoody for Amy.  It was so cold, and we were so wet, that we had to stop in every store on Fifth Avenue to get warm.  And look around.

 

I said to Pinkie “Here’s a real treat.  I’ll take you to Bergdorf’s.  That’s where Jewish American Princesses go when they die.”  Sadly, after all the prior shopping, neither of us could afford to buy a hair slide at Bergdorf’s.  If they even condescend to sell them. 

 

New York + bad weather = no taxis.  We stood on a corner frantically waving at the Africans passing by and laughing at us from their toasty cabs.  Then a cab pulled up to drop someone rich off at Bergdorf’s.  I swooped in and jumped in front of a bedraggled couple who spoke no English.  Boy, cursing sounds really harsh in whatever they were speaking.  “Get in and ignore them” I ordered Pinkie, pushing her into the cab.  She was seriously impressed by my cunning and lack of conscience.

 

Back in the lap of luxury, we opted for real, American Chinese food for dinner, one of the last few ‘must eat’ foods on my list.  I missed devouring a Reuben with extra Russian dressing.  Pat’s fault entirely.  She told me there was a New York Deli at Newark Airport.  There is; it just hasn’t opened yet.

 

Friday morning we paid for our sins.  After we shopped one last time for little stuff.  Do you know that Hello Kitty bandaids cost $4.39?    We packed.  It really wasn’t terrible.  Princie had already mailed two huge boxes to boxes to me, and Pinkie had brought along some vacuum bags which really worked.  We sat around drinking coffee and chatting to Pat until our shuttle to Newark arrived.

 

I admit that I was terrified.  And Pat, trying to be helpful, suggested that after I got on the plane I should give Pinkie my American passport to hide in her stuff so that when I got strip searched at Heathrow they couldn’t find it.  But after British Air checked me in and took my luggage quite willingly, I relaxed a little bit.  So we hit the Duty Free Shops.

 

The flight was fine; I slept all the way courtesy of a nice flight attendant and several bottles of burgundy.  We landed and headed to Passport Control.  And absolutely nothing happened.  I handed my Passaporti Italiano over to the bored agent and she popped it into the machine and handed it back.  No trick questions like ‘Come sta?”.  She didn’t smile, but, of course, I was now in England.  They just… don’t.  Ever.   Not even if Derek Jeeter walks by naked except for his batting helmet.  So I guess that whole nightmare is finally over.  I can stop worrying about it, and I guess I can go home whenever I feel like it for a visit.

 

The Irish Lad picked us up and I was officially back in Weybridge. 

 

And I think that is now ‘Everything I Did On My Summer Vacation’ or at least what I’m going to share.

 

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YOU GOTTA HAVE FRIENDS

Published October 21, 2009 by jean cohen

In real time, the Phillies are up two games over the Dodgers in the NLCS, Penn State blew out Minnesota, and the Irish snatched another defeat in the closing seconds against USC.  Brees took care of business in the Dome; someone needs to tell Eli to close his mouth.  He looks really dumb with it hanging open as he contemplates life without endorsements because Peyton got them all.  Oh yeah.  Donovan was not in his Happy Place.  He might not have actually been in California at all; I couldn’t tell.  The Birds lost; they sucked giant eggs.

 

And I posted a few pictures.  There’s more, but they’re on Pinkie’s camera and she started her new Top Secret, Hush-Hush job as Nurse Ratchett to deported illegal aliens on Monday.

 

Back in vacation-land, Princie, Pinkie and I drove down to Wilmington to have dinner with dear friends Abe and Janet.  Janet has been one of my staunchest supporters during the entire citizenship adventure and she thinks I’m wonderful.  And tells me all the time.  I’d not – in fact, Pinkie and I’d not-  seen them since we popped over to Paris for lunch and shopping when they were there for their anniversary.  One of the pleasures of living in Britain… popping over to Paris for lunch or Amsterdam for the weekend.

 

We went to an extremely posh ‘DuPont Country’ sort of place called the Buckley Tavern.  The meal was gorgeous and it was lovely to catch up on what’s been going on in all our lives.  We went back to their house for dessert (Janet is a fabulous baker) and screaming and yelling.  No we didn’t argue; they’re not Italian.  The Phillies game was on telly.  Abe and Janet are huge baseball fans.  In fact, when we left the restaurant, Abe stopped to go to the Men’s Room, and the rest of us went out to the car.  We waited and waited for Abe, finally getting concerned.  When he eventually appeared, we all said “Are you okay?  What took so long?”  Abe looked surprised.  “The Phillies left three men on in the bottom of the 7th” he explained.  “They had the game on in the bar.”

 

Tuesday morning Pinkie and I shopped some more.  Several happy hours flew by in the Church of St. Annie Sez.  And we went to Geunardis so I could buy stuff for the Thanksgiving feast.  That’s what I bought – stuffing.  But I’m going to have to mail it to me.  The suitcases have ‘no room at the inn’ for anything that isn’t clothes. 

 

I got quite adept at piloting the Mother of All SUVs (and a German, no less) over hill and dale, and then back again.

 

Two diametrically opposite events occurred on my trip home.  I rekindled a friendship that had floundered and died a tragic death, and I finally gave up on another friendship for reasons that I won’t go into, other than to say that we’re all responsible for our own lives.  And not for anybody else’s.  I can only make my personal journey through the wilderness; I can’t and shouldn’t try to help anybody else with their trek.  Or feel sorry for them if it’s a camel* wreck.  (*continuing the ‘biblical’ theme)

 

I had shared in the blog – golly, it was July of 2006 – when Toots divorced me as a friend.  And what I wrote then still applies now.  I chose what I wanted to do with my life, and then I went out and did it.  But I missed her.  I won’t bother quoting any of the excellent zingers I unleashed; the blog is in my archives.

 

So I rang her.  The week before I went home.  “Hello, Toots.  I don’t want to be unfriends anymore.  I think we should meet and talk about this.”  Well, yeah, of course she was gobsmacked.  But she was happy too.

 

So we met for lunch.  At Ardmore East (a mall).  Well, it wasn’t going to be at a library or hospital, was it?  Pinkie tactfully went off to shop and left us to not rehash old negative feelings but rather to forge a renewed relationship with different expectations.

 

Being a JAP, and always needing to get the last word, I did tell her “What you did wasn’t fair.  If I stole from you, or burned your house down, or slept with Ron (her husband), then you would have been justified in dumping me.  The choices I made were for me, and I stand by those choices now.  They were the right choices for me and you had no right to judge me by your standards.”

 

So I’m friends with Toots again, the real way not the Facebook way, although that 3856 miles that separates us will make cutthroat Scrabble games neigh impossible.

 

Tuesday night, Sister and I were both tired.  It had been an almost endless round of shopping and social occasions.  Princie, Pinkie and I went out for a quiet dinner to Clam Tavern.  You will appreciate how tired I was; I didn’t change clothes.  In fact, I don’t think I combed my hair.

 

After dinner, Ira, another of my stepsons, popped in to visit.  Pinkie and Stuart both went to bed; I sat up nattering to Ira ‘til the wee hours. 

 

Finally, since the trip home nurtured, revitalized and strengthened both friendships and family ties, I thought I’d end with a quote.  From ‘The Prophet’, naturally.

 

“And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit. For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable is caught.

And let your best be for your friend. If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.

 

 

‘PHILADELPHIA STORY’? WASN’T THAT A MOVIE?

Published October 18, 2009 by jean cohen

In the magic of the Modern Age, I’m actually home in Weybridge.  But let’s pretend I’m not.  Because I’m only halfway through my adventures in America.  Let’s pretend we’re in a movie.  Filmed in Philadelphia. 

 

At least these next few blogs will look nicer since I can use ‘Windows Live Writer’ again.

 

Although Pinkie had been to the City of Brotherly Love once before, she’d never actually seen it, except in passing.  She’d spent a day in Children’s Hospital observing and 14,879 hours in the King of Prussia Mall.  This appalling oversight had to be rectified.

 

“We’ll do the historic sights” I assured her.  “We’ll start at the Art Museum and wander down to Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. You’ll be able to get some awesome pictures.”

 

Princie obligingly dropped us off at Eakins Oval, across the road from the justifiably world famous museum. The weather had changed drastically, and I was mighty thankful I’d bought an Eagles fleece at BJ’s.

 

An amusing anecdote:  On Sunday morning before heading out shopping I’d said to Pinkie “It’s Game Day here so I’m required by the City of Philadelphia Charter to wear my Donovan.  You don’t have to, though.”  Everywhere we went, everybody had on Eagles gear.  Pinkie confessed that she’d thought I was taking the piss.  I have no idea why.  It’s not like I ever lie or anything.

 

“Well, this is it” I told her at the Art Museum.  “These are the famous steps.”  “Why are they famous” Pinkie asked curiously.  “’Why are they famous?’ You’re kidding!  These are the Rocky steps!” 

 

“I never saw ‘Rocky’” Pinkie sniffed.  “Sylvester Stallone is in it and it’s about boxing.” 

 

I wanted to take her directly to the airport without passing go and collecting $200 (which I could have used; boy, did I spend a lot on Sunday).  “You never saw ‘Rocky’?  What’s wrong with you?  It’s not about fighting.  It’s about Philadelphia, and love (ya know- ‘Yo, Adrienne’), and Italians.  And maybe just a teensy bit is about boxing.  Now run up those two hundred steps pronto and jump up and down pumping your fists when you get to the top like every-fucking-body else is doing!”  That part was true; the steps were clogged with idiot tourists running, jumping up and down at the top, and pumping their arms in the air like idiots.  Some people lead really sad lives. 

 

Just for that, I made her take a hundred pictures of me with the actual Rocky statue, and some snaps on my mobile, which I immediately whisked off to Tom, who was seriously missing me.  He emailed every day to tell me. 

 

I explained that Benjamin Franklin Parkway, which goes from the Art Museum at the top to City Hall at the end was designed by some French dude in 1917 and is a replica of the Champs-Elysees in Paris.  Minus the rude French people, of course.  It is really quite lovely with beautiful buildings and lined (weather permitting) with flags from every country, even the ones we don’t like.

 

Princie was horrified that we planned to walk all the way to Independence Hall, suggesting cabs were a good idea.  “We walked ten miles in the middle of the night for Sam” we reminded him smugly. 

 

Okay.  We never made it to the Liberty Bell.  But not for lack of trying or laziness.  The first distraction was Wanamaker’s.  I know it’s not Wanamaker’s any more; it’s Macy’s.  But Philadelphians still call it Wanamaker’s.

 

“You must have seen ‘Mannequin’” I told Sister Fussy About Movies.  “It was about clothes.  You love clothes.”

 

Pinkie agreed that she loves clothes and that she’d actually seen the damned movie.  “Well, it was filmed here.  And I’ll show you the Eagle- the one everybody says ‘Meet me at the Eagle’ about and voila! does.” 

 

I pointed out various incredible sights like the gold organ, but before I knew it, she dragged me up three levels on the escalator to ‘Women’s Fashions’.   She tricked me.  “Where’s ‘Women’s” she inquired casually.  “Third Floor” I answered before I realized it was a trick.   It was Columbus Day and there was a sale.  Several hours later I dragged her out the front door muttering “’Blow Out?’  John Travolta?  It was only sorta-kinda about motorcycles.  He drove his right through that front window in the movie.”  Some people can’t be educated about the finer things.

 

We made it four blocks before I said “Modell’s! ‘Gotta Go to Mo’s’ is their slogan.  And I do.  Gotta go.”  And besides the stuff I bought for me, several people of the manly persuasion will be thrilled with their Eagles boxer shorts.

 

We made it two more blocks without incident.  But it was the Burlington Coat Factory.  We couldn’t just walk past it, could we?

 

Finally Princie rang that we needed to go home.  He was tired from sitting in his office all morning and wanted a nap before we all changed to go to Wilmington and meet Abe & Janet for dinner.  He looked at all the bags and asked suspiciously “How was Independence Hall?”

 

“Stirring.  Patriotic.  Filled with Japanese tourists” I ad-libbed most creatively I thought.  “Pinkie was very moved by it all.  Especially the Declaration of Independence.  She loved Nicholas Cage in ‘National Treasure’.”  Pinkie nodded in agreement, subtly sending me the ‘What the fuck are you on about now?’ look. 

 

I think she needs to spend a little less time shopping and more time focusing on M. Night Shyamalan.

 

      

‘ONION’ NOT ‘UNION’, BFF

Published October 14, 2009 by jean cohen
See?  I’m doing so many things I can’t remember them.  And I have no time to sit and blog them.  I know we did something on Friday night…
Oh yeah!  It was Princie’s birthday.  His girlfriend made dinner.  An Italian dinner.  She is very brave or very foolhardy.  Nobody, except members of my immediate family, serves Italian food to me.  Friends and more family members came over and it was a jolly evening.  I think.  My opinion of the meal was expunged in the interests of family harmony and/or a place to stay the next time I come home. 
 
Something else occurred, but Princie swore he’d whack me if I told.  Once I’m safely back in Weybridge, I will spill the beans.
 
On Saturday morning Stuart and I had Breakfast in a Diner (a truly American experience) with Zack and Eric, Stuart’s gorgeous sons.  I have to confess that I was a bit dismayed to be addressed by an 18 year old and an almost 16 year old (who is 6’ tall; how the hell did he fall out of the Cohen tree?) as ’Bubby’.  ’Bubby’ is Yiddish for ’Grandmom’.  “Hey, dudes” I suggested, “I’m really informal.  ’Jean’ is fine; ’Hey you’ is okay; ’Yo’ works for me.  Don’t fucking call me ’Bubby’.  I’m not technically anybody’s grandmother, nor do I want to be.”  No.  Of course not.  I have to get married first in order to be a bubby.  Just ask Gene if you don’t believe me.
 
I coaxed Stuart into taking me to the Grand Opening of a brand new Tar-jey Store (two floors!) even though he bitched and moaned.  I am quite  unmoved by manly distress about shopping.  I did relent and let him drag me back to his house so he could have a nap (the shopping ‘exhausted’ him) while I blogged, answered emails and texts, decided what to wear out that night and watched college football on TV. 
 
Pinkie trained it up from Balty to Wilmington, and we picked her up at the Amtrak station on the way to dinner with my cousins.  I’m not sure who made the arrangements, but you will be totally surprised.  We went to an Italian restaurant.  Yeah, I know; you don’t have to tell me. 
 
And it was lovely to see my cousins, even Joanne who almost started a war by insisting that Sicilians invented the meatball.  Boy, ever since the Puccio cousins went on vacation to Sicily they got a little crazy.  Maybe there’s a Costa Coffee there or something.  And everybody knows that the Sicilians didn’t invent diddley-squat except the Mafia and those really yummy olives (the green ones).  We all almost came to blows over whether we’re considered Abruzzi or Neapolitan.  Just your typical Incollingo get-together; screaming, cursing, and death threats.  I really missed my cousins.  Stuart said he felt like he was appearing in an episode of ‘The Sopranos’.
Funny really.  Of the six Italians at the dinner, only one of us is actually an Italian citizen.  That should count for extra points instead of being told to shut up because  “you’re the baby of the family“.
 
Sunday was a shopping day for Pinkie and me.  I really wanted to spend twelve hours watching football with the guys;  I really wanted to shop.  This is known as ‘conflict’, or in this case, ‘Nuclear Meltdown’.  Stepson #1, 2 or 3 (I forget) “There’s this new show called the ‘Red Zone’.  It switches to that specific game when any team gets to the 20.”  I started to cry.
 
Pinkie wasn’t having any of that.  “Take me to the Mall” she ordered.  “And not any old mall; the King of Prussia one — The Church of St. Nordstrum Rack, to be specific.”
 
We made two brief pit stops, a visit to Jerry and Matt at Har Jehuda (they were chuffed to see me; I left a pound coin instead of a stone for each of them) and a quick two hour mooch at B.J’s.  Stuart asked very seriously if he should remove the back seats from the Mother of all SUV’s.
 
I whisked Pinkie up to KofP like I’d never been away.  (And I made her put the game on the car radio so I could at least hear what was going on.)  We pillaged Nordstrum, then Penney’s, then a bunch of minor stores.  Since I was feeling a great deal of love for my BFF, I confided “Ya know, there’s a Marshall’s here.” 
Pinkie was gobsmacked.  “There’s a Marshall’s???  In King of Prussia?  Why haven’t I ever been there before?” 
 
“I don’t fucking know” I told her, insulted that she was hinting I’d been holding out on her.  “Maybe because the last time you were here we dropped you off at Macy’s at 8:00 AM and you didn’t call to get picked up until 7:00 PM.  We were all starving.  We thought you got kidnapped by the Mexicans.” 
 
So I took her to Marshalls.
 
Cadet Cohen was meeting us at Princie’s for supper.  She was bringing hoagies.  This required fifteen phone calls to build the perfect hoagie. 
Pinkie answering my American mobile as I negotiated mall traffic on a Sunday (absolutely terrifying): “It’s Marina.  Do I want ’capicola’ on my hoagie?”  Me:  “No.  You won’t like it.  But I do on mine.  Lots of it.”  Pinkie: “Marina again.  Do I want ’American’ or ‘provolone’?”  Me:  “Don’t give a rat’s ass.  I want provolone and lots of it.”  Pinkie:  “Mayonnaise, please.”  Me: “You ordered mayonnaise on your hoagie?  Ewww!”
 
When we got back to Springfield, the guys had eaten without us, so we grabbed our hoagies and sat down to watch football– any game.  The Eagles had already taken care of business; they crushed the Buccaneers while we were shopping.  Pinkie spent about an hour plucking onions out of her hoagy.  The cadet forgot to tell her that normally they’re jam-packed with raw ones.
 
Note to readers:  I was excited when they opened a Subway on the High Street in Weybridge.  Unfortunately, the franchise holder thinks it refers to the one that runs underneath New York City.  I would tell you some of the sandwiches they offer but you would puke.
 
Note to the Creator of the Universe:  Thank you, Adonai, for making Donovan’s rib all better and his head in a Happy Place.  (He was positively brilliant.  Even New Jersey Babe said it; a BIG concession for a G-men fan. )
 

IT’S ONLY WORDS

Published October 10, 2009 by jean cohen
I woke up on Wednesday morning to the joy of Things…American Style.  Hey!  The toilet flushes every time.  Even if you try to trick it and sneak away for like five minutes.  When you creep back (don’t put the light on to further confuse it) damned if it doesn’t obligingly flush anew.  I almost stayed in all day to just keep flushing all five of them. 
 
 
But then I had a shower.  In continuously hot, hot water.  Aah!  Ooh! Wowie Zowie!  And a whole bunch more words like that!  It was almost better than sex.  Actually it was a lot better than sex with certain people, but too damned close to call in a few specific cases.
I made proper, real American coffee.  I threw trash into the compactor.  I made some food waste so I could stick it down the garbage disposal and watch it get gobbled up.
 
This was all very entertaining, but there was a huge mother BMW SUV parked out on the driveway with my name on it.  (What it really said was “Please don’t drive me.  I’m very fond of my bumpers, taillights, etc.”)
 
I hopped in and ordered “Take me to a Mall; any old one will do.”  Nope.  Despite being German (I thought their cars could do everything) it expected me to pilot it.  I’m adventurous and, hey, it‘s the US of A, so I did.  The vehicle and I both survived the jaunt just fine.
 
I found a gigantic mall with no trouble (did anybody really think I wouldn’t?) and spent a splendid nine or twelve hours in Target, Kohl’s, The Church of St. Annie Sez and some other stores.  And I went to Geunardi’s.
 
Supermarkets are pretty neat, American people.  You should get down on your knees and thank Yahweh for Mr. Acme, Mr. Geunardi, and all the other Misters.  It went okay until I checked out.  I paid, and put my Club Card number in the little machine (it remembered me!)  A man at the end of the aisle took my groceries.  “Yo” I said with attytood.  “Whassup, dude?  Whatcha doin‘ wit‘ my Breyers Orange Creamsicle Yoghurt?”  I am in suburban Philadelphia after all and I speak the local dialect.  He looked confused (I can always tell).  “I’m bagging them, Madam” he said huffily. 
 
“No shit?” I shrieked incredulously.  “You’re bagging my groceries?  Really?  You’re not five finger discounting them?  How come?  Is it because I’m handicapped?”  I think that’s about when he started looking around for the Rent-a-Cop.  
 
Perhaps I have been away from the amber waves of grain and purple mountain majesties, not to mention the fruited plains (which is not a Gay Airline Company despite what anybody tells you), a bit too long.
 
Wednesday night Cadet Cohen came over to visit me.  Yes, my sweet little princess daughter has joined the ROTC at Widener and confided that she can take apart and put back together an M-16 rifle.  I am sure that’s a valuable skill to have.  After all, one probably has to take it apart to fit it into one’s Louis Vuitton.  Otherwise it would stick out and not match unless you happen to be wearing gun metal grey.  (Not in the color palette of Warm Autumns.)  
 
Princie, my own petite ‘Pvt. Benjamin’ and I had a lovely dinner at the Clam Tavern. 
 
Thursday was Reach Out and Touch Everybody Day.  I rang all the people I want to see while I’m here and confirmed various engagements.   Like Israeli Guy is driving over to Clifton on Thursday night to see me at Scary’s house.  That kind of thing.
 
Thursday night I had dinner with a dear friend, Flora.  I’d not seen her since she was passing through London a few years ago.  We’d worked together- I was her mentor and boss at Rosenbluth- and it was great to catch up on all the people we’d worked with together and mutual friends.
 
Friday was (gulp) lunch with His Honorableness, Judge Cohen.  I made Stuart promise to come to deflect some of the heat. 
I didn’t want to get up at the crack of dawn and go into the city with Stu so I said I’d make my own way into town.  Not that I wasn’t up.  I can’t adjust to the time.  I’m up at 5:00 every morning.  I never was a good traveler, despite all the jetting around.
 
I’d planned to take the trolley to 69th Street and then the El to Center City.  Nobody told me about the ’Exact Change’ thingy.  I think the last time I used public transportation in Philly I was in high school. 
 
I boarded the trolley and handed the driver my lone $10 bill (all the American money I had).   “Exact change only” he growled at me.  “Oh!  This is all I have” I explained.  “I’m from England and I’m just visiting.”  And that is true after all.  He glared at me so I turned around and asked the  other riders “Anybody got change of a $10?”  Naturally, they all just ignored me.
 
I went back to the conductor and offered with my winningest smile “Here’s two pounds.  It’s worth way more than two bucks.  You can give it to your kids for Show & Tell.”  “I can’t take that” he told me, shaking his dreadlocks at me.  “Just go sit down.”  Rasta Trolley Driver was a sweetheart!  I thanked him profusely for whisking me to 69th Street for free.  Of course, other people got on the trolley for free too, but they all were carrying weapons.
 
The el part went smoothly after I broke my $10 and asked the agent “How many dollar bills to go to 15th & JFK?”  It was another glorious day, warm and sunshine-y, so I wandered around City Hall soaking up rays and local color, and some dollars at a Wachovia ATM, before heading down to the restaurant to meet Gene.
 
Stuart was late (damn him) but my brother-in-law is a kinder, less judgmental guy these days.  After the obligatory “You look fantastic! England certainly agrees with you” (Him) and “Gee!  You’re even balder than Jerry now” (me), his first question was “So are you getting married?” 
 
I was a bit flummoxed.  “Um.”  To whom?  “No.  I don’t think I am.  I don’t think anyone’s asked me, to be honest” I confessed.  “Except Cheese Boy, and he didn’t really mean it.”  Of course I felt like I was on the Witness Stand or maybe even already in The Electric Chair. 
 
“Well, according to Your Blog …” he went on.  Fuck!  Fuck!  Fuck!  He still reads the blog?  Have I been a teensy bit indiscrete in the blog?  I think that might be a ‘yes; occasionally’. 
 
It was really a delightful lunch and I was truly happy to see Gene.  I promised to be better about keeping in touch, and made a mental note to be a little more circumspect… at least in CyberSpace, since the world really does revolve around me.
 
 
 

COMING TO AMERICA

Published October 8, 2009 by jean cohen
The last couple days in England were cold and damp.  And pissing down rain.  In other words, the usual.  It wasn’t hard to be excited about going home; Action News on line boasted ‘Sunny!  75 degrees!”
 
Sunday was what is becoming a typical day.  Noon:  Fundraiser Launch and luncheon at Syn.  4:00 PM:  Community Tea Party at Syn with neighbours who are not crazy about living right bloody next door to a synagogue.  6:00 PM: Meet Caroline and Katie at Runner in Cobham for ‘one quick drinkie’.  8:00 PM: Date.  Most embarrassing to admit, I only changed outfits twice.
 
Special Note:  A gigantic Mazel Tov! to Katie and Colin on their engagement.  Special special note: her ring is Yummy!
 
On Monday, Pinkie and I did a final mooch on the High Street, doing last minute errands.  Pinkie needed to pick up dollars, but I didn’t have to.  My magic Wachovia ATM card will obligingly spit Hamiltons and Franklins at me when I’m across the Pond, instead of Elizabeths.  I did had to buy another currency convertor for my hair straightener.  And to charge my American mobile, which I almost forgot I had and couldn’t actually find in my junk drawer.
 
My British mobile chose to die a horrible death a few days before the trip.  Well, at least it did die; I might have been responsible for the horrible part by repeatedly throwing it at the wall.  Repeated calls and visits to Useless Carphone Warehouse got me nowhere, so I just gave up and bought a new one.
In a perfect world (i.e. anywhere that is not Britain), the new phone would have arrived, Eamonn or any child under 12 would have popped, plugged, and stuck in it whatever makes those puppies magically work.  My new phone disappeared into a black hole in a DHL truck somewhere on the M-whatever, necessitating a JAP tantrum and Pinkie and I having to drive to the netherworld (okay, it was Chessington) for a hostage negotiation.
 
Pinkie rang every seventeen minutes on Tuesday morning with a progress report.  (I timed her.)  “My little suitcase is packed!”  “My little suitcase is in my big suitcase!”  “I have schpielkas!”  I was trying to finish up some work for the Thanksgiving Do.  “Pinkie” I begged, “Save it for the plane.  We’ll be sitting next to each other for eight hours.  I’ll be the Vietnamese guy and you’ll be Ted Striker.” Ring. Ring.  “Are we wearing our Donovan jerseys to Baltimore, or just on the way home?” 
 
Leaving the UK was surprisingly uncomplicated.  Of course, the Home Office is always happy to wish me a ’Ta ta, Cheerio! (And don’t bloody come back!)” 
The flight was fine and I actually slept a good bit of it, assisted by three bottles of merlot and the little blue ’happy pill’ Princie thoughtfully left for me when he crossed the pond the other way.  I woke up and got a bit teary as I poked Pinkie to say “That’s the Home of the Brave down there!  Look.  There’s Camden Yard.”
 
As a US citizen returning from abroad, I had to fill out a customs declaration.  Pinkie had to do a white form, a green form and maybe even the pink one.  The declaration asked ’where do you reside’ and I got a little nervous about it, but I did answer ’United Kingdom’. 
 
When I got to the window, the first strange thing was the officer smiled at me.  I turned around in case his Mom or a Baltimore Raven or whoever coincidentally just happened to be passing.  Nope.  He smiled at me.  “You live in the United Kingdom” he asked.  “Yes” I answered cautiously.  “Welcome home!” he said, smiling again.  “Enjoy your visit.”  Wow.  Americans in America are sure very cheerful people. 
 
Princie was waiting right outside for us, and after more tears, hugs and kisses, we dropped Pinkie off at her hotel at Inner Harbor.  We won’t see each other for five whole days!  But we’ll talk on the phone constantly.
 
As we drove up dear familiar treacherous I-95, Stuart asked what I wanted first.  No contest whatsoever.  “A jumbo Wawa cappechino and a cheesesteak with ’double wit’” I moaned.  Mmmmm!  They were both heavenly.
 
I’m really here.  Home.  Well, it’s not home; Weybridge is.  But it is home.  I guess it always will be.