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All posts for the month November, 2009

THE THANKSGIVING (sob) BLOG

Published November 27, 2009 by jean cohen

Time for my annual, the only completely serious blog- the Thanksgiving Edition.

 

Funny, I’m not feeling especially thankful this year.

 

Not that things are awful.  As usual, most of my life is great.  I think I need to add up the highs and lows of the year and reassure myself that it was a damned good year and rates suitable gratitude and pride in my accomplishments.

 

All those people I wrote about being grateful for last year- well, almost all of them – are still a huge part of my life and doing the stuff that makes me appreciate them.

 

And this year I got to go home and see all of the American ones, reconnecting and catching up in person.  My cousins, Abe and Janet, even my brother-in-law.  Pat and Mike.  Israeli Guy. 

 

And Stuart, naturally.  The real, true constant in my life.

 

So I guess one tick on the grateful side of the page. √

 

My bond with my British friends, the blokes and Pinkie and BooBoo, is still as strong as ever.  Lulu: you don’t ring or pop into mine often enough.  So another grateful tick. 

 

And I can’t fail to mention becoming undivorced from Toots.  I’m so glad I initiated that.  We talked on the phone for three hours the other night!   Clarifying things, it was three 59 minute conversations; Thank you, Sky Talk. 

 

And even though I was extremely pissed off at her, Scary Fairy will always be a part of my life.  I don’t like getting divorced from my friends and I still love her. 

 

I’m fortunate for both of the Davids who’ve come into my life since last Thanksgiving.  JDavid has taken me in a new direction professionally, and BDavid has proven to put his hard work and considerable skills where his mouth is.  √√

 

I’ve added new friends, too; Deb, my fellow American, Carol, my fellow shop-a-holic, and Brenda and Sarah, from Sam. 

 

I did lots of ‘good works’, my charity gigs, and stuff at shul, so I feel like I haven’t wasted most of my time on frivolous pursuits.  But I sure enjoyed the frivolity, especially Amsterdam with Pinkie and Sunderland with BooBoo.  And Cousin Lenny with Irish Lad. 

 

My love life continues to be a train wreck or a twelve vehicle pile-up on the Schuylkill Expressway, depending on which day it is.  It shouldn’t matter so much.  I know that intellectually.  But it still does.

 

Last year I was grateful that Bagpipe Guy came back into my life.  I didn’t stay grateful very long, really.  He hung around just long enough to decimate my self-esteem a second time, and as if that wasn’t abusive enough, he turned up to do it all over again in the Fall.

 

Sadly, the whole category ‘Guys’ gets a tick on the Dark Side. 

 

Naturally, other people disappointed or hurt me, too.  Like Janette, with that whole business about the blog, which I still honestly don’t get.  And Cousin Bernie.  But other people reached out in unanticipated and kind ways, so I guess that still earns a tick on the plus side. 

 

If I wanted to be completely forthright and brutally honest, I would talk about Marina being in my life this year.  I don’t, and I won’t.  A tick on the negative side. 

 

I performed my yahzreits and honored my loved ones with dignity and grace.  I am a mensch.

 

Okay.  That’s a lot of pluses and only a few minuses.  So I guess I am actually grateful.  This year’s journey through the Wilderness had some rough patches, but I’m still here and I’m still happy.

 

Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope you all have a lot to be thankful for, too.

 

 

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‘…PENNSYLVANIA AND SOME HOMEMADE PUMPKIN PIE’

Published November 25, 2009 by jean cohen

I jumped ahead a bit with the mobile crisis for chronology, but obviously the day of the Thanksgiving Feast was not the most auspicious time to be without a mobile.

 

My cooks for the various vegetables and desserts were all lined up and had their instructions from me, General Cohen, so that was one item ticked off my huge list.

 

I got up early and whipped up sage stuffing and green bean casserole for 70 people.  Separately, of course.  I don’t want you to infer that I mixed them together.  And no, that’s not an exaggeration or a whopper.  I bought all the necessary ingredients except green beans when I was in the States and Stuart shipped it to me. 

 

Booboo popped in to the Butcher and picked up the turkey (uncooked) which she dropped off at mine.  Then I cooked the turkey.  Really.  I have to be honest here and admit that Boo and I checked for clues but we couldn’t figure out if it was a ‘Tom’ or a ‘Hen’. 

 

All kidding aside for a change, I have cooked a turkey before.  Many times.  There were a lot of Thanksgiving holidays during my other life as Sadie the Married Lady.  Including one memorable year when I made a completely Kosher Thanksgiving dinner because my brother-in-law’s girlfriend-of-the-month was ultra orthodox and he begged me.

 

The English turkey of undetermined gender and I got along just fine; in fact, it was cooked to perfection- moist and juicy with a lovely crispy skin.  Happily, my oven doesn’t even go up to 325 degrees, and I remembered that 190 is the British 325.  Fifteen minutes per pound unstuffed is the way turkeys prefer to be cooked here; the same as at home.

 

My setting up team was due to meet me at Jesus Christ Prince of Peace at 3:30 to put up the tables and then decorate and set them.  Boo and I walked in at 3:00; we’d schleped a full carload of stuffing, stringbean casserole, decorations, hot trays, etc.  (Mr. Turkey was left home to cool on the counter.)

 

Imagine my surprise to find a crew of painters on scaffolding painting the bloody room.  And all the curtains down.

 

Yes, I did get hysterical.  I remember saying “Jesus Christ!  Prince of Peace!” quite a few times, among other things.  This was not cursing; I was simply orienting myself to time and place.  I calmly went off to find the Church Secretary.  (The ‘calmly’ part is, in fact, a really big one.)

 

She apologized profusely for the screw-up, and made the painters pack up and go.  We opened all the windows to dissipate the smell, and got busy.

 

I had a nice man called Ben who set up all the tables and chairs and a decorating crew comprised of two Sam Beare committee ladies and Pinkie and BooBoo, my long-suffering BFFs.  I’d picked up table decorations and a giant Thanksgiving flag in the States, and they did a beautiful job.  The tables were done in Fall colors, with green floral runners and gold and green napkins, and little gold and brown and purple leaves sprinkled about, and cute little pumpkins for the table numbers.

 

Meanwhile, David had arrived for duty as Chef.  Regular readers will remember that I met David at the Salvation Army in Addlestone on Christmas Day last year.  He cooks the entire dinner every year.  We’d kept in contact and he’d agreed to work at my Do.  He was amazing.

 

He made all of the pumpkin pies, some of the Laura Bush’s Sweet Potato Puree, and heated everything to perfection with perfect timing, and then carved the turkey with aplomb and poise as the guests came to the serving window.  We served the veg buffet style, at two stations.  He even dressed for the occasion in a wild Western shirt.

 

We had music (a jazz trio), entertainment for the children, a Raffle, and a Silent Auction.  An artist friend from shul donated two pieces of original work, and someone whom I don’t know, donated a beautiful handmade American quilt with a Thanksgiving theme.  Marion, the Events Organizer from the Hospice, made a little speech and said Grace, and I explained the history and symbolism of the holiday and the food served, which I wrote beforehand.  I’m not good speaking extemporaneously.

 

Amy, Pinkie’s lovely daughter, was the Hostess and buffet manager, greeting guests at the two stations and generally managing the food.  In fact, managing everything.  She didn’t stop all evening; serving, clearing, answering questions and making the guests feel special.  Pinkie, and I, got tons of compliments about Amy all night long. 

 

We had 75 guests, which actually was a perfect number.  I don’t think we’d have coped with 120, which we’d hoped for initially.  And again, friends from Sam and the Centre came, friends from shul and people in Weybridge whom I now know, at least as acquaintances.  My new fellow committee member at Friends of Weybridge Centre came with her husband, the Surrey County Council Member.  She brought along two friends.  She started to introduce me.  “We know each other” I told her.  “We belong to the same synagogue.”  Little towns!

 

This is the shameless bragging part.

 

We raised over £1500.00 for the hospice!  The auctions and raffle did quite well, and David had the crafty idea of selling all the left over pies and vegetables.  They went like hotcakes.  

 

Anne, my Co-Chair, who missed the actual event, and I are going to have a party to thank everybody who worked so tirelessly to make it a success.

 

I was quite full of myself Friday night after endless compliments right into Saturday with a steady stream of congratulatory phone calls.

 

Everyone said “Next year we should …” so I think it A Traditional American Thanksgiving Dinner has become an annual not to be missed Event in the Weybridge Social Calendar. 

 

I am quite pleased with myself, even if ‘Someone’ isn’t.

 

I have to add a postscript here in the interests of Honesty, Fair Play, and other boring character traits.

 

Ira Gershwin popped in to visit me.

 

Yeah, at 3:30 in the morning.  Maybe it was the four slices of pumpkin pie I snarfed.

 

Anyway, he was mad that I’d quoted from his song (and his brother’s) in the blog without giving them credit.  Everybody’s a critic. 

 

There were a lot of ‘Oy veys’ and ‘Gottenus’ tossed around and I thought “Gee, my bedroom is busier than Grand Central Station and I’m not even having sex with most of them.”

Of course I apologized profusely for my oversight and any offense caused.  Blogging is a tiring profession.  Trust me.

 

In true JAP style, though, I got the last word.

 

“Um.  Mr. Gershwin?  Next time could ya just Twitter me at the Wailing Wall?  I pick up my messages on Wednesday.”

 

 

HELLO, IT’S ME. HELLO?

Published November 23, 2009 by jean cohen

I had my coffee date with Barry, but there was absolutely no spark.  No reason in particular; ‘I’m fussy’ comes to mind.  I just didn’t fancy him and drank my cappechino in warp speed and got out of Dodge.  I got an email saying I wasn’t very nice, but, seriously, so what else is new?  Who ever said I was?

 

I didn’t even make it to the ‘meeting for a coffee’ stage with Richard.  It started off with some okay emails and two seemingly normal phone chats.  We made arrangements to meet, but then I got that email.  Basically, and I am trying very hard not to be crude or smutty here, it talked about me being naked and him sucking lots of body parts, including my toes – which I absolutely detest, if anyone’s interested; I don’t even like pedicures.  

 

Anyway, I thought “Gee.  I didn’t know Café Uno was a Bare Naked Coffee Shop.  I was planning on wearing that stunning new black and cream jacket with the embroidered flowers.  With those amazing winter white trousers.  I guess I’ll be kinda overdressed.”

 

Never mind what I really muttered to myself.  Discretion is the better part of blogging so that supposed friends and critics don’t get their panties in a bunch.  I just emailed him and said ‘No thanks.  Forget it.” And blocked him from contacting me again.

 

I was frantically getting stuff done for the Turkey Fest, running around and making poor BooBoo drive me to ‘around’ all day when my brand new mobile chose to die.  It’s six weeks old.  BooBoo, and naturally any child under the age of six, knows how those little suckers work. 

 

She took out the battery and gave it the Kiss of Life.  “It’s got a battery?  I thought the mystical magic comes through, like, the air” I said, seriously impressed.

 

She fiddled with (in a totally appropriate, non-sexual way; I saw her hands and the thingy during the entire fiddling) the SIM card.  “What’s a SIM card” I asked, just for something to say that sounded even remotely interested.

 

Dr. BooBoo diagnosed a broken SIM card.

 

I was actually quite relieved.  Because she had been mumbling some stuff.  And it was harsh.  I definitely caught ‘Stephen King’ and ‘Carrie’ and ‘frying electrical devices by just touching them’.  “Seriously, Boo” I defended myself huffily, “English electricity doesn’t like me.  Like the Home Office.  I’ve only killed three or four hairdryers, one straightener, and one TV.  Oh yeah, and one VCR.  And two mobile phones.  This one isn’t my fault.  You just said so.”

 

She gave me The Look and I added, “Besides, if I had real Carrie-power, do you honestly think you-know-who would still be alive and functioning in you-know-where? I wouldn’t waste it on a bloody phone.”

 

Booboo decided we needed to call Orange.  Like I wasn’t stressed enough.  She actually did the talking, but she had to practically hit me by hour three of her conversation with Customer Support in Delhi.  I was trying to grab the phone and hang it up; just because I’d gone a teensy bit insane just listening to her side of the conversation.

 

Customer Support has a clever little trick.  Just repeat the same thing over and over until the downtrodden English person on the other end of the phone’s head explodes.  Piyush did it, until he accidentially on purpose disconnected Booboo.  Then Dibnasu did it when she called back and started all over again. 

 

Finally, she convinced him that she wasn’t me and actually knew her way around a SIM card and the inside of a mobile.  His diagnosis: the SIM card was broken. 

 

They agreed that Orange would dispatch a new one immediately.  To be delivered by courier on Saturday, between the hours of 8:00 AM and 6:00 PM.  I could not leave the house as I had to sign for it personally when it arrived.  You might think they were delivering some C4 or something.  And my next door neighbors never mind signing for my packages, even the ones of plutonium in the red boxes with the skull & crossbones.

 

Well, I expect Piyush and Dibnasu had a good laugh over that one.  I knew… I just knew… a SIM card was not going to turn up at mine.  And of course it didn’t.  I waited home all day.  Am I gullible or what?

 

And I didn’t even start calling Customer Service ‘til about 1:00 in the afternoon.  I won’t even go there; it’s too pathetic. I got six different stories from three different people in Delhi, but no SIM card.

 

I went to a Charity Do in West Byfleet on Saturday night with a new friend called Angela who lives in Turkey.  I met her at the Thanksgiving Do.  Although we hadn’t known it, we’d often been in the same place at the same time.  She worked for British Air in Washington, DC.  I attended a slew of BA Do’s over the years.  She mentioned the Concorde Launch Party at Dulles.  I was there.  So was she.   Ditto several unforgettable Christmas parties in New York.  And I was the Agent of the Year, twice, for selling the most tickets on BA in the Northeast Region, for which I was wined and dined fabulously by the Sales Team.

 

The Wine Bar was packed, and noisy, and we didn’t stay very late.  I wanted to get home and practice making my mobile phone self-combust.  Today mobile phones, tomorrow everybody who gets on my nerves.

 

Bloggers Disclaimer:  Booboo has vetted this entry and removed all curse words and ethnic slurs.

 

   

 

LET’S CALL THE WHOLE THING OFF

Published November 18, 2009 by jean cohen

I read back through sections of the blog Sunday night while I was watching the Packers take care of business and crush the Cowboys, which was a lot more fun than reading about myself in flashback mode.  The Eagles lost.  Again.  I know.  No more breathless play-by-play reporting on real, proper American football.  Can I just quickly mention that Notre Dame lost and Penn State won?  HaHaHaHa!  Okay.  Sorry.

 

I was curious; probably more the Red of angry than the ‘Yellow’ kind.  Smutty?  Cruel? Mean?  Actually, it was pretty tedious.  Banal comes to mind, too.  It seemed to be mostly about shopping, lunching, shul, meetings, shifts at Sam and the Centre, and not nearly as many fantastic dates as I most definitely deserve.  Maybe I missed the ‘Playboy After Dark’ blogs.

 

Saturday night was the long anticipated Trunk Show.  Naturally, being England, there was a nor’easter on Saturday with driving rain and hurricane force wind.  We’d cajoled Sanjay into letting us into the Centre in the morning while he did Meals on Wheels to set up.  I was a bit neurotic about getting everything organized and just right.  Pinkie and Carol were much more laid-back.  I stressed unnecessarily and probably annoyed my partners; it went brilliantly.

 

It really did.  The turnout wasn’t as great as we’d hoped, but a lot of women turned up despite the crappy weather.  It was polished and professional, and we all, including the other stalls we sub-let space to, made some coin. 

 

Best of all, everyone asked when our next Show was going to be and gave us input on what sorts of things they’d like to see next time.   

 

 

Patting myself on the back (hey, can I do that; will anyone get offended?) I was thrilled by the number of my friends who turned up to support me.  Co-workers from Sam and the Centre came, my new friend Deb, friends from shul, and even my hairdresser came, bringing some of her friends, including another American, named Gerry, with whom I instantly bonded.  I am (modestly, of course) a full-fledged presence in Weybridge now.

 

Ticket sales to the Thanksgiving supper have, fortunately, started to trickle in so it won’t be a total wipe out.  But I got another call from another local radio station asking me to come on the Wey Too Early Show on Radio Wey to talk about the dinner.  Hey.  I didn’t coin that slogan, and I didn’t make this up.

 

I spoke to the presenter (DeeJay to Americans).  He’d heard the interview on BBC1 Surrey.  He actually asked me “What do you serve on Thanksgiving with cream cheese in it?  You’re from Philadelphia; isn’t that where the cream cheese comes from?”  Feel free to groan; I did.

 

When I got to the studio, we went over what we’d be chatting about.  My friend Sarah, who’s doing the pie baking for the dinner, came along to get in a plug for the newest Sam Bric-a-brac Shop opening in Walton-upon-Thames. 

 

Unfortunately, or at least boringly, he wanted to talk about My Troubles.  Again.  I didn’t want to, and I told him that nicely.  He insisted.  He said it was the most interesting part of the story.  I gave in, ungraciously.  I’m really tired of Jarvo and the Eagles shirt, Immigration and getting deported, and the Italians.  Well, I mean I love the Italians.  I just don’t want to talk about all that business anymore to strangers.  Especially on the radio.  So, like, don’t ask me again.

 

Radio Wey – don’t get excited; they have, like, twelve listeners – offered me my own radio show.  Jon, the presenter, had read the blog and thought my Adventures in England would make a cute, humorous show, especially the mix-ups with British vs. American terminology.

 

We had one on the show, on the air.  Sarah mentioned the ‘Tomato Turkey’ we would be serving, and I kinda went “Huh?  Tomato turkey???”

 

“Yes” she said seriously, “The menu you emailed me; Turkey in tomato sauce.”

 

“Um… Sarah, it said ‘Tom’ Turkey’.  It means a boy turkey.  A girl turkey is a ‘hen’ turkey” I hastened to explain.  Maybe that’s why ticket sales weren’t wonderful.  Who the hell puts tomato sauce on turkey?  Yuck. 

 

Blogger’s Disclaimer:  While it is true that my family, being Italian, always served a pasta course on Thanksgiving, never mind the sixteen side dishes entirely comprised of carbohydrates and saturated fat with the damned turkey, we never, ever let the gravy (tomato sauce) get up close and personal with the bird.

 

“Besides” I added, always needing to get the last word, “It said ‘Tom’ not ‘tomato’.” 

 

Not to be outdone, Sarah countered with “But that’s how you abbreviate ‘tomato’”.

 

“No. No. Noooo” I replied. “Not where I come from.  Where I come from we abbreviate ‘tomato’ as ‘tomato’.  When we mean tomato, we just use the whole bloody word: ‘tomato’. It’s, like, four extra letters.”

 

Of course, what made this exchange even funnier was that Sarah was saying ‘Toe-Mah-Toe’ and I was saying ‘Ta-May-Toe’.  Yeah, just like that song Irish Lad keeps singing to me.  Thank some Divine Being (politically correct, generic, don’t piss off anybody name for you-know-who) we didn’t discuss the sweet Poe-tay-Toes or any of my many, many vacations in the Car-ib-be-in.

 

Anyhow, the Producer thought my blog was clever and funny, too. “Gee, I guess he doesn’t know Janette or Somebody” I thought.  Yeah.  It was another cheap shot.

 

I declined their kind offer, of course.  I have enough trouble making the time to write the damned thing as it is, let alone go regurgitate it on the airwaves in Surrey.  They said they’d like to invite me on the show from time to time just to ‘chat’.

 

Last night, I had a date with Tom.  Am I allowed to say that?  We had dinner at Il Ponte again, which has become ‘our’ Italian Restaurant.  I made a passing reference to Billy Joel, prompting himself to start singing it, in the restaurant.  This set us off on nattering about ‘diners’, ‘waterbeds’, and ‘Sears Roebuck & Co’. (Pinkie would have loved Sears.)

 

And being serious for a moment, this is one of the quirks I adore about Tom.  His mind is so quick, and our conversations go off into so many interesting directions.  After we did ‘Italian Restaurant’ and Christie Brinkley’s well publicized love life to death, we got onto the USS Arizona and Japanese tourists.  See what I mean? 

 

Appendix 1 – This blog was not intended to offend any citizens of Japan, even if they have ever been on vacation in Hawaii.

 

Appendix 2 – I like tomatoes, however you pronounce it.  They’re so …. Round…. And squishy.  Unless they’re Jersey ones; I don’t like Jersey tomatoes; they’re too juicy.  However, no tomatoes got their feelings bruised during the production of this blog.

 

Appendix 3 – I hate, loath and despise the Cowboys, as does everyone with class.  I’m glad they lost.  Ditto Notre Dame.  Sue me.

 

Appendix 4, relative to Appendix 2 – Further clarifying the issue of the origins of the red items under discussion, perhaps ‘don’t like’ is too strong an emotion.  Please edit that to read: ‘do not prefer the tomatoes grown in the Garden State, although I will graciously eat them without comment if they are served by the hostess.

 

FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

Published November 15, 2009 by jean cohen

Well, I had my fifteen minutes of British fame.  I was a guest on a local radio show called Surrey Breakfast with Nick Wallis.  Pinkie came with me for moral support (plus she drove).  The radio station is located on the campus of the University of Guildford, her alma mater.

 

In another one of those peculiar English twists, I learned on Thursday that ‘Guildford’ is pronounced ‘Gill-ford’; the ‘d’ is silent.  Like Chiswick is pronounced ‘Chis-ick’; because it is.  That’s the reason.  Really.

 

The radio station is BBC1-Surrey, which I guess is more or less local, covering the news and information about the towns that comprise the county Surrey.  They have this PR thing going, with posters, signs, even coffee mugs, proclaiming stuff like ‘Exciting in Esher!”, ‘Grand in Guildford’.

 

When I’d sent the producer a little blurb about Thanksgiving, he picked up on the little advert in my emails about my blog.  He read some of it, and was intrigued by the story of my quest to get back to England, my Home Office troubles and the Italian citizenship.  As I commented to BooBoo, all of that is so ‘yesterday’.  But they wanted to talk about it, on the air.

 

It’s ironic, really.  When all the bad stuff was happening, in real time, I couldn’t find anyone in the media, or connected, to do anything or provide any help at all.  Now it’s all in the distant past, and I did it… all on my own.  It’s not really that interesting any more. 

 

But I gamely told the story again, including the famous ‘meeting Jarvo at the Grotto wearing my Eagles sweatshirt’, so I could promote the damned Thanksgiving Dinner. 

Which, unfortunately, isn’t selling well.  Why?  I’m not sure.  Probably the economy has a lot to do with it.  And the plethora of competition by other fundraising events.  One could literally spend every weekend, and a few weeknights, at various ‘Do’s in Aid of Something or Other’.  Even the competition for raffle prizes for the various events is cutthroat.  Charity is a very competitive business.  I actually had a little table at a Christmas Fayre on Friday for Hands Across the Andes talking up the dinner.  I was right next to the table selling rosary beads made by the poor orphans in Ecuador or somewhere like that.  Come on.  You can’t eat rosary beads and call it a jolly evening.

 

Anyway, it was unbelievable how many people rang or emailed to say they’d heard it, including PPeter, my landlord.  Little towns!  Honestly.  If I want to catch up with anybody, I just have to go outside Sam for a fag during my shift.  Positively everybody in Weybridge will walk by at some point.

 

There’s a link to the site, so family back home and folks who missed it live got to, and still can, for a week or so, hear it: www.bbc.co.uk/surrey and click on ‘available now on BBC1 player’.

 

And while I’m on the subject of my blog- I was, wasn’t I? – a very peculiar thing happened.  I got divorced by another one of my friends.  Honestly, this is weird.  The reason is my blog.  Not that she read it; she’s not computer literate.  She’s known about the blog since I’ve known her, and I have talked about it with her.  It seems an unidentified ‘someone’ told her about it.  Exactly what I’m not sure.  But she used words like ‘smutty’, ‘mean’, ‘foul language’, etc.  She went on about a piece where I was ‘cruel to an old lady’.  I truly didn’t get what she was on about and said so.  Right before she hung up on me.  Twice. 

 

I went back and read like four months of blogs.  The rest of you got that ‘Mary’ wasn’t a real, specific person, right?  And that several different people could be ‘Charles’?  Parts of it were true, parts weren’t, and, all of it was written for comic effect.  I guess some people didn’t get that.  ‘Rita’ isn’t a single, specific lady either.

 

I try, very seriously, and except for a few ill-advised ones where I ventilated about a guy and shouldn’t have, to not take the piss.  Except on myself.  I am always the butt of my own stories.  But it’s about me.   And whatever has caught my fancy at a particular moment in time.  Remember the endless references to the Queen’s hats?  Chill.  I am so over Elizabeth II’s headgear these days.  And then it was Cousin Bernie for a bit. 

 

But since it is about me, that means everything that relates to said person, Jeano, is fair game.  Including my sex life, or lack of one, and my spiritual journey and the bumps in that particular road, as well as my ordinary successes and failures.  I’m afraid I can’t produce an Appendix with every entry to disclose what is word for word true, what’s a tad enhanced, and what got blown up to (hopefully) comic proportions.  Since I am assiduously endeavoring to live this life to the fullest, I obviously interact with many people, and other characters must make appearances from time to time or the anecdotes wouldn’t make any sense if I was the only one in them.

 

As I’m the one writing it, I think it’s my call when I want to emphatically emphasize something by using Anglo-Saxon words instead of ‘oh heck or ’gosh darn’.  Is there truly anybody left anywhere who can be shocked by a few expletives?  And the clue, ‘Someone’, whoever you are, is in the Tag Line: “The Truth Is So Boring If You Don’t Make At Least Some of It Up”.   That means artistic license to exaggerate or blue-pencil as the particular circumstances warrant.  Trust me; I metaphorically bite my tongue sometimes when I’d really like to ventilate.

 

A situation occurred last week that I briefly alluded to in the blog, not wanting to exacerbate it, and frankly, because I wasn’t sure if I was comfortable with the rationale purportedly behind it.  And there are sometimes incidents where it’s simply kinder or courteous to ‘not go there’.  As my true friends can attest to. 

 

What I find paradoxical, and more than a little eerily coincidental, is that I just mended a fence with a dear friend over a strikingly similar thing.  Who I am or who I chose to become.  And my feelings about this particular situation are precisely the same.  If I didn’t steal from you, burn your house down, or sleep with your husband, am I required to apologize to anyone for my personal behavior or defend my personal opinions?  If there’s a ‘Manual for Friends’ out there where it says ‘You will never do or say anything that some of your so-called friends might not approve of’ I haven’t read it, nor do I ascribe to it.  That is so not what friendships are built on.  I have very different views from many of my friends on a myriad of hot button issues.  I had a serious fight with CheeseBoy on one of them; then we agreed to disagree and not discuss the topic ever again.

 

At the most simplistic level, anyone who finds the blog untenable or inappropriate can simply not read it.  I don’t expect people to always agree with my choices (hell, I don’t always agree with my choices) or enjoy reading about American football.  (I get a lot of complaints on that topic.)  But I will confess; I do hope it’s usually pretty funny.  I’ve been assured that it is; maybe those readers haven’t read the ‘Manual for Friends’ either or simply grasp the concept of ‘hyperbole’.  And I occasionally learn a valuable life lesson, not always positively unfortunately, and I like to congratulate myself in print that I’m not always shallow and ditzy.

 

On another level, the blog has been around long enough that regular readers recognize the subtleties left unsaid or hinted at, and the running in-jokes.  And put up with the ones that are maudlin or self-analytical. I find it hard to fathom that anyone could label the totality  ‘dirty’ or ‘mean’, as it is a running journal of my personal journey through the wilderness.  We’re all mean or grumpy, or maybe even inappropriate, at certain times; but it surely doesn’t define who we are or invite labeling.

 

I think what was the scariest part of my newest divorce was that my ex-friend hadn’t even read any of the stuff she leveled accusations about.  She was making judgments and tossing out labels about me based on someone else’s impressions or interpretations and, sadly, their sense of humor.  And in what context?  The point of that anecdote was that I was running for a committee position that nobody wanted and I would have won even if this was Fall River and I was Lizzie Borden, let alone being a third of a love triangle.   Because this kind of shit… I mean poopoo … always happens to me.

 

I find it almost McCarthy-ish that I was tried and convicted in absentia and then denied an opportunity to state my position and defend my right to free expression, however I choose to employ it.  Twice.  She hung up on me twice.  Because I called her back because I couldn’t make sense of the whole thing after she hung up the first time and I was certain that as a grown up she would understand that hanging up on someone is… well …  really stupid.  Let’s move right past unfair to ignorant, childish, and pejorative. 

 

I hope it’s okay with the Thought Police out there that I like to use quotes sometimes to illustrate a point.  Wow.  Golly.  I hope Shakespeare is still politically correct and I don’t inadvertently offend anybody.  If I want to blatantly offend somebody, trust me, you’ll know it and they will too. 

 

This has been the month from Heck on so many different levels. 

 

‘When sorrows come, they come not single, but in battalions.’  

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT’S IN A NAME ANYWAY?

Published November 11, 2009 by jean cohen

Yes, it’s been a long time between blogs.

 

Although life in Jeano’s World is generally perfect, even I have the occasional rough patch.  My Muse is apparently on holiday in some other solar system and I haven’t felt like blogging.  Even a cuddle with the Alcohol Fairy couldn’t get the creative juices

 

What happened?  Stuff.  Yeah, that’s all you’re getting.  One of my New Year’s resolutions for Yom Kippur (along with ending World Hunger and resisting the temptation to wear black and white) was to be more circumspect in the blog.  No angst about my love life, or the toxic waste I seem to keep unwisely stepping in.  No thinly veiled insults about people who have disappointed, or more importantly, seriously pissed me off. 

 

So basically I had nothing to say.   Because I stepped into the doodoo again and ended up with bupkas and more hurt feelings.  Again.  And the most unlikely person in the universe fucked up royally, disappointed me, and made me so angry I had steam coming out of my ears and expletives spewing out of my mouth.  In shul.  Really.

 

Of course, other stuff – the usual good or amusing stuff – happened too.

 

I had a fantastic date with Tom.  He has lasted a hell of a lot longer than they usually do; it’s, like, four months.  Maybe we’re ‘going steady’.  Nah.  Maybe it’s just become a comfortable routine.  If only I could understand him when he talks.  Maybe not.  Maybe it’s better not to know what he’s on about.

 

But I guess it must be those expensive dinners; I like to eat.  And the cute/funny/sexy emails and texts.  I enjoy sparkling repartee.

I mean, what else could account for such longevity?

 

Anyway, I have dates with a ‘Richard’ and a ‘Barry’ penciled into my diary.  I just hope it’s not the Richard or Barry I already went out with.  That is just so ‘been there, done that’.  As a precaution, I just delete their emails if their names are ‘Peter’, ‘Steve’ or ‘Chris’.  I have a Losers List, and you can bet I check it twice before accepting new candidates.

 

My favorite Mike, the Sam one, rang me on Friday to ask a big favor.  He was in the shop on his own, and needed to leave a little early.  Could I pop over and close for him?  Of course I said okay and wandered over to the shop at 4:00.  I reassured Mike that I could handle all the closing tasks on my own and sent him on his merry way.

 

At precisely 4:20, the last minute browsers turned up as usual.  It’s a changing cast of characters, but they’re all on contract to turn up every single day to wander around in a zombie-like trance until we finally have to ask them to leave.  Great!  Friday’s crew included a woman with a push-chair the size of Houston.  That required opening both doors to get the bloody baby carrier inside, and then it took up half the shop. 

 

At precisely 4:29, she came to the counter with two books and inquired “Do you take cards”.  For a 3 quid purchase.  “No” I snapped, not really very nicely.  “Oh” she said, “I’ll dash to the hole in the wall”.  (This is what stupid women with giant push-chairs call the ATM.)

 

Then she said “Can I leave the push-chair here?”

 

Believe me, England is a very small country; it would probably fit on Exit 82 of the Garden State Parkway, with room left over for Vatican City.  And what with being simply crammed with illegal immigrants and terrorists who managed to score a legal visa, push-chairs are, like, the final straw.  They’re every-bloody-where and they’re huge.  I can’t imagine why people insist on reproducing even more tiny Brits to take up even more space.

 

Anyway, that pesky American syndrome kicked in… ‘I am here to provide service…’ “What?  What does ‘service’ mean?  Check one of the dictionaries in the Reference Section.  And I might actually smile by accidental; don’t take it personally.”  I said “okay”; a sale is a sale and Sam needs the bucks.  I mean pounds.

 

She dashed off and I rang up another last minute sale.  Then the push-chair started to howl. 

 

The other customer said “She left the baby in the chair” rather surprised.

 

I said “Bloody fucking hell!  She left the baby in the chair!”  I was way more than surprised.  Panicked comes to mind.  It did cross my mind that she’d abandoned Houston, plus the kid, in the Sam Beare Hospice Bookshop on a Friday afternoon when I had to dash home because I had an engagement.  I could be tied up for hours with the police and social services.  “What did she look like?  I don’t bloody know!  She was a woman.  I think.”

 

The other customer wasted no time getting out of Dodge, leaving me to stare at howling Houston wondering why shit always happens to me.

 

Ten long minutes later she returned mumbling about a ‘queue at the hole in the wall’.  You can bet I didn’t smile at her.

 

Another reason I haven’t had much time is the first ever Buy Design Trunk Show.  Partners Pinkie and Carol, and me, are having a clothing sale this weekend.  Very professional and extremely posh.  It’s being held at the Weybridge Senior Centre.  Don’t snicker.  It’s a lovely venue, large and airy, with a kitchen (plus dishwasher for the wine glasses) and nice loos (very important to ladies).  As I am now ‘connected’, what with being the Secretary of the committee and everything, I got a special discount rate for the rental.

 

Hopefully, it will be a huge success and the first of many such shows. 

 

And switching hats, I’m running around to meetings and events promoting the Thanksgiving Feast as well.  Although, frankly, Pinkie, Carol and I seem to have an awful lot of Buy Design Board of Directors meetings with an awful lot of wine.   

 

I’m going to be a guest on a radio chat show this week, on BBC1 Surrey, to talk up the dinner.  I’m sure I’ll bore you all senseless with the breathless details afterwards.

 

And of course there were many ‘ladies who lunch’ lunches and meets for drinkies.  So lots of fun stuff’s been going on in Jeano’s World too.

 

But I’ll end on a sad note.  Mary, my competition for Charles’, the gay Meals on Wheels Guy, passed away this week.  Gosh, she was the fourth senior this month.  It was actually quite sad, really, even though Pinkie kept taking the piss and mentioning that the way was now clear for me to make a move on Charles Saturday night while he’s chaperoning the Trunk Show.   Hmm.  I need to check my list; I don’t think I ever dated (a) a gay guy or (b) anyone called ‘Charles’.

 

 

YOU GET A NICKLE; I’LL GET A DIME….

Published November 1, 2009 by jean cohen

Sorry, but I have to start the blog with Proper, Real American sports again.

 

The Eagles spanked the pesky Redskins on Monday Night Football no less, which is always so special.  The Nittany Lions blanked the Wolverines 35 – 10.  So it was already an excellent weekend from a fan’s perspective.  I did watch the Bucs-Pats game on telly; it was played here after all.  But it was lame.

 

But.  But that’s not all!  The Phabulous, Phantastic, Phearce, Phrenetic Phillies captured the NCLS pennant in five and advanced to the World Series.  I wore my Phillies shirt in hommage.  Especially to that cute Cole Hammels guy.  That’s a pretty cool name, huh?

 

And I predict an East Coast World Series.  Yep, the Battle of the Joisey Turnpike.  The Damned Yankees will defeat the botoxed California Angels in the ACLS as soon as it stops raining in New York.  But not to worry.  The Phils will take game one in the House That Steinbrenner Built, 6 – 1, shutting up all those loud New Yawkers.  (I have ESP; okay, it’s really ESPN, but it sounded cleverer with ‘ESP’).

 

I’m afraid I have nothing terribly interesting to report.  Work, meetings for the Thanksgiving Feast, meetings for the Buy Design Trunk Show, shifts at Sam and the Senior Centre.

 

A date with Tom.  I cooked!  I made an ‘American’ turkey dinner.  Well, no, I didn’t cook an entire turkey; I made a turkey joint.  With ‘American’ accessories (I believe they’re called ‘vegetables’ by people who do the cooking thingy frequently).  Mashed potatoes (courtesy of Mr. Waitrose), Pepperidge Farm Cornbread Stuffing (courtesy of a bag smuggled home in my suitcase) and string bean casserole (courtesy of me).  With traditional apple pie for dessert.  I think the apple pie is still in my frig; Tom had other ideas about dessert.

 

Oddly, he ate almost all of the string bean casserole.  I got, like, two spoonfuls.  He kept saying “This is really delicious!”  Who knew men like green vegetables?  I had to write the damned recipe down for him.  But, much like Rosie the Terrible who never shared the true details of Cohen recipes, I kept the spoonful of Worcester Sauce to myself.  And he’s not gonna find Durkee French Fried onions at Sainsburys.

 

Due to a conflict in my schedule, I had to skip the Senior Centre’s marvelous bus trip to Camberley.  Golly.  Four whole hours wandering around Longacres Garden Center.  I’m so disappointed.  I did hoof it over to get them boarded onto the bus and make sure they had their name tags in place before I sent them off to have ‘fun’.  And we did lose one this time.  Really.

 

Longacres must have been so exciting that she came home, went to bed, and woke up dead.  Another one bites the dust.  Sadly, this was the second one in a week.  And both of them were members of the cliquey group of ladies who sit together and share a cheap bottle of wine at 11:00 and, truth be told, are very mean to the other ladies they don’t like.

 

“Where the hell does Sanjay buy that crappy wine?” I muttered to Hester when I heard the news about Joyce.  “It tastes like horses’ piss, not that I’m familiar with what horses’ piss tastes like.  I don’t personally know any horses.”  

 

I did wonder, secretly, if Rita, who has been frozen out by the bitchy ladies (she does natter on and on) like seventh grade, maybe is sneaking into the Tea Bar before it opens and putting poison in the Bookers Private Label- ‘We use the grapes that Tesco’s threw out’. 

 

I went to London on Wednesday instead, to have lunch at Eileen’s.  With my busy diary, I simply don’t get to see her much anymore. 

 

I was back at the Senior Centre on Friday morning to decorate for the Halloween luncheon, another of the responsibilities of being ‘On the Committee’.  And then I had to turn up again at the luncheon to support the Centre.  I gave this guy, Frank, my glass of Bookers’ Private Label in case Rita was having a really bad day.

 

On Saturday evening I turned up at three separate Sam fundraisers to promote the Thanksgiving Feast.  I had to give a little speech at each of them.  I did drink the wine they offered me at all of them, (I get really nervous when I have to do public speaking) but I did okay, I think.  They clapped and they didn’t throw anything at me. 

 

That wasn’t such a good idea, however, as I had to meet Pinkie and Carmen at the Queens Head after my duties were done.  They were a bottle of Zinfy ahead of me, but I soon caught up.  Carmen is getting married.  And somehow I am now in charge of organizing her Hen Do the night before the wedding.

 

It was Matthew’s yahrzeit this week, which is always a terrible time for me.  There was a heartbreaking tribute on Facebook.  And this coming weekend is Jerry’s yahrzeit.  I have an Aliyah at shul in his memory on Shabbat.

 

And also on The Darkside this week, I had to see those wonderful folks at National Health for my flu shot.  The flu here is very nasty (like the people who work in service industries) and I am in the high risk group.  Lucky me!  I got to have two.  The regular ‘Surpress the Urge to Smile at People’ kind and the brand-new, just whipped up Oink Flu vaccine.  I was a bit dubious; I don’t quite trust health care in Britain.  Why should I believe they came up with a vaccine?  I’m not convinced that they didn’t just stick me with a dose of Bookers Private Label.