Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
It is seldom, that I am critical of a woman's choice of hair designs. I defer to most women, as they, or their stylists seem to know what is best.
However in the case of the abrasive Tatiana Londono of the HGTV's The Property Shop, I am at a loss as to why this woman has been allowed to go on television with that mop on her head.
I may not be a fashionista - but look at that head of curls. It distracts from her face. It makes her look like a male lion. I don't even care that she's a c'nook - they have style consultants in Canada for God's sake! Maybe they don't want people to look at her face, but that hair has got to go.
The idea is that between the Jewish New Year (which was ten days ago) and tonight at Sundown, you are supposed to look over your life in the previous year and ask for forgiveness for all the wrongs that you have done to others. If sincere, God grants you "pass" for the year to come.
What I like about it is that whether or not it is true (I think it is, you may not, its your decision, no pressure, just think about, ok?) it gives one a chance to look back over a period of time and ask yourself, could I have been a better person.
So today, take a couple minutes and think about you life over the year. Could you have been a little nicer to someone? Kept your temper when you should have? Maybe did a really good deed? Made it a point to call your mother (or any other family member) just to say "hello...I'm thinking of you..." or any other thing that you think could enhance the lives of those around you and make a commitment to be a better person in the time to come.
It could save your life. At the very least, couldn't hurt, could it.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Each Sunday we put our quarters in the can so we could build a wall in Israel, or plant a tree in Israel. Then we listened to stories about how great it would be to live on a kibbutz, where we were toiled we as children would be handed over to live in a nursery while our parents toiled in the fields for the greater good. "In a kibbutz, you will play with other children and see your parents on the Sabbath," our Sunday school teacher said with dreams of collective equality in her voice.
For a kid growing up in a violent household, where the rage just simmered under the radar and insecurity was served with a heaping helping of passive aggressiveness, did nothing but make me anxious. In fact, I cried a lot. A child in a household like I had only wants to feel loved and secure, and for me, being secure meant being close to my mother. To take me to a place like the Israel of the 1960s was to drop me off in a desert, with a couple walls and no trees and deny me the only safe haven I knew of. Needless to say I dreaded being dragged to Sunday school.
But after Sunday school - that was the promise of fun because it meant we would get to become criminals and go buy things on the black market.
In the 1960s, Ohio still had Blue laws - laws that prevent the operation of businesses on the Sabbath - that dated to Johnny Tremaine days. This not only meant that there was nothing to do on Sunday and no where to go, but if you needed something basic like a gallon of milk, you were shit out of luck. Drug stores could open, but that was about it.
My dad knew someone who knew someone who worked at a drug store that was attached to a market in Cedar Road at Green Road. On Sunday's the drug store was open, but they dropped this curtain between the two stores and the supermarket was dark. The guy would let you - one by one - into the market to get a gallon of milk, but nothing else.
My father, who was a very law abiding person, aside from the illegal phone we had in our house, would let me come with him as we would make our way through the store, grab a milk, and take it to the guy, who would take the cash, put in a sack and then we would leave, coolly walking to the car with the package which could "land us in a whole heap of trouble if the police knew about it."
This was added to our litany of family secrets. But unlike the fights between my mother and father, and simmering hate in the household, the purchase of milk on Sunday morning and the spare phone we hid from the phone company so we wouldn't have to pay a rental charge on it, were two of the secrets that were never mentioned. Until now.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
- Bordinerro's Market on Chagrin Boulevard and Lynnfield Road. What I recall about this maket was that it was a neighborhood shop and that it was handy to the folks who lived in the area. My mother tells me that in February 1963 - before regular folk had 4 wheel drive - it got bitterly cold and there was lots of snow. I was just a baby and we ran out of milk. So they sent my brother out into the snow to go to Bordinerro's and get milk. He did, the wolves didn't get him and we're all alive.
- Shaker Hardware. I loved going to Shaker Hardware because they had everything, and the place smelled like a hardware store should smell. They had nails, screws, tools, fertilizer and a small toy section.
- Heinen's Grocery Store. There was Heinen's on Chagrin in the building that also housed Shaker Hardware. When I got too big to sit in the cart, I got to sit under the cart and crossed my legs "Indian Style". After paying for our groceries we handed them off to a man who took our cart and gave us a number, and clipped the same number of the cart. As a child I was terrified that someone would get our food and and we would get someone elses. Anyhow, we would get in the car and then Mom would drive around the front of the store and get in line. A small white tag with a metal clip was attached to the car window and we would wait for our cart to get pulled over and loaded in the trunk. They've since torn this white building down and built a new store in the 1980s.
-Benny's Bike Shop. This was a store on the NW corner of Chagrin Boulevard and Lee Road - and Lee Road was at Chagrin was the line over which we never crossed because bad things happened. But we went to Benny's and thats where we got our bicycles, which for me were always blue green. I say bad things because Benny had been robbed a couple times, and during one of the robberies he was shot and paralyzed and confined to wheelchair. AFter that we didn't get our bikes at Benny's - things change when guns are involved.
Friday, September 25, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
The good news is, Justice was served and the system works.
I was assigned to a civil trial, that was asked to find for the plaintiff and award damages for a rear end collision that occurred in 2003. We sat through two days of testimony, and deliberated for about an hour and a half.
The facts are thus:
Man gets rear ended by a driver who admitted fault. Man did not go to ER, even though his car was undrivable. He immediately, that day, went back to work. Five weeks later, man gets car back, and to date still hadn't seen a doctor. Shortly thereafter, man went to the doctor with the flu, "and oh, by the way, I was in an accident, could you look at my neck?" Man is told to take Advil to reduce inflammation, get an x-ray and use moist heat to loosen the muscles. Man ignores everything but the Advil. Says he's too busy to get treatment and will self medicate.
A YEAR AND A HALF LATER man goes to orthopedic doctor to have knee looked at that he injured with rough housing with his two sons, "and oh, by the way, I was in an accident, could you look at my neck and my back?" Man has three MRI's on lower, mid and upper spine. Diagnosis: arthritis and degenerative disc disease. In 2007, neither expert medical doctor could ascertain that Plaintiff's condition, and oh, by the way - he's 6'8", 295 lbs. and age 48 at this time - was because of the accident. His attorney had thrown the idea out that "maybe $10,000 is to little and $35,000 is too much."
The jury got this and we had to decide this on what we were told and what was probable, but we could not consider the possibilities. We poured over medical bills and through the limited doctor notes we had, looking at dates, charges, observations, direct evidence and circumstantial evidence.
The verdict was that the Plaintiff would receive reimbursement for one doctor's office visit, plus the cost of the three MRI's, and then a cash reward for pain and suffering for $750. Total out the door was well under $4 grand.
We come to find out that this is the second trial for this case, the first one arrived at a zero dollar reward. Under Ohio law, since fault was admitted, Plaintiff was entitled to some form of recognition of his pain and suffering, so the minimum amount that could be awarded was $1.
In meeting with the judge and the defense attorney, the Judge was wonderful. The attorney asked us if she had done something wrong, and we said that we saw this as a victory for the defendant because we awarded actual medical costs for just the three MRI's and the office visit, and we chose the $750 dollar amount to acknowledge his troubles.
We also find out after the matter is settled that Defendant (an insurance company, which we could not be told was a party to this matter) was only offering a total of $750 for everything.
So in the end, the defendant paid more than they wanted and the Plaintiff was $31k shy of what his attorney had loosely suggested. But I think that the Plaintiff still could have won a bigger award IF his attorney had tried to layout the activities that his client couldn't partake of because of the accident. As a side comment, we also noted how the Plaintiff said that he could drive for a half and hour in pain, but he sat in that courtroom for two hours without a fidgit. Juries do pay attention these things.
WORST MOMENT: The amount of energy it took to devote to stay awake and focused on the depositions. I remember every flipping moment of them.
BEST MOMENT: The Jury handed down a "Just" award and worked very well with each other. Each of us brought to the table our own uniqueness and it complimented one and other very well. It was a pleasure to work with these "strangers".
FASHION AWARD: The defense attorney pulled off a somber, respectful, brown suit with a kicky little pleated hem. V-tasteful given the fact that one does not wear high fashion when before the Judge. Bonus points awarded for knowing how to walk to get the fabric to work to her benefit.
TRUE STORIES MAGAZINE
Besides regulation your living room, your dining area and your kitchen, you get a master suite, accessible only through a bathroom, off the kitchen, a breezway"area", two extra bedrooms (one of which is divided with bi-fold doors to form two smaller rooms, and a family room well away from the kitchen.
Get that: "Any woman would ENVY..." because isn't that what happiness is about? You know: envying you; you knowing that what you have causes that type of false adoration. Funny thing about this statement "Any woman would envy the mother in this story-book house" because it reminds one that if one did get this, that one need not reach any further in life. Say good bye to your dreams ladies - this is all that life should afford. Lovely.
And lets not forget that pool. Its been slammed into a skimpy room off the living room. Its big enough for a pool party, if everyone is in the water because there is no safe clearance around the outside of the pool for a normal person to walk. And don't forget that bulky bulkhead that leads down those pool water slippery steps to the basement!. Why its the perfect place for mother to sun herself like a lizard in the winter months!
But it is that picture in the upper right corner that has been innocently slipped in that should give any child reason to gulp, and gulp hard...
MOM'S STANDING ON THE BED should alarm everyone that something foul is foot: Mom is also peeping, no, Mom is peering into the children's room through a peep hole!
"John, wake up - Junior's touching himself again...you should go in there and spank the living daylights out of him!"
"For God's sake Helen, he's 30. Give it a rest!"
Fortunately for Junior, the door closes forming a soundproof seal; he won't have to pay for psychiatrist bills in thirty years because he could hear his parents having vocal coitus (thats what they called it back then) in the next room.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
For all of you that got excited at the thought of enemas, you'll be disappointed.
San Diego is gearing up for its version of Fleet Week, which is more like Fleet Month. Most of the events actually take place during the first week of October, so there is plenty-o-time to get your airfare tickets on Priceline and go out west to support all the men in the Navy and the Marines.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
This past week I've been having a dream that Joan Crawford tried desperatly to get into the film version of 12 Angry Men only to get the boot, not because she was a woman, but because her large hast blocked Jack Klugman's up stage shots.
Anyway, today is a day off from jury duty! The judges are all at a conference so we get a day of normalcy. But its back to the grind on Monday.
Have a great weekend - I will...
Thursday, September 17, 2009
I found this postcard, taken with a Kodak Brownie, at an antique mall years ago. It dates to about WWI. The dyanmic is interesting. So the big beefy guy in the skimpy dark shorts apparently took on the toned guy in the white shorts. Evidently it was quite hot - the men are literally wet in their own sweat.
I wonder who won.
I wonder if the ref had to pull them part.
And I wonder why this post card was never mailed. Hmmmmm.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
The voir dere that I was released from is STILL going on. Potential jury members who have been released from the process have been feeding me updates, and I am now on full prayer mode for the ones who are still up there - by all accounts, its grueling.
I have been told by two other men in the "pool" that they, like me, are survivors of such abuse. If there is anything good in this news, it is that I am not alone. They would have done the same thing as I did.
That Ohio has mandatory sentencing for these types of crimes against children raises another point - if found guilty on just one of three counts, this guy is going to prison for the remainder of his life. Two of three counts, life. All three, life.
And this makes me think - even if I weren't so close to this - the idea of taking a whole human life and locking up in a tight ugly box for the remiander of its days is a heavy burden to bear. Even if the defense and the prosecutors do their jobs to the point where the jury can make a decision, this guy either walks or he goes to jail for life. In this matter there is no paler shade of gray. The outcome is black or its white. The light is on or it is off. This guy is free or he is not.
I'm keeping those who are still up in that courtroom in heart and my mind. They are far stronger than I am, and I hate to imagine what they are about to embark upon.
Parachute Nurse was a "morale" film (meaning that it was just barely above a public service shorty on dangers of Trench Mouth) made by Columbia Pictures in 1942. The plot is your usual Stars and Strips melodrama - girls sign up to fall out of planes behind enemy lines and tend to the sick and dying, blah, blah, blah. But nothing, and I mean NOTHING could top the dynamic in this promotional image featuring the two "leading ladies" Marguerite Chapman and Kay Harris) and their commanding officer, played by none other than Miss Lauretta Schimmoler herself!
Schimmoler was an Ohio aviatrix - back in the days when anything manly that a woman could do was prettied up with "trix" on the end of it - who established a couple very early airports in between buzzing a few barns. At the on set of WWII, she went to the government and pitched the idea for the Parachute Nurse Program within the US Army Air Corp. So smitten with the idea of women throwing themselves out of airplanes, that Columbia was told to make the movie, which they begrudgingly did. Part of the deal was that Schimmoler would get to act as a technical specialist and along the way she would get the role of Jane Morgan, the brains and brawn behind this vital program.
Extra credit goes to anyone who gets their hands on a copy of this work of art.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
I was assigned to a voir dere and was seated in chair No.9 (in the box) and made through the swearing in and all, but after we returned from lunch the judge read the indictment and my heart began to race and my flesh went stone cold.
There are some things that are so horrific that we push them to the back of the recesses of our minds. Things we don't want to remember and things better left undisturbed. The reading of the charges against the accused unwrapped a whole lot of bad in my mind.
The accused was up on sexual assault on a 12 year old girl. I was assaulted by an adult when I was a child. Don't ask, I don't want to tell the details anyway. Needless to say, I have very clear boundaries when it comes to the importance of childhood and protecting children from freaks that would do them harm.
I was released from the courtroom on what they call "cause". I returned to the jury room to sign out for the day and the manager made me stop and take a couple deep breaths before I went outside.
I am at once relieved that I won't get to serve, and humiliated that others know the thing that I have tried to keep secret. Talking about being a victim of a sexual assault in a blog, or with your shrink is one thing. To declare in a courtroom in front of your peers is humiliating. I feel unclean. I want to scrub the filth from that event so long ago, and the memory of it that now covers me again.
But, this is why they call it a "voir dere", no? One must "speak the truth" even if it kills just that wee part the soul that protected you from it.
Poor Mrs. J. is pretty and poised. She should have lots of friends and her social calender should be full. But she's never invited back a second time.
Her problem? A copy editor with a very active imagination, and a bad case of Feminine Odor.
Using Brown Lysol on her "delicate tissues" and all the folds and crevices contained within. Lovely. If she took up a career as a nursing home administrator she'll fit right in.
I really recommend that you click on the picture and read about this poor woman's in the original text. It really is tragic.
So I asked my mother if women really did this, and my 85 year old mother, a nurse in the 1950s, confirmed that some women did indeed douche with "brown" Lysol. "But," as my mother said "if they were smart they went to the doctor. That kinda of odor usually means something else down there is a brewing."
Lovely, mom, simply lovely.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Dear Readers, friends, followers and everyone else,
Back in August I got the second most dreaded piece of news in the mail that you can imagine. The notice, from Franklin County Ohio read: "Greetings, You are hereby notified that you are to report for jury duty beginning September 14, 2009..."
I hate being on jury duty.
This is my second tour of duty and I dread it. Yes, I know it is my civic duty, that when notified I am required by law to serve and report when instructed and only the weak will do anything to serve. But it is such a royal pain in the ass.
But we look at the positives, rather than the negatives when called to serve. For starters it means that I get three years of protection from serving again.
Secondly, I get paid a whole $20 a day for my trouble, so the parking is paid for and the meals are covered.
Third, my employer is being generous and is not requiring me turn over the said jury pay.
Fourth, I don't have to declare the jury pay on my income tax. 5) If not empanelled by the Wednesday of the second week, they let you go.
And the most important part: my father, borther and several cousins are all attorneys and I previously worked for an attorney as a legal assistant, so I am bound to be disqualified by prosecutors and defence attorneys alike. Prosecutirs never like people who are incvolved in anything having to do with Consent decrees involving the ACLU.
So I am taking a couple good crime mysteries to read and I get to have my latetop with WiFi as well. So it won't be terribly dreadful, just moderatly so.
So for the next ten days or so I can't blog about anything new (according to the jury rules) but I can republish things previously published on the site which I have preloaded into the blogger software and will trigger while I am trapped in the jury room drinking "machine" coffee.
So expect me back by the 24th or 25th and I promise to report on the interesting people that I meet.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
You have to get all the way to the last 40 or so seconds - and its marvelous theatre. But enjoy the whole snippet. My thanks to Todd at Stirred, Straight Up with A Twist for turning me on to Fanny Craddock!
Friday, September 11, 2009
On that morning in September eight years ago today, was killing time at home and having a leisurely time of it. I had a "dog and pony show" dinner meeting that I was dreading in Dayton that evening and I was taking my time going into the office that morning, getting some stuff at home and watching the TODAY Show. Matt Lauer was interviewing someone of marginal importance when he cut the interview short and went commercial saying that they would be right back with a developing story.
Just the evening before my co-worker Barb and I were coming back from Cleveland where we had had another client meeting and we were talking about what a beautiful late afternoon, evening it was. The sky was blue, the fields of soy beans were beginning to turn autumn gold and the temperature was perfect.
But the next morning we all saw what was unfolding, and to our horror, there was nothing we could do but watch.
The horror in New York was bad; but our house is near a flight path for the Columbus Airport, and with the FAA bring planes down, and word that there was a plane being tracked back from Cleveland airspace, and then the Pentagon attack, I came unglued as commercial jet after commercial jet flew overhead for landing five miles away.
Our cleaning lad, Sally showed up and started to clean. I called the husband at work and told him I needed him at home - I couldn't be alone. Did Sally want to go home? No, she needed to work to keep her mind focused one something else.
The husband arrived home and my stress level relaxed a bit. The news continued to grow worse, the first tower came down, then the second.
It was then that I decided that I would re-cord the double hung windows in our bedroom.
If you've ever had an older house, you know that windows are a mechanical enemy that must be fought constantly. They leak, the must be cleaned and they require attention. Ignored, the weakest will stop working, jam, rattle, droop open on their own or stick in place. Then there are the ones that are mighty and will not budge, painted shut in an armor of 90 years of lead paint.
Part of the problem is that people don't understand that windows are mechanical beings, and double hung windows have both an upper and lower sash that are suppose to operate to effect efficient ventilation. Most people simply raise the lower part of the sash up and think "there, they will get the air moving," only to find that the upper part of the room is just as warm and stuffy as it was before they opened the window in the first place.
To make a double hung window work properly, you need to be able to drop the upper sash and raise the lower one. This allows hot air to escape through the top while cooler air comes in the bottom. Eventually, this convection action will cool a room.
Fixing windows is no walk in the park; its time consuming work. Replacing broken glass, reglazing, and the sash is tedious work, but I enjoy it because I find myself entering into a meditative state. What I don't enjoy is dismantling widows and replacing sash cords. Sash cords are the ropes that connect a window sash to the counterweight via a simple pulley. After fifty or so years, the cotton cord needs replaced when it breaks. Windows just don't stay up on their own, so people will use books, sticks or anything handy to keep a sash up and open. When the cords break from age on the upper sash, and the window isn't painted shut, the sash simply drops and crashes.
Most people hate replacing the cord so much that they spend thousands of dollars to replace a whole window when five dollars of material and an hour of their time would fix the problem. Its difficult work because you have to blindly fish the new cord over the pulley and hope it doesn't get stuck on a nail inside the box like channel in which the weights travel. Then there are the weights, iron ingots that are rusted and usually filthy with years of caked on soot and debris.
That morning in September my mind decided that I needed to dismantle the windows in our bedroom and restring the sash cords. And I tackled the job with determination and with joy. Our bedroom has no TV; I was alone in the quiet. After pulling the stoper trim, I removed the sashes. I did the chords that had yet to break, but were brittle and bound to go sooner rather than later first, stitching the new rope end to the old rope end, and then pulled these new cords through first. Then I tackled the broken ones, using an old wire hanger to fish the rope through the channel.
The work was pleasurable and gave me a sense of accomplishment. It took me away from the events of the moment and provided me with a safe harbor for my mind to shield itself from the storm raging out there in the world, on the side of the glass that I looked through each morning when I woke up and each evening before bed.
By the time I finished, Sally was done and left. The husband and I decided that we needed to nap. Sleep is another way the mind protects itself, and we no sooner hit the bed then we were out. When we awoke, the long national nightmare continued, but somehow was detached. Again, the sleep had given our minds a rest, and we could see through our fears towards something akin to resolution.
There have been plenty of times that we have been reminded that our good fortune and that of those we know was tested that day, that week, that month, that year and since. And looking through our windows on our world we have found that life is the same, but different.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
For those of you who never knew Cleveland in the 60s and 70s, one of the better traditional department stores was Higbees. In the marketing world of that era, Higbee's came in just under Halle's, but above The May Company. When Halle's went belly up in the early 80s, Higbee's took over the top retail spot until the Cleveland based company was purchased by Dillard.
It was Higbee's main store in downtown Cleveland that served as the back drop for department store in A Christmas Story.
So enjoy the video (after the cheesy opening credit and the closing one) and I hope it brings back good memories.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
It takes a while to find an audience, but when you do, they are more precious than rubies. I love them each and all.
But I have to draw your attention to a blog that offers a nice change of pace and thoroughly original content:
It is seldom that I issue dogmatic orders. But if you've never seen this, you need to, right away. How to Set Up For A Mah-Jong Game and Other Lost Arts is at once a manual of life and at the same time, the Rosetta Stone for understanding your mother, or Grandmother.
Not only did these two women write the gospel truth on how to hire help (when interviewing a new maid, "let her go up the stairs first so you can check her slip. If its clean, she's clean.") but it also demystifies how to buy a mink. Never have made a cold cut clock? Its in here. Have no idea how to make Mrs. Gelman's spaghetti? Its in here as well.
Go, now! Run to the nearest book reseller (specializing in previously owned fine books) and get this 1987 work by Joan Gelman and Carol Rinzler. Go and get this book. You won't be sorry. And you'll thank me.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Monday, September 7, 2009
From the YouTube comments:
"I beg your pardon dear sir..but the lady in question was indeed marketed that way..she did the work and she got the money...she was very good at it..whore or not...can you move that well?"
And if you can find a copy of it, check out Joey's "performance" in "The Happy Hooker Goes to Hollywood" co-starring Rip Taylor. It is truly the single worst movie, ever made.
Friday, September 4, 2009
The husband found this in his parents basement. Neither of us smokes. But it was so over the top I had to have it.
Evidently, the hostess would fill each compartment with guest cigarettes into the six compartments (filtered, unfiltered, menthol and three pockets for generic party cigarettes in bright colors with spun gold filters for that festive look), wound up the music box and then guests would press the button, the doors swung open to dainty music, the cigarette of choice was selected and then the doors shut automatically.
How veddy, veddy, civilized.
Also posted to you tube by yours truly, September 4, 2009
And here is Miss Booth as most television viewers will remember her, as Hazel, the do good housekkeper. Lucky Shirley got to do the episdoe with the divinely handsome James Stacy, who'se career was cut short by a horrific motocycle accident. If that wasn't bad enough, Mr. Stacy was later charged with inappropriate behaviofrs with a youngster.
Keeping my pledge to, here you go Norma, your name on the wall of fame!
Thursday, September 3, 2009
I tend to be a traditionalist. I do not use the title "Lady" lightly because a Lady is technically a titled woman, one who is married to a Lord (as in peerage, not religion). A Lady has ideas about raising money for charity. A Lady hosts afternoon tea. A Lady is a pillar of the community. A Lady never airs her private matters in public. A Lady never loses her composure, and most importantly, a Lady, if she is English, always thinks of the good of the Empire.
But a Lady would never have ideas about steel.
Steel is industrial. Industrial things occupy men, unless it is about arranging for the needs of the families at the steel plant, then a Lady thinks of families, but not Steel. A Lady may think of steel if she is speaking with her financial advisor about her trust fund or her holdings, and is wondering if buying more United States Steel is a wise investment.
This woman, however is no Lady. She is a model. Models may get paid to look like they think about steel, but even they don't have ideas about steel. All they can think about is their next cigarette, their paycheck and a career in legitimate film. But never steel.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Using last names also isn't of much good. Two of the Twila have the a common last name, and that common last name is one of the most common known to WASPs doesn't help. So what if they don't share the same vowel, the rest of the letters make impossible to confuse on for the other. So my husband and I have taken to assigning unique identifiers to each woman in front of their names so we can keep them apart.
One of the Twlia, a white haired grandmother who has given her life to Jesus, runs a babysitting service out of her house. Another Twila flies a helicopter for a local corporation. These two Twila are known as “Day Care Twila” and “Helicopter Twila” respectively.
The third Twila is a retired professional who is known to work in her yard for hours on end. Thin and wiry, she's out there in tank top and shorts 18 hours a day in the summer. So to call her “Retired Twila” is a bit of a misnomer because she is definitely not retiring, and is always buzzing about, a thin wisp of smoke from her unfiltered Luckies following her about her yard in a frantic dance from plant to plant, pest to pest. She is, however, hairy. Her head is crowned with a spectacular crop of frizzy yellowish-gray hair that would make anyone a dandy broom. The hair on her legs and underarms grows with as much energy and vibrancy as her garden. On the times that she has had one beer to many, and shed her tank top, an appalled “we” in the neighborhood, have also noticed that the dried brown nipples, adorning the withered husks of what were once full ripe breasts, also has a its own crop of straggly “raffia”, as the husband calls it. Once you've seen her topless, fighting with some of mother natures most cunning tap rooted weeds, its a hard image to delete from your mind. Thus the third Twila is known as “Hairy Twila”.
Hairy Twila drives an old VW bus that held together by bumper stickers. Being stuck behind her at the light at the end of our block, one is reminded to "Love Mother Earth" and "Consume Less" if the blue smoke from the minibus isn't too thick. Hairy Twilia is also, as she likes to put it, "a people person" who is the first to show up at a neighborhood gathering and the last to leave. Generous to a fault with home made food, she often brings too much "home grow goodness" to block parties and insists that we take home our fair share of her bounty. We are, however, suspicious of her cooking. Hairy Twila has a self composting toilet and we are unsure on what she does with what the toilet is supposed to compost. She also reminds people to "tinkle on your tomatos"; "they love it so." Therefore, as much as we love her, we are just plain scared to death to eat her food. To deal with this, another neighbor, in conjunction with her next door neighbor work as a team at block parties. While neighbor "A" occupies Twila on one her pet causes (Stop Feral Kittens from Becoming Feral Cats, Free Lapland), neighbor "B" swoops in and gets rid of the contents of the covered dish before Hairy Twila discovers what is going on.
Last month we were notified that someone had broken into Hairy Twila's house, again. This was the third break in, and as Day Care Twila said during one of our middle of the street confabs “You'd think she'd learn to lock her door when she leaves on one of her escapdes to save a web toed coot or protest Ohio grown celery.”
But in Hairy Twila's world, its still 1969. Trust begins within. "If I don't take the first step and trust you, how will you know to trust me?" Needless to say that we are happy to leave our plants to Twila, but the contents of our house while we are on vacation go to someone else, fearful that Twila would forget to lock things up, or as our former neighbor Sunny discovered, return home to find a group of Twila's squatter friends camping out in Sunny's house. But as we soon found out, the catalyst for rallying the Block Watch was that Hairy Twila had had enough of “ungrateful people” rummaging through her house.,” Thus, she had called a dreaded “Block Watch” meeting at her place, we were resigned to attend.
Hairy Twilia lives in a rambling house with many rooms, but none bigger than a thimble. She has no air conditioner, and she has no screens on her windows; all sorts of things fly into her house at all hours. Insects, birds and bats. "They're all mother nature's creations." So the idea of a night time Block Watch meeting with everyone packed like sardines, all hot and sweaty up against one and other wasn't fun. But if you've ever had a Block Watch, and you have a few take charge "Minutemen" wannabes on your street, you know - that from imagined curfews to paranoid nuts tapping phone lines - any manner of craziness can occur. You need sane people present to keep others from getting carried away.
So, to Hairy Twila's house we went, along with thirty or so neighbors, many of which are long timers on the street that I have known for the sixteen years I have owned the house. After avoiding snacks (“Homemade hummus, anyone? Anyone?”) the meeting began. Hairy Twilia had just adopted two elderly lap dogs from the shelter which she introduced as her “new home security system” and then handed the platform to a police liaison officer who got two words out before a grackle flew in the living room window right towards him, and out the dining room door to the garden. Speechless, and trying to regain composure, he said that maybe it would be best for Twila to speak.
As she started to recount her tale, the old pug and the old poodle that she had adopted plopped themselves on the floor next to where the husband and I sat. The pug, as bored with Hairy Twila's nasal rantings, rolled over onto his back and telepathically commanded my husband to scratch his belly. The poodle, seeing this did the same in front of me, and wriggled about until I caught the same hint. We were, as they say, trapped.
By this time, Hairy Twila was going full tilt and the ranting, combined with the wild gesturing which sent the tip of Lucky Strike to glowing red hot, had begun to alarm the police officer, who dogged the cigarette and the hand that carried it aloft and side to side with great abandon.
“We have to do something about this breakdown in the society that we have built amongst us...it would behoove us to watch each others backs...” Safety soon gave way to rant on universal health care, which was beginning to rile our Resident Republican, an aged man from Kentucky named Beverly. Beverly's face was about to turn purple when the police officer moved to get Hairy Twila back on track, and grabbed her arm before she set the drapes aflame or smacked him in the head.
“Oh, yes,” said she, regaining compsure. “My point is that the first time they got in they took my checkbook, my Bose stereo, and my sterling silver baby cup. The second time they got in, they took my new check book, my new Bose stereo, my eyeglass case, my laptop and my mother's wedding ring. If that wasn't bad enough, the last time they got in they took the keys to my car, my car, my new laptop, my three best pieces of Weller, my box of dildos and vibrators, my silver candlesticks....”
Hello? Dildos? Vibrators? A box in which she kept them? And art pottery, too?
I stopped scratching the poodle's stomach and looked at my husband, who was looking at me with the same look of stunned disbelief that I imagined myself as having as I looked at him. I looked up and to my right, into the eyes of Sweet Adorable Polly, Hairy Twilia's next door neighbor. Sweet Adorable Polly, the young wife of a freshly minted Methodist minister, didn't get that name from us for nothing. In her 30s and wholesome as a loaf of Wonder Bread, Sweet Adorable Polly decorates her world with pictures of LOL Cats, Holly Hobby ceramic dolls and counted cross stitch pieces of geese and “the houfe by the side of the road”. The public look of Sweet Adorable Polly's face was that of rapt positive good wishes, yet in her eyes was a type of pain and intellectual confusion about what those two sexually charged words had just been.
Our other neighbor, a convivial educator we called Just Call Me Helen looked at us with a twinkle in her eye, the muscles of her face straining not to crack a smile. And then there was Child Care Twila who shot all of us a look that silently said “Don't make me take you all outside. Now Quiet.”
This got me thinking. We all have something in our homes that are personal objects. I have my original teddy bear, my family photographs and other items that have belonged to my family members. What would I do if those items were taken? These items were of no value to anyone but me. A thief could take my flatware, break my crystal or throw my books around. They're just objects, although ones with more social respectability than Hairy Twila's box of personal effects.
But if someone would take this container with what was inside, were any of our personal treasurers really safe from an intruder? More importantly, if they knew what they were taking, whoever did this wasn't just any old thief, they were also a pervert. What kind of pervert takes another person's sex toys? And just what do you do with them? Would they use them? Ick! And it isn't like you can take them to a pawn shop and hock them.
Were there people out there that would fence these items and peddle them on dark street corners to unsuspecting tourists? I imagined a man with greasy hair, lurking in the shadows, wearing a trench coat, watches on one side of the lining, other jewelry on the other side “and this,” he says as he pulls out a case, “this is my special private stock...”
When the meeting was finally over and the consensus was to lock our doors and kept the porch lights on, a few of us gathered in the dark at the hedge and kibitzed about what was said at the meeting.
Sweet Adorable Polly was the first to break the silence. “I can't believe she said that word!”
“What word, sugar?” Republican Beverly asked fiddling with his hearing aid.
“That word,” she said before dropping her voice to the level of shame. “The 'D' word”.
“Dildo?” I asked. “Its in the Official Scrabble Dictionary.”
“It is?” said Polly, who was shocked. "Scrabble is such a good game." You would have thought that I had just told her how babies were made.
Sweet Adorable Polly bid us good night and then scurried home to find her Scarbble dictionary and tear the offending page from the book. “Well,” said Just Call Me Helen, “do you think she had any idea what she said?”
We agreed that she was so worked up that Hairy Twila had no idea that she had spilled the beans on her missing sex toys.
I wondered about the box. “Maybe they were in something that looked valuable, like a nice case. Like they put dueling pistols in.”
“Maybe it was a treasure chest,” the husband added with a laugh. “I just hope they don't turn up in the alley.”
Child Care Twila cleared her throat. “Well, if you ask me, that woman has bigger problems then the rest of us if she needs a whole box of those things to get the job done,” she huffed "Now I'm going home and suggest y'all do the same.”
In hindsight not much has changed in the past month or so since Hairy Twila was robbed. She hasn't trimmed her bushes to make the sight lines clearer. She doesn't lock her doors. And on occasion, much to annoyance of Sweet Adorable Polly, she goes bare breasted and in her romps through the yard.
The police haven't found the suspect in the burglary, and we wonder if they ever will. We also doubt that Crime Stoppers, the locally run tip line that is part of a local evening newscast will alert the good people of Columbus to “lock down your instruments of personal pleasure, a fetishist walks amongst us, and police are offering a reward for in the Case of Missing “Pleasure Chest”. Details at 11PM”
Whoever it was stole more than just her things, or her peace of mind, they stole her pleasure, as well.