Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Quick Recall (whatever THAT is?!?!)



Late last night I woke up and could not for the life of me come up with the name of Bruno Mars. Don't ask me why I wanted his name; I just did. (And even I don't know why I suddenly decided this was such a consequential thing for me to know--right now.)

I knew exactly what he looked like. I sort of thought that there was a b in his name somewhere--and an n. That was it. I could hear his voice. And I wished only that I could ask it: What's your name?

I woke up several more times in the night ... feeling, each time, that I was right on the edge of knowing it.

And then, suddenly (well, not too suddenly), about the time the birds started in on their morning songs, I had it. Felt an inexplicable relief.

This is the second time in the last week or so that I've fought like wildcat (do they fight?) to recall something. The one right before Bruno Mars was one of my worst.

I awoke hearing a woman's voice saying "Mr. Fenimore" (pronounced FENNIE-morr]. Again, I'm not sure why that happened, but I had just received in the mail the second volume of the two-volume definitive biography of James Fenimore Cooper, Wayne Franklin's James Fenimore Cooper: The Later Years (Yale UP, 2017). I read the first volume a few years ago--admired it--even corresponded a little with Franklin.

I knew only this: Yes, Franklin's book (newly arrived) could have put the name in my head, but JFC had nothing otherwise to do with the voice I was hearing.

I realized after a while that I'd heard a character speak that name in that way in some TV show or movie. Whew. That narrows it down to about 1 million options.

Then, for some reason, I narrowed it down to The Rockford Files, that old TV series (1974-80), a series that I've watched over and over and over again--VHS, DVD, streaming ... 122 episodes, 6 seasons. Whatever.

More late-night/early-morning anguish ... Which episode?

This went on for another full day and part of another night.

Then ... the insight that took me zooming to the answer. The voice was saying Dr. Fenimore, not Mr. Fenimore.

As soon as dawn broke, I grabbed from a nearby shelf--a very nearby shelf--"This Is Jim Rockford": The Rockford Files, a book definitive in its own way. Even before I grabbed, I knew which episode it was--well, episodeS: It was a two-hour episode, and I grabbed the book only to get the exact title and original air dates.

"Never Send a Boy King to Do a Man's Job"--March 3, 1979--deals with an elaborate con that Rockford and his friends pull on Harold "Jack" Coombs (played wonderfully by the late Robert Webber), an LA wheeler-dealer who has forced out of business the father of Rockford's friend, a young P.I. named Richie Brockelman (Dennis Dugan). 

The con involves a fake King Tut exhibit that they seduce (in one way--actually seduce) Coombs into financing; then they frighten him off with some mumbo-jumbo about the curse of the tomb, and Richie's dad gets his money back.

Anyway, Richie's role in the con is one "Dr. Fenimore" (!!!!!), who, supposedly, is a young and rising star in Egyptology. One of the other con artists is Trisha Noble (who plays a sly seductress/ Egyptian official named Odette). 

And it's the voice of Odette that woke me the other night, saying "Dr. Fenimore"--a name and title she says quite a few times in the episodes.

Whew. I could sleep again.

I have to say that this kind of stuff drives me crazy. I can not just "let it go"; I have to pursue it into the night like a crazed lepidopterist who is positive he has just seen some glowing nocturnal butterfly or moth that No One Has Ever Seen Before. And off he goes ...

And off I go ... perhaps to a shrink?


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Woozy, Woozy



BODY: Let's fall down now.
BRAIN: I don't think that's--
BODY: Who cares what you think?
[I slump to the floor.]

Had an adventure this week. At the health club, I was doing my usual routines: stationary bike for 20 minutes, walk a mile of laps, rowing machine for 100 pulls, two sets of curls .... But when I finished my trip-to-Nowhere on the bike and stood up, I felt ... woozy. A perfect word. (A fairly recent--1897--Americanism, says the OED. Merriam-Webster's adds that's it's probably a transformation from oozy.)

So, oozy/woozy I stood for a moment, quickly realizing there was no way I was going to walk a mile--or do the other things.

I found a chair. Sat. Tried to stabilize. Felt a little better. Headed down to the locker room--slowly, slowly, slowly. Undressed for a shower. Realized, in the stall, that this was not going to work out well. Thought I'd do a quick rinse, get back to my locker, and sit.

BODY had other ideas. I turned the water off, and it was then that we had the brief conversation at the top of this post.

I realized pretty soon that I was on the floor. Spread out in a far-from-attractive pose. That I was barely coherent. A couple of naked guys walked by. Said and did nothing. Another naked guy said, "You all right?"

"I don't know."

He went for help, and soon there were three young trainers around me, all of whom stayed with me until they could help me up into a chair. They took several blood pressure readings--none of which was really out of whack. They got me talking about the Cavs and Indians, quickly realizing that my knowledge of both pretty much ended in the 1990s.

Oh, they also noticed that my left knee was bleeding, Got a band-aid, some antiseptic. Applied both.

I felt a little stronger, and they helped me back to my locker, where I s-l-o-w-l-y changed and tottered out to my car. I didn't call Joyce. Didn't want to alarm her.

Home (only a little over a mile away), I feigned competence until supper, at which time I confessed. And got the reaction I deserved. (Use your imagination.)

I have been very woozy lately--have to be very careful walking, making quick movements, standing, etc. I thought it was an alteration in my meds.

I called my family physician yesterday morning, and she got me in right away. Did a bunch of tests. Including an EKG, which showed a little abnormality.

So they scheduled me for a Stress-Echo next week.

And we will see what we will see.

Meanwhile, Sir Wooziness reigns. When I lie down, I'm fine. When I sit, I'm pretty fine.  When I stand and walk, I'm not fine for very long.

I'll keep you posted ...

But you may notice I'm not posting here every day--or on my other blog, Daily Doggerel. Sometimes, you see, BODY tells me I'd better lie down. And now. I've learned to listen to him. It's called "one-trial learning."

Monday, April 24, 2017

Frankenstein Sundae, 303


So. Falkner. Mary Shelley’s final novel—her sixth. 1837. Fourteen years before her death. She had not had to look far for her title. Her father, William Godwin, thirty years earlier, had written a play, Faulkener. A masked ball. A wild landscape. Moonlight. Murder. Faulkener arrested. A trial. Innocent! Off he goes with his mother, to whom he’s devoted.
My journal reminds me that I read the play in one sitting on March 3, 1998. At Saywell’s Drug Store in Hudson. Drinking coffee. I didn’t say much about it in my journal—just this: another of Godwin’s bad plays. He had hoped to find financial security—and fame—in the playhouses. He didn’t. But hopes were high. Drury Lane Theatre accepted it for production—and cast in a prominent role one of the great actresses of the day, Sarah Siddons, born into the celebrated acting family, the Kembles, in 1766. Charles Lamb wrote a prologue for the play, which premiered on December 16, 1807.
And actually got some decent reviews. A respectful crowd. It ran for six performances, but Godwin never again wrote a play. This one had earned him very little money for a tremendous amount of work. And when it was published in 1808, the reviewers were less kind.[1]
I have a note that I have the entire play—printed from microform—in a loose-leaf notebook. If anyone knows where that notebook is, please let me know!



[1] Peter H. Marshall, William Godwin (New Haven: Yale UP, 1984), 272–74.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Sunday Sundries, 140


1. AOTW: Can't really come up with anyone who was so egregious that he/she merited this coveted award. Just the usual assortment of impatient, careless drivers and overall public rudeness. Other than that ...

2. Bosch is back for his third season on Amazon Prime, and we've started streaming Episode 1. Based on the LAPD detective created by novelist Michael Connelly (who is an executive producer for the series), the stories tell about a sort of Lone-Ranger cop devoted to his job--often to the exclusion of social conventions. Titus Welliver, who plays Bosch, is not exactly the way I pictured him (I've read all the books), but he grows on you ... (Link to season trailer.)


3. On the domestic scene: On Friday night, in bed streaming Bosch with Joyce, I felt something ... sticky on my big toe. Pause. Turned back covers. Chewing gum on my big toe.

Okay. Both Joyce and I chew.

Joyce found some alcohol (no, not that kind), and she removed the gum with a bit of effort. We lay back. I got the remote. And said, "I think it's very mature that neither one of us blamed the other."

She said, "You just did." Then added; "I probably did it--I mean, my head is often down where your feet are."

We both cracked up. For a while.

My theory: I'd stepped in gum (probably Joyce's) and carried it to bed with us.

4. I finished two books this week.

     - The first--a debut novel by Stephanie Powell Watts, No One Is Coming to Save Us (2017), a novel I learned about via a New York Times review that highlighted its connections to The Great Gatsby (which I taught at Western Reserve Academy for a decade). Here's a link to that NYT review.
And there are, indeed, some patent similarities. A man named Jay, who has earned a fortune in some mysterious way, returns to his hometown and builds a mansion up in the hills, a place designed to attract the love of his boyhood, who, married to a jerk, still lives in town. And there are some other plot-related similarities. But there are also some major differences--the people involved are, for the most part, at the lower end of the economic ladder. They are black. And Watts employs a number of points-of-view (which Fitzgerald rarely did in Gatsby).

Like Gatsby, it deals with the nature of love, of time, of the human heart, of wealth and its consequences.

Watts is a first-time novelist, and there are times, I felt, when she was too determined to say things directly and bluntly, things that her characters and narration could have shown us. Time after time we read a philosophical statement by a character. Some are good, some not. But this one is fairly typical: So much violence lay dormant under the surface of the world.... How easy it was to find chaos (177). Sometimes, these things are just obvious; other times, effective. But I'm betting she'll do less of this as her career goes on--and, based on this book, I think she'll have a great career!

If I were still teaching Gatsby, I would definitely take this book to class with me one day to talk about.

     - I'm still making my way through all the Michael Chabon books that I've not yet read, and the latest I loved! The Final Solution: A Story of Detection (2004) is a novella about an apparently mute boy from Germany who shows up in England during WW II (1944 is the year--appropriate: my year of birth). There is a murder. And into the story comes a man--an old, old, old man--who is clearly Sherlock Holmes (though he's never named--identified throughout only as "the old man"). Well ... before long we're dealing with espionage, an amazingly intelligent African gray parrot, a code, the Holocaust (see the title), as well as references to Holmes stories--including "The Final Problem," a story that deals with the death of Holmes (or does it?). Link to text of story.



Chabon's novella is swift and clever--with no real indications of a writer "showing off" or drawing attention to himself. I got lost in it--in a hurry. And loved it.



5. A Final Word: A word I liked from my various online word-of-the-day online providers.

     - from wordsmith.org

cramoisy  (KRAM-oi-zee, kruh-MOI-)
adjective: of a crimson color.
noun: crimson cloth.

ETYMOLOGY:
From French cramoisi, from Spanish carmesi, from Arabic qirmizi (of kermes). Earliest documented use: 1423.

USAGE:
“The whippet Narcisse would sit at table upon a cramoisy cushion.”
Geoffrey Wolff; Black Sun; Random House; 1976.


I like a couple of things: I didn't know the word; the quotation comes from Geoffrey Wolff, who wrote a fine biography of John O'Hara--and is also the brother of writer Tobias Wolff, who spent two days with us at Western Reserve Academy--May 18-19, 2005. He spoke to an assembly, visited classes--and signed some books for me!


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Church Camp


Last evening, Joyce and I were driving home through Aurora, and as we passed Our Lady of Perpetual Help, we saw some young people either heading off to or returning from camp. (Didn't pause to figure it out.) I reminded Joyce that I, as a lad, had gone to summer church camps quite a bit (my father, grandfather, uncle--all were ordained ministers, Disciples of Christ).

And for some reason, the name of the camp in Oklahoma returned to me--a name I'd not thought about in decades. Boiling Springs.

Since my memories are fading (and quickly so), I just checked Google to discover that it's a state park, built in the 1930s by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps), one of the agencies created by FDR to battle the Great Depression. It's a state park. In Woodward, Okla. And trusty Google Maps (see below) has informed me of its location and distance from our home in Enid (1706 E. Elm Ave.): due west of us, about 85 miles. I would have bet the house it was in the south, but that's just more evidence about why I shouldn't go around betting the house on things. I also thought it was a lot farther from Enid than it is. (But ... no freeways then. Lots of two-lane country roads.)
]

Next thing I don't remember: Was the church camp at the park? Or nearby? Time to check Google again ... [PAUSE FOR GOOGLE-CHECK] ... and, yes, it seems the camp is on the state park grounds (link to a map). As I look at the photos, I don't remember much about the look of the camp, though.

According to this link, there was some major renovation in 2010--check it out--some great images: LINK.

So ... all of this took place for me over sixty years ago. And what do I remember about camp? I learned that I was no good--and I mean no good--at crafts, a daily activity class that seemed to take forever each day. I recall that the lanyard I made--red and white--was pathetic. A prairie dog could have done much better. And, years later, when I read Billy Collins' poem "The Lanyard," I had a true shock of (embarrassed) recollection. (Link to Collins reading "The Lanyard.")

I remember lots of religious services (duh)--morning, evening, night. I remember being afraid of the big kids--yes, I discovered, there are Christian bullies! I remember looking at girls--chastely, chastely. I remember bad food, a loud dining hall, a cabin full of boys, an earnest counselor.

Mostly, I remember being glad to get home. Camping had always been fun with Dad on our family trips. But this, I found to my sorrow, was not like camping with Dad--or even with the Cub Scouts. It was a difference I never grew accustomed to--even later when, after we moved to Ohio in the summer of 1956, I began attending Camp Christian in Marysville, Ohio (link to website), about 150 mi sw of our Hiram home. I have some pictures I took there when I was in junior high--I'll post them with a few comments next time ...





Friday, April 21, 2017

Frankenstein Sundae, 302



In June 1997, Joyce and I were going through some changes while I was reading Mary’s final novel, Falkner. As I’ve mentioned, I had retired from my thirty-year public-school teaching career in January. Joyce’s mother had died on February 5, 1995, after a long, long battle with Alzheimer’s. Joyce had recently published a book about her mom—In a Tangled Wood, which appeared in 1996.  Our son had recently graduated from college and had begun his career as a journalist at the Akron Beacon-Journal. And we were beginning to realize that we wanted to move back to nearby Hudson, Ohio, where we’d lived most of our marriage. So our old house (1826) in Aurora was now for sale—yes, the “bat house” I wrote about the other day. Joyce had already found another century home she liked near Hudson’s “downtown”; we are still living there as I write this (April 2017). I’ve loved the place, too.
And in June 1997 I was charging ahead with my work on Mary Shelley—had even contacted an agent about representing me. I was inflated with confidence because of recent successes in publishing—an annotated edition of The Call of the Wild (University of Oklahoma Press, 1995) and a YA biography (Jack London: A Biography, Scholastic Press, 1997). Both had been well reviewed. I thought that surely some YA publisher would be interested in a biography of the woman who wrote Frankenstein! And surely eager literary agents would queue up to battle one another for the opportunity to represent me!
Uh … no.
Scholastic Press was not interested—though they did ask if there was anyone else I’d like to write about. I said no. Good-bye, Scholastic, who by then had found some unknown writer by the name of J. K. Rowling, whose books would sell moderately well. I did eventually find a literary agency—a good one—to represent me. And I kept them informed as I proceeded through my research. Then—out of the blue (to coin a phrase)—as I was about to commence writing, the agency decided they were no longer interested. I’m not sure why. But I do know that I have wished them ill the past twenty years.
I just this moment checked Google. The agency is still in business. So my maledictions and malevolence have not had the desired effect. I will not mention the name. But they seem to be flourishing … whereas I …



Thursday, April 20, 2017

Meds


When I was a kid, we had some weird relatives. Let's take a look at one set of them. My maternal grandfather had two sisters, whom we knew as Aunt Mary Florence and Aunt Cornelia. Both were married. Aunt Mary Florence's husband, Uncle Bernard [BURR-nurd] Brunton, was an interesting guy. A home handyman extraordinaire. I remember one Thanksgiving back in our Hiram days (1956-66), Uncle Bernard and my dad went rabbit hunting; I went along, thus escaping the elaborate Thanksgiving preparations at home. Aunt Mary Florence was also somewhat ... normal, becoming (more or less) eccentric as she aged. (Imagine that!)

Grandpa's other sister, Cornelia, was a different case altogether. Her sister, Mary Florence, was small and thin, looking like one of those pioneer women in photographs that show those lean and tough women standing outside a sod house with a sodden husband. Cornelia was ... stout--and not firmly so. And weird. I remember once when I was in high school, they gave me a ride back from Indianapolis, where we'd gathered at the home of my mom's brother, Ronald. (I think: The circumstances are a little fuzzy.)

Aunt Cornelia was in the back seat. I heard some struggling back there, turned around, and saw ... Aunt Cornelia (stout, remember) struggling out of her girdle. I quickly looked back to the road, hoping with all my hope that I could delete that image. (Clearly, I haven't: It's with me still, more than a half-century later.) Anyway, she was laughing and having a good old time trying to make herself comfortable for the long ride--about six hours from Indianapolis to Hiram. I was the jerk, not she.

Aunt Cornelia's husband, Uncle Earl, was a truly odd bird. He was somewhat musical--played the organ in church. But he was unlike any other man I'd ever known. He was ... what? ... much more frisky than the other men in our family. Less traditionally masculine. As a kid, I just thought he was weird. We always joked that whenever Uncle Earl visited Uncle Bernard and Aunt Mary Florence, Uncle Bernard suddenly realized that the place needed some ... alterations. And he would start sanding and sawing and hammering and whatever while the sisters dealt with Earl.

(The Bruntons lived in Jackson, Ohio; the Greens, in Columbus--about seventy-five miles north of Jackson).

Well, that same Thanksgiving that Uncle Bernard went hunting with my dad, I recall that we Dyers made fun of the relatives (among ourselves) as they headed upstairs to bed with their impressive collections of pills and glasses of water on a tray.

Oh, the arrogance of the healthy! The young!

I later, of course, watched my dad--and now my mom--begin taking piles of pills for various things. (To my parents, I made no allusions to the Bruntons and the Greens--that would not have been wise.)

And now ... I feel myself becoming a Brunton, a Green. Pills at breakfast; different pills at lunch; yet different pills at supper. For blood pressure, for bone health, for battling the spread of my cancer, for general health (vitamins, fish oil). I also get two regular injections: One is monthly (bones); the other, quarterly (cancer).

And, of course, when I look in the mirror, I no longer see the starting guard on the Hiram High Huskies, the varsity tennis player for Hiram College, the guy who ran a bunch of 10K's later on; the guy who pedaled the Airdyne stationary bicycle so furiously every day, who mastered the StairMaster, the guy who hiked the Chilkoot Trail over the mountains from Alaska into the Yukon, the guy who ...

No, those guys are gone. Now I see the Bruntons and the Greens. And--faintly, faintly--I hear the echo of a boy's laughter about old folks' meds.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Driving at My Age

1:00 p.m.

I'm sitting in a room in Pittsburgh waiting for Joyce to emerge from a meeting. We drove over here late this morning, leaving Hudson about 10, arriving at the site (downtown) about noon. Not bad.

I wouldn't say "smooth sailing," though, for--surprise! surprise!--there was a bit of roadwork along the way (Ohio Turnpike, Pa. Turnpike, etc.), and we got a nice surprise about two miles from our exit when the GPS voice went silent because we were receiving a robo-call at the moment. I took that well.

Not.

But we got here with only one wrong turn--an error we were able to remedy very easily, thanks to a kindly parking garage attendant. (Yes, we'd pulled into the wrong garage.)

Out on the Interstates, we saw the usual assortment of trucks going way faster than they did when I was younger, of car drivers who believe those posted speed limits are for fools--certainly not for them! Other drivers who seem unaware that their vehicles came equipped with turn signals.

Everything just seems so much ... faster ... to me now. When I was younger, I never thought at all about hopping on a freeway ... PAUSE ... why do we say "hopping on a freeway"? There is absolutely no "hopping" involved ... UNPAUSE ... and driving hundreds of miles. Once--before I was married--I drove from Des Moines, Iowa (where I'd been visiting my parents), to Lander, Wyoming, where I met up with my former college roommate, Charlie Rodgers. Google Maps tells me that's 898 miles. I did it without stopping except for gas, food, and ... you know. No biggie.

Pittsburgh is only a little over one hundred miles from our house--but, as I said, everything on the road now just seems more frantic, more impatient, more ... insane? I think I need to find a series of little county highways that can get me places now--though, of course, it would take me all day to accomplish it.

But I've learned: Interstate driving today ain't for the faint of heart, the tentative, the cautious, the law-abiding. For, in other words, that old guy in the black Prius who insists on going the speed limit--or slightly above.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A Wee Coincidence

Coincidence has always flowed through literature like a convenient stream for thirsty readers. In earlier centuries, of course, in those Dark Ages before smart phones and GPS and being in touch 24/7, writers needed coincidence--sometimes in major doses--to make sure the plot reached the resolution they wanted.

Think about the pirates in Hamlet, the pirates who appear just in time so that Hamlet can get back to Elsinore to see the burial of Ophelia, to have a little sword play with Laertes, to dispatch a murderous King, etc.

One of my favorites, though, is in David Copperfield when David's long-time friend, then betrayer, James Steerforth, washes up at David's feet on a beach where our hero is looking at a shipwreck. Here's the moment--from Chapter 55:

… a fisherman, who had known me when Emily and I were children, and ever since, whispered my name at the door.

‘Sir,’ said he, with tears starting to his weather-beaten face, which, with his trembling lips, was ashy pale, ‘will you come over yonder?’

The old remembrance that had been recalled to me, was in his look. I asked him, terror-stricken, leaning on the arm he held out to support me:

‘Has a body come ashore?’
He said, ‘Yes.’

‘Do I know it?’ I asked then.

He answered nothing.


But he led me to the shore. And on that part of it where she and I had looked for shells, two children—on that part of it where some lighter fragments of the old boat, blown down last night, had been scattered by the wind—among the ruins of the home he had wronged—I saw him lying with his head upon his arm, as I had often seen him lie at school.

Ah, coincidence meets poetic justice! (This dude has asked for it!)



Anyway, I was thinking about coincidence today because of two books I am reading. Yesterday, I started reading Arthur & Sherlock: Conan Doyle and the Creation of Holmes (2017) by Michael Sims. I've just barely started--have read only about 25 pages. I am sort of a Holmes-freak--not full-blown, not at all. But I've always liked the stories, have read lots of Holmes-related stuff. So ... this one looked interesting. I bought it. I started reading it.


Then, this morning, I started reading the next Michael Chabon book on my list (I'm reading all the ones I've not read previously); it's a 2004 mystery novella called The Final Solution (which alludes to the title of a very famous Holmes story, "The Final Problem"--link to the story--and, of course, to the Holocaust). I read the first 50 pages of Chabon's book this morning, and it's very clear that it's about the very elderly Sherlock (as yet unnamed--but it is he!), who, in the early years of WW II is called by some local authorities to help with a puzzling murder case involving an African gray parrot and a little boy, a Jew recently rescued from Germany.

So ... the two books I just happen to read are about Holmes ... well, one of them, of course, is obviously about the sleuth-in-the-deerstalker.

But still ...

Monday, April 17, 2017

Frankenstein Sundae, 301


By January 1836, Mary was writing what would be her final novel, Falkner, which would appear in print in February 1837. Like other novels of the day, it would initially arrive in three volumes—a procedure that helped accommodate the lending libraries so popular at the time. It was a way for more readers to have access to the novel. A person could read the first third, then return it so that someone else could start the story.
In my notes I see that I read the novel in the summer of 1997: June 24–July 1. This was very early in my research on Mary and her world—and, no doubt, I should have read it again later on. I seem not to have. But I did take very thorough notes—twelve pages, single-spaced, smallish font.
I see in my journal that the night before I began the novel, we had a visitor in our bedroom.
A bat.
We were living at the time in a very old house on Pioneer Trail in Aurora, Ohio, only a couple of blocks from Harmon (Middle) School, from which I’d retired just a half-year earlier. So we had lots of visitors from various rungs of the ladder of the animal kingdom. We had issues with ants, yellow jackets, a rat (in the basement), things that went bump in the night. And now … a bat. (Appropriate, I guess, for someone reading the works of the woman who wrote Frankenstein.)
I should confess something here: Bats scare me. And my wife, Joyce, who ordinarily adores winged things (she had parakeets in girlhood, parrots during our marriage), was even less fond of bats than I was. But I had, well, the Male Burden: I had to be “brave.” Which I manifestly was not.
Here’s what my journal records about the night of June 23—24: … about 4 a.m., Joyce woke me with the news that a bat was flying around the bedroom; we got it out into the hallway, and I started closing doors when I was sure the bat was not in that particular room; I opened the window at the head of the stairs, and he may have gone out, but we’re not sure; no sign of him this a.m.
See how even a journal can lie? What this entry fails to communicate in its disinterested, reportorial prose is that I was terrified. I cowered when I heard the wings overhead. I felt my heart rate accelerate like a getaway car. I remember lying in the dark, afterwards, wondering how much respect Joyce had just lost for me—her less-than-doughty defender.

I just read through the rest of June 1997 in my journal and discovered something that seems contrived. But no. It happened. On the thirtieth (a Monday night) Joyce and I drove over to Chapel Hill Cinema (near Akron) to see a film. Batman and Robin.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Sunday Sundries, 139


1. AOTW: I'm taking Joyce's word for this one: The people in the crowded grocery-store parking lot on Saturday, the day before, you know, Easter. Not a lot of Christian charity, from what I hear. As always: Easier to preach than to practice in a busy, too-small parking lot.

2. I saw a film I knew wouldn't really be very good (and it wasn't), but I was experiencing Popcorn Deprivation on Friday night, so off I went to see Going in Style, one of those Old Guy movies--in this case: Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Alan Arkin. They've all just lost their pensions because of some bank hanky-panky (banky-panky?), so they decide to rob a bank to re-pay themselves. (They vow to steal no more than they are owed--will donate any excess to charity.) Yawningly predictable. But ... excellent popcorn. (Link to film trailer.) Oh, I did like seeing Matt Dillon (remember!!), who plays the FBI agent who doesn't really have a chance with these Sly Old Dudes.

Some flaws: What about all the other guys who lost their pensions? How can Our Heroes possibly spend the money? The FBI and cops will be watching them ... wondering how their mortgages got paid off, etc.

3. I used the phrase hanky-panky in the last paragraph and realized I didn't know its source. Looked it up. Webster's says: alteration (perhaps influenced by handkerchief) of hocus-pocus; First Known Use: 1841. The Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins echoes Webster's--but adds that it originated in the jargon of fairs and carnivals. There you go ...


4. I finished only one book this week (shame, shame, I know), an early collection of Michael Chabon stories--Werewolves in Their Youth (1999). I am slowly reading all the Chabon works I somehow missed since he began in the early 1990s--and am having a good time. I liked all the stories, but my favorite was the final one--"In the Black Mill," a sort of metafictional tale supposedly written by August Van Zorn, a character/writer alluded to in Chabon's excellent novel (and one of my favorite films, too) Wonder Boys.

The narrator is a doctoral candidate in archaeology, and he goes to a town called Plunkettsburg to do some research on a long-gone Indian tribe, but his digging leads to Trouble, My Friend, Right Here in River City. Lots of carnage and body parts ... and a lot of fun reading!


5. We're enjoying streaming (Netflix) some new episodes now available of the detective series set in Galway, Jack Taylor; in the first new one (some of which we watched last night), Taylor waxes a bit literary: The story involves the Irish myth of Deirdre. (Link to some info about the story of Deirdre.) (Link to some video of Jack Taylor.) Joyce, very coincidentally, wrote a paper about Deirdre back in her early days of grad school. (I'm sure she'd share it with you if you asked ... not.)


6. Final word--a good one for today, Easter, a day that mixes stories of the Resurrection with rabbits and eggs. Makes sense, I guess.

- from dictionary.com:

leporine  [lep-uh-rahyn, -rin]

adjective, Zoology.
1. of, relating to, or resembling a rabbit or hare.

Origin of leporine: Latin
1650-1660 < Latin leporīnus, equivalent to lepor- (stem of lepus) hare + -īnus -ine



Saturday, April 15, 2017

At Seidman Cancer Center, cont'd.

Seidman Cancer Center
University Hospitals (UH)
Beachwood, Ohio

I spent some time up at Seidman this week. I'm going at least once a month now to get my monthly injections of Xgeva, a drug that is supposed to help with my bone strength. The major med I'm on at the moment, Lupron (a testosterone-killer--prostate cancer loves testosterone), helps delay (but not, ultimately, stop) the spread of cancer into my bones. But Lupron also weakens bones ... thus, the Xgeva. (Here's a link to more info about Xgeva, if you're so inclined.)

It's a special, expensive (a bit painful) shot that I can't, it seems, just get at my local UH office--about a mile from my house--well, 1.4 miles says Google Maps. Instead, I must drive about 20 miles (each way) to Seidman for the shot. Okay. Picky, picky.

This week (Wednesday) I went up there for some bloodwork and for yet another CAT scan to see what's going on inside. Is the cancer spreading? Where? How fast? We already know that it's moving into the bones, a move slowed by the Lupron--and by a new med which I will start taking today--Casodex. It's a drug that mirrors the effects of Lupron (which I will continue taking via quarterly injections), and my oncologist tells me that I probably won't notice any additional symptoms--except, perhaps, more of the surges of intense heat I feel throughout the day. We'll see. The only good thing: It's a pill.

We'll also see about the CAT scan. I haven't heard anything yet, but I go up to Seidman on June 12 for my regularly scheduled appointment with my oncologist, so if I haven't heard before then ...

I think this CAT scan was also to see if that spot on my lung from last time was merely an infection or something more sinister. When I last saw him, he didn't think it was the latter. But ... just checking to make sure? Probably. We hope.

For those of you who don't know what's going on--a brief rehearsal: Late in 2004 I learned I had prostate cancer. In June 2005 I had a prostatectomy* (removal of the organ). Things looked good for a while. Then ... not so good. My PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) started rising again--should not happen; I had no prostate gland. What it meant? Cancerous cells had already migrated outside the gland by the time they removed it. And now the cells were reproducing again. In January 2009 I underwent seven weeks of daily radiation treatments down at the Cleveland Clinic downtown. And, again, things looked good. Until they didn't. My PSA once again became measurable, then began steadily rising. And then in the summer of 2013 I began my Lupron injections, and my number fell from 22.9 to "undetectable" in a matter of months.

And so it stayed for a couple of years. Then ... back it came. Eventually, the number became worrisome enough that my oncologist decided to put me on Casodex (which commences today) and Xgeva. At times, I feel like a walking pharmacy now ...

All these testosterone suppressants have unpleasant side effects: periods of heat, lack of energy, depression, complete loss of libido, threats to bone health, etc.

And ... worry. Because these drugs are not cures. There are no more cures for me. Just delaying tactics.

My oncologist has told me that my body is fighting the cancer well, but the disease, as I well know, will not surrender, and at some point I (all of us) will. Such is mortality.

But I remain grateful for what I have--for what I can do. Joyce. Family. A gig reviewing books. Writing. Reading. Going to a movie now and then. Naps (!). A home  near town (so I can walk or bike so many places).

One lesson I've learned--not insisting on doing what I can't. This took a while. A few days in bed now and then when I thought I was, you know, above it all. An exception. Nope. We all eventually learn, of course, that there are no exceptions. Not lasting ones.

*spell-check suggested I meant prestidigitator!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

What We'd Put on YouTube



Joyce and I got to laughing last night about how-to-do-it videos on YouTube. I forget how the conversation started, but start it did. As did the laughter. We were not, by the way, laughing at the videos; we were laughing at ourselves.

First ... a memory ... A few years ago, the Dyers were gathered in the Berkshires at the old farmhouse my brothers own and use for weekends and holidays (they both live in the Boston area). Outside, I saw our son doing a headlamp replacement on their car; he was following along with a YouTube video that showed him how to do it. He did it. It worked. I was impressed--though not enough so that I'd attempt it myself. I know my limits--the sign of ... maturity, right?

But last night Joyce asked me what sort of self-help video I could upload to YouTube. My quick and honest answer was, "Nothing."  Then she suggested bread-making. I said that there are probably lots of those out there--and I don't even know if I'm doing it "right"; I just do what I've done for decades, modifying now and then along the way. A trial-and-error strategy. A professional baker would probably watch me for thirty seconds and click away to see kittens playing with a possum.

So we spent some time, Joyce and I, imagining other sorts of videos we could do. Here they are, in no particular order:

1. Unloading the Dishwasher (one of my first-thing-in-the-morning jobs); I'd emphasize such things as being careful with sharp things (like the apple-slicer I used most days), like doing the bottom rack first so that you don't pull out the upper and have water drip on the lower things. Useful, eh?

2. Wheeling the Trash Cans Out to the Curb (one of Joyce's self-assigned tasks). She'd probably talk about the extra care to take in the snow, how to avoid hitting your car as you roll past, etc. How to re-aim an outside car mirror you've just hit.

3. How to Keep an Omelet from Sticking to the Pan. I used to have no trouble with this--made omelets every week for years. Then--about a month ago--eggs started sticking, and we ended up with scrambled eggs instead. (I took it very well--maturing, you know.) So ... as soon as I figure out why this has started happening, I will do the video. And share.

4. How to Get Open a Popsicle Wrapper. Joyce loves Popsicles (okay, so do I), and we usually have one (okay more) each night (sugar-free, natch) in bed--something to enjoy while we're streaming some Brit cop show. Joyce will shoot and post this video as soon as she figures out how to remove the wrappers (often, this becomes my job). Her video will probably feature scissors. But I'm just guessing.

There are many other videos we could make--dealing with the quotidian and the quirky. But I think by now you have inferred the extent (?) of our "skills."

At Hiram High School I had a history teacher who used to say that college professors didn't have any "practical knowledge"; that annoyed me then (my dad was a prof--and my mom would be one). But now ... I would have to append something: "The children of college professors have no practical knowledge."

Maybe I'll make an upload a video about it? First, though, I'll have to watch a video about how to shoot and upload a video.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Magnolias in My Face

12 April 2017

Sitting here, I stare out my study window at the magnolias in bloom. The sunlight resting on them. I see buds everywhere now. Early spring flowers. Grass suddenly greener--as if someone has just turned on a subterranean switch. No wonder so many religions employ the metaphoric power of the season. Nearly every one of those pink blossoms breathes the word, "Hope."

Which, as Emily Dickinson wrote, "is the thing with feathers." Spring birds. They are now waking us up to their urgent music. Building nests. Counting on a future.

Who could look at all of this and remain dour? Depressed?

Well, Edna St. Vincent Millay, for one. In her dark poem "Spring" (see entire text below), she abruptly dismisses all the spring-thing stuff:

It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
April
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.

Millay first published this poem in 1920--she herself was in her late 20s--in a London periodical, Chapbook. A handwritten draft has the date March 21, 1920--the day after the vernal equinox (I just checked!).

She was in one of her productive periods then--her fame was spreading. Youth was in her. She had lovers whenever she wanted them (which, I've read, was often).

But this poem comes from a dark place, a place I find myself struggling to avoid as the years--and the decline--proceed.

When I was a kid, spring meant one thing: baseball. (Okay, two things: the imminent end of the school year!) It never crossed my mind that there might not be another spring for me--or for those whom I love.

Yet here I am. Seventy-two years of age. Iffy health--as is the health of so many others I love. I've lost two dear, dear friends this year--within the last couple of months, actually.

And so, sure, when I see the magnolias in my face, I cannot help but be moved. And grateful.

But Millay's dark questions now seem engraved on each blossom. They were always there, of course. My eyes just weren't ready to see them.

So when a friend recently posted this poem on Facebook, I recognized the words before I even read them; I knew the lines before I finished reading them.

And so I quickly memorized it. So I won't forget ... not that I could forget. As she said, all of this spring glory is now ... "not enough."

"Spring" by Edna St. Vincent Millay


To what purpose, April, do you return again?
Beauty is not enough.
You can no longer quiet me with the redness
Of little leaves opening stickily.
I know what I know.
The sun is hot on my neck as I observe
The spikes of the crocus.
The smell of the earth is good.
It is apparent that there is no death.
But what does that signify?
Not only under ground are the brains of men
Eaten by maggots.
Life in itself
Is nothing,
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
April

Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Sunday Sundries, 138


Okay, so I'm a day late with my homework. Stuff happens ...

1. AOTW: No contest this week. None. On Thursday night Joyce and I went down to the Akron Public Library to hear/see a presentation by writer George Saunders, whose first (and, so far, only) novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, has been dazzling critics and readers since it came out. Anyway, we enjoyed his presentation, and during the Q&A (as is my wont) I went out to the hall where the book-signing would occur. The auditorium was packed, so I got in line first! The Q&A took a bit of a while (25 minutes?), and just before it was over, a woman in the audience joined me. Waiting. As soon as Saunders came out and sat at the table to sign, she stepped right in front of me and got her book signed first. I was too stunned to say anything. But I also felt some satisfaction: I knew who my AOTW would be!

2. Last night (Saturday) Joyce and I watched (DVD, Netflix) the next film on our list by the Coen Brothers, whose complete films we're watching, in order. This one was The Ladykillers (2004), a wild remake of the 1955 film with Alec Guinness, Peter Sellers, and other notables.(Link to trailer for 1955 film.)


The story is about a diverse group of thieves (professional and otherwise), who rent a room from an old woman who lives near (in this case) a gambling casino on a riverboat on the nearby Mississippi River. (Link to film trailer.)

Tom Hanks, playing a phony Southern gentleman/hustler is the Leader of the Pack, but there are many others you'll recognize. In her basement, they tunnel over to the riverboat, where they hope to "liberate" $1.6 million.

Then ... things get crazy, and, in the Coen Bros.' hands, very funny.

The film is a collection of stereotypes--everyone in the film is one--and it's amusing to watch them collide as events take one odd turn after another. There's a dumb jock, an Asian expert in martial arts, a jive black man (Marlon Wayans), lots of African American church-goers, etc. Right on the edge--maybe even over it. But, as I said, everyone is a cliche/stereotype--black, white, Asian.

3. I finished three books this week.

     - The first (see above) was George Saunders' Lincoln in the Bardo, a novel that deals with the death of Lincoln's little boy, Willie, and Lincoln's visit one night to the cemetery to "visit" with him. The novel is told in multiple voices--the spirits of the dead in the cemetery, spirits who can see and hear Lincoln, who cannot return the favor. Willie is among them--and misses his father horribly--and vice-versa. And the spirits, when they enter a living person (like Honest Abe), can (as I said) hear the thoughts of that person, and this is how we get to hear Lincoln's voice--through the narrations of the spirits.

At the presentation where we heard/saw Saunders last week, he had five microphones set up and had designated readers do the voices of the spirits--while he himself did Lincoln ("It's my event," he quipped).During the prepared part of his talk (before the readers joined him) he talked about why he'd focused until now on short stories. He said he'd once written a novel, early on, but his wife groaned and squirmed, so he ditched it. He also said he's not sure he'll write another novel.

I liked the book--a lot--and was very moved by Willie's realization that he was dead--and how that epiphany affected the others in the cemetery. Loss, grief, acceptance, love, regret--and so much more. (Bardo, by the way, is the spiritual space between coming and going--between death and moving on.)

When I spoke with Saunders briefly (after the AOTW had appeared and departed), I noted that my experience with Joyce--met in July, married in December--paralleled his experience with his wife. I said we were in our 47th year together; he said they were in their 30th; and he stood and shook my hand and said, "Sometimes you just know, don't you?" Yes, you do. Indeed, you do.

    - I also finished a book I've been reading for a few months now, 25 pages at a clip, The Private Lives of the Tudors by Tracy Borman (2017), a book from which I learned a lot about the quotidian aspects of the royal family--from clothing to dental care to, uh, bathroom practices to the sorts of servants (many servants) attending them.

I felt that Borman spent a little too much time rehearsing the history--but I guess she couldn't assume her readers would know the principal players--or the age--so she repeated a lot of what I already know. Not bragging, just saying.

Still, a fine, informative book that adds humanity to the names we all know so well--Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Bloody Mary, Elizabeth I. And others, of course.

     - The third title was A Model World (1991), an early collection of stories by Michael Chabon; I'm on a quest to read the books of his I've not previously read. This is his second book (the first, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, I blogged about earlier), and it contains some fine stories--some of which hint at what will ensue in later volumes--novels and stories. The title story is about an academic who plagiarizes his dissertation--gets away with it--has a fine career.

The second half of the collection (approx.) comprises stories about a character (autobiographical?) named Nathan Shapiro. When we first meet him, he is a young boy on vacation with his parents and younger brother, Ricky. The parents' marriage is ending--and there's some (undeserved) guilt in Nathan's mind. In subsequent stories, we follow Nathan into his sixteenth year--his early fascinations with sex (can you imagine? a teenage boy interested in sex?); the final story deals with his first experience with a girl he's known since the days of Hebrew school--and whom he has not seen for quite a few years.

Moving stories. Quiet. And quietly told. But it is the quiet of a tumultuous subterranean river. You can't hear it; it's there.

4. A Last Word--from one of my online word-of-the-day providers:

     - from dictionary.com

fanfaronade noun [fan-fer-uh-neyd]
1. bragging; bravado; bluster.
QUOTES
"... I'll keep it so well that it will arrive at its destination, I swear to you, and woe to him who tries to take it from me!" M. de Treville smiled at this fanfaronade ...
-- Alexandre Dumas (1802–1870), The Three Musketeers, translated by Richard Pevear, 2006
ORIGIN

There is an unclear connection between fanfaronade and fanfare, both of which came into English from French fanfaronnade (a derivative of fanfaron “braggart”) and fanfare “flourish of trumpets” (some authorities say that French fanfare is of imitative origin). French fanfaronnade came from Spanish fanfarronada “bluster, bluff,” and French fanfaron from Spanish fanfarrón “braggart.” If French fanfare is not of imitative origin, then it could well come from Spanish fanfarria “fanfare, arrogance.” The three Spanish words are of obscure origin; they may come from Arabic farfār “talkative, loquacious.” Fanfaronade entered English in the 17th century.



Saturday, April 8, 2017

A Hopeful Day, Yesterday



One of my rites of spring: Taking my bike to Eddy's over in Stow, a place Joyce and I have patronized for decades. Spring tune-up time.

I have a 1995 Schwinn, sort of rust red (emphasize rust), a bike Joyce bought for me long ago and which I have ridden ever since. The picture above shows my ride on the porch last April (2016), back from Eddy's, ready to roll.

I don't ride very far in these Advancing Days of Dotage, but I do ride it regularly, virtually every day, spring through snow-fly. It's about a mile from our house to Starbucks, and in the afternoons (when it's not raining), right after lunch, I ride down there, where I'll sit for a couple of hours, sipping and reading and taking notes on whatever I'm reading at the moment. Then ride home.

Hudson is not the most bike-friendly town, but the way I go, I can pretty quickly hook up with a bike path that takes me part of the way. The rest involves sidewalks and driveways of a little shopping area. The only place of (mild) danger is getting across Ohio 303 from College Street. Lots of cars. Sometimes they're accommodating. Sometimes not.

I wear a helmet. I think I've told this story, but here it is again: I used to ride my bike up to Western Reserve Academy, where I taught (2001-11), and one day a snarky young man, seeing me aboard the bike, admired my helmet--with some heavy sarcasm. I snipped back: "Hey, I like my brain. I guess if I had yours, I wouldn't wear a helmet, either."

That wasn't nice--but he knew me, knew I was kidding. (Was I?)

Anyway, yes, I wear a helmet. Flashing lights fore and aft. I ride carefully, cautiously, circumspectly, etc. (Wussily?)

The bike lives in the basement in the winter--not the fairest room in the house, that's for sure. Dank, dark, ignored except when something goes wrong, storage spot for things we don't know what to do with. Source of unpleasant odors now and then.

Getting the bike down there--and then back up again--is an adventure. I used to do it with with dispatch (and even some panache!), but now ... I need help. Joyce's help.

And so yesterday after supper, we descended to the basement, apologized to the spiders for intruding, uninvited, then began the wicked trip back up the steep stairs.

We both survived.

Then--getting it into the back of our Prius (with its fold-down rear seats). Another adventure. Then the drive over to Eddy's. Removing it from the car. (Adventure #3) Rolling it into Eddy's to the service counter, which they've altered since last year. (Unforgivable, change.)

The young technician and I agreed on which spring service plan I needed (middle-range, it seems). As we were finishing, he said, "This looks like it's been in here before."

"Quite a few times," I said. "I bought it here in 1995." Pause. "How old were you then?"

"One," he said. Much too quickly.

That was comforting.

It should be ready by Wednesday, he said, and it will be on Wednesday, if the weather is decent, when I will climb aboard and ride around the parking lot of the funeral home next door (no comments). And it will be during this wee ride--and immediately afterward--that I will decide if it's safe to ride again this year.

Oh, I'm not worried about the safety of the bike. But my own. You see, I've had vertigo the last couple of years (another gift from Dotage), and if I feel dizzy on the bike--or when I dismount--I will no longer ride. I will post a note on Facebook--come and get the bike if you want it.

And I will close yet another door to yet another room from which Father Time has barred me.




Friday, April 7, 2017

Frankensein Sundae, 300


I have no wish to pound into the ground this point about Mary’s self-references in the numerous encyclopedia entries she wrote in the mid-1830s.  Just a few more …
In the first volume of her French Lives—a project by the way that mentions few women—she does have an entry on Madame De Sévigné (1626–1696). We could not, writes Mary, omit a name so highly honourable to her country … whose genius has adorned the world.[1] And a few pages later, Mary comments about her subject’s widowhood, comments that clearly relate to Mary’s experience, as well. Left at four-and-twenty without her husband’s protection, in the midst of a society loosened from all moral restrictions, in which the highest were the most libertine, no evil breath ever tainted her fair name.[2]
Mary—widowed also at four-and-twenty—did not, of course, enjoy any of this freedom from censure. Not only did she suffer throughout the remainder of her life from the taint of her elopement with a married man in 1814, but she also endured bitter words about the behavior of her parents—William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft—for their unconventional (and therefore immoral and shameful!) behavior.
At the end of her entry, Mary—thinking of herself?—says It is strange how people can find dark spots in the sun ….[3]
In the second volume of French Lives, writing of Rousseau (1812–1778), Mary comments further on what she calls women’s virtue: It is not today that we have learnt, that it is not true, that when a woman loses one virtue she loses all. The true distinctive virtue of woman’s nature is her promptitude of self-sacrifice and a capacity to bind up her existence in the happiness and well-being of the objects of her attachment.[4] Surely, she was thinking: This is what I want you to think of me!
Finally … in her entry on Madame de Stael (1766–1817) she alludes to de Stael’s fondness for Lord Byron in Geneva in the summer of 1816. The summer Bysshe and Mary were there. The famous Frankenstein Summer when she wrote the story that became the novel that has overwhelmed the world.[5] She does not mention herself in this passage, but she does add, a page or so later, what could be a sub-theme of all of her entries: Such is the defect of human nature that we have no right to demand perfection from any individual of the species.[6]
She could just as well have said, “Forgive me. I have, after all, forgiven myself.



[1] Ibid., 214.
[2] Ibid., 218.
[3] Ibid., 256.
[4] (London: Longman, Orme, Brown, Green, & Longmans; John Taylor, 1839), 126.
[5] Ibid., 339–40.
[6] Ibid., 344.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Candy Dan


Last night, talking with Joyce, I found an allusion slipping from between my teeth. A candy allusion. Red Hots. (I warn you: Keep clean thoughts in your head!)

I can't remember the exact context--at my age I'm fortunate to remember the following morning what I'd talked about the night before! But ... Red Hots escaped a moment from my memory, where it had lain dormant for decades, and fled through my teeth.

They were not my favorite candy back in boyhood, but back in boyhood I didn't quibble much about what brand of candy was available. Someone say "candy"? Into my mouth it went. I would not, in a word, buy Red Hots, but I would consume those purchased by a friend or family member. Just being polite, you understand.

I did have several favorites back in the late 1940s and early 1950s when my boyhood metabolism--a fiery furnace to rival the one that once accommodated Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (appropriately, their story appears in Daniel 3--link to KJV of the story)--could consume, convert to energy, everything that went in my face.

Not no more.

Anyway, my other boyhood favorites (in no particular order):

  • 3 Musketeers (back then, the bars had two little lines in the chocolate indicating how you could easily divide it into thirds, and the ads on TV showed gracious little boys and girls doing just that--sharing with friends; this never happened with my friends and me)
  • Oh Henry! (years later, I learned that the name of the bars had nothing to do with the famous writer of short stories; when I was teaching O. Henry one year, I actually got in touch with Corporate and asked them about the name; apparently it involved, years ago, an office boy named Henry, a young man people always yelled to when there was Work to Be Done)
  • Baby Ruth (apparently named for the infant daughter of Grover Cleveland, not for the baseball great)
  • Snickers.
  • Tootsie Roll (not a great favorite--but in a pinch ...)
  • M&M
  • orange slices (the candy kind)
I didn't care that much for Milky Way--but, as I said earlier, anything would do--especially if I hadn't paid for it.

And here's something to make you sigh (and understand how old I am): All the major candy bars cost five cents each. (They were a bit smaller--but not that much.)

As the years rolled on, I narrowed down to Snickers and M&M (peanut), and Joyce, by the way, consumed piles of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, though she and I, at the movies, would "share" the M&M's; this "sharing" sometimes occasioned some ... disagreements (mild, mild) about who was eating more than his (!) share of them.

And then ... older ... my weight beginning to annoy me (and after years of yo-yo weight gain and loss), I began to eschew rather than chew candy. Haven't bought any for years. Our movie trips are now most definitely not Candy Land--a game, by the way, that our tiny son somehow managed almost always to win.

I took it well. I was a mature adult. A father.


Okay, a confession to end with: When our son was very little, we would store all his Halloween candy in a drawer, telling him it would not be healthful to, you know, eat it all at once. We would dole it out over the ensuing days. Except for the Snickers. Which I had, you know, eaten all at once. (It took some years before he noticed this perfidy. It's possible he's forgiven me by now.) Did he notice that Peanut Butter Cups had disappeared, as well?