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Archive for August, 2011

The McLetter

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

Our friend David came by yesterday after dropping off his son at a military academy. As he said goodbye to Dexter, he was told that restrictions on communication would be tough. For the first month, kids would be allowed no cell phones or access to email. The only way to write home would be to do it the old-fashioned way. (We’re talking paper, a stamp and a zip code.)

David had a sense (as, no doubt, did many other parents) that this was a non-starter. His kid was just not going to be motivated enough to work out the logistics of postal service. Dexter and his generation, raised as texters and taught that paper equals dead trees, often can’t get their minds around snail mail. (The only time in recent memory I received something in an envelope from a daughter was when Elizabeth forwarded me her electric bill.)

David knew that his own anxiety level in an the absence of communication would be far greater than Dexter’s. He figured if he wanted to know how his son was doing, he’d have to facilitate. So he provided Dexter the Texter with a “McLetter,” a home-addressed stamped envelope and something like the following for him to fill out and mail back.

Dear Dad,

I am (check one): __fine
__not fine

So far, school (check one): __is wonderful
__is so-so

You may visit me (check one): __whenever you please
__in a couple months
__when hell freezes over

Please send me (check one or more): __money
__clean sox

Signed, your loving son,

(Your name here):___________________________

It’s been a week and so far, there’s no word from Dexter, not even the McLetter, although a message from the dean indicated that he is doing fine. His anxiety alleviated, David now just enjoys the unusual experience of opening his mailbox (the real one, that metal thing, down by the curb) every day with the reasonable hope that there might be something there, made of paper, stamped and addressed, from his son.

It could happen.


Happy Vegan Birthday, Mr. Clinton!

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

On August 19th, Bill Clinton turned 65, and he became a vegan.

On that same day, my daughter Elizabeth turned 22. She will not be going vegan until there is figure skating in hell.

I took the birthday girl and her boyfriend out for dinner in New York on the day, and, predictably, she ordered a cheeseburger and fries and chocolate cake. If Bill Clinton had shared her meal, he’d have required an after dinner ambulance. Others of us would be speed-dialing the liposuctionist. (Or are they called liposuckers?) But Elizabeth eats even more than Clinton used to, and still maintains a slim body and good cholesterol numbers. I have trouble seeing the fairness here.

August 19th also happens to be the birthday of Coco Chanel. Her eating habits are among the few things Google does not reveal, but my guess is she was neither a vegan nor a chow hound in the style of Elizabeth or early Clinton, and I bet she never ate a Big Mac, but if she did, I’m pretty sure she was their best-dressed customer.

Actually, the news of the ex-Pres.’s shift in eating habits revived my interest in exploring veganism, but I need to confirm that martinis are allowed. While I investigate, I am going to eat some steak (here’s the recipe) just in case I actually do get veganized and swear it off forever.

Eat your heart out, Bill.



Saturday, August 6th, 2011

My husband and I are looking to upgrade our TV, to move into the 21st century with a few bells and whistles, reducing the number of remotes from three to one, and going 3D so Tom can add dimension to his ESPN addiction.

But I’ve been advised to hold out a little longer, because  there’s technology on the horizon that, in the near future, we will be ashamed to be without. The Japanese have made great leaps forward in the development of Smell-O-Vision.

Soon, by attaching a small device to the back of your screen (or potentially by installing it in your cell phone), you will be able to experience 10,000 scents associated with whatever show you are watching. Needless to say, engaging a third sense in the viewing experience will greatly enhance it. Or will it?

I love to watch the Super Bowl. (It gives me an excuse to make bean dip.) But I’m quite sure that when we are treated to a close-up of a team huddle late in the fourth quarter, I’d be happier without Smell-O-Vision.

My daughter loves to watch what we call “dead people shows,” like CSI, which is heavily populated with murder victims. (There are live actors too, of course, although they are sometimes indistinguishable from the corpses.)  But I it’s tough enough to watch when a body is fished from the river. Do I have to smell it too?

Also, I think I’d prefer to do without Smell-O-Vision while watching political TV. I have enough trouble taking in Michelle Bachmann with two senses. Adding a third would send me over the edge. I’m sort of curious about what John Boehner smells like, but only in the same way I’m fascinated by other icky things. As for Obama, after the debt ceiling deal, I don’t want to know. I’d rather go on thinking he smells like a rose.

One channel that would be a no-brainer for this technology would be the Food Network. When Paula Dean makes those donut burgers, who doesn’t wan to smell ’em? Add a little 3D and I’d be drooling on my treadmill. But what I’m really hoping is that they’ll move on to the next level, to Touch-O-Vision. If I could just reach out and grab a few of those burgers, or Rachael Ray’s casserole or whatever the Barefoot Contessa’s lemon chicken, I’d never have to cook again. Hmmm. Now, that’s what I call an upgrade.