Archive for May, 2012


Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

The process of Lucy’s baby-naming seemed simple. Saturday morning they’d call my kids to the pulpit, prayers would be offered, and then parents and child would sit. No muss—I assumed. No fuss.

In a normal world.

It began innocently enough. Long before the weekend, the mother of my children announced she’d host a lunch at her home. Harmless, you say? Easy? Simple?

“You know,” said Aunt Helen while shopping, “I never heard from Stacy or her mother about tomorrow.”

I greeted her pronouncement with silence, hoping it would go away.
“Am I invited?” she continued. “No one ever called me.”
Readying my thoughts, I prepared to speak.

“Don’t worry. It’s not your place,” she assured me. “You can’t invite me to someone else’s home.”

‘Struck me we were moving on until when, with staccato-like zeal, she interrupted herself: “Am I invited? Do you know?”

“I will take you to services and the luncheon, Aunt Helen. Of course you’re included.”
“I know you said you’d pick me up,” she shot back. “I am not asking if I am INCLUDED. I am asking if I’m INVITED.”

The gift of silence was short-lived.
“Who else will be there?”

(This, in an ordinary setting, is a fair question. This, in an ordinary setting, is apolitical). Nothing, however, in my tante’s being—from her razor-sharp mind to her ravenous persona, is “ordinary”. And I had to answer. I knew where we headed, but I had to answer.

“Well,” I opened, “Michael, Meredith and Max, Stacy and Jason…Lucy of course…Jason’s Dad and Donna…

(She was, I knew, listening for the H-word).

“…And Harriet and Denise….”

(It was, to this demented nonagenarian, the shot heard ‘round the world. For reasons neither fit to print nor founded in logic, Helen had, some months ago, boycotted Harriet. Our aunt was no sweet little old lady in this; she had not been wronged; it was strictly her venom speaking. Indeed, Harriet, the love of our father’s life, has been a saint to our family since she’d met Al Bogart at the Columbus JCC some forty years ago. She is our children’s grandma, great-grandmother to five on this wing alone, and beloved by everyone Bogart).

Except one.

“Harriet’s coming?” she spit out, (giving me the look our father’d hurl in a hearts game when I’d pass him the spade queen without protection).
“Of course,” I affirmed. “Why wouldn’t she?”
“Who called her?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well, I shall assume you did since she is not related to your ex-wife anymore.”
(Not wishing to engage, I kept silent).

“And another thing,” came The Voice, “you know, do you not, that Stacy has never called me to announce her engagement?”
(More silence).
“…And I am certain she called Harriet…”
(Even more silence. Her comments were getting further apart).

“And another thing…” she rewound: “Will I be able to see Lucy or will they hide her from me? I barely saw her at the Seder…And Max? Will he be at your ex-wife’s?”

It was only Thursday, and I was exhausted. By Friday, ‘though, the plans had changed. Hal got ill, and while passing on temple, thought was he’d come for lunch. What followed then was dominoes, Bogart style:

1. With Hal/Margie out, Helen passed on Park, asking only to be picked up for lunch AFTER shul. (Alas, everybody—especially Helen—loves Raymond).
2. With Helen in my post-temple car, Michael urged to be dropped off at his mother’s first. (Alas, everybody—especially Michael—avoids Helen).
3. Me? I’m the gentle breeze in the family: For reasons I’m certain my aunt deems coincidental, she was always in my car alone. I was just, let’s say, playing Morgan Freeman in “Driving Miss Crazy”. ‘ Put 300 miles on the car but sure made a lot of people happy.

There was a symmetry to last Saturday and I wondered if others noticed.

Harriet greeted Helen and Helen grunted. Helen greeted Michael and Michael grunted. And everyone smiled at the babies.  Lucy was beautiful, of course and Max was a charm. So mobile.

And my brother showed up, smiling.  By operation of law, then, this made Helen smile.

And finally—it was time to leave. Driving back with Margie, I borrowed her car for a bit. This freed up Michael to drive off with his family, and of course, left me where it all began: driving one-on-one with a ninety year-old lady…

And praying for silence.


Sunday, May 27th, 2012

“Lucy Hannah Bohrer…. Layah Honnah!”

Holding the infant aloft, (not unlike a football player displaying a recovered fumble), Rabbi Skoff continued the Hebrew, rattling a myriad of names. I listened distinctly for mine—more to see if my daughter’d gotten it right than anything else. (The kid, by the way, nailed it).

“…bot Binyameen…”

It was a special moment this morning, and my vantage was priceless. Indeed, from the rear of the temple I watched it all…them all.

On the far away “bima” sat Torah, our Tree Of Life. Aside it, exalting in “simcha” were Stacy, Jason, and child. Beaming. Closer in, (right before me, in fact), was Meredith. With Michael aside her she held Max–the now-talking Max.

There I stood— in my field of dreams.

“In every conceivable manner,” wrote Alex Haley, “family is the link to our past and bridge to our future.“ That explains (does it not?) why for so many this day was so dear…why the brother of a granddad drove in from Chicago and the brother of a grandmom rode in from the coast….and why a GREATgrandmom schlepped up from Columbus.

Four hours passed. Surrounded by family, the Bohrers spoke. Lucy Hannah, they shared, was for Lilyan (her grandma) and Harold (his grandpa). It was a loving tribute.

First Jason recounted his father’s father: a mentsch, an incredibly decent man. (I’d heard this before—from Char—and often it occurred that Jason was like his father Bruce, and that Bruce Bohrer was his father. Apples don’t fall far, do they?). Then Stacy, my Little One, waxed poetic…of Grandma Lil’s strength, and love of family… and Judaism.

I watched it all, smiling contently. It was afternoon and my angle had widened. From the back of a much smaller room I saw Helen, Margie, and Harold… and I thought of my parents, and if they were there. My mother, no doubt, would be urging we repeat what was being said and my father (make book on it) would be questioning the wisdom of the sole entrée being salmon.,

And I thought of those who, by their own volition, were absent….

Four more hours passed. Stacy and Jason (I knew) were with Michael and Meredith when Ed’s text came in.

“At Red,” it said. “Your kids are here. Come up.”
“I know,” I typed, “Sitting Max.”

I remembered vividly how thrilled our Dad was whenever “his boys” played together— how nothing made him happier—

And I turned to look again at the monitor, at the sleeping Max Parker Bogart.

It was nighttime now, and my vantage was still perfect.


Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

They buried Andy Sunday.

I sat with Lana. (Michael had the aisle and was busy greeting people). As the chapel filled with old friends in older faces, memories flooded ….

“Bogie,” shrieked the voice through the phone, “There’s a blizzard in Sandusky and it’s heading here!”

December 8, 1977—hours before the most important election of our lifetime. Months of campaigning would culminate that evening when, at Diamond’s Restaurant (Severance Center), The Lodge would elect its new officer.

Secret ballot: me against Andy.

There I was, the fresh young face; there he was, the veteran—the one whose “turn it was”. To some I was “new blood, just what we need”; to others I was an upstart, “not willing to wait his turn”. They were all right.

Lodge elections were serious business back then. Seven-hundred men strong, we were an order requiring physical attendance to vote. No mailing it in, no proxies. Indeed, if a brother couldn’t find his way to lodge that Thursday, he just didn’t get to vote.

Which was why I head uptown…immediately!.

We weren’t supposed to win, you see. Those who’d been around—most of them anyway—had warned us. Though weekly attendance was fifty, two-hundred people would come out to vote, they said. “Don’t be discouraged,” they urged. “Make a good showing and you’ll be a shoe-in next year.” So they said.

It was a curious race that fall. There were committee meetings, and phone calls to get votes. Sixteen of us bunched in the Wrenford basement to read through the roster. Name-by name.

“Who’ll take him?” or “Who can we get to call him?” or “Don’t waste your time—he hasn’t been to lodge in years” or, more than once: “He’s dead. They need to update the directory.”

When the conclave ended I called Columbus.
“Bill Walters showed up” I boasted in optimism
“Forget him,” my Dad urged. “He’s probably a spy.”

I was the underdog, of course. Had been all year. Someone, however, forgot to tell me, forgot to tell my father, and clearly forgot to tell my friends.

I was remembering it all.

My votes back then, were to come from two sources. First, there was a small cadre of pals my age, most of whom had been dragged into the lodge through family. Second, there were the relics of my father’s day, (which in LodgeTime ended in the 60’s). All others, conventional wisdom dictated, “Would go the other way.”

“You get your people there,” said Al Bogart. “Don’t you worry about mine.”

Sitting at Berkowitz, as they eulogized Andy, it kept coming back…

How at the very beginning two Borsteins and Rogoff met me for lunch in the bar at the Rockside Ramada. Past Chancellors all, they gave me “street cred”.

“Sit in a different seat each week,” one told me. “Speak every meeting,” said another. And in leaving, the piece de resistance: “Figure out who you’re going to be with at the dinner dance. You need a good table.”

And more: how the night of Andy’s meeting, Stuart trekked up and down the street recording license plates of Andy’s supporters.

Most of all, though, I recalled what happened on December 8 some thirty-five years ago as I hung up the phone:

Snow fell. Four inches in four hours.

The alta-cockers stayed home that night, trying to no avail to postpone an election. Delays they got, “due to traffic”. The game, however, went on.

As the town turned white, the troops came out. All the young dudes— the renegades that couldn’t care less about our lodge—they answered the bell of friendship, and came to vote.

From Ermine and Cutler to Fenton and Mr. Fenton and so many others who may never have been there again. (Indeed, Stuart’s Dad had actually brought a friend into the lodge just the month prior ONLY to muster a vote).

They came in their boots; they came with their smiles; and they came as a lark—but they came. There was Feldheim and Freedman and Linick and Starkoff. There was Simmerson, Walter, Courtney and even Irv Arnell, the old softball scorer….There was my father’s crew, from Mitchell to Elsner to Al Roth, the guy that’d printed my Bar Mitzvah invitations. From the woodwork they came.

I got 43 votes that night—to Andy’s 31. I don’t think he quite knew what hit him. On an evening when smart people stayed home, as inmates overtook the asylym, I broke a heart.

We rose to leave Sunday– Michael, followed by Lana, followed by me. Somehow, as they carried out our fallen brother, the final tally on a little vote in a snowstorm didn’t seem to mean so much.


Friday, May 18th, 2012

          ”Good morning Lucy Bohrer—
           Every day’s like an open door
           Every night is a fantasy
           Every sound is a symphony…”

Living in the moment allows me to share one luxury with Lucy: we each thrill to a new morning. Yes, I may bolt out of bed and sure, she is carried, but both of us revel at it all.

There is indeed something special about watching a baby waken at dawn. Standing next to Stacy I saw the eyes of a five-month old open wide to another day.

I marveled at her wonder.

Lucy’s growing. Geometrically.

Stacy says her eyes are gray. I say blue. Stacy says she looks like Jason, (at least his dad). I say she favors me, (at least the eyes). It matters not—the baby’s beautiful and, better yet, she follows me with her eyes.

I wonder what infants absorb. What do they comprehend… just sitting there? Take Lucy, for instance:

Does she see what we see? When she coos and smiles, is she truly enthralled, or is the lass silently asking herself “Who’s the schmuck dancing like an idiot?” More aptly put, does my granddaughter feel in her heart what I view through my eyes? I hope so.

Stacy reminds me—perhaps too often—that I’m a headline kind of guy. Rarely, she notes, do I push for details. I’m happy to listen, happy to share, but all I really need to know is if everything’s OK.

In Chicago, everything’s OK. I saw this last week.

Never, when I’m with my kids, is it about the activities; it’s always about the company. Just being there—just being together—that’s what works.

It was standard fare then, in The Windy City, just to be…just to interact….just to watch.

I saw MY baby cradling HER baby (carefully tilting the bottle), my son-in-law gingerly bathing their queen….and the little one, (dare I say “The Little One’s ‘Little One’”?), joyfully kicking bath water, as if prepping for the Olympiad.

And yes, I saw smiles….on everyone.

As a grandparent there’s not much to do with an infant. You can look at it. You can hold it a bit and you can walk it. (Not unlike my first weeks with Adam).

Or you can sing to it.

(“She’s not an ‘it’, Dad,” I hear my daughter shrie).

I sang to Lucy. Others played Pass The Baby, but I sang. (It’s a simple deduction that singing is the easier softer way. Not only do all kids love melody, but whoever holds a baby runs the distinct risk the kid will cry. How deflating—having to turn the kid back to a parent. It’s like a football team turning the ball over on downs. Me? I sing; I croon. It’s not only safer; but an easy three points).

Moreover, all baby toys seem to come with soundtrack. Endlessly synthesizing, they roll from one toddler tune to another. As such, since my musical expanse ended with the birth of psychodelia, this stuff is right in my wheelhouse.

Even so, my daughter was surprised.

“I went to the animal fare, the birds and the beasts were there…” I crooned.
“There are words for that?” (asked my Phi Beta Kappa lassie)
‘Yeah,” I told her, “My father taught us.”

The best times, of course, were when I had her one-on-one—just Luce and me. That, you see, is when I lay foundation; that’s when I plant the seeds.

I have this theory, something I developed through Max. I believe—I truly believe—that a baby’s trust is built on sound. That’s why singing’s so important. (Think Mr. Rogers, for example). Who, may I ask, didn’t trust Fred Rogers?

So Max has his song which I sing in New York, AND, with apologies to Kate Smith, Lucy has hers (“God Bless My Lucy”). And both of them—trust now established—hear the gentle whispers of my single mantra: (“Grandma ___________ smokes cigars.”)

Sunday came last week, as it always does, and we did what we always do: debate the appropriate time to leave for the airport. (As usual, I lost. It’s turned, I might note, not so much into a debate as into a negotiation).

At the appointed hour I kissed their foreheads: Lucy’s, Stacy’s, and Jason’s. And we left.

Traffic slowed en route to Midway as the infant slept. No one, especially me, was talking. Stace was driving and didn’t want to disturb the baby. Good for her. Me? I was preoccupied, worrying ‘bout the lines at security. Besides, I had nothing to say…nothing to ask. Eyeing my granddaughter I knew what was important, what I needed to know: that everything is OK.

            “I love you Lucy Bohrer.
            Every day’s like an open door
            Every night is a fantasy
            Every sound’s like a symphony…”

                             Shaiman/Wittman (adapted from “Hairspray”)


Saturday, May 12th, 2012

‘Is this seat taken?”

From the corner of my eye I’d seen, low and behold, an opening on the aisle of the plane’s first row. Bisecting three seats was a college kid. Clean-cut as he was, his shoulder length hair would have, in the day, caused my father to call the Board Of Health. On the window, straddling a seat, was a monstrous case carrying (apparently), a musical instrument.

“It’s yours,” smiled the kid. .
“This seems too good—like First Class,” I told him. “Why don’t people want to sit by you?”
Sensing instantly that he knew I was joking, a bond created, and on a 57 minute flight to Chicago, friendship was born.

“What’s in the box?” I asked him, eyeing the plastic.
“A cello.’
That’s when he told me they didn’t make him store it underneath, that he’d paid for two seats.
“Did you ever think of playing the flute?” I wondered (aloud).

His name was Jason and he was from Portland. Freshman year under his belt, he was heading home for the summer. And he shared….

About how his parents had given him opportunities to find a school he wanted— that it was about two years ago they were scouting schools—that he’d chosen the College Of Wooster.

How great it was, I thought…his having such fervor for music that he’d fly ‘cross the country in pursuit.

“It’s great to have passion for something,” I lamented, (but not in a sad way). I told him how at Ohio State I’d thought of going into show business, perhaps writing or something. I spoke further of the real world setting in, my falling in love, going on to grad school, and how while I enjoy what I do, it’s not like I wake up everyday and can’t wait to get there.

“What do you want to do with your music?” came my inquiry.
“I’m also taking German studies,” he shrugged.

Our talk slowing, I turned to my book. Soon, though, he broke the silence.

“Are you happy?” he asked.
“Better than that,” I told him. “I’m content.”
Pensively he rejoined: “Good answer.”

We talked some more. He spoke of a twelve hour flight he’d taken. “My trips are short,” I mentioned. “New York or Chicago. “
“How long’s your layover?” I asked.
“An hour.”
It would still be evening, said Jason, when he’d land in Portland. “I’m chasing the sun,”

I recounted of Alan, how he’d fallen in love on line, resigned a tenured chair, and moved out to Portland. I spoke too of Chuck from Chuck’s Diner…how he’d also moved there a few years back.

We spoke about television (“Portlandia’), life, and people. He told of a homeless guy and how the man had refused aid. Oddly, we sensed, people shun the homeless, almost fear them. Still, I told him, “Most people are nice” He agreed.

We were in final descent and I kept thinking how lucky this kid was. His whole life lay in front of him. He had, as Ben Selzer would say, “The world by the kalooms.” I thought too of how, (gut-level honesty), I’d never have had the stones to leave Ohio in search of fame and fortune. How it’s just easier, cozier…to say so. How if I couldn’t stand the solitude of one summer at Michigan State…..

The plane touched down. With a thud. Instinctively my friend held his cello, nurturing it

“Stick with the music,” I said. “Stick with your passion.”
He nodded.
“Enjoyed the talk,” he said. “I love talking to strangers.”

(And then I couldn’t resist):

“Do you know how you get to Carnegie Hall?” I asked him.
“No,” he said, looking at me as if I was The Yoda, as if I knew.
“Practice,’ I told him. ‘Practice.”

(The joke was old, of course.  ‘ First heard it from my grandmother.  Still:  being able to share it, all these years later, left me not only happy, but—BETTER YET—content).


Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

Dear Mom,

There won’t be anything profound in this note—nothing special going on—but with Mother’s Day approaching I wanted to thank you once again for your greatest legacy: a sense of humor.

As you know, Mom, The Comedy Awards aired Sunday. I watched them alone (go figure), but was thinking of you. In my mind’s eye it was post-Sam, pre-Ed, and you were not only smiling, but laughing…at everything.

Well, not everything.

There were the times you’d look at me in angst. With eyes of love, still voicing frustration, your refrain would repeat: “Bruce, it’s not funny!” How often did you, holding back your own laughter, admonish that “Everything’s not a joke” or “Your father wouldn’t think this is funny”?

When not saddled by depression, Mom…when you faced your days, your sense of humor was bountiful. How you howled at TV, at me, and most of all, at yourself! Indeed, you found humor where others feared to tread. Heck, as close as I was with my Dad, it would have been you, Mom, with whom I’d have watched the show last week. As such, it’s to you, Mom, that I first announce MY Comedy Awards. (From start to finish, it was you—always you—that may not have gotten the joke, may not have understood the premise, but would have cried tears of laughter just watching me tell it).

So here goes, Mom: MY COMEDY AWARDS. Not an annual event, necessarily…but some of Lifetime Achievements.

In the categories of media:

BEST SILENT MOVIE: The old 8-millimeter film, (circa 1958), starring Cousin Gary unintentionally running the bases backward out at Wiegand’s Lake in Novelty, Ohio. (Available now on DVD through Hal; see “The Bogart Chronicles, Volume I”).

BEST SILENT MOVIE MOMENT: Four second clip (1970) of Al Bogart and his sons in the parking lot at 20 East 14 Columbus. Rivaled only by the earlier Zapruder film of ’63, it memorializes Bruce spitting at his brother, the wind catching it and thrusting it into their father’s eye, and the father wiping his eye all-the-while glaring at Bruce in disgust. (Also available on DVD).

FUNNIEST MOMENT AT BRUSH HIGH: Unanimous: Randy hitting the north and south urinals with one shot.

FUNNIEST MOMENT ON “FABULOUS BOOMER BOYS”: Fans (and there were three) of this old radio show that first hit Cleveland’s airways in March of ’93 will recall the time that Stuart chose to do a movie review. He was discussing “Sliver”, Sharon Stone’s follow-up to “Basic Instinct”. Bobby had just teased about how the two of them had gone with their wives to see it but that I was excluded because I hated scary movies.

“Don’t worry about it, B”, Stu said on air. “The movie stunk.,,,And to all our listeners, I’ll save you money. It was Tom Berenger. Tom Berenger did it.”
(And then…some time later…just as we were signing off, he announced it again: “In case you tuned in late, Tom Berenger is the killer in ‘Sliver’”.

In the personality categories, Mom, I’ve been blessed. I’ve been surrounded, always, by so many people that make me laugh. From core friends and their “mock fights” to Fenton who, to this day, “stirs the pot”…to life’s acrobats I meet in recovery…to the clowns that I meet on stage….No one, though—-and you want to talk about irony, Mom—no one, has brought greater laughter to us all than your former sister-in-law. Has she not provided the best material for all of us? (How often has Maynard told Hal and me: “You boys should write it down. You’re sitting on a gold mine.”)?

Which leads me to my final category, Mom. PERSON WHO MOST OFTEN MAKES ME LAUGH. (This Mom, will make you cry). The winner, hands down, is Harold. To this day, he will always make me laugh. Remember how George Burns could always break Jack Benny up? It’s that way with Hal and me.

Even the nonsense. (OK…especially the nonsense).

Let me share with you his recent mishigos. (Eyes may roll in New York and Chicago but YOU Mom…you’ll get it. You’ll laugh).

What follows is a transcript of text messages H sent me this week, all within a two hour period. He’d been summoned by Aunt Helen to run her to Macy’s, a block away, as she needed “one item”.

11:19 AM We had to stop at Target first to pick up Rx
11:19 (still) Now in Macy’s”
11:20 She wants to know what is wrong with their pajamas?
11:20 (still) Now we are in “girls 7 – 16”
11:21 She is trying on 2 pairs of pants. Neither will fit
11:21 (still) Next stop Petite Department
11:22 Why would we be in the bikini waxing department again?
11:28 Size 8 and size 10 don’t fit. Now trying a 12 and a 14. With a little luck you might be returning a 12 or a 14 next week.
11:32 She is still in dressing room
11:33 She is still in dressing room
11:34 She bought the size 14
11:49 Now we are downstairs in Petites
11:49 (still) Keep the receipt
11:50 She is trying on a size 4 Petite
11:50 This isn’t good for Boomer
11:50 She is still in the dressing room
11:51 She is still in the dressing room
12:16 PM TOUCHDOWN. She bought a size 4 and a size 6 to try on at home. At least one will be coming back.
1:01 Dropping her off. Shopping is over. Pulling out of her driveway.  Oops! So excited that I am done that I almost had an orgasm at Cedar and Fenwick.
1:01 (still) This whole experience is like sex. Time for a cigarette.

So Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. You gave us life, love and laughter—in other words: everything.



Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

Physical appearance is the one thing I might control. Maybe. This makes, therefore, my issue with weight all the more troubling.

Last night I struggled. Needing that Fourth Meal, I dared not. Slowly this year I’ve been losing—not like ’06—but losing.

I have (they tell me) a “disease of perception”.

Too often I view things better than they are or worse than and never…quite….as they are. Same with people. How often do I trust one more than I should, yet another not enough? And with food. My lifelong battle with weight drags on and, even now, I have no idea what a “portion” is. Never thought it mattered. Frankly, though, I come by this honestly.

It remains…a disease of perception.

As a kid it was simple:

Our bungalow on Bayard had no dish washer yet it mattered not.

“Eat everything. Clean your plate,” Elaine Bogart would urge. So I did. As no one in 80+ years would ever accuse our mother of being a good cook, her lesson was clear: quantity over quality. It was a lesson well-heeded.

So I wore my shirts out and “huskies” for pants.

My Dad, of course, had no problem with this. “You’re supposed to be big,” he’d assure me. (The man weighed 300 by then. I’m thinking maybe a second opinion was called for).

Mark or Bobby might remember, but I don’t recall being fat in high school. Shy? Yes. Nerdy? Yes. But not fat.

In college things changed; things opened up. Working meant money. Unlike most college kids, though, I spent not on clothes drugs or booze. Money, therefore, meant freedom…and food. Never let it be said that this cowboy cooked in. In four years I hit every restaurant in Franklin County. More than once (I’m sure), and never alone.

But like I said, my issue with food comes honestly.

I loved my father and everything he stood for. He was to me, like the old E.F. Hutton commercial: when he spoke: (silence…I listened). Still, I’m sensing he wasn’t the best influence when it came to food.

Not that he forced me to eat. Not that he took the food and jammed it down my throat. But still…

My Dad too lacked portion control. Even in the ‘70’s, when he’d drive north for family dinners: En route to his mother, he’d hit Corky’s at Cedar and gobble down a corned beef sandwich as he drove until, ultimately, when pulling in the drive, Harriet would wipe food from his lips. “They eat like birds,” he’d protest.

This beautiful man—who would walk into a drug store to buy Camels, see two bodies ahead of him, and leave abruptly to find another store with a shorter line—this beautiful man would stand endlessly awaiting David’s Buffet on North High Street in Columbus or (for that matter) any buffet in Las Vegas. (And he never played favorites. Though not a fish-eater, how often when I was sold Highlights on the road did he remind me that Fridays at Howard Johnson’s it was all-you-can-eat?)

My Dad, you see, didn’t just eat food—he romanced it. One could safely argue that next to Harriet food was the love of his life.

He’d wax poetic about Resche’s challah: “It’s better than cake!”

And marvel upon crafting his perfect sandwich: creamed cheese and jelly (Schmucker’s strawberry preserves only), on challah with sliced bananas inside.

And champion, ENDLESSLY CHAMPION, his favorite restaurants, locale by locale. (The Jai Lai in Columbus, Win Schuler’s in Jackson, Michigan, The Maissonette in Cincinnati, Carson’s in Chicago. Indeed, once my Dad found a restaurant he liked—I mean really liked—he never saw another kitchen in that town. Vividly I recall Harriet urging “Albert, why don’t you want to try something new?” Just as clearly I can hear his response: silence. He was, dare I say, the original Zagat.

So where, pray tell, does this euphoric memory leave me?

Fat, dare I say? Uncomfortable. In need of guidance.

I called my food sponsor today at 9:15. It’s our time. Three meals a day, he tells me, and nothing in between. I’m to phone him if itchy.

He says I can look like 2006 again. He thinks I can do it.

But I have to avoid Fourth Meal.