Archive for June, 2012

THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

Those present know how truly special it was. South Euclid in the 50’s and 60’s was a younger world, a simpler world, and one of blossoming life-long friendships.

They marched in: one, then two, then one again—even Pear was on time. Eight in all, convened to greet the ninth, (Brother Dick from Chicago). Hal’s comrades through life, time and circumstance had bonded us all, and I too scored an invite to Corky’s.

These are good men, guys known marginally when young, up close and personal through years. All of them. The sands of time—forty years and running—have changed little. Their meetings, like the one today, blend warmth and frolic like a third grade recess. They are, individually and en masse, a special blend.

Memories reach back. These were, don’t forget, my kid brother’s pals; I’d met them “backdoor”. Their contacts with him, to this day, remain vital and constant.

I don’t recall when I first met Jeff, or Dickie, for that matter. The former coached Jamie in softball and the latter was an usher in my wedding. (You can look it up). Typically though, the common denominator, even more than my brother, was a ball field. Mandel and Ross were White Sox. (Indeed, they were part of the Jewish cabal overwhelming that squad in the 60’s. How else do you explain—in a suburb more Christian than not—one team carrying 2 Bogarts, 2 Mandels, 2 Fentons, a Ross, a Fischer and a Lery?).

It wasn’t always a diamond. First recall of Cutler was football. Pear too, for that matter. And don’t get me started on Herzog…As if November of ’69 wasn’t bad enough! Days after Ohio State’s upset up north, (our first loss in two years), with heads dragging we came home for the holiday. Thanksgiving football (we knew), our morning respite, would ease the pain. Someone, however, forgot to tell Alan. Someone, more importantly, forgot to tell his girlfriend. (Or should I say EX-girlfriend?) She dumped him, you see, Erev Boobus Bowl, and our teammate, well…he stunk up the house.

I looked at these guys, just this morning, and marveled. (Arriving third, I’d sat near the end: respectful recognition of my spot on the food chain). Conversations—never less than three at a time—were sprite, and my mind soared back, ‘cross the canvas of our past. Yes, I’ll always hold dear those days on the diamond and sure, I’ll cherish forever the bumps on the gridiron. These guys, though…these fellows mean so much more.

They weren’t only my brother’s friends; I’ve known better for years. Each—some sooner, some later— had over time friended me. (And No, I’m not speaking of Facebook). Each, in his way, triggered images… memories deeper than ballgames….

From the powder blue Superman T-shirt (with my name on the back—no small feat in the day), a graduation gift from the astronaut… to the one-day job at Revco’s warehouse Steve’s father gave me (funding my prom)….

From the year I lived with Dick in Columbus— (remind me to tell you about winter quarter Black English with Professor Hortense Thornton)…to the intervention they had for me at Mandel’s house. (Remind me to share that too, and how it ended). And there was more.

I studied the table.

There was a constant, a thread through them all, an asset they still shared.  These men, to a man, held a moral compass. Good people, steady people, they were “keepers”. From long-term marriages through long-term employments, these men were rocks.

Not all memories, of course, are visual. Some, rather, dwell in the heart. My heart. Like the way Hal’s phone rang constantly when his news first hit, and how in the community of care for my brother, these men stood tallest. Stalwart. Always.

I drove back with Baskin today, down Chagrin. I mentioned Jeff, and how I really didn’t know him growing up, but that he’s truly an honorable man. That they all were—all the guys. My friend concurred.

Dick got out, evaporating into his mother’s home. My thoughts pervaded, wistfully…

Sixteen months—two school years—separated The Boys. Hal used to tease me how I’d had the big Bar Mitzvah, but all he got was Harry Kliot spinning records.  He was right.

That’s all though—that’s all he missed. Both of us, you see, were blessed with friends for a lifetime: core friends…gifts. Mine, (so many now buddies with H), got out in ’67, the Summer Of Love. Hal’s, they graduated later.  

They were, those men there at breakfast, truly the Class of ’69.

ON A WONDERFUL DAY LIKE TODAY

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

“If I win the lottery,” I shared recently, “I would buy an Ipad and also rent a Sebring convertible for the week.”

They looked at me—this couple—laughing. Oh, it was polite, their laughter. And it was borne, shall we say, of amusement–not derision. Still, the man pressed on. “That’s what you’d do?”

At 62, I’ve learned well that nothing with a price tag is priceless. Would leasing a Porsche blow a better breeze in my face?

My life’s at peace. Having all I need, (and knowing it), I feel sunshine regardless of weather. I’d trade places with no one. Even so, even in this realm of spice, some days—some twenty-four hours—are just better than others. Some periods—sunrise to sunrise—just beg to be savored.

Will Rogers said “One must wait until evening to see how splendid the day has been.” Not true. I’m thinking specifically of a melodic period just last week. Even in my abundant world, I knew bright and early; I felt it. From the opening bell, as the hits kept coming, my buoyancy grew.

       “…On a wonderful morning like this
       When the sun is as big as a yellow balloon
       Even the sparrows are singing in tune
       On a wonderful morning like this….”

I woke early mid-week, dreading the day. A file—I knew it by heart—had been missing for days. (‘ Took it to the show to work on; ‘recalled putting it back in my trunk. Then it went missing). A day of search awaited.

At 7:15 I found the papersl Right where I’d placed them. (I’d forgotten). Pressure off, I drove downtown, ready to kick ass. (The man on the other side was one of those silk-suited lawyers—the kind that underestimates gents like me, or for that matter anyone he’d consider ethnic. F him). Our encounter, later that day, played perfectly. Polite yet condescending, the guy (predicably) cut me off once too often. Then, with my genteel touch, when all folks were listening I took my shot: “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to talk while you were interrupting.”

Bazinga. It was that kind of day.

The phone kept ringing, (and all calls were good). Only good news, or so it seemed. An invitation for this, a call to do that. Even heard from an old client that owed me money and wanted to send it. It was amazing! None of the clowns checked in.

And then it got better. So much better. The best words, by far, came from H, (on the medical front). Great news from his doc. It was 4pm when Hal passed it on, and it emboldened me further. On this Day Of Days, on this earthly rotation, I, Bruce Bogart, would attempt to scale Mt. Everest.

“Aunt Helen,” I purred, “This is Bruce.”
“What is it?” she said (in a tone that could neuter an ape).
“I’m going out of town this week and my time is tight. Could I just pick up your groceries tomorrow then drop ‘em off?”
“I would consider it,” she replied, “But I wanted to stop at Jack’s too.”
“I know where Jack’s is,” I noted meakly.
“But I like to get out. I must go.”

Good scout that I am, I acquiesced. Politely. “OK, I’ll pick you up at 2. No big deal.” (Who was I to complain, I figured. The day’d been so great).

Then: back on the horse, back to my winning zone. First dinner with my Tuesday group at Brio…then a meeting…then quality time with a friend.

It was nearing Letterman, the day drawing to a close.

“Are you hungry?” she asked, tendering the ultimate of delicacies, watermelon and hot dogs, (microwaved as I like them).

“This is phenomenal!” I exclaimed. “What a perfect day. Even the food’s just right. I’m getting my phone—I need to write this all down.”

My Blackberry, at this late hour, was flashing. Not a good sign. Hitting the voice mail, gingerly, I wondered. We were nearing midnight. Would my coach turn to pumpkin?

And then I listened…twice!

“There’s a call from Aunt Helen,” I announced. “She says I can shop without her tomorrow—and just drop off her food!” (And the hits just keep on coming!)

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****   

I never did write things down that night. I did, rather, recount it to the friend who reduced it to email. For posterity.

My brother’s health, to be sure, was the major matter. The rest—all the other hits that fell—were life. Just life. My cup, though, truly does runneth over. I marvel at the ordinary knowing all days aren’t perfect, but life is. And knowing further that when my head’s on straight, every day’s a drive in a Sebring convertible.

       “…For the world’s in a wonderful way….”

                                  Bricusse/Newley

THEY SAY IT’S YOUR BIRTHDAY

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

Looking back, we were wasting our time, both of us.

Stopping en route to see “The Three Stooges Movie”, just months ago, Michael and I split the investment in an Instant Lottery. It was, you know, the type you buy at a gas station. (I think the prize was $100/ week for 20 years, or something like that).

Suspense built as two generations spoke of prospective earnings! “If we get this third one”, he exclaimed as he rubbed.

We didn’t cash that day. (Go figure). Still, it mattered not. My son, you see, won the lottery years ago—ten to be exact. It was in a Manhattan bar, the third night of Passover…when his eyes first met Meredith’s.

Thirty-two yesterday, the lady that became his North Star. No longer the burgeoning coed, she is so much more. One decade later, alas, the Lady From Lehigh is family, friend and confidante.

I wonder
.
Does it get old for her, hearing she’s the best thing to happen to Michael? Or that she’s an extraordinary mother? That’s what they say, you know. And what I see.

I watch how she coddles Max, and nurtures him. I hear when she reads to him, ever softening her tone as he readies for bed. And I love too, how she, (just partially tongue-in-cheek), shares with others that she’s “raising two children”.

My angle is perfect, so to speak. ‘Though visits are temporal—I fly in, unpack, observe and fly out—I view what I must. This is a woman that’s hitting her stride. Pensive but verbal, brimming with confidence, she is on her game.

I love too, our relationship. How many people do we really know that have our back, our heart, and still share their candor.

“Bruce!” she once said, “your outfit is hideous!” (OK, she spoke it more than once…twice this weekend alone). Or the time we were at the park with her son: “Bruce,” she laughed, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you move so fast in my life!”

Or her best, (heard most visits):

“Bruce, would you like to baby-sit Max?”

There’s a rhythm to my trips out east. Always. Rushing off the plane I push toward the exit, searching the horizon for the car to pull up…the one with The Prince in a car seat. Two days will pass—sometimes three—-and I’ll not so much speak as observe. Then I’ll go. Always.
It’s never easy heading home—never like saying Goodbye. Still, we’ll head to the airport.
“Love you Dad,” says the father, as I spring from the car. “Wave to your Grandpa,” urges Mom.

I kiss them all, Max maybe twice, and I enter La Guardia…thinking, yes knowing—that my son’s in good hands, that HIS son’s in good hands….and that all of us have won the lottery.

A FEW GOOD MEN

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

There’s never a good time to lose one’s father—never the right time to lose a hero.

Four men—one from Michigan, one from Hungary, and two born right here. Four men, strangers to each other, fathers for the first time in 1949, to sons….

We were the Big Four that last year of high school. Bob, Alan, Stuart et moi. Truth be known, we were allies and confidantes from the moment our parents allowed us to cross streets alone. From Rowland to Greenview through Brush we were never in solitary and, game-by-game, year-by-year, we molded a steadfast bond.

Today, though, I think of the fathers.

Bobby’s dad had this green truck. I picture him pulling in the driveway, saying Hi through the window. And I remember one night—it was a Wednesday.

Mid-60’s, post-divorce, I’d lied to my mother (who thought I was at Wieder’s), and had joined pals to play tackle after dark across from Bob’s, at Bexley. Codgie was quarterback, and I cut across the middle for a pass when SMACK!!! I ran right into a “No Dogs Allowed” sign.

They took me to Snyder’s. Blood gushing from my eye, I stood leaning my right hand against the white interior of his garage when his Dad emerged. A look of fear (for me) in his eye, he rushed me back home up Wrenford. He was a sweet man, a Browns fan, and always struck me as warm. That, however, would be our longest conversation.

I knew Alan’s father better. It just was. Also soft-spoken, he’d roll his eyes as we’d tee golf balls from the upper lawn of their split level, and he’d grimace as they bounded into traffic some three or four hundred yards away. Never once, though, did he make faces or hesitate those countless times we’d ask him to move his van just so we could shoot hoops.

It was Alan’s dad as well that helped us make history. When three Browns sang “Jingle Bells’ on WHK in ’64, Al and I (after eliminating recognizable Jim Brown, Frank Ryan and one other), entered some 14,000 entries—every combination—on little three-inch square sheets in shoe boxes. Time running out on our all-night effort, we used his Dad’s business stamp; Sam Wieder NORO, (whatever that stood for), inking his name on every entry. Indeed, it was HIS moniker they announced on Cleveland’s airwaves when we won the prize!

And then there was Mr. Fenton. I knew him best. To this day, it’s difficult to think of him, almost impossible not to choke up at his memory.

From two doors down he saw me young; from Langerdale he saw me adolescent, and through life he saw me with love. We respected all the fathers, to be sure, yet knew at times we frustrated them. With Milt Fenton, the only sense I ever felt was love…and understanding. In one sentence, he’d say a lot, he’d tell you not only that he got it, but that he cared.

“Make sure you say hello to your handsome father for me,” he’d urge those dark days (when Hal and I were the only kids on the block with divorced parents).

“Make sure you come visit your Uncle Miltie,” he said when moving to Florida.

And MY Dad? What need I say? He wasn’t my hero so much for what he said but for how he made me feel, always. And that, in a word, was “loved”.

He wasn’t a perfect man, and he wasn’t even a perfect father. He had, though, a perfect heart. My father, you see, was never disappointed in me—he was, if anything, disappointed FOR me. And whether it was a bad grade from me or a bad call by an ump, as he’d wrap his arm around me and tell me that “Someday we’ll look back at this and laugh”, he not only believed it, but so did I.

“This too shall pass,” he’d promise. And it always did. “You can do better,” he’d say. When I could. “Don’t make the same mistakes as me,” he’d counsel, (too often with eyes turning wet).

Al Bogart taught me much, from how to hold a bat to how to be a gentleman. Best of all, though, he taught, by example, that if we learn from things, it’s OK to stumble with dignity.

They were blessings—all of them. And there were more. Was anyone friendlier than Randy’s Dad? Or warmer than Mr. Gelfand or Ben Selzer?  I think not.

And then there’s “Mr. Ermine”, Mark’s father. I knew him marginally when growing up, but over time, (and through lodge), he became “Danny”, a friend.

On a day like today I easily savor the gift that was my father. He played a symphony I’ll hear forever. It would be folly though, and perhaps unfair, not to think also, of the wonderful father figures that shaped my life.

Indeed, they WERE, The Greatest Generation.

TRYING TO GET THE FEELING AGAIN

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

     “…I’ve been up, down, tryin’ to to the feeling again
     All around, tryin’ to get the feeling again
     The one that made me shiver
     Made my knees start to quiver
     Every time she walked in…”

My front nine was a journey marked by milestones: first bicycle, first day of school, first car, first love.

Time passed. One moment I was at a Passaic, New Jersey wedding and Walt was witnessing the ketubah as my father-in-law was telling Alan to take his shoes off the table. Whoosh—–next thing I knew it was forty years later and another wedding—-Wieder’s. Marc and I (with Mary—he’d picked her up along the way), were upstairs in a bedroom, sneaking peaks at the second half of OSU-USC.

The back nine moves quicker, with fewer firsts. Cars don’t thrill me; school’s done for this life. And fall in love? I forgot how.

‘ Used to think I didn’t have enough decimal points for Jewish girls. True though
it is, ‘tis not the whole story. Stacy, for one, says it’s me. She thinks—no, she insists—I’m too picky. Can it be?

“All I need, “ my story went, “Was someone nice, with a smile, a half a brain, and a fragrance”. Was I lying? To myself? How many “nice, Jewish girls” with a twinkle and a scent did I find boring? Me? (As my father would wonder: Does he think he’s another Tyrone Power?)

Ed thinks it’s funny. He swears that with me, it’s all about the chase. Some guys, he notes, get their rush from sex. Me? He says that the moment I know someone likes me I back off. He may be right.

So the question remains: why?

Is it fear? Is it because all I really want is to know someone thinks I’m OK? Do I seek the validation my wife never gave me? Clearly it’s not my schedule. Busy as I am, my time’s always elastic.

No, it’s not fear…and not even insecurity.

Am I lazy? Or am I too content with my “today” to invest in my “tomorrow”?

This very morning’s paper wrote of a Hollywood scribe ensconced in a second marriage. Eighteen years and running, and proudly the guy affirmed that they’d never spent a night apart. I want that.

I need that side-by-side style…the rhythmic repetition of familiarity…of comfort.

I’m questioning, though, if I’ll ever have that luxury again. Gnawing at me is the sense that it’s like a trip to Barnes And Noble. How often have I been to the book store, traipsed aisle by aisle, and found nothing of interest?

It’s not them. It’s me. At least now I know it.

And I’ve tried…believe me. A few years ago Michael was saying “Dad, why do you say you need someone with ‘an edge’”? So I changed my game, dramatically. New attitude, new outlook, new horizons.

I dated nice girls—only. And even a Christian, once…just to see… (After all, friends counseled, You’re not having kids anymore).

     “…I’ve looked high, low 
     Everywhere I possibly can 
     But there’s no tryin’ to get the feelin’ again
     It seemed to disappear as fast as it came…”

The nice girls were just that: nice. And the shiksa: I sensed we had nothing in common from Moment One. It was mid-day and lunch was in order:

“Where would you like to go?” I asked, (figuring she’d have no preference and, stunning as she was, I’d walk her through Corky’s).
“Cracker Barrel”, she said.

Still, the lass was so sweet, so attractive, that at Ed’s insistence, I called her again. We had, in fact, plans to meet when, mitten direnna, out of nowhere, she texted me that there was a beautiful woodpecker in her backyard. (Is this what I need? I think not!)

But I miss the magic, whatever that is…and I wonder if I’ll feel it again.

Of recent vintage I’ve seen someone who, on paper, is perfect. Jewish, brains, looks….”gets me”…. All systems go.

But I can’t pull the trigger—can’t get myself to feel that feeling, like if I don’t hear her voice I’ll die.

And I crave that feeling.

I need that compulsion: the reverie when together and the angst when apart.

Maybe that’s what I missed not dating in my teens. Maybe I’ve seen too many movies. But I’m being honest here—brutally honest.

I’m only 62, and if I stay healthy I can get those eighteen years. Starting today, or tomorrow, or….some enchanted evening.

     “I’m trying to get the feeling again.”

                   B. Manilow

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SWEET SIXTEEN (x 6.125)

Sunday, June 10th, 2012

Life cycle events require planning. One’s wedding, for example, necessitates strategic balance melding families. A bris demands concise decisions (who will hold the baby, who will say the barucha, and who will feel slighted when they don’t). And then there’s Aunt Helen’s birthday, an annual rite mandating intense debate, examination of multiple hypotheses, and prayer.

We sat as a trio last Sunday— reflecting, exploring, discerning. Hal and I were deep in discussion as Margie, not always amused, was deep in eye rolls.

“Are you getting her a gift?” I asked.
“Absolutely not,” said he. “A card is enough.”
“One card from the three of us?”
My younger brother tossed it back: “What do you think?”

(Several minutes passed as we played out sending one card from H and Margie and another from me, or perhaps a single mailing signed “The Bogarts”. Moreover, should we choose the latter, what return address is right? Finally, The Good Son spoke:

“Separate cards,” Hal insisted.

Next step: choosing cards. Where oh where might we find two equally generic greetings, each totally “safe” from neurotic scrutiny?

Rummaging his inventory, Hal came through. One bore a yellow envelope, the other deep raspberry. This too was an issue.

“Your aunt will have a problem with the envelope colors,” noted Margie. “You can’t send the pink,” she warned me. “She’ll say it’s too dark. Let Hal take that one. She won’t get mad it him. You send the yellow.”

One would think, then, that the nonsense was over. At least H did. He and Margie ducked out of town mid-week, grabbing a few days of respite. And so it was that on the anniversary of her birth, I took our aunt shopping.

It was Thursday and I picked her up at 2. The sun was shining. What could go wrong?

We had yet to break the plane of her sidewalk…

“Char says ‘A little birdie’ told her it was my birthday. Was it you?”
(This question, I sensed immediately, could not be good for the Jews).
“It might have been me,” I mumbled. “I’m not sure.”

“How could you?”
“How could I what?”
“How could you tell Char it was my birthday?”
“She likes you and—“
“What business is it of hers that I have a birthday?” she interrupted.

The thing with my aunt is, you see, that the way speaks—the cadence—well, one never knows if her questions are rhetorical.  And it’s always what you don’t expect.   

“And another thing, Michael Jacobson. Why must he call me as well?”
“I told Michael NOT to call you,” I defended. (This, in fact, was true. In recent years my good friend from Philadelphia has been a loose cannon, arranging random dinners with Helen, all-the-while leaving The Boys wide open for taunts like “Michael and Lana take me to dinner. Why don’t you?”

“I’m still angry with him,” she continued, “For the way he went behind my back and invited Harriet to lunch. I TOLD him I didn’t want a celebration.”

How sad, I thought. At 98, her mind sparkles with brilliant memory and impeccable grammar. She is educated, cultured, and…with all she has going for her, she can never just enjoy.  She can never just accept.

It’s hard to stay angry, hard to resent someone so bitterly unhappy.  Our Dad would counsel us to be nice to her, that life hadn’t gone her way. We get that—Hal and I. How often have we silently repeated the mantra our father drilled: “Have compassion for those less fortunate than you.”

“And another thing, was it you that told Norm Diamond it was my birthday?”
“Absolutely not!”
“Why should I believe you?” she demanded.
“He didn’t ask when your birthday was—he knew it was June. Norman asked me how old you were.”
“And you told him?” she shried.
“Of course.”
“Why would you hurt me so?” she rejoined.
“Aunt Helen, he is your first cousin. You eat dinner with him Sundays.  You grew up together!“
“And,” she cut me off, “If he wishes to learn my age he may ask me himself.”

It was pushing 4 as our journey ended.  Briefly, I thought of dinner—(should I ask her?)—this being her birthday and all.   I couldn’t, though. I just couldn’t. It was probably the right thing to do…but I didn’t.  Not that I feel guilty about it.

But I don’t feel proud. 

In some ways I’m like Aunt Helen after all. I can always do better.

ON GOLDEN POND

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

It was last Friday, a half hour into the show and, wearing my father’s yellow and black plaid jacket (circa 1975)—with a pink shirt and mustard-colored bowtie, no less—-I walk on stage.  As Mr. Pinky, owner of a fat lady’s shop, I seek hefty women.
“54 Double D?” I ask the lead. (We are downstage, center). “Triple E!” she exclaims.
“Oh Mama” I exalt in my best Frank Costanza,” I’ve hit the motherload!”
The house laughs as I scoot off, returning only at curtain. I’ll do it—that single minute—in ten performances over three weeks. It is the culmination of 20 three-hour rehearsals and fulfill each time.
“Hairspray” is simply the best musical production I’ve ever been in.

I was rusting on a bench in the South Euclid majors. It was 1960, and at ten, I’d “made it” a year ahead of most pals. To be sure, as I sat and watched, my buddies were busy ripping covers off balls in the minors. The fact that I was hitless only added to my angst.
“Would you rather be a big fish in a little pond or a little fish in a big pond?” asked my Dad.
The White Sox, (for whom I batted once per game and got two innings in the field), were running away from the pack. En route to a 15-3 season and a World Series sweep over Lyndhurst’s champ, they were a team loaded with talent. Many, years later, would find their names spread across the local sport page. Even if I wasn’t already plagued with insecurity, this was an awe-inspiring group, a pre-pubescent Murderer’s Row.
Restless as I was though, I savored every moment. I knew, as we skated through that season, that I this was something special—that those cowboys could really play! Indeed, decades later, names like Capretta, Chambers and Lucia glisten in my memory and my little brown trophy—cheap old plastic that it is—confirms that way back when, I, Bruce Bogart, was, in that magical summer, at that moment in time, “a part of”.

I love everything about this show we’re doing. I love the fact that, unlike “How To Succeed…’ there’s no pressure on me. It’s a musical, laden with talent. No shtick here. The singers sing; the dancers dance; and me? I stay out of the way.
The cast, to be sure, is a “Who’s Who” of east-side amateurs. Stars aside, the chorus itself is is replete with marquee names. Standing in the wings, I marvel daily as they blow me away.
I am a role-player here…with a role. It’s garbage time—this comic relief. Necessary evil to a script? Perhaps. Balance? Maybe.
I don’t care. I swear I don’t.
There will be other shows—other comedies and other fat slob roles to fit in…to star in. There’ll be other times, other venues to get my laughs. And more than sixty seconds worth.
Today, though, I’m in the true big leagues. I’m a bench coach, like an aging Minnie Minoso. But I’m here…in the wings: a little fish in not only a big pond, but a golden one.
And I’m “a part of”.

HOPELESSLY DEVOTED TO YOU

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

Funny thing about falling in love. You can’t plan it—you’re overwhelmed—but when it comes, the game just changes.

I was introduced to her on a rainy evening, just after 9.

It was November, 2010 and I was out east for Max’s bris. The hour was late and due to family circumstance, the ex was there. It mattered not.

The attraction from that very first moment was immediate, sustained, and everything one could ask for. It was, and is, compelling.

Not easy at first. Staying at The Andrew (downtown), carless, I saw her only in window periods between Max’s naps. Michael knew, of course, and frowned upon it. Meredith, too, was aware, though—as usual—she had my back. The ex? She just rolled her eyes.

Again, it mattered not. Looking back, it seems such folly that people tried to separate us, to deny the inevitable. The pull, from Day One, was magnetic.

I’ve seen her every time I’ve been east—for a year and a half now. The pendulum of our relationship, in fact, has been quite typical. As time went on, the late night visits of the very beginning, (not really “booty calls”), became things of the past (once I started staying with the Caryn and Stuart). That doesn’t mean, though, that they weren’t thought about. Nightly.

These days we grab moments if able, and— like other established couples— have morphed into a comfortable predictability. So I see her at breakfast, (when I can). And I stop by at lunch (when I can), and after a year and a half, I don’t care who knows it. Out there, at least, I flaunt it.

She’s met Max—I’ve taken him alone. And the kids. And the Millers, God bless them, encourage the relationship. Daily.

It’s not always, however, smooth. My son, his eye to my past choices, is skeptical.

“Why do you have to, Dad?” he’ll ask each visit.
“Your father’s happy,” says his wife.

And so I go to her…each time. Usually by car, one time by foot…but I go.

If I’m alone she lets me read the paper; if I’m with kin, with warmth she envelopes my family.

And I smile. We all do.

She is The Great Neck Diner, 14 Grace Avenue, Great Neck, New York (in the Historic Great Neck Plaza). If you get there, ask for Mike. (He’s the one that introduced us).

And look for me…and Max.