- Memorial Day
In honor of Memorial Day I choose the Good Humor: a treat on a wooden stick, vanilla ice cream covered in thin dark chocolate, covered in white shiny paper that was hermetically sealed over it. Teeth were the utensil most often used to open it up!
The good humor arrived in the truck driven by the Good Humor man. The truck had a refrigerator on the back which could be accessed from both sides by opening a door with a stainless steel handle. Sometimes, when I was last in line, I would stand on the stone wall so I could see deep inside the truck. There were pale cardboard boxes in there piled to the brim of the truck like shoe boxes or small coffins but unmarked.
The arrival of the good humor man was akin to the arrival of Santa Claus. In our house there were no treats so ice cream on a stick was a major event.
I don’t know why I seemed to be the only sibling that was able to buy two Good Humors, but I can only assume it was because I have always been a saver.
The good humor man came between three and four on Sunday afternoons but only in the summer months and announced his arrival with a clanging of a sweet sounding bell which reverberated through the neighborhood and into the ears of kids longing for ice cream. The good humor man did not always have a good humor and often seemed slightly frightening to us kids.
We would save our allowances until we could afford to buy at least two so that we could put the one that we didn’t eat right away into the big refrigerator in the back of our garage with our name on it.
From the time I was a little kid my favorite toy was a tiny red cash register that could accept nickels, dimes and quarters and wouldn’t open until you had saved $10. I loved that piggy bank. As a matter fact I think I would still be using it if I knew where it was. It was incredibly gratifying to put in that last coin and see the cash drawer spring open and make the noise “Cha Ching !”
Gratifying, but also somehow sad and disappointing. You had achieved your goal now what would you do with it? Probably most kids wouldn’t really even think like this but I wasn’t looking for happiness, I was looking for safety.
In the 50s families were flush with falsehood: Betty Crocker, Aunt Jemima, Birdseye, Henry Ford, Bass Weejuns and Chryslers. There was a long line of things that people wanted to acquire in order to feel that they didn’t need to eat too many good humors.
Women wore lipstick called “Cherries in the Snow” bought in the Five and Dime and men wore suits and took the train to work and smoked. Everybody smoked. They smoked in the car around the children. They smoked in their office. They smoked in their bathrooms with the windows open. And they smoked late at night while they gazed at the moon and wondered why they were feeling so empty.
You can’t go to war and kill people and then come back home and be happy. It doesn’t matter what people say about defending your country, once you’ve dropped a bomb on a village or shot a man in the chest as he’s coming at you , you can’t ever forget what it felt like. You have those moments when you remember what you did and even though you had to do it it never really sits right with you.
People think soldiers do it out of loyalty to their country and maybe that’s why they do it in the beginning. I don’t think you can stop thinking about war just because the war may be over. In the 1950s the war was over and people were celebrating by buying things and having children.
We were winners. We had won. Everyone knows that once you win a prize you don’t care about the prize after a while. It becomes meaningless and you even forget where or what it was but you keep buying.
On this memorial day I would like to remember the young boys and girls who started out with innocence in their hearts and grew up and went to war believing they were doing the right thing. I would like to remember what they lost by doing this. Some came home with seriously damaged bodies and some came home with seriously damaged minds. Some were addicted to drugs and some became homeless living on the streets with nowhere to go and no one to be with.
Once the war was over and they were sent home there was no follow up or real responsibility on the part of this country to take care of people. None of the vehicles set up to do this really took care of the problem.
It’s been said before. War is not necessary.
Now we are in the midst of a pandemic yet each country takes care of it in their own way. The news reports the number of cases worldwide and how many people have died in each country every day. It’s as if we are watching a horse race and placing bets. Each country owns a different horse and hopes their horse will win. The price will be monumental. Still we don’t work together.
I read the other day that people spend more money on lottery tickets than they do on taking themselves out for dinner, to the movies, beach, a play, an amusement park. It made me really sad to read this. Instead of enjoying life each day, people spend money on the tiny possibility they will win money and believe that winning money will make them overjoyed to be alive. Winning money will take away the pain.
So I’m coming to the end here. On this memorial day I would like to focus on our children and our grandchildren and think about how we can make their lives happy and make them see and feel and understand what it is that happiness is.
I don’t think it’s buying things, and I don’t think it’s going to war and killing people, I don’t think it’s winning a lottery ticket, I don’t think it’s buying a car,I don’t think it’s winning and I don’t think it’s losing.
I think it is having the ability to accomplish a small task for yourself and then be proud.
I think it’s setting a reasonable goal and accomplishing it. I think it is being a kind and loving person and a generous one. I think it is valuing the qualities that make a good citizen in the world: compassion, generosity, and the practice of non-violence.
I am an optimist. I think we have a chance to recognize this now when we’re on the brink of global extinction.Everyone feels like they’re not safe. Everyone feels disconnected. I just keep thinking about the movie, “ET”. If we could all just reach out our fingers and touch someone else and make them feel safe then maybe we would feel safe too. I don’t really think there’s another solution.
- The last human left on earth
Survival instructions when you are the last human left
crumble twigs on bare floor before waking and walking.
Freeze some flowers the night before then
turn a rose inside out and label the petals
in order to remember what they said.
If you find a coyote in your house ask
what she needs from outside and tell the
hairless goat to stay in the closet for a while.
There might be a vulture on your roof so
watch it when you go out.
(Nothing by mouth
not even cacti)
If Georgia O’Keefe steps through a window
don’t act surprised or needy just have a
conversation about stillness or sex or tools.
The world will be pale but don’t be enticed to
touch the green as then it, too, will die.
It is your job to keep noting:
Just sit. Not wait.
- Is it too late to be Nancy Drew?
Is it too late to be Nancy Drew now that it’s hard for me to get up in the morning and one knee hurts so badly but it does stop about seven minutes later? Is it too late to be Nancy Drew now that I forget things and my hair has turned gray and sometimes I look in the mirror and I don’t recognize myself? Is it too late to be Cherry Ames, Dude Ranch Nurse , solving mysteries that no one else could solve because she was smart and beautiful and accomplished. (Remember Cherry was not a doctor but the nurse at the ranch).
I want to be that woman who gets dressed in a three-piece suit with spiky heels and stalks across the courtroom floor and wins the case against the giant corporation making millions of dollars for her firm and saving millions of employees their jobs. Is it too late for that? I don’t know why I didn’t think that I could do that but my parents never read one report card and only looked at the beauty in my face and the lilt in my voice and the trail of suitors following me.
I had a longing deep inside of me like a drill bit that never stopped whirling and now I see the women getting in cars going to work with a confident twitch of their hips and I want to be them. I want to be successful and get a big paycheck and have a room full of men hang on my every word. I want to be brilliant and knowledgeable and respected and powerful and I want to have done it all myself with my big beautiful brain and I don’t want anyone to get in my way and I don’t want someone to marry me and make it happen. I will want this until the day I die.
- So Long
Quarantine? Hell I’m not having a problem. Last night I went over for a cocktail to the house of a guy I’ve been dancing with electronically and I told him I wanted to talk to him. In man language that means oh shit. I wear my mask and rubber gloves and I climb the two floors to his condo and we go out onto his deck where there’s a breeze and he pulls out this cheese plate with these giant hunks of cheese and we drink ruby wine. We talk about people on the street below us and how many women he’s involved with. He telling me he tells me he’s engaged and he holds up his hand on which there is this really unfortunate looking metal thing on his ring finger. I laugh at him and I say that doesn’t make any difference you were pursuing me two months ago and you were engaged then too.
You are only engaged when you feel like being engaged. I look over at him and make note of his slightly tattered ski vest, a shirt that probably has seen better days, hair that is half dyed brown and half gray stuffed under a tattered looking baseball cap and a face that has a history of loss and then I surprise myself by saying to him would you like to know what I want? His face freezes and his mouth is half open and he looks at me like what the hell am I going to say? So I say to him here’s what I want: I want to have dinner with someone every night. I want to be like ET and put my finger out and touch someone else’s. I want to know during this terrible period that there’s somebody there who cares about me and I’m going to be talking to them and I can text them and say I’m scared and they will be there for me. I want somebody who’s cozy and knows when to shut up and when to talk. I want someone who is loyal and faithful and who knows how to keep himself sober. I want someone who takes a shower every day and brushes his teeth and reads interesting stories so he can later recant them to me. I want someone who is devoted to me, highly entertaining, and cleans up after himself. I want someone who goes to sleep and does not move all night long or snore. I want somebody who thinks about when and what we’re going to have for dinner because I don’t want to think about that.
So I’m done with my request and there is a pause and I look at him waiting for an answer and he says to me,
“ I don’t want to have dinner with someone every night!”
I’ve got to say this was the smartest conversation I’ve ever had in my whole history of dating as I got an immediate result and I know this guy has to be removed from the list. I was laughing so hard on the way home I could hardly drive. As soon as I got home he sent me a text saying I already miss you. I’m sure he does. It felt incredibly liberating and I no longer have any fantasy life about this man and frankly I don’t know why I did in the first place but I did and now it’s gone. I’m gonna do this from now on. Just read my list.
“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul – and sings the tunes without the words – and never stops at all.” Emily Dickinson