Public Humiliation

It was all Marlys’ fault.  The idea was hers; a double date, Marlys and her husband Peter, and my date, Bennett, and me at The Comedy Club.  A young friend of hers had just gotten her first acting job as a member of the troupe.  A Sunday evening of improvisational comedy and beer sounded like fun.

Then Marlys and Peter cancelled at the last minute.  Bennett and I went anyway, only to find out that Sunday wasn’t just improv night.  It was also trivia quiz night.   Almost everyone was in teams of four to eight, except for the two of us.

The improvised skits are clever and Bennett and I laugh heartedly.  That is, until the topic for the quiz segment is announced:  Movies and Television, topics about which we know little.  When the questions are read, we know few answers.

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Another Roadside Attraction

Do you remember reading this book?  If you are of a certain age, and from a certain generation, it is emblazoned in your memory as clearly as it is in mine.

After driving around California for a week, I just may have to dig up a copy and dive back into it.  California is the land of


roadside attractions.  Some are tacky, some maintain a least a guise of good intentions to please and edify.  Others are just plain beautiful.

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The same four women have gathered together to celebrate their birthdays for 30 years:  Alexandra, Brenda, Cassie and me.  We’ve never missed one.

Imagine the lives we’ve shared in our birthday dinner chatter, our tales of businesses started and prospering, wedding plans, divorce proceedings, death, travel to exotic places, new careers and retirement adventures.

We’ve celebrated with casual backyard barbecues, catered dinners at home served on heirloom lace, silver and porcelain.  A chef gave us lessons on preparing Indian cuisine in one of our kitchens.  We went to the Cirque de Soleil.  We skinny dipped in a neighbor’s pool.

For my birthday, for the first time in these 30 years we gathered around a table far from home.  The place was the Culinary Institute of America, outside of Calistoga, California.  Alexandra and Brenda ordered from the menu, but Cassie and I surrendered ourselves into the hands of the student chefs by ordering from the four course, prix fixe menu with wine pairings.  Every mouthful of food and every sip of wine aroused my nostrils and titillated every taste bud as it all rolled over my tongue and down my throat.

dinner at the Culinary Institute of America

This is me, about to dig into the fourth course at the Culinary Institute of America

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The Great Chicken Caper

We were predators, Alexandra and I, leaning on the copper bar, me sipping my fresh lime margarita, she sipping her Anchor Steam beer.  Our eyes hungrily scanned the room, taking in the group of men standing to my right, the group of men standing to her left and the people seated at tables around us.

“Ah, the  Vixen Divorcee is out to get picked up,” you’re thinking as you read this.  While this might be a natural assumption, you would be wrong to think it.  I’ve never picked up anyone in a bar and am not about to start now.

No, Alexandra and I were actually hungry.  We were specifically hungry for the roasted, organic, free-range chicken salad served at the Zuni Cafe on Market Street in San Francisco.  I should qualify that by adding its famously served at Zuni Cafe on Market Street in San Francisco.

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Boys on Bicycles

The year was 1973.  The tale started in New Orleans and ended in Key West.  The main players were four college seniors on an adventure.

One of them was a pre-med student.  Another was pre-law.  One was a history major and the last one wanted to be an artist.  They’d convinced their academic advisors that the best use of their January term was to cross the southern part of the United States reading literature of the region as they went.

Biking across the bayouPicture them setting off on their journey of discovery at a time when no one rode bicycles.  In six weeks, they encountered only one other person on a bike; a teenager in Alabama who pedaled ten miles with them before shouting out that he had to get home for supper and that he wished them well.


Their bikes were packed with tents, sleeping bags and books.  For clothes, each carried two pairs of jeans, three changes of underwear, two tie-died t-shirts, one cotton shirt and one jacket.  Their whole life for six weeks was compressed into what could fit onto the back of a bike.

Picture them, the college boys from way up north riding with their shoulder-length hair blowing out behind them and their beards growing thicker with each day, passing through the bayous of Louisiana and the small towns of Mississippi and Alabama.

Bennett was one of them.  (You met him in Adventures Happen.)  He enchanted me on our second date with his tale.  The spell cast by the four adventurers led to date three.  And four.

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My Quickly Beating Heart

The heart beats more quickly in New York

“There is something in the New York air that makes sleep useless:  Perhaps it’s because your heart beats more quickly here than elsewhere. ” Simone de Beauvoir


She waited on me in a bar near Wall Street, downtown New York.  Just a week ago last Friday.

He danced for me in Central Park in uptown New York.  A week ago last Saturday.

They both set my heart beating quickly with their perfect beauty.

I slept little in New York City.

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The Man I Love

work of edward goreyMy destination a week ago today was the Butler Library of Rare Books and Manuscripts.  My purpose was to see an exhibition of the work of Edward Gorey, an American writer and illustrator.

Yes, he was eccentric.  Yes, he marched to the beat of his own drum.  Yes, these are characteristics I cherish in the men close to me.

But no, Edward Gorey is not the man I love.

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Adventures Happen

“Adventures happen when you’re around, don’t they? Bennett asked.  “Some people, nothing ever happens when you’re with them.  With you, things happen.”

This scene played out over dinner on our second date.  Something amusing did just happen.  Little did either of us know this would be the theme of our relationship.

A beautiful Sunday in early spring.  We headed out in his vintage Jaguar sportster for a drive in the country, ending up at a charming old hotel for dinner.

Jaguar sportster

Great fun driving down country roads in this. Must say, I liked the attention we drew.

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Would I or Wouldn’t I?

Naked under the trench coat

You’ve asked if I would have done what Mick’s date did in When the Rain Stopped.

I could understand if, after reading Toying and I’ve Been Addled Before, you think of me as a sexual adventuress.

One freezing, snowy Friday night  15 years ago I headed out to the airport to pick up Alan, who was still my husband and the object of my fantasies, and  who had been gone on business for the last two weeks.   I was insulated from the elements by thick leather boots, a heavy wool coat and a long wool scarf.

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