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Dearmomanddadhiloveyoubye: Letters from Camp

It’s getting a bit late and this is a blog post I meant to write before i went away on my vacation but my printer wouldn’t scan and I had to paint stripes in my other kids’ room before he gets back from camp is summer going fast for you because it is going fast for me…

Now, if I were to write all my blog posts in this style – one devoid of sentence structure,  or any clarity of thought –  I wouldn’t be much of a writer. And you would absolutely be in the right for clicking away from this blog in disgust, murmuring aloud, “Where does that woman get off thinking she can write!?”

However garbled the messages may be, letters from camp are regarded as true literary works from their loving parents.

And I know my son is a writer.  He has been writing funny stories for school and just for kicks as long as I can remember. Like his fifth-grade essay assignment about his first roller-coaster ride. His teacher told us that in this essay he had a great sense of voice and composition.

But, for some reason at camp, all rules learned about writing – sentence composition, transition of thoughts from one paragraph to the next, and even legible handwriting are cast aside for the sake of getting back in the game of swimming, water skiing or just plain hanging out with your bunk mates.

I’ve been inspired to share one — just one hand-written letter of several we received from our three children — by several blogs, including Letters From New Jersey, who shares the letters she writes to her children at camp, and renée a. schuls-jacobson, who is holding a hand-written letter to camp contest. Her son at camp is the judge on the best letter. Go check these blogs out, you wont’ be sorry!

With all this blogging material on camp and letters out there, I tried to avoid the subject. Until I got the letter below.  It left me in such a fit of laughter on my front lawn I just had to share it. Here it is!


What? You didn’t get all that? Can you not read?

It’s okay. I have become quite the sleuth decoding and deciphering my 15-year-old’s harried handwriting. Seriously, is there a place where they pay you for reading horrid handwriting? if so, I have found my new calling.

Just be glad that this was not written on a crag of a stone in the dark, as he claimed was the writing surface of his last letter.

And it reads, unedited for punctuation, as such:

Dear Mom and Dad

2nd month is better than I expected it to be; I am spending most of my time in (bunk) 11. I made friends with lots of Israelis and that Tresame shampoo is awesome, Girls are literally feeling my hair and saying how soft it is. I’m practicing frisbee got to go to the Aga’am (lake) bye. 


He’s actually washing his hair now?? To the point that girls, not just one girl but girl(s) in plural – want to touch his hair?

A whole year last year of nagging him to better wash his hair, of saying, not a drop of water touched your hair in that shower, how can it be CLEAN?!

And now, my son has silky soft, clean and touchable hair!

You can learn a lot from a letter from your kid at camp. I’ve learned to buy Tresame by the gallon.

You have learned that you may want to buy stock in the company which makes Tresame.

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Some Unsolicited Advice on Eye Wear Down by the Riverside

One thing I’m learning fast about Michigan is that it is full of lakes. And I’m not talking about the big ones, like Lake Michigan or Lake Huron.

In West Bloomfield alone – that’s my new hometown – 12 percent of the entire township of 31 square miles is water. From my own experiences, while driving around and getting my bearings accompanied by my new best friend – my GARMIN GPS system – most roads ride alongside a body of blue.

Now, most of these lakes in my new home town are private – meaning, any long-lasting view of a lake is obscured by these incredibly huge lakefront mansions. So when the common folk like me want to see a lake, we go to a public park, one of many in Michigan’s vast park system.

(Don’t worry, people, I’m getting to the eyeglasses part).

This weekend, only our second in town, we ventured to Proud Lake, a state park with hiking, canoeing, and swimming.

We came to this lovely swimming hole along the Huron River.  Others who kayaked and canoed stopped here to take a break and swim. Teens and tweens frolicked in the gentle current.

We were having a great time until….

A woman in her late forties in a fuchsia printed bathing suit drinking out of a metal Coors canister on a dock, in spite of the “alcoholic beverages prohibited” sign, summoned me.

“Excuse me… can you get…”

And here I am thinking she was pointing to the teen in the leopard bathing suit behind me, thinking it was her daughter.

“Oh sure,” I willingly replied, tapping the girl on the shoulder.

But it wasn’t the teen she wanted. She wanted my husband.

This was getting interesting. i told you it was getting interesting.

“Hey, I may come off as very bold

or very drunk

but I have to tell you, those sunglasses have to go. And I mean this in the kindest way. But there are all sorts of new eyewear technology, I mean, there are transition lenses, and magnetic sunglasses that snap on to your lenses…. but those sunglasses – what are they COCOONS?? They are really ridiculous and geeky, sorry just sayin’ as I work in sales for an eyeglasses store in Ann Arbor.”

Now, I’m standing there; chest deep in the Huron River, just taking this all in. A woman, who we never met before, who knows us from – NOWHERE –  is sipping a beer insulting my husband’s choice in sunglasses.

The inner Staten Island girl in me would immediately retort:

“Yo BITCH! Who the FUCK do you think you are disrespecting my MAN and his dorky sunglasses? Step off that dock I’ll drag your ass under!”

But that was never me. But many an Island girl would have spoken like that, really.

I did say to her “Gee, WOW! you do have a lot of nerve, and yes, maybe his glasses are dorky but he is a GOOD man!”

I did, and I can’t believe I did, stand there in the water and make chit-chat with her for about 10 more minutes before I swam away, to learn that she was just this dumb, racist white trash woman who in no way reflected most of the good people I am so far meeting in Michigan.


In the end, I did deep down inside agree that those sunglasses are a bit dorky. But what’s it to her? The man behind those sunglasses is the man I love.

In the end, I later apologized to my husband for not rightly defending his honor and his right to wear dorky sunglasses.

In the end, eyeglass saleswoman on the shore had her canister of Coors taken away from her by an interceding park ranger.

In the end, I came away with a funny blog post to share with you.

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Just some thoughts before I go

It’s tomorrow.

Tonight, my kids will lay their heads down in their bedrooms in this house for the very last time.

Tomorrow, they’ll wake up early, duffel bags in tow, and leave their rooms, and this house, and this town as they catch the bus for camp. I usually have very mixed feelings about this departure – sad that we’ll be apart for a summer, but happy not to have to do their laundry or dishes for an entire summer, a parental sabbatical, if you will.

Tomorrow, I will nave no mixed feelings, as tomorrow the packers are also coming to pack us away for Detroit.

Get the mop, people!  I’ll be a puddle on the floor.

I guess if you’ve lived in a place for a while, the days before a big move can feel like somewhat like a mourning period. You long to hang onto the familiarity of the same streets and buildings. I will miss the sidewalks. I will miss knowing exactly what stars I’ll see during what time of year from the window above my bed.

The other night I took a final walk around the neighborhood with the husband. It is all we feel like doing Even though summer is heating up and there really is so much to DO in town (can you say, International Jazz Fest??),

Rochester International Jazz Festival

Rochester International Jazz Festival (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

did you ever think there were this many people in Rochester who like to go out?

did you ever think there were this many people in Rochester who like to go out?

We are ready to go. Like Jodi Foster’s character in Contact, as she sat strapped into a chair on that weird launch pad, saying over and over again.


Ready to Go.

Ready to Go.

The next morning, husband and I woke up and went through our usual morning routine.  We have been apart for four months now save the weekends, so the bathroom with the two of us in it has been kind of … cozy.


I brushed. For the full two and one half minutes required for proper dental hygiene.

And he waited.

I then flossed.

Still he waited.

Then I cleansed and moisturized.

All the while, husband patiently waited. Isn’t he a darling?

Then, a realization. An epiphany!

In just a few days, husband and I will have his and her sinks!


Good Bye, Rochester!

P.S.: This will be my last post for a while, as I’ll be going off the grid during the move. Good thing I have one guest blogger lined up. A shout out: if any of you have a moving story to share about MOVING, write away, I’ll need some guest bloggers in the weeks to come as I come out from under a house worth of boxes!

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Newspaper columnist turns into Bike Thieving Mamma


This cautionary tale has a lesson: Before embarking on a bike ride, make sure you have taken the right key for your bike chain.

It was a beautiful Thursday afternoon in late April. The kind of afternoon in early spring when every tree is a different color of flowering buds, each branch has that blessed tinge of the lightest green. On that day in April, I wish I could freeze time then and there and live and linger in that feeling of potential that early spring gives. I wished to go no further.

There was nothing pressing on our family schedule for the evening: no plays, baseball games, concerts or meetings. And, our family of five was down two people: hubby in Detroit and my daughter on her way to a youth weekend retreat.

If you have a family, you know that the absence of even one member changes the dynamic of the household, and can inspire you to make a change in an otherwise humdrum weeknight.

Tonight, it would be just me and the boys!

I said “boys, let’s do something different. Let’s bike to the library, get out some books. Then I’ll grill for dinner, and THEN, let’s go to the Canal

canal_walkersfor some yogurt for dessert!”

Photo: See ya soon !

And who could argue with that plan? Not even my boys!

So off we went to the Brighton Memorial Library.

We locked our bikes and spent about 30 minutes reading and selecting some books.

Then, the tale of a wonderful evening took a dark turn.

My eldest son presented me with the key. It wouldn’t fit.

“You told me you had the right key.”

“Yeah, that’s the key, I took it out of the keybox.”

“Did you actually check if it worked?”

Obviously,  he did not.

So, we walked home from the library leaving our locked bikes behind to locate the lost key.

Now, during the de-cluttering and staging of our home, somehow the key in question went AWOL.

Now, we had three bikes securely locked at the library and no key.

The grill remained unlit. Our bellies remained unfed.

Armed with a hedge clipper, I loaded the boys into the Traverse and headed back to the library.

Funny thing about a good bike chain. Underneath that rubber coating is a network of woven and twisted wires that don’t snap but merely bend when you try to clip them.

I called the good people at the Park Avenue Bike shop to explain my predicament and see if they had a lock cutting service.

“Are you far from home? Are you in a remote rural area?” asked Park Ave Bike Man.

“No, I’m at the Brighton Library. And I have a car.”

Folks, here is a bit of helpful information: Park Ave Bike is many things to many local bikers, but they do not have a lock clipping service for stranded, keyless bikers.

He then suggested I get some bolt cutters.

So, with the sky darkening, and are bellies growling even louder, we headed to our nearest big box hardware store.

A patient but doubtful man wearing an orange apron helped me select bolt cutters for the job.

“You may have to work at this for a while.  This is not a one-person job. You may have to attach pipes to the end of each handle for best leverage at some point to break that lock.”



So, at this point, I am a starving mamma wielding a bolt cutter on the check out line of Home Depot. All I wanted that evening was a cup of soft serve yogurt on the Erie Canal.

At this point, my boys and I were beginning to feel like we were caught in a scene from our favorite comedy. I was taking on the role of Claire Dunphy.

We get back to the library and it is now nearly dark. I start chomping away at the bike lock. Next to me are some more unattended bikes. They don’t even have a chain on them

A man exits the library and gives us a weird look. He takes out his cell phone.

The librarian comes out and also gives us a funny look.


Now, if I was going to steal a bike, I wouldn’t do it at the Brighton Library. The police station for the town is attached to the same building.

Finally, after a few chomps – without the aid of pipes – the bikes are free. The boys and I give a triumphant yelp and there are high fives all around.

We didn’t grill that night. Nor did we make it to the Erie Canal for a yogurt treat. I think I ordered in a pizza.

And the next day, I went back to Park Ave. Bike and bought a new bike lock.

With five extra keys.

Jumping For Joy


The months of uncertainty are over.

Ever since October 5, when General Motors announced it would be shutting down its Western New York research facility , life’s carpet of stability had been snatched out from under my family’s feet.

Every night – and I’m not kidding – EVERY night before managing to get to sleep, I’d look around the teal walls of my bedroom and wonder – what’s next? Where will we find a house? What will it look like? Where will home be next.

House hunting in the Detroit area did not put my squirreled brain at ease. Contrary to what everyone believes: (You are moving to Detroit!? You can probably buy two mansions for a dollar!), the housing market in the Detroit suburbs, the ones with the lakes and the great schools, is murder.

NO inventory.Still a decent amount of foreclosures that need so much work that someone would do them a service to tear them down and start all over.

So when a good house comes up, the buyer better be ready and jump on it.

And jump we did. At an open house. Cars lined up and down the street and around the corner to check it out.

We put in our bid. And waited. And the sun went up and down and still no word. And the sun did that two more times.

There were fourteen offers on the table. Ours made it to the final two.

And then the phone call from my transplanted beloved.

We got it!


So overjoyed was I, that the months of pressure, worry and uncertainty were finally over, that upon calling my parents to tell them the deal was done….

I screamed for joy with them over my phone in the backyard.

And we screamed. And laughed. And I jumped. And jumped and jumped.

And busted my knee.

There a was a pop. And a freakish twist that no leg should ever move.

And I wound up on the ground on my patio. Writhing in pain. Gasping, crying and laughing all at once.

Go ahead. Laugh, it’s funny!

Now, I’m off to my doctor and hope that I will not have to find a orthopedist as soon as I move into my new home.

Boca Botox Babes and Snowbirding Baldies: A Floridian Tale

I recently returned from a great vacation visiting the family and many close family friends in Florida.

Yes, it was nice to get away from the snow and cold for a bit. It was nice to feel the warm sun on my skin.

But I couldn’t help notice when I got back north, most everything in Florida feels fake. I’m using almost as the operative word, because we did take in some great wildlife in the Everglades, which faces one more challenge to its survival now that the government is in sequestration. More on that in a future post.

So there I was about to get on line at a Boca supermarket when a Boca Babe cuts in front of me, seemingly clueless of her offense. I stood in stunned silence.

She had to be at least in her mid 50’s but she was trying to pull off 22.

Her highlighted hair was pulled into a pony tail and bangs curtained her forehead.

She had a tuck. She had some nips. Clearly some collagen had been injected into her puffy lips.  I could not see her eyes, which were hiding behind a pair of huge sunglasses.

She casually and slowly talked to someone on her phone bedecked in a jeweled skin as she pilfered through a purse, which, if it wasn’t hot pink, could have been mistaken for a small long-haired lap dog.

Meanwile, an older gentleman, balding and shorter than I, spoke the thoughts that I dared not say.

“Unbelievable! She should get off the phone. I’d like to crack her over the head with it, don’t she realize other people behind her would like to get out of here?” He mumbled to me.

Then, he went ahead in a much louder voice to give her a piece of his mind.

“Hey lady, get off the phone and do your business, will you? You’re holding up the line!”

Boca Botox Babe had a quick retort: “Excuse me, but I am doing my business. Unlike you, I can do TWO things at once!”

“Ma’am, I’m sorry but you gave me the wrong change. I need five more dollars,” said the equally stunned cashier woman.

“Oh, you’ll have to forgive me, I just got back from Vegas.” And then to the man behind me:

“Hey, what are you from New York?? You sound like you’re from New York, so RUDE, like a boyfriend I had once.”

Hey. HEY, I thought as Boca Babe and Baldie fought over my head.  I’m from New York!!!

But my natural lips stayed silent.

After Botox Babe left, I don’t know why but I apologized to the cashier for her behavior. I told her I would never talk on my cell phone when someone was waiting on me packing my groceries because it was very rude.

And yes, I am from New York and proud of it.

I left the store back into the February Florida warmth just laughing at this state with its Botox babes and perfectly-manicured golf courses.

You just can’t make this stuff up.

The Blessing of Better

tra la la feedle dee dee have a heart-shaped balloon!

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged.

Then again, it’s been a while since I’ve stayed up past 7 p.m.

Unlike in previous years, where February was our sick month, someone one way or the other in my house was sick from December 31 all the way through January 28.

It started with New Year’s Eve.

My daughter was coughing and sneezing. Then her head ached. I could not find the working thermometer (that expensive Braun ear thermometer I purchased when the kids were babies fell into an open toilet bowl and as a result was thrown away years ago), but with my keen sensory skills, I would say she had about 101.

She knew that her planned sleep-over invitees would not be happening, but please can everyone just come over and she would stay upstairs?

After all, New Year’s Eve 2012 put the close on the last full year we would spend in this house. Everything from now on would be the last, including our last New Year’s Eve get together with our local Rochester friends.

But with flu in the house, I completely understood why everyone stayed away.

All the champagne, cheese, chips, dips, and finger food appetizers (including Mac & Cheese balls! I mean, can anything sound more tempting than Mac & Cheese balls??) I purchased for a small New Year’s get together would have to wait for another time.

My daughter’s flu-like symptoms lasted into the first week of school. As soon as she was better and returned, it was my oldest son who missed a week of school with a sore throat, a seal-like cough, and a headache that wouldn’t quit.

Finally, my youngest was the next victim of the flu and was out for nearly a week. A high fever and a bad cough were the symptoms of his misery.

I have to admit that he DID briefly return to school one evening, thanks to the magic of Advil, to perform in his chorus concert.

The show must go on, right? And again, it is one of his first and last concerts in our current hometown.

Next, it was my turn.

I often encourage my children to take turns in sharing things. This was a turn I would rather have been left out of.

My flu symptoms – both occasions, were  sandwiched with the mother of all sinus infections.

I had completely lost my sense of smell for about a week. Do you know how much pleasure the human being gets from their sense of smell?


The aroma of coffee, of fresh herbs, steaming soup, freshly baked bread,  lavender-scented candles and vanilla scented body lotion completely evaded me.

A whole head of garlic? In desperation, I cut one in half and inhaled.

NOTHING was getting through my schnozzola. Nothing.

I suspect that even if I had to change a diaper, I would be spared the stench.

“Inhale some red pepper flakes!” My son dared me.  “It will be painful, but it WILL clear you right out!”

I turned down his dare. I may have been desperate, but I’m not a 14-year-old boy.

When my fever went away, and thanks to some more OTC drugs, 100 cups of tea, and my new favorite toy (a Homedics humidifier) my sinuses cleared and I was feeling better.

But the tiredness and the cough only lifted completely in the last 48 hours.

After a month of being sick (and mind you, I know the flu is NOTHING in the face of other serious illnesses,)  there is the blessing of


People’s first response when you are sick is always “Feel better!”

So, if you are sick with this year’s miserable flu, and you are reading this, I sincerely wish that you feel better.

You will get better soon. When your head is congested and you can’t even smell the strongest head of raw garlic, know that soon you WILL FEEL BETTER!

Not tomorrow, but soon you, will be better.

Better in the way that you can stay up past 6:30.

Better in the way where you can return to work with renewed energy and without the guilt of knowing you are infecting your co-workers.

Better in the way that you can return to exercising and actually feel energized and not exhausted.

But in the meantime, I leave you this song from The Hostile Hospital, a book in the kids cult classic books, Book the Eighth in  A Series of Unfortunate Events  by Lemony Snicket:

First Photo Challenge for 2013: Resolved

Happy New Year!

now, if you could hear me say this to you from behind my stuffed nose it would sound more like “Habby Dew Year.”

I have yet to have a healthy day in 2013.

Before I can start on this year’s goals: decluttering and cleaning my home to get it ready to sell, going to the gym at least three times per week, I resolve to get HEALTHY!

That’s why my answer to this photo challenge is this:

Sandy12 050

This is a bowl of eucalyptus leaves I pulled off a bouquet recently purchased at Trader Joes. I mixed it with some dried lavender from this year’s garden, plus some Kosher salt. I poured boiling water over it and voila! A home spa remedy that will hopefully relieve my misery.

Before I do anything else this year, I resolve to get healthy again!

Misbehavin’ at the Eastman Theater

I grew up in a town where many if not most people get up and dance at a rock concert.

New Yorkers are known to be a bit rowdy and I pride myself in my own rowdiness the older I get. It proves I’m still alive

Yes,  I know how to sit well-behaved at a symphony or an opera, but at a rock concert, or even a Broadway show with a rocking musical score, many if not all audience members where I grew up get up where they are seated and DANCE.

I just got out of a concert that I can say I have been looking forward to since I got my tickets on January 27. But no, I’ve actually been waiting to see Bonnie Raitt AND Marc Cohn for over 20 years now.

Her Grammy-winning album, Nick of Time, came out the year I graduated college and started my first job at a tiny weekly newspaper in New Jersey. I would play it on analog tape back and forth in my first car, my dad’s 1982 Toyota station wagon, back and forth from New Brunswick to Hunterdon County, every day for months. My roommate and I cleaned house to the upbeat songs. I cried myself to sleep to the sadder songs like “Too Soon to Tell.” It was after this introduction to Ms. Raitt’s newest album that my roommate said that her mom said that I had to listen to Bonnie Raitt’s old stuff. So I got Collection. And I became hooked on that too and developed a love for blues music.

Then, several years later, I moved out to California to be with the man who would soon become my husband. The year we became engaged, Marc Cohn released his self-titled  debut album. We were driving on a windy California road and “True Companion” came on the radio. That beautiful song became our wedding song.

These two artists have a lot of meaning in my life. So, hell yeah, if I’m going to be a little loud. I might be compelled by one of Ms. Raitt’s signature blues riffs to get up out of my seat and wiggle a bit. A LOT.

But as Bonnie played one of the more up numbers of the night, “Come to Me,” I noticed that hardly anyone was dancing in their places.

Is it our northern location? Is it the lack of sunlight that mellows out Rochesterians so much that they don’t get out of their seats at rock concerts?

And, Ms. Rait: Was it us? Would you have played some more rocking songs to close out your last set at the Eastman Theater tonight if the audience were not so ….


Would you have closed with “Thing Called Love” or “Love Me Like a Man” instead of a cover version of Van Morrrison’s “Crazy Love” if you got a more up vibe from the sleepy audience?

There were some women, myself included, who tried to do their part and could just not stay seated. Women feed off each other on things like this. Once one woman gets up, another one or two feel validated and do the same.  The woman sitting next to me agreed about the lack of life in the audience, and we both declared we were not dead yet and YES we were going to dance.

Then, as a more mellow song followed and we sat down, we actually got scolded by an usher for DANCING at a concert.

The blue-haired, polka dot-shirted bespectacled usher, who was sitting for FREE in the last row behind me, said to me:

“You are being very rude and inconsiderate. I cannot see the performance if you stand.”

If I were younger, a scolding by an older authority would have reduced me to tears.

But now?

I’m being bad?

Finally, at age 44?


Hey, Little old lady usher with the polka-dotted shirt and white eyeglass chain:

Did you even know who this woman was on stage? Do you have all of her albums? Did you listen to “Nick of Time” and “Luck of the Draw” till you knew every word and every guitar lick when you were in your 20’s?

Bonnie, my heroine, who at age 61 was playing on stage, in high heels and skinny jeans and playing that slide guitar STILL like nobody’s business;

Bonnie, who in her 2000 induction speech to the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame encouraged women to “get out of the kitchen and into the kick-ass fire” of playing rock and blues, Bonnie would have been very proud of me, thank you very much, and to NOT dance and sing and whoop it up would have been an act of disrespect to Ms. Raitt, not to an usher who didn’t even PAY for her seat behind me!

So, Ms. Raitt, if you ever do read this blog, I must apologize for the overheated Eastman Hall and the majority of the audience, who kind of sat there like wet wash cloths and didn’t give you and your hard-working band do justice to get off their asses and dance!

And Rochester, next time you are at a rock concert, give the musicians the justice they deserve and GET UP AND DANCE!!!

Shhhh! Please Don’t Tell my Parents!!

For the first time in your life, your parents are away. They leave their home, the home they raised you and taught you right from wrong, in your trusted care while they take a long overdue romantic vacation for just the two of them.

You know where this is going.

The Party. It’s the right of passage for every American Teen. At least it seems that way in the movies. As the weather warms up, think of all those teen movies that ended in a springtime house party bash. Some that come to mind just from my generation include Risky Business, Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, and later, Mean Girls

When I was growing up on Staten Island, it was rare to find a house that was not an attached townhouse. For those of you in suburbia, this means a house that shares at least one common wall with one neighbor. Or maybe your house was flanked by townhouses on both sides. The walls that separated one home from another were exceedingly thin and provided no sound proofing.

How thin? We could say “God Bless You!” when we heard our neighbors sneeze. When there was a birthday party, a family fight, or when their coo-coo clock went off at all hours of the night, you heard that too.

So, the first time – the only time – I had a party the summer between my freshman and sophomore year of college, I did the right thing. I let my neighbors know that I was going to have a few  friends over. Just a few. And, we might get a little loud. And, would they mind if we put some beer bottles in their trash the next day?

My neighbor, Dom, a man in his late 60’s who played Frank Sinatra on his backyard transistor radio all summer and who introduced me to my first grilled Italian pepper, said it wouldn’t be a problem.

I was a good kid. Really I was. Still am. Even though my teen daughter now views me as irresponsible because I caught mono in my sophomore year of college after a weekend of parties. So, when planning my first keg party, no I was not of age, but my friends and I were all right at the cusp. We were all turning 20 that year. That’s why we had the party, it was for a friend, a girl who received all honors in high school and was studying economics at SUNY Binghamton. She was turning 20 that weekend. We did the responsible thing by asking my friends’ of-age boyfriend to buy the beer.

My underage friends and I were responsible for hiring the DJ. He  charged $75 for the night and three of us each chipped in $25. We cleared a spot in my basement where he could set up and play. We didn’t want to set up outside because again, I was trying to be considerate of my neighbors.

More importantly, I was trying not to get caught and get in the worst trouble of my short 19-year-old life.

The party was a success! It was a beautiful night and we would have gone swimming in the pool if there weren’t so many damned mosquitos. (Another thing about Staten Island. No matter how small the backyard, everyone managed to have a pool. It may have been an above-ground pool, but it was wet and cold in the hot New York City summer, that is what mattered most). I remember dancing and lots of kids coming, most invited, some, who barely spoke to me in high school but oh look who’s having a party and decided now they wanted to be my friends.

My friends had their boyfriends with them. A friend of mine became a friend with benefits.

Most importantly, no one got too drunk and no one got hurt. And, my considerate party goers didn’t stay or make noise too too late into the night and my college roommate even mopped the kitchen and bathroom floors when it was all over.

Only one household possession was broken as a result of the party. The kitchen clock came crashing down. That was because one of those previously mentioned mosquitos got in and my brother tried to kill it when it landed on the clock.

My brother…..

Now, my parents are very wise. Later, they told me that they had their suspicions that I had a party whether or not they found a letter on computer print-out paper (the kind that came in a stack with holes on the sides to feed it into the printer. Remember, this was the late 80’s). The letter was written by my brother, an impressionable teenager at the time who had just written a letter to his friend that “my sister had a wild crazy party at our house and there was beer and everything!”

Yes, that was a very dark week in the Cooper household. My parents felt betrayed by me and my good girl friends that never got in any trouble in high school. There were tears of guilt and apology later that week in my parents’ living room among all the guilty.  But I’m 43 now and I’m not grounded anymore and I still love my brother.

So, why do I bring this up now?

Now, after 20 years of being away, it is my parents who are the retired empty nesters living on the other side of the wall from a family with three teenagers.  Last weekend, the parents of these teenagers went away for a vacation.  Last weekend, it was my parents who were the couple who could not get to sleep because of a teen house party that went deep into the night.

The next night, my parents pulled into their driveway after spending the evening with friends and were greeted by all three of the kids next-door. With a big plate of home-baked, shamrock-shaped cookies.

“We baked these for you. We are SO sorry that we made so much noise and kept you up all night,” mom told me over the phone, and we laughed as she described how this girl pleaded for forgiveness.

Sure, they were sorry about the noise. But they were more worried about getting potentially ratted out to their parents. That was the main reason for the cookies.

At this, my mom took the cookies and laughed. “No problem. Been there. Done that.”

So, Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone. And keep the music down after 1 a.m., will ya?”

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