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.
It’s August. The air is heavy and the cicadas of high summer are chirping loudly in the trees.
It’s this time of year, long ago, that I met my b’shert, my intended, at camp. I was (badly) playing tennis and some girls he knew from his synagogue introduced me to him. He chased after every tennis ball I missed, and there were a lot.
In honor of Tu b’Av (meaning the 15 of Av), TV star and Modern Orthodox Jew Mayim Bialik explains how she met her b’shert.
What was the very moment you met yours?
Whatever your faith, I hope this day brings extra luck to you and perhaps today, you will also meet the love of your life.
Since I started blogging, the post that has received the most amount of views is my post Hey … vs. The Love Letter. It has received over 4,000 views and that’s without being freshly pressed — when a blogger’s post is hand-picked by the WordPress editors and prominently displayed on the website’s front portal.
Now, I don’t know if people read all the way through my post, but it goes to show that there are those out there that still believe in love letters and the power of the written word for the sake of romance. In spite of advances in technology.
In this post, written in January during National Letter Writing Week, I pondered if my generation, the Gen Xers, will indeed be the last that will pen physical, hand-written love notes, or even letters in general. Call me old-fashioned with my fears. I don’t like the notion of how texting is replacing plain talking, or how e-book readers are replacing paper books. But fearing new technologies is nothing new. Even the invention of the printing press brought on apprehension. In fact, a character in Victor Hugo’s proclaimed medieval novel Notre Dame de Paris states that the invention of the printing press would kill architecture, the way humans communicate. I wish that Victor would have stuck around long enough to see the works of Frank Lloyd Wright or Frank Gehry.
But here’s where I back up my point that sometimes old-fashioned ways, like letter writing, can’t be replaced:
Last summer, at a prolonged stay at my parent’s house, I got, well, bored. So, I started snooping through the closet in my brother’s old room (sorry, bro!). In an accordion filing folder, I found some very old letters. Letters with two separate penmanship: one so flowery it should be regarded as an art form, the other, more masculine and primitive.
Love letters. Between my grandparents. Way before they were great-grandparents or even parents.
I don’t think that two people were more madly and crazy in love than my grandparents. Or fought as much as my grandparents. I mean fights that involved throwing a can of corn across the room or driving away from a family dinner all the way back to Brooklyn fights. But they still flirted with each other all the way into their 80’s.
But even into their 80’s, they still flirted with each other. At family gatherings, my grandfather would take me around, point to my grandmother, and whisper to me “Hey, aint she cute? Ain’t she sweet? She’s all mine.”
My grandparents had two anniversaries. One,was when they eloped in September 1939. They actually ran away in the middle of the night, headed upstate New York, and found a justice of the peace to marry them. An asthmatic one at that. I remember my grandmother recounting the ceremony, mimicking how the justice wheezed between reciting the vows. That was the anniversary my grandfather recognized.
Afterwords, none of my great-grandparents approved to this elopement. And I think the way it went was that my grandparents were not allowed to cohabit until they had a proper Jewish wedding, which happened three months later. That’s the anniversary my grandmother recognized.
So, in these letters, I found one from my grandfather, Milton, that I think contained my grandfather’s plot to take my grandmother, Pauline, away to get hitched.
Dated August 29, 1938 my grandfather writes
I received your second letter this morning after I sent my fourth. I got my days changed to Sunday and Monday off. (Grandpa worked night shifts for the New York Daily News). That goes into effect this Tuesday. Find our all the arrangements for Saturday, September 7, so that we don’t get mixed up. Try and come in early enough to get to the shower (?) about 9:30 but don’t forget to allow some sleep as I’ll be working Saturday morning. Will they be surprised?! Boy, oh Boy!
Some talk about my grandmother being away somewhere…. I don’t understand that part, but then….
I found lipstick on my blue tie that I wore Saturday nite but I won’t make any attempt to clean it……I’ll see you Saturday night and then all day Sunday and Monday and don’t go kick me home early….
and …after a bit of more plotting and even some sqabbling about my grandmother “putting on airs” the last time they met…
“You don’t know what a funny, but a lost feeling I get when I see a couple on the street or a couple kissing or a fellow saying I got a date. Nobody loves me except you. ….I love you alone, Milton.”
Then, I find a letter from my grandmother, not dated. But even back then, and they must have been in their late teens, my grandmother was nudging my grandpa about his health:
“I won’t see you on the nights you can’t manage to get your eight or nine (NINE??) hours of sleep each day. Your also going to watch your diet closely. Believe you me!”
And on the letters and their love went, for 67 years. By the way, My grandfather, a second generation photo engraver for the New York Daily News, was in fact a victim of new technology. In 1982, he was given a buy-out package along with the other photo engravers at the New York Daily News.
His job was being replaced by something called…. the laser printer.
Ahh, the high school dating scene….
Did you go to high school in the 1980’s? I did. There, now I’m dating myself, pun intended.
Back then, I didn’t date anyone because no one was asking! Maybe it was because I went to the same high school where my dad taught physical education and coached two teams, and maybe dating a coaches’ daughter was off-limits in some unwritten high school code of law.
But, those in my high school who were seriously “going out” – and by that I mean they didn’t just “hook up” — were so very much in love and so happy the whole world needed to know. As sickening as it was for the rest of us.
In high school, you knew who was going out with who because of all the of PDA (and that’s not Personal Digital Assistant. Remember, this was the 1980’s. These were Public Displays of Affection) in the hallways, the stairwells, the cafeteria, in the schoolyard and on the bleachers.
Girls with boyfriends would go to the Mall and have these sweatshirts made up. (Another memory of the 1980’s, the melting, rubbery smell of the T-shirt shop.)
On the front of the sweatshirt, and it was usually a pink sweatshirt, would be the girl’s and boy’s name in a big air-brushed heart.
On the sleeve of the sweatshirt would be the date of what I guess was their first date, something like this:
Then on the other sleeve, something like this would be written:
And, if the happy couple were dating a really long time – say, six months – the boy would bestow upon on the girl as a gift an ankle bracelet. Only the ankle bracelet was not worn on the ankle but on a chain around the neck.
No other time did the have-nots of high school romance feel more left out than around Valentine’s Day.
Every year in my high school, the Key Club would hold its annual rose sale for Valentine’s Day. Roses were sold in different colors:
Red – I love you
Pink – I want to get to know you better
Yellow – Secret Admirer
White – Friendship
Roses were distributed the morning of Valentine’s Day in homeroom.
In the days leading up to Valentine’s Day of one’s senior year, seniors had another big day to think about and that was prom. That’s because at the Staten Island Mall, the prom dress displays would go up pretty much as soon as all the Christmas decorations would come down.
What made it worse was I believe that was the same year Pretty in Pink was in the movies. So many questions arose months before the prom among my circle of friends:
Who are you going with?
What will you wear?
What other friends are going in the limo with you?
In the timeline of high school, receiving a rose on Valentine’s Day could be a determining factor for answering the above questions about prom night.
So, there I was in homeroom on Valentine’s Day, when to my shock, I received a rose.
A red one.
Now, at the time, I was not interested in anyone, at least anyone who went to my school.
At that moment I thought of my mom’s wise words: it will happen when you aren’t looking. Someone sent me a red rose! Whoever this person was had circumvented the rose selections of friendship, get-to-know-you-better or secrect admirer. The sender of this rose went straight to
This could be big! This could be my first Love!
My 17-year-old mind whirred. Who could it be? Someone in my AP English class? Certainly not anyone in AP biology, I hoped. Or, someone who was in none of my classes who would see me in the hallway and confess his love and we would go to prom and everything would be wonderful!
With each class I went to, I walked in expecting – I don’t know what.
But nothing happened.
Then, it was time to go to gym.
As I headed across the gym floor to the girl’s locker, my dad was heading out of the boy’s locker.
He greeted me with a big smile.
“Hi honey! Did you get my rose?”
I gulped. “Rose?”
“Yes, I sent you a rose!”
At that moment, I wanted to die. Just someone, please drown me in the locker room shower.
But I know my dad really meant well. Looking back, my dad just wanted to send his little girl a rose. But then, the 17-year-old me just died on that shiny gym floor.
“Thanks, dad,” I said, and I think I even smiled. Because I knew he meant well. But when you’re in high school, with the sweatshirts and ankle bracelets, a rose given to you by dad is well, not all that – womantic.
Valentine’s Day is coming, and maybe the Beatles had it right: All You Need is Love. Lenny Kravetz also sang the truth in his song: You’ve Got to Let Love Rule. With a two weeks to go, I guess people are looking for love in all sorts of places, including the blogosphere.
Unexpectedly, one post is attracting quite a lot of attention on my blog. It isn’t a blog post that addresses any serious issue, like bullying, Israel, or education. It’s about love, and in particular, the dying art of writing and saving love letters. But maybe I should expect such attention on a subject that is so universal and enduring.
This post has been read this week, so far – 335 times and counting. Traffic was drawn to my webiste over 320 times – and counting – this week through those who searched “love letter” or “old love letter.”
And this made me wonder – maybe romance isn’t dead. Maybe people still want to pause, be in the moment and pen old fashioned love letters. Maybe they realize that matters of the heart cannot be digitized into texts and tweets. Maybe, in spite of technology, old-fashioned love endures.
For those of you who searched “love letter,” I can’t help but wonder – were you looking for an actual love letter template? This written display of affection shouldn’t be approached as you would a resume and a CVC. I think the recipient of such a love letter would see right through the prefabrication of it. Love letters are unique, like snowflakes.
Were you expecting me to print one of those love letters here? Sorry, but in a future post, I may discuss a box of love letters I found between my grandparents, written to each other when they were only 19.
So, in your search for love letters, I hope that you craft that perfect heartfelt prose to give to your loved one before February 14.
Love should be about love. Acts of love should not be reserved to one date on the calendar. I think Valentine’s Day puts equal pressure on those Happy Loving Couples and All the Single People. Valentines Day is on a Manic Monday and romantic feelings are somewhat hard to switch on between dinner, homework, and after school commitments.
For singles, you must start dreading this day right after the Christmas decorations come down in the store. It seems as soon as the trees and lights come down, the hearts, cards and candy go right up. For couples, it’s hard to throw on that romantic switch on a Monday night between dinner, working, homework with the kids and after school commitments. So remember, love is every day and can be shown in different ways to the different people in your life. If it’s a stranger, hold the door open or leave behind a store coupon you are not going to use in just the right spot. If you are a parent, sneak in an extra treat into a lunchbox. If you are a teacher, teach with enthusiasm and energy for your students. If you are in a relationship, don’t take it for granted. Do some dishes unasked. And by all means, go buy that heart-shaped box of candy. If you search and put love into the universe, one day, love will find its way back to you.