Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Dress

Whenever a party invitation lands in my mailbox for a dressy occasion like a wedding or a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, I experience the same sequence of thoughts:  1 – Wow! This is so exciting! I can’t wait!  I’m going to have so much fun!  And 2 – Darn!  What am I going to wear?  I hope one of my dresses fits me.  Why didn’t I start working out (this time around) sooner?    

In anticipation of my friend’s daughter’s wedding which was last night, I decided to stop at a local dress shop a couple days ago. I already had a few dresses in my closet but had worn each over the years and thought a last-minute effort might yield a more pleasing choice.  I entered the store with the same mindset for dresses as I have with bathing suits:  Keep in mind my “problem spots” and cover them up. 

It’s a simple enough game plan.  I walk around the store, collect dresses that upon first glance may be potential candidates and then, with a more discriminating eye, determine the next step for each dress:  try it on, put it back on the rack, or leave the store.

This time, I was greeted by a very young and thin woman named Michelle who attached herself to me within seconds.  She asked what I was looking for.  I surprised myself not telling her I’m just browsing so that she’d mind her own business.  She proceeded to comment about my great taste (very smart business decision) as I contemplated various dresses. She brought me shoes to try on (and purchase) and then cheered me on with the one dress I was willing to model for her, all the while bringing me accompanying jewelry options to further enhance the outfit.    

While I really liked the WOW-factor of the dress, I explained that I felt it was a bit too revealing; I didn’t want such a low-cut dress that showcased my cleavage.  This particular body part isn’t one of the problem spots that I try to cover up, but it’s not one that I’m comfortable putting on display either.

“Girlfriend, Show what you’ve got!” she said.  “I’m flat as a board. You know how much fun I’d have if those were mine?”   Wow!  I had never thought about that before.  What the heck.  Why not show off these babies???  I took the dress – sans the shoes and jewelry – and proudly checked out, making this purchase more enthusiastically than any other one I can recall. 

My sexy-dress-but-not-for-me instinct kicked in when I tried it on later that night.  I wasn't nearly as enamored with it in my own home.  While it addressed my problem spot criteria and also offered its own striking personality, I began to question its appeal without Michelle cheering me on.  I ended up wearing a different outfit to the wedding.        

Wouldn’t you know that one minute after I entered the ballroom, a very attractive woman about 15 or 20 years younger caught my eye…and guess what?   She was wearing that very same dress, plunging neckline and all. 

Next month we have another wedding to go to. Want to guess which dress I'm going to wear?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Valentine's Day

What a blast I had trying to plan a special weekend for my husband David, a Valentine’s Day baby. 

I was in cahoots with Lauren, his daughter, who wanted to come home from New York City to surprise her dad for dinner. The fact that she reached out to enlist my help made this suggestion a most welcome proposal in and of itself, once we’d iron out the details.

Her plan to set foot in Cherry Hill around 7:30 pm on Friday night to begin celebrating was a tricky component; on a typical Friday we could be getting ready for bed by then.  That is a slight exaggeration, but not by much.

Her stepdad was kind enough to agree to pick her up at the train station and bring her home, since David prefers to steer clear of any restaurant’s Valentine’s Day madness.

My job was to delay mealtime at home with the hope that we could all sit down together for dinner when Lauren arrived.  If I were to return from work at my usual time of about 5:30, for example, David would expect we’d be sitting down to dinner by 6, especially on his birthday.  How could I prevent this from happening?

I managed to weasel my way out of this by conjuring up fairly acceptable excuses by David’s standards.  Instead of my leaving work at 5 as he was hoping, I texted him about 5:15 saying I’d need to stay till 5:30 or 6 to finish up; when he asked for an updated time of my arrival a half hour later, I told him I just remembered I have to pick up a few items for dinner; when I got home around 6:30 and he said “I’m so hungry! Let’s eat!” I told him I’m way too tired to sit upright without taking a short nap first; when he texted me a half hour later to ask when we’re having dinner, I had to say I’ll be down soon but I’m more tired than I even realized. 

Meantime Lauren texted me that her train was stuck behind a disabled train which translated to my having to further dilly dally around the house.  I actually managed to keep David from the dinner table till 7:45, which I found quite impressive – that, and my not spilling the beans, which was even more remarkable.  I was just having so much fun with this undercover mission.

But the real reward came when our Shea doggy started barking as the door opened - followed by David not knowing whether he should panic with a potential intruder, hearing Lauren call out "Happy Birthday, Dad!" and then seeing his facial expression turn to jubilation.  He really did say, without a spoken word, that her coming home on this particular day was too good to be true.

I told myself earlier in the night that I’d shed no tears – I’ve been working on trying not to be quite so emotional – and I did well until I turned around at one point and saw her leaning over and hugging him in his chair. 

Then all bets were off.  

Sunday, February 9, 2014


This past Thursday as I prepared to visit with my mom, I stopped by Target first.  This is my usual go-to place to pick up the mix of things I need to bring.   

As I finished with my list, I was drawn to the eye-catching, brightly decorated Valentine’s Day section with candy, cards, paper goods, little toys that would fit in goody bags for parties and so on.  I decided rather than rush by these aisles to check out, I’d like to indulge myself in some fun stuff – kind of like taking time to stop and smell the roses.          

I saw lots of my favorite candies, thought about which one I wanted, put the Hershey Kisses in my cart, then decided I’d devour them all so I’d better put them back.  Next I walked over to the toy section and thought about what I’d buy for my kids’ friends if they were 15 or 20 years younger.  I was glad I didn’t have to make that decision, because I would’ve been there at least another half an hour.  Clearly, it was time to check out.   

And then I saw the most adorable pink teddy bear about a foot high with a little heart sewn into her chest, following me with her dreamy eyes as I walked away.  I was smitten.  I wanted my mom to have her.  This was meant to be, falling in love on the way to my mom’s.  I hope I don’t sound too sexist by referring to the bear as a female, but she is pink, after all.  I will call her Teddi. 

I put her in my cart but an aisle later reminded myself that my mom has never been a stuffed animal kind of gal, so maybe this purchase isn’t smart.  Perhaps Teddi should be with someone else who’d appreciate her.  I could’ve taken her home, but since my doggy would chew her up like he’s done with all my other furry friends, I put her back on the shelf.

An aisle later, I felt sad. I went back, put Teddi in my cart, told myself no more second-guessing the decision, and I brought her to my mom’s. 

It’s normal practice when I get there to show her what I’ve purchased, but I became hesitant about Teddi when my mom seemed indifferent with the snacks and flowers this time around.

Somewhat nervous about the introduction, I proceeded.  “Mom, this is Teddi…” and then that smile I live for when I visit stretched across her face, from ear to ear.  My mom reached out her arms to take Teddi and then began making silly faces at the bear, giggling and telling me how pretty she is.  I couldn’t believe I almost left Teddi at Target.

I never expected my mom to embrace her like that.  My sister told me this afternoon – two days later – that my mom is still carrying on with Pinky (yes, my mom renamed Teddi) just like the day they met. Maybe I really don’t know my mom as well as I thought I did.  I can’t believe I’m still learning about her likes and dislikes at age 96.  I bet there’s a lot more to know.   

I’m happy for my mom, but I’m happy for me too. This serendipitous connection is a memory in the making.  There is no second-guessing that.  

Sunday, February 2, 2014


They come in all shapes and sizes, with each one offering a little something different that I treasure.

One such tradition that I enjoyed most recently was with my friends Cel and Tita to celebrate our birthdays.  Cel’s is 2 days before Tita’s and my birthday, which the two of us are very honored to share with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.   

Cel commented that the three of us only worked together for a year, maybe two, nearly 30 years ago, and yet our tradition has lasted multiple decades. What a strong bond we must’ve formed way back when.  It’s not a stretch to say that we all look the same as the day we met, either. 

At the time, we all lived in Philly, and none of us had kids yet.   Now we all live in different states, have blended families with kids in the same age range and, as you can imagine, have a lot to share.  For starters, we all love our lives as empty nesters, although two of us experience this just part-time for now, as our kids are still in college and return home between semesters. 

There may have been a period when we got off track and missed a couple years, but we haven’t skipped one in the last 10, and I hope we don’t miss any more.  There’s way too much to talk about, and it’s so much fun.  I know it’s cliché, but it’s true…there’s nothing like old friends.   

When we did the whole long googbye thing, I heard Cel and Tita suggesting we get together again this calendar year - maybe this summer for a half-birthday celebration.'s a date!  Then a second later another idea to include our husbands was thrown into the mix.  

I hate to be greedy, but I'll take all the time I can get with these two.  We're so fortunate to have each other...let's not take that for granted.