For a couple of months now I’ve been trying to gather my thoughts regarding the same-sex marriage issue, which is appearing AGAIN on the California ballot this November, despite anti-gay-marriage laws having been found illegal by the California Supreme Court in May.

And yes, I do realize that Californians showed their true colors back in 2000 by voting against gay marriage, so I understand why all of the fear-mongering has started up again regarding this issue. I’m sure they too thought they’d put this baby to bed when they won a 61 percent vote in support of marriage being between only a man and a woman. But here we are California, we’ve been given a second chance – and I think there’s a high probability that gay people will be able to rest easy about this issue (at least until next election season rolls around).

But then, I’ve been wrong before.

There are so many things that bother me about this issue. First, there’s the idea that lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered people shouldn’t be treated as equals in this nation that pretends to put freedom and equality above all else.

Second, I’m seriously bothered by the religious right’s insistence that this is a case of the government forcing them to accept something against their beliefs, when in reality it’s vice versa. The California Supreme Court decision found that the state could not deny civil unions to same-sex couples. This means the state can now issue marriage licenses and will recognize those marriages. HOWEVER, the Supreme Court also said – and this is where my real confusion comes in when people try to say the government is forcing churches to perform gay marriages – that churches in California can still deny marriage to same-sex couples. It’s perfectly legal for them to say no to marrying a same-sex couple. They can keep their hatefulness and fear intact. No problem. Because – BECAUSE – we have a separation of church and state.

And what about those couples who have already said their vows? Are we going to send a government official around, knocking on their doors and asking them for their marriage licenses back? I bet the religious right would love the privilege to be the ones to rip up those “sacred” documents in front of those heathen. What an emotional up and down that will be for those couples. To finally be considered equal and then to have that right just yanked back from you. I can’t imagine something more painful.

Next on my list of qualms are the ads and the propaganda out there making it sound like legalizing gay marriage is akin to destroying all wholesome families and the sanctity of marriage. Can we just get one thing straight right now? The sanctity of marriage died a long, long time ago. The divorce rate in this country is well-above the halfway mark. Maybe the real fear is that the divorce rate will increase tenfold if we allow gays to get married AND divorced along with us straight folks. And wholesome families? I think those died out with Leave it to Beaver. Puh-lease. This, to me, is by far the biggest illusion the Yes on 8 people were able to dream up – well except, of course, the the idea that gays choose their gayness.

I don’t know about you all, but I sure wouldn’t choose a lifestyle that afforded me few rights – not even the right to be hired without discrimination, a law that currently covers race, ethnicity, gender and origin but NOT sexual preference – and seemingly gives others the right to hurl hateful, hurtful words at me as I go about my daily life.

Side story: One of my friends was walking out of a liquor store the other day and was stopped by a man who was explaining to his young son that this here (my friend) was a follower of Sodom. She said she was horrified by the confrontation and didn’t know how to react, especially considering she’s a lesbian and therefore doesn’t practice sodomy. Apparently that was lost on the man, who was so intent on teaching his son how to hate at a young age.

I don’t know, it just seems like a clear choice for me: easy street or tough love? Uh, I’m gonna go with easy street, thanks.

The only other thing I can think of that makes people so eager to constantly fight against gay rights is fear. I think that fear is what this all really comes down to. People are uncomfortable with things they don’t know much about, so instead of learning more or getting to know some LGBT people out there, they’d rather try to quell the supposed threat. I can’t think of any other “good” reason to be so opposed to gay rights.

And, although this post is geared toward Californians because of Proposition 8 on the upcoming ballot, this is a nationwide issue that needs to be addressed. I have questions about the legality and reasoning behind these laws, so I can only imagine how confused the LGBT community must be about all of this. I’m curious to hear the “valid” reasons out there (And please don’t argue God. God is only valid if I believe in your God, which I don’t.) for why we should continue this quest to keep gays down.

And, please, if you are in California pay close attention to the wording of each proposition on the ballot. I know the Obama/McCain spectacle has taken hold of most media outlets, but there are so many more things on your ballot. Be sure you know what you are voting for because that wording is confusing. Semantics could easily lead you astray – for instance, on Prop. 8 if you vote “Yes” you are actually voting against gay marriage, whereas the “No” vote legalizes same-sex marriages. See how they try to trick us? All I’m saying is pay attention.

And please, someone explain to me why this is still an issue in the 21st century.

Victor was a Retinal Surgeon and was constantly on call because he was the only Retinal Surgeon for a large area.  If you detach your retina, you need to have it operated on relatively quickly for the result to be optimized.  Also, he was on call for ruptured globes and other catastrophic injuries that needed immediate attention.

I answered the phone when it rang.

“This is the mobile operator,” a woman’s voice said.

“Just a second, I’ll get the doctor for you,” I answered and handed the phone to Victor.

“There’s an emergency, Honey,” I said to Victor.

At first I wasn’t paying any attention except to see if he had to rush in for surgery.  But then he started saying things that really didn’t make any sense to me.

“No, that’s not possible.  My son is in Saint Louis,” he said.

“There must be some mistake,” he said.

Then there was some silence on his side where he seemed to be listening very carefully. I could not decipher the look on his face. It began as a puzzled look and morphed into a look that I think might precede a stroke.

“Uh huh.  Uh huh.  He was where?  He was doing what, again?  The Jimmy?  Uh huh.  What can we do now?  Yes, I can take down these numbers.  Hold on while I get a pen,” he said.

When Victor hung up the phone he said that that was not the mobile operator.  That was the Mobile, Alabama operator.  (In my defense, they say  “mo-bill” not “mo-beel” in Alabama and I was not aware of that.)  Lonny was not in St. Louis helping out with “Freshman Camp”, he, instead, was arrested in Mobile, Alabama trying to buy marijuana from an undercover officer.

He was arrested with a boy named “Tricky.”   I swear I am not making any of this up.  I realize that this boy’s name might cause you to question this.  I promise.  This boy was named “Tricky.”   Lonny met “Tricky” at Wash. U., but it turns out he wasn’t actually a student there.  He did however have a good lead on where one could purchase marijuana.  A bunch of Lonny’s friends got together and raised a sum of money to send with Lonny and “Tricky” to Alabama to obtain enough marijuana for all of them to have some to share.  Since Lonny had the use of our red Jimmy, he offered to drive there. (Back in the dark ages, when Victor and I were in College and still entertained ourselves in a similar fashion on the occasional weekend, you could obtain the necessary supply a maximum of two blocks away.  Perhaps during Lonny’s college days it was more difficult to find and you had to drive cross-country. What do I know?)

“Lonny is helping out at Freshman Camp,” I insisted.

“Irene, pay attention,” Victor said.  “Lonny lied to us.  He is in jail in Mobile, Alabama.”

“Huh,” I said.

I ran over to my friend Marcia’s house.  Marcia is the smartest person in the world.  Whenever one of the kids had a question we couldn’t answer, he or she would say: “Let’s call Marcia!”  That was the way to find things out before the advent of the home computer.  Call Marcia.

Marcia can to this day answer ANY question. She is a Harvard-trained lawyer. Marcia took over.  Nothing ever rattled Marcia.  She just took charge. She found us a lawyer ON A WEEKEND in Mobile, Alabama to help figure out what we could do with Lonny, our jailbird son. The lawyer she found was perfect for the job.  He was from Mobile and his name was exemplary:  Thomas Jefferson Dean, Esq.

It turns out that Lonny had tried to buy only a small amount of dope, but the undercover police kept insisting that he should buy much more. I would tell you the amounts, if I remembered, however, if it has to do with numbers, it is forever jumbled in my brain. Apparently the charge is a much better one for the Police if they can get someone to buy over a certain amount.  “Tricky” kept telling Lonny that it made sense to buy more.  It was cost-effective.  Lonny kept insisting that he didn’t want any more. Finally the Undercover Police revealed themselves not as bona fide dope-dealers but, shockingly, as Policemen. They then arrested Lonny on the spot.

Lonny promptly dropped on the ground and started vomiting.  He vomited for so long that we heard from Thomas Jefferson Dean, Esq. that the Police started to worry and seriously considered bringing him to the hospital before dropping him off at the jail.  It seems they were hot to arrest him, but wanted him alive for the arrest.  Less paperwork.

Thomas Jefferson Dean, Esq. told us after speaking with Lonny and the Police that he could get the Judge to reduce the charges against Lonny because the Police were trying to get him to buy more than he wanted.  That was not a kosher thing to do.  He said that there was, unfortunately, nothing he could do to stop Lonny’s spending a day or two in one of Mobile, Alabama’s fine incarceration facilities.

Eventually, Lonny was given a huge fine, which WE paid, and the Mobile Police department confiscated OUR beautiful red Jimmy because it was used in the commission of a crime.  He was told he could not enter any portion of Alabama for ten full years. (You might have noticed that so far the only thing Lonny had to live with was 10 years without the State of Alabama.)

Thomas Jefferson Dean, Esq. wanted us to send Lonny an airline ticket to come home.  We thought that was very amusing.

“An airline ticket?” we said.  “Put him on a Greyhound Bus and let him think about what has happened all the way home.  He’ll have to get used to riding a bus now anyway.”

When Lonny finally got home he described his time in the pokey. The Police had put him in a room that I think is referred to as a “drunk-tank.”  It was filled with huge, Southern men. (Everyone is huge to us in our family.  We’re pretty small.)  Lonny was terrified, but the other inmates treated him sort of like a pet. They were particularly nice to Lonny.  One kind gentleman came over and said:

“Don’t worry, little white boy.  It’ll be alright.”

Lonny was expecting an entirely different outcome for this trip to Alabama, so all this being arrested and thrown in jail stuff made him pretty tearful.

Lonny had been issued paper slippers.  A man came over to him and indicated that they should exchange slippers. Lonny was quick to oblige.  He was ready to do anything that kept him on a friendly basis with his new comrades.

At mealtime in jail, it turns out that some kinds of food were preferable to other kinds.

“You want those meats?” someone always asked.

“No, you can have my meats,” he offered.  He assured us that he had no idea what kind of “meats” they were, but he had seriously lost his appetite when he was arrested.  His “meats” were theirs for the asking, at every meal.

There were few people he could understand.  The Southern accent in the jail was thick and so different from anything Lonny had ever heard before that most of the men could well have been speaking Martian.  Here is where we learned that despite his recent activities, Lonny actually was quite smart, somewhere down deep.  He explained to his fellow inmates that he couldn’t hear what they were saying to him because he was almost totally deaf. They tried speaking louder, but finally gave up when Lonny kept reiterating that he just couldn’t hear what they were saying.  Lonny couldn’t decipher the accent and had no idea what they were saying when they spoke to him.  Acting deaf kept him from insulting their accents, which the little white boy in no way wanted to do.

Lonny eventually went back to school, by bus.  His right to use of one of our cars was forfeited when he committed a crime using our red Jimmy thus losing it to the City of Mobile, Alabama, where someone is probably still driving it today.


Comment by Marcia |Edit This
2008-09-22 07:33:04

What’s really important about this story is that you used a “thin” photo of me!

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-22 07:39:35

Don’t be ridiculous, this is how you always look!

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-24 10:22:52

Sorry I used “retinal surgeon” twice in the first sentence. Bad writing. I thought I proof-read.
I know you’re supposed to be able to fix things, but I’m so new at this I think the whole site might explode if I try to fix it. Apologies.

Comment by George |Edit This
2008-09-22 07:44:17

I remember this incident quite well. I was out of town at the time. Sadly, it is all true. Fortunately, these incidents are far in the past, and Lonny will have a great story to tell his grandchildren when they think that he is stodgy.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-22 08:25:46

Very good point, George! Lonny, as you well know, is only one of five children with shady pasts. (If you look back a bit, their parents are sort of shady, too.) It’s amazing how things turnout alright somehow, most of the time.

Comment by Tim |Edit This
2008-11-22 05:16:38

Who is George?

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-11-22 06:10:15

It’s a nom de plume, Tim. I’ll tell you at Thanksgiving.

Comment by ksw |Edit This
2008-09-22 07:51:03

why do you think they call it dope?

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-22 08:26:40

Oh ksw, THAT is an easy one! Lob me one that’s harder, I’m no tenderfoot!

Comment by jmb |Edit This
2008-09-22 08:11:26

He was told he could not enter any portion of Alabama for ten full years.

If they keep rewarding misdemeanors why would anyone have any incentive to stop breaking the law?

Love your stories, loved that you made him ride a Greyhound bus home from Alabama.

Comment by Josie |Edit This
2008-09-24 19:09:46

Ha ha – I concur with JMB.
Not about the bus thing tho’… that was just mean.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-25 08:29:11

Really Josie? After lying to us, getting arrested, making us pay a huge fine and losing our car you think he should have gotten an airline ticket for a comfortable ride home?
I STILL think we were right on THAT move.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-22 08:32:30

Shadowman, This is precisely what I thought. Until this point the only reason Lonny could find to go there at all was the incredible deal on marijuana. He didn’t find it difficult at all to totally avoid the state. I’m pretty sure he hasn’t been back since.
We had a friend there who taught at the University of Alabama and we went to visit him. It is a really gorgeous state. One of the prettiest. You just have to be on the right side of the law when you go there.
If I’d had MY way at that point in time, he would have WALKED back to Illinois! I was first terrified and that changed into FURIOUS once I knew he was safe. Let that little white boy walk home and wear the soles off his little paper shoes! Victor was the kinder one. I wanted blood on the soles of his feet.

Comment by Phat B |Edit This
2008-09-22 09:00:17

Thomas Jefferson Dean, Esq. Indeed. Did he look anything like my avatar?

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-22 11:15:39

I’ll bet he did. I never got to actually see him. We’ll ask Lonny if he pipes in here.

2008-09-22 09:29:34

This is AWESOME, Irene! OMG, I totally want to come and hang out with your family so I can go bail someone out of jail in Alabama, or throw a bong out a window on a joyride. You Zions know how to have a good time downstate! I am totally cracking up. Lonny obviously has inherited your intelligence in claiming to be deaf. Well done!

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-22 11:20:35

The poor thing, (you see how time has transformed my opinions about things?) was so afraid he would insult someone. I thought pretending to be deaf under all that pressure is brilliant! Lonny had hardly ever been out of the Midwest and everyone sounds the same there, like the newscasters on TV. I don’t think either Victor or I had any effect on their intelligence. They are all mutants.

2008-09-22 09:56:12

I rode a bus across America in one of my road travels. Kinda fun, except having to sleep sitting up for three days. Great storytelling. I think you inspired me to tell one of my road stories other than the Thick White Crust stuff…

By the way, can you ask Marsha to find me an agent. She seems to know how to contact every dark corner of America. I can even throw in a red Jimmy. If I can hotwire one.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-22 11:25:44

I’m sure Lonny has stories about the bus ride too. He only told us the parts that exploded out of his head without his control. It was pretty traumatizing for him and for us too. Still hoping for his appearance here….

I’ll ask Marcia, but Lenore and I are on the top of her list. Sorry, we’ve been friends for eons.

What’s with the tousled gray hair and the serious look and the natty blue dress shirt and tie? Who are you, really?

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-10-12 13:22:50

NL? You can wire a car? That is impressive! I don’t have the slightest clue how to do anything like that.

You already have published books! You probably have agents FIGHTING over you! You certainly should, in my opinion.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Melissa (Irene’s friend) |Edit This
2008-09-22 11:37:40

Ok Irene… trumped me I have nothing.

Ok except I did learn how to make a bong out of a beer can this weekend.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-22 12:08:26

THIS weekend? What are you doing, Melissa? You’re a grown-up!

Comment by Melissa (Irene’s friend) |Edit This
2008-09-22 12:16:03

I am? I had my cousin visit me. She was always getting me into mischief. I could never do these things when I was a teen. I told you my dad always told me he would break my fingers.. and I believed me. My brother however did not.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-22 12:36:17

You can only get into mischief if you are a teenager or you are demented. Those are the rules!
Now your dad is going to break your fingers! You KNOW he’ll find out!

Comment by Melissa (Irene’s friend) |Edit This
2008-09-22 12:48:05

He will never find out……she did the bong. I did the vodka. Much easier and and just in my freezer. No need to go to Mo-bile.


Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-22 13:38:30

Okay. I was about to dial your Dad and tell on you, but since you didn’t actually USE the bong, you’re officially off the hook!

Comment by Lenore Zion |Edit This
2008-09-22 13:14:07

I remember when dad got off the phone he said to me:

“Lenore, your brother fucked up.”

good times.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-22 13:35:32

And you have to admit, Dad NEVER used that language. This was a big thing. That’s why you remember it.

Comment by Tim |Edit This
2008-11-22 05:22:48

You know, I can’t remember when this happened. I know that it did. I remember talking about it for years afterwards. Funny how memory works.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-11-22 06:12:31

Sheesh. You were right there and it was intense. Everyone was hysterical with worry. Probably it was too scary for you to remember.

Comment by Adam |Edit This
2008-09-22 14:34:14

Sorry, Irene. I’m not sharing any jail stories.

I did love the “Mobile operator” portion, though.

And I’m resolving now to start monitoring my language for the sake of both general and emergent potency.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-22 14:39:58

You DO that, Adam. Since Victor never used a purple word in his life, his use of the aforementioned word left an impression that lasted for years among his children.

(They Do say “mo -bill” and not “mo-beel” I swear. So far I am only writing true stories, although one day I will surprise you all. (Probably not soon, though, since there are so many TRUE tales to tell!)

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-22 14:42:09

Wait, Adam. Does that mean you HAVE jail stories, but you do not wish to share them with us, your adoring audience? Come clean, my boy! Come clean!

Comment by Erika Rae |Edit This
2008-09-22 15:43:48

Walk back in the paper shoes? Did they confiscate his shoes with the Jimmy as they were also used to aid a crime? If so, it’s kind of lucky he had the paper ones as it’s illegal to go shoeless on a Greyhound (or to remove them once on the bus). That would have been an embarrassing conversation.

Inmate: “You again? What are you in for this time?”
Lonny: “No shoes. You?”
Inmate: “Assault, battery, murder, arson.”
Lonny: [whistles.]
Inmate: “Hey, weren’t you deaf?”

Yeah, that’d suck.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-22 16:04:37

Oh, Erika Rae,
You write great dialogue!
In truth, I’m pretty sure that he got his actual shoes back when he got out of jail. I’m not angry anymore, but after the first lift of pure terror that my baby was in trouble, I was LIVID!

My kids may have gone astray now and then, but they never would have ascended to the height of assault, battery, murder or arson. Inside they were sweet Midwestern kids. Just not always as bright as we though, or expected. You know that dream you have of your kids when they’re born? How perfect? How much difference they will make in this crazy world? Sorry. Not always the case. (At least, not right away.)

Besides, I’m sure, if that would have happened, Lonny would have had a great excuse for being able to hear again. But seriously, what are the chances, after all, that the same people would be in jail with him a second time?

Comment by lonny |Edit This
2008-09-22 18:52:09

ok fine i did do that….
with the following exceptions:

1 – ‘tricky’ was our contact in mobile – he was not from st louis
the guy my mom is talking about is ‘john’ – he was dating a girl on my floor
he also liked pot and road trips (hey who doesn’t)
he got arrested also, obviously, and was luckily tried as a co-defendant with me
this was the luckiest thing that ever happened to him as his past was not as squeaky clean

tricky was a friend of a friend i knew in college – they were from mobile
tricky had gotten busted the night before with a bag and offered us up to save himself
a good move all things considered

2 – i did not vomit – i said ‘i am going to vomit’
two which the cop said ‘you better not fuckin’ vomit on me’
then he ‘helped’ me to the ground
i sat there on the blacktop in the hotel parking lot for a while feeling dizzy

i am sorry if any of this takes out some of the drama of the story
everyone loves a good vomit subplot

and by the way i did know how to obtain product in st louis
but i had been working all summer and felt like a road trip
everyone loves them as much as a vomit subplot

what else did everyone ask

-no i have never been back
-no t jefferson dean doesnt look like your avatar – he is younger and smoother
the first thing he said was ‘do you listen to dylan?’
i thought he knew our whole family did
‘you know that song “stuck inside of mobile with the memphis blues again”
‘uh huh’
‘that is kinda your song isnt it?’

Comment by lonny |Edit This
2008-09-22 18:58:31

i dont care about punctuation or capitalization much
but i really didnt mean to write ‘two which’

two which, too which, to which, 2 which, two witch

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-23 00:04:19

“Tricky” set you up? I had vague memories of this, but thought they were mistaken. That evil cad!
I’m glad you didn’t really vomit after all. Thomas Jefferson Dean, Esq. told us these things, but after all, these are my memories of what was said and what happened, and it was a long time ago. Were it I, I would most definitely have been vomiting. I thought after all this time that it became a funny story although it was plenty scary at the time. I thought you would feel this way too. I hope I didn’t hurt your feelings. It wasn’t my intention. Not at all.

I like “two witch” the best.

Comment by Adam |Edit This
2008-09-23 00:22:55

Couldn’t sleep? These are Pacific time stamps, right?

Comment by lonny |Edit This
2008-09-24 00:13:36

no i was not offended mom
i think it is a funny story also
i just wanted to let you know of a few problems

as i said i hope i didnt ruin the story with the ‘truth’

i thought for sure you would mention that i was the fourth person in a 2 person cell
i got to sleep next to the toilet
and in the middle of the night i awoke to see a figure above me
luckily he had good aim

all in all it was a good old time

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-24 04:43:02

I WOULD have mentioned these things, had I known them! It must have been mighty crowded in there…and extra special smelly. Really good he had good aim. Might have ruined your day.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-23 00:42:00

I actually don’t know, given there are numbers involved. My computer says it’s 3:40 AM. Been up since 1:00 AM. Got something on and in and around my mind that is interfering with a healthy life.

Comment by Debby |Edit This
2008-09-23 08:05:01

stop buying red cars and keep writing!

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-23 09:24:38

All this time, do you think the bad luck is in the color of the cars? Oh, Debby, you should’ve warned me sooner!
When I was small the family Buick 88 was red and black. Inside and out. I believed for the longest time that that combination of those particular colors made me sick to my stomach. Turns out I was carsick, but I had never heard of that so I came to my own conclusion. I never wore clothes with red and black together and I never used those colors together in a drawing, you get the idea. Thought it was bad for my tummy.

Comment by Erika Rae |Edit This
2008-09-23 22:09:42

This explanation of carsickness is absolutely choice. I love the way you think, Irene. (And I agree with Debby – keep writing!)

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-24 04:44:34

Erika Rae,
To this day I get queasy when I see red and black together. A learned response, I suppose.

Comment by Tim |Edit This
2008-11-22 05:29:45

Reminds me of that horrible pleather suit Eddie Murphy wore in Delirious. Or was it Raw?

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-11-22 06:14:04

I guess I didn’t see it, cause I have no idea what you mean.

Comment by Squeaky |Edit This
2008-09-23 17:32:46

As far as family fuckup stories I’m a fan of Lenore tripping on acid so badly she wound up in her underpants, only to have pancakes made for her the next morning.

Or was it waffles.

Anyway I’m sure she omitted the descipline part.

I was taught at a very young age to never do several things.

1) Never swallow a pill that I didn’t trust.

2) Never waste money on a fake id.

3) Never buy pot. Bring the refreshments as monetary compensation.

Comment by lonny |Edit This
2008-09-24 00:16:10

if only i thought about 3)
perhaps i could have surprised the policeman with a sausage and cheese basket

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-24 09:42:38

Okay, Lonny, I get the thinking about 3), but for the life of me I cannot figure out how it would’ve helped to have surprised the policeman with a sausage and cheese basket. Perhaps it would have put him in a better mood, but his whole point in having “Tricky” set you up was to get an arrest. He still would have arrested you, but he would have been able to snack on sausage and cheese. Why make his life nicer when he was ostensibly ruining yours for his bloody stats? You are a mystery to me, Lonny, a really serious mystery.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-25 08:32:47

Okay, I get it. My mind was turned off for awhile. It makes perfect sense. Sorry, I was on Mars for a short time.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-24 04:57:17

It was blueberry pancakes. Saturday and Sunday morning were always pancakes or (Heck what are those British round bread things, not English muffins, that I used to make. I lost the word somewhere in my brain.), or eggs of any kind and a pound of bacon and a pound of sausage with sage and home-made orange juice, when it was in season, otherwise, canned in the old days because they didn’t have fresh juice back in the beginning.
Weekends also had “Go to the hospital while he sees his patients and eat donuts afterwards day” and that morphed into “Bonker Day”
Bonker Day was after Ben was there. ( He was seriously into bonkers. I don’t know if they make them anymore. If they do he is still eating them.) That was when Victor took them to the hospital and then afterwards he’d take them to buy candy, which was a once in a week treat.
Also Saturday was the day Victor took them to “slash and hacks.” They loved, or said they loved, those scary movies. I stayed home and enjoyed the quiet.

Wait. How did I get here?

We didn’t KNOW Lenore was tripping the night before. Had we known we would have helped her first and then disciplined her after. By now you should know the kids are all smarter than we were and always got away with murder. (Well, not literally, just figuratively.)

Those are three very good rules. We didn’t think we needed to teach them that. We thought we taught them the same by the way we lived. Boy. We were REALLY stupid!

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-24 10:29:50

Squeaky, we never had a waffle iron. You think that’s why everything seemed to go wrong? If I had just purchased a waffle iron, the kids would have approached normal? It was before they put teflon on everything. It seemed so hard to wash. I was lazy. It was my laziness, wasn’t it? God. I failed because of lack of a waffle iron! The irony.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Squeaky |Edit This
2008-09-24 15:35:22

Well all things aside they turned out ok so you and Victor obviously did a pretty good job.

I think everyone should have a waffle iron. They are universal. Waffles are very fun food. It’s hard to be in a bad mood when someone makes you a waffle and there is a chocolate sprinkle in every hole.

EVERY hole. I mean how can you be mad after that?

Answer: You can’t. Waffle Irons. Go buy one today.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-24 17:11:24

Heading out to Wallmart right now! Thanks, Squeaky!

2008-09-25 08:28:18

Crumpets? You made crumpets? Wow. You ARE the coolest mom ever!

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-25 08:44:53

Thanks, Kimberly, I totally went all aphasic on the word “crumpets.” You make them with these cool metal rings that keep the dough confined. I always had two ovens going. Couldn’t make enough. My kids were starving all the time and on the weekends they usually each had friends sleeping over. It was really glorious. I so miss those times. If you ever decide that wall nipples are not enough for you, you should just give breeding a chance. Best time of my life.

2008-09-25 12:06:01

No breeding for me. I like my uterus just the way it is, thank you very much.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-26 07:24:16

Okay, Kimberly, I can take it. But how about a nice dog? (For some reason I feel the need to give you companionship you can count on. Dogs are actually several rungs above children in that department.)

2008-09-26 14:09:49

I am living for the day when I have the lifestyle that will allow me to have a dog again!!!

I had a gorgeous one, but I just couldn’t care for her properly. I ended up finding her a better home with my cousins. I know it was the right choice to make – for her sake – but every day without my Bailey kills me a little.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-26 15:22:38

You’ll be fine. You’ll have a GREAT dog again. You’ll see. I know these things. No worries. Just a little time to wait.

Comment by Tim |Edit This
2008-11-22 05:35:29

What the hell is a “wall nipple?” Sounds fucking disgusting.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-11-22 06:15:27

You have to read Kimberly’s stuff to understand. You’d like it.

Comment by Ursula |Edit This
2008-09-24 00:15:07

You are a great story teller. All these adventures you can write about. What is coming next created out of your memories.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-24 04:59:44

Apparently, Ursula, I should have talked with Lonny before telling what I remembered. I thought he’d get a kick out of being surprised, but in fact he had so much more material that I should have known and would have added plenty.
Learn something new every day.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-24 10:31:58

Squeaky and Erika Rae and Nick,
One of my old folks told me today that he had a dream that Jesus was coming in THREE years. His sciatica will go away and everything will work out in the world. Only three years. We can wait that long.

Comment by Erika Rae |Edit This
2008-09-24 19:30:20

Three years? Well, then. Time to get things in order, I suppose!


When my father was dying of a brain tumor, he was convinced that Jesus was saving him (physically, as well as spiritually). He refused to complete some of his life insurance papers – he was so convinced. My poor mom.

OK – that was a bit of a weird segue – but I think I get the sciatica guy. He needs the hope, I suppose.

Oh – one more random thought. When I was in high school, a guy published a little book called ‘88 Reasons the Rapture Could Be in 1988.’ We were all pretty stoked – no more tests, no more homework. Kinda bummed when that didn’t happen.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-25 08:55:39

Erika Rae, couldn’t you get a lawyer on that. With a brain tumor he had to be found of unsound mind. Surely there is something that can be done, even now.

My sweet sciatica guy was so content and peaceful. The dream just lifted him to another level where the pain is inconsequential. You can’t beat that. How can it hurt? The doctors can’t do anything else for him. So God took up the slack. Good for God.

Imagine how bad the People in California felt, (given they could be feeling something after death,) when they killed themselves because they wanted to be on the alien space ship that was coming for them along with a comet? That was many years ago. I wish I could remember the story better. I remember thinking that if they could think afterwards they’d be saying “Oh Heck. We all go and kill ourselves and there isn’t a space ship to take us away after all. Boy are our faces red!”

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-25 12:35:24

Okay, Erika Rae, here’s an embarrassment.

About three or four years ago, (remember, I’m 60 here,) I found out that there is actually one word: “segue.” I always thought there were two words that meant the same thing but were used in different circumstances..

1. a word pronounced phonetically as segway that you used in speaking
2. segue which meant the same exact thing, but was pronounced phonetically seg – U, and was used in writing only.

I swear. I don’t even know how to explain that.

Comment by Josie |Edit This
2008-09-24 19:11:17

Good gawd this story coulda taken a dark turn so many times. That kid is one lucky dog!
I like the way you out all your family skeletons Irene, who’s next on the chopping block?

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-24 19:18:08

Well, Josie, I believe that will be Victor. But since he only read the first post and won’t read anymore, I don’t think I’ll get in trouble.
I really don’t mean to upset those I “out”. I guess I think if it’s funny to me, by now, it’s funny to them. I think I’ll include them in the questioning before writing part from now on. Or not. We’ll see.
Lonny really did luck out, Josie. All of my kids did, somehow. Maybe there is an angel watching out for children with stupid parents? Maybe it’s just dumb luck.

Comment by Josie |Edit This
2008-09-25 15:26:10

I don’t know what it is but there is something about time that makes life funnier.
I love your posts. Victor is missing out!
I believe in angels – you must have a boatload working for your family.
Mine keep threatening to go on strike.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-25 16:24:30

OH Lord, Josie, if they didn’t go out on strike with my gang of juvenile delinquents, they’ll stand by you. I’m absolutely sure. (And I’m rarely sure about anything, the older I get.)

Victor just doesn’t have the same sense of humor that I do. No point in his reading it all. He just doesn’t get it. He just shrugs. Oh well.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

2008-09-25 08:30:04

I want to hear about YOUR misadventures, Irene! These rascally kids of yours had to have gotten their gumption from somewhere;)

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-25 08:59:41

Oh Kimberly, I was ALWAYS a model citizen.
(Do you think anyone believed that?)
My stories are actually mild compared to Victor’s. I can get some mileage on him. Oh yeah. Mileage.

Comment by Amy |Edit This
2008-09-26 06:24:48

How come you know so much about buying pot? I didn’t think people of your generation would know such things? or am I just too innocent?

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-26 07:26:12

I’m pretty sure my generation INVENTED pot. From thin air. Seriously.

Comment by Christine |Edit This
2008-09-27 06:46:42

I’m certain that with all the smart people in your generation invented the GOURMET pot. You know what I’m talking about…hehehehe!

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-10-24 12:23:24

Maybe they did, Christine, but I was out of the game and a mother by then. Can’t do stuff like that when you have a family.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Christine |Edit This
2008-09-27 03:18:25

I’M HERE MAMA! Here’s my favorite line:

(You might have noticed that so far the only thing Lonny had to live with was 10 years without the State of Alabama.)

So…is this where the idea of BACON WAGON stems from? I still have that Bacon Wagon tape that Tim gave us. We watched it about three months ago because no one believed that there was such a video regarding bacon sold from a wagon. I would have bought those meats. I like meats. Meats are good.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-27 04:50:54

Hi Christine!
I really doubt it. I’m pretty sure the whole Alabama experience left a bad taste in his mouth.

Lonny was one of the biggest supporters of bacon-cooking on the weekend. As far as food goes, if there were some combination of bacon and sushi, he’d be in seventh heaven. Come to think of it, sounds good to me too.

Last Thanksgiving everyone was here and I bought some fancy chocolate for them. Chocolate-Bacon bars. They were very popular, with the exception of the vegetarians, they stick to the boring regular stuff. (Sigh….)

Comment by Christine |Edit This
2008-09-27 06:43:48

CHOCOLATE BACON??? That sounds disgusting, but interesting…I’m intrigued!

Sorry I wasn’t here sooner, I was volunteering at the school which turned into a full time volunteer nightmare…I haven’t even checked my home email in over a week.

I think it’s time for a Terrible Timmy story.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-27 09:01:24

I LOVE “Terrible Timmy” stories! Tell me one right here. Everyone is patiently waiting. Timmy has such a broad range of terribleness. It’s a glorious thing for a writer. Come one, Christine, just one “Terrible Timmy” story?

The Chocolate Bacon Bars were a HUGE hit. We are a family that is unafraid to eat almost anything. (I personally draw the line at purposely eating insects, but I understand that I eat pieces of them all the time without knowing it.) The rest of the family would eat insects, though. They are way brave. In Cambodia, in Phnom Penh, there were markets where you could buy fried cockroaches for a snack. They were all lying in baskets all pretty with their little legs all folded up as if they were praying. People were buying them and popping them in their mouths. Just. Couldn’t. Do. It.

Comment by Ruthie |Edit This
2008-10-06 08:37:36

I suppose I could “one up” you by writing about the time I had to drive 3 hours north to Champaign to track down my wayward 13 year old who had stolen our car to go joy riding with her new friends to visit her old friends who were 200 miles away and how I begged the police to put her in jail but they wouldn’t do a thing. Too bad she couldn’t have traded places with Lonny in the Alabama jail. Maybe that would have ended her teenage rein of terror.
Oh how we parents have suffered. Where are the medals of valor for all of us?

Love your stories.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-10-06 08:55:07

Oh Ruthie, I don’t remember this! Our kids were so precociously bad! Remember how Amy could open a child-guard cap to medicines when she was less than 2 years old? She was a genius among her peers! She had such ability to open ANYTHING. If safe-cracking were a good career path, she’d have been the best! She was also a REALLY good driver! My kids stole the car and drove all over but got in plenty of accidents. Amy never did. I’m telling you, she’s always been so special!

I was at the police station trying to get Tim arrested, remember that? Honestly, who will help you teach your wayward kids a lesson if the police aren’t even interested?

Comment by Kit |Edit This
2009-04-01 08:31:40

Eh, I know the jail “meats”. You can usually trade them for eggs or something. It’s unfortunate as I know my parents were on the receiving end of a few phone calls like that.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2009-04-07 15:00:54

Oh Kit!
You are in the same club? Were your parents as clueless as we were?
Since it’s all way in the past now, I’m sort of proud of Lonny coming up with the ploy that he was deaf, not to offend the people with accents whom he didn’t understand. At least there was some spark there, in spite of him being a total idiot.

It’s Indian Summer in the mountains. The lake still holds the heat of a summer now passed, and I swim at sunset, knowing this may be one of the last moments where everything is deliriously in sync: the body floats, the horizon blooms, and I am nearly naked.

Snow is coming, even though I cannot smell it yet.

You dive in, worrying each time: You might not know this kind of happiness, this kind of wholeness, for another nine months.

After the sun falls behind the western mountains …

I stopped breathing the day I read this:

In a perfect world, you could fuck people without giving them a piece of your heart. And every glittering kiss and every touch of flesh is another shard of heart you’ll never see again.

— from ‘Bitter Grounds’ / Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman.

Damn. I still can’t breathe when I think about that.

My generation (‘X’), the daughters of Modern Feminism, were told that casual sex and the ability to make love ‘like a man’ was possible.

Can we really touch each other without consequence?

I can’t.

In the spirit of sisterly solidarity, I gave it the old college try but I could never truly muster the ability to separate physical love from emotional.

Every touch means something to me. 

A moment. A connection.  A possibility.

Even something as seemingly insignificant as a handshake holds the potential to change my life.

Orthodox Jews and devout Muslims will not touch a woman other than their wife because the sharing of flesh is such a holy act.

I find myself deeply bound to the people I touch; even more so to the people who touch me.

A touch starts with a spark of contact; a white-hot tingle, a chilling flush. If it’s momentary, it can be a sudden quake that hatches a thousand chrysalises and if it lingers, a flood of giggles mix with a warm cup of the most delicious chocolate and I am suddenly safe, content, home.

Volumes are spoken in the silence of shared pressure, duration and intensity.

Someone’s touch transcends corporeal contact and cuts me deeper than I can comprehend.

When a touch is relinquished, I am left scarred by indelible fingerprints.

Sometimes, I’m afraid to touch people, in anticipation of the inevitable tattoo. I shy away, hesitant to take on a new mark.

I wonder if I’m running out of room.

And in turn, I wonder how much more I’m willing to give away. How many shards do I have left? If our heart is the strongest muscle in the body, how is it that it is so easily shattered?

Then again… from broken things, beauty is possible.

Mr. Gibson requested that he be able to observe me in my natural habitat. Due to the relocation of my family members, and the dissolution of our family compound, this interview took place over two days at Solley’s Deli in Encino, California. A place my family and I inhabited frequently during my most formative years.

Mr. Gibson insisted on a relaxed and casual atmosphere. I showed up on time, but comfortable, in my usual ensemble – an American Apparel zip up hoodie in white, crewneck t-shirt in red, and sweat pants with the gathered ankle in navy blue.

The contents of this interview have been edited. All pauses and blinking removed for the sake of brevity.


CG: Ms. Pollon, I’m going to attempt to pose these questions in an order I believe will be of utmost importance and interest to the American people.

RP: Terrific. I look forward to each and every one of them getting to know me.

CG: Please tell us about the Ticketmaster / U2 concert incident.

RP: Can you be more specific, Charlie?

CG: Regarding Pam Freed in particular.

RP: What aspect of it?

CG: Just after graduating high school, you entered the work force as a clerk at Tower Records in Sherman Oaks, California.

RP: That is correct. I rose from a simple store clerk, to Import Buyer, and then to Shift Manager.

CG: U2 was touring the United States. Your former best friend, Pam Freed, someone you were still in contact with but not as close with as you were the semester previous, knew of your proximity and probable assignment working the Ticketmaster window, and asked you to get her two tickets. You told her you’d try.

RP: That’s right, Charlie.

CG: You didn’t end up getting her those tickets, did you Ms. Pollon?

RP: I didn’t, Charlie.

CG: Why is that?

RP: The tickets were in high demand and Ticketmaster regulations prevented me from being able to make more than one transaction per customer. I did not consider myself above the rules, and so, because I was getting myself tickets, I could not also get her tickets.

CG: Could you not have gotten her tickets bundled along with your tickets? You and your friends could have sat side by side with your former best friend. Everyone would have been happy.

RP: It was against the rules, Charlie.

CG: Were you unable to get Pam Freed tickets or did you simply decide you didn’t want to get her tickets?

RP: I was a Shift Manager, Charlie. There were parameters I was not going to breech.

CG: Our records show you had not been promoted to Shift Manager at that time.

RP: I was on a fast track, Charlie. I wouldn’t allow personal relationships to jeopardize the greater good.


CG: In ninth grade you tripped and fell during Nutrition. You ended up leaving campus and didn’t return until the following Monday. Tell the American people what caused this extreme reaction.

RP: I fainted, Charlie.

CG: You fainted.

RP: Yes, Charlie. People faint.

CG: Is it not also true that on the day in question, you were wearing, for your first time, a pair of high-heeled Kork-Ease?

RP: That is true. But beside the point. You know, if we must go here, in order to clear my record, I’ll let you know that I’m pretty sure on that day I was also in the midst of the glory that is the female reproductive cycle.

CG: Let me get this straight. You were wearing unwieldy high-heeled shoes, may or may not have been suffering from menstrual cramps, and you fainted.

RP: I’m not sure my footwear is an important component in this mix but, yes, I’d just gotten the Kork-Ease, was pretty excited about them, and took them for a spin on the campus quad.

CG: ABC was able to locate your yearbook from that time and found various comments throughout the book seeming to address the incident.

RP: I don’t know what you’re talking about.

CG: Quote: “I’m going to use that ‘fainting’ story next time I embarrass myself. Don’t ever change, Lori Baumbach.”

RP: Kids say the darndest things, Charlie.

CG: Another quote: “You think fast on your feet, even though you can’t walk in your shoes. You are 2 sweet 2 B 4gotten, Seth O’ Shanahan.”

RP: Rumors get started.

CG: Speaking of rumors, it’s been reported that The National Enquirer is delving into this piece of your history. Trying to get to the bottom of it.

RP: I’ve got nothing to hide, Charlie. It’s my word against Lori’s and Seth’s.


CG: History has shown that you are basically a relationship person. You go on a few dates with someone and they either don’t work out or they end up your boyfriend.

RP: I’m single-minded when it comes to love, Charlie. I like to focus on one man, give him my all. It’s truly a metaphor for how devoted I am to our great country.

CG: However, at one juncture in your life you had an overlap. You were in a relationship with one man, and before you ended it with him, met another man of interest. You couldn’t decide which one was “righter” for you… this according to journal records.

RP: Well, Charlie. Both men had admirable qualities and I needed time to assess which path to take.

CG: What does this say about your loyalty, Ms. Pollon?

RP: The man I was in a relationship had taken to focusing on his heavy metal band to the detriment of our partnership. I had needs. Just like the hard working men and women of this country have needs.

CG: Where did you draw the line, “romantically,” with these men, Ms. Pollon?

RP: Charlie, I don’t think the American people want to be dragged in to smut talk like this.

CG: The question is valid, Ms. Pollon, because according to transcripts taken from your private journal, when “Man X” found out about “Man Z” and confronted you, you admit you “totally evaded answering the question.” What are you hiding?

RP: Charlie, evading does not connote lying. Evading means avoiding. The words even sound alike. I think the American people want someone in charge who can avoid conflict and I have a long history of avoiding conflict. I tell conflict, “Thanks, but no thanks.”


Preview of The Rachel Pollon Interview – Part 2, with Charlie Gibson:

Lies My Hair Told – The Chemically Straightened Years

Why I Pulled The Leather Waistband Tag Off of My Levi’s 501s – What Size Pant Was I Concealing?

How Often I Listen To Jennifer Lopez On My iPod During Cardio Workouts at the Gym

(Note: At my handlers’ discretion, interviewer Charlie Gibson may be replaced with Project Runway’s Tim Gunn. He seems so nice!)

It had been a long night in Madrid, but I didn’t anticipate seeing the sun so soon. I had no watch and had thought that while I knew I had been out late, it couldn’t have been sunrise. I danced with friends at a club, a number of clubs, but I left after a meaningless lover’s quarrel with my girlfriend at the time, the kind that occurs after couples are separated from each other for a length of time, yet remain still in the same place.

Outside, a soft breeze made everything around me seem lighter, more fragile. I felt like I could topple over city blocks by just leaning on one of their buildings. Passing Madrid’s Arc de Triomphe, I thought about how much smaller it looked than the one in Paris. Was it actually bigger, or was it some trick of product placement on Napoleon’s part? I was happy to be outside the pulsing and suffocating atmosphere of the dance club. Next to the Arc de Triomphe was a small park with pear trees. I had never eaten a fruit right off of the tree and thought I might try it, but the idea of biting into a worm disgusted me. I wasn’t sure if pears were ever possessed of worms, but I knew that apples sometimes were, from those images in picture books you see as a child. I decided against eating a pear and instead sat under one of the pear trees for a while, smoking, aware of everything important and thinking of nothing.

The sun began to rise and I felt a touch of anxiety that comes with knowing you have so much day in front of you. I have always hated taking in the sunrise, because I know I am either up too early, or out too late. I began to walk back to my apartment building near the Cuatro Caminos, a part of town mostly inhabited by students and younger families. I wasn’t tired yet and it was a pleasant walk, for the most part. Occasionally a group of drunken teenagers would set upon me like harmless ghouls, asking for money or making fun of me for being a foreigner. I laughed awkwardly at myself with them and nodded in agreement when they would persistently ask if I knew Michael Jordan or The Red Hot Chili Peppers.

I came to a crosswalk and noticed a man with a cane standing toward the side of the street he intended, I thought, to cross. The sign indicating it was okay to pass flashed and still the man had yet to cross the street. I arrived at the crosswalk as the light had just turned to red and although there were no cars at any of the intersecting streets, I stopped anyway. I stood next to the man at the corner a few moments before I realized he was blind. The man turned toward me; he had no sunglasses on and I could barely see the outline of his iris or pupil through the gauze of his cataracts. His eyes were two small pebbles drowned in saucers filled with milk.

“Did I just miss the light?” he asked. He dressed nicely, as all old Spanish men do. He wore a blue pinstriped suit with a somber black tie over a starched white shirt. His face had succumbed to gravity, but there was youthfulness to it.

“I’m sorry?” I said. I had, and still have a hard time understanding questions in Spanish, when I’m not sure they’re coming.

“I missed the light, didn’t I?” he asked again, patiently.

“Oh, yes, I think you just missed it. I missed it too,” I assured him.

“We’ll get the next one,” he said, smiling.

“Yes, we will. Besides, you can never be too careful.” The man looked perplexed. I’m sure I had translated myself poorly. “It’s good to be careful,” I tried again.

“Yes, it is.” He smiled at me again. “You’re up early.”

“No,” I admitted. “I’m out late.”

“Ahh-yahh. You sound young. Where are you from?”

“I’m American.” He coughed, covering his mouth and gave a nod. We waited a few moments and the light flashed again.

“Let me help you,” I said, putting my arm in his and leading him gingerly out onto the crosswalk. Another pack of teenagers bounded by next us shouting something either at him or me or both of us. We reached the other side of the street and I unlocked my arm from his.

“Thank you, son,” he said.

“You’re very welcome.” The man gently put his hand on my shoulder and asked,

“What is your name?”


“Is that an American name?.”

“I think so.

“Sr. Ignacio Galban,” he said, extending a withered blue hand. His flesh had thinned and a geometry of veins overwhelmed it. “It’s a pleasure.”

“The pleasure is mine,” I said. “Take care.” Such exchanges are not uncommon in Spain. The simplest interaction often results in a formal exchange of names, geography, how the day is going and almost always, the soccer scores from the previous day. I felt a sense of satisfaction in helping an old, blind man across the street—the iconography is as familiar to me as the worm in the apple.
Should I keep walking toward my apartment to resume the argument with my girlfriend, or continue up Cuatro Caminos to nearby Retiro Park? While I stood debating my next move, the old man turned in my direction and seemed to say, “Tyler, do you believe in God?” I was sure I had heard this incorrectly.

“Pardon me?”

“Do you believe in God?” he asked in the exact tone as before.

“Yes,” I lied.

“That’s good. I do too.” I dreaded the inevitable offer of a “Jesus Saves” pamphlet, the lecture on the patience of Job, or a warning on the impending end of the world. “I’ll buy you breakfast,” the old man offered, cracking the corners of his dry mouth with a smile. I panicked. I recalled going to breakfast once with someone to whom I confessed my lack of faith, and receiving an excruciating, interminable sermon.
There are times when a person does something that they wouldn’t normally do. But then if you accept an invitation to do anything, at that moment it creeps into the category of something you would normally do.

“Do you like churros con chocolate?” he asked.

“Yes, yes I do.” I was hungry, but I don’t think that’s why I replied what I did.

“Have churros with me, then.”

“Alright,” I said. There was a small café just up the street and the old man led us to it. I mean that. He led us to it, although I did hold him by the arm as I had when we crossed the street. It could not have been later than 6:30 in the morning, but the café was heaving with people. We stood at the entrance to the café for an awkward moment until the old man instructed me to find us a table. I imagined how we must have looked walking into the café together, and I felt guilty because I was embarrassed, even more guilty because I had no reason to be. I found a table looking out toward the intersection and we sat down. The old man deftly placed his cane against the windowed glass of the café, hung his coat from his chair and slipped into his seat. When he was settled, I made my way up to the counter to order. In Spain, they have waitresses, but they never come. I ordered two cups of hot chocolate and a plate of churros to split. I should have gone back to the table, but I waited at the counter a few minutes until our food was ready. I carried two cups of hot, thick chocolate to our table, and a waitress followed languidly with the churros.

“Don’t eat all my churros, American!” the old man said with a laugh, pawing at the table. I set the plate of churros in front of him alongside his hot chocolate. He felt both items and smiled.

“I’ve never been here,” I said, trying desperately to avoid discomfort, hoping the old man would say something.

“It’s good,” he said, wiping a moustache of hot chocolate from his mouth. I dipped a long churro into my cup of hot chocolate and agreed with a nod. Embarrassed again, I agreed aloud, “It is good.” We ate and drank in silence for a minute or two until the old man looked up, rather, raised his head and said, “I’ve made you uncomfortable.” I felt horrible before and after I said it but I did. “A little.”

“I know,” he said, wiping another moustache of chocolate from his mouth. “I’m sorry I asked you if you believed in God.”

“It’s okay,” I said.” It’s just an odd question—only because it’s a dangerous one.”

He gave an odd smirk, “Why is that, you think?”

“What if I had said no,” I asked.

“I would have still invited you to have churros with me.”

“Do you ask everybody if they believe in God?”

“No, just today, I think.” His face grew somber and a tear welled up from one of those clouded eyes. “My wife died the other day, two days ago.” I felt horrible.

“I’m so sorry,” I said.

“She was old.”

“How long were you married?”

“Thank you for not asking me how she died.”

“You’re welcome.” He grabbed for his cane, made a frantic motion to get up, and stumbled over his chair. I caught his arm and helped him right himself.

“Will you do something with me,” he asked, picking up his jacket from the back of the chair. I stood up, nervous and without a clue what to say.


“Let’s go.”

I led him out of the café, maneuvering through the customers who paid no attention to us. We stood silent on the street corner. The old man turned his head from side to side, I imagine just a pedestrian reflex we all get, whether we can see or not.

“Do you really believe in God?” he asked again.

“Yes,” I lied again.

“I don’t,” he said.

“Excuse me?” I asked, certain I had again mistranslated.

“I don’t believe in God. I never have.” He secured one arm under mine. “I feel like I should now.” The morning was coming along in swing; cars began to honk their horns, going somewhere.

“Why now, because of your wife’s death?” I couldn’t think of the way to say “your wife’s passing,” as I wanted to.

“Yes, I suppose. Even if I could still believe in her, it doesn’t help me. It fills me with more sadness.” I was more uncomfortable than I have ever been in my entire life.

“Do you want to know something?” he asked.

“Of course.”

“They say that if you inhale forty breaths and then exhale them at the same pace you drew them, you will know death, you will know God You liberate the soul.”

“I don’t understand.” I said.

“Because you’re an American, or just because you don’t understand?”

“Maybe both.” He repeated what he had just said about the forty breaths and stopped his gait.

“No, no I understand what you said.”

“I can’t do it,” he said, defeated.

“Do what?” I asked.

“Draw the breath, the last one.”

“Maybe you don’t want to yet.” I wished I had gone directly back to my apartment. I might be in her good graces by now, making love, watching the day begin through a window.

“It seems I don’t,” he answered.

“Are you from Spain?” I asked, desperate to change the subject.

“Yes and no.”

“How is that?

“I fought in the war, the civil war. The one we lost. Franco’s stupid war—a stupid war filled with stupid hate. I fought for Spain, I fought like a dog for Spain. My parents, though, they were gypsies. From nowhere. Morocco. That is why I am not a Catholic.” He stared me in the face, he did, with those languid, baleful eyes. “You came from where tonight, Moncloa?”


“Along the street Isaac Perál?”


“You can still see the bullet-holes in the buildings. My friends died there. They had the luxury of God.”

“The luxury?” I asked.

“Somewhere to go. I have nowhere to go.”

“Everyone has somewhere to go,” I ventured, aching for the right word or words.

“Will you take me to confession?” the old man asked. As we walked along I drew breaths and exhaled them at what I thought to be equal intervals. I felt silly doing it, but I have found that whatever superstition is the most relevant or immediate, I, or almost anyone, will embrace it. I would stop at around thirty breaths, arresting the deadly cadence the old man had described. This is obscene and idiotic, I thought. But I did it.

“Confession?” I asked, knowing I had heard the old man correctly.

“Yes, doesn’t it help? Help with something?” I had never been to confession in my life, but I answered,

“Yes,” I said. “It ought to.”

“Will you take me to a church?” he asked. I stood scanning the streets, as aimlessly and as fruitlessly as he had earlier.

“Sure, let’s go to confession.” There are points of no return—this was one of them—and the prospect frightened me.

“Will you show me how?”

“I’ve never done it in Spanish.”

“Done what?”


“You speak Spanish pretty well,” he said.

“I don’t know la liturgia,” I guessed at the word.

“I’ll tell them what we’re there for,” he said. I remembered there was a church a few blocks north of my apartment, next to a veterinary clinic. We walked in silence, our arms intertwined. The whole time I repeated the breathing exercise that led to death, to God, stopping just short of thirty-five this time around. I wondered if he did, too. His breathing was heavy and disconcerting. I didn’t feel like counting anymore. We passed the veterinary clinic and turned up a small side street, I can’t remember the name. As we approached the church, I smelled shit.

“I smell shit,” the old man said.

“I do too.” I looked at my shoe and I had stepped in a pile of it, it was all over my shoe. “It’s me,” I admitted.

“That’s good.”

“That I stepped in shit?” I asked.

“Yes, that’s good. That’s good luck. Here in Spain.” The church was open and we walked in. While I hadn’t ever been to confession, I was familiar with the protocols of entering a Catholic church. I dipped my hand in the holy water and crossed the old man with my index and middle fingers. He seemed pleased. I dropped 100 pesetas in the donation box and had the old man hold up a candle that I lit with my lighter. I craved a cigarette all of a sudden, as I realized (and felt) I’d been without one for almost two hours. I hadn’t the slightest idea of how to enlist a priest for confession, so I led the old man to the very back pew, took his cane, and helped him out of his jacket. We knelt without bowing. I didn’t pray and he didn’t know how. A priest appeared out of the dimness to light candles in front of a mural depicting the Gift of the Magi. I told the old man to wait and he nodded in silence, kneeling devoutly the whole time, his head still facing forward. I approached the priest and asked him if we could make confession. “Both of you, correct?” the priest asked.

“I guess so. I mean, yes.” I felt disrespectful. It seemed that in a sacred place, “I guess so” is a ridiculous thing to say. The priest motioned for me to escort the old man to the confessional. I confessed first; the old man insisted. I began in Spanish, but I didn’t know how to begin in Spanish or English.

“Say it in English, I speak English,” The priest said. This was worse. I knew to say, ‘Forgive me father, for I have sinned . . . but then what?’

“Just talk to me,” the priest said. So, I confessed everything in recent memory that had offended me about myself, which I assumed would have also offended God. The priest listened well. I felt comfortable. Contrary to what I had seen in movies and read in books, I wasn’t instructed to say a Hail Mary or an Our Father. The priest, I thought rather strangely, thanked me. I waited for a moment, but he said nothing else, so I left the confessional and sat back down. The priest then spoke with the old man, and lead him to another confessional. I wonder how much the priest listened to me. I’d like to think he took it in.

While I waited for the old man to finish his confession, I walked around the church, admiring the stained glass. The Virgin has always fascinated me, and I stood looking at a window depicting her with the dead Christ, “La Pieta,” is the only expression I know for that image. I was still standing there, when the old man, led by the stone-faced priest, touched my shoulder gently.

“We can go,” the old man said. I nodded to the priest and he nodded back. I led the old man out of the church and out the door into the light of day. I was very close to home and I didn’t know what exactly to say to the old man.

“That was interesting,” he said.

“It was,” I agreed. “Very.”

“You don’t believe in God,” he said.

“No, I don’t,” I said.

“I don’t either.” He smiled toward me and swiveled his blind eyes, again, about the neighborhood, the city, the world. The jowls rose on his face and I saw a smile appear.

“I hope that was comforting, or helpful,” I said.

“It was,” he said. “Now I can go home to breathe.” I tensed up and again, felt uncomfortable.

“Breathe how?”

“Breathe as I do.” I asked the old man if I could pay for his taxi fare, flag him a taxi. He agreed and I saw one right away and hailed it. The taxi stopped and I led the old man, my arm intertwined with his, into the backseat. I gave the driver 2000 pesetas and asked for his car number, just in case. The old man crumpled into the backseat and let out a sigh. He turned his head in my direction and nodded politely. I nodded back at him and closed the door. The taxi left around the corner of the side street and down Cuatro Caminos. I walked back in full daylight toward my apartment, smoking.


I met my mother when I was born. Since then she has progressed from a dress-sewing, dinner-cooking, hair-in-a-high-bun housewife, to a nude-swimming, pot-smoking artist, to a grey-haired lady who thinks old age is an embarrassment to be treated like some hideous, debilitating disease. There are two ways in which my mother has never changed: 1. She reads a couple novels each week (she keeps one upstairs and one downstairs and reads the one on the floor she’s on). 2. She is brutally honest, refusing to bullshit even for the sake of social nice-nice at a cocktail party.

The following is an interview with my mother that took place over the phone on Sunday, August 7th, 2008. I was in Baltimore, Maryland, where I live. She was in Santa Barbara, California, where she lives.

Jessica: First of all, do you still think you look Bruce Springsteen? Can you explain this?

Mom: Well, didn’t I say Josh looked like Bruce Springsteen and not me? [Josh is my younger brother.]

Jessica: No, you first said you did.

Mom: No. I said Josh looks like Bruce Springsteen. Did I say that about me?

Me: Yes. You called me on the phone and you definitely said that you looked like Bruce.

Mom: Well I think it’s the eyes and the nose and not the mouth. And Josh definitely looks like Bruce Springsteen. Josh has a worried little brow. Bruce has that too. It’s funny josh was born worried.

Me: Yeah, he was.

Mom: Poor little guy. [Note: Josh is a grown person who lives in Istanbul. He has a fabulous life, long stays in Paris, holidays in India, etc.  Nothing poor about him.]

Me: Do you think I look like Vincent Van Gogh?

Vincent.  AKA moi!

Mom: No, I do not think you like him, but I can see what you’re looking at when you say that. I think you’re looking at his nose. Maybe you have his mouth, too. He has a little hearty mouth. Heart lips like you do.

Jessica: Why do you love Randy Newman so much?

Mom: Oh my god because he tells the truth and he’s so brave. He’s like you as a writer. He tells these terrible things that are true and that people think but don’t necessarily say or acknowledge about themselves. Like, kids are grown now, they have their own TVs, I’m always glad to see ‘em but I’m glad to see em go. [Mom speak-sings in Randy’s voice.] And you know, he, well, in the song “I love L.A.” he’s in the car with these kids and their friends, he’s 16 or 17 in a convertible, and he says [speak-singing again], Look at that bum he’s down on his knees. Like it’s a great sighting! An L.A. sighting. He’d drive around L.A. on the freeways looking at things. It’s cool. Oh, and he’s had such a sad life cause he has these crossed eyes and he’s terribly, terribly self-conscious about it. You know that’s why he wears sunglasses a lot. Sometimes they take pictures and they get it right but most of the time his eyes are all over the place. Poor guy. And his uncles were composers for movies, they did soundtracks, so he uses a lot movie sounds. And cartoon sounds, like when he says on “My Life is Good,” [The Newman speak-sing voice again] I’ve got a friend his name is Bruce Springsteen and he said to me RAND, I’m tired of being boss, why don’t you be boss for a while, and then you hear this sound: dee-dee-dee-dee. Like a song to represent an idea in a cartoon. He uses things like that. He’s just so inventive and unafraid to use strange things in his music, to mix it up. And he’s so honest. I just love him.

Randy.  Mom would marry him.

Me: Would you marry him?

Mom: Oh my god, yes.

Me: If you could go back in time and marry him, and then you wouldn’t have me and Becca [my sister] and Josh, would you still do it?

Mom: That’s an impossible question. No, I wouldn’t do it. Because you’re even more interesting than Bruce [Springsteen] and Randy [Newman], my two heroes.

Jessica: Exactly how bad is old age?

Mom: Oh my god. Well. It’s the shits. One thing’s nice, when I feel like I’m standing up straight and walking good I feel really good cause I can do it. [My mother had a heart attack about five years ago and lost half her heart and one lung.] It stinks.It’s awful. It just stinks ‘cause it’s so limiting. For me it is anyway. I don’t think it has to be and I don’t think it is for everyone. And it’s shocking. It’s just shocking how ugly you get when you get old. I look at my face and I’m shocked at how ugly I am compared to how pretty I was. And I just took that for granted. And now I’m ugly and I just can’t get over how ugly I am. And I look at people when they die, in the obits.  And it’s the same story, so shocking. Sometimes they print a young and an old picture. It’s so sad that that pretty person becomes this ugly person. And then you get used to being invisible, too.

Mom now.  I think she's a cute old lady.

Mom now. I think she’s a cute old lady.

Jessica: Why does it matter so much to be pretty?

Mom: Well that’s a flaw, but it always did. One of our family things. It matters a lot to be pretty, mattered a lot to me. And it was hard to take when I got older and then old. And hard to take when people see you as a generic old person, don’t see you as an individual. And then ugly on top of it. If I weren’t fat that would make a difference, too. I don’t want to see anyone because I’m so old and fat. I don’t want anyone to see me. I think I had a very superficial approach on one level to life and it had a lot to do with beauty, and that’s a shame because it’s a waste of time and it certainly doesn’t pay off in the end.

Jessica: What would you advise someone who’s getting older and not old yet? [I suppose this question applies to everyone under 70, no?)

Mom: I don’t have any advice it just happens.

Jessica: Well any advice about ideas of beauty?

Mom: I wouldn’t give anyone advice, but I’d say it’s a shame to focus on beauty, to weigh that so heavily in their life. And a shame to focus on your childrens’ beauty. And all my kids have this same thing, right? I mean, I just admire people who can see deeper than superficial beauty.

Jessica: What do you mean we have the same thing?

Mom: I think everyone in this family focuses on beauty. It’s important for each of you to be beautiful and handsome. And I just think now that it’s so much better not to have that weigh on someone’s life and decisions.

Jessica: You think we’re all vain?

Mom: No, I don’t think you’re vain. I don’t think I was vain. We know we’re beautiful and we use it. And count on it.

Jessica: I think I’m kind of ridiculous looking.

Mom: Oh my god, you’re beautiful what are you talking? You’re beautiful what are you talking about? That’s’ one of the silliest things you ever said. But that’s why you’re a good writer.

Jessica: I really do think I look ridiculous. [See Vincent Van Gogh.]

My hair is pulled back here, so you can sort of see how the shape of my eyes and nose and head are like Vincent's.  My daughter took this pic and I like it because it's totally unposed and "real."

My hair is pulled back here, so you can sort of see how the shape of my eyes and nose and head are like Vincent’s. My daughter took this pic and I like it because it’s totally unposed and “real.”

Mom: No you don’t look ridiculous.But I think it’s great you think so.

Jessica: I know you only have horrible things to say about my father these days, but you must realize that he is half of my genetic make up and it’s a little brutal to hear his flaws laid out for me day after day. Do you have anything good to say about him?

Mom: Ummmm . . . [laughs]. Yes, I do of course. He was always willing to do what I asked him do. If I asked him to take the dog out he’d take the dog out. If I asked him do this, he’d do this. He was good about that. There’s a lot of good about him. But there’s more bad.

[Note: my parents split up a year ago after over forty-seven years of marriage. My dad’s a pretty great guy but he did do something really shitty to my mom.]

Jessica: Were you scared during the fires? [In July more than 5,000 acres burned across the road and down the road from my mother. She was evacuated and the fire department goozed her house with fire retardant. She and the house survived.]

Mom: No, I wasn’t scared but I was worried.

Jessica: What was the one thing you wanted to get out of the house when you had to evacuate?

Across the road, after the fire.

1. Aerial shot of the fire. 2. Across the road from my mother’s house, after the fire.

Mom: The animals, first. I was going to let the chickens roast. But the cats and the dogs were my first concern. After that: papers, insurance papers, checks, papers having to do with babies, life. After that, my favorite paintings. And then, uh, just things that couldn’t be replaced. Some family photos that were framed and hanging. And I forgot to take clothes, so I had to go buy some when I was evacuated. I didn’t even put anything in a suitcase or a bag.

One of the chickens who was left to roast.  I think this one's named Levi.

One of the chickens who was left to roast. I think this one’s named Levi.

Jessica:Is there anyone you despise?

Mom: I don’t despise your father. I think he made a big mistake but I don’t despise him. Right now I despise Sarah Palin ‘cause I keep hearing her speech over and over and it’s just dripping with sarcasm like the way a high schooler would talk. [The V.P. acceptance speech.] Like when she talked about Obama, she was just so childish. She didn’t write that speech but she certainly read it like a child. It was full of nastiness. So I despise her.

Jessica: What’s the best book you’ve read this month?

Mom: Um, gosh that one by Ondaatje, what was the name of the book? I forget. I’m going to look it up. Hold on. Oh shit. Oh god. Hold on. [She’s messing around on the computer.] I can’t think of the Ondaatje one, so I’ll say Willie Vlautin’s books, Motel Life and Northline. They were both great. And I also liked Joyce Carol Oates something about love and brother. I liked that even though it got panned a lot.

Me: The one about Jon Benet Ramsey?

Mom: Yeah, it’s a satire. It’s a very strange book. It’s way over done and way overly self-conscious but really interesting. I liked it.

Jessica: Best movie you’ve seen recently?

Mom: Gosh I haven’t seen one in a long time. Oh my god what was that one with. . about the Mexicans running dope and the guy finds the money in the suitcase and . . . who’s that Mexican guy, he had his hair down, so good looking, he’s in the . . he’s in the new movie about . . .uh with uh . . . oh god, I can’t remember.

Jessica: No Company for Old Men?

Mom: No Country for Old Men.That  was great. That was amazing. There were a lot of good movies last year.

Jessica: I know you’re a connoisseur of the worst that television has to offer. Among this group, what show is your favorite and why?

Mom: [laughs] Well my favorite is, New York Goes to Hollywood. And New York is Tiffany Pollard. And oh god, it’s just a terrible, terrible show but I love it.

Jessica: What do you love about it?

Mom: Ummm, I love, oh, New York is such an idiot. And she has so little talent. And the only reason she’s out there is because she was on a reality show and she’s outrageous. And then there’s her mother, Sister Patterson, and she’s crazy. It’s a good show, I like it. It’s a terrible show. It’s one of my favorites. There’s another one called Intervention. That’s really good. And then there was Celebrity Intervention and that was great. All these celebrities on there, kind of schmoozing each other and faking it.

Jessica: What was the happiest time in your life?

Mom: Well I loved living in Paradise. [When my parents were around fifty-years old, they bought a cabin in the woods, in an area called Paradise. My mother lived there fulltime, my father came up on the weekends.] I really loved that. I was very happy. I was happy when I was first married. I haven’t been unhappy very much. I’ve been happy about everything. Living in France was very hard at first because I couldn’t work [paint], couldn’t find a place that felt right. But my memories of France are very, very vivid and I loved it. [My parents lived in France a few years ago.]

Jessica: What’s the most interesting thing about you?

Mom: About me? Right now I don’t think there’s very much interesting about me at all. But I know other people think I’m interesting but I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s because I’m honest. When I resigned from the WRA [Santa Barbara Wildland Residents’ Association where my mother was on the board for around sixteen years.] a couple people spoke about how interesting I was, but I don’t know. I don’t think there’s much interesting about me. Except I have a good sense of humor and I’m honest. That’s it.

[My husband, David, walks in the room. We’re on speaker phone so he hears everything. He decides to join in.]

David: What’s interesting about you is that you’re a genius who watches retarded TV shows. It’s a paradox I’ve never understood. Nobody watches worse TV than you.

Mom: [laughing]Oh, Cops is one my favorites! I love Cops!

Mom's favorite show!

Mom’s favorite show!

Jessica: Who do you love more, me, Becca or Josh?

Mom: [laughs] I always love more the one who asks. Nobody asks but you. I don’t think you ever ask that really. You don’t ask that question, I’m the one that asks those questions. Like who do you love more your husband or me? That’s my question. And I’m just saying it to be a smartass, I don’t really want you to make choices like that. [My daughter Ella and her friend walk into the kitchen and my mother can hear them jabbering away.] Oh my god does that girl ever stop talking?

Jessica: Who do you think is smartest:  Me, Becca or Josh?

Mom: Oh, come on! [laughing] That’s terrible! I think all three of you are incredibly smart. I do. And also about equally smart. And each of you in different directions. But I’m smarter than all of you [laughs]. Why don’t you ask who’s smarter me or your dad? Then I’ll tell you!

Mom holding me at age two.

Mom holding me at age two.


My family was living in Trieste. This was a time when Trieste was a Free Territory, contested between Italy and Yugoslavia. It later became the northeast corner of Italy.

My brother, who was 8 or 9-years old, took me to the park. I have always had poor proprioception, which is a cumbersome word just meaning that I was seriously clumsy. My sense of where my body was in terms of the world in general was just off by a bit. This particular day I misjudged the speed of a swing on its return journey and got a good whack in the head, knocking me out cold.

My brother, ever the boy scout, decided to leave me there on the ground under the swing while he made his way home as quickly as he could to seek help. Unfortunately for him, HIS sense of where his body was in terms of the world was ALSO somewhat off kilter. (I’m thinking there is a genetic factor in play here.) He had been to school in Switzerland and no less than three times he skied off of a cliff and broke one leg each time. He alternated legs, which I always thought was fascinating.

He didn’t run home the usual way; he went in a relatively straight line, which entailed climbing a wrought iron picket fence. Regrettably, he impaled his right hand on a picket. The picket entered his palm and exited at the base of his pinkie. It happened very fast, since he was in a hurry. Working his had loose of the impalement took a bit longer. When he freed his hand, his pinkie was sort of swinging loose from his palm. He held it with his other hand and ran home.

Here is where fate intervened. Both my mother and my father were home. This was very unusual because my father was almost certainly a spy and was virtually always away behind the iron curtain somewhere in Yugoslavia. (You young ones might have to pause now to look up both “iron curtain” and “Yugoslavia”.)

My brother entered the house, bleeding profusely with his right pinkie dangling loosely from his palm. By this time, I had come back into consciousness and followed the usual route home to our house, avoiding the perilous wrought iron picket fence. We arrived at virtually the same time, since it wasn’t necessary to dislodge any part of my body from impalement.

My mother focused like a hawk directly on my brother’s wound and picked up a paring knife.
“Let me just clean that up before we go to the hospital,” she said calmly.
“What do you mean ‘clean that up’ and why are you holding a paring knife,” my dad asked.
“Harry, his hand is messy. I need to neaten it up. I won’t have him going to the hospital all messy. I’ll just cut off that pinkie,” she said.

At this point my brother started running around the dining room table away from my mother, screaming: “Mommy, please don’t cut off my finger!” My mother was fast and got a hold of his shoulder, but she wasn’t all that strong, and my brother got away from her. I’m pretty sure that panic can make a person more fleet of foot. My mother proceeded to chase after him around the table shouting: “Woody, just let me clean that up.” My father was stunned at the sight of his wife brandishing a paring knife, and also somewhat upset by what she planned to do with said paring knife. He joined the fray and began chasing my mother around the table yelling: ”Rose, you will NOT cut off my son’s finger!”

The three of them circled the table yelling these unusual things over and over. Around and around the table they ran, reminiscent of the tigers circling the tree so fast that they tuned into butter. My mother wasn’t usually fast, but when it came to tidiness, she was driven. My father was not ordinarily a quick man, but he knew his wife and had reason to kick it up a notch. At last, my dad caught up with and disarmed my mother. She was irate. Not only did she not tidy up my brother before his hospital visit but now there was blood to clean up all around the rug under the table. My mother HATED messes.

My dad drove us to the hospital, but had to stop by the side of the road almost immediately. My mother had nail scissors in her purse and was reaching over the seat to my cowering brother in the back trying again to snip off his finger. It would have been so easy if my brother hadn’t cried out thus alerting my father. I myself bunched up my hands in two little fists because I feared she would just snip off one of mine if she couldn’t succeed with my brother. Those who knew her will understand that this was a real possibility. When my mother became frustrated, she got a really strange look in her eyes. It was a freaky kind of look.

My dad took my mom’s purse and emptied it on the side of the road. Finding no other sharp instrument, he put the nail scissors in his pocket; moved my bother to the shotgun seat and banished my mother to the back with me. This really got me worried. Who knew how strong my dedicated mother could be? I was afraid she might just try to tear off one or two of my fingers instead. I cringed in the corner, concentrating on keeping my little hands in tight little fists.

The doctors were able to sew back my brother’s pinkie and splint it. Today he has a couple of great scars and complete use of the finger.

It was serendipity that my dad was there at the moment of my brother’s injury. My brother would certainly only have 9 fingers now, perhaps fewer once my mother began “tidying him up.” My mother was a determined woman when it came to neatness. Savagely determined.


Comment by Lenore Zion |Edit This
2008-09-12 16:00:49

remember how you used to get really drunk and smash wine bottles over my head when i was little?

then you’d cry and apologize, but i knew all that meant was that you’d sneak into my room when i was sleeping and vomit into my pillow case.

you never minded a mess. nothing like nana.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-12 16:46:00

JesusHolyChrist, Lenore,

What are you trying to do to me? NO ONE believes I broke wine bottles over your head. I can’t even vomit. ( If I could I swear to you I would be skinny.) You are a dirty stinking liar and I love every inch of your desecrated body.

It IS true, though, that I never did mind a mess. Still don’t.

Comment by Jaime Simpson |Edit This
2008-09-12 17:02:39

Not even those Hollywood stunt wine bottles that break super easy? I think it’s great you didn’t (still don’t) get upset over messes; not worth it at all. The messier the better, I say. Unless there’s blood. That’s where I draw the line.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-12 17:06:30

Wait. Weren’t you Jim just a little while ago? You’re Jaime all along? Humn. Both good names.
My house is a total disaster. But I’m almost sure that there is no blood anywhere. Can’t be positive, of course, mess that it is, but pretty sure.
I’m still Irene.

Comment by Santiago |Edit This
2008-09-12 18:48:42

St. James

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-12 19:03:39

Oh. Can I have a relic from you? I’ve always wanted a Saint’s relic. Just something small, like a finger bone….

Comment by Tim |Edit This
2008-09-12 19:01:57

Quit lying, Mom. I always thought it was gin, Lenore. Oh well.

Mom always hit us with bottles. We knew when to hide.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-12 19:07:19

My mother used to say “I’m going to tan your hide.” all the time. Now, I’m not sure exactly how to go about it or indeed what it entails, but I’m going to study up on it and tan both of yours, maybe.

(She also used to say “Damn your eyes!” I can’t go that far. That seems mean. You both have such cute eyes.)

Comment by Adam |Edit This
2008-09-12 22:39:13

Again, from Wikipedia:

Tanning is the process of converting putrescible skin into non-putrescible leather, usually with tannin, an acidic chemical compound that prevents decomposition and often imparts color. Tanning leather involves a process which permanently alters the protein structure of skin so that it can not ever return to rawhide. Making rawhide does not require the use of tannin and is made simply by removing the flesh and then the hair by way of soaking in an aqueous solution (often called liming when using lime and water or bucking when using wood ash (lye) and water), then scraping over a beam with a somewhat dull knife, and then leaving to dry, usually stretched on a frame so that it dries flat. The two aforementioned solutions for removing the hair also act to clean the fiber network of the skin and therefore allow penetration and action of the tanning agent.

Comment by Adam |Edit This
2008-09-12 22:40:52

Now, as far as actually removing the flesh, I’m sure Nana would have had some tips for you, if you weren’t always too busy cowering in the back seat to listen.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 05:28:27

Okay, Adam, thanks. I will NOT tan their hides. That is WAY icky. I have to try to remember the other fascinating things my mother said to me. They were all ingenious. She was very creative in an angry, malicious sort of way.

Comment by lonny |Edit This
2008-09-13 14:02:45

i seem to remember having my hide tanned a few times

that and being locked in the crawlspace

whoa is me…

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 15:56:07

Ah. The crawl space…. Such a place of mystery. (and such a low ceiling!)

Comment by Tim |Edit This
2008-09-13 19:07:37

I always found the crawlspace to be disgusting. Why not have a floor? Nasty.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-14 01:05:23

Tim, the water table was too high in that part of Central Illinois. You couldn’t have a basement without having it flood often. Do you remember the Bocheks had a basement and anytime we got a good rain they’d be inundated. They only put it in because they were afraid of tornadoes. You needed a crawl space so people could get to pipes and wires and stuff from underneath the house.
Remember when Sara would freak out at the sound of the tornado warning horn and gather all of you with blankets and pillows behind the bar for your safety? I’d be outside marvelling at the yellow sky and the great wind. Poor Sara would be so upset with me. I think she’s still terrified of tornadoes.

Comment by Tim |Edit This
2008-09-14 14:03:56

I understand the crawlspace-concept. I just hate seeing dirt and shit inside(ish). Why not have a damn floor? I ask again!

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-15 03:56:57

I’m so proud of you, Tim. Out of the five of you, you are the only one to keep a clean house. Well, Sara does now, but she didn’t used to. The rest of you are pigs.

The dirt in the crawl space didn’t bother me because I would never in a million years go down there. I’m sure there are all manner of insects and creepy-crawlies down there still. Nope. Never ever go down there.

Comment by George |Edit This
2008-09-13 11:29:59

I learned another new word, “proprioception,” which I probably won’t use in a conversation because I will forget how to pronouce it.

Irene’s mother is a hoot, and a little bit crazy. Fortunately, she wasn’t a doctor, or she would be amputating everything. Maybe she was a tree surgeon. They like to amputate.

Irene should really publish a book of her short stories.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 12:39:33

Well, George, the only people who need to learn the word “proprioception”, (which sounds phonetically exactly how it is spelled,) are those who are afflicted by the condition. I can tell by the sturdy, manly way that you write that you have no such problems.

I will grant you that my mother is a hoot in retrospect. Growing up with her was less hootful, much less hootful.

Perhaps if I did write a book about my mother, I could finally exorcise her from my brain. I’ll think that over, George, thanks for the idea.

Comment by Tim |Edit This
2008-11-22 05:47:38

Gin, Lenore. Our classy-ass mother would’ve had a hard time getting her message across hitting us with her empty boxes of Opal Estates.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-11-22 05:58:39

I don’t even know what Opal Estates is. Gin smells funny. You must be misremembering. It was probably sake, Tim.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Melissa |Edit This
2008-09-12 16:27:30

True quote from my mother, when my brother and I must have been driving her up a wall.

“The dog is going to break and I am going to crack up”. How my brother and I made fun of her. HA…maybe you mom had a little case of the crack up there.

And……..well I know you never know where you are going since I have to guide you around MCH, how on earth did you get home girl?

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-12 16:52:50

I’m afraid that you are going to get two comments, because I already left one, but it seems to have disappeared.
I love your mother! “The dog is going to break and I am going to crack up.” That is priceless! Especially the dog is going to break part. ALL moms say they are going to crack up. But the dog is going to break? Where did she come up with that? I love it!

Melissa, you know I could never get home on my own. I have one of those electronic gizmos that tell you very sweetly how to get where you want to go. You stick it on your front window and type in an address and it NEVER loses its temper no matter how many mistakes you make. She just kindly says: “recalculating route…” whenever you screw up. I love her. Her name is Gerty.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 05:40:11

Melissa, your mother said funny things when she was angry. Can I borrow her for awhile?

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Melissa (Irene’s friend) |Edit This
2008-09-13 07:33:58

Well she keeps saying my ex, should choke and die. How about that one? Mind you this little lady is less than 5 feet tall and a good gust of wind could blow her away. I swear that the late George Carlin had hidden mikes all over our house. His routine was my mom down pat. Her best one was,,, “Where are my good scissors?” Good thing when my brother ran into the glass door, his pinkie finger was not dangling. She hated a mess too.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 08:01:17

But Melissa, your ex SHOULD choke and die, that is not at all an unreasonable thing for your Mom to say.
I have to say, though, that I’m glad she loses things too. I need everyone to lose things so I don’t feel so stupid.
When your brother ran into the glass door, did he go through the glass door? That is not a good thing for anyone to do. Lots of blood and all that glass to clean up. How is your Mom with messes?

Comment by Melissa (Irene’s friend) |Edit This
2008-09-15 19:31:39

The only reason my mom did not totally crack up , was because I was babysitting. AND being such a good sitter, I would not let Gregg go outside to let his friends feast on the very yummy vitamins he was giving out as snacks. So I locked the front door… he smashed into it. Glass and blood spewed. My mother hated messes so had the front hall tiled long before it was the thing to do,,,which made for a swift clean up. Brother in the tub. lots of bandages. Everything was as good as new..just a few dozen scrapes and a broken door. An everyday happening in some homes…….but shhhhhhhhh they still do not know I locked the door

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-16 15:18:44

Don’t worry,Melissa. I am excellent with secrets! Mum’s the word!

Comment by N.L. Belardes |Edit This
2008-09-12 16:38:35

What years were these? Just curious. There’s no bio for you, so I have no clue other than Iron Curtain. I’m just assuming the 40s or 50s.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-12 16:42:48

Hello angry cricket!
Those were the years, for me, between 1951 and 1955 from when I was three years old until I was eight and we returned to Brooklyn. I’ll get a better bio up eventually, but I totally stretched out my welcome with Lenore tonight getting this posted. Thank GOD I didn’t need any pictures or blue print that sends you somewhere else!

Comment by N.L. Belardes |Edit This
2008-09-13 11:14:25

Gotcha. I look forward to reading more stories of your family craziness. I kinda want to cut off one of my kids’ fingers for fun though.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 12:43:36

Sorry, no, uh uh. I don’t believe you one tiny little bit. You are a big talker, but a softy inside, just what a Dad should be. You come off as an angry cricket with attitude, but really, take off those glasses and you are a mild-mannered reporter-type. A sweet one who wouldn’t hurt a fly. You’re busted, angry cricket!

Comment by N.L. Belardes |Edit This
2008-09-13 13:31:04

You just don’t know. I used to live in Yugoslavia. I ran an orphanage. They called me “Cricket the Finger Master.” I collected fingers from all the kids whose parents I thought were Iron Curtain spies back in the day. I did that until I reformed and moved to California where I decided to collect bug legs instead.

But I can go back to the kid fingers. I’m getting all spinny-eyed.

Where’s my oldest child? I’m starting with him.

Spinny-eyed, Irene. Spinny eyed.

Spinnnnnnnny Eyyyyyeeeeszzzzz…

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 15:58:29

I thought you only had girls. You lie, angry cricket with attitude!

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-16 03:44:56

Oh, NL! I LOVE your new hat! It completely changes your look. Completely.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-17 06:59:54

Did you do this just to make me look like an idiot calling you an angry cricket?

Comment by Cayt |Edit This
2008-09-12 16:38:36

Wow. This is Lenore’s other grandmother, surely…? Not the one who tried to make her sleep in vomit.

But, your whole family is just…wow.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-12 16:54:26

Yes, Cayt,
This is the very same grandmother who tried to make Lenore sleep in Benjamin’s vomit. This is where Lenore got the idea. She is defaming me just because she has a black black heart.

Comment by lonny |Edit This
2008-09-13 14:05:07

if the vomit were in a strong freezer zip lock it would be a great pillow

i think

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 16:04:19

Lonny, I think that is true. However, from experience I have to say that there is no zip-lock that actually locks. I have traveled many miles with liquids “sealed” in zip-lock which leaked all over my luggage. In a perfect world, a bag of zip-locked vomit would make a passable pillow, but this is the real world, Lonny. Not buying it. Besides, if you read Lenore’s post about this a million years ago you would see that the vomit was encased in nothing whatsoever. It was just on her pillow and sheet. No zip-lock bag. ( Actually, I’m pretty sure that “zip-lock bags” did not even exist yet. We were stuck with the flimsy bags with twister ties. They NEVER held anything well.)

Comment by Tim |Edit This
2008-09-13 19:14:48

If I may step in here:
Lonny’s point is a valid one. We’re talking perfect-world Ziplocs here.
Quit being such a killjoy, Ma.

Comment by Adam |Edit This
2008-09-13 20:16:54

My friend Pat (the same one with the briefcase cat, Lenore) had a bag — like a plastic shopping bag — of vomit nailed to his bathroom wall for like months, I want to say.

I swear I am not making this shit up.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-14 01:14:56

Sorry, Tim, I had no idea we were talking about the Platonic Ideal of the zip-lock bag here. I stand corrected in the world of perfection.

Adam, I HOPE you at least got a picture of that! (Sorry, I have to ask, was Pat a girl or a boy?) I’ll bet he/she is residing at the happy farm now. Or else he/she is living in a cabin in the wilds of Appalachia, miles from anyone else, stocked up with guns and ammo and dried foods in aluminum foil bags and shooting his/her own meat. And grumbling. Doing a lot of grumbling to himself/herself.

His/her parents ALLOWED this? Too late to call in DCFS I guess.

Comment by Adam |Edit This
2008-09-15 00:21:37

He’s a boy. There’s a picture of him in the “Heroes” section of my MySpace profile.

Pat kinda had dominion over the basement. I don’t think his mother went down there more than she had to.

He’s sane.

He’s living in Seattle, playing Anarchy Online.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-15 09:58:56

For some reason I couldn’t write this up where I wanted to, (where you mentioned this.) You called my Mom “Nana” . How did you know that’s what my kids called her? Just curious. I never said it.

Comment by Adam |Edit This
2008-09-15 14:34:28

I pay attention. And, yes, I was like that as a kid.

Comment by Jess |Edit This
2008-09-12 19:46:32

Irene, your stories are beautifully written and fascinating, to boot. Is it too much to hope for a collaboration between mother and daughter?

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 05:30:10

HA! Jess, I’m pretty sure she’d kill me in the process. She is not known for her patience with me. Maybe YOU could talk to her? (Drug her?)

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-15 10:00:16

Besides, Jess, Lenore is a bona fide writer. Her fiction can turn you inside out. I just tell stories.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by marcia |Edit This
2008-09-12 20:01:19

Wasn’t your mom trained as a nurse? That makes it even funnier. It’s the part about the nail scissors that really gets me.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 05:32:34

YUP, Marcia, she was a Registered Nurse. I’m sure she meant to sanitize the stump very professionally after the amputation.

Comment by Adam |Edit This
2008-09-12 22:33:01

My father has somewhere around nine fingers total, with the deficit apportioned among three of them.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 05:33:14

Did his mother do that to him?

Comment by Adam |Edit This
2008-09-13 11:57:41

No, he accomplished it himself, through his own ingenuity.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 12:46:33

In what way did his trimming of three fingers further his interests? I find this puzzling. How many fingers do you have? (Like father, like son?)

Comment by Adam |Edit This
2008-09-13 14:33:05

I don’t think dismembering his fingers directly served any interest. Rather it was a collateral effect of his ingenious rigging of a circular saw to act as a table saw, which in theory would have furthered the interest of building a bookcase or a loveseat (I forget which he was working on at the time). Of course, in order for this to work, he had to bypass the circular saw’s safety mechanism — probably something akin to tying down the bail of a lawn mower with a bandana, although I don’t know the details.

I inherited both the kind of smarts he exhibited in that case and the kind he didn’t, as well as ten fingers, which I have retained due in part to periodic strokes of luck.

It was less a trimming than a hacking, followed by a virtuosic reattachment (I also forget the surgeon’s name — I’ll get back to you on that). The phalanges he pureed were all intermediate.

He’s told me he most misses wiping his ass with his dominant hand.

My mom tells me that as she was driving him to the hospital, hysterical, at least one other driver was purposefully obstructing her. She hypothesizes that the other driver just thought she was a boorish driver, and she has since taught me if another driver is hellbent on passing, to just let them pass, which I have taken to heart.

Comment by Adam |Edit This
2008-09-13 16:04:02

Allen Van Beek was the surgeon.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 16:20:41

“He’s told me he most misses wiping his ass with his dominant hand.”
Oh Adam. I totally agree. When my arthritis acts up, the sinister hand is just not up to the job.
Glad you have ten fingers, even if it is due to dumb luck. It’s the end point that matters, after all.
Allen Van Beek was a terrific surgeon.
Sara and Lenore both cut off the ends of their thumbs.
Sara was using a mandolin and cut off the end of her thumb. There were guests in the house, however no matter of sifting could find her thumb end. She seems to have grown back a passable thumb end.
Lenore was working nights in High School at a supermarket in the deli section and….(Okay, really Lenore should tell this story because it is hers and it is hysterical.)

Comment by Adam |Edit This
2008-09-13 18:38:54

Meat slicer. Yeah.

I’ve got a nice scar on my right middle finger from one of those. When it was all stitched up, from one side it looked like it had been severed and reattached, but my meat slicer was turned off, so it stopped at the bone.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 19:07:56


Comment by Adam |Edit This
2008-09-13 20:04:16

I love that somehow I earn the strong reaction in this thread. Empathy is a wondrous and at times seemingly arbitrary thing.

In re: Sara, I just realized that you probably meant “mandoline,” although the mechanism would still be essentially the same as in my initial, more ridiculous vision.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-14 01:19:29

Sorry, misspelled that one. (Although it is a more interesting story that way….)

Just explain to me how you almost severed your right middle finger with the meat slicer turned off. I’m picturing you rubbing your finger hard against the non-turning blade. Why would you do such a thing?

Comment by Adam |Edit This
2008-09-15 00:39:49

I worked at a sandwich shop, and I was cleaning the thing. We used it to slice all the meats as well as the cheese. I was wiping cheese from the face of it. It was tacky, so I was applying a lot of downward pressure and getting used to a certain amount of friction as I wiped hard back and forth in a tight pattern. Anyway, some cheese came free or something, reducing the friction, and the force I was putting into wiping hard in a tight pattern got put into wiping hard in a much looser pattern before I noticed it. I made one large sweep off the edge of the blade, and drew back along the curved edge. My fingertip kind of rode the curve around, resulting in a 180-degree slicing. There are like a million-some-odd nerve endings and fibers and whatnot in the fingertip, and although this took like a quarter-second, I swear I felt each damned one of them severed individually, in sequence.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-15 10:05:17

I say again: EEEEWWWWWW!

Comment by Sara Zion |Edit This
2008-09-13 04:26:20

I like how you write, Ma. I know the stories well, but I like how you tell them. )

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 05:34:25

Sara, that is so nice. You didn’t even get the willies this time. Good job!

Comment by Sara Zion |Edit This
2008-09-13 04:28:42

Wow. I have always hated those little yellow smilies with *eyebrows.* Now I know where they come from: evil editing programs that translate ” : ) ” into :). Ick. Now I am one of *those people.* Oh well.

Comment by Sara Zion |Edit This
2008-09-13 04:29:27

And it didn’t even work when I tried to explain.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 05:37:45

Sara, you could NEVER be one of “those people”, (not that I know who you mean,) because you are super different from anyone else on earth. (In a good way.)
The HTML rules are different on TNB for some reason. It’s messed everyone up who tries to use the regular kind.
You have patience. You would explain it to me if you could. Thanks.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 05:44:42

You have to put quotation marks around happy faces, etc? Why can’t you just type it?
I’m going to try it both ways and see what happens: : ) “: )” The first was without quotation marks and the second was with. did the second one turn me into one of “those people”? I shudder at the results.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Adam |Edit This
2008-09-13 11:59:19

“:)” “: )” ) : )

Comment by Adam |Edit This
2008-09-13 12:01:43

Got it: you need no attached punctuation and no intermediate space. Sara’s period — Sara’s dot — interfered in her explanatory comment. Irene’s space did.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 12:49:21

Adam, you are really good with puzzles. Were you like that as a kid too?

Comment by Adam |Edit This
2008-09-13 14:36:05

I think the only pronounced fundamental changes I’ve undergone since infancy have been in height and vocabulary.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 16:23:09

Your height and vocabulary are both strikingly wonderful.

Comment by Christine |Edit This
2008-09-13 05:56:06

I love this story. MORE MORE MORE stories!!!!!! I like the one where you lived in Trieste and tried to get all the kids to fly off of that stump.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 06:32:37

I think that’s an old one in my myspace. I can certainly rewrite it better for TNB standards. I was just talking there. Christine, I can’t think how else you’d know that story. You should be writing down the stories from your kids. Better to have a record of how wonderful they are before they turn on you. Actually even after they turn on you it makes good material. They almost always come back to you. Some with more patience, than others.
By the way, I just adore your picture, (heck heck heck, what is it called? avatar, no. gravatar!) I think that’s it. I love your gravatar.

2008-09-13 06:15:02

Irene, this is glorious!

As for a tiny emoticon tutorial: if you put the close parenthesis directly after the colon (no spaces) you get this ) (a smile) – same thing using a semi-colon you get this ;) (a wink). I think if you reverse it or put any spaces in it or use other characters like dashes and things, you get bupkis.

) 🙂 ) 🙂 ) 🙂 ) 🙂 ) 🙂 ) 🙂 ) 🙂 ) 🙂 ) 🙂 ) 🙂 ) 🙂 ) 🙂 ) 🙂 ) 🙂 )

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 06:38:30

Just as an aside, I’m not used to reading a post that I wrote and it’s set up differently. I looked at your name and I thought it said:
Comment by Kimberly M. Wetherell / Eat This
Took a second look cause it sounded more like Lenore than sweet you.

Anyhow, thanks, now I know why I got bupkis. I’m going to try to make the two different yellow smiley faces. I hope I’m still educable.

) ;)

I appreciate you’re trying to teach me. We’ll see when I hit “add comment” if it worked.

Comment by Adam |Edit This
2008-09-13 12:03:49

I should’ve read ahead, it seems.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 12:52:57

No, Adam, without your explanation we wouldn’t know why Sara’s smiley face with the period didn’t work. I’m going to call her now and explain it. Do you know how good it makes me feel to explain something computer-related to my genius daughter? Oh Yeah, I’m so smart now!

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 06:39:15

HA! Educable still! Thanks, Kimberly!

2008-09-13 06:48:14

Educable. Sounds like Lunchable.

Eat that!


2008-09-13 08:44:26

Great story Irene– I can see where darling Lenore of the fabulous handsocks gets her wit and wonderful perspective! I also enjoyed the reference to one of my favorite stories as a kid, whose title you wisely did not use and I will not use in this note as it is so controversial now.
Do you really think your father was a spy?
I want to be a spy!

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 08:52:31

I loved that book, Jessica. Maybe they could clean it up and write it for today’s audience. Wouldn’t be that hard.
Yeah. I’m sure of it. He was a marine engineer who worked on ships. Trieste was a huge port for that part of the world, still is. He was missing, scoping out secret engineering secrets, etc., behind the iron curtain. Knew lots of languages, but pretended not to. It should have been strange, but it felt normal to me. Wasn’t good for family life, though. Always away, left there with my certifiable mother.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 08:54:44

THAT was bad writing. “secret engineering secrets?” I’m so embarrassed!
Must learn to proof-read. Must learn to proof-read. Must learn to proof-read.

Comment by lonny |Edit This
2008-09-13 14:00:30

i have heard that fingers are not the necessary anymore
in todays modern world with everything so zoom zoom
you can do everything with voice command

with the exception of my current typing i never use my fingers

i guess this story did take place in some prehistoric period of the earth that i can not spell
so perhaps back then fingers were more important

my grandma was always so interesting
and unpredictable
and she made awesome cookies

finger away!

Comment by Stephanie |Edit This
2008-09-13 18:41:01

Thanks for letting me know about your new post.
My mother is another neat freak, but I think she would have punched me instead of trying to remove my dangling pinkie finger. (That’s just her way of coping with “being irresponsible”)

Everyone has odd habits, and methods.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-13 19:09:10

You are smart beyond your years, Stephanie!

Comment by jmb |Edit This
2008-09-14 11:19:02

It seemed like a dream, too good to be true,
when God returned Zion’s exiles.
We laughed, we sang,
we couldn’t believe our good fortune.
God was wonderful to us;
we are one happy people.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-14 13:13:10

I save everything you write. You think in poetry, don’t you? I wait for your shadowy figure each time I write. Glad you’re not a number anymore. People should know your name. People will know your name.

Comment by debby |Edit This
2008-09-14 14:26:09

loving your stories. keep up the good work. looking forward to the next one.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-14 17:37:15

Thanks Debby, I have dog stories too!

Comment by Cecile |Edit This
2008-09-14 15:10:33

Like the way you tell a story never leaving out one gruesome detail! It is compelling enough so as to wonder the fate of your brother later in life. I do have some idea, however. Did that experience sort of push you in the direction of marrying a surgeon?? As long as he was cutting on some else I guess you felt safe enough, cause it couldn’t be you. It gets better and better.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-14 17:39:12

Nah. I fell in love with his aura. When I met him he had a glow all around him and I knew he was the one. Didn’t know bupkis about him. True story.

Comment by Lisa |Edit This
2008-09-14 19:31:24

I never knew what Woody did to his finger. Very glad to have that mystery explained.

Thank you and happy Sunday.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-15 03:51:41

I think this was the incident that turned him away from being a knight in shining armor. Until he was 8 I think he had had plans to save the world, or at least all damsels in distress. Impaling himself and having no one around to help him was horrible enough, but to go home where he was supposed to be safe and have his own mother try to sever his finger was intolerable. There’s a reason this is seared in our memories. I’m sure psychologists could have a field day with the scenario of a mother attempting to amputate her son’s appendage.

Comment by keiko |Edit This
2008-09-15 05:21:07

Poor proprioception = seriously clumsy! I’m going to use that new definition every day at work. Thanks

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-15 09:48:04

Keiko, you can use that in describing people without their knowing what it means.
My brother had a stroke some years ago and he has no proprioception at all in his right foot. For this reason, he has to use a cane. He cannot feel his foot at all, so he has no idea how he is putting it down. It could be crooked or he could be stepping on top of his toes because his foot bent back but he wouldn’t know it. If he didn’t have a cane, he could easily fall. It’s really scary. Getting old is not for sissies, as they say.

Comment by Emma Ashwood |Edit This
2008-09-15 06:18:49

Irene, I love your stories. But oh, your awful mother. That should be scripted into a horror story. The mother looming over her child with gleaming nail scissors in hand: ‘Just let me clean you up!’

And has your brother got a scissor phobia now?

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-15 09:55:05

Let’s just say when it came to pick which silver goblet he wanted to keep after they died,(we got them for their 25th wedding anniversary), he picked the one that said “DADDY”, not the one that said “MOMMY”.

The thing about my mother was she was always sure that she was doing the right thing and really resented any interference. Complete confidence in your own actions comes more easily when you’re off your rocker. I figure that I must be okay, since I second-guess every single thing I do or say. That may not actually be healthy, but it makes me feel better to believe it.

Comment by Rob Bloom |Edit This
2008-09-15 11:07:30

Irene, you are delightful. Like a ray of sunshine on TNB. Warm, inviting, justwannasoakitup sunshine.

And now that you know how to post emoticons, you’re unstoppable.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-15 12:38:54

Thanks, Rob!
But I have been stopped!
I need to learn how to post pictures!!!! No one will show me. (Poor, pitiful me!)
I don’t need to turn words blue and send people to Wikipedia or elsewhere, but I DO want to use pictures with my stories.
Emoticons are great, but just don’t look like my family. (I also learned how to cross things out, from Cayt. That’s fun.)

(Wow, “delightful” that was really sweet. I’m going to savor that for a good long while!)

Comment by Erika Rae |Edit This
2008-09-15 13:10:15

Hold the phone, everyone…96 comments, and no one has asked how young Irene was saved from the swing incident??? As far as we know, she was rescued by a pack of wolves. Help us out here, Irene! Were you unconscious? There must be a story here all on its own?

I love your stories – keep them coming!

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-15 15:42:20

Well, I just came to and walked home. No one ever mentioned me passing out. At the hospital they just took care of Woody. He truly looked like the one who had need of looking after. Maybe that bout of unconsciousness was good for me. If it hurt me, I don’t know how. Maybe I would have been a genius. Oh well. My life has been just fine in spite of it.
Thanks for asking, Erika Rae, I remember wondering what I was doing alone on the ground under the swing. But, then walking home seemed the thing to do at the time. I didn’t know that I had passed out until my brother told me much later. Glad I woke up in time for the excitement, though!

Comment by Erika Rae |Edit This
2008-09-15 17:22:32

Totally crazy being upstaged by your brother like that…who in turn was upstaged by your mother. And while I can’t speak to whether it prevented your genius status (although, you seem awfully smart to me), I’ll bet the experience DID make you tougher!

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-16 03:41:44

Well, Erika Rae, I was only five years old, remember, so everything that happened to me seemed to me the way life was. I became conscious alone under the swing, so I imagine I must have thought I had fallen asleep. What did I know about unconsciousness?
I never thought I was tough until I needed to be. Surprised the pants off me. I’m plenty tough. Scary tough.

Comment by Kate |Edit This
2008-09-15 13:30:44

okay, so i knew your mother was crazy, but i didn’t realize it went that far. yikes! was that the closest you guys ever got to losing body parts? there must have been other close calls.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-15 15:43:36

There’s a lot more Mom stories, but I think that may be the only one involving the possible amputation of a body part. (I’ll have to think, though…..)

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-11-06 06:23:09

Well, Kate, there you go. I don’t know how I forgot the foot amputation. Perhaps I wasn’t ready to remember it enough to write it. Now I have. Hope you like it.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Ruthie |Edit This
2008-09-15 14:04:45

Another great story. I’m surprised you didn’t walk around with your hands in fists forever. Luckily you are obviously very resilient. Why does your story make me want to run and do my nails?

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-15 15:47:39

Well, Ruthie, I think you appreciate having ten fingers with ten nicely shaped nails because you had a mother who adored every part of you and would never have cut parts of you off.
Go get a manicure. Get a pedicure while you’re at it. Treasure your digits.
(I can’t say that I ever thought I’d say the phrase: “Treasure your digits.” It’s amazing what comes out of my mouth.)

Comment by Adam |Edit This
2008-09-15 22:40:36

That came from your digits, though. Suddenly, it makes sense.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-16 03:43:36

That was good, Adam.
I think I’m a storyteller, though, so when I’m writing I’m really talking.

Comment by Alex Devoto |Edit This
2008-09-17 04:18:34

oh man there must have been a lot of blood. You poor mom must have spent a week cleaning since blood is hard to take out. Thank god your dad was home, but did anyone ever find out you were knocked out by the swing? very funny in a sick way.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-17 07:07:01

I found out when my brother told me, but not for years and years later. I never until then knew what I was doing alone at the park under the swing. I was only 4 or 5 then, didn’t know much. I don’t think my parents ever did find out about my being knocked unconscious.
It was entirely a Woody story. I wasn’t part of it.

Comment by Ursula |Edit This
2008-09-17 10:31:21

Your story Irene, could have been sold easily to the producers of “Tales from the Crypt.” Unfortunately I think that show is off the air. Like Ruthie said, it would have been “fists” for me forever. What an experience, your poor brother.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-17 13:35:11

I did learn to keep my distance, Ursula. That I did learn.
Well, sure Woody had a bad experience, but his finger turned out fine and he got all this attention and cool scars to boot. I’m pretty sure that if I hadn’t come out of my semi-comatose state on my own I would have been there all night until some nice Italian person found me and called the Italian equivalent of 911.

Comment by ksw |Edit This
2008-09-18 06:19:07

you only need one finger to pick your nose, and two to remove dingleberrys…so what’s the big deal???

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-18 06:32:30

Oh my God! I thought Victor made up the word “dingleberrys.” I can’t believe it’s a real word. GROSS!
On the other hand, sometimes a pinky is just the right size for something. You shouldn’t underestimate the power of the pinky.

Comment by Squeaky |Edit This
2008-09-18 11:17:11


As a six year old I fell out of a tree and cracked my head open on an exposed pipe coming up from an otherwise harmless backyard. My father was smoking weed at the time and, when driving me to the hospital, was very frustrated with the amount of blood leaking from the back of my head onto his seat.

Parents have funny ways of dealing with injuries to their children. At the beginning I was with your mother. I thought she was going to clean out the wound or remove infected tissue or something. But in the end her true intent reared it’s ugly head. I argue that your brother would have 8 fingers today had your father not been home. She would have looked at the two hands and said, “Well these don’t match up at all. Let me clean up that other hand so they look alike’ and then poof would go the other pinkie.

I feel very strongly about this.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-18 12:46:50

I swear that is just what I think. I’m sure if my Dad hadn’t been there she would have “cleaned up the first pinkie” and then been horrified that they didn’t match. Off would have come the second, just as you said! I’m not even sure she would have stopped at that. Once you start trying to even things out, it’s difficult to stop!

I’m so glad that your backyard was “otherwise harmless.” Did your Dad get rid of the pipe after all this was over? My Dad was also very concerned about the state of his car. I’m sure blood must have really inflamed your Dad. Did you have a concussion? Heads really bleed a lot. I learned that in the kid-raising biz. Also tongues. Tongues bleed like a house on fire! I bet if you have kids they can bleed all over your car and you will tell them it makes no difference to you because you just want to get him/her some help, and you love him/her more than some stupid upholstery.
I’d also like you to know that figuring out how to spell “upholstery” took a really long time, but I didn’t give up. What through me off was my stubborn belief that it started with an A. Turns out, it doesn’t. There you go.

Comment by Squeaky |Edit This
2008-09-18 19:32:54

You hit my parenting style directly. In fact I’d like to share more of my philosophy with you, but it involves the fantasy that Lenore is my wife/mother of said children and I think that crosses some lines that usually (see: Always) get me in trouble.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-19 03:26:57

Well, Squeaky, you have my vote. Unfortunately for you that will not help with Lenore. She only does the opposite of what I say. It’s a thing we do. I’m working on doing the opposite of what she says, but she doesn’t seem to notice, which sort of takes the sting out of the exercise.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-19 03:40:03

Something is reversed here. The kid is the one stupid enough to be using drugs. The parent is the good role model who eschews all manner of mind-altering substances. Right?

Comment by Ken |Edit This
2008-09-18 16:12:17

That story completely freaked me out!

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-18 16:24:23

Oh hi, Ken,
This is true life! I thought you were totally cool with reality. This is my actual mother and just wait until you hear more of my life with with her. I’m pretty sure I avoided scarring my kids, but then, they’ll have to tell you that. ( I am just a bit worried about their response, here. Seriously, I tried my best not to be as crazy as my mother. It was a full-time job.)

Comment by donald |Edit This
2008-09-24 05:44:17

Im assuming your mother also performed the bris…..

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-24 09:45:18

OH. Donald. God. Forbid! That is a very seriously scary thought. His poor little baby unit. I shudder at the very thought!

Comment by Amy |Edit This
2008-09-27 06:43:23

Your mother and my grandmother must be related. We should talk!

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-27 08:44:51

Oh Amy, I am so sorry to hear that. I really think that one of my mother in the world should be enough. Although. You might have some zippy stories to tell…. Why don’t you tell us a story about her? We’re listening….

Comment by John B |Edit This
2008-10-01 07:57:03

What a roller coaster ride, this story and thread… By the time your daughter made the remark about getting hit with wine bottles, I was feeling downright disgusted…and a little bit scared. Once I realized that she was just bustin’ your chops, I almost spit Starbucks on my keyboard. What an ingenious follow up… I can see why her milkshake brings all the boys to the proverbial yard…

Anyways back to your story, for the love of Jesus, tell me that you just have an equally morbid sense of humor as your daughter?!? I mean…you CAN”T be serious, that your mother honestly wanted to cut her kid’s finger off??? That’s the most psychotic thing I’ve read in ages.

I realize that people born during the psychological dark ages (say…pre-history to 1970 or so) were more or less aloud to abuse their families with impunity, but Jesus H! If your story is true, then your mom would rank right up there with those schizophrenic Christians in Texas who try to scald the sin off of their children. And your wording doesn’t even betray a grudge…You’re frying my CPU over here. Say it ain’t so Irene (lie if you have to)!!!

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-10-01 09:19:10

Lenore is ALWAYS busting my chops. She LIVES for it, in fact. You can’t believe the things she says about me that she thinks are hilarious, but readers BELIEVE! She drives me nuts! Then Tim chimes in and does the same thing, but he’s not as adamant about ruining my reputation. He’s just having fun and knows where to draw a line.

John B, I swear to you that this is exactly what my mother did. She was one wacky mother to grow up with, I can tell you that. I have stories that will curl your hair, although I have to admit that this one is pretty much the most graphic.

I don’t know what “frying your CPU” means. I am pretty sure that I have no intention of frying it. Why don’t you tell me what it means and then I’ll know for sure.

Lenore and I do sort of have an equally morbid sense of humor. Is that a bad thing?

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-10-01 10:27:16

Besides, John B, if psychotic people don’t do psychotic things, who will do them?

Comment by John B |Edit This
2008-10-01 10:28:18

In your daughter’s defense…satirically accusing you of things like assault with a wine bottle, and you apologizing only to vomit into her pillowcase IS friggin’ genius. As they say on the street, “don’t playa-hate….congratulate!”
The fact that you guys can joke like that is very telling. Together, you’re putting the fun back in dysfunctional !

Using words like “wacky”, and “creative”, to describe your mother makes me guess that you’re either A:highly compartmentalized, B:at the tail end of 20 years of intense therapy, or C: on valium. In any case, you have a beautiful sense of humor and I commend you. I’ll save my judgmental comments regarding your dad for a later date (your story sort of struck a chord with my own baggage….what’s worse, the deranged abusive mother, or the “sane” father that repeatedly impregnates her? I swear it’s like the whole concept of having “standards” when choosing a mate never even existed until a generation ago).

CPU stands for Central Processing Unit, it’s what makes your computer compute. I was basically saying that you were blowing my mind…I didn’t think you story could be true, at least I didn’t want it to be…You seem so well adjusted for a being raised by the type of woman that puts the turkey in the bassinet, then wonders, “now WHERE did I put that baby….”

Yes your morbid sense of humor is detestable. Awful. I can see why Nick wants to kick your polar bear dog.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-10-01 10:40:33

Earlier on, John B, George said that my mother sounded like a hoot. If you look back I said that growing up with her was less hootful. Much less hootful. I try to use language that is appropriate to be read on line. Lenore is not bound by such rules. Her stuff is more fun to read probably partly because she has no filter between her head and her fingers.

Were I speaking to you in person, I might very well use some colorful words to describe her. She really wasn’t “abusive.” She was nuts. Stark raving nuts. Sort of hard to blame her for the stuff she did when she wouldn’t even be responsible in a court of law. She BELIEVED it was the right thing to “clean my brother’s hand up” that way. She wasn’t being mean. She was being tidy. Terribly tidy.

Thanks for telling me what CPU means. Yet something else I’ve learned since I got here.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-10-01 10:41:23

Oh. Nick KNOWS not to try to kick my polar bear dogs. (And you better too, Buster!)


By Rob Bloom


So I’m growing a beard. I’m not sure how I feel about it, to tell you the truth, and it’s not just because my beard hasn’t come in all the way. See, I’ve got all these splotchy patches—parts of my face where there should be beard but isn’t—so to the casual observer it looks like I’m either midway through transforming into a werewolf or I’ve been making out with a lawnmower.

But that’s not the big problem. My real concern is that, well, I’m just not sure I’m a Beard Guy. Ever since the Supreme Court passed its landmark judgment (Man v. Razor, 1964), Beard Guys have been running rampant: Paul Bunyan, Chuck Norris, Charlton Heston in “The Ten Commandments.” These are Real Men. You know the type: forearms like Popeye, wardrobe like the Brawny guy, and hairy. All over. Seriously, if you were to see one of these guys at the beach, you’d swear they were wearing a cardigan. Course you’d never say anything because you value your dental work too much. Now as much as Real Men love to fight, it’s really only foreplay for their real passion: looking under the hood of cars. What are they looking for? Who knows! Whatever it is though, I pity it because the moment the Real Man finds it—RIP!—that part’s as good as gone.

Macho man? You betcha!

Another thing about Real Men is that they’re low maintenance. But if they did decide to shave for some reason (i.e. they’d run out of bears to wrestle that day), you wouldn’t find them using a pansy Gillete Fusion razor or slapping on some Nivea Aftershave Balm. Hell, Real Men just whip out their switchblades and, in a real manly way, scrape those pesky hairs off one by one. Incidentally, they’d do this while looking under the hood.

Of course, Real Men are only half of the Beard Guy population. The other half’s made up of Intellectual Men, otherwise known as “the beard stroking community.” Seriously, these guys cannot help but stroke their beard while talking. It’s great, though. Not only does the beard complement their intellectual mystique, it also covers up, what I can only imagine is, a nasty dermatological condition that can only be soothed by constant rubbing. But in all seriousness, you can’t help but be intimidated by Intellectual Men. They do the New York Times crossword puzzle (the Sunday edition!) for fun and use terms like “hypertensive encephalopathy” in everyday conversation. They’re also extremely cultured. When out to dinner with Intellectual Men you can expect to hear the following phrases:

a) “This Riesling is absolutely transplendid.”
b) “Do I detect a hint of fennel in this dish?”
c) “Honestly, Bogata is so underwhelming this time of year.”

On the contrary, you will never, upon any circumstance, hear Intellectual Men say any of the following:

a) “So, who do you think will win ‘Project Runway’ this season?”
b) “Did you catch that battle royal steel cage match last night on ‘Raw’?”
c) “So THAT’S why this call this place Hooters, eh?”

This is my problem. I don’t fit into any of these ridiculous and narrowly defined categories that are for entertainment purposes only and in no way indicate either my death wish or my desire to receive angry e-mails from hoards of bearded men—excuse me, bearded persons—who found the above stereotypes to be insulting. Take it easy on me, all right? I’m going through a beard crisis right now.

So what’s a guy to do? Shave or not shave? My wife, the bearer of kisses, is not in favor of the scruff. My parents, the bearers of guilt, made an initial effort to support my beard with comments like “It looks…interesting!” and “Well, you certainly look…different!” but in the past few days, they’ve let their true feelings slip: “You have such a nice face…why cover it up with an ugly beard?”

And then there’s my take on it, which is, quite simply, I feel like an imposter. Like when somebody asks me who I think will win the Super Bowl and, in an effort to fit in without revealing the fact that I know absolutely nothing about sports, respond “The Yankees.” The fact of the matter is that I’m just not a facial hair guy and yet, here I am, walking around, pretending to be a member of Beard Guy society—knowing full well that I can be discovered at any given moment for the fraud that I am. It’s ridiculous. And that is why I must shave the beard! I must be true to myself! I must do this for ME! Well, and for my wife. After all, she’s the bearer of kisses.

From time to time, I have been known to work as a temp in Investment Banks when my financial situation lingers in the 25-watts-or-less range.

It’s mind-numbing work. Answering phones, scheduling (and rescheduling) meetings and defending a coked-up frat boy’s right to expense his SoHo House membership, succulent dinners at The Gramercy Tavern and executive limos to his Murray Hill penthouse, a mere ten blocks north of the office.

But the pay is great, there’s little-to-no responsibility involved and if you can find humor in the daily patronizing condescension that is heartily served by the aforementioned punk-ass bankers (usually several years your junior) then it’s a decent short-term gig.

Several times a day I would get e-mails that start like this:

To: ML-IBD-Worldwide-All
Fr: Candice Compliance
Re: Relationship Inquiry

The e-mails go on to give a brief bio of the people and their company history and then a contact number to call,

if you have had or currently have a relationship with Randolph Smarmyton or James Picklebum or one of the other senior partners at Super WASP-y Venture Capitalist Group, Inc.

Now being the kind of person I am, it would take everything in my power not to hit the “Reply All” button and begin a long-winded description something akin to:


Oh. My. God. I DID have a relationship with James Picklebum and I have to tell you, girl… total nightmare.

At first, he was really sweet. Paid for everything, held open doors, sent flowers; my faith in chivalrous behavior was restored! We made plans for weekend ski trips, compared notes about reasonable numbers of offspring and started looking through the New York Times Real Estate section over our Sunday morning bagels and schmear; I loved Park Slope, he was keen on Brooklyn Heights. It was the kind of argument you dream about!

And then, without warning, it all changed! Turned out, he was a “Future-Talker.” After only our first open house, he vaporized. Suddenly he was working late every night. He had these all these ‘Client meetings’ and ‘restructuring sessions’ and since we were saving for the new house, couldn’t I just chip in just once in a while – what was he, made of money??? Four-time-a-week overnights turned into weekly phone calls turned into emails turned into text messages.

When he dumped me, he didn’t even give me the courtesy of a fucking phone call! Just ‘ping’-ed me from his Blackberry during the company Christmas party:

“No sparx left. U wr fun tho. Gd lck. xo –j”

Me! A “text-ex”!

So thanks for asking, Candice. If I can save just one woman out there from the horrors of pursuing a relationship with James Picklebum, then I’ll know that the agony I endured was worth it!

I would crack myself up thinking about how the Compliance Department would respond to something like that.

* * * * *

All joking aside, there are some seriously vitriolic websites out there devoted to this kind of thing. There’s where you can actually assign a numerical value to your boytoy. You can vent your frustrations at or join the message boards at You can play Relationship Revenge, or consult the folks at Make Him Pay for fresh ideas to spew your venom.  All designed to make you feel better about not giving out the Rejection Hotline disguised as your real number to the ungrateful schmuck in the first place.

On the brighter side of this mossy-tinged copper penny, there is a heart-warming, only mildly-frightening site: where you can herald your best-friend (or ex) and recommend them to other people on the prowl.  One of those “he is perfect… just not for me” kinds of things, which personally, I think is noble, but lame.  If he’s not good enough for you, why on earth would he be good enough for me??

Nowadays, I defy any single woman to bypass the pre-requisite internet search as part of the ‘Do-I-Want-To-Date-Him?’ contemplation ceremony.

Better safe than sorry, right?


* * * * *

In May of 2001, I got a call from a friend of mine to help him out. Would I be interested in stage managing two operas in rep on a tour to Taiwan? It was a tiny production company and the fee was crap, but the airplane tickets, hotel and food would be paid for and the rehearsals would be in New York, minutes away from my apartment.

It took me about three seconds to bleat out “YES!”

When we got back to the States three weeks later; exhausted, drained and vowing NEVER to go through an ordeal as horrible as the one we had just endured; with possibly the most inexperienced and ridiculously incompetent producer on the scene, another friend asked:

“Did you ‘Google’ her before you accepted the job?”

“Google?” (remember, this was early 2001) “What the hell is that?”

She dashed for my computer and flipped open the screen.

In 4.83 seconds, page after page reported an embarrassing number of cases in appellate court from the New York chapter of the American Federation of Musicians, Local 802, after countless offences had been made by said producer against said union members.

We could have saved ourselves weeks of torment, despair and sleepless nights if we had just performed a simple 4.83-second “Relationship Inquiry.”

If I had done that though, I would never have seen the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Theatre, met a brilliant artistic collaborator, eaten a 100-year old egg (disgusting, btw) or gotten a tattoo of the first phrase I mastered in Chinese: “Children to the stage, please”.

* * * * *

You know, if we performed due diligence before we did every little thing, think about how much fun we would miss out on.

Corner Store Wars

By Amy Shearn


When I am describing (or defending, depending on the attitude of questioner) my choice to live in the yuppie stronghold of Park Slope, I often list chief among its charms convenience, “since after all,” I add, hoping to be contradicted, “I am extremely lazy.”

I guess I can forgive people for not contradicting me. It’s pretty true, at least in terms of food preparation. When my husband and I “cook” it involves things like applying heat to a pan of refried beans. We rarely conjure the organization or gumption for a big grocery shop. Instead, we are spectacularly undiscplined, considering what to eat for dinner approximately ten minutes before we plan to be actually eating it. But it’s not our fault.  Our neighborhood has lulled us into this state. It’s just too convenient.

In fact, on our block alone there are two decent restaurants, one bar, a Chinese takeout place, a bakery, and three –yes, three– corner stores.

While the three corner stores are certainly a boon, the situation does have its pitfalls. There have been plenty of nights when I’ve strolled blithely out of the more-ghetto-but-ever-so-slightly-closer store, bag of Utz in my hot little hand, straight into the disappointed glare of the corner store proprietor across the street. And I deserve this from Bassam, the kind-hearted, hard-working Palestinian father of four who runs Junior’s, who knows everyone’s name, who always has a word of wisdom and an unnervingly positive attitude. On a sweltering summer day when his store tops out at 150 degrees, he’ll answer a “Hot enough for you” with a smiling, “It’s summer! This is beautiful!” During Ramadan he toasts our bagels with a  haunted gaze, telling us how delicious the day-long fast makes dinner. In a perfect world, we would always support Bassam.

But then there’s the other store, which recently reopened as a slightly overpriced gourmet market. As much as I love Bassam, he doesn’t offer organic avocados or local hormone-free milk at 11pm. So okay, in a perfect perfect world, I guess I’d go to the organic market for emergency veg runs, and then Bassam for your everyday average sparkling water situation.

But then there’s that first, more ghetto store, which actually also has a rather charming employee –- a larger-than-life fellow called Rolls, who recently found out I wrote a book and who now greets me at the top of his lungs, “Hey, Jane Austen!” Now, I think most writers would probably travel across town to encourage a nickname like this. Lately he’s been mixing it up, too, including other literary luminaries. Who, I ask, could resist this?

So I compromise. Some days, I admit that I end up visiting all three. And in the end, there is enough of divergence in each shop’s stock that I’ve come to feel that three corner stores is really just barely enough. Each is as necessary and beloved as, say, one of three children. Parents can’t pick one favorite! Why should I?! Honestly, when I face the thought of someday leaving our neighborhood (as will likely have to happen at some point as rents go up and we continue to not hit the jackpot on the Lotto tickets we always buy from Bassam) I shudder to think of a life with fewer corner stores. In the meantime, I stop at the ghetto store on my way home from work, greeted by Rolls’ exuberant “Why the long face, Willa Cather?”

To which I respond, a bit accusingly, “You don’t have Pirate Booty!” — slinking to the next corner store in search of the elusive puffs.


Your boots are white with dust as fine as talc. Insidious stuff. Your legs, your arms, your face, whatever clothing you have decorated your body with – all are white, silty and dry. Your skin reacts to the alkaline, shrinking, drying, withering, trying to escape it. But there is no escape. The dust is everywhere – in your eyes, your lungs, your ears, in every nook of your body, in every cranny, in every fold of fabric that adorns you, everywhere you look… your world is white. And so you trudge across this white world, this wide expanse of nothingness, bracing yourself against the whirling-dervish winds, staring blindly into the invisibility that surrounds you. You are cocooned in the nothing, strangely safe and yet completely assailable.

You have never felt more alone, more surrounded by love, or more alive. Your vulnerability is your greatest strength.

This post-apocalyptic landscape strengthens your resolve and buffers your sense of self.

You are at The End of the Earth.

Welcome Home.

You catch a glimpse of moving structures and beings through the whiteness. A creature looms, a fluffy rabbit drives by helmed by a renegade cast of characters, a half-naked hula-hooper spins into view and vanishes again, a goggled and masked humanoid passes on a feathered bicycle and disappears into the cloud, something indescribably weird happens and you can only shake your head in wonder. There is much that is indescribable here. Indecipherable, unimaginable… you know that you will have a hard time convincing others of the perfection of this very imperfect place and you shrug. You are not, nor will you ever be, a missionary.

Noises abound. The wind howls over whoops and yells. There is music everywhere. Guitar screams, thumping bass, a violin…. a violin? Nothing you expect and everything you could ever imagine – if you were insane. For this is madness. Barely organized chaos. Insanity. The bizarre, the beautiful, the grotesque, the amazing.

Onward you move.

As the light fades so does the wind. The roar and force abates but the madness doesn’t. The power of nature is replaced by the power of humanity and technology as a whole new world reveals itself to your eyes.

The white-out is over.

You remove your dust-mask, your goggles, your methods of protection. You look around and, in the fading desert sunset, in the dusky twilight of the Nevada gloaming, this is what you see-


All around you are lights of every color. Red and blue and gold and green. Static, flashing. The lights belong to structures that pump sound out into your environment. You are far from these lights but they surround you completely. You are in a womb of blinking neon.

A pirate ship on wheels passes by. A silver Sphinx crosses its path in a near collision. The fluffy rabbit returns. Someone waves and smiles. You return the greeting.

A rocket approaches and the feeling you are having of being a traveler to another planet intensifies. Perhaps you are on the set of a science-fiction epic? Perhaps you are a warrior on the barren plains of another world? Perhaps you are a god or goddess, a king or a queen, a survivor of the apocalypse… one of The Last?

Or maybe you are just you and you feel different? Bigger, stronger, more alive…. more capable and inspired. Your reality is altered.

The possibilities are endless.

In the distance you see your destination. Your bunny-ears twitch and a smile illuminates the twilight.


Your feet skip a dance to a tall Moroccan tent filled with laughing people. Cocktails are poured, trays of food pass under your nose. You partake, feasting, drinking, soaking it up.

The person you love is grinning. He/she looks beautiful, radiant, alive and very, very dusty. You have never loved more deeply or with more detachment to an outcome.

Your heart is full.

Your friends are happy.

Small worries fade away.

A new perspective emerges.

Your life seems suddenly complete.

You have evolved somehow and a strange new sentiment is birthed within you.

“All is as it should be.”

You know you will remind yourself of these words in the near future whenever a cab is late, a drama unfolding, a person pushing your buttons or things not going your way. You know you may temporarily forget these words, but that they will come back to you more and more, and that from this moment on you are changed.

You have become lighter and happier and less touchable by Stuff.

You have survived the storms, transcended yourself and walked through fire.

You are at Burning Man and your world will never seem the same again.

If you would like to see a video of our time at Black Rock City, Nevada then please click the following link. The movie was made by Ron Kurti and stars himself, his father, our friend Udi (who took all of these beautiful pictures) and yours truly.


It is a perfect memory made into a whimsical and beautiful little film. Please enjoy and feel free to leave a comment on either of our pages. Hearing stories of your own experiences on the Playa would be wonderful and if you have any questions which might inspire you to go then I’d love to help answer them. xx

I’m sure you’ve heard this before: if it’s on your Facebook profile, it’s official. So let it be known that my religion is Richard Yates.

Richard Yates was a writer who still isn’t as well known as he should be, though I’d think come Christmas this year, that’ll change in a big way. His first novel, Revolutionary Road, was published in 1961 and will be finally seen on the big screen with the starting lineup of Titanic actors: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, and Kathy Bates. Throw in Sam Mendes, the director of American Beauty, and you just may have a Best Picture Oscar nominee on your hands.

I’ve been obsessed with Yates since 2001, when The New Yorker printed a short story of his, “The Canal,” which concludes with this bit of beautiful ugliness of a couple in trouble:

We got this phone call.  It was approximately 3:30 AM when the phone rang. It was winter. It was cold. Victor and I were fast asleep in our woolies. Victor answered the phone.


“Dr. Zion?” a voice said.


“Yes,” he answered.


“We have your car, Sir.”

“What car?” he asked.

“Your stolen Thunderbird, Sir,” the voice replied.


“We don’t have a stolen Thunderbird,” he answered.



“We have your stolen car,” the voice insisted.

“Hold on a minute,” Victor said.

Then Victor ran to the garage to make sure we still had our bright red 1989 Thunderbird. Her name was Christine. It was an obvious moniker, if you knew our family.


Victor ran back and grabbed the phone.


“Our Thunderbird is not in the garage!” he said.


Duh, the voice would have said, but he was very polite and did not. “We have your car,” he said again.


Then Victor asked the policeman to hold on again. He ran upstairs to the kids’ rooms and Tim and Lenore were sleeping soundly.


He ran back downstairs and grabbed the phone.


“What should we do?” he asked.

The policeman asked us to come to identify our stolen car.


Victor threw on a coat and I threw on my down coat over my flannel pajamas. We drove in our not-stolen car to the site in Savoy, Illinois, where our stolen car was abandoned, doors akimbo, engine running.


The police said that they had had three police cars in hot pursuit of Christine. She was driving very fast through residential neighborhoods. They almost caught the perpetrators, but they were too good and they got away. They left the car, running, and the keys were missing. It wasn’t damaged, but we needed to get it towed to get it re-keyed.


I was irate. I asked that the police fingerprint the car. They nodded, but it wasn’t done. We couldn’t even turn off the engine. I was getting more irate. I demanded that they fingerprint the car. They nodded.


Finally we got a tow truck to tow our unfingerprinted Thunderbird to the dealership to get it worked on. We filled out lots of papers. We answered lots of questions. We were tired and pissed.

The next day there was a huge headline in the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette:




Things were pretty slow in Champaign-Urbana, so it was a long article. I have it somewhere because I saved it but I have a problem saving things. I always put important things somewhere safe. That, unfortunately, translates into somewhere that can never be located again. My mother was this way too. She once saved three two-pound coffee cans full of actual silver dollars in a safe place. It was such a safe place that she couldn’t find them. Ever.


You would think that after we got the car back with new keys that that would be the end of it and it was, for several years.


At this later time, Tim decided that he should fess up to some shenanigans he was party to at a younger age.


I always had trouble digesting what was being said to me when it wasn’t something that emphasized the glorious nature of my beautiful, precocious, brilliant children. It’s a problem. For instance one day Tim spent the whole day with pink hair. He had light blond hair every day prior to this. I saw pink hair but blamed it on the lighting. I didn’t question why the lighting would have changed this particular day. I accepted that the lighting was making Tim’s hair appear pink. At dinner I said, “Tim, the lighting is really strange today. Your hair appears to be pink!” Lenore and Tim then burst out laughing and explained to us that Lenore had dyed Tim’s hair pink. They had been waiting impatiently all day to shock us. I had trouble believing it. In fact, to support my point of view, Victor didn’t see pink hair either. We’re idiots.

Another time I was explaining to Lenore that we would have to actually inspect her skin for something I’d rather not get into.


“Then probably I should show you this,” she said. She proceeded to lift up her shirt to show me a design she had put on her tummy with a ballpoint pen.


“Show me what?” I said.

“It’s a tattoo, Mom,” Lenore said.


“Don’t be ridiculous. You drew that on with a ballpoint pen. I thought you had better artistic skills. You should rub it off and draw something better. Perhaps it is the wrong angle for you to draw. Draw somewhere else,” I said.


It took me a very long time to be convinced that this was an actual tattoo. First, it was inconceivable that Lenore would have a tattoo. She was only 16. You had to be 18 to get a tattoo without a parent’s permission. Second, it was really, really ugly. It looked like a map of her right ovary, which was on the skin on top of her actual right ovary. But. It turns out that Lenore, my 16-year-old daughter, actually had a really ugly tattoo over her right ovary.

But I digress. Tim was in a place in his life where he thought that being totally honest with us was essential. (I wasn’t actually in that same place, enjoying my version of the truth totally, thank you very much.)

It turns out that the nasty thieves who stole our Thunderbird were in fact Tim and Lenore. They were joyriding in the middle of the night.

This might be the place where I advise all parents to get an alarm system that goes off if anyone opens the windows or the doors while you are peacefully sleeping in complete denial.


They were driving at a high rate of speed, according to the police. These were children who knew their way through all the side streets. Better, I guess than the police did, since three police cars were not able to catch them. They had in the car many illegal items. Each time they lost a police car for a moment they hurled one illegal item from the car. Since they had just purchased a brand new “beautiful” glass bong, they were very sad to throw that out of the car after the items, which they were using in the “beautiful” glass bong. They were littering. On top of everything else, they were littering. I’ll bet they were not even wearing their seat belts!


When they finally got rid of all things illegal, they got far as they could from the three police cars and stopped the car. They jumped out of the car, leaving the doors open. They threw the keys into the cornfield and ran home unseen. When Victor went upstairs to check on them, their guilt threshold was so low that they were actually sleeping like babies.

I wish I could find that article. It just proves how incredibly stupid parents can be. It’s somewhere here in this house. I’m sure my kids will find it after we die. That and the three two-pound coffee cans.



Comment by Lenore Zion |Edit This
2008-09-03 16:58:08


also, you guys were so fucking stupid.

Comment by Josie |Edit This
2008-09-03 17:19:14

Well…… were you wearing your seatbelt, young lady?

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 18:55:07

I just BET they were NOT wearing their seat belts! It’s just the kind of thing they’d do if I weren’t there to refuse to drive the car unless they complied. Back in the old days when I drove a carpool with five pre-kindergarteners. It was a 45 minute drive on the highway each way. There would always be one kid who would unbuckle while we were driving. I would just pull on to the side of the road and say nothing. Just wait. They finally got it that if they were not buckled, we were going nowhere. Kids are so easy when they are little.
By the way, Lenore PROMISED that she would stay five and not get any older. She totally lied. She’s WAY more than five now. Lenore lies. Trust me on this.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Josie |Edit This
2008-09-03 23:12:55

…in the snow and uphill… both ways…


(Lenore’s Mom) – you’re funny.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 18:19:56

We completely had the wool pulled over our eyes because you were all so GOOD in the daytime.
(What does <3 mean?)

Comment by Cayt |Edit This
2008-09-04 16:46:58

If you incline your head ninety degrees clockwise, you’ll see a heart.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 17:56:55

But it’s crooked. I think I can make a better one: &hearts

did it work?

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 17:57:46

Cayt, I will study up on this and do better next time, promise!

Comment by Lenore Zion |Edit This
2008-09-03 17:07:10

also, thank goodness i had that ovary tattoo covered up. otherwise i wouldn’t be a real Jew.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 18:20:45

Remember: If you are Jewish enough for the Nazis, you are Jewish enough for Israel!

Comment by Nataly |Edit This
2008-09-08 08:54:48

This line is a classic!
P.S. You were not an idiot- you were outnumbered.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-08 17:46:32

Lenore and Tim just got back from Israel and that is what they say there. True words.
Damn, thanks for that out! I WAS outnumbered! Five dissembling children, two disloyal dogs and about 3 – 5 disinterested cats at the time. Thank you for an excuse that seems to carry some weight here! You rule, Nataly!

Comment by Ben |Edit This
2008-09-03 17:13:28

See, I was totally unaware of the drama going on in our family. Was I a sound sleeper or something? How is it that Lenore and Tim could be breaking in and out of the house every night and I wouldn’t know it?

(Do cars ever get stolen in Champaign? You guys really are stupid.)



Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 18:23:43

Well, it’s good to know that the adults were not the only brain dead occupants of the house. We came to think that you knew all along, but didn’t want them to get in trouble. That you didn’t know is a shock!
Your own brother’s car got stolen. You bet. The Midwest is a hotbed of car thievery!
(What does <3 mean?)

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 18:56:18

Why won’t anyone tell me what <3 means? it looks like a butt with a dunce hat on.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Radam |Edit This
2008-09-03 21:23:54

It’s a sideways, crappy, ASCII heart.

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 05:30:05

Okay, I’m out of my league here, what does ASCII mean? You people are no help at all. I’ll bet you don’t even help old ladies cross the street.

Comment by Eusebio |Edit This
2008-09-04 12:23:29

“Why won’t anyone tell me what <3 means? it looks like a butt with a dunce hat on.”

This is a butt: (__i__)

..or at least i like to think so.

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 17:59:22

Eusebio, that is one excellent butt! Congratulations!

Comment by Adam |Edit This
2008-09-04 20:07:07

I’ve tried at least thrice to post here in response to your question about ASCII, but it never shows up. At least for me. I can’t shake the unreasonable suspicion that you’re all seeing my longwinded post over and over and over and wondering what’s wrong with me.

My guess is it overran some clandestine length limit because all the HTML I used is totally legit, according to the little guidelines I see even now — and because there turned out to be a clandestine length limit to MySpace comments that required me to bisect the response and reverse the halves like a clever fucker.

Anyway, I’m sure you’ll see it there before you even read this.

Comment by Adam |Edit This
2008-09-04 20:12:16

For anyone and everyone’s enjoyment, here is a link to an outstanding example of ASCII art, which was probably the highlight of the response and which far outshines the heart and butt above.

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 03:39:27

Adam thanks!
I can see why you denigrate the sideways crooked heart when you know pictures like that can be done with ASCII. That was amazing!
I was taught a way to make a great heart, but it doesn’t show up here for some reason. You could still tell me what ASCII stands for….

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 04:45:35

“thrice” HAHAHAHA

Comment by Eusebio |Edit This
2008-09-05 15:53:50

Adam: “far outshines the heart and butt above.”

Um….Adam: my butt rocks!

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-06 03:06:02

Remember: beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
I love BOTH your butts.
(That may not have come out exactly as I had meant.)

Comment by Tim |Edit This
2008-09-03 19:54:54

Ben, you were only aware when candy was involved. Now, if we were talking blue candy, you were as aware as one could dream to be.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 19:59:29

This, my dear Ben, is the God’s honest truth. You were the KING of blue candy! The only reason you even got to EAT candy is that the four before you wore me down so flat. The first bunch never even tasted chocolate, let alone the chemical-ridden blue candy you craved.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Josie |Edit This
2008-09-03 17:15:46

What a funny headline. You should send this blog to the paper and have them print an “after the facts” follow up story. And Lenore’s first comment should be included. lol

Tim was in a place in his life where he thought that being totally honest with us was essential. (I wasn’t actually in that same place, enjoying my version of the truth totally, thank you very much.)

I loved that – I can totally identify with this dichotomy!

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 18:26:38

I think that unless you’ve been through such a thing, you cannot imagine how clueless parents can be. We believed they were PERFECT. How this happened right under our noses, I cannot imagine. Truly, the only conclusion is that we were idiots.

Comment by Cecile |Edit This
2008-09-03 17:30:13

As I read this tale it sounded so familiar as if I lived through this with someone. Well I actually did! Truth is definitely stranger than fiction. The characters all turned out just fine.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 18:27:57

They did. I think that is proof that there is a God, since we were too stupid as parents to influence them one way or the other.

Comment by N.L. Belardes |Edit This
2008-09-03 17:31:58

My kids once toilet-papered their old elementary school.

That’s all I got.

I’m the one who causes trouble in my family. My kids are the calm, reliable ones.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 18:28:40

OH. Tell us what you did! We won’t tell your kids, promise!

Comment by Josie |Edit This
2008-09-03 23:14:19

You are such an instigator.
I love it!

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 05:31:38

The cricket with attitude is really a chicken, Josie.

Comment by N.L. Belardes |Edit This
2008-09-04 09:09:07

What I did? You mean what I’m constantly doing…Read my installments of Thick White Crust. I’m not afraid to lay my life out there for everyone to pick apart like chicken bones. There’s 5 chapters on TNB so far. Woot!

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 09:21:45

A thousand pardons, angry cricket. You have a different picture. I didn’t know that was you! Pure ignorance. “Thick White Crust” is so gross that I was afraid to read it. Now I will. (Woot?)

Comment by N.L. Belardes |Edit This
2008-09-04 10:42:42

Not even sure if I’m a cricket… you’ll have to go look and tell me. Woot is kind of like saying: Cool! or hooray! or Weehoo! or slap me silly!

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 18:01:50

Oh, Angry Cricket, thanks for explaining a great new word to me. Woot! Slap me silly!
Wonderful. You are a smart, helpful angry cricket.

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-06 03:11:14

Angry Cricket, I looked and was surprised to notice you were wearing glasses.
This is not unlike my inability to see mustaches, or, in turn, seeing them shaved off. Two of my close friends had mustaches forever, then one day they were gone. I never noticed. In point of fact, I thought each had lost weight.
You look nice and trim with your glasses.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-06 17:42:13


Comment by cindy |Edit This
2008-09-03 17:34:24

ok… so much for the Brady Bunch of Savoy.. alarms won’t work.. if the kid wants out( house or family) they are gone you know better!

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 18:29:15

There has GOT to be a way….

Comment by ksw |Edit This
2008-09-04 18:09:58

several , none of which are legal or “Dr. Spock” approved.. at least you spawn snuck out, ours backed out of the garage with the door still down guess who

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 03:44:05

Come back. Sometimes things just don’t get posted correctly, through no fault of your own. I myself have tried to put things up in the past and nothing shows up so I do it again and again and then all of a sudden my post is up six times.
Obviously only part of your post showed up. Please post it again! I got a glimmer, your kids sneaked out with the car but forgot to open the garage door? That is something I definitely want to hear more about!

Comment by lonny |Edit This
2008-09-03 17:39:16

personally i am not at all surprised that they out ran the cops
that car had some serious pick up

i could list some of the times i drove way to fast in it but i wont

i however will say that when parents like the ones in this story
(my parents, by the by)
who have many children grow blissfully clueless as time goes by
but i was in college by then – what do i know

i will also say that
it was not that they were stupid
it was a lack of want for the knowledge
truth is less nice than fiction

sometimes? all the time? you be the judge

my mom is funny
so is my sister
go team

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 18:34:18

That car was a tank! That was it’s purpose: to keep you all safe! Not to be able to outrun multiple police cars. This is something that had never entered our heads.
It’s true that it is easier to believe there is nothing untoward going on, but honestly, we really wanted to know what the kids were doing, we were just clueless. (And need I mention the two HUGE sentry dogs who made not a whimper of sound to warn us? Obviously the dogs loved you kids more.)
You’re pretty funny, too.

Comment by Melissa |Edit This
2008-09-03 17:54:39

You made my evening,,, that was so funny, Kind of like when my daughter came home with a belly button ring and tried to convince me that her innie belly button was now an outie. THAT was the bulge under her shirt.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 18:46:43

You know you wanted to believe it. Well, probably you were a smart parent and knew she was screwing with you. I think it’s to late for me to try to be a smart parent.

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 05:33:44

Melissa, I keep thinking about the belly button thing. How can they think you would buy the transformation of her innie to an outie? (Did you buy it?)

Comment by Melissa |Edit This
2008-09-04 07:19:12

Irene, no I did not buy it at all,,,I told so many tall tales to my mom and dad, these kids could not pull anything on me. Ok well the two oldest ones. The youngest one got my BS genes. Boy can that kid spin tales.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 18:03:04

I hate it when other parents are smarter than I am. (But I will attempt to be humble here.)

Comment by George |Edit This
2008-09-03 17:55:54

This is really a funny story, and I learned a new word, “akimbo”. Painless vocabulary-building.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 18:35:23

I love you, George, and my arms are akimbo while I say this.

2008-09-03 17:56:30

Irene… will you be my mommy? This is stupendous!

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 18:36:34

Absolutely. I always wanted ten children at the least, but I would’ve had to have the last four without my husband, who originally wanted two. (I won.)

Comment by marcia |Edit This
2008-09-03 18:04:15

In retrospect it probably was a good thing that the police refused to fingerprint the car. . . I can’t believe they were sound asleep by the time the police called. Truth is stranger and funnier than fiction!

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 18:39:46

OMG! What if they had listened to my badgering and actually fingerprinted the car? My own kids would’ve been arrested! I was so stupid that I just was sure it was a gang of no-goodniks who went around stealing cars and that their fingerprints would be on file.

Those little creeps were dreaming happy dreams before the Police knew who the car belonged to. No guilt. None! That’s why we believed them. They acted like the pros.

Comment by Tim |Edit This
2008-09-03 19:57:39

The police were hot on the trail of a tall man with an orange afro. We’d’ve been OK.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 20:02:29

Huh? Were you wearing wigs? I certainly didn’t hear this part, but I’d believe anything now. I’m almost past surprise.

Comment by Tim |Edit This
2008-09-07 23:47:36

No. No wigs. That would’ve made everything even cooler. The police told the News Gazette’s crime reporter that they saw three people get out of the car and run, and that one of them had a large, orange afro.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-08 03:41:09

I completely forgot that! And there were actually four of you in the car, right? They didn’t have much to go on with that description. (If I could only find that article….)

Comment by Megan DiLullo |Edit This
2008-09-03 18:15:20

I love stories like this… not only do you get a different perspective, but we get some more dirt on Miss Lenore.

I have mentioned to Lenore how wonderful I thought you were from her stories. Now I get to hear your stories. This is magnificent!

Welcome to TNB, darling. I look forward to reading more.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 18:43:49

Oh Megan, oh Megan, I have so much dirt on Lenore I could write forever. And, remember, she’s only one of five. I live to humiliate her. HAHAHAHAHA she will be sorry I ever got on this site! (If I knew how to do it, I would insert here Brad’s evil laugh that moves across the page. That is really impressive.)

And, Thanks. You’re beautiful.

Comment by Matt |Edit This
2008-09-04 11:55:38

i agree. it was fun hearing this story again, but from mom’s point of view. the zion family should write a book together telling the same stories from different perspectives.

good work irene!

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 12:08:01

You rock, Matt. (When you aren’t telling evil stories about my baby!)

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Matt |Edit This
2008-09-06 19:50:44

i never make up stories about lenore. obviously you just choose to disregard the dirty truth about her. (she’s a slut).

(and so am i).

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-07 05:14:59

Matt, I know you well enough to know that you are not a slut but you should not speak nasty about your friend.

Comment by Lenore |Edit This
2008-09-07 19:10:12

i am a slut.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-07 19:47:01

Gee Whiz, Lenore, Maintain a little decorum, here!

Comment by Bruce |Edit This
2008-09-03 18:51:31

Nicely done, irene

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 18:58:49

Thanks, Bruce.
Were you always smart, or were you a stupid parent too?

Comment by Keiko |Edit This
2008-09-03 19:00:20

Awesome! Rainy sold you out. I’m going to read it a few more times because it made me laugh so much. Please write more.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 19:06:47

Rainy Night made not a sound, neither did Moussey, our 145 pound newfie. I think they had gotten used to them sneaking out at night while we slept and thought it was perfectly normal. Of course, it turns out that in our house it WAS normal. Can’t blame the dogs, I guess.

Comment by Gina Frangello |Edit This
2008-09-03 19:10:14

Wow, this is so hilarious and alarming all at once! I have 8 year old twin daughters who, other than bickering with one another all the time, are really, really “good”–now I get to look forward to being totally bamboozled by this perfect-kid behavior only to find out they are really stealing my car and throwing drugs out the windows in an OJ-like car chase. Jesus Christ. Thank goodness you guys live in freaking Champaign-Urbana; in Chicago, one of the cops would probably have opened fire on the car and you’d have gotten a call that your kids were in the morgue. (This is good incentive for me to get out of Chicago before my kids steal my car; I guess I have 7 or 8 years?)
I remember driving around in my parents’ car with my three friends in the backseat snorting coke right off the plush car seat because we’d gone over some huge bump and the coke spilled all over the place. They were all on their knees just snorting the car seat, and I remember thinking that if my mother and father could see this, they would have a pulmonary embolism on the spot. I was never a “perfect” kid (pretty far from it), but I think parents–at least the nice ones like you and my mom–always see their kids in an unrealistically kind light, ha.
Great story! And I love Lenore and Tim sleeping the sleep of the just, totally unperturbed. That is truly scary, from the point of view of someone who is now a mom!

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 19:34:15

Gina, Gina, you have far fewer than 7 or 8 years here. You will be bamboozled big time way sooner than that. But the thing is, you won’t know it until 15 years from now when they decide to tell you a “funny” story. Get alarms on your doors and windows. Not to keep the bad guys out, to keep your beautiful girls in. Trust me here. There are probably other things to do, but I swear to you we thought we did them all. We totally trusted them. (Again, we were idiots, plain and simple.)

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 05:40:40

I can’t believe you and your friends were sniffing the car seat. The image is too jarring for me to line up with your sweet, mid-western, angelic young mother look.
I shudder to think what they would have done in a big city. Here they were in a small town and they found quite enough to occupy their nefarious interests. They might’ve been shooting out the tires of the police cars in Chicago!

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Radam |Edit This
2008-09-03 19:23:57


Those’re some scummy kids you’ve got there, lady. From what I can discern, though, Tim seems to have turned out okay.

P.S. I’ve thought about blogging here many times. But every time, I think I’d rather post on my own site. With lame contextual ads. Making money 1/1000 of a cent at a time.

But I never do it. Salut!

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 19:35:37

Radam, I’m only doing this to get Lenore back. You know she deserves it, evil spawn that she is.

Comment by jmbl |Edit This
2008-09-03 19:30:59

Lenore is always five, inside.

Please write here regularly.
Few people can pull off that tone,
where you read their writing, you feel like you had a visit with them.

In another life, can I be
Lenore’s little brother?
I want her to carry me on her hip
and teach me bad things.
Want to grow up in your house
a little while.

Comment by Ruthie |Edit This
2008-09-03 19:37:45

Truth is always stranger than fiction. You did have some warning. Remember when Lenore came home from the Middle School dance and reported that she saw my dear child of 12 years driving around in my car? You called us right up and gave us the wake up call about this which we greatly appreciated as we did not have a clue our little darlin’ was capable of such sneaky, dangerous behavior. But I guess it did not penetrate that your little darlin’s were capable of the same. Somehow, luckily, we all survived this, underage drivers included. Your tale makes a great story though. Maybe our kids did these things so we could have stories to tell in our old age….

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 19:47:30

Who knew their legs were even long enough to reach the pedals?
It is, to my regret, easier to believe the crazy actions of someone else’s child, while your own is robbing the corner store….Blinders. Blinders come with the birth of your child. Can’t take them off if you don’t even know you are wearing them.

Comment by Mark Rotunda |Edit This
2008-09-03 19:40:21

HAHA! Good job Tim and Lenore. I don’t think I could have pulled that one off with Nora. But then again, We didn’t want to steal a Rolls Royce.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 19:49:17

Oh you could have done it, but your Dad’s car was well known, whereas our little Thunderbird wasn’t. You needed to steal OUR car. Then you could have gotten away with it. We know my dogs wouldn’t have alerted me.

Comment by Jim |Edit This
2008-09-03 19:40:55

All parents are idiots, and I’m certainly one of them. Do they still make Thunderbirds? I think they stopped. I’m never buying one anyway, especially now.

Thanks for the peek behind the curtain of the Zion family history — you kick ass, Irene!

Welcome to TNB and please share with us more thrilling tales of Lenore the ovary-tattooed child.

<3 = wizard ass

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 19:54:58

I think they make Thunderbirds. How could they stop? Apparently they are not only tank-protective but “bitchin’ fast”. Can’t stop making something like that.

Wizard ass makes no sense. I think you are joshing with me.

Comment by Jim |Edit This
2008-09-03 20:25:48

They stopped production in 1998, then resumed in 2002. Maybe I was thinking of the Cougar. Or the Edsel. They’ve redesigned the Camaro — now there’s a bitchin’ car. (See the Dead Milkmen’s Bitchin’ Camaro.)

You’re right. It’s wizard balls.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 05:44:52

Unfortunately, both wizard ass and wizard balls look right, but I think you are engaged in some devolution here. I fear what you come up with next. Why doesn’t someone just tell me the truth? Go on, Jim, see what further abomination you can make out of this: <3

Comment by Tim |Edit This
2008-09-03 19:40:56

The soundtrack included Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. More specifically, their break-out hit, “Me No Surrender.” And that bong WAS beautiful . . .

All you had to do was feed Rainy. She’d jingle out to say hello, eat, and regally prance back to bed.

Remember, you both ran upstairs. Dad first into my room, then you into Lenore’s.
(We weren’t asleep.)

Nice job, Mom, and good luck to all of you new moms.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 19:52:03

YOU WERE TOO ASLEEP! Tell me you’re lying! We SAW you sleeping. We HEARD you sleeping. No way, Jose!
Rainy was such a turncoat! Moussey too.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 20:08:05

I remember your making a serious point of how very beautiful that bong was. I remember it was the last thing to be thrown out of the car. Is there something beautiful made of glass I can get you that is not tainted with an illegal smell? I’ll buy it. I will.

Comment by Mark Rotunda |Edit This
2008-09-03 23:07:56

Did CEDU make you come clean with that Tim?

Comment by Tim |Edit This
2008-09-03 23:59:44

You got it, Mark. Perhaps unnecessarily. That among many other (and if I could use a buzzword) disclosures.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-03 19:42:38

If I had a wish
I would go back in time
I would take you as my own
Our house would be fun again
We would be eating strange foods all together
As a family again.
Drawing outside the lines,
Making trees purple and sunshine red,
People green and fish in the sky.
But I’d like more children
And I’d be more
More careful.

Comment by Jim Simpson |Edit This
2008-09-03 20:29:00

Adopt me please.

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 18:05:11


(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-18 05:44:17

This was for jmbl, but by the time I got it written all this space was filled up between the message and the response. I am one lousy typist, slow and inaccurate.

Comment by reno |Edit This
2008-09-03 21:34:04


you know, irene, the first time i read your daughter’s stuff i knew that she had something. her voice. there was something IN there that appealed to me. the self-effacing jabs, the deadpan one-liners (always great dialogue). but more importantly her stories are absolutely hysterical.

one of my favorite writers in neil simon. the Goodbye Girl is brilliant. Biloxi Blues and Brighton (sp?) Beach Memoirs are my favorite movies. family stories. odd stories. life stories. this story fits in that mold.

(if you want to read a brillaint storyteller and reno’s all-time fav read John Fante. beautiful writer. a wordsmith like no other. hee-larious voice. love him to bits.)

after reading your story i can see where lenore may have “borrowed” a thing or two. two different styles. but the voice is similiar. it’s a character in itself.

the story was great. i was laughing. i love laughing. the doc’s dialogue w/ the fuzz had me rolling. sleeping in your “woolies.” ha. but what the hell are woolies? just wool PJs? or is this some weird mid-west garb? it doesn’t really matter. i laughed anyhow.

and then you crazy people made the paper? good god. again: rollling.

well, great vibe on this one. thanks, irene.


Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 05:51:44

Thanks for the skinny on good writers. I’m always reading and always looking for new people to read. Never heard of John Fante, probably should have. There are great gaps in my knowledge base.
I could never wear wool…too itchy. Woolies are just warm soft nightclothes people wear in the winter when the wind is whipping through the walls, it’s so cold.

I HATE that I can’t find that article! The list of things put in “safe” places is endless.

Did you paint that skull? The other one?

Comment by reno |Edit This
2008-09-04 10:04:51

john fante is an L.A. writer. died many years ago. anyhow, i found him through one charles bukowski (another L.A writer). i checked him out and ended up devouring most of his material. funny characters. boy stories. great storytelling with a punch. he wrote Ask the Dust, Wait Until Spring Bandini (this novel contains his alter ego “arturo bandini”), and countless others.

check out a short story collection of his. he has tons. i think you’ll like him. okay, that’s it, man. have a great day.


(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by reno |Edit This
2008-09-04 10:07:09


(no i didn’t paint those skull babies. stole them from the net.)


Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-07 05:20:11

Nefarious Flying Lemurs? Can’t find it on my TV guide, Reno! What channel? How was the first episode?

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 03:52:30

Lenore and I are close and have the same sense of humor, but that girl is a perfect gem of a writer all on her own. There is a short story she wrote quite awhile ago on

It’s just a taste but her full-on fiction will knock your socks off. Guaranteed.

Comment by Erika Rae |Edit This
2008-09-03 22:18:03

I will also voluntarily put myself up for consideration for adoption into the Zion household. This was a great story, Irene. I’m sitting next to my sleeping 5-year old right now, trying not to wake her up with my laughter. I’m also experiencing the strange desire to tag her with an ankle tracking device. And Reno’s right – I definitely recognize something of Lenore’s storytelling in your voice. Different, but familiar. You guys are like a dynamic duo. I can’t wait to hear more. SO funny.

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 05:55:35

She’s much to smart for an ankle tracking device. She’d have it unlocked and in the toilet in 10 minutes. You need to chip her. If I had my kids today, I would chip them all and carry around the tracking device with me all the time. And you know the kids you see in airports with leashes? I’d do that too. Well into their twenties. Taking no more chances here. Uh uh. I’ve learned my lesson.

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 08:22:37

too, not to. Told you I was an idiot, Erika.

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 18:06:44

You are definitely adopted; I get a granddaughter in the bargain! (Woohoo!)

Comment by Jim Simpson |Edit This
2008-09-04 18:16:37

…and you’ve got my two girls. So there’s THREE!

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 03:53:39


2008-09-05 07:08:37

All you get from me is one gen-u-ine wall nipple.

Top that, you breeders!

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 10:59:21

Kimberly, you KNOW you can never have too many nipples. They are very useful.

Comment by Christine |Edit This
2008-09-04 06:12:45

Their guilt threshold was so low…

I’m laughing so hard about that one right now…

I can picture it vividly in my head…sleeping Lenore….sleeping Tim….no guilt whatsoever…hahahahaha!

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 06:31:10

Christine, they were BRAZEN! Tim is lying. They were peacefully asleep. A parent can tell that much. Shameless and impudent. I have to say that my kids are great at anything they try. I just wish they’d tried to do something legal and less dangerous..

2008-09-04 06:22:41

Oh, I loved this. Especially this: It looked like a map of her right ovary

I agree with Reno, there is definitely something borrowed/shared here in the voices of Lenore and her way awesome mother.

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 06:33:21

Jennifer, you go ahead and ask Lenore. It was FOREVER before I would believe my own eyes. That’s how far into denial I was.
(I want to live in your gravatar to, but can I bring my dogs?.)

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 08:31:56

What is wrong with me? too too too, not to.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

2008-09-04 10:02:13

yes, you can live in my gravatar. Dogs and hats are required.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Megan Leah Power |Edit This
2008-09-04 06:51:39

IRENE! You wrote your own post! Bravo and encore.
Lenore’s literary lineage is apparent, like others said, and there’s something wonderful about tracing it. I too love the surprise that peacefully sleeping Lenore and Tim were car thieves. Great anecdote.

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 08:24:36

The tip of the iceberg, Megan, the tip of the iceberg.

Comment by sarah from school |Edit This
2008-09-04 07:15:12

Your mom gets more comments than you, Lenore.

Comment by Lenore Zion |Edit This
2008-09-04 07:44:28

it’s cause she’s hotter than i am.

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 08:26:32

You talking about hot flashes?

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 08:25:54

That’s only because she’s too busy showing her breasts for readers.

Comment by N.L. Belardes |Edit This
2008-09-04 12:29:04

I like bug legs!

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 17:43:01

Angry cricket-God speaks!

Comment by Kyndra |Edit This
2008-09-04 14:24:01

This is a great story that had me laughing the whole way through! Funny, well-written, light, and relatable. Keep the Zion-tales coming!!

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 17:45:31

It’s strange how things that are seriously not funny at the time, actually horrifying, can somehow become hilarious when time mellows things out and you know the participants turned out okay in the end in spite of everything.

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 03:56:28

Thanks, Kyndra. The next comment is for you also. I forgot the “Thanks!” part. No one taught me any manners.

Comment by Amy |Edit This
2008-09-04 16:14:37

So this is what I have to look forward to in my new found motherhood. I know I did things that surprised my parents once they found out. Yikes!

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 17:47:57

Be on guard. Trust me. Put in secret movie cameras. Put GPS chips in their cell phones. Even then, they will slip by you and do unconscionable things. Just hope that in the end they turn out okay. Usually they do.

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 18:15:53

Yours will be fine. You have relatives everywhere to help keep watch. We had no one but one crazy, one legged old woman. Count your lucky stars!

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Cayt |Edit This
2008-09-04 16:57:05

Irene, you win at life.

I’d kill maim hurt someone for just one day in the Zion household while Lenore was growing up.

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 17:50:03

Me too, Cayt, me too. Time goes so slowly before you have kids and then starts rolling downhill faster and faster. Breaks your heart. You can come now, though. We’ve plenty of room and the kids come home to visit often. (But not often enough, you know how it is.)

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 03:58:30

Cayt, some other time would you teach me how to write in gray and cross it out like that? that is really amazing.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Cayt |Edit This
2008-09-05 11:49:52

Sure, it’s pretty simple. It’s html is all.

Before the text you want to cross out, you type the word “strike” in those triangle brackets. Like but without the asterisk. After that word, you type (again, remove the asterisk).

So, you can cross out whole sentences by putting them between the first and second lots of brackets.

Or, you can cross out single words.

Crossing it out will also automatically turn it grey. Or, gray in your part of the world.

Comment by Cayt |Edit This
2008-09-05 12:06:36

Aww, man. My demo didn’t work.
Try again: first you type

to close off, it’s

Comment by Cayt |Edit This
2008-09-05 12:07:44

I’ll have to find some other way to teach you, since the comment boxes now hate me.

Sorry Irene (

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 15:44:51

I love that you are trying to teach a new student some new code.
Did that work? Cayt you are my idol. (even if it doesn’t work.)

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 15:47:32

I forgot to put in the last sideways V thing. I’m such a dope!
Here goes again:
You rock because you are willing to teach odd, strange people to do things that are new to them.

(Did it work this time?)

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 15:48:53

I’m just not getting this. But at least I know how to cross things out. i just can’t figure out how to stop crossing things out. Humn. Cayt, you rock.

Comment by Cayt |Edit This
2008-09-06 04:18:12

To stop crossing out, you type /strike in the brackets.

And Irene, you’re probably the coolest person I’ve ever had the pleasure of communicating with.

Comment by Victor |Edit This
2008-09-06 06:45:35

No one can say I ever give up. Here goes again. This is hopeless. I’ll never get it. I stopped learning things when I passed 25 I am convinced that this will work! Thanks for hanging in there with me, Cayt!

Comment by Victor |Edit This
2008-09-06 06:46:14


Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-06 06:49:41

OOPS! sorry, the last too were me. I didn’t know Victor read this or wrote anything, so his name was left up. That was me talking. He would never say anything approaching “Woohoo!” He has class.

Comment by Cayt |Edit This
2008-09-06 15:59:24

I say woohoo! all the time. I said it when I saw that our combined efforts had paid off. You can now cross stuff out!

Irene Zion: Winner of the universe.

Thanks for commenting on my blog, too )

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-06 17:48:30

Cayt, you are a British gem!

Comment by LKM |Edit This
2008-09-04 17:24:06

Jesus, Irene – 95 comments in 24 hours? You’re the most popular nervous breakdown writer ever…

I didn’t even know you guys knew the truth about that night until I read your post. Tim’s a tattler.


Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 17:53:30

Lisa, did you know too? You evil best friend of my little innocent Lenore, I forgive you. It’s really better I learned of all of this after I had some distance from the event. (By the way, I have some seriously embarrassing pictures of you too!)

Comment by ksw |Edit This
2008-09-04 17:58:42

Consider the fact that you actually purchased a red thunderbird sc with entry key pad on the door. Were they all out of purple ones with green leather?

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 18:09:56

KSW, How did you know? We missed one just like that by just THIS much! You know EVERYTHING about cars!

Comment by Lenore Zion |Edit This
2008-09-04 18:47:32

just so everyone knows: my mom is totally down to adopt any of you. she’s like a crazy cat lady, but with humans.

but my dad loves me the most, and he always will, so don’t go trying to compete for his affection.

you will lose.

mom, i’m so proud of you, even though you want to replace me with everyone on the comment board.

and: it’s a fucking heart, stupid.

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-04 19:26:09

I love you, too. You will never be replaced.
It’s a crooked heart and it’s lying on its side.
I think it’s a butt with a dunce cap who fell over.
nuf said.

Comment by Kate |Edit This
2008-09-04 20:56:49

And my mom thinks Caroline is difficult! Ha.

I must say, something confuses me. How could they take the keys out of the ignition with the car still running? I don’t understand.


Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 04:03:58

We have to ask KSW that. All I know is that the car was running and the keys were gone, way later to find out they were thrown in the cornfield. I don’t know diddly about cars.

If your mother reads this, she’ll feel WAY better about Caroline. I think her greatest crime is a little pouting. (and maybe she would stamp her feet a little when she was smaller.)

Comment by Christine |Edit This
2008-09-05 06:14:10

So why ditch the keys? Was it for safety in case the cops stopped two white kids running through the cold looking shifty and asked them if they knew about the running car? Perhaps it was running without keys because there was a time when you could pull keys out of the ignition while it was running and as long as you didn’t turn the car off, the keys would slide right out. Nowadays, the cars have a safety mechanism to keep you from yanking your keys out.

So tell us the ancient Chinese secret Lenore or Tim, did you ditch the keys to cover your tracks or do you at this time not give a shit, nor did you not give a shit at the time and it was just something that happened as part of forming who and what you are today? Ohm….

I need a nap after that.

I’m in the Irene’s my MAMA club. It’s complete with lots of apostrophes.

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 11:03:33

I think they threw the keys in the cornfield because they were in an altered state and didn’t know what they were doing. Decision-making skills are the first to go. But that’s just my guess. We have to ask Tim and Lenore. The perpetrators know all. (If they can remember anything through all the fog in their brains.)

Comment by Tim |Edit This
2008-09-05 13:36:22

Dissipated though we may have been, our strategery was flawless:
Knowing that there was some mechanical glitch (and perhaps this was by design, can’t says I know) with the ignition switch that allowed you to start the car with the valet key, then remove it without turning the thing off, and knowing theft would be a hell of a cover story, we elected to ditch the valet key with the car running and run home, hang the regular keys on the Zion-keyhook, and fake sleep.
No fog. Thinkers, we were.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 15:53:57

YOU TRIED TO GET THE CAR STOLEN? Holy Mackerel, this gets even worse all these years later!
The keys WERE hanging in the key spot, so I suppose, were I an evil juvenile delinquent-type I would have done the same thing, given I could still think clearly.
You were truly amazing miscreants! I think I’m actually proud.

Comment by Christine |Edit This
2008-09-07 16:25:09

Wow, evil geniuses! Now that’s a plan!

Comment by donald |Edit This
2008-09-05 06:44:47

i now know that i do not want children…..thank you irene!!!

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 11:05:06

Oh now Donald, you know that there are good parts that completely outweigh the bad parts. Don’t be so cynical, it ages you.

Comment by Sara Zion |Edit This
2008-09-05 07:57:32

Finally, it really starts to be funny now. Still a little stressful for me to laugh too hard about. Glad everyone is OK. I am not sure if I missed a whole lot of fun or if I am glad that I was a *very* good girl during adolescence. Nicely written, Ma. This is very cool.

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 11:07:20

Sara, you were so weirdly perfect that I have virtually nothing to humiliate you with. I’ll scour my memory banks. There must be something. Oh. Wait. I already got something! HAHA, something for later….

Comment by Adam |Edit This
2008-09-05 13:52:54

That’s all of them, right? Soon as Victor weighs in, you can call this a virtual reunion.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 15:55:18

He won’t read it! What can I say? Maybe later….

Comment by ken |Edit This
2009-02-28 01:03:54

Would that be Sara Zion who would have graduated Central HS in 199o ?

Comment by Autumn |Edit This
2008-09-05 08:37:46

Reminds me of the time that my mother got a call in the middle of the night (one of MANY late night calls) about my oldest brother. It was his girlfriend’s mother. My brother was 16 and I believe the girlfriend was 14. The call was to explain that my mother had better take a look outside, and was her van there? No, it was not there. It was parked outside the girlfirends house and my brother and the girlfriend were in the girlfriends parents camper in the back yard.

I remind my mother all the time of what a wonderful daughter I was because although I did some things she may not have liked, I had nothing on my two older brothers. They were very naughty, and my sisters and I, in comparison, were saintly.

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 11:09:34

It’s always good to have lots of siblings. One of them is BOUND to be worse than you behavior-wise. Autumn, we could have used you and your sister in our family.

Comment by rachel |Edit This
2008-09-05 09:44:02

is this the red thunderbird lenore drove?
most of my high school memories live in that car.

nice job, irene!

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 11:12:00

The very same, VDW, the very same. We wanted a purple one with green leather, but red it was. Actually turned out to be a good thing. There were more red ones around. A purple one would have been identified much more quickly. After all, we didn’t actually want our kids arrested.

Comment by Emma Ashwood |Edit This
2008-09-05 09:55:16

Irene – it’s great to have you writing on TNB. It’s like when a much-loved character gets their own spin-off. Can’t wait to read more.

And Lenore: you bad girl!

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 11:15:26

Oh, Emma! Lenore continues to be a girl who tests my patience. Something permanent in her make-up. But I’ll say one thing: life has never been boring since her birth. Nope. Not one day. And there is NOTHING worse than boring.

Comment by Ursula Balagura |Edit This
2008-09-05 10:09:37

My friend Irene never ceases to amaze me. Her story gives the reader an amazing glimpse into what it was like being a “kid” in the Zion household. Challenging for the parents but it must have been fun for the kids. I have nothing to compare it with. My life has always been among adults and Rottweilers. Where children are concerned I can only look in amazement to my friend Irene.

Your story Irene begins like a mystery and definitely keeps you wondering who was the culprit. After confirming that Lenore and Tim were sleeping peacefully in their beds who would have suspected them. The police should have listened to you about fingerprinting the “vehicle” but of course since neither Lenore’s nor Tim’s fingerprints were on file with the local police department that would have given to positive results. Everything turned out OK though and your story is a funny part of your family’s history and what a successful family it turned out to be.

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 11:24:22

Ursula, remember, I didn’t find out they were the dastardly no-goodniks until quite a few years after this happened. They were ASLEEP. How could we even suspect them?
Thanks for telling me that they would have had to have their fingerprints on file. I totally forgot that. I cramp up each time I remember I kept demanding fingerprinting the car. Now I can feel okay about it. Thanks!
Speaking as a mother and a dog owner, I would have to say that dogs treat you with much more respect than children. And they ALWAYS love you, no matter what.
There was a far-side cartoon once when Atilla the Hun returned home from burning, raping and pillaging and his dog runs up to him panting and his tail wagging. Dogs even love you if you are Atilla the Hun!

Comment by Jack and Laurie |Edit This
2008-09-05 10:44:15

Just another typical day in the life of the Zion family. Who would have ever suspected that the saintly Lenore and Tim would, and could, pull off such a stunt. Obviously not the trusting parents – Irene and Victor. Laurie and I were just lucky that our children were not clever enough to try something as daring. Your story brings back fond memories of us watching your kids grow up. Of course, it was easy to be an outside observer; from the inside I suspect the view was quite different.

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 11:28:29

Actually, since we were completely clueless, Laurie and Jack, it was totally fine. We were ignorant of all their shenanigans for so long that we lived in blissful unenlightenment. It’s a nice, comfortable place to be, blissful stupidity.

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 15:59:13

SAINTLY? I had not one saintly child, certainly not Tim and Lenore! Laurie and Jack you have forgotten my family and replaced it with someone else’s.

Comment by ksw |Edit This
2008-09-05 10:59:44

christine is correct, in fact they both are. keys could come out with car running back in the day. the garage door story was from caw under my name because this wacked out web site won’t take her email for some reason. i think she wanted you to guess which kid tried to back out of the garage with the door down. not too hard for you i am sure. starts with m and ends with ichael. to be fair, the savoy police department was actually the champaign county sheriffs and they were very widely spaced in the day. good luck for the chillens rather than fabulous autocross technique. too bad they never tried it with the porsche. would have been much more fun….

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 11:37:37

Wait, KSW, do you mean that the child who starts with m and ends with ichael, who shall remain anonymous, actually kept driving after smashing through the garage door? That is fantastic! What a good story! Didn’t get caught either though, huh? Kids got away with murder in Central Illinois!
This IS a whacked out web site. I learned all these cool code things but they don’t appear here when I try them, even though they appear just fine on myspace. Also you can’t put up pictures, which would be fun.
God, I love this story. Kept driving after wrecking the garage. Great material.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-07 05:42:22

I’m sure all of you are more quick-witted than I but in case you missed it, KSW said BOTH Christine’s are right. Get it? The Thunderbird and Christine who came up with a theory. KSW is so scintillating.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Christine |Edit This
2008-09-07 16:29:13

Yes, the Christines are correct. )

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 16:01:21

Who but you would know this esoteric stuff about keys and cars in different periods? You are the CAR GOD! Gold star!

Comment by Tim |Edit This
2008-09-07 00:17:18

Christine was right on more than one occasion. Survived, what six accidents with not so much as a scratch on a passenger? Pretty impressive, I’d say.

And while we’re on the subject of passengers:
With its back seats being made for the legless, using the Porsche would’ve been friend-bringing prohibitive. Half the fun of that night would never’ve been.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-07 05:28:19

WAIT! Tim, were their other people involved that night besides you and Lenore? There’s MORE?

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Tim |Edit This
2008-09-07 23:39:38

Yea, man. Remember, we were attempting to drop Joel off when the pursuit began. And Jenny was there, too.

Comment by ksw |Edit This
2008-09-05 11:31:25

irene. you are number one most commented….i am shocked….

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 11:38:40

Me too. Why do you think? Maybe cause people already know Lenore.

Comment by Lenore Zion |Edit This
2008-09-05 12:01:19

because you showed everyone your tits.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 16:02:25

That’s you, honey… I still have a semblance of pride in spite of what you kids put us through.

Comment by ksw |Edit This
2008-09-05 13:00:58

all three?

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 17:06:50

two. but they’re not mine!

Comment by Stephanie |Edit This
2008-09-05 15:33:23

Irene, your post made my day. But seriously. Was her tattoo that ugly?

I’m not so sure if all parents are as oblivious as you two were. My mom and dad where always 10 steps ahead of anything my sister and I would attempt. Or maybe, your kids are just ridiculously smart. That just might be the case.

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 16:05:46

Just ask Lenore. Her tattoo was enormously ugly. She had it covered with another tattoo which is really quite beautiful, but don’t tell Victor.
I’m having an ocular migraine right now so I can only see half of what I look at. I apologize for misspellings, etc.
I do think that they mutated into way smarter people than we. Victor and I are just normal sort of folks. My kids are stupendously brilliant.

Comment by Psi |Edit This
2008-09-05 15:42:54

Unexpected phonecalls are awesome. You remember that time about two and a half years ago when you called Lenore and she palmed you off to me, and I told you all about my stay in hospital, and you graciously humoured me as I spoke about myself for the umpteen billionth time?

It was great.

Your daughter doesn’t like talking to you on the phone.

Comment by Matt |Edit This
2008-09-06 19:59:26

hey i remember that phone call too! we were on sunset blvd for like 4 hours driving from the coast to silver lake in rush hour traffic. gross. btw, irene, psi has an adorable new zealand accent, if that helps your remember more clearly.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-07 05:33:52

As long as you were wearing you seat belts and keeping relatively close to the speed limit, I am glad to hear it. I love New Zealand accents, and Australian, and just about every kind. Around Miami Beach there are lots of people who hail from other countries. It’s a beautiful symphony. So was that just a long drive in miles or a long drive bumper-to-bumper that only transported you frustrated and tired a few blocks farther?

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Psi |Edit This
2008-09-07 22:17:05

I think we did have seatbelts on. We spent long enough in traffic though that really, we didn’t ever go fast enough to merit their use. It was a pretty long drive in both respects…although probably longer timewise than the distance would have indicated.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-08 03:49:38

I bet in New Zealand there aren’t any traffic jams. All that open land with hopping, climbing, tooting, interesting animals on it. I hope we get to go there one day.

Comment by Irene |Edit This
2008-09-05 16:18:31

I do remember a call like that, but I didn’t know it was you. I am delighted to know now. I hope I was gracious and made you feel better.
Don’t worry. I know Lenore hates to talk to me. She loves me buckets, but I ask her too many questions and take up too much of her time.
I really can’t see anything right now on account of the aura is at it’s biggest. I’m going by touch typing and I’m really not so good at that. Apologies all around for typos and misspellings. Don’t worry, I usually don’t get the headaches anymore. A side benefit of aging.
(You’re not in the hospital anymore, right? You’re fine?)

Comment by Psi |Edit This
2008-09-07 22:20:16

And I’m totally going to comment twice. I don’t think I’ve been in hospital since that awesome stay in Las Vegas, although right now I’m doing clinical experience for my nursing degree in one…it’s not quite the same. Whether this makes me “fine”, though, I don’t know…I think you have to have something wrong with you if you get yourself into a nursing career. I swear, I don’t care about people – I’m just going to use the qualification to get to California.

I have the dream.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-08 03:51:34

You can come to visit us with Lenore when you get to LA! Matt keeps saying he’s going to come. Lots of room here.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Psi |Edit This
2008-09-11 05:24:34

I totally will. I’d say something vaguely ominous like you’ll regret having made that suggestion, but you probably won’t. I mean, that totally sounds like I’m up myself, and I am a bit, but I’m nice. I can be evil and I’m quite good at pulling people to pieces over stupid, little things, but in reality…I don’t mean it.

Somehow, this makes me nice.

New Zealand’s got about three people in it, and lots of sheep. Sometimes there ARE traffic jams…but really that’s just cos the sheep are on the road. Sometimes cows.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-18 05:58:20

Do they spray-paint the sheep with strange color spots as they do in Ireland to denote to whom they belong? I love that. Now that you talked about sheep I think of New Zealand looking just like Ireland. Probably doesn’t.

Comment by Victor |Edit This
2008-09-06 05:05:49

Okay, I’m the last family member to write. There were quite a few other unexpected phone calls, some about Christine and some from states far away from Illinois. I’ll just step aside and allow my (closeted) exhibitionistic wife do what comes naturally.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-06 06:59:13

awww! Victor read it. That’s so unlike him. How sweet. Head rub for Victor.
I think he has me pegged. I am a closeted exhibitionist. There are worse things. I could have three eyes. It would be really expensive to get glasses. We are very careful about wasting money in this house.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-07 05:36:17

Too bad Victor has my face here. His is really cute. If I knew how to put a picture up, I’d show you. Lenore wouldn’t show me how to, probably because she was afraid someone would scarf her beloved Daddy up and away from her.

Comment by Martyn Smith |Edit This
2008-09-06 05:44:34

I like Lenore’s ovary tattoo. Also, this is a great start Irene, I was never aware you had such gold seeping through your fingers.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-06 07:01:59

Martyn, you never saw her ovary tattoo. It was hideous. Ask her. She went to great pains, literally, to cover it up.
I don’t think there’s gold seeping through my fingers; I think my brains are seeping out of my ears. I do like your perspective better, though.

Comment by Lina “the genius” |Edit This
2008-09-06 10:09:20

Irene, that was amazing! Thank you for inviting me to read it. I’m now going to read some of Lenore’s stuff. I’ll be on the look out for more to come… right?

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-06 14:08:43

Oh yes, Lina, the genius, there is so much more coming it will make your head spin. In point of fact, I’m particularly interested in making Lenore’s head spin. Not as easy as you might think. You’ll see when you read her posts. (Please forgive her potty mouth, she did not learn it from us.)

Comment by John Box |Edit This
2008-09-07 05:46:01

What does akimbo mean?

Regardless, I love this part:

First, it was inconceivable that Lenore would have a tattoo. She was only 16. You had to be 18 to get a tattoo without a parent’s permission. Second, it was really, really ugly. It looked like a map of her right ovary

Comment by Tim |Edit This
2008-09-07 23:42:49

Even weirder, I too know a John Box. He’s from Norman, Oklahoma.

That you, Box?

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-07 05:58:26

This is weird. The man who married us was named John Box. He was the authority figure at the Brooklyn Ethical Culture Society. (Digression again, probably you’re not the same one.)
I always thought of akimbo like a frog looks with his little elbows sticking out. It can also mean limbs flung out in a haphazard way. Christine was sitting there, as though her elbows were sticking out since the doors were thrown open. She was like a big red frog with its engine running.

Comment by Ken |Edit This
2008-09-07 16:00:11

That was hilarious! Your children were unrepentant car thieves! Further proof that real life always trumps fiction!

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-07 16:05:27

I fear, Ken, that I am actually proud of them now. I think they must have put something in my water. There are more bloodcurdling tales to come. Thanks for joining us!

Comment by Christine |Edit This
2008-09-07 16:34:41

I’m really enjoying everyone saying my name, even if it IS referencing the car. And Irene, I believe I win the tee shirt for being number 200 love!

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-07 18:03:06

Whoa! What tee shirt? You’re getting a gossamer gown, glass slippers, and a glistening tiara with a pumpkin coach and coachman who have little mice whiskers to take you to the ball! Fed Ex!

Comment by Michael |Edit This
2008-09-07 16:46:45

Lenore and Tim are the criminal Franny and Zooey. I thoroughly enjoyed this, Mrs. Zion.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-07 18:04:54

Thanks, Michael! I’m pretty sure I’m having more fun than anyone here. Already walking through my memory banks for more material.

Comment by ALEX D |Edit This
2008-09-08 04:51:22

Hey Irene I really enjoyed your story. For one it was short which for me is great and since I know you and your family it makes it even funnier. Please continue to write so that I may also expand my vocabulary as much as I can thanks

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-08 17:41:11

Thanks, Alex!
It’s good to hear from you!
Keep an eye out!

Comment by LisaB |Edit This
2008-09-08 13:19:28


You and Dave Berry were separated at birth. Very witty!


Comment by LisaB |Edit This
2008-09-08 13:21:50

how do I add a photo?

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-08 17:39:54

Lisa B. You can add a photo to my myspace, but I am a newcomer here and do not as yet know the rules for adding photographs. I would have added shots to my piece, if I had known how to do it. I hope to know by the next time I put up a piece. I appear to be a slow-learner. I’d love to see your picture, though, and it appears easily on myspace.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-08 14:30:50

Oh Lisa, that is the sweetest thing to say! I adore Dave Barry. He used to write weekly here in the Miami Herald, but now he only does special events like the Olympics or the Political conventions. He runs a HUGE scavenger hunt here every year and people come from all OVER the world to participate. He is seriously my hero. My favorite piece of his is the one after a Huge Hurricane and I think it was Andrew. Anyhow. He has these two dogs. The back porch was completely torn down, totally, except for the door. The two dogs stood at the door, with no walls whatsoever around them, and waited for someone to open the door for them to go out. That is the best story on earth. I have two dogs that would positively do the same thing.

Comment by Squeaky |Edit This
2008-09-10 07:38:19

What a beautiful story. I don’t think you were stupid, I just think you and your husband enjoy your sleeping. There are very few things that could wake me up out of a good slumber. Hearing that my stolen car had been recovered probably wouldn’t be one of them. That’s why I always turn my phone off before bed. Everything can usually wait until morning.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-10 09:42:56

Thank you, Squeaky. That makes two people who have voted that we weren’t stupid. The consensus, however is heavily weighted for vast stupidity. Still. It’s nice to know that not EVERYONE thinks we were idiots. Plus, your vote carries tons more weight, so to speak. You should enjoy your sleeping now, by the by, the older you get the worse your sleep gets. Hibernate, if you can.

Comment by Squeaky |Edit This
2008-09-11 11:25:27

I’ve taken your advice. I’m sleeping as I write this.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2008-09-11 17:03:40

You are a good man, Squeaky. Good night. Sleep tight. Don’t let the bedbugs bite. If they do, hit them with your shoe till they turn black and blue.

Comment by N.L. Belardes |Edit This
2008-09-12 16:44:31

I just wanted to try to be the last comment on here.

Comment by Squeaky |Edit This
2008-09-18 10:59:52


Comment by Christine |Edit This
2008-09-27 06:53:59

I needs me some cat foodz. Right meow.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2008-09-27 08:48:43

Christine, make sure your cat food doesn’t mix meat and cheese. A lot of them do, you know. Gotta be EXTRA careful. Read the label. Also there should be no milk powder from China in the ingredients. Oh, that’s right, it USED to be pet food but now it’s baby food and treats that China poisoned. Such a wonderful place, China. Such sympathy for the human condition.

Comment by Rachel Pollon |Edit This
2009-06-19 09:23:10

I think it’s better parents don’t find out these things til later, when it’s funny. Who needs the tsuris (spelling?), am I right? Gawd willing, it’s a rite of passage and everything turns out okay. ) Rxo

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2009-06-20 04:45:18

Someday I’ll try to put the whole picture into perspective.
When my mother had her foot amputated and her crazy broke out of its bounds,
that’s when my middle two were abusing drugs and doing massively dangerous things.
And my dog almost died.
All at the same time.

It is a miracle that my kids are okay.

Comment by Jess |Edit This
2009-07-07 15:32:42

Just wanted to comment on this post to make sure it kept it’s deserving high comment status! This post was what got me hooked on TheNervousBreakdown. Well, Aaron Dietz was what originally brought me, but this made me stay. I love you Irene! heh

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2009-07-08 08:33:39

AW, shucks! Thanks, Jess!
That really means a lot to me.

Comment by Marcia, still in Illinois |Edit This
2009-08-04 12:38:40

I suppose your mom didn’t bring the coffee can with her to Illinois, did she? Otherwise I might sneak over to the vegetable garden at the retirement home and start digging. I was always suspicious of her professed love for growing vegetables. I wish I had a metal detector.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-08-04 12:53:32

My mom lost all those silver dollars before she moved from Brooklyn, we think. No one even uses cans of coffee anymore, but these were two pounders, full of actual full-silver dollars. The big kind, not like those not-really-silver Susan B. Anthonys or the Indian maiden ones we had for a time. Do we even have so-called silver dollars anymore?
I hope that someone found them and had a heyday. I’d hate to think they were just thrown in the dump or something.

Comment by Melissa |Edit This
2009-08-04 12:58:33

I think this is my favorite of your stories. I come back and read it often,


Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-08-04 13:26:40

Oh, yeah, Melissa?

I’ll bet you just read it so you can feel all superior because your kids never did anything illegal and wildly dangerous!
(That’s just mean!)
How did you accomplish that? Seriously.
You must have run a tight ship!
We ran the good ship denial.

(Comments wont nest below this level)

Comment by Melissa |Edit This
2009-08-05 13:35:11

Oh no, I can tell you stories about my daughter, who insisted she was a good girl. HARDLY, I can tell you. It all started when she was about 12. It does not end. Ever.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-08-05 14:28:45

It is totally not fair to hint about wild nefarious actions and not tell us about them!
One day I expect you to come clean.

Comment by ksw |Edit This
2009-08-05 02:17:11

remember, it could always be worse. what if they were in a pinto and fell out of the hatchback?

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-08-05 14:29:58

Weren’t those the cars that burst into flame if you rear-ended them?
That would have been much to harsh a punishment, methinks.

Comment by Amy |Edit This
2009-08-05 08:36:59

We always think our kids are so sweet and innocent, then they grow up. How does this happen?

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-08-05 14:33:38

Well, Amy, I was not one of those mothers.
I continued to believe my kids were sweet and innocent regardless of evidence to the contrary.
Denial is a WAY more comfortable place to live.
Not necessarily a good idea, mind you, just much more pleasant.
In fact,
I’d have to say that even through all of the shenanigans they did, I still believe them to be totally sweet and innocent.
(Ah, the power of sweet denial….)

Comment by Marcia (former next-door neighbor in Illinois and frequent visitor to Florida) |Edit This
2009-08-05 09:28:03

Did she ever say why she hid the silver dollars or what she was saving them for?

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-08-05 14:35:00

I’m pretty sure it was Armageddon.
That’d probably be it.

Comment by Melissa |Edit This
2009-08-05 13:32:58

I think I do have some silver dollars that my mom gave me. not an entire coffee can full though. I gave them to my oldest son thinking we had a gold mine. They were worth a dollar at the least and about 5 at the most. Darn.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-08-05 14:37:00

I’ll bet you anything that he went out and spent them.
Just ask him if he still has them and knows where they are.
Betcha anything.

Comment by mary |Edit This
2009-08-15 05:53:28

wish i would have thought of stealing my parents car cuz they never let brother bob and ever drive their car. that was something i never thought of. your kids are really smart…………..

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-09-06 04:08:14

More wily than smart, Mary.
Not so sure that’s a good thing.

Se puede

By Kip Tobin



Aquí hay dos historias: una que ya sabes y otra que no.

La que ya sabes cuenta lo que pasó primero, anoche, en un bar que se llama Dos Hermanos. Ya sabes la historia porque es muy posible que la hayas vivido una experiencia parecida, o si no, la hayas visto u oído alguna vez:

Empieza con una cerveza y termina con demasiadas. El protagonista se llama Raúl y la noche previa fue su cumpleaños. De hecho, él, como yo, entre otros, estuvimos en la historia que no te he contado haciendo lo que ya sabes.

El final, siempre medio borroso, confluye en la que no sabes, la que te voy a contar ahora, la de la mañana y el día después.

A las 8:30 por la mañana siguiente nos quedamos en frente del edificio Ross con las mochilas puestas, crema de sol aplicada y repelente de mosquitos rociado. Algunos de nosotros, especialmente Raúl, parece como una sombra de su perfil normal. Me dice que llegó a su habitación a las 4 de la mañana y que no  durmió hasta las 5.

-Solo he dormido tres horas- me dice- Me siento fatal.

Su aspecto corrobora esta información.

Una hora más tarde, llegamos al pie de la montaña de La Jaroba del Camello.

20 minutes después los senderos habían separado en tres grupos distintos: los que no estuvieron en la primera historia la noche antes eran como conejos saltando; el segundo grupo era compuesto de las en la primera historia, como tortugas, y el tercer grupo, Raul, quien estaba subiendo al paso de un caracol. Subir esta montaña era como si estuviéramos subiendo escaleras durante más de dos horas sin pausa.

Llegamos a la cima.

Las vistas son sublimes y el viento lo hace fresquito.

Estamos en el tercer punto más alto en todo Vermont.

Por todos lados hay más montes, nubes y casas casi invisibles debido a la distancia.

Comemos, sacamos fotos, nos tumbamos.

Raúl llega, su camiseta totalmente empapada con sudor.

Le pregunto -¿Como te ha ido la subida?

Me niega con la cabeza. -Luego -susurre, sin respiración.

Se sienta en la piedra y se tumba, cerrando los ojos.

15 minutos después, cuando ya había comido y podía respirar, le pregunto la pregunta del cumpleaños, la que siempre pregunto a cualquier persona al día de su cumpleaños y la que se me había olvidado la noche de que ya sabes.

-Raúl, -le pregunto. -Si tuvieras que dar un consejo a otra persona, una lección que has aprendido a lo largo de tu vida ¿cuál sería?

Él abre un ojo y me mira. -Buena pregunta.- sin demorar más, responde -Se puede.

-¿Se puede qué?- le pregunto.

-Sí, se puede.

-¿Se puede sí qué?

La brisa corría por la cima de la montaña.

-Que sí -me explica-. Uno puede hacerlo.

-¿Hacer qué? -le pregunto.

-Llegar al pico de la montaña, como yo, aquí, -contesta brusco. -Había momentos en la súbita cuando pensaba que no, que quería volver al pie de la montaña. Pero estoy acá, la prueba que sí, se puede.

De repente llega a mi mente una escena de la clase de análisis literario. El profesor está profundizando un texto de Miguel de Unamuno en la que una montaña es el símbolo de la fe: es enorme, inalterable, inmóvil y es mayor que toda la humanidad. También me acuerdo de que en la interpretación de los sueños, la montaña puede simbolizar otras cosas, como un obstáculo en la vida o una gran reflexión sobre ella.

No pienso mucho en las montañas porque no suelo subirlas ni tomar clases de clase literaria pero en ese momento, encima de una, me enta una sensación de logro profundo. Y just después, escalofríos.

Me doy cuenta que estamos encima de la montaña, que hemos conseguido algo muy importante–y a la vez desconocido–en nuestras vidas y nunca nos olvidaremos de estos momentos encima de ella.

Me entra una sensación de logro profundo y justo después, escalofríos.

-Lección dos -añade Raúl-. El peor de todos los temores es el temor a vivir.

Todo el grupo nos miramos y nos asentimos con la cabeza.

Los dos parecen buenos consejos.

-Lección tres -añade Raúl -Lleva siempre tu camino y no mires nunca el de tu vecino.

-Venga ya, Raúl -digo yo, -Quería un consejo, no una lista de clichés.

-Lección cuatro -dice Raúl, con todos riéndose -Un pájaro en la mano vale más que cien volando.

Raúl continua y le comento otra vez que la pregunta implica una o dos cosas que ha aprendido en su vida. Le clarifico que no se puede contestar la pregunta con ocho respuestas.

Raúl me mira, asiente con la cabeza, cierre los ojos y dice con una sonrisa:

-Sí, se puede.