I recently got a group email asking for our quarantine stories–what we’re doing to keep ourselves alert and fit, what we’re experiencing in terms of the news regarding our community–globally, nationally, state-wide, locally–what we’ve seen in our families, friends, and neighbors that give us cause to celebrate, what lifts us up and makes us laugh, how our faith is being tested…all of that sort of thing.
We have this wonderful BOLLI forum available to us for sharing our experiences during this potentially so very isolating time in our lives. (Or during any time, for that matter, of course!) So, think about what you might share with all of us.
No, you should NOT let thoughts like “but I’m no writer” or “nobody will be interested in what I have to say” or “I’m not doing anything of any note” get in your way. Absolutely every one of those thoughts is actually quite worthy of exploring and sharing with others who feel the same way.
SO–this is a great time for exercising. Not only by stretching and bending into yoga poses or doing jumping jacks, but by stretching and bending your thinking muscles as well as your writing muscles (which you may or may not even realize you have–but, trust me, you do), and get your thoughts and feelings “out there.”
Send me any and all thoughts–and if you would like or feel the need, I am happy to coach or edit.
Send items to email@example.com
No deadline, no word limit, no style preference–humorous, serious, fiction, nonfiction, essay, poetry, book/movie/tv show review, memoir, whatever you like!
Recently, Barry and I received the phone call we had been looking forward to and dreading from a Continuing Care Community in our area.
Our name has been on their list for two years. The marketing representative told us about a unit that was available that met most of our specifications. We agreed to meet the next week.
Upon arrival, I asked whether the unit was empty or occupied (with furniture). The only way “suites” become available is when the resident dies. She responded that it was occupied. It is in the North wing on the first floor with easy access to the main common areas.
Upon entering, we discovered that the daughter of the deceased occupant was there with another person who was sporting a clipboard. I surmised that he and she were deciding what to do with her mother’s belongings. The place was cluttered with stuff. There were spots on the carpet, kitchen utensils and dishes on the counters–all signs of a former life, well lived or not. Who knows?
She showed us around the “suite.” If we didn’t linger, it would have taken five minutes. The space is compact–a master bedroom that would fit a queen bed; another single small bedroom; a small but efficient kitchen; a living/dining area; two full baths, a walk-in closet and one other. The unit doesn’t get the sun, and the patio faced a parking lot.
As we were leaving, I thanked the deceased’s daughter for allowing us to see her mother’s home. She became animated and made it a point to show us the electric fireplace she had installed for her mother. She switched it on, and we saw the warm glow that emanated from the coils. It is a nice feature. Our marketing person suggested that we install recessed lighting around the living room to brighten things up.
After leaving the unit, we learned that another couple who are ahead of us on the waiting list would be looking at it the next day. What a relief! We hope they like it!
It was a stressful, depressing experience! Believe it or not, we’ve never lived in an apartment; well, maybe once! Since coming home to our eleven room “castle,” we’ve talked and talked and talked. By the way, we declined the unit. It turns out that being in a section where there is sunshine coming in through the windows is a must for us.
Of course, there are other factors involved with such a decision. We are already giving away “stuff” we’ve accumulated over the years that we don’t need or can bear to part with; all those things that we may use “someday”, especially my clothes and Barry’s files of papers. The local shredder has been working overtime! And then there are the books, books, books; Native American artifacts, jewelry, jewelry, jewelry; my grandmother’s and my bone china tea cups, sculptures, art work, etc, etc, and so forth. Get the picture?
Then there are the holidays. Recently, for Thanksgiving and Hanukah, we hosted our family of nine, sometimes ten, sometimes twelve, occasionally fourteen. After dinner, the kids, as always, went downstairs to the basement playroom while the rest of us schmoozed. Those precious gatherings will not be possible in the same way in a “suite” of 12/13 hundred square feet.
Barry and I have 83 and 84 years of life experience and are in decent shape for the shape we’re in. So, when it comes to continuing care–
To be continued.
Liz is a familiar face at BOLLI having been an active participant in both courses and committees as well as an SGL and a writer for the blog.
Who cares about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)? I do, and you should as well. OK, OK–perhaps it’s not as pressing as flipping the House or whether Kavanaugh gets confirmed… or is it? I maintain that it touches many more aspects of our daily lives than many events of the day. Moreover, it is influenced by all three branches of our government.
Did you know that 20% of Americans have some type of disability? I have seen a figure as high as 35% for seniors. Under the ADA, the term ‘disability’ refers to a physical or mental impairment that significantly limits one or more major life activities regardless of whether said impairment is current, is part of the individual’s history or record, or is a perception by others. Hence the disability may (use of a walker, blindness) ) or may not (mental illness, hearing loss) be visible to the casual observer. Do YOU have a disability? What about your family members? What about your fellow BOLLI learners? It has been said that disability is the only minority group to which one can gain membership at any time. So, if you don’t have a disability now. . . just wait. . . or maybe not.
The ADA is a fairly straightforward civil rights act for people who just happen to have disabilities. It was signed into law in 1990 by then President George H. W. Bush. I will defer to Josh Mendelsohn, our October 9” Lunch & Learn” speaker, to provide more specifics. Josh, an attorney, has worked for the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and currently heads up the Community Living Division at the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission. Josh happens to be Deaf.
Instead, I will attempt to convey what the ADA means in my life. As some of you know, I have very poor vision. I can’t read print, can’t see traffic lights, don’t understand those scenes in movies that lack dialog, and encounter challenges in a hundred other commonplace activities. Under the advent of the ADA, the subsequent Telecommunications Act of 1996, and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (amendments 1998), I can now expect to be able to use the ATM at my local bank branch by plugging in a headphone and having the information on the screen read to me. I can hope that those traffic lights have audible signals indicating when the light has turned green. Increasingly, I can access audio description for current films and, sometimes, even for theatre productions. BOLLI will make any class handouts available to me in an electronic format so that I can read them using VoiceOver. Most course readings can be downloaded to be read in large print or listened to in human or synthesized speech. Most importantly, the ADA has contributed significantly to changing my perceptions. No longer do I regard these fairly simple accommodations with gratitude as I rather apologetically request them. No! I have a right to them. It’s the law, and I utilize them with dignity and pride.
What about you? Do you or a fellow BOLLI student encounter any difficulty in hearing he SGL, in maneuvering your walker or wheelchair around the BOLLI space, in seeing/hearing those audiovisual presentations? Do you have any other need caused by a disability? If so, speak up! Your tuition payment is as good as the next person’s and you need not shortchange yourself. I assure you that Avi, Megan, and Lily are ready to assist as am I (BOLLI’s Inclusion and Disability Liaison). And do come to “Lunch & Learn” on October 9 for a more in-depth look at the ADA.
Cindy’s passion for and her commitment to disability rights and independent living led to a 40 year career in rehabilitation. Though happily retired, she has found gigs that allow her to continue to contribute to her professional interests. In addition to BOLLI, Cindy enjoys traveling, hiking in the fall, attending local theatre productions, and countless other pursuits–some of which she hasn’t even yet discovered.
Safe inside our well-constructed home sand surrounded by an amazing network of electronic communication systems, we generally feel protected from those forces of nature that threatened and terrified our forbears. Even when we hear about earthquakes, cyclones, or tidal waves somewhere else, and we feel some level of concern and sympathy, we don’t feel the gut-wrenching fear of those who came before us and knew nature better than we do. But every once in a while, Mother Nature gives us a little nudge to remind us that she is watching us and can, with a gesture, wipe out our secure little nests at any time.
About six weeks ago, I got such a nudge. After leaving BOLLI at noon, I rushed to the golf course to get in a quick nine. The weather was sunny and warm, but there was a chance of some thunderstorm activity in late afternoon. I spent a pleasant two hours strolling the fairways at Nehoiden and then headed home for a nap. By 4:30, I was fast asleep next to an open window, oblivious to the world. I had given no thought to the approach of a violent “micro storm.”
At 5:15, I was startled into consciousness by a soaking wall of water driven through my window by violent wind. I was in bed, facing the window, and as my eyes popped open, I heard an explosion and saw a bright flash of white light surrounded by a red penumbra. It looked like a bomb exploding right outside my window, and there was no interval between the boom and the flash.
The house shook, but since I saw no other damage, and our lights remained on, I rolled over to the dry side of the bed and tried to continue my nap. It didn’t last long. Eileen yelled from downstairs that we had no internet or television service, all our phones were dead, and a message on her cell phone indicated that some isolated areas were experiencing severe micro-storms. I guess we were one of those isolated areas.
Hours later, I learned from a message on my cell phone that the “outage” in our neighborhood lasted for forty minutes, but service had been restored. Many hours after that, at 3:15 a.m., I reached Comcast to let them know that the outage continued at my house. They confirmed that our house had no service and offered to send a technician, but since they had numerous other calls, the earliest available service would be no sooner than Thursday afternoon. For the next two days, our household was barely functional. I couldn’t use the internet or read emails, and I missed the Celtics playoff game. On Thursday evening, after a very responsive young technician worked at our house for almost two hours, we learned from him that our modem, three tv control boxes, and all our telephones had been rendered inoperable. When he returned on Friday morning to replace the modem and control boxes, we discovered that our new 55” smart TV and our Apple Airport router had also been fried. The next day, we began the daunting task of replacing the five telephones, beginning the warrantee process with Costco for our TV, and trying to reconnect all our devices and printers to our home network. The disruption seemed interminable, but after four frustrating weeks we were finally reconnected and back to normal. But we are now much more aware of how subject we are to nature’s whims.
This is a warning to all of you to retain some of that primeval fear you were born with and to respect Mother Nature. She has her eyes on each of us and can hurl devastation upon you before you can blink.
Dennis spent five years as an engineer and then forty as a lawyer–and sixty as a pop culture geek and junkie. He’s been writing blog articles for BOLLI Matters in quite a variety of genres: science fiction, movie and video picks, creative nonfiction, and memoir. And now, he’s even taken on the weather!
As we age, we consider what we will leave behind for our children and grandchildren that has lasting significance and meaning. Undoubtedly, we have all thought about finances and what estate will be left for our children to share. Perhaps you have thought of treasured antiques–your mother-in-law’s fine china or sterling silver, your father’s World War II medals, perhaps. Maybe you will leave your children property. Maybe you have thought of leaving some writings that you have put together, your memoirs of successes and failures, family joys and sorrows. All of these have significance to you and me and to our children. But, lately, a new legacy, one I have heretofore taken for granted, seems of utmost importance: the legacy of a functioning democracy.
We belong to the same “cohort.” That is, we grew up at the same time, lived through the same U.S. history (give or take twenty years). I can recall the end of World War II. I can recall the formation of the United Nations, the promise of Israel, and NATO. We were filled with the idealism of our age. We would help to build a better, wiser world following the cataclysm of World War II with its millions of victims and its death camps. “Never again!” We believed in these ideals, and, as a cohort, we profited from the expansive, booming economic times that ensued. The U.S. was a benevolent victor and helped to rebuild conquered territories—for the good of us all. Here in the U.S., laws were passed equalizing opportunities for minorities and women. Incrementally, the U.S. expanded the rights of all citizens.
Now, we are experiencing the loss of our idealism, the loss of the sense of U.S. “rightness,” the faith in our democracy that we once shared. We believed that our democracy could be shared among the nations of the world. The U.S. could be open-hearted and open-handed. Yes, there were military clashes along the way: Korea and Vietnam (where we almost lost our way). But nothing in our memory, not even the McCarthy era, has decimated the American Dream like the current Trump Administration. It is this American Dream and its almost 250 year old reality that is the most significant legacy we could possibly leave our children and grandchildren.
Many of our grandparents suffered in steerage and then in poverty so long ago when they emigrated to the United States. The United States was a dream, hard fought for, but worth the struggle for our parents and then for us. We now have an obligation, a sacred trust, to struggle to maintain these democratic principles of fairness, the rule of law, equal opportunities, a place where people–even would-be immigrants and asylum seekers–are treated with respect and fairness.
Nothing has so tarnished the reputation of the United States in the eyes of the world—and in our own eyes—as the systematic, deliberate cruelty of this Administration in separating children from their parents, in keeping children in cages, even of losing track of where the children have been sent! What has happened to our American Dream? And how can we salvage the tattered remnants of our honor as a country? (And this is just the latest – but surely not the last – of Trump’s outrageous attacks on our democratic, hard fought for ideals and laws.)
The legacy of a proud, just, and fair United States is one I desperately hope to leave to my children and grandchildren. I will work to help these helpless immigrants most of whom are seeking asylum. Were we not all once “strangers in a strange land?”—no matter when our family members emigrated to the U.S.? I will work to overturn this Administration so that we can once again have a fair and just system of government, a government that responds to the loud cries of protests from its citizenry. I strongly encourage all of you to do the same. This remains the bedrock and foundational legacy for all our children.
One of BOLLI Matters’ “Senior Moments” feature writers, Eleanor has become increasingly focused on “Making a Difference” in our current climate. She and Elaine Dohan, in fact, have founded a new BOLLI Special Interest Group to explore how we might all be “Making a Difference” today.
I parked my car with my dog inside in the small lot behind Peet’s Coffee to run in for some beans. Leaving the car, I noticed three black men hanging out, probably on a smoke break from their work in the attached building. I double-checked to make sure my car was locked. As I walked around to the front door, I chastised myself for my automatic response. I rarely lock my car. Why did I do that?
Lessons in racism started early. I grew up in a neighborhood that was not only racially segregated, it was 60 to 70% Jewish. I could tell my mother was much happier when I played with the Jewish kids than with the few non-Jews. No explicit reason was given, but the subtle message of invidious group distinctions was delivered.
The only black person I knew in my early years was Willie Mae who cleaned our house and took care of me after school. I was very fond of her, as she was of me. My parents referred to her as “the schvartze,” but not in her presence. Her daughter, Gweny, was my age, and Willie Mae brought her to our house now and then. Being invited to Gweny’s 5th birthday party caused my parents great consternation. I really wanted to go, although I can’t remember if I actually did. They told me that her home was in a dirty and dangerous neighborhood and that I wouldn’t be comfortable there. I recall Willie Mae expressing resentment to me about the attitudes white people had toward her. I felt torn in my loyalties to her and to my parents.
My father, a small-time criminal lawyer, dealt primarily with “colored” people who got in trouble for numbers running and other petty crimes. Although he was proud to have their respect and appreciation, I had many opportunities to hear about their terrible living conditions and people referred to as “dumb shines,” but at least not “niggers.”
Until high school, I had few opportunities to see or relate to black people. My high-school was about 50% black and 50% Jewish. Most of the black kids were tracked into vocational courses, so I didn’t become friendly with many of them. The one area where race seemed irrelevant was choir. This was a 3-day a week commitment with frequent concerts in and out of school, often at churches during Christmas, much to my parents’ dismay. I loved being in the choir, and I had the experience of participating with excellent African-American singers. I remember anticipating with pleasure the place in the program where a wonderful soprano would perform a solo aria from Handel’s Messiah.
I can’t remember when I first started to actively reject the notion that black people were inherently “less than.” The civil rights movement of the 60’s occurred when I was an undergraduate, and all the media attention to the injustice in the south was certainly an important factor. Graduate school in the late 60’s and 70’s and all the political movements of that time led me to intellectually reject racism. Alice Walker, Zora Neale Hurston, and other writers of the black experience were important contributors to my growing understanding and empathy. The more recent sickening repetition of the killing of black men by white policeman has been a tipping point in sparking my motivation to be more proactive.
Now I’m trying to deal with the unconscious reactions that led me to go back and lock my car door in the Peet’s parking lot or the avoidance of eye-contact when passing black men on the street. Rooting out this behavior takes conscious effort. It is important to bring into awareness the subtle perceptual biases that many of us white people have internalized over our lifetimes so that the source of those biases can be examined.
Riding the train from NYC last week, friends and I were looking for facing seats. I found one six-seater occupied by a young black man. I looked at him, smiled, and sat down. I’m trying. We all must do much more.
A social scientist by “trade,” Lois enjoys her time at BOLLI, sings with two different groups, throws pots, spends quality time with her daughter and grandson, and relishes planning the next trip with her husband.
STORMS COME IN ALL VARIETIES: A STRANGE ANNIVERSARY
By Sue Wurster
On April 11, 1965, we huddled in our basements as a whirlwind headed straight for the town of Oberlin. Twenty minutes later, after the tornado had blown by, the all-clear sounded. Oberlin was unscathed, leading me to believe that the story about Oberlin’s “saucer rim” might not be just the stuff of legend. Supposedly, a shallow, man-made ridge of land rings the town and picks up tornados by their tails, leading them to rage around the rim until they eventually either lose steam or carom off the arc—which is what must have happened that day. Oberlin was unharmed, but nearby Pittsfield was gone.
Oberlin is a unique place—and not only because of its “tornado bowl.” It is a grain of idealistic liberalism to be found amid fields of cynical conservatism. It houses the county’s only four-year college whose conservatory of music is considered one of the nation’s finest–as is its art museum as well. It houses a National Association of College Bookstores warehouse, an FAA air traffic control center, and a small manufacturer of specialized medical instruments now owned by Corning. In the past few decades, closing steel and car manufacturing plants in the county have resulted in rising unemployment, deepening poverty, and ever intensifying racism. The latter is not a recent development. Most of the county is made up of small “sundown” towns consisting, still, of only white people.
Oberlin takes pride in its long history of diversity. The college was the first in the country to enroll women and the first to admit blacks. In the 1800s, the town, considered an abolitionist stronghold, was a stop on the Underground Railroad where runaway slaves were sheltered and protected. Many simply stayed.
One of those runaways was a young man named John Price who arrived in September of 1858. Not long after, two Kentucky slave hunters sneaked into town, kidnapped Price from First Church where he was being hidden, and carted him off to nearby Wellington—just beyond where Pittsfield had stood. There was no jail in Wellington, so Price was placed under guard in a hotel room until his forced return to the South. But a small army of impassioned Oberlinians—students, professors, farmers, former slaves, a bookstore owner, a minister, and a shoemaker—took to Wellington to negotiate his release. When that effort failed, they stormed the hotel, took Price by force, and had him conducted safely to Canada. A federal grand jury indicted 37 of those Oberlin men who argued in court, without success, that the Fugitive Slave Act was unconstitutional. That confrontation between Price’s rescuers and the U.S. government captured national attention and, like the Dred Scott decision, furthered the abolitionist cause. Oberlin became known as “the little town that sparked the big war.”
Strangely, on April 11 in 1865, one hundred years before that tornado flattened Pittsfield and two days after General Robert E. Lee’s surrender, President Abraham Lincoln gave his last address to the American people virtually ending the Civil War…the country’s biggest whirlwind of all.
Fradin, Dennis Brindell and Judith Bloom Fradin. The Price of Freedom: How One Town Stood Up to Slavery. Walker Children’s Books, 2013.
I have a feeling that our family’s move to the town of Oberlin in 1965 made all the difference. For the first time, I lived in a truly diverse community (with the key word being “community”) and learned how important it is to speak out. Hard to believe that 2019 will bring my 50th Oberlin High School reunion…
This week, we lost one of the brightest lights in our science fiction cosmos: Ursula K. Le Guin. Over the course of her 90 years, this prolific writer added more than 100 short stories, 4 collections of essays, 7 volumes of poetry, and 19 novels to our collective shelves.
While I devoured much of all that she provided us, it was two of those short stories and one speech that taught me how to see…and, thus, think. The two stories are Direction of the Road and The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas. Why Are Americans Afraid of Dragons? she asks in a speech delivered in Clarion, Pennsylvania in 1974.
Direction of the Road is a short, dramatic monologue about Progress beginning with the line, “They didn’t used to be so demanding.” The speaker is an oak tree who talks, essentially, about the relativity of motion–growing and diminishing for the drivers/passengers who travel her road. As humans begin to travel that road at higher and higher speeds, her abilities are severely tested until, at one point, a driver “completely violates the direction of the road” and hits her. It is in hat moment that the tree loses her immortality–the driver saw her in her fullest being and saw nothing else ever again. It is this loss that the tree protests. (to read the full story, click here: Direction of the Road)
The story was apparently inspired by one particular tree that was situated along the side of a country road Le Guin often traveled in the Portland, Oregon area where she lived. The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas was also inspired by her Oregon drives–specifically, the sign she saw, backward, in her rearview mirror: “You are now leaving Salem, O.” In this compelling short story/utilitarian philosophic exploration, Omelas and its inhabitants live serenely, happily, and without guilt…on a foundation constructed of cruelty. (to read the full story, click here: The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas).
Why Are Americans Afraid of Dragons? was delivered at 1974’s Clarion writers’ workshop at Clarion State College. In that address, Le Guin talked about the place (or non-place) of fantasy in our society. I was totally able to relate to her opening story about going to the children’s room of her local library to find a copy of The Hobbit only to be told that “Oh, we don’t keep that in the children’s room. We don’t believe that kind of fantasy is good for children.” So, she went to the adult room only to be told that “Oh, we don’t keep children’s books here.” For quite a long time in this country, we had this sort of “logjam mindset” when it came to fantasy. (to read the full speech, click here: Why Are Americans Afraid of Dragons?)
Le Guin, born Ursula Kroeber, was raised in Berkeley, California. Her father was the noted anthropologist Alfred L. Kroeber, and her mother was the writer Theodora Kroeber. Clearly, intellectualism and scholarship were valued when it came to her upbringing. And she reveled in it. She graduated from Radcliffe and studied at Columbia University before settling in Portland, Oregon to write.
Several of her novels–including The Left Hand of Darkness, her first major work of science fiction–have been heralded for her ground-breaking and radical utilitarianism. Other strikingly effective pieces include the powerful novella, The Word for the World is Forest as well as The Dispossessed, The Lathe of Heaven, and the children’s fantasy series, The Wizard of Earthsea.
Le Guin received the National Book Award, five Hugo Awards, five Nebula Awards, SFWA’s Grand Master, the Kafka Award, a Pushcart Prize, the Howard Vursell Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the L.A. Times Robert Kirsch Award, the PEN/Malamud Award, and the Margaret A. Edwards Award. She was a finalist for the American Book Award (three times) as well as the Pulitzer Prize.
What did I learn from Ursula Le Guin that has stuck with me all these years? To paraphrase a line from Direction of the Road, “if human beings will not understand Relativity, they must come to understand Relatedness.”
Thank you, Ms. Le Guin, for providing so many truly unique standpoints from which to view our world!
Speculative and science fiction give me a chance to stand on my head in a way I was never able to do in P.E. Other favorite writers include Harlan Ellison, Kurt Vonnegut, and, of course, that wonderful word man Ray Bradbury.
I realize that this might come as something of a surprise, but I’m not exactly known for my athletic prowess. That lack of prowess, in fact, had much to do with my transferring from Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio to Ohio University in Athens, Ohio at the end of my junior year. At Otterbein, I was facing a 5-term PE requirement and had already failed badminton, fencing, folk dance, bowling, skiing, horseback riding — as well as folk dance for a second time. (I had an attendance issue — getting up for an 8 or even 9 am PE course was just not my cup of energy drink.) Not only did OU have no PE requirement, but it also happened to have the top speech team in the country. I’m not really sure which was the bigger draw.
BUT — despite my virtual disdain for all things athletic, I’ve always loved tennis. Not playing it, of course. Watching it. Billie Jean won my heart in the 60s and has been there ever since. Her pioneering efforts helped women get paid their due–as athletes, as professionals, and as partners. Her strength and courage–in tennis and in life–have inspired me and countless women for fifty years.
And at 73, she’s still at it — playing some tennis, coaching some tennis, mentoring tennis players, organizing and administering tennis events, and using her influence to work, wherever possible, for social justice causes — gender equality, social inclusion, “fair play.”
So, on a balmy Saturday in August of 2016, I was happily ensconced, once again, at the Hotel Lucerne on West 79th Street in New York City. This is a favorite located in my old neighborhood. It welcomes me when I need a Broadway fix or the company of old and dear friends and can pretty much always be counted on to provide another round of the perennial NYC pastime known as “star sighting.” My old friend Susan and I had just sat down at Nice Matin located just outside the hotel door. It is one of those good neighborhood restaurants you used to be able to find all over the city. We had met for an early lunch.
I had just been introduced to Susan’s beautiful new granddaughter (whose mother I had taught) when two women walked into the small, uncrowded space. I could feel the adrenalin rushing to every corpuscle as I leaned across the table to tell Susan who had just arrived in the restaurant. And then, I froze. The hostess was leading Billie Jean and her friend to the table next to us. Right next to us. Oh, my God! My heart lurched. She’s coming this way!
And the next thing I knew, Billie Jean King was sitting on the banquette seat. Right next to me. Like, maybe, an arm’s-length away. I had never been so completely starstruck. But, I realized, so was her friend — with the baby. She oohed, aahed, cooed, and asked all the right questions about this sweet little girl. At that point, the waiter arrived.
“Are you ready to order, ladies?” he asked, his gaze sweeping all of us, as if we were a party of four. And, suddenly, we were exactly that: a party of four. Talking, laughing, sighing — as if we had known each other for twenty years and hadn’t seen each other for ten.
I had been one of Billie Jean’s most loyal fans for fifty years. But now, I found myself looking at her in a completely different way. What a warm, gracious, totally accessible woman–who seems to actually enjoy meeting her fans. Well, actually, she seems to just enjoy meeting and talking to people in general–of all stripes. She is genuinely interested in others and what they do, think, and feel. She’s just…well, totally down to earth–real. And a lot of fun.
The time came for me to get myself moving toward the matinee I was to see, but while I didn’t want this time to end, departing gave me the opportunity to say something I’d always wanted to say to my idol who has done so much for so many–just “Thank you.”
“Want a picture?” she asked. Oh, be still my beating heart…
So, when I heard that a new movie was coming out about Billie Jean in her legendary Battle of the Sexes match with that obnoxious little troll, Bobby Riggs, I headed for the internet to figure out when it would be coming to a theatre near me–so I could be first in line for my discounted senior ticket. (Oh, I’m sorry. I guess my comment about Riggs could be considered disrespectful…sorry, trolls.) No movie can possibly do justice to either that event or Billie Jean herself. But I’m applauding–for all that she has done and continues to do for sports, for women, and social justice.
Okay, Billie Jean, if you can say that it was your respect for Riggs that led to your being able to beat him, I guess I can “go high” myself. Sorry, Bobby.
Our Writers’ Guild prompt for this week was this “Keep Calm and Look in Lost & Found” image. As always, some chose to use the prompt while others did not. We all thoroughly enjoyed Steve Goldfinger’s approach, and we felt that many BOLLI members might be able to relate!
LOST & FOUND
By Steve Goldfinger
For a moment, my wandering brain lost the prompt, but now I remember. Ah, yes. “Lost and Found.”
Well, it’s easy to lose things. Car keys, cell phones, shopping lists, hearing aids. Names of people whose faces are imprinted in my skull, faces of people whose names are as secure in my mind as swallows in cliff dwellings.
I cannot find the treasured score card that documented the best round of golf I ever played. I was 21 year old, knew I would never have so low a score again, and promised I would keep it to show my grandchildren. But where is it now? Hiding somewhere in my attic or moldering at the bottom of some forsaken garbage dump?
When I lost my virginity, I knew I had also found something. But when I lost my wallet yesterday, the only thing I found was an empty back pocket. My only consolation was that my credit card was not longer in it. Once again, the piece of plastic was undoubtedly sitting next to the cash register of the last restaurant I ate at. Again, I neglected to retrieve it after I signed the check. Damn it. I want it back. Now, what was the name of that restaurant?
After driving to the MFA to see the new exhibit that so excited me when I read the review in The Globe, I forgot which one it was. When a large sign reminded me and told me where it was, I had to ask a guard to direct me to the stairway I had marched to directly so many times in the past. It was a great exhibit…fine paintings and etchings by…oh, shit!
And what have I found?
Perhaps a new internal tempo that allows me to drive more slowly, aware as I am that, in front of me, the lane seems to have narrowed, and too many dents and scrapes have appeared on my car.
Or the magic of the remote, being able to put a ball game on a 40 minute delay so I can then zip through the commercials to get to the action.
Or the ability to justify my lifestyle–couch potato, bacon and eggs, steaks, morning croissants, and evening ice cream–by “Hey, I’m 82 and just back from Alaska where I survived a strenuous hike. Good genes. Thanks, Mom and Dad.”
Or how easy it has been to depart from the world of medicine. A satisfying six decades, but in the end, too many directives separating me from patients, too many memory lapses, too many teaching moments falling short of my expectations, threatening my pride.
Or my ability to respond to writing prompts in perhaps a better way than I have responded to social ones over the years.
Since joining BOLLI nearly two years ago, Steve has been exploring new ventures. He has been active in both the Writers Guild and CAST (Creativity in Acting, Storytelling, and Theatre).
Interested in joining either one yourself? During the fall term, the Guild will meet on Wednesday mornings from 9:45-11. And CAST will meet on Fridays from 12:30-2. All are welcome!
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