Tuesday, December 1, 2015

patriot act

I can't watch "I Love Lucy" anymore. It reminds me too much of her. The same strong will, the sheer determination. Nothing stood between Lucy and her crazy scheme. They were so much alike.

Like the time with the cookies. It was Christmastime 1990 and thanks to a Bush in the White House, we were building up to a war- Desert Shield, it was called at that time. Mom was seeing TV reports of all the troops away from home for the holiday and she wanted to do something nice for them. Somewhere she stumbled across a cookie recipe that was approved by the Marine Corps. It contained no processed sugar, instead it used fruit juice for sweetener. She baked a trial batch and declared it "not bad". She decided that instead of holiday cookies for the family, she would forego that this year and bake cookies for the troops instead.

I admit I encouraged her, I thought it was a cute little project that would give her something fun to do. I guessed she would make ten dozen, maybe twenty at the outset. It would give her something to talk about to the card club.

It seemed like The cookies were taking a long time to bake. Every time we talked she was mixing dough, or had a batch in the oven. And I knew that Patsy always thought big, I began to wonder exactly how many cookies she planned to bake. But it was her gig, and I didn't interfere.

Finally the cookies were ready to ship. At that point I asked her point blank how many she had made. "Eleven Hundred" she said somewhat sheepishly. ""Eleven Hundred Cookies?" I asked. ""No," she replied tentatively- "Eleven Hundred Dozen."

Eleven Hundred Dozen. Eleven Hundred DOZEN. She baked Thirteen Thousand Two Hundred cookies to send to the desert to feed to young men and women that she would never meet. She spent more than a month on the project. The Marines had to send four trucks to pick them all up. She received a Commendation from the Marine Corps Commander.

I told this story at the time to a client who chuckled and said, "Your Mother is quite a patriot". Yes, she was. And she was quite a Mom.

Originally published in Feb. 2008. Happy Birthday, Patsy.

Friday, June 26, 2015

marrying karl rove

From National Write To Marry Day in October, 2008, and totally appropriate for today's sweeping victory: 

Even though I had been in several relationships, I never really thought about marriage as a concept until he appeared. It was the spring of 2004. I was about to turn a major digit on my odometer and had always assumed I would die a single man in the eyes of the law.

And then Karl came onto the scene- with a round bald head, pasty white complexion, a belly reminiscent of an off season Santa Claus and a heart full to the brim of black bile and unrestrained opportunism. A man who truly earned his nickname of "Turd Blossom". Yes, I fell in love with same sex marriage because of Karl Rove.

Karl all but invented same sex marriage. It didn't come from us. It was he who introduced the need to ban it as an agenda item in the 2004 State of the Union Address. He created a panic in order to motivate the "Christian Evangelical" base and energize the election campaign in favor of an inept and corrupt President.

Because the inept and corrupt president had absolutely no compelling argument of his own why he should be elected (not technically re-elected, darlings, because the first election was stolen), they had to think of something. Turd Blossom along with an opportunistic self loathing homo named Ken Mehlman engineered the gay marriage threat and energized the wingnut base to call for a pre-emptive ban on the severe threat to civilization posed by... adults professing their love for one another. Egads, the horror of it all!

Then Gavin Newsom threw some Chanel No. 5 onto the fire by actually issuing 4,000 same sex marriage licenses in San Francisco. Thank goodness the State shut him down before the social fabric was irreparably torn. But all this publicity made me think. At that time, I was seeing someone that I was very attached to. And for the first time, I thought about the statement that marriage makes to ones beloved and realized that I wanted to make that promise. I wanted to be able to love, honor, and cherish in sickness and in health.

And I further noticed that a domestic partnership is as woefully inadequate as a colored drinking fountain in a Birmingham Bus Depot. And that's when I decided that I won't settle for a distant second best, I want my civil rights.

"We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, and they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, and among these rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

I won't settle for anything less than the real thing.

And I owe it all to Karl Rove.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Whitewall Tires

My Dad is pretty much the personification of kindness, but he hold his cards very close. I call him the Secret Agent Man- he’s well known for helping out all kinds of people, but always in a very low key manner. He’s just not in it for the attention. Most of the people I know back home have a story about Dad coming to their rescue, but he never talks about it- it’s just not how he rolls. Recently my cousin shared a quintessential Dad story with me that, at the risk of blowing his cover, was too good not to share.

It was 1986, and my cousin Teresa was having a hard time. She was not quite twenty years old, a bright and hardworking student at U of M-Flint who was struggling to keep afloat financially. She was interning as a clerk and receptionist at my Dad’s CPA firm downtown and making a grand total of about $400 per month, from which $165 went to rent.

Her transportation was a sad little 1980 Buick Skylark that had seen better days. It wore an aging blue landau top and a fading gray Maaco paint job, and on the day in question, sat inside the University parking ramp with a flat tire.

Teresa knew there was a Uniroyal tire store diagonally across the street from Dad’s office. She gently coaxed the limping Skylark the few blocks and explained her situation. Behind the counter was a nice lady named Louise who looked at the flat and told her not only was the tire not worth fixing, but the rest of the tires were bald and worn out. She told Teresa that the car was unsafe. Teresa explained to her that she could barely afford the $12 patch and couldn’t possibly spring for new tires. Louise put her hands on her hips and frowned- she agreed to patch the tire- but warned her that the car was not safe to drive.

A couple of days later, Teresa and the wounded Buick were at work and my Dad told her he needed her car for an errand. She recalls being mortified- “Your Dad has fifteen cars, what does he need my jalopy for?” was the question she posed to me. She tried unsuccessfully to reach her boyfriend Dan and borrow his car instead, but she was stuck on the phones and Dad pressed the issue, so she handed him the keys.

An hour later he came back from lunch and put her keys on the reception desk. “Your car will be ready after work,” he said to her. She panicked, hoping that it hadn’t broken down on him. The rest of the afternoon passed slowly.

Finally she clocked out and walked across the street to the tire store, where a smiling Louise handed her the keys to her car, which looked resplendent sitting on four brand new Uniroyal radials. Whitewalls, of course- my Father is not a cheapskate. With a wink, Louise said “I told you that you needed new tires.”On the seat was a paid receipt for $164- exactly one dollar less than her rent. She was completely shocked.

She had no idea that Louise was the sister of my soon-to-be-stepmother, Wanda, or that she grew up knowing our clan, recognized the last name and immediately called my Father, who hatched a secret scheme to rescue a damsel in distress. Teresa said she literally cried when she saw the tires. She says she would not have made it through college without my Dad.  She sent him a giant thank-you card through the interoffice mail but he never mentioned it. And to this day he claims no memory of the incident. It’s just how he rolls.

Happy Father’s Day to my amazing Secret Agent Man. You’re the best. And try as you do to disguise it, we all kinda know it, too.

(Originally published in June, 2014)