Monday, February 26, 2007


I got to know Boo, really, because of math.

Or maybe that should be “MATH.”

Or even “M.A.T.H.”

I’m not sure. I am not as good at English as I am at… math.

Then again, Boo is not very good at either English or math.

But he is funny. And he is... interesting. We have a lot of fun together. At least when he’s not getting on my nerves.

Anyway, one day after school, we were talking about Pokemon and cheat codes and video games and whatnot, and we ended up at the ice cream place. Boo had money in his wallet – he always does. And I didn’t. Because I never – or rarely – do. My mom doesn’t believe in allowances. She thinks I should do chores as part of the family. And that if I want extra money, spending money, I should work extra jobs. She thinks I should “earn my living the old fashioned way” – by working. I’m not sure what’s up with that. I mean, I’m like a kid.

My dad always gives me money. He sends it to me in the mail, or when I go visit him, he is always giving me money.

Just ‘cuz.

Which is cool.

The only problem is, I always spend the money he gives me right away. And then I don’t have any more. And my mom is like a total Scrooge.

It’s kind of sucky. And not fair, if you ask me.

I feel like my dad and my mom are using this whole money thing in the middle to mess with each other, and I am the one who gets screwed over by it all. But, hey, whatever. I can deal with it.

Anyway, Boo ALWAYS has money. And we went to the ice cream place. And just when we were coming out, that goddamned horn went off. Boo started cussing and yelling, I thought I was going to pee my pants he was so damned funny!

It was the first time I ever saw or heard anyone say anything negative about that horn.

Except for my mom, of course.

The horn TOTALLY upsets her. Especially when she has one of her bad headaches. Which seems to be more often lately.

Boo’s bizarre ranting and raving made me smile. Made me laugh. Made me snort gelato out my freaking nose!

Made me get an idea.

An evil, awful idea.

Like the Grinch gets in “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.”

Like the whole idea behind math.




It was brilliant really. And simple.

It was so simple, it was brilliant.

The idea was born that very afternoon.

We slapped our sticky hands together and made a pact.

A blood brother pact.


As God was our witness, we would get rid of that goddamned horn!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The horn

There was a horn at the top of the borough building that blared during times of trouble. It used to serve as a harbinger of noon as well, but that ritual must have stopped sometime during the 80s or 90s, she wasn’t sure when. Or why. All she knew was that the horn had gone off every day at twelve before she left Delphi, and now it no longer did. She had never thought to ask anyone about it.

One morning, soon after she had moved back to Delphi, she had been at a yoga class in the basement of a church not far from the borough building when the horn had gone off. It about scared the bejesus out of the poor instructor, who did not live in Delphi, and Kaitlin wasn’t sure why it hadn’t given some of the older ladies in the class heart palpitations or strokes. That blaring always unnerved her, and when it caught her off guard, late at night or when she was near the horn, it made her heart pound and her adrenalin rush. Like she herself was suddenly in the midst of an emergency and needed to fight or flee.

Kaitlin said something empathetic and amusing to the poor yoga instructor, who seemed to have totally lost her peaceful aura, when one of the older women in the class sat up and castigated her. “That horn is part of Delphi!” she opined. “I love it! I can’t imagine Delphi without it.” Kaitlin and the yoga instructor had stared at the woman, speechless. Was she joking? Senile? Off her meds? Another elderly, arthritic yoga student nodded her head. She said she found the sound of the horn “traditional” and “reassuring,” that it reminded her of Cape Cod.

Kaitlin had never been to Cape Cod, and she didn’t like arguing with people, especially about stupid shit like a horn, so she just smiled and rolled up her yoga mat. In her head, though, she was thinking: these women are nutso! The sound of that horn was excruciating.

The horn served as an alarm for fires and times of trouble. Not long after the horn blared, you would hear the wailing of police and fire sirens as they headed off towards the place of need. She knew that the number of times the horn blared meant something; it was either a code for the location of the emergency or else for how serious it was. She wasn’t sure. She couldn’t understand why in this day and age of pagers and cell phones Delphi’s first responders would need to have such a horrendous horn blaring in the center of town. It seemed pretty ludicrous to her. The horn was clearly an anachronism. And there was nothing quaint about it. She didn’t care what they did up in Cape Cod.

She wasn’t sure how the people who lived within a block or so of the borough building could stand it. The horn could go off any time, day or night, without warning. And that sound! It gave her migraines.

Well, that wasn’t exactly true. Kaitlin got lots of migraines, and when that goddamned horn went off when she was having one, it was excruciating. The sound of it, blaring again and again, made her feel nauseous. And she knew that this upset Rad. He was young enough where he thought he should still be able to fix things and when he couldn’t, he got upset. It distressed him when she got headaches, because nothing he did ever seemed to help. He would bring her water or her medication or even a cup of tea. He would darken her blinds for her and answer the phone on the first ring, screening all of her calls. Sometimes he would want to sit with her, but usually she just wanted to be alone. She realized this might seem hurtful to him, but she also knew how much it bothered him to see her in pain. And she wanted to spare him that. If only they would do away with that goddamned horn! She had said that in agony on more than one occasion.

When they had first moved back to Delphi, Rad would run outside onto the porch and yell “Stop! Stop!” in the direction of the horn. If she hadn’t been in so much pain at the time, she might have smiled. But, really, he was only expressing her very thoughts: Stop! Stop! Make it all just go away!

Saturday, February 17, 2007


(Note: This is NOT part of the serial story. This is a real story.)

I named my blog “Gray” for a reason. I wanted to touch on/address all of the “gray” areas in my life. I thought this would, kind of, sort of become a metaphor for all the gray areas in life in general. Period.

But you know what?

Life is not always gray.

Sometimes it is perfectly black and white.

On Monday morning, my mother came up to me, tears in her eyes. She had just found out that one of her very best friends in the world had died the night before. All I could do was embrace her, hug her, this woman who just seems to be getting smaller and smaller.

She was mumbling something, I couldn’t tell exactly what. But it sounded like she was saying, “Why does he always take the ones I love the most?” I am not sure she said that exactly. But I think she did. (Of course, “he” should have probably been “He.”)

My mother is much more overtly religious than I am. It is possible, I suppose, that she actually said what I thought she said. It made me bristle. Inside, at least.

I don’t see life in this way. I don’t see God in this way. I believe in God. But I refuse to believe in a God who would purposely take people from us because we love them. That makes no sense to me.

I said something totally inane like, “Well, we all die sometime. I don’t think God is intentionally trying to hurt us.”

In the past few years, my mother has lost her mother, her husband (my father), her only sister (who was ten years younger than she was), and her high school sweetheart whom she ran into again a few years after my father’s death and with whom she hit it off spectacularly.

My mother is eighty.

Many of her friends have also passed away in the past few years. Many were older than she, many the same age, some a little younger.

I think Rosemary was fifty-nine. She would have turned sixty today.

She was this amazing, vibrant, incredible, wonderful woman. When I think of her, I see her smiling face, her sparkling eyes. I hear her laugh.

My mother loves to golf. At eighty, she is still an avid, active golfer. And she is incredibly good, too.

She has many golfing women friends. Of all ages. She regularly golfs with a woman who is about thirty-five. There really are not a lot of women who are eighty, who still golf.

My mother met Rosemary while golfing. And they became very close friends. Rosemary was a very special, very amazing woman. She was full of this contagious energy, which touched everyone she met.

About five years ago -- maybe a few more, I am not sure -- Rosemary had breast cancer. And she beat it. She was cancer free. She helped my mother run a “Race for the Cure” golf tournament to raise money for breast cancer research.

When I moved back here after my divorce about three and a half years ago, I knew who Rosemary was. Because my mother talked about her all the time. I started to talk with Rosemary on the phone on occasion myself, when she was calling for my mom; she was one of the few people who could tell my voice apart from my mother’s with no trouble at all.

And then Rosemary convinced my mom to convince me that I should play paddle tennis at the Y on her ladies’ team. We were the bottom of the rung team, basically a bunch of women who enjoyed playing paddle tennis and just wanted to hang out together and have fun. I didn’t have a paddle, and certainly couldn’t afford to go out and buy one. So, Rosemary gave me her “beginner’s paddle.” It was an older paddle that had made the rounds, so to speak. Someone had given it to her when she was first starting to play, and now she was giving it to me. When I found another woman whom I thought should start playing paddle tennis, I was to give the paddle to her. And so on.

Rosemary was my mother’s friend. She quickly became mine as well. We had set partners for our paddle tennis matches, but when we practiced we would often switch around and take turns playing with each other. I can remember being paired with Rosemary one day. We both had black sports pants on, but hers were Capri style. I halted play for a moment so I could hitch up my pants, so we could look the same – since we were a “team.” I will never forget the sound of Rosemary’s laugh. It was genuine and deep and real.

I remember seeing Rosemary at my mother’s surprise 80th birthday party this past summer. All of the ladies my mother golfs with had planned this elaborate surprise luncheon and party. It revolved around a golf tournament, the Grande Dame Tournament, and it just “happened” to be on my mother’s actual birthday. There were women golfers there ranging from about thirty to eighty-five.

Rosemary was beaming when she handed me a glass of champagne. All of the lady golfers were lining up on the 18th hole, waiting for my mother and her partner to play in. There was a huge banner spread out behind them, saying “Happy Birthday to our Grande Dame!”

Rosemary was radiant, happy, full of her usual joi de vivre.

It was in late September, or early October, that she told my mother she had been diagnosed with uterine cancer.

Out of the blue.

They said it was not related to her earlier bout with breast cancer. This was something different. New.

The prognosis was good.

At first.

Or maybe that was what Rosemary told my mother.

At first, it seemed relatively simple. They were going to have her undergo a hysterectomy and get rid of the cancer right away.

Only then they found there was some irregularity with her kidneys. And they would have to clear that up before they could operate.

And then. Suddenly. Other complications started arising. Which kept postponing the surgery.

And suddenly everything was a lot more complicated. And the cancer, it seemed, a lot more widespread.

They did chemo. And maybe radiation. I am not sure.

Rosemary lost all her hair.

She would come, on days when she felt OK, and play bridge with my mom and some of her other friends. She wore a wig. My mother was encouraged.

Even though some of my mom’s friends – you know, those women who know everything about everything and are determined to be the bearers of bad news – said that women with the kind of cancer that Rosemary had, at the stage it was in, did not survive.

My mother talked with Rosemary on the phone, encouraged her to come out when she was feeling well, and I think was hoping that Rosemary would get better.

She went to see Rosemary at home, late in December. When things weren’t looking so good. They had a special few hours together.

My mother kept in close touch with one of Rosemary’s closest friends, who was helping take care of Rosemary at home. Towards the end. When her husband was completely overwhelmed.

Rosemary had been in and out of the hospital so many times. She was retaining a lot of fluid. Was not responding to treatments anymore. They stopped the treatments. And sent her home.

They told my mother she would not live much longer. She would not make it to her next birthday, which was only weeks, days away. My mother was in shock.

Rosemary was not even sixty. She was this amazing, incredible, vibrant woman, who had already beaten cancer once. She had two young sons, in their twenties; her husband had just retired. My mother said prayers for Rosemary, and sent her notes and cards. And kept in touch by phone, even if only with Rosemary’s husband or caregivers.

One day, out of the blue, Rosemary called her. They had a nice long talk. My mother said she sounded like the old Rosemary. She was tired, but she sounded like Rosemary.

It was the last time they talked.

Rosemary passed away at 10:39 pm on Sunday, February 11, 2007.

Today she would have been sixty.

There are times in my life where I wish I could make that T-sign for “Timeout!” with my arms, and the whole rest of the world would freeze. And I could go off into a corner and cry my heart out.

Whenever I think about Rosemary, I start to cry.

I cannot be crying in my real life.

I cannot show emotion and sadness as I drive down the road, shop at the grocery store, work at the Reference Desk, teach my students, cook dinner, or do anything.

I cannot be crying.

Rosemary was one of my mother’s best friends. I know how I hurt, and then I think how much worse my mother must hurt. And Rosemary’s husband. And sons. And family. And close friends.

The world has lost a truly amazing woman.

I cannot cry.

But it is all I want to do.

And, in the end, it is what I do.

Happy Birthday, Rosemary!

I love you.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

“Why are we meeting here instead of Starbucks?” Sybil plopped down across from Kaitlin.

“Trey loathes Starbucks.”

“Really? Why?”

Kaitlin rolled her eyes. “Guess you’ll have to ask him.” She nodded her head towards the man approaching them with a large, refillable mug in one hand and a pastry in the other. There was a look of boyish, satisfied pleasure spread across his face, a definite jaunt in his walk.

“My, aren’t we looking perky? And how many mugs of java have we already had today?”

“Huh?” Trey took a large bite out of his Danish, a smudge of cherry filling smearing across his upper lip. “None. This is my first,” he said with his mouth full.

“Sibyll wants to know why you wanted to meet here.”

“As opposed to…?”

“As opposed to Starbucks.”

“I hate Starbucks!” Trey slurped some coffee.

“Yeah. Kaitlin mentioned that.” Sibyll handed Trey a napkin and pointed towards her lips and then his.

“What, exactly, is it that you dislike so much about Starbucks?” Sibyll’s eyes narrowed as she watched him dab at his face. “The fact that they are a large corporation taking over the world with their rapidly generating franchises, invading small town America and putting dumps like this out of business? Or is it that they get their coffee from starving, Third World countries, exploiting the masses so they can line their own pockets with ka-ching, ka-ching?”

Trey stared at her for a moment. “Nahhh! I voted for Bush. I believe in free trade.” He grinned.

Sibyll choked on her tea. “I’m going to pretend you are kidding.”

“Trey is just a philistine,” Kaitlin said, and Sibyl giggled.

“I dunno about that,” Trey said. “All I want is a freaking cup of coffee. You know. Coffee. Dark, hot. In a cup. I can’t stand all that grande frappe latte mocha ‘how many shots do you want?’ crap. It makes me feel like a freaking retard every time I go in there!”

“Oh, Trey,” Sibyll laughed, “you are a freaking retard!”


“So. Like. Why are we meeting here?” Sibyll threw up her hands. “I mean, not ‘here’ here. I really don’t care. Although, personally, I would have preferred Starbucks. Where I can get a chai LATTE.” She looked dubiously into her mug.

“Isn’t a regular cup of coffee just so much better?” Trey clinked his refillable thermos mug against Sibyll’s ceramic one.

“Chai is tea, Trey.”


Sibyll patted Trey’s hand. “Trey, we love you dearly. Probably more so because we have known you since nursery school than that we would have become your friends today, as adults, but whatever. One of the benefits of growing up in a small town, I suppose. And never leaving.”

“Well, technically,” Kaitilin pitched in, “I left. And then came back….”

Sibyll glared at her.

“Right. It’s not all that much different, I guess. In the long run.”

“So, what gives, Trey? Why are we here? Why are we meeting? What was so flipping important the three of us had to get together… in the morning?”

Trey glanced down at his watch. “It’s like eleven-thirty.”

“That would still be morning.”

“I know. But it’s almost, like… lunch time. This Danish was my second breakfast!”

“Trey. I am an artist. I work at night. Late at night. I don’t usually get up til after noon. Eleven-thirty is like the middle of the night in my world.”


“It’s OK. I just want to know what was so important that we had to meet at the crack of dawn in this free enterprise hell hole!” The older couple at the next table looked over at Sibyll with alarm.

“It’s – it’s Boo.”

“What about him?”

“He – he -- I found – I mean…”

“Oh, my God! You found drugs in Boo’s room!” Sibyll screamed.


The older couple hurriedly, or as hurriedly as an older couple can move, got up from their table and moved across the room to a booth.

“No, I didn’t find drugs. He’s only twelve, you know.”

“So? Delphi is like the heroin capital of Pittsburgh. Didn’t you know it? All these rich kids with more money than they know what to do with.”

Kaitlin and Trey both stared at Sibyll. What the hell did she know about kids in Delphi? She was single and didn’t have any.

“It wasn’t drugs.” Trey nervously ran his fingers through his still thick dark hair.


“No. Nothing like that.”

“O.K., well, the suspense is really killing me now, Trey. What the hell did you find?”

Monday, February 12, 2007


It is not the Whittingham Drive Belknaps who interest me.

I am not interested in “typical” Delphites.

They are a dime a dozen.

What does interest me is the Dover Road Belknaps.

I am always interested in anyone who is extraordinary. Or out of the ordinary.

When the “ordinary” is like the Whittingham Drive Belknaps, then – trust me! – anything different suddenly attracts your attention.

To be honest, I have known Kaitlin Belknap since she was a little girl. Like myself, she is a native Delphite, born right here in our local, hillside hospital. Although she is much younger than I am.

I watched her grow up. Knew her mother quite well.

Kaitlin grew up here, went off to college, got married. And moved elsewhere. Not atypical, really, for a lot of Delphi children.

But then she moved back. With her young son, Conrad, named after Kaitlin’s father. To look after her mother, unexpectedly diagnosed with lung cancer. I say unexpectedly because Diane never smoked a day in her life.

It was one of those fluke things. Sudden. Out of the blue. And right when Diane was starting to get on her feet again, after Conrad’s passing. From a heart attack. Now, he was a heavy smoker. Not unlike many of his generation. But kind of makes you wonder if all that second hand smoke isn’t what got Diane in the end.

But who knows? Life’s a mystery. You can lead a healthy lifestyle and keel over while riding your bike down Main Street, just as easily as the chain-smoking alcoholic can live to be a hundred.

Well, I may be exaggerating a tad. But you know what I mean. Life is not always logical. It doesn’t always make a whole hell of a lot of sense.

Diane didn’t live very long. Diagnosed around Thanksgiving, gone by Easter. Kaitlin came here, naively, right around Christmastime, with her young son, for what she thought was only going to be a few months, to help her mom through chemo and whatnot.

Kaitlin had listened to her mom, maybe because she didn’t want to believe the worst, and didn’t think the cancer was all that serious at first. After all, can’t they usually cure cancer these days, especially when it’s caught early?

Kaitlin moved back in the end, though -- in my opinion – in order to move away from her husband.

I mean, don’t get me wrong. Kaitlin cared about her mother dearly. But Diane would never have asked Kaitlin to move back here. Diane was the type of woman who would be dying by the side of the road, blood gushing out of a severed artery, and when asked by a passerby if anything was wrong, would have just smiled and said, “I’m fine!”

Kaitlin and Conrad live in the house where Kaitlin grew up, a modest, not overly large, never been added onto, but solid home over on Dover.

The ex-husband lives somewhere like Chicago or Cleveland. One of those “C” towns. An investment banker. Already remarried, new children. Although it may not have been in that order.

I find Kaitlin interesting because she is different. There is something about her that makes her stick out on the streets of Delphi. Even though she grew up here. There is something about her that makes Delphi a better place. That makes it easier for old timers like me to stay here and not get bogged down and smothered by all those freaking Belknaps on Whittingham.

Friday, February 09, 2007


My mom works at one of the flower places in town.

Boo calls it “Weeds,” but it’s actually called “Petals.”

(Which is pretty faggy, if you ask me.)

My mom majored in flowers in college. She never used her degree in real life, though, because my dad made all the money in our family.

I don’t much like to hang out at Petals.

It’s run by two fags. I mean, I’m not prejudiced against gay people or anything; I’m just stating a fact. Tony and Peter are OK guys and all, but I can’t stand all the drama. I mean, they argue about stupid shit, like what kinds of flowers to use and how many of this color and wouldn’t this other color look better? I mean, I’m like it’s just a bunch of f-ing flowers. Get real!

My mom likes her job a lot.

I think.

She doesn’t really make all that much, but my dad sends her LOTS of money.

He’s got a new wife and a new baby, Preston, who looks a lot like me when I was a baby. And he lives in Chicago, where he is very busy with his profession.

So, I don’t get to see him all that often. Every other Christmas and summers. Although he is really very busy during the summer, so I can only go visit him for part of the summer. And since my mom has me for the school year, he kind of gets screwed.

Otherwise, he would see me a lot more.

He visited me once on a business trip. That was cool. He picked me up from school in his rental car. We went out and got ice cream. Then he had to take me back home as he had a really important meeting he had to go to. He said I could have stayed with him in his hotel room downtown, but my mom said no.

It’s rough when your parents split up.

If my mom hadn’t been so selfish, they would still be together.

I know it.

My dad told me so.

Sometimes I wish I could live with my dad. I miss him a lot. It hurts my heart inside, but I try not to mention it to my mom. ‘Cuz that always makes her heart hurt inside.

I made her cry once, because I told her I wanted to go live with my dad instead of her. I was mad at her. Because she made me do something I didn’t want to do, like brush my teeth or take out the trash or something, I don’t really remember, but I was in the middle of playing Madden and I didn’t want to stop. I know my mom means well, but she is kind of naggy. My dad pretty much lets me do whatever I want. Only his new wife, her name is Cecily, doesn’t much like me. She says I am “hard to handle,” and she is not cut out to “babysit pre-teen delinquence.” Whatever.

I think she is a bitch.

My mom told me never to call Cecily that, that it was “inappropriate.”

I said, “But she is a bitch!”

“I don’t care,” my mom said. “It’s still inappropriate.”


Grownups are all weird if you ask me.

Being a grown up is pretty much wasted on grown ups.

That’s what Boo always says.


I work part-time at “Petals,” an upscale florist and garland shop here in Delphi.

It’s owned by Tony and Peter, who happen to be partners. In more ways than just… business. If you get my meaning.

Aside from the fact that they have a predilection for playing show tunes in the background, it is pretty fun and laid back to work there. Both Tony and Peter are whizzes when it comes to making floral arrangements. I mean, if you tend towards the elaborate. Well, Tony tends to be more elaborate, while Peter tends to be more minimalist and post-modern. They work well together, except for when they are mad at each other. Which really isn’t all that often. Really. And mostly they disagree about colors or the amount of frou-frou that might go into any arrangement.

Admittedly, this was the only job I could find when I first moved back to Delphi. Their former assistant got married and moved to Chicago. But it is a fact that my degree is in horticultural therapy. I never used it in real life, as I got married right out of school and Jason didn’t want me to work. He wanted me to stay home and stay focused. On our children. Not that we had any yet.

And our garden. He said I could have a garden. And do my horticultural therapy magic there. He said no wife of his would work outside the home.


This from the same man who some ten years later was telling me to “get off my fucking ass and get a job”!

He said there was no reason why I couldn’t take care of Rad full time and work full time. And if I wasn’t doing it, then – by God! – I was a “slacker.”

I swear, he actually said this to me.

“There are plenty of women in America who did this each and every day,” he said, and he would be damned if he was going to be paying me any alimony just because I was a lazy, spoiled bitch.

Child support would be minimal, he said, because I should get off my ass and work.

To support my own son.

What did I think he was… the gravy train?

Actually, I pretty much thought he was an asshole.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


I think I was talking about the Belknaps.

The Whittingham Drive ones. And how “typical” they are as Delphites.

You’ll have to forgive me. Ever since the stroke, I tend to wander off on tangents whenever I’m talking about something. Stray thoughts pop into my head and then I start talking about them and that makes me think of something else entirely. And then before I know it, I’ve lost track of my original point.

Getting old really stinks sometimes.

Anyway, the Belknaps.

Someone asked me the other day to describe a “typical” Delphi family. Now, of course, there is no such thing. It would be a gross, over-generalized stereotype to pick out just one family and say: Bingo! They’re it.

But, I have to say, the Belknaps popped into my mind right off the bat.

Aside from living in a large house and all. A large house that they have added onto and all, I mean.

Dr. Belknap – Don, to his friends and family -- is an orthopedic surgeon. Dartmouth, Johns Hopkins, the whole nine yards. Missy, his wife, who is actually two years older than her husband but hides it with hair coloring and regular Botox treatments, is a recovering lawyer. Once she had her four kids -- boom, boom, boom, and oops! -- she decided to be a stay-at-home mom. But she does legal consulting on the side. In her spare time. For charities. When she is not busy trying to be the club champion in tennis, paddle tennis, or golf. She also does something really important on the PTA and in the Junior League. Volunteers at the local arts center and is on the board of the local public library. Sings in the choir at St. John’s, the dominant Episcopalian church in town. Gardens. Bakes. And knits scarves for people with cancer. Since she leads such a stressful, high-paced suburban soccer mom life (and, yes, all four of her children play soccer, one on a traveling team in addition to school, three for school, and the youngest for the Delphi Area Youth Soccer League), she goes to get deep body -- alternated with hot stone -- massages at one of the local spas that Delphi sports like most towns sport hardware stores or dry cleaners.


I know, I know. You think I am exaggerating. That this family does not really exist.

Well, you would be wrong.

The Belknaps exist all right, and if they were to read this, they would be peeved. Not because I have in any way slandered them, but rather because I’ve probably inadvertently left out something vital and important.

Are they a happy family? you ask.

Now, I ask you: why on earth would that be important?

They’re so busy morning, noon, and night, contributing to the universe at which they are the center, that they would never know if they were happy or not!

No time to think, no time to reflect, but time for Pilates and yoga and Scouts and piano lessons and voice and dance and tumbling, oh, my!

They give. Generously.

And for tax deductions.

They drive a Hummer, a Cadillac Escalade, and an Audi.

They tend to vote. They are really big environmentalists. They send money to the Sierra Club and recycle cans and bottles and plastic. Never mind that the rules in Delphi say you have to. They recycle their Christmas tree.

They think AIDS should be eliminated. Walk for diabetes and run for breast cancer and multiple sclerosis. They have cable TV, a plasma TV for the family room, TVs in the kitchen, the work out room, and every bedroom; wireless cable Internet and five computers, which are all networked; and two phone lines, one for the parents and one for the kids. Everyone has his or her own cell phone. They also have a vanilla lab named Sandy, a cat named Geronimo, and a cleaning lady named Lupita.

I could go on, but I’ve about worn myself out.

And I think you probably get my point.

You either want to know more about this charming little village and its quirky, non-poor, hyperactive inhabitants, or else you are running, screaming for your life!

Sunday, February 04, 2007


I have this theory.

I guess it’s sort of a sub theory of Murphy’s Law, if you want to get picky, but it’s held up without exception since I first developed it.

I call it the Mom Pick Up Theory.

If you get done practice early, your mom will be late to pick you up. If you go overtime in practice, your mom will be early to pick you up.

The addendum to it is this: If you get done practice early and you are standing there waiting and waiting and waiting like forever for your mom to come pick you up, then when your mom finally gets there, all breathless and harried – not sure why that is; I mean, how can driving a car make you breathless? – she asks you, “Have you been waiting long?” then your best bet is to say: “No, not really. We just got out.” On the other hand, if you get out late and you walk out to find your mom sitting there in her car all hot and bothered because she had to wait for you, then the best bet is to apologize profusely and tell her how much you love her and appreciate her picking you up, even though it’s really not your fault that practice ran late.

Call it kid survival theories.

I have time to think up these theories on days my mom is late. Like today. Boo is here, too, and he’s not a real patient guy. Right now he’s balancing on the sidewalk railing, pretending to be Tony Hawke or some crap. Half the time, I think the dude is ADD and needs Ritalin. But he is also pretty world savvy, so when my mom actually gets here, he will be real nice to her and she will be all gushing with crap like, “Well, Boover, it is always a pleasure to take you home! Anytime. You know that!” Meanwhile, I’ve had to stand here listening to Boo recreate his fantasy life and moan and complain and tell me how he is missing IM time with his posse. I feel like telling him to shut the f up. If he doesn’t want to wait, walk home! Makes no difference to me. But Boo would never walk anywhere he didn’t have to. And I would never say that to him. He is one of the few friends I actually have here in Delphi. He can be hyper and irritating, but most of the time he’s all right. For a dork dweeb.

Where is my mom?

She knows soccer practice ends at 5. Is it really that hard to be on time to pick up your own kid? I mean, geesh!

Frankly, I am working on turning this all into a well-constructed argument for my getting a cell phone. If I had my own cell phone, then I could just call her when I was done. Or she could call me and tell me how she was going to be forty million years late. I mean, hello, I am twelve! I’m a teenager. Everybody I know has their own cell phone.

Boo had a cell phone, but he lost it. Now his dad is pissed at him and won’t buy him another one. Plus, he lost the IPod Nano he got for Christmas and the PSP his Nanna and Pop-Pop gave him, although we’re not supposed to mention that around them as they are old people and might suffer a heart attack and die or something. So, Boo’s pretty much in the doghouse as far as electronics go. His dad is rich, though, not to mention his grandparents, so I imagine he’ll be getting new stuff before I ever get any original stuff.

I’m going to focus my efforts on the cell phone thing. Focus. Focus. Focus. That’s what Mr. P., the advisor for Juggling Club, always tells us when he’s flinging around his bean bag balls, trying to teach us technique.

“Yo, Rad!” Boo jumped down in front of me, practically landing on me.

“What the -- ! What’s your problem, dickwad?”

He pointed at the street. A dark blue Subaru station wagon had pulled up to the curb.

“About time, man!” he yelled at me before turning around to face my mom with a wave and an angelic-like grin.

“Mrs. B!”

I sighed and picked up my backpack, which must have weighed about forty trillion mega gazillion billion pounds.

“Hi, boys! Have you been waiting long?”

“No, Mom. We just got out like a few minutes ago.”

(A few million minutes ago.)

Saturday, February 03, 2007


Whew! Just back from the Eagle. Tons o’ bags of groceries to bring in.

By myself.

The boy is at indoor soccer practice.

I gotta tell ya, this whole single mother thing is, like… really hard!

Not that Jason ever did anything. But somehow, it just like, you know, feels different.

Plus, I am poor now.

I never used to have to worry about how much was in my checking account. It all just kind of worked out somehow. I was terrible about balancing my checkbook. I always just figured that the bank would be right. I mean, THEY were the ones who were experts about money. Right?

Now I have to pay STRICT attention.

Not because the bankers aren’t experts. But rather because I don’t have that much in there, and I can go through it faster than I can put it in.

Which would be a gross understatement.

And the cost of living is kind of, rather, I mean, like WAY high here.

You might wonder why I live here then.

Born here. Grew up here. Moved back here. After the “the vorce.” I read that in a book as a little kid, about this little kid whose family was going through a divorce and he kept calling it “the the vorce.” He was pretty young, and he couldn’t figure out why the word “vorce” got TWO “the”s in front of it, but it must be pretty important if it did. I thought that was touching at the time, in a weird, realistic sort of way. Kind of like how I always thought the famous football player for the Steelers was “Frank O’Harris,” an Irish African-American, I guess. And the general in charge of the entire Confederate Army was “Robert Ealy.” Weird how kids perceive things, huh? I mean, there used to be an A&P here when I was a little kid, and I always thought there was a word in the English language: “Ayunpee.” It meant: place to buy groceries.

Have got to go pick up Rad at 5. They practice from 4 to 5. He walked over to the indoor soccer place – it was an ice rink when I was growing up. When we all took ice skating lessons after school and drank the tongue-burning hot chocolate that came out of a vending machine and imagined we would grow up to be Dorothy Hamill. Even if our hair would never look that way. Rad walked over from school. It’s only a couple of blocks, but he has to cross the highway. Which I don’t let him do. He has to take the side street that leads to the tunnel that goes UNDER the highway. ‘Cause he is only twelve and I am over-protective and if I lost him I would die. There was this kid, the older brother of a girl in my class growing up, who died crossing the highway. He was hit by a motorcycle. I guess neither one of them saw the other. It was probably dusk. He didn’t die right away. It was terrible. We all thought he would be OK. That he would get better. But he didn’t. He died. It was awful. I remember going to the funeral home. He was laid out in an open casket, his longish blond hair slicked back over his unrealistically pale white face, a lacrosse stick at his side, inside the casket. It was surreal. It was scary. It was sad. I will never forget it.

So, I kind of have this thing about the highway. Rad is not allowed to cross it. No how, no way, uh-uh. Never. End of discussion.

Hell, I won’t even cross it on foot.

I am going to drive to pick up Rad and his friend Boover. Boover Hoover. Don’t ask. It is one of those weird Delphi things. His real name is like Byron Chauncy Hoover IV. I know. Totally weird. But I know Boover’s dad, Trey. Who, of course, is Byron Chauncy Hoover III. We went to school together. Trey is like way rich. Not because of anything he has done. Except be born into an incredibly wealthy family. Trey is a nice guy, don’t get me wrong. Just not terribly bright.

He makes me laugh, though! Which is a plus. And he knows he is one lucky ass s.o.b. He is nice to me. And we can talk to each other. His wife, Majestic – I kid you not! – left him for the golf pro at the country club. Kind of created a scandal that Byron Chauncy Hoover, Jr. – ole B.C. -- just hasn’t quite gotten over yet. Even though he himself is on wife number three, a woman half his age who used to be his secretary, or his secretary’s secretary, or something equally scandalous. I dunno. Whatever passed for scandalous back in the late seventies amongst grown ups in Delphi.

Gosh, where has the time gone? Gotta go pick up the boys.

Any more frozen stuff that still needs to get put away? Nope. Nah. Think I got it all. The canned crap can wait til later. Lunch meat, milk, eggs, all in the fridge. Yep. Good to go.

I’m outta here!

Friday, February 02, 2007


The Belknaps on Whittingham - not to be confused with the Belknaps over on Dover (no relation) - were a typical Delphi family.

Now, that would be a loaded phrase, of course: “typical Delphi family.” What exactly did one mean when bandying about such language?

Well, for starters, the Belknaps were well off. Delphi families never used the word “rich.” That word was reserved for descriptions from outsiders looking in. With disdain, jealousy, or downright envy. Or so say Delphites.

The Belknaps lived in a large house. No one would call it a mansion; those were the homes up on the hill, the ones old time residents called “cottages.” (Envision these rich old timers, their tongues grossly distending their cheeks, as they nonchalantly call their palatial estates “cottages.”) Puhleez. A cottage is something the grandmother in “Little Red Riding” lives in. These behemoths on the hill are either relics of the grandiose wealth of the industrial era iron and steel barons, or else obscenely overpriced, nouveau riche McMansions. Of course, one could argue that the stately homes dating from the early twentieth century were the obscenely overpriced, nouveau riche McMansions of their time. But they tended to have been better built.

Which, apparently, makes them ripe for adding on to.

No house in Delphi is too big, it would seem. The trend these days is to buy a large home and make it even larger. Why? I have no earthly idea. But everyone seems to be doing it.

My humble opinion.

And who am I? No one to worry about. A not wealthy old timer, to be sure. But born and raised in Delphi. Never really left. Some have even called me… the Oracle of Delphi.

But that is neither accurate nor true. I think these people don’t know their Greek history and are just being cutesy.

I cannot see into the future. That’s not my talent.

My skill has more to do with perceiving the past.

And recounting it in an accurate, albeit symbolic, manner.

I hear tell there is a market for that in some corners of the planet….