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1983-2015
tearing the rag off the bush again
How I Spent my Summer Vacation PDF E-mail

I agree with Sarah Palin that the best road trips are taken by plane.  So, this year I booked a flight to Halifax, Nova Scotia, to visit my brother Leon (see "Men's Planet II: The Apartment" on Matahariette.com) who has been afflicted with an acute case of Empty Nest Syndrome ever since my nephew went away to college a decade ago.

Active ImageThis past year was stressful.  Not only did I endure my Long, Epic Battle with the Faceless Monster Verizon (see July 16th "Corpse"), which began in December, '08 and was resolved to my dissatisfaction in May of '09, but my neighbors, Dave and Dean, a gay couple, had solicited my help in a fierce custody battle over a sweet-tempered puppy, Bernardo.  Bernardo was not the name given to him by his original owner (hereafter referred to as "Prima Donald.")  Dave and Dean (hereafter referred to as "Da Boyz"), have a joint crush on George Chakiris, the Greco-American actor who played Bernardo, Leader of the Sharks in "West Side Story."  Da Boyz worried that a name change might be traumatic to their canine charge.

I was optimistic.  "Don't worry.  Think of him as the Pax Jolie-Pitt, formerly Pham Quang Sang, of the puppy world."

Prima Donald is an aging, raging, flaming, fading-out queen.  I don't know his history vis a vis dog ownership, only that he is an inveterate boozehound.  Oblivious to the needs of his new pet, he indulged in the hair of the dog until re-registering as a guest in one of the Manhattan snake pit hospitals Richard Yates so often called home. He phoned Da Boyz and asked if they could care for his latest internet purchase in his absence.  Dave entered a stale cigarette-smoke-filled studio apartment, its velvet drapes tightly drawn to block out any remnants of an offending sun.  He navigated shit-covered floors, coaxing the starving animal out from under the bed.  "Get him out of here right now!" Prima Donald screeched imperiously before dialing 911 to summon the proverbial white-coaters.  Dave said the environment reminded him of weekends in his own childhood home, when his parents would get all George and Martha and routinely ship him and his siblings off to their grandmother's house.  So emotionally traumatic was the experience, and so frantic was he to rescue the victim that he forgot to get its ownership and other necessary papers.

Da Boyz relished their new roles, and motherhood particularly suited Dave. The routine of walking Bernardo four times daily and feeding him on a schedule seems to have cured his A.D.D..'ish spaciness. As Da Boyz nested and nurtured, Bernardo became a joyful, active, adorable little terrier, quickly attaining top dog celeb status in our apartment building.  I took pleasure in observing this happy household, although I experienced hair-raising anxiety when Dean showed me the two leashes they were contemplating buying--one green-patterned and the other, the ever-fashionable basic black.  

"I'm leaning towards the black.  It has a kind of S & M look, " Dean explained.

Inevitably, Prima Donald "finished" "rehab" and wanted his property back.  Da Boyz were adamant.  There was no way they were returning a dog to someone who maintained, "I didn't abuse him, I only neglected him."

So they planned a luncheon date.

"Don't go!" I,  well, screamed over the phone.  "He's your ADVERSARY now--you want his dog, he wants it back.  What would you accomplish by socializing with him?  If you plan to keep Bernardo, you can't also keep this guy as a friend."

They took my advice, but worried obsessively.  Dean told me that Dave feared that Prima Donald or his sister would come and "throw firecrackers under their door."  

"Say WHAT?" I asked. Dose Boyz...

Finally, they were summoned to Criminal Court.  Their Oliver Wendell Holmesian legal strategy: "We're going to tell the judge that Prima Donald has a gay stalker crush on Dean and that when he got fired from Hermes, he made a big scene and got really hysterical!"

Did I have any choice other to contact an organization which will not only take up the cause of custody of a puppy, but that of a fly who has been swatted...yes, the paint-throwing, publicity-seeking Petans?  One of their executives, despite being on vacation (Mykonos?  Ibiza?  A pig farm?) spent three entire hours on the phone with me, imparting handy-dandy all-purpose legal advice, namely, "Tell them just to stick to the facts!"

Fortunately, Prima Donald had drunkenly filed papers in the wrong court, so the case was dismissed.  As of today Bernardo resides with Da Boyz, and there I vow he will remain, possession being 9/10ths and about six litigation-free months having passed.  Finally, I felt secure enough to go visit Leon, a math professor at a Haligonian university who had completed teaching his yearly courses.  I haven't visited Halifax since the 1980's, when my nephew was obsessed with playing with Transformers and plastic swords and I took him and his little pals to see "National Lampoon's Summer Vacation."  Now he is getting a PhD in Philosophy, and will soon become an academic in the Surovellian tradition.  During my last trip, Leon and I had such an explosive blow-out sib-fest that my long-time lover, the "New Yorker" writer/editor paid for me to go stay in Halifax's only five-star hotel (doubtlessly placing this charge on his unlimited, unsupervised expense account.)  At the time, I was impressed, but I just checked out the room price for a night, and it is way, way cheaper (as I learned from the Autistic Kid in this story's title) than any 0 star hotel room located anywhere here in New York City.

This time, hoping for an agita-free experience, I explained to Leon that ever since I injured my back, I need to rest often, to sleep on firm mattresses and sit in comfortable chairs, that I wouldn't be hiking his favorite hilly nature trails, and finally, that I love my caffeine and would bring along a coffee-maker.

"That doesn't sound so high maintenance," he replied.  The prospect of harmony tugged at my heart-strings as harp-strings played in my head.

Shortly before my departure date, Michael Jackson overdosed on the surgical anesthesia drugs and hundreds of narcotics he ingested daily, "a victim of sycophants and enablers" (did they force-feed them to him?), "a tragic figure who never enjoyed a real childhood" (nor ever partook of an hour of psychotherapy), "a wonderful father" (who insisted his children always appear in public wearing animal masks, since celebrity's children are so often the targets of kidnappers, like....well, there was Frank Sinatra, Jr., kidnapped on December 8, 1963  and returned unharmed two days later)  "to his--shockingly--non-biological children" ( Gee, I had always believed that dyeing one's skin changes one's DNA!). This bald, nose-less lipstick-wearing white female impersonator who hung out with creepy faghags like La Liz and La Liza was mourned and celebrated as a Black man at NYC's Apollo Theatre in Harlem, where  photographs of him as a young Negro child were flaunted by the desperate and delusional.  Any Emperor's New Clothes dynamic always makes me apoplectic, and this one showed no signs of abating. To quote Sir Paul McCartney, the "boyman's" deification in the media only picked up steam, with former Court-TV anchor Nancy Grace, who had repeatedly informed her viewers that he was guilty, guilty, guilty, and therefore was expertly psyching out and manipulating his star-struck jurors (several of whom told the media that they had changed their minds days after rendering their not-guilty verdict) during his child molestation trial now doing the splashiest 180 of all.  I received so many CNN Breaking News Alerts about the tragedy to end all tragedies, so many more than I would get if, say, a world leader like the prime minister of Canada had died, that I may need to purchase a new hard drive.  

So, I didn't bring my laptop with me.  I wanted a break from computers, from "breaking news", from my e-mail.

What possessed me to think that my spiffily renovated Matahariette website, so ultra-feminine, so "me" in every way, so appropriate after the former red-plaid homepage that a male "web designer" created for me would be completed by my webmasters before I left, just because that was what I had "planned?"  I know my Dylan lyrics, and the "jokerman" he sings about is Mr. F-U Fate.  The ultimate free spirit, Jokerman will kick your butt if you try to control him (was it a coincidence that I read "The Short-Timers" by Gustav Hasford on my trip, a Vietnam fever-dreamy reminiscence narrated by a Marine nicknamed Joker? )  As a friend once advised, "Don't make appointments and you won't be disappointed."  My personal internet real estate was finally constructed to perfection literally (predictably?) on the last day of my vacation.  This meant that I needed to check my e-mail several times daily, asking Heidi and Jeff, so spandexcellent.com to endlessly delete, add, change and tweak.  Leon, who has a state-of-the-art computer in his office, owns such a user-hostile generic home model that I immediately became a  sort of, well, Mac whore, one without a Mac daddy to scout for me.  I didn't exchange sexual favors for computer time, but whenever someone seemed like a likely candidate ( e.g., Leon's next-door neighbors) I would meet, greet and then ask them, "Do you guys happen to have a Mac in your house?  Could I just come in for a few minutes to check my e-mail?"  Everyone accommodated in their friendly Haligonian fashion because Canadians are generally upbeat and chipper, especially during that window of opportunity before they start drinking their numerous nightly beer (sic), eh? (In bars, the custom is to ask for "Blues", i.e., Labatt's.)

Neither friendly nor accommodating were Leon's many friends, all male, also all professors at Leon's school.  Like him, they are exceedingly thrifty, but during their vacations, they eat in restaurants both daily and nightly.  Each repast was Marie-Antoinette'ish, as lunchers and diners ordered soups, multiple appetizers, extra everythings, side dishes and desserts (although no one but me drank coffee.)  Greek, Syrian, Thai, Italian, nouvelle, Chinese, seafood...amazing restaurants all, every culinary experience memorable.  When my nephew arrived three days before the end of my vacation (we had planned it that way), we celebrated at his favorite Thai place and devoured spring rolls, soup, papaya salad, fish cakes, iced teas, and five entrees for three.  Despite my emotional prep-work,  my conflicts with Leon mostly centered around food ("Standing on the water, casting your bread...Oh, Jokerman"), because he will eat anything, and I, like most chicks, am finicky.  Leon behaved as if my avoidance of calamari was a personal and injurious affront and kept threatening to force me to learn to enjoy it (as if I have never had the opportunity?).  I avoided going to what he described as one of the world's best sushi bars because I pretty much stick to tuna, salmon, and maybe yellow-tail, and I didn't relish the inevitable prospect of being badgered about not ingesting eel (ever see the movie "The Tin Drum?").  At a Greek feast, Leon ordered grilled octupus, and kept grabbing my arms, urging me to taste it.

 "I don't partake of anything with pods, tentacles or suction cups," I finally declared.  

What did Leon care what I ate?  It was just the same old sibling stuff, re-packaged.  I experimented with changing our birth order by referring to him as "Little Brother" (result: total failure.)  But although Leon was hypervigilant about, say, not turning on lights, urging me to travel from the hallway through the computer room in the dark (like a mole?), he was also incredibly generous, and treated me not only to every enormous meal we ate, but he also paid for my plane ticket, our groceries, the repair of my new shoes and movie tickets.  He even bought me copies of "The Globe" and "The National Enquirer" ($1.00 extra in Canada) which I read simply to find out if the inevitable trashing of Michael Jackson had yet commenced (it hadn't and hasn't.)  In short, he was a princely big bro.

Yet despite brotherly love, yours truly, Matahariette, so often the star of the show and the belle of the ball, who can work any room and light up any life, became a veritable wallflower.  Not one of Leon's friends ever deigned to asked me a single personal question ("Ain't nobody there would want marry your sister...oh, Jokerman.")  I felt like one of the many mannequins who resided at The Neverland Ranch and at Michael Jackson's secret condo in Century City (27 in one room, according to Christopher Andersen's "Michael Jackson Unauthorized", Simon and Schuster, 1994.)  Some of these professors (physics, Black Studies, history, math) were paranoid Marxists, while others skipped from one topic to another like a pre-Bernardo Dave.  One person's (Leon's) characterization of  Morton's "professorial mode", was another's (mine) analysis of a narcissistic personality disorder.  During a dinner party held in Morton's country home, he yammered on for...(who knows? ) without anyone reacting or interacting about Stalin's genius-caliber political strategies and Mao-Tse-Tung's lucky opportunism.  I kept signaling to Leon with my eyes, and, although he saw me, he didn't respond, either verbally or non.  I finally heard myself yelling out, "Okay, that's enough already, give it a rest!"  At another dinner party, hosted by Zack, the dynamic was completely opposite. I unsuccessfully tried to join an animated conversation about Hitler, having watched the History Channel's documentary "Hitler and the Occult" five times.  Everything I said--about the Nazi's belief that the Aryans were descendants of the lost continent of Atlantis, that the storm-troopers' bodies were kept in special crypt so that they could be resurrected, that astrological charts were charted daily, that they pursued "The Holy Grail" and explored dousing...was shouted down, so that I was unable to share even a single freaky fact until, finally, "Would you please stop interrupting everything I say?"" burst spontaneously out of my mouth.  Showing no interest in me, but a fascination with Leon's identical twin, Karl, who is a frequent Haligonian visitor, George asked me, "Why is Karl so weird?" Finally, conversation!  It ended when I answered, "Don't diss my brother, Dude."

During the third and final week, I found a congenial companion who lived in a comfortable home--Leon's neighbor, Joe, who has Asbergers Syndrome/Autism.  Tics, head-shakes and sudden spastic movements aside, he was so Greek godly-handsome that his father told me a talent scout from "Elle" had approached him about becoming a magazine model on a Costa Rican beach.  "Can you believe that my son would prefer to work for $10 an hour?"  Neal, a British psychologist, asked me.  Perhaps Joe was more self-aware than he appeared, and could envision his own distress in being asked to remain "totally still" for a camera shoot.  While most of Joe's conversation involved numerical percentages, such as, "Here is how one rates the quality of a hotel.  One star means..."  and "Do you agree with 44 % of Americans who...whatever?" he was a kind person and an engaged listener.  When he asked me, "What do most Americans think of the policies of Stephen Harper?" and I replied, "Who is he?" he neither took umbrage nor lectured me on American political myopia.  I became addicted to the lush, plush armchairs and sofas Neal had purchased when he inherited a few mill (in pounds or loonies?), as well as their state-of-the-art computers with 24" monitors.  When I had gone to Morton's house to use his Mac, this is what I heard for the entire afternoon:

Morton (to his wife):  "You never make plans.  That is your problem.  You are psychologically and emotionally incapable of making plans."

Wife:   "I made a plan, I did.  I swear I made a plan.  I really did."

Morton:   "No, you did not.  You have never made a plan.  You just cannot make a plan.  This is the story of your life.  It's pathetic, you're pathetic."

Wife: "But I did make a plan.  I just forgot what it was."

She was mostly bed-ridden (who wouldn't be, under the circumstances?)  Visiting at his country house,  Morton, Leon and I went out for a drive.  As we tooled through restful scenery, woods or water to either side, Morton worried that when he returned, his wife, who planned to bring plants back to their house in town, would misplace his watch and track dirt everywhere like Dennis the Menace.  She did neither.

As Leon drove, Morton spoke about his former sister-in-law, who had died of Alzheimer's in her 40's.

"We think it may have had psychological causes, " Morton opined.  "Her husband was verbally abusive to her."

I asked Leon what Morton's own background was.  Vain, self-involved mother?  I guessed.  Bingo.  Domineering father?  Not only was he an egomaniac, but after he divorced Morton's mother, he seduced and then married Morton's own girlfriend.

Morton has two daughters, neither of whom he loves as much as he does his two dogs, a fact he has told both daughters, as well as the dogs and anyone who will listen.  One of these daughters he actively dislikes (more so with each successive suicide attempt.)  Yet he was very kind and asexually-affectionate towards the daughter of a colleague whom he pays to do errands for his wife when he is not at home to berate her.  This 35 year old brought a homemade spaghetti sauce to a small soiree which was originally meant to be a barbeque, and shared with us the fact that this was the very first dish she had ever cooked.  A combination of tomato paste and numerous cans of olives, both green and black, it was actually an "olive sauce."  When I left a salty, rubbery pile on my plate, Leon loudly, incredulously asked, "What's the matter, don't you like olives?!"  I waxed nostalgic for my usual vacations sur le Rive Gauche de Paris, for the chic boutiques de St. Germain des-Pres, where I get my fashionista fix, and for the  pastels room (Lautrec, Degas) of the Musee D'Orsay, where I bliss out on aesthetics. (On  August 11th, a woman assaulted "La Giaconda" with a mug of English Breakfast Tea. (("Michelangelo indeed could have carved out her features...oh, Jokerman.")) Did she find her fixed Cheshire cat smile more unnerving than the 10,000 paintings of a suffering crucified Christ, his eyes always beseeching, never accepting? And why was English Breakfast her weapon of choice?)  

Although Leon never stuck up for me when his friends were obnoxious, and he even attempted to lecture me on the protocol of confronting chronic interrupters ("Don't even go there," was my reply); though he often stated that I should stop drinking coffee altogether whenever I craved a cappuccino from one of the many local Starbuck-ian chains ("Second Cup", "Just Us"), ("Hey, I don't tell you what you should or shouldn't do," was my reply) I left him and his home with genuine regret.  The inevitable scary sibling dogfight commenced one afternoon after Leon had been chopping trees in his yard as I drank iced coffee and read "The Bad Seed".  I don't even remember what set it off like a firecracker, but I decided to quickly extinguish its flames, because really, why undo in minutes what had taken so much effort to rehabilitate?  My sweet, tender feelings towards Leon persist, and so I had a happy summer vacation.

I returned the day before my mother's birthday (we had planned it this way) and Karl attended her party at a Japanese restaurant in my East Village hood.  Also a professor (political science and history), Karl has been carrying around a little girl's pink and purple striped vinyl knapsack (hereafter to be referred to as "the pocketbook") for three years. He thrives on provoking people into making snide comments which he then claims enrage him, as he can only exist in a pissed-off state of mind.  My oldest brother Frederick has been on the Dr. Mark Fuhrman diet for perhaps half a decade, (i.e., he consumes a daily regimen of: five pounds of vegetables, juiced, vegetable and bean soups for lunch and dinner, and fruit in-between.  C'est du tout au tout.) Since the restaurant did not serve edamame beans, he feasted on cabbage soup afterwards, chez lui. He is not only gaunt, but he has completely lost what minimal vitality he once had.  His eyes are ringed with purple circles, his eyebrows have fallen off, his veins are ropier than Madonna's, and beta-carotene ingestion has turned his skin color pumpkiny-orange. Whenever I talked to Frederick about my life, a non-stop adventure he has seldom been a part of due to a decades-long never-resolved feud I am willing to finally overlook, he kept giving me unsolicited bad advice in his soft, trailing-into-the-ether voice.  It was all essentially the same: "Don't be yourself, be like me, be passive."  I finally asked him, "Do I appear to you to have difficulty making my way in the world? Have I been asking you for your opinion on how I should function with my fellow humans?" (I hadn't mentioned any Canadian academicians.)  Oblivious to our dynamics and slightly drunk on sake, my sister-in-law bogarted my attention as she repeated her mantra, "Your brother and I are going to end up getting a divorce!  I'm telling you, Hariette, this diet is ruining our marriage!  We are going to have culinary irreconcilable differences!", but then she has been saying the same thing with different details ever since Frederick took a 12 year break from general society to move into the basement of their large New Jersey home and work for 20 hours a day seven days a week self-publishing an economics newsletter which documented trade agreements between socialist and capitalist countries.  For those years in which he toiled in his dungeon, finally peaking with a circulation of 200 (mostly university libraries) he never became current, and he ultimately abandoned the enterprise one issue behind, which has always been a perfect metaphor for Frederick's all-around modus operandi and emotional gestalt. My mom's birthday shindig continued at her apartment, sans yours truly, because I know that the fireworks that get thrown under her door and explode all night long are always about the same topics: Karl's behavior in restaurants (after he has either: brought a sack of White Castle burgers into a diner, a cup of clam chowder into an upscale eatery, licked a serving-dish as a waiter was removing it, vigorously lapped up any remaining particles of food from his bowl, or harangued a staffer about every ingredient in every "special", asking if they might be organic, including in fast-food joints) or, his pocketbook.  That night was a double-header, as Karl had queried our Japanese waitress, "Excuse me, but could you tell me what you think of this bag?  I really like it. But people are always giving me shit about it. Do you think it looks like a kid's bag?"  "No understandingly," she shook her head with a sad little smile.  "Me not many English."  I was later informed that my niece, sated with the same-old same-o as we all are, derided the pocketbook as making Karl look Michael Jackson'ish. Taking a new approach, she told him, "If you really want to meet women, you should stop carrying it around."  I saw Karl just last night, as I had accidentally taken home one of Leon's library books, and Karl volunteered to return it to him, as he was about to undertake his own road trip up north, because he and his twin are locked into an endless love/hate, attraction/repulsion dance.  They can neither live together nor apart, as they mechanically mine the same emotional fields, discussing ancient and new grudges, some red-hot, some warmed-over, others simmering since childhood, all essentially half-baked, without ever making progress or achieving closure. They clearly desire neither.  I have always theorized that, since neither my skinny mother with her bird-like appetite nor her sexist obstetrician in the pre-sonogram 1940's days of patronizing male doctors and their rigid theories knew she was carrying twins (he sternly admonished her not to gain more than 25 lbs, while her starving body urged her to eat, eat, eat) until Leon, the older and more dominant one, materialized, both Leon and Karl were so seriously underweight that they began life in incubators.  Could Leon have latched onto the majority of the placentian food supply?  This may sound, pardon the pun, nutty, but does anyone else have a better explanation for the constant physical and emotional hunger the twins continue to exhibit?  (Readers, perhaps you  have theories about why all three of my brothers make a casserole of food, eating, restaurant protocol and left-wing politics? ( ("Molotov cocktails and rocks behind every curtain...oh, Jokerman.") ) If so, please e-mail me via the "Contact" form on Matahariette.com!) As Karl and I walked to the subway and he bitterly denounced my niece, I remained Switzerlandian neutral as always, not that he ever notices.  Karl claims that carrying this pocketbook  is "unconventional."  But despite his Surovellian left-wing politics, what are the life goals he wishes to achieve at age 60?  A house with a white-picket fence, a wife with unshaved legs (one of his many fetishes), and a passel of children.  Perhaps he may still find a mate, procreate, adopt or whatever, but it's becoming less likely with each summer's passing.  I wonder if he could even care for a Bernardo of his own ("A small dog licking your face...oh, Jokerman"), since whenever he takes one of his bi-yearly road trips to Greece, thriftily saving money on hotels or even youth hostels by pitching his pup tent on mountainsides ("You're a man of the mountains...oh, Jokerman.")
, he depends on my mother (whom he still calls “Mommy”) to shlep over to his apartment to water his plants .

Do Corpse readers recall Suzanne, the heroine of "My Suzanne Obsession", now also residing online among its fellow "Men's Planets"?  Suzanne's husband Leroy, the former Bowery bum has died of AIDS.  While he was alive, she logged in dozens of hours at the local police precinct taking out a series of restraining orders against him, but after his death, she pulled a Michael Jacksononian maneuver, deifying him in her own way by planting a tree in his honor on the Bowery.  Her own year was not just stressful, but exceedingly gloomy, with a good friend dying of cancer, and her meanie-head Mom squandering her inheritance on a Peta-like dog rescue charity.  Every night in this hood, the streets are dominated by boxy, angular white stretch limos--ungainly objects filled with uptight, Red Bull-swilling celebs, most of them famous for being famous, the non-entity "reality t.v. stars", the tormented genius Heath Ledgerses, on their way to party and/or o.d. at the new bars, clubs and hotels (with doormen) located on the all-new hip and trendy Bowery.  Rather sinisterly, the Bowery bums have also vanished.  After leaving Karl at the Broadway-Lafayette station, I purchased a framed antique Indian print of a woman selling pencils at the Houston Street bazaar and carried it home. Three cute girls sitting outside a cafe voiced their approval.  They were visual artists from S.F., looking for funky fun.  "Know where we can meet any cute guys?" they asked me.  "Obviously, I don't have to explain to you why I moved back here!" I replied, having checked into the city of hills and fog and calla lilies during the Harvey Milk era (when every gay guy I knew, i.e., almost every guy, was orgying in bath houses and plunging into glory holes, not engaging in political activism, as the movie implied.  I did have one boyfriend there, a musician with the S.F. Mime Troupe, and before that, with Country Joe and the Fish, who was a scorching, fanatically-foreplaying Scorpio, but who had been re-cycled so many times by rapacious females I always feared he was teeming with sexually-transmitted diseases.)  I told the girls that Diddy started the Bowery bum-removal trend when he bought The Marquee Club, and that now marble and steel condo edifices housing N.Y.U. undergrad trustfunders block out any remaining shafts of sunlight.  "But what happened to the Bowery Bums?" Nikki, Laura and Tasha asked, echoing my own constant concern.  "I dunno," I replied.  ("Take the motherless children off of the street...oh, Jokerman.") They told me that during S.F.'s nasty gentrification process, the city shipped all its coolest homeless people out of town to parts unknown, including Clifford, a hulking gentle Black giant who had always escorted them around, not even for cash, but just to be a gentleman and to protect the girls.  "Mikey My Boy, I'm going to go undercover down at the Waterfront!" I can hear Karl Malden saying in the "Streets of San Francisco" episode where the cops rescue tragically-disappearing apparently-murdered bums. I hope Leroy's tree is thriving, but, more importantly, I wonder, wherever shall Suzanne find a suitable new husband?  What is a woman with degrees in French and Film Studies to do sans a suitable supply of Bowery bums to take home as she does stray cocker spaniels?  This spring, when her friend was diagnosed as being terminally-ill, she told me she had planned to use funds he once gave her for an emergency for his funeral.  Then everyone decided to have a public ceremony in a community garden in the Bronx, so Suzanne had money for her annual road trip to Paris and the South of France.  You go, Girl!  Before departing, she told me that the gardener was an ex-con who had been arrested in PA with 13,000 (or was it 130,000?)  guns, all but one of which he claims were licensed, that lone firearm earning him a two year stint in Riker's Island.  There he took classes in Horticulture (good long-term planning, eh?). He also got a tattoo on his neck which reads, "Shit Happens."  Said Suzanne, "He is a very little guy with a very big slogan."  "And?" I asked.  "Yeah, " she mused.  "Possibly, a very big shlong."

Bro Karl, you can buy a million little-girl pocketbooks, but for my money, tattooing "Shit Happens" on your neck is, well, truly unconventional.

More of Aunt MataHariette on her website: http://www.matahariette.com/
 
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