Well, it’s sure been nice
I might even miss you
Come here, I’m gonna kiss you.
Yeah. Mm, I wish it wasn’t
A one night stand.
It was in the year 7 B.A. (Before AIDS). I had been attending a Jaycee officer retreat that day and we were now in the town bar blowing off steam. The dance floor was crowded with locals, tourists, and others simply passing through. The band played rock-a-billy and country. Occasionally someone accidentally danced in step to the music.
Even at 6’4” it was hard for me to see over this group. The men all wore cowboy hats and boots. So did many of the women. I had been asked to dance by a local lady who seemed more concerned with dancing than who she had for a partner. I turned around and saw a woman climb onto a bar stool and I started to stare.
I guess what caught my attention was her smile. It was big and innocent. She was directly beneath one of the few lamps in this dimly lit Elks Club and the contrast of her teeth to her dark complexion was mesmerizing. Had I not been in a remote section of Arizona, I would have sworn she was a Sabra (native Israeli). I came to find out that she was born in Philadelphia and of Italian descent. Her name was Gina.
I don’t wish to dwell on the physical, but Gina was beautiful. She had the darkest, deepest eyes I had ever seen and her long, thick, dark hair fell in curly ringlets about her shoulders. She was wearing a white cotton blouse and a black skirt. I remember thinking that she wasn’t really in style, and yet, as striking as she was, she couldn’t be out of style.
We danced. We talked. And as the night grew old I saw most of the people pairing up for the evening. Another officer, Gary (age 27), was seen leaving with two women in their sixties. Gina was genuinely interesting. I didn’t want to ruin the moment with a slow dance or a fast jog to a motel room. We decided to take a walk.
The Arizona sky was clear and bright. The stars too numerous to count. We sat down on a grassy knoll by the lake and talked about ex-spouses and work. I found myself massaging her neck. We continued to talk and I continued to massage. I can’t tell you when, or how it happened, but sometime that evening our guards dropped and our inhibitions disappeared and our passion overcame us. It would be a lie to say that we made love, but it would also be wrong to search for selfishness as our motivation. We tried to give each other a moment of pleasure. And we succeeded.
I thought of Gina the other day. I don’t know why. I just did. I can go a year or two between daydreams of her, but I know I can’t forget. We left the knoll that evening and said good-bye knowing that she was scheduled to leave the next morning. She did. To this day I feel cheated that I never had the chance to wake up to that big smile and those warm dark eyes.
Gary returned to the cabin at 9am the next morning. He was teased for years about the grey hairs in his red mustache.
7:45Am. Corky and Lenny’s Cedar Center He’s late! A Client wanted to meet “as early as possible” on Monday morning. I offered breakfast and gave him a choice of places. So here I am. I’m sitting alone at Corky’s hoping the waitress remembers that the white stoneware thing in front of me is a cup.
All of the regulars are here. There are little old men who have maintained office hours here for years uncounted. They don’t look at menus or even order. Their meals are brought out to them automatically. The contractors sit together. Deals are made over lox, rye toast and exaggerated claims about yesterday’s golf game. And there is always a booth or two filled with women. In the past these ladies met for breakfast before a day of shopping or club. Now the women who come to Corky’s appear to be on the way to their offices. Times change. Corky’s doesn’t.
I spend a lot of time in restaurants. It is part of my job description. Much of my business is done over breakfast or lunch. The meals are seldom fancy or expensive. Many restaurant chains were built by businessmen. Where would Denny’s be without the armies of over caffeinated men waiting for their prospects to either show up or to sign at the (x)? Would Getty’s survive without expense accounts?
Lunch the other day was at the Crazy Horse. The food is only ok. But the scenery is excellent. Old married guys love to have an excuse to come downtown to the Horse. They appreciate a salesman taking them out. In reality, places like the Crazy Horse are terrible places to make a presentation. The prospect can’t give you his undivided attention. Clients are taken there after the sale as a way to say thanks.
It is 8am. I called the Client’s home and found that he just left for our appointment. The waitresses are passing my table like truckers passing a Yugo. The man in the loud plaid shirt at the next booth is describing the 300 yard drive he stroked the day before. The meeting at another table has come to an end. The smiles reveal who had made money and who has not.
My Client just entered and shook hands with two guys on the way to my table. He quickly wrote down their numbers and promises to get back to them before noon. It’s obvious that we are both going to have a profitable day.
The results are in and we have a winner. First prize, a gift certificate to Chaz Hair, goes to Linda Patten of Rocky River. Second prize, a gift certificate to EXCUSES, was won by Tim Britton of Cleveland.
I got some great entries. Some were scribbled on torn off pages of Ohio’s Finest Singles. Leslie Kearns of Euclid, who came in fourth, submitted the neatest response. Dan Leo had the funniest comments with his answers. Joan Shirokey guessed that I was the composer of the Bonus Question. Wish I was.
The answers are:
1. Mrs. Robinson……….Simon and Garfunkel
2. Freebird……….Lynyrd Skynyrd
3. Pink Houses……….John Cougar Melloncamp
4. Piano Man……….Billy Joel
5. Soul Love……….David Bowie
6. Tiny Dancer……….Elton John
7. Fire and Rain……….James Taylor
8. The Heart of Rock and Roll……….Huey Lewis and the News
9. Time……….Pink Floyd
10. You’ve Got a Friend……….Carol King
Bonus Question-Fly With Me……….Jay Hirsh
O.K. I admit that the Bonus was pretty obscure and that no one got it. I was really hoping that someone had the record. Their copy had to be in better shape than mine and I was going to see if I could tape it.
Thanks to everyone who entered. We’ll do another contest next summer.
Waves of emotion have been leaving my shore for years.
I’m just sitting here,
Waiting for the tide to come in.
Lost in a void.
As my love was dissipated in your emptiness,
I waited for the warmth that I needed.
Now that I’ve said good-bye,
And I prepare to take my leave,
You seem surprised.
I was to last forever, never to run dry.
There for you to draw on,
Whenever you saw fit.
But the last unanswered wave has left my shore,
And I have nothing left to give
At last, nothing left to give,
David L. Cunix 1984
Seven years have passed since I wrote those words, and yet I could have written them tonight. It’s been a long day.
If you are a regular reader of this column, you know that I have two wonderful redheaded children (Phil-13 and Jen-10), that I own an insurance agency, and that I love to cook. You may not have known that I was married. Actually, oft married is probably more accurate. An eternal optimist, an incurable romantic, I have been married three times. Four hours ago, I, to borrow a baseball phase, issued irrevocable waivers on #3. I helped her pack, split up the stuff, and felt the weight leave my shoulders when she and the two stepdaughters rounded the corner for good.
Friends wonder what took so long. I’m a task oriented individual. I wanted to marry this woman for a long time. I achieved that. That job is done. Unfortunately, I wanted to be rid of her for and even longer time. No, really. Bill, the attorney I share the office with, and our secretary, Mary Ellen, never thought this marriage would survive 1990 much less make it the five years that it did. Five years this time. Two years the first time. My second marriage lasted eight and a half years! For me a marathon. A long, long, hellish marathon.
Marriage is a wonderful institution. Everyone should experience it at least once. But I’ve had enough. My lawyer Jack (who should be giving me a quantity discount), my friend David and Phillip have all been advised to shoot me if I ever say that I’m engaged again. Don’t give me a chance to reconsider. Just shoot me and get it over with.
It’s not that I don’t like women. I have none of the Sam Kenison bitterness my friend Gary has. No, I love women. I love them so much that all I see when I meet them is their good. Hell, I could talk myself into a relationship with Lizzie Bordon. “Nice backswing, girl. I wish I could wake up each day to the sun shining on that little axe!”
As I enter singledom again, I do so with knowledge that I have the support and best wishes of my friends, my clients and my readers. That’s nice. And, I get to run all the free ads I want to in Ohio’s Finest Singles.
When I was a child
I caught a fleeting glimpse
Out of the corner of my eye
I turned to look but it was gone
I can not put my finger on it now
The child is grown
The dream is gone
And I have become
We sat and bitched over lunch at Houlihans. Though we were each anxious for our own turn, we listened attentively to our friends. None of the grievances were particularly new.
She always complained about the house she purchased two years ago with her mother. Didn’t make sense then. Still doesn’t.
He talked again about the partnership that he’s been waiting five years for. One by one, in no particular order, we sipped our Mooseheads, or white zinfandels, or in my case a club soda with a twist of lime, and talked about the past week. Finally it was my turn and I didn’t know what to say. Business has been great. The kids are fine. Even my golf game has improved. Yet I felt that I belonged at this table.
How do you describe the dull ache of sleep-walking through life? I was numb. I couldn’t seem to enjoy the good around me. Nor could I seem to be affected by the bad. No highs. No lows. No depth to my feelings. How do you bitch about that? I tritely stated that I wasn’t happy.
Two hundred years ago the Declaration of Independence proclaimed that we each have the inalienable rights of “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”. You have the right to try, but there are no guarantees.
I watch enough T.V. to know that happiness is defined as a house in the suburbs, a fast car, a well stocked refrigerator and lots of small electronic appliances. I’ve got all that. And more. But I wasn’t happy. And I couldn’t even explain why.
Since I had nothing worth sharing we went back to my friend’s blow by blow description of his weekly fight with his employer. I admit that my mind wandered to a familiar daydream about an idealized life. One I’ve never had. Nor never will. Sometimes our dreams prevent us from adjusting to our realities. Sometimes our dreams prevent our realities from conquering us.
I listen to song lyrics. Hard Rock. Soft Rock. Lite Rock. It doesn’t matter. I believe that the lyrics are important.
This month’s column is going to be a contest. I went into my album collection and found the first lines of ten songs. All of these came from albums that included printed lyrics so that I couldn’t screw up.
To enter: Identify the song and performer. Each is worth one point. Mail your entry to: Lyrics, 673 East 185th Street, Euclid, Ohio 44119. The entry with the most correct answers will receive a CUT AND STYLE at CHAZ HAIR OF LAKEWOOD (good for men or women). Second prize is a gift certificate for EXCUSES, the new pastry shop on Larchmere by Shaker Square. Everyone who enters will be eligible for a free PERSONAL AD donated by OHIO’S FINEST SINGLES. The decision of the judges (me) is final. Please enter. No one will get them all. I promise.
1. We’d like to know
A little bit about you
For our files.
We’d like to help you learn
To help yourself.
2. If I leave here tomorrow
Would you still remember me?
For I must be traveling on, now,
Cause there’s too many places I’ve got see.
3. There’s a black man with a black cat
Living in a black neighborhood
He’s got an interstate running through his front yard
You know he thinks he’s got it so good.
4. It’s nine o’clock on a Saturday
The regular crowd shuffles in
There’s an old man sitting next to me
Making love to his tonic and gin.
5. Stone love-she kneels before the grave
A brave son-who gave his life to save the slogan
That hovers ‘tween the headstone and her eyes
For they penetrate her grieving.
6. Blue Jean baby,
L.A. lady, seamstress for the band.
Pretty eyed, pirate smile, you’ll marry
A music man.
7. Just yesterday morning they let
Me know you were gone
Susan, the plans they made put an
End to you
8. New York New York is everything they say
And no place that I’d rather be
Where else can you do a half a million things
And all at a quarter to three.
9. Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
You fritter and waste the hours in an off hand way
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your new town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way.
10. When you’re down and troubled
And you need some loving care
And nothing, nothing is going right.
Name the song and writer and earn 4 points and my undying admiration.
Ride with me, Fly with me, Teach me how to care
I’ve been alone for too long
I’m already half way there
Ride with me, Fly with me-anywhere.
T.S. Elliot said that the world would end not with a bang, but a whimper. All last Tuesday, I prayed for a terrorist bomb or a plane crash, but it didn’t happen. Thirtysomething passed on, May 28, 1991. ABC turned off the respirator and the show faded, faded and died.
Gary was lucky. His character grew, flourished and then died with dignity. Ellen got her life together. Nancy beat cancer, got published and got her husband back. Not bad. The real losers (other than the strung along viewers) were Michael and Hope.
Remember Hope? Radiant. Maternal. Bitchy. Emotional Hope. Four years later, Hope has evolved into a woman whose only redeeming trait is a sudden desire to help the homeless. Her naïve assessment of the advertising business couldn’t possibly come from someone this close to an agency. Where the hell was she when Michael and Elliot owned a business?
Michael Stedman fell the furthest. Had he been a horse, he would have been shot. Pulling the plug on this show was an act of charity. Michael was introspective, but strong. He was, at times, consumed with guilt, and yet, he was a leader. He rose above his peers and they followed by choice. How painful it must have been for Ken Olin to portray this whimpering, indecisive jerk that moped across the screen like dark rain clouds on an otherwise pleasant June day. If Hollywood remade the Invasion of the Bodysnatchers again, this is what it would look like.
The opening credits listed eight writers on this last show. Whether to spread the blame or to hide in the crowd, no writer would claim sole responsibility for this mess. Written by committee, directed by a film student from Hollywood High, produced by accident, Thirtysomething dies an unfulfilled promise. So much potential, so little accomplished. Thirtysomething uncovered truths and then squandered them with overwrought writing and angst ridden characters you’d sooner slap then love.
I watched the final episode of Thirtysomething with a growing sense of betrayal. They had the subject matter. They had the budget. They had the palate. They had the moment. And they threw it all away. There may never be another television show with the potential to explore the world my friends and I face. It’s a shame they blew it.
“Just hold on loosely
But don’t let go
If you cling too tightly
You’re going to lose control”
She felt a presence. Slowly she saw the pillow descend towards her. She couldn’t struggle. Couldn’t cry out. The pillow was coming closer. She couldn’t quite see who her attacker was. Suddenly, she heard that laugh and that familiar grave voice. Her attacker was…
Katie awoke with a start. It took a moment or two for her eyes to focus on the familiar radio-alarm on the nightstand. This was her bed. And John serenely snored to her left. His pillow was safely under his head instead of hovering over hers.
The alarm wouldn’t ring for another three hours, but sleep really wasn’t possible now. Instead, Katie slipped out of bed and covered her shoulders with the velour robe John had given her for her birthday six years ago. He didn’t stir. True, it didn’t make sense for her to be wandering around the apartment at 3:30 in the morning, but this had become her special time. For the second time this week, the fifth time this month, she gently shut the bedroom door, put the water on for tea, and turned on VH-1 for background noise.
It hadn’t always been like this. Katie and John had been Katie’s idea of the perfect couple. Dual incomes. Shared responsibilities. Mutual respect. Space. Air. But things changed. Slowly she caught John making more and more demands on her time. He followed her around the apartment from the moment she returned from the office until he finally succeeded each night into nagging her into their bed. He even called her at the office, a practice that didn’t sit well with her employers or co-workers. There seemed to be no escape from him.
John had worked the graveyard shift for almost twenty years. He had complained through most of those years, and Katie had serious scheduling problems when they began dating. At first it was difficult but eventually Katie found their separate schedules to be liberating. Now that was over. Now he worked during the days and shadowed her around their apartment in the evenings. Her time for herself was now the twenty-five minutes she had each morning on the way to work, the ride home at 5 PM and her nocturnal flights to the living room for a cup of tea and the latest Danielle Steele novel.
Katie’s teacup was about empty and “Passion’s Promise” lay on the couch beside her. She realized that she had a decision to make. She remembered what Ann Landers wrote years ago. Was she better off with John or without him? She knew the answer. Katie shut off the lights and the T.V. and crawled into bed.
My friend Jim is fond of citing Dr. Hunter Thompson and refers to Pat Buchanan as the Anti-Christ. We don’t have a direct parallel in Judaism, but I have no difficulty in envisioning Mr. Buchanan owning an apple stand in the Garden of Eden. Standing in front of the booth imploring Adam and Eve to take actions he himself would never take, would be Rush Limbaugh.
As many of you know, I took an involuntary vacation in February after I screwed up my back in a basketball game. For two weeks I was allowed to walk a little and lie down a lot. Bored, and with enough chemicals coursing through my body to inhibit prolonged concentration, I spent much of my time engaged in light reading with the radio on for background noise. The repetitious nature of our local FM stations quickly forced me to the AM dial. And there, waiting like a tuna fisherman with a mile long net, was Rush Limbaugh.
In both size and the resonance of his voice, Rush Limbaugh closely resembles an old oak barrel. My first impression Mr. Limbaugh and his “Excellence In Broadcasting” network was that he was simply another right-wing fanatic/theorist who like his counterparts on the far left are hired to boost the ratings by inflaming the great unwashed. Cynical, but effective. I found him to be occupying that that space on the political spectrum that is just left of the John Birch Society, but to the right of “Me. Conservative” Barry Goldwater. Blessed with an Orwellian talent to rewrite recent history to suit his purposed and 20/20 hindsight, Rush at first appeared to be a bench player on the team led by Buchanan, Roger Ailes, and the late Lee Atwater.
The negative first impression dissipates as laughter sets in. Limbaugh is funny. His idea for a television show based on Desert Storm, “Gulf War, The Mini-Series”, was amusing.
The second impression doesn’t last long. The trouble is that you suddenly realize that all of his humor is at someone’s expense. Oh, some of the jingoistic Saddam jokes were funny, but it doesn’t take long to understand that Rush Limbaugh reaches for the lowest common denominator. He exploits our base instincts. That nervous guilty laugh you hear is your own.
Of course, once you remove the boulder barricading the cave’s exit, you have to be prepared for what’s going to crawl out.
Rush-“Let’s go to Mary in Shreveport.’
Mary-“Dittos Rush from the Bible Belt.”
Rush- “Thank you, Mary.”
Mary- “Rush, I think we should round up all those anti war protesters and ship them to Saudi Arabia and put them on the front lines.”
Rush- “Whoa. So much for the First Amendment.”
Limbaugh is steadfastly behind all of our country’s foreign military involvement. Be it Viet Nam, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Grenada, Panama or Iraq, Rush has been behind our troops. Way behind. Like a pyromaniac with a life time supply of matches, Rush Limbaugh has been unwavering in his determination to keep the home fires burning.
In spite of the obvious danger, reporters from around the world clamored for the opportunity to cover Desert Storm. Limbaugh, who prefers to see only televised action, was content to stay home and ridicule the real journalists who went. The air raid sirens blared and the reporters, exposed and vulnerable, were no less brave when their fear showed. But Limbaugh, safe in New York, rushed to deride those seeking shelter.
The apple stand in Paradise had fallen into disrepair. Its former owner no longer writes speeches for Presidents and now busies himself defending ex-Nazi war criminals. And its manger, Rush Limbaugh, peddles apples every afternoon on WWWE.
DOG UPDATE: After the recent television reports of a Chinese restaurant in Lake County serving dog meat, OFS has received numerous inquiries as the health and safety of my dog, Tommy. (OFS, Dec.’90) Relax. As you read this, Brain Dead is home dirtying the carpet.
It has been almost thirty years since my mother’s father finally succumbed to the cancer that invaded his body. I remember visiting him in the hospital before he died. I remember how the pain and the circumstances conspired to strip him of his dignity. And I remember how he fought back.
When I look at my children, Phillip and Jennifer, I think of my grandparents. Both kids have the beautiful red hair of my mother’s mother. There is no other red hair in any of our families. And Phillip was named in fond memory of Phillip Davis, my papa, who died when I was eight years old.
Phillip Davis had been born in Wales. He came to this country as a young man, but he retained throughout his life the poise and stature of a proper Englishman. He was tall (6’3”) and handsome and well aware that he stood out in any crowd, but especially in the Jewish neighborhoods of the turn of the century where he towered over the newly arrived immigrants from Eastern Europe. That confidence was displayed when he called upon a beautiful redhead for the first time. Her mother came to the door and he addressed her as Shviger, the Yiddish word for Mother-in Law.
I watched him come home from the Tip Top Bakery plant that he managed in Columbus, Ohio. He was so tall. So erect. And my parents would tell me that the way I was growing that I, too, would be tall like Papa one day.
Early on I noticed his reserve. It wasn’t a lack of warmth. It was more an internal switch that he controlled. Oh, when he was really provoked, he didn’t keep it a secret. But most of the time he kept himself in check.
When I was four, I asked to take Papa his tea. He had been an American citizen for over thirty years, but he still drank tea like an Englishman. Just as I was about to hand him the cup and saucer, I tripped on the Oriental rug and poured hot liquid right on his lap. He leaped from the chair and my mother and grandmother ran into the room. I stood there in shock. Before I could apologize and tell him how badly I felt, I heard them screaming. “Tell Papa you’re sorry. Well, tell Him!”
I couldn’t speak. As my ears rang with the voices of my mother and grandmother imploring, then ordering me to apologize; as I watched the person I loved more than anyone else in my world dry himself off; as I felt all of the guilt in the world land on my little shoulders. I stood there silently. I could not say that I was sorry because now that they had ordered it, my apology wouldn’t have appeared to have been from me. It would have simply been me following orders. I stood there, holding my ground, hoping that I would one day have the opportunity to explain all of this to the man staring at me.
I don’t know if my grandfather ever understood. But I learned something very important. If I want to eliminate any misunderstanding, I have to communicate my thoughts and feelings to everyone involved. My writing has become my vehicle for expressing myself. Not just this column, but everything I write is in memory of that afternoon many years ago and in honor of Phillip Davis, my grandfather. May he rest in peace.