I was knee deep in the déjà vu. Another friend was telling me how she and volunteered for doormat duty. Volunteered might not be the right word. She had what she thought were some compelling reasons why she was “forced” into being a patsy. She couldn’t stop her brother from taking advantage of her. And as always, she swore she would never, ever, let him use her again. Like I said, knee deep.
Perhaps it is chromosomal. I’m always amazed by how many women are user friendly. Motivated by guilt, a desire to be loved and appreciated, low self-esteem, or all of the above, they are in constant servitude. Sometimes the person pulling the strings and pushing all the right buttons is an elderly parent. Sometimes it is a sibling. It can even be an ex-spouse.
I remember one friend who showed great personal courage and strength in every area of her life but one. Her chronically unemployed ex-husband and her manipulative children completely controlled her. They snapped their fingers and she came running. We all agonized over her self-inflicted imprisonment and wondered how long her second husband would tolerate her weakness. The answer was not long. She now lives alone in a Lakewood apartment where she divides her time between work, visiting her kids, and backbone reconstruction.
Last night I heard another tale of woe. The bottom line is that a thirty-five year old divorced woman with two kids was allowing her single, slightly younger brother to sponge off her. Fifty bucks here. Eighty dollars there. Co-sign for a loan. He is simply financially incompetent. He is not on drugs. But he is as addicted to her money as surely as a crack-head is to coke.
Whether you view addiction as a disease or an illness it is her obligation to cut him off. Tough love is the only cure. Bankruptcy may be part of his treatment. A return of her self-respect would be a positive side effect.
Women should not allow people to take advantage of them. It is hard to respect a doormat.
I was slightly out of breath. I hadn’t realized how big my soapbox was.
I was ready to pontificate about the jerks and fools that had crossed my path today. I was ready to relay to you, my readers, how these cretins had ruined my plans and disorganized my agenda. And I was prepared to skewer the cowards who are unable to handle the rigors of life in the America of 1992.
But I had to stop. I had to because it became apparent that they, and you, and I are all victims. We have lost our privacy. We are losing our dignity. And the word RESPECT has effectively been eliminated from our vocabulary. There was no point in skewering anyone. We are all innocent bystanders.
My industry is filled with snoops. It is part of the business. We collect data, analyze it, and then decide how good a particular risk is. We ask specific, detailed questions. We talk to doctors. We check medical records. And we often send blood and urine samples to the laboratory.
We need this information so that we can properly underwrite you as a risk. But do we need all the info we seek? I don’t know.
I sat across from Bob in his new office. He had just signed the application for a large life insurance policy. Everything was terrific until I reminded him that he was going to have a blood test. The test would check him for a variety of things including drugs and AIDS. He freaked. He didn’t want to take an AIDS test. Period. Over the next fifteen minutes he detailed his extremely limited sexual history. (It would have only taken five minutes but he kept repeating himself.) I sat there thinking to myself that I have a better chance of becoming the Pope than he has of having AIDS.
Was Bob over reacting? Yes. Is “ignorance is bliss” a good lifestyle to choose? No. Was I a touch upset? Yes, a little. But, it is his body. And if he really would be happier not knowing whether or not he has AIDS, who am I to force him into confronting the issue? I will find him a different policy or he will simply have less life insurance protection for his wife and sons. It is his choice.
I was eating breakfast with Lou at the Beachwood Marriott two summers ago. He was a Home Office employee of a major insurance company. He confided to me that their blood tests had yet to discover even one HIV positive applicant. I said “Great. Does that mean that we can stop the testing?” He said “NO. You won’t believe how much cocaine we’re turning up!”
It is so easy to be frustrated. Doctors are practicing defensive medicine. They order tests and treatments as much to prevent lawsuits as they do to prevent disease. Medical records reveal that patients aren’t necessarily healthier, just more medicated. And when these people try to buy other insurance, their medical records serve as an impediment.
Your health, your credit, your driving record, etc… are all readily available. Sometimes that makes your life and mine easier. Sometimes it screws up my whole day. But there is no sense in being mad at anyone; not the client who has chosen to slow down the runaway train of information collection, not the collectors not even the doctors more interested in protecting themselves than their patients. We are all part of the system. And in our own way, we are all victims.
The Ohio Primary has been pushed back to June. Our muffled voices might be heard. Our choices as nominees of the Democratic and Republican tickets may have some bearing on the final outcome of these races. We might not be irrelevant.
Two men entered the Republican primary in New Hampshire. As I write this in Mid-March (the deadline of a monthly publication can be a real pain). Buchanan and Bush are still mud wrestling for the nomination.
Over a half a dozen “legitimate” candidates began the race to become the standard bearer for the Democrats. Today only three, Clinton, Tsongas, and Brown, have managed to reach the first turn. The Democrat horses appear to be more in search of a glue factory than engaged in a run for the roses. You may be experiencing déjà vu. Me? I feel like I’m just stuck with leftovers.
Newspapers, even monthly singles publications, have two responsibilities at election time. The first is to encourage you to vote.
EXERCISE YOUR RIGHTS
FULFILL YOUR OBLIGATION
Ok, I’m done. Our second responsibility is to suggest for whom you should cast your vote. This is called endorsing a candidate. We are charged with the duty of finding the right choice, the safe choice for our country. As editors, publishers, and good government types we know who the best candidates are. Honest. The task of choosing the Ohio’s Finest Singles endorsed Republican and Democrat has fallen on me. Frankly, I don’t know what I did to Joyce to deserve this honor, but hey, I wouldn’t turn down the opportunity to tell 130,000 readers how to vote.
Republican: Ohio’s Finest Singles is proud to endorse Dwight D. Eisenhower for the Presidency of the United States. We’re not bashful. . We like Ike. Now some of you may have noticed that Ike isn’t running this year. We will not be deterred. General Eisenhower was the last Republican to run that we could vote for without shame. Even dead, Eisenhower is more courageous that George Bush. And he has spent the last twenty-five years more productively that Pat Buchanan.
Democrat: Ohio’s Finest Singles endorses a man with experience. A man who has done it, and done it, and done it, and done it. No, we are not talking about Teddy Kennedy. We want F.D.R. Yes, we endorse Franklin Delano Roosevelt for President. Cast your vote for the REAL Democrat. We’re tired with this fixation with Massachusetts. Kennedy, Dukakis, and Tsongas are pale imitations. Clinton has more skeletons in his closet than Jeffrey Dahmer. And Jerry Brown’s dreams could really screw up our realities.
Fearlessly, Ohio’s Fines Singles endorses Eisenhower and Roosevelt. The economy is freefalling and our foreign policy is adrift. Surely we could do a lot worse that these proven leaders. And, neither ever bounced a check in the House Bank.
I. The man of the 90’s, who is he? He awakens on a Saturday morning and makes love to his girlfriend. She then rolls over and goes back to sleep while he gets up, washes the wine glasses from the previous night, makes coffee, and marinates steaks for that evening’s dinner. Ah, Liberation! We all benefited.
II. It is said that people make fun of things they don’t understand. Well I’ve got years’ worth of material on the new “Men’s Movement”. The pendulum has swung from the Cro-Magnum ethic of “Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche” to the pathetic Wild Men who sit around beating drums and bitching about their fathers.
I learned a lot from my father and the example he set. I learned the value of hard work and the fun of material success. I saw that you were defined and ranked by your profession or job. Like many of these whiners, I too disliked the hours my dad worked and how that affected our relationship. At an early age I realized that the cure was to own your own business and to be your own boss. No books. No therapists. No beating drums.
III. Wrapped in Garbage. My friend Jack, the attorney, was recently smeared in our local daily. Plain Dealer reporters Joel Rutchick and Scott Stephens, with the help of low-blow specialist Joe Dirck, gnashed their teeth, ranted and raved that Jack wore Gucci shoes and owned a B.M.W. Talk about penis envy! Of course, none of these scribblers mentioned that Jack’s Beemer was purchased used and is worth about $8,000. Just think what these boys might do if they ever found out about my Wright Arch Preserver shoes and my brand new Honda Accord EX
IV. Sitcoms. Life at the Cleavers sure looked good. While growing up I fantasized that as an adult my family might one day resemble “Father Knows Best” or the “Dick Van Dyke Show.” As I got older, and the deck had been reshuffled a couple of times, I set my sights on “The Brady Bunch.” Well I never accomplished any of those goals but my life has finally begun to resemble a sitcom. My luck, its “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father.”
V. We spent a rainy Saturday afternoon in Tower City. As we were leaving The Museum Company I realized that I had less than 48 hours left. Her plane was scheduled to leave on Monday at 2:29. I told her that by the time she took off there wouldn’t be an inch of my body that wasn’t sore, scratched, or aching. That included my heart. I didn’t know the half of it.
President Bush returned from his Pacific Rim Trip yesterday. Alternating between kissing his hosts’ feet and throwing up on them, George and his corporate buddies wheedled a concession or two.
I was watching the news when they cut in to say that the President had collapsed and was taken to the hospital. My first thoughts were “My G-d, Dan Quayle has his finger on the button!” Phillip, who didn’t experience the air raid drills of the fifties and sixties, only concerned himself with the thoughts of a Dan Quayle presidency. Different generations, similar fears. Thankfully the President was OK and the initial reports were exaggerated.
George Bush looked invincible a year ago. I believe he reached his nadir in May or June of 1988. Slowly his popularity and acceptance returned. The public’s perception of him grew and grew until it peaked with last year’s made for TV war. Pundits filled newspaper columns and Sunday morning news shows with talk of a Bush Legacy and wondered if the Democrats would even bother to run a candidate in ’92.
What a difference a year makes! Last year George Bush was the political equivalent of the Terminator. This year he’s Hudson Hawk. Why?
George Bush and Boris Yeltsin are learning a very valuable lesson about democracies. People vote with their stomachs. A hungry voter is a pissed off voter and there are a lot of hungry, scared citizens in both countries.
We have always had bums, homeless, poor and unfortunate among us. The difference is where these people are coming from this time. They are coming from the middle or working class. They are displaced laborers, unneeded skilled manufacturing workers, and excess white collar personnel. These are people who were part of the system, possibly (no, probably) supporters of Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984, and never imagined that they would end up like this. It never occurred to them that poverty and degradation were their destiny.
And for every homeless or poverty stricken family there are how many more who are but one missed rent check away? How many textile workers are trying to get by on pay checks for only thirty hours per week? This time the sky really is falling, and George Bush is busy selling parasols.
1992 is an election year. That means that by the time you read this you will have been treated to the President’s long awaited plan. The economy is free falling but George Bush has to wait till the State of the Union to offer any solutions. Meanwhile the Democrats are tripping over themselves trying to offer a “painless” solution. And David Duke and Pat Buchanan have slithered in to offer a final solution of their own. We once had a void in leadership in this country. Now we have a black hole.
The election is not until November and a lot can change by then. Surely out of 250,000,000 people, one of us is qualified to be President.
Music Update: I would like to commend Maria Carey, the first multi-species entertainer. I really think that it is nice that she performs for dolphins as well as humans. I even notice that some of her songs bring the dog into the room.
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.