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mother ship

Oil and water. Of all the relationships out there, there may be no other as complex as the one between mothers and their daughters. Those far more renowned and expert in the subject than I am have researched and written about this dynamic; my own experience is just that — my own. But it is within the relationship I had with my own mother that I’ve come to find myself. After much heartache, many tears, and finally, some peace.

My mother and I were very close in many ways (we lived in the same house for the first two-thirds of my life, so the literal closeness is obvious). My father died when I was 19 — and because I felt compelled (okay, I’ll say it, guilted) into staying with (and supporting) my mother until I “ran away” from home at 38 — the relationship was, unfortunately, not as emotionally healthy as I would have liked. I was complicit in keeping myself in that situation; I just didn’t think I had the strength to leave it.

Did I love my mother? I did, very much. But did I love the situation I felt myself trapped in? I did not. And here’s where the dynamic comes in.

Were I a stronger, more confident person back then, clearly I would have said to my mother, “It’s time for me to fly the nest. I’ll help you however I can, but I cannot live my life for you.” And were she a more confident, less afraid person herself, she would have said, “You’re right. You need to live your life on your terms, not mine. Go and fly, little bird.”

But. The funny thing about mama birds and baby birds is that unless the mama bird is willing and the baby bird is brave, the tie that binds can cause much damage.

Soon after I left, my mother did sell the house and move somewhere smaller, and my (and our) support of her became more reasonable, although her expectations of me did not. And, ironically, I suppose, I never truly confronted her about our issues because, once I was finally ready, she had become an old woman. I always knew that she loved me; she was just unable to give me the one thing I needed — my freedom.

What did I inherit from my mother? Mostly, and sadly, I think, her anxiety. The good news is that I have worked long and hard to fight mine, and I continue to do so every day. Some days are good. Other days, not so much, But I keep on fighting. My mom, unfortunately, let hers get the better of her.

On the lighter side, I also inherited her love of sweets, her sometimes wicked sense of humor, her great hair. And her faith in true love.

I’m a big believer that, aside from any kind of abuse, of course, blaming our parents for who we’ve become and who we are to this day is not productive. At some point, and after a lot of hard work in therapy, I learned that, going forward, my life was my own and my actions could not just be reactions to my mother’s cues.

So to answer the question now, after many years of my mom being gone, how I feel about her — the response, to me, is simple. I love her and I miss her. I do not miss the push-pull dynamic or the emotional heartbreak. I miss her laugh, her nagging me to push my hair out of my face, her unflagging willingness to talk to me about recipes.

Yes, I am my mother’s daughter. But more importantly, I am myself.

Winging it.

© 2020 Claudia Grossman

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keeping tabs

There are lots of signposts that remind us of where we’ve been. Like a certain song first heard decades ago that whisks you right back to that moment each time you hear it (Van Morrison, anyone?). Or that faded-to-super-soft concert tee that you still can’t part with because it makes you feel cool again each time you pull it on (Frampton Comes Alive!). Or that fragrance you — or someone you had a crush on — once wore (Shalimar, maybe? Or Polo?). One waft of it now, and you’re flashing back to times past.

Or, in my case, a sparkling beverage in a hot-pink can. Yup, that paean to the 1970s soft-drink world — Tab. Full disclosure: I used to drink diet soda a lot (a can and a donut were my idea of breakfast for a long time). Tab was my choice when I was a teenager and then a college student and even after that.

For those of you who may not know, Tab was Coca-Cola’s diet choice way before Diet Coke came along. In its signature bright pink can, it stood out. Although clearly not the healthiest choice (in place of sugar, it was sprinkled with saccharine), it was the choice of those of us longing to look like the models on the cover of Seventeen magazine. And the taste? Let’s just say it was an acquired one.

The summer I met B., we were between our junior and senior years in high school and attending a program at Cornell. I have vivid memories of putting my quarters into the soda machine to grab an icy cold can of Tab during those hot, humid, Ithaca afternoons. (And vivid memories of B. running into me at the mailboxes and saying, “You really like that stuff, huh?” Such a smooth talker.)

Tab followed me throughout college — my tiny little dorm fridge was always filled with those pink cans. (The caffeine is what kept me going through the thousand-and-one papers I wrote for English Lit.)

And when I visited B. in San Francisco in the mid-1980s (yes, our relationship story spans decades before we actually got together for good), what did he have in his kitchen just waiting for me? That’s right, the man bought me Tab — enough to last the dozen more years until we got married. (Only kidding. About the amount of soda, not the number of years.)

So what changed? Diet Coke came into the picture and tasted better. Plus, Tab was more and more difficult to find. Finally, I gave up the whole soda thing. Sure, I might order a Diet Coke once in a very blue moon these days, but seltzer (excuse me, sparkling water) is now my beverage of choice. And yes, my breakfasts have become much healthier too (also more boring and less fun).

So it’s not with the regret of missing something I love that I received the news earlier this week that Tab was being discontinued. Just the regret that those memories are now truly only that — memories.

So rest in pink, you bubbly, effervescent friend. You were fizzy while you lasted.

Utterly fan-tab-ulous.

© 2020 Claudia Grossman

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the write to cry

Seven months ago I wrote a blog post about the absurd (because at the time, that’s what it seemed like) day I had tracking down a package of toilet paper for my mother-in-law (now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d see myself write). Six months ago I wrote about what it’s like to have my husband teaching his college business-law classes from home (go ahead, ask me anything about torts). Four months ago, my post was a chronicle to banana bread because that’s all I was baking for weeks (now I can’t look at the stuff without gagging). Two months ago? My tribute to our new way of being in the “same” room with old friends — the Zoom session. All trying-to-be-light observations about the ominous times we are in.

Last month, I beyond sadly wrote about the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the woman in whom so many of our hopes were invested. A trying-to-remember-her-light observation during the ominous times we are in.

To say it’s been a long seven months is, of course, an understatement. To those who have suffered themselves, whether it is by falling ill with the virus or by losing someone you love to it, my heart breaks for you, and I can only wish you the physical and emotional healing you so dearly need.

It occurs to me that one of the hardest things about this time is how suddenly our normal lives were taken away from all of us. Losing our way of life seems grief-worthy in its own way. In trying to process the changes, in trying to deal with the uncertainty, in attempting to get from day to day without feeling like the world is ending, I realize that maybe we need to process this loss by going through some of the traditional stages of grieving — including sadness, denial, and anger — before we can reach a place of acceptance.

Not acceptance of the situation as it is (because it is so not okay), but acceptance that it’s all right to feel horrible some days. Acceptance that we can hope to get through this (even though that sometimes feels like an impossibly tall order). Acceptance that it’s okay to feel crappy about it all — and, through that, hopefully, find the fortitude to keep on going.

“Good grief,” said everyone’s favorite round-headed kid. Maybe what’s good about the collective grieving process is that it helps us see more clearly what’s important, what’s essential, and what we’re made of.

In that spirit, make someone’s day. Make someone laugh. Make someone a banana bread (just not me).

And make a difference. Vote.

© 2020 Claudia Grossman

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charm school

Okay, raise your hand if you remember those old-school charm bracelets. To me they seemed the accessory of choice for those perfect, suburban TV moms of a past era — think June Cleaver of Leave it to Beaver fame — women who vacuumed in pearls and heels, who had dinner on the table each night at six sharp for their ideal, if somewhat unevolved, husbands and adorably impish kids, who never had a hair out of place. These were the women who seemed to live charmed lives (hey, it was the suburbs in the late 1950s) and, therefore, wore the bracelets to match.

But those ubiquitous accessories were worn by more than those TV icons of the day. My mom and her friends wore them with pride and panache whenever a dress-up occasion came along.

My mother’s charm bracelet was something to behold. Milestone birthdays and anniversaries called for charms, and my father gifted her with them. Then there were the charms from each state they had visited — a wrist full of colorful New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, California, Pennsylvania, and Washington, DC, shapes jangling with every move of her hand. There were the charms to mark the birth of my brother and me; the “just-because” gold heart; the of-the-time, diamond-accented sunburst celebrating another life moment. 

My mom so loved her charm bracelet that she started me with one of my own when I was about 12 or so. It had just a couple of charms at the time, but it grew to include sweet-sixteen mementos, a piano, a seashell, a locket, and more. But the bracelet was never something I really cared for or enjoyed wearing — its weight, its noise, and its very “jewelry-ness” bothered me — so, for the most part, it stayed in its box.

Charm can be a fleeting thing, I discovered one day. To wit:

My mom would soak her bracelet every so often in a jar of liquid jewelry cleaner. On that particular day, I came across the jar of cleaner on the kitchen counter. Noticing that the liquid inside looked dirty, I assumed that she had removed her now-clean bracelet from it and — yes, you guessed it — I threw the jar out. Only it wasn’t empty. Uh-oh.

The mistake wasn’t noticed until the next morning, well after the trash had been picked up from the curb. Too late to recover a lifetime of charmed moments caught in gold.

Oy. To say that I felt awful would be a huge understatement. While insurance covered the monetary loss, my mother never replaced the charms — I guess it had something to do with collecting each charm at a particular moment of her life.

At some point, over the years and the miles from east coast to west, I lost track of my largely unworn charm bracelet.

But one day, while looking through a drawer, I came upon a surprise — one charm that I had, apparently, saved. It had been a gift from my parents when I graduated high school. Something to mark the beginnings of my talents. Of all the charms that used to be on that bracelet, this is the one that has held its meaning, fulfilled its promise, and stayed with me all these years.

A tiny gold typewriter.

Charmed, I’m sure.

© 2020 Claudia Grossman

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lifting her lamp

It’s been a year. A year of what was unimaginable just six months ago. Of untold and unfathomable sadness and hardship, of fear and loss, of heroes and saviors, of courage and compassion.

Today is Rosh Hashanah, the start of the Jewish New Year, and typically a day of joy and celebration. While I consider myself simply a secular Jew — that is, not religious or observant in any way, but with a cultural connection — the day seems to stand out for me this year in ways it hasn’t in decades. And the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg is, I believe, what has made me so conscious of it.

The loss to us in RBG’s passing — to the country, to its citizens, to women, to anyone who has ever had to fight for their rights — is inestimable. The woman was a warrior for good, a brilliant mind with a heart to match, an unfailing moral compass to follow as she fought for fairness, decency, and justice. Comparing Madam Justice to Lady Liberty would be more than appropriate.

The fact that her death comes now, as we continue to rail against a pandemic — of disease, of natural disasters, of racism, and of a country torn apart — only highlights to me how much tougher it will be to fight it all without her spirited will and her indefatigable spirit to help lead the charge.

And yet. Perhaps as this New Year dawns, the depth of her loss will signal a turn in the direction she so valiantly believed in. Perhaps the realization of all she stood for and what she has left us as a legacy will cut through all the noise, the disinformation, and the hate. Perhaps her one last act will be to shake awake the conscience and awareness needed for us all to find that brighter future sooner rather than later.

And so to Ruth Bader Ginsburg I say thank you. For the fires you lit, the ceaseless determination you showed, the justice you brought about. For the sweet liberty you broke barriers to instill. To you I wish godspeed and a well-deserved, peaceful rest.

And for the rest of us, I wish that the year ahead, whether or not it begins with Rosh Hashanah, is one of healing. Of light. Of serenity.

Vote. (And try some matzoh ball soup — it can’t hurt.)

 

© 2020 Claudia Grossman

 

 

 

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dangling earrings

I wrote this essay (edited here for space reasons) and had it published in the Los Angeles Times several years ago. In re-reading it now, I couldn’t help but want to share it because it’s so much a part of my creative heart.

This is a story about letting go and letting life happen. About recognizing yourself for the first time even though you look in the mirror every day. About love — and about earrings.

B. and I had been having an earring debate for years. I always wore pearl studs or tiny hoops, mostly because I thought that small, modest earrings allowed me to blend in. While they may not have stood out in a crowd, they didn’t force me to stand out, either.

B., on the other hand, had always been a proponent of my wearing arty, dangling earrings. Nothing outrageous, but long enough to catch the eye, colorful enough to make a statement, and unusual enough to be noticed.

“Just try them once,” he’d implore me. “I know they’d look great on you.”

But for all my “sure, maybe someday” responses, I wasn’t about to put myself out there. After all, we were talking appearance here, and as I approached yet another birthday, the idea of standing out in the crowd was even less appealing than when I’d been younger.

Until.

We had decided at the last minute to take off for a long weekend getaway.  Actually, B. came up with the idea at the last minute — it then took him about three hours to convince me to be spontaneous (irony intended).

One short drive up the coast later and found us at one of those charming little seaside towns you always read about (but never really make the time to visit).

Its few streets were filled with the requisite cafés, galleries with work by local artisans, a general store, and, wedged between a florist and an old-fashioned ice cream parlor, a tiny little jewelry shop. In its front window was a display of colorful dangling earrings.

What else could I say when B. nudged my shoulder? Give him a break, my inner voice told me. It won’t hurt to look.

Created from handpainted glass beads mixed with beautiful coral and jade, lapis and crystal, these earrings were not to be ignored. Brilliantly bold or delicate as glimmering snowflakes, they twinkled and seduced at the same time.

B. handed me a pair of carnelian drops, painted with tiny green and violet flowers, threaded on gold wire and topped by antiqued bronze-colored beads. I slipped out my small silver hoops, and, looking in the mirror, put on the new earrings. At first, nothing. Nothing but my feeling uncomfortable and too  “out there”. 

But then it happened. B. stood behind me and lifted my hair off my shoulders, twisting it up onto the top of my head. 

All of a sudden, the earrings glowed and danced, bringing out the color of my eyes, lengthening my neck and giving me a grace and beauty I hadn’t known I’d possessed. When I turned my head, they grazed against my skin, swinging gently back and forth. The entire experience was a physical rush, and I hastily took them out. “They’re not me,” I murmured.

B. said nothing, but brought over another pair. And then another and another. And with each pair I tried, he held up my hair, looked over my shoulder into the mirror, and smiled.

It was then that I realized that he saw something I hadn’t. He saw the woman inside, the woman who loved colors, the woman who yearned to paint and draw. Who danced in front of the mirror when no one was home to see.  Who could lose herself in children’s books and wild imaginings. She was wonderfully out of the ordinary and unexpected — and he wanted her to see herself that way. 

It was finally clear to me why he had always wanted me to wear dangling earrings — because in letting go and letting myself be noticed for all of whom I was, I would be letting in limitless possibility.

After more than an hour of watching my true self emerge, I decided I was ready to have her meet the world. I chose the first pair of earrings — the cinnamon-colored carnelian drops — and put them on right then and there.

Never to be (proverbially) taken off again.

 

© 2012 and 2020 Claudia Grossman

 

 

 

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girl power

girl-powerBecause it seems like the days just run into each other these days, it took me until yesterday to realize that yes, it’s been 40 years since my college graduation this past May. Wow. And whoa.

And with that thought in mind, I realized that I and my three dearest college friends (all of us have stayed in touch with all of us) have never been together in the same room since. Pairs of us, sure, but never all four. So, while the same room hasn’t happened yet (and doesn’t appear like it will anytime soon), the same Zoom seemed completely doable. And necessary. And, as sometimes happens in life (although not often enough, in my opinion), a moment’s spontaneity actually worked out. I called, they came, and two hours of face-to-face finally came true.

And there we were:

My kind friend from New York. The warmest, most welcoming, most generous woman I know, as well as one of the best moms I’ve ever met. She never rattles, she makes yummy brownies, and she’s got a heart big enough to wrap around everyone she loves. She’s super smart, an amazing multi-tasker, and tough as nails when she needs to be. You don’t want to negotiate against her.

My wonderful friend from Chicago.  When you look up “joyful” in the dictionary, her picture should be next to it. Here’s a woman who is really intelligent and strong, with a huge range of interests — the greatest probably being other people. A mediator by nature — and by profession, at times — she lives and loves with her whole being. She is a constant cheerleader for her friends, her associates, and for anyone who needs it. And she loves dogs.

My dear friend from DC. I’ve known her the longest and have always been in awe of what a brilliant mind she has (she always raises my conversation game). Incredibly loyal and loving, with an unerring sense of perception, she seems to remember everything I’ve ever confided to her — in a good way. Her seemingly quiet-at-first nature belies her strong voice in standing up for what she believes in. In truth, she’s a marshmallow inside. With a fabulous laugh.

And me, well, you know me.

Our two-hour reunion reminded us all, I think, of the young women we used to be and just how far we have all come since. There wasn’t as much “remember when” to our talk as there was talk of the now. Of plans for the future. Of what we still all want to do. With touches of funny stories and moments of touching poignancy sprinkled in.

We’ve come a long way in time from that Boston campus to the world that awaited. The years have been kind and challenging to us all for different reasons. I’m so proud of how we’re all still standing; still powering forward; still using so much of what made us who we were back then to grow into who we are right now. Those roots we planted 40 years ago are in full blossom today.

So, to my dear friends (and I hope you’re reading this) — know that you all have a piece of my heart. Here’s to you, to us, and to staying connected.

Girls rule.

©2020 Claudia Grossman

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uh-oh

It’s not that I look for trouble — it just seems that it (or its cousin, mischief) always seems to find me. I’ll be walking along minding my business when, from seemingly nowhere (or, actually, from somewhere, if I’d been paying attention) there trouble is, tapping me on the shoulder, and, when I turn around with a smile, planting a cream pie right on the kisser. To wit:

Waking up in the middle of the night, getting out of bed to use the bathroom, and not realizing that not all of me is awake — that is, that my foot is still sound asleep. And what happens when you get out of bed and put all your weight on a foot that’s not awake? It rolls under you, you fall on it like a ton of bricks, and your (or in this case, my) toe breaks.

Taking a brisket out of the oven after it has been cooking for nearly four hours at 350 degrees — you do the math on how hot that roasting pan is — and grabbing the potholder too hastily. Unfortunately, instead of there being a heatproof pad between me and said roasting pan’s handle, there was nothing. Nothing but bare knuckles, that is. Add to that the troublemaker voice inside that kept saying, “Yes, your hand is burning, but no, don’t drop the pan!” At least the brisket ended up unscathed (although I did need B.’s help in slicing it).

Practicing drawing “flower child” designs on my hand using what I thought were washable markers but grabbing a Sharpie instead. Oops. (I should have known — hadn’t my hand been through enough with the brisket fiasco?) You know, the art wasn’t bad. Spending days trying to get rid of the ink was. Talk about your scarlet letter (and daisies and peace signs).

What makes me such a willing participant in finding ways to get into trouble? My propensity to head into situations (actually, life in general) wholeheartedly; my tendency to be thinking of something else at the time most of the time (“The bed is going to be so warm and cozy when I get back!” “Wouldn’t egg noodles be good with the brisket?” “Maybe I should take drawing classes?”); and my love of creating things. Mischief being one of them.

Like yesterday at the supermarket. I meant to pick peaches that in no way would compromise the pyramid-of-peaches display. But, there is the slight chance I was distracted, thinking, “A peach pie sounds delicious — what other ingredients do I need?” And that’s when I plucked the wrong block out of the proverbial peach Jenga puzzle and all peach hell broke loose — store clerks running to help, customers running out of the way, and me running through a list of other stores I can shop in next week instead.

The only advice I can offer myself is to pause before progressing. To wait a minute before proceeding. To sketch things out in pencil instead of ink.

And to opt for non-rolling fruit next time.

 

© 2020 Claudia Grossman

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picture this

Documenting our lives these days — and storing those memories — has become as easy as reaching for our phones. Long gone are the days of actual photo albums (with those lift-up plastic sheets and stick-on pages), of slide carousels (endless hours of summer-vacation viewing), of home movies shot on Kodak Super 8 cameras (“Come on, honey, wave at the camera!”).

But there is one old-school gallery of sorts that remains current for me — my refrigerator door. Because we don’t have kids, we’ve displayed our own “artwork” on it for years. Well, maybe not artwork — more like a collection that defines our life. And with our fridge of 22 years being replaced in a few days (by one that actually works), it’s time to curate.

First, the magnets. From all the vacations, including tons from national parks. From museum exhibitions, tiny bits of Van Gogh or Degas or Rockwell. The champagne bottle magnet. The blue Crayola crayon. The polar bear and the butterfly (sounds like the title of a book — or a comedy team). The one with the saying about pancakes.

Next, the photos. Some of family, some of friends, some of our dog Ilsa, who was the best dog in the world (no, don’t even attempt to argue with me here). Some of B. and me — strips of pics taken in those photo booths you find at the zoo or the boardwalk.

And then the other random bits and pieces that tell our story. Countless cartoons and comic strips, some really funny, others really sappy. A Lakers decal attached with a Lakers magnet. Lists of movies we want to see with titles crossed out as we progress. Fortune-cookie fortunes. Concert ticket stubs, Postcards from the edges of trips.

With a brand-new canvas on its way, it seemed like starting anew made sense. Because there was no way I was going to be able to redo my masterpiece. And that made me, well, not happy. To wit:

He: (seeing me moping in front of the fridge) “What’s the matter?”

Me: “It’s taken 22 years to get all this stuff on here perfectly and now it’s all over.”

He: (trying to tread lightly here, not knowing how much of a drama he’s in for) “Why not just put it up the same way on the new door?”

Me: “Really?!”

He: (cautious) “What?”

Me: “You think it’s so easy to remember where each piece goes? It’s taken me this long to get it looking like this. You think Michelangelo could just re-create the Sistine Chapel on a new ceiling?”

He: “Well, no but … this isn’t exactly that.”

Me: “Now you’re minimizing our life?” (eyes filling, ugly crying about to start)

He: “No, of course not, but it’s not that big a deal, Why don’t you –”

Me: “Not that big a deal?” (hands on hips) “I cannot believe –“

He: “Sweetie –”

Me: “Don’t ‘sweetie’ me! You have no idea –”

He: “Want some chocolate?”

Me: “Don’t try to distract me.” (gulp) “Okay … one piece.”

He: “All I was going to suggest … ”

Me: (giving him a dirty look around the chocolate bar)

He: “… was that you take a picture of the old door on your phone before you dismantle it.”

Me: (swallowing the chocolate and my tears — actually the sweet and salty combo isn’t bad)

He: “Wouldn’t that work? I mean, you’re the expert on the phone / photo thing, but maybe?”

Me: (sniffling up the tears) “Yeah. I knew that.”

He: “Of course you did. All better now?”

Me: “I’m good.”

He: “Great!” (runs into other room to hit his head against the wall)

And that is as much as a snapshot of our life as anything. Me, seeing the trees with all their pretty leaves and blossoms. And B., seeing the forest.

Say cheese.

 

© 2020 Claudia Grossman

 

 

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state of the union

I used to say, when I lived in New York, that I knew the subway system like the back of my hand — the alphabet salad of IRT, BMT, A through F, R and Q; the numbered choices 1 through 9; the uptown, the downtown, the Grand Central shuttle — it was a way of life. Now that I’ve been living in LA for over two decades, the freeways are second nature — the 101 to Santa Barbara; the 405 to nowhere you need to be quickly; the 210, the 110, the 10 (could there be any more 10s?). But my ability to navigate a map of the 50 states? Let’s just say I missed that train. Passed that exit ramp. Game over.

It’s not that I don’t know the state of the states. It’s just a few pair that always trip me up. Wisconsin and Minnesota. Colorado and Kansas. Missouri and Arkansas. The Dakotas (I can differentiate the two from each other, of course — once I’m sure of which two they are). And then there’s Wyoming and Montana.

So, in an effort to solidify what’s where, we’ve tried a number of learning techniques at home. I should preface this all by saying that B. loves maps, loves geography, and can list the states from north to south, column by column, or east to west, row by row, or in any other combination you’d like. It’s annoying. Anyway, back to me.

We’ve tried jigsaw puzzles — the images only last in my head until it’s time to break down the puzzles in order to eat dinner at the coffee table (three nights later). We’ve even tried those color-in-the-states kids’ place mats. The result? Unfortunately, I appear to be more interested in the colors than the states (that one makes left-brained B. nuts). Then there were the flashcards — those somehow rapidly descended into a game of gin rummy.

The solution came seemingly out of nowhere. It started with an itch that needed a scratch. B. couldn’t reach the spot on his back so I offered to help.

Me:     “Where?”

He:      “Colorado.”

Me:     (waiting, pondering, tentatively scratching)

He:      “Lower and to the left. That was Minnesota.”

Me:     (aha!)

He:      “Now over to Nebraska.”

Me:     (clueless)

He:      “Hello?”

Me:     (taking a shot)

He:      “Not Nevada — Nebraska. Head right and up a little.”

Me:     (moving right and wondering if it wouldn’t be easier just to buy him a back scratcher)

He:    “Ahhhh.”

The technique seems to be helping, although I do still get a little bit lost between New Hampshire and Vermont or between Iowa and Ohio. The good news is that despite the (fewer now) mix-ups, B.’s back does get scratched. The better news? Occasionally, I even surprise myself.

The other day he thought he’d challenge me with a please-scratch-me city location. “Portand,” he said, the gauntlet thrown down. Not even blinking, I coolly came back with, “Oregon? Or Maine?” He looked at me admiringly. “Nicely done. Oregon.” I grinned, bowed, and proceeded — to the opposite coast.

It was worth it to see the look on his face. Game, set, and scratch.

 

©2020 Claudia Grossman

 

 

 

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