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October 18, 2017 / thackersam

I’m Telling You Now (and Again)

One of my last posts to my blog this past June involved just a couple of the incidences in my life of sexual harassment and assault. Bills (O’Reilly, Cosby and Maher) prompted me to write about an attack that happened 40 years ago, throwing in one that occurred when I was a child. I had never spoken about it, much less wrote about it for everyone to see. A post I wrote in 2014 about finding a copy of Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test among the piles of Playboys my father kept in the “guest” bedroom of his apartment where we children would sleep during our visits, explained the effects the roles of women as determined by Hugh Hefner had on my self-worth, even though I believe I am a born feminist. These posts were hard for me to write, even harder to hit Publish at the end, and they’re the mild ones. So I am ELATED that recent events and the solidarity of women is giving us the courage to say ME TOO. It is empowering and we must harness that power and effect change nationally and worldwide. The original post from June 2017 follows, in case you’re interested:

When I was 21, Danny Dobin grabbed my breast. He snuck up from behind me as I sat in for the receptionist at the front desk. It was my first real job. I was file clerk and relief receptionist for a fabric manufacturer on 34th and 10th, and it was so long ago that having nothing in the immediate area, we anxiously awaited the McDonald’s that still encompasses the corner. The Javits Center would not come for years, and the YMCA was not yet a fitness center and housed wayward men.

Danny Dobin was a VP in his mid-30s with a family connection to the business. He had a picture of his wife in the bath on his office wall, the office that was behind the front desk, making his stealthy tit-grabbing possible. The grabbing of my right breast, as I clearly recall, caused me to jump. I was stunned and baffled, as he just moved from behind me out the office door and while he passed the openings that surrounded the front desk, he shamelessly smiled at me and said, “I couldn’t resist.”

My response was typical. I gave one of those smiles, the smile that we give when we think we have to accept something that is so totally wrong, stifled by that feeling of being violated or that this somehow was our fault. It’s a really dumb look and a dumb response that I have since abandoned, although it took a while. Though you may not think it’s an offense punishable by death, I should have killed him. Or maybe just punched him so hard in the nuts that my fist would exit through his mouth. In other words, he got off scot- free, yet I’m reminded of it now and then, and it still pisses me off.

When I was a little girl, splashing about alone in a public pool, probably at a relative’s country club or possibly the Ronjo Motel in Montauk where we would go for summer vacations, I felt this sudden and startling grab to my crotch under the water. A boy popped his head out of the water laughing as a group of his little jerk-ass friends just a couple of feet away joined his laughter as they swam away. I can’t still describe in words how I felt, but when I try, I recognize the feeling. I can only say that it involved confusion. I didn’t have parents that would respond to something like that, so I also felt quite alone.

But when an incident occurred some years ago involving a young boy assaulting a young girl in the same manner, a stink was made of it. Someone responded and the boy was being charged with a crime. I don’t recall how severe, however I remember Bill Maher speaking out in defense of the boy saying he was too young to understand what he was doing, without any regard to the young girl, the victim, and how this sexual assault would affect her. I don’t recall the ages of the children involved, but the boy I believe may have been 10 or 11, and I also don’t recall what the outcome was, except that, aside from his movie Religulous, which was great and highly recommended by me, I no longer watch Bill Maher cause he’s often a big, stupid jerk.

Point being, these boys will be boys antics have long-lasting effects on their victims. You put something inside a woman or a girl, even the tip of a finger through the bottom of a bathing suit, that she doesn’t want there, that’s rape. Would I charge a ten-year-old with rape for doing that? Of course not. I don’t even think he should be forever listed on a sex offender registry, unless the offense continues. But he must be punished. He done wrong and he must pay the consequences. He must learn that it is wrong, that he cannot go around assaulting girls, and he should be taught how the victim feels. And the victim – she needs validation. They don’t know what they’re doing? Please. They know. I know they know.

And it’s isolating, particularly if you don’t feel that you can tell anyone. This in fact, may be the very first time I’ve told anyone of my swimming pool assault, and while I did share my Dobin attack with a co-worker, I never reported it. There was no support back then for sexual assault and harassment in the workplace, and even today, the assaults continue, though it’s harder for those who think they’re above it all to get away with. Maybe that’s why Bill O’Reilly and dickwads of his ilk want a return to “traditional values,” in which men can continue their ill treatment of women and girls, because after all boys will be boys.

I’ve no clue what set me off on this tirade. It wasn’t the Bill Cosby verdict, which I think we all could have predicted as soon as we saw the primary accuser in the case with her Phil Specter hairdo, doing herself no favors. I believe her but am not enraged at the outcome. He’s ruined anyway, rightfully in my eyes. So nothing specific pushed my outrage button today. Just general injustice.

On another note in recognition of today’s Pride Parade: I think of my brother often, though it’s been more than 30 years since he died of AIDS. I wonder what he’d be wearing today.

BTW – Yesterday as I was waiting on the checkout line at my Gristedes market, their radio station, which I must find, was playing “I’m Telling You Now,” by Freddie and the Dreamers, who were part of the British invasion of the early-mid ‘60s. They made several appearances on the Ed Sullivan show, and we all learned how to “Do The Freddie.” I started singing along, quietly to myself. Yes, there was some movement involved. I looked around and realized that I was probably the only one in the store that not only knew this song, but could also sing along. “I’m telling you now, I know it’s been said before…”

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July 9, 2017 / thackersam

Good Night

Now that I’ve learned how to embed a video in my blog, it is time, as Linda Ronstadt sings the Beatles song written by John and performed by Ringo, to say good night.

I’m not going to the IWWG – International Women’s Writing Guild annual conference this year as I had done for about a dozen summers since 2002, and last year may have been my last year. The Guild has gone through a rough patch, for which I could see both sides, and took neither, and seems to be coming through it nicely. I will stay a member and wish them the best, but the Skidmore days were so very special and Mulhern doesn’t move me. IWWG has a brand spankin’ new logo that they just unveiled and will be sportin’ a new website any time now. You can check it out at iwwg.org.

I may still attend some of the local events. I had wanted to go to last year’s Spring Big Apple Conference this year, especially since it was being held at Poets House, which is just little more than a five minute walk up the river from where I live. I like saying that – “it’s just up the river from me.” But I had a conflict as it was Earth Day, and there were rallies that needed attending. But I will be in attendance for my third year at the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference in late August.

Friday would have been my mother’s 89th birthday. She shared her birthday with Ringo Starr who turned 77 this year on 7/7/17. If he lives to see 2077 that would be great all around, and pretty amazing. Ringo was my mother’s favorite Beatle, because of the shared birthday and because in Yellow Submarine, someone, probably John, called him sentimental. My nutty stepmother in Holland will turn 91 on Saturday.

And that’s all I want to say. Yes, that’s it. The Walrus Was Paul will be going on hiatus, probably for a long time, maybe for good. Nothing major. It’s just time. Since completing the project on which the blog is based, having exercised to my record collection A-Z with just a couple of exceptions (please note that I did work out to George Carlin’s AM/FM, a comedy album), I have not had a focus for the blog and have been wandering aimlessly. And it’s been great. I’ve told stories about my past, provided anecdotes about musicians, gotten all political, and have taken you with me on a diet, exercise and music journey that also works on the vocal chords and attitude.

During the first year, practically from the beginning, Vicki and I lost an old friend, I then had my best birthday ever, all day and night, and then unexpectedly, Vicki, my bestest and oldest friend suddenly died. We also lost rock icons that are represented in my music collection, like David Bowie, Joe Cocker, Leon Russell and Cynthia Robinson from Sly and the Family Stone. I discovered Amy Winehouse and other artists that expanded my music appreciation. I learned early on that Paul McCartney is really a good guy and that John Lennon was kind of not so nice. And last year I underwent surgery for my second bout of breast cancer, and all is good (knock wood).

The Walrus Was Paul will remain, but I won’t be posting anymore. One never knows though and I could change my mind in a couple of weeks. Perhaps I will post if there is some monumental event like if I finally finish any one of the writing projects I’ve started, or actually do something with my play Miss Lucy and The Psychic Virgin, the only project I’ve completed. Or if I move, either out of my apartment with its wonderful view of The Statue of Liberty, or out of the City entirely. Or if I finally reach that allusive size 8.

Eventually, hopefully soon, I will update my About page to reflect the blog’s status, but I never even got around to changing it since the project ended. And so, as you listen to this lovely song done by one of the loveliest voices, I will leave you with this – Music. Me, I happen to be a rock ‘n roll kind of gal, but listen to whatever does it for you. Listen to it, sing, dance, play air guitar or drum on your desk. You can even pick up a real instrument. Get lost in it, but take care of those precious eardrums. Music, music, music.

BTW – Thanks. And sweet dreams.

Please, I can say no more.

July 2, 2017 / thackersam

The Return of RallyWoman

I took the day off on Thursday. Tuesday too. And of course, we’re off this Tuesday for the 4th of July. Not feeling the work thing. So I came to Tribeca’s Kitchen for lunch on Thursday, and as soon as I walked in the owner said to me “He’s not here.” What! “He went back to Mexico and won’t be here all week.” We never mentioned Alberto’s name. Didn’t have to. But now I know that Alberto is Mexican, and that is significant because he is the epitome of a hard-working and dedicated employee, and a heck of a nice guy. He works six days a week, with Tuesday as his only day off. I must admonish him for not letting me know of his time off, but now I know I don’t have to rearrange my usual Sunday visit for brunch to Saturday, which I do on occasion so I can get in that Alberto time.

But today was the Impeachment March, and RallyWoman has been inactive too long of late. I’m confused, and unable, sometimes unwilling, to keep up. So much bizarreness, too many issues and too much empowerment of the stupids. Those who can’t afford Medicare can always get jobs, …. My favorite is trump calling the house healthcare bill mean, with the lying idiots that surround him denying he said that, but when Obama calls it mean, trump accuses him of stealing his word, mean, thus admitting to having said it. Hello?!?

But how funny is our president? The little dickens, minus the ens. I was kind of hoping that Mika and the rest of The Morning Joe on-air talkers would have all been made up to appear that they just came out of surgery, the plastic kind, all bloodied, bruised and bandaged.

I do believe that trump has a substance abuse pr0blem. Remember the debate sniffing that had everyone talking? Carrie Fisher came out and said that she thought he had a cocaine problem, and, she added, she oughta know (don’t you think oughta oughta be a real word?). And then you know what? A couple of months later, Carrie Fisher is dead. I’m just sayin’. It probably is just a coincidence. But, shortly thereafter, horribly affected by her daughter’s death, we lose a legend of American cinema. I’ll just leave it at that and move on. The Walrus Was Paul is of little consequence but does not want to be on anyone’s hit list.

The Impeachment March was actually a rally in front of trump’s international hotel at Columbus Circle. It was a small rally, but enthusiastic.  There was chanting and cheering and the thumbs up and peace signs from the tourists that rode the tops of the double-decker buses as they drove by (okay, they mostly took pictures of us), and the honking of horns in support from taxi drivers and just those driving up Central Park West. There was one lone trump supporter with his trump 2020 flag at first until a handful of creepy white guys with a seemingly out of place darker skinned young woman just following them around, showed up. I left long before the end so other than making an uncomfortable presence, I don’t know if they had anything else in mind.

But it surely will not be enough to impeach president not-right-in-the-head, or any of his other organs. We must get rid of the evil republicans. I’m not saying that all republicans are evil, some are just misguided, and not all democrats are good people.  [Here is where I went on a bit of a political rant going so far as to suggest that we string Mitch McConnell up by his fat neck, giving him ample time to repent, but I deleted it.]

Even though it was an Alberto-less Sunday, I feel that I was there to represent him and all of us immigrants, children of immigrants and children of children of immigrants, and so on. And although on Thursday, no one was making sure my coffee cup was filled, and no one brought me plain vinegar rather than the mixed dressing because I don’t think to ask as Alberto has it all under control, I do have to say that Tribeca’s Kitchen makes a mighty fine burger.

BTW – On the music and exercise front, I mentioned previously that I’ve been re-exploring some of my CD finds from the discount racks, and that Stevie Nicks’ Bella Donna, still did not do it for me. I’ve also tried Joan Jetts’ Sinner, and let me tell you that each song was unmistakably Joan Jett, and Annie Lennox’s Diva, which despite kicking off with that heart-gnashing “Why”, couldn’t hold my attention. Mind you these are artists I respect and are some of the great voices of rock, and Bella Donna and Diva were highly acclaimed works, but meh. However, I have, among the cheap CDs, re-discovered Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill, and that is totally wowing me.

Photos: putin showed up with trump in his pants; creepy guy #1; your basic rally shot.

June 25, 2017 / thackersam

I’m Telling You Now

When I was 21, Danny Dobin grabbed my breast. He snuck up from behind me as I sat in for the receptionist at the front desk. It was my first real job. I was file clerk and relief receptionist for a fabric manufacturer on 34th and 10th, and it was so long ago that having nothing in the immediate area, we anxiously awaited the McDonald’s that still encompasses the corner. The Javits Center would not come for years, and the YMCA was not yet a fitness center and housed wayward men.

Danny Dobin was a VP in his mid-30s with a family connection to the business. He had a picture of his wife in the bath on his office wall, the office that was behind the front desk, making his stealthy tit-grabbing possible. The grabbing of my right breast, as I clearly recall, caused me to jump. I was stunned and baffled, as he just moved from behind me out the office door and while he passed the openings that surrounded the front desk, he shamelessly smiled at me and said, “I couldn’t resist.”

My response was typical. I gave one of those smiles, the smile that we give when we think we have to accept something that is so totally wrong, stifled by that feeling of being violated or that this somehow was our fault. It’s a really dumb look and a dumb response that I have since abandoned, although it took a while. Though you may not think it’s an offense punishable by death, I should have killed him. Or maybe just punched him so hard in the nuts that my fist would exit through his mouth. In other words, he got off scot- free, yet I’m reminded of it now and then, and it still pisses me off.

When I was a little girl, splashing about alone in a public pool, probably at a relative’s country club or possibly the Ronjo Motel in Montauk where we would go for summer vacations, I felt this sudden and startling grab to my crotch under the water. A boy popped his head out of the water laughing as a group of his little jerk-ass friends just a couple of feet away joined his laughter as they swam away. I can’t still describe in words how I felt, but when I try, I recognize the feeling. I can only say that it involved confusion. I didn’t have parents that would respond to something like that, so I also felt quite alone.

But when an incident occurred some years ago involving a young boy assaulting a young girl in the same manner, a stink was made of it. Someone responded and the boy was being charged with a crime. I don’t recall how severe, however I remember Bill Maher speaking out in defense of the boy saying he was too young to understand what he was doing, without any regard to the young girl, the victim, and how this sexual assault would affect her. I don’t recall the ages of the children involved, but the boy I believe may have been 10 or 11, and I also don’t recall what the outcome was, except that, aside from his movie Religulous, which was great and highly recommended by me, I no longer watch Bill Maher cause he’s often a big, stupid jerk.

Point being, these boys will be boys antics have long-lasting effects on their victims. You put something inside a woman or a girl, even the tip of a finger through the bottom of a bathing suit, that she doesn’t want there, that’s rape. Would I charge a ten-year-old with rape for doing that? Of course not. I don’t even think he should be forever listed on a sex offender registry, unless the offense continues. But he must be punished. He done wrong and he must pay the consequences. He must learn that it is wrong, that he cannot go around assaulting girls, and he should be taught how the victim feels. And the victim – she needs validation. They don’t know what they’re doing? Please. They know. I know they know.

And it’s isolating, particularly if you don’t feel that you can tell anyone. This in fact, may be the very first time I’ve told anyone of my swimming pool assault, and while I did share my Dobin attack with a co-worker, I never reported it. There was no support back then for sexual assault and harassment in the workplace, and even today, the assaults continue, though it’s harder for those who think they’re above it all to get away with. Maybe that’s why Bill O’Reilly and dickwads of his ilk want a return to “traditional values,” in which men can continue their ill treatment of women and girls, because after all boys will be boys.

I’ve no clue what set me off on this tirade. It wasn’t the Bill Cosby verdict, which I think we all could have predicted as soon as we saw the primary accuser in the case with her Phil Specter hairdo, doing herself no favors. I believe her but am not enraged at the outcome. He’s ruined anyway, rightfully in my eyes. So nothing specific pushed my outrage button today. Just general injustice.

On another note in recognition of today’s Pride Parade: I think of my brother often, though it’s been more than 30 years since he died of AIDS. I wonder what he’d be wearing today.

BTW – Yesterday as I was waiting on the checkout line at my Gristedes market, their radio station, which I must find, was playing “I’m Telling You Now,” by Freddie and the Dreamers, who were part of the British invasion of the early-mid ‘60s. They made several appearances on the Ed Sullivan show, and we all learned how to “Do The Freddie.” I started singing along, quietly to myself. Yes, there was some movement involved. I looked around and realized that I was probably the only one in the store that not only knew this song, but could also sing along. “I’m telling you now, I know it’s been said before…”

June 18, 2017 / thackersam

Music of the Millennial

My Millennial was telling me that she’d been watching the first volume of something called Guardians of the Galaxy. Of course I’ve never heard of it, but what she wanted me to know was that she has also been listening to the soundtrack, and likes it. It seems the mother of the lead character, neither of whom is the lovely green woman in the accompanying photo, influenced his taste in music with her own, and Spotify offers a mixtape of what my Millennial excitedly told me was music from the ‘70s.

Uh-oh, I thought, letting her know that the ‘70s was the decade of disco, and I was not a fan. The tape is not disco laden (whew), but I did wince at a few of the songs, including the “ooga chacka, ooga chacka” cover of “Hooked on a Feeling.” “Brandy!” she exclaimed not expecting me to gag with disgust. That is such a guy song, I explained – “Brandy, You’re a fine girl, what a good wife you would be” but I’m a sailor-man and I must do what he-men sailors do including wave from my chin (I didn’t say the last part to her as I would have to explain The Little Rascals to her).

Then she said “Come and Get Your Love.” Redbone? I love that song, don’t know why, but the list was starting to show improvement, although “Mr. Blue Sky” is not the best representation of The Electric Light Orchestra (think ELO’s “Roll Over Beethoven”).

It’s a tape of an eclectic taste, which I can respect. And not all songs were from the ‘70s, like the ‘60s song and really good choice, “Come a Little Bit Closer” by Jay and the Americans. My own eclectic taste in music, as you know, is well represented in the usual Sunday workout line-up. The weekday workouts start out the same although the Linda Ronstadt songs, which on Sunday remain the first three songs from Heart Like a Wheel, are “Desperado” and my big teenage heartbreak song, “Long, Long Time.” And because I just don’t torture my neighbors enough with my constant attempts to hit those notes that Linda did so well, and me never quite making it, this is always followed by Mary Chapin Carpenter’s “Passionate Kisses” and Fiona Apple’s “Criminal.” And to further recap, we go into a light aerobic workout with Bob Dylan’s “Rainy Day Women” and Gladys Knight’s “Heard it Through The Grapevine,” twice, because that’s the law around here.

When I take to the floor, the music doesn’t have to have a specific purpose like exercising the vocal chords or getting me moving. So I’ve taken the opportunity to go back to my cheap CD finds that didn’t really wow me the first time around, and give them another listen while performing leg lifts and cobras, and whatever else I’m doing on the floor. Because the mixtape includes “The Chain” from Fleetwood Mac, I was inspired to give Stevie Nicks’ Bella Donna a shot, and am sorry to say that I still found it less than wowsome, even with the quite recognizable Roy Bittan’s piano. I only needed it for 20 minutes, but that was a long enough sampling. I still love Stevie. She’s a freakin’ icon. The whole band is, and I hear that they will be getting together again for a farewell tour, so yay for them. I was also stoked that Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie, who I always thought had a swell blending of voices, released an album together, but I’m not impressed with the one song I’ve heard.

But you don’t always like the works of artists you respect, at least I don’t, and though disco was not my cup of tea (I neither bumped nor hustled), who doesn’t like “That’s the Way, uh-huh uh-huh, I Like It.” Uh-huh, uh-huh.

My Millennial recommended that I watch Guardians of The Galaxy, which I tried for ten minutes, but I currently have my hands full with Twin Peaks season 3, and Claws, which I will be watching shortly.

My apologies for repeating the workout line-up so often lately. I’m trying to make sure I don’t forget the original purpose of the blog. And these days, politically I am stymied and stunned to the point of speechlessness. And tomorrow is another day. It’s always darkest before the dawn, and when it rains it pours.

BTW – a very happy birthday to Paul McCartney, who was the initial inspiration for my blog. He’s 75. Ringo will be 77 on July 7th, my mother’s birthday. Keep on rockin’ guys!

June 11, 2017 / thackersam

In Her Own Right

I’ve figured out what the problem is. I’m down to the last three colors of my Pilot G-2 ten-pack – turquoise, lavender and pink, my least favorites. Thankfully, as I was tidying for what could be the last of the ladies nights for an awfully long time with the last of the ladies, I uncovered the maroon and black pens. Problem solved. I can write again.

My friend Gilda, who’s been living in Connecticut while coming into the city a couple of days a week for work, has found a new job in New Haven on Ella T. Grasso Blvd. Gilda’s a native of the state, but 20 years my junior, so I suspected she didn’t know who Ella Grasso was, even though she said she had heard the name before.

Well I know who she was. I remember. Ella T. Grasso was the 83rd Governor of Connecticut, and the first female Governor in the United States elected in her own right. That “in her own right” thing is important as there had actually been three female governors before her whose husbands had been elected to the office. In 1925, Nellie Ross became the first female governor in the United States in a special election after her husband died and she remains the only female governor of Wyoming. Miriam “Ma” Ferguson was Governor of Texas after her husband was impeached and convicted, and then we had Lurleen Wallace, wife of vocal segregationist and frequent presidential candidate George Wallace as he could not run again due to term limits. She died in office of cancer, and George, who had been instrumental in the addition of the word “consecutive” to the term limit rule, became Alabama’s Governor again not long after. Interestingly, Lurleen’s cancer diagnosis was in 1961, but because her husband and physician made the decision to keep this information about her health from her, as they could actually do back then, she didn’t receive treatment until after a second diagnosis a few years later. Even though her cancer spread, she ran for Governor while secretly going through radiation. Not only was George Wallace an ass, he was a supreme ass, and then some.

There have been 42 female governors of the United States, which also includes the feisty Ann Richards of Texas, Jane Swift, who as acting Governor of Massachusetts was the first governor to give birth while in office (she had twin girls), and the not swift Sarah Palin. Susana Martinez was the first Latina governor and has been the Governor of New Mexico since 2011, the more attractive than her name Muriel Bowser is currently the 2nd female governor of Washington DC, and Puerto Rico has also had a woman governor.

Ella Tambussi Grasso became Governor of Connecticut in 1975. She grew up in Connecticut and was the daughter of hard working Italian immigrants, who encouraged their daughter’s interest in learning though they each had very limited educations themselves. Ella would choose a life in politics and served in the Connecticut House of Representatives from 1952, then was elected to serve as Connecticut’s Secretary of State. She was elected to two terms as Governor, but resigned on the last day of 1980 after she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She died a little more than a month later.

In addition to politics, Grasso had a full life raising her two children with husband Thomas Grasso, who she married in 1942. Ella Grasso died at age 61 from ovarian cancer. President Ronald Reagan posthumously awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1981, and in 1993 she was inducted into the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame. *ConnecticutHistory.org.

And I remember Ella Grasso from the neighboring state across the Long Island Sound. Women Governors aren’t exactly a dime a dozen these days, but back then, it was a mighty big deal. Thanks Ella.

For those who scoff at feminism, particularly women who do, please remember that it was less than 50 years ago that men could make the decisions for their wives on all sorts of matters, and it is only because women continue to fight for their rights that we have them. [To O: Pure coincidence, my writing of this post and the article in yesterday’s NYTimes by model AND feminist Paulina Porizkova.]

BTW – Gilda and I and our two other friends had a swell get together on Thursday night and came up with new references that only we will understand, to garbage bags and the hard finger (only one is sexual and not the one you might think). We ate pizza, samosa, ice cream and chocolates, and yes, the diet was blown and the end of month goal will be even more difficult to reach. But, it was well worth it.

Holy Moly – I just realized that it has been five years since I quit smoking, well except for that cigar in New Orleans. June 3, 2012.

June 4, 2017 / thackersam

Caption

Caption: We are a ways off from Halloween, but recently the Statue of Liberty (see picture) mentioned that she didn’t have any pictures of Vicki (The Chrysler Building). Scouring through my old photos, I came upon this one. I believe it was 1982.

Each Halloween, Vicki’s older brother rented a hall for a costume party for his many friends and their many friends. We decided to go that year, and settled on dressing as a chain gang, though no further planning had been made. We were all pretty broke, so buying costumes was out of the question, and we looked to Vicki, the creative one, to figure it out. Then she came to me with an odd suggestion. How bout if we go as famous buildings in New York City. Having no clue how she would pull this off, I said okay and called dibs on The Empire State Building.

One evening, I was summoned to Vicki’s parent’s house in Muttontown. It was a large, old-fashioned saltbox house, with lots of rooms of no great size. Except the kitchen. They had THE BEST kitchen ever! Vicki’s dad had folded up the long dining room table that left little room for anything else, as a work station for me and Liberty as Vicki worked in the living room across the front hallway. She had found two refrigerator boxes and broke them down, and with books of pictures of The Empire State and Chrysler Buildings, she meticulously drew outlines of the windows on the cardboard. She had finished one, that was splayed out on the dining room floor, and had started on the other when I arrived. It was my and Liberty’s job to color in the windows.

Clever Vicki had also found yards of an ugly green fabric that probably no one wanted, but was perfect for Liberty’s dress, and Mr. D., who was really into it, fashioned the torch so it lit up. I remember him popping into the room to show us, so pleased with himself. You have to understand that this kind of behavior in a parent was foreign to me, even though I’d spent nearly every holiday and then some in their home since high school.

But I’ll stay focused, regardless of the fact that it was getting hard for Liberty and I to remain so that night as we were drunk from the fumes of the thick, black magic markers, and had gone all giggly. In the end though, we had the costumes and they were great. Liberty was able to wear her costume to the hall, but Vicki and mine, now reassembled, were lying in the back of Vicki’s Volvo wagon, which has a few of its own stories to tell. When we got there, her brother suggested we go downstairs to the Ladies Room to put on our costumes, which in hindsight made no sense, as getting back up the stairs wearing ankle-length refrigerator cartons, could only be accomplished using small sidesteps. I grumbled at the ridiculousness (ah, to be young and stupid) as I slowly ascended the stairs when I heard someone say “Need a hand?” I looked up to the first landing, which I’d yet to reach, to see a guy dressed as an alien with numerous arms, and of course hands. “Not funny,” I fumed. It was funny, but I was not feeling it at that particular moment.

It was a fun party and we had a great time. Our competition for best group was stiff, as last year’s winners who had come as a sixpack of beer (I saw the pictures, and they looked great), came as Smurfs, and we expected them to win again. But we won, fair and square, despite Vicki’s relationship to the party organizer and that his wife represented Broadway as part of our group. I remember there being quite a few cute guys there that night, which may be why I’m the only one not looking at the camera.