Monday, September 9, 2019

Scenes From A Formal Living Room

Tampa, Florida in the 1980’s -- what a time and place for a teenage girl to be alive!

Our family moved from New York to Tampa and we now had luxuries we hadn’t before:

A pool.
A formal living room.

The living room was a place you entered on only two occasions:

To vacuum.
To get your picture taken.

Here are some of my favorite photos from my living room, the room that no one really ever lived in. 

My BFF Susie and me entered several Lip Sync contests at the local teen nightclub. Here we are getting ready to go sell “Baby Love” by Regina.

First day of school photo. I really liked teal. My parents really liked brass.

Here’s a good look, nice by the grandfather clock.

Some formal shots before my dates arrived with mom, and awesome cat head shirt.

The years went by. Nothing changed in the living room except my hair.

Birthday gifts were opened in the living room. Here I am getting a Sony Watchman television.

Sometimes I liked to pretend I was a model.

And here is one more. It’s not in the living room but it should have been.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Captain of my Corn.

Sometimes the deadly combination of bored and hungry hits me, and I am compelled to leave my house and wander the aisles of Trader Joe's. 

Sometimes I go into Trader Joe's for two things, and I leave carrying two bags having spent 62 dollars.

Also, sometimes I stand in the Cookie Butter aisle talking to anyone who cares to chat, or just listen, about Cookie Butter.

Trader Joe's. 
O Captain! My Captain!

And now there's this.

My love of all things candy corn is well known, so much so that once September hits people make a point of congratulating me, telling me they're happy for me and wishing me a "happy candy corn season" so I guess I talk about it. A lot. 

These bags are pretty small (.5 oz) 
I bought two. To be safe.

And duh...Candy Corn Popcorn is delicious.

I mean, does it taste exactly like candy corn? Not really. There is a caramel-corn-like-coating on each puffy, perfect kernel -- much more sweet than salty. of the two bags from 45 minutes ago is gone already so what does that tell you.

I recommend picking up a bag (or two) before candy corn season is over. Look -- there's a jack-o-lantern on the bag. Not just a pumpkin, a jack-o-lantern. I'm nervous these will be gone 11/1.

*A friendly reminder that candy corn is great, Brach's is the only brand of candy corn you should buy, "Valentine corn" "Easter corn" and "Christmas corn" are not a thing and that the bags marked "Autumn Mix" with the big pumpkins and the corn with the brown stuff is terrible. You're welcome.

Monday, April 16, 2018

A Love Letter to Frozen Yogurt.

A friend asked if I wanted to go get some frozen yogurt sometime this week and of course I do. 

I. Love. Frozen. Yogurt.

As a chubby girl of the '70s I was often subjected to ice milk as a "treat" over the ice cream cups with the paper lids and pull tabs my brother and friends would get. I know my parents thought they were helping me but really what they were doing was starting me down a path of fad diets and self loathing. 

If you were ever given a cup of ice milk you know the pain of which I speak. The little cups I got were a brand called Sealtest -- Howard Johnson made ice milk too and in other areas they'd switch words around and call it "milk ice" but it was the same tiny cups of bullshit. When you peeled back the paper lid you were met with a bunch of ice crystals sitting on top of what tasted like skim milk. 

As a teen of the '80s I was naturally wary of this new invention called frozen yogurt. I was having ice milk flashbacks wondering why anyone would want "healthy ice cream" or yogurt that was frozen. Then I walked into my first TCBY and my life changed. 

The TCBY (This Can't Be Yogurt) in Tampa, Florida was located where everything else in Tampa, Florida was -- a strip mall. 

There were no toppings, no self-serve-pay-by-the-weight thing happening back then. People stood behind a counter wearing green aprons and visors to serve you soft serve frozen yogurt in a cup or a cone, bing-bang-boom.

'80s fro yo was rich, creamy and delicious. You could get vanilla, chocolate, a swirl or a featured flavor they'd offer, the one I always associate with TCBY was a very sophisticated sounding flavor called white chocolate mousse which really didn't taste like white chocolate or mousse but it was delicious. 

Overnight other frozen yogurt places were opening up all over Tampa. There was "I Can't Believe It's Yogurt" which was not a rip off at all of TCBY, and Stars Frozen Yogurt, which quickly became a favorite of my girl gang since it used to be an old dry cleaners and had a drive thru. We didn't even have to get out of our car. I'm pretty sure 97% of my senior year was spent licking a Stars vanilla/chocolate swirl in the backseat of somebody's car.

On a Stars run with Sharon and Susanne, I'm in the back with a camera and a waffle cone.
Also, I'd bet my life that Def Leppard's Hysteria is blasting.

I'm still super into frozen yogurt...its resurgence makes me very happy. I don't love that newfangled tart-yogurty-yogurt, but I do appreciate the hell out of some modern day cake batter yogurt.  

And toppings. I love toppings! Candy bars, hunks of pound cake, cookie crumbles, graham cracker cheesecake bites...all delicious.

But sometimes I miss my original. My melty, creamy, topping free licks under the blaze of the Tampa sun. 

Cake batter, you're great. But you'll never be my White Chocolate Mousse.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Please, Mr. Eggman.

If you ask me chocolate or vanilla I will choose vanilla every time. Vanilla soft serve, vanilla cupcakes, vanilla milkshakes, vanilla, vanilla, vanilla with extra vanilla please. Vanilla.

Except for one time of year. This time of year. Because of these:

I just back from the grocery store because I had to buy a bag to replace the bag that was purchased yesterday for me and my family. To share. Whoops.

I decided I better get two bags this trip in case I plow through the one because I'm gonna need another one, to replace that one. This is the way my brain operates.

Milk Chocolate Cadbury Mini Eggs -- each and every spring the only thing that could make me choose chocolate over vanilla. They're only available once a year which is good, because I don't want to go into a diabetic coma, and bad, because they make me so happy and I love them so much. 

I don't know what drug besides sugar they put in these pastel speckled wonders (maybe it's that "dairy milk" they use?) but I do know that I am addicted. Here is the overly thought out ritualistic way in which I eat them: 

  • Two at a time
  • Let eggs get all warm and melty
  • Crack candy shell with molar
  • Skillfully separate candy from chocolate (if you can tie a cherry stem into a bow in your mouth you have an advantage here)
  • Chomp crunchy candy shell
  • Savor delicious melty chocolate
  • Repeat as necessary. Like, until you need to go to the store for two more bags.

I love you, little eggs. To me you are the candy corn of spring and that is insanely high praise. Stay sweet. 

Monday, November 27, 2017


Last night in the car on the way home from my 9-year-olds piano lesson You’re So Vain by Carly Simon came on the radio. Naturally I cranked it up and began belting it out.

My son had many questions about this song:
  • What does vain mean? 
  • What are "clouds in my coffee?"
  • Why were songs from a long time ago so slow and weeeird?

I gave him answers and of course let him know the mystery surrounding the song, who is it about? Warren Beatty? Mick Jagger? He was not interested in these facts.

As we got toward the end of the song I’m very into it -– ignoring his request to “make it softer” I tried to school him on horse races in Saratoga and total eclipses of the sun I had to go into another story as to why this song held a special place in my heart involving this classic tune. I turned the volume down.

“MOMMY SANG THIS SONG IN HIGH SCHOOL” I blurted out, giggling and cramping up recalling that time I thought I could sing a Carly Simon in front of people. He wanted to know more about this.

As a teenage girl who was completely unqualified to try out for things (dance team, student senate, etc.) I felt it was natural for me during my junior year to give it my all and try out for SHOWCASE! which was my school’s version of Glee/tame high school rock show.

What made me want to try out for SHOWCASE! (I write it like this because in my mind I see all capital letters followed by an explanation point) were a few things:

1. The musical theater kids were in SHOWCASE! They knew Barbara Streisand’s The Broadway Album and the ins and outs of Les Mis and Phantom and pretended to like Cats like me. They were all super-talented and could sell a song that brought a tear to my dad’s eye when we’d sit at their concerts. Rock songs, standards, pop songs, SHOWCASE! did all this. 

2. They had a theme every year. Themes like "Look At Us Now" or "Fire Up!"



In retrospect, once again I completely recognize this as my longing to be a part of something…belong to something. Anything. Come on Mr. Skora, put me in the way back in the chorus...just let me wear that goddamned jacket.

Now, let me tell you a little about the SHOWCASE! jackets -– they were not cool. Like at all. They were navy blue satin, gathered around the wrists and waist with snap buttons with SHOWCASE! emblazoned across the back and your name in script letters embroidered onto the upper left side on the front.

Obviously, these very uncool jackets meant something to me if I can remember the tiniest detail about them.

These were the second-rate letterman jackets but my God, I would have loved to have had one. I would have worn year-round with the hot Florida sun reflecting off that satin like a solar panel, baking myself like a little singing potato.

I decided I’d audition with You’re So Vain after going between that and Joy to the World by Three Dog Night. I don’t know what compelled me to focus on songs my parents enjoyed rather than sing Circle in the Sand by Belinda Carlisle or All Over Him by The Jets like the other kids were singing but somehow I landed on Carly Simon.

I had purchased the sheet music. 
I never practiced once with piano accompaniment. 
I sang the song in my car and in the shower. 
I wore a beret to the audition. 

In the room was the SHOWCASE! director Mr. Skora along with several current SHOWCASE! members, all wearing that slick SHOWCASE! jacket I longed for. For some reason I wasn’t nervous at all. A few of the current members knew me from drama club and seemed anxious to hear what I had planned.

I did not make SHOWCASE!

I didn’t know how to sell this song, I had never had a lover who walked on to yacht wearing a scarf that was apricot. I also did not know how to sing with a piano. Or sing really at all.

I plowed through one verse and the chorus was told thank you and left. My mind raced searching for the good things I had done in the audition but I couldn’t really find one. I took off my beret and waited out front for my mom to pick me up.

I still held out hope when I went to look at that list on the wall by the music room that my name may be on it but duh, it was not.

No SHOWCASE! No making my dad cry watching his daughter sing songs by The Rolling Stones, The Eagles or Carly Simon. And no jacket.

I tried hard to act really cold around an older boy named David who was in SHOWCASE! so he’d offer up that jacket to me, but he wasn’t taking that thing off for anybody and I couldn’t blame him.

I guess those dreams were just clouds in my coffee. But at least I'm not stuck living with the memory of young me belting out JEREMIAH WAS A BULLFROG at the top of my lungs.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Just Peachy.

Remembering the colors of the 1980’s the train in my brain stops at the usual places.

Fluorescent pinks. Various shades of turquoise and aqua. That purple that only existed for a brief moment in 1984.

But there was one totally ‘80s color that I had forgotten about until this floral arrangement was delivered to my office today.

The flowers woke up a memory of an outfit so clearly I could almost feel the fabric and smell the Colors by benetton perfume I'd spritz on top of it.

Peach overalls! Layered over a cutesy Outback Red top, topped off with a matching scrunchie no one would ever see, but I knew it was there.

Le sigh.

I’d forgotten that peach was kinda huge back in the day. And since it was the ‘80s it wasn’t a light, pastel peach. It was a milky peach. A loud peach. It was the brightest shade of peach it could be before morphing into neon-peach, which exists only in my dreams and on Brooke Shields.

Thinking about that cutesy peach overalls number led me to remembering this other get up which you may call a peach nightmare, but I call awesome.

Funny how when I was much younger I embraced the trashy-business-woman look with this beloved peach skirt paired with burnt toast colored nylons and cheapo white pumps. Merry Christmas!

Just like the fluorescent pink, turquoise and that elusive 1984 purple, you really don’t see a ton of peach out there in the fashion world today. I’m hoping it makes a giant comeback. When it does I’ll wear it.

Maybe not in overall form. But I’ll totally wear it.

Monday, May 22, 2017

What's Good for the Goose

I’m not super familiar with Ready for the World’s entire music catalog, but I am pretty sure every single song they ever sang was about wanting to have sex, thinking about sex or straight up having sex. 

Just look at these guys.

Capes, loafers, the whole shebang, they are ready to go. And all those medals they're wearing? I'm guessing they're for sweet, sweet lovemaking.

I know they have way dirtier songs (Love You Down? Human Toy? Yo! That's a Lot of Body?) but their chart-topping hit “Oh Sheila” will always be a front runner for me.

Most notably because of that time when an old boyfriend danced and lip synced this song in its entirety to me on Valentine’s Day, 1980-something. Also the “oh-oh-oh-oh Sheila” part induced hip thrusts and gyrations by teenage boys and girls at various teen night clubs around the world, I'm sure. It did at least at Faces Teen Night Club in Tampa Florida.

Also this song changed the way I will forever hear the phrase “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.” 

I'm not sure what philosopher/writer/smart person actually came up with that one but for anyone who went to those teen nightclubs we will go ahead and continue to credit these guys. Not that it comes up in conversation a lot but when it does, I’ll always repeat it in my head in a poorly executed cockney accent. 

I haven't met a Sheila in years, but next time I do be assured it'll be hard for me not to throw in a hip thrust (or three) along with my handshake.