Saturday, October 9, 2010


Because my older sister already had Paul, there really wasn't an option, but even if I'd had a choice, it always would have been John. Articulate, with a rapier wit and that wonderful accent, not to mention boyishly-charming good looks, John remained my first true love. It was an easy transition for my bff, Lizzie, to take over Paul duties during our teen years (it was always clear to us which in a pair of guys was meant for each of us, even if the guys did not always get with the program--the more fool they). And it didn't really matter that my love for John was, in cold daylight, unrequited, because there were the songs we knew by heart, for every occasion and emotion. I have only a vague toddler's memory of sitting in my housekeeper's lap, watching JFK's funeral, but I can recall every detail of the terrible night John Lennon died -- the silently mourning boys sitting in the stairwell in my dorm, calling up to my boyfriend's room and having others throw open their own windows to hear the dreadful news, calling Lizzie in Atlanta and crying together.

Most of my memories, however, are happy ones. My very first memory is of standing in my crib, yelling "yeah, yeah yeah" while my sister sang, "she loves you." That is my only memory of my crib, other than when my twin bed came in through the door of our apartment, covered in the striped bedspread it would bear until replaced with a loudly-animal patterned quilt when I was nine. The Beatles played a very important role in the games my sister and I played. With plastic tennis rackets serving as guitars, we would BE John and Paul, unless some older friend showed up and demoted me to George, at which point I generally lost interest in playing. My sister and I also choreographed other games to the Beatles -- the second side of "Introducing the Beatles," for example, was a day in the life of Ole and Mal, two entrepreneurial babies of our creation. And the White Album (along with "Hair," and, I am ashamed to admit, "Godspell") was a constant accompaniment to our marathon sessions of Monopoly and Masterpiece.

The Beatles have remained a consistent soundtrack to my life. At two, for example, Bathsheba would squeal "vanish in the haze, mommy, vanish in the haze" while she listened to "Help," and the Rockstar sang "Imagine," accompanied by his guitar, in place of the standard bar mitzvah speech.

Because these were the songs of my childhood, however, I was often somewhat stymied by the lyrics. The night before what? I always wondered. Why did she laugh when she told him "she worked in the morning"? And, more generally why were these men always singing to little girls, or even babies? When you aspire to be a grown-up, it is incomprehensible that a woman is being addressed in such a manner (something some adults might do well to keep in mind, for a variety of reasons).

So -- however we might feel about Yoko -- it was meaningful for me when "Woman" was released posthumously, as part of "Double Fantasy." My boyfriend gave me a copy as a means of making up from a tiff the circumstances of which I no longer recall, but, although I loved the song, I don't think either of us was as yet fully cognizant of the significance of John's word-choice, in his final and finally adult love song.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I was a middle-aged teenager

When you begin dating again, after twenty-odd years, a number of things run through your mind You may be feeling like an adolescent again, for better or worse (Will he call? Does he like me? Are these shoes high enough?), but the bottom (and I choose that word aptly) line is, you don’t look like a teenager. Gone, true, are the pimples that once shone like a beacon whenever an especially cute guy looked your way, but they have been replaced by a new breed of blemishes: wrinkles, lines, and what is known in the trade as “loss of elasticity.” Your hair, once cascading to your waist in abundant curls, is now thinner and threaded with silver (or sports an unattractive root line), and you suddenly understand why your relatives used to say you took after your grandmother.

Fortunately, a woman like you has far more substantive matters with which to engage her intellect. The aforementioned superficial issues, however, do come to the fore when you think you may actually like someone and want to fool around with him. (Some folks might argue that, after three years without sex, you don’t actually have to like someone, but Bella P is a little old-fashioned and believes that, if you’ve waited this long, you deserve something that’s worth the wait.) Although it is certainly likely that the man who seems of interest (and interested) may disappear abruptly before you reach this point, it is never too early to start obsessing about your body. The little poochy wrinkles in your abdomen – which your exhusband, whatever his other flaws, admired as a pentimento of the four children once sheltered therein – now become a cause of concern. After all, these four children will not be HIS (the new him’s) four children, so just how adorable will he find your elephantine belly skin? (We can take as a given concerns about the effects those children wrought on your breasts.)

But the effects of gravity need not be your exclusive focus. Bella Professoressa confesses, for example that she hates shaving her legs. It is a crashing bore; as Tigerlily and the Butterfly point out far too often, she is also not very good at it, since a) it is boring and b) if she does it in the shower, she can’t see. (Wouldn’t you expect a professoressa to be myopic?) But it is a general rule that men find unshaven legs unattractive. And so they are. In fact, my sister, Bella terapista, who is a lesbian, shaves her legs (as does her partner, so there’s one stereotype exploded).

And once the legs are shaven and the make-up applied (with primer), and you overcome the worry about just how wild your hair will become if you do get to do some fooling around, there is then: the outfit. Although Bella P’s wardrobe does not (yet?) include that particular item, Bridget Jones highlighted the conundrum of spanx with her choice of elasticized granny panties Without them, you presumably won’t get fondled, but what do you do with them when the fondling starts? There is always the problem, as well, what will he find cute? After all, you don’t want to slither into your narrowest pencil skirt and heels only to be asked, “Don’t you ever wear pants?”

But, as those dismaying bumps and sags remind you, you are NOT an adolescent; the wrinkle in your brow, the smile lines around your eyes are memorabilia and badges of the experiences that remind you how much you are worth, and that you are no longer willing to stand for what that teen-age girl (whose beliefs and values lingered far too long) would have supported. You are a woman of valor and strength, sufficient to stand (though free to trip over your own feet if you try the kind of heels that never quite worked, even in your youth). As for the leg hair – maybe it is time to try an electric razor?