Saturday, November 25, 2023

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Long Cool Woman (in a Black Dress) 1972

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) This week's song begins with Hollies' lead singer Allan Clarke telling us of a Saturday night trip downtown, taken at the behest of the FBI. What are your plans for Saturday night? (No, we don't expect you to tell us you'll be working undercover for a government agency.) I'm going to be under the covers with the new love of my life, my Vapoinhaler. I'll have my tissue box nearby, too. Yes, I'm sick. But it's only a cold and I'm just a big baby. I hope I'm feeling better in time for work on Monday. (<<< Hey! That's a sentence I never thought I'd utter again!)

2) At a bar, he meets a woman in a black dress. The LBD, or little black dress, is a wardrobe staple for many women because it's appropriate for almost any occasion. Let's say you get a last-minute invitation for a "dressy" dinner this weekend and you don't have the time or money to buy something new. What's your go-to outfit from your closet? I'd probably wear what I wore to my niece's wedding three years ago -- a long garnet duster over a matching cami and black leggings. Shoes would be a problem, since I don't think I have a pair of dressy flats to go along with it. Oh well, I shan't sweat it since this is a fantasy, after all.

3) Everyone at the bar starts to run when they hear sirens. Do you often hear sirens in your neighborhood? All the time. I don't really notice them anymore. I get nervous when the siren gets louder and slower, telling me the emergency vehicle is stopping nearby.

4) In 1972, the year this week's song was on the charts, Popeye's opened their first fast-food chicken restaurant in Louisiana. Now that the Thanksgiving feast is over, will you be eating any carry-out this weekend? Perhaps. There may be a trip to the local burger joint in my future. Unless I'm feeling exceptionally lazy. 

5) Black is this week's signature color because November 24 was Black Friday, when retailers historically have slashed their prices and the holiday shopping season begins. Have you begun your gift shopping? I'm just about done! I still have to get my niece a set of private label barbecue sauces from a local restaurant. She lives in Michigan and she can't get these particular sauces up there. I also want to make a donation in my friend Kathleen's name to The Carter Center. She admires Jimmy Carter enormously and I'm sure she's been moved by all the tributes to Rosalyn.

6) Walmart, Best Buy and Target all advertise heavily on Black Friday. If you could have a $100 gift card from one of those stores, which would you choose? What would you buy? Target. 

7) This Monday is sometimes known as Cyber Monday because shoppers can find big savings online. Do you shop confidently online, or do you worry about security breaches and identity theft? I recently was a victim of a breach, and it had nothing to do with online shopping. Back in 2018, my primary care physician sent me to the hospital for an ultrasound of my leg. Now, in November 2023, I got notice that my hospital records were compromised. I just received a very strange call Thursday from a local number. A heavily-accented man said he was calling from "[Unintelligible] Health" about my leg. I yelled at him, saying only a scammer would call on a national holiday and that there's nothing wrong with my leg. Gotta keep a close eye on my credit report. 

8) What are you thankful for this year? My friends. I have a network that supports me. I am so fortunate that way.

9) Random question: Who was the last person you spoke to on the phone (texting doesn't count)? My oldest friend called to wish me a happy birthday by playing the lads singing "Birthday" into the receiver.

The food was good but the vibe was off

John, Gregory and I had Thanksgiving dinner at a winery/restaurant in my neighborhood. Because I don't drink wine, and since it's a little fancier than I'm used to, I've never tried it. But I heard they had a great prix fixe Thanksgiving menu. So when John suggested that this year we celebrate Thanksgiving in my neighborhood instead of his, I mentioned the winery.

The menu was traditional and quite delicious -- butternut squash soup, roasted turkey and stuffing, cranberry sauce, green beans with carrots, mashed potatoes, and a fantastic slice of pumpkin cheesecake -- and the price was right. The boys got out here without event; John took a rideshare while Gregory took the train. I don't remember what John was drinking, but Gregory was very happy with the prosecco. I had cranberry juice and vodka. Only one, because I'm battling a cold.

Gregory and I surprised one another with birthday gifts. His was back in August. I snapped a photo when we were all singing "Happy Birthday" and had it made into a refrigerator magnet. He gave me a white cube with lights from within, kind of a desk Christmas ornament.

So why wasn't it a perfect Thanksgiving? I don't know. The conversation just wasn't flowing the way it usually does when we're together. I'll blame it on my cold.

Oh well. I'm still thankful for good friends, good food, and leftovers!


Birthday 2023 recap

I was wistful going into my birthday this year. I think some of it could be that -- while I didn't realize it yet -- I was coming down with a cold. Some of it could be that my art director didn't mention my birthday when we got together for lunch days before. 

But it turned out to be a nice day. I had three gifts waiting for me that I received through the mail:

•  A "Feisty Ladies" wall calendar from my Cousin Rose 

•  Boxed teas and a cat-themed shopping tote from my aunt

•  A cat-themed zippered pouch, filled with inspirational/aspirational stickers, from Snarkypants

Then the Facebook messages started coming in. You know, people slag social media but this is something it does really well: it made me happy to see how many people responded to that reminder and sent good wishes.

I got text after text, too. Elaine. My art director (I think she saw it on Facebook) wants us to plan a date together to celebrate our birthdays. Nancy said, "The t-shirt is from me and Paul* because we love you." My oldest friend, promising a great gift.* John with an e-giftcard to my local movie theater. And did you see this? Kwizgiver wrote me a poem!

Not gonna lie. I like being fussed over.

I met Joanna downtown for the Christkindlemarket. All these adorable little German-themed shops in Daley Plaza, right under the watchful nose of the Picasso. I got baked cheese for myself and a little knit finger puppet for Elaine. Then we went across the street for The Best Ever Grilled Cheese Sandwich.  It's exactly what we did for my birthday last year. That appealed to Joanna because it's what we did last year and, as she wrote in her card, she appreciates the traditions she and I have developed around our birthdays. I liked it because it was guilt free. I know Joanna is cash strapped these days but this was a unique but affordable lunch. 

I heard from Henry. It was the first time in months! He suffered a pair of seizures and had been in the hospital. This took a major toll on his already compromised cognitive abilities. Now he's home, and some days he doesn't know Reg anymore and needs help shaving and using the bathroom. Other days he's a little better. Fortunately, on my birthday, he was a bit more himself. He was rooted in front of the TV, watching CNN, when he saw a mention of the 60th anniversary of the JFK assassination. 

"I must talk to The Gal. It is her birthday!" he kept insisting to Reg. First when he called I was in the shower. I called him back, but he didn't pick up so I left a message. He called again, just as I was boarding the train to go downtown. I know he wouldn't understand about the noise, so I let it go to voicemail. He called again when Joanna and I were at lunch. I took the call but tried to keep it short. He was very confused, but it meant a great deal to me that even through the fog he understood that it was my birthday and he wanted to talk to me. 

A few moments later, Reg called. Drunk and sad. He said Henry was very "agitated" about missing my birthday, even though we just spoke. I was at lunch with Joanna, it was rude to spend this long on these calls. But Henry is so important to me. I told Reg I could call back tonight, or not. Whatever Reg thought was best, I would do. Reg told me it would be best not to call, so I didn't.

As awkward and weird as all this was, it's a memory I will treasure forever. Somewhere inside Henry, he still remembers and loves me. Somewhere in there, we're still us.

*It hasn't arrived yet, but that's OK.