To our Dearest Friends!
Happy Holiday of your choice and Best Wishes in the coming New Year, may the days ahead be filled with good tidings, good health, and plenty of cold hard cash.
Ha ha, as if cold hard cash keeps your feet warm at night!
The last twelve months seemed to whiz by – every weekend packed with activities and travel (Greg and I adore the award-winning Ojai Valley Inn – it’s practically our SECOND home) and dinner with special friends at “Zagat Best Rated Power Scenes” Los Angeles restaurants. If we didn’t see you this past year, we’re sorry. Give us a ring - we might have an available Friday night in October.
I’m enjoying my retirement much more than I thought. It was a struggle, trying to work AND raise the children. I would have been thrilled to keep working at Platinum Plus, one of the A-List party and event planning services in the San Fernando Valley, but my co-owner and DEAREST friend Cassandra suggested I take some time off. And even after I volunteered to take a pay cut or WORK FOR FREE, you were right, Cass. It was time to take a break. Smell the Roses. So thank you, Cass, I hope we’ll have lunch some time soon. I owe you a phone call. Or maybe you owe me – I don’t think you’ve returned my past two or three calls. But that’s okay, just means you’re busy busy busy! Go Platinum Plus!
Our children continue to fill us with Pride and Joy. Madison is only a sophomore at Harvard-Westlake, but several colleges have already approached him with full scholarship offers, in both academics and sports. We aren’t allowed to name schools, but one rhymes with “Canford.” And because Madison is so accomplished in baseball and lacrosse, they’ll let him choose which sports scholarship to accept.
We feel badly for the other students in his class, it must be hard to compete with a Larger Than Life figure like Madison. “That’s okay, somebody has to be number two,” I told one of the moms at the Fall Sports Award dinner. Madison swept the event, winning everything except School Spirit which they gave to a boy with cerebral palsy who sat on the bench and waved a pom-pom at football games.
And it’s practically a CURSE that Madison is so good looking. Ha ha, from MY side of the family, I’m always saying to Greg. Madison is constantly stopped at the mall or the market by agents asking if he’s a model. I suppose he could model if he wanted, but there aren’t enough hours in the day – if he’s not studying or playing baseball or lacrosse, he’s tutoring underprivileged children at a downtown homeless shelter. (In a very sketchy neighborhood so we don’t let him take the Escalade – too tempting to the criminal element - he drives the Prius.)
Madison’s energy is out of this world. I don’t know how he exists on only a few hours of sleep at night. We think it’s the vitamins – he gets them from one of his best friends, Jed, who comes from a long line of fabulously successful Beverly Hills physicians. Jed monitors Madison’s vitamin regimen, dozens and dozens of pills! They’re good for “brain function and promoting fast twitch muscle fibers,” Jed says, whatever that means. All I know is Madison’s grown much beefier this year – he has a neck like a BULL. Thank goodness Jed’s vitamins are natural, not dangerous like energy drinks that make you jittery or can stop your heart.
I’ve never seen a boy who is so High On Life!
McKenna graduates from eighth grade in the spring and she’s thrilled about starting high school. But we haven’t decided if she should stay in L.A. or go to a boarding tennis program in Phoenix. When we told McKenna she could live away from home for a year to concentrate on tennis, she cried. But I’m sure they were happy tears. A mother can tell the difference.
“But what about my friends?” she said.
“You’ll make friends in Phoenix,” I told her, wiping away a happy tear. “And we’ll see you on the holidays.”
McKenna has been fascinated with art since she was a toddler, our little Leonardo da Vinci. We back her one hundred and ten percent, in spite of a few annoying hurdles. Like her last art teacher who called us in and expressed some concern about McKenna’s latest project. “You’ve seen her arms,” the art teacher asked us.
“Of course,” we told her.
“And you’re not concerned? That’s she’s cutting herself?”
You’d think an art teacher would embrace creativity. Especially at one of the most Elite and Progressive private schools in Los Angeles.
“She’s making an art project,” we said. “And using her arms for the canvas.” Really, is this art teacher a MORON?
The art teacher suggested counseling. We had McKenna transferred to a different art class. With a more understanding teacher. But in a few weeks McKenna grew bored with visual arts and begged us to let her take up media studies. Which we naturally agreed to.
Our little Spielberg.
With the children busy as BEES and me on hiatus from Platinum Plus, I’ve been watching a lot of shows on Food Network. I try to make new recipes for Greg every night. He loves culinary adventures. It keeps our marriage “spicy.”
“Tonight we’re doing a tour of India,” I’ll tell him as I present a platter of Jhinga Biryani and Sweet and Sour Raita. I know he appreciates my efforts, even when he comes home late from work and has to reheat dishes in the microwave. And although I’m asleep, I’m sure when he climbs into bed he kisses me and says, “Thanks, honey. I’m a lucky man.”
Lucky, but extremely hard working. I can’t believe how late they make him stay at the office these days. He says it’s because of the layoffs and how he’s doing the work of three or four people. I can never get him on his cell - sometimes I tell him he should get a beeper like they used to have, but he laughs at me. He has a great sense of humor.
When he’s not at the office, Greg’s new hobby is “pumping iron.” I’ve caught him admiring his reflection in the mirror – I’M the lucky one to have a husband who is such a HUNK. He’s practically got a six-pack – well, more of a four-pack. Or two-pack. But still a PACK, and not a pooch.
I could work on my poochy stomach. Greg says he likes me better when I’m zaftig. Funny AND always saying cute things like that. Did I mention how lucky I am?
He’s gone to a tanning salon a few times. Work-related, he says. Because he got tired of being “the pasty white guy.”
Makes sense to me.
Of course when I create Meals From Other Lands, they need a proper drink accompaniment. Sometimes in the afternoon when McKenna is at fencing practice, I sit in the Escalade and Google “exotic cocktails.” And with BevMo! right around the corner, buying booze is a breeze. I can whip up an amazing Manhattan – you need to use Carpano Antica vermouth and rye whiskey, not bourbon. And brandied cherries, those bright artificially dyed ones from Von’s won’t do. Not in an AUTHENTIC cocktail.
And I have to do my own tastings – because I wouldn’t want to serve Greg a bad drink. You can’t rate a drink from one sip, you need to SAVOR an entire cocktail before you can render a judgment.
Everything I do I do to please Greg.
I should work on my pooch.
Did I mention how overwhelmed Greg is? He’s told me he’ll be out of town a lot for work in the spring. Which is odd, because he hasn’t traveled for work in years.
“The new management,” he says.
I decide he looks good with a tan and I ask him what he’d think if I come to the tanning salon with him. He laughs and says tanning leads to premature aging. And wrinkles.
Why isn’t HE worried about that? Men are so funny.
This afternoon I’m making Grog. I found the recipe on a site that features “Inebriants from the Past.” Tonight’s meal will have a Caribbean theme – Jerk Chicken with Jamaican Red Beans and Rice. And I’ve made a pitcher of Grog. I had to get three kinds of rum and Velvet Falernum from BevMo! and the Velvet Falernum looked a little like cough medicine, but once you got used to the taste, it was nice.
We’ll have a quiet evening, just the two of us. Madison is off studying at Jed’s house. He’s been a little grumpy lately – he got angry when the remote didn’t work so he threw it at the microwave and WHOA, he’s got some fastball and he shattered the glass like nobody’s business! I told him not to worry, but maybe he should ask Jed for some other vitamins. Something to make him a little calmer. “Fuck, yeah, Ma,” he said and he always makes me giggle when he talks like that.
McKenna is at a sleepover. She’s made a group of new friends in her media studies class and they’re working on a film project together. I was hoping it was a musical like “Les Miserables” – I just cried and cried - poor Anne Hathaway. But I think it’s about animals, maybe a documentary. I heard McKenna talking on the phone about a human centipede and I thought that sounded interesting. Wouldn’t it be exciting to see McKenna win an Academy Award? I hope she’ll take her mom with her! What should I wear? I’ll work on getting skinny so I can wear a slinky dress on the Red Carpet.
Dinner is in the oven. Greg’s called, don’t wait dinner. He’s been late every night this week. I bet he’s planning a surprise – another trip to Ojai. Greg loves surprises. Our twentieth wedding anniversary is coming up – I found a box in the back of his closet and peeked inside and saw the most adorable sexy pink lingerie – I’ll have to practice my “surprised” face.
Sometimes I pinch myself when I think of what an incredible life I have. And I don’t mean to brag, but... ha ha, YES I DO!!
I’ll just pour myself another glass of Grog and wait for Greg. I hope I can stay awake and see him when he gets home, no matter how late it is.
So - Happy Holidays to You and Yours! May you be as Blessed as Our Family.
Diane (and Her Gang)
Sara Cromwell is a writer living in California.