Sunday, September 24, 2006

Idle Gossip or Malicious Slander?

I hate blog post titles that contain a question mark. They're a sure sign of an amateur. But I'm looking for your comments here. Please respond, my lovelies.

D. and I were talking the other day, speculating, as girls do, about a mutual friend's love life, home life, work life and life life as follows:

--Why doesn't B. have a boyfriend?

--She must put men off with that attitude of hers. Plus, remember her last boyfriend? She's probably off men for good reason.

--I wonder what she would think if she could hear us right now. Oh man, would we be in trouble.

--Why? Everybody talks about everybody else. You should hear what she says about you.

Oops. That was me saying the last line above. Idiot. D. then turned the spotlight on me and our friendship with each other.

--What do you mean? What were you and B. saying about me? Do you always talk about me?

I had to think fast to cover over this one and move it in a direction that wouldn't make me look so bad.

--Oh c'mon, D. We've had this conversation before. People always gossip about each other. It's not even about you--it's just human nature to talk about each other. It's some tribal instinct to ensure the survival of the species. Why do you even care what people say about you?

--Because I want to know. Wouldn't you just love to be a fly on the wall and hear what people really say about you when you're not around?

--Oh god no, that would be horrible. I don't want to know. What's the point? I'd just get more self-obsessed than I already am.

So, dear readers, what do you say? Do you want to know what people say about you or don't you? Do friends talk about each other out of love and affection or malice aforethought? Idle gossip or malicious slander?

Sunday, September 17, 2006


Eddie was my next-door neighbor in the Catskills, a man who really shouldn't be the subject of discussion on My Bad Girl Blog, even though he likes women and thinks the subject sounds interesting. But I really want to write about Eddie because I have a crush on him.

Eddie lived in the Bird House, a little cottage next to mine at the Sunny Oaks camp. He's been spending his summers there for years now and has planted flowering bushes that attract hummingbirds.

Eddie is 102. He knows all about hummingbirds and plant life because he's a horticulturalist with with a master's degree in biology. He took me on a nature walk around Lake Cynthia, a little lake at Sunny Oaks, and he pointed out colt's-foot, which the Indians used to treat bee stings, and vibernum, which the Indians used to dye their feathers a purplish blue, and a fuzzy leaf called something like "shoe flannel" because the Indians put it in their mocassins like a Dr. Scholl's footpad. I can't remember all the names Eddie told me, there were so many.

Eddie saw all kinds of things on our walk that I'd never noticed before. But he couldn't remember the name of one plant, a flower, and it bothered him. He remembers a lot, like leaving Austria in 1912 when he was 8 years old and the boat ride over, where he saw a banana for the first time in his life, and arriving at Ellis Island.

Eddie dropped out of school in the eighth grade because the American kids in Coney Island teased him about his accent. He was a butcher's son so he became a butcher. But when he was 24 years old, Eddie got a land grant from the US government to homestead in Oregon, which is where he studied biology. Eventually he became a park ranger for the Department of the Interior, and while he was working at Mount Hood he met a pretty girl who was camping there with a girlfriend. Eddie and the girl got married three months later and they stayed together for about 50 years, until she died 12 years ago.

Eddie recently had a 40-something girlfriend, but the story is that he finally broke up with her, saying, "What are you doing with a 100-year-old man?" Now another 40-something lady has been knocking at his door lately, and the weekend I met him she cooked Eddie some shrimp scampi for dinner. "I think she's lonely," Eddie told me.

On the day I left Sunny Oaks, I went to the Bird House to hug and kiss Eddie goodbye, and he told me he remembered the name of that flower. It was a tansy. T-A-N-S-Y, which has yellow buttonlike flower heads and aromatic leaves.

Friday, September 15, 2006

More on Home-Made

I forgot to mention, I was in a family-owned grocery store in Wisconsin once, and saw a hand-lettered sign in the deli department advertising "ho-made" sausages and potato salad. Gave a whole new meaning to the phrase.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Home-Made and Lopsided

Hi. I've been back in Brooklyn since last Friday, yet I haven't posted a single word to this blog. Shameful. Oh, I could easily find something to plagiarize and call my own. Everybody's doing it these days. But no, when it comes to my writing, I put together every single word with care, and it all comes out of my very own head. I guess that makes me a loser. Like somebody who bakes a cake at home, very carefully and with love, and they bring it to a party and set it next to the store-bought cake that someone else brought, and everybody wants to eat the professional, factory-made cake instead of the brave little home-made and lopsided cake with clumsily applied frosting, which tastes very good I'm sure, but just doesn't compare to the shiny allure of the store-bought cake.

I'm not sure where this metaphor is going anymore, and I think it's weak of me to compare a factory-made cake to plagiarism. The point is, I'm sorry I haven't blogged in a while, but I do like to spend extra care and time when I do post, and which I clearly haven't done this morning.

But I'm back now from the Catskills, and did a ton of writing. I can recommend it to everybody--find yourself a little cottage on a lake that has no phone and no Internet. You'll be amazed to see how much you get back in touch with yourself and the nature around you, and how quickly that starts to feel normal.