Today I had more than three reasons to be grateful for my children and they all manifested themselves in the form of other children. But first a pause in that thinking so I can talk about another kind of pause, the Dubroff (my mother’s family) “pause”. I am going to share this story because my mother had a another pause. It was not a stroke or a TIA so we are referring to it (in good Dubroff form), as a pause. Until my cousin Michael had a stroke, no one in the Dubroff clan ever had a heart attack or any ailment (except cancer) that was given a name. Instead, my aunts appeased themselves by calling the interruption of good health “a pause” . In my first novel, “Schlepper”, which I may have mentioned was a publishing disaster, there was a story that explains their thinking. It begins with my aunt relaying a tale to me or my other self “Sadie” the novels main character about my Uncle Teddy, but Jack in real life.
“Well, I went out to dinner last night with your mother, Uncle Milton, Aunt Sara, Aunt Harriet, Uncle Teddy. We had a very nice time. The food was hot—you know how it’s never hot. Well, it was hot. So when we finished eating, your mother said, ‘Where’s Teddy?’ And we looked around and then Milton saw Teddy on the floor. So your mother said, ‘Teddy, what are you doing? Cleaning the floor? They pay people to do that.’ And Teddy didn't answer, so your mother said, ‘Teddy, get up!’ Well, he didn't and then we thought maybe he had fainted or God forbid was dead. So Aunt Harriet started to scream, ‘Get a doctor! Call the police! Get an ambulance!’ And we pulled Teddy up off the floor, and I said, ‘Teddy. Don’t go to sleep, for God’s sake don't die Teddy, not here—not at the Hunan One!’ Milton kept putting water on Teddy’s face and his eyes kept rolling back in his head and then the rescue workers came.” She took a quick breath and continued. “They did a wonderful job and then Teddy threw up all over Hunan One. I guess we can't go back there. Anyway, they took him to the hospital in an ambulance with the sirens and lights and all. And Doctor Hammerman was there and Teddy felt better when he saw Doctor Hammerman. Teddy didn't have a heart attack.”
"Well, Aunt Frieda, if he didn’t have a heart attack, what did he have?” She asked with as much calm as she could muster.
"He had a pause.” There was a breath that was almost a sigh. “And maybe he’s a candidate for a pacemaker.”
A pause? Why am I not surprised? My whole life they tried to make things easy for the kids to digest. Bubbe didn’t die, she was in Florida. Uncle Herbie didn’t have Parkinson’s, he was just a nervous wreck. It was not unusual for them to make up a story. They didn’t want anything to be or even sound or as horrible as it was. So, of course, Uncle Teddy had… ‘A pause’.
I have books available if you’re dying to fill in 300 other stories but that’s another blob. Now, in keeping with the theme of making things easy for our children I will return to the topic of being grateful. There are some things I don’t usually do and one of them is to have a manicure and pedicure. I am not crazy about feet so I am always reluctant to impose my feet on other people, but I did it today. The place I go is an itty bitty little shop with five massage chairs, four manicure tables and 6 women who staff the place. Two of the women are Korean, two are Chinese, one is from Viet Nam and there is one young woman from Panama. As my friend Laura says, it doesn’t matter if they don’t speak English -- what they are saying to one another.
Unless you go in the morning when they open, it is always busy bordering on chaotic. All of them are friendly, pleasant and respectful. When I go (all two times) the woman who I make the appointments with is Young. She is Korean, married and has two children in college, and she is an artist. When I went the first time, we were the only ones in the shop and she shared some of her art work with me. It is quite beautiful.
So there I was having my manicure and a young woman about sixteen comes flying through the door. She looks at Heidi from Panama, who is working with a client and yells, “When are you going to be done with her?” The shop is 10 feet by 12 feet so there is really no need to yell. “I will be quite a while”, Heidi says, clearly not taking any guff from this pisher. “Shit”, she grumbles, “I guess I’ll have to get stuck with someone else.”
No, I thought, you can pick your spoiled ass up and leave. But I didn’t want a scene so I merely thought, ‘thank God I have a well mannered daughter. ‘ Then, not fifteen minutes later, I was walking up 54th street and there was a little boy (about 6) getting out of his limo and, when the driver said goodbye, he merely said “yeah” slammed the door and walked away. Obviously, I don’t know if this is a daily ride or just an occasional trip but whichever, I don’t believe there is ever an excuse to be dismissive or rude. So again, I thought, I am so grateful that my son never behaved that way – or I would have smacked him upside the head. Then as I walked on I noticed this little girl, not more than three, holding her cell phone in one hand, gesturing with the other and walking with her nanny, who was holding on to the back of her sweater. As I got closer I heard her conversation with the person on the phone, her mother. And she was screaming about not going to some party or event which had been promised to her. I mean the kid was shrieking and every so often would say, “Mommy, I hate you, you’re a liar, I wish you were dead.” On the top of her lungs. I tried to get a picture but I’m not David so I couldn’t find the camera setting on the phone and they were walking briskly. The performance was truly breathtaking.
While it is true that in New York there are a great many entitled children, I just can’t imagine, One: who gave birth to these brats and Two: how do the parents live with them and maybe Three: do the parents behave in the same way? Anyway, my interaction with all was temporary and they are not within my realm of caring but you have to think, surely there will be consequences for absence of good behavior for their lack of civility. Consequences not only for their parents but for the people with whom they will come in contact during their careers and personal lives. I think it may be necessary for all of us to insist that these people, old or young just take a pause. We’re just sayin...Iris