Monday, April 25, 2016

Lord of the Lies


Lord of the Lies



Childhood is a treacherous journey. No one passes without incident or harm. Mine of course was the most horrible. I lived in a beautiful home with parents that doted on me, 3 siblings that loved me, neighbors to play with on quiet suburban streets, a country club and summer camp. So you ask yourself, “how did she navigate the horrors of such a life?” My answer is simple, I was a liar. Not a white liar with little tales, (although I told many of those as well) I was a big liar. Any accomplished spinner of untruths will tell you, while weaving your yarn, start with the truth and build you story from there. If only I had been given these directions back then.



In 1960 we moved from our Long Island home, and away from all of our relatives, settling in Greensboro, NC. We had left behind my grandparents in Paterson NJ, my great aunts and uncle In Brooklyn, and my cousins in Plainview, Long Island. Twice a year we would make a journey back to New York. We went to the home of my mother’s cousin Barbara with her booming Brooklyn accent, her husband, Mitch, and their many children. I loved my cousins so much....those visits were my very favorite times of year.


Our Christmas vacation trip in 1963 was filled with all the usual events. It was a vacation for us but also a business trip for my father. During the weekdays, my father and Mitch would go into the city for work and be gone all day. My mother and Barbara would cook, shop and play mahjong. I would play with my cousin Nancy who was just a little bit younger than I....but young enough to completely follow, trust and believe me.



The fun on this trip started with a purple ink pen. The first evening, after we had our baths, I took the pen and with Nancy as my willing canvas, I colored her entire body purple. Her flat chest cried out for adornment. I made her breasts into big purple flowers with stems and leaves trailing down to her belly button, then on and on and ever downward. Upon completion, she went into her parent’s room to show off her new embellishments. A second later, her father charged out of his room screaming, “Who did this to her?!??” I stood there with the pen in my hand and purple fingertips, my eyes searching the empty room, looking for someone to blame.... then I shrugged and said, “I don’t know”. Mitch wasn’t my father, he wasn’t going to punish me, but I knew, that he knew, that I knew, that he knew.



The following night, with no real-life drama to share, I began one of my “altered truths”. I told Nancy all about President Kennedy’s funeral. I explained that just a few weeks ago, Caroline Kennedy (my close dear friend) had called me. She had implored, since we were such good pals, would I please come to her father’s funeral. Not one to leave a friend in a time of need, of course I assured Caroline that I would come. I told Nancy how adorable John-John was as he saluted the casket.....and dead father aside; the funeral was really was a lot of fun!



These were conveniently the days before google searches. No “fact checking” to worry about, I was able to tell Nancy that there were probably photos of me standing next to my BFF, Caroline.The pictures showed me giving Caroline the consolation and strength she required in this time of need....and of course i was entertaining with an impromptu ballet recital or a song.....   This tale made me not just a great friend, but a great patriot.



Some of the particulars of my tale were left out....

1- How does a 7-year-old get from Greensboro to DC without even as much as a learner’s permit?

2- Where does a 7 year old, traveling solo, stay while in DC?

3 -Did I hang out at the White House with Caroline or with the other invited guests and dignitaries?

….. Nancy was kind enough, (perhaps because she was only 6) not to press for answers.



Before we retired for the evening, we still had time for some games. I loved running up and down their staircase since I lived in a one-story ranch house in Greensboro. As I got up to the top of the stairs it occurred to me that the wrought iron banisters were just like a jail cell....so I wanted to play “Prison”. I would be the warden and Nancy would be an incarcerated criminal. I had her stand on the landing behind the bars, then I told her to put her head through the bars as if she was attempting to breakout. I don’t understand the science behind this, but it was easy to put head through the bars, but impossible to get her head out...Nancy started to cry. Once again, her father angrily came flying out of his bedroom. This time in his tightie-whities and comb-over flapping. I knew this wasn’t going to end well for me. As he slowly maneuvered his little girl's head out from between the railings, Nancy had of plenty of time to him all about my trip to DC and the JFK's funeral...... If only she had been quiet! But Nancy was able to recite every detail that I had I told her. This was 1963 and parents still believed in spankings. Mitch wasn't standing on ceremony, he may not have been MY father, but I’m pretty sure that evening ended with me getting spanked.


The next day, the men went back into the city and the moms went shopping. My cousin’s house had an open front porch leading to the garage. For theatrically minded girls like me, it looked like a stage with entrances, both stage left and right. There were about a million or so kids living on their block, so there was always an audience.... but I wondered what kind of show could Nancy, her brother Douglas and I put on? EUREKA!!! Thanks to that purple ink being non-washable, Nancy was still festooned in my handiwork. Why not a striptease? Douglas could be the Barker/MC, Nancy the painted lady and I (of course) the main attraction. Douglas was great at getting all of the neighborhood kids to come over. They gathered on the front lawn, He would grandly introduce us, and then Nancy and I would run naked from the garage side door, across the front porch and into the house. With each performance, the crowds got larger and more enthusiastic. Nancy and I waited, naked in the garage for Douglas's signal for the two of us to streak across the porch. Children were screaming and cheering on the front lawn. Nancy and I charged across the front porch in our all together. At that very moment, my mother and Barbara pulled into the driveway. Seeing our two mothers, we bolted up the stairs to Nancy’s room. We jumped into the closet. Moments later in her dulcet lilting voice, Barbara shouted, “WHAT ARE YOU TWO DOING?!??” Nancy and I, naked, sitting on the closet floor, looked up at her and I answered, “Nothing.....”



I don’t remember the drive back down to North Carolina after this vacation, but I'm pretty sure it included at stop in Washington DC for lunch with Lady Bird.

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Recipe:
Chewy Chocolate Chunk-Cherry Cookies

Family favorite cookie....perfect for relatives, even if they are liars!
Makes 40 Cookies

INGREDIENTS

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups packed light-brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
12 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (2 1/2 cups)
8 ounces dried cherries (1 1/2 cups)
DIRECTIONS

STEP 1
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Beat butter and sugars until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla, then flour mixture. Beat in chocolate and cherries. Refrigerate dough for 1 hour.

STEP 2
Roll dough into 1 3/4-inch balls (about 3 tablespoons each), and arrange on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing about 3 inches apart. Bake until edges are golden, 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool on sheets set on wire racks for 10 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks; let cool completely.

9 comments:

  1. I can't remember any of these stories.

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    1. Maybe you weren't there...except for lunch with Lady Bird...it's all true

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  2. This episode jogged my memory of how I used to "abuse" my little brother by building a cage out of tinker toys and making him stay inside whilst I sat idly buy munching a plate of cookies that were beyond his reach. I finally let him out when Batman came on TV, so that I would have someone to KAPOW! when fight scenes happened... He's 56 now, and I'm pretty sure he's still holding a grudge.

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  3. I believe it all...except of course the Chewy Chocolate Chunk-Cherry Cookies!
    You made that up you invented those cookies...Right?

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  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  5. My mother had warned us that she would have to wash our mouth out with soap and water if we said dirty dirty words. It didn't take long to find out if she would do it. I said to my younger brother Robert, "Bet you're afraid to say a really dirty word." "I am not said my younger brother." "Then say 'poopie'" was my answer. Robert: "Poopie"! "I can't hear you," I replied. "You sound like a little boy. Can't you speak up like a big boy?"

    He stood up straightlike a big boy on a mission and said loudly, "Poopie on you! Poopie on you!" Into the room came our mother, exclaiming, "How dare you defy me," as she took him into the bathroom for the promised oral cleansing (which I think she regretted, but she had taught us to keep our promises.) Just as I support you Ruth, no matter how unruly the mob gets, I urged my mother to enforce her orders as I shouted repeatedly, "That's what you get, Robert, that's what you get. HA! HA! HA! My mother, catching on that I had something to do with it as was my wont, told me that I had better get out of the bathroom immediately, or she would wash out my mouth at which time I remembered that I wanted go out into the yard to ride my little red tricycle! I disappeared like the rabbit into the magician's hat! I feel a certain mischievous kinship with your narrative!

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  6. I loved hearing this story again. I remember the first time I heard it so vividly. I was in the stands at a Brooklyn Dodgers game when Jackie Robinson hit a monster homer and I jumped up to cheer knocking the popcorn out of the hand of the girl sitting next to me. I apologized and introduced myself " Hi my name is David" "Well hi yourself. My name is Nancy. I'm Ruth Kabat's cousin. Do you know her?" "Of course" I said "Who doesn't". "Did you know she was best friends with Caroline Kennedy?" "No" I said. "Did she ever tell you about the time when we were little and she painted my breastlette's like flowers and we did a naked strip tease in my front yard for every body the neighborhood?" "No, I don't think so anyway. I'm pretty sure I would have remembered that if she had" " Well we did. And now we have the highest concentration of sex offenders per square block of any borough in the city. What a coincidence right? Go figure?" She and your story were delightful.

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