Thursday, August 19, 2010

catch the finger

My dad's game of "catch the finger" goes international. (NO, not that finger!)

Doing my laps this morning, I paused to exchange greetings with a visiting toddler. The youngster in question--glad in a big hat and dark glasses to protect him from the summer Sarasota sun--was in his mother's arms. They are the daughter and grandson of one of my condo mates, who is French.

I'm not sure how much English either understood, but it's a moot point. Without thinking, I slipped into my usual behavior at these moments. I extended my index finger in front of the child's face. He reached to grab it--almost every child does--I folded my finger, foiling the attempt. He laughed and tried again, and again and again--as I repeated the action. A child a bit older would have started moving his hand closer and closer, until I couldn't pull the finger away.

Anyone with a child who knows me, knows the game. At first, I did it mindlessly. But after my Dad died, I started wondering how it got started. I'm sure it was "invented" in a moment of desperation, to amuse me and my brother. I honestly can't recall a time before I played it myself.

A second game involving only one's hands that he often used--as do I-- is "walking fingers", a self-explanatory game with the fingers walking toward the then onto a child, if he/she is willing.

I still miss my Dad. But at times like these I realize that he does live on in me--and in many children he's never met.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

pledge week

To continue with the subject of pleading for money...

I confess to being one of a handful of folks who look forward to—yes, adore—pbs station pledge weeks.

It’s not that I enjoy the begging for cash part. But the smarty-pants program directors husband the best of the best to coax said cash out of our hands.

Wayne Dyer, Daniel Amen, Christiane Northrup, John Denver, Peter Paul and Mary, South Pacific, along with some new folks. Songs of the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, (The sound track of our collective lives )... “Visions of southern Italy” ...and the list goes on.

I can’t get enough of these shows and I watch them over and over, every chance I get in the allotted time period, using the pledge breaks to toggle between pbs stations to catch what’s on there.

I am greedy, storing up the images until the next time. Sometimes, I even pledge...

Friday, August 6, 2010

Hungry. Homeless. God Bless.

On my way home from work, stopped at a light. Out of the corner of my eye I spy I youngish woman with mousy blond hair.

She stands perfectly still, staring straight ahead in 95 degree heat. She holds a sign chest high: Homeless. Hungry. God Bless.

Thoughts of my impending Chinese take-out start to make me queasy

It's a long light. She does not move, doesn't even blink. She makes no eye contact. Her quiet dignity touches me. I don't even care if its true.

I pull out the only cash I have--$1--roll down my window & reach out--
apologizing it isn't more. She smiles, thanks me, takes a step forward & renews her stance.

And I head for the Chinese restaurant.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


With the flaps over the Arizona immigration law and the building of a mosque at Ground Zero, I’ve once again been considering “the other.” By that I mean the tendency of us human animals to cull out “those people” from the herd.

Once done, we imbue those “others” with unfavorable qualities, e.g : lazy, greedy, opportunistic, fanatic. “They” are the enemy, dangerous, the source of our problems—whatever they are at that moment in time. They are out to take our jobs, our resources, corrupt our youth or terrorize us.

Illegal aliens. Muslims. Gays. Whoever.

It’s a subject I have long considered. I recall sitting in high school history class marveling at my good fortune—being both female and Jewish--at being born in the mid 20th century America.

Yet, I was still never far from the definition of “outsider.”

I was a hs junior when Kennedy was assassinated. I returned home from school to a call from my mother. I’ll never forget the first thing she said: “Thank God he (Oswald) wasn’t Jewish.”

Regardless, she was not immune from turning on “others.”

Fast forward a decade. She and I are arguing about the then California uproar over illegal immigrant mothers “ abusing” our healthcare system. My mother, first generation born in this country, ranted on about these Mexican women crossing the border to give birth on our soil. So what, I retorted, they are risking their lives so their children can have a chance at the American Dream. (Sound familiar? I read now some law makers want to change this. )

Ok, so here’s the rub. I found out not long ago, that I, too, am descended from an illegal alien. It seems that when my paternal grandfather came over from eastern Europe he couldn’t enter legally. So like many other Jews at that time, he went to Canada and crossed the border in the Chicago area before making his way to New York.

So he wasn’t a wetback—he was a coldback.

We have met the “other” and he/she is US!