Archive for September 2012

Still Makes Me Crazy After All These Years   2 comments

Vanity License plates are meant to say something about the driver.

When I see GR8TFUL on a Corvette parked in front of a house in my neighborhood, I know the owner appreciates being able to have such a  car.

And  IPROSPER on a BMW stopped at a light in front of me, I know  tells me the driver is a shallow show-off.

That  Nissan I often find myself driving behind on my daily commute, the one with HAILE MARY, it tells me Mary’s driving, and makes me wonder if she’s religious or a football fan.

And then there‘s the plate I saw in the Home Depot parking lot last Saturday  – FUSCO5

All I  knew was my mind felt like this.

When the silent scream ended, I laughed and shook my head. Wow, I thought, after all these years. Fusco  –  shudder



It was my first year of teaching. Third Grade. Like your first love, your first class stays with you forever. However, some students stand out more than others. Mulligan will always be remembered in bold type.

For some reason, the students never used his first name. I could understand it if it were high school, but there were eight year olds, except for Mulligan. He was nine, having repeated first grade.

He had big blue eyes, brown hair that protested with an ever-present cowlick, and cheeks punctuated with dimples. The dimples got deeper and the eyes rounder whenever he smiled his goofy grin – which was often, usually accompanying his two signature responses :“I dunno” or “It wasn’t me.”  If you ever wondered what Homer Simpson was like as a child, wonder no more.

Mulligan had a way of rocking back and forth, shifting his weight from one foot to the other. Today, such a trait might set off an autism alarm, but Shawn presented none of the traits.  The rocking was just Mulligan being Mulligan. Some people hum. Some people whistle. Mulligan rocked……..

…..And it was infectious. The school day officially started with the Pledge of Allegiance. The children would rise and stand in the aisle next to their desks. Mulligan had the third desk in the second row, and that meant two kids in front of him and five behind. By the time we got to Liberty and Justice for all. The two in front of him were standing still, but the five behind were swaying to Mulligan’s tune.

I was negotiating all the pitfalls a young teacher meets in her first year. September: establishing classroom rules; October: keeping my bulletin board current – down came the welcome to third grade, up went falling leaves and jack-o-lanterns. Autumn brought nippy weather and I set up an orderly routine for hanging up and retrieving jackets and sweaters.

Autumn also brought the elections – and that’s when I got broadsided.

I don’t mean Nixon and Humphrey. We talked about presidential duties and I assigned at least a cursory glimpse of the debates for homework. No, my downfall was Fusco!

Who was Fusco – I dunno.

What was he running for I dunno. Probably Councilman or State Senator.

If ‘d had more experience I would have recognized a teachable moment, one to explore local government and our chance to choose leaders in our own neighborhoods, but, alas,  all I knew about Fusco was that Mulligan had discovered a bottomless pit of Elect Fusco buttons. Each morning he’d show up with pockets-full of the %$#!! things which he ‘d hand out to anyone who’d take them. “Vote for Fusco,” he’d say.

By the third or fourth day when everyone had three or four buttons and they were becoming a distraction. I threatened to confiscate the buttons if I saw them in class. I told him he’d have to do his campaigning on his own time – at lunch recess. Big Mistake. By the next day, Vote for Fusco Fever had spread through the school population; Elect Fusco sprouted on boys jackets, attached itself to girls’ school bags.

After a week the buttons stopped proliferating. Or so I thought. You see, a little brother has an innate sense for appreciating the annoyance he can bring out in an older sister, Mulligan was experienced. He had two older sisters, the oldest just a couple of years younger than I. As for me, I, too, was experienced, my youngest brother was but two years older than Mulligan. So I recognized Mulligan’s talent. He’d saved a few more buttons, about a week’s worth. He’d greet me each morning with that smile and those innocent eyes.

“Good Morning, Ms Fair,” he’d say, holding out a button. “Vote for Fusco.”



My Very Own Sick Joke   4 comments

When I was in high school in the sixties, silly jokes were all the rage.

[Historical note: This was back when we actually hung out and amused each other in person, there was no such thing as texting]

My favorites were the Elephant Jokes.






The exchange usually went like this.

Why did the elephant paint her nails red?





Response – “I don’t know.”

 So she could hide in a cherry tree.

(Pause, as the rolled eyes resumed their normal position)

You don’t like that? OK, how about this one? Why did the elephant paint her nails red & orange & green & yellow & brown?

I don’t know.


So she could hide in a bag of M& M’s



Bigger sigh

You sound like you think these are silly? You’ve never seen an elephant in a cherry tree?

Of course not!

See, it works! (accompanied by knee-slapping laughter .)

Somewhere around senior year, jokes took on sarcasm and darkness. Perhaps it had to do with the loss of our hopes and innocence. After all, if Kennedy and Camelot could be taken away from us, nothing was safe. Silly jokes were abandoned for sick jokes.

I remember one warm June night just before graduation, when a group of six or eight of us strolled across the Macombs Dam Bridge from Manhattan to the Bronx.

Yes, strolled, as in walked and Outdoors.

[Historical note: These were pre-video games days. In fact – they were pre-personal computer!]

Yankee Stadium, the original Yankee Stadium, was our destination. We did this every Friday night, not to see a game, just to reach that point and return back to Manhattan.

Tony S. had the stage for one particular sick joke, so we’ll blame its questionable taste on him. I can still see him summoning up all the solemnity possible, considering he was telling a joke.

A man was pacing up and down in the hospital waiting room while his wife was having a baby.

[Yet another historical note. This was pre-Lamaze. The wife labored alone. The husband waited elsewhere.]

He looks up as Dr. Smith enters.

“What is it, Doctor? A boy?”

[last historical note, I promise. These were pre gender- testing days]

“No, Mr. Jones, it’s not a boy.”

“Oh, that’s fine. I have a daughter!”

No, I’m afraid not.”

“What do you mean? Is my wife OK.”

“Mr. Jones, perhaps you should come see.”

Mr. Jones follows Dr Smith into the nursery and over to a bassinet holding 6 lb, 5oz ear.

“I don’t understand. This is an ear?

“Yes, Mr. Jones, but the worst of it is……………….. It’s deaf.”

I apologize if I’ve offended anyone but the reason I recount it is a recent experience brought it to mind.

I woke up one Saturday morning with a slightly stiff back, nothing new. What was new was the pain that shot through my lower back as I turned to get out of bed. The yelping came not from the dog, but from me. I got through the day, but only by walking very deliberately and by thinking through the process of standing up and sitting down before attempting either.  I didn’t think it possible, but the pain was worse when I woke on Sunday morning.

Mysteriously, it had faded to mild discomfort by the time I saw my doctor on Monday, and when I went to the hospital for X-rays on Tuesday it was all just a memory. The cause of my pain remains a mystery. X-rays showed the beginnings of osteo-arthritis, but as the nurse emphasized – very mild.

So what does this have to do with sick jokes?

Just a week prior, I had received the results of a bone density scan, and had gone about bragging to anyone who’d listen that my lower back was one standard deviation above that of a young adult.

So, If Tony S were to tell my joke it would go like this:

Congratulation Virginia your lower back has the bone density of a twenty one year old. Too bad it’s arthritic.

Seven Years, Seven Long Years   10 comments

No, I’m only kidding. It’s hard to believe seven years have vanished since The Twin Princes of Silence took up residency in The House of Mars. Come to think of it until they moved in, the house was known only as “my house.” They were the first two Mars.

Marcel and Marceau?

For newcomers to this blog – the cat brothers earned their names on the day we met. September 11, 2005   –  when they rode all the way home from the pet adoption fair in my truck, without uttering a peep (or I guess I should say a meow,)  and this was at least  twenty miles. You cat owners will vouch for me, won’t you – a cat who doesn’t howl, mewl, or cry the minute their placed in a carrier, let alone, the car? How rare is that? And this was two cats!

With no sound to distract me I went through “quiet” names –

Harpo?  No.

Charlie?  No.

Well how about Chaplin? Nah.

I’ve got it – Marcel Marceau. Yes!

Since one look at the two of them nested like spoons in the adoption cage had been all I needed to interpret the “I’m in charge here”  look Marcel shot at me,  he got the first name, and Sweet I’m leaning on my brother Marceau got the second name.

A lot has changed since that day, starting with the mute act.  These two are the most demandingly talkative cats I’ve ever lived with.

Feed me!

Pet Me! Brush me.

No, my turn.

Wake up, I’m hungry

And in case I don’t get the message, Marcel follows up with a head but while Marceau employs a soft but insistent tap with his front paw.

The Twin Princes of Silence?

Then there’s that sub-title, obviously given to them before the stampedes For no discernible reason, one or the other will take off on a wild tear through the house, and whichever one it isn’t  will follow on his heels. Back and forth, room to room, changing directions until Marcos (the canine Mar) lumbers to his feet to investigate. (Thank you Marcos, that always does the trick.) They are still Marceau and Marcel, but the subtitle is now a toss-up – The Wild Horses, or The Twin Princes of Terror.

And in This Corner…….

 Like two old bachelor roommates, The brothers know each other’s every move, and quite often a move that is ignored one minute can spark a rip-roaring,  roll around the floor battle the next. Screeches fill the air; clumps of fur collect on the ground until curious Marcos once again comes to the rescue, separating them with a sniff and a poke of his nose. Whether on riot patrol or referee, duty, Marcos is worth his weight in dog food.

………The Heavyweight

Speaking of weight, the champion  in that category is Marceau.  I’m ashamed to say he tipped the scales at eighteen pounds at his last check-up. But we’re trying – he’s on a non-voluntary diet.  And Marcel helps.   He’s the faster eater, and true to his I’m the bossin charge demeanor, it takes but one nudge to push Marceau away from his food.

Yes, these two are some pair. Inseparable, if not insane. When the fight’s over, the food’s all gone, and they’re plain tuckered out form the chase, there’s nothing like a brother to lean on.

Enough from me. Meet the brothers

Here we are in 2006

I don’t know why I’m on a diet.

Hey, that’s enough, You’re on a diet.

Time for a nap.



Move over, you’re crowding me


No! You move over.


Oh, never mind.

And, just in case you ever forget………….

I’m in charge around here.

Posted September 13, 2012 by virginiafair in Cats, Uncategorized

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Fifty Shades of Gray   8 comments

No, not the book, that’s Fifty Shades of G-r-e-y.  I’m talking about cars. Have you noticed parking lots and streets have turned a paler shade of gray?



Last Sunday my friend, A. and I drove into Manhattan. After 15 minutes of cruising the streets I found a parking space, which is the same thing as instantly by Manhattan standards. It wasn’t the biggest of spots, but I did a reasonably good job of parallel parking – only two do-overs. Parallel parking is the only kind of  parking in Manhattan unless you want go to a parking lot or garage – but readers of this blog know I gravitate toward f-r-e-e.

We attended a street festival, and when it was time to head home we walked back along the street where I’d parked the car. Our conversation went like this.

Me:“Look at that, of all the cars on the street, those guys have to lean on my car?”

A: “That’s not your car, that’s a VW.”

Me: “Oh.”

Me: “Oh no, I got a ticket. For what?”

A: “That’s not your car; that’s a Toyota.”

Me“ Man,  almost every car on the street is gray – gray and boxy.”

A: “There’s your car.”

Me: “No, that’s not mine. That car has a red inspection sticker I have a blue one.

A: “There’s your car.”

Me. “Are you sure? I thought I parked closer to the curb.  Yeah, it’s my car. What a lousy parking job”

I came home and set a challenge for myself, and a bet. I bet myself a lottery scratch-off  ticket  that I could do an online search of 2012 car colors and come up with fifty. Are you ready?



  • Harbor gray metallic
  • Radiant silver metallic
  • Shimmering- air metallic
  • Shimmering-silver metallic
  • Titanium gray metallic
  • Harbor gray metallic
  • Camel pearl
  • Iridescent silver blue pearl
  • Desert bronze metallic
  • Tungsten metallic


  • Brilliant silver
  • Metallic slate
  • Gun metallic


  • Platinum gray metallic
  • Moon rock silver metallic
  • Tungsten
  • Reflex silver metallic


  • Sterling gray
  • Ginger ale
  • Ingot silver
  • Light pewter
  • Earth metallic
  • Steel blue metallic
  • Frosted glass


  • Ashen gray metallic
  • Gray stone metallic
  • Mocha steel metallic
  • Silver ice metallic
  • White Diamond tri-coat
  • Taupe gray metallic
  • Blue granite
  • Ashen gray


  • Classic silver metallic
  • Cosmic gray mica
  • Cypress pearl
  • Magnetic gray metallic
  • Shoreline blue mist
  • Silver
  • Flaxen mica
  • Medium silver




  • Mercury metallic
  • Opaline pearl
  • Verdigris mica
  • Truffle mica


  • Alabaster silver metallic
  • Polished metal metallic
  • White orchid pearl
  • Cool mist metallic
  • Urban titanium metallic
  • Opal sage

And there you have it. I know someone is saying some of those colors don’t sound like they’re gray. But trust me, in each case, the paint chip picture looked gray. Besides when I bought my car, I chose Tungsten metallic. Do you know what I got?

Mouse gray.

That’s why I named him Mighty Mouse.

What about you? Have you succumbed to The Long Gray Line of cars? I’d love to know. Leave me a comment.