The email list in our neighborhood is an active one, what with people getting rid of furniture and gadgets, looking for plumbers and electricians, and calling for crews to pick up litter at Stony Run, the creek that runs along the edge of our three-block enclave. This posting about Bruce the Cat, complete with framed oil portrait, appeared one day in late February and turned out to be the first in a rather riveting series. But before we follow the drama of Bruce’s recent disappearance, let us begin with his origin story.
Because am I knee-deep in writing The Baltimore Book of the Dead, we’re reposting a column from the very early days of Bohemian Rhapsody — the third, in fact. The Baltimore Fishbowl was just a month old. My ex and I were having a little post-divorce relapse, as we learn at the end of the piece. That does seem like a long time ago. Since I wrote this, four new two-letter words have been added to the “secret language” of Scrabble: DA GI PO TE, appended to the official word list in 2014. I can only imagine what my mother would have to say about it. These days, it’s her namesake, my seventeen-year-old daughter Jane, who is kicking my butt. There’s no one I’d rather lose to.
Originally published June 22, 2011 – I was brought into the fold of Scrabble players in the mid-90s by a food writer boyfriend who kindly scooped me up and resuscitated me after my first husband died of AIDS. In addition to viciously competitive Scrabble playing, the food writer’s recovery program for dazed widows included extravagant piggery both at home and in restaurants, gin martinis, Camels, wave-tossed waterbed sex and the occasional brisk morning walk.
I’ve been reluctant to tell the story below: it’s too embarrassing, even for a blurter like me. However, I just read that one of the secondary dangers of being scammed is that the victim feels so much shame about falling for the con that they are unwilling to talk about it, leading to depression and PTSD. So spill I shall.
As soon as I heard about Hurricane Harvey, I started worrying about the animals. The ones tied up in backyards, the ones waiting on roofs, the ones peering out attic windows. I hoped it would go better for them than it did in 2005 when according to the Louisiana SPCA, tens of thousands of pets died.
For Vince’s 27th birthday, his longtime girlfriend Shannon decided to throw a surprise party. Shannon is a gorgeous blonde and a smart cookie too, but her real superpower is worrying. She can worry ordinary people under the table. As you might imagine, planning a surprise party gave her some material. Whom to invite, and how many, and is this everyone? Can they all keep a secret? Might Vince find out some other way? Let’s say it comes off — does he even want a surprise party? Vince can be a crank. As one of his friends recently pointed out, Shannon is “the only person Vince is actually nice to.” Where to have it, what to serve, how much is all this going to cost?
A couple of months ago, as we were stuffing our blocks into the cubbies after a yoga class, a woman I saw frequently but knew only as “the short one with the beautiful blond hair” introduced herself. Alex Hewett is one of the producers of the Baltimore/DC chapter of Mortified, a show where adults present diaries, letters and other archival materials from their childhoods. She wondered if maybe I, or some of my students, would be interested in performing.
Big news: My son got married last week, and now I have a daughter-in-law. I have lucked out in this department. Maria is a formidable person with beauty, brains and a lovely family hailing from the country of Ecuador. I often describe her as “the younger, prettier Penelope Cruz.” She is bilingual, she is doing her residency in orthodontics at Harvard, she is sweet and has a lot of really cute dresses. In general, she is a pretty upscale specimen of the human race.