The Family Gazette: Summer Edition

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Family members at Taylor Swift concert in Foxboro, Massachusetts (see Entertainment, below).
Family members at Taylor Swift concert in Foxboro, Massachusetts (see Entertainment, below).

“Round, round, get around, we get around”

NEWS

Lead Story: Theater Shootings Traumatize Teenage Film Fan

Jane Sartwell, 15, of Baltimore, MD, stopped to visit her aunt and uncle, Nancy and Kenny Seeback of Suffern, NY, on the way home from a Taylor Swift concert in New England last month. After enjoying dinner at a local trattoria, where her mother, Marion Winik, 57, also of Baltimore, proclaimed the artichoke appetizer delicious but the red clam sauce “not very red,” the group went to see the Brian Wilson bio-pic “Love and Mercy” at the Pascack Theater in Westwood, NJ, an older downtown cinema divided into small screening rooms. After the group had taken seats in the Lilliputian sixth row, a middle-aged man in cargo shorts entered alone and chose a spot down front.

At this moment, the toll of frightening recent events on a sensitive adolescent made itself felt.

Gripping her mother’s hand in terror, young Ms. Sartwell did not need to speak for Winik to realize what was going on. “She was freaking out about the Trainwreck shooting, I knew it,” said Winik, who cuddled and stroked her daughter, murmuring reassurances about the comparative dangers of automotive travel, but the girl remained rigid and wide-eyed.

Thirty minutes into the film, the lone man stood up, stretched, and went to the back of the theater, causing fits for both Sartwell and Mrs. Seeback, who had picked up her niece’s anxiety. The mysterious moviegoer remained at the rear of the auditorium for the duration, reaching in his pocket only to retrieve his keys.

“To Jane, he looked like a shooter. To me, he looked like one of my matches on eHarmony,” said her mother. “Better, really.”

Winik further speculated that if white people are afraid to go to the movies lest they be randomly shot to death, one can only imagine how black people muster up the nerve to leave their homes.

SPORTS

Child Abuse Suspected in “Fun” 16-Mile Bike Ride

“I misread the map,” confessed Marion Winik, 57, attempting to explain the poor planning that led to grumbling, hysteria, and a near asthma attack on the NCR trail, where she took several family members for a bike ride from Hereford, Maryland to New Freedom, Pennsylvania in early July.

“It was the worst day of my life,” stated Jane Sartwell, 15.

Family Fitness Questioned After Evening Stroll Turns Into Freakout

Just a few weeks later, an after-dinner expedition to see a fireworks display in Easthampton, New York, turned sour as what had been described as ‘a short walk’ was revealed to be a five-mile hike in the pitch dark, much of it with cars speeding by so that the family’s 17-pound miniature dachshund had to be carried the whole way.

“It was the worst night of my life,” stated Jane Sartwell, 15.

ENTERTAINMENT

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“We thought we were so cool until we saw the costumed groups of six and ten spelling out slogans using huge placards and flashing LED lights. And then there was this:”

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Daughter’s Obsession With Taylor Swift Puts 1,000+ Miles on Car; Brings Exes, Siblings Together

As hundreds of thousands of fans pack stadiums around the country for the Taylor Swift 1989 tour, one Baltimore family found the concerts a reason for unusual togetherness. Devoted Swift lover Jane Sartwell, 15, was accompanied to the Washington, D.C. show at Nationals Stadium by both of her divorced parents, who had not attended any sort of cultural event together in more than ten years. The odd threesome had tickets for the B-stage pit area, where they were sometimes not more than six feet from the luminous object of young Ms. Sartwell’s idolatry — including the singer’s duet with guest artist Lorde, and when her flying platform broke and marooned her for several songs.

“I was nervous about spending so much time with my ex-wife,” commented Crispin Sartwell, 57, of York Springs, Pennsylvania, “but it was fun.” Winik pointed out that while Sartwell is happily dating, she herself quit eHarmony this month.

Later in July, the mother-daughter duo journeyed to Boston, where Hayes Winik, 27, had purchased tickets for the three of them to see the show at Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots. While Mr. Winik is not himself a serious Swift fan, he is a “hella good bruvva,” said the children’s mother, revealing her possible over-exposure to pop culture. Still in a brace following recent ACL surgery, Winik gamely handled stadium staircases and topped the evening off by taking his party to eat ramen at 1:30 a.m. at a chi-chi restaurant called Uni in the Kenmore Square area.

“This might be the best part of the whole evening,” commented Marion Winik between slurps, claiming she feels about a good bowl of soup the way her daughter feels about Taylor Swift.

OBITUARIES

Jane F. Winik, 1928-2008

Beloved golfer, bridge player, and martini drinker Jane F. Winik of Ocean, New Jersey, is still dead, and is still survived by her daughters, Marion Winik of Baltimore, Maryland, Nancy Seeback of Suffern, NY, and six grandchildren.

Winik, 57, recently spent a morning re-reading a handful of surviving emails from “[email protected]” A few samples:

the phone no for ing direct is 1 888 ing 0727. tell them you want to open a savings account, and tell them i recommended you.

the movie polar express is on abc tonight at 8:00

youre the greatest!  i love you. ma

TRAVEL

Family Road Trip Hits A Pothole

Traffic remains bumper to bumper on the Tappan Zee Bridge in Tarrytown, NY, where extremely narrow lanes promote a rare, intense form of claustrophobia for drivers and passengers. Additionally, the sight of construction crews operating heavy machinery to build a new bridge alongside the old raises the specter of the existing span crumbling in two, tumbling vehicles into the Hudson. Neither Google Maps nor Waze offers any workarounds for this boiling summer bottleneck.

“We were getting along great until then,” commented Marion Winik, 57, who crossed the bridge with Jane Sartwell, 15, on the way home from a Taylor Swift concert in Boston. While Winik claims that her extreme but understandable stress was exacerbated by Sartwell’s shouting at her to control her stress, Sartwell points out that a person’s response to difficult situations is their choice and cannot be blamed on others.

In any case, there is no reasonable alternative for travel between Westchester and Rockland Counties.

LIFE

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OTHS Class of 1975

Unhappy Childhood Recalled, Left Behind At Reunion

Marion Winik, 57, was bemused in the weeks leading up to her 40th Ocean Township High School reunion at a park in Wall, NJ, as classmates posted on the group Facebook page elementary school class photos in which, year after year, the young Winik stood out from her brightly smiling classmates due to the miserable, morose expression on her moon-shaped face.

“I look suicidal,” Winik commented.

Suicide came up at the reunion when Winik’s old classmate, Laurie Barrett Dalton, reported her surprise at not having been mentioned in any of Winik’s published memoirs as it was she who was responsible for thwarting Winik’s 60-aspirin suicide attempt in seventh grade.

“You called me, and I told my mother, and she called your mother,” Dalton recalled.

Winik was surprised to hear this as she had entirely forgotten this part of the incident and didn’t remember being quite so close to Dalton. The confusion was cleared up when Carol Davis Koeller, a bosom friend of early middle school, joined the conversation. “You called me,” said Koeller, “and I told Laurie.”

Winik was moved to hear these stories and to see how concerned about her troubled younger self these friends had been. As a display of portraits of classmates who have died looked down upon them, all 146 attendees of the reunion treated each other with great warmth and kindness, only enhanced by the quantities of booze many had toted.

At the end of the day, the group came together for a photo and a rousing reprise of “Both Sides Now,” which they sang at their eighth-grade graduation in 1971.

Second Child Gets Substandard Twenty-Fifth Birthday Celebration

“No comment,” commented publicity-shy Vince Winik, 25, of New Orleans, LA, regarding the festivities surrounding his recent birthday, which included a dinner out with his mom, sister and girlfriend followed the next day by a dinner at home with the neighbors. But since his older brother Hayes Winik’s quarter-century birthday was feted with an elaborate and costly surprise party in an elegant venue overlooking Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, some observers note a historic pattern of discrimination at work.

In the past, summer trips for the whole family to various exotic locales have been pitched as ‘celebrations of Vince’s birthday,’ but now, it seems, five days in Atlantis has been replaced by a bag of crabs from Parkville.

“They were really great crabs,” Winik allowed.

Ask Mozzie

Dear Mozzie,

We can’t seem to make our children happy. No matter how hard we try to cater to their highly specific and ever-changing preferences, needs, and standards, they are never satisfied and are often rude and nasty to us. Recently we had a houseguest from Baltimore who ate the leftover sweet potatoes and rice our son was saving for his dinner. (He is a picky eater.) Our son, who was heading out for the evening, left in a huff, displeased by the disappearance of the vittles. Though we tried to conceal the situation, our houseguest picked up the bad vibes and was quite distraught. What should we have done?

Signed,

Bummed at the Beach House

Dear Bummed,

Isn’t it obvious?  You should have baked another sweet potato, cooked up some rice, and had someone rush it by bicycle to your son at his friend’s house. But you already knew this.

ARTS

Message in A Bottle: New Books Reveal Late-Life Turnarounds

Recent eHarmony-quitter Marion Winik, 57, of Baltimore, MD, was delighted to learn from the new memoir “On The Move,” that after a lifetime of solitude, Oliver Sacks fell madly and passionately in love with a man he met at 77.

Winik was also impressed by Lucia Berlin’s “fantastic” autobiographical short story collection, “A Manual for Cleaning Women.” Berlin stopped drinking in her 50s after decades of serious alcoholism, which certainly produced some good stories but wasn’t much help raising children or maintaining financial solvency.

“It’s like when my mother, who hated to cook, started obsessively baking in her sixties,” said Winik. “You think you’re all done, but you’re not.”

Marion Winik

Marion Winik

University of Baltimore Professor Marion Winik writes Bohemian Rhapsody on the first Wednesday of the month. She is the author of "First Comes Love," and, forthcoming in fall 2018, "The Baltimore Book of the Dead." She is the host of The Weekly Reader on WYPR. Sign up for her monthly email at marionwinik.com.
Marion Winik


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13 COMMENTS

  1. It was great to get a big hug from you as I signed in at the Reunion, It was magical to be with so many cordial successful people in our class from 40 years ago. I had an opportunity to followup the threads of comments on FB with real conversation. I love your Summer story, your a great Mom.

  2. That’s my favorite line of the whole thing: “You think you’re all done but you’re not” I really look forward to your stories. 🙂

  3. “That is one of the funniest things I have ever read,” said Rick Steel. “I love how Jane keeps saying it’s the worst night of her life.” Great entertainment, Marion!!

  4. MARION!!!!! THIS IS ABSOLUTELY THE FUNNIEST THING BY YOU I HAVE EVER READ AND AS A TRULY ARDENT FAN OF YOURS FOR DECADES, I AM EVEN CONSIDERING JOINING TWITTER TODAY SO I CAN JUST – POST THE LINK. ISN’T THAT WHAT PEOPLE DO? I LOVE YOU AND I CHERISH WHAT YOU WRITE AND THANKS FOR UPLIFTING GLORIOUS AUGUST !!!!! I also am sad about the new phobias we have in movie theaters. They had enough trouble attracting clients as it was. Love to all your gang!

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