From the monthly archives:

April 2013

The Friendship Club

by Marinka on April 28, 2013

When you get to be my age, it’s hard to make new friends.

I used to blame myself.

Maybe it was my personality. Either that or my general dislike of other people. I know it’s hard to believe, but some are really turned off by that. I don’t get it either. Assholes.

But I now have proof that my difficulty in friendship formation is totally not my fault.

I will explain everything and you will agree with me.

A few months ago, I met a new woman in my mah jongg group.

“Hello,” I said. “It is very nice to meet you!”

She returned my friendly and appropriate greeting and we had some small talk. Some mah jongg banter- how she hoped one day to have my prowess as a player and how she felt lucky to be sitting at the same table as me. Words to that effect, I don’t have the exact transcript.

I’d see her occasionally and it was always nice and pleasant and I started to think of her as a Friend of the Future, someone I could maybe have a cup of coffee with or borrow money from.

This is how friendship formation works, right? You get together around a common interest, exchange pleasantries and then change your relationship status to Friends on Facebook.

Well, apparently this Friend of the Future did not study the Friendship Rulebook.
Because Chapter One of the Friendship Rulebook is Tell Your Friend of the Future Important Information.

I knew that her husband was a writer, but it wasn’t until she mentioned that he’d written a memoir that my ears perked up. As you may remember, I’ve been writing a memoir for the past couple of years, and I figured if he’d already written one, maybe I can just change a few things around in his manuscript and save myself a lot of time and headaches. I’d recently started playing Candy Crush on my iPhone and it’s crazy what a commitment that is.

I went home and looked up his book.


And then I knew instantly why this Friendship of the Future was doomed.

Because friends don’t marry their potential future friend’s high school pretend husbands.

I explained all this to my husband.

“What are you talking about?” he asked. He may have also asked why I was talking while he was trying to sleep, but I’m trying to stay on point.

“She’s married to Blane McDonnagh,” I lamented.

“I don’t know who that is,” he yawned.

If there’s one thing that gets on my nerves, it’s people who take their time waking up in the middle of the night.

“That’s a character from Pretty in Pink,” I explained. Why does everything have to be spelled out? I’m like Annie Sullivan.

“Is that one of those ridiculous Real Housewives shows?” Poor thing. He was trying.

“It’s a John Hughes movie from the 80s.” I was close to giving up.

“And your friend married a character from the movie?”

“Have you not heard one word I screeched?” I asked him. “First of all, she’s a pre-friend, and no, she didn’t marry a movie character, she married the actor who portrayed him, in case you forgot how movies work, and by the way, I wanted to marry him when I was in high school.”

“I certainly hope you can forgive her this transgression,” he said.

And I tried.

I thought about it for hours and finally decided to air it out.

“I got the book,” I emailed her in what I hoped was a terse tone, “and you are now on friendship probation.”

She responded with some confusion about why she was on friendship probation. And then when I went out of my way I explained it to her, she still refused to take responsibility for ruining my life.

I honestly don’t understand how I’m supposed to make new friends under these hostile circumstances.

Or how I can remain married to someone who’d never heard of Pretty in Pink.


The Book

by Marinka on April 23, 2013

The other day I was socially intercoursing with a colleague/friend. I don’t remember what about exactly, probably I was sharing an adorable story about my kids that may have highlighted my prowess as a mother and humanitarian. When I was done, I stood back to receive the praise that I so rightly earned, but my friend, not wanting to embarrass me, limited himself to a “that’s great!” and then started to retaliate with a story of his own.

I’m not sure what his story was about- a sick friend, a euthanized pet, a love interest, his job, who the hell can listen to what their friends say. Besides, you know how in every relationship one person is inherently more interesting than the other? Well, I’m sure you’re not shocked to hear that I wear that hat in many of my friendships, and therefore bring my being interesting to the relationship. This takes a lot of pressure off these people and they can just sit back and appreciate whatever I’m saying. Although it seems that many of them are overwhelmed by my generosity and are no longer comfortable taking my calls.

Anyway, he was blathering on about something and when I regained consciousness, I realized he was talking about a book that he’d read. The good thing about books is that they, with the possible exception of Moby Dick, tend to end, so I saw the light at the end of the monologue tunnel.

“That sounds great,” I said and he said “oh, I think you’ll like it.”

And then, the next day, he brought in the book for me to read.

“I’m kind of busy right now,” I started to protest, but he waved me off. It was a book for me to borrow. He didn’t need it back for a while.

I sighed.

There was nothing to do but to take.

“Thank you,” I said, making “sarcasm dripping” motions with my fingers. You’d be surprised how many people mistake that for raindrops.

I brought the book home.

I looked at it.

Clara and Mr. Tiffany looked back at me. “At the dawn of the twentieth century, Louis Comfort Tiffany wants to honor his father and the family business-” the back of the cover read. OMG. I was so not interested in reading this book.

The first few weeks passed by uneventfully. I tried to live my life the best way I knew how, continuing the course I was on before the book came into my life.

But after a while, it dawned on me. At some point, my friend would ask me about the book. Maybe not a for another week, maybe not even for a month. But eventually he would.

It would be innocent, of course. A “did you get a chance to read it?” or “what did you think?” but it would happen. And not knowing when it would happen just made me feel like it could happen at any time.

I decided to attack the situation head-on, by lying as much as possible.

“I don’t know what’s going on with me,” I mentioned casually to him one morning, “but my eyes have been killing me.”

“Oh, no,” he said. “Are you ok?”

“The test results aren’t in yet,” I continued to pile it on, “but my doctor says I should avoid reading at all costs.”

He expressed sympathy and said something about eye strain, but I walked away because I’d learned a painful lesson with this one- one moment he’s talking about eye strain, the next day he brings in a book that I didn’t even know we were discussing.

After my eyes “healed”, I had to take another course.

“I seem to have developed a sudden allergy to paper,” I told him confidentially one afternoon. “Apparently books are printed on high pulp content paper and it is destroying my fingertips.”

“That is so unusual,” he said.

“Unusual but certainly true,” I agreed.

This went on for a while.

I would be plagued with ailments, he’d express sympathy.

Being something akin to a CIA-trained operative, he never once asked me about the book, which of course just escalated the whole situation.

I started to think about my options.

I could read the book, of course, but that was totally out of the question and I chalked it up to “panicked crazy talk.”

I could read a synopsis of it on Amazon, tell my friend that I loved it and that I, like Corrine H. Smith, a top 100 Amazon reviewer, believed that at its core, this book is about an artistic woman who seeks value in her life and in her work. This was tricky, because what if, God forbid, there was some kind of a sequel situation going on. How many Amazon reviews would I have to read?

I could leave NYC behind and move. This was a definite possibility, but involved packing and boxes and worse of all, talking about packing and boxes.

I could kill my friend. There were no obvious drawbacks to this, so I decided to keep that plan in my back pocket.

Finally I settled on this new-fangled idea of “honesty.”

“I don’t want to read this book,” I told him “I really tried,” I lied, because too much truth all at once is dangerous, “but I just can’t get into it. I’m sure it’s my fault. Please forgive me.”

He laughed.

“Oh, I don’t care,” he said. “It’s not as though I’d written it.”

We laughed together, merrily, I suppose, but I haven’t had a moment’s peace since.

Because what if he’s writing a book?

How will I ever get out of reading that load?



April 20, 2013

I think this may have been the longest unintentional blog break that I’ve ever taken, and the problem with coming back is that so much has happened, I don’t know where to begin in updating. First things first, my son found his mitt. It was lost for a week, and then the team who had […]

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LTYM vs. Baseball

April 13, 2013

Here is a conversation that we’ve been having at our house lately. Me: So as you’ve probably heard, I’ve been cast in Listen to Your Mother, so I’m basically a huge star. Everyone else: … Me: I don’t blame you for being stunned. Although it was really just a matter of time before I was […]

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April 7, 2013

When it is all over, you won’t believe what a big deal it was. By Sunday night it’ll just be a story that you tell your friends and other parents and blog about and it’s a blip, an anecdote, an “you-don’t-say?” But on Sunday morning, when you tell your son that his baseball bag is […]

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