Monday, January 27, 2014


Cary Grant, still my favorite name to drop, even though my friend Joanna said she knew someone who actually didn't know who he was, told me when we were first friends that I shouldn't use his name in a reverential manner in a book, as people would soon forget about him, though I couldn't believe it at the time.  Anyway, he told me once: "Hate will keep you alive longer than love will."  He based this in large part on his own mother, who, amazingly, was not proud of him.  She wanted him to dye his hair, because his letting it go white "made her look older."
   I am calling up his very handsome memory because my stepmother, Selma, one of the most unloving people ever to live-- she beat my father when he was sick and ailing,-- the woman 
caregiver telling me of the abuse fired the next day, --has finally died, which should set us all free.  Instead, the bank, which has for all these decades managed his money and profited from it, the trustee benefitting, having a full life, has informed me he wishes to step away.  Oy.  There are some moments when only Yiddishisms will do.
    So what should prove to be a relief for me and my recalcitrant children will probably just provide more frustration and anguish, sending her grinning into the Afterlife if there is one.  If there was one thing Selma's life exemplified it was how not to love.  My mother met her when she was a guest in a resort where Helen, Mom, at her most glamorous, was Social Director, and they became friends. Selma cut her husband's shirts into a hundred and twenty pieces each, an act of creative vengeance that captured my mother's attention, and probably her dark respect, as unforgiving as my mother was, she was a child of the Depression, and so respected property.  She introduced Selma to Lew, my dad, expecting they would kill each other.  Instead, because Selma had allergies,  they moved to Tucson, where, failed as he had been in his various careers -- pharmacist, lieutenant in the medical purchasing branch of the army, a commission my mother got him working as a secretary for the Army so he could pay child support for me-- he subdivided the desert and made it bloom, becoming the Mayor, and a Republican.  He had not wanted to marry a woman with two children, so he made Selma give her son to his father, which she did, although the father was supposedly a ne'er do well.
     The child support that Lew owed her for me-- I think it was a few dollars a week, had still not been paid when Don and I got married, (I was 29.)  Helen was still suing him for it the day of our wedding. April 26th 1960something.  We had to get married on a Sunday, so the process server, seated outside the White and Gold Suite at the Plaza where the wedding took place, could not serve Daddy with the subpoena until midnight, when he could.  By that time of course Lew had fled. 
      It was a colorful event, attended by college friends, some Pittsburgh family, Don's immediate family, and the Stanley Kubricks, at the time still close friends(I had written the first draft of Lolita for Stanley, stepping away from it when he told me he believed it to be a "love story."  I had thought it was a comedy.)
  We re-engaged as friends when Don and I went to the first screening of Doctor Strangelove, where I told Don Stanley would be, -- "Stop being a writer," Don said.  But there Stanley was, counting the house at four in the afternoon, on a bus counter-- click click click, I could hear him in the darkness.  "We just broke the house record for the Criterion," he said to me, unsurprised that I was there.  He and Cristina then came to the wedding.  At the reception, when he found out Don was producing the Jets' games, he told him he should not follow the ball but keep the camera on the line.  And Don said; "Stanley, if you'll let me run a credit at the end, 'Directed by Stanley Kubrick, I'll keep the camera anywhere you say."  
   It was a wonderful day even though my mother was suing my father of child support for me, and I was twenty-nine.
   So Selma has finally left us, which should leave me and my feckless spawn an inheritance, though it will not be easy to get, as nothing is easy in this world unless you are Rand Paul, which should tell you something about what has happened to America.  Oy.  There it is again.