Last night, I got roped into this – God, I hate the word – meme on Facebook where you list things others may not know about you. I decided to expand it and turn it into a blog post. Some of these are copied from old posts, but I’m lazy and don’t care.
1. For several years in the 1970s, I was a member of a labor union, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. I was part of a group that thought the shop’s union representation was weak and we succeeded in ousting them. I was chosen shop secretary and helped negotiate the next labor contract. I have stories that I’ll save for another day.
2. Since the early 1980s until this fall, I was in a weekly bowling league. The highest game I ever bowled was 250. The names of my teams were “We Bad,” “Split Happens” and “The Bowling Stones.” It was at bowling that I began dating my wife, but I’ve chosen not to hold a grudge against the sport.
3. In the summer of 1974, I had my first letter to the editor published in the Arts section of The New York Times. I was defending a little-known young film director whose first film had been criticized by one of their reviewers. The next summer, that young director released his first hit, Jaws. Kid named Spielberg.
4. I once played in a softball game at Sing Sing Prison against a team of prisoners. It’s a famous ball field – decades ago, Babe Ruth’s Yankees played exhibition games there. As you might expect, the outfield wall was very high and there was an armed guard perched on top. I was playing first base, and when one of the base runners said something that made me laugh, I suddenly thought, “Uh, this guy probably raped or murdered someone. Maybe I shouldn’t be joking with him.”
5. I have attended tapings of both The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. The studios are tiny – I think Colbert’s holds barely a hundred people, and Jon Stewart’s maybe twice that. In case you don’t know, the “reporters” on The Daily Show do their bit while standing to Stewart’s right, behind where his guests sit. Both performers come out a few minutes early to take questions from the audience, and when my wife asked Colbert a question, he – being, unlike his character, a Southern gentleman – addressed her as “ma’am.”
6. The first rock concert I ever attended was The Who performing Tommy in its entirety. This was on November 16, 1969. I remember the date because the previous day, I was in Washington, D.C. participating in a big antiwar demonstration. (I also attended The Concert for Bangladesh.)
7. In 1960, my cousin Judy married jazz great Charles Mingus, a remarkable thing for a white suburban girl to do then. It was even more remarkable because her parents were the biggest racists I ever knew and refused to discuss her. In 1971, my brother, my best friend and I went to see Mingus perform in a Greenwich Village club. I was hoping to see Judy there. I didn’t know that they had divorced a few years earlier.
8. I hate pickles. H-a-t-e them. Whenever I order takeout from my local diner, I always specify, “No pickle.” Sometimes they get it right. (BTW, I just found out that today is National Pickle Day. I won’t be celebrating.)
9. I get a physical reaction from Styrofoam. The feel and sound of Styrofoam peanuts are like nails on a chalkboard to me. If I receive an item packed in Styrofoam, my wife has to open it.
10. I have a medical condition called Schatzki’s Ring, which is a narrowing of the lower esophagus. As a result, I had a couple of public incidents where I was unable to swallow food, including an embarrassing one while eating shish kabob at a county fair. It was treated a few years ago with an endoscopy that widened the esophagus, but it may recur and need to be re-treated in the future.
11. I do the New York Times crossword puzzle every night (they post it online at 10 pm, 6 pm on weekends). The Monday through Wednesday puzzles, which are relatively easy, I solve online; I print out the Thursday through Sunday puzzles and fill them in with pencil. The Saturday one is nearly impossible to solve, so when I hit a dead end, usually about halfway through, I start Googling to figure out the answers. On the rare occasion (maybe once a month) that I solve the Saturday puzzle without help, I’m tempted to go to editor Will Shortz’s house (he lives in the next town from me), ring his doorbell, and when he answers, drop trou and moon him.
12. In 1997, we stopped for lunch in the Montana town where the Unabomber lived until his arrest the previous year. The diner where we ate was selling T-shirts advertising their connection to the Unabomber. I thought it was tasteless. Now I wish I had bought one.