Sunday, September 04, 2005

Flotsam and Jetsam

I need to clean out the cerebral pipes, so I am making this a Random Thoughts entry.

I never did tell you about jury duty. Well, I ended up spending eight hours sitting in the Jury Pool Room, never got called up, and have now served my jury service for the year. Whee! The only discomfort I experienced was eyestrain from having read three hundred pages of a great sweeping historical epic about London.

Got from the Great Fire all the way through the Blitz, I did. And without so much as a cup of tea or a restorative shot of gin.

There was an event worth recording, however. Every hour or so, a woman would walk into the boredom-stupefied masses and read off twenty names to go to one court or another. The way it was supposed to work was that she would read your name, you would say “Here” (or “Present” if you were feeling fancy) and walk up to join her. The way it actually worked was like this:

She came out the first time, squinted at the sheet of paper in her hand, and said confidently “May Gano Lary”.

There was silence. May did not stand up. May did not say “Here”.

The official repeated “May Gano Lary” in a slightly irritated voice.



Oh, May was gonna get it now.


A woman in the middle of the room raised a tentative hand.

“Um, by any chance do you mean Megan O’Leary,?”

The official looked at Ms. O’Leary as if she was stupid.

“That’s what I said. Ms. Lary, please come up.”

The official progressed on to mangling each and every name. Give the woman her due; many people find names from a particular country or part of the world challenging but, in the spirit of democracy, she treated all names equally strangely. She used a combination of weird stops inside words and an almost childlike disregard for traditional pronunciation to keep us all wondering.

“Armita Ryan?”
(That was actually Armin Tasserian)

“Hideous Shire?”
(Hideo Yoshiro)

“Ton Yawash Ton?”
(Tanya Washington)

As little as I wanted to be impaneled, I whiled away many a minute wondering what she would have made of my name.

Kin Con Ming?

Qui Nicom Ing?

Kim Cunningham?

Once you remove those tedious constraints of basic phonics, the sky’s the limit.


Let me tell you about my one and only blind date. It ties into jury duty because it was an unpleasant activity I should not have to experience more than once in a lifetime. Also, in the case of both, I would have been more cheerfully inclined toward the experience had I been offered donuts.

I was seventeen. He was eighteen. He was the son of my mother’s travel agent, which strikes me in retrospect as the perfect degree of separation to guarantee a bad blind date; the only information you are getting about him is from his mother, given to your mother.

I was told he was cute, smart and fun to be around.

Isn’t the love of a mother wonderful? Not to mention blind?

He was short. I’m not talking “Gosh, I prefer a man over six feet”, I’m talking I’m 5’3” and I was glad I hadn’t worn heels. He was skinny with an Adam’s apple which fairly pulsated at me. For reasons perhaps only known to his mother, he chose to wear madras shorts. Now, granted, this was a preppy time, and I had been known to dress as if I have rolled in a Brooks Brothers catalogue. But when you have legs the circumference of pipe cleaners, it’s just common decency to give them a full-length cloth covering with which to emulate muscle mass.

Did I mention the politics? I have no idea how we got there, but the entrée hadn’t been served when he got around to informing me that President Nixon had been framed. Whether you are a conservative, a liberal, a moderate or a ring-tailed lemur, that’s just a weird first-date topic, especially when you consider that this boy and I were in second grade when Watergate went down. And it wasn’t as if he was a political history buff; I’d respect an intelligent conversation about politics, however opinionated, but he was merely obsessed. Obsessed with Richard Milhous Nixon -- The Leader of Our Time. He told me he had no fewer than three pictures of Nixon in his room at home (I had a bad feeling one of them might be a coy lingerie shot). My contribution to this conversation was to frantically reorder Diet Cokes, smile weakly, and eat as quickly as any human ever has.

After dinner, we had arranged to see a movie, a mistake I never made again. [Since then, a first date must be dinner and “…maybe a movie.” If, during dinner, the guy wants to talk about the subtle charms of Richard Nixon’s necktie choices during his trip to China, you can develop an early-morning appointment.] We found ourselves walking down Westwood Blvd., heading towards our movie, when Mr. Madras spied some fraternity buddies across the bumper-to-bumper, four-lane street. Oh, did I not mention that his second-favorite topic was Fraternity Life? He grabbed my wrist, held it up like I had just won the title of Bantamweight Blind Date and screamed at the top of his lungs, “HEY LOOK, I’M GOING OUT WITH A MOVIE STAR!”

Had I been able to drop my hand the same way some lizards can drop their tails to save themselves, I would have cheerfully lived life without a hand. Now, which part of this was the worst? Was it the way people started looking out of their cars for a glimpse of Demi Moore or some actual movie star? Was it the fear that some stranger saw me, and thought “Oh, she was on television for, like, a minute, and now she’s walking around pretending she’s a movie star”? Or that someone I knew might have seen me and thought, poor kid; she’s dating a hypermorphic Adam’s apple. No, the worst part would have to be his fraternity buddies hooting like chimps and pointing at me while Mr. Madras’ Adam’s apple flared with pride.

Consort and I have never had a date where Nixon came up, which is why I believe Consort and I will stay together for a very long time. He’s a wonderful man, a terrific father and a really interesting friend.

Also, I fear Mr. Madras is the last single man left in my age group.


On a final note, I have no faith in my ability to write something worthwhile about New Orleans; far more eloquent people have already reduced me to tears ten times over. I can, however, do this-

If you have given what you can to the two-legged victims, please find a way to donate to help the four-legged ones.


Blogger Julie said...

On a related New Orleans note, Craigslist has an animal rescue/host/missing pet listing on their New Orleans page. Hundreds of people are coming forward around the country offering to host, adopt or temporarily foster pets belonging to people displaced or unable to keep their pets as a result of Katrina.

To offer your host services or aid in the missing pet/displaced pet search, that link is here:

(Just in case anyone doesn't know, teamed up with Craigslist and are also doing a human host family bulletin board. People from all over the nation are opening their homes to host displaced families. That link is here:

9:49 AM  
Blogger torontopearl said...

You had a random posting; I have a random comment.

It is not all that long ago that I was wondering, "What happened to that actress from Family...? She was also really good in The Goodbye Girl." Wouldn't you know it, I've recently discovered Danny Miller's blog, and was scanning old posts to see what I've missed out on, and there was a reference to you. What a bizarro world for me!?

So now I know what you're doing! Keep at it, keep blogging, and lots of luck.

Regards from Toronto.

10:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for posting the Humane Society link. I had been wanting to send a donation to specifically help the effort to rescue the pets affected by Hurricane Katrina. Thanks for taking the time to post the link.

By the way, you haven't mentioned it in a while, but now that school is back in the tea spilling while driving still a problem, or is that going better?

11:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

DATELINE on NBC this evening talked to an animal shelter that was flooded. The animals in the cages on the lower level were drowned, but the cats and dogs in the pens and upper caged treaded water fro 5 hours and lived. 5 HOURS treading water. Who says quadripeds have no yearnings?

5:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kudos for bringing up the needs of the four leggged! I recently learned tht NO PETS OF ANY KIND are allowed on the evacuee buses. A friend's brother and sister-in-law have chosen to stay put in the French Quarter because they have two cats and no car and couldn't figure out a way out of town without their furry kids.

I made my donation here and have been following their updates:

A really good blog from NOLA is:

5:39 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I've said it before, I'll say it again-

My readers are cool.

10:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was called for jury duty once, I sat reading until my eyes wouldn't focus anymore. I never got on a jury. But I'm not bitter, really, I'm not.

11:32 PM  

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