Monday, March 22, 2010

Internet in the last millennium.

hamwalk Anyone out there remember this one: Hamster Dance?  I know it was before Y2K, I was still teaching at Churchill, and it wasn’t my last year.  The internet was nothing like we know it now.  DSL, Cable and fiber optics did not exist for anyone other than the Armed Forces, the entire general public was still on dial-up.  anin
Ok, so maybe I exaggerate a little bit, or it could just be that I’m a little fuzzy on the details.  But I do remember that the Hamster Dance  was all the rage, you didn’t hear music or see things moving, let alone both, very often back then.  This was amazing.
gerbil I was sitting in the front row in the auditorium with my good friend, and Spanish teacher, Adele and the Vice Principal at some community meeting.  We were bored.  We were annoyed at some of the things people were saying about teachers and our profession.  To save our sanity, we were drawing little dancing hamsters on a pad of paper, and whispering “da, da, de da de, da, do, do..” to each other.
Our senior counselor, Smarsh, was talking to the audience when outhamu of the blue he gestured over to us, called out our names and asked “right?”, looking for confirmation on whatever he was currently talking about, which, for the life of us, we had no clue what it was.  DEER IN THE HEADLIGHTS.  Out of sheer panic I blurted out “Why, of course.”
Personally, I think he did that just to wake us up and make us pay attention.  Kind of a classroom control thing.  I gained a lot of respect for the man that evening.

Monday, March 15, 2010

80 year old party animal.

Grandma Ida again.  She used to come visit us here in Salt Lake on a regular basis, every couple of months or so, since she was living in Tucson.  My parents often invited her to parties they were going to when she was here, she seemed to like to go and their friends liked her to come.  She must have been in her 80’s at the time, but she could party with the best of them.
One of the times when she was up visiting for my high school graduation.  13 My best friend’s (Ed) father was here too, although his mother was unable to make the trip from New York.  Since Ed’s older brother was a colleague of my father, Ed’s father was invited too.  They all went out to a bar in Salt Lake that was called “My Wife’s Place”, which, not because of their behavior, is now names “My X-Wife’s Place.”  Being underage at the time, I wasn’t there, but it seems that when everyone else was ready to go, Ida and Ed’s father were just getting warmed up.  They hit it off pretty good, in a platonic drinkin’ buddies way, and ended up closing the bar that night.  I can still picture my parents and Ed’s brother sitting in a corner falling asleep and Ida and his father party it up until the bartender finally has to ask them to leave so he can lock up.
Another time she was at a party at one of my parent’s friend’s house.  They lived in an area where a gully bordered their property, so walking around the back yard included a lot of stairs.  According to my mother, Ida, glass of Gin in one hand, cigarette in the other, took a tumble down one these short flights of stairs.  Eyewitnesses saw her do a full 360 somersault and come up without losing a drop of the gin, cigarette still smoldering.  Yup, for all her faults, Ida never believed in  wasting a good vice.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The case of the bootleg bus pass.

My grandma Ida moved to Tucson, Arizona just after we moved out to Utah.  Partially to be closer to her only child (my mom) and grandchildren, but also to get out of the cold New York winters.  She lived down there in the same apartment complex as her last husband’s IDA4sister (Sadie) and Sadie’s sister-in-law, Adele.
In fine Jewish tradition, she married her late sister’s widower, my “Uncle Sid”, many years after divorcing my grandfather.
I was somewhere in my early 20’s when my older brother and I went on a road trip to southern California, via Tucson.  Yes, it’s quite a bit out of the way, but we decided it would be nice to visit her while we were out and about.  Other than blasting “Hotel California” as we crossed the border between Arizona and California, my most vivid memory of that trip was an argument between the three elderly ladies over a $5 bill and a bus pass.
While we were visiting with them, my grandmother asked Sadie if she would pick up a bus pass for her, since she was going down to get herself one then next day anyway.  Sadie said of course and my grandmother took a $5 bill out of her purse and handed it to Sadie.  As Sadie was tucking the bill into her own purse, Adele chimes in and tells her to pin the $5 bill to the inside of the purse so that she would know which one was Ida’s.  I’m taking a little poetic license here, because I don’t remember the exact conversation after all these years, but it went something like this:
Adele:  Make sure you pin the bill to the inside of your purse.
Ida: Why?
Adele:  So she can make sure she buys the bus pass with your $5.
Ida:  What does it matter?
Adele: If she doesn’t use your $5, then it won’t be your bus pass.
Ida: It doesn’t matter what $5 she uses, I gave her $5, she gives me my bus pass.
Adele:  But if she doesn’t use your $5 it won’t be your bus pass.  It will be her bus pass, and then she’ll have two.
Ida:  It doesn’t matter what $5 she uses, it will still be my bus pass.
This went on for, I kid you not, 15 minutes before Sadie finally gave in and said “Here, look, I’m pinning it to the inside of my purse.”
We left the next day, so I’ll never know if Sadie really used Ida’s $5 bill, or if Ida spent the next month riding around on the bus with Sadie’s second bus pass.