Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Hey, Silda, stand up -- for YOURSELF

Published March 17, 2008

While Silda Spitzer was standing by that dog of a husband of hers – the New York governor who only likes sex he has to pay a lot of money for – I, too, was standing by my man in New York.
Standing by him in line for an airplane.
Standing by him in line for a train.
Standing by him in line for a shuttle bus.
Standing by him in line for a cab.
Yes, we just happened to be in New York City the week all hell was breaking loose for the state’s governor.
And, to tell you the truth, I could not get enough of the “Luv Guv” story.
It was better than fiction. Who could make this up? Who could be that stupid? Who so deserved to be toppled – by his very own fantasies-come-true, no less?
By all accounts – and I read each and every one of them in all the New York papers – Eliot Spitzer was an insufferable human being -- an arrogant, self-righteous jerk.
And somehow the story became to me more than just one about a governor (that most of us had never even heard of) gone bad.
It was as if Eliot Spitzer came to represent all those arrogant, self-righteous jerks who never will topple no matter how much they deserve it or how hard we wish it to happen.
And that’s what makes the story so intriguing.
Anyway, back to being in New York with my man who, by the way, was not nearly as fascinated by the slimy governor as I was.
It was his birthday last week and I thought it would be fun to take him to dinner and a show in New York to celebrate.
On Skybus, the airline of $10 fares -- $36 round trip with taxes.
Great deal, right?
Absolutely – if you don’t mind a few minor inconveniences -- such as flying into “less congested” (their words) “out in the middle of nowhere” (my words) airports.
In other words, to get to New York City, we had to drive to Columbus, the airline’s only Ohio stop, and fly to Stewart International in New Windsor, N.Y. From there, we took a shuttle bus to the train station and boarded the Metro North for an hour-and-20-minute ride into Grand Central Station. A short cab ride later, we were at our hotel.
We just chilled, had some lunch and got dressed for dinner and the theater -- to which we walked side-by-side, hand-in-hand.
Which brings me back to Silda and her man. Today is the day Spitzer’s resignation takes effect and I can only hope that if he makes a public speech, she is not standing next to him again like some lobotomized lover.
Look, Silda, just because you watched Suzanne Craig and Dina Matos McGreevey stand by their unfaithful husbands does not mean you have to do it, too.
I mean if he was just a regular criminal who killed someone or stole from someone, maybe I can see why your love for him would make you want to show your solidarity with him.
But, for heaven’s sake, girl, he’s a sleazebag and what he did is humiliating to you.
Can’t you see that?
If you are truly looking for a man to stand next to, I suggest you find one who likes the same Broadway shows as you do.
Then you go and park yourself next to him as the two of you wait in line to get into the theater.
And that, poor misguided Silda, is the way a real woman stands by her man.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Snow days: No school, lots of fun

Published March 10, 2008

When it was blowing and blustery last week, I had a fleeting urge to grab a sled and head over to the hill on the golf course.
But the thought passed as quickly as it came and I grabbed an afghan - well, now it's called a "fleece throw" - and snuggled up on the sofa.
As I watched the snow get deeper and deeper against the sliding glass door that leads to the patio, I was thinking about "snow days" and how much kids look forward to them.
I don't remember a lot about the snow days my boys - and my teacher husband - had when they were little. I wasn't there. I didn't get a snow day. Somebody has to put out that paper. No snow days for us journalists.
But I do remember my favorite snow day activity when I was a kid myself.
Ice skating.
We would get all bundled up and my mom would take me and a friend - and sometimes my sister - to the skating pond at Oakwood Park on Grove Avenue in South Lorain.
And drop us off and drive away.
Drive away? Yep, that was something moms could actually do back then - before stranger-danger. Mothers and fathers didn't have to hang around all the time to make sure we didn't get kidnapped or murdered. We got to be on our own sometimes.
As my mother drove away from the park, I would wave, feeling delighted and abandoned at the same time.
Then we would trudge over to the big shanty next to the pond where all the kids went to put on and take off our skates - and, more importantly, to warm up.
We sat down on one of the benches that lined the building's perimeter and pulled off our boots. There was a fire pit in the middle of the building, so I guess there must have been an adult around in some supervisory capacity - or at least to make sure the shanty didn't burn to the ground - although I don't remember ever seeing one.
You had to kind of hold your breath while you were in the shanty - or breathe out of your mouth. The place smelled awful. I always thought it smelled like Limburger cheese even though I had never smelled Limburger cheese. But, if I had, I was sure it would smell like the inside of that shanty.
The room was so warm that you were sweating by the time you got your skates on.
That's what that smell was. It wasn't Limburger cheese at all. It was sweaty, smelly kids bundled up in lots of wet, woolen winter-wear.
When we couldn't stand the smell a second longer, we'd walk across the wooden floor in our skates and go outside and onto the ice.
We'd skate around and around until we got cold, and then we'd go in the shanty to warm up. And that's what we did over and over again all day long.
I never made any new friends at the skating pond for although I wasn't afraid of strange adults, I was plenty afraid of strange kids who might be mean and make fun of us or call us names.
So my friend and my sister and I would just keep to ourselves, skating and thawing and skating again.
And then at some point, we'd spot my mother's car coming to pick us up.
And suddenly, after having been fine all day, we were cold and hungry. Our ankles hurt and our fingers were frozen. She had gotten there just in time.
Isn't that just like a mom?

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Have noodle, will travel in swim class

Published March 3, 2008

I wrapped a towel around me and went into the pool area.
It was my first day at "deep water aerobics" class.
I wasn't sure what the class involved, but I do like bobbing around in the deep end of a pool and - in my never-ending quest for a type of exercise I might like - I thought I'd give it a shot.
"Is this the deep water class?" I asked a woman on the edge of the pool who was giving exercise instructions to people standing waist-deep in water.
"It starts in 10 minutes," she said smiling, "down there." She pointed to the other end of the pool, the deep end.
So I walked down to where my class would be. There were two women already in the water.
I hung my towel on a peg along the wall and lowered myself down the ladder into the water.
I floated over to an open spot and watched as the rest of the class - one by one - got in the water.
Most of the people were wearing flotation belts. Hmmm. I don't need one of those belts, I thought. Or do I?
Then I saw a woman with a "noodle," one of those skinny, brightly-colored foam tubes that can miraculously keep any size human being afloat.
The teacher, who had finished with her shallow water class, came to join us. She stood on the edge of the pool, bent over toward me, gave me that big smile, and asked, "Do you need a belt?"
"Maybe I'll just take a noodle," I said to her.
She got me a noodle and class began.
"OK, let's walk," she said as she began power-walking in place, swinging her arms in tune to her steps.
Everyone in the pool started doing this movement - marching in place, staying in their own little spot.
Me? I was off like a shot. I marched to the front of the pool and when I hit the wall, I turned around and marched the other way. No matter how hard I tried to stay still, I couldn't.
I tried not to bump into anyone as I raced from one side of the pool to the other.
"Maybe it would be better if you would straddle the noodle instead of keeping it around your waist," the teacher said to me as I whizzed past her on one of my trips around the pool.
As I repositioned my noodle, the teacher and her assistant began handing out sets of foam barbells to the class for the next set of exercises.
We were told to move these barbells around in a circular, bike-pedaling motion with our arms as we exercised our legs water-walking.
In other words, I had just been handed another means of propulsion.
Now, with my arms helping my legs move, I was flying around that pool. I went from front to back and side to side and corner to corner, all the while smiling and apologizing to each of my classmates as I zipped in front of them.
"That's OK," they would yell as I whooshed by, "you'll get the hang of it."
An hour and about a dozen laps around the pool later, the class was over. We all walked down to the shallow end and climbed out.
"Hope to see you again," the teacher said to me as I was leaving.
"I'll be back," I told her.
The way I had it figured was that I had two days before the next class - two days to practice standing still.
Now, that's an exercise I like.

Patti Ewald is managing editor of The Chronicle. You can reach her at