(Inspired by a Terence Winch poem)
   Around 1966, I was bitten afterhours by a standard poodle named Coco. My pediatrician had to make a housecall to give me a tetanus shot. I wanted to marry Dr Burt Sokoloff and faked sick all the time so he would have to examine me. I was three. He was James Coburn’s double. I’d seen “Ride Lonesome”; I already knew my future husband would be like a steak at The Palm, a Prime Porterhouse; rough-hewn on the outside, tender underneath.
   Around 1997, my husband got Lasik and I thought, This will be the end of our marriage. I’d always been one big blur. But I quickly learned the naked art of backing out of the room.
   Around 1972, Ricky Horowitz and I cut 4th Grade and went to Benihana of Tokyo in Encino. We shared a Lunch Boat Special over an open fire and –even though we were both Jewish–played Priest and Confessor.
    “Every night I raid the refrigerator in a slumber party for one,” I told him.
    “I read my Mom’s Cosmo way more than my Dad’s Playboy,” he said.  “I know about fake orgasms and unwanted hair removal.”
     And then the bill arrived. It was $18. Ricky brought $5. I had to run home, steal my dad’s quarters and pay for the meal.
   Around 1996, my son was born, and there was a clearing in my heart, simple as a snow-plowed road after a massive storm.  I decided to name him after a singing waiter I’d met when I was 12, a Kenny Loggins look-alike who’d worked at The Great American Food and Beverage Company in Santa Monica. Allan Mason had dedicated “Danny’s Song” to me and I’d never forgotten it—or him.
   Around 1989, S.A. Griffin told me, “We are all sincere liars” and I believed him.
   Around 1969, Sam Weinstock asked for a slow dance during a family wedding at the Ventura Club in Sherman Oaks. He approached me at the dessert buffet, where I was pouring chocolate syrup on a do-it-yourself banana split.  He said he lived next door to my Aunt Goldie on Alcove Street and thought I was “kind of pretty.”  As he twirled me, his hands on my back felt like wheels of brie, smooth and effective; soft like a cow. I told him I was six. He told me he was forty. I told him he smelled good. He told me he’d bought his cologne at Rexall.
   Later, Mom said guys who wore Brut and/or Canoe were “cold and hungry.”
    Around 1990, I saw Christopher Allport onstage in a play at the Taper and announced, “That’s the man I’m gonna spend my life with.”
    It took a little convincing, but within 3 weeks he said, “I feel like I could spend 30 years with you.” I remember thinking, “Why not 50?”
   He was the domesticated wild man I’d been searching for in bars, at poetry  readings, and in equity-waiver theatres. Anyplace but in nature, where he thrived. He wore fleece year-round and Everyone wanted to touch him.
  Around 1980, my Dad drove me over the hill, to the gourmet section of Neiman Marcus, where they had free samples. We gorged on caramel corn and rumaki, bonding over food; arguing about religion.
   He said, “God will start to make more sense once you get older.”
   He asked, “Are you gonna finish that?”
   He was Santa Clause crossed with Nachman of Breslov. All my girlfriends had crushes on him. He had the best beard ever.
   His nickname for me was Pupik.
     Around 1993, my husband started writing me poems and songs but I was never satisfied. I wanted jewelry and public displays of affection. He cooked 5-star, gourmet meals that I refused to eat because I was either on Jenny Craig, Scarsdale, grapefruit + hard boiled eggs or the Atkins Diet. He kept trying to feed me, anyway.
   Around 1977, at Camp JCA/Malibu, I fell for my first guitar player, a Kosher folkie with bib overalls and a Star of David earring. I asked him to hike with me to the creek, where I planned on undressing from the waist up even though I didn’t have boobs.
     “I like you more than a friend,” I said.
     “We have no basis for a relationship,” he replied.
     But I wanted to be prepared in case he changed his mind. So Debbie Gold taught me how to give a handjob on a can of Tab.
   Around 1974, Ricky Horowitz taught me that the proper way to apply eyeliner was also the proper way to get a man to fall in love with you. He said: “Tilt your head back slightly and bring your eyes to a half-open state.”
    Around 1971, the best looking men on Ventura Blvd could be found in photos on the wall of the post office, carwash-style. I would stare up at them and wonder why all the guys I knew were clean cut in comparison.
     I asked Mom what TV shows they were on.
     She said, “These are mugshots, Susan.  These are horse thieves, train robbers, kidnappers. That one killed his wife. What’s wrong with you?!”
     I didn’t know. To me, they were scruffy and real, and I hated anything that was shiny and anyone who was polished.
© 2013


  1. lkthayer · April 13, 2013

    Susan, your work is magnificent, funny, poignant, heart wrenching, and did I say funny? I love your writing girlfriend! Bravo 🙂

  2. Fred Whitlock · April 13, 2013

    It’s like getting a series of picture postcards from your soul.

  3. Alexis Rhone Fancher · April 13, 2013

    Damn, I love this piece! You’ve captured the heart and heartache of growing up in the Valley. Takes one to know one, girlfriend.

    • Bob Branaman · April 13, 2013

      Really Great writing Susan, by the way did you see my mugshot at my BB show?

  4. Mitch · April 13, 2013

    So much more there than bread and water…. Life lives on a menu.
    Very yummmy indeed

  5. Jerry Garcia · April 15, 2013

    I enjoy how you distill the pop culture and changing mores of the 70s and make it personally touching.These portraits of the epoch through your eyes fascinate me as we share so much while coming from different backgrounds.

  6. John Groover McDuffie · April 23, 2013

    Wonderful piece! A trip through time, a glimpse inside!

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