I Like Famous People, I Do. The More Famous, The Better.

This Summer I’ve been trying out all kinds of new reading material, and most of them bore me to bits.

Science Fiction: I tried The Martian Chronicles, a “classic” written by Ray Bradbury in 1950, but even on Mars it’s the lady Martians who stay home and do the housework. Yawn.

I’ve tried mysteries. P. D. James is supposed to be the gold standard here, but she writes about a life on earth that I am unfamiliar with in that, say, when her poet/detective Dalgliesh declines the offer of a biscuit with his tea he does so with a gesture of sorrow, the likes of which I have no way of knowing what the hell that means. Her exposition is so over-wrought. Also, I loathe poets.

Fiction: If a book begins with a description of scenery, either of a landscape or a building, I’m outta there on page one. I also don’t want to read about Naples, Africa, Scandinavia, American university professors, zookeepers, anything with “Wife” or “Daughter” in the title, or autism.

Deckle-edge is also a mighty huge turn-off.

There is only one sure thing, as far as books are concerned. I can not pass up a memoir written by a famous person: guaranteed satisfaction every time.

Carole Bayer Sager is, in my opinion, a superstar. Her memoir They’re Playing Our Song is about her life, New York to Beverly Hills, which includes amazing success as a songwriter in the 1960s (Groovy Kind of Love) up to The Prayer (1999) to 2016’s Stronger Together. One of her BFFs was Elizabeth Taylor; she also worked with Michael Jackson and just about everybody in the music biz in the past 50 years. She wrote TWO songs for the Monkees!!!

The best bits are about her marriage to and divorce from Burt Bacharach. Hoo-boy, she does not like him. I read this book in one day and her hard-won ownership of her life gave me permission to write about something this week that I wasn’t sure I should, but here goes.

This past week I was very unkind to an old boyfriend, and I feel a little bad about it, but I’m pretty sure he deserved it.

I met a guy in Paris in the Summer of 1976. He, being of a soundly cliche intelligence and because it was a “cute meet”, decided that we were crazily fated to be meaningful to each other the rest of our lives, according to a fantasy he had that I was his Manic Pixie Dream Girl.

In modern parlance, we “hooked up” a year later n California, and then again in New York City 1982 – 83.

I moved on, but Old Boyfriend has remained stuck in this fantasy of “us” for the last 40 years. He likes to get in touch yearly to talk about how crazy we used to be (Big Deal: We went to street parties on Bastille Day in Paris), and how whacky we still were at heart, even though he had long ago opted for marriage and kids and crappy vacation snapshots of the family all wearing the same hawaiian shirt and Xmas newsletters.

I used to marvel at this delusion of our “bond” until it stopped being kind of funny/peculiarand started to annoy me that he was never the least bit interested in updating his info on me. He had zero curiosity about my life; he was still invested in the 20-year old me, long, long, long after I had become completely bored with her and had evolved into a much more fascinating creature.

About five years ago it all got too creepy so I finally told him that we have nothing in common, NOTHING, and I had no desire to continue these communications.

Carole Bayer Sager makes the same point in her marriage to Burt Bacharach (spoiler alert): Burt was never interested in her as the person she really was; he only wanted her to be his muse — he was only interested in his idea of her. I totally get that. In my puny way, I get that (see: below).

Lo and behold, last month Old Boyfriend drops an email to me. Two sentences, along the lines of I still think of Paris and hope you’re doing well. 

I let it sit in the ether for two weeks, then I emailed back: Life is spectacular. Being a Capricorn is starting to pay off: my 60s are so far a whole lot better than my 30s.

He emails back the same day:

Very good to hear and i agree that life in our 60s (still hard to believe) is and can be great.
Where are you living these days?
I was just trying to figure out when was the last time I saw you. Has it really been thirty years? Scary. 
Take care of you.

Let me tell you what exactly about this email made me crazy with resentment and hatred. It was the line: I was just trying to figure out when was the last time I saw you.

Really? How can he not remember? That night about 19 years ago? How can he not remember that time he came to New York from his home in L.A. in the late 1990s to tell me that he’s been “very good for 14 years” (he’d been married for 14 years by then) and now he needed some fun and was I up for “fun”? How could he not remember how he propositioned me to help him cheat on his wife?? And how he expected me to jump at the offer??

Back on that evening in the late 1990s which I remember so clearly, I remember that my first reaction, upon receiving his offer of “fun” was: Jesus Christ. He’s so boring that he doesn’t even have the balls to go out to a bar and find someone new; he has to fly to New York to look up someone he’s already known since the ’70s. I knew he was lazy and had no imagination, but I didn’t know he was this lazy.

The next moment my blood boiled. How dare he think that I would be tempted to have “fun” — with him???  As if I couldn’t do a whole lot better on any Tuesday in Midtown???

And then I was disgusted. This just proved that in the intervening two decades between Paris and that night in the late 1990s — years I had filled with travels, my own marriage and divorce, and few interesting change of careers — he had taken in nothing new about me that changed the fantasy he had of me in my 20s. In my 20s, when we met, I was a much free spirit in that I was getting as much information about life as I could so that, when I grew up, I could make connoisseur decisions about what I liked and disliked, what I valued and what I disowned, and who I wanted to be.

And there I was, a full-grown woman, and here’s Old Boyfriend acting as though he is someone who does not fall far, far, far below my high standards.

(Also, let me say that, morally, I do not approve of husbands cheating on their wives, and certainly not WITH ME.)

It was on the sidewalk in front of the Film Center Cafe (now shuttered) on 9th Ave in Hell’s Kitchen that I declined his offer, told him I had to go home, and left to catch my train back to Westchester. I never saw him again, but took a certain delight in getting periodic updates on his dopey humble-brags about his incredibly dull life. He goes to Amsterdam off season! His son is elected high school class V.P.! His daughter gets into a third-rate college!

So, yeah, when he wondered when was the last time I saw you, I wanted to reach out into the inter webs and punch him in the face.

But what really set me off was his follow-up query: Where are you living these days?

Carole Bayer Sager (author of the memoir I’m recommending as a great read) channels my feeling about this little query on page 283 of her excellent memoir. She’s at a Hollywood/Beverly Hills diner party with the rich and famous: [The diner guests] engaged in the usual feigned interest in what everybody had been up to, though, of course, if they cared, they’d have known.

If Old Boyfriend cared about what I’d been doing lately, he’d have known. I mean, it’s not like it’s hard to find me out there in the inter webs.

So I sent him a nasty response:

Really? “Where are you living these days?”
Have you heard of this thing called “Google”?
Try it. Oh, wait. That was one of the things that bored me about you. You aren’t very curious about anything that is outside of the teeny tiny sphere of “you”.
Dude. I’m in Russia, China, and South Korea, not to mention all the English-speaking countries of the world. Get your head out of your ass.

Yeah, that’s me after three glasses of wine and a little bit of Don’t You Know Who I Am? (I am the most famous Vivian Swift on the planet, after all. No brag, just fact.)

And wasn’t it extremely nice of me to pick on him for that, instead of reminding him of his disgusting 14th-wedding anniversary offer?

Old Boyfriend sends me his reply, and I have to admit it’s kind of classy:

So glad I reached out to you.
Have a good life.

Damn. I was really looking forward to having it out with him.

So I guess that after 40 years, this guy is out of my life for good. As they say in Paris, Meh.

Thank you, Carole Bayer Sager, for writing (page 205, about Burt): I will not miss his narcissism or his inability to ever really hear or see me.

Sam Shephard and Patti Smith in 1971

Patti Smith’s Old Boyfriend Sam Shephard died, and she wrote an obituary for The New Yorker. Oh lordy, I can’t stand Patti Smith: “…a cold, still night, when one could hear the stars breathing.”  Hearing stars breathe is the kind of thing a very pleased with herself 16-year old writes. And good god, what a name-dropper: she’s not even out of the first paragraph and she brings up Yves Klein in reference to  “a blue that might lead anywhere”. A blue that might lead anywhere??? What does that  fucking mean?? And so on, and so on. Every other sentence is an atrocity.

For the record, when Patti Smith name checks Yves Klein she’s ham-handedly alluding to how he’s the one artist who came closest to replicating the intense saturation of Majorelle Bleu, which you can read about in my posts filed under that category in the side bar to the right. P.S.: It’s a blue that leads to Marrakech but, OK, if you want to call it “anywhere” go ahead. Just don’t call it “nowhere”, as Patti does in paragraph 2: … a sliver of a many-faceted nowhere that, when lifted in a certain light, became a somewhere. Oh sweet jesus, she is such a shitty writer.

However, I mention this obit because this, the relationship between Sam Shephard and Patti Smith, as she tells it, is how people navigate a relationship through the decades from their dopey 20s to their mature 60s and 70s. They update each other on the workings of their inner lives, they listen to each other, and they give each other room for change; they keep track of the events and the transformations, and they adjust their understanding of the other accordingly. They do not keep harping on and on about The Way We Were.

Then again, it seems that Patti was happy to make herself available whenever  Sam called, at whatever hour of the day or night, used her as a sounding board when he wanted to hear his own voice. So maybe Old Boyfriends are all the same.

At least Sam Shephard was famous; my Old Boyfriend is just some guy with a condo in Long Beach.

Barbara Sinatra died on July 25 and I have a story about spending an afternoon in her house in Palm Springs and liking her immensely, but I got sidetracked and now this blog post is far too long and I haven’t even got to my weekly update on der Drumpf update because I care.

I could circle back to Mrs. Sinatra next week if you’re interested (let me know).

I’m only dealing with the little lies this week, as when der Trumpf brags that he got a phone call from the head of the Boy Scouts telling him that it was the “greatest speech that was ever made to them, and they were very thankful.” THAT’S A QUOTE from der DRUMPF.


Then der Drumpf brags that the president of Mexico called him to congratulate der Drumpf’s victory on keeping immigrants from crossing the border.

Then the head of the Boy Scouts apologized to the nation for the crudeness of der Drumpf’s speech to the Boy Scouts and their Jamboree, and said that no one from the head office of the Boy Scouts ever called der Drumpf; and the president of Mexico let it be known that he has never talked to der Drumpf on the phone. Never.

How does devout Christian Sarah Huckabee Sanders live with herself ? After assuring reporters that no, der Drumpf didn’t lie about those phone calls, it’s just that the conversations didn’t take place on the phone, and those conversations never happened? How do all the devout Christians who voted for this lying, deluded, dumb-as-a-bag-of-Cheetos piece of shit live with themselves?

You don’t have to answer. I think I already know.

It’s AUGUST everybody! For all you dear Commenters in the northern hemisphere, it’s the height of Summer and all our Summer fantasies have to some true now or never!

Thea, you will be glad to know that Top Cat finally kept me company out in the backyard last Sunday, as we were seated in our sun set-watching devices, remarking on the beauty of the end of the day. He opened a prized bottle of St-Emilion and after one sip his exact words were: “Why have I been denying myself one of the greatest pleasures known to man?”

And for Jeanie and Becky, who loves a good Lickety pic, this is for you (taken over two days):

We have a smoked-glass dining room table. For some reason, Lickety has decided that Top Cat’s place mat on the dining room table is where he wants to nap lately.

Because some readers have recently sent me emails about not being able to Comment on this blog : Click the READ MORE button on the bottom of this latest chapter of my molehill life, scroll down, and leave a Comment. It’s a design flaw that I can’t seem to code out of.

Have a great weekend, Dear Readers. I hope all your naps are on the cool, hard surface of your dreams.

14 Comments, RSS

  1. Megan

    Do write about Barbara Sinatra next time… Lickety looks happy. Drumpf… glad I missed all that news. It may be safe to check the news sometime in the future but it’s just depressing at the moment. That’s how I missed Sam Shepard’s passing. Enjoy the summer and nice to hear you are sitting in the garden with a nice glass of wine.

  2. Kirra

    Cheers Top Cat! After a week in bed with a virus (it’s winter here) I allowed myself a half glass of wine tonight.

    Thanks for recommending the memoir, sounds good. Would also love to hear about Mrs Sinatra.

    You did a top job telling Mr unfulfilled ex boyfriend where to go!!!

    I hope all the Boy Scouts survived the crazy man’s talk, you just can’t believe anything he will ever say ever again, he’s lied too much.

    Lickety looks happy!

  3. Casey

    Why, why, why do Old Boyfriends want to stay “friends”? Some just can’t let go. Are you sure your OB is so boring because he sounds like a Class-A jerk.

    “Every other sentence is an atrocity.” LOL

    I vote with your Dear Readers. I want to hear about your afternoon with Barbara Sinatra.

    Ooooh! Ooooh! [Hand shoots up in the air, waving madly to attract the teacher’s attention.] I know why evangelicals still love der Drumpf!!

    Sorry to hear that Kirra got the Winter cold. Hope the wine chased the flu-blues away.

  4. Maryanne in SC

    YES vote for the Barbara Sinatra stories.

    APPLAUSE for how you handled the Old Boyfriend. #same

    THANKS for the tip to Carole Bayer Sager’s memoir. May I return the favor? Your neighbor Jimmy Webb’s new memoir, The Cake & The Rain, is really good. The man can tell stories even better than he can write songs.


  5. Lickety has the best name! Thanks for the pix!

    Love those bios too and would like to hear about Barbara S. But you gave the wrong mystery a try. In Louise Penny’s Adam Gamache series (start with Still Life and read in order if you get into them) not only does art play a role — two of the recurring characters are artists and their stories evolve in future books — but they eat all the time. I’ve heard the Bruno mysteries set in Provence involve a lot of food, too — there was an NYT Food article about it a couple of weeks ago.

    I don’t mind being friends with some old boyfriends — those are generally better at friends than they were at boyfriends. But it’s a two-way street and this guy is only going one way. I say three cheers to goodbye and good riddance!

  6. So glad my old boyfriends don’t bother to look me up! – they would be horrified at what they discover.
    Loved this funny post.
    Actually I’m slightly charmed by Patti Smith’s writing – yes, some is overwrought – but she does capture an elsuve rapture at STUFF and life and making it arty….
    Yes, I do reject books with crappy editing – but I suppose each to his/her own taste.
    Weaver of Grass is at least authentic and writes sensible sentences….
    strokes to the furry ones

  7. Never expected Burt to be like that..

    Read Patti Smith’s book..I liked it..

    I don’t LOVE a lot of books..I am hard on them..my fave in the last few yrs was The Art Of Hearing Heartbeats:)
    I think you would hate it lol.
    I started calling my grandchildren The Littles after reading We Were Liars..:)
    I liked that book too..everyone is so different..

    Jacques loved The Clifton Chronicles..he reads more than I do now..
    He’s read all of Louise P’s that Jeannie recommends..I have read 4 I think..

    He still loves Grisham.

    Sam S was so good on Bloodline…dissapointing ending of the series though even w/ brilliant acting on Kyle Chandler’s part.

  8. Becky

    Thanks for the Lickety fix. I loved the pictures of LIckety…I laughed so hard that he picked Top Cat’s place mat to snooze on.

    Old boy friends are best left as distant memories….unfortunately a few of mine ( or fortunately). Have gone on to other pastures… I am friends with one and sometimes it is very bittersweet. We still can push each other’s buttons.

    Oh the lies….lies….lies…..the Lier in chief was close by in wild WVa. A few days ago doing ANOTHER rally. I believe that the so called Christian people who support him do so with God on their side. I have know people who do or say very unchristian like things….with God on their side. Without sounding too preachy I believe that whatever you throw out in the world….good or bad…is like a stone thrown in a pond. It ripples out….but at some point ripples back….karma. I am waiting for Drumpf to receive what he has thrown out….

    I return to Lickety’s pictures….make me smile?

  9. I’ve never been so glad to not be Manic Pixie Dream Girl–not many old boyfriends bother tracking down Somewhat Stodgy Realistic Girl (thank God). I hope your OB stays kicked to the curb and doesn’t bother you with his completely clueless questions anymore.

    I’m going to join the many people saying “yes” and say “yes please” to your Barbara Sinatra story. I loved Frankie’s singing but it doesn’t sound like he was ever easy to live with, so I can’t imagine he was when he was old and probably not feeling his best (which is when Barbara was his Mrs.).

  10. This was all too funny. Old boyfriends – OY! So glad they didn’t make the cut. Think your OB strayed into stalker-creepy territory and deserved your epic send-off.

    We are a family with strong opinions about everything. Sometimes I think maybe I have too many opinions, and then I read, “Deckle edge is a might huge turn-off” and laugh out loud . Now, that’s a gal with OPINIONS! . I wonder about folks who don’t seem to care much about anything. For the record, I’m good with deckle edge, but turn down a page corner instead of using a book mark, and I’m ready to vote you off the island.

  11. Patricia

    I’m stuck back on “a gesture of sorrow”. I keep trying to picture one. Will have to practice in front of the mirror so I have one handy should anyone offer me cookies (American biscuits). Since I pretty much NEVER turn down cookies, it might not get much use, but one does like to be prepared.

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