Patsy Porco

Archive for October, 2016|Monthly archive page

Mother Nature Stole My Identity

In Aging, Humor on October 28, 2016 at 4:03 pm

Three things used to be as certain about me, as death and taxes are about life: I was 5’7-1/2, I had good legs, and I was a redhead.

Now, I am 5’6″ and my thighs hang over droopy knees. The height and leg thing happened a few years ago so, while I’m not happy about it, I’m learning to coexist with my new reality. At least I’m still a redhead, I told myself.

It turns out I was fooling myself.

Last weekend, I attended a pasta dinner, hosted by our state senator and his wife, at the local American Legion hall. I was seated with friends of mine. The mayor and his wife dropped into the hall for an hour or so to greet the voters. When the mayor got to our table, one of my friends asked him if he was happy about the referendum on this year’s ballot regarding extending the mayoral term from two years to four years.

He said that its approval was critical (politicians love the words “critical” and “efficacious”), because two years is not enough time to get anything accomplished. He said that his Republican predecessor appointed people to “very important commissions” right before he was voted out of office, and the terms for those commissions are for five years. Therefore, our Democratic mayor said, those appointees obstruct him at every turn. However, if he were elected to two four-year terms, he’d be able to get things done.

I jumped in and asked if it were possible to get the law changed so that they were appointed for four years.

He looked at me for a beat and then said, very slowly, “Mayors aren’t appointed. Citizens vote for their mayors.”

I bit back my reflexive retort of “No sh*t, Sherlock,” tried to rearrange my facial expression into a pleasant one, and replied very slowly, “I know that, Mr. Mayor. I was talking about the terms of the people appointed to the very important commissions.”

He laughed uncomfortably. “Oh, I apologize. I misunderstood.”

“Well,” I said, “I’m glad we straightened that out. I’d hate for you to tell people about the redheaded moron you met tonight.”

“You’re not a redhead,” said one of my friends. Everyone at the table agreed with her.

“I am so a redhead!” I exclaimed. “I’ve been a redhead all of my life. It’s who I am.” The mayor and his wife took this opportunity to make a hasty getaway.

“Maybe you were a redhead, but you’re not now,” said another friend. “You’re a blonde.”

I was speechless. My final identifier had been ripped away in an instant.

The husband of one of my friends piped up. “She doesn’t want to be a blonde because of the dumb-blonde jokes.”

“Like the one about the dumb blonde who didn’t know that mayors were elected?” another friend remarked.

Everybody laughed. I seethed.




1988  courtesy of Susan Dmuchowski Meyerowich




How My Husband Cost Me Millions

In Humor on October 19, 2016 at 1:05 pm

I enter a lot of online contests. I’ve never won one, but hope, as they say, springs eternal. The other evening, I was in my office working from home, when my cell phone rang. When I answered it, a man with a heavy Indian or Jamaican accent told me that his name was Adam Goldberg and that I had won $2.5 million and a $50,000 Mercedes from Publisher’s Clearing House.

Let me make this clear before I continue. I immediately thought I was being scammed. What Indian/Jamaican is named Adam Goldberg?

When I first heard the man’s voice, I pegged him as Indian. Later, when I learned that he was calling from Jamaica, I thought I remembered a Jamaican accent. But that was after the fact, and I might have misremembered  his accent or use of “ya mon.” All I know for sure is that he could not pronounce Connecticut at all.

Anyway, I told Adam Goldberg that I suspected that he was lying. He acted surprised and asked if I had gotten the letter that Publisher’s Clearing House had sent me. I said no, and he said that he was certain that they had sent it and he was amazed that I hadn’t received it. At this point, a little spark of hope ignited in me.

Despite my hope, I told him that I hadn’t entered a Publisher’s Clearing House sweepstakes in at least a year. I didn’t mention that they are dunning me for $22 that they say I owe them. I keep getting recorded calls telling me that my account is in collection. I should probably do something about that, like pay them. I probably do owe them $22. I vaguely recall buying some junk from them to qualify for a contest. (They say no purchase is necessary, but they’re legally bound to say that. I don’t buy it.)

Adam Goldberg went on to say that I had entered by shopping at certain stores with my credit card. He named the stores. I had never heard of them. Then he said that I also qualified because I’ve never been in trouble with the law. While true, that seemed like an odd requirement for winning. I told him that I never heard of those stores, so I couldn’t have entered.

At this point, my husband arrived home from work. I told Adam Goldberg to hold on for a minute. I put the phone on mute, went downstairs, and told my husband about my purported prizes. My husband said, “Hang up. Hang up now.”

I took the phone off mute and told Adam Goldberg that my husband wanted me to hang up. He asked me if I didn’t want my prizes, which were scheduled to be delivered that very day.

“If I accept,” I said, “I’ll get the money and car today?” I asked him.

“Yes,” he said.

Meanwhile, my husband was chanting, “Hang up. Hang up.”

“I’m sorry, Adam Goldberg,” I said, “but my husband thinks this is scam.”

“Let me talk to him,” Adam Goldberg said.

“He wants to talk to you,” I told my husband.

He rolled his eyes and took the phone. He didn’t even give the guy a chance. “This is a load of sh*t,” he said into the phone and hung up.

I was incredulous. “You just cost me millions and a Mercedes,” I told him.

“Are you out of your mind?” he asked. “You didn’t win anything. He was going to try to get you to either pay money upfront or give him our financial information.”

“I would never give out our financial information,” I said. “I’ve read all about con artists ripping people off. But Adam Goldberg said that Publisher’s Clearing House sent me a letter.” I began to rummage through our mail. While I rummaged, my husband Googled the 876 exchange that the man had called from.

“This article says that this type of phone call is a con run out of Jamaica,” my husband said. “The callers try to get people to fork over thousands of dollars, using prepaid cards, to pay the taxes on their prizes. And, like I’ve been telling you, there aren’t any prizes.”

“It sounded legit to me, because of the letter he said Publisher’s Clearing House sent me,” I said.

“Legit like the time you gave control of your computer to fake Microsoft computer experts?” he asked.

“That was different,” I said. “I didn’t give them money.”

“No,” my husband said. “You gave them access to every single thing on your hard drive, which included our financial information. If I didn’t come home when I did today, you would have fallen for this.”

“I’m not sure it was a hoax,” I said.

“It is! You didn’t find any letter from Publisher’s Clearing House,” my husband replied in a louder-than-necessary voice. “You are such a patsy.”

“And you are rude,” I said.

“Well, at least I’m not rude and out thousands of dollars to boot,” he said.

I went back to my office and hoped that my prizes would arrive despite my husband’s behavior.

I’m still waiting.


Photo Credit:

Look Alive … Even if You’re Dead

In Humor on October 15, 2016 at 4:06 pm

The other day, I went to the American Folk Art Museum with Maisie, my first-cousin-once-removed. Maisie is a student at Barnard College. In all the time she’s been there, I have never invited her to our home, which is an hour away from her campus, or gotten together with her. Since she’s graduating this year, I was running out of time to assuage my guilt. We are first-cousins-once-removed, for heaven’s sake, and my son is her second cousin, plus we’re really close with her mother (my first cousin) and her husband. I was totally negligent regarding my older-cousin-once-removed duties. The crazy thing is that my family loves Maisie. Time just got away from us, which, of course, is no excuse. I had to make it up to her.

The museum, which is across from Lincoln Center in Manhattan, had moved since the last time I saw it (decades ago when my roommate worked there). It was always in the Lincoln Center area, but it used to be in a storefront. I think it had one room, but I’m not sure. I never actually went in. Whenever I met my roommate after work, I stood outside and waited for her. I was probably avoiding paying an entrance fee, which turned out to be unnecessary since there is not now, and never was, an admission charge. (You can feel free to tuck a bill or two into a prominently displayed lucite rectangle with a slit in the top, however.)

I assumed that the museum had moved to get more space. I was right. It now has three rooms. Three areas, really. We went looking for the rest of the museum after we had looked at the featured exhibit, “Securing the Shadow: Posthumous Portraiture in America,”and we were told that we had seen the entire museum—and that I should put my camera away right now, because photographs were forbidden in all but one area.

At least the featured exhibit–the only exhibit–was entertaining. One room displayed posthumous oil paintings, i.e., oddly proportioned depictions of children who had died before the paintings were commissioned. According to the explanation handwritten on one of the walls, before the invention of cameras, parents had no way to remember their deceased child or children once the memories faded. Up until fairly recently, children regularly died before reaching their second birthday (the “safe” birthday, when their chances for survival got better). In the 19th century, itinerant corpse painters were all the rage. They offered their services to mourning parents and were often hired by those who could afford an oil painting, plus the expense of housing and feeding the painter until he or she (usually he) finished. Having such a painting was a way to cheat death, according to the writing on the wall.

In another area, there was a wall essay which explained that, once in awhile, parents of one dead child and one living child would have a painting of each child made, so that the children would finally “meet,” since they never met in life. We saw some of those. We also saw paintings of whole families of children playing or standing together, even though not all of them were actually alive during the time the painting was done. Maisie and I both guessed who was dead in each picture, and then we’d check the painting’s documentation. She won that game.

In that same room was a chalkboard tombstone, with chalk. Visitors could wipe the tombstone clean and write their own epitaphs. Again, the history


Posted on the wall of the American Folk Art Museum 10/13/2016. No photo credit for legal reasons.

of the chalkboard tombstone appeared on the wall behind the display.

In my opinion, the museum could save a lot of time and money if they just painted their walls in chalkboard paint. Then, when one exhibition moved out and another moved in, they could erase anything about the former and have a clean slate (oh, that’s where that expression came from!) for the latter, instead of having to repaint the walls.

Maisie and I couldn’t resist writing an epitaph.

wish-you-were-hereAfter a few tries, we came up with, “Wish you were here (beer).” Maisie added the “beer” part. I attributed this to her being a college student but she disabused me of my stereotypical assumption and said that last summer, when she and her parents were in China, they saw a toddler wearing a shirt emblazoned with, “Wish you were beer” and they thought that was hilarious. I had to agree.

We were permitted to photograph our tombstone in order to enter the project’s epitaph contest. If we’re lucky, our tombstone will soon appear on the iPad that is nailed to the wall and displays the most creative entries.

There was also an area dedicated to daguerreotypes. Daguerreotypes were early photographs that were taken in the mid-1800s. There were about 60 daguerreotypes, in velvet-lined, metal, bifold cases, which were displayed on a glass-topped table. Each daguerreotype was numbered. On the wall, someone had started listing each photograph by number with its history, but the task must have been overwhelming, because only 16 or so appeared. Unlike the oil paintings, which were strictly of children, posthumous daguerrotypes also included adults. There were photographs of deceased adults, as well as living adults holding deceased babies. Some of adults were propped up like they were alive, and some didn’t even try to fake it.

When we were ready to leave, we made a quick stop in the gift shop where it became apparent why no photographs of the paintings were allowed: they were selling postcards of the paintings and didn’t want to miss out on sales. They also sold disembodied wooden hands, distressed plaster casts of baby-head candleholders, and a three-pack of journals for planning your death down to the last detail.

Maisie wasn’t very hungry after viewing the exhibit, but my appetite wasn’t affected. We went to the nearby P.J. Clarke’s and had a lively debate over which paintings or photos were the most disturbing.

All in all, it was a fun night. I might have neglected Maisie for three years, but I’m fairly certain that this trip made up for it. I’m probably good for another few years. (Just kidding, Maisie’s mother.)





A Hairy Post-Debate Analysis

In Humor, politics, Presidential Debates on October 9, 2016 at 11:56 pm

I had a friend in college who had a comb-over. He was a grad student who would be bald by the time he got his PhD. He, like oh-so-many men, thought that if he grew his hair long on one side and combed it over his pate to the other side, nobody would notice his premature balding. This highly intelligent man, however, did not prepare for an encounter with a stiff wind, when his cover would be literally and figuratively blown.

Tonight, as I watched the second presidential debate, I was transfixed by Donald Trump’s comb-over. It didn’t look like any of the ones I’ve seen. I puzzled over the difference throughout the debate. What was different?

Right about the time he was challenging the judges for letting Hillary Clinton speak past her two-minute allotment while cutting him off, I got my answer. He doesn’t have a comb-over; he has a comb-back. He must have hair at the very front of his hairline, but not on the top or back of his head. Therefore, it appears that he grows a very long thatch of hair from the front and combs it back … way back.

He probably uses bobby pins to keep it in place, unlike the guy I used to know. Trump couldn’t risk having it blow straight up the air. But, he must take the pins out at night when he goes to sleep. At least Melania doesn’t have to panic when she finds long blonde hairs in their bed.



Recommendations for Your Weekend

In Books, Humor, Movies on October 8, 2016 at 5:46 pm

I love to read and there’s never a day that I’m not in the midst of reading a book. Except today. But that’s because I was up until 6 a.m. finishing The Art Forger, by B.A. Shapiro. It’s rare that a book keeps me up all night, but this one did. It was excellent, in my opinion. Without giving anything away, I can tell you that it is about what the title says it’s about.

the-art-forgerI can also tell you that it is fascinating, educational (but not in a dry way), mysterious, and character- and incident-driven. The protagonist is an artist with an intriguing past, artfully revealed little by little, and her evolving present is just as engrossing. I’ve read books where you are forced to go back and forth between the past and the present and different perspectives, and the flow becomes disappointingly disrupted. That doesn’t happen here. This author has a gift for segueing from one time or person to another.

Another book I read awhile ago was The Girl on the Train, by Paulathe-girl-on-the-train Hawkins. Today I saw the movie based on the book and it was spellbinding. There were moments in the story that were so tense that the audience collectively held its breath. I remember thinking, when I finished the book, that it was okay. It was better than the book it was compared to, Gone Girl (by Gillian Flynn), though, because while Gone Girl was remarkable for being so dark and unpredictable, the characters were sociopaths. The characters in The Girl on the Train—while far from ordinary—were relatable. And Emily Blunt was fabulous. Long story-short: See The Girl on the Train and read The Art Forger (if you haven’t already; both books were best sellers and people are turning out in droves for the movie). You will thank me. I accept gift cards.

I usually try to make my readers laugh, at least once, when I compose a post. I apologize for not even trying this time. I guess artsy-fartsy me isn’t especially funny. I’ll make sure to limit her appearances in this blog.

Not-So-Fun-House Mirror

In Humor on October 1, 2016 at 7:46 pm

The other day, I looked in the mirror and saw my mother’s face. My mother has a lovely face, but I was supposed to be looking at my face, not hers.

I turned around, hoping that she was standing behind me and that I was invisible. That would explain why I saw one face and it was hers. However, nobody was there. I had to acknowledge that I officially looked like my mother.

I am 56. She is 82.  At this rate, in a few years I’ll be able to show her what she’ll look like at 100.



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