Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Guiding Light Before The Flight

                                                                                                 Julie Kemp Pick

Sometimes the events leading up to a vacation prove to be almost as eventful as the vacation itself. This happened a few times late in August when we were planning a Western Mediterranean Cruise on the way to visiting my mother-in-law in Israel.

Twelve days before we were scheduled to leave, my husband injured his knee when he fell off of his bicycle. He managed to ride home from the scene of the accident, but grew progressively worse by evening. The following Sunday morning, his knee was so swollen that he couldn't walk, so I gave him my son's crutches and we headed off to the emergency room.

I thought we would have to cancel our trip, but he was determined to go. After wearing an immobilizer, having his knee drained, an MRI  and two physical therapy sessions, the orthopedist agreed. Miraculously, my husband lost his limp, while I was losing my mind. What if he had a relapse in a foreign country, and I had to try to find a hospital while I was carrying him on my back, and fighting off pickpockets?  Everyone told us to be aware of them, but they must have been staying inside from the heat. My man of steel assured me that he would be fine, as I was racing to get everything we needed in less than a week.

The day before our flight to Rome, I had an appointment for a manicure and pedicure.  On August 31, the sun was shining and the temperature was in the 80's.  So it didn't make sense that the entire block of stores and restaurants were experiencing a power failure. What really presented a problem was that my beaded flip flops were at the shoe repair  a few doors down from the nail salon, and it was located in a dungeon like basement. These are the only flip flops that my delicate circus feet could tolerate, and I needed them both for my pedicure and my trip.

On the main level of the shoe repair is a Mexican restaurant. I asked them if I could borrow a flashlight to take to the basement in the hope that the shoemaker was still there. One of the men grabbed a flashlight and said that he would go along with me. It was pitch black in the basement, but my trusted guide led the way.  I called out to Mr. K to make sure that  he was down the hall, but no one answered. My guide helped me down the stairs and we proceeded on. At one point I thought about how easily it would have been to beat me bloody with the flashlight, and abscond with $35 and a box of Mentos, but I had to risk it all to get my flip flops from Marshalls back.

When we reached the end of the hallway, Mr. K jumped out from behind the counter, and shone his flashlight on us. I pulled my ticket out and he handed me my shoes. No words were exchanged and he went back to working in complete darkness. Sadly, he must have been used to hiding during wartime.
After my companion guided me to safety, I thanked him and went off to my appointment.

When the power returned, I went back to see my new friend at the restaurant. I still had errands to run so I asked him if he could make me a virgin strawberry daiquiri to go. I thought about getting him a present, but decided to give him a little extra for his tip instead. I thanked him again, and he politely smiled. Suddenly, I was transformed into Blanche DuBois, and I understood when she said, "I have always depended on the kindness of strangers." Oh well, it was time to go home to my Stanley Kowalski and finish packing.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sneak Peek Packs Heat

When  Alex J. Cavanaugh  first came up with this idea, I thought that I would have no trouble creating a list. That was over a month ago, and now I feel like a student cramming for final exams. Though I love movies, I can't seem to remember very much about the ones that I disliked the most. The truth is, I could sit through pretty much anything if the popcorn is good.

My first job was at a concession stand at a movie theater when I was 15. My best friend was working as a cashier, and called me to come in for an interview. I said that I was 16, and after the manager asked me a few quick math problems, I was hired on the spot. The theater was packed as the Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange version of King Kong had just come out for Christmas.

These were the days before calculators when you had to add up all the prices in your head, but I still managed to shovel in plenty of popcorn in between customers. Once after working a double shift complete with enough popcorn for lunch and dinner, my favorite usher took me aside to tell me that he could see his reflection in my nose.

After King Kong left the building, we were inundated with one bad movie after another. I can't remember all of the titles, but they were loosely based on classic children's stories with a twist. The first movie that comes to mind is Pinocchio,  but this version was rated X. Yes, the respectable family movie theater decided to try out some X-rated films. Of course my parents didn't mind that I was working there. A paycheck was a paycheck.

Some of the other pornographic fairy tales included Alice In Wonderland where Alice plays an innocent librarian  who meets up with a rabbit, and Goldilocks and The Three Bares.

Unfortunately, I had to remove the Alice and Goldilocks posters.  I wish that I could provide more information about these movies. I just remember the ushers making a special effort to sweep up the theater several times throughout these showings.

 I never actually sat through any of these films, as I was too busy minding the Junior Mints. But I did catch a glimpse of Pinocchio telling a lie, and quickly walked out when I realized his nose wasn't growing.

-Julie Kemp Pick

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

If I Could Be Anyone I'd Be...


In honor of Talli Roland's book launch, we are to select the celebrity whom we would most like to be. Growing up I wanted to be Barbra Streisand, because she could belt out a song better than anyone else, and still walk away with her handsome leading men.


As time went on I noticed I shared a striking resemblance to another celebrity. She was not an Oscar winning singer, songwriter and actress. Instead she was famous for being an infamous home wrecker. Yes Camilla Parker Bowles and I share the same hip hairstyle, are both long in the tooth, and lack pigment. But I draw the line at wearing hats, and I won't give up my comfortable shoes.
Which brings me to the only celebrity whose shoes I could possibly fill if I bound my feet, Clara Peller. The retired manicurist from Chicago became a star, when she was hired to play the baritone lead in a Wendy's hamburger commercial.

The octogenarian stole the show by uttering three words, "Where's the beef?" She was a huge success from 1984-1985 until she got fired for bellowing, "I found it!" in a Prego spaghetti sauce commercial. Apparently, the big brass at Wendy's only wanted her to go trolling for beef between their buns. Sadly, Clara died a few years later at 85.

Miss Peller is a shining example of an outstanding third act. As my voice continues to grow deeper and more gravelly there is hope that one day I too could be discovered. Who am I kidding? Maybe I should just wait for James Brolin and Prince Charles to duke it out. 

-Julie Kemp Pick                                                                                        

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Insecure Writer's Unite


Alex J. Cavanaugh decided to put together a wonderful support group for writers. Though I am not an experienced writer, I know a thing or two about being insecure. As a matter of fact, I have half a century of knowledge stored up on the subject. This hardly makes me an expert, as I'm still struggling to overcome it. However, it does make me more empathetic to what other people are going through.

I'm excited to hear from other talented writers who are awaiting acceptance of their manuscripts. Many have published a book or two, and still lack the confidence they deserve. Since my first article will soon be published in a local literary art magazine, I'm just getting my feet wet; while many of you are already swimming with sharks.

There is strength in numbers, and Alex has certainly gathered enough people to tell their stories. The blogging community in itself is a support group. Hence, the Insecure Writer's Support Group will form even tighter bonds. I look forward to learning from all of you. For many writers, experience doesn't alleviate anxiety; it just pushes it aside like a bad combover.

    -Julie Kemp Pick