OK - I’ve only done this once or twice since this website began in May of 2016… But occasionally one of my monthly emails contains enough fun detail to warrant being captured for posterity in a corresponding blog. So - here’s the one from today!
Oh, and how about today’s Jan 6th Committee Hearing! Cassidy Hutchinson is definitely this generation’s John Dean. Bravo!
Hello again, everyone!
Well, let’s start with the bad news of this past month. Our nation had to suffer through TWO horrendous - though sadly foreseeable - rulings from our Supreme Court. The war in Ukraine has devolved into a bitter war of attrition on the Russian side, with no end in sight. WNBA star Brittney Griner has now been detained in Russia for FOUR MONTHS, with an ominous trial looming. And just yesterday, an Amtrak train derailed in Missouri, killing three and injuring dozens.
And even in local Upper West Side news, a sink hole caused a car to collapse and hit a gas line, but luckily the damage wasn’t as grave as it could have been. This is two blocks from my apartment!
But there was some good news, too…
For one, we’ve had five televised hearings from the January 6th Committee and I’ve been highly impressed and grateful to see in real time intelligence and truth return, if only in these brief spurts, to our public life. I’m reminded in so many ways of those Watergate Hearings I was so fascinated with back in Junior High.
And I was actually on an Amtrak train just two week ago for a quick trip to Boston. Back when I used to live there (which was… 29 years ago!!) the local Red Sox NEVER got the upper hand on my beloved Yankees and life seemed fine and almost pre-ordained. But how could any sports fan not love Fenway Park? So they’ve become a championship team many times over since I’ve lived here and I’ve been meaning to return - and yes, the atmosphere was almost Mardi-Gras like, with an optimism present that certainly didn’t exist decades prior. And the view while walking up to those new Green Monster seats is classic.
And in the spirit of optimism, I’ll end this with a quick story from this past Sunday. Do you remember my monthly email back in the fall about the street vendor who sold me some “lucky sheets”?
(A quick recap: back in 2002 I bought a set of sheets and was amused when the vendor said “I wish you the best of luck with these sheets” and promptly wrote a story called “Lucky Sheets”. I recognized him at another street fair a few years later, and then this past fall, right after I returned from another working season in Martha’s Vineyard, there he was again. This time I purchased a towel.)
Well, two afternoons ago I happened to catch another street fair and this same gentleman appeared to emerge from out of the blue as I found myself casually checking out some sheets and towels.
“These are the highest quality 100% Egyptian Cotton sheets. One would normally pay over two hundred dollars for such a product!”
I smiled. Though his $45 price was certainly a bargain - and who couldn’t use a new set of "lucky sheets"? - I didn’t happen to have the money on me and thanked him while walking away. But as I came to the end of the street fair, I had a change of heart. He probably would accept a credit card, I thought. Let’s give the man some support - that story he inspired me to write over 20 years ago is still one of my favorites.
So I returned - but alas, he only accepted cash. But after breaking this news to me, he went into a prolonged monologue, something about always having cash in his pockets because he’d worked so hard as a young man to support his father who had no means of making money on his own. And as he was going on, I searched through my iPhone to find my book “Artists and Janitors” to point out the “Lucky Sheets” story to him. He appeared overwhelmed and deeply touched to think he’d inspired a person to write a story that could now be read by anyone. He relayed this news to his wife, who was seated behind their display.
My bank was only one block away - which I took as another good sign - and by the time I returned this friendly, mustachioed vendor seemed to think we were now great friends. Because he instantly began to confide to me the details of his own troubling news of the past two months - his wife seems to think he’s been having an affair!
“Why would I ever have an affair with my wife?!” he beseeched as she sat passively listening only a few feet away. “I love her! And this woman she talks about - she’s not even as pretty! And she’s a few years older! And look at me - I’m 72 years old! Why would my wife think I would even be capable of having an affair??”
This went on for a considerable length of time. And then his wife asked permission to tell her side of the story. I moved behind the display to listen.
“He said he only spoke to this woman once, but he lied! He knows too many things about her - such as her husband recently died and she’s lonely and where she lives and what her career was - for this to be possible! And then he admitted he lied! Why would he lie? Though he knows I’m a jealous woman, he still could have told the truth that he has talked with her more than once and I might have forgiven him… But we’ve been married for 40 years and he shouldn’t lie!”
The length and passion of her argument easily equalled his.
Eventually, I was asked by both parties to share my thoughts on the subject.
“Well…” I paused for a moment, strangely not uncomfortable to be put in such an awkward position. “For one - it’s certainly nice to know someone can still be jealous after 40 years!”
They both seemed to draw some amusement from this observation.
“But I’d say… Your husband is NOT having an affair! But yes, he’s talked to this woman more than once because she knows where he can be found and is lonely and needs someone as sympathetic and attentive as your husband to help her through her own troubling times. And he doesn’t want to tell you about this because he knows how jealous you can be.”
With this, the woman - who I’d never met before - smiled. “Ah - you’re a smart man! I can see that you’re a writer! That is a very smart way of seeing this!”
And then we both turned to her husband to view his own reaction to my quick verdict. He kind of smiled and cupped his hands, as if to say well, who knows… You might be right…
I purchased the new set of sheets and this time received a very enthusiastic “I wish you the very best of luck with these sheets!” benediction from my new friend. I returned a couple of hours later to show them the monthly email from last October, where his picture was sent out to all of you. They both seemed impressed and the once-again happy couple agreed to pose for a quick photo of their own.
And maybe the secret to a long-lasting marriage such as theirs? Well - look at all those lucky sheets!
To bring this to a full circle, I’ll actually be returning to Martha’s Vineyard next month. This one will likely be a short stay, but I hope to see many of you there!
Everyone here at michaelaba.com thanks you again for your support! Oh, and I received a really nice review for the audio version of “These Stories Are True” the other day… True, this was from a good friend and we were meeting face-to-face, but still - he could have said nothing! So - thank you, Peter Heim!
And yes - this email was long - I promise the next one will be short - but at least I finished in time to hear the sixth Jan 6 Committee Hearing they're surprising us with after making the announcement only yesterday! This should almost be as fun as an afternoon at Fenway Park!
See you soon!