03/29/15 6:00am
03/29/2015 6:00 AM

Although the highway department did a magnificent job clearing the roads during and after the “snow challenge,” I found that getting around town was still a job. And as an added bonus I got stuck, twice. Yup, twice!

I drove a friend home, pulled into her driveway and smack into a snowdrift. Her neighbors came to my aid, but nada! Finally, a guy driving a truck carrying Porta-Potties pulled up and got me out. I don’t make this stuff up!  (more…)

09/27/14 6:00am
09/27/2014 6:00 AM

The weeks after Labor Day heralded the blues; my “beach bum” days were coming to an end. Although I walk the beach daily in all seasons, this summer I took advantage of “paradise found” and spent almost every weekend at the beach. It was truly a memorable summer. Spending quality time with old friends and meeting new friends was just the boost my spirits had needed.   (more…)

03/29/14 1:00pm
03/29/2014 1:00 PM

Driving to work, I heard a song recorded by the American rock band Imagine Dragons titled “Radioactive.” The refrain “I’m radioactive, I’m radioactive” struck a chord with me (no pun intended). Arriving at work, I felt a plethora of emotions: sadness, anger and the realization that, now that I’m widowed again, I indeed felt radioactive.  (more…)

01/09/12 4:23pm
01/09/2012 4:23 PM

Right now it’s quiet time all over the North Fork. Windows are tightly closed, locked. Some folks even put up storm windows. No question about it. Chill times are here. Quiet times, too, since those closed windows shut out sounds as well as shivers. Funny, isn’t it? A few months back we read of noise problems on the North Fork. Music that’s loud, truck and boat motors running all night, helicopters intruding on peaceful skies. Finally last summer, a noise ordinance in Southold.

But with our windows closed we come to realize that some North Fork noise is not noise at all. Rather it is sound, sound we take pleasure in, sound we miss during the “closed up” months.

For example, there’s a Greenport guy, name of David Pultz. He’s married to Gillian Pultz of the North Fork Animal Welfare League. So you’d imagine Dave’s special sounds would be a woof, a meow, a tweet. Not so. Dave thinks back a few years and recalls two treasures of North Fork sounds.

One is the Greenport foghorn from early misty mornings past. How comforting it was. How secure. Dave said the foghorn sounded from a Greenport shipyard and evokes emotion still.

The other North Fork sound Dave enjoys is the 6 p.m. siren from the Greenport firehouse. Years ago Ed Pultz, Dave’s father, told Dave over and over again, “When you hear that whistle get home for dinner.” That 6 p.m. sound is familiar to so many North Forkers. Tradition ties it to dinner time in homes from Riverhead to Orient. May it always be.

I’ve a North Fork sound bringing me not memories, but anticipation. Early in the morning, certainly well before 6, I hear the Long Island Rail Road whistle as a train rumbles by about a mile away from my Cut­ch­ogue home.
I wonder, as I listen in bed or in the kitchen eating Special K and blueberries, who the engineer is, who the passengers are. Where are they going? I bid them a safe journey each open-window day. In some odd way they have become my friends and I wish I were traveling with them. Not necessarily to Greenport or New York City but to those faraway places with strange-sounding names.

With windows closed, my friends and fantasies fade.

Now hear this. It certainly appears to prove one woman’s meat is another’s poison. There are, on this North Fork, at least two ears that enjoy hearing a tractor at work. Those ears belong to Southold’s Sue Purcell.

Sue recalls “staying over” at her grandma’s home on Ackerly Pond Lane. That road, by the way, was formerly Bowery Lane. The name change must be a story in itself.

Anyway, Grandma Marta Dramm lived next to Diller’s farm and when Sue had a stay-over at Grandma’s the Diller tractors awakened her each morning. Those machines were “big and exciting” to young Sue.

Fully awake, Sue would rush downstairs to breakfast made by her grandma. A breakfast served with lots of milk and lots of love. And outside a tractor welcomed a child to a new North Fork summer’s day.

In Southold still, stop by for a visit with Judy Clark. Perhaps walk in her backyard for a bit. If you’re lucky you’ll hear Judy’s favorite North Fork sounds — sounds unheard through winter-closed windows.

First, the winter leaves, the ones left clinging to branches. Brittle and brown, dried and desolate, they rustle in winter wind. Judy thinks of that rustle as a feeble protest. Leaves refusing to go gently into that good earth. Come spring, those leaves will be gone, their protests giving way to new life.

And then there are the crows. They settle in the woods behind Judy’s home. Noisy, almost arrogant, unlike their shy, smaller bird friends. Crows are smart, too. Judy recalls seeing a TV show explaining how crows use twigs as tools. Watching the crows through snug-closed windows, Judy can’t hear their calls. But her heart responds to remembered sound.

Perhaps that’s what beloved, familiar sounds do best. Even if just in memory, they bring a sense of well-being to January’s pale days and long dark nights. Someday soon we’ll open all the windows.

Ms. Lombardi is a resident of Cutchogue.

01/02/12 3:51pm
01/02/2012 3:51 PM

J.P. Morgan, Frick and me. We belong. If they’d lived in my time we’d be friends. The three of us, we collect. We like things, and things we like, we buy. They bought at auctions, world-famous art galleries, museums. I buy my things at thrift shops and yard sales. What’s the difference?

Twice in my life I ventured into the high-pressure business of auctions. No, not Christie’s, not Sotheby’s. Too difficult to park around those places. It was at Markel’s, once, in their old barn in Southold. Without my permission my right arm raised itself and attracted the attention of the eager auctioneer, Dave Markel, I think. I left that night with an old cast-iron park bench — like they don’t make them anymore, I was told. I can see why. That bench is so heavy that even a ferocious wind in Orient will not budge it an inch. I still have the bench in the same spot where I dropped it 20 years ago.

My other win at Markel’s was a primitive or naïf oil painting of children and cows with a menacing cloud that looks like the profile of an angry mother. It’s on a pale green wall in my study, the room where not much is done but where things collect; yes, those things that make me a spiritual brother of J.P. and Frick. There’s a word in French slang that sounds like Frick but is spelled “fric.” It means money. Too bad Henry Clay Frick didn’t live in France. The 99 percent  would have loved it.

My other auction action was at B. Altman and Company on Fifth Avenue. They were closing down the store. Everything was to go. I wanted a piece of it, a part of New York’s history. I walked up and down the store. There was a down sofa and a set of bistro tables and chairs that came from their tea room. Must have it, I thought, perfect for my restoration of the Bay House facing Orient harbor. This time my arm didn’t move quickly enough and when it finally made a waving motion in the air a stranger had gotten the whole bistro set and the sofa with a ridiculous low bid. I instantly hated that guy and felt he had somehow unfairly won the stuff. The bistro set haunted me for weeks. I never went to another auction except a silent one at Poquatuck Hall in Orient.

Let me not feel sorry for myself. I actually have a museum of my own. Strictly for friends and the plumber once in a while. My house in Orient. A museum of books, dust, toys and stuffed animals. A few cups and saucers and, for someone who drinks little and rarely has guests, a surprising number of glasses. Why so many? I have no explanation. I forgot to mention: on the walls, paintings by our late friend Rodman Pell. He painted where he used to run his fresh fish market in Greenport. He knew well how to charm the ladies. My sister was a fan and introduced him to UNICEF, where she helped him become one of their Christmas card artists.

In New York I keep a collection of paperweights. A lot of papers here. A good match. Stuffed animals take over couches and chairs. Certain days there are fewer of them than the day before. It seems they move on their own. My sister reminds me they are not alive. I tend to forget. We put a few in a comfortable closet like children in a crib. Of course I’ll take them out of the closet on happy days. They need to breathe, I say. Some, the lucky ones, have migrated to Orient, where they spend their retirement on couches, where else?

Books, like stuffed animals, have a life of their own. You can’t throw books away. Although I have seen plenty left at the dump with the recyclables. I have brought a few back home. Some were from people I knew. They had died. That’s what happens when you die. A six-volume history of the Presbyterian church was there. I rescued it and donated it to the Southold library book sale. Then I took it back. It had belonged to a friend. The collector collects other people’s stuff. It becomes our stuff. We get attached. Once an object enters our home, it stays. We’re caught.

There are two rows of books on each shelf. First row you can see. Second row you don’t even know is there until you pull out a book from first row. Don’t think second row is second rank. Here’s T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land,” retrieved from second row with a couple of years of dust. Let’s get the Swiffer dusters out of the box. Whoever invented this deserves an honorary library card. Try them if you don’t know what I’m talking about.

Don’t ask me about New Year’s resolutions. Don’t yell at me on the street, “Hey, hoarder, how’s it going?” I am a collector. But I have changed my mind. J.P. Morgan, Henry Clay Frick, we wouldn’t be friends at all. They are not in my league. They don’t belong. I never saw them at the Opportunity Shop in Greenport. They lived in palaces in Manhattan that became their museums. That’s easy. My house is already too small for my books and stuffed animals. That’s tough. They would never have been able to deal with my space problem. I don’t have butlers like they did. I’m the butler to my dog, I am a poet, a monthly columnist, and I have written short plays, especially for the singer and actress Yvonne Constant, who played on Broadway in “La Plume de ma Tante” and was a frequent guest on the Johnny Carson show.

Another hundred years: I’ll still be checking what’s in the second row. The Frick and the Morgan, they’ll be around forever. My museum, that’s another story. It will go when I go. That’s the pity of it. Unless there is a wife to keep the house open and the fire going. I’m working on that. I’ll let the wife move in and let go of a few Teddy Bears. Hear that, Nancy? Why not dream?

Pierre Gazarian is a poet and a writer of one-act plays.

11/25/11 2:06pm
11/25/2011 2:06 PM

“Fred, did you clean the garage like you said you would before Christmas? Fred!”

“I’m busy, Molly. Don’t bother me now. I’m reading the instructions.”

“Instructions for what?”

“I’m building an airplane. I had this idea … ”

“Well, let me bring you back to earth, young man. No one is allowed to build an airplane without first getting his wife’s approval. Did you forget you have a wife? My approval is for you to get rid of the junk in the garage. Give up your airplane project and call the Salvation Army.”

“They ain’t going to save us from nothing. I don’t trust the Salvation Army because the woman at the cash register she don’t speak good English. And you don’t have to remind me I have a wife. You never let me do what I want … ”

“That’s why you’re still alive. Like when you wanted to import snow from Alaska or when you were ready to give a deposit for five flooded acres in some part of Florida we couldn’t even find on the map. A whole evening we looked. But it didn’t exist.”

“If we had looked harder … ”

“No, Fred. It just didn’t exist, not one square inch of land. Let’s get real. Get that junk out.”

“That junk, Molly, that’s what I’ll build my plane with. By the time the plane is ready to fly there’ll be nothing left in the garage. No rusty lawn mowers, no broken toaster ovens, no leaky vacuum hoses, nothing that don’t make sense to humans like you and me.”

“Is this a promise?”

“That’s how America was built. Wild dreams. Who would have thought we’d go to the moon? Crazy idea. But we did it. And Lindbergh! Arrives in Paris and all them French people, they’re waiting, thousands and thousands. Remember, Molly, he took off from Long Island. I can’t call my plane The Spirit of St. Louis. He used it already. Mine will be The Spirit of Orient Point. See, I’ve got ideas.”

“I don’t understand what you are talking about. But I love it. Go with it, Fred. And if your plane can’t fly, that’s fine, too. If it stays on the ground I don’t have to worry about you crashing in a potato field or in some fancy vineyard.”

“Just one thing, I’ll have to go to Riverhead Building Supply or Home Depot for the wings. I don’t have nothing in the garage for that.”

“Do you really know what you’re doing?”

“I do, Molly. This ain’t like riding a bicycle. But trust me. It will be big news. Don’t tell nobody yet. Don’t call The Suffolk Times. Don’t tell your friends at the thrift shop. They like to talk. But you can tell Muffin. She knows. I got her a little aviator suit with goggles. The day before takeoff, then we’ll tell the world.”

“You’ve never disappointed me, Fred. It’s good to have dreams. It doesn’t matter if they don’t work out. At our age if we don’t dream we’re finished. That’s why I love sleep. That’s when I travel, that’s when things happen, discoveries … ”
“Thank you, Molly.”

“But you should take care of your shirts.”

“What do you mean?”

“The buttons. Half the buttons are gone. You’ve seen pictures of Charles Lindbergh? Well dressed. The captain of a plane, you have to make a good impression. Look important.”

“I can’t sew. I can build you anything you want but I can’t sew a button.”

“You must learn.”

“I don’t want to.”

“My hands can’t do it anymore. I loved doing it for you, years and years I did. Look at me now. If you can build a plane, Fred, you can sew a button. No excuses.”

“There’s a young seamstress in town who could teach me … ”

“No, you don’t need a young seamstress. I’m here for that.”

“She’s very nice, Irish, I think, redhead. Maybe it would be easier for you if she helped me … ”

“No need for a seamstress in our life. Especially a sweet redhead. You don’t know what she does in her spare time.”

“She helps the blind.”

“Why do you know so much about her? You think I’m blind?”

“Okay, okay, you teach me, Molly.”

“Tell me, what gave you this airplane idea?”

“It’s just I can’t drive the Mercury, you know. I ain’t got no license, no insurance. It’s not the deer that worry me. It’s the other drivers I worry about, going too fast, tailgating me … So I tell myself, why not fly? You’re free up there. A few miles from here it’s the end of the land, Orient Point. But we can keep flying, no end for me.”

“What about me?”

“Oh there’s room for you and a little jump seat for Muffin. She can bark and howl at the stars, at the moon. Believe you me, when we take off, it will be the most incredible trip ever. Better than our honeymoon … ”

“It can’t be.”

“Yes, yes, Molly. People on the ground will say, ‘Look, there go Fred and Molly circling above us. You can even see their dog Muffin. Did you know he built that plane himself, in one week. A Christmas gift for his wife … ’ That’s what they’ll say, the people on the ground.”

“If only we could leave right now, Fred. I don’t want to wait. Can’t you finish the plane tonight and get the garage empty? To be free, weightless, together. … And meet Santa Claus in the clouds.”

Pierre Gazarian is a poet and a writer of one-act plays. Email: [email protected]

08/26/11 1:27pm
08/26/2011 1:27 PM

I love animals. I love them so much that I even like them stuffed. No, I don’t mean “elk’s head on the wall.” I like my elks in the mountains, proud and safe, away from the people down in the valley and their menacing dogs.

I’m talking Gund’s Teddy bears, rabbits, kangaroos. They were born for children’s bedrooms and to provide hugging comfort in good and bad times. I have about 30 of them, not counting a basket of Beanie Babies that do not qualify as stuffed, although some might disagree with that exclusion. I have asked my stuffed friends (no humans involved here) to meet with me this morning for an important discussion. I’m writing about you today, I tell them.

You, the biggest Teddy bear in the house. Yes, you on that sofa, your back turned away from Orient Bay, your eyes larger than half-dollar coins. A red vest and a plaid bow tie make you a bourgeois bear. A retired bourgeois bear, affluent and pleased with yourself. I first met you on Front Street in Greenport. You were sitting on a chair, a sign at your feet: “Yard Sale.” It was noon on a warm day. Not much left in the yard. But you were there, lonely, unwanted it seemed, your size perhaps a handicap. Who wants a bear larger than a human child? The yard sale was over. You, the last witness of things that belonged to the house. What fool would want to take you away? I, said I.

Two years later and you are family now, spending most of your time — I mean all your time — on the wicker sofa I inherited from the old Bay House in Orient years and years ago. Stay right here, Big Bear. The space is yours for as long as it’s mine.

You, my pale pink kangaroo, a yellow baby in your pouch. The baby wears a lace bonnet tied with a blue ribbon. You may not know it, dear Kangaroo, but you have a tag on your bottom, “Kinder Gund” Keepsake, 1988. Your baby falls out of the pouch all the time. Being a mother isn’t easy.

My friend wasn’t too pleased when I arrived home with you, pink French poodle.

“What for?” she asked.

“He smiles,” I said.

“He may smile but they don’t come in pink …”

Feebly I replied, “That’s why I like this poodle. One of a kind.”

My friend shrugged her shoulders, sighed and went back to the book on country inns she was reading, and you could be sure there was nothing on pink poodles in it.

I still love you, Pink Poodle, no matter what anybody says.

Stuffed animals are fantasy. A bear as tiny as a mouse, a mouse the size of a raccoon. That rabbit staring at me for one more carrot. Twenty-six inches tall, ears included. Now that’s a mighty rabbit. Thirty-four-inch waist. You wouldn’t find one in the whole of Ireland. Not even in the whole of Southold Town. But you never know. A lot happens in Southold Town.

I adopted this rabbit from Main Street Kids in Greenport when they were closing down. You were an incredible bargain. But I’m not always sure where to put you. Luckily, you were wise not to multiply.

Now that sweetest face: Snuggle in person. I saw you in the arms of a young woman on a New York City sidewalk. “How pretty, your bear,” I tell the young woman.

“You can have him,” she replies. “Here, take him. It was given to me. I had him for a while. It’s your turn to have him. It’s good karma.”

And so you came into my life, Snuggle. I see you on boxes in the supermarkets. You’re more famous than I will ever be.

You too, Babar, the child of L. de Brunhoff. How did you do it? Here you are next to mother and child dachshunds not impressed by your fame. You, in green vest, red coat and yellow bow tie. How did Mr. de Brunhoff find you at the end of his pen or brush? Millions of children have adopted you under many different skies. Dachshunds, make room for Mr. Babar. Don’t push him off the couch. Might as well ask a bird not to fly. Dachshunds always get their way, with their fraudulent worried looks. This mother and child no exception.

Hand-knit somewhere in Southampton, “Lucille,” says your ID. Was she, is she, real? But you don’t bark.

Oh, yes, the Vermont Teddy bear says, “What about me?” Born in Shelburne, Vt. “Made to love, cherish, and share.” You’re kind of plain looking and I love you for that.

Almost forgot: My Pekingese friend, a gift from my Godmother. The oldest member of the family, me excepted. I’m two years older than the Pekingese. Just one more thing. During the War — the second one, of course — it was illegal to keep gold coins. As you might expect, nobody respected that. They hid their gold. A few years after the war, as I was petting my Pekingese (don’t worry about me, I’m OK), I felt the shape of a bone unknown in the anatomy of dogs. I operated on the dog with all proper precautions so as not to inflict pain. As I dug through a layer of straw-like substance, I pulled out the bones. Two gold coins. United States of America, Ten Dollars, 1899. And Estados Unidos Mexicanos, Diez Pesos, 1907. Never give up on an old dog, man’s best friend, after all.

I hear you. Aren’t stuffed animals for children? Shouldn’t you donate them to a charity? Yes, I will. But we, too, grown-ups, some of us anyway, need the company of huggable creatures that do not bark or yell or bite. I know my menagerie is not alive, reasonably speaking. Yet they live in their own way, stuffed not just with straw or fiber but with the memory of childhood. They come to us, fluffy and soft, with questioning eyes, mute and motionless. And the child in us wakes up.

My dog Nina joins us, puzzled and suspicious. She brings memories, too. She needs to be fed, walked and loved. The Teddy bears, kangaroos, hand-knit dogs ask for nothing. Except they want to be heard today, all of them. Sorry, sorry dear fuzzy friends. Sorry Persian cat, green frog and even you, Muffy VanderBear, who has her own fan club on North Wabash in Chicago.

You’ll have your day, I promise. Your voice will be heard.

Pierre Gazarian is a poet and a writer of one-act plays. Email: [email protected]

08/13/11 1:54pm
08/13/2011 1:54 PM

Last month, Frank and I attended the oldies concert in Riverhead. We had a wonderful time dancing and enjoying the camaraderie of friends. Funny, the way I was flitting around and dancing, one would think I didn’t have a care in the world. Hardly! My mom, who at 92 was livelier than some folks half her age, is seeing the last of her days. Despite her tenacity, she is losing her battle with cancer.

Our friends George and Grace were among the merry-makers. George is facing a serious health challenge, yet he was rockin’ and rollin’ (quite well, I may add) with Grace. As I scanned the crowd of partying folks, it occurred to me that everyone has a story.

It was the late comedian Flip Wilson’s character “Geraldine” who coined the phrase “What you see is what you get.” Well, folks, this ain’t necessarily so.

I know of many instances where folks are in a state of angst over the economy. Frank’s son, James, is a good example. A hard-working guy, James is learning a new skill by attending school during the day and working the graveyard shift to make ends meet. For him, sleep is catch-as-catch-can.

On his way to school one day, James stopped to get his usual cup of hot tea. He became annoyed because the counter person handed him iced tea, and this wasn’t the first time. He said in part, “Why after 20 years of ordering tea, I’m now getting iced tea?” Splitting hairs? Maybe to the counter person, but I know that James is sleep-deprived and worried about his future.

Our home phone number is similar to that of a local medical practice; consequently, we get tons of wrong numbers. Even if we let the call go into voice-mail, sometimes the caller will leave a message. Truly, patience is not my strong point, especially now, when I’m waiting for Mom’s doctors to call.

Recently, I had a eureka moment after one such call and thought, “Have some empathy, you share a common thread with these folks.” So, I’ve started giving out the correct number and, if the caller leaves a message, I’ll call them back. Lest you think too well of me, think again; the calls are still annoying.

When I lived on Staten Island, there was a neighborhood kid who was really a pain in the (fill in the blank). He would tease our dog, trample the flowers and get into all kinds of mischief. Subsequently, I found out that his parents were divorcing. The poor kid was simply acting out and crying for attention; however, I was too aggravated to hear him.

Back then, at work one of the nurses sent a proposal to the medical director. When the director didn’t respond in a timely manner, the nurse barged into my office and erupted into tears. Her mind tricked her into believing unpleasant things about the director. In reality, there was no reason for her to get that upset, unless she was a soothsayer. Afterward, we received a memorandum stating that the director was called away on a family emergency.

While I was out walking, a lovely gal stopped her car to ask if I was all right. She noticed that I had my hand on my hip (something I do when I’m walking and thinking — I know, don’t ask!). She wasn’t aware that I was trying to write this column or that I was sad over Mom and weary from my frequent trips to New Jersey to care for her. This gal’s kind attitude made my day.

Perhaps you know part of my story because I’m here twice a month, but do I know yours? You may be the server who screwed up my order, the guy who cut me off or the gal waiting in the long supermarket line with the screaming kid. If I showed my annoyance, mea culpa! I forgot you also have a story.

Ms. Iannelli is a resident of Jamesport.

07/18/11 2:50pm
07/18/2011 2:50 PM

In the hit movie “Love Story,” Ali MacGraw’s character, Jenny, utters this now-famous line to her husband, Oliver, played by Ryan O’Neal: “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” The film is a tearjerker and is considered one of the most romantic of all time by the American Film Institute — and I get it. However, that sappy line is the dumbest declaration I’ve ever heard. Saying I’m sorry is always appropriate and, occasionally, saying I’m sorry is simply not enough.

We live in a world where some folks feel they can get away with stuff that no sane person would tolerate, as long as they apologize. I’m not referring to a heartfelt apology, but rather to those folks I’ve dubbed “habituals” — a term I’ve coined for want of a better word.

Not all politicians are philanderers, but for those who have strayed, technology hasn’t proven user-friendly. An embarrassing photo is posted on the Internet, a child pops out of the woodwork, the ever-vigilant paparazzi catch an intimate moment, etc. Then — oops! Caught. Denial is the first order of business, followed by a variety of tall tales. (Remember the politician who said he was hiking the Appalachian Trail via Argentina?) Finally, they stand tearfully before the cameras and apologize to the wives, kids, constituents, country and pet dogs — after the fact. Would they have come clean if they hadn’t been caught?

Most of us have encountered the disloyalty of the now ex-friend. You know, the one who blew us off because something better came down the pike, or the one whose loose lips disclosed a confidential conversation. Then there is the ex-friend who talks about everybody, so we gotta assume she’s yakking about us, too. The friend may be contrite or, more often, said friend is clueless regarding her behavior. However, here’s what the friend failed to remember: This is not the first occurrence and, sadly, we wise up and realize it won’t be the last.

Many gals (guys, too) suffer from domestic violence. The abuser tries to maintain control by isolating the victim through physical, verbal, emotional and psychological abuse. After the abuse, an apology usually ensues. Unfortunately, until the victim sees through the apology, or suffers severe harm, these abuses can escalate. And here’s the kicker: Sometimes, when the police respond to a domestic violence call, they are turned away by the victim, who says the abuser “is sorry,” and the abuser promises, “It won’t happen again.” Only it does.

Of course, there are things that aren’t deal-breakers, but can annoy us to the max. I purchased an engagement gift online and somewhere between Ohio and Jamesport, the package went missing. My credit card was charged and repeated inquiries proved futile. The upshot? The package never showed up, the engagement party came and went (I bought another gift), it took months to straighten out my credit card and everyone was sorry. Really, folks, sorry just didn’t cut it.

Then there’s the other end of the spectrum. Humankind is beset with frailties: We make mistakes, we misspeak, we’re judgmental, we get angry and say and do regrettable things. We may inadvertently or perhaps by design cause another to become enraged at us, and although we’ve apologized, the tensions may remain and even grow.

Ah, me. Perhaps the relationship remains frozen because our apology consists of empty words. I’ll bet if one puts feet on an apology and does something to make amends, then it becomes more about forgiveness and redemption, and none of us is without the need of forgiveness.

I suppose most of us can be labeled as “habituals” at one time or another. As Martin Luther King Jr. aptly put it, “There is some good in the worst of us and evil in the best of us.” Saying I’m sorry may or may not be enough, but, hey, it’s a start.

Ms. Iannelli is a resident of Jamesport.

07/05/11 7:01am
07/05/2011 7:01 AM

“You know, Molly, I ain’t stupid, right?”

“Let’s say you’re no intellectual, no Jean-Paul Sartre …”

“Who’s this Jean-Paul? You never told me about this old boyfriend.”

“He’s French …”

“Don’t tell me more. How could you ever go out with some dumb frog?”

“Fred …”

“I’m so angry. I don’t even like people looking at you on the street.”

“Listen to me, Fred, he’s not only French, he’s dead.”

“Well, that’s good news, Molly, and he’d better stay dead or I’ll kill him.”

“And he’s not only dead, he’s famous and I never met him. He was a writer …”

“You mean books?”

“Yes, that kind of writer. Writers write, cooks cook, bakers bake. That’s life. We each have a job to do.”

“And me?”

“Husband, friend, dog walker, caregiver, driver, barbecue engineer, carpenter, plumber, everything …”

“Lover, too?”

“That also. No need to be jealous. I’m your woman. Your old woman, I’m afraid. Nothing I can do about that. Jean-Paul had more than one woman at a time. Don’t do that to me. I couldn’t handle it. You might as well forget the young waitresses.”

“I’m too busy for that. But I need your help. All these years and I still can’t sew a button. How do you explain that? What’s wrong with me? Needle and thread and I’m lost. As confused as a chicken who’s found a knife in the grass. What will I do in the middle of the Atlantic with torn sails? All by myself.”

“You’ll never be in the middle of the Atlantic alone. Have you got secret plans?”

“I’ve been thinking …”

“That’s when you get in trouble. You need action.”

“Yeah, I like throwing them charcoals in the fire, flipping the burgers.”

“Sewing buttons, it gives you too much time to think.”

“What about a one-button shirt? Bet nobody thought of that. One big button, no more needle.”

“Except that one big button needs to be sewn, too.”

“I’ve been thinking about it in my sleep. A young waitress could teach me …”

“NO. No young waitress in my house. I’ve tried to teach you. It’s like having our dog Muffin read the Bible. Hopeless.”

“I built our house and I can’t sew a button. Don’t make sense.”

“But you can change the oil. You’re good with cars. The old Mercury Grand Marquis looks dead in the backyard among the weeds, with stuff growing inside. You sit in it, Fred, for two minutes and the engine shakes and growls, ready to go. I hear it from my bed. I love the sound. It means travel, happy times, the winding roads, from Orient, on to Southold, Riverhead, New York, down South to Florida till you can’t go no further, Key West. You know how to make it happen. Who cares about sewing buttons as long as we can dream.”

“You may be right, Molly, but so many idiots are sewing buttons around the world and I can’t do it! Billions of people are sewing buttons at this moment except me. Billions except for one little guy on the North Fork. Am I smart or what, tell me.”

“Some people build houses, some write poems, some race at Indianapolis, some plant tulips or do embroidery. Everyone has a story and a tune.”

“And some idiot, he don’t know how to sew buttons.”

“I’ll teach you. Tomorrow. All your shirts are missing buttons. I feel terrible. It’s my fault. My hands, my eyes, nothing works.”

“You was good at it, Molly. The quilts you made, the one everybody wanted to buy, but I wouldn’t let it go, even the little winter coat for Muffin. People ask where they can get one for their dog, and I say, my wife she made it, she designed it, not for sale anywhere. Your hands, they’re incredible.”

“Tomorrow I’ll teach you how to sew a button. We won’t quit. Remember the president: “Yes, we can.” You can, too. It won’t affect the future of the world. But it will make your world better. It’s a very peaceful thing to sew buttons. You’ll see.”

“Well, thank you, Molly. It don’t mean much to most people. But my first button, that will feel good. Now I’m taking Muffin out for her walk. Then I’ll flip the burgers.”

Pierre Gazarian is a poet and a writer of one-act plays. Email: [email protected]