These Are The Days

Smart ~ Writer ~ Mom

Month: July 2016

Happy Days Indeed

Tuesday nights were my favorite nights when I was a teenager in the 80s. And ABC was *the* channel to watch. Remember the line-up?
Happy Days – 8pm
Laverne and Shirley – 8:30pm
Three’s Company – 9pm
Too Close For Comfort – 9:30pm and Hart to Hart after that.

I lived for Tuesday nights. LIVED.

happy daysMy favorite shows were Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley. They were my “Must See TV” before the phrase was even invented. Not only did I watch every week, but I also loved catching up with the early seasons in syndication on Boston Channel 56 every weekday.

Happy-Days-happy-days-23604295-305-240At the time, I was more enamored with the actors. I had the biggest crush on Scott Baio (who, as we all know, turned out to be a colossal disappointment). I thought the Fonz was cool. I channeled my inner Marion Cunningham when playing the mom in my high school production of Bye Bye Birdie. And I played Laverne in an elementary school skit. I even drank her signature milk and Pepsi, which I adored.

Until I discovered the manna from heaven that is Diet Coke.

Years later, I learned more about the man behind the magic of my Tuesday nights.

In my eyes, Garry Marshall was a genius. A brilliant writer and a master of comedy with the most distinctive voice. When I first started working at Disney, my first job at the theme parks was at the Backstage Studio Tour. In the preshow queue there was a video that played on continuous loop. It featured famous people talking about different things in the movie industry. One of those people was Garry Marshall. I remember closing a loop in the queue (Disney speak for lengthening or shortening the line with chainlink barriers) and stopping to watch his segment. You could hear his raspy, thick Brooklyn accent all over the pre boarding area.

MTE4MDAzNDEwNzY3ODczNTUwOne of my favorite genres to read is memoir. I’m sort of a celebrity stalker, but I also truly enjoy learning more about the person behind the persona. Last year, I checked out Garry Marshall’s memoir – in an audio book format.

I can’t even tell you how fantastic it was to HEAR Garry Marshall tell the story of his life. I found myself smiling as I drove my car listening to him talk about filming Happy Days, The Odd Couple and Laverne and Shirley. Or writing for Jack Parr and the Dick Van Dyke Show. Or working with a young Julia Roberts on Pretty Woman. Or how Hector Elizondo was his lucky charm in so many TV shows and movies.

It was a joyous read because he was a joyful man.

I know I’m not alone when I say many of my fond memories growing up and into adulthood are thanks to Garry Marshall. His TV shows and movies made so many people happy.

What a legacy he leaves.

52 Weeks of Sisterhood: Our “Cou de Crayon”

If you’d asked me six weeks ago if we’d be getting a dog anytime soon I would have laughed in your face. We travel! We’re spontaneous! We’re not very responsible!

Of course we’re not getting a dog.

We like our freedom to sleep away a Sunday morning with no worries about who’s going to let the dog out or (worse) omg did *anyone* let the dog out? We make PLANS.

OK. My husband makes most of the plans. But still! We love our ability to just get up and go. We don’t have the time or the energy for a dog. Plus we have a new house and what if he ruins the carpet/floor/sofa/new home smell?

And yet.

Six weeks ago I sent my girls off to school and my husband off to work and I went to a dentist appointment. I remember I wore one of those long, summery dresses and cute white sandals. I had a lovely conversation with the hygienist, who took painstaking care of my super-sensitive teeth. I spit in the sink, made my six month appointment and drove home – blissfully unaware of the fate that awaited me as I pulled into my driveway.

Let me just pause and say right here that we pretty much hit the lottery when it comes to our neighbors. Seriously. The jackpot. So when I got out of my car that Tuesday morning and heard my name being called from the house diagonal to ours, I didn’t hesitate to go over and see what was up.

The conversation is a blur. Stray dogs … probably just dropped in the neighborhood … no tags … your girls would love a dog … he’s perfect … Italian greyhound

One thing led to another and by the time my oldest returned from school, the greyhound was in our garage. We followed the right protocol. We posted his photo and description on all the town and state lost pet sites and cross-referenced for good measure. We filed paperwork with Animal Control and were told after a 72-hour waiting period that weekend, if no one claimed him, he would be ours.

We’ve had him ever since. And in these short six weeks he has:

  • Escaped from his harness and led us on a multi-street chase
  • Worn the cone of shame following a very private surgery
  • Been boarded twice (hey. we had PLANS)
  • Taught us all how ghastly dog-farts can be
  • Discovered a soft spot in our 12 year olds bed
  • Stretched his little greyhound limbs and smelled his share of dog butts at the local dog park
  • Won over our hearts

The first harness we got him was a cheapy from Walmart. Live and learn. He wriggled out of that one fairly easily. So we had him fitted for one at the local Petco. It’s a size small because his neck is so darn tiny. His cone of shame wasn’t the traditional cone for the same reason – tiny neck. The whole thing reminded us of a favorite episode from Phineas and Ferb. Candace, the older sister, has this freakishly long, thin neck. In one episode, a popular theater director hires her for his show and talks endlessly of her talents. He nicknames her his “cou de crayon”, which she instantly thinks is some fancy French compliment.

The joke comes at the end of the episode when her brother crushes her little spirit and says, “You know that means ‘pencil neck’, right?”

The girls named him Scooby. But we also like to call him our little cou de crayon >> PENCIL NECK.

Our Italian Greyhound


Mad About Mary and Jamie

A little over two decades ago, I moved to Florida to work for Disney. It was my first time in the real world away from family and I didn’t quite know what to expect. I thought of myself as a shorter version of Mary Richards (aka Mary Tyler Moore). You know. Independent working woman trying to make it on her own …

Her Minneapolis was my Orlando.
Her producer job was my tour guide job.
Her cool apartment was eventually my cool apartment, after a string of roommates. Some were wonderful (Three gay men. Note: Gay men make the best roommates) and some not so wonderful.


The ‘M’ on the wall in Mary’s original apartment


When Mary moved out of Phyllis’ house and into a new apartment, her ‘M’ was the first thing she hung on the wall.


OUR ‘J’ AND ‘K’! I’ve had mine for six states (FL, IL, MA, NY, NJ, and DE)

Her signature letter M on the wall was my signature letter K on the wall. (Years later, my husband got a letter, too. Over the years, our J and K hung on a wall in various apartments. Now that we have a legit house, the letters can be found in the front hall closet because we’re GROWN UPS.) 

Yes, Mary was definitely my go-to gal when I lived on my own in Orlando. And she’ll always be my gold standard of single working women. Plus, I watched tons of Nick at Nite back then and who doesn’t love a good rerun of the Mary Tyler Moore show?

But when my boyfriend (now husband) and I moved to Chicago, another woman entered the picture. I have to confess that at first it felt sort of like I was cheating on Mary.

Enter: Jamie Buchman from Mad About You.

Helen Hunt – aka Jamie Buchman – epitomized everything I wanted for my life in Chicago: a huge apartment, cool furniture from Crate and Barrel, and THE LOOK. She wore a business suit (skirt or pants) like a boss. And her matching black shoulder bag contained everything a working woman needed: umbrella, change of shoes, extra hose or tights, water bottle, healthy snack, paper and pen. (She emptied her bag and identified the contents in one episode, in case you were wondering how I knew. #stalker )

Anyway, I had the black shoulder bag. I had the matching umbrella. I wore sneakers into work and changed into my heels that were conveniently in my black bag. I had extra tights in case of a pull or a run. And my “healthy” snack was a bottle of diet coke and some cookies. Whatever.

My husband and I watched Mad About You every week. They lived in a high-rise in New York City and, sans car, they walked, biked, or taxied their way around. Jamie worked in marketing and PR and they had a doorman for their fancy apartment right in the middle of the city. They were quirky, funny and their apartment was typical 90s decor furnished almost entirely (I’m guessing) from Crate and Barrel.

We lived in Chicago in a high-rise overlooking Michigan Avenue. I worked in marketing and event management and either walked, took a taxi or rode the train to work. My husband bought us bikes shortly after we moved there. We had a doorman and we lived in the middle of an exciting city. We didn’t buy furniture from Crate and Barrel but we did get a bedroom set and a few bookshelves from the now non-existent Marshall Fields. Our set is now in our spare bedroom and it’s a nice reminder of our short time living in the windy city.

To this day, if I have an important work deadline, job interview, or crucial meeting, I channel these two fictional women. What would Mary say? What would Jamie wear? Totally serious. I actually copied a navy blue business suit of Jamie Buchman’s for an interview once. Isn’t that ridiculous? But hey. It’s worked for me so far 🙂

A friend recently posed a fun question about which fictional TV character you most identify with. I guess I default to both Jamie Buchman and Mary Richards. These two shows are definitely on my list of all-time favorite TV shows, but more than anything, these shows and these two women can instantly transport me back to happy memories and happy times in my life.

And yes, I’m posting this in #MicroblogMondays even though this is once again not really MICRO. Here’s more info.

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