At the time it was a splurge for us—thirty dollars—but how could we resist? Turns out the shop owner had just polished its brass base that very morning before putting it in the shop window. "I knew it would go quickly," he said, chuckling. The shop is gone now. Still, I'm sure he'd be happy to know it's given us many years of joy. Every time I hear its version of "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town," I have to smile.
Martin and I used to think that our best years ended in odd numbers.
In hindsight, I think we'd flip that analogy to fit any year in which we weren't having a great year.
For us — and I guess a lot of you, too — 2011 was a mixed blessing. I'm not an avid baseball fan, but there is something to say about "times up to bat": the more you put it out there, the better chance you'll have of scoring a hit, as opposed to an error.
And every now and then, you also hit it out of the park.
Granted, for Team Brown, there were enough errors for 2011 to turn us around on the assumption that odd years are our best. But we also had our fair share of hits, including the launch of four books. My two were The Baby Planner and The Housewife Assassin's Handbook. Martin's books were Fit in 50 Days, and on the last day of the year, The Ultimate New Year's Resolution Diet.
Not only that, but I saw one of my titles, True Hollywood Lies, achieve the ranking of 411 in Amazon Bestsellers, as well as #9 in Amazon's category of Books/Literature & Fiction/Comic.
On the first day of every new year, Martin starts off by saying, "It's a new year, and we're still here."
He means this, literally as well as figuratively.
It's an inside joke:
One new year's day, just after we moved to Marin County, we were walking our children into Mill Valley's Old Mill Park when the skies opened up. As the rain poured down, an elderly gentleman, standing in his garage called out, "You can stand here with me, if you want, until it blows over."
We were happy to take him up on his offer.
Standing there, we made small talk. I don't know how the subject of the man's wife came up. I guess it had to do with the fact that we'd just started another new year. With the openess that only comes with fresh emotional wounds, he said, "Yep, just this past new year's day, as we sat down to breakfast, she said, 'Well, it's a new year, and we're still here.' Then she dropped dead of a heart attack."
What a way to start the year: losing the person you love the most, whom you've spent a lifetime.
Any other issues are miniscule. They are a run in the pantyhose of your life.
To put things in perspective: he hadn't had a bad hair day. He had a bad hair year.
Whenever we're coming off a bad year, or we're trepidacious as to what the new year will bring, we remember that man and the wife he mourned.
And we count our blessings. Here are the ones I cherish most:
– We have great health, as do our children.
– We are still as madly in love today as we were on the day we married.
– We saw many of our far-flung family this year, making new memories even as we remembered the old ones.
– Our friends are loving, appreciative and a joy to be around. If only we could see more of them, more often!
– We love what we do, which is write.
You've got to love the fact that life is just one big tease,
*Photo: Uber-model Jean Shrimpton, by Richard Avedon. Talk about helmet hair!
Read an excerpt of
THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK
And I had to hear it from my
He was recommending sperm bank
stocks. He even suggested, however
delicately, that Martin make several deposits.
Too late, I informed him. That
branch was closed years ago, after the birth of our second child.
Most single women I know lament
their difficulties in finding a few good men. Now, beside such coveted traits
as wit, intellect and cute buns, the Significant Other Rating System of a 21st
Century woman will also include a high sperm count.
Needless to say, in-vitro will be
I expect the Republican Party
will take credit for this occurrence: without babies, there is no need for a
welfare system, he’ll crow, and at last, the budget will be balanced.
What the politicos don’t realize
is that the true crisis right now is not propagation, but in the wellbeing of
the children already walking on this planet. The majority of our elementary,
high school and college facilities have lowered their standards, so our
children are learning less than we did. While we’re busy making ends meet, MTV Jersey Shore and The Real Housewives of Atlanta are giving our latchkey kids their version of our world. We get home too late to make real
meals, so our kids chow down on candy bars, sodas, hormone-injected milk and
meat, and pre-packaged, microwavable preservative-laden foods.
Let's not forget the PCBs and
DDTs in our oceans, streams and lakes. There's now an island of trash in the Pacific Ocean that is bigger than Texas. It's subprime real estate now, but when the ice caps melt, it may be the only game in town.
Talk about an ocean view.
And we wonder why sperm counts
Keep one thing in perspective:
Compared to childrearing, baby making has always been overrated. A 20-hour
labor is manna compared to the first time your surly, hormonal-driven teenager
comes home at three in the morning when his curfew was at 10 o’clock.
Those bemoaning the drop in sperm
count are welcomed to spend a weekend with our kids. It may change your mind on the whole picture.
Okay, seriously though, before we all start investing in
sperm bank stock, let’s give humankind one more chance to renew itself: our new
credo should be “One Egg, One Sperm." Why does the average male need to produce 300 million sperm
in the first place?
That’s so typical of a man: use
one sperm cell, and throw out 299 million others.
Simon & Schuster/Downtown Press