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August 15, 2006

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HemePathDoc

Hi,

Just visiting your blog again...you write beautifully.
I think someone had compared your writing to Jhumpa Lahiri, but with all respect to Lahiri fans, I think you write MUCH better! Sorry I missed your talk at the resident's graduation ceremony; I was out of town...

JLH

Sorry for the delayed post. I wrote this on my return from the trip, but the file went missing. Reading it now I see now that I left out a few details including the "Kum-and-GO".....

"OK. I declined making a guest entry into your blog, but should I be insulted that I didn't get a mention. :)
For my vanity's sake, I’ll give my reunion highlights….

For this northeastern city-dweller, Iowa was an adventure. Yes, they have many malls and all the same stores and suburban housing developments as you’d see in Orlando FL, Rockville MD; claims of obesity among Midwesterners are not exaggeration, but the amount of open space is unnerving. The landscape is flat and covered by acres of corn and soybeans, and there are few tall buildings. One feels somehow exposed and vulnerable. Likewise the people are unnaturally polite which induced several compensatory outbursts of disrespectful unmannered behavior including telling a guy at McDonalds to “tighten up the line” (he was leaving too much space to the next customer), and using cusswords as adjectives. I think I came off as a bit of an ass at the reunion because I kept trying to intensify the conversations. A few of M’s classmates do scientific research and I started grilling them beyond their capacity to answer; and my quest to identify all the men she had slept with in high school may have left the crowd with a bad impression. Except with for M’s parents, my Harvard/Jewish Doctor credentials meant nothing, and I think I was trying too hard to prove my self worth.

But her classmates had their own oddities. At dinner, one couple started the meal (a bloodbath of prime rib) holding hands, but progressed (during the course of normal conversation) to practically making out with his hand in her crotch. The “7-thouusand days” guy sang several Elvis songs, and I was asked by several men to comment on the genitals of the cattle I had seen at the sate fair.

I think Public High School reunions have to be awkward since the group is so diverse. College or professional school classmates are by nature a selected group with similar life and professional goals. Also, one tends to drift back into judgmental, clique oriented thinking; feeling more sophisticated than those who never made it out of state and “settled” for being mom to 3 kids and obesity. Overall, M’s classmates were happy and satisfied, maybe more so than me.

The highlight of my trip wasn’t the reunion, but the Iowa State Fair and spending time with M’s overprotective, but highly energetic and accommodating parents. R&K live in a marvelous house that was used to quarter the cast of Twister (the movie with Helen Hunt). In fact, I slept in the HH’s bed (no special dreams to report from the experience, though). Although likely apocryphal, M’s mother says that she befriended Hank Azaria (HH’s boyfriend and later, briefly, husband) during the filming. Since HA’s famous character on the Simpson’s is Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, I commented that M’s mom might have been the model for the accent. I hope she found the comment amusing; it may have been part of my allergic reaction to all the hospitality.

The fair was amazing. It’s not like I’ve never seen farm animals or eaten food on a stick, but the magnitude and organization was incredible. We saw a 1.5 ton bull and an equally large pig, a giant rabbit (Monty python fans may giggle here), cows, horses…. And everything was being judged including young women in a the beauty pageant. I had imagined there would be more food eating (pies, corn-dogs…) contests, but the competition must be too steep among the locals. There was a group of 40 high-school students on individual drum sets playing and dancing in unison to rock music for some church charity, a scary 7 ft tall robot (guy in a puppet suit) walking around, dirt track car racing, and rides. We missed the famous butter cow, and the arm wrestling, but I was satisfied flirting with the Iowa State grad student who was sequencing the corn genome.

Back on the east coast, armed with stories, I am ready to put on a cheery demeanor at the rest of the summer’s weddings and birthdays." (August '06)

JLH


I had my own “you can’t ever go back” moment while home for the holiday…

Going to synagogue was like seeing my youth played out with new actors; I have passing fantasies that I might somehow have pearls of wisdom to impart to them, but then remember that any similarity of this ‘bibliodrama’ to my past is just in my head. The strongest reminder of the loss is the presence of a new young rabbi, and the memorial plaque for the Rabbi I grew up with (R.Turetski- a traditional Zionist, ‘strong hand of G-d’ sermons) who died recently of lymphoma.

The whole thing made me a little weepy and vulnerable to the idea of Judgment (the theme of the Jewish High Holidays).

bob

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Well, you might as well keep moving forward, no point in looking back, today is sweet, can't you feel the lovely cool air on the skin of your arm, look at the Picasso print hanging up on the wall above the computer, look at the colors, oh what a blessing. Oh my, what a blessing. Seven thousand days, huh?

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