Monday, November 30, 2009

Weekend Wanderings - Part VII

The long Thanksgiving weekend to begin the holiday season was fairly uneventful. Thanksgiving Day consisted of a traditional meal, but that was the only "traditional" thing about it. Somehow, I managed to miss the entire Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and only watched two plays of football.

Part of the reason for this was simply being unaware on my part, another reason was a rather futile attempt to find an open supermarket during the day. While back home in New York, most supermarkets are open until at least two p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, that is not the case here in the Twin Cities. Both Kowalski's and Cub Foods were closed, much to my chagrin.

On the plus side, it turns out that the item I was searching for turned out not to be needed.

Friday turned out to be a sunny, but chilly day, with the one of the two highlights being a trip to the dog park for Victor, Roxie, and their new friend Sidda, who holds her own with the two much larger dogs very well. The second highlight was a walk a few blocks down Nicollet Avenue to my favorite local watering hole/dive the Driftwood Char Bar. That establishment recently started having live music on weekends, and Friday's selection was a local Reggae/Soukous band who played several sets of original reggae and soukous (West African Pop).

I'm becoming a lightweight... one bottle of Sam Adams, and three pints of Summit was all I had... I won't be able to keep up with those of you back in Buffalo when I get the chance to come back for a visit.

Saturday fell into the recent pattern of me getting very little that needed to get done at my apartment done... in fact, I think I may have actually managed to do less than nothing as I didn't get around to vacuuming my apartment until today. Saturday evening consisted of a brief trek into St. Paul with Tara (we're sort of like Statler and Waldorf from the Muppets, with most of the negative commentary coming from me of course) and ended up poking around a centerpiece of St. Paul's Mexican community El Burrito Mercado. It's a full-service Mexican grocery, and also has a restaurant of sorts inside. We ended up having dinner there, and it was only the second truly authentic Mexican meal I've had since my arrival in the Twin Cities. The first was over a year ago, I ate lunch one afternoon at a small place a couple of blocks away from my previous residence in the shitty neighborhood from hell, and never took the opportunity to go back. I should have, but I didn't.

I also realized that I do not know St. Paul as well as I'd like to. I plan on learning more about the what and where of St. Paul as we progress through the holidays. It's a unique situation, having two decent-sized cities right in top of each other to explore.

That's it for today... Misplaced is not feeing very creative this afternoon.

See you tomorrow.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Post-Game

Due to circumstances beyond Misplaced's control, today's promised blog entry is just a video.

Hope you find it amusing. If not, I'll try to make up for it Monday.

See you Monday.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Pre-Game

So it's Wednesday, November 25, 2009.

The day before Thanksgiving.

Surprisingly, I don't have a whole hell of a lot to say today. Tomorrow I will be having dinner with Tara... We're both solo for the holiday this year. Conveniently, we get along fairly well and just live a couple of blocks from one another, so it was a no-brainer once we discovered that we were both solo. At this moment, there is a fresh turkey brining in my refrigerator, Ms. Tara is making a pie or two, (Aunt Hattie's Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie... I never met her Aunt Hattie, but I'm guessing I would have liked her if her taste in pies is any indication) and I will take over her kitchen tomorrow to make my crowd-favorite cornbread stuffing. If you've never had my stuffing, you have NO IDEA what you're missing... It was my grandmother's recipe, and I was the only one in my family she gave it to before she passed on from this plane of existence.

People have died, thrones have been lost, and countries have gone to war in an attempt to get her recipe, and I am the only living human who knows it...




Misplaced can be megalomaniacal where stuffing is concerned.

Since I am involved in Thanksgiving pre-game on my end, (yes, I am drinking a concoction of cranberry/pomegranate juice, vodka, tequila, and a splash of triple sec this very moment) I'm cutting today's entry very short.

I will however leave you with a couple of scenes from one of the best Holiday Specials ever produced: A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. This is the clip featuring Snoopy's battle with the lawn chair, and of course has the late, great Vince Guaraldi's "Little Birdie" in the background.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving everyone, and remember my brothers in arms in Afghanistan and Iraq on this holiday.

I'll try to do another short entry tomorrow. If not, I'll see you Friday.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

An Old, But Relevant Rant

I received a request from a reader of my old, now defunct blog to reprint the following.

Since we're heading into the holidays, I agreed that it might not be a bad idea to get this one back out there, especially since I have a much larger readership here, and it may save some of you from unnecessary grief during the holidays.

Ladies, at the risk of sounding like a patronizing prick, you need to pay close attention to this one... especially if you've never read it before.

Guys, you need to read this too, and pass it on to the woman in your life, but do so without being a patronizing prick.


Many women do this one thing.

And it must leave them feeling awful…

I bet you do it too.

I’m talking about women who hide their true feelings from a man and fear sharing their desire for a closer relationship and for love.

Ever felt this way?

It’s happens when you won’t communicate directly with a man about your feelings because you think you’ll "scare him away".

Unfortunately, you’re right… it could scare him away.

The way you talk to a man about a relationship turns out to be THE BIGGEST MISTAKE ANY WOMAN CAN MAKE WITH A MAN.

I’ll come back to this giant mistake in just a quick second…

First, I’d like to talk about what I’ve seen in the dating world as a guy and share a story with you.

I’ve had women communicate their feelings with me in all sorts of different ways from joy to anger to frustration, and I know what each one does to a man.

(and in a larger context, what communicating this way does to any person in general - man or woman)

There’s a pattern to the dating experiences that I’d like to share.

The story goes something like this...

(let’s pretend I’m the man in this story and you’re the woman)

You and I meet. We both like each other. (lucky me!)

Feelings develop for us both on several levels. (physically, emotionally, socially)

You try to be "patient" and not express too many feelings and what you want to play it cool.

We have a great "connection", but we never talk about what we want in our future around dating, a relationship or marriage.

Time goes by and things are great for us.

Eventually, you begin to see that you’re not getting what you want from me in the relationship.

You want more, but you’re scared of talking to me about it because you don’t know where I’m at.

You’re scared because I’ve talked to you about all the bad experiences I’ve had with women in the past.

And sometimes I even make negative remarks about women and their emotions.

You don’t want to ruin the good things we have going and rock the boat, but in the back of your mind you know that you’ll want to deal with the negative emotions that are slowly but surely building in your mind.

Then as I start to see us growing closer, I begin to discuss my past issues to let you know how to proceed.

So you don’t say anything to me directly to communicate what’s going on for you and your feelings.

And of course, being a normal guy, I don’t ask. (Duh, I’m a man!)

You become frustrated and confused that I’m not acting how I used to act.

Things begin to change with the way I treat you.

I don’t pay as much attention to you anymore.

I don’t surprise you or bring you flowers anymore.

I’m tired everyday after work and just want to watch tv when I get home.

I call you less frequently.

I don’t initiate sex as much anymore.

If I have any female friends, you even consider that I could be seeing someone else.

And after a few months - I’ve become distant.

So what happens next?

You decide you’re not happy with where things are and it’s time to have a talk about where we’re at.

But you’re SCARED of expressing your feelings about what you want, so you let things build up inside you until you begin to let your frustrations with me show.

And to wrap the story up…


You start a conversation about the relationship and then you get upset and lose your cool with me in some way. (yelling, tears, physical violence)

All your desires, fears, frustrations and dreams that you’ve been holding inside away from me all pour out in one big emotional explosion…

This "Big Mistake" can take the form of arguing and yelling, but not exclusively.

Sometimes it’s just extreme intensity, perhaps tears.

It might include:

1. Complaining about the current state of the relationship.

2. Showing your frustrations about what you feel is missing.

3. Becoming upset that he doesn’t feel how you’d like him to feel.

4. Bringing up past issues, arguments or disappointments.

5. Implying he’s not really needed (letting him know you have other male friends who will do things for you DANGER ladies!!! This one will backfire on you almost every time!!!)

But it always creates a lot of emotional tension and "drama". Especially in the guys mind.

This is THE LAST THING you want to do with a man if you want to get some positive result with him.

That tension that’s created stays with him, and he NEVER forgets it.

In his mind, he now thinks of you as "hysterical" and full of issues. His mind defines you by what he saw in your behavior, and it scares him.

Yep, I know it’s not fair, but it’s the man’s weird and twisted reality…

I’ve heard hundreds, maybe thousands, of men talk about this exact perception of a woman and how they fear being with a woman who they think will make this giant mistake.

Yeah, I know… it’s inmature, selfish and not fair of the man, but it’s the reality of the situation that lots of women end up in with men.

So how do you avoid this….? I’ll tell you how in THREE EASY STEPS.

Step 1) You Need To Understand What’s Going On Inside The Mind Of Your Man…

Let me tell it to you straight, as a man…

Women secretly believe that their connection with a man will "naturally" turn into something deeper without any communication taking place.

Kind of like it’s the unspoken truth about what’s going on.

Honestly… this isn’t how it works for us men.

If you’re "assuming" you have a relationship, and that he feels like you do, you’re wrong.

Men don’t assume that a connection, being together, spending quality time and all the rest means they’re in a committed relationship.

Some men do, but not most.

For a man to know he’s in a committed relationship, and understand the things YOU want in that relationship, YOU have to communicate with him in CLEAR AND DIRECT terms.

Yeah, that’s right… You have to put yourself out there and be vulnerable.


But I hear lots of women think that other women are just lucky to have found such a great guy.

And while there are some men who are more equipped and ready for a healthy situation with a woman, it’s NOT luck that women in great relationships have found a way to communicate with their guy.

That’s right, they’ve taken time to find the right information and to learn to integrate a certain way of communicating into their thinking and behavior.

It’s not easy, but there’s help.

Step 2) You Need To Understand What Causes You To Make "The Big Mistake"

EVERYONE wants to have THEIR needs met first. It’s basic human nature.

But being able to delay your gratification is an AMAZING thing to develop in your life. (in every part of your life!)

Most people (men and women) want to talk, talk, talk about what THEY think and what THEY want.

The root of this problem basically boils down to needs that are unmet.

So making "The Big Mistake" is really all about being driven by your unmet needs and desires and solely focusing on what YOU want the relationship to be, without honestly and critically considering the man’s perspective, his emotional state, his communication skills and where he’s coming from at the same time.

When you do this with a man, you are subconsciously telling him that you’re more interested in your feelings and what YOU want than you are in his feelings and what he wants.

And men can read and pick up on women who do this instantly.

I see a form of this "Big Mistake" communication all the time in business by the way.

Some business professionals are the worst at this self-absorbed "need" oriented communication.

Like when someone calls me who wants to get something from me or sell me something and they’re not very experienced or polished at it.

The first thing I pick up on is their selfish agenda… and it instantly puts me on the defensive.

But if they’ve done their "homework" on me and what I’m looking for, and not what THEY WANT from me, when they talk it changes the whole situation the second they show me they’ve thought about what I want.

It’s very simple but extremely powerful.

So let’s take this concept directly back to communicating with men.

It might sound cliche’, but you’ve got to learn to listen and understand where’s he’s at and where’s he’s coming from.

This cliche’ is a around for a reason.

It works.

Patience, empathy and understanding are the first steps towards creating the relationship you dream about.

But you’ve got to be careful to not become the woman who gives him EVERYTHING and gets walked on.

Use your common sense and intuition to safeguard yourself - I know that your female perceptive abilities aren’t used nearly enough, so put these strong tools to good use.

Step 3) How To Avoid Making The Big Mistake

Let me give you a vital piece of information when dealing with men…

Men are CLUELESS when it comes to identifying the things that are "obvious" to women in dating and relationships.

I would know. It’s taken me twenty years to begin to understand these things for myself - and I spend a LOT of time thinking about it.

So we know men are AWFUL at initiating and participating in conversations about deep emotions and relationships.

Sorry to break the bad news, but it’s almost always up to you to make this communication happen.

It’s important to remember to approach the entire conversation from the perspective of talking about what you want AND what he wants.

If you can make a guy feel like you put his feelings and needs a priority in this conversation, and always consider what he wants, I promise he will LOVE YOU for it!

There’s no rule that says you can’t consider another persons opinions and feelings first in order to get what you want.

In fact, a key goal in negotiating is to let the other person talk first.

When you get to listen first, you ALWAYS have the advantage. You know exactly what the other person wants… and knowledge is influence and power.

I’m not saying you need to take on hard-core negotiating here with a man, but some of the same rules and principles about people and psychology apply.

When you talk to a man from a positive place of listening first, he will be 10,000 times more receptive to what you have to say and what you want once you bring it up than if you approach him from a place of feeling hurt, communicate need and projecting fear and anxiety.

Try this instead.

Ask a positive question or give a positive statement such as, "Honey, I was thinking today that I was happy to be with you."

It might sound submissive, corny or difficult to say to someone you’re having a tough time with, but think about it…

If you’re going through all the trouble to worry so much about the future with this person, this is already what you’re thinking.

See you tomorrow.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Weekend Wanderings - Part VI

Today's photo is from my "Minneapolis Mill" series, taken last winter.

There wasn't really much wandering this past weekend.

Friday was fairly uneventful. It consisted mostly of catching up on some reading, as over the past couple of months Misplaced has somehow gotten into the bad habit of picking up a book, reading a few chapters, getting distracted, not going back to it, and doing the exact same thing a few days later - but with a different book. As it stands, there are now several books scattered around my living room, all started, none finished. One of them is Stephen King's "Lisey's Story" which I have actually tried to start reading five times, going back to before I relocated to Minnesota.

I may give that one another go over the next few days, but I'm puzzled by my reaction to it, as I usually bomb through Mr. King's work in just a few days... even the lengthy ones! I read the uncut version of "The Stand" in just three days - all one thousand, one hundred and sixty-eight pages of it, and read all seven volumes of "The Dark Tower" (three thousand, seven hundred and twelve pages) in about twenty days, over the course of two months. For some reason, "Lisey's Story" starts out very slow, and I don't know why...

Anyway... I was talking about the past weekend.

Friday night I got to check out a restaurant a few blocks away that Tara suggested, Gigi's Cafe, located at 36th Street and Bryant Avenue, right on the edge of Uptown. It reminded me of Amy's Place in Buffalo (Which STILL doesn't have a website), as it's menu was not completely vegetarian, but VERY vegetarian-friendly. It seemed to be staffed by the same mixture of lesbian and hippie girls working the front of the house, and the lone male employee I caught a glimpse of looked like the same hipster/poser type of guy that you'd find manning the kitchen there. One difference I noticed was the fact that the staff at Gigi's made an obvious effort to keep the restaurant clean and presentable, where at Amy's Place, I recall seeing the same muddy footprint on the floor for nearly a month the winter before I moved. The other (and much more obvious difference) I saw was the fact that Gigi's is licensed to serve wine and beer, and has a decent selection of both. The closest you'd get to anything like that at Amy's Place would be the occasional whiff of high-quality ganja on a few of the patrons, and sometimes the staff, depending on what day of the week it was and whether or not the owner was present. Patrons at Gigi's are expected to pick up after themselves, and when finished eating, carry their own silverware, plates and glasses to a bus pan conveniently located at the far end of each of the two dining rooms. The only thing missing was a sign that read: Bus Your Own Damn Table Hippie.

Since the menu was heavy on vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options, Misplaced of course opted to horrify the few granola types present and order the carnivore-friendly Angus Burger, with "french fries" that were really potato wedges. Tara, being one of those who shuns red meat (yeah, I know) went for the more animal and eco-friendly Portobello Mushroom sandwich. Not wanting to be a complete jerk, I had an Arnie Palmer to drink, which was constructed from house-brewed black tea, and house-made lemonade. (The Arnie Palmer is found in a few places in Buffalo, but always in a can, never made on-site... it seems to be VERY popular here in the frozen tundra of Minnesota... I plan on mixing it liberally with vodka next summer and making it my number one evening libation.)

Saturday turned into yet ANOTHER unseasonably warm weekend day here in the Twin Cities, and true to recent form, I got absolutely nothing of importance done in my apartment. Instead, the now requisite trip to the MAC Dog Park took up a portion of the afternoon, the difference in this weekend's trip there being that Victor and Roxie went with Tara's high-speed dog Sidda this time. (Sidda, it turns out is named after the character Siddalee 'Sidda' Walker from "Divine Secrets Of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood"... chick book, chick flick, chick dog... *gag*) On the plus side, the three dogs got along fairly well with each other. Roxie was pleased to have a dog to run with (or after, as Sidda is light years faster that either of my two brutes, and Roxie is pretty fast herself.), Victor didn't even really try to run with them, which is a good thing, as it would have been embarrassing for him to even try.

Poor Victor. He's a big, slow, oaf. If you pay attention, you can actually feel the ground shake as he comes lumbering past.

Saturday ended with attending a basketball tournament for a girl's youth league consisting of several local traveling teams. One of the students at the school Tara works at is apparently going to be the next Sheryl Swoopes. She's ten years old, and nearly as tall as I am! It was rather interesting to watch the game... the team she plays for is called the Lady Monarchs, and is all African-American girls with the exception of the student at Tara's school, who is from Liberia. (It's in Africa for the geographically challenged... click the link and learn.) The team they played against was from the predominantly white suburb of Eagan. It was explained to me that the Lady Monarchs have been uninvited from tournaments because they are simply too good. In fact, they are a fifth-grade team that regularly plays against and beats teams of seventh and eighth-grade players. The animosity towards the Lady Monarchs was evident to me during the game as I counted nearly forty fouls committed against them that were ignored by the two officials... both of whom were white, and didn't hesitate to call fouls against the Lady Monarchs... who I must add played a very clean game all things considered. The team from Eagan would have made my friend Mark Adair proud, as their use of elbows and forearms were right out of the Mark Adair school of playground ball. I was mildly appalled at how dirty the Eagan team played, but I kept my mouth shut, since I was a guest.

It didn't matter though, the Lady Monarchs easily handled Eagan, and won by seventeen points.

(On a side note, during a break in the action I noticed that the Lady Monarchs coach was wearing a Buffalo Bills jacket! I approached him right after the game of course, and asked him if he was from my neck of the woods. It turns out that he was not, but was a lifelong Bills fan, even though he was born and raised here in Viking Country... At least I'm not the only one here taking shit over the Bills horrendous record this year.)

Sunday turned out to be yet another unseasonably warm day, and my bagel routine was followed by a short trek down Nicollet Avenue to the one-Sunday-only Thanksgiving edition of the Kingfield Farmer's Market, which was held indoors in a large space donated by neighborhood photography studio rau + barber. It's actually too bad that it was indoors... it was such a nice day that it could have been held in it's regular parking lot just a few doors away. The Sunday trek ended with a stop at the Anodyne Coffee House, where I discovered that they did indeed have the Sunday New York Times available to read, and had the added bonus of being able to sit outside next to a table occupied by two men from NYC who own a property in the neighborhood. A pleasant conversation was had with them, and though they were both pretty butch types, all questions about their relationship were quickly answered when they mentioned that one of them was a personal trainer, and they had a summer place on Fire Island.

The rest of of my Sunday consisted of doing some laundry, watching Peter Gabriel's "Growing Up Live" concert on DVD, and a home-cooked, healthy meal consisting of a salad, basmati rice, and salmon purchased from a gentleman who is a Bering Sea fisherman, but is married to a woman from the Twin Cities suburbs. When I asked him how in the world did an Alaskan Fisherman end up in the Twin Cities, he replied "Never marry a girl from Edina and take her to Alaska."

Misplaced agrees.

See you tomorrow.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Yep... Another Story

Lost track of time AGAIN.

Another untitled short story from the archives to finish the week. Another photo from my last trip to Duluth before my life changed.

UNTITLED - by Jonathan K. Lee

For years we shared recipes with Ian and his wife Martha, fetched the Times for each other and baby-sat each other's kids. Ian helped me put up my deck, and I hauled bags of soil for his tomato plants and roses. We planted matching dogwoods in our areaways and painstakingly restored the bluestones instead of re-paving our sidewalks in concrete as so many of the other brownstoners were doing. We played poker the first Friday of every month with Harry Lyons and Bill Storch, the only African American on our block. Our daughters went to private school together. We were as close to being family as any two groups of people could be without actually having blood ties.

Until last autumn.

Connie and I like to sleep late on Sunday. Ian was usually up at the crack of dawn. He took long walks before breakfast, sometimes with Martha but usually by himself. He wandered through Prospect Park, hiked down to Grand Army Plaza or occasionally explor ed the Irish neighborhood bordered by Greenwood Cemetery. On his way home he picked up two copies of the Times and deposited one of them on our front stoop before rustling up breakfast for his wife and daughter. In return, Connie and I never took a ride upstate without bringing him and Martha a basket of apples, peaches or whatever was in season

What really happened that particular Sunday morning I may never know. But at 9:15 or 9:30 my wife came rushing into the bedroom shouting, "Ian's been arrested!"

I was only half-awake and didn't understand what she was saying until she explained that Ian had just called from the 78th Precinct to ask if we could get him a lawyer.

"Arrested for what?"

"He said something about a demented woman bringing charges against him. He said he was only allowed one phone call. He wants you to get hold of Charlie Foxx.

"Charlie's a real estate attorney."

"Maybe he can recommend a real lawyer."

"Did Ian say what the charge was?"

"Just something about a crazy woman."

She was close to tears. Maybe if I had taken the call myself I would have reacted the same way. But the idea of Ian getting arrested seemed so absurd that I still had trouble believing it.

"You told Martha?"

"No. Would you do it?"

"Alright. But do me a favor and find Charlie Foxx's number--his home phone."

I went next door and broke the news to Ian's wife. For the better part of a minute she stood motionless, covering her mouth with her hand. She was wearing a blue robe she had put on to start coffee in her country kitchen. I made her sit down and drink som e, but she still looked as if I had just told her Ian had been run over.

"Don't worry," I said. "It's just some kind of stupid mistake."

As I was speaking the phone rang--Connie calling to relay Charlie Foxx's number.

"How is Martha taking it?" she asked.

"Not well."

"Should I come over?"

"That might not be a bad idea."

Charlie was home but he didn't know any criminal lawyer who would be willing to run down to the 78th Precinct on a Sunday morning.

"What did this friend of yours do?"

"I don't know. Some woman brought charges."

"This is kind of out of my line."

"For Christ's sake, Charlie, the man's in jail."

"I know. But chances are they won't arraign him till the morning anyhow. They wouldn't even be holding him if it wasn't a felony charge."

"Felony?" I said, causing Martha, who had been starting to calm down under Connie's ministrations, to go catatonic again. "Charlie," I said more quietly, "can't you, you know, bail him out or something?"

"Not before he's arraigned."

"He just has to sit in the precinct house until tomorrow?"

"They'll probably transfer him to the lockup on Atlantic Avenue. They might have done so already."


"Sorry, chum. That's how these things work. But let me try calling a couple of my colleagues. They might know something--or at least put me on to someone who does."

I didn't have the heart to tell Martha what Charlie Foxx said. Instead, I assured her that he was making some calls to contact an appropriate attorney. Then I headed back to my own house to make breakfast for Tanya, leaving Connie to look after Martha. Co nnie's a brick at times like this. She once sat through a ten-hour operation with a neighbor whose husband had colon cancer.

It was only when I was alone with the mixing bowls that I had a chance to think. I had known Ian about six years--not a long time as friendships go. Even so, six years is not six minutes, and nothing during that time had prepared me for the shock of heari ng that my friend was about to be charged with a serious crime. Not that I believed for a moment he was guilty of anything criminal. Even so, the police did not make a habit of arresting white middle-class males just for taking a walk in the park.

"How's Martha doing?" I asked Connie when she returned.

"I gave her Valium and called her sister."

"She's with her now?"

"She's on the way. Honey, you don't really think Ian did something?"

I was at the sink, scouring the grill. Out in the yard a bluejay was perched on the handlebars of Tanya's trike. The big maple which made it next to impossible to grow anything but ivy under its massive spread was starting to shed its leaves. In a couple weeks it would be time to start getting ready for our Halloween party. I wondered if Ian would be able to attend. Last year he came dressed as a monk. His wife came as a prioress with a slit habit that exposed one leg almost to the hip where she wore a c rimson garter. It was a surprising getup for a woman who never used a four-letter word and even on the hottest summer day sported nothing more revealing than Bermuda shorts.


Charlie Foxx called back to say he had gotten in touch with someone willing to take Ian's case. He had also found out what the charge was: Sexual Molestation.

The lawyer Charlie had contacted promised to pay Ian a visit that afternoon. I didn't much care for the way he sounded on the phone, like a dentist who was putting himself out to handle a bad tooth that should have come out years ago. He said he would try to get back to me after he saw Ian. He said there was a possibility that Ian would be arraigned that same day but that there was no point to our going down to the court without knowing for sure.

It was not going to be an ordinary Sunday--yard work, a nap after lunch followed by an excursion to one of the malls in Jersey or Long Island. Getting Ian legal counsel had taken up most of the morning, and Tanya and Melissa had play rehearsal in the afte rnoon. Needless to say, my nap went by the boards. I fussed in the basement and pruned the dogwood in the areaway (I would have pruned Ian's as well but was afraid his wife might take it as a bad omen). But the day seemed to go on forever.

At 5:00 the lawyer called to say that Ian had been to court and was being released on bond. We could come down to take him home.

It seemed like the end of a bad dream. I rushed next door to tell Martha. She started sobbing so hard that I decided I'd best collect Ian on my own.

I found him sitting on the deserted steps of the Supreme Court building. He didn't look especially unkempt, but he had a jail-worn, almost homeless look. He's tall and lean but a lot more sturdy than he looks. He's also the cheerful sort, always smiling w hether he's in a genuinely good mood or has had a setback of some kind. But that cloudy, early-autumn afternoon he looked like a lost kid.

"Can I give you a lift?"

He said very little during the drive home. I didn't ask any questions and he didn't volunteer anything. I took the long way, through Carroll Gardens where Connie and I lived when we first moved to Brooklyn. He stared at the passing stores as if we were on a six-lane Interstate.

"Can we get coffee?" he said when we reached Park Slope. "From a deli, I mean."

I bought him a ham sandwich and watched him wolf it down. But he showed no other effects of his ordeal until a police car slowed as it passed my Cherokee. Ian stopped chewing until it was gone and spilled coffee on his lap, his hand was trembling so badly .

Martha broke into a fresh shower of tears when I handed her husband over to her. But Ian scarcely took the time to thank me before making it clear that he wanted to be left alone. I was a little non-plussed but told myself that the man had to be out of so rts after what he had been through.

"Stop by later," I said, "after you've had a rest."

I expected him at least to telephone. But as nine o'clock passed, and then ten, I began to feel a little miffed. I had, after all, taken the trouble to find him a lawyer who got him released without his having to spend the night in jail. And Connie had lo oked after his wife and daughter. We had devoted our entire Sunday to him.

"If he has nothing to hide, why is he avoiding us?" Connie said as we were getting ready for bed.

"Maybe he fell asleep early," I said, pulling on my pajamas. "Maybe he got drunk."

"I mean, how well do we really know him?"

"Only," I said, checking the alarm on the clock radio, "about as well as we know each other."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"That nobody really knows anyone else inside and out."

She didn't reply. She just turned out the light without asking as she usually does if I wanted to read for a while.


Ian's case was scheduled to go to court the following week. Neither Connie nor I had seen him since the day of his arrest. Martha seemed embarrassed by his seclusion but excused it on the grounds that he was busy with his job. Connie and I had a ton of wo rk to do for our Halloween party, so I decided to let him come round in his own good time.

Wednesday night his lawyer called to ask if we would be willing to testify as character witnesses. Of course, we agreed. The lawyer, somebody named Briteman, said he didn't expect it would come to a trial, but he was putting a defense together just in cas e. "The complainant is sticking to her guns," he said. "I'll make a motion to dismiss, but that will just be for the record. I'm sure I can arrange a plea bargain to a misdemeanor."

"You mean he could actually be convicted of something?"

"It's this woman's word against his. Plus they got a witness."

"The woman must be a nut case."

"Actually she's some kind of high-powered executive. I wouldn't like to see her take the stand."

Word of Ian's plight got around the neighborhood and people began asking after him. They seemed sympathetic and, for the most part, agreed to sign affidavits on his behalf.

Then, Saturday morning Ian turned up at our house as if nothing unusual had happened and began retailing the usual gossip about his job--an exclusive private school for rich kids and diplomats' children. He had a new story about the Ecuadorian janitor and the millionaire parents of a Japanese sophomore. As he mugged his way through it--some confusion about the school toilets and the principal's office--imitating the Latino janitor and the prim Japanese in turn, he seemed a bit more eager to please than us ual but otherwise very much the old Ian. I didn't mention the court case, and he never alluded to it himself. When the coffee klatch broke up Connie and I headed out to Long Island to buy Tanya a new winter coat.

The hearing was scheduled for the 28th. Halloween fell on a Sunday, so we had decided to have the party Saturday night. Our Halloween bash has become the main social event in that neighborhood. We held the first one eleven years ago just as a get-together for a few neighbors. But as our circle of friends widened, so did the guest list, until we now find ourselves entertaining thirty or more couples.

Making it a costume affair was Ian's idea. People quickly began vying with each other to come up with the most original outfits. We even give out an award--a bottle of Dom Perignon.

Thursday evening Ian called and for the first time spoke about his court case.

"Briteman says he thinks he can strike a deal with the assistant district attorney. It should all be over soon."

"That's wonderful," I said. "You must feel so relieved."

"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't. We both are. And we're both very grateful to you and Connie."

I told him I hoped to see him at the party, not knowing how he felt about making an appearance in public. He assured me that he and Martha were looking forward to the affair. "We wouldn't miss it for the world."


Saturday was cold and sunny--pumpkin weather. Connie finished with the hors d'oeuvres by lunchtime. The main dishes were already in the freezer. We spent most of the afternoon cleaning and decorating, including the carving of a huge jack o'lantern to set out in the areaway. Tanya and I did the last-minute shopping and swept up the leaves. Then we vacuumed and put the finishing touches on our costumes. I was dressing up as Franklin Roosevelt, with crutches, Connie as Eleanor. Tanya was going as Shirley Tem ple.

The guests began arriving shortly after eight. Half an hour later there was a crush around the hors d'oeuvres. The white wine and bourbon were flowing freely.

Ian and Martha had never been among the first guests to arrive at our previous parties. But as it got to be nine o'clock and then quarter-after, I began to worry.

Finally the doorbell rang. I had been holding forth about dry rot back at the booze table, half a house from the front door. At first it was difficult to see through the mix of witches, devils and assorted creatures of the night in my parlor. But as Ian a nd his wife began threading their way through the crowd, shaking hands and trading back slaps, I was finally able to make out their costumes.

Ian was dressed in prison clothes. Martha had on a guard's uniform.Ian's zebra-stripe long johns included an oversize necktie, and he was carrying a black briefcase, the same he brought to work each morning. Martha's uniform was mini-skirted and included some heavy cleavage.

There was a round of applause. There didn't seem any doubt who would carry home the Dom Perignon.

I couldn't help admiring the man's pluck. Of course, Martha looked like she was being roasted on a slow spit, but her pained smile never flagged as Ian escorted her through the crowd, his wrist shackles attached to her belt by a silver chain.

I kissed her heavily rouged cheek and offered a glass of white wine. Ian asked for bourbon.

"You look . . . fetching," I said to Martha.

"It was Ian's idea, of course."

He, meanwhile, was bantering with Ed Nugent, a stockbroker who helped him refinance his mortgage a couple years back.

"Leave it to Ian to face an issue head-on," I said. But Martha looked so uncomfortable I let Connie take over the conversation and went to fetch more liquor from the pantry downstairs.

When we first bought the house we did all our entertaining in the basement and used the parlor level as bedrooms, renting out the two top floors for extra income. I still haven't gotten used to having an entire house to myself. The pantry, a kind of vesti bule between the old kitchen and the back yard, was well-stocked not just with liquor but with Connie's preserves and canned goods of every variety. What I didn't expect to find there was Bill Storch and Hal Sternberg's wife, going at it against a shelf o f empty Mason jars. Mimi's blouse was wide open. Bill's face was buried inside.

I slipped out the basement exit to the street. It was a cool, crisp night. I welcomed the fresh air after the steamy scene I had just stumbled on. The sky was dotted with bright stars. There was no one else about. Connie's jack o'lantern was my only compa ny, its ferocious grin burning into the quiet night. I took a couple deep breaths, then let myself in through the parlor entrance.

By now there were people crowded all the way from the entrance foyer to the food tables at the back of the house. Just saying hello to all the guests I had not yet greeted took half an hour. Happily, I didn't run into the spouses of the pantry lovers.

Ian was dancing with Martha. They were, in fact, the only couple dancing, the music virtually inaudible through the din of conversation, his cheek pressed against her blue guard's cap, an inebriate grin creasing his handsome face.

I found Connie refilling the guacamole dip and whispered what I had discovered in the basement.

"My God," she said, "what are we going to do?"

Noting that a few heads had turned, I told her to keep on with the guacamole while I made sure that the two ignorant spouses stayed clear of the basement.

Hal Sternberg had come dressed as his wife's pimp in a wide-brim hat and satin suit. To my surprise, I found him in deep conversation with Betty Storch, her small face tightly framed by a white wimple. I decided to leave well-enough alone.

Ian and Martha were still dancing. I admired his nerve, making a joke out of his misfortune. His efforts seemed to be having the desired effect. He had won over even those few guests who had been inclined to be stand-offish. Of course, all that wine and b ourbon helped.

The rest of the evening passed uneventfully. The basement lovers rejoined the party without anyone apparently being the wiser. Ian and Martha became just two other guests.

I felt as if a terrible cloud had passed from all our heads. The talk the next morning was therefore not about Ian, who seemed fully rehabilitated into society, but about Bill and Mimi.

Connie was furious.

"How dare they use my house as a brothel! In all the years we've been giving the party we never had anyone behave like that."

"Wasn't there something involving Joe Ferrano and Sally Rourke a few years back?"

"Don't be ridiculous. All that happened was Joe dropped an anchovie down the front of her dress."

"And tried to remove it with his tongue."

"They were drunk. Besides, it happened in full view of everyone at the party, not in a deserted pantry."


A few days later Ian called to tell me that the district attorney had decided to prosecute.

"Briteman says they've come up with a second witness, some kid lurking in the bushes."

"Has the kid positively identified you?"

"I have no idea. Briteman says it might be a bluff, to see if they can drive a harder bargain."

"Did you see anyone like that around?"

There was a pause while, I assumed, Ian tried to remember. But he said, "What do you mean, 'Did I see anyone?' You seem to forget I didn't do anything. Ergo, I wasn't looking to see who might be watching."

"I just meant that if you were in that area of the park . . ."

"I wasn't in the park that morning. I didn't see any kid. I didn't molest any woman."

"I'm sorry, Ian. I didn't realize you weren't in the park. I just assumed . . ."

"That I go out on Sunday mornings to cop a quick feel down by the Tennis House?"

"That's not fair. I never believed for a moment you were guilty of anything."

There was another silence. This time I didn't presume to divine its meaning. Then he said, "I'm sorry. I've got no business talking to you that way. You've been a prince throughout this whole business. I'm just so goddamn fed up. Why did that stupid woma n have to pick me out of the lineup?"

"Do you know anything about her?"

"I'm not even sure she really exists. She must be a nut job is all I can figure."

"Has your lawyer explored that possibility?"

"He's still too impressed by her corporate credentials. He thinks a jury'll believe anything she says. Do you realize I could lose my job? What do I do then? Who would hire a teacher convicted of sexual assault?"

"I think you're doing the right thing--pleading innocent, I mean. You can't afford a conviction, even to a lesser offense."

"You're right. And I still don't know how to thank you."


The trial began the following week. The first days were occupied with jury selection, so I didn't ask for any time off from work. Instead, I tried to get as much done as possible so I could be free when the prosecutor was ready to make his opening stateme nt.

Only, as it turned out, it was a she, an attractive redhead with ambition written all over her freckled face. She seemed energy personified in a snugly tailored suit that did not go unnoticed by the judge, a bald sexagenarian whose head was barely visible above his gavel. To make matters worse, Ian's lawyer was a short, sallow-face man in a mis-size gabardine with bad teeth and a lecher's grin that he flashed every time he finished a sentence, causing jurors and spectators alike to wince.

Ian was charged with "fondling and pressing" the breasts and buttocks of a woman about ten years older than the ADA--another redhead, who could have passed for her sister. Each time Briteman referred to the charge he flashed his dreadful grin to show disd ain, but the effect was scurrilous.

My faith suffered its first blow when one of the local papers,a rag that kowtows to the borough's political hacks, ran a front-page story about the trial complete with a photo of Ian in handcuffs. The text described him as a teacher at a "plush Manhattan academy" and "frequent early-morning sojourner in the area's parks and cemeteries." It made him sound like a ghoul. The story included the complainant's account of the alleged molestation and no doubt made for spicy reading in the borough's laundromats an d pizzerias.

We had driven Ian and Martha to court the first day of the trial. The atmosphere in my Cherokee had been sober but hopeful. But the morning after the story appeared on the front page of The Brooklyn Journal the mood in the Jeep turned gloomy.

The prosecutor was clever enough not to portray Ian as a confirmed sex pervert. "Temptation beckoned" was the way she put it. "There seemed to be no one about, so he took his opportunity." The jury--four men and eight women, all but three of them black--l istened attentively. Occasionally one of them glanced toward the defendant. I made an effort to see Ian as the jurors might, but all I could think was that if I were black I wouldn't give a damn what some white man did to a white woman on a Sunday morning in Prospect Park.

When Briteman rose to make his opening statement, the jurors who had been listening to the ADA like well-behaved fourth-graders suddenly looked skeptical. The prosecution's remarks had sounded rehearsed, but that only seemed in keeping with her teacher-li ke persona. But Briteman had "lawyer" written all over him.

"Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury," he began in a heavy Brooklyn accent, hitching up his baggy trousers, "my client is an honorable, happily-married man who would no more think of sexually molesting a strange woman than the Man in the Moon."


Ian was convicted and sentenced to three years probation with six months community service. He was also ordered to undergo psychotherapy.

Martha broke down when the verdict was handed down. Ian himself showed no emotion. During the ride home he still said nothing, staring out the window just as he did the day I collected him from jail, his eyes moist, gnawing on his lip.

He was indeed forced to resign from his teaching job and has taken a position with a real estate agency. He works most evenings and weekends, so he no longer attends our poker games or stops by to share a cup of coffee. He exercises in a gym and never, as far as I can tell, ventures into the park.

Most of our neighbors assume he really is guilty of something, an attitude which angered me until I realized that if they thought otherwise they would have to admit that the same thing could happen to them. I myself have become very careful about which st rangers I speak to and am reluctant to give one of the neighbor's children a ride in my car unless another adult is present.

Sometimes as I lie in bed at night waiting to fall asleep, I try to imagine what it must be like for him, losing his job, the respect of his friends, being looked on with constant suspicion. I wonder if these same people would also put me at arm's length the way they have Ian.

Then I think about that Sunday morning when the "incident" was supposed to have happened. I put myself in that woman's place and try to come up with some plausible reason why she should make such an accusation. I review the trial itself, going over everyo ne's testimony, recall Ian's deadpan expression despite what must have been three hellish days. I think back to Yankee games we went to, school bake sales and trips to the beach when the kids were younger.

Sometimes I continue these thoughts into my unconsciousness. Only, in my dream reality becomes altered in strange and confusing ways: Ian is found innocent and everyone leaves the courtroom to celebrate, leaving me behind handcuffed to a bench and waiting in dread for the judge to appear.

Connie has told me Ian and Martha have put their house up for sale, though there's no sign attached yet to the building. It seems absurd that they should have to move. On the other hand, maybe he'll be better off someplace where nobody knows him.

Meanwhile, I go about my usual routine taking the subway to work, putting out the garbage. I still put Ian's empties back inside his areaway just as I always have, but wonder how I'll feel when a stranger is living in his house. When I share these thought s with Connie she usually says something optimistic like, "Maybe it's all for the best."

But I still wonder.

Sorry for hitting you with three stories this week.

See you Monday.