D. None of the above

METRO photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

We are on the precipice of a few social evenings. As such, I have prepared the internal and external dialog of one such potential interaction. Yes, some of it reflects my performance in previous gatherings, while other elements are exaggerated versions of what may happen. And away we go:

“Hi Pat, it’s nice to meet you. I’m Dan.”

“Good to meet you, too, Dan.”

Ow, did you have to squeeze my hand that hard? Were you trying to prove something? I get it. You’re bigger and stronger than I am. You probably lift weights and stare at yourself in the mirror at the gym while you listen to Annie’s “Tomorrow.” No, I know you don’t listen to Annie. At least, not in public..

Not that you asked, but I like to sweat in the gym, too. I use the elliptical machine, the bike and the treadmill. 

“So, did Maria tell you about me?”

Wait, who’s Maria? Oh, right, your wife, the woman standing next to you. She’s the reason we’re here. Our wives worked together a few years ago and now the four of us are going out to dinner.

Pat is talking about how great he is at bowling.

He wants me to smile, so I’m smiling, but I’m not sure what he said. Maybe it was self deprecating? Nope, doesn’t seem likely. He’s talking about how much his average has gone up since he joined the Thursday night league.

“Good for you,” I say.

He nods appreciatively. Whew! I said the right thing. Go me! 

Oh, cool, now he’s talking about how great his son is at tennis. I’m picturing myself scuba diving. I’m looking at him, but I’m imaging fish around me, the warm water, and the bubbles that expand as they head to the surface. Nice! Life is good down here. Oh, wait, he just touched my shoulder. He wants me to say something. Staring into space isn’t enough.

“You know what I’m saying?” he asked.

I’m sorry, no. I don’t know, but I’m going to nod and hope that’s enough. Nope, clearly not.

“Tell me more about your son,” I say.

That’s enough. He’s off to the races with another story about some incredible app his son is working on that already has over 1,000 subscribers. My wife seems to be enjoying Maria’s company. Wait, no, she wrinkled her eyes subtly at me. Uh oh! She knows I’m not paying attention to John. No, that’s not his name. It begins with a P. No, hold on. I’ll get it. It’s Paul.

“So, Dan,” she says, “did Pat tell you about their plans to go to Alaska this summer?”

Pat! Duh. How easy was that? I would have gotten it eventually. No, I wouldn’t. Who am I kidding? 

I’m going to focus closely on his story. He’s talking about how much he enjoys vacations. I like vacations.

“Alaska was pretty amazing,” I say, hoping I shared the right sentiment. “We saw whales, drove a dog sled, and ate fresh fish.”

He’s always wanted to go to Alaska. He can’t wait to see the wide open terrain. He wonders whether it’ll be the same 500 years from now.

Assuming the Earth is still here and is habitable, what will humans be talking about and thinking about in 500 years? Will a potentially longer life span mean that future humans will be more patient? Will they think about what our life was like today? They’re as likely to think about us as we are to think about the people who shared the world of 1523.

The evening is almost over. We pay the check and talk about how wonderful it is to to go out together.

“Yes, we should do this again some time,” I say as we head towards the car. Maria and my wife give each other a professional hug – not too long and not too close – while Pat and I share a manly handshake. Pat seems to appreciate the firmer grip.

“Something wrong with your hand?” my wife asks as we walk towards the car.

“Nope, all good,” I say, as I try to bring the circulation back to my fingers.

METRO photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

My wife and I used to say “the recording is always on.”

It was our code words to each other to be careful about what we said and did in front of our children, particularly when, as many parents know, we might not want our children to act or speak in the same way we might be tempted to in the moment.

Our children have an incredible ability to monitor everything we do, even when they don’t appear to be paying any attention to us. Sometimes, they actively choose the opposite because our choices annoyed or frustrated them.

If, as many of us say and believe, we want our children to be better than we are, we wish them well, wait and watch, hoping their happiness, success and achievements far exceed our own.

Perhaps such reaction formation is what brings grandparents and grandchildren together, causing various characteristics to skip a generation, as two opposites create the same.

Aside from things like weekly routines, an emphasis (or not) on achievements like community service, or performance in sports or music, parents recognize that we are role models.

In the movie “42” about trailblazer Jackie Robinson, the first African-American man to play in Major League Baseball, a father shouts racial epithets at Robinson, leading his conflicted son to ponder how to behave. The son echoes what his father shouts.

In that moment, Peewee Reese puts his arm around Robinson, offering his public support and quieting the hostile crowd. Reese even suggests, as a nod to the realities of today, that “Maybe tomorrow we’ll all wear number 42. That way they won’t tell us apart.”

Films are great, but we don’t live in a world where supportive music and smiling heroes remind us who we are or how we should act.

It’s up to us to decide how to be better for ourselves and for our children.

A friend recently shared a story about his daughter. A college student, she was working at an ice cream store during a fall break. A few customers came in and a man in the group asked her where she attended college.

When she told him, the man suggested that there were Muslims who attended that college and it would be easy enough to take a few of them behind the shed and get rid of them.

The man who made a joke about murder at a time of violent conflict in the Middle East and ongoing and hostile disagreements among Americans probably wasn’t thinking about his children, about my friend’s daughter, or anyone else.

Maybe he was repeating the words his father or mother said at the dinner table, after an evening of drinking or within minutes of leaving a house of worship.

Is that the person he wants to be? Is that what he would encourage his own children to believe, that people who practice other religions or have other beliefs are somehow such enemies that it’s okay to make such a comment?

We have to be better than that. Maybe the guy didn’t mean it, but even saying it suggests that he not only thought it, but that he also likely shared that idea in some context in front of his children.

Killing and hatred won’t end if we don’t hold ourselves accountable for our actions and words.

We identify ourselves in particular ways, by such factors as nationality, religion, race, among many other labels.

Those identifiers, many of which we didn’t choose but are an accident of our birth, mean that others around us are on the outside, associating with a different group.

We owe it to our children to imagine and create a better world. That starts by serving as role models and not as reflexive perpetuators of anger, hatred, or prejudice towards those we consider others.

With the world echoing the conditions from the 20th century, we should speak and act in ways that bring people together and that would make us proud if and when we heard our children making those same, or perhaps better, remarks.

President Barack Obama said he wanted even more funding for treatment. File photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

Years before he was the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama gave me a call.

I was working at Bloomberg News as a banking reporter and was covering some financial services issue. A source of mine suggested that I chat with this state senator from Illinois, whom he insisted was going places. My source clearly recognized Obama’s potential.

What I recall about a conversation that was akin to getting a rookie card for Derek Jeter was that Obama was erudite, eloquent and halting in his response to my questions. Attuned to the rapid pace of New York conversation, I was unaccustomed to the cadence of his conversation.

When Obama ran for office, I recognized not only his name but also his speech pattern.

I have had brushes with a wide range of people of varying levels of fame, often times in the context of my work as a journalist. Please find below a brief compendium of such interactions.

— Jim Lovell. The commander of Apollo 13, Lovell and his wife Marilyn attended an event in Florida where I was their point of contact. When the cool night breeze gave Marilyn a chill, Lovell jumped up to get her sweater and asked when they could leave. I asked my bosses, who wanted Lovell, who was the honored guest, to stay until after dinner. He was greatly appreciative when I told him he could finally lift off.

— Yogi Berra. I attended an event at Tavern on the Green event, where Berra was a client of the host. Even though I was only five foot, seven inches tall at the time (I’m probably a bit shorter now), I towered over the older and thin former Yankees catcher. When I told him it was an honor to meet him, he took my hand in his and offered a polite smile.

— Eliot Spitzer. Before he was a governor and client 9, Spitzer was a hard-charging New York Attorney General who went after investment banks for inflating stocks to help their business at the potential expense of investors. I spoke regularly with Spitzer, whose energy and intellect made it hard for my fingers to keep up while I was typing notes. I expected the impressive and ambitious Spitzer to ascend to national office.

— Scott Kelly. I interviewed Astronaut Scott Kelly after he set an American record for continuous time in space of 340 days aboard the International Space Station. With his then girlfriend, now wife, Amika Kauderer, in the room, the two of them described his book. She also recounted the second class treatment she received from some of the wives who weren’t impressed with her status as a girlfriend.

— Ed Koch. The former New York mayor was a staple at Bloomberg News, where I worked for several years. At 6 feet, two inches tall, Koch towered over me as he regularly filled his plate with some of the free snacks and sugary treats at the newsroom.

— Hank Paulson. I interviewed the former Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs at an International Monetary Fund meeting in Hong Kong. After I asked the first question, Paulson, who would become Treasury Secretary, yanked the microphone out of my hands and spent the rest of the interview holding it up to his mouth. I tried to project my voice into the microphone and above the chatter in a crowded restaurant.

— Goldie Hawn. At a lunch at Shun Lee Palace near Lincoln Center with a former banker from the now defunct Lehman Brothers, I spotted the famous actress as I approached her crowded table. Dressed in a sleeveless black dress, she could tell I recognized her. Rather than look away, she gave me a warm and welcoming smile. I wished, even moments later, that I had given her a thumbs up or an appreciative grin. 

— Earl “The Pearl” Monroe. When I was at the New York Daily News, I spoke regularly with the Knicks legend for a rookie (Channing Frye) vs. veteran stock picking contest. While he lost the contest, he couldn’t have been friendlier and more receptive during our weekly calls, updating me on his life and sharing his weekly stock picks.

METRO photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

We have a Rock And Roll Hall of Fame, a Baseball Hall of Fame, a US Space Walk of Fame, a Model Car Hall of Fame, and a World Video Hall of Fame, to name a few.

Why not a love hall of fame, which we could build right here on Long Island, with a picturesque view of the Long Island Sound or of one of the many glorious parks? After all, love is all around us, as the song and countless movies suggest.

Beyond the love for a child, spouse or family member, here are some of my nominees for the Love Hall of Fame. Feel free to share some of yours, if you’d like.

— Love of a pet. This is an easy place to start. After a tough day, what’s better than the feeling of a happy, furry, wet nose in your hands? Dogs and cats are popular not just because they’re great companions and don’t talk back when we’re rude or annoying, but because they are often so happy to see us that they run to get their favorite toy, chase balls for us, go on runs around the neighborhood, or lean against us while we read a book or watch our favorite films.

— Love of a song. Time disappears when we hear a song whose lyrics say exactly what we’re thinking or feeling or whose melody transports us to the moment we met our partner or spouse, learned that we’d been hired by our dream company or received admission to our top choice for college. Music can carry us back to that magic moment.

— Love of nature. We don’t all see or appreciate nature in the same way. Some of us adore snakes, mud puddles, and dark clouds, while others are moved by sunsets, water lapping on the shore, or a hawk soaring overhead. Whatever your favorite moments, nature provides an infinite array of spectacles, from the movements and behaviors of other animals to spectacular landscapes.

— Love of a sport. This one is particularly easy at this time of year. Passionate baseball fans are enjoying the last few innings of the playoffs, continuing whatever superstitions they think will help their teams win, while football is grinding through the first half of the season, hockey just started and basketball opens next Tuesday. Fans of a team, a sport, or all sports have plenty of choices for their agony and ecstasy.

— Love of cooking and eating. I’ve watched people, like my college roommate, who truly adore the fine art of cooking. They toss spices into the air, roll their wrists to stir pots, and conduct the scents of their creations into their receptive nostrils. When these same chefs eat, they appear filled and fulfilled, savoring the sauces, textures, flavors and combinations of tastes they brought to life.

— Love of art. People dedicate hours creating wood cabinets, landscape paintings, and portraits, as their imaginations shape the material in front of them.

— Love of religion. The world sometimes makes no sense. With its traditions, rituals, and, hopefully, spiritual encouragement, religion can help us find meaning and purpose and can connect us with our ancestors and with something larger than ourselves.

— Love of travel. People journey outside their immediate surroundings, visiting unfamiliar places and meeting new people whose lives differ but whose priorities – taking care of their children, contributing to the world, meeting their needs – are often the same. Undeterred by language differences, we can work through conversations, sharing moments with people who can become an ongoing part of our lives.

— Love of oneself. I know, I know. Numerous people have an overabundance of this that makes them insufferable. And yet, some people benefit from the right balance of enjoying their own company and sharing that sense of well-being and joy with others. I’m pretty sure Mary Poppins was able to love the children in her care because she – in the form of Julie Andrews or Emily Blunt – appreciated her own company.

METRO photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

The world is a mess.

For some, that world doesn’t even need to extend beyond the walls of their own home, as they deal with one personal or family crisis after another.

For others, that includes horrible headlines and the reality of a world in which people jump at the opportunity to attack them physically, verbally or both. The world is filled with so much dry kindling that any kind of spark seems sufficient to lead to a brush fire.

And, stupidly, many of us look at our phones or watch the news right before we go to bed, giving our unconscious minds the opportunity to marinate in the misery and to imagine ourselves caught in circumstances beyond our control that conjure our worst nightmares on steroids.

Once our minds start to ponder these horrific realities, some of which play out in the protests and counter protests that characterize an American landscape filled with divisions and tectonic differences, we find ourselves staring, wide eyed, into a dark abyss.

Despite the need to give our minds and souls a rest to rebuild our resilience and prepare us for the next day, we struggle to sleep for any length of time.

Like a bad habit we can’t kick, sleep deprivation defines our existence, making us more vulnerable, angrier, and reactive to the kinds of stimuli, conspiracy theories, and information that unnerves us.

Shutting that down and ignoring the reality of a world coming apart doesn’t seem like an option, even if we ourselves aren’t doing anything other than losing sleep, arguing with friends, family or coworkers, and promising to vote for the person whose anger, frustration, and alarm bells sound similar enough to our own.

These restless nights exacerbate our feelings of unease and anxiety. Even for people who didn’t have a hard day filled with deadlines, challenging assignments, impossible bosses, or frustrating losses, the end of the day can feel less like a chance to reflect on triumphs than a moment to surrender to a cruel circadian rhythm that leaves us with even less emotional and energy reserves each day.

We need the kind of sleep that doesn’t depend on over the counter remedies. We need to feel safe, secure, and relaxed enough to rest.

For many of us in the United States, that relaxation can arise out of a belief in a better tomorrow. We can control ourselves, the world we create for our children, and the way we interact with each other.

We might sleep better if we feel like we improved someone else’s day, if we volunteer to help others, or if we take a moment to appreciate what we can control.

Getting up and circling the house at 2 or 4 am won’t help us the next day, nor will logging onto our computers and sending or responding to emails. We’re not doing our best work at those hours and we aren’t our most insightful.

The benefit of stories in which the characters live “happily ever after” is that it gives our minds resolution and helps us believe that things will work out for us as well.

Our parents and grandparents rarely tell us to give up, give in, and surrender to problems outside of our control. We shouldn’t tell ourselves that either, no matter how late at night we might start to believe it.

A good night’s sleep won’t help us solve the world’s problems, but it may help us start to solve some of our own. People have told me many times not to make decisions when I’m angry or frustrated. The same holds true for being tired. Finding solutions to our nighttime problems may contribute to discovering some relief from the pressures and worries of the day.

METRO photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

We need people around us for a host of reasons.

We have the kind of division of labor that makes it possible for someone like me with no mechanical skills whatsoever to fix, repair, install or replace something we need, like a dishwasher or roof, to pick up the phone and call a specialist who can do the job.

We also need people to provide the kind of food we don’t grow or cook ourselves and to ship that food across the country or the world.

How would we people watch without people strutting, holding hands, barking commands on cell phones, or pausing to take a giant mouthful of hot pizza?

We also need people for social and emotional reasons.

It’s helpful to have someone who can tell you whether your shoes match your outfit, who can point out if you have food in your teeth, or who can nix your idea to share a risqué joke with your boss.

We go through stages in life when our social needs rise and fall, depending on our age, vulnerabilities, and emotional equanimity.

I have several friends whose children are living through different phases in life, entering and leaving colleges, changing jobs or location, and starting or ending serious relationships.

When people in unfamiliar settings first settle into a new routine, they can feel vulnerable, disconnected, and incredibly lonely.

Making matters worse, they see other people around them laughing with friends, moving in a group, or chatting animatedly on the phone. Social media doesn’t help, as they can see pictures of other people having the times of their lives on other college campuses, surrounded by their new friends, while they look to the vacant space to the left and right of them.

These transitionary periods can make people feel as if they are the only ones without an invitation to an incredible party on the other side of the fence. They can hear music and laughter, they can smell the barbecued chicken, and they can see the flickering lights.

It’s as if a magnetic attraction drew everyone else together, while that same force repelled them, making them outsiders in their towns and universities.

While most young people can and do find comfort from companionship, the time when they feel as if they are on their own can seem extraordinarily long.

That’s where we come in.

You see, we are surrounded by students who are going to college, have returned for a few days or longer, or who have graduated and are trying to find their place in the world.

Some of them want or need nothing from us, as they glide effortlessly between their professional or academic responsibilities and their recharging social contacts.

Others, however, may be too unnerved or unsure to ask for help or to try to get what they may not even acknowledge they need.

The cost of offering an encouraging word, of asking about a student who is rounding up grocery carts in a parking lot, is restocking shelves at a department store or who is taking our order at a fast food restaurant is low.

Most of us are creatures of habit. We tend to go to the same places to eat, to buy our food, or to get our hardware store supplies.

When we go to those stores, we might see those same familiar faces, some of whom might be hiding behind extra long bangs or appear to be staring at their phones or shoes.

We don’t have to become best friends with any of them, and we don’t need to pull up a chair and ask their life stories.

We can, however, spend more than a few seconds getting whatever we need. We can ask how school is going, about the products they are selling or about the changing weather.

Those contacts, brief though they may be, could provide the kind of connection that offers them more of what they needed than whatever we purchased for ourselves in a store.

And who knows? Maybe our awkward attempts to offer some unsolicited connection can give them a good story to tell their current or future friends.

Surrounded by people, we can sometimes feel even more disconnected than we might if we were alone. Let’s try not to be too distracted to notice what someone else might need an encouraging or supportive word or two.

Students are not like the cracks in the sidewalk or the contour of a winding road: they may benefit from something we can and should consider sharing and that doesn’t cost anything more than our time and consideration.

A scene from 'Monsters, Inc.' Image courtesy of Disney/Pixar

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

“Monsters, Inc.” and the modern media share some terrifying traits.

You see, at the beginning of the animated Pixar movie, the Monsters from Monstropolis collect energy by scaring children at night.

It’s a relatable phenomenon, especially for those of us with an active imagination and who insisted their parents check under their bed, in the closet and in every conceivable place a monster might hide before going to sleep. I’m not referring to anyone in particular in that description here, in case anyone might be wondering.

So, anyway, in Monstropolis, the terror and screams from the children fill canisters of energy that monsters bring back home through the magic doors, which are often closets.

Similarly, the modern media is filled with terrible stories, finger pointing, angry headlines and the kind of click bait that demands people read the story or they’ll die or, perhaps, worse, become a Democrat or a Republican.

I understand the division in our country. Well, let me rephrase that. I understand that division in the country can be productive and can allow people to share ideas from different backgrounds or from opposite sides of a political fence.

I don’t completely understand why the country has become so fractured and stubborn in its thinking that people view those who are on the other side as unworthy or as the enemy.

The enemy of what, exactly?

News organizations have poured gasoline on our cultural dumpster fire by sharing and blaring headlines about how dumb the other side is, and how specific people, often from one political camp, are to blame for their problems.

On any given day, it’s easy to find a Trump-is-an-idiot-who-is-destroying-the-country story from CNN, the Washington Post or the New York Times. It’s just as easy  to find a Biden-is-too-old, Harris-is-a-disaster, or Futterman-can’t-dress-himself-well story from the other side.

I get it: those stories sell news, draw eyeballs, get advertisers and generate heat and energy.

It’s an energy that feeds on itself, as the next day’s stories often not only include the latest gaffe from the president or the latest outrage from the former president, but they also rekindle all the outrage from the ridiculous things each of them did in the days, weeks and months before.

Those stories are easy to write, because they only require about four paragraphs of new information. After that, it’s off to the races, adding all the usual background about how this objectionable act or speech comes after so many other similar incidents.

What these news organizations don’t often do, however, is what managers often encourage from their employees. If you’re going to bring a problem, try to suggest a solution.

That’s going to be tougher. It’s so much easier to point the finger, to call people names, and to blame others than it is to develop a cohesive and workable plan that might fail.

Maybe these news organizations should demand more from themselves. They shouldn’t fall into the trap of sharing the latest bad news or  problem, but should also force themselves to find people who have better ideas or who can offer solutions.

Returning to the movie “Monsters, Inc.”, perhaps there are other ways to generate energy that don’t terrify people

Laughter, as the cliche goes, is the best medicine. Maybe we aren’t laughing enough or maybe we aren’t laughing enough together. It’s far too easy to become a part of the chorus in a Greek tragedy, shaking our heads and mocking the ridiculous actions of others.

Sure, news organizations should capture the culture of the country and report on real people and real events. But they should also take the time and effort to do more than write the same mad libs story every day about the idiocy of the other side. They should offer the kind of solutions that can help people get a good night’s sleep and that don’t trigger sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Pixabay photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

You know that optical illusion with the vase and the two faces? If you’re looking at the outline of the white object, you see a vase, but if you look at the white as the background, you see two faces.

Is it possible that we might, at times, be missing something in our lives?

We drive from one event to another, often ignoring the people in the car next to us at a stoplight, at the birds resting on a telephone wire or at the last few rays of the sun as the light disappears over the horizon.

Instead, we’re focused on getting where we’re going, giving our mind a chance to wander to important things, like what we’re going to say to the coach of our son’s little league team, to our boss who wants to know why we’re late, or to that person at the deli counter who starts preparing our sandwich before we even order.

Along the way, we might be missing signs that could stimulate or enrich our mind in unexpected ways or that could provide the kind of unanticipated signs that serve as clues about our lives. Sure, some people read horoscopes for such help, they ponder the pithy poetry of fortune cookies, or they visit a psychic, who asks them if they’ve ever known a person named John or if they’ve ever gone with a date to a movie or like to take walks on the beach.

But, with our heads down, living on our phones, focusing on events and people far from us, is it possible that we might miss something akin to a puzzle piece in the mystery of our lives?

Sure, telemarketers are frustrating and annoying, offering us products we don’t need, asking us for personal information, and assuming a far-too-familiar tone.

What if those telemarketers, who are even more unpopular than used car salesman, journalists and politicians, offered us something between the lines of their scripts that might be of use to us? We don’t have to stay on the phone long with them and we don’t have to buy something we don’t want, but maybe we can give them half a minute, listening to them and politely declining their offer for more life insurance, a time share in the Everglades, or a chance to earn money as a personal shopper.

Maybe something they say will remind us of a task we wanted to accomplish, a phrase a friend or relative used to use, or a responsibility we haven’t yet met for ourselves. In a world in which there are no accidents, perhaps they can remind us of something we value.

Along the same lines, the scenery that flies by while we’re on a train, a bus or in a car could remind us of a picture we drew from our childhood, a tree we used to climb, or a friend who might need to hear from us but hasn’t felt strong enough to ask for help.

Hundreds and thousands of years ago, people looked to the skies for the kind of signs that might help them.

When we shut ourselves in our homes, disconnect from the people in the room or from the environment, we close down the opportunity to see or consider any signs from the world around us or to get out of our own limited physical, mental and emotional headspace. We also lock ourselves in to a particular way of thinking, removing the opportunity to consider whether today is a day to see the vase or the two faces.

By getting away from our computer screens, cell phones, and cubicles, we give ourselves a chance to see what the world offers, and how those cues affect the way we think about our lives.

Pixabay photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

Mother-in-law. Those three words could come with their own Darth Vader or Jaws soundtrack.

Mothers-in-law present the kind of material that creates both great drama and comedy.

This week, I lost my mother-in-law Judy. She was both a force of nature and fiercely loyal.

Sure, there were comedic elements to our interactions. She seemed unsure of what to ask me to call her. I’d pick up the phone and she’d stutter, “Hi, Dan, this is your … I mean, this is … Judy.”

It was a huge relief for both of us when my wife and I had kids, not only because she wanted more grandchildren and I wanted children, but it also gave both of a us an easy way to refer to her, even when the children weren’t around: “grandma” or, at times, “Grandma Judy.”

A small and slender woman, Judy was all about getting things done. Whenever she had something either on a physical or mental list, she wouldn’t stop until she could check it off.

“Did you bring the water upstairs yet?” she’d ask.

“Not yet, but I will,” I’d reply.

“Okay, good, so what else is new?” she’d continue.

“I had an interesting week of work. I interviewed the CEO of one of the biggest banks in the country, I met a former Knick player, and I spoke with several government officials about an ongoing sovereign debt renegotiation.”

“Wow, how wonderful,” she’d offer, grinning broadly. “Just don’t forget about the water.”

When you were in the circle with Judy, she was a strong and determined advocate and supporter. At a buffet, even at one of her own events, she’d take a plate full of food she knew I could eat and stash it somewhere, in case I wasn’t ready to eat. 

When my wife and I got married, I messed up. Judy, who ascribed to certain rituals, waited as long as she could for me to ask her to dance. When I didn’t oblige, she brought the photographer over.

“Come,” she said, “let’s pretend to dance so that we can get a picture.”

She was the ringmaster of a law practice for her husband and son. Everything flowed through her. She handled almost every administrative duty, including typing. She made sure everyone was where they were supposed to be, and that they were on time.

Allergic to lemon, Judy traveled with my wife, our children and me to Paris. She was terrified that she wouldn’t be able to share her food concerns, bringing with her a sheet with words written phonetically. My French isn’t particularly strong, but I was able to let everyone know of our food issues, to her tremendous relief.

While Judy didn’t and wouldn’t stab me in the back figuratively, she did use her long, bony, shockingly strong fingers to move me along while we were in line at the airport or heading towards the elevator at the Eiffel Tower.

Perhaps all the bones she gnawed on when she ate steak went directly to those incredibly strong and pointed fingers? Eventually, I was able to outmaneuver her need to jab me in the back.

Judy was incredibly devoted to her children, grandchildren, and extended family. She also had a passion for cats and fish. Even when she wasn’t particularly mobile, becoming something of a human question mark as she bent over to make sure she didn’t trip, she brought fish food to all her finned friends and cat food to her favorite felines.

I will miss the way she locked eyes and smiled at me each time we got together, and the way she described everything around her as “crazy.”

She’d often start sentences with, “You want me to tell you somethin’?”

And, Judy, I’m sorry I didn’t ask you to dance at my wedding. I tried to make up for it on numerous other occasions. You’d pretend to be surprised and I’d try to be gallant. Thanks for everything, including and especially making it possible to enjoy a lifetime with your spectacular daughter. We will both miss you and will cherish the memories.

Courtesy of DC Comics

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

How come we never see superheroes in regular moments? To that end, I wanted to share a host of images that I hope might brighten your day (if you need it).

Superman picking his nose. Okay, let’s just get this one out of the way first. Sure, he leaps tall buildings in a single bound, fights crime everywhere, and stands for truth, justice and the American way, but what about the urge to clean out the dried super boogers in his nose? And, if he did, what would happen to them? Would they decay the way ours presumably do, or would they be like rocks trickling through our plumbing or remaining forever on the floor, impenetrable even to a speeding bullet?

Okay, backing off from the incredibly crude, let’s go to Superman’s fingernails. I’m guessing he can’t clip them with an average clipper. When he does trim then, are they so strong that it’d hurt to step on them?

How about Batman? Is there room in that suit for hiccups? What happens when he’s driving his super fast car or flying bat mobile and he gets the hiccups? I know my hiccups, which are loud enough to cause Superman’s super fingernails to bend, are so distracting that it’d be tough to fight crime, or even navigate at incredible speeds, when my diaphragm is spasming.

And then there’s Wonder Woman. Lynda Carter, if you’re old enough, and Gal Gadot, for the more modern fan, are both incredible fighters who save the day, rescuing mere mortals like Steve Trevor. But do they have the kind of arguments with their mothers that I’ve seen other women (no one in my family, of course) have with their mothers? Are they tempted to take out their truth lasso and demand that their mother say what she really thinks or share what she really did? Can you imagine Wonder Woman in a shouting match with her mother, reaching a point where she wraps the rope around her mom’s wrist and demands to know, “What do you really think of my new boyfriend” or even “you mean to tell me you never acted out against your own parents?”

How about Aquaman? Not to be too obsessed about the nose here, but does he ever get water up his nose, the way the rest of us do when we’re diving or doing awkward flips into the pool? Given the speed at which he swims, I would imagine such water in his nose might cause even more agony for him than it does for the rest of us, who find the dense medium of water difficult to traverse rapidly.

What about the Flash?

I haven’t seen the recent multiverse movie with him, but I would imagine his shoes, which withstand the incredible force of him tearing around town, are a vital piece of equipment that could be enormously problematic if they tear or have holes.And, unlike me, as I sit here with the tongue of my right sneaker hanging off, I would imagine he couldn’t wait any length of time to replace the shoes that glide over the ground at speeds that, if my interpretation of the recent movie trailers suggest, exceed the speed of light and can, to borrow from the singing superhero Cher, “turn back time.”

Sorry if you’ve now got that song ricocheting around your head. Come up with a better song and you’ll be fine or maybe just count backwards from 20 in French or any foreign language, if you know how to do that.

And what about Spider-Man? Does he ever eat something that totally disagrees with his system, making it impossible to leave the house until he’s taken a super dose of an antacid? Sure, super heroes inspire us with their incredible deeds, but I’d like to know how they manage through the kinds of everyday issues, challenges, and regular stuff in our lives.