PENCHANT – TOO DULL FOR GROWN UPS

Penchant is one of those words I use, but only with people who like words. My husband, for example. Otherwise, I don’t use them much because so many people don’t recognize them. This one doesn’t count as a $20 word, though, because it only has two syllables. To be a truly, official, fancy word worth at least a $20, you need a minimum of three syllables and a sense that the origin was Latin or Greek, or perhaps, Polynesian.

From the “Smart Dictionary”

I was hoping to discover a trail of the past taking us into French, maybe. Penchant, with a French accent, might have sexual connotations.

Alas. Neither the American nor British dictionaries led me down through history to when this word meant “a small Gallic flag which flies over the war chief’s tent when he is making love to his mistress” or “silken under garments worn by the wife of the Count de Toulouse circa 1274.”

It merely means “a fondness or preference or liking” for this, that, or the other thing. Ho hum.

If we are going to have to write about vocabulary words — this is like one of those they put in Reader’s Digest’s “Improve Your Vocabulary” articles — make them more titillating. Sexier. Bring on the black silk underwear! This is not doing it for me.

Raunchy words! Yes! Bring them on!

THE JOYS OF APARTMENT LIVING – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I lived in an apartment building in New York City from the time I was born till I was 42 years old. I loved it and miss some of the perks of apartment living, but I’ve lived in a house in a rural suburb for 26 years.

Surprisingly, I had more of a social life with my neighbors in my building in New York than I do now on my woodsy street. As a young mother, I was lucky to find four other young moms in the building with kids close in age to my kids. We all lived on the same elevator line. That meant that we could run up and down the back stairs to each other’s apartments. We could also take the elevator, but the stairs were quicker. By the time the kids were five or six, they could go up and down, safely, on their own. We all became very close.

Photo of my building on Park Avenue in NYC

This was a Godsend. When we wanted company, we could pop in for an hour or so, with or without the kids. When we needed a break or time to cook dinner or make phone calls in peace, we could send our kids upstairs or downstairs, depending on who was free at the time. Our building had a real ‘neighborhood’ feel. People don’t always think of cities as having these mini communities. But they exist pretty much everywhere, if you make an effort to create them.

Another great advantage of city living is the joy of having doormen in your life. They are an amazing class of people who serve their tenants in many ways. They act as mail deliverers. You handed them your packages and they magically delivered them to the appropriate carrier or service. You never have to deal with the logistics of mailing or shipping anything. The doorman would also accept packages and deliveries on your behalf, so you never had to stay home to accept a delivery. What a luxury!

City Doorman

Doormen can also let trusted workmen into your apartment when you’re not there. So you also never have to wait for workers to show up before you can leave the house. Another great perk!

Another role a doorman can play is to entertain your kids. If you get friendly with the day doorman, they will allow your kids to play in the lobby. My kids skated and skate boarded up and down the long hallway in our lobby. My daughter practiced her cartwheels down that hallway.

This was a part of the very long hallway in our building

The doormen also let the kids ‘spy’ on people in the elevators from the security cameras in the lobby. That was apparently great fun and a real treat.

Typical surveillance camera setup in apartment lobby

The best doormen will let your kids go wild, when no one is looking. There was a very large Ficus tree in our lobby. The doormen let my son, David, put his pet python in the tree to explore through the branches. This continued for a while, until one tenant saw the snake and complained.

Today’s version of our old Ficus tree in the lobby

There can also be disadvantages to apartment living. I grew up on the seventeenth floor. In 1965, there was a major blackout, extending throughout the city and into New England. I was home sick that day. So the housekeeper and I had to carry our thirty pound dachshund up and down at least fourteen flights of stairs to walk him. He could only do one or two flights on his own. (NOTE: most apartment buildings in NYC omit the thirteenth floor because of superstitions!)

Another disadvantage to living above and below other people, is gravity. When the bathroom directly above yours develops a leak, the water runs into your apartment. And often into the apartment below you as well. We had paint and plaster falling on our heads while we showered for a year and a half because our upstairs neighbors could not control a major leak in their bathroom. We replastered and repainted the ceiling three times during that period.

Painting in my old lobby of the apartment building

The apartment below us had similar problems. In addition to the inconvenience, this became an insurance nightmare involving three different insurance companies. For me, the benefits of apartment living outweighed the disadvantages for many years. But after living in my own house for so long, I could never again live in a little box within a bigger box. I have fond memories of city life, but I never want to go back!

DAWN AND DARK – CEE’S FUN FOTO CHALLENGE

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Four Letter Words Starting With D


Dawn of the day
Dancing in the dark

IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN

They are at it again, the annual “lets make EVERYONE SAY MERRY CHRISTMAS.” Not that anyone was ever prevented from saying it, mind you … or that every celebrates it, either. The leaves have just changed and I don’t know what we’re eating for Thanksgiving this year, but it’s never to early to start whining about the holidays.

That’s right Bill O’Reilly, the sleazy sex-offender previously of Fox news, is sniveling about Christmas. If he snivels and whines about the holidays, maybe no one will remember that he’s a sex offender.

Did you know that folks are being forced — FORCED!!! — to not say “Merry Christmas?” I’m 71 and no one has ever prevented me from saying Merry Christmas. Or, for that matter, forced me to say anything at all about the holidays. It has always been a matter of good matters and personal whimsy.

That’s right, world. No one has ever cared what I said about any holiday. Other than responding with a smile and a returned greeting, I’ve never met a anyone who gave a rat’s ass whether I said Merry Christmas, happy holiday, or “have a great time whatever you happen to celebrate” — which I occasionally say when I don’t know what holiday you celebrate or even if you celebrate anything.

Basically, I’m a nice person and I want you to enjoy your holiday. So, I say Merry Christmas if I’m reasonably sure you celebrate Christmas. I would say something different if I thought you celebrated something else … or don’t celebrate anything for whatever reason. If I happen to say “happy holidays,” you’re going to spit in my eye? Because I greeted you with the wrong words and stepped on your self-righteousness?

The cops aren’t going to pick me up for my accidental failure to greet you the way you want to be greeted.


There are no “political correctness” police.


Anyone can say whatever he or she wants to say and that includes saying nothing. At all. So you can be friendly, or you can be a jerk. It’s not about religion or beliefs. It’s about being civil to other people who may or may not share your background. The whole little spiel about how I can leave if I don’t celebrate your customs? Since when did your customs become mine? Talk about offensive … you’ve got a lot of nerve!

I am tired of oppressed “Christians” whose idea of oppression is to not get everything exactly the way they want it — and who snivel about oppression because they have to move their crèche to the church around the corner.

You live in a country where you can have a church. You can have a dozen churches and attend all of them. Any time. That is freedom. What you want is spiritual tyranny.

The laws to which you refer do not exist. The police don’t care. Basically, neither do I. I’m just being polite. To you. For no special reason.

I’m going to make a suggestion: No matter what anyone says? Smile and say “thank you.” That’s a win-win for everyone involved.