VIOLATED DAILY – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Violation

It’s a daily violation, watching the news. A horror show that won’t go away, the nightmare that rolls into the day.

I’m a woman. I grew up in the world we live in and it was bad, but it was weirdly normal. Do I know any women who were not assaulted, raped, nearly raped, propositioned, abused, or attacked?

The answer is no. If you were out in the world, any and all of these things were part of your daily life. I quit at least two jobs rather than deal with a sleazy, yet dashingly attractive boss. Proving that being good-looking is neither here nor there when you are cornering your assistant for sex.  It really isn’t a matter of whether or not you look good.

We don’t take a job so to crawl onto the sofa with a boss guy. Usually, we are looking for a higher rate of pay and maybe a bit of gratitude for the hard work we do.

I can’t work when I’m being harassed. I doubt anyone can. If you have to spend your days wondering if your underpants line is showing and this faux pas will somehow spark another round of “Hey, sexy, let’s …”, you just can’t get your work done.

Favors you get for sex don’t make you feel better. They make you feel like a cheap hooker. Not one of those well-spoken escorts … I mean the hanging around the street corner willing to do it for enough to buy a cup of Starbuck’s overpriced brew.

To find us in a position of hiring one of these disgusting sleazebags as a Supreme Court Justice — after somehow managing to get the revolting Clarence Thomas in all those years ago — leaves me wondering if we have made any social progress at all. Or ever will.

Is this never going to end? Will there never be a time when a woman can openly complain about the men who persecute her at play and work and often, at home … and be believed?

Will this never end?


ViolatION.


Every woman I know has at one time or another been violated. For all I know, it’s not just women, either.

Shame on us. Shame on everyone who puts up with “the way things are.” A pox on all who encourage it then gives it a wink and a shrug because “boys will be boys and that slut must have asked for it.”

VERY PERSONAL WRISTS – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Personal

I thought I had this under control, but I don’t. Last night, I turned my wrist sideways and the pain shot up my arm and I said “Oh, shit.”

Sorry. I really have something — more than something — to say, but I can’t write until this hurts a lot less. I think, frankly, all the photo processing is what got it, but the writing makes it worse.

Red autumn berries by the river

It’s pretty personal and damned painful. Sorry, but back to the brace and no typing — because I can’t. The brace essentially makes it impossible.

And Garry said “I can hear the river …” and I realized he had never said anything like that before

Maybe a few more days? It doesn’t get more personal than this. Pain is terribly personal.

BOTTLE OF WINE, FRUIT OF THE VINE – Marilyn Armstrong

Tom Paxton – “Bottle of Wine”


I’ve been a Tom Paxton fan forever. He may be one of the greatest writers and singers of folks songs. Ever. He is 80 now, still performing, still living on Long Island in New York.

May you live forever, Tom Paxton! You bring my youth back to me!

RAGE AND HELPLESSNESS – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Number

I woke up this morning in a rage at my father, but really, at all the men in my life who have taken so much and given back so little. In all these years of living, how could I let so many numbers of years travel by while I failed to realize the amount of anger I’ve accumulated?

And how did I fail to realize how helpless I have felt through all these years?

Goes to show you — just when you think you are over the hump, there’s another hill right in front of you.

I think the hills are never done.

A TIME-WARPED GUEST – Marilyn Armstrong

CELEBRATING THE FAMILY WE NEVER MET


You just can’t trust a time portal. As soon as you think you can relax, eat a little dinner, another old family member drops by. Or, rather pops up.

“So,” says Uncle Shmuel, who has appeared out of nowhere and now miraculously speaks vernacular American English — albeit with a heavy Yiddish accent. “Nice place you got here. I see you keep your animals in your house. That one there sounds like a pig but looks like a dog.”

“They are our pets, Uncle Shmuel. The oinker is Nan. She just makes that sound. She’s kind of old. I think that’s the dog equivalent of ‘oy’.”

“Pets, shmets. Animals. In the house. What’s next? Toilets? Never mind, your life, your choice. Oy.”

“Can I give you something to eat? Tea? Coffee? Cake? If we don’t have it, I can go out and buy some.”

“Are you Kosher?”

“Uh, no. Not Kosher,” and I shiver, thinking of the bacon and ham that yet lives in our kitchen. “Oh, wait, here’s my husband. Uncle Shmuel, I’d like you to meet my husband Garry.”

Shmuel looks shrewdly at Garry, then at me. “He doesn’t look Jewish.”

Garry’s eyes twinkle. “But really I am,” he says and deftly pulls a yarmulke out of his pocket. You have to hand it to Garry. He’s very sharp. The yarmulke has “Joel’s Bar Mitzvah” printed across the back in big white letters. Fortunately, Shmuel doesn’t notice.

“So,” Shmuel continues after a pregnant pause, “You still have problems with Cossacks?”

“No. No more Cossacks, but too many politicians,” I reply.

“Cossacks, politicians, there’s a difference?” he asks.

“Not so much,” I admit. He’s right. There is no difference, except maybe for the absence of a horse.

“And for a living, you do what?”

“We’re retired. But before that, I was a writer. Garry was a reporter. On television.”

“What’s a television?” I look at Shmuel. That’s when I realize we are about to embark on an extended conversation. All I say is: “Oy vay is mir!” Which seems to sum it up.

Oy vay. Can someone set the table?

EVERYBODY KNOWS OUR NAMEs, BUT WE’VE FORGOTTEN THEIRS – Marilyn Armstrong

Everybody Knows Your Name


This is Uxbridge. I do not know everybody’s name and everybody does not know my name. But everybody knows my husband. Unfortunately, he doesn’t know their names, so he spends a lot of his time trying hard not to look wide-eyed when people say ‘Hi Garry!” with enthusiasm. This isn’t only a problem in Uxbridge.

It’s an everywhere problem. He has been accosted in Scotland, Dublin, Baltimore, Disneyworld. Everywhere. Usually, the meeting is accompanied by someone saying (again) “I used to watch you while I was growing up,” which always unhinges him, just a bit. He knows he’s not young, but he doesn’t need a constant reminder of his age.

The most recent event was (for both of us) when we went to vote. A big joyful hug and a “Hi you all!” which was included us both.

She looked at me (I do not have much of a poker face) and said “You have no idea who I am, do you?” and I had to confess I hadn’t a clue. It turned out it was the lady who used to run our church back when we actually knew people who went to that church.

She retired probably 8 or 9 years ago. I swear she looks younger now then she did when she ran the church. For one thing, she was wearing jeans. She never wore casual clothing to church. She was the most buttoned-up lady I ever met. She has come a long way and all of it good.

Sometimes, retirement does that to people.

Garry didn’t recognize her either, but he got into a great conversation about his new hearing apparatus which are pretty much his main subject of conversation these days. It’s a pretty good subject and I think most people are interested. Hearing as a disability is not something most people understand.

They know about the inability to walk or see or use their hands, but somehow, hearing just slips right by them. They don’t understand how difficult it is to function in a world full of talking people when you don’t understand what they are saying.

Trying to read lips, pretending you know what they said — when you don’t — then nodding politely. Hoping smiling and nodding is an appropriate response and that they didn’t just tell you about the death of some family member.

For me, I just don’t recognize faces except unless they are wearing their usual clothing and doing things I recognize. I can only recognize people in context, by the way they dress, or the work they do.

When people show up out of context, I don’t know their names. Actually, I don’t remember anyone’s name, but I rarely admit it.

I remember the day my first husband shaved his beard and I didn’t know who he was. He was completely unrecognizable. I don’t mean he looked “a little different.” I mean –he was entirely different. The funny part — if there is a funny part — was that he was beardless when I first knew him. But that was a long time ago. Like 10 years at least.

So everyone knows us. I wish it were mutual.

They know me if I’m with Garry because everyone knows Garry. If I’m with him, I must be Marilyn. A few people know me, but not a lot because I’m not especially sociable.

Garry, though, was super sociable for more than 30 years. I swear he interviewed every citizen of Massachusetts. He either interviewed them, or they were “man on the street” interviews, or just there in the background of whatever story he was covering.

I’m not entirely sure that having everyone know who you are is a good thing. People don’t seem to realize that Garry has been retired for more than 17 years. They think he still has “connections.” He does, but they are also retired. Our generation got old. Almost none of the people we worked with are still working  — unless they were artists or writers and didn’t hold regular jobs.

My mother once commented that it must something in the linseed oil because painters live forever. What a pity it didn’t work for her.


NOTE: I don’t have parched or pine. If every post is going to a be a contrived game of fitting words which have no bearing on each other into a “post,” I’ll lurk. This is not what we used to have, certainly not what I hoped for, and definitely not what I want to do.

I’m not a puzzle solver. I prefer to write to a concept or a thought. But I’m absolutely certain everyone will do fine without me. I’m not arrogant enough to think my presence or absence will make any difference to anyone.

CHRISTOPHER HADEN-GUEST, 5TH BARON HADEN-GUEST – Marilyn Armstrong

CHRISTOPHER GUEST – (born February 5, 1948) – usually just known as Christopher Guest, is a British-American screenwriter, composer, musician, director, actor, and comedian who holds dual British and American citizenship.

So there we are, Garry and I, watching “A Few Good Menand Garry looks at me and asks, “Is that Christopher Guest?” And I didn’t know the answer because he’s one of those guys who looks very different, depending on his costume, whether or not he is wearing a beard, if it’s a comedy, musical, or a drama.

Christopher Guest

Or maybe he’s just the guy linking arms with Jamie Lee Curtis.

Christopher Haden-Guest, 5th Baron Haden-Guest is the son of an important Labour Politician in England. His father got the baronage, but Christopher inherited it.

These days, he’s both British and American and I love him most of all for two of my favorite movies: “Best In Show” and “A Mighty Wind.” He has a group of actors who he uses for many of his movies. He is goofy and funny. He loves folk music and dogs, so what could possibly be wrong?

So I knew everyone else is writing about company coming or going or expected, but I just wanted to let you know that having looked up Christopher Guest, I thought he was really interesting and no, I didn’t know he was married to Jamie Lee Curtis. Or that he used to be in the House of Lords.

He is one year and one month younger than me. I’m sure that must mean something, but I have no idea what.

If you want to read about a real “guest” guest, check our one of my favorite older posts:

OUT OF THE TIME WARP: FAMILY MEMBERS YOU NEVER MET