Welcome to my world. Today’s conversation is going to be lively and riveting, with writer Richard Panek, who explores the phenomenon of gravity in his new book The Trouble with Gravity: Solving the Mystery Beneath Our Feet.
Before I say another word, I have to comment on the mass shootings that plague our country. Guns and violence have never been the smart way to settle a score. Guns beget more guns. The rage and resentment in this country grow with every ugly rally and messed up manifesto. We have become a nation of haters, led by the hater in chief who thinks it’s funny that he could shoot a stranger dead on Fifth Ave and be considered even a bigger winner.
While we mourn the human losses of the week, let us think about using other means of quelling our bad moods. Maybe next week will be better.
Okay, moving on, my mother celebrated her birthday on Monday.
The “progenitoress” of all of my exhibits™, my mom just turned 89. (She’d be horrified I spilled this secret, but she hasn’t yet figured out how to listen to this podcast, so let’s not tell her.). I asked her how she felt about being 89, a number no one else in our family has ever – to my knowledge – reached. She said, “I never thought I’d look this good.” Here is the evidence:
Not bad at all.And often she is fun to be around.
And now for my Five Things of the Week:
1. My mother and all mothers. If I had known how hard it was to raise a family and keep a sense of peace and calm about the house, I might have second-guessed my ability to do those things. I would have been way too nervous.
2. Summer dresses.I finally came to the realization that when it’s really really hot and humid, No one needs a tight waistband or something to tuck in it.I’ve bought a couple of light as air skirts this year, but they bring the added problem of thinking of what – besides a white t-shirt or Lacoste shirt to pair with them.Too many questions.Too many answers.No dresses are the thing.
3. Oatly ice cream. I am not a spokesperson for this company. I repeat! They don’t even know I exist. But I saw a display of their ice cream at the supermarket and brought home a pint of coffee. I don’t even really love ice cream. It’s not my vice. However, this stuff is wonderful: creamy, tasty, and dairy-free. I “bought it for my boyfriend,” but I seem to be the one eating it.
4. A week or so ago, we met for dinner at a restaurant in the east 20s in New York. The day was hot as a burning candle, so I wore a sleeveless lightweight dress. The restaurant was cold. Within moments of checking in, I shivered at the front desk and said something about the temperature. I was rewarded with a stylish pashmina to wear. It was perfect. Great idea that other restaurants might try.
5. The Official Preppy Handbook. I wrote and edited this book with three other writers in 1980, and while it has been out of print since 1995, it has gotten sustained attention and a lot of it lately – not exactly sure why. Yesterday, the chief tv critic of the New York Times, James Poniewozik wrote a kind of backhand appreciation of it. It’s rewarding to have written something that is remembered and even cherished by so many; with this kind of staying power. So thank you.
Richard Panek’s 5 Things
1. The movie Chinatown
2. Beatles song “A Day in the Life”
3. William Trevor, especially when reading him in a pub with a pint.
4. Smell of corn-on-the-cob silk.
Then what I’d like to do is list some runners-up that I regret not being able to include (thereby being able to include them): 2001: A Space Odyssey; Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia; several of the plays of Martin McDonagh (The Pillowman, The Cripple of Inishmaan, The Lieutenant of Inishmore); Cezanne’s The Basket of Apples; Claes Oldenburg’s Emerald Pill; the song “Sunday” from Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George; Fred Allen; Bob and Ray.
But then, finally, having exhausted my also-ran list, I settle on an un-tony choice:
5. Hostess Suzy Q’s.