This season’s flu is The Flu That Just Won’t Quit. At least it gives me time to catch up on my back blogs. We’re up to last Thursday (I actually did a brief blog on Friday).
I’ve been sitting here admiring my mother’s silver diamond bridal set (engagement and wedding ring). I’ve admired the set since I was a little girl. Sometimes, as a special treat when I was little, she’d open up her jewelry box and let me look at her rings. She seldom wore them except on special occasions. For everyday use, she wore a plain silver band on the third finger of left hand.
Mom’s still around. But after Dad died, she was obviously no longer married. When I was little, she asked if I’d like her rings someday and I eagerly said yes. I thought they were the most beautiful rings I’d ever seen. When the time came, however, my older brother claimed the right to them, as he was the eldest and about to be married.
His bride decided she wanted to pick out her own rings. Still, Big Brother kept the rings. But when his marriage crashed and burned, she demanded her rings back. She was going to give them to me. Big Brother drove a hard bargain. What was I going to do with them? Indeed. I still don’t know (for certain). He didn’t want me to have them. My mother, as a consolation prize, gave me her mother’s diamond engagement ring, instead. No one knows what happened to her wedding band; it probably went to my cousin, Mom’s niece.
In order to get Big Brother to hand over the Rocks, I exchanged Grandma’s engagement ring, for Mom’s wedding set. Ah, but Big Brother wanted Mom’s wedding band. Mom refused. The rings had to go together. Since he had failed spectacularly at marriage, the rings were going to go to the person they had first been promised to: moi. The reason for looking at them today was that last week Big Brother asked me to check on Mom’s rings to make sure that I hadn’t lost them; that they were still there. Rest assured, Big Brother, they are where I put them when I brought them home.
Valentine’s Eve was a very strange one for me. It was the last night of our Television for Tea Partiers Class, care of Cablevision. We were to take the written test that night. I wasn’t really worried about passing it; after all, I’d been a broadcasting major in college. I already had the official degree and never did a thing with it. What did it matter if I passed this test for a certificate some thirty years later?
Still, that was more reason for anxiety to pass it. Coming down (again) with the flu, though, I failed to study Tuesday night (or watch Obama’s State of the Throne address). I planned on cramming that evening dinner hour at McDonald’s studying for it instead. At least I’d have a refresher.
Instead of studying, however, my attention was claimed for that two hours by an elderly German man, who said he was 77 but I would have taken for at least 87. He just sort of commenced telling me his story about being cheated by an insurance company (not my former employer thankfully) out loud across several broad, plastic tables.
The long and short of that tale was that his home had been damaged by Hurricane Sandy. The contractor, who he said was in “synchronization” with the insurance company, claimed that the wood of the house was rotted through. “Otto” had to hire an independent contractor to attest that the wood was sound, which it was.
Meanwhile, the McDonald’s was filling up with customers, who didn’t particularly want to hear “Otto’s tale.” But I was interested. I’d been in the insurance business for 13 years and had heard such tales before.
Only Otto went on to tell even stranger tales of his love life before and just after he came to America. He was a retired electrical engineer and had served in the U.S. Army. He dated a girl in Germany, but decided he didn’t like her and stopped seeing her. Then he felt very guilty because she became so depressed at the termination of the relationship that she tried to terminate her own life (fortunately, she did not succeed). “Otto” spent ten years feeling so guilty that he didn’t date again himself for ten years.
Then after some self-analysis (he said he had studied psychology also), he decided he had spent ten years feeling sorry for himself rather than the girl. So he started dating again. This time he took up with a young woman with two children who was getting divorced from her abusive husband.
“Otto” helped her get her divorce. He went to court with her because she didn’t understand the legal proceedings. He even paid for the divorce. After going to all this trouble, she married someone else, who was apparently a wealthy industrialist. He said he didn’t mind this, though, he said, because he said it appeared to be a love match.
It was such a love-match, that he was killed in an auto wreck getting home to her in time for a hot, married date. She now asked “Otto” to take care of her and her two children once again. And he did. Then she met another wealthy businessman. However, she asked “Otto” to continue taking care of her children. This he would not do. He was on his way to America and was not going to be flummoxed into looking after her children anymore.
“Otto” hadn’t been lonely waiting to catch this young woman between wealthy husbands. He dated an attractive Yugoslavian doctor. He said it was in the time of Marshal Tito. They wanted to marry, but his home was actually in the United States, and she was not allowed to leave the country because she was a doctor.
So he returned to America (it was hard to follow his story as his accent was quite thick) and got married. He said he had a premonition about the lady he was dating. He would marry her and after 20 years, she would die of cancer. So this, then, he determined was the woman he would take as his wife. Talk about German engineering.
Then he went on to talk about nervous disorders and what fools our society was for listening to current advice about diets. We are too concerned about lowering cholesterol, said “Otto,” and that the lack of cholesterol was behind Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis, and many other diseases of the nervous system. Pure coconut oil is the answer, he declared. There’s something about its qualities that will prevent the further decay of nerve cells, even though it can’t restore them.
He also spoke about not believing in God. If it makes some people feel better, he stated, that was all right but that he was smarter and knew better. I’d been wondering about his age and about the cane he was carrying. Finally, he got around to it: he said he was 77. Yes, he had gimpy leg, but his testosterone was in good working order, he pronounced.
Thank heaven, I’d already been looking at my watch. I looked at again. It really was quarter to seven and it really was past time to go. He said he hoped he’d see me again in this McDonald’s sometime. Not to be unkind, but I was rather relieved it was the last class. Still, it was one fascinating Valentine’s Eve tale.
Now, it was on to the last TV production class and The Test. I arrived at the studio wondering what I was going to do now; my good manners had cost me the time I needed to assure passage of the test. Only there was to be no test that night. There had been, it seemed, a sort of bloodletting at all the N.J. Cablevision studios that day. All the producers and programmers had been fired, laid off, except our cable access producer/teacher and one studio technician. Employees in the accounting, customer service, and cable service departments remained.
Our teacher was very angry that all his friends (there and in various locations around New Jersey) had been summarily fired. They were told by e-mail the previous day to be prepared for an important meeting on Wednesday that they could not miss. Our teacher missed it.
By the time he got there, nothing was left but a trail of old papers, stationery, pens, and wires. The programmers and producers were given ten minutes and a cardboard box with which to fill their belongings and get out of the building. Each employee had their own, personal security person to escort them out.
Cablevision, it seems, had been in a competition with FIOS over varsity school programming. Cablevision evidently got onto the bandwagon too late and poured too much money into a lost cause. The result was the bloodletting.
Getting rid of cable access wasn’t so easy, however, although our teacher was the only remaining cable access producer in the state, covering somewhere between six and ten studios (I’m not sure of the exact number). He is not certain of the future of cable access, but suspects that Cablevision will favor the urban areas where there is a greater population.
Our tea party production should still be able to air its first show in March, but after that we may be looking for some other kindly studio to adopt us. We know we cannot depend upon William Paterson University, though it would be ideal.
If any thoughtful television production company in the northern New Jersey area would like to adopt an orphaned tea party group, please contact campusteaparties.org.