A 28-Year-Old’s Diary Entries From Early January, 1980


Thursday, January 3, 1980

Last night Jonny urgently called me into his room. A radio announcer was talking about me and the Fred Silverman for President campaign. They used the same quotes from the Page Six article in the Post.

This made me feel good, as though I have some real connection with the wider world, even here in Florida. To me, celebrity means being at home anywhere. I’ve always been afraid of hostile strangers, and hearing my name on the radio made me feel that there aren’t any hostile strangers anymore.

I went to bed at midnight and slept past noon – a delicious, nourishing sleep – waking up feeling healthier and very relaxed. The cloudy day seemed perfect for a drive to the Broward Mall, where I window-shopped and sat down with a cup of grapefruit juice and read the New York Times.

Funny how I’d missed all the gossip, like news of Woody Allen’s New Year’s Eve party. God, Woody is the biggest publicity hound I know. Amazing that he can get his name in the paper every day and still have the reputation for being a publicity-shy recluse. The same goes for Jackie Onassis, who obviously adores being photographed.

Back home, I got a call from Pat Mitchell, a Miami Herald reporter to whom I’d sent my clippings. She interviewed me on my Vice Presidential candidacy for nearly half an hour and she seemed pleased with the results.

A photographer will be sent here tomorrow, so I guess the article should appear in the Herald this weekend. I still haven’t lost my knack for publicity. “It’s nice to have fun and make a point at the same time,” Pat Mitchell said.

Dad will be going to New York this weekend in an attempt to get better lines to sell. The other day Marc called to say that the Cadillac was stolen – and it wasn’t “stolen” by one of Marc’s friends. He finally took it from our old neighborhood and moved the car to his block – and the next day it was gone!

Dad said he’ll probably stay with Marc even though I offered him the use of my apartment. I still haven’t received the first batch of mail Grandpa Herb sent me, nor can I find a copy of the Village Voice here.

Today was another uneventful day, but I felt satisfied. I’m adjusting to life here in Florida, and it looks as though I’ll be staying another two weeks.

Part of me longs to return to New York with Dad, but I want more of the milder Florida weather. Right now it’s pretty cool – about 65° — but it’s got to be better than New York.

My cold is going away, and it’s such a relief not to be sick. I haven’t been writing, I haven’t been reading, I’ve just been goofing off. I’ve been getting accustomed to this room, which after ten days, seems like my room.

Across the way from me, that dog Duffy is going crazy because kids are teasing him. On TV, Ralph Renick is giving the news. Jonny’s radio is playing. It’s getting dark. I’m in my underwear. I have pimples. Believe me, folks, if more were happening, this diary entry would be a lot more exciting.

Saturday, January 5, 1980

11 PM. Now that I’m feeling better, I am enjoying my stay in Florida more. I have energy to do things, and today I went sightseeing in Miami and Miami Beach by myself. Also, the knowledge that it’s snowing in New York makes Florida all the more attractive.

Last evening, the four of us went out to Heidi’s in Plantation. It was a New York-style deli, and I even spotted the counterman from the Mill Basin Kosher Deli working there. Sometimes it seems that all of New York is here.

At the newsstand at the Broward Mall, I found the new Saturday Review, which contained a “Front Runners” article called “As the White House Turns,” about the Fred Silverman for President campaign.

This is the most high-class publicity I’ve gotten. They mentioned the “campaign leaders . . . writers Joshua Landsman and Richard Grayson” (I’m pleased they mentioned Josh) and treated us as clever people, not kooks.

Needless to say, I was thrilled to see the article, and in the car, I showed it to my family, who were half-amazed. (By this time, they should know better.) We drove to North Miami, where Dad had to collect some money at a flea market.

On our way back, I turned on the car radio to listen to Carter’s speech on the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. It looks like the Cold War is on again – but Carter had to stand up to the Soviets after their brutal aggression. Iran is still a mess, and the nightly newscasts make it seem that the world is preparing for war.

Before coming home, we stopped at Carvel’s and I ate a flying saucer as we drove on State Road 84, the window wide open, my whole body feeling completely relaxed.

At home, I read the Voice and the Times; it was good to see those papers again. After 11 PM, I called Avis, but she sounded awfully distracted, and I think I woke her up. She said she and Simon had a good time in Virginia over New Year’s but she was very upset about Carter’s speech and the snowstorm. In contrast, I felt very laid-back.

This morning I called Grandpa Herb to tell him not to send me any more of my mail, as the first batch still didn’t reach me.

Grandpa Herb said someone from Kingsborough called at midnight on New Year’s Day, wanting to know if I could come in the next morning and teach a course. I’m glad they did ask me to teach the winter module, but evidently they had called a lot of people before they got around to me.

Also, Grandpa Herb said, someone from Poets & Writers – not Debby Mayer – had called. I wonder what that’s about.

At 11 AM, I got into the Camaro and headed down I-95 to Miami. It was a great relief to be out on my own instead of dependent upon my parents.

Enjoying getting the feel of a new place, I got off in downtown Miami, then took the Rickenbacker Causeway to Key Biscayne.

There wasn’t much to see there, but on Virginia Key, I stopped at Seaquarium, where I milled among hundreds of tourists – many Hispanic, some French and Brazilian – and watched the dolphins do their act. They’re such sleek, friendly and intelligent creatures that I think dolphins, not dogs, should be considered man’s best friend.

The shark channel featured some very tired-looking sharks swimming around with fish attached to their backs. I did like the sawfish and the manta ray, and I watched a corny act with sea lions before deciding to skedaddle.

Back in Miami, I drove down Bayshore Drive, past the Vizcaya mansion and other luxurious estates. By Bayfront Park there were roller skaters everywhere, and I went as far down as Coconut Grove, past neighborhoods that seemed very ritzy.

In downtown Miami, the Biscayne Boulevard bleachers were being set up for next week’s Orange Bowl Marathon.

I took MacArthur Causeway into Miami Beach; trying to remember it from 1969-1970 and 1972, I felt that Collins Avenue looked different somehow.

Old Jewish people crowded the streets, shopping, sitting on the porches of old hotels and at bus stop benches.

Further up Collins Avenue, the hotels became grander as the street widened; I passed the Carillon, where I stayed ten years ago.

Finally I got into more fashionable Surfside, where 95th Street was renamed Isaac Singer Drive (they forgot the Bashevis), and then Bal Harbour. It seemed familiar there, and I knew enough to turn into 163rd Street, the only road leading to the mainland.

I went to the Moorings, but I rang and rang Grandma Sylvia’s bell and no one answered. She’s so deaf she couldn’t hear it, I suppose. I looked for her by the pool but couldn’t find her, so I got back in the Camaro and headed up I-95 for home.

My excursion today proved that aside from having a great sense of direction and a mastery of the Dade and Broward road system, I could – without anxiety – be on my own, far from anyone or anyplace that I really knew well.

Although I thought Mom would be pleased when I told her about my trip, she said she’d been worried and that I’d wasted gas. Also, her first words when she saw me were, “Don’t spill that soda!”

Momentarily I felt defeated: she’s taken my moment of triumphant independence and tried to turn me into a child, her child, again. But she couldn’t dampen my spirits.

I went out by the pool and realized that my being independent probably threatens Mom. Maybe she felt hurt because she wanted to show me the sights of Miami, and I had done it without her. Still, I’m an adult now, and that’s how it is.

Sunday, January 6, 1980

4 PM. Dad had a late flight to New York last night, and after I went out to eat with my parents, they drove to the airport.

Jonny went along to drive Mom home, so I stayed home by myself, exercising and watching the Iowa debate between six of the Republican presidential candidates.

Rep. John Anderson makes the most sense, but of course he has no chance.

I think Reagan made a mistake in not showing up, and I feel George Bush will probably end up the GOP nominee. Bush is a fascist in moderate’s clothing, and I don’t like or trust him.

Dad is staying in my apartment while he’s in New York, and although I like having some contact with my apartment through Dad, in a way I feel that his being there, sleeping in my bed, using my bathroom somehow violates my privacy.

However, when Dad returns, he’ll bring some of my mail with him. I told Grandpa Herb not to send any more of my mail, as I’d probably never get it before I leave Florida.

Part of me feels I’m missing the action in the city: things like job offers, publicity, phone calls. I couldn’t have taught at Kingsborough anyway because of the conflict with the spring term class at Visual Arts, but there are other things in New York I miss.

Marc told Mom that Mrs. Elkin, my old fourth-grade teacher called him, trying to get in touch with me after reading so many articles about me.

My photo was on the front page of the Broward section of today’s Miami Herald and there was a big story inside (with another photo, very large) that treated me rather well. I was described as “a writer of satire” and I got a few new jokes in.

Tuesday, January 8, 1980

4 PM. It’s a mild and sunny afternoon: at least it is whenever I come indoors. Every time I attempt to sun myself at the pool, the clouds seem to come out.

I’m finally over my cold. After being congested for ten days, now I just have a little sniffle every once in a while. But last night I had no more dizziness, and I’m feeling much better.

I’ve been in Florida two weeks already. As usual, it seems both that I’ve been here forever and that I’ve only just arrived.

This morning I got the second batch of letters that Grandpa Herb sent.

There was a $75 check from Poets & Writers for the Coda article; the money will come in very handy right now. I did some calculating last night, and the results dismayed me. Money is going to be very tight until my tax refund comes from the IRS; I’ve got to file as early as possible.

Rick Peabody sent me a note, asking if I’d seen the “great review” in the Washington Review. It’s funny how I always seem to find these things out from multiple sources. Tomorrow night, when Dad returns, he’ll bring the review, I hope.

Bill-Dale sent me an anti-nuke Christmas card and a note saying we can finally get together because he’s off from Rutgers until the 15th. There seems to be a conspiracy by the gods to keep Bill-Dale and me from meeting. But it will happen eventually, and it should prove interesting.

I also got Christmas cards from Mary Stuart and from Janice and Ingrid, a stock dividend for 53¢, and the usual junk mail.

Jonny started Broward Community College today, and so far, so good. I hope he enjoys himself and makes friends. In a way, I envy him being able to start college. For me, college was indeed Whitehead’s “four years of glorious irresponsibility.” If Jonny’s experience is half as rich as mine was, he’s in for a good time.

I drove into downtown Fort Lauderdale this afternoon for a newsroom interview with Linda Kleindienst of the Sun-Sentinel. I’d never been in a newsroom before, but I was impressed: all those rows of desks and typewriters, the computer-boards punching out stories.

It was a pretty standard interview; by now, I know how to handle myself like a pro. She said my letter to her was great, “the kind of letter that would get somebody a job right away.” I left the News/Sun-Sentinel Building at 1:30 PM and drove back home.

Mom has been having a serious problem with Grandma Sylvia, and Aunt Sydelle refuses to come down and help. When everyone was fine, Sydelle would stay in Florida for the entire winter; now she stays away and leaves all the problems to Dad – and to Mom when Dad isn’t here.

Today the social worker came, but Grandma Sylvia never heard the buzzer; she has gone almost totally deaf. She can’t drive now, can’t shop, can’t cook for herself, and of course she refuses to hear (no pun intended) of going to a senior citizen hotel.

But it’s obvious she can’t go on the way she is. She thinks she does a lot of good when she sees Grandpa Nat at the nursing home. “I resolve [sic] him,” she says, but she only ends up doing herself more harm by wearing herself out with the frequent visits.

Grandma Sylvia is stubborn and bitter, and she repeats herself a dozen times. She looks terrible, and I don’t know how she gets through the day. Really, something has to be done, and it’s not going to be easy on Mom and Dad.

Grandma Sylvia is also very depressed; she seems to have nothing to look forward to. It’s terrible what happens to people when they get old and the body and mind weaken.

Thursday, January 10, 1980

5 PM. I feel much better because I’m sunburned and am leading the life of a regular literary intellectual here, wondering about major issues. When one comes out of the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, should one drive down Ocean Parkway or go with the Belt?

I have received what is possibly the most unfavorable review of a book ever written. It’s by one D.G. Wnek, “a journalism graduate currently working for Northwestern Bell.” This sounds like a parody, but it actually appeared in the Minneapolis Tribune. It begins:

For weeks and weeks I have tried to think of an ingenious way to say “With Hitler in New York” has no literary merit whatsoever. Inferior quality, unfortunately, does not inspire ingenuity. To put it bluntly: this is the worst book I have read in my life.

Richard Grayson’s anthology of short stories is unbelievably bad, bad, bad.

How bad is it?

Well, after a writer reviews his chosen book, he gets to keep it…I am not keeping this one. I want to give it to someone I really despise.

[Dummy! He could sell it to the Strand: they’ll buy anything!]

If that sounds harsh, then consider this: the author himself refuses to accept responsibility for writing these stories. Grayson blames their existence on “the anarchist’s bomb that killed Czar Alexander II in Petersburg in 1881 (which) led to Russian pogroms and to the anti-Semitic May laws of 1881.” These events, he says, eventually led to his presence in this country as a writer. He also advises readers to address negative criticism to the anarchist who planted the bomb—not him. How fortunate for him and his mailman.

Grayson’s stories have no real plot, no meaningful action, no memorable characters; they do little more than exist. In “Infant Sorrow” a celebrated weightlifter feels unloved and remembers when he was constipated. In “Notes Toward a Story for Uncle Irving,” the author begins a tribute to his uncle, then ends with, “And it’s a shame on you, Uncle Irving, you ignorant, boastful, cowardly, neurotic, foolish old man.” In “Princess from the Land of Porcelain” a married woman finally finds contentment in her dreams—as a lesbian. In “The Mother in My Bedroom” a mother who once hid under her son’s bed as he entertained various lovers, must spend the rest of her life in her son’s bedroom. And in “With Hitler in New York” Hitler returns to America to smoke joints, watch television and eat at McDonald’s.

The remaining 22 stories—sometimes confusing, usually boring, and always absurd—impart nothing of any significance to the reader.

Grayson writes about meaningless lives, meaningless actions, trying to uncover something meaningful. He never does. He only shows that those who embrace the monotony of existence become monotonous figures.

Even his better stories, “Chief Justice Burger, Teen Idol” and “Classified Personal” are not, in fact, short stories. They are nonsensical fragments, inchoate exercises from his coffee-stained notebook, perhaps funny little things Grayson, instructor of creative writing, might show his classes at Long Island University and Kingsborough Community College. Grayson knows this. He also knows that his other works, those which most resemble short stories, are decidedly fifth-rate.

In “A Thousand Other Worlds,” Grayson the protagonist writes a short story of the same name that literally comes to life. The story, a touchy thing on a low-cholesterol diet, sees a Truffaut double bill at the Carnegie Hall Cinema with its author, then demands to be sent to The New Yorker. Grayson obliges. The story is rejected.

The following week he takes it to the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference where John Gardner criticizes it: “To me, it’s just nonsense. And it’s not only nonsense, it’s immoral. Immoral.”

So the story bites him in the leg.

So Grayson realizes his anthology is a cornucopia of crap but would rather laugh about it. He would rather write another silly little story that parodies his own work than accept the responsibility of working harder to express meaningful ideas written in traditional literary form. Gardner was right: this nonsense exemplifies stream-of-consciousness with no conscience.

Call it avant-garde departure from traditional literary structure. Call it playful exercise with traditional literary form. But do not call such nonsense literature, for such literature makes “Betty & Veronica” a selection in The Classics Club.

And now, I must find someone I really despise.

I can’t believe I could inspire such a horrible review. It’s so outrageous in its venom that it actually makes it very easy to take. I mean, this review is the worst one I’ve ever read. (I sound like Wnek.)

Some anti-Semite who works for the telephone company in Minneapolis is jealous of me and has no sense of humor whatsoever. Does this bother me? A bit, I guess, but mostly I’m laughing.

The other reviews that came along in Dad’s suitcase were better. Daniel Curzon in the San Francisco Voice begins:

Buy this book! It’s wonderful. It costs only $7.95. Where else can you get as much pleasure – both emotional and intellectual – for so little?

[Oy vey. Now everyone will think I fucked Curzon to get a review this good.]

At first I thought With Hitler in New York wasn’t very gay in its content, but the stories get gayer later in the book. Richard Grayson is a real writer, whether he’s writing on gay themes or not. He’s witty and deep, playful and honest. I don’t know whether he is gay or not. [Join the club.] I hope he is, because we need all the first-rate writing we can get. If encouraged, Grayson might more explicitly gay-themed stories. (indeed, if all the gay writers wrote about gay life and left straight life to the straight writers, there’d be precious little straight stuff written).

[I remember reading Curzon’s stories for the Fiction Collective. They were awful.]

If you’ve been reading the bulk of the books coming out of the big New York presses and finding yourself slowly starving to death for genuine artistic nourishment, buy this book. For the truth, dear friends, is that if readers who like soul-satisfying fiction don’t buy these books when they appear – less and less often, please note – then very soon they won’t be able to buy them at all. They simply won’t be published, and we can all die of literary malnutrition.

The situation in publishing is much worse than I suspected. I’ve always discounted the so-called American preoccupation with making money. But I’ve come to realize at last that vulgar is really all that publishers care about. The corporations are destroying literature. They must be stopped. They are robber barons, neither pure nor simple, who care only about profits, profits, and more profits, just like the oil companies. If you think this doesn’t matter, just remember that these corporations control what you read. They have a monopoly on the market. They must be required to publish quality fiction in the same way that the FCC requires TV and radio stations to broadcast some quality programming. No corporation should be allowed to keep true literature out of your hands just because they have the power to do so.

Don’t read With Hitler in New York all at once. The blunt, declarative sentences are best appreciated when spread out. I also think the author shouldn’t have included three stories about how hard it is to write a story. Two would have been enough.

But there is much here that is truly beautifully done, like the story about an uncle the narrator hates, and “The Princess from the Land of Porcelain,” which may be the finest story about a lesbian ever written.

[Haven’t you ever heard of Rita Mae Brown or other lesbian writers? Haven’t you ever heard of D.H. Lawrence, for that matter?]

Richard Grayson probably had to kill to get a collection of stories published by anybody in these disgusting days. The least the literate reader can do is avoid the chaff from Avon, Dell, and the like, and get this book, the real stuff.

Well, it’s a wonderful review, but I feel a little funny about my gayness being speculated upon in print, especially when my parents read it – though of course they said nothing.

The wisest review was a very long one by Patricia Browning Griffith in the Washington Review. She actually understood what I was driving at in “Hitler” and articulated it better than I could have. After quoting liberally from the story, concluding with the line where Ellen calls Hitler a “sadist” who “did the same thing in Germany last summer” when Hitler splashes Ellen in the swimming pool, Griffith writes:

This is the closest Grayson comes to characterizing the familiar Hitler. Otherwise Hitler drinks Beck’s beer and makes jokes and tried to cheer the narrator up when his grandfather dies. The story ends, “Hitler put his hand on my shoulder and tells me to sleep well.”

This story, “With Hitler in New York,” is wry and funny and wonderfully imaginative. And Grayson avoids what might be expected – either intrusive fantasy or broad comedy. The tone instead is cool and neutral. Watching Grayson pull off this story is like watching a flying Wallenda. It is dazzling and dangerous. . .

In its bland, neutral control, the story is chilling not only because of the subject but the irony of the setting. The setting is nice, everyday family. The friends seem genuinely friends. The narrator is touchingly grieved at his grandfather’s death and sympathetic in his concern and observation of Hitler. The tone and realistic style of the story creates a jolting closeness. “With Hitler in New York” implies that the fantasy of the supermarket tabloid is close to true, closer than the news that’s fit to print.

Richard Grayson is thirtyish, but he has published over a hundred and thirty stories, two of them “Understanding Human Sexual Inadequacy” and “Super Fab Senators,” in the Washington Review. The dissimilarity of these two stories is not atypical. Grayson uses more diverse forms than any story writer I know. At the same time he maintains a distinctive quality that blends. Unlike many collections of short stories, which to read at once is like eating a quart of ice cream in one sitting, these stories are varied and spicy enough to urge you on. In fact, the numbers and versatility of Grayson’s stories give the impression that stories must light on him like flies. If God is in the details, as someone said, it is also true that stories are in details, and Grayson seems not only good at detail but sees than even at varying levels when accumulated, they can make a story. . .

Grayson often uses “names” of our time, underlining, like Warhol, our perpetual consciousness of “names” and employing them, as Warhol did, as an emotional reflection of our culture. Presented here are stories on Justice Burger and Pol Pot. Appearing are Farrah Fawcett-Majors, Fulton J. Sheen, John Ashbery, and others. Grayson uses them best in a casual off-handed way as he does in “In the Lehman Collection.” Or “Real People,” a story based on the national game of “guess-who-I-saw-today”. . .

When the names themselves dominate the story as in “Chief Justice Burger, Teen Idol,” the device is too obvious. The same is true, I think, in “Lincoln on the Couch,” an historical flashback. The author seems forced to balance the obviousness of the device with an equal degree of outrageousness and irreverence. But even so, Grayson uses the incongruity of the language to create fresh and funny scenes. . .

In a different form of story, “Go Not to Lethe,” a TV soap opera is celebrating its twenty-seventh anniversary with its twenty-seven-year-old star Grayson Richards and his co-starring Jewish family. “Au Milieu Interieur,” which first appeared in the anthology Statements 2 published by the Fiction Collective, is composed as a series of questions. It begins, “What is a dream?” The development of the story is the characterization of the narrator, which is both complex and fascinating. “Au Milieu Interieur” is an example of how fine an experimental or innovative form can be when handled by a writer who understands the organic development of a story.

Throughout all these stories Grayson’s style is supermarket informational with intrusive irrelevancies. Though Grayson refuses to limit himself, especially in the Jewish family stories he will resort to a traditional setting and atmosphere. But commonly the irrelevant detail is presented with as much weight as the supposedly “important” facts, making a scene as non-selective as experience itself (which is of course ironic since Grayson as the artist is ultimately controlling and selective). Some of the most successful stories are the scenes of the Jewish family. . .

There is also more to enjoy in this book than stories. The introduction by the author is so nice you want to run to the phone and urge Richard Grayson to begin his autobiography immediately. Even “A Note on the Type” is a lark. . .

I must admit that there are one or two stories in With Hitler in New York that I could have done without. “Ordinary Man,” a sort of science fiction story, is one. And I wish Grayson would rewrite “The First Annual James V. Forrestal Memorial Lecture” because it begins marvelously and then disintegrates, which the story itself admits. I say that, knowing that probably fourteen new stories are buzzing around Grayson this instant. But I say it because Angela Cozzarelli, who is practicing to be the great intellectual figure of the 1990s and the nice Jewish boy who went to the Newman Club picnic to watch his heartthrob Eddie Dugan play softball without a shirt, deserve better. They are individual and real and wonderfully conceived. The fact is that even in a story one might quarrel with, Grayson is still so good there is always a lot to like and admire.

This is a terrific book. Read it. Give it to your friends.

Zo, vot haff ve learnt from thees, Mr. Grayson? That some people will give this book to their friends and some people will give it to their enemies? Who knows? At least I’m not bored.

Last night Mom and I drove to Miami International Airport. Dad’s plane was delayed an hour, and it didn’t come in until nearly midnight, so Mom and I walked around – nine out of ten people there were Hispanic and four out of five of them seemed gay – and I bought and started reading Joseph Heller’s Good as Gold, which is the funniest book I’ve come across in years.

Heller captures the Brooklyn Jewish family perfectly: the dinner scenes are hilarious. And Heller knows where all the bodies are buried in academia and the “intellectual” world. His caricatures of Podhoretz and others are superb.

Anyway, Dad came back, and I was glad to see him. He got the Sasson outerwear line and may get another line, but he was upset because he blew an interview for a $100,000-a-year job with Sasson for women. Dad said my apartment was fine – and warm.

Back home, I opened my mail. Besides the reviews, there were literary magazines with old stories I never thought would see the light of day: “Y/Me” in Ponchartrain Review and “Chiaroscuro” in Sandscript.

Nancy Appelbaum writes that she and Nancy Evans are using my experiences with Liz Smith and Waldenbooks in a kit for their new seminar on how to help published writers. They’ll probably put it in the second edition of How to Get Happily Published.

Tom Whalen sent a nice long note. Western Washington University said the expected position I applied for “never materialized.” (I picture the English Department waiting aboard the USS Enterprise waiting for an alien “position” to beam aboard.) The Federal Election Commission sent some forms, and there was a lot of junk.

I found a story on me in the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, and there was a nice head shot; I got in a few new jokes in the article. But the story and review in the Hollywood Sun-Tattler did not come out. Win some, lose some.

After sitting out in the sun much of the day, I feel glorious now. In a week I’ll be back in New York; I think I can wait.

Here’s a Helleresque true anecdote: Dad told us about taking Marc and Deanna out for a birthday dinner, and during the meal Deanna asked Dad, “Did you do anything on New Year’s Eve?”

“No, we didn’t,” said Dad.

Deanna thought about that for a minute and asked, “In Miami, do they celebrate New Year’s Eve the same time we do?”

Marc exploded: “What are you talking about? Of course they celebrate New Year’s Eve at the same time we do.”

But Deanna had a point to make: “Well, don’t the Chinese celebrate it on a different day?”

Deanna is amazing. But then of course there’s Grandma Sylvia, who asked Dad: “So did it really pay for you to go all the way to New York?”

“Well, I got the job I interviewed for,” Dad told his mother.

“So it didn’t really pay,” she said.