Just About To Turn…

My son Sam is currently starring in a production of a wonderful musical called “13.”  It’s the story of a boy named Evan Goldman who is “just about to turn 13.” The show is about all of the life lessons that he learns about “becoming a man.”  At the end of the show, he admits that there is a lot left to learn.  The last line of the show has Evan standing alone in a spotlight: “My name is Evan Goldman.  I’m 13 years old.  And I’m just getting started.”

Tomorrow I will turn 43.  I am 30 years older than Evan Goldman, and 2 years older than I was when I started this blog.  At the time, I thought I knew all there was to know.  Wow, was I wrong.  Every day I learn something new.

I learned that men should never go to Costco without you, because they will invariably forget something that you forgot to tell them you needed.

I learned that boots are not made for walking.  They are made for very tall women.

I learned that I should probably stop trying to emulate celebrities.  I just can’t pull off that “giant floppy hat and a fur jacket while walking a yorkie holding a latte and a yoga mat” look.

I learned that extraordinary people get sick and have to struggle.  Life is not fair.  There will never be an explanation other than this.

I have learned that the majority of the time, in most people, the truth hurts. The truth can embarrass us.  We live our lives trying to project an image that we want other people to believe.  I don’t want to hurt or embarrass anyone except for my own family.  It is because of this truth that the book version of “Mom On Tour” has transformed from a non-fiction account to a fictionalized telling.  The main character is now Maggie Stevens, a mom of three from Arizona who goes on a Broadway tour with her son.  She is married to a weight loss doctor, and she’s originally from Detroit.  But: the show is “The Munsters” and not “The Addams Family.”  See?  Totally different.  Look for “Mom On The Road” to be coming out very soon.

Finally, I have learned that no one should ever go onto a Broadway ticket broker website at 2 a.m. after taking Ambien.  That dream about paying $1,000 for good seats was, in fact, not a dream.

My name is Allyson Primack.  I’m 43 years old.  And I’m just getting started.

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Free Speech

“What color lipstick do you think would look good on me?” I asked the salesgirl, who appeared to be in her early twenties.  “Oh, definitely our newest color: Kog Nak.  Let me find it.  Yes, here it is: Kog Nak.  You should try it on.”  I did, and it was a great color for me.  As I walked up to the register, she handed me fresh one in a box.  Thinking that it was a strange name for a lipstick (or for anything for that matter), I looked to see how it was spelled.  “Cognac” was written on the bottom.  I paid for the lipstick and started to walk out the door. But I couldn’t do it. I turned and walked back towards the girl.  “Listen,” I said quietly.  “I need to tell you something. It’s pronounced Cone-yak.  It’s a type of drink.”

After holding Sam’s bar mitzvah last May, I decided that I didn’t ever need to do that again.  It was exhausting and emotional and expensive.  I figured I could talk my daughter Lauren into a trip to Israel instead. She wasn’t buying it.  So I begrudgingly went this week to look at a potential venue for her party. The chipper catering lady excitedly asked me what stage I was in in the planning process. I looked at her with a very serious expression, took a deep breath, and I answered “Denial.”

In today’s society, when the topic of freedom of speech is being debated worldwide, I think it’s important to remember that 99% of the time it’s perfectly fine to say what’s on your mind.  No one gets anywhere by being polite, and God knows I am the last person to withhold my thoughts on the majority of issues out there.

For the past few weeks, I have been driving Sam and his friends home from their late night rehearsals. On these late night drives, they often lovingly make fun of Sam for a variety of silly reasons. Lately I have been joining in on some of the teasing. His friends love it when I join in, and all of us enjoy a laugh or two at his expense. Everyone, except Sam. Last night he told me that he’d had enough.  He wasn’t interested in having “the cool mom” anymore. He did’t think it was nice for me to try to fit in with his buddies by becoming a jokester.

I recently saw “The Interview.”  I thought it was hilarious, clever, and I enjoyed it immensely.  But I can totally understand why North Korea would not. Most of us know how to take some form of criticism, or to handle subtle humor.  Psychopathic maniacal North Korean leaders do not.  And neither do teenage boys. I suppose that we need to respect that in both of these cases.

Sometimes a situation absolutely calls for humor or brutal honesty, but it’s always wise to think before you speak.

So, to the kid working at Jimmy Johns who handed me an empty plastic tray when I said I was there to pick up a tray: I’m sorry. But it was very hard not to laugh at you.

And to Sam: no more joining in when the carpool laughs at your obsession with your Instagram. But as far as your request to remove my previous blog with my “selfie emojis” because I look ridiculous- I have to draw the line.

It’s ok to tread lightly and be cautious when laughing at others. But I refuse to stop freely laughing at myself. In today’s politically-correct world, it’s all I have left.

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If Emojis Were Actual Emotions

What are you saying exactly when you text me this?

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If you don’t know, don’t send it. Use your words.

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Into The Woods

The very first show that Sam was in was a local production of Into the Woods, Jr.
At 4, he was technically too young to be in the cast, but the director, sensing his
desperation to be in a show, cast him as Royal Trumpeter # 7.  Throughout the rehearsal process, several trumpeters dropped out (due to exhaustion?) so he was upgraded to Royal Trumpeter #4.  Due to his diligence in rehearsals, Sam was also given a special role of “The Hen That Laid the Golden Egg.”   (This part doesn’t actually exist)  His part was to run onto the stage as he’s being chased by Jack, who is trying to catch him and bring him down the beanstalk.

On opening night, Sam was so excited to go onstage for the first time. Our family and friends sat rapt in the audience for his big debut. The time came and he ran on, was enthralled by the audience’s laughter, kept running but stopped looking where he was going, and fell right off the stage and into the audience. Not upset, he rose from below, climbed back on the stage, and kept on going.

As we approach 2015 and head into the woods (clever, I know), I am hoping to
maintain much of the wonder and hope that is the crux of that show (which is now a
major motion picture! Check your local listings!)

Like the Bakers Wife, I am going to try to ignore the curse of bad genes in my
family. (Damn thighs and butt. I know, I know, that’s what you get when you don’t eat
enough of those greens and get greedy with the beans).

Like Red Riding Hood, I’m not going to trust people so easily anymore. Everyone
wants something from you. Even the most innocent of kindly gestures can have selfish motivations.

Like Cinderella, I’m going to try to rely on myself and not others to create
magic and mystery. Also, I’m going to try to wear shoes that are in style for the season. (Even though I know that knee-high boots just don’t fit me (do they make them in sizes for people with wide calves?)

Like Jack, I’m going to try and fight the giants who try to control the world from up above. Whatever the cause-the best way to stop them is to cut down their beanstalks so they can’t get to us anymore.

Like Rapunzel, I’m going to continue to attempt to make my hair long and luscious.  I agree with the great Warren Beatty who once said that no matter the outfit or how much makeup you put on, ultimately, it’s all about the hair.

Like the Witch, I’m going to continue on in my quest for youth and beauty.  I refuse to grow old gracefully.  There is no reason to not try to make yourself look as beautiful on the outside as you feel in the inside.  (I will say, however, that cursing your neighbor with infertility and stealing his sister and hiding her in a tower is going a little bit too far.)

However, like the Witch, I’m going to try to learn to let go of my kids.  I know that the reason why we have them is to ultimately let them climb down the tower and wander into the woods.  I just don’t like to admit that they are ready to go.

As with the entire show, I’m going to try to hold onto the fact that life is a constant journey.  Childhood only lasts for a very short period of time and kids should allowed to be kids.  I need to be careful the things that I say because children (especially mine) will, in fact, listen.

Into the Woods, Jr. ends at Act One, when everything seems to be resolved happily-ever- after for all of the characters.  (Spoiler alert!) Act Two is much more violent, and results in disappointment, death, and loneliness for these same characters.

I’m not sure which one is the more realistic ending.  However, I do know that in today’s world, we need to be prepared how to handle life once we get all that we ever wanted. There are so many ways to interpret Sondheim’s message in this show. I think that the message is to never get too content in your life.  You should never stop trying to re-create your story.

Push away all of the witches and giants and big, bad wolves and keep on with your journey.    Even if people that you love leave you halfway through your story, no one leaves for good.  Their spirit will always be with you, guiding you along the way. New friends will come along to encourage you to keep going. No one is truly alone.

Keep fighting, keep dreaming, and keep believing in exciting, new chapters in your life, no matter how old you are.  Even if you fall off the stage, get back up there.  Your reward will be the applause from the audience because you didn’t give up.

Happy 2015.

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Twas The Night Before Chanukah. A Poem.

Twas the night
Before Hanukkah
When all through the house
Not a creature was preparing,
Not even my spouse.

The menorah just sat,
In the cupboard all bare,
In the hopes
That some candles,
Soon would be there.

The children were complaining
At night in their beds
Hanukkah is boring,
I wish we celebrated Christmas instead.

And me in old sweatpants,
And my husband in jeans from the Gap,
Had just settled on the couch
For his nightly after-dinner nap.

When to the store I ran,
to show them that Chanukah does matter
I bucked my seatbelt,
And noticed I had gotten fatter.

Away to go Chanukah shopping,
I drove like a flash,
Tearing down that open road,
Realizing that I had cash.

The crumbs on my breast
I should have changed, that I know,
But I wanted to get there
Before it closed
With no children in tow.

When what
To my tired eyes
Should appear,
But a miniature sleigh in the window
And eight tiny reindeer.

Just a little ol me,
A quiet lone Jew,
I knew in a moment,
That corporate America had no clue.

More offensive than others,
This time of year it’s especially lame,
So I whistled
And shouted
And called
Each holiday by name.

No Rosh Hashana!
No Yom Kippur!
No Passover!
No Hannukkah!

No dreidel
No menorah
No latkes
Nor yarmulke

Not in the window
Or in the aisle
Not by the register
Or even on sale,
Not ok
Not ok
It was an epic retail fail.

As we Jews wander ’round
Saying Merry Christmas
Each time we say goodbye,
And each time we meet
Or each time we greet
The grocery store bagging guy.

You wear your green and red
And your jolly little caps
We buy you Secret Santa gifts
And Christmas cookies
And ornaments too,
Stocking stuffers, candy canes
Yet there’s nothing out there
for a kid whose a Jew.

We are the only ones on the street
without twinkling lights
On the doors
and on the roof,
No wreath
And no tree
Only our mezuzahs
as religious proof.

As I hung my head
And was turning around,
Out the door came a salesman
A young teenage boy
Came out with a bound.

Oh, ma’am!
I found some!
Hanukkah decorations in our store.
In the Jewish section
In the back,
He had found wrapping paper
Dreidels, menorahs, and candles
On a small, tiny rack.

He was so proud
Of his store
How progressive they are,
Selling napkins and tablecloths
With a giant Jewish star.

He had a broad face
And a round little belly,
That shook when he laughed
Like a bowl full of jelly.

He was chubby and plump
A right jolly old elf,
I laughed when I saw the small selection
In spite of myself.

A wink of his eye
And a nod of his head,
Soon gave me to know
I had nothing to dread.

I drove quickly home
As I knew what I had to do,
I wrapped eight presents
For each child
And one for my spouse too.

We Jews may feel left out
on all the Christmas fun,
But we should still celebrate
and be merry
with our fellow chosen ones.

There is still a place for us
Near the 12 Days of Christmas and the Elf on a Shelf,
In a tiny corner of each store
And I can laugh to myself.

We are all the same,
and I know I am right,
Christians and Jews
We are buying unnecessary gifts for our families
That will one day cause a fight.

You see, the stores are the real winners
All religions spend the same,
We’ll buy whatever you are selling
Whether to celebrate eight days of oil,
or in the birth of Jesus’ name.

And so I say to my children,
with a bit of holiday glee,
Christmas is not better, with its Santa and its tree.

It’s about who comes out with the most gifts
That’s always how it ends,
You have eight nights of your holiday,
you can brag to your friends.

It’s not really about who has more fun singing carols
Or having ginger plums dancing in their head,
The important thing to celebrate
Is that capitalism is not dead.

And so I say to the members of the tribe
on this random mid-December night,
Happy Chanukah to all
And to all a goodnight.

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Colonial Day

“Red and yellow make green.”  While this is not actually true in coloring, it is completely accurate for many police officers.  I myself learned this phrase when I received a traffic ticket here in Arizona. I was dressed up as an Indian, on the way to 5th grade Colonial Day.  I then headed to our elementary school, which was located two doors down from my home.  Admittedly, I was going a tiny bit over the speed limit, and I got pulled over directly in front of my house.  While I tried to distract him with my adorable Native American outfit, he asked me for my license. In my hurry to get to school to get to my post at the soap-making stand, I forgot my purse. So, at the Officer’s request, I went into my home to retrieve it.  He then wrote me a ticket for having no license. To write up the information for the ticket, the officer used my license.  When I questioned the irony of the situation, he told me to take the ticket to court with my driver’s license and I would get it dismissed.  

You see, the cops get paid for simply writing the tickets. And, in this situation, it wouldn’t have mattered if I was dressed as a Pilgrim or an Indian.

Our country is in an uproar over police brutality, and this is good.  However, this is something any defense attorney or any minority living in this country has known about for decades.  Police abuse their power.  It is as simple as that.  They are given a badge and told that they are invincible. There is a system in place that assures them that they are correct.

Does race play an issue?  Absolutely.  But make no mistake about it: we cannot be distracted by race on this topic.  It is easy to say that the situation can be resolved by giving the police some classes in racial tolerance. It is incredibly easy to blame all of this on previous generations of racial prejudice and ignorance.

But race is not really the problem. The problem is abuse of power. The problem is injustice.

Think about it: are you mad about the accusations against Bill Cosby because he was a black guy abusing mostly white women?  No.  You are mad he abused his power as an influential entertainer. People were mad about OJ Simpson and Casey Anthony because they were murderers who were found not guilty and set free. We were not mad because they were black or white. We were mad because of injustice. We were mad that our “justice” system is anything but just.

For the same reason that I have trouble driving while there are cars on the road with reindeer ears, it is easy to distract us today.  The media can throw anything out there and make us believe it.  I walk into a store and completely forget why I’m there until I see a sign telling me what’s on sale and suddenly that’s what I buy. I end up in my driveway wondering how I forgot to buy eggs, and instead own a new set of tupperware.

An attorney friend of mine is representing the family of a man here in Arizona who was an unarmed man shot and killed by the police last week.  The police claimed he was part of a drug deal, but when he was shot, he was holding two happy meals for his kids.  Does it matter his race?  It shouldn’t.  It should matter that he was a dad who had just returned home from McDonalds, and was shot from behind at his front door.

Let’s take this anger and keep going, America.  But don’t get distracted by the red and blue lights.  Focus on the road ahead.  Police have a tough job and we are glad they are here to protect us.  But like anything that is put here to provide us safety, there can be leaks in the roof.  We need insurance so that we don’t get rained on again.

Don’t patch up those holes with masking tape.  Close them up for good.

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Chad And The Meat Tray

I have a confession: Most of the time, I completely live inside my head. I crack myself up all day long, and usually don’t feel the need to share my thoughts with anyone. Throughout my life, I have created many terms that I use in my head on a daily basis.  Most of the phrases are based on events, people or observations from my life.

Since the holiday season is approaching, it’s time you learn one of my favorites. It is called “Chad And The Meat Tray.”

The story begins on the day I graduated from college. My best girlfriends and I held a very large brunch before the ceremony for our friends and family. It was a brunch held on the lawn of the home we all shared in college, and we had several large platters of food, including trays of bagels, fruit, and cheese.  

There was also a meat tray.

We had a lot of food left over, and the party continued that night with just our friends after the ceremonies were over.  One of the people that attended the party was a bartender from our favorite college bar named Chad. Chad was a very nice fella, quite a big guy, who really didn’t have much to say.  At the end of the night, my friend whom I will call “Lottie” decided to give Chad the rest of the meat tray to take home.

Over the course of the next several weeks, we would still go to the bar where Chad worked. (Although we graduated, we stayed in East Lansing, MI for the summer. No one wanted to leave.) Chad would say hello, and for some reason, Lottie would always ask Chad “how was the meat tray?”  On multiple occasions, whenever she saw Chad, Lottie felt the need throughout the evening to bring up that damn meat tray.  When I asked her why, she said it was the only thing they had to talk about.  I finally told her that if that was all they had to discuss, she should probably just talk to someone else.

Because of this, whenever I have only one topic in common with someone, I silently call it our “Chad and the Meat Tray” topic.

And so, if we run into each other at an event this holiday season, please, listen to me. If we end up in a narrow hallway at a party or we in line together waiting for the bathroom, and both of us get nervous as to what to discuss, and one of us feels the urge to bring up that one time we saw each other at the doctor’s office, or the fact that we own the same shirt, or that we drive the same car in the same color, or that our kids have the same name spelled the same way, just nod your head instead.  I get it.  We have nothing to talk about, and that’s ok.

We are all very busy this time of the year.  And we are tired. Let’s just smile and say hello and go on about our business. I promise you I will not be offended. There is no need to talk about a moldy meat tray just to be social anymore.

Happy Holidays,

Momontour

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