That Time I Danced with Morris Day and The Time AND COMPLETELY EMBARRASSED MYSELF

“Do you wanna go up stage and dance?” Dan asked me.

“YEAHHHHHH!,” I shouted back instantly over the loud music, not thinking for a second what that actually meant.

“OK, wait here,” the large, muscular security guard said to me, as he corralled me towards the others.

It was a beautiful Friday night at the Waterfront and let’s just say your girl had been taking advantage of the open bar. Taking advantage of all the offerings, really. Dan’s company parties are known for being epic and include a concert with bands you’re shocked are in tiny Vermont. Coming from the non-profit world where we can’t even afford an extra roll of toilet paper, it’s part shocking, part exhilarating to see how the other half lives.

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We spent the first part of the party mingling, rocking our “flashback” outfits, and seeing what other crazy things people had on. My favorite was this dude who was just straight up dressed like The Ultimate Warrior for no reason other than it’s the Ultimate Warrior and you don’t need a reason. We saw a woman dressed as Riff Raff, complete with braids and a tin foil mouth grill. We saw people wearing afro wigs and sequins. We saw men in mesh shirts, and some men with no shirts at all.  We saw women in rainbow tutus and ponytails on the sides of their heads. These people took their parties seriously and for the first time in my costume career I almost felt under-dressed.IMG_7681

In retrospect, maybe I shouldn’t have started the night off with a Heady Topper, an 8%, 16 ounce beer known to knock lightweights like me on my ass. But what the hell. It was Friday night. I probably had 1/4 of a can left when I hopped in line to get one last free beer before open bar closed.

“Are you out of Heady Topper?” I asked the bartender.

“Yeah, sorry,”he replied.

“That’s OK. I’ll take a Corona, please.”

He looked at me like I had two heads.

“Do you want ONE…or do you want TWO?” he asked.

Unsure if this was a trick question or not, I hesitantly replied, “Two?”

“Smart girl,” he said as he handed over my two Coronas.

And then I was the girl at the party with three beers.

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Morris Day and The Time (MDATT) were about to get started, so I took my three beers and what was left of my dignity, and followed Dan up to stage right. For those of you unfamiliar with MDATT, he was Prince’s band competition in the movie Purple Rain…and for those of you unfamiliar with Purple Rain, just turn on VH1 because they’ve played it about 1674 times since Prince died in April. MDATT are a really fun funk/soul band, who are full of attitude, style and extremely talented musicians. They keep it old school in all the best ways with synchronized dance moves and attire.IMG_7697

Morris himself was rocking a diamond rhinestone mauve suit, a gigantic diamond ring, and at least 3 million carat diamond watches ON BOTH WRISTS. He was everything my 3rd grade, bedazzle enthusiast’s heart could ever hope for and I couldn’t look away. I also couldn’t really feel my face.

So anyway, there we were–Dan with his N/A beer, me with my collection of empty cans and my buzz, and Morris with his diamonds–when Dan asked if I wanted to go up on stage and dance. And I stupidly agreed.

As I was being ushered by the security guard to the other dancers, I saw Dan stay behind.

“Wait, wait,” I said shouting to Dan over the loud music. “Aren’t YOU coming, too?”

He also looked at me like I had two heads.

“Haha, no way, babe,” Dan laughed and smiled. “Just you ladies.”

What the hell had just happened?! It was as if Dan and the security guard had made some sort secret agreement when I was being blinded by Morris’ bling. I instantly regretted my decision and considered bolting.

“Hiii! Are you Dan’s girlfriend?” some of the other girls asked me. “It’s so nice to meet you!!” They shook my hand and introduced themselves as they danced in place.

Fuck. They’re all so nice. I can’t leave now,  I thought to myself.

“So anyone know what we’re doing?”I asked the rainbow tutus girls, trying all at once to both play it cool and desperately obtain information.

“I’m not really sure!” one of them smiled back at me, no fear whatsoever in her voice.

There’s still time to run, my brain said.

“I think they just want us to dance!” one of the other girls cheerfully replied.

She was trying to make me feel better, and I really appreciated that, but instead she inadvertently set off a chain of questions I knew I couldn’t ask aloud: How will I know when to go on stage? Is there a certain dance I’m supposed to do? Is there a certain move I should absolutely NOT do? Where am I supposed to stand? Will we all be spread out or assigned a spot? Are we dancing for just one song? Are we dancing for SEVERAL songs? Oh my god, what if we’re dancing up there for the rest of the night?! WHY aren’t the other girls nervous? WHY DID I AGREE TO DO THIS?

“Ok, ladies, follow me,” the guard said as he began to lead us backstage.

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FUCCCCCCK.

Just as I was about to have a panic attack, I instead starting feeling all of the positive effects my friend Alcohol is known for. You know, Alcohol, right? He’s the one who tells you that dancing on stage in front of 2,000 of your boyfriend’s coworkers is a GREAT idea. He tells you that you are A FABULOUS DANCER.  He points out that YOU LOVE TO DANCE.  And he reminds you that YOU TOOK ZUMBA CLASSES FOR 3 YEARS so OBVIOUSLY you are MORE THAN PREPARED FOR THIS MOMENT, and quite possibly, YOU SHOULD HAVE AUDITIONED FOR AMERICA’S GOT TALENT BY NOW.

Well shucks, Alcohol. I don’t know about that last one. But you’re right! I’m going to relax and have fun with this.

So that’s the mindset I had as I drunkenly went on stage with a dozen other girls to be MDATT’s back up dancers.

A band member I will refer to as Jamie Foxx casually ushered us to our various places on stage, as he danced and spun around. And before you say I’m just a white girl being racist, let me assure you, this guy is so much the splitting image of Jamie Foxx that I almost asked him if he was going to sit at the piano and cover a few tunes from Ray. But there wasn’t any time for questions because I was there to dance and act like I knew what I was doing.

Everything was going great (read: completely mediocre) and I was actually enjoying myself. I waved to Dan, I smiled for the cameras, and I shook, shook,  shookmy salt shaker (whatever the hell that means).


Just when I thought the song was over and I was congratulating myself for not completely embarrassing myself, I COMPLETELY EMBARRASSED MYSELF BY HUGGING MORRIS FUCKING DAY. 

You know how certain songs sound like they are about to end…? The last note of whatever instrument is dragging on…and people in the audience have started to clap…and the singer has his hands in the air like he’s waiting for that one final note to indicate, this song is over…yeah, all that was happening.

Morris had turned around to face the band and was standing directly in front of me. And like a cast member at the finale of a Saturday Night Live episode, I was overcome with emotion and the weight of our performance. See also: drunk. So I stretched my arms out to him, cocked my head to the side and conveyed through gestures, Heeyyy, did we all just kill it up here or WHAT?!

The look on his face can only be described as absolute terror.

Turns out the song wasn’t over! It was just one of those songs with a weird dip like November Rain. I had completely screwed up his routine.

Immediately Jamie Foxx came over to pull me off Morris and put me in my rightful place, with a look on his face that said Nobody touches Morris Day and all of his diamonds. I was mortified.

But that wasn’t even the worst part! Because the song wasn’t over, I HAD TO KEEP DANCING and act like nothing had happened. So I stayed up there, fake smiling, my face beet red, doing the 4 Zumba moves I could remember over and over again, acting as if hugging Morris had all been part of the plan.

**Hugs**

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Delirious thoughts while having the flu

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  1. When you show up to the ER with a fever of 104.6, every part of your body aching, shaking from being so cold while simultaneously feeling so hot you think your eyeballs are melting…it is not helpful for the staff to shame you when they find out you didn’t get a flu shot. I get it. I’m a terrible, irresponsible person. But the strain of flu that is going around right now isn’t even covered in the vaccine, and I know people who got the shot and still got the flu. So why the hostility, Doc? Please just charge me so much money that I’ll be meeting my insurance deductible in the first month and send me on my not-so merry way.
  2. Tamiflu knocks you on your fucking ass. I think I might have actually paid $120 for sleeping pills. I’ve passed out at least three times writing this one paragraph. Enter some intelligent comment here that I’m too exhausted to come up with about how f-ed up our health care system to charge $120 for medicine.
  3. Night sweats are not only disgusting, but confusing. The first time I soaked through every piece of clothing I was wearing, I thought, “Weird. Ten minutes ago I was so cold that I thought I was standing outside naked. Better remove these fuzzy socks, sweatpants, and the 3 t-shirts I’m wearing.” The second time it happened,  my head now dripping with sweat as well as my entire body, I thought maybe the cat accidentally peed all over my head. He hadn’t. I shrugged it off and fell back to sleep. By the third time, the sheets beneath me were so wet that I legitimately thought I peed the bed. You know what’s really fun? Having to change the sheets at 4 AM when you don’t even have enough energy to blow your nose.
  4. I’ve been up for three hours and already need to go back to sleep. More to come later if I can stay awake.

8 Year Old Amy and the Case of the Cursive P

The most stressed out period of my life was the year I spent in Mrs. Lemieux’s third grade class. Yeah, you read that correctly, third grade. Like clockwork, I came home every day after school and cried. The crying caused full blown migraines, and I’d have no other choice but to lay down in a dark room with a wash cloth draped across my forehead so that I didn’t barf all over the place. My parents couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. My mom spent hours talking to my teacher and sent me a greeting card in the mail that promised, Everything is going to get better. Thinking the migraines were because I couldn’t see the chalkboard, they even took me to an optometrist to have my eyes checked out. The conclusion was, “There is nothing wrong with your daughter’s eyes. We think the headaches are stress related.”  Duh.

I had been duped! Second grade was a walk in the park! We studied dinosaurs, we watercolored, we learned the Star Spangled Banner and we played outside. The end.  I excelled at second grade. I was awesome at second grade. I even remember thinking second grade wasn’t challenging enough. I approached my teacher Ms. Saunders one day and demanded to know, “When are we going to learn cursive!?” Ms. Saunders was caught off guard, and probably wondered to herself, How can learning about the Palaeosaurus not be enough for you?  But instead sweetly laughed and said, “That happens in the third grade.”

“Excelllllent,” I evilly replied and rubbed my two hands together like Mr. Burns on the Simpsons. (Ok, that didn’t actually happen because I never saw the Simpsons until middle school, but for our purposes we are going to pretend I was a badass).

I was very excited between the summer of second and third grade. I had gelled bangs, I could sing our national anthem, and dammit, I was going to learn cursive. Nothing could stop me! photo

On a scale of one to ten, I’d say third grade was about two million times harder than I had expected. There was so much homework! There was so much reading! There was so much less recess time! I had it good the year before and didn’t even know it.

My desire to learn cursive turned out to be the biggest challenge of them all—a classic case of be careful what you wish for. It started off easy enough. Mrs. Lemieux would draw a letter on the board and in our little notebooks with predetermined dotted lines, we would do our best to copy it. “A” was a synch for me because, duh, my name started with that letter and I was obsessed with finding out how to write my name in cursive. “B” also didn’t give me much trouble because it meant I could learn how to write my brother’s name in cursive, too, and of course hold that over his head when necessary. But by the time we got to the middle of the alphabet, I was struggling.

There were so many letters that made no sense to my little brain. Why would anyone give a lowercase “m” three humps when it only has two in print?! And couldn’t giving “n” two humps be confused for “m,” especially for us people who barely can read our own handwriting?! And who the hell came up with the cursive “z”? That is some sort of hieroglyphic shenanigans right there.

The letter I had the hardest time with, hands down, was the lowercase “p.” I always seemed to screw it up! I would tilt it too much, or forget to close the loopdy-doop thing below the line, or forget the squiggly piece that started it. I’d bring my booklet up to Mrs. Lemieux for approval and each time she would say, “You still don’t quite have the ‘p’ correct. Go back and try it again.”

What was this hellish prison I was stuck in?! Take me back to second graaaade! [cue headache].

My classmates at our four-corner desk quad would see me in tears, with my hands on my head, starring at my practice sheet and that goddamn “p.” A few of the girls were really nice and would show me how they drew it, hoping I would catch on. But I honestly don’t remember any eureka moment where I got it right and jumped for joy. I have to assume I did because I moved on to 4th grade – but it’s very possible that I should not have and that you are reading the work of a cursive criminal.

 

I do have to say there were a few redeeming qualities to third grade:

  1. We watched Voyage of the Mimi…a lot. Starring none other than Mr. Ben Afflick himself, VOTM “was a thirteen-episode American educational television program depicting the crew of the Mimi exploring the ocean and taking a census of humpback whales.” We learned everything from navigation, to drinkable water, to sea animals. VOTM even taught us that when someone gets hypothermia, you both need to get naked and get into a sleeping bag together. How our third grade jaws dropped during that one.
    (Note: I did NOT enjoy the Second Voyage of Mimi, because during Episode 1 they revealed one of the characters was an amputee and showed her putting on her fake leg. Terrifying.)
  2. We had pet crawfish. While other kids in neighboring classrooms got to snuggle up to fuzzy, adorable, baby ducks, my classmates and I were given crustaceans with pinching claws. Looking back, it does seem kind of weird that kids in land-locked VT had pet crawfish…but in 1993 at Flynn Elementary School, it was just another day in paradise.

    I picked out a female and gave her the most appropriate name I could think of: Francesca. Francesca only pinched me a couple of times, which was actually something to brag about considering how often the boys in my class had crawfish dangling from their hands as they screamed for help. I remember two things about Francesca: 1-she smelled really bad and 2-you could tell she was a female by flipping her over and studying her legs. 1694549_orig 

    I don’t know what happened to the crawfish in the end. I think we let them go down by the river, or maybe they were shipped to Louisiana where they belonged. I do remember that when our unit on VOTM and crawfish came to an end, Mrs. Lemieux threw us a big party and brought in cooked lobsters for us to try. It was the first time any of us had ever had something so expensive and delicious. She let us each take a piece of the lobster shell home as souvenirs. (Again, why she thought giving 8 year olds smelly fish parts in June was a good idea was beyond me…) I wrapped a lobster abdomen up in a paper towel, showed it to my mom, and begged her to let me keep it. I think it lasted a few hours before the smell of rot was enough to make me chuck it myself.

  3. I fell in love with writing. When we weren’t getting attacked by crawfish or cringing each time our teacher drew another new cursive letter on the blackboard, we wrote stories. We would work on our stories for what seemed like weeks and then we would hold “An Author’s Tea” and invite all of our family members to hear us read them. The majority of my stories were centered around my cat Midnight who had an affinity for chasing and eating bumblebees, and sleeping on my head and drooling into my ear. I also wrote about time travel and secret passages–an obsession I had that last well beyond third grade (thanks Babysitter Club books).

    But third grade was also my first and last bout with plagiarism! I guess the creative juices just weren’t flowing one day when I decided to copy Danielle Bombardier’s story about The Boy Who Didn’t Like Cake. The plot was simple: there was a boy, and he would eat almost anything, except he didn’t like cake, and how could anyone in the entire universe not like cake? Yeah, how could someone not like cake, I thought to myself. What would be even crazier is if he didn’t like ice cream! And so my story entitled The Girl (see what I did there) Who Didn’t like Ice Cream was born.

    When Danielle found out I was essentially stealing her story and changing a few parts, I remember her squeaky little voice protesting in anger and saying, “Heeey! That’s my story. You just changed a few parts.” And I pulled a Vanilla Ice and was like, “No, no. It’s different. See YOUR story is about a BOY who doesn’t like CAKE. MY story is about a GIRL who doesn’t like ICE CREAM. Completely different.” Maybe Mrs. Lemieux, thinking that I couldn’t handle another cursive “p” incident, took pity on me because she let me write my story anyway.

 
Though it was challenging, I think third grade taught me some valuable lessons: 1). Crustaceans make better meals than pets; 2). If at first (or second, or forty-third) you don’t succeed, try, try again; and 3). Cursive is some straight up useless bullshit and you will only use it in third grade.

4 Christmas Songs With Weird Lyrics

I’ve been baking for the past couple of days and have had my go-to Christmas album on in the background. While coating peanut butter balls with chocolate,  frosting sugar cookies, and listening to the same songs over and over, I’ve noticed a few Christmas classics whose lyrics literally made me drop the spatula and say, “Wait, what?!”

I give you 4 Christmas Songs With Weird Lyrics:

1) It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year—by Andy Williams. It IS a pretty great time of year, isn’t it? With those kids jingle belling, and everyone telling you “Be of good cheer,” how can you really go wrong on this holiday? Welp, somehow Andy Williams has managed to: “There’ll be scary ghost stories /And tales of the glories of / Christmases long, long ago”. I’m sorry, did you just say you’re going to tell ghost stories at Christmas? I mean I get that “stories” rhymes with “glories,” but there are a ton of other options you could’ve put in there to keep the rhyme going: “fun family stories,” “folks from the quarries,” “fresh bread from Laurie’s” – you get my point. And while we’re at it, who the heck offers their guests toasted marshmallows on Christmas: “There’ll be parties for hosting / Marshmallows for toasting”. That’s just plain weird.

"I'm sorry! I'll be a better little girl next year! Just please stop with these scary stories!"

“I’m sorry! I’ll be a better little girl next year! Just please stop with these scary stories!”

2) Baby, It’s Cold Outside—Now known fondly in my house as “The Date Rape” song, this Christmas classic is all about the trials and tribulations of a guy trying to get it on with a woman who has already said “no” fourteen hundred times. And for every reason she gives for needing to leave, he has some bullshit excuse. He lies to her about the lack of transportation (“No cabs to be had out there); guilt trips her (“What’s the sense of hurtin’ my pride?”); repeatedly tells her how awful the weather is (“Baby, it’s cold outside”; “It’s up to your knees out there”; “Never such a blizzard before”); and blackmails her with death (“If you caught pneumonia and died”). He even hides her clothing (“Say, lend me a coat?”) and slips her Roofies (“Say, what’s in this drink?”). And the woman clearly has no idea what’s happening (“I wish I knew how to break this spell” – you can’t. You’ve been drugged). Yeah, sweet little holiday song, huh?

3) Little Drummer Boy – Suspend your religious affiliations for a minute here, and let’s pretend a couple really was giving birth to the “king.” The whole village comes out to give him gifts, and the poor boy in the song has nothing to offer but his musical skills. That’s really sweet and totally makes sense so far. Until we get to this part “Mary nodded / Pa rum pa pa pum / The ox and lamb kept time / Pa rum pa pa pum.” Can you imagine a wooly lamb and big strong ox tappin’ their hooves in rhythm? Maybe even shaking some sleigh bells from their mouths? Ehhh, that’s a little far-fetched, even for a Christmas song.

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4) Up on the Rooftop –Been singing this one since elementary school and never thought much about the lyrics until now. It starts off innocently enough, telling the story of Santa Claus coming down the chimney with lots of toys (for good little girls and boys). “First comes the stocking / Of little Nell / Oh, dear Santa / Fill it well / Give her a dolly / That laughs and cries / One that will open / And shut her eyes.” Ok, pretty normal. Nothing strange here until…
“Next comes the stocking of little Will / Oh, just see what  / A glorious fill / Here is a hammer / And lots of tacks / Also a ball / And a whip that cracks.” GOOD LORD IN HEAVEN. Yeah a hammer and lots of tacks is exactly what I would give a little boy who probably still wets the bed at night. And a whip to go along with it—perfect. He’ll start his BDSM lifestyle nice and early. WTF?!

Have you noticed any other strange Christmas song lyrics?  Please share them below!

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CSA Recipe: Cranberry Nut Bread

I recently signed up for a CSA through the Intervale in Burlington, VT and I’ve become obsessed with it! I get an assortment of vegetables each week, and also get eggs/yogurt/salad dressing OR cheese/bread/pesto along with it. Everything is organic, even the bread and yogurt, and it’s all ridiculously tasty. Since we’re getting so many different vegetables that I normally never cook, I’ve been looking all over the internet and in cookbooks for different recipes. I’ll be sharing some of my favs here!

Recipe: Cranberry Nut Bread
CSA Ingredients: Cranberries, eggs

My family is pretty set in their ways when it comes to food. Although this blows my mind, one of the Lafayette must-have’s on Thanksgiving is—wait for it—canned, jellied cranberry sauce.  (*shutters*) I learned the hard way that making any dish other than the ones we’ve had  500 times is the equivalent of taking your time, money, and pride, and dumping it in the trash. So when I got cranberries in my CSA, I had to get creative about how to use them, since clearly a delicious, home-made cranberry sauce was out of the question.

Luckily one of the perks of getting married is getting a brand new family who feel obligated to try everything you make and lie to you about how great it is. Liam’s dad is my number one fan and guinea pig. I could give him a cake made out of beach sand and the man would tell me how much he appreciated the crunch. He makes me feel like Julia Child. He’s the best.fresh whole cranberries

With my cranberries in hand, I flipped through my Better Homes & Garden’s Cookbook (AKA, my cooking Bible) and found a recipe for Nut Bread which you could add cranberries to. Although it recommended a few substitutions if using fruit, I ignored those suggestions and followed the recipe exactly as is, just adding cranberries at the end.

This is what the batter looked like in my KitchenAid Mixer

This is what the batter looked like in my KitchenAid Mixer

I threw the bread together about an hour before we went to Liam’s parent’s house and brought it over warm.

final product  - cranberry nut bread

final product – cranberry nut bread

And it actually was a big hit! It was nice and dense like a banana bread, but also very colorful because of the cranberries. Three-quarters of the loaf was gone by Thanksgiving night, and Liam’s dad called me up the next day to say he finished off the rest of it for breakfast (I just LOVE him!). So give this one a try if you end up with some cranberries. It’s really easy and pretty rewarding (even if you don’t have in-law’s to pat you on the back). Enjoy 🙂

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 cup milk (I used half n’ half because we didn’t have milk. Cook about 10 mins longer)
  • ¼ cup cooking oil
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped cranberries (put in food processor if you have one. Way easier!)
  • ¾ cup chopped walnuts (or almonds or pecans)

Directions

1.    Grease the bottom and 1/2 inch up sides of a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan; set aside.Grease the bottom and ½ inch up sides of 9x5x3-inch loaf pan; set aside. In a large bowl stir together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center of flour mixture; set aside.

2.   In a medium bowl, combine egg, milk, and oil. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Fold in cranberries and nuts. Spoon batter into prepared pan.

3.   Bake at 350 degrees F for 50 to 55 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. (recipe then recommended storing overnight before cutting, but who is going to do that?!).

Some Favorite Memories of Uncle Tony

Yesterday we lost a man who meant so much to so many people. A man who was well known throughout his community and adored by his family. He was a father, a husband, a brother, an uncle, a coach, a friend, an optimist, and he was my Godfather.

Uncle Tony touched so many lives in his 61 years on this Earth. So many that people from all walks of life have been reaching out to our family to give their condolences. People like my Facebook friend Matt, who said, “I didn’t realize Tony was your uncle. He and my parents are good friends and he was always so kind to me.” Or my friend Chuck, who shared some memories of Uncle Tony coaching him and the Pirates in little league. Or my friend Rhonda, who said Uncle Tony was her biggest cheerleader growing up and he will always have a special place in her heart. It seems that almost everyone in the Burlington area knew Uncle Tony and had a special bond with him. I of course feel the same way.

Uncle Tony was my 7th and 8th grade CYO basketball coach. Along with my cousin Jenna (Tony’s daughter), he taught a group of 10 teenage girls the in’s and out’s of basketball on the St. Mark’s team. I’m not sure if many of you remember what it’s like being 13 and 14 years old—or better yet—what it takes to coach teenage girls, but somehow Uncle Tony did it. He was patient, encouraging, and he never gave up on us. He put up with dramatic stories of middle-school break-ups (“I can’t run laps today, I’m too depressed…”), and­ excuses only young girls would have (“I can’t make practice today because I’d rather go to the mall.”) Uncle Tony gave up every single Saturday to coach our practices and every single Sunday to coach our games.

One of my favorite memories of Uncle Tony and the St. Marks team was while we were practicing one Saturday morning. Uncle Tony never went too hard on us, so after going over a few plays, and running a few laps, practice was winding down. But before it ended, he had his regular proposition for us: “Ok, girls. If any of you make this half-court shot, I’ll buy you all pizza next practice.” WOW, we all thought. Pizza?! Besides going to the movies with a cute boy, free pizza was about the best thing you could offer a teenage girl.

Each week we tried in vain to make that half-court shot, launching rubber balls as far as we could. And most of the time they just bounced off the backboard and went up into the 2nd floor auditorium above. We’d have to stop practice, hoist a girl up on Uncle Tony’s shoulders, and go searching for the ball.

So as usual on this Saturday, we lined up at half court, one by one, to take our shot. Uncle Tony sat on the sideline with a grin on his face, knowing that none of us had a chance in hell of ever sinking this shot. I threw the ball as far as I could—and missed. Jenna launched one, and missed. Liz went, and missed. And it went on like this until we got to Rhonda (the same girl I mentioned earlier). Rhonda, the girl with an infectious laugh who was constantly smiling and joking on our team, chucked the ball as hard as she could. And to everyone’s amazement, it actually went in.

Uncle Tony was absolutely dumb-founded. As we all jumped up and down, cheering and celebrating, he sat in shock. If you know the Lafayette’s at all, you know that we’re cheap frugal people. The thought of him having to buy pizzas for 10 girls nearly put him over the edge. But being the amazing man he was, he congratulated Rhonda and came to the next practice with pizza for all of us.

1998: Uncle Tony took  my CYO baskeball teammates to visit me at the Statehouse during the time I was a Legislative Page

1998: Uncle Tony took my CYO baskeball teammates to visit me at the Statehouse during the time I was a Legislative Page

Besides spending the weekends with Uncle Tony, I also once shadowed him for a middle school project. At the time I thought it would be really cool to be a real estate agent—and because I was too lazy to contact a person I wasn’t related to—I followed Uncle Tony around for the day.

I thought it would be a cushy shadowing experience: sit in an office for a bit, make a few phone calls, sip on some coffee, show someone a house or two, and then call it quits around 2pm. But oh no. Uncle Tony had other things in store for me.

Our first stop was to an apartment he owned in the Old North End. The renters had moved out and he was having trouble filling the place. We walked in through the front porch and I was immediately greeted by a weird smell.

“Careful, Aim,” Uncle Tony said as we made our way through the crowded porch. “Watch your step,” he said.

And then I realized why. In front of us were at least three dead squirrels, all curled up and frozen, looking stiff and terrifying.  They had somehow made their way into the house, but then couldn’t get out. It wasn’t exactly what I had anticipated seeing that early in the morning, and being a teenage girl, I freaked out a little.

“I’m going to wait in the car,” I told him.

Lunchtime wasn’t really any better. We went back to his house to eat. Hmm, not exactly what I had in mind, but ok.  I grabbed a kitchen stool and sat at the counter.

“Got your sneakers with you, Aim?” he asked me.

“My sneakers? No, why? I thought we were having lunch?”

“Well we are. But first we are going for a jog. That’s what I like to do on my lunch break.”

You’ve gotta be kidding me I thought.  “Oh well, guess I can’t go since I don’t have the right shoes.”

Then Aunt Melissa chimed in. “What size shoes do you wear, Amy? You can just borrow a pair of mine.” Great. There was really no way I was getting out of this one.

I reluctantly put on the sneakers, telling Uncle Tony how much I hated running, and we set off.   We jogged for probably only 20 minutes, but it felt like 2 hours to me, and I spent the entire time wondering why someone would do this at lunch and being jealous of my classmates who were probably eating at some fancy restaurant.  When the jog ended, we went back to his house for hotdogs and chips.

By the end of the shadow day, I was not only exhausted, but I also had such a greater appreciation for the life my uncle led.

After middle school, although he no longer coached me, Uncle Tony was still an important part of my life. He always asked how I was doing in school, what sports I was playing, and asked about my friends.

Uncle Tony even helped Liam and I buy our first home. Although he was battling cancer, he was so proud that we were about to buy our first place and he wanted to be involved. He visited the house during the Open House, met with the owners, inspected the basement for leaks, and asked all the right questions. He told us the house was sound and would be a great first home for us. Then he helped us draft the contract and seal the deal.

Uncle Tony will be remembered as a man with a huge heart who loved his family more than anything else in life. He was giving, selfless, and he was always upbeat.  It’s hard to imagine what our family, and our community, is going to be like without him. But I know we will all be better off if we try to live each day the way he had: with patience, generosity, courage, and with a smile.

Rest in peace, Uncle Tony. We love you.

I encourage any of you to leave your favorite memories of him below.

Dressing up for September 11th

September 11th, 2001 was a day I had decided to dress up for school. I was a senior at Burlington High School and I had made up my mind to put more “effort” into my wardrobe that year.  In all honesty,  I was also probably trying to impress some boy—who, I can’t remember.

I curled my hair, put on makeup, and wore my brand new purple plaid skirt. God I loved that skirt. I had purchased it over the summer and was just waiting for the perfect fall day to wear it. And I had decided September 11th was that perfect day.

I remember walking through the hallways with my friends, laughing and joking as we made our way to first period.  Mine was Creative Writing. It was 9:00am.

To my surprise, my classroom was pretty much empty. There were only a few students out of the twenty that should be present. Even our teacher wasn’t around.

I had a weird feeling.

“Where’s Ms. Greenman?,” I asked the girl I sat next to.

“No idea,” she told me.

Then Ms. Greenburg walked into the class. With tears in her eyes she told us, “Something’s happened. Please come to Mr. Donoghue’s classroom.”

We walked across the hall and found two classrooms worth of students and teachers huddled around the small social studies tv. No one was speaking. On the television, smoke was pouring out of the World Trade Center.

“What is going on?” I whispered to my friend.

“The World Trade Center is on fire. A plane crashed into it. But no one really knows why.”

At that point, the term “terriorst attack” wasn’t part of our vernacular. Everyone thought this MUST be an accident. A weird, freak accident.

And then we saw the second plane fly into the other tower and explode.

We all screamed when it happened. Some of us cried. And we continued
to watch the television in absolute horror.

I don’t remember much from that moment on. I don’t remember if an announcement came over the intercom. I don’t remember if we continued with the day’s classes or if they sent us all home. I don’t even remember talking to my friends about what we had just seen.

I just remember feeling really confused and really scared.

And what I remember most was a remark from one of the senior boys in my class. He looked at me in disgust and said, “Why are you all dressed up today, huh? Did you know this was gonna happen? I think Amy’s a terrorist!”

That was the last day I ever dressed up for school.

***

Where were you on September 11th? What was your experience like?