Learning to Walk in Shorts

The great advantage kids have growing up in the age of digital cameras is that the odds are low that one day they will stumble on a collection of printed photos labeled “Quebec Summer: FAT PHASE.”

It's photos like this I mostly wish were never taken of my awkward tween years.
It’s photos like this I mostly wish were never taken of my awkward tween years.

Remember when you’d take your roll of film to the local drugstore and you would automatically get duplicates? So, not only did you have one set of photos you’d rather burn, you’d have 2… that’s 4 double chins.  And while there was no social media circulation, you had the distinct non-advantage of having tangible proof that once upon a time you were the size of a blimp.

I stumbled upon the “Quebec Summer: FAT PHASE” envelope in the midst of some appliance-melt-down-induced cleaning. The photos, along with others from my more youthful summers, were striking reminders that when you grow up the chubby, knock-kneed girl, you grow up with an awkward relationship with shorts.

When your thighs touch, there’s almost no short length that doesn’t ride up when you walk. Instead of neatly aligned horizontal hemlines, the bottoms of your trunks form a wobbly V. It’s not only unattractive, it’s uncomfortable. Walking in bunched-up shorts is like walking with a golf ball wedged between your legs. So you learn to adapt.

First, you try the “Cowboy Walk.” The idea is to look like you just got off a horse after finishing a cattle drive. You point your feet away from each other and widen your stride, attempting to keep your legs as far from each other as you can.

It’s equal parts swagger and waddle. It’s also highly inefficient.

Next, you try the “Shake-it-Out.”


When you realize this is about as effective as the Cowboy Walk in ridding yourself of the ride up, you give into the walk, stop and pull down. It’s painfully obvious, but it gets the job done.

If you’re hell-bent on wearing shorts, these adaptations are better than the alternative, which is obsessing over something you can’t really change — the gap between your upper legs. Or, you can do the far more sensible thing and forego the shorts all together. Skirts are classier anyway.



Is it too much to ask for a Seaplane?

Memorial Day weekend has come and gone, and it’s unofficially officially summer in the city. The Summer House crew has begun their weekend exoduses to the Hamptons (read: I can now find street parking on Saturday morning.) The radio is playing Rockaway Beach ad nauseum (read: time to make a new driving playlist). And home goods stores are overstocked with patriotic trimmings and patio furniture just in time for BBQ season (read: I just put in an order for a new copper-top Weber on homedepot.com.)

Yes, sandals can return to rotation and we can all finally start to check things off our Summer 2014 bucket list. It’s time to schedule picnics with the girls, fishing trips with your favorite couple, hikes with your dudes, or late night rooftop fetes with the gang.

It is also, arguably, time for summer flings.

“How do you feel about your first summer in a while as single girl,” my mother asked as we soaked our feet in the adjacent pedicure stations.


I hadn’t realized it till she mentioned it, but my last three summers had been taken over by new relationships. It seems my personal Cupid missed Valentine’s Day and struck on Memorial Day. I was an annual victim of summer love. And so, it was in with white pants and the whirlwind romance, out with the grand plans for a girls-only trip to that nude beach or the impromptu Finger Lakes weekend wine tour or the sick day Montauk adventure.

We might be in the age of hanging out, but real relationships don’t develop while our friends are watching. I dated men who wanted real relationships. So while I had me a blast (and then some) with my summer lovin’s, I also cut short the year’s longer, carefree days built for reunions and flings.

Being single in the summer means I can see someone different every weekend. Being single in the summer means freedom… for everything.

“I’ve been invited to lunch by a man who co-founded one of the internet’s most-used sites for booking hotel rooms,” I relayed, receiving a look of doubt in return.

“Don’t worry. It’s not going to be anything serious… unless he has a seaplane,” I assured her. “If he has a seaplane, I’ll consider making him a regular on the social rotation. I want to go to Montauk this summer, and I don’t feel like taking the Jitney.”

For a seaplane, I'll consider giving up my singleton status this summer.
For a seaplane, I’ll consider giving up my singleton status this summer.



Finding a Green Thumb

view from the front porch on a summer day -- everything green was planted by my parents

A year ago, on my alter-ego site Meet Me in the Drawing Room, I wrote about the Underappreicated Dangers of Gardening. At the time, my relationship with gardening was a tenuous one. I tromped to the local nursery begrudgingly and planted impatiens impatiently. Planting and pruning were chores that needed to be done, but I can’t say I was a particular fan of laying down woodchips.

One summer not too long ago, a friend called to ask for advice because they were planting a garden along their driveway. I laughed as I hit redial. Little did they know… gardening was my cod-liver oil.

Two weeks ago, a different friend asked for my help in designing a flowerbed in his backyard. I jumped for joy and started listing a selection of annuals and herbs that would not only look good together, but would also thrive in the yard’s shade/sunlight distribution.

Yes, I am now a gardening fanatic. Give me a pair of hedge trimmers, and call me Edward Sisscorhands. I’ve voluntarily gone to the nursery more times in two weeks than I ever thought possible. I have plans for a rose garden. Today, after my yoga class, I tackled the last un-landscaped corner of front yard. As I stood under the Juliet balcony, daisies in one hand and trowel in the other, my mother stared in disbelief before running to get me a gin & tonic. She was concerned — I mean, only yesterday, I had planted an herb garden and a cluster of dahlias.

I entertain. I do yoga. I have an MRS degree. I decorate. Now, I garden. They didn’t call me Mini-Martha in college for nothing, ya know.

today's lanscaping endeavor

When my parents bought our home, a turn-of-the-century field-stone and wood farmhouse, back in the 1970s, it was smaller, more rural, and in need of landscaping. Mum & Dad were in their mid to late twenties and new to the States with little money to their names. It was their first house and they were determined to make it their home. Armed with pick-axes and spades, they dug-up over-grown rose gardens and planted  hedges, evergreens, and willows. My grandmother smuggled Barberry and maples in from Canada and Rhododendrons were purchased from the nursery.

“I think your father nearly threw the pick-axe at me,” my mother told me when she handed me the gin. I wasn’t surprised.

“We had a fight about where to dig the holes.” Still not surprised.

“I think I won.” I would have been surprised if you hadn’t.

view of our yard post the epic storm of early 2010. trees scattered all over

The winter and early spring of 2010 wrought havoc on our yard. Putting aside the dozens of downed branches, we lost the last apple tree on our property — it used to be an apple orchard — as well as two large pines. There’s a gaping hole at the corner of our fence. I’m determined to plant two more rhododendron there. Or maybe that’s where I’ll plant my rose garden.

Despite my ambition, there is a problem. Roses or rhododendron, there are large holes to dig and I need a partner willing to wield a pick-axe and a spade. Gardening is back-breaking work, and it’s always better to have a buddy breaking their back with you (preferably, one with some muscles who takes direction well… knowing his way around a nursery would be a plus).

I make good iced-tea and will willingly bring it out on a tray with some homebaked cookies.

I promise, I won’t throw a pick-axe at you.