Don’t Deny Yourself Anything That Can Make You Great

Don't Deny Anything that can make you great

It was a wise man who once told me not to deny myself anything that can make me great.

I’m pretty certain that he was quoting some philosopher, or Simon and Garfunkel song lyrics, but no matter, it was sage advice. Thanks, Dad.

It was a little over a year ago that I learned how to Pole. My motivation was, well, let’s just say, that at the time, I felt that I had something to prove. I had a feeling that I would enjoy it and I was right. It reconnected me to myself and it has been a hoot.

Learning something new is scary but it can also be invigorating, exciting and powerful. My latest something is beach volleyball. I can just hear my ex-boyfriend now. “You’re learning how to play now? What about the 7 1/2 years that we were together?”

He was, and probably still is, an avid player. I touched the ball a handful of times with my ex- ooh, that sounded dirty- but learning from him was nearly impossible and it probably wasn’t healthy for the relationship.

Thus, I was relegated to watching from the sidelines. Contrary to what he thought, I was watching. He also played for like 16 hours straight, and there was just so much that my eyes could handle.

I enjoyed watching him. The problem, however, lay in the fact that, by nature, I wasn’t a sidelines sort of person; in life, sports, Karaoke. I was, and am, a doer. It felt unnatural to lay on the beach and not move.

I’m a mover, a dancer, an athlete, a Pilates instructor for crying out loud. But there I was, laying on a beach towel, reading a book, picking my bathing suit bottom out of my crack, because it was definitely too small for the Jersey Shore.

I wanted to learn how to play; not only because my ex played, and it might have been something that we could share, but because I liked learning. And moving. Moving and learning.

It makes me think of when I was married. My ex-husband was, probably still is, a musician. Being a song and dance gal, I was enamored by his ability to play each and every instrument as well as his collection of microphones.

One day I asked him if he would teach me how to play the drums. Like, pole, and volleyball now, it was something that I had wanted to learn. It was like pulling teeth to get him to give me a few lessons, but he eventually acquiesced.

Music was his world. I was on his turf, and it wasn’t a hobby for him. After only a handful of lessons, I suggested that we start a band. I had always wanted to be in a band and I saw this as a perfect opportunity. He did not. I thought we could be the next Ike and Tina Turner; minus the abuse. He did not.

Firstly, he was already in a band, which of course I already knew; being married to him and all. Secondly, he told me that it wasn’t fun for him to play with me, a novice, and when he had downtime, he didn’t want to be in the studio teaching me about snares and cymbals.

It was similar situation with my ex-boyfriend. He didn’t have the patience, nor desire, to teach me the game starting from square one. He took the game very seriously. It was competitive and the beach was his place, his sanctuary.

There were few who were chosen to join in, even though I was one of the chosen ones, but I don’t think that he was referring to those chosen ones.

It was not to be during our relationship tenure. It wasn’t a supportive and welcoming environment for newbies, and the regulars made that crystal clear, so I sat on the bench, as it were.

Learning the game would have to be on my own time, in my own way and initiated by my genuine desire, not simply to please my ex. I always felt a little resentment for being left out and then, metaphorically speaking, penalized for not knowing how to play.

I thought that, with a little practice, one day I’d be able to get the ball over the net, much in the same way that I knew that I’d be able to climb to the top of the pole.

By joining a beginner class, and challenging myself, I’ve spun around what used to be a bone of contention, into something that has humbled me, and shown me, just how hard it is to run in the sand, while picking my bathing suit bottom out of my crack.

I know that testing ones limitations, and staying curious feeds the soul like nothing else can.

Don’t deny yourself anything that can make me great.

Gee Your Hair Smells Like Placenta

It was hard to choose what to write about; learning to play a new sport later in life, or using placenta to aid in hair growth. What to do, what to do.

Animal placenta for hair growth? Okay.

You can buy placenta hair treatments in drugstores and beauty supply stores. Supposedly they’re a great source of “bioactive (whatever that means) components including growth factors and hormones, according to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Meena Singh.”

Dr. Singh explains, “Specifically, the growth factors in animal placental extracts have been shown to increase hair follicle growth and decrease hair shedding. The positive effects on hair growth are most likely due to increased blood vessel formation and subsequent blood flow to the hair follicles.”

How, you ask, does this treatment work? “Because hair is made up of proteins, the idea is that the use of a protein reconstructioner, (made up word) like placenta, will return protein to the hair and repair the hair follicles, says Dr. Robert Dorin, a New York City-based hair specialist and restoration expert.

Don’t think that you can just slap on some pig placenta, and wham, bam, gee my hair looks terrific. This isn’t an instant gratification process. You must have the discipline for once or twice daily applications for at least six months, and even then, there’s no guarantee. That’s a lot of pork.

Here’s my favorite part. Because the placenta contains hormones, like a lot, Dr. Singh cautions that some of the placenta products may cause premature sexual development in children as young as 14 months old. Therefore, she doesn’t recommend 14 month olds to use these products. I’m totally paraphrasing but that is, in essence, what she said.

Not to split hairs or anything, but what 14 month old is worried about their hair growth. What am I missing here? Do 14 month olds even have hair? I wouldn’t know, I don’t have kids.

But those ladies that are pregnant, should totally keep the placenta; it’s no longer just for stem cells anymore.


Useless Facts About Movies of the Week

People used to ask me, “Dani, if there are two movies of the week on at the same time, which one should I watch?”

It was a good question. I didn’t know who won WWII but I knew that Tori Spelling starred in, Mother, May I Sleep With Danger? in 1996. I’m the Zagat Guide of Movies of the Week, or as we aficionados used to call them, MoMo’s.

If you had a choice between a Melissa Gilbert vehicle and a Kelli Martin vehicle, you went with Kelli because, as hard as Melissa tried to make the wife of a famous director, turned hooker, working in the Barrio, to help pay for her son’s piano lessons, believable, she’d always be Half-pint, from Little House of the Prairie. 

A Meredith Baxter Birney star turn (now just Baxter) or a Joanna Kearns one, was always trickier. Meredith was a workhouse. She’d been on television long before Family Ties, and that meant something.

She started her illustrious career in an episode of the Patridge Family, entitled, Where Do Mermaids Go?playing the character of Jenny. She played another character named Jenny in an episode of Barnaby Jones, called, The Deadly Jinx. The Streets of San Francisco, McMillan and Wife, and a The Love Boat three parter quickly followed.

American television viewers, of a certain age, knew her best as Nancy, the older sister of Buddy, in the drama, Family. The woman had been in over 30 MoMo’s. She even produced some of them. But who could forget the 1994 television MoMo, My Breast.

Then there was Joanna Kearns. She started in episodic as well;   Chips, Quincy, The Walton’s. However, it wasn’t the original series. It was, Mother’s Day on Walton’s Mountain.

She’d only been in a dozen or so MoMo’s. My recommendation was Meredith.

If it was between the Tracy’s; Tracy Gold, Tracy Pollan, or Tracy Nelson, I went with Tracy Gold because it took courage to star in, For The Love of Sarah, which was based on her own struggle with anorexia.

Actors playing themselves in their real life stories was dangerous territory. When Ann Jillian starred in the Ann Jillian Story, in 1988, after her double mastectomy, it was too real. I’m sorry, but it was. Joan and Melissa Rivers starred in their life story and, I don’t mean any disrespect to Joan, but they were both unconvincing as themselves.

Forget about period pieces. I never wanted to see Antonio Sabato Jr. playing a soldier in the Civil War, or as a Pilgrim. I felt the same way about accents. Nancy McKeon speaking the Queen’s English was hard on the ears.

I enjoyed seeing actors being interviewed about their MoMo characters. Heather Locklear played a mental patient on the lam in, The Terror Inside, and one interviewer commented, “I understand you visited a mental institution for research and you didn’t wear any make-up.” Heather responded, “Yeah, that part was hard cause I like to wear make-up but I knew the character wouldn’t.”

Let us never forget that Farrah Fawcett, may she rest in MoMo peace, redefined her career when she starred in the biggest and boldest MoMo ever, The Burning Bed. Critics around the world stood up and declared, “She is not just an erect nipple on a poster.”

I Flashed My Boob

BoobpadIn an effort to look bustier in my super tight sports bra, and not like a ten year old boy, I slipped a couple of pads in, taken from another sports bra. Why I didn’t just wear that one is one of life’s great mysteries.

The sports bra was so tight that I placed the pads right between my skin and the fabric, feeling confident that they weren’t going anywhere.

Off I went to teach my Pilates mat class. In the back of my mind, I chuckled because I thought about what would I do if they fell out during my class in front of 85 students. My confidence betrayed me.

I was barely ten minutes into class, when I looked down and saw the brown edge of the right boob pad peaking up from my sports bra, singing like Diane Ross, “I’m coming out. I want the world to know, got to let it show.”

The studio had two walls of mirrors and two walls of glass. I was trapped. I had been in similar situations and each time I’ve come out a stronger, and more dextrous person. I’ve removed countless bras without taking off my shirt (what woman hasn’t) I’ve swapped out feminine products while driving a car. I had this.

It was just another embarrassing and awkward moment, in a long list of embarrassing and awkward moments. I had to be brave. I had to show the kids how to look adversity in the face and give it the finger.

I went into def con MacGyver mode and walked to the back of the studio. I instructed the class in an exercise that would bring them down onto their backs facing away from me. As they were scissoring their legs, I contemplated shoving the pads down instead of removing them. And then I remembered not to be dumb.

I removed the left pad and held it for a nanosecond, while I thought about where to put it. I certainly couldn’t keep holding it. I couldn’t stick in the box that held the Pilates magic circles. I suppose I could’ve thrown them into a corner and retrieved them later but my aim isn’t the greatest and what if it landed on someone’s head?

I only had a nanosecond, as stated above, so I stuck it in the tight waistband of my pants.

I walked back to the front of the room, as I had to remove the right pad. The class had already done a 130 scissors, so it was time to switch sides. While they scissored, I scanned the room and removed the right pad and stuck it into my waistband. Whew, that was close.

Just fifteen minutes left of class and I was home free. It wasn’t to be. My boob pads had now become ass pads. I wondered if anyone saw what was happening. Do her boobs look smaller but her ass larger? Wow, Pilates sure does work quickly.



The New York Times Spotlights The Child-Free

badge-200-speakingIn Teddy Wayne’s New York Times article, No Kids for Me, Thanks, the NotMom Summit (for and about women without children, by choice or by chance) was prominently mentioned.

Not only is it the first conference of its kind, it is the Girlfriend Mom’s first speaking engagement. Pretty cool. And so is the article.


Chelsea Handler, the television host and best-selling author of “My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands,” and Geoff Dyer, the critically acclaimed British writer whose 15 books include “Out of Sheer Rage: Wrestling With D. H. Lawrence,” don’t have much in common on the surface, aside from both calling Los Angeles home. But neither has an interest in procreating.

“I definitely don’t want to have kids,” Ms. Handler, 40, said in a 2013 television interview. “I don’t think I’d be a great mother. I’m a great aunt or friend of a mother.” Mr. Dyer, 56, contributed an essay to the anthology “Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids,” out last week (the title sardonically appropriates the traditional criticisms against childless couples).

In it, he related an episode a few years back in which gamboling children kept interrupting his tennis game in London as their mothers did nothing, much to his displeasure. The incident was “a clear demonstration that the rights of parents and their children to do whatever they please have priority over everyone else’s,” he wrote.

(The disruption of racket sports at the hands of youth seems to be a bête noire for Mr. Dyer. Two winters ago, I found myself playing table tennis with him in a Brooklyn establishment. Within 10 minutes, we were booted out for a child’s birthday party as dozens of children and their guardians swarmed the room. “The only thing I hate more than children,” he told me as we gathered our belongings, “are parents.”)

Ms. Handler’s and Mr. Dyer’s desire to be childless — or child-free, as some prefer — syncs with nationwide shifts over the last several decades, and with a host of celebrities who have spoken publicly about their decisions, like George Clooney, Oprah and Ricky Gervais.

The percentage of childless women ages 40 to 44 doubled from 1976 to 2006, when the figure stood at over one-fifth of women. Their ranks have increased enough that the first NotMomSummit will take place in Cleveland this October. (The numbers have tailed off slightly since 2006, to about 15 percent; some explanations may be more-flexible workplace cultures for women, advances in fertility treatments and increasing acceptance of unmarried women who conceive through sperm donors.)

People’s reasons for not reproducing remain as varied as ever, encompassing the personal, political, financial, environmental or the anti-narcissistic, as in the case of John Warner, the author of the novel “The Funny Man,” who self-deprecatingly wrote in an email, “I’m not convinced my genes are anything to wish on anyone.”

But one particular strain may be resistance to the current atmosphere of overparenting and its attendant upper-middle-class signifiers.

“If I had kids, I can’t see doing it in New York City,” said Kate Bolick, the author of the coming book “Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own.” “Not just because I couldn’t afford it, but because I don’t like the idea of raising a child in this epicenter of class disparity and extreme wealth.”

Meghan Daum, the editor of the anthology and a Los Angeles Times opinion columnist, said, “It’s undeniable that watching this culture play out — the helicopter parenting, the media fixation on baby bumps and celebrity childbearing and -rearing — is overwhelming, and it’s natural that people would react against it.”

“I can’t tell you how many baby showers I’ve been to where the woman who’s having the child has this moment of ‘Oh, my God, what have I signed up for?’ ” Ms. Daum said. “I think there are people in the book who may have made a different decision if they’d been living in a different moment.”

Still, she cautioned against attributing too much of the recent surge in childlessness by choice to societal trends. “Not to have a child is a very personal, visceral decision,” she said. “Ultimately, it comes from within, not from Park Slope.”

A few contributors to her anthology do, nevertheless, chalk up some of their misgivings to Park Slope-ish fads that seem intent on creating a generation of Stepford moms.

Anna Holmes cataloged the “hoary ideas of womanhood” on display in her Brooklyn neighborhood, which has “overpriced boutiques filled with one-of-a-kind maternity clothes and hundred-dollar sets of receiving blankets made of ‘all-organic cotton.’ ”

Laura Kipnis wrote about her “profound dread of being conscripted into the community of other mothers — the sociality of the playground and day-care center, and at the endless activities and lessons that are de rigueur in today’s codes of upper-middle-class parenting.”

Both descriptions reflect a few of the ways parenting (at least in this rarefied socioeconomic milieu) has evolved since the 1980s into a competitive and consumerist sport. Partly as a result of this overextension, the culture has begun representing parenting as a less-than-satisfying occupation.

The news media periodically trot out articles about how parents are unhappier than their childless counterparts. The debatable postulation is often traced back to an influential 2004 study in which working mothers ranked child care the second-most-negative activity on a list of 16 (rated less negatively were commuting and housework)

Child care, of course, is just one aspect of parenthood, albeit a significant part, and the mothers were polled on workdays, which likely increased their exhaustion and hostility toward their children. Yet other research followed that has, if not debunked claims of the misery of parenting, then at least made them more nuanced.

A study last year from the Santa Clara University Leavey School of Business found that “parents’ happiness increases over time relative to non-parents.” Another 2014 paper, from the London School of Economics and the University of Western Ontario, determined that the first two children boost short-term happiness (which later returns to pre-birth levels), but not a third.

So while the long-held opinion that having children is the key to a fulfilling life may, indeed, be true for most people, contemporary popular culture habitually indicates otherwise.

Novels like Jenny Offil’s “Dept. of Speculation,” Lionel Shriver’s “We Need to Talk About Kevin” (and the film version) and Elisa Albert’s “After Birth” all portray the ambivalence and agonies of motherhood; the runaway best-seller “Go the ____to Sleep” was a release valve for irritably fatigued parents; and a popular blog is a mocking backlash to “parent overshare on social networking sites.”

With a few exceptions like NBC’s “Parenthood,” a paean to the titular vocation’s rewards (but which also didn’t shy away from the challenges of child rearing), TV parents are routinely sleep-deprived, harried, anxious, confused, cash-strapped, sexually frustrated or divorced, a far cry from the days of the comfortable and comforting stewards on “Family Ties,” “The Brady Bunch” and “Father Knows Best.”

And the children in these offerings are repeatedly depicted as the bratty, tyrannical rulers of their enslaved progenitors. Perhaps this is one reason that Andrea Dickstein, 34, a director of e-business and marketing communications who lives on Long Island, doesn’t want children.

“I think about having to attend or host children’s birthday parties, and it seems exhausting and unappealing,” she said. “Of course, the irony is I’m attending a colleague’s 2-year-old’s party this weekend. Maybe they’ll think I’m there to kidnap one.”

In a previous time, that statement would have been spoken in a whisper to evade censure. Now it’s anything but heretical, a standard line for people who not only see how difficult raising children can be, but for the generation that came of age as divorce rates spiked in the 1970s and ’80s (and which have since settled down some) and may be less optimistic about the classic nuclear family. For those who aren’t part of a cohesive familial unit that can provide different means of support, it’s far more daunting — emotionally and monetarily — to start a new clan.

Nonetheless, spouses without children are still frequently perceived as self-centered; the symbolic couple for this stereotype may be the Machiavellian Frank and Claire Underwood on “House of Cards,” for whom nothing gets in the way of political ambition.

Frank’s marriage proposal included the romantic pledge that “I’m not going to give you a couple of kids. … I promise you freedom from that.” Claire’s Lady Macbeth has had three abortions, one during one of her husband’s campaigns, which she lied about, claiming the pregnancy was the product of a rape. (She’s also been less than nurturing about other women’s pregnancies.)

A less toxic on-screen duo would be the 40-something Brooklyn couple played by Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts in Noah Baumbach’s new film, “While We’re Young.” Having suffered through a few miscarriages, and noticeably ill-at-ease around babies and children, they have decided, or at least claim, that they like their lives as they are, which is to say career-focused, responsibility-free and self-absorbed.

But “it’s the parents who are selfish,” said Mr. Dyer, pointing to families typically own larger cars and use up more resources. Regarding “any environmental consciousness, the needs of their family get ahead of everything else,” he said in an interview. “In terms of behaving in a civic way, I feel my behavior is always exemplary.”

His assertion is backed up by some studies showing that childless adults volunteer more for their community. In addition, their interest in leaving behind a better world has nothing to do with their own genetic line but with humanity itself. (Ms. Daum said that after she decided not to have children, she believed she “had to compensate by volunteering, doing more work, being there more for my friends.”)

One could also make the economic case that, with their taxes, childless couples are selflessly subsidizing the education and well-being of other people’s children (who provide tax breaks for their parents). Conversely, it is these parents’ descendants who will be taking care of the childless adults — and keeping society operational — when they are elderly.

“The fact is, everybody is selfish,” Ms. Daum said. “It’s like saying, ‘You breathe.’ Parents and non-parents need to think of themselves as partners. Kids need all sorts of role models, and not have every adult they know be somebody’s parent. We need to reframe the conversation, otherwise it just becomes, ‘Who’s more selfish?’ ”

Related to questions of egotism are those of class and reservations about participating in bourgeois child rearing, let alone their inability to meet its expenses.

Ms. Holmes’s essay touched upon “the creeping commodification of childhood in the form of must-have status symbols — baby carriages, sleeper clothing — and the economic inequalities and educational failures that find parents signing up their toddlers for placement in private elementary schools years in advance” as accounting “for some of the aversion I have for the demands of modern American parenthood.”

“From the outside, parenting today seems so harried and overwhelmed with Disney and plastic junk,” said Ms. Bolick, the author of “Spinster.” “Or you can be really rich and buy handmade Swedish wooden toys and curate your child’s life.”

She compared today’s modern accouterments of childhood with the simpler time of “when I grew up in the ’70s, when you sat a kid down with a bowl and a wooden spoon,” she said. (Pressed for clarification as to exactly which century her recreation with kitchenware occurred in, she maintained it was the 1970s, not the 1870s.)

Even some of the staunchest anti-reproduction advocates, though, concede that they may eventually second-guess their decision.

“There are regrets, but my entire life is an ocean of regret, and that’s just one drop in it,” Mr. Dyer said. “I would probably, in my 60s, be ready to start having kids, as long as I was spared all the stuff about it that doesn’t appeal to me. By then I’d have lost interest in practically everything, so there’d be no opportunity cost involved.”

But to do that, he acknowledged, “I’d have to trade in my wife for a younger model,” before cheekily adding, “Younger — and also a model, I’d hope.”

Mr. Dyer was recently awarded a Windham-Campbell Literature Prize, which comes with $150,000. When it was suggested to him that, after taxes, the money could have been used for almost two years of top-tier college tuition, Mr. Dyer had a less scholastic plan for his winnings.

“Instead it’s bought 20 years of beer drinking,” he said.

Passover with Cher

I first performed this in my solo show, Dani Live! My Life In Leg Warmers, in May, 2003, in Los Angeles. It first appeared here, in April 2011. It is dedicated to the first night of Passover and Cher. 

I invited Cher, Baruch Hashem, to my parent’s house last year for Pesach. It had been on my to do list for quite some time, but well, you know how it is. I moved it to the top of my list.

I knew I was taking a chance, and there weren’t any guarantees. I didn’t know if she already had Seder plans. My invitation was last minute. I didn’t even consider that she might be too tuckered out from her first of several farewell tours, to join is but I tweeted her anyway.

She tweeted back an enthusiastic “yes lol” and a few other niceties, all under 140 characters. Cher is quite the social media maven. Thus began a conver-tweet-sation.

She wanted to know what color the Yarmulkes were that we would be wearing during the service, so she could color coordinate with her wig. The woman is always thinking production values. I told her that reformed Jews, which we were, didn’t usually wear Yarmulke’s. In fact, I told her that my family was so reformed we were practically Catholic. She tweeted back a laughing emoticon and LMFAO.

Cher & Uncle George

When the day arrived, Cher drove up on her beloved Harley Davidson. That’s my Uncle George in the red jacket, and his sons, my cousins, Damian and Jeff. They waited down the street from the house just in case she got lost.

I was surprised that Cher arrived solo, as she likes to take her sister, Georganne LePiere with her to social events. I did tweet her that she could extend the invitation to her son, Elijah Blue. She said that he was still mourning the break up of his band, Deadsy.

My dad took Cher’s leather gloves, and put them in the hall closet, with the rest of the coats. It had been a long trip, and Cher wanted to freshen up before dinner, so she excused herself and went to the restroom.

She emerged ten minutes later wearing, what can only be described as a Bob Mackie Yarmulke original. Sequins, glitter… It was a beanie masterpiece. I thought it looked more like a tricked out sailor’s hat, than a yarmulke, but it’s Cher, I was not about to split wig hairs.

Yarmulke or sailor hat?

We hung out in the family room until the eggs were hard boiled and my sister-in-law put the finishing touches on the Charoset. Cher really has the gift of gab. She regaled us with stories about the preparations for her new tour, her Lady Gaga duet and her charity, the Children’s Craniofacial Association. She really impressed my family with her knowledge of current events when she brought up a new report, claiming that there was flame retardant in mother’s breast milk.

My parents treated her like one of the family, more so than they did with any of the boyfriends that I brought home. They can be so judgmental. I know that my mother was biting her tongue, resisting the urge to tell Cher to put her hair up and get it off of her face. The woman is constantly riding my ass to do the same.

I didn’t know how long Cher was going to stay once dinner was over, so I took the opportunity to show her my Cher doll, that I’d had since 1975. I think she was truly touched, because I saw a tear roll down her wrinkle-free face. The Cher doll was barefoot. I had lost her shoes, or my brother ate them (one or the other) so many years ago.

And her knees had rips in them, (the dolls, not live Cher’s). Cher said that her knees should be ripped, with all that she’s had to do in her forty plus years in Hollywood. (wink, wink)  Oh, we laughed.

Cher excused herself, again, to make a costume change. When she returned, she joined us at the dinner table, and we started reading from the Haggadah, or prayer book. We went around the table, taking turns reading passages, as we always do.

When it came to Cher, her passage was heavy on the Rabbi names; Elazar Ben Azarya, Raban Gamliel, and it seemed to trip her up.

In all fairness, I’m sure she had never heard of these Rabbis, unless of course she’d attended Pesach at her friend Bette Midler’s house. I didn’t ask. I didn’t want to pry. Cher did her best and we left it at that.

A few pages later, I looked over at Cher, who was sitting next to Uncle George. I thought she looked a bit uneasy. George still hadn’t gotten the memo that those natural deodorants really don’t do shit, and I thought Cher was reacting.

Then I realized that it wasn’t George at all, it was the multitude of glasses of wine we’re told to drink during the service. It can be unsettling to a non drinker, which Cher is. My family wouldn’t know since there aren’t any non drinkers in the whole lot.

I leaned in close, and assured Cher that, in no way, was she obligated to drink. Unfortunately, my mother didn’t buy any Manischewitz because there’s never been a need (even my 10 year old nephew drinks the real stuff).

However, being the mensch that Cher is, she threw back that wine like one of the drunken sailors in her, “If I Can Turn Back Time” video.

When I was a kid, my favorite part of the Seder dinner was reading the four questions, which are always read by the youngest at the table. I held that title for many years. I had no idea what I was reading but I didn’t care, as long as I was the center of attention. And then my nephews arrived. The lord giveth, and the lord taketh away.

My youngest nephew was all set to read, when my dad suggested that we give our half-breed guest the honor. I thought it was a lovely gesture. I searched Cher’s punim, trying to get a read on how this last minute casting would affect her. Her face was still.

A few seconds later, Cher gently pushed her chair back and stood up. Traditionally, we stay seated and read, but it was clear that Cher had something else up her sleeveless dress.

She walked to the front of the dining room and presented my family with a gift I know I won’t soon forget. A private concert, singing an original reinterpretation of her 1974 smash hit single, Dark Lady, from the album of the same name, in honor of Passover.







Speechless I know. A little pitchy and were those nerves that shook her voice? Who cares, it was a delightful surprise.

We settled back into the Seder and Cher joined my dad in lighting Yahrzeit candles, in memory of loved ones that had died. My Dad lit one for Nanny and Cher lit one for Sonny and her youth.

Dad poured a glass of wine and opened the front door for the prophet Elijah. Cher protested and started saying something about Deadsy, but my dad looked in her direction, “No, Dark Lady, not your Elijah.”

Dinner was officially over, and it was time to look for the Afikoman, which is sort of a Jewish hide and seek, using a piece of Matzot. Whoever finds it, gets a cash prize. When we were kids, it didn’t matter who found it, because everyone cashed out.

After a few years of this, no one tried all that hard and it took the fun out of the whole game. Sort of like how it doesn’t matter that your kids soccer team sucks and places last in the tournament but trophy’s for all!

Cher wanted to play. She loves games. One of her favorite’s is Wise and Otherwise. And she likes cash. I’m embarrassed to say it, but she was also drunk off her tattooed ass. No one seemed to mind if she participated, so she and my nephews scampered off to look for the big cracker.

A few minutes later, we heard a commotion coming from the basement. “No. Let it go. It’s mine. I found it.” I couldn’t tell who was screaming, but there was definitely a ruckus.

We ran down to the basement. Cher was acting all meshungina. She was physically pushing my nephew up against the wall, her long and luxurious nails, digging into his little ten year old chest.

She was trying to pry the matzot out of his snausage-like fingers. It was a scene alright. She was schvitzing, her mascara was running down her face, her beanie had fallen to the floor, and her wig was cockeyed on her head.

My older nephew tried to pull Cher off of his little brother, but she was going mental. My guess is that this is exactly why she doesn’t drink. Finally, Cher released my nephew. He started screaming, “Hasbeen! Vegas shlock! Lori Davis Infomercial Hawker!”

That was a low blow, rude and uncalled for. After all, she was our guest. I shooed my nephews up the basement stairs.

The next thing I knew, Cher ran up to my dad, sucking wind, and she planted herself firmly in front of him. She grabbed his arm, and dropped a handful of matzot crumbs into his hand and waited. Needless to say, we were all confused and disappointed. How could something so beautiful and right, turn out so ugly and wrong.

I didn’t want to admit it, but the people of the town were right. She is a gypsy, tramp and thief. But my dad, forever the gentleman, was not about to break from tradition. He fished out a twenty dollar bill from his pants pocket and slapped it down in Cher’s outstretched hand. “Shalom, Cher, Shalom.”