Oh, Wow!

I am so excited to have been contacted by author Alethea Eason. She asked to interview me for her blog and here is her post about it. She’s an amazing author. Please follow her on Facebook, on her blog, and buy her books! I interviewed her as well and will post it as soon as it’s finished.



The Pen is Mightier

photo (4)Richard and Lucas are going on a road-trip tomorrow to southern Illinois to register Lucas for college in the fall. I mentioned to Richard yesterday that the weather is supposed to be  pretty bad Friday. I know we can’t really know what the weather will be, but the forecast for our area as well as where they’re heading looks bleak.

I knew he would mock me, but it is my right as a Jewish wife and mother to warn the flock of impending doom. I suggested they leave today and stay overnight so they wouldn’t have to worry about getting to orientation on time tomorrow.

Sure enough he looked at me with a smirk and said, “We’ll check with our penises on Friday and get back to you.”

Ok. That was a little harsher than I was expecting, but funnier, too.

I took another stab at being, well, me, and mentioned to Richard that with the impending bad weather coming, we should probably lower the umbrella outside. Another smirk.

I looked outside a few hours ago and took this photo. Jewish wife and mother 1; penises 0.

Enjoy this clip from SNL:


The Ritz of Schvitz: Part II

Let me begin by saying that, through unconfirmed but pretty reliable sources,  I’ve heard  The Concierge has been fired. No word on Shamu.

Now, back to the story….

For the past two weeks Richard has arrived at The Ritz every other day at 6:00 AM. He said the best part of working out there is that when he’s finished his trainer stretches him out on a massage table and then places a cool eucalyptus-scented cloth on his head. This was not helping me fall in love with The Club. I’m used to smelly gyms, rosin-scented backstage wings, and the smell of greasepaint and anxiety. Having a cool eucalyptus-scented cloth placed on my head was not part of  any repertoire I’d ever experienced in a gym or as a -very- reluctant- to- perform-on-stage dancer.

I still hadn’t been to The Club because I wasn’t supposed to do exercises other than those assigned to me. I wanted to follow the recommendations of the physical therapists I was seeing because I’d rather nip this thing in the butt, I mean bud, so it actually healed and got stronger. I am seeing several physical therapists since the first one I met missed the avocado pit with a Ginsu knife and sliced through the tendon in her hand, instead, and is currently receiving physical therapy.

But, then the flood arrived. We couldn’t use our plumbing for a few days because the sewer line in front of our house was clogged.* Richard instructed us to only flush on an as-needed basis. His rule was, “If it’s clear, leave it there”.The lake in our backyard after the Flood.

The lake in our backyard after The Flood.

I wasn’t leaving anything anywhere; and I really wanted to take a shower. I could have gone to my mother’s house, or to one of my friends who kindly offered me their showers. But then it dawned on me: I am a member of  The Club. I decided that if I couldn’t use the gym facilities I would use the amenities. Besides, it would be a good way for me to test the waters.

Can we talk about the water for a moment? I had decided to venture into the steam room but a shower was required before entering. The shower sprinkled down on me gently, yet firmly, and was heated to perfection. After the first shower, I was actually looking forward to the one I would take after I took a steam.

I entered the empty steam room and was greeted by wisps of eucalyptus-scented moisture. I sat down, still wrapped in a towel, because I have yet to feel comfortable naked just about anywhere, and inhaled through my stuffed nose. My sinuses immediately opened up and let the steam flow into my body. I sat there contemplating the meaning of life until I was beginning to feel like over-microwaved broccoli. I stepped out of the steam room and tip-toed to one of the showers. I could have just walked there, but something about this place invited tip-toeing.

Since I had recently had my hair Keratined, I brought my own shampoo and conditioner because it’s the law after having a Keratin relaxing treatment that you may only use special shampoo and conditioner. But I had neglected to bring shower gel. There was no way I was going to use the Kiehl’s shower gel that was provided.

I reluctantly pumped a small amount of the Kiehl’s grapefruit-scented shower gel into my hands and rubbed it into a lovely, frothy lather. I pumped a little more, only because I wanted to make sure I was squeaky clean; I mean who knew when we’d be able to use our showers at home again, if ever?

By the time I had pumped and lathered, I looked like a rabid dog. I couldn’t get enough of that stuff. It smelled like someone was peeling freshly picked grapefruit just outside the shower door and I felt exhilarated and alive.

I still wanted to hate The Club, but was having trouble finding anything to hate, or even dislike, for that matter, because I had finally let go of “the incident” with Shamu, that sweat-drenched neanderthal-woman.

After I used as many full-sized warm towels as I pleased, I realized I hadn’t brought body lotion. There were bottles of Kiehl’s body lotion-potion visible out of every corner of my eye for members to use. I thought I wouldn’t like using it because I normally just pour Avon Skin-so-Soft bath oil down my back and hope it lands where my body needs it  after a shower. But the Kiehl’s lotion-potion was light, and refreshingly not gooey. I even used it on my face because I had neglected to pack face cream. It absorbed into my skin without leaving a trace of stickiness, leaving my face ready for make-up. I liked the Kiehl’s stuff, but I rationalized to myself that it was okay to like it because it was available at fine stores everywhere. It didn’t mean I liked the club.

I got dressed and then sat down at one of the many vanities, each equipped with salon-quality blow dryers with assorted nozzles, Q-tips, cotton balls, and an adjustable make-up mirror with lighting available for “day”, “office”, and “evening” settings.

I applied my make-up using the “day” setting, and then dried my hair. I didn’t want to admit it, but this place was beginning to grow on me.

A few days later I received permission from my physical therapist du jour to walk in a pool. Oh, happy day! I packed up my bag with one of my new, super-cute bathing suits, and headed to The Ritz. I had been instructed not to break out into an actual swim, but was told to walk in a manner that can only be described as something out of Monty Python’s Ministry of Silly Walks, taking giant overly animated backward steps like a drunken stork.

As I was gliding through the water backwards I couldn’t help but notice that the water in the pool was different than any water in any other pool I’d ever been in before. It rippled. It didn’t splash. It seemed heavier, and smoother, and easier to frolic in without pesky droplets hitting my eyeballs. What was with the water in this place? Had it been anointed in some way by Poseidon?

After exiting the pool I took a quick, perfectly heated shower that cascaded gently, yet firmly upon my shoulders and then headed into the luciously-scented steam room. After I had been broccolied until I was al dente, I took another shower, looking forward to the smell of an orchard of freshly sprouted grapefruit trees wafting all around.

As I moisturized, dried my hair, and put on my make-up, I noticed in my reflection from the mirror that I was actually smiling. Was I happy to be there? Was I succumbing? Was I becoming one of “them”? Hell, yeah.

I know deep down inside that Richard is usually right about things. He does his homework; he gets the research done. He knew this would be the place for us and he was right, damn it.

I went back to my locker to get my purse and workout bag, but when I tried to take my sweater out I realized it was caught on the hinge on the bottom of the locker door. I dug my reading glasses out from the bottom of my purse, got down on the floor and tried to figure out how to release one of my favorite Eileen Fisher sweaters without ripping it.

I felt the presence of  a woman watching me from across the locker room, but stayed focused on the task at hand. After a few minutes of wrestling with my delicate sweater, I sensed that the very toned woman with six-pack abs who had stripped down to her bra and panties was still watching me, so I looked up at her.

She asked, “Do you work here?”


“No,” I replied. “Why do you ask?”

“I thought you were repairing the locker.”

“No,” I said, “I’m just trying to get my Eileen Fisher sweater unhooked without tearing it.”

“Oh. Ok,” she said, as she headed toward the grapefruit-scented showers.

I managed to get my sweater out with only a minor tear that even I will be able to sew. I picked up the rest of my things and left. As I walked out to my car I wondered why “old six-pack” thought I worked there, not that there’s anything wrong with it. I was wearing a beautiful camisole and jeans, and had full make-up and hair going on as I crouched on the ground, being careful to not anger my hammy, while trying to gently extricate my sweater.

It was a strange question. If I saw someone in that position I wouldn’t assume anything, nor would I care, unless that person needed help. “Maybe she thought I needed help,” I told myself. But I knew the truth. She thought I was the help. I hate that club. But I can’t wait to take another swim, steam and shower, and get on the Pilates Reformer with a trainer watching my every move and then draping a cool eucalyptus-scented towel across my forehead.

And now for something completely different…

* Coincidentally, that happened again the other day. Please see http://lesliejokorengold.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/the-house-at-pooh-corner/

The Ritz of Shvitz: Part I

I never thought I’d want to be a member of a high-end fitness club. I felt perfectly comfortable exercising at the local recreation center. But Richard decided he wanted to start working out and, due to his desire for all things boiled and sanitized, would only join what I had judged by its cover to be The Ritz of all health clubs.

We went to meet with the club’s Concierge a few weeks ago. We were given the grand tour of the amenities which ended with a waft through the dimly-lit health spa. The smell of eucalyptus, mint, and lavender married with a hint of Madagascar cinnamon made me feel like a cartoon character whose feet drag along the ground while she’s lured by a visible wisp of smoke in the shape of a finger, beckoning her to follow it. I was impressed. I didn’t want to be.

Due to various variables, we received a sizable discount and, because my membership to the recreation center had recently expired, I decided to humor Richard and The Concierge by agreeing to join. I was happy Richard had found a club he felt was clean enough for him to sweat in, but I was sure I was going to hate it.

Richard set up a fitness evaluation for the very next day at 6:00 AM, as well as several sessions with a trainer, which was included with our membership. I was (and still am) recovering from a tennis-induced hammy injury and told The Concierge I would set up my evaluation when I was cleared to do so by my physical therapist. I really didn’t want to like this place, but I didn’t feel intimidated or overly unfit after the tour.

Until The Concierge guided us to The Shop where a slightly plump, perspiring, middle-aged woman wearing a sports bra and yoga pants gave us complimentary t-shirts. She then told us that we were entitled to 20% off everything in the store except Kiehl’s body potions, and lululemon clothing. I didn’t hear the last part so I asked her to repeat what she said. “I said the 20% off doesn’t apply to our selection of lululemon clothing, but you won’t be able to wear it anyway.”

“Excuse me?” I asked, thinking she might perhaps take that moment to explain what she really meant by her comment. Instead, she made it worse.

“You won’t fit in it. It won’t look good on you.”

Richard began to escort me out of The Shop by my wenus (It’s a real word. See? http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=wenus). He could see that the eucalyptus, mint, lavender married with a hint of Madagascar cinnamon induced coma was wearing off and and wanted to spare me –- no, he wanted to spare himself — the inevitable tears (mine) that usually follow a nosedive of a situation such as this one — but my chin didn’t even quiver once.

Before any of us could say another word, he thanked her and yanked me out the door.

I got into the car and began grumbling about the “moist, ugly whale who said I was fat”. “She never said you were fat”, Richard sighed, “besides, you just lost 20 pounds!”

“She doesn’t know that,” I snapped.

“I knew you were going to take it wrong,” he said.

“Wrong? What did she say that was right?”

“She was referring to ‘the girls’ because you had just told her that you wanted the large complimentary t-shirt instead of the medium one she first gave you because you said ‘the girls’ wouldn’t fit in a t-shirt that small. She was saying your boobs won’t fit into lululemon clothing.”

I knew that. I did. But, I wanted to hear the lavishly nice things people who work at health clubs always say to new recruits even when they don’t mean them; not the equivalent of “you’re fat”.

I could tell that I was raining on Richard’s enthusiasm parade about joining The Ritz, so I decided to shut my big, fat mouth.

When we got home I went outside and sat in the backyard with the dogs. I couldn’t get it out of my head. I knew Richard was probably right. That smelly woman was most likely referring to ”the girls”. I tried to move past it but couldn’t. So I called her.

“Hi, this is Leslie. I just left The Shop and was wondering what you meant when you said I wouldn’t fit into lululemon clothing.”

“Well”, she began, “first of all, I only carry up to a size 8.”

Oh. No. She. Didn’t!

My chin began to quiver uncontrollably, as if holding back tears earlier only made the dam that much more ready to burst. I managed a quick “good-bye” and hung up the phone.

And even though I really and truly wanted to, I still couldn’t let it go. So I e mailed The Concierge and told her about the exchanges I’d had with Shamu at The Shop.

The Concierge e mailed me back immediately saying that the person in The Shop is very outgoing and says lots of stuff that she doesn’t realize is hurtful, and she was so sorry, and I’m a beautiful woman with a beautiful body, and she felt self-conscious when she first joined the gym a year ago before she became The Concierge and how intimidating it was…

The Concierge was a size zero, if even. She had beautiful, honey-toned skin, long, luxurious brunette hair and was dressed in clothes that, even though they looked like they had been painted on, looked pretty darn good on her. The pumps she was wearing sealed her impersonation of “Health Spa Barbie”, if there is one. I doubt she’s ever had a moment of self-consciousness. Perhaps I should give her the benefit of the doubt and assume she has worked so hard that in the past year she has successfully come down from a size two.

The Mother of All Days

With Mother’s Day coming up this Sunday, I decided to reblog a post that I published nearly five years ago. Happy Mother’s Day!

Tales of Wild Boomba

Richard has always said that Mother’s Day is the worst day of the year because it has absolutely, positively nothing to do with him. It’s the only day of the year when all attention is on THE OTHERS.

This past Mother’s Day was very nice. My parents, Richard’s parents, my sister Beth and her family, and some friends came over. We ate brunch-type food, exchanged gifts and had a grand old time – that is until Richard announced that he has been spending his Thursdays around noon-ish narking on the war protestors he watches from his office window, most of whom are little old ladies.

Without giving away Richard’s views on politics, let me say that he wants to head up a coalition to carve Ronald Reagan’s face into Mount Rushmore. I also want to say that while I realize the picture I have painted of him so far is…

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The Korengolds Take Weston Because the Kardashians Already Took Miami: Part 1 1/2

In Florida I was the fearless person I vowed I would be except I didn’t eat Sushi which, in all fairness, I had said I wouldn’t.

First, I flew. In an airplane. I have an irrational fear of flying, so in my head all airplanes are nicknamed “The Hindenburg”.  I particularly don’t care for take-offs and landings even though I know that without them I would, essentially,  just be sitting on a plane. But, flying is the fastest way to get from point A to hair extensions so I did it.

We began our trip in Fort Myers, Florida, home of my BFF since sixth grade, Kelly, her husband Scott, their son Dylan, two alligators, two goats, two dogs, thousands of cats, and six hens-a-layin’.

Scott can build anything, including the Scott-made pond in front of the house. It’s more like the size of a small lake. It’s Edenly landscaped with plants and boulders, and a Scott-made waterfall. Taking a stroll in the morning along the path (yes, Scott built that, too) amongst the Mulberry, banana, coconut, lemon, lime and mango trees, past the gardens of pineapple, tomatoes, carrots, a variety of lettuces, and a myriad of other vegetables while chucking a tennis ball to Shakespeare, one of their dogs, was the way  I wish I could begin every day of my life.  We’d pass the chicken coop, and mosey around the pond/lake, listening to the tranquil waterfall until I had to pee.

Scott is also the Captain of  a charter fishing-boat, so when he took a day off and invited us to fish from his boat, we graciously accepted the offer, even though I have horrid memories of fishing from outings with my father when I was a child. We used to spend every summer in Lakeside, Michigan at our little cottage with an outdoor shower filled with spiders. My parents met there as teenagers when each of their families spent their summers there, too. So, all I did was play with my cousins and friends on the beach all day for most of my childhood. My father would drive back to Chicago to work during the week, and then join us on the weekends.

Sometimes my Dad would take us fishing. He had one of those neon orange gloves with spikes built into its palm. After we’d catch a fish he’d seize it from us and skewer the fish bloody as he ripped the hook out of its eyeballs. But, I didn’t say “no” when Scott invited us out on an excursion on his boat because it was a very generous offer, plus I had made that whole stupid “I’m going to be fearless on this trip” proclamation.

Dylan was in school, so Kelly, Richard, Veronica, Lucas, and I fished, and while I don’t quite understand why people love to fish, I do love yachting.

The sea, she was angry that day, my friends. No, she wasn’t, but I just wanted to say that.

We saw pods of dolphins frolicking about and several times along the way the yellow heads of sea turtles would pop up from the water. Scott had all of our hooks baited and ready to drop into the water about seven seconds after he stopped the boat and dropped anchor in one of his chosen fishing spots. I didn’t even see how many rods he had or where he stowed them, but they appeared in our hands, as if from nowhere.

Scott was in his element, on top of his game, in the zone, on a fisherman’s “high”, King of the Gulf — he was really good at what he did. He helped each of us let out the line from the rolling thingy on our rods, and made sure there was enough room between us so we wouldn’t get tangled up with each other.

I can’t even describe the thrill of feeling something tugging on my line, forcing me to keep my balance, which is hard for me on dry land, and concentrate on reeling it in. Scott coached me as I reeled in my catch, reminding me it wasn’t a race because in my excitement I tended to try to reel in whatever it was that was in “the drink” too quickly, jeopardizing my chances of keeping it on the line. And, because Scott very gently removed the hooks and released the fish back into the water, I can proudly say I am now de-traumatized about fishing. Maybe.

Veronica, who is completely fearless, climbed to the top of the fishing boat and jumped into the Gulf of Mexico several times. I don’t even jump into a pool so I delicately slid myself into the water from the lowest point of the boat I could find.


Scott holding Veronica’s catch because she wouldn’t.

But, the boat didn’t have a ladder and I couldn’t figure out how to climb back aboard. I kept trying, but I couldn’t do it mostly because I was laughing at Kelly’s panic-stricken face shaded by a super-cute little visor as she extended her arms toward me screaming, “Here! Here! Grab onto me!”

Richard eventually hoisted me out of the water and helped me roll onto the back of the boat like a beached whale. He covered me with a towel and left me there to catch my breath. Between laughing so hard and the thrill of the experience of being in the chilly Gulf water, I was exhausted. Ok. So, I didn’t climb Mount Everest; but in my frizzy little head it was exhilarating and fun all the same.

Later that night, Scott took us all out to a restaurant that had prepared the Grouper he had caught the previous day according to his recommendations: Parmesan, and sauteed in a light, lemon sauce. Yum.

The next day we drove from Fort Myers to Weston to see my in-laws, Harriet and Howard, and then dropped our luggage off in Pompano Beach at our hotel. We then drove to Key Biscayne because I insisted we go to The Sony Open this year. Repeat: I insisted. I don’t insist. But, we have been on the island of Key Biscayne at least four times during The Sony Open tennis matches and this time I was going, even if I had to go alone.

Luckily Lucas wanted to go, so Richard decided to go with us. Veronica opted to stay back in Weston with my in-laws. We walked to the tournament from our friends’ Tom and Susana’s gorgeous new house with their son, Danny.

One of Tom’s friends had given him passes for all of us to walk around and watch the men’s afternoon matches. We climbed into the stands to catch a few games between Cilic and Giraldo who fought with passion to come close to winning, but lost to the number nine seed from Croatia. We began cheering for Giraldo, the underdog from Columbia, all of us singing “Olé, olé, olé, olé!” with the crowd.

My phone was on “stun” so I was stunned when my mother texted “Are you going to get to see Serena?” As in Serena Williams? I hadn’t been keeping up with the leaderboard so I had no idea Serena was playing that night. We only had day passes so I texted Mom back and told her we didn’t have tickets. And then, as if the Tennis Gods felt my mother’s disappointment, another friend of Tom’s gave us his tickets for the 8:00 P.M. Main Event because he had to leave. And even though Tom and Susana had to leave, too, we WERE going to see Serena Williams play.

We arrived early for Serena’s match in order to watch a few games between the number four seed Berdych and Gimeno-Traver. Richard took Danny and Lucas to get a snack. But I got a smoothie and a bag of popcorn the size of Rhode Island at the Main Stadium and walked out to our seats in time to see Ayuma Morita warming up with the number one tennis player in the world, Ms. Serena Williams.

Last pix Low battery - 10200867970406152

After typing the words “Ms. Serena Williams” I should just stop writing now.

We watched Serena play a few sets, but had to leave before she beat Morita because we were exhausted. After all, we had just arrived in Florida on Wednesday, spent Thursday at Edison State College in Fort Myers where Richard gave a presentation on  the Holocaust, and Friday fishing and flopping around (me) on Scott’s boat. Plus, Richard was experiencing serious back pain because he had injured it before we left town and pulling me out of the Gulf of Mexico probably didn’t help. We walked back to Tom and Susana’s house to get our car and headed back to our hotel in Pompano Beach.  We had splurged and reserved a separate room  for the kids and, since Veronica was staying with Harriet and Howard that night, Lucas had it all to himself.

At 7:30 A.M. the next morning Richard and I were already getting into our bathing suits and packing up a beach bag when the fire alarm went off and a voice from the loud-speaker instructed us to evacuate the building. I ran out into the hallway to make sure Lucas was awake and ready to walk in an organized, calm manner with us and the other hotel guests down the five flights of stairs to the safety of the beach.

Thinking Lucas’s room was immediately next door to ours, I began banging on the door, only instead of Lucas’s pleasant face, an older man opened the door and scowled at me. I was shocked but then realized Lucas’s room was two doors down from ours. I apologized to the man, even though if there had really been a fire, waking him up would have probably saved his life.

I ran one door over to Lucas’s room and knocked like a madwoman. Lucas was half asleep when he opened the door and said that he had heard something ringing, and got out of bed just before I came to his door because he was going to make sure we were ready to evacuate the building, too.

Lucas in Florida

Lucas, totally into the 7:30 AM hotel fire alarm evacuation.

Wearing no shoes or socks, and his Pac Man “Eat Me” pajama bottoms and a t-shirt, he walked down the five flights of stairs with us and most of the other hotel guests.  After the “all clear” alarm was sounded, the alarm malfunctioned and continued to go on and off for about an hour. I decided to hit the beach and stay there.

We had a lovely day at the beach with my in-laws who brought Veronica to the hotel. The next day was the day I had been waiting for: Hair extension day!

So now that you’re up-to-date  on what happened before, during, and after I went to Joseantonio’s Salon and met Lola, I’ll tell you the latest dish on my hair.

Last Friday Robin DiPaulo, the owner of Blue Orchid Salon and Spa in Highland Park, was more than happy to help me figure out how to incorporate Lola onto my head. She Karatined my real hair so it won’t look like frizzy steel wool during the hot, humid summer, and so that Lola will be easier to style. I had to keep my hair dry over the weekend and had to flat-iron any kinks that might have sprung up overnight. It was weird, in a really good way to wake up with hair that looked good. I didn’t have the “Kramer” thing going on anymore.


After three days, I was  finally allowed to wash my hair, but only with Marcia Teixeira Keratin Care shampoo and conditioner, which will be the only shampoo and conditioner  I can use from now on to keep my freshly Karatined hair smooth and shiny. I love the luscious smell and way the shampoo and conditioner make my hair feel. Having been Karatined in the past, I’m very familiar with the straw-like feeling of freshly Karatined  hair that a horse could easily mistake for dinner. But with the Marcia Teixeira  products Robin used, and the ones I use at home, I’ve had no horses knocking on my door to  eat — I mean –see my new “do”.


So, now Lola and my Karatined Boomba hair get along well and play nicely together.  I’d like to thank the Academy…Wait. I mean, I’d like to thank my friend Susana Medrano Roth for introducing me to Joseantonio, and  Robin PiPaulo of Blue Orchid Salon and Spa in Highland Park, Illinois. You’ve all helped to make me feel like a new person. I’m still me: klutzy, forgetful, easily distracted, and all, ” oh wait, there’s a squirrel!”  But, at least I look like a better version of me.

What’s a Wild Boomba?

Five years ago today I published my very first blog post. I decided to re-post it as a way to celebrate. Thanks for reading, “liking”, and all the comments, and “follows”. I am so happy to be doing what I love to do,
~ Leslie

Tales of Wild Boomba

I guess I am a Wild Boomba. At least that’s what my sister, Beth, and my brother, Paul, used to call me. My parents called me that, too.

I always thought it had something to do with my dark, coarse, kinky hair. But Paul recently told me it was because of my total “caveman-like” appearance as a child. I didn’t ask him if he still thought I looked like a caveman, not that there’s anything wrong with that. I just really didn’t want to know.

My much, much older sister and older brother were born fair-skinned, blond children. By the time my parents’ DNA got to me, it had somehow mutated and my mother tells me, yes, she tells me, she thought they brought her the wrong baby girl after I was delivered. She was sure I belonged to a different family. Perhaps even a different genus.

My sister’s hair…

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The Korengolds Take Weston Because the Kardashians Already Took Miami: Part II

Joseantonio’s salon is in his house in Miami in an area that is fairly close to Weston where my in-laws, Harriet and Howard, live. He and I texted and had spoken on the phone to work out a good day and time for me to come over to get my hair extensions. Since my in-laws had invited us over for Passover that Monday, Richard and the kids dropped me off at Joseantonio’s house around 1:00 P.M. and then went to Harriet and Howard’s to help them set up for the Seder.

While they were slaving away so we could celebrate our freedom from slavery, I was getting the heck pampered out of me. Joseantonio showed me the seven sections of hair he would be placing on my head. He had colored them a crazy-gorgeous shade of chestnut and honey, and then curled them until they had that bouncy, messy, just got finished playing a few rounds of beach volley-ball look.

He colored my hair to match the extensions and then gave it a little trim since it had been a couple of months since I had had a haircut, unless you count the times Susana and I each hacked off a few bales. He blew it dry and then showed me how to tease sections of my hair in order to attach the extensions. He began with two small pieces that were to be placed just above the bottom layer of my hair at the nape of my neck. Instantly I had longer hair! It looked so natural and cool I was squealing.

He attached the largest piece underneath the hair at the top of the back of my head. After it was in place, I had hair cascading down below my shoulders. Joseantonio placed the rest of the hair on my head, and was smoothing and spraying it just as Richard came back to pick me up. Richard loved it.

I gave myself whiplash from throwing my head around the rest of that night. I loved the look and feel of my new long hair. At Passover dinner everyone did repeated double-takes every time I walked into the dining room because I looked completely different.

I kept the extensions in for the next two days, pulling my new hair into a ponytail, or securing it to my head with clippies. I took the extensions out after we returned home, washed them gently and scrubbed my own head, but not before making a diagram and putting sticky notes on each extension to correspond to the chart I had made so I’d know where to place each extension.

And then I named her “Lola.”

I didn’t put Lola in for the next two days because I didn’t have time, but I decided I would wear her to my parents’ house that upcoming Saturday night where we were going to celebrate Passover a few days late. Because we were out of town during Passover, and because my brother and brother-in-law could more easily come in from Indiana on a weekend rather than a weekday, we had all been invited for a Seder that was to begin at 5:00 P.M. sharp.

I was so excited to introduce my family to Lola. I took the diagram I had drawn of my head and the numbered extensions into the bathroom with me and got to work.

I laid out the extensions and studied where to put each of them. It was getting hot in the bathroom because I was rushing, for a change, and because I had a flat iron and a curling iron plugged in, each radiating heat. I opened the bathroom window and turned on my little portable fan to cool myself off as I began to section, tease, spray, and attach each section.

Things were going well, especially since it was the first time I was putting the extensions in by myself. But then between the breeze from the open window and the air circulating from the fan a section of the extensions became airborne and then got sucked into my little portable fan. The fan stopped. I screamed, “Lola!”

I unplugged the fan and began clawing the front of the fan off to see what was left of what turned out to be section six of Lola. Luckily she wasn’t mangled beyond recognition and I was easily able to unwind her from the fan blades. I called my mother to tell her we’d be a little late. My brother Paul answered and I explained the hair-extension-stuck-in-the-fan incident. He said he’d tell Mom why we would be a smidge late to the Seder. I heard him laughing as I hung up.

After rescuing section six, I gently brushed, teased, sprayed, and attached her, and then finished clipping in the rest of the sections of Lola. My hair didn’t look nearly as good as when Joseantonio first did it, but it was good enough. I knew it would take some time before I got good at it.

When we walked into my parents’ house my sister Beth burst out laughing while saying, “It looks great!” For some reason I didn’t believe her. My mother said I looked like the actress Stockard Channing when she played “First Lady Abby Bartlett” on the TV series “The West Wing”. Better that than the slutty “Rizzo” from “Grease”, I thought.

I started to wear Lola more frequently and especially liked being able to pull her up into a messy ponytail. I had fun buying several different kinds of “hair hardware”, as my friend Lauren’s husband, Bernie, calls a woman’s stash of clips, barrettes, and other accessories, to accommodate long hair.

One day my friend Dennis called to see if I wanted to get together later that evening to catch up since we hadn’t seen each other in weeks. I was so excited for him to meet Lola. He was picking me up at 6:00, so I decided to start getting ready at 4:00. (If you know me, you know I wasn’t ready on time even though I gave myself two hours.)

I washed and flat-ironed my hair, which had been cut into a layered “bob” by Joseantonio. Then I curled the crap out of Lola by wrapping sections of her around a small-barreled curling wand resulting in bouncy little curls. I must have attached some of Lola’s sections too close to her other sections because some of the combs seemed to overlap here and there, making her look lumpy. Plus, every few minutes I’d hear a snap, crackle, or pop and realized the combs were springing open, so I had to rearrange her a few times to make her look natural. I was getting hot, but remembered not to turn on the fan.

Dennis picked me up and we went to Madame ZuZu’s, a little teahouse nearby owned and operated by Billy Corgan of the band Smashing Pumpkins, and my new favorite place to meet with friends. I loved feeling like some mysterious woman. There I was drinking exotic tea with my male BFF, daintily eating a vegan pastry, feeling quite glam.

Did I mention it was raining that night? In humidity my real hair gets curly and frizzy. Lola is made out of straight hair which tends to straighten out when it gets wet. When I got home I saw myself in the mirror in the front hall and discovered that my “bob” had become a fuzzy ball on top of my head, while Lola had become long, stringy, limp appendages hanging beneath my Jew-fro. Glamorous? I think not.

I have always loved the comedienne Rita Rudner’s line that goes something like, “Women are like female impersonators.” We go through so much when we get ready to go out we are like men starting from scratch. I’m not saying we scratch like men; well, I don’t, anyway.

The next day I found Lola plopped on the bathroom counter looking like a cross between Medusa, an octopus, and Cher. After I took a shower, I washed, conditioned, detangled and dried Lola. I took out my heavy duty Craftsman toolbox-sized make-up kit, tweezed my eyebrows, and applied make-up. I blew dry my hair and plugged in two curling irons and a flat iron so I could curl Lola into perfect spirals while taming my real hair’s frizz. That’s when I realized I might as well just go ahead and be a female impersonator.

Moon Over my Hammy

Because I was relatively healthy for the first time in months, meaning I wasn’t sporting a boot, splint, crutches, or even a Band-Aid, I thought it would be ok for me to take a tennis lesson. I somehow failed to see the word “Cardio” before the word “Tennis”, but once I got there and found out it wasn’t just your run of the mill lesson, I decided I would just do the best that I could and vowed NOT to hurt myself.

I didn’t have anything to prove. I just wanted to have fun and told myself it was fine to walk when I couldn’t catch my breath, which happened so quickly I knew I needed to ramp up my cardio; or at least begin some kind of cardio regimen.

I used to be a good tennis player, but somehow over the past few years I’ve begun to hit tennis balls like a major league hitter on steroids. All power; no control. That’s how I play golf, too. It’s great when the golf ball goes in the direction I was aiming for, but not so great when it ends up on the fairway of a completely different hole with a completely different four-some at the very moment one of them is about to take a highly calculated swing on a dog-leg par 5.

So, I thought I’d take up tennis again. Through work I am able to take a one hour group lesson for $5 each Thursday. I waited until I had no injuries, which, for me, can mean days weeks, or even months. Why? Well, as I like to put it, “I am allergic to gravity.”

Since it had been a while since I last played tennis I spent most of the morning searching for my racket, donned a cute little tennis skirt, and then slathered Sally Hanson leg make-up all over my pasty white legs. My kids tell me I look like an Oompa Loompa when I apply artificial tanning lotion, and it only makes my arms look even more freakishly white, but it’s my legs I care about. My legs are so white they scare ghosts.

Racket in hand, I got in the car and headed to the tennis center. I was excited to get back on the court again. When I hit a good forehand it just skims the net and lands hard and deep. When and if I am able to connect my racket to the ball for a backhand I put an unintentional spin on it that makes its trajectory stop dead.

I love playing tennis. I took series after series of lessons, I played with my mother, I played with Richard on dates, and I won the doubles championship at tennis camp one year with my amazing partner. But I think the best unintentional lessons I ever had were when I’d play with my Valley-girl BFF from Encino, California and her mom twice a year when we’d meet in Palm Springs for our very own “Desert Classic”.

My family visited my grandmother who relocated to Palm Springs when I was around 12 years old. Sharon’s family would drive from Encino and we’d stay in condos next door to each other and play tennis all day, when we weren’t in the pool. Our fathers had been friends in Chicago who remained close even after Sharon’s Dad moved to Encino, where he met her mom. Sharon and her mother were Venus and Serena before there was a Venus and Serena. By playing tennis with them, I could only improve my game. They were good; really good.

But the one thing I have always lacked in all games is competitiveness. I’m not lazy; I just don’t feel the need to win. I prefer long rallies to winning points. I prefer good placement over a drop shot, which is how Richard likes to play. He plays to win, but drop-shot after drop-shot constitutes cheating in my playbook.

So, during the lesson I did the best I could to keep up with the other people on the court who were Cardio Tennis regulars. When the guy who had just had groin surgery managed to pass me while running, I took it as a sign from above that I definitely needed to work out at the gym more often.

I repeatedly told myself not to worry if I didn’t get to a ball in time. I had nothing to lose. I didn’t care if I missed a ball. But when I connected with one, it felt like I’d won the lottery. That’s why I like golf, too. I might not play well consistently, but when my club hits a ball and I hear that “ping” and the ball goes where it’s supposed to go, I can’t wait to do it again. Of course, it might be years before I hit another ball that well, but that’s why I keep coming back. I think that’s why most people keep playing any sport.

But I went for one ball I shouldn’t have and the minute my left foot hit the ground I felt a stabbing, yet familiar pain in my left butt cheek that I seem to experience only when playing tennis. I wanted to scream. I wanted to cry. But instead, I walked off the court, stretched, walked it off, and resumed the drills. Both pros asked if I was ok, and each mentioned at separate times that I needed a new racket. One of them told me, “that was a great racket…in 1984.”

I decided that no piddly little pain in my ass was going to stop me from my passion. Until it did. Eventually I couldn’t run at all. When the lesson was over I went home and iced the crap out of my tush. It helped, but sitting hurt, walking hurt, and a few days later, nearly a week since I had injured my gluteus-leftimus, the pain was worse. I knew I needed to see my orthopedic doctor and seek treatment, mostly so I could get a prescription for physical therapy.

The only thing that was more painful than the injury was when my doctor, who is a year younger than I but attended the same high school, inspected, squeezed, and prodded my glutes. I mean, think about it. Would you want someone you know from high school assessing your assets? Didn’t think so. He did tell me I had exceptionally strong legs. Ok. So, maybe it wasn’t all bad to have him be the one to palpate my derrière.

Since there is no such thing that I am aware of that resembles a butt sling, I am taking anti-inflammatories and waiting to begin PT next week. I will do whatever it takes to strengthen my butt because it is obviously not as strong as a well-placed, well-hit forehand, and even though I am not competitive, I want to be able to play at a level that feels as comfortable as my skorts and groovy multi-colored Asics.

Note: I am still working on the next installment of “The Korengolds Take Weston Because the Kardashians Already Took Miami”. So quit bugging me, Mom!!!!