Sunday, August 28, 2022

at last

Several years ago....

(I love to start stories with "several years ago" because I know, as I get older and my perception of time becomes more distorted, that the actual time period that I am imagining is — in reality — much further in the past that I remember. That's why I favor the adjective "several." It's non-specific and I don't spend a lot of time wracking my failing memory over how long ago it really was. That's why I feel pretty safe in using it. My concept of the time period may differ from yours, but we both understand that this incident did not begin yesterday. Now.... if you are still with me.... I'll continue...)

Several years ago, my wife and I accompanied my in-laws to a restaurant in Northeast Philadelphia. This seems pretty insignificant, so let me explain why this was a rare event. My in-laws and my wife (and to a far lesser and more lenient extent — me) keep kosher. Philadelphia is notorious for its lack of certified kosher restaurants considering the size of its Jewish population. It ranks seventh in the United States and boasts 214,600 folks who identify as Jewish. (For goodness sakes, Philadelphia ranks 14th in the world!) Granted a very small faction of those actually adhere to the laws of kashrut. With this in mind, Philadelphia has seen kosher-certified restaurants come and go like flights at an airport. Most have closed for different reasons, but the biggest reason is lack of support. The Jewish community (at least within my community) bitches and complains about the "slim pickins" as far as kosher eateries go, yet, when one opens up, they will rarely patronize the establishment and it will invariably fail....only to lead to more complaints. The other reason for failure is these places are not run by business-minded people. They only exist to fill a void and are opened by folks who have never run a business before, specifically a restaurant... and running a restaurant is particularly difficult. So, these places end up being a mixed-up, unorganized mess. They are usually filthy, overpriced and staffed by rude people. Or as I like to say — "The Triple Threat." So, finding a nearby kosher restaurant that meets my in-law's finnicky standards is difficult. Almost as difficult as getting them to leave their house.

But, we found one.... several years ago. 

No explanation.
I have no qualms about eating in any restaurant. I have been a vegetarian for nearly twenty years, but I would never ask anyone to make special accommodations for me. It will not be the last meal I will ever eat. I'm sure there is something on every restaurant's menu that I can eat (even a Brazilian steakhouse, although I've never had the opportunity to try). My in-laws are a little more discerning. Not only does a restaurant have to have posted kosher certification, but that certification has to come from a mashgiach (certified kosher certifier) whom they respect and with whose practices they agree. (There's an old saying "Five Jews. Six synagogues.") Well, this particular restaurant checked all the correct boxes. It was not an especially appetizing place. It was short on décor and any sort of ambience. However, based on the price range of their menu, you'd think the owners perceived their establishment among the most elite in the city. As I perused the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern-influenced menu, which was heavy on meat-centric offerings, I spotted something with which I was not familiar. Aside from the consumption of meat, I consider myself a pretty adventurous eater. I'll try anything once (except if it contains coconut). This item of intrigue was listed at the bottom of the "Appetizers" section and it sported a pretty hefty fifteen dollar price tag for an appetizer. It was merely identified as "shakshuka." Unlike some of the other items on the menu that included a brief subheading that described what would be expected when the plate arrived at your place setting should you choose this item, shakshuka sat there unexplained. Boldly undefined. Defiantly enigmatic. You ordering shakshuka? You better damn well know what you're getting, 'cause we ain't fucking telling you.

I continued to read over the menu, scrutinizing everything, including descriptions of chicken shawarma and a plethora of burgers and a whole bunch of other things that I had no intentions of eating. Among the vegetarian options were concoctions of tomatoes and cucumbers and other vegetables of which I am not a fan. There was falafel 
— traditional deep-fried chickpea balls which I have grown to like after initially turning my nose up... so that was an option. But I found myself going back and staring at that one word — shakshuka. Shakshuka. Shakshuka. Suddenly, I found myself absent-mindedly humming the chorus of the 1980 Kate Bush song "Babooshka" under my breath. The cadence fit perfectly and I realized I had just infected myself with an earworm I would carry for hours. (And now, you have been infected, too. You're welcome.) Still performing Kate Bush karaoke to myself, I looked up at a large, hand-written "Specials" board hanging on a wall and decided to order salmon skewers with two vegetables which was listed among the limited-time offerings.  (Yeah, I eat fish. Not all fish. I don't eat fishy fish, like trout, or shellfish, but I'll eat salmon, tuna, mahi mahi, tilapia and other "mild" fish. So, I guess I'm sort of a pescatarian, but that is really none of your business. I'm sure you don't eat some food just because you don't like it.) We all placed our orders and I caught one last glimpse of shakshuka as I closed my menu and handed it to the waitress.

As soon as I got home, I "googled" shakshuka. I discovered that it is a centuries-old Northern African dish, popular among Arab cultures. While there are noted variances among ingredients, in its most basic form, shakshuka is eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, olive oil, peppers, onion and garlic, most often spiced with cumin, paprika and cayenne pepper. This sounded really good. (Oh, yeah, I eat eggs, too. I am not a vegan. If I was, you would have known by the first sentence of this post.) I told Mrs. Pincus about it and lamented about not ordering it earlier. I promised I would order it the next time we went to this restaurant. Well, we don't go to this restaurant often — or ever — so I would have to look elsewhere for my first sampling of shakshuka

It was briefly mentioned to my neighbor, who is Israeli, and unashamedly proclaimed to be the best producer of shakshuka in the world. Unfortunately, this promise led nowhere, as I was never invited to taste his shakshuka, not that I would have anything to compare it to. After bringing it up enough, my dear, ever accommodating spouse conceded to the following: if I could find a suitable simple recipe for the egg dish in question, she would agree to buy the proper ingredients and attempt to make shakshuka — just for me. So, we bought eggs and tomato sauce and peppers and onions and all the other stuff. I read and re-read the process for making the dish. Plans to prepare shakshuka were made and forgotten and made and forgotten again. And here we are, with a couple of ignored cans of tomato paste in our pantry and peppers that have long been chopped up and tossed in our evening salad and eggs that have since been consumed as part of a celebratory cake. And still I have not tasted shakshuka.

Surprisingly, two-plus years after the world was locked down by a global pandemic, the kosher restaurant in Northeast Philadelphia was still open for business. After so many years, my in-laws have become less mobile and less anxious to venture out into the big bad world. But, they do have to eat. Another relative offered to treat my in-laws to dinner at a restaurant of their choice in honor of their 67th wedding anniversary. With the choices slight, they selected (or perhaps "settled for" is more apropos) the kosher restaurant in Northeast Philadelphia. The plan was my wife would place the order, pick it up and bring it to her parent's house. As long as were were going, we'd place a dinner order for ourselves. And — goddammit! — I was getting shakshuka. All fifteen bucks worth! Still wary of its inclusion in the "Appetizers" section, I ordered some "assemble it yourself" falafel to split with my wife, in case one fifteen dollar order of shakshuka wasn't enough to satisfy my appetite.

Well, the moment of truth arrived. A moment I have played and replayed in my mind for years.... probably more years than I realize. Arriving home, I unpacked a number of nondescript white Styrofoam containers, popping the lid on each to identify the contents. The last one I extracted from the bag, by process of elimination, was my shakshuka.

Holy shit! LOOK AT IT! LOOK AT IT!!!!! Sure, this picture doesn't it do it justice. But you are lucky to get a picture at all! It sure didn't last long! There were four little poached eggs enveloped in a delicious mixture of sweet tomato sauce, spiked with spicy peppers and a blend of piquant spices bringing an amount of zesty heat that I savored. It was delicious! I mean really delicious and well worth the wait! I could have eaten twice... maybe three times... the amount I was given. Was it worth the fifteen bucks? Um... well it was well worth the wait. Isn't that enough?

Will I order it again? Maybe I'll try again to convince Mrs. P to make another attempt. We still have those cans of tomato paste and the expiration date is still a few years away.

Hit it, Kate....

Sunday, August 21, 2022

pardon the interruption

My dad was a quirky guy. He liked things to be a certain way. He liked to sit in one particular chair in our house when he watched television. He fumed if he saw anyone sitting in his chair and, in a move reminiscent of his hero Archie Bunker, he had no qualms about telling the offending keister to vacate his chair immediately. He'd sit in that chair from the time he finished his dinner until the 11 o'clock news concluded, smoking approximately eleven thousand cigarettes.

My day liked — no, make that expected! — to have his dinner ready and served within minutes of arriving home from — as he often phrased it — "a hard day at work." As much as he complained about it, my father liked to work. In his mind, it showed his family (and the world) that he was responsible for their luxurious [insert sarcastic eyeroll here] way of life (again, from his POV). My dad would wake up at the crack of dawn to go to work, no matter what the job. He was a butcher, by trade, but over the years he worked his way up through the ranks to department manager, then supermarket manager and later, corporate office executive... and eventually back down the employment ladder to working butcher near the end of his life. Still, he never seemed to have two nickels to rub together and always struggled to pay bills. My dad did not live an extravagant life. We rarely took family vacations aside from the occasional overnight trip to Atlantic City (which he hated). One weekend every March, my mom and dad would go to a resort in the Catskills, where my father would actually display the characteristics of someone experiencing a good time. They'd return on Monday morning and things went right back to normal — work, home, dinner, TV, cigarettes, bed.

Without a scowl 
My father's dinnertime ritual was just as regimented and predictable as the other things in his life. When he sat down to eat, there better be some kind of red beefy meat that was once part of a cow, a vegetable of some sort, potatoes prepared either mashed or baked and bread somewhere on the table. And, most importantly, the avocado green telephone that hung on our kitchen wall just above the clothes dryer better not ring. My father hated when the phone rang in our house. Hated it! He hated anytime it rang, but especially during dinner. When the phone would ring outside of the Pincus dinner hour, my father would grumble: "Who the hell is that?" If it was answered by my mom, my brother or me, he would glare at the answerer for a few seconds before returning to his cigarettes and television. If — God forbid! — he had to get up and answer it himself — holy shit! — you'd think he had just been asked to help his kids with homework, mow the lawn and fold laundry (three things he did not do). He'd angrily extract himself from his chair, shuffle to the phone and snatch the receiver from its cradle. "HELLO!," he would bellow. If it was anyone but his mother on the calling end, he'd bark out the person's name and slam the receiver down on top of the dryer. Pick it up yourself, he'd think, I'm not your goddamn secretary, too! If, by chance, it was my grandmother, he'd change his tune. He'd offer a rundown of the day's events to her and believe me — she didn't give a rat's ass about his day. 

However, if that phone rang during our precious dinnertime.... Oh boy! Watch out! My dad would furrow his brow, turn an infuriated shade of scarlet and seethe through gritted teeth: "Who is calling NOW? Doesn't anyone eat their goddamn dinner?" My designated chair at the dinner table was closest to the phone, so, invariably, it was my responsibility to field and screen dinnertime phone calls. The rule was if it wasn't a close family member gasping for their final breath or calling from a burning building, it could wait. I was instructed to take a message and the call would be returned when we finished our evening meal. No exceptions! And this little exchange was to be kept as brief as possible.("Close family member" was the defining criteria, as determined by my father. If, for example, it was my Aunt Clara — my mom's sister — well, she could wait... from my father's perspective. She could for-fucking-ever!) Conversely, it was drilled into our heads, by my father, that no outgoing phone calls were to be made from the Pincus household between 5 PM and 7 PM... got it? Good! He was respectful of other families dinnertime.  And as long as we are making rule about telephone usage, positively no phone calls — incoming or outgoing — after 10 PM. Period!

I got married in 1984 and my wife and I, like most households, had our own set of rules. No longer were we required to follow the same rules laid down by our parents. None of that "as long as you live under my roof" bullshit. No sir! We would make and receive phone calls when ever we darned pleased. Hell, we could talk on the phone during dinner, if we so chose.

As I grow closer to the age that my father passed way, I find myself growing less patient and more "rule aware".... just like the Mr. Pincus senior. And, to tell you the truth, its pretty unnerving. I find myself silently stewing when one of our cellphones (something my father never had to deal with) rings during the time my wife and I are eating dinner. (Honestly, it's rarely my phone. I don't get a lot of phone calls... and that's just the way I like it. Ooooh.... did my father just write that sentence?) My wife will happily engage with anyone who calls her on the phone, sometimes putting her dinner "on pause" until her conversation has concluded. Me? I will rudely continue eating, trying to chase my father's voice out of my head. Who the hell is calling NOW?

When did this happen? Am I slowly taking on my father's undesirable traits? I get an uneasy feeling when I catch myself channeling my father's decidedly weird behavior. I try to make a conscious effort to combat any of my father's quirks when I see them appear in my speech or actions. I should probably talk to someone about it.

Just not during dinner.

Sunday, August 14, 2022

the heat is on

For the past 40+ years that I have worked in some sort of office, my co-workers — for some unknown reason — have been positively fascinated by what I eat.... or, in actuality, what I don't eat.

I was never much of a regularly-scheduled eater. For years, I skipped breakfast at home, in favor of stopping somewhere for a cup of coffee and a doughnut on my way in to work. I am admittedly, a very hard and dedicated worker, so putting the brakes on my typical workday momentum was something I just did not do. While the majority of my co-workers began to prepare for their lunch around 11:00 AM, I continued to work, with the intention of stopping at 5. Sometimes I would have a soda or a cup of coffee from the office community coffee pot. In my younger days, I would have a bag of M & Ms, a Snickers bar or something equally as "no-good for you" to tide me over in the afternoon. But a full meal? No, thank you. Not for me.

So, job after job (and there have been many), a "lunch break" was something very different for me. It was a time that I had a communal office to myself. And it was great! My work output increased in that hour because I was uninterrupted by meaningless, un-work-related office chit-chat. However, sometime in the 90s, I entered the real live corporate world when I began working for a legal publisher. This was a larger company with offices across several states. There were rules and decorum and multi-level management and an actual room that was dedicated to eating lunch.... the likes of which I had not seen since high school. There was a large commercial refrigerator where employees could store their lunches until the time came to eat. There was a microwave and a couple of vending machines and it looked just like the office lunch rooms I saw on TV. After I made friends with a few co-workers, I began the heretofore foreign practice of joining them for lunch. I, of course, would not eat lunch, but I would sit at a table while other people ate their lunches. Some would bring elaborate concoctions wrapped in foil or Tupperware. Some would bring a typical bagged affair with a sandwich and other accompaniments, just like they were in elementary school. I was always questioned about my lack of lunch, with someone usually offering to share. I would always decline. I don't like eating a full meal during the day. It makes me sleepy and unproductive. However, it makes other people very uncomfortable. One day, at this particular job, I saw a Post-it note stuck to the refrigerator door. It read: "To whoever ate my turkey sandwich: It wasn't yours and you know it! How could you just eat someone else's sandwich? That was a pretty rotten thing to do!" I read the note. I smiled to myself, Then I extracted a pen from my pocket and wrote at the bottom: "Needed more mayo." Just because I don't eat lunch, doesn't stop me from being a smart-ass.

At another job — at an even bigger company — there was a huge cafeteria for the employees. This was a full-service restaurant with a quick-serve area and another section that served a selection full-course platters. In the middle of the workday, there were people eating giant grilled steaks with baked potatoes and green beans. I still joined my co-workers, marveling at their midday fare and still being questioned by my lack of eating.

As I got older, I developed hypertension, better known as high blood pressure. I also began a propensity to pass out, in an occurrence known as "vasovagal syncope." Under a doctor's recommendation, I was told to begin a regular eating regimen. So, now I eat breakfast every morning and I began eating lunch on a daily basis. Prior to this diagnosis, I had adopted a vegetarian diet. So, while my co-workers were chowing down on hamburgers and meat-filled hoagies, I was purchasing a grilled tofu sandwich on seven-grain bread. Trying to remain inconspicuous among my carnivorous co-workers proved difficult. "What's that?," they'd inquire, pointing an accusatory finger just inches from my sandwich — sometimes as it was going into my mouth. When I explained what I was eating, I was usually met with "Oh, what's it taste like?" or, more frequently, "EWWWWWWW!" I'm not sure who taught these people manners. It was instilled in me, by my mother, to be polite and never ever make derogatory comments about food that someone was about to eat. We all have different preferences. These particular co-workers had never met my mom.

After a while, once I got my blood pressure under control, I reverted back to my old habits. While I still eat a bowl of cereal every morning, I, once again, have given up on lunch. My co-workers, of course, have not. And — boy! — do they bring weird shit with them to work to eat later in the day... with no regard to how it may smell, either in the refrigerator, while it is being reheated or in their office while it's being consumed. One co-worker would regularly bring in leftover fresh fish and stick it in the community microwave, befouling the air on the entire 36th floor and rendering the microwave useless for anyone innocently heating a Lean Cuisine following her. Once, the same co-worker cut open a durian on her desk. The durian, a Southeast Asian fruit, emits the overpowering scent of death when cut. Decidedly not the ideal food to eat when proper ventilation is not readily available.

At my current job, one I am happy to have in the wake of the recent worldwide pandemic, my work desk is in a large room that also serves as the department "food prep" area. About six or so feet away from my desk is a table with a toaster oven, a small microwave and a wire rack with napkins, paper towel, plastic utensils and a collection of condiment packets absconded from various area fast food outlets. Every morning, my current co-workers file in — one at a time — and pop something in the microwave. Every afternoon, the same folks come in and pop something (something different, I assume) into the microwave. However, no matter what time of day it is, everything that cooks in that microwave smells like old, over-seasoned soup. I can distinctly smell rendered fat and spices heating rapidly. The aroma hangs in the poor ventilation for sometime after the offending food is removed from the oven. Once, some asked me: "Don't you get hungry from everybody heating up their food in here?" "No," I answered, "No I don't." 

Every so often, some supplier or client will buy a bunch of pizzas for the employees at work. My boss, a nice guy around my son's age, informs me of the availability of "free pizza." I politely thank him, yet I do not move from my desk. After a few times that pizzas were supplied for lunch, he stopped informing me. Aside from the fact that I don't eat during the day, the thought of my co-workers fingering and poking and prodding every pizza sounds so unappetizing, it turns my stomach. I wouldn't eat it anyway.

I know I am in the overwhelming minority. I don't like to eat at work during the day. I just don't understand why anybody cares?

Sunday, August 7, 2022

crush with eyeliner

After two years of dating and thirty-eight years of marriage, Mrs. Pincus and I have had some pretty weird conversations. Because we share so many interests (we do part ways on some subjects), we have been known to have lengthy and deep discussions about all aspects of certain television shows from our youth. These conversations are frequent — more frequent that you would imagine — and they are great for making the time pass on long car rides (and we take a lot of those, too.)

Subtopics of conversations have ranged from the total implausibility of Gilligan's Island to the subtle and heretofore unnoticed similarities between The Andy Griffith Show and Little House on the Prairie to why Darrin Stephens should have been thanking his lucky stars to have nabbed a hot witch like Samantha who was clearly out of his league. We have revealed our favorite episodes of Twilight Zone, as well as our least favorites. We have marveled at the casting of a handful of character actors who have appeared in multiple roles on numerous TV series throughout the 50s, 60s and even into the 80s. (John Anderson and the unrelated Richard Anderson come to mind.) We have talked about obscure game shows that we watched on days we were kept home from school with the sniffles. We lamented over that fact that none of the current crop of "retro TV" networks show the classic Hanna-Barbera cartoons, like Yogi Bear, Pixie & Dixie and Top Cat. This, my friends, is the secret to a long and loving marriage.

A few days ago, while out walking (not driving this time), I asked my wife about TV crushes she had as a kid. In reality, I knew of two of them  Bobby Sherman and Randolph Mantooth. Early on in our relationship, the subject must have come up. In addition, Mrs. P has held on to a couple of well-played 45 singles of Bobby Sherman recordings, as well as a big plastic button emblazoned with his toothy smile under that trademark helmet of hair. She purchased this beloved keepsake at a 1971 live concert by Bobby Sherman  one she begged her father to take her to at the long-gone Philadelphia Civic Center. I'm pretty sure my father-in-law wore a suit and tie to that one, after all, he wore a tie to the beach. Despite television throwing David Cassidy, Leif Garrett and Davy Jones in the direction of every pre-teen girl, the future Mrs. Pincus remained loyal to Bobby Sherman... until Randy Mantooth came along. 

Just a year after breathing the same air as Bobby Sherman at that West Philadelphia venue, producer Jack Webb, capitalizing on the "procedural drama" concept he made popular with Dragnet and Adam-12, introduced Emergency on NBC. The show followed the daily doings of the firefighter-cum-paramedics at LA County's Station 51. There was action, adventure, drama and, above all, there was dreamy Randolph Mantooth as hunky but benevolent and brave John Gage. Because Randy Mantooth didn't muster a singing career, Mrs. Pincus had to look elsewhere for mementos to reinforce her affection for the dark, handsome actor. She purchased a metal lunchbox shaped like a fire engine, as well as a plastic fire helmet featuring the Station 51 badge and Viewmaster reels highlighting scenes from the show. Those items and others still occupy a place of prominence and honor on a shelf in our third-floor office.

And that's it. Just those two. Even when pressed, my wife confessed to having only two TV crushes as a child. She hedged at including Henry Winkler in the group, but, after a little thought, she determined that her feelings for The Fonz were not on the same level as those for Mr. Sherman and Mr. Mantooth. Contrary to the sentiment expressed in that Joe Jackson song, I contend that it's different for boys... because I had more TV crushes that I can remember.

I seems I was smitten by every pretty female face that flashed across my television screen. In my house, the playing field was evened because we only had black & white television sets until I was in high school. So, Tina Louise's flaming red hair offered no special consideration over Dawn Wells' dark allure. Susan Dey's psychedelic stage costumes were a meaningless enhancement and Marlo Thomas' rouged cheeks and pastel eyeshadow were wasted on my potential devotion. Arlene Golonka's colorful wardrobe was monotone in my eyes. It didn't matter that Judy Carne's bikini-clad body was mistaken for a coloring book. I had a crush on all of them anyway! But, if we are really confessing, my main TV crushes were double the amount of my spouses. And, later in my life as an adult, I got to meet two of them. I coulda died!

Karen Valentine
- How adorable was Karen Valentine?!? The pretty costar of the comedy-drama (years before the portmanteau "dramedy" was coined) Room 222 was an early crush of mine. Room 222, depicting the academic adventures of the students and faculty of Walt Whitman High School, premiered in 1969 in a prime spot in ABC's coveted Friday night line-up  smack dab between lead-ins The Brady Bunch and The Partridge Family and followed by The Odd Couple and Love American Style. Karen Valentine's portrayal of naïve student teacher "Miss Johnson" was positively charming. I can still remember, in the opening credits, when the school bus door slammed in her face... ugh! she was precious! Many years later, I met Karen Valentine at an autograph show. I sheepishly approached her table for an inscribed photo. I also confessed my feelings for her. She smiled sweetly, if a bit leery of this 50+ year-old guy opening up to her. I qualified my admission by saying it was as big a crush that an eight-year old could have. She laughed.

Yvonne Craig - How adorable was Yvonne Craig?!? I was a huge fan of the original campy classic Batman series starring Adam West. After two seasons of extraordinary popularity, the TV viewing public began to stray. Creator/producer William Dozier was looking for a way to inject new energy into the floundering series. Taking inspiration from Julie Newmar's slinky portrayal of the villainous "Catwoman" (the reason my dad and every other dad across the country subjected themselves to Batman on a weekly basis), Dozier recruited actress/ballet dancer Yvonne Craig to don a skintight purple suit as the sexy and mysterious "Batgirl." Fresh off appearances in two Elvis movies and a slew of TV Westerns, Yvonne's "Batgirl" was the exciting shot-in-the-arm that Batman needed. Unfortunately, the show only lasted 26 more episodes before its Bat-plug was pulled. But — boy, oh, boy — was I captivated by Yvonne Craig's high kicks, snappy banter, confident personality and faux long hair that cascaded from under her identity-concealing cowl. For bat's sake, it even baffled her father, the perennially befuddled Commissioner Gordon. Sure, I was just seven years-old when Batman left the airwaves, but, upon more recent viewings, I know now that little Josh was on to something.

Tina Cole
- How adorable was Tina Cole?!? Nobody, but nobody, wore a bubble-cut like beautiful Tina Cole. Best known as - sigh! - "Mrs. Robbie Douglas" on the final five seasons of the popular family sitcom My Three Sons, Tina was, as Chip or Ernie might have put it, "real keen and junk!" She appeared in a single early episode of the show, but was brought back as "Katie," future wife of Don Grady's "Robbie." Her character was introduced on the first episode of Season Eight, when the Douglas family moves to California. After the family faces a succession of rude neighbors, store clerks and other assorted and rude Angelenos, Katie is a radiant beacon of friendliness when Robbie bumps into her on his first day of college. By Episode 2, Robbie asks Katie to marry him. Can you blame him? Tina Cole was absolutely delightful. She was pretty, she dressed in 60s mini skirts and enough paisley-patterned blouses to make Prince jealous, and she sported "the Rachel" two years before Jennifer Aniston was born. I met Tina at an autograph show in 2015 and, against my better judgement, I spilled my heart to her. Again, I reminded her that I was speaking about the innocent libido of a six-year old. She laughed and shyly batted her eyelashes. She was still adorable Katie.

Maureen McCormick - How adorable was Maureen McCormick?!? When The Brady Bunch was first broadcast in September 1969, who ever dreamed that it would continue in syndication pretty much forever? One of the main reasons for its ongoing, generation-spanning popularity is — without a doubt — Maureen McCormick. "Marcia Brady," as brought to life by the lovely Maureen, was every pre-teenage boys' dream. She was pretty with a gorgeous smile and she was built like a brick.... well, certainty not one of the buildings that Mike Brady designed. Most of all, she seemed approachable, like someone you'd see at school and could be your friend. Plus, we watched her grow up right before our eyes. From a cute thirteen year old at the series premiere, Maureen blossomed into a knockout by the fifth and final season. Recent accounts of her wild, drug-fueled, off-camera antics made Maureen all the more appealing. But, while The Brady Bunch was in network first run, she was every boy's fantasy prom date. Everyone from Davy Jones to Big Man on Campus "Doug Simpson" wanted Maureen McCormick... and "Oscy" from the Summer of '42 ended up with her! Go figure!

Well, there you have it. I confessed. Anything you'd like to get off your chest?

We're all adults here.