Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Spontaneity and the Playboy Club



I’m set in my ways. If it’s morning I’m on the computer, in the afternoon I’m out and about. If it’s evening I’m either being self-indulgent, catching up on paperwork, giving Levi my Might Schnauzer his face-to-face time or other stuff too boring to write about. Enter the computer search for how to be more spontaneous.

One of the suggestions I found in an article on learning how to be spontaneous said you need to take ‘no’ out of your vocabulary. Isn’t that just fine and dandy! I haven’t said ‘no’ to someone asking me to a social event, party or outing since the turn of the century. Thankfully, no one has asked me to help them rob a bank on the way home from the senior hall, but the same article also says to always act in your own best interest, so at least I’d have an out should I not want to spend the rest of my life in a prison cell with someone who wants to make me her bitch. The example they used in the article was if someone asks you to get drunk, don’t say ‘yes.’ I haven’t been drunk since the 1970s and don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon. 

I wasn’t always ‘spontaneity challenged’ and sometimes I wonder how I could have ever been as footloose and fancy free as I was the year I met my husband. It was in 1970 and that summer, for example, we were standing in a long line to see the blockbuster movie, Catch-22, with another couple when one of the guys said, “If we left right now, we could make last call at the Playboy Club in Chicago.” The Windy City is 185 miles away and under ideal conditions it takes the better part of three hours to drive but five minutes later we were all racing to our respective houses to pack an overnight bag and within an hour we were on the road that skirts along the bottom of Lake Michigan. We made it just in time to see the 11:00 Bunny Piano Dance. The guys had so much fun they each bought a Playboy Membership that, back in those days, included an actual key you had to show to get in.

One of my fellow cohorts that night recently posted a photo of the four of us at the Playboy Club on her Facebook page, saying that she still can’t drink a Pina Colada without it taking her right back to that time and place. Like me, she still has their souvenir mugs from that night in Chicago. And it’s a wonder we didn’t bring home cockroaches too. After leaving the Playboy Club we couldn’t find a hotel to stay overnight without it costing a month’s pay and someone suggested we try the YMCA. They had an “adjoining suite” on the 19th floor with a lovely view of a brick wall and for a whopping $20.00 we took it. The door between the two rooms was made out of thin plywood and locked with screen door-type hook and eye and you had to walk through one room to get to the bathroom. By morning the toilet quit flushing and we found a dead cockroach in the sink. While we were sleeping it apparently got stressed out trying to crawl up the porcelain. In the morning we needed to catch a taxi to the parking garage where we’d left Don’s pride and joy, a yellow 1968 Chevy convertible but our friend was embarrassed to be picked up while standing in front of the YMCA so we went around the corner and walked down a block before hailing a cab---like the cab driver was going tip off our local newspaper. 

When my friend (who lives in Georgia now) posted the photo on Facebook and we wrote back and forth about that night, one of her other friends chimed in that she couldn’t believe that the feminist she knew had been to the Playboy Club and neither can I believe it about myself. Nor can I believe that Don talked me in to going a second time. It was to the closing of the very last Playboy Club in America in 1988. We took the motor home because Don wanted to take the dog with us. He was crazy about Jason, called our motor home The Rolling Dog House because he rarely wanted to leave Jason home alone even for an afternoon. And can you believe it, he talked one of the bunnies into letting him bring the dog inside to pose with her for a photograph. Don had that photo blown up to poster size and I was shocked last summer when someone actually paid decent money for it when I put it in a local auction. I still have Don’s membership key. I’m not ready to part with that yet and maybe that’s because it represents an era in my life when being spontaneous was the rule rather than the exception in our lives. These days, the most spontaneous thing I do is put my right sock on first instead of my left. ©

PHOTO NOTE: That's Don and me on the right. Even after seeing the photo, I still can't remember that silly beard he had going on. I remember every detail of the outfit I was wearing, though---red, white and blue with gold chains and a pleated skirt. I called it my Sgt. Peppers outfit. The Beatles influenced a lot of my clothing choices back in those days.

16 comments:

  1. Most interesting! We were all young once.

    The last para's: "silly bead he had going on" had me puzzled. I imagined beads woven in the hair as I now see on some youngsters, but hadn't seen that in the picture (by the way, recognised you from the photo)?? Then light dawned: its "beard", duh! ~ Libby

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    1. LOL I can go over something a dozen times I not see spelling mistakes, especially in the last paragraph. Glad you pointed it out so I could correct it before most people saw it.

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  2. What a great memory. I'm not very spontaneous these days. I've always been more of a planner, but I was more spontaneous when I was younger. I do remember deciding one afternoon to take off to D.C. We walked around the city all night. The monuments are beautifully lighted at night. I doubt you could get me to do that today. Aren't you glad you decided to go that night. Good times get even better as time goes on. We can pull them out and enjoy them all over again.

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    1. I had forgotten all about that night until I saw the photo that I didn't even know existed. It is funny to look back and remember good times. Like you and D.C. I doubt I'd do something like that again which, I suppose, is what makes the memory all the better.

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  3. Who knew that our point of contact in the real world would be the Chicago YMCA, or that my story would involve spontaneity, too? Back in the day, I was married. On our first Thanksgiving, my family were delighted that "of course" we would be sharing the day with them. His family was certain than my family wouldn't mind that we would be spending the day a few towns over, with them.

    He and me looked at one another, and said: "It's time for the third option." We went to Chicago, stayed at the Y, had Thanksgiving dinner at a Greek restaurant, and the family that owned it, and I got introduced to ouzo.

    Everyone in both families was verklempt, except for my dad. Of course, he was the one who wandered into the kitchen, post-retirement, and said to my mom, "Since we've already made plans to spend the some time in Arizona this winter, why don't we just go over to Africa and visit Linda?" She recovered herself eventually, and they came. Spontaneity rocks.

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    1. That's too funny! I'll bet that YMCA did well with tourists who didn't plan ahead. I like the third option idea when families conflict and someone is going to get their feelings hurt.

      Spontaneity in going to Africa, now that takes the prize. I suppose your dad though Arizona and Africa have similar climates, so why not. LOL

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  4. Photographs are the best memory joggers! Sometimes reliving those old memories can be such a boost. Imagine remembering the cockroach in the sink without all of it.
    My biggest problem was learning to say no. I do it quite well now and won't give up the practice. Sometimes, spontaneous can get you the world of trouble.

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    1. We shook all our clothes out before putting them in our overnight bags just so we wouldn't bring any roaches home. Yuck!

      Boy, are you right about being spontaneous getting you in a world of trouble. Maybe that's why over the years we quite doing it.

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  5. I have never been truly spontaneous. A couple of times, but that's it. My spontaneity comes when someone calls me on Monday to plan an outing on Friday and I say "yes", without thinking.

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    1. I'm slightly more spontaneous than you. When someone calls me on Monday for a Tuesday outing, I say, "yes" but I panic before I figure out what I have clean to wear. LOL

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  6. I am far too spontaneous, even today. People see me as a planner but they don't realize that's all an effort to tame my spontaneous self. I make lots of lists, and am the queen of organizing and planning. Otherwise I'm leaping from one idea to another that flutters through my brain. Did I detect a note of boredom in this post, perhaps some boredom added to your sense of loneliness?

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    1. If you did read boredom in this post, I didn't write it right. It's a memory I've wanted to write about for a long time, capture for my blog/diary that gets printed yearly for as my personal diary. It was probably my choice of introduction and closing, the contrast of being spontaneous and not that gave you that impression. When writing about memories I think it makes sense to show how you've changed, grown or was impacted by the things we've done in the past.

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  7. I was much more spontaneous when younger. Now I'm a planner and the more I have planned ahead of time, the calmer I feel. It's weird. But I also like lots of "white space" on my calendar that can accommodate "whatever comes up", but I find I'm more content to stay home that run around to this or that event or outing, so my white space becomes home time and I love it. Funny how we change over time.

    The Chicago Playboy Club was an icon! I remember growing up 40 miles west of Chicago and all the boys I knew wanted to go there; the girls were intrigued and a little jealous. One of my husband's high school classmates went on to become a Playboy Bunny! Her boyfriend's status shot sky high. I wonder what she's up to now? I don't think that "career" is long-lived, and that was in about 1970 -- Hey! You might have seen her there that night!

    I love your photo -- classic!

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    1. I ran across an article about a Playboy bunny reunion while fact checking myself for this post that took place 5-6 years ago. Apparently you are not the only one who wonders what happened to certain bunnies. I also ran into an article about the Playboy Mansion in CA that had four tunnels that ran to homes of Hollywood stars James Caan, Warren Beatty, Kirk Douglas and Jack Nicholson. I don't know why I threw this in here, I just thought it was interesting.

      I can't believe you lived in Chicago and never went to the club.

      Being spontaneous pairs up easier with lack of responsibilities so much more common when we're young, I think. The more responsibilities you have the more you need your down time.

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  8. Oh my gosh. I, too, visited a Playboy Club ... in Boston! We were barely 21 and thought we were hot stuff. I was a corn fed girl from Ohio! So glad THOSE days are over (but I guess there is still Hooters and other titillating places). Ugh.

    My idea of spontaneity is more like yours ... invite me Mon for a Tues event! Everything in my life has slowed down ....

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    1. Funny how times have changed. It wasn't that long ago when the male strip shows were the big fad.

      By the way, we all WERE hot stuff at 21. LOL

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