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What do you consider to be the ultimate snack food?

These days . . . rice cakes.


On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 as highest), about how popular is your last name?

1. At the most.


Who is your all-time favorite sitcom character, and why?

I have two: Frank and Marie on “Everybody Loves Raymond.” I have never been a sitcom watcher, but I loved that show. I still watch it and howl . . .

Frank, portrayed by the late Peter Boyle, was the guy who said what everyone was thinking.

Doris Roberts, as Marie, was playing a kinder, gentler version of my mother-in-law. She dressed just like her and had precisely the same hairdo, although my mother-in-law was much thinner.

My mother-in-law was like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. When BigBob wasn’t around, she would say terrible, hurtful things to me. Sometimes she even said them right in front of him yet he always managed not to hear them and would defend her when I called her words to his attention. I would dispatch him to her house, expecting him to stand up to her and for his wife and marriage. Hapless as Ray Barone, he would come home with leftovers. It was pitiful.

And early in the marriage, there was nothing funny about it. Frankly, between his mother, nutjob ex-wife and manipulative daughter, the marriage almost didn’t survive long.

You see, BigBob, an only child, could do no wrong in his mother’s eyes. To her, I was the evil interloper, i.e., the wife. The night BigBob took me to meet his mother, he told me over dinner that “she would still be cutting my meat for me if I let her.” He wasn’t kidding even though, at the time, he was 34 years old and twice divorced with a seven-year-old daughter. I almost dumped him right there and then.

In the summer of 1985, my then-future mother-in-law recommended that I read “The Total Woman” by Maribel Morgan, the 1975 book that was the ultimate laughingstock of the Women’s Movement. I remember looking at my bookshelves as she told me that — crammed with feminist literature by women like Gloria Steinem, Barbara Ehrenreich, Sondra Ray and Susan Brownmiller, just to name a few — and thinking, “Oh, my God, what have I gotten myself into?”

Over the years, we settled into a means of peacefully co-existing with each other. I avoided her as much as possible, interacting only as necessary on holidays and special occasions. I never discouraged BigBob from spending time with and helping her any way he could. There were many days that he went to her home before or after work by himself to visit with her and help her around the house which was great for their relationship and a relief to me. My kids spent a lot of time with her because she adored and spoiled them, and I would never have kept them from their grandmother under any circumstances. But I was happy to keep my distance.

Now we watch “Everybody Loves Raymond” and BigBob cringes in shame . . . he sees how like Ray he was and recognizes his mother in the character of Marie. I’ll hear him laughing in the family room and he’ll yell out, “Oh, that’s exactly what my mother would do” or “She sounds just like my mother.” When Ray is forced by Debra to go talk to his mother about her latest inappropriate remark, he sheepishly says, “There goes ol’ Bob.” And when Ray sits down at Marie’s kitchen table and dives into the leftovers, he just shakes his head and says, “Yeah, that’s exactly what I used to do.”

I laugh my butt off because, yet again, I get to say “I told you so!” It’s funny now that it is all in the past.

Main Course

Do you shop online? If so, name some sites you like to browse for goodies.

That’s the only way I shop.

I purchase my clothing — literally from head to foot — from on-line sites, in addition to contact lenses, books, DVD’s, gifts . . . I send flowers via Pro Flowers if they are going to be delivered out of town.


Fill in the blank: I think ___________ should be ___________.

I think Paris Hilton should be in the slammer where she belongs.

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