Thursday, November 20, 2014

"My Mother, the Model"

By Jerry Zezima
The Stamford Advocate
My mom’s the very model of the modern modeling mother. And she could soon share a runway with Heidi Klum and other model moms because she (my mother, not Heidi) began her modeling career recently at a fashion show in Stamford.

Heidi, who’s 41, has gotten a lot more exposure, mainly because she’s not shy about wearing lingerie in public. Besides, she began her career as a teenager.

My mom, who’s a bit more modest, just turned 90.

Because 90 is the new 60, which happens to be my age, my mother was asked to take part in a fashion show at Chico’s, a women’s clothing chain with a store in the Stamford Town Center mall.

“I must have good genes,” my mother said.

“Did you wear jeans?” I asked.

“No,” she replied. “I had on a pair of boysenberry slacks.”

“What about a top?” I inquired.

“I was wearing one,” my mother assured me. “In fact, I wore a couple of tops.”

“At the same time?” I wondered.

My mother sighed, because she knows I have a fashion plate in my head, and explained that first she wore a print blouse and then changed into another top with a coordinating jacket.

I was going to ask if she also wore the diamond-studded, $10-million bra that Heidi Klum famously sported on the cover of the Victoria’s Secret catalog, but I thought better of it because Chico’s doesn’t sell stuff like that and this was, after all, my mother.

“But you could,” I suggested, “be in the Chico’s catalog.”

“Yes, she could,” said store manager Terry Mrijaj, whose name is pronounced “Terry.”

“Do you know that my mother is 90?” I asked when I called to talk about the new supermodel.

“She’s amazing,” Terry stated. “She’s stylish, elegant and beautiful. Whenever she comes in, customers remark on how great she looks in our clothes. She’s a walking advertisement for the store.”

Not bad considering my mom couldn’t walk a year and a half ago, when she fell and broke her leg. But she has bounced back she didn’t bounce when she fell and is driving again. And now, she’s modeling.

“She’s a natural,” said Terry, adding that the fashion show, a breast cancer fundraiser, featured seven models, the youngest of whom is in her teens. My mom, not surprisingly, is the oldest.

Terry knows from experience because she was runner-up in the Miss Teen New York pageant when she was 18. “I’m 45 now, so I’m half your mom’s age,” she said. “I hope I look that good when I’m 90.”

My mother said that when she was 16 or 17, she was asked to model a sable coat at Levine & Smith, a fur shop in New York City.

“My father was so insulted he didn’t think modeling was very reputable that he refused to let me do it and we never went back,” my mother remembered. “So I went into nursing.”

“Those white uniforms weren’t too stylish,” I noted.

“No, they weren’t,” my mother agreed. “I wear better clothes now.”

They include the fringe skirt and black top she wore to a family birthday bash.

“How does it feel to be 90?” I asked.

“Pretty good,” she said. “I don’t feel like it and I don’t act like it.”

“And,” added my wife, Sue, who shares her birthday with my mother but is, of course, considerably younger, “you don’t look like it.”

Sue should know because she could be a model herself.

My mother’s next gig will be another fashion show at Chico’s.

“I know your mom will be a hit again,” said Terry. “She’s a star.”

Let’s see if Heidi Klum can say that when she’s 90.
Copyright 2014 by Jerry Zezima

Thursday, November 6, 2014

"Weather or Not"

By Jerry Zezima
The Stamford Advocate

I am frequently under the weather, but I seldom know whether I will weather the storm that forecasters have forecast, which is why I can’t predict what kind of weather I will be under.

Still, as Bob Dylan famously sang, you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows, which is fine with me because I am, according to people who aren’t even weathermen, full of hot air.

So I recently spoke with the only guy in America who seems to know what the weather will be, not only tomorrow but as far ahead as two years from now.

He is Pete Geiger, editor of the Farmers’ Almanac, the annual (since 1818) publication that correctly predicted the cold air that froze my shorts last winter.

“You should have worn long underwear,” Geiger said from the Almanac’s office in Lewiston, Maine, which is often chilly (the town, not the office, which is heated) even without the polar vortex that is expected to blanket the country again this winter.

“I guess I should have a blanket, too,” I said.

“It would be a good idea,” replied Geiger, who proudly added that the Almanac’s weather forecasts are up to 85 percent accurate. “We don’t have a groundhog,” he noted. “And we don’t use computers.”

Instead, said Geiger, the forecasts are based on a secret mathematical and astronomical formula.

“What is it?” I asked.

“I can’t tell you,” he said. “It’s a secret.”

What Geiger could tell me was that the Farmers’ Almanac relies, in part, on sunspots to help predict the weather. “And we almost always get it right,” he said, “so that means we are sunspot on.”

Geiger also predicted that he will live to a ripe old age because his father, Ray, was the editor of the Farmers’ Almanac from 1935 to 1994, when he died at 83.

“No editor in the history of the Almanac has died younger than that,” said Geiger,  63, who took over from his dad and has been the editor for 20 years. “It’s my insurance policy.”

“Instead of sunspots,” I offered, “you can use liver spots.”

“I spot a trend,” said Geiger, adding that the Farmers’ Almanac is “a guide to good living” and that the publication and its website,, have “lots of great stuff.”

Nonetheless, goes the old saying, everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.

“We try,” said Geiger.

“Try this,” I said. “How come all these TV weather forecasters have satellites and computers and other sophisticated equipment and most of the time they still can’t get it right?”

“I don’t know,” Geiger replied. “They ought to use woolly bear caterpillars and persimmon seeds.”

“And why,” I continued, “do they use all this silly jargon? They say things like ‘partly’ and ‘variable.’ It’s just to cover their behinds, isn’t it? And what’s a ‘forecast model’?”

“Vanna White,” Geiger guessed.

“And how about ‘heat index values’?” I wanted to know.

“I never heard of that one,” Geiger admitted.

“Do you know what all meteorologists should have?” I said.

“What?” said Geiger.

“A window,” I said. “Then they could just look outside and tell us what it’s doing.”

“Or maybe,” Geiger suggested, “they could use the Farmers’ Almanac.”

“What’s your favorite season?” I asked.

“Fall,” Geiger responded.

“My favorite Season,” I said, “is Frankie Valli.”

Geiger said he also likes winter, but that he is getting “sick of it earlier” every year. “When we forecast a long one,” he said, “people in town will high-five me. By March, they’re booing me.”

According to the Almanac’s forecast, he won’t get as many boos this winter, even though “shovelry and shivery” will be the bywords.

“It won’t be as bad as last year,” Geiger predicted, “but get out your shovel and be prepared to shiver. And that,” he added, “is no snow job.”
Copyright 2014 by Jerry Zezima