Sunday, December 13, 2009

Good luck Tippy

My niece Angelina has finished school, and won't be here four nights a week.  She's been staying with me since last May.  I know I've helped her a great deal.  I made it my business to provide her with a quiet, stable home.  Every young person starting out in life deserves this.  Especially women.  The first freedom is economic after all.  Bring home your own bacon. But she has certainly brought life and light into my life as well.  I liked the fact that in the summer when I got home from teaching and she got home from school, we'd take Molly, and get an iced coffee at TAZZA on the corner.  Angie always got the iced mocha with extra chocolate syrup.  Being 30 years older, I got the plain iced coffee with skim milk.  Once she brought home a miniature lemon tart that was so bitter she threw up in the bathroom.  I honestly couldn't stop laughing.

Then of course there was the time she wrangled fifteen sponges from behind my kitchen counter.  I wrote about this in an earlier post. She was Felix and I was Oscar.  That's the Odd Couple for those of you who don't know your Neil Simon.  I hadn't cleaned out my fridge in a very, very long time.  When she asked my why, I said, "I can't deal with washing out every semi-empty jar of olive tapenade, peanut butter, jelly, spaghetti sauce, apple sauce, horseradish, salad dressing and marinated olives that's been sitting there for about a year."    So one night, with steaming hot water running into the sink and bleach, she systemically and efficiently did the job.  Of course, I joined in, but I was merely the lieutenant to her general.  This was her mission.  Almost impossible if you ask me, but she did it.

Lately we had been taking turns making dinner.  One night two weeks ago, I trudged home in the dark, from the Bronx, completely exhausted.  I walked into a bright clean kitchen and  fresh Fratelli ravioli for dinner.  Last Tuesday I made lemon chicken cutlets and mashed potatoes.  She always had Cheez-Its, Lucky Charms, milk, yogurt, and raspberries in the house.  One morning I woke up, walked into the kitchen and found her at the kitchen table eating cereal and bagging up her lunch at the same time.  She had two plastic baggies in her lap.  She was filling one with salad greens and another with tomatoes. 

I loved hearing about her bitch clients who didn't tip even though she transformed them.  The woman who came in with orange hair.  The woman with 100 foils in her hair.  She had all the gossip; the petty jealousies and the competition, the teachers she liked, and the teachers she hated. But most of all I loved watching how much she loved what she was doing.  Sometimes it was hard.  Her youth. Her vitality. Her belief in love, in marriage and happily ever after.  I truly hope I was able to mask my cynicism and even hope that some of her optimism rubbed off on me. 

The last night she was here, we ordered in Thai and split a bottle of wine and watched Untamed Hearts with Christian Slater and Marisa Tomei.   Saturday morning, I decided to get up and have breakfast with her.  When I walked in the kitchen, she said, "I'm sad Tippy."   I know how she felt.  I was sad, too.  Tippy BTW is our mutual nickname for each other.  Don't ask why.  It's one of those you-had-to-be-there things.

I know I will certainly miss her.  I ask myself; are you going to clean the house on Monday even though Angie won't be here on Tuesday?  Are you going to continue to keep the fridge clean?  The floors washed?  I think so.

Good luck, Tippy.  You will always have a home in Brooklyn.


  1. What a great chance to get to know your niece. Any kind of change like that is hard. There's a gap now. I wish Angelina all the best. She seems like a lovely young woman.

  2. Thank you for helping "tippy" and giving her a place to stay to ease up her conmmute ! I am grateful for you doing this !

  3. Dear Lisa: She is lovely young woman, and I will really miss her.