"My Blog"

Bill Cosby Bought Me Shoes
Saturday, February 7, 2015
My 'Bill Cosby' Shoes

The shoes from Bill Cosby.

I posted a story a few months ago when claims of sexual assault started pouring in against Bill Cosby.

At the time, I didn’t want to believe these stories and I told my own as a way of respectfully dissecting what I was hearing. When I posted it, I got tons of responses I hadn’t expected. Outside perspectives on my strange experience that made me see there might have been more going on than I wanted to admit.

So I took another look at my story and was a little more honest this time. I took away the filter of “I’m going to be respectful here” and replaced it with what I recall was actually going on inside my head at the time. Removing my projected ideal of Bill Cosby created a very different story after all, and it left me realizing just how much we dismiss victims of crimes and even worse – just how vulnerable we all are to people we fear and respect.

So here’s the story again – this time being more respectful of the alarms that went off in my own head, than his reputation. And, like so many of readers pointed out, it’s creepy for sure. I obviously wasn’t his type, but I can’t help but feel even more sympathetic for his victims – and like I dodged a bullet:

Bill Cosby didn’t rape me.

I realize this defies the daily claims pouring in, but it’s the truth.

I do however, have a Bill Cosby story that has nagged at me for over a decade.

I was raised on “Fat Albert,” “The Cosby Show,” and Jell-O Pudding. My own dreams of being a stand-up comedian were fueled by watching Bill Cosby riff on how he fed his kids cake for breakfast, and they loved him for it. And I loved him for it too.

When I met Mr. Cosby (everyone called him Mr. Cosby. Anything else would have been rudely familiar), I was an agent representing children’s books at William Morris. It was the 90’s. My boss asked me to work with him on his “Little Bill” children’s book series and I was psyched. It was the opportunity of a lifetime.

We were in the conference room at Scholastic where we sat down at a large table and Mr. Cosby told them how they were going to publish these books. Whether or not they wanted them wasn’t even discussed. Of course they’d want to work with Bill Cosby.

After the meeting my boss told me he had to go to another meeting and suggested I ask Mr. Cosby to lunch. The events that followed went something like this:

“Mr. Cosby, would you like to have lunch?”

“Yes.”

I suggested a restaurant but as we drove uptown he said “We’ll have lunch at my house. I’ll call my chef .”

“Uh. Okay.” Wow! This was FABULOUS!!!!!!

We got in our car and headed uptown to his town house.Mr. Cosby tapped the driver, “Pull over here.” We pulled up to a very small, very exclusive shoe store on Madison Avenue, Tanino Crisci.

He told me, “I have dinner with the Lakers tonight and need to get some shoes.”

“Uh. Okay.” I said, very aware I sounded like an idiot. I got out of the car and we walked into the store. He was greeted like royalty. He points at me and says to the sales guy “Let her try on anything she wants.”

Normally I wouldn’t think twice about trying on shoes. I love shoes. But I felt like if I tried anything on I would be obliged to buy a pair. And at $600/pair (and that was in the 90’s) I wasn’t buying anything there.

“Thank you, Mr. Cosby. But, I’m good.”

“Go on!” He said.

“No really. I’m fine.”

“Don’t insult me. Try something on you like.”

“I’m not really comfortable…”

He gave me a stern look – the kind of look my grandfather gave me when he was displeased. I did not want to see him displeased – especially since the head of my department had entrusted me with one of his biggest clients for lunch.

Okay. I could be cool about this. But I was definitely not buying shoes.

He pointed out a pair of women’s shoes to the salesman and said “She’ll try those.”

The salesman brought me the shoes and placed the beautiful little suede jewels at my feet.

I put them on. “Oh, they’re very pretty. Wow. That’s a comfy shoe. Okay. I’m done. Thank you.” I started to take them off.

“We’ll take them.” He said.

“What?!?! “Mr. Cosby….” I said shaking my head. “I can’t accept this. My mom would kill me. My boss could kill me. That’s very generous of you but I can’t. Really.”

“Don’t insult me, Sarah. Take the shoes.”

Then it dawned on me. This was a dream! Of course! Duh. I mean, if I were to tell a friend “I had the weirdest dream last night! I was shoe shopping on Madison Avenue with Bill Cosby.” Wouldn’t you laugh? I would. Because it’s impossible. It’s like Angelina Jolie showing up on your doorstep to braid your hair. It’s that strange.

So I said to him, “Can I make a phone call?” I thought if I got up to make a phone call I would wake up. I don’t know why. I was in my 20’s. People in their 20’s are stupid.

The salesman pointed to a phone in the back of the store.

I called my (then) boyfriend (who would later be my ex-husband). “You’ll never believe where I am.”

“Where are you?”

“I’m in a very expensive store on Madison Avenue with Bill Cosby and he wants to buy me shoes.” I whispered.

“WHAT?!”

I know! This is a dream, right?! It’s SO WEIRD!!!! I pinched myself and mouthed “Ow!” My arm was turning black and blue from all of the pinching.

“WHAT DO I DO??!!!?!”

“Let him buy them!” he said. I should have figured. My future ex-husband loved a freebie.

“Seriously???!!!”

“YES!!”

“They’re like $600 bucks!”

“Holy sh*t!”

“I know! I can’t take $600 shoes from Bill Cosby!”

“Sure you can!”

“I can’t! And I’m going to get fired.”

“You’re not going to get fired.”

“I’m totally going to be fired.”

“You’re not. He wants to buy you the shoes. If you don’t take them you’ll piss him off. THEN you’ll get fired. It’s not like $600 even means anything to him.”

“I’m very uncomfortable with this.”

“Take the shoes. Be uncomfortable in $600 shoes.”

“I’m going to vomit.” And I hung up.

And then I accepted the shoes. Mr. Cosby smiled. “Enjoy them.”

“Thank you, Mr. Cosby. This is really…”

He put his hand up to stop me. “Stop.”

“Kay.” Obviously, my mother had not prepared me for the proper response in this scenario. And I have to admit, as uncomfortable as the whole thing was,
a little part of me was kind of psyched about the shoes.

We got back into our waiting car and we drove to his townhouse where he had a delicious lunch, alone in his dining room, made by his chef.

And we sat at his dining room table together, drank wine and ate lunch. He grilled me about my boyfriend and asked why he hadn’t proposed to me yet.

I don’t remember the rest of our lunch very well. Just that I was careful to avoid any really personal talk and I was awed by the fact I was having lunch with Bill Cosby in his own home. I followed his instructions to enjoy my glass of wine (which was JUST a glass of wine), lunch and new shoes.

I went back to the office and dreaded the conversation I knew I had to have. I had to tell my boss that Bill Cosby bought me shoes. I was embarrassed and uncomfortable.

I was actually afraid my boss would fire me presuming I had coaxed Bill Cosby – one of our biggest clients – into buying the shoes for me. No matter how it had really gone down, I was sure he would think I had encouraged Mr. Cosby – when in fact, I felt like I had no choice.

I told my boss what happened. Luckily, he believed me.

“Should I return them?” I asked.

“No. Don’t worry about it.”

I never wore the shoes. They were uncomfortable. And wearing them made me feel awkward.

I’m not trying to turn this story to turn it into a bigger deal than it was. The stories told by Bill Cosby’s alleged victims are horrific. At the most, mine is slightly awkward. It was essentially a young agent shoe shopping with a big client. In Hollywood that’s called “Tuesday.”

But I do feel my strange experience with Mr. Cosby gives me an ever-so-slight glimpse into the embarrassment and humiliation these women must have felt, and empathy for why they kept their stories to themselves for so many years.

Intimidation is a powerful thing. So is embarrassment. And I won’t judge them.

No one should. Not unless they’ve walked in their shoes.

VACCINATE YOUR KIDS PLEASE!
Thursday, January 29, 2015

Dear Parent Who Doesn’t Vaccinate;

Enough. This isn’t cute anymore. You’ve taken down Disneyland, and possibly Chicago, something even Capone couldn’t do.

It’s not chic, it’s not hip and it’s the exact opposite of that great parenting to which you swear you’re so committed. You’re putting your children and everyone else’s at risk (YES, my child can be at risk because YOU did NOT vaccinate your child (click to read the latest story on PBS).

           READ: Measles Can Kill, And It’s Spreading. Sue Parents Who Don’t Vaccinate? Absolutely! (Forbes.com)

Please educate yourself on the facts. Don’t feel like reading? Does it cut into your “quality time”? Well here’s a video that lays it all out for you easy peasy and you can even watch it while you breastfeed your 6 year old.

Please do the right thing. I don’t want my children – or anybody else’s for that matter – to ever have to suffer from horrible diseases we have the ability to control.

Thank you.

“Just Deal With It”
Sunday, January 11, 2015

This kid is awesome.

$300 Pot Roast
Monday, November 10, 2014

I make delicious pot roast.

Seriously, it’s crazy good. And so easy. Want to know my secret?  Use a ridiculously expensive bottle of red wine.

None of the cooking magazines tell you this. I discovered it by accident.

I saw a recipe on SeriousEats.com.  I thought “Hey, Pot Roast! That should be easy…and cheap.”

So I crisped up some bacon pieces in my dutch oven (yes…bacon), braised the spice rubbed roast till brown on all sides and went to add wine. I reached into my wine rack and grabbed the first bottle of wine I saw. I don’t remember the name, only that it was a Cabernet Sauvignon.  I liberally poured half of it over the browned meat before I realized what I had done. My jaw dropped.

I looked at the label and realized I had used a $300 bottle of wine I had been gotten as a party favor from former-friend’s birthday celebration.  I had been saving it. Planning on using it one day for a special occasion.

But alas, while the wine aged beautifully, the friendship did not. And every time there was an occasion worthy of a $300 bottle of wine I passed this bottle over because drinking it only reminded me of her and the friendship that was gone.

But blindly I grabbed the precious wine, pouring it liberally over the tasty stew. And now, all that was left of that friendship was boiling and bubbling around a cheap cut of meat and some peeled carrots.

I could have cried.  I almost did.  But I didn’t.  I laughed.  Uncontrollably. And I couldn’t stop as whatever pain and sadness I had ever had about the lost friendship bubbled up and burned off and reduced leaving only a delicious and more palatable experience behind.

I guess it was the best way for the wine to go. Otherwise it could have sat on my wine rack for years to come – reminding me of the lost friendship every time I saw it. Without a doubt, if there was a  grown-up version of “when life gives you lemons…” this was it.

Would You Work At The World Trade Center?
Tuesday, November 4, 2014
The Freedom Tower courtesy of FishbowlNY

The Freedom Tower courtesy of FishbowlNY

This morning, Conde Nast moved into its new offices at 1 World Trade Center.

I don’t think I could do it. Even for a dream job at Vogue.

While it seems completely appropriate that the first tenants in the newly opened monument to 9/11 would be the gatekeepers of all things avant-garde, I have to admit I would be wildly creeped out by the idea of working and going about my daily business on top of (and in the same air space as) such a tragic event.

Of course, I completely understand the Durst Organization’s (the building developers) necessary publicity spin on this major piece of NYC real estate that could potentially bring in billions of dollars in profit if fully leased – it’s an ‘homage.’ They even named it’ The Freedom Tower,’ fully capitalizing on its horrific past in the ultimate PR spin.  It’s practically un-American to not want to work there. But is it? Is it really? Think of how much money Germany could make if they used the same PR tactics to develop Dachau?

I just couldn’t do it.

Initially, I felt awful having this gut reaction. Maybe I’m too close. My ex-husband lost half of his old teammates from his lawyer’s league basketball team in the tragic event. I can’t even pass the memorial to 9/11 (a twisted girder from the rubble of the Twin Towers) outside the Beverly Hills Fire Station, without a wrench in my gut.

But it turns out I’m not alone. On “Saturday Night Live” this weekend, Chris Rock, totally nailed it – “They should change the name from the Freedom Tower to the ‘Never Going in There Tower,’ because I’m never going in there. There is no circumstance that will ever get me in that building.”

The obvious conversation that took place about who will work on what floor further validated my instincts. According to Chris O’Shea’s article on FishbowlNY, Conde Nast will be occupying floors 2o – 44 in the tower. Everybody knows that in every building around the world, the higher up your office = the higher up you are in the company. Well, the higher-ups at Conde Nast (ironic pun intended) won the bid for the lower offices this time. Anna Wintour will be the 25th floor. The company’s lawyers, the 44th. Did she also forgo a corner office for one next the stairwell? Sorry. I’m just saying…

I am trying to imagine how I would feel going to work at the site of such an atrocity as 9/11. I would be deferential, humbled, and not a little terrified – especially since employees have been “steeped in security protocols.” I just don’t want to have to be that well-prepared to go to work every day, anywhere – unless I’m choosing to work in a war zone.

Am I wrong to be freaked out by this? Am I being anti-American? Or am I just acknowledging the feeling we would all have?

Either way, I’m never going in that building. Unless, of course, Anna Wintour calls.

Please discuss.

 

What We Miss When We Photoshop Our Kids’ School Pictures
Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Would you photoshop your child’s school picture? Would you digitally whiten their teeth, airbrush a zit or hide the braces?

Before you decide, check out my most recent article on Huffington Post: “What We Miss When We Photoshop School Pictures.”  (Click here to read the full article at http://huff.to/1vO15tV )

(And here’s the video from HuffPost Live where Nancy Redd and I talk about where all this photoshopping could lead: Waist whittling? Nose jobs? Boobs? HELP!!

Boo Boo Magnet
Thursday, October 2, 2014

In October of 2007, my son got hit in the face with a dog.

You heard me. The dog didn’t bite him, it didn’t growl, there wasn’t any attack of any kind. Ben was just sitting there petting the dog, the dog was loving it, and then the dog (a bull-dog with sharp protruding lower teeth) JUMPED up and his teeth rammed into Ben’s face ripping gaping holes in his upper lip and bottom opposite side lip. The dog didn’t mean any harm -turns out there was a donut involved.

A trip to the ER and 25 stitches later, he was regaling his kindergarten friends with stories of his valor.

Now, this might seem weird to you if you didn’t know Ben. But my son is a disaster magnet.

We go to petting zoos and he gets chased by goats. We took him to Underwood farms and a Turkey pecked him in the forehead. If there’s a toothpick on the floor, he’ll trip on it; a glass to knock over, he’ll nail it; an edge of a chair, he’ll fall off it.

I’m exhausted from trying to save him from himself.

The other day, he got nipped at by my a dog. The dog just didn’t like his vibe at the moment and decided to send a message. Boy was I pissed at that dog – Ben was innocent for sure. Just standing there. Eating challah.

I gathered my boy into my arms against his will. He was like “Mom, I’m fine. I’m okay.” Ben’s eyes were rimmed in tears he was fighting so hard to hold back. My little man. “It’s okay to cry, honey.” I told him.

Ben’s response “It’s okay mommy…I’m used to it.”

My poor boy. Even he knows it.

I’m considering a helmet and body armor. Would it be wrong to stuff his clothes with Cottonelle?

A post about my son’s first scar. Originally posted on MommyLITE in October 2009.

Look What I Made – #TBT
Friday, September 19, 2014

So the twins were busy with Legos this morning while I slept in. They came running into my room yelling over each other “Look what I made,” “Look what I made!” Ben had a Lego car and Livi had some kind of Lego crocodile. They kept shoving them in my sleepy face yelling “Maaaaaa….Look what I made! Maaaaaaaaaaaaaa….Look what I made!”

So I turned over to both of them, grabbed their little faces and said “Look what I MADE!”

Mommy wins.

This is a “Throwback Thursday” Post. Originally posted October 2009.

You Can Lead A Boy To The Playroom… #TBT
Thursday, September 11, 2014
08_1stDaySchool_BenLiv

The twins on their first day of school (kindergarten – Fall 2009!)

Thanks to #TBT  (that’s’ Throwback Thursdays’ for those less “hashtag savvy”), I now have a great idea for Thursday posts. Every Thursday I’m going to share one of my favorite stories from when my kids were little(er). I’m so into this! YAY!

I’m so glad I started blogging if only because I have this amazing diary of hysterical moments from my kids’ younger years. I always thought I’d remember these moments – you think, “How could I forget?!” But ‘forget’ you do.  The sad truth is that these moments are gone like the fog of a dream once you wake up.

If you’re willing to take a little advice here – start a journal, keep notes, write a blog! NOW! Even if you don’t show it to anybody! Capture the moments that made you laugh (and cry)…because you’ll forget them in a heartbeat – but if you write them down and save them they’ll make you laugh all over again every time you read them for years to come.

So a big shout out to the creator of “Throwback Thursdays” for keeping the good memories alive!

“You Can Lead a Boy To the Playroom…But You Can’t Make Him Have Fun”

(This was originally posted on MommyLITEonline.com on September 29, 2009. The twins were 6.)

My daughter wanted to play with her brother today.  Not because she likes him…she doesn’t. (okay, maybe she does, but she just doesn’t know it yet).

The reason she so eagerly pursued her twin was because I had decided to put an end to all electronic activities in the afternoons after school.  No TV, no Wii and no Club Penguin.  I thought, they should “interact”, “build a bond”,”play.”  Boy, were they mad.

“But MOOooooooommm…there’s nothing to do!” and they gave me their most pathetic gazes as I stood at the kitchen counter breading chicken cutlets for dinner.

“Go play.”

They stared at me.

“…With each other!”  I added and motioned between the two of them with an eggy crumby finger in case they needed a visual to understand, which clearly they did.

“Alright.  Come on, Ben, let’s go play house.”

“I don’t want to play house.”

“I played Super Smash Mario Cart Brothers the last time you asked!”

“Fiiiiiiiiiine-ah.” he said with an extra “ah” sound to emphasize his annoyance.

Livi smiled. “Okay.  I’m the mommy. What are you?”

“Dead.”

Well, you can’t say I didn’t lead the horse to water.

If The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Is A Popularity Contest, I’m Losing.
Monday, September 8, 2014

I’m unpopular.

I’ve always suspected it, but now I’m sure.

I saw the signs in elementary school. Standing by as two teacher-appointed kickball captains plucked friends from the group like old ladies looking for butter crackers at the deli. Separating the wheat from the chaff, they revealed the social pecking order until it was just me and the tiny kid with orthotics and hay fever. Turns out that kid’s reinforced shoe made him kind of valuable.

But I’m over it. At least I thought I was.

Until Facebook exposed me with its darn #alsicebucketchallenge.

If you don’t know what this is, because you’ve never been online before today, or you live under rock), the “ice bucket challenge” is when you dump a bucket of ice water on your head, post a video of the stunt online, and then chose a select few of your Facebook friends and family to do the same. If the people you nominate don’t douse themselves within 24 hours, they’re expected to donate $100.00 to ALS (a/k/a Lou Gehrig’s syndrome). Of course, if you’ve been following the news you know it could be any charity, but ALS is de rigueur among the chosen.

Sure, lots of people are bemoaning the financial and environmental toll of this stunt. Complaining about the hundreds of thousands of gallons of water wasted and its waning sense of import as it becomes a public wet t-shirt contest.  But what really upsets me is this…nobody’s picked me. No one. Nada.

WTH dudes?! I’m cool! Don’t you see all of my Facebook friends? All of my followers? All of my page likes??!!! I’m popular, damn it! People like me! (Quick…somebody tell me they like me…)

Let’s face it. There’s a party on line and I’m not invited.

The #icebucketchallenge is everywhere. Celebrities are doing it (Thank you Justin Timberlake). All of my old high school classmates are doing it. My kids’ orthodontist, my colleagues…my mom. In fact, in the time it’s taken me to write half of this article, my 11 year old son has been nominated. It’s embarrassing. All of them enjoying the knowledge they have been lumped together with other cool people in this shared experience. But alas, Justin Timberlake and I will never be lumped. And that just makes me a little sad.

Each ice bucket challenge post I read on Facebook is another person getting picked in a virtual game of “Duck, Duck, Goose,” while I wait for some authority figure to step in and make everyone who hasn’t been chosen yet raise their hand.

I click on their videos and watch them laugh and enjoy themselves. Ready to dash happily around that circle. And I wait…ready:

“Duck, Duck, Duck…”

My hope is renewed. Maybe this time it’ll be me. After all, I know this person. They like me. I have a real shot here…

“GOOSE!”

Damn. My former nanny.

It’s not fair.

I now find myself scrolling past these videos anxiously reading their tags to see if people I barely know have nominated me. It doesn’t matter we’ve never actually spoken. I’m hopeful. And when I don’t see my name it stings a teeny tiny bit. I don’t like being reminded of my irrelevance.

Of course I know this is all for a good cause. It’s good clean fun. But let’s be realistic. The reason this whole challenge has gone viral is because you have to be invited to play and who doesn’t want to be chosen? Suddenly, with I click a button, everybody’s Horshack with our hand in the air shouting “OOO! OOO! OOOO!! PICK ME! PICK ME!”

Will Oremus, senior technology writer for Slate.com made the point that these videos are more about the ‘social’ than the giving, “…the ice bucket videos feel like an exercise in raising awareness of one’s own zaniness, altruism, and/or attractiveness in a wet T-shirt.” And attractive they are; Chris Hemsworth, Robert Downy Jr.; call me crazy, but even Mark Zuckerberg looks kind of buff in his video – like he’s strutting some newfound coolness. I get it, Mark. I’d want to look good in my video too – especially for all of those old high school classmates.

Here’s the point. I’m a grown woman. I shouldn’t need other people to tell me I’m cool. It only matters that I think I’m cool. Right? RIGHT??!!!! Yeah. I know.

I just kind of wish somebody would dump a bucket of ice water over my head to prove it.

http://www.elle.com/news/culture/ice-bucket-challenge-facebook-pete-frates

Photo Credit Sally Holmes, Elle.com (I think…)