Bernie Sanders is now a fashion icon? Well, not quite, but his inaugural appearance warms the hands and the heart.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: It was a truly historic inauguration that was memorable for so many reasons ...
But who would've guessed that Senator Bernie Sanders, showing up as if going out for a gallon of milk in a Vermont snowstorm, would've been a "quiet" sensation? Was it the outfit? Was it the attitude? Was it the posture in the chair? The answer's probably all of the above. (Curious about the photo that went viral? Check out this Rolling Stone interview of the photographer.)
Red was clueless that Bernie's mittens were taking on a life of their own, with the Vermont teacher who had made them from old sweaters being inundated with orders, until Black brought it to her attention. It's not a story you'd expect Black to follow, except there was a business angle as the teacher, Jen Ellis, was now teaming up with the Vermont Teddy Bear Company to bring them to the world. Plus, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of "Vermont Swittens" will go to Make-A-Wish Vermont. As soon as Red heard that, she knew the Make-A-Wish connection would've gotten Black's attention as she's been on the Board of the local chapter, Make-A-Wish Texas Gulf Coast & Louisiana, for years (maybe decades) as well as having raised over a million dollars for the charity.
What Black didn't know though, was that the story had a connection to Red as well. When Red was growing up, but after Black had left for college, she'd go with her parents up to Vermont three to four times a year. Then, as Red got older, she continued to go to Vermont. At first by herself, and then sometimes with her husband as she dreamed of living in Vermont one day. It's a dream that she still sometimes thinks about. However, it definitely subsides when the weather in Texas dips below 40 degrees and she realizes it's probably below zero in Vermont!
It was on one of those trips, when visiting Burlington and a small town just south of there, called Shelburne, that Red discovered the Vermont Teddy Bear Company. It was love at first sight. Plush stuffed animals, a beautiful setting close to Lake Champlain, and even an in-house "doctor" that over the years mended more than a few of Red's favorite stuffed animals.
So, when Red heard that they were going to start making Bernie's mittens, aka Vermont Swittens, she couldn't get online fast enough to learn more and sign up for switten updates. And while Black may only buy them because of the Make-A-Wish connection, you can be sure that Red will be getting at least one pair as a reminder of not only how much she loved Vermont, but all the happy hours spent over many years at the Vermont Teddy Bear Company store.
How times change … there once was a fictional TV show called "Lost In Space" … now there's going to be a real-life "Seat In Space" …
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: When Red heard that "mere mortals" (translation in this case meaning non-astronauts) were going to be launched into space, all she could think of was how that sounded both scary and exciting, whereas Black, unsurprisingly, had much more pragmatic thoughts.
When Red learned that it would be Jeff Bezos, the billionaire founder of Amazon, she admits that she first rolled her eyes thinking that it seems money really can buy you anything, although she questioned why he'd potentially put his life at risk for such a daring adventure. But Black explained to her that Blue Origin, the company behind it all, had been created by him not only as a childhood dream and passion project, but to solve what he sees as a social problem.
But when Red saw the video of Bezos and his brother, Mark, and, as someone extremely close to her sister, in addition to being a business partner with her, she was touched by Jeff's comment,
Ever since I was five years old, I've dreamed of traveling to space. On July 20th, I will take that journey with my brother. The greatest adventure, with my best friend.
Unliked Red, Black has been fascinated by space exploration efforts for years (Red's love of movies, including ones related to space travel, don't count), but from the business side more so than the science. So, she has followed the billionaire space tycoons, starting with Richard Branson and his company, Virgin Galactic, then Elon Musk and SpaceX, and now Jeff Bezos. And, although Black isn't the lover of history that Red is, she appreciates the significance of the carefully selected vehicle name and associated dates,
This mission is historic in terms of space tourism but also honors traditional space exploration. The auction was announced on May 5, the day that Alan Shepard made history in 1961 by becoming the first American to fly in space, and the launch vehicle is named the "New Shephard." It will be launched on July 20, the 52nd anniversary of astronauts Neil Armstong and Edwin "Buzz" becoming the first humans to land on the moon.
But when Bezos announced that he was auctioning off a seat on Blue Origin's first crewed flight, Black wondered whether the proceeds would be applied to the cost of the flight. So, she was impressed to learn the money would be donated to Blue Origin's foundation, Club for the Future, to support educational efforts to promote science and technology among young people and help invent the future of life in space. Although she couldn't help but wonder,
So, will the day come when Amazon Prime is making space deliveries?
Sometimes you don't miss something until it's gone. But was it the movies? The escape? Or the popcorn?
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: For both Red and Black (but for different reasons), it seemed like the day (or rather weekend) would never come when Red would feel comfortable, post-pandemic, going back to the movies; but Red never expected the stumbling block would involve one of her favorite things.
If you had told Red in March 2020 that she wouldn't be going back to the movies for over a year, she'd have thought you were crazy, or maybe just setting her up to hear the plotline of a farfetched B-movie. But now, 15 months later, after first having to find a temporary solution to get her movie and popcorn "fix" and then questioning whether it was safe to go back to a theater, Red was raring to go. Until she faced an unexpected popcorn problem,
I checked the movie listing at my local AMC, and there wasn't anything I wanted to see, except for A Quiet Place Part II, having seen the original, which is all about monsters that can't see but detect their prey by hearing even the faintest sound. And therein lay the problem … I remembered how, during this literally almost silent movie, I couldn't enjoy my popcorn because I felt you could hear every crunch across the entire theater. So, the thought of a movie without popcorn was just too much for me.
Of course, Black started to explain to Red the history and business aspects of movie popcorn (theater owners initially resisted selling it), as well as to suggest she be patient as Hollywood's ready to make a comeback with plenty of summer blockbusters. But Black stopped short of talking about how the movie industry will probably be changed forever by the pandemic, instead telling her,
Forget about the popcorn. Think about the fact movies let you "escape real life" for a few hours, and you come out refreshed and with less stress. Which carries into the workweek. So, the sooner you start going back to the movies, the better – for both of us!
Rainbows are beautiful and suggest something magical. But during Pride Month, they also become a symbol of love, support, and understanding for the LGBTQ community.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Until yesterday, when Black explained it to her, Red, like many people, didn't realize that Pride Month evolved from a tragic event, the Stonewall Uprising, into both a tribute and a memorial before it became a worldwide celebration of the LGBTQ community.
In fact, Red believes that if she hadn't pursued a theater degree at college, she might have gone decades without getting to know someone that was gay. However, looking back, she's sure that she had high school classmates who would later be able to identify themselves as LGBTQ, but back then had to keep it a secret in fear of being bullied, ostracized, or possibly even disowned by their families.
I was a freshman at Wake Forest University, a Baptist school in North Carolina in 1980, so not someplace you would expect to find an outwardly gay person. However, I spent almost all of my time at the theater department, which is where I first met "Bryan." You couldn't help but become friends with him because he was so incredibly funny and talented. But there was something else about him, and although initially I couldn't quite put my finger on it, I soon realized that he was gay. I had grown up sheltered (that's an understatement) in a neighborhood that was almost exclusively Jews and Italians, and now was at a school that was even more "white bread" than that, but my only thought was, "Ok, cool, now I know a gay person."
Black, being five years older and having gone to school in New York City and then London, was more worldly than Red (that's not saying much), not to mention she tended to date much more than Red did.
I was at London Business School, and this was 1978, back when private clubs and discos (like Tramp's and Annabel's) were all the rage. One of the other Americans, Bob, a very handsome Black man, invited me to go clubbing with him. I got all dressed up for a night on the town, and the minute we walked into the first club, I felt like a kid in a candy store – it was filled with incredibly good-looking men, and I seemed to be one of the few women. The odds were in my favor. But then, the penny dropped, and I asked Bob if this was a gay club. It was, and I think it was his way of letting me know he was gay (or maybe he thought I already knew), but I thought it cruel. It was like being in that candy store, but being told you can look, but you cannot touch.
As Baby Boomers, our opinions and attitudes toward LGBTQ were influenced by our first encounters, so we saw them as people who merely had different sexual preferences. Full stop. Red's daughters, who are 18 and 22, laugh at the fact their mom and aunt can remember their "first time" as so many of their friends are LGBTQ. No big deal.
So, what can we each do to celebrate Pride Month and show our support? Of course, Red loves the idea of cooking, watching movies, and reading books, while Black knows there are many highly effective workplace activities. But what's most important is finding a way to commemorate and bring awareness to a population that includes our families, our friends, our neighbors, our communities.