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It happened again. I’m talking to someone, and out of the blue, they say, “Wow, you look just like Barbra Streisand!” It used to annoy me because although I loved Barbra’s voice, I wasn’t such a fan of her nose. Which, I knew, was the main reason I looked like her. Or at least I did once I started straightening my hair. But before then, there was the time that my sister (long before I started calling her “Black”) first made the connection, albeit it in a very unexpected – and public – way.


You see, it all started with an innocent visit to Saks Fifth Avenue in the Houston Galleria. She was about to get married (not for the first time, I might add, and I probably shouldn’t mention how many engagements she had but called off), and it was only days away from the wedding. I was in from overseas, and we were doing some last-minute shopping (she liked to call it “retail therapy”) for her as I’m definitely not a “shopper” and Saks Fifth Avenue has never been my price point, although Black has often tried to explain the concept of calculating cost per wearing.

So, you may be wondering, what has any of this to do with my looking like Barbra Streisand?

I can’t remember if we started at the shoe department and were heading to cosmetics or vice versa, but we cut through an accessories area that included hats. Before I knew it, my sister tossed one at me that seemed like half hat/half wig as it had straight hair attached to it. And then said, in that older sister way that’s somewhere between a dare and a command, which leaves you no option but to “obey”,

Put it on! [Slight pause followed by uncontrollable laughter and then trying to speak while still laughing …] Look in the mirror. You are the spitting image of Barbra Streisand.

I suppose my theater degree didn’t help matters, as once I glanced into a mirror and saw she was right, I went into a really bad impersonation by singing (off-key, no less), the first few words of “People,” complete with crossing my eyes (not to make fun of people with strabismus) to achieve just the right Barbra “effect”.

Over the years, we’ve laughed at how we probably should have bought that hat, but maybe it’s better that we didn’t. At least for me as, in the years to come, my sister would put my life in a book, so heaven knows what she would have done if she could have had a photo of me in that hat. Better to leave it to your imagination.

Photograph of Jackie Aguilera courtesy of Jackie Aguilera


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I have a confession to make, which I’m sure will make you roll your eyes.


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Interesting caveat and probably true.


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Every time we meet with Jackie (Aguilera) from the Mayor’s Office of Adult Literacy and hear what she’s doing in the world of adult education, I feel like I’m back in school and having to take copious notes.


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I am more than happy to send you “homework assignments” as I come across relevant articles and research.


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Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll stick to taking notes. But that does explain why you’re so knowledgeable about literacy.


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But, reading information is very different from being at the forefront of literacy innovation. And, if we had never met Jackie, I never would have realized how literacy is more than the dictionary definition, and encompasses more than just reading and writing.
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Photo by Lynda Sanchez on Unsplash

As Black knows, going to the movies is my escape (and even sends me research about it), but she also knows that it’s all about the popcorn. So, it should come as no surprise that’s how I like to celebrate my birthday. And even though she’s not one to “celebrate” birthdays, she does indulge (or maybe the word is “tolerate”) people who do, and whenever my birthday falls on a workday, she gives me “permission” to escape to the movies.

Which is what I’m doing today on my milestone birthday, and although the “rerun” part of this post (below the line) was from last November, some things never change. Except … this year, as I’ll be waiting for the movie to start (and waiting to start eating my popcorn as I refuse to eat even a single kernel beforehand), I know I’ll be wondering, “How did I get to be 60 years old?!”

It's a running joke in my family that the only reason I go to the movies is for the popcorn. And while that isn't 100% true, it's probably close as I can't remember a time when popcorn wasn't an essential part of the experience. (I'll admit I couldn't believe it when I recently read that South Korea's banning movie popcorn in the theater!)

I can still remember seeing "Young Frankenstein" when it was first released (in 1974) at the Massapequa movie theater, which was literally at one end of an old strip shopping center. It bore no resemblance to the multiplex cinemas of today, and the concession stand offerings were very limited. It was dark and a bit dingy, and the seats were old and uncomfortable. But I didn't care because the popcorn made up for it. And while I sat through multiple showings of the movie (hey, it's still one of my favorites), I was grateful that my dad had given me enough money to get multiple popcorns as in those days, there was no such thing as the big bucket, let alone free refills.

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Photos by Red


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I know you’ll roll your eyes, but it made me smile when I found not one, but two, of Daddy’s typewriters at Mom’s house. It just brought back so many memories.


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I remember the old black one, which is probably long gone, before Daddy “modernized” and got an electric one. I remember taking typing class. And, I remember pulling an all-nighter to write, or technically “type”, my M.B.A. thesis the night before it was due.


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I still can’t believe you did that. Too bad you couldn’t turn in the handwritten version.
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