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They're usually shaped like hearts, which seems appropriate since I'm in love with them. Always have been, always will be. And I'm an equal opportunity pretzel lover, enjoying both soft and hard ones, although I admit I'm partial to a hot, straight out of the oven, pretzel. Which is why when I visited the Farmer's Market in Philadelphia (Pennsylvania is the pretzel-making capital of America) a few years ago, it was like pretzel nirvana, although I refuse to publicly admit how many soft pretzels I ate that day.

So, how do I explain my pretzel obsession? I'm not sure I can, although one of my earliest memories of New York City (Black and I grew up on Long Island, about a 35-minute train ride from the City) is of the soft pretzels sold on almost every street corner. Depending on the vendor, the outside can be soft or crunchy, different amounts of salt, and sometimes cold, sometimes warm, yet rarely hot. But always huge and satisfying. And although I've tried various topping, I prefer mine straight up, hold the mustard. (On the rare occasion Black eats a pretzel, she even rubs off all the salt!)

Black would be more than happy to explain the business reasons behind the introduction of hard pretzels, but I'm more interested in taste testing pretzel shapes such as pretzel crisps, which are perfect for people who prefer thinner pretzels but not sticks. But my all-time favorite hard pretzel was introduced to me by a good friend (thank you, Bernie!) and is aptly named Unique product, Pretzel Shells. They're hollow, light, and extremely crunchy. But be warned! It's almost impossible to have just a handful.

However, I can't think about pretzels without remembering the "pretzels in the pantry" story,

Several years ago, Black and I were working from her beautifully decorated high-rise when I became hungry, so went into her pantry. It's truly magazine-worthy, as everything's in matching clear canisters (it's like an ad for The Container Store) with food artistically displayed based on their colors and textures. (No, I'm not kidding!) And before Black could stop me, I scooped up a handful of pretzels, and as I began munching on them there was a sickening taste and one word immediately came to mind … RANCID! Only Black would think of pretzels as a decorative item.

So why all this reminiscing about pretzels? Well, it's National Pretzel Day! And although I could easily commemorate the day by simply grabbing a bag of pretzels from my pantry or venturing out to my local mall to get a fresh soft pretzel, I'm considering doing something I've never done,

I love pretzels. I love to bake. Yet I've never tried to make soft pretzels. So, what better way to celebrate National Pretzel Day? Although, I admit I'm a little hesitant. Not because they may not turn out good, but because they may turn out too good! Because, to a pretzel lover like me, a tray of freshly baked, hot, soft pretzels that could be devoured in the privacy of my home would be just too much of a temptation to pass up.
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Red's Head

Based on the "hints" in your Ghosting post, it sounds like your recent "romance" wasn't quite a Lady GaGa "bad romance", but, well, a frustrating one.

Black's Head Black

Interesting comparison, as years ago Gaga revealed that she is drawn to bad romances, but is not sure if she goes after them or they find her. Regardless, my "relationship" ended in the dating stage and never really became a romance. Either when I dated him almost 30 years ago, or recently. Although, this time, I thought it had potential.

Red's Head

I was amazed that you were even willing to "rekindle" the relationship as you're not exactly a believer in "recycling" relationships, as I think you once phrased it. In fact, I thought you were pretty adamant about the concept of not repeating your mistakes.
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Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

It started when Black sent Red a LinkedIn post about Louis Armstrong, asking her to "connect the dots" (one of Black's favorite things to do). Red knew that he was one of the most distinctive and talented jazz musicians in American history, but it was a complete surprise to learn that he had such a strong connection to a Jewish couple that immigrated from Lithuania and that he wore a Star of David for most of his life to honor them. That alone made it a "truth is stranger than fiction" story. The fact it's also a touching story about kindness and love makes this, at least for Red, even better than fiction.

Black, who prefers the pragmatic aspects of Armstrong's unusual journey – from being an impoverished black boy to an extraordinary career as a musician, singer, and composer – and sees it as a story of overcoming barriers, realizing your potential, and finding freedom (and she discloses an interesting connection between Armstrong and Independence Day).

Our July column, "RED & BLACK … The Sound Of Freedom," connects all those dots and is about so much more than surprising facts about Louis Armstrong. It's also about the power of music, inspiration, and hope, not to mention a very different way of looking at freedom.

Want to read other columns? Here's a list.

Everyone laughs and wants to hear the story when I mention that I was recently "ghosted" by someone I had dated. What I find interesting is that ghosting has become so prevalent in today's society (and is not restricted to dating) that there is a term to describe the sudden "disappearance" of someone who wants to avoid all future contact with you.

Going back decades, I know there have been first dates that, at the time, I thought went well. But, after getting the "I'll call you" line … I never did. As a teenager, I can remember anxiously waiting for the phone (a landline tethered to the wall – and yes, I am that old) to ring, not wanting to go out and possibly miss the call. And, being very disappointed by the silence. Now, I cannot even remember who they were.

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