Photo taken by Black

Although I have subscriptions to The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal (thanks to Black), it's primarily for their arts sections, as I love their coverage on movies, theater, and TV. I try to quickly leaf through the other sections (I feel guilty just sending it straight to recycling) in case there's anything that might be remotely interesting or relevant to Red & Black. But I never expected memories of my high school senior prom to come flooding back … thanks to the business section of The Wall Street Journal.

It brought me back to the spring of 1980 (yes, I'm that old), and as my high school graduation rapidly approached, so did the senior prom. I wasn't dating anyone, and even though it was "back in the day" when girls didn't ask boys out on a date, I decided to invite Carlo, a boy I was good friends with, although I definitely "like liked" him. All girls reading this will know exactly what I mean. For boys, well, you can probably figure it out.

Anyway, I summoned up the courage and asked, and much to my surprise, no make that shock, he accepted. So, you may be thinking, ok, well, this all sounds pretty normal and uneventful, even if it was decades ago. What's the big deal? And what could this possibly have to do with a newspaper article?


Well, at the time, I was living in Massapequa, on Long Island. And although Carlo and I had been classmates at Plainedge High School, he had moved to Switzerland the prior year when his dad, who worked for Alitalia, had been transferred. We had kept in touch writing "old-fashioned" letters (keep in mind, in those days there were no internet or cell phones, and international phone calls were very expensive) and I hadn't seen him in almost a year. So, I never expected he'd respond to my invitation with a letter saying that he'd love to take me to the prom and that he'd be flying in for prom weekend.

Which is why, when I saw the WSJ article stating, "Alitalia, Once a Carrier of the Jet Set, Flies for the Last Time," it brought back special memories from years long gone. Of course, I mentioned it to Black, and although I didn't expect a warm and fuzzy reaction, I was a bit taken back by her response, as she totally missed the point,

Alitalia was a unique airline that never seemed to be run as a business but more as a brand that represented the glamour and romance of "La Dolce Vita" (the good life). Just the mention of the name makes me think of Hollywood stars jetting off to a Roman holiday. And, is totally in keeping with your date flying across the Atlantic to go to your prom, although I am guessing that his flight was free.

I started to explain how for us "mere mortals" getting on an international flight (whether free or full price) might not be as glamorous as it once was, but it's still a big deal. Especially when you're a teenager traveling alone through customs. And how I was flattered by this grand gesture. I even thought about asking her how she would've felt if it had been her prom date. Instead, I decided to say nothing and quietly enjoy the memory. On my own. Which, thanks to Carlo, I wasn't for my senior prom.

So, when Black mentions Redhead Appreciation Day, I know it’s related to Red & Black and not her being “nice” and giving me a day off (or telling me that she appreciates me). And when she asks, “What is it like to be a redhead, Red?” part of me wants to reply, “What’s it like not to be a redhead?” because, for my entire life, I’ve been “Red.” (There’s a story there, but I’ll get to it later.) The honest answer is, well, I never thought about it, until now …

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Photograph of Jackie Aguilera courtesy of Jackie Aguilera


red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

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


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

Interesting caveat and probably true.


red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

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.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

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


red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

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


Black assets.rebelmouse.io

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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