• the bugs and us


      My parents, like the Monarch butterflies, wintered in Central Mexico. Fleeing icy Manhattan to join their friends in Palm Beach or Palm Springs would have been too easy. Instead, after my father retired from dentistry at 80, they set up house in Ajijic, a small lake-side village outside Guadalajara with a big ex-pat community […]

  • to look or not to look


    Hunting an illustration for an essay about my father’s late-life mutation into a skirt-chaser, I googled “lecherous old men painting,” and up popped Susanna and the Elders. There were dozens of versions. The paintings depict a biblical story of lechery, a popular subject in the Renaissance and beyond, and fit my subject only too well. […]

  • diagnosing the dirty old man


    This essay was previously published in a somewhat different form on Cognoscenti.wbur.org on April 22, 2015.   The stock character of the dirty old man dates at least from the Romans and is a comic staple today; but, when your own father becomes that character, it’s no joke. If it’s someone you’ve always loved and […]

  • Dashed Hopes That Keep Giving


      Shortly after taking up writing in my late 40s, I finished a memoir piece that seemed an honest but sympathetic portrayal of my contentious family. A noted writer I’d had the nerve to show it to gave it his stamp of approval. So I took an even bigger chance and sent it to my […]

  • family miser


    The journey into old age is not all downhill. In fact, one of the pleasant surprises is the fresh, hilltop perspective that it offers on the past. Now, nearing 70, I am more inclined to see the important people in my life in the context of their own backstories and times. The inconsistencies in the […]

  • Glimpsing the Father Who Was


    Watching my widowed father age as he neared 90 was like watching an old photo fade: every time I saw him, he was a little less himself. Day by day, Leo, a humanist, a devoted Central Park South dentist, a lover of opera, golf and political debate, shriveled into a generic old man, irascible and […]


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