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Friday, May 14, 2004

Philadelphia, here I come, off to get my semi-annual haircut, go to Reading Terminal Market, drink wine and eat cheese and watch hours of cooking shows with my mom, and celebrate a belated Mother’s Day with said mom and a belated birthday with my brother, who turned 26 on May 9.  I love my mom and my brother so much I could write encyclopedias about them both, but because I have to leave for my train in 10 minutes, I only have time for one little brag on how smart my brother is.

How smart is my brother? 

When I was 21, I worked in the special sales department at Viking Penguin.  Special Sales sells to any account that is not a bookstore, library or school.  We’re talking mail order catalogues, corporate gift buyers, non-book specialty retailers, wholesalers, jobbers and public broadcasting (PBS) stations.  Selling to PBS was my favorite part of the job, and thus it was not long before my boss decided to let me handle all of the PBS sales.  One day I received a call from the PBS station in Scranton, PA, one of the few channels which broadcasted to my little redneck mountain town, from which I had escaped just months before.  I told the buyer that I was actually a member of her station, having just come from the area, and we had a nice little chat.

I don’t remember relating this story to my mother, but I must have, because the following Sunday night I made my regular Sunday night phone call home, at which point Mom said, “Your brother wants to talk to you.” (Brother was 11 at the time.) I heard the telltale receiver handover noises, followed by my brother’s excited little voice.  “Jenny! Guess what! Mom and I were watching Mystery, and they broke for a pledge break, and they said if you sent them money they would send you books, and they said ‘we want to thank these new members…and we want to give special thanks to one of our members, Jennifer Mathis [this would be your Bakerina’s maiden name] at Viking Penguin in New York City, who helped us get our books on time!

Dear friends, in those days I was not the experienced media whore that I am today, so even a mention on the Scranton public tv station’s pledge drive was a really big deal for me.  I was thrilled at the thought of my name being read on the air; I was touched that the buyer remembered me; and I hoped that all the kids who were mean to me in high school were watching Mystery that night (answer:  not bloody likely).  “Why, honey!,” I said to my sweet baby brother, “you’re kidding me!”

His excited little voice dropped down an octave, all excitement gone, replaced by a giggling snort.  “Yeah,” he said.  “I am.”

I know I proceeded to have a real conversation with him, followed by a conversation with my mom, but I remember none of it.  All I could remember, all I can still remember to this day, was thinking, “I’m 21 goddamn years old, living in goddamn New York City, and I just got swanked by a fifth-grader.”

Posted by Bakerina at 05:56 PM in valentines • (0) Comments
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