Pop died. It was expected, but still difficult for everyone. He had been so ill for such a long time, and there really wasn’t anything we could do except visit him in the hospital, and talk about everything except the obvious, as we watched him become thinner and thinner and weaker and weaker with each passing day. He was always such a big man, with a round Santa belly and a hearty laugh. When he found something really funny, his laugh would turn into this wheezy giggly sound that went on and on and on. You couldn’t help but burst out laughing when he did. I’ll always remember him that way. My favorite childhood memories of my grandparents’ house are of sitting on his lap while he smoked a sweet-smelling cherry tobacco pipe and laughed at tv shows like Hee-Haw or retelling some old story.

Despite the sadness of saying goodbye to Pop, it was a good summer overall. I still do magic shows and conventions with my parents. The most current act is called “The Fonda Slicer”, where I am cut in half by a giant blade in full view of the audience with no big box and no covered table bottom that could hide the secrets of what is really going on. The audience freaks when my parents then start sawing back and forth right before their eyes. There is no gore like in some of the old-time horror magic shows with a circular saw spewing blood all over the curtains while the woman screams.

I handed down my crown to the next Miss Schenectady County Teen-Ager. The pageant director asked me to do the introductions and color commentary for the contestants while they did their swimsuit and evening gown walks. I also had to give my “farewell” speech. Instead of the typical canned and corny polished tribute to saving stray animals, feeding hungry children, and creating world peace, I just said what came to mind, which wasn’t brilliant. But I did thank my parents for all their support in life and for driving me all over the place to the different events throughout the year. I then thanked “My boyfriend Lou…” awkward pause “…for being Lou.” I really should have planned what to say about him because I could not come up with any examples of how he supported or encouraged me.

I may not have nailed my public speaking tribute to Lou, but I am pretty darn proud of the seat covers I made for his Grand Prix. I got some brown fuzzy material that matches the car color. I hand embroidered an L, for Lou, on the fabric for the driver’s seat and a J on the other, which could be either for Jo or Joy. It will probably last as long as the car does anyway.

School is going well. I’m on the board of the Hotel Technology Club and a student member of the Hotel Sales Management Association. Between school, the clubs, magic shows, and working at Ramada, I’m pretty busy. I like working the weekend 7am-3pm shifts the best, but I also work 3pm-11pm after school. The weekend is great because it isn’t so busy, there aren’t as many managers around, and Bruce and I typically work together on our own. We have so much fun that I look forward to going to work when we’re on the same shift. He stands at the Bellman’s station drawing naked women and big superhero or creature-type characters like you’d see in a comic book; there is no question he will be a successful artist. Even the naked women look like they could kick anyone’s ass. They are strong and muscular, but also sexy and beautiful. All the guys working here obsess about females, and practically drool over his drawings like porn. If an actual woman comes through the lobby, they are all like dogs watching a steak go by; their heads follow in unison, and the conversations come to a halt until she is out of sight.

Bruce always gets the attention of every girl at work. He has a magnetic personality and sense of humor that makes other people happy to be around him. If he is quiet, it is only because he’s drawing. He is amazing, and it’s no wonder that all the pretty girls like him so much. We have become close friends and have so much fun at work, but he definitely sees me as just a buddy, because he doesn’t flirt with me even a little, and he is flirting all the time with every other female.