Thursday, November 18, 2021



I have been the titular head of an all-female household for all my adult life: three wives, three daughters, three granddaughters. They all smell better than boys and I have been more than sanguine about not having to impart any of the manly arts (as if I knew them) to any of my offspring. Girls’ weekends with Dad have been a Rosenzweig tradition for over five decades. I revel in their company.

All of that appears to be going through a period of adjustment. My youngest grandchild now has dyed brown hair, eclipsing the original blonde, has cut it shorter, and has announced that Alex is the forename he has chosen to replace the one given by my daughter all those years ago.

It is one thing, I thought, to be a Jewish kid in an expensive all-girl Catholic school, but how would it work being a Jewish boy there?

“Just fine,” we were told, and Alex would not be the only one. The times they are a-changin.’

In the great Rosenzweig tradition of DTD (Don’t Tell Dad) I was, of course, the last to learn of all this. Alex (nee Zoey) came to Fisher Island from California on a recent break from school to fill me in.

“I understand my role here,” I said to my grandchild. “All I have to do is love you and support your decision. I’m okay with all that.”

The sixteen-year-old, sitting beside me on our deck overlooking the Atlantic, smiled.

“There is something I am a bit sad about,” I then added. “I have about two thousand photos in my cell phone and my very favorite of all of them is a picture I took of you a year or so ago where you looked like a young Jean Moreau. I even had it printed in black and white. That beautiful girl is now going to be just a memory.”

The fact that this new familial edition (addition?) now looked like a handsome version of a young Mick Jagger did not go unnoticed.

“I’m only worried about one thing,” I said, “I know you are too smart to spend much time traveling around Alabama, deciding which public bathroom to enter… and you are bright enough, verbal enough, and charming enough to get through whatever life you choose. What concerns me is that you are very small for your age. Not much of a handicap for a female, but it can be a real draw-back in the world of men.”

I suggested she visit a pediatric endocrinologist to find out if human growth hormone would be a viable solution. “Mom would never agree to that,” the only teenager left in my family answered.

“I’ll talk to your mother,” I said conspiratorially, and got a grateful smile in return.

My daughter later listened to my thoughts on the matter and has agreed to my suggestion. We look forward to the doctor’s diagnosis. All other hormonal and potential surgeries will await the accumulation of some more birthdays for the youngest in our family.

Later, as I sat alone on my sun-drenched deck, a line of dialogue I had once written for Christine Cagney came to mind: “Change equals psychological loss.” My fictional TV cop would then smile as she would add, “… even change for the better.”

Despite COVID, and my being a vested participant in the aging process, these continue to be good times for me. On this day, as I thought about the quality time with my youngest in a chain of six, the buzzer on my cell phone, reminding me of that night’s family dinner, interrupted my reverie.

Two old family friends would join us at the restaurant. More than any others, they have always demonstrated a genuine interest in my kids and grandkids. As we prepared to take our seats at the dinner table I asked for attention---then--- savoring the moment, made a special introduction to them of Alex, my first, only,…and most favorite… grandson.

A better storyteller might well have the tale end there but I must add this epilogue for it includes the look on my grandkid’s face… along with that of her mother, my youngest child. It turns out that moment of introduction was something special, and I am so glad to have been there to enjoy it with them and to now share it with all of you.

Barney Rosenzweig

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