When I was still in feety pajamas, I’d use my parents’ bed as my hospice.  Whenever I was home sick, after waking quite early, I’d claw my way to the top of the stairs and crawl into the folds of their bed, the warm soft sheets smelled like Kerri lotion and my mother.  My father would get dressed and watch the traffic report.  My mother was already in the kitchen, coffee percolating, cupboards opening.  I imagined she was leaning down to the cabinet beneath the junk drawer, pulling out one brown paper bag instead of two.  I miss the sounds of that house, the sounds of family, up around me.  I wanted to keep them there, with me, in the bed.  I didn’t want them to have days without me.  I’d whine when they kissed me goodbye.

My mother would leave to play tennis but would return before noon with matzo ball soup, ginger ale, and Charms lollypops for my throat.  I’d stir the ginger ale flat with the lollypop as my spoon.  Then I’d search for hidden pictures in Highlights magazine and play with the Yes & No Invisible Ink book.  Mad Libs wasn’t fun without a friend to shock.  I could only play with Wooly Wally for so long (a magnetic game where you moved shaved bits of magnet to create hair, a beard, a pirate eye patch). If I was home sick for a few days, I’d learn the television schedule and actually look forward to my next day at home. I knew to play the Blockbuster Video, Little Darlings, when the soap operas began to air.  When it was over, it was usually time for Inspector Gadget, and then Lea would be home to keep me company and play with plastic dolls and their snap on clothing.  Before my father returned home from work, during Three’s Company, and after dinner was tented in aluminum foil waiting for his arrival, my mother would check in on me.
“Can I get you anything else, Stephanie?”
“No, just stay with me.  Stay here and hold my hand.” 
She’d twitch her nose and decide to stay.  “Just for a little while.”
“Hold my hand.” 
“Stephanie, that’s how germs spread, through the hands.”  She might have held it anyway.  I’m not sure.  I just remember that she stayed longer than she said she would.  She’d sit on the bed, propped up against her pillows, with her knees bent as she flipped through a magazine using one hand, starting from the back.  I was afraid to change the channel, worried she’d realize time and want to get out of bed to do the things that mothers do. 

My favorite days were weekends when my father was home sick with a cold.  He’d plug his nostrils with toilet paper and watch black and white movies from his bed.  I’d rub his bald head with a paper towel because it felt greasy to me.  He didn’t mind.  I suppose that’s how I felt about back scratches and hand holding when I was sick.  I never let anyone touch me, except when I was sick.  That’s how my parents knew I wasn’t faking it.  I was more open to affection when i was sick.  Spending time with my father meant so much to me; I’d even watch what he wanted, just to keep him near me.

It’s why now, when I’m in bed with you, I really don’t care what we watch.  Baseball.  Football.  Tennis.  I really don’t care; I just want you near me, holding my hand.  It feels like that’s all I need sometimes.  Okay, that and maybe some Anne of Green Gables.



  1. Creeping across the shoes and boxes in the adjoining closet to the safety of my parents' bed in the middle of the night. Mom spoiling me when I was sick with a breakast-in-bed of soft-boiled eggs and toast. Watching the sunrise with my dad from our kitchen window while he got ready for work. My sweet-smelling grandmother, tucking me in at night. Ah, the memories.

  2. I see what you mean when you say that it feels like that's all you need.
    The moment when I put my back by his chest and he puts his arms around me is when I feel that problems, fights, life, can hit me but not kill me!
    Who cares? I have all I need.

    Really liked this post!

  3. Now I can't get the Inspector Gadget song out of my head; it's turned into a song worm that's going to keep me awake! Heh. Great entry, as always. You made me remember when I would be up past my bedtime, pretending to be asleep so I could watch Starsky & Hutch with one eye open. I knew my folks wouldn't walk me back to bed until it was time for the news.

  4. Ginger Ale.
    Spin & Marty and the Hardy Boys.
    The transistor radio blaring out "December 1963/Oh What a Night" every hour. (Hey, I was sick in the 70s.)

    The bed FEELS different when you're sick… the room looks different by the light of day when you're usually in school and the rolled up socks and toys man the watch until you get back.

    Oh, and whatever became of Goofus and Gallant?

  5. You know, Stephanie, I don't think anyone really hates you, I just think you've made yourself a very easy target.

    I don't particularly care for your style of writing, but I'll be honest and say that I read your blog every day. Sure, there's an element of schadenfreude involved but you've also obviously touched a nerve.

    The furor that has been going on in the (god I hate this word) blogosphere this week has been extremely entertaining for alot of people but I do understand how hard it must be to be the target of so much hostility.

    As I'm sure you already know, this is the bad side of fame and success. Better to get the training in now so you're prepared to face an even larger audience when the book comes out.

    Best of luck.

  6. I am the same way. I'm not very open to affection, but when I'm sick all I want is for someone to sit with me and hold my hand. Or smooth my hair, or rub my back. Anything, as long as someone is there with me. I loved this post.

  7. I've had the sniffles lately. I want my youth back! My kids have school starting and the stay home days will begin…Ah, motherhood.

  8. Anyone remember the feeling of watching daytime tv for the first time when home sick? I couldn't believe there was a world going on outside school.

  9. My father passed away when I was young. I have no memories like that. I envy you for that but know my kids will be the recipients of extra love to recall in their later years.

  10. Darling, have you clicked away to aid the cause or is your goal in life to suck the good out of it?

  11. goofus and gallant are still tearing it up in highlights for children. i have to say, i always liked goofus. gallant was such a prig.

  12. "You know, Stephanie, I don't think anyone really hates you"

    Wellllll… I actually think they might. They will still buy your book though, and that's really all that matters.

  13. Hi Stephanie

    I appreciate the fact you're donating money to the cause, it's great you're encouraging your readers to do so. But as the writer of a highly read website, don't you also have a responsibility to report on what's going on with such a tragedy? A hint on the responses of the American public to the shocking inadequacy of their present administration? You're more intelligent than a chick-lit writer, and your prose is far better and creative than some of the posts you write would suggest. You can have an opinion and express it, and allow politics to sometimes creep in. You're a role model to many people, your blog is an escape for those with humdrum lives, but it can also be, occasionally, a vehicle for more than guides on dating.

    Or do you not have an opinion? I'm not trying to be devil's advocate and bitchy, I'm genuinely curious and totally into disseminating knowledge as far as possible. I'm so shocked by this whole scenario. Check out Matthew Good's fantastic blog (link on my site) for an excellent roundup of the current views on Katrina and the govt's responses.

  14. Mimi
    I too am blown away about the scenes of suffering and seemingly preventable loss of life on the Gulf Coast. However, Seinfeld will be here next week and I don't expect to hear about the subject from him. As you stated, Stephanie is a talented writer and her one and only subject happens to be her life. This is not where you look for comments on trickle-down economics or the peasant uprising in Bolivia. My guess is she most likely does not want to be your or anyone else's role model. Does she have thoughts on the subject? Probably, but she doesn't necessarily owe them to you. There are literally hundreds of sites where you can get this kind of commentary, why look for it here?

  15. i like to read steph's blog as a break from all the images in the world. just for a few minutes, i like to forget about the lootings and the wars, and endulge in her stories. keep on writing your stories steph, and people will keep on reading. :)

  16. i do think people like stephanie – people who have the monetary means and the social clout – hold a certain degree of responsibility.

    i hope she puts some of her book advance towards something other than herself. from what i've on her blog, though, i'm not going to hold my breath.

  17. Most men will never admit this, as we are too busy sublimating our victory energy in sports or pints after a rough loss, that there are times that we just want someone to hold on to at the end of the day. For me, I like to be alone when I'm sick-I tend to bark like a rabid basset hound(and have just as much bite). But when it comes to being alone on a snowy night, nobody wants to be alone-women are vocal about it, and men make phonecalls in the middle of the night, looking for the hook-up, just to lie about it(pun intended).

    I think that is why so many men make the call to ex's. It isn't necessairily about sex as it is about the validation that we are still alive and we want to be close to someone, even if that someone is toxic for us-the point is that we need it, we really do crave it. But how we show it, that is another story entirely.

  18. ciao stephanie!!!!!!!!!!!!

    i'm from genova, italy… my englih..ops.. american (!) it's terrible…
    i read you from a journal… VERY COMLIMENTS!!!

    come to see my blog… if you have time to … perdere, come si dice in inglese???

    ciao… a presto!!!

  19. Stephanie posted that people who can't give money should click ads(which she can't say due to terms of service). the people reading ARE ALREADY ON HER SITE and would be taken from her site. how is she profiting? Jealousy is ugly. You are ugly. I don't know what else she could have done to be more responsible. and what she does besides that(which i'm sure is ample) isn't promoted. you should celebrate that, you idiot. Go tell everyone else what to do.

  20. Whether you aspire to be a role model or not, when you get into a certain prominent position within society you become one. It's hard, I guess, to still keep yourself genuine whilst living up to the immense pressures of suddenly having people adore you and copy you and think you're perfect, and find even the flaws you write about adorably chic. What I was suggesting was that perhaps Stephanie could reveal what she thinks about the political situation in the States as the Hurricane has made it so horribly pertinent. And the kind of readers who aren't well informed about this, but see Stephanie as a role model will become better informed. It's funny, sometimes, how much of life and writing, even on blogs, exists in a vacuum. It saddens me because you Americans should be the most loud and vociferous against what's going on in your country – it's affecting your liberties after all, your rights – and many are, but most aren't. If we're comfortable, it's easier to forget I think. Sorry for hijacking this blog, I've just gotten in from work and it's 4am and my brain is fizzing. The last comment I made wasn't intended to be a slur, it was an observation, a suggestion, because I spend a lot of time shaking my head in confusion as to why more people don't articulate their views when such horrors as Katrina occurs and are needlessly exacerbated through government inaction. OK, politics class over, sorry for this, thinking too hard.

  21. jen's an idiot- you're incomprehensible. calm down and try figure out what you have to say before you spatter everyone with filth.

    stephanie- i think it was rather lame of you to hack on a fleeting reference to the tragedy on your most recent post. It suggests you are doing what you think will get people off your back, rather than either

    a. sticking to ur guns and persisting with the narcisstic narrative which seems to attract some people.
    b. dedicating honest and altruistic time and an opinion to your fellow countrymen who are in the shit

    i'm sure u are reading the opinions that are bouncing round the net, but do you want your posts to be hastily edited accordingly? because thats what is becoming increasingly apparent…and forgive me if i'm wrong, but i dont think you'll be able to recall your novel in to practice a similar exercise should critics have a negative opinion.

  22. I have loved reading your blog for a while now, and this post is one of my faves. As Lea is one of my closest friends, its really great to read more childhood stories about the two of you! Congratulations with your success so far

  23. i'm happy! I have found a link…www.altavista.it with the translator!!! I have passed nearly 1 hour in front of yours blog… but at least I have understood something!!!
    ciao stefy!!!(by chicca)
    bau bau! (by ernest… my english bulldog!!!)

  24. Come on, I think through Stephanie Klein's stories and articles we should be able to establish what kind of person she is; someone who donates money because she cares, not for any form of publicity. It's pretty obvious we live in an age of cyinisism.

  25. Hmm, I think everywhere you look, on television, on the radio, on almost every channel, the tragedy of Katrina is written everywhere. People are aware, and maybe Stephanie avoids politics—-and that's "okay". Stephanie's blog is refreshing because she doesn't opinionate her views on politics—because then these people would really attack her. Can you imagine?

    The whole ordeal over in the south is very sad, however, do you want your source of news to be 'blogged'? (Not that Stephanie couldn't write a news article) but you get my point, right?

    She at least gave info regarding how to donate. I appreciate that. She acknowledged it—gave important info- and moved on without an opinion due to hateful people (I think)

    Stephanie– okay I am done ranting my thoughts regarding your political views. I just wanted to say how much this post hit me. I have to admit, I slept with my parents till I was five years old. It was comforting for me to know that my parents were there when I was sick, or not. Now, it's nice to have a partner (espcially when I am sick, I'm a big baby) but just the thought of having someone you love near you. It's nice. Some people prefer being solo and alone when they are sick. Nothing like TLC!

    This post was very beautiful. Thanks. :)

  26. A note to all: Two weeks ago, everyone talked about Niger. Pictures of suffering and horror were on every magazine and newspaper. Now, no one is. Don't forget that whatever that's happening in Niger is still happening – it's just that our newspapers are no longer covering it. Suffering is suffering – no matter how far or near it is to us.

  27. Certainly my dear, you are strong enough on your own not to need defending against philistines. That being said, for each who has lobbed a criticism at you, I wonder what they have done themselves? Easy enough to throw mud, but the noblest form of charity is done in silence.

    Your post brings to mind happier thoughts though, of days when parents could comfort us with the sensation that "everything will be alright", and we believed it. If only it were still so easy.

  28. Something strange is going on here. Maybe what everyone has been saying is true.

    By the way, I have always called them "feety" pajamas.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.