Helaine S. 1944-2005


   She was.... well, to call her merely a friend would vastly cheapen the experience. Helaine was a a part of my soul. That's what I lost, when she left us. I'm not going to dwell on the sadness of Helaine's passing because she was the very opposite of sadness, and I can hear her right now yelling at me for writing even this much. I'll just say that, while she had such serious physical problems, she never once dwelled on them; instead, she was always after me to open up, and let her help ME with MY problems. Is there a word for that? Courage is all I can find in the dictionary.
   I'll just conclude the opening remarks by saying that I knew Helaine only eight years, and that was decades too few for me.

   Okay, now that we're done with the sad stuff, let's get on with the good memories.

   I met Helaine on AOL. She was a member of the "Helaine" club. These were people who were annoyed at being confused with "Helene". Only Helaine could find a club like this....Helaine had one of the great screennames of all time for the occasion: MsHelaineeous.

   Speaking of finding organizations, only Helaine could find a solution to her problem of house clutter. She joined a local group named "Clutterers Anonymous". Let me say that by the time she passed away, she had made tremendous strides in this area. Let me also say that Helaine and I were tremendous opposites in this regard, and always laughed at this. When she visited my place for the first time, she asked facetiously "how many days ago did you just move in".

   Speaking of her house, I loved that mansion. She had games, out-of-the-way videos, baseball cards from the year 1, all sorts of the most interesting things. That house was a museum to me. It's going to take her family years to go through all that stuff to find out what's valuable. I wish I had spent even more time at her house. Oh heck, I wish I had spent more time with her. Uh oh, Helaine's yelling at me again, no sadness allowed! Somewhere in that house is a t-shirt I gave her, which read "Real Men Love Cats". Yes, I would give the shirt right off my back for that woman.

   Helaine loved cats. Not much to say about this, except, what drove her to name one of her cats Hoffenseffer? Any body know what that means? She loved those cats. Last I heard, all of them found homes, and I'm sure she's happy. Oh, I remember her vehemently telling me she wouldn't even THINK of dating a guy who didn't like cats. That, and she would never date a guy who liked the Yankees. She was a big NY Met fan.

   Helaine loved to eat. Lord knows how she stayed thin. One time I got free tickets to the minor league baseball game. She was so happy, she said to me "you got the tickets, I'll pick up a LITTLE food at Nathans". A "little" food... a "little" food.... Helaine showed up with two MONSTROUS bags of Nathans, weighing a ton each. And she proceeded to eat almost all of it, I only had a little. My goodness, how did she not barf, I'm thinking to myself.... Helaine loved to order many different things, and try a little of each (or a lot of each)....
    I have such fond memories of eating at all these restaurants with Helaine. All over Park Slope, Bay Ridge, Union Square, my neighborhood, her neighborhood. That was our main activity. I'm especially thankful that she invited me to Scarola's, a famous Italian place that closed shortly after we went.

   Helaine introduced me to the Tea Lounge in Park Slope. This is a place where they have these comfortable sofas and lounge chairs, you grab your coffee, tea, or liquor, and just basically mellow out and read, talk, use your laptop, etc. Helaine and I would have our philosophical talks all the time there. I still go back there from time to time. It was a little difficult going there without her, but after awhile, I actually felt good being there and remembering her company.

   Helaine used to love these inspirational books, when we went to Barnes and Noble, she would always end up there... I don't know, do you call them New Age? You know what I mean, Chicken Soup for the Soul, or whatever. At first I was cynical, but then I came to realize that not only did she fully believe it, but she lived it. She was the only person I ever met who was into that stuff, but not hypocritical about it at all.

   Helaine loved the theater. She was always trying to get me to go. Unfortunately, I never did go with her, it's not one of my big interests. Fortunately, she had lots of friends who enjoyed her company in that pursuit.

   Helaine was once propositioned by the King. Yep, Elvis. I forget the story. For the record, she declined.... For the skeptical, I assure you that Helaine was a most honest person. She hated liars, and would not lie herself...Also, she knew Tony Orlando many years ago, before he got famous.

   There was the first time we tried to meet in person, after spending sometime online getting to know each other. She said she was coming home alone into Penn Station, so I agreed to meet her at Penn Station, and help her home with her luggage. Well, some woman got off the train into Penn Station who I thought was her, but apparently was travelling with another woman because both women were so extremely friendly. So, I let her pass by. It was Helaine. I didn't know how genuinely friendly she could be, and how quickly she could establish such a rapport with a stranger. So, we saw each other, but didn't "meet". For all the years later, I always chided her for "passing me by".

   In 2003, I again agreed to pick her up at Penn Station. This time, we know each other, no way we could screw up again, right? Wrong! I got there in plenty of time, and waited, and waited....and waited.... She waited...and waited... and waited... WE WERE ON DIFFERENT LEVELS OF PENN STATION.... Penn Station was not our best meeting spot!
So, after we finally met at Penn Station (thanks to cell phones), she graciously treated me to Nedicks. I had a hot dog, she had 2 or 3... Then came time to get on the train. I told her I had a monthly metro card. Helaine said, well, then why can't we both get in on your card. I said, because you have to wait 18 minutes between uses. Helaine, always the experimental one, and skeptical that I knew the exact number of minutes, had a plan. I'd go through with my card, she'd not go through the turnstile, then we'd wait 18 minutes, or however long, to see how long it was before we could use the metro card. For the next few minutes, Helaine and I cracked up at how slowly time moves when you're waiting for it to move quickly. Normally, when we hung out, the night went like 2 minutes. Now, 18 minutes seemed like 2 hours... Anyway, to her surprise, and a little of my own, my number was correct. After precisely 18 minutes, we got her thru the turnstile, and saved a buck fifty....

So long, Helaine, it was one of the great honors of life to have known you - Love for all eternity, Bruce

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