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Some unemployment benefits are better than others

minelliliza_optBY LORI SENDER
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

Summertime, and the job hunt's not easy. So what's an unemployed girl (and her equally job-challenged husband) to do, except make full use of the sunlight, the refreshing waters of the Jersey Shore, basically dive into this possibly short-lived freedom with anything close to free ... outdoor lawn concerts, Shakespeare theater at the library, World Cup and Wimbledon on our deck, well, you get the picture.

"You're taking your son to see Liza?" my friend whispers disbelievingly over her magazine at the Ridgewood Public Library. I understand, whereas most ten-year-olds are off to yet another round of beautifully wooded sleep-away camps, mine is being tugged to Asbury Park to see Liza Minnelli (free with writing credits) and accompanying fancy meal on boardwalk (free, with, oh, I think you're getting it).

Last week it was the Turtles, the Monkees, The Grass Roots, my son grinning as Mark Lindsay of Paul Revere & the Raiders quipped, "The sixties were great, really great, and now they're back ... my sixties."

It's entirely possible that Ben may someday wind up in therapy, bemoaning how he sat through every has-been, over-the-hill act from the 60s and 70s with attendant five-course dinner. How his mom became a run amok Freegan, his dad, an architect-turned-gardener, how the sight of a Scrabble board to this day makes him wince. But so far, I must say, he seems unscathed, even okay, might I say, thriving?

He's seen firsthand that Mom and Dad are not wallowing in self-pity and melancholia (at least not most days) and that despite this awful great recession, his family was given the pure gift of spending days together. For better or worse, we'll always have the year of Ben being ten.

It's a week later and we're in the kill seats at the Paramount Theatre for Liza. She's clearly frail and Ben right away notices her sibilant enunciation. "Sssss" he hisses to me for ten straight minutes. But then he's quiet, transfixed, as we all are. "The gay community loves you, Liza!" screams a fan, one aisle over. My son turns to me, and in that darkened theater, the two of us burst out laughing.

 

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