There's an old joke about a woman who tells her husband that she married him for better or worse, but not for lunch.
Mary Cleary married Jim Cleary for better, worse, lunch and then some.
In the 23 years that her husband's been president of Cal State Northridge, she estimates that she's entertained about 28,000 of his college-connected guests.
Now that the Clearys are retiring and a new president has been named, Mary Cleary took time to take a quick look back, before getting on with her future plans, which include traveling.
"When we came here from Wisconsin, I knew we would be having people over, so we extended ourselves financially to buy this 3,500-square-foot house in Chatsworth," she said.
Almost from the beginning, there was someone standing on their doorstep waiting to be invited in.
"We had large and small faculty groups, new faculty, heads of departments, supporters, various members of the community and student body. We always tried to invite foreign students and visiting instructors and other dignitaries. Actually, we tried to invite everyone we could," the hostess said.
"I had a routine. We invited them for 7 o'clock. By 9 p.m., the party was over. There was always lots of food, drinks and conversation in between," she said.
She should have known that, in spite of loving her role as official hostess for the university president, there were going to be those times when "smoothly" would not describe what was going on.
"We've had parties so crowded that people stepped backward and landed in the swimming pool. At one of our big dinner parties, all the lights went out and we finished it by candlelight.
"There was always someone showing up on the wrong day for a reception who would be embarrassed. We would say, 'Well, at least come in and visit for a while.' "
She says she regrets leaving the university in a time of crisis, when budget cuts have caused such deep rifts on campus, but she remembers that she arrived in times of turmoil and trouble, too.
"When we came, there were student anti-war demonstrations and natural disasters like earthquakes and floods. In between, the school has grown up and become a university in the best sense of the word," she said.
Buying Into Hulk
A young couple and her parents were having dinner at Bob Burns restaurant in Woodland Hills.
They had barely gotten seated when the nervous young man politely asked Mr. and Mrs. Joe Claridge if it was all right with them if he married their daughter, Linda.
When the guy doing the asking is a giant wrestler named Hulk Hogan, there is only one answer you can give, says his now-mother-in-law, Gail Claridge of Chatsworth, with a laugh.
"Before that, Linda, who was then a manicurist, used to complain she would never meet any eligible men living in the Valley," her mother says. Gail Claridge is the owner of Claridge House Interiors, a design shop in Northridge.
Then one night, Linda went to the Red Onion and saw this tall blond man across the crowded room, just like in the song.
The 5-foot-7 Valley girl began talking to the 6-foot-5 hunk from Florida who had been brought to the Woodland Hills restaurant by a Val pal and didn't know another soul in the place.
The Hulk introduced himself to Linda as Terry Bollea, but she knew who he was because she'd just seen him in a movie. She was disappointed when he told her that he was leaving town the next day on an extended business trip.
Before he left, however, he looked up the number of her manicuring shop in the Yellow Pages and phoned her. He said he was going, but would be calling her from time to time if that was OK.
It was a year, several visits and about $12,000 in phone calls later when the foursome got together for dinner in Woodland Hills.
Now, it's almost nine years and two grandchildren later and Gail Claridge says the man she calls the gentle giant has been the perfect husband to her daughter. The only thing she regrets is that the Bolleas live most of the time in Florida and don't spend enough time at their Northridge home.
They do show up in the fall, though, and for the past two years have thrown a neighborhood Halloween party for the kids. Linda dresses up as Marilyn Monroe and Terry comes as The Hulk.
The first year, about 30 neighborhood kids came around with their parents, who went crazy taking pictures.
For the second party, this past Halloween, about 250 kids and their parents showed up.
Riding the Curl
Some things enjoy constant popularity, like Mother Theresa and vice president jokes.
Other things are evolutionary, like the treatment of certain diseases and what's acceptable to put on top of pizza.
Still other things are cyclic, like platform shoes and how we feel about Liz Taylor. Add to this last group those little instruments of torture, the eyelash curler. Sad to report the little gadgets are closing in on a comeback.
Vogue magazine says that in New York, all the models are doing it. This calls for a survey, of course.
This highly non-scientific poll asked three Valley women if they would immediately rush out and buy a born-again trendy eyelash curler.
When the first woman asked, a thirtysomething Woodland Hills marathoner, stopped laughing, she said, "Get serious."
A Cal State Northridge co-ed, 22, said the only time she would use one would be if an eyelash was getting in her eye.
Another 30ish woman, a mother in Chatsworth, said she might go back to doing it, sure, why not? She said she used to use one every day.
Of course, she also admitted to sleeping on frozen orange juice containers to give her hair just the right curl.
"You know it's Monday when you cruise into work, sit down and start flailing around looking for the seat belt on your desk chair."--Public relations man in Studio City to friend