DelBloggolo

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A VISIT WILL MAKE!


When it is just the two of us, TLW (The Little Woman) and myself, we tend to have an established pattern in our lives. It is predictable and reliable. She knows what I am doing and she tells me what I need to know about what she is doing.

It is usually the same kinds of foods in the house, the same snacks, anything I don’t like, and all healthy.

Then, right before Thanksgiving, I happened to be in the closet in the kitchen, (I come out once a day to use the toilet) and I noticed this bag of cookies. They seemed to me to have potential as a ‘happy’ bedtime snack, with a glass of milk. It had everything in it, all the essentials for a happy snack, including chocolate chips and nuts.

I went into the refrigerator, and there sitting under my nose was a container of soup. Broccoli and cheddar soup, and now I am beginning to realize, the cookies weren’t for me!


“Don’t touch that soup!” came the admonishment.

Being the man in the house I retorted: “OK” (She isn’t pushing me around)

“And those cookies, you can look at them, but don’t touch.”

Once again, I summoned up my courage and asked: “How come?”

“Your son is coming home from school for Thanksgiving.”

“When does he go back?”

“YOU take him back on Sunday.”

Doing the math I realize, 4 actual days to keep him occupied. The soup and cookies don’t stand a chance beyond 2 days. I might as well kiss the cookies goodbye, and the soup he will inhale before he is even in the door!

I tried to figure out how I might delay the inevitable. Talk politics! That’s it, and to really get him going, say something he will agree with, and then slowly turn it into something he doesn’t agree with. Yes the plan is brilliant; it is a master plan, one that will blowup in my face! I’ll be arguing from behind the bathroom doors, in the cars, over dinner or lunch, and even in my sleep! Besides all that, he argues while he eats!

Then it occurred to me, what am I doing? I hate broccoli and cheddar!

Then another idea comes to mind, #2 Son is a big supporter of the Wall Street rally, Zuccotti Park, here he comes!

No, that will only get me in trouble with TLW.

I come to realize sadly, that the world is passing me by. And so too, are the cookies.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

LIVING WITH MY MISTAKES


One would think after a few times of making the same mistake, not to do it again!

The atmosphere was festive, we had just wandered into the dining room for the big dinner, as the other 500 guest were doing. The table was large and round, like all tables one finds at these functions. Set for a very formal occasion, TLW (The Little Woman) was leading me and we selected our seats without thinking.

You may wonder: What’s to think about? Just sit down DelBloggolo!

That was my mistake too. TLW sat and I sat on her right. The old problem came up once again. TLW is a lefty, a southpaw, she marches to the tune of a different drummer, and happens to be married to someone who could get lost in an empty room, and needs directions on how to get out of his driveway.

It seemed that the setting were too close for comfort, as they tried to fit more people on each table than was wise. That’s when the trouble started.

With her left hand TLW reaches for the napkin. She then proceeds to place it on here lap.

“That’s not your napkin you have there!”

“NO, THAT’S your napkin pointing to her right.”

“You sure!?”

“Yes, that’s how things get screwed up.”

“OK”

People started to arrive at our assigned table and picked up their napkins and started placing them on their laps. Suddenly we are all placed, water is poured and TLW takes a few sips and by now we are all seated. We make our self introductions and I suddenly notice, the guy on my right has a napkin on his lap and a glass of water. TLW has her stuff and I am wondering what the hell happened! I have two napkins, and two glasses of water!

A waiter comes over to the table, leans in to hear what a woman across from us is saying, and looks perplexed. He leaves and comes back with a water glass and napkin.

I’m thinking to myself: “All this water! If there is a small fire on my plate, I have the resources to fight it!”

My fellow Americans, if you look at the place setting, you will see how I screwed up!

Monday, November 28, 2011

BLACK FRIDAY!


They call it Black Friday, but I call it: “That Big Day”. It was the day after Thanksgiving, in 1970, and I was in love.

I had met TLW (The Little Woman) on the Long Island Railroad, and we were dating frequently at this juncture in my life. I had a few girlfriends, but no one really took my breath away. I decided that I would bring home an executive secretary from the Mobile Oil Corporation to meet the family, and see what their reaction was to someone I had hoped would marry me. I had mentioned her to my mother, in a casual way, and so I picked the day after Thanksgiving for the introduction, and my proposal.

All I need is the cap!
I was living the good life. I had a brand new Camaro, two toned with a black vinyl roof and forest green body, which I washed and waxed more than I washed! I also had a job in the city on the top of a skyscraper, corner office and money to spend. I had just purchased a whole new wardrobe of suits, (3-piece) ties and shirts and a grey overcoat or great coat that made me look like Marshal Zhukov! Life was good!

That morning I picked up TLW at her home and we went to a diner in Sayville for breakfast. She wore a white button sweater with a knitted belt and purple outfit. After breakfast we did a little running around and then towards the afternoon we went to my house.

We entered the house unannounced and I introduced TLW around to the covenant of sisters, all 4. The oldest, Tess, (much older) looked at me and wanted to say: “Is this the latest?” The others just followed suit and said nothing but hello.

After impressing my family with such a lovely lady, we decided to go out after dinner, and I went to a special spot on the bay and made my proposal. The November night was clear, and I remember the stars sparkling as I was about to ask her. Summoning up my courage I said: “Will you marry me?” There was the longest seconds I can ever remember.

Well, she said Yes, and no money was exchanged either.

The next day we made our plans to marry the following June, and a date was set. We went that Sunday to church at St. Joseph the Worker in East Patchogue, with Mom and my 4 sisters, and the day after my Mom said to me that someone said that TLW looked like she belonged with the covenant.

After 40 years of being together, it seems like she has never ever said it had to be her way. We don’t always agree, but we manage to compromise. Why? Because we know that we love each other enough that it doesn’t matter when you look at what we really have. She has NEVER used a four-letter word except “Shit” which is used as part of her instructions as to what to do in my hat. I can’t think of a better mother, or anyone who could ever take her place.

On January 15th, 1971 we got officially engaged, I gave her the ring in a surprise move on the train, where I first met her, on a Friday, while she wore that purple suit. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

IT’S LEFT OVER!


In home cooking, sometimes leftovers taste better than the first time you eat the dish. I suspect this is so because it sits in its own juices for a while and settles. I find this particularly true the day after Thanksgiving Day, or Part II of the Thanksgiving holiday.

In the old days, when Dad was alive, we all congregated at Mom and Dad’s house for the day after Thanksgiving. That was because some of us couldn’t spend the actual day together because of commitments to in-laws who had holidays too. So that Friday we would all get together and eat the leftover food and share our lives.

We reheated the food, as well as the conversations so everyone was up to speed on the total clan. It was probably almost as nice as Christmas Eve to me.

But that food was good! The turkey especially seemed to come into it’s own, and was a harbinger of sandwiches, soups and any cold pickings I could do.

Mom made an Italian stuffing that could become a sandwich, as well as accompany a dish during the week that wasn’t turkey! But every time I sat down to eat with either the turkey and stuffing leftovers, it took me back to the holiday and the day after and made it festive.

The Thanksgiving Holiday started off with the same roasting pot that Mom used every year. That tradition began in Brooklyn, and I can still remember Mom stuffing the bird and the butter mixture that sat on the outside of the carcass! She had a cover to the pot, and only used the pot for Thanksgiving. Seeing that pot was the start of a historic mental reel that started to run on my projector mind.

Then one year after we had long gone from Brooklyn, Mom didn’t use the pot anymore. There were too many of us, so we had to get a bigger turkey. Suddenly some of the iconic tools of cooking, although utilitarian, were no longer useful. A little bit of me went away with it.

But the years were kind to us, as we married and brought in something to replace the things we no longer had, we had our own families and that meant children. Suddenly, the house that Nana and Grandpa lived in was a meeting hall for all the many cousins and suddenly life was good again.

The Friday after Thanksgiving has given way to even busier lives. We don’t necessarily gather on that day anymore, because we all have commitments. Dad is gone and Nana is 93, and tired. She has earned her rest, and so we allow the holiday to center around her, and we each have our own ‘Friday after’ in which we give her our time. Mom no longer wears her floral apron, no longer stands at the stove and gives orders, no longer teaches her daughters how and what to do. Now like all holidays, she sits at the table and converses, while one of her daughters or grand daughters scurries around the kitchen.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

THE BEST DARN SHOW IN TOWN!


A few Sundays ago, I went to Radio City Music Hall! It was one of the best days of the year, because what they do there for Holiday Shows is just amazing! It had to be the best Christmas Show I’ve ever seen.

I made this journey with some of the people from the Wanna-Be-Bank and Truss Co. The usual suspects who include: TLW (The Little Woman), Toots II (Lois) The Princess of Foxwoods Points (Pat) and Bill, her poor husband (We guys suffer a lot!), and for the first time ever, allow we to introduce B. T. Lenny, (Bow Tie), and his lovely fiancé Danielle.

There is certain magic for me whenever I enter that palace. It is one of the most beautiful music halls in America, filled with historic architectural significance, elegance best like those who have natural beauty and rich cultural value.
It reaches back to the late 20’s early 30’s, the Art Deco at its best!

So many performances have played out, so much talent has passed through the stage, so much technical precision and innovation, yet the performance I witnessed, enjoyed and would gladly see again, was by far the best.


The genius behind this production took you against the walls, on the Ceilings, from under the stage, and oh yes, even behind the curtain. The beautiful set designs, startling, colorful, and very imaginative, sweep you away in their beauty.

Then there is the most beautiful chorus line this side of heaven, the ladies precise, professional, colorful and beautiful, not to mention entertaining. Still the tradition of the March of the Toy Soldiers, Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite filling the air and saying: The simple beauty of Christmas is here!

But the one thing you must see, aside from the 3-D shows, is the tour of NYC, on a double-decker tour bus. It is impossible to make anything that fake look so real!

Friday, November 25, 2011

IT’S A TRADITION


At least three times a year, as a member and delegate of the Board of Governors of NYSARC, I attend meetings up in either Albany or Westchester, NY. I either drive or ride with my fellow chapter board members and representatives like myself. We are one of the many NY State chapters that represent their county.

There are 5 of us plus our Chief Executive Officer, and usually try to ride together, have some fun on the way up and back from the meetings. At times, some of us will even stop at Arthur Avenue for lunch on our way home, at Trattoria Zero Otto Nove.

In October, I drove and stopped at Arthur Avenue, and then drove to the Huntington Park and Ride to drop off “Ken” (I’ll use Ken to protect his identity) to his car. When we arrived we discovered he didn’t have his car keys! 

A few weeks ago we go to Westchester for a meeting, and all day long “Ken” is reminded about it as we first meet him at the same place to drive on to Westchester.

“Every time I see Joe I think to look for my keys” as he displays them.

We are cruising along on the LIE, when “Ken” starts searching himself. Looking here and there, pockets, floor etc. I get suspicious.

“Ken, did you lose your keys?”
“No-I got them right here.”
“Are you developing a rash then?”
“No, I can’t find my cell phone!”
“Well it’s a good thing you can’t lose your virginity on one of these trips.”

Thursday, November 24, 2011

THANKSGIVING

What I'm really thankful for

Being who I am, I decided to think about what I am thankful for in this great country of ours.

• I’m thankful for the fact that when I leave a room and forget where I’m going, that I can find my way back to the point of departure, I think.

• When I drive down a narrow street, and there are cars parked on both sides of the street opposite each other, and as I go through that spot, the car that always comes the other way doesn’t hit mine.

• When I get on a line at the bank, and the tellers are all out to lunch, I’m thankful that I’m not carrying a gun.

• I am so thankful that the moron who is texting while he is driving, is driving slow enough not to kill anyone, me included since I am behind him.

• I am thankful for the fact that I am not allowed to eat everything, it is bad for me, but I haven’t died yet from eating it anyway.

• I’m thankful for reruns on TV, because TLW (The Little Woman) always, and I mean ALWAYS seems to interrupt the part I really want to hear that makes a point, or is a funny line.

• I’m thankful for the fact that I can now put a portable phone next to my plate. It means I don’t have to get up during dinner when I get a solicitation on the phone, and can say “hang on, I’ll get him.” And just put the phone down and eat while he is waiting on the other end.

• I’m thankful for being hard of hearing during some brutal sermons on Sunday.

• I’m also thankful for sunglasses, I can wear them and sleep during those brutal sermons.

• I’m thankful for TV commercials, they give me a break from some of the inanity on the scheduled programs.

• But all kidding aside, besides this great country, and those that defend it, I’m thankful for you, I love you all.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

CEREAL KILLER


Life has its boundaries, and so do I.

Some people are blessed to eat anything they wish, and some, like myself can’t, but do anyway.

As a child, growing up in Brooklyn, Mom sent me to Catholic school in the hopes I would have turned out a little better than I did. As a poor working class family, we didn’t have a lot but we did have polished shoes and clean clothes every school day, with a bagged lunch.  Lunch, along with the 3:00 pm dismissal bell were my favorite parts of the school day.

The school day mornings were particularly brutal for me. It was when Mom was her giddiest, getting us off to school for a good portion of her day, and nothing was going to get in her way of making sure we went to school.

A typical morning went something like this:

“Ma, I don’t feel well!”
“What’s wrong?”
“My leg fell off!”
“Take an aspirin you’ll be fine. Eat your cereal it’s getting late.”

The cereal was either farina or oatmeal in the winter, and rice crispies or cheerios in the warmer months. I hated cereal. I wanted eggs with beacon or pancakes, not cereal. It became so that I never ate breakfast any more until I married.

When I married my attitude and hunger changed, so I started to try cereals of all kinds, especially the ones that had nuts or cinnamon or dried fruits and discovered I‘d rather eat the plain old cereals instead! One problem, gas! Cold cereal kills me, all morning long. I’d be on the train going to work, and suddenly this surge came upon me, and some little old lady would be sitting next to me trying to read a book, or some business man deep into his Times article, or a construction worker deep in sleep. Suddenly, like Mt. Etna, the rumblings and surge, threatening to blow out my brains if something didn’t happen soon. A cold sweat would arise and cramps started in. It was then that I rally got close to God. I made some pretty big promises if only I could hold out until I could find a place to devastate.

The train would arrive at Hunterspoint Avenue and I would then climb the long staircase to the street, hardly able to move, one step at a time. Slowly, with each step up, a little gas was expelled, then as I got to the landing, I let it ride and raced to the subway feeling relieved. Standing on the subway platform, waiting for the Flushing #7 to take me to Times Square I felt good. Te train would arrive, I would enter the car with 40 million others and the gas came back, along with the sweats and prayers. 

I’d be at a conference table at work, trying to deliver a point, or acting like I wanted to be there, when suddenly the gas!

“What’s the matter Joe, you look like you just saw a ghost! You OK?”

“Sure, never felt better.”
 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

THAT LONG AGO?


It was a Friday around early afternoon, and Benny “The Buffer” Gallinaro, Ernie “Butch” Mancuso, and yours truly were going out the rear door of John’s Bargain Store on South Ocean Avenue in Patchogue. It was a great Chinese lunch we had, and on the overhead speakers we could hear the radio, and the announcement that JFK had been shot! THAT WAS 48 YEARS AGO, TODAY!

I remember the sadness the permeated the air, young high school and college kids, dreaming of great things we could do in our futures, filled with hope for our country and determined to be successful, all because of one man. If you didn’t love JFK, you were either a Soviet spy or the older generation and a Nixon lover. And now those dreams were shot in the head!

Benny, Butch and me were in a hurry to get home to turn on our TVs and hear the news as it developed. There was a sense of great shock, foreboding and suspicion. Did the Russians do this, was Fidel Castro behind it, or was it LBJ, looking to become president? Maybe Wall Street had a hand in it? Would we be going to war, or was this a coupe by the military?

I switched on the TV in the living room when I got home, a big color screen Magnivox, and there was Walter Cronkite, wearing dark heavy rimmed glasses, giving us updates, and sitting in a pressroom, not his usual set for the evening news. Finally he stopped for a moment, raised his eyes to check a wall clock, giving us the news that JKF had died, his eyes welling up. It felt like someone had slammed the door, a shocking, earth shaking cold-shivering tremor that stole it’s way down your spine and out through your soul! It was the beginning of my life as an adult. I knew then that nothing would ever be the same again. The family, the institutions I attended, (my school burning down that previous March), the very country itself, would always be shaken at it’s roots or foundations, we were not impervious to death or catastrophe.

I remember going to work that evening in Hill’s Supermarket, next to the old Plaza movie house, since torn down, and listening to everyone, both staff and customers.  All seemed to be relating where they were when they heard the news for the first time. I saw young girls crying and big old men with their heads down.

Today, the young adults of the world, the makers and shakers, go about their history, not ever knowing the cultural and mental shock that took its toll on my generation and older. They cannot understand our prejudices, or feel our sorrow when another long established institution disappears, one we may have grown old with. They will laugh at us, have fun with the fact that we are older, and maybe that will explain how we felt with our parents, and the great depression, and WWII.

I guess what goes around, does come around!

Monday, November 21, 2011

DOCTOR! DOCTOR, I NEED A DOCTOR!


I checked my schedule, looked at it twice, confirmed it with the two offices where I had appointments scheduled in one day, in the morning no less.

At 8:30 am I see the cardiologist for a scan of my corroded arteries, then at 11:00 am my regular doctor, Dr. Strangeglove.

After the scan, I go home for a cup of coffee and off to Dr. Strangeglove’s office. My calendar says: 11/10 @ 11:00 am Dr. Strangeglove. I enter the office and announce myself, and am told to take a seat.

Now where did I put that pencil???
I get comfortable, open a book I am enjoying and start to read.

“Mr. Del Bloggolo?” (I don’t like the sound of her voice.)

I arise like a phoenix from the ashes, like the resurrection, and go to the glass partition where the receptionist is sitting.

“Mr. DelBloggolo, you are not here!”

“Sure I am, see?”

“No, I don’t see your name on the schedule!”

At my age I have faced many crisis, and think I know what to say when this happens.

“Huh?”

The receptionist looks further and says: “Oh, you are scheduled to come tomorrow, 11/11 @ 10:00 am!”

Some dumbass has switched the 11 with the 10 in the schedule! It wasn’t me this time.

So today, dear Reader, if you would indulge me, and mark on your calendar 11/10/11, as the date DelBloggolo got it right, but everybody else didn’t?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

WANNA-BE-BANK, YA WANNA?


Tuesday evenings seem to be dedicated to the discussion of The Wanna-Be-Bank and Truss Co. Not only the Wanna-Be bank, but its procedures. Seems they make life hard for TLW (The Little Woman).

Sitting at the dinner table and I ask: “So, how was your day?” This is not a trick question.

"And another thing..."
“Oh, the usual, they are instituting new rules and they make changes, just like a real bank, and then you find out not everything is up to snuff.”

Gathering my courage, thinking through my next question, choosing my words carefully I ask: “Huh?”

“Well, we have two kinds of applications. One is for new cars and one is for used cars. Both have the identical forms up on the computer. (‘Up on the computer’ may be used in real banks) When a member (That could be me) comes into the Bank (You know better now) and wishes to open a car loan for a new car, we just call up the correct set of papers by clicking on the type of loan, New car, has New Car set and Used Car has Used Car set.”

“Sounds like a pretty good system the Wanna-Be-Bank and Truss Company maintains!”

“You would think, but no. The New Car set has a 4-page insurance form that goes along with the New Car set.  It should be in the Used Car set too. It is the same for each set, but once Esmirelda did a used car set and got into trouble because she didn’t include the 4-page insurance form. She complained that it wasn’t included in the used car set, and they said ‘YOU SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER!’.”

“So why don’t you write to the Big Chooch responsible for this oversight or dropped ball?”

“Then I’d get into trouble because I shouldn’t be bothering Mr. Chooch.”

“Well do you ask anyone about fixing it in the loan department?”

“Oh, they say: Can’t understand how that happened! OK we’ll fix it. You like to hear me rant and rave, don’t you?”

“Well as long as it’s not about me, …”

Saturday, November 19, 2011

BANNED IN BOSTON


Earlier this month I wrote a blog about #1 Son, and included a picture of him and my beautiful daughter-in-law, Courtney. Well it seems that neither one of them like the picture I used, one that I happen to like. They feel that they don’t come off real enough in it, yet I see two beautiful people that look sincere in it.

But I will acquiesce to their wishes and no longer use the picture. (See picture)

TLW (The Little Woman) suggested a picture from the wedding, but that would mean that they are always dressed that way, and I don’t think they want that.

Then I got to thinking about the blog I did write making a comparison between David Arquette and that he was married to Courtney Cox, and that #1 Son looks like Arquette and is married to a Courtney.

I called a meeting of the DelBloggolo editorial committee and we decided that we do need a picture, so why not an iconic one, one that will not be the couple, but will represent them.

Our policy here at DelBloggolo is: “Don’t complain about looking like a moviestar!”

Note to #1 Son: Not one mention of food was made in this blog.

Friday, November 18, 2011

IT RARELY HAPPENS, BUT WHEN IT DOES


The evening started out predictably, TLW’s (The Little Woman) panic about the traffic into the valet parking area, entering the huge entry hall to Mamma Lombardi’s Villa, the signing in at the host desk and meeting people that I know and love. To add to the experience, this time around, Kathy a secretary at the agency offered me a boutonnière. If you don’t hear well, it sounds like: “Do you want a boot in the rear?” After opting out for the flower on the lapel, they make me a full colonel by attaching a nametag that is engraved with my name on it, a nice touch. The 61st AHRC Suffolk Candlelight Ball was in full swing and looking pretty.

The cocktail hour was actually a buffet dinner for all intents and purposes, followed by the dinner itself. There is where it all went down hill!

The wait staff has a lot of people to deal with, about 500 is my guess, they have a ton of people at over 60 tables and the noise levels from conversations are high. I’m offered a choice of fish, chicken or steak, I ask for the steak, medium, and from there on, I am annoyed.

Out comes the main course, and everyone in the room is being served, as I wait my turn. The waitress brings a steak out for someone, and as she goes to put it down, it literally flips out of her hands and into the plate of the person sitting next to him, a big laugh is had by all. Still no dinner for me! I look around: all 500 are busily eating, cutting and looking at me. No dinner! TLW looks nervous, like I would get angry or something, and I feel like I want to yell at someone, but keep my cool. Finally someone comes scooting out of the kitchen with my meal, places it in front of me and I cut into the steak, and it is raw!

Where’s that knucklehead waitress, I think. I can’t get anyone’s attention, finally I get up and nail a waitress in her tracks, explain my disappointment in failing to understand ‘raw’ from ‘medium’ and she repeats what I’m telling her. Everyone is almost done or is done when my dinner finally arrives! TLW suggests I ask for eggs too, since I am eating so late it could be my early breakfast of steak and eggs! It is almost 11:00 P.M. before I get my dinner!

My question: Why the hell, with 500 people in the place, do they manage to find ME to do stupid things?

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO #3 SISTER, MARYANN!
She is probably the adopted one I was telling you about.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

WHEN WILL IT EVER END?


TLW (The Little Woman) has this ongoing complaint for over 40 years, one that I have mentioned often in this space about her being left-handed. I counter that by being off-handed in my remarks, but that gets me nowhere.

A few months ago we needed a plumber to come and replace the kitchen faucet. I’m getting too impatient to do these things anymore, besides I ran out of swear words to use while doing it. Originality counts.

The plumber arrives late one day and gets to work, diagnosing our problem he says: “You need a new faucet!”

Since there was other work he needed to do, he asked if we wanted him to get the new faucet, and TLW offered to go out and get it. Coming home, she brings in the new faucet and deposits it on the kitchen table and has to run off to teach her little heathens about Jesus.

The plumber looks at the faucet and asks: How do you want this installed, left-handed or right-handed?

“Huh?”

“See if I put it in this way the usual way, it goes right-handed, I can put it in backwards for left-handed people.”

I think about it.

The plumber asks: “Are you and your wife right-handed?”

“Well, my wife is left-handed, and I’m right-handed, but she hates plumbers!”

“No problem.”

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

COULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT HER LOVE


It was a sign of the times, and a love thing between her and me. Every time I heard her voice, I thought: Let it be me. For over two years she colored my world. She told me to never sleep in the subway, and with her angelic voice called me darling.

I was in love with Petula Clark. My dreams took me to London, and the whole world was becoming one big dream of just Petula and me, all alone in our magical world. Once I graduated from college, the dream faded and a new dream took its place.

But I had all her albums, knew all her songs, and could picture her singing them to me. Just Petula and me. I loved her and she would learn to love me, and life would be good.

Then one day I found a new Petula on the LIRR and we married. And what do married couples do? Why they go on cruises, to distant places, and so did TLW (The Little Woman) and me. And on this one cruise, who should be headlining the show one night? Why who else, Petula had found me! After all these years she had found me, finally.

And so I eagerly went to the show and from our vantage point from mid-theatre, she looked the same. At the end of the show, she started to sing and interact with the audience. She reached out to this one guy, who REFUSED to take her hand, after she offered it! I was astounded, and so I inched closer to the stage. I was now within reach, and she would see me, and I would have to explain to TLW that this was bound to happen, it was meant to be, could she understand?

But as I got closer to the love of my youth, something happened! She was wrinkled and old! WHERE THE HELL WAS THE RETOUCH ARTIST? MY LIFE WAS A SHAMBLES OF CONFUSION AND DISAPPOINTMENT.

As we went back to the cabin that evening, between the sobs of disillusion and whacks of shock, I looked at TLW and said: “I want my money back from that show!”

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

SQUARING OFF THE MEMORIES


A few weeks ago while in Cape May, my cell phone rang, and on the other end was one of my favorite long-distance people.

“Hello, Joe thought you’d get away with not talking to me for long?”

I immediately recognize the voice; it is my good buddy from the South, Barry Squillace! After a few pleasantries (actual trade off of insults about each other’s manhood, intelligence and family tree) he got down to business. I look at my watch and am running late for a breakfast date.

“Joe, I finally got out the old year book from high school, and I want to square in my mind who is alive and who isn’t. Do you have a minute?”

I promised to call him back in a few days and did so. After the initial insults and self-congratulatory statements, we went over the listing of people, alphabetically in our graduating class. One by one we made comments of who was where in life and what they were doing.

“Well Joe, what I’ll do is put an ‘X’ if they died, a checkmark if they are alive…”
“And a ‘?’ if we don’t know.’
“Ah, great minds think alike!”

And so we went through the list, one by one, with commentary, bemoaning some, astonished over others, totally whacked out by others. After an hour and a half…

“So Joe, all we have to do now is figure out who the sluts were. By the way, I’ so happy that you are older than me. You have no idea how happy that makes me.”

“WELL WHAT COMES TO MIND, BIG BROTHER, MENTOR?”

“No, just a warm fuzzy feeling that you are older.”

I’m thinking of creating an enemy’s list.

Monday, November 14, 2011

WHEN OUT OF NOWHERE!


Cruising up the Garden State Parkway on my way home from Cape May, NJ, relaxed and serene, TLW (The Little Woman) and I talked about conceptualizing visually in our minds. We talked about how some people can see before there is anything to see. I wish I could say I can not only see, but predict with certainty that something will happen before it occurs.

The traffic was steadily building as we approached the giant city of NY and we seemed to be still doing about 75 to 80 mph! No bumps, no turns, no stopping, just cruising like nothing really was the matter.

Suddenly, I look into my mirror and there behind me is a police state trooper, his siren going and lights flashing! His is practically up my tailpipe and looking ominous. My heart sinking I pull over to the left since I am in the extreme left hand lane and can feel the etched ruts that warn a motorist is going off the road.

As I roll I notice that the trooper is passing me by, not following behind! I pull back into the traffic pattern and I discover that you can taste every bit and morsel that resides in your stomach, just by having a police care behind you with his lights flashing and siren wailing.

After the minor breakdown from nerves, TLW and I think, where the heck did he come from!? I think in cases like the one I described, a motorist should keep a extra set of underwear on hand, and maybe even a complete change of clothes!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

IT DRIVES HER CRAZY!


TLW (The Little Woman) and I pulled out of our driveway, the rain threatening to come down in buckets as we begun our trip to Cape May, NJ.  The GPS and Stella, the lady that lives in the GPS spit out her instructions to me.

“Please follow the highlighted route.”

TLW hates Stella. They haven’t spoken to each other since TLW and my #3 sister got lost one night coming home from Connecticut and found themselves on 5th Avenue in NEW YORK City one night. The two women talked so much and so loud that poor Stella, in her defense, tried to get a word in edge-wise and couldn’t!

Knowing how to get to the main highway, I don’t follow it exactly, knowing a shorter route.

“Recalculating, recalculating! Please follow the highlighted route!”

TLW starts to talk to me and Stella begins again.

“Recalculating, recalculating! Please follow the highlighted route!”

TLW starts to talk again when…

“Recalculating, recalculating! Please follow the highlighted route!”

I get annoyed and yell at the GPS…

“Stop interrupting, bitch!”

“TLW: “WHAT!?”

Me: “Not you,” pointing to the GPS … “Her”.

As I pull onto the service road to the LIE, I jump on a street sooner than Stella prescribed.

“Recalculating, recalculating! Please follow the highlighted route!”

TLW: “God she's annoying, I can’t stand her voice!”

Me: “Now, this is a long trip, can’t we all get along?”

TLW: “You are the one that called her a bitch!”

Stella: “Recalculating, recalculating! Please follow the highlighted route!”

There is a moral in all this boys and girls; no woman wants another woman to tell her man where to go, and TLW has been telling me where to go for over 40 years!

Here is another moral: no man can listen to two woman at the same time, because he will feel like he’s already been where he’s been told to go to in the first place. It feels like Hell!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

THE WANNA-BE-BANK & TRUSS CO.


Living with a wanna-be banker takes a lot out of you. As a wanna-be husband, I am a member first! If she is home at all during banking hours, or shall I say wanna-be banking hours, I as a member get to talk wanna-be-banking, and as she says: “An educated member/husband is an informed consumer.

Having conversations means remembering all the applications that are offered for loans, your L-50’s and what have you. Also the sheer number of her fellow wanna-be bankers, who proliferate the wanna-be bank, and something they call: “Banking School.” These are all important aspects of her job, and I need to be abreast of it all.

“Well Joe, (Before wanna-be banking hours) I have to go to banking school today!”

What will you be learning?”

“No, I have to go to the Bellport High School and sit there all day and open accounts for students!”

“Oh! I guess to learn what to do when they grow up and go to a real bank?”

In the 11 years TLW (The Little Woman) has worked at the Wanna-Be-Bank and Truss Company, most of the ladies that work there are named Christine. This has efficiency, since they the wanna-be heads of the wanna-bank, like everyone to be on a first name basis, which they employ. This makes it easy, and introductions go very smoothly! Sometimes, they send a wanna-be banker from one wanna-be bank to another.

“Christine is sick today, called HR and see if they can send someone to take her place.”

“I did, Christine is coming in her place!”

“Oh! They couldn’t send Christine?”

“No, she’s at the Holbrook branch today.”

Wanna-be bankers talk about two things with each other, one is the members attitudes: and the other is food. If the conversation gets too heady, they lock the doors until they get all the ingredients correct.

This does not mean everybody is named Christine. No, by no means! There’s Doug. Doug was pressed into service back in 2006 when he came one day to make a deposit. His family hasn’t heard form him since!

Then there are the three TOOTS sisters: Toots 1, 2 and 3. Each with her own name and uses it freely. However Ellen, Lois and Pat have been keeping a set of books on the members because the membership can’t tell one from the other, revealing their secrets to who they think is a former nun working part-time for the Vatican.

Perhaps you think I exaggerate or even embellish, but I assure you, it is all the truth. If you don’t believe me, open an account at the Wanna-Be-Bank and Truss Co, and see for yourself. Caution: don’t ask for Christine or Toots, but there is always Christine or Toots to help you.

Friday, November 11, 2011

"IN FLANDERS FIELDS" 11/11/11


Somewhere in the fields of France, lie the bodies of many dead Americans. They lie there because we as men and particularly old men, can’t settle on peace as a way of life, a so we buried our young, and with it our hopes and dreams, under the earth in France.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow   
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

It is not enough to bury them the young in France, but in the South Pacific, on the many atolls that dot a great ocean, amongst the forest of the Ardennes, in the sands of North Africa.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

The old men were not satisfied with just those widows, no, he put the young hopeful bodies in the hills of Korea and the sands of Inchon, and still he could not satisfy his appetite for young blood.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields. 

One more time, just one more, and we will see the end of war? And so we ripped our sons from the halls of academia and caste them into the jungles of Viet Nam, and drenched them in the blood of the Mekong Delta, and they flew home in body bags, some permanently buried, so still suffering the trauma of what the old men do, they are buried too.

And as we read the papers today, and we view the TV and hear the radio, and as we Google it on a website, we wonder, if this is the last war? Does Iraq spell the difference, or will it be Afghanistan? Will the old men be satisfied? Will the dead we send home be the last of it?

What is the glory of war? Why take up the quarrel? What is the price we pay when we pay it with our own blood? How is it possible to ask young men of all ages and nationalities to lay down their lives for some obscure points, that one hundred years from now will not matter, and be of little concern? But what will matter is what we have lost from all those young men. What discoveries go unfounded? What drug he may have found that could cure cancer or even the simple common cold? Will his music ever play or his hand paint the beauty that lies therein?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I’M GRATEFUL!


I called my 93-year old mother the other day, and got a lecture in gratitude.

“Hi Ma, how are you?

“Oh, I’m doing just fine. How are you and the family?”

“Not bad, everyone is fine, can’t complain, been busy.”

“Well, its good to be busy. You should be grateful that you feel good enough to do anything. Think of all the people that can’t do anything: YOU can do something. Be grateful.”

“OK, Ma, I’ll be grateful.”

“Sure, think of all the people bed-ridden, I bet they are grateful, and you complain!”

“No Ma, I’m not complaining, I’m grateful.”

“Don’t get so smart, you’re not too big to get it on the head with a wooden spoon.”

“No Ma, really, I’m grateful. In fact, next time I throw out the garbage, or clean up a mess, I’ll be sure to be grateful! In fact, if you want, you can come over and make a mess and I’ll clean it up and be grateful, really.”

“And what about all those poor people that can’t do anything? Can’t find a place to live, or are starving, so stop being a big baby and be grateful.”

“You are right Ma, I’m so ashamed. For now on, I’ll think of you and be grateful!”

“Yea sure, I bet.”

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

OK SMARTY PANTS


There is one thing I hate and that is smugness, unless of course, I’m doing the smugging. It seems that when I’m smug, it is hard to NOT act it and be humble. I have to look the other way; act bored and not notice that I was right, and go on with life for the person who is wrong. They know you know and they know you know what they are thinking.

Then there are those rare times every day of the week when I might be wrong. Hard to believe that it is, yes, I can be wrong somehow. 

I get up one morning, and find TLW (The Little Woman) kneeling behind the TV uncrossing and recrossing wires. I don’t dare ask since I haven’t had my coffee yet. It is better to not look up in the early part of the day for fear of a “We” project that costs me my ability to live free.

Finally, the impulse DOES take over and I ask…
“What are you doing?”
“I think I know why the screen looks like Russell’s Tour & Event Planning teal, there is a wire that is unconnected.” To add to my humiliation of not connecting it to begin with, she instructs… “Tell me if the color is better.”

Bitterly I acknowledge that the TV does look better now. She says nothing, not even: “You big dummy, stay away from these damned wires or the next time, I’ll wire you!”

To think that once in my life, I redid my kitchen, bathroom and living room in my old house. I did the wiring for some of it, the plumbing and all the carpentry and floors. Now I can’t reconnect the TV to the cable, VCR, and two HD devices because the wires look like an intricate map of the Long Island Railroad switching yard.

TLW finally finishes, and stands, looking at me but not saying anything. I take the high road and slink behind the newspaper.

Now you may be wondering why I tell you these things, or even admit to them.

Old age has taught me that I don’t care anymore. Soon there will be a point in time when I will leave MY cart in the middle of the supermarket aisle, so no one will be able to get by, soon I will drive at 20 mph, with my left blinker on for the whole trip, soon I will lean to one side or the other to get one off and add to air pollution. In other words, I am writing so it will be a public service to all the younger men that plan on getting married in the near future.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

BEHIND THE DOOR


Growing up in Brooklyn, there were many things that impressed me, both good and bad. Impressions came from the strangest places; often filling me with mysterious imaginary forms that filled my young mind.

It seems that most of these impressions came from older people, strangers and relatives that lived in times so far past that they seemed ancient to a 7 year old.

There was a lady that lived down the street from us, a wonderfully kind woman who was in her 50’s or 60’s, and had grown children. She was a friend of the family because she came from my grandmother’s hometown in Italy, so we thought of her and her family as our family.

In this woman’s home was a telephone, which sat in the strangest place. Being how we did not own a phone, phones were a novelty. This was a standard black rotary dial phone. But where it sat was weird to me. In this lady’s living room, in the wall was a niche, with an extended shelf that accommodated the phone. To me it seemed like the three-storied apartment building was built around this phone!

Then there was the mysterious home of Grandma Frances. Grandma owned the two-story building on Fulton Street, and she occupied the ground floor. The bottom floor was an interesting layout because it included an empty storefront, and a long split hallway that ran the length of the apartment and ended at a toilet.

It was the storefront that got my attention. It was locked from the street and had a locked side door in the first section of the split hallway. Peering through the dirt encrusted grimy windows I could see old hand tools, and a worktable. It was originally a carpenter’s shop, and the owner must have died leaving it as it was.

It seemed whenever I went to Grandma’s house, I would peer into the store and wonder what went on and who was it that had the place. I pictured an old man, with a beard, wearing an apron, something like Geppetto from Pinocchio. The mystery and intrigue of the abandoned storefront seemed to occupy my imagination, with all kinds of scenarios that played out, making up stories that had frightful endings and unknown ghosts who still occupied the store.

Then one day, the door was opened. Inside were Grandpa Ralph and Dad, cleaning it out and making repairs. Soon there were long tables and a freshness that destroyed my little world of intrigue. Dad was opening a gift shop! Olympia’s Gift Shop was soon in business, selling everything from house wares to candy, toys and Italian Ices. It was the down payment Dad would need to buy our house on Long Island!

Moving away, Grandma closed the store, and not soon after, Grandpa Ralph died. So where did Grandma hold the funeral? You bet, the store. Grandpa was laid out in the front of the store, in his coffin, dressed to the nines. The whole family gathered to say goodbye to Grandpa, and as an impressionable 10 year old by that time, I wondered if Grandpa was marked down or even on sale.