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Archive for December, 2010

I keep putting it off. My writing, not blogging, which is still writing, only different. No, I mean getting back to writing a book, kind of writing. How many times have you seen it in cinema, or read about it in someone else’s blog, about how they are working on “The Novel”, yeah me too. Somewhere out there I have two dead Mexican drug mules rotting in the Arizona desert, and a steamy romance simmering in a dumpy little bar in Colorado.

It’s just so much easier to write in this form. Not too much character development required here, the people have already been cast, it’s merely a matter of capturing and describing the events as they unfold around me. You just need to be paying attention.

My youngest has a new boy friend, I’ve seen the photos. I’m not sure when I’ll get to meet him, that always seems to be an issue for my youngest, “Dad’s always so grumpy.” Why should I be cheery about meeting her boyfriend? I’m not the one dating him! As long as I don’t have to do any harsh explaining to the lad, I’m good. My in-laws, they’re definitely cheery; “He’s Jewish, he’s working on his masters, and he’s Jewish.” Those seem to be the three primary criteria when considering that perfect match.

When I met my wife’s parents for the first time, we had been living together for about two months;  it was at a Passover Seder, I was a wreck, my future wife was a wreck, her parents…well let’s just say I didn’t quite meet the big three. “Is he Jewish? No. “Is he working on his masters?” No. “So… he’s not Jewish?” Yeah, he’s not Jewish. I had been warned, and lightly sedated before attending the Seder. There had been little signals to my future wife; that this might be the time to get out, but I don’t think she was paying attention. Three quick beers in the liquor store parking lot, and I was ready to attend my first Seder. Had I known they were serving wine with the meal… I would have probably went with a good Merlot.

Looking for signs.

Three bottles of beer, and four glasses of wine later I had survived my first Passover Seder. Twenty three people all trying to talk at the same time, getting louder by the glass. I spent most of the evening sitting next to her mother, a bottle of wine permanently positioned at our end of the table. The inquisitors of Spain had nothing on her, my name, date of birth, occupation; I had an easier time passing the background check to get clearance for N.O.R.A.D. Which made sense I guess, I was sleeping with her daughter.

On the day we announced our plans to marry; her mother and my mother came up with similar reasons why we weren’t suited for each other. One said I was way too young, the other said she was way too old. If that was the best they could do, we knew we had it made.

So as I make my list of questions to ask this young man,  some where in the middle of the group  ranked from minor to major, will be… “Have you ever been arrested?” And “what kind of beer do you serve with a good Merlot?”

Talk to you later.

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Much like a photographer might use a special filter to enhanced or create a specific emotion or texture in an image, the experiences of our lives can provide us with similar effects when viewing our  surroundings. Triggered by a smell or a certain sound, a flood of memories and emotions come coursing back, not necessarily suppressed, only forgotten until that perfect moment arrives.

Certain Christmas Carols, bring about memories of my family at Christmas. My earliest memories are of a gold colored electric tree stand that slowly rotated, with an electric music box built into the base. Silent Night, and G-d Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, the two tunes that I remember, were plucked out on a steel comb, as the brass pinned roller rotated tirelessly somewhere deep inside. Glass Christmas globes, gold, blue, red and green; there were six of them with the birth dates of my siblings recorded in Elmers and glitter. Looking into the reflection was like viewing your face in one of those amusement park mirrors, that make your nose too big, and the eyes too close together. The bubbling vials of a magic toxic liquid, were my favorite, designed to look like  candles, I would gaze at them for hours.

Family traditions evolve, decorating the tree on Christmas Eve was one of ours, to be honest I think it was more likely that the tradition came about due to Dad’s procrastination, rather than some deeply rooted symbolism. He would often get our tree from the Stratton Meadow V.F.D. usually three or four days before Christams, the prices were reduced by then, along with the selection. Like an official at a pine tree judging contest, he would scrutinize each of the spindly conifers, recreating his own version of ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas.’ Discussing the price with the half frozen attendant, they would strike a deal that included several of the discarded boughs that lined the chain link fence. My father was the master of Jerry-rigging, a little duct tape, a length of baling wire, and a 3/8 drill bit, and the tree foliage problem was solved, it was the  coniferous  version of hair plugs for men. His bit of tree surgery would go unnoticed, well sort of, until the needles of the replacement boughs would begin to drop before those of the parent tree.

Christmas Memories.

On Christmas Eve, Mom, sitting on the floor in the middle of the room, would hand out the ornaments to the children, orchestrating the perfect placement for each. Nat King Cole, and The Mormon Tabernacle Choir; part of her Readers Digest Classic Christmas Collection, would be stacked four high on the post of the LP stereo serenading the whole event. Even after the youngest of us was well past the age of The Jolly Fat Man in the Red Suit; she would prepare a tray of cookies and milk, like a pagan offering for the winter solstice. At the time it seemed perfectly natural. Looking back I think I understand, it so hard to let go of one tradition, with out having something suitable to replace it.

All locked away; these memories return to me, not as haunting ghosts from the past, more like the sensation of the warm sun on your shoulder. Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas.

Talk to you later.

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More Planetary Gibberish.

Cupids arrow, it rings so… Renaissance, as it lodges between the costal cartilage of the third and fourth rib. It would be a lot less appealing if we could just keep everything in perspective. Here I am fifty plus years old; it seems hard to imagine that I’m entrenched in the final throws of a post teen break-up. Saturated with all the drama of a Harlequin Romance novel; complete with its accompanying collage of he said, she said, and ‘we can still be friends’, I find myself coming to the rescue of an idealistic daughter. Only this time it’s not directions to Highway 24, or CR-31.

Always remember and never forget dear daughter; Men are from Pluto. The words, “but we can still be friends” are interpreted very differently through our roseate lenses. Holding out rather than moving on, men are perpetual romantics; as we cling tightly to the cords of a collapsed  relationship, hoping that some miraculous breeze might come along to re-inflate it, like some  capricious parachute. As a young man I was not very good at break-ups, I would seek my solace  in another bottle, or a few more pills. I soon discovered that if one stayed drunk and stupid, rarely did you have to experience the anguish of hearing, “but we can still be friends.” I usually was the first to cut away the tangled mess, but I often neglected to pack a reserve chute; crashing back to eventual reality in an angry heap. So yesterday, it felt unusual to be giving advise to a young man using my; “you need to move on” speech. Stranger still was that I understood how he felt.

Mysterious

Women are from Mercury. Her days move along slowly, with time to contemplate, while the years flash by as she is stalked by the fear of loneliness. Idealistic to a fault; they treat men as though we’re telepathic, with the ability to read their emotions, exiling themselves to some Cimmerian Plain, when they discover that we can’t. To them the words “we can still be friends” are as plain as white chalk on black slate, presupposing that every one shares the same boundaries of the new relationship. Ironically, two people who speak the same language, hearing the same words, could not be further apart in the interpretation. It’s that which makes life interesting.

With our twenty eighth anniversary coming into view, I wonder how my wife and I ever made it through all the planetary rubble. Avoiding the drunk and stupid method of problem solving certainly has helped. Understanding that we are different, and don’t think the same way, has made all the difference in the world.

Talk to you later.

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The differences between men and women have been written about in song, poetically mused as heartfelt sonnets by Shakespeare and Hallmark, and captured in brilliant cinematic masterpieces by the likes of J. Gleason or Hanna-Barbera. Men are from Mars, women are from Venus; I would put their galactic locations a bit further apart, say Mercury and Pluto.

“Honey, don’t forget the coupon!” Vocalized in a Mary Poppins, ‘just a teaspoonful of sugar’ manner; the innocence of the phrase is deceiving. Never have five simple words created more angst in the minds of men than these. Okay maybe; “Houston we have a problem” or “My parents are coming for…” (you fill in the blank), might score higher on the angst-o-meter. For women a coupon is tender-able currency, they only see the dollar value printed on the face. Men usually view it as a piece of glossy paper with a legal statement printed in micro text. ‘Redeemable only at certain locations; only good on the fifth Monday in February; not good with any other discount offer.’ I think it’s the whole process of redemption that men dislike. We patiently stand in line at the checkout, a column of 13 equally patient shoppers behind us quizzically rubber necking the line to identify the reason for the delay; while our wife fingers through a stack of glossy notes like an addictive gambler at the horse track cashing in on the daily double. Score $3.87!

Cashing in on the Tri-fecta.

“It’s okay, I know I’ve got the exact change… somewhere in here.” Whoever said pennies are from heaven, never had to wait for someone while they dig through a change purse to make .24¢ from a dime, two nickels, and four pennies, as they overlook the quarter that’s laying there just begging to be used. No, pennies are from Hell! Loose change is something that men periodically discard to the jar on the dresser, collecting it like lint from the dryer until the lump in their pocket begins drawing questioning glances. “Is that a pocket full change? Or are you just happy to see me?” I try to make a point of unloading before I get to that condition, the change that is.

As long as the retailers keep coughing up the two for one coupons, and women keep putting change into coin purses, and as long as I can pay with paper currency and buy the ice cream with out the two for one coupon; the universe is going to have to learn to cope, even if things are a bit chilly out here on Pluto.

Talk to you later.

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Returning to my blog. I would compare it to getting into a very hot bath as a child; easing myself into the steamy waters while protectively cupping my genitals like a goalie facing a free kick at a soccer match, a process that could take five or ten minutes. This is my attempt at easing in, less the cupping.

Thanksgiving with all of it’s culinary and melodramatic portions has left me feeling satiated and enervated at the same time. Who’s bringing this and what to serve with that; as I delicately tip toe around conversational mine fields with my children. While I’m proud of their independent thought and unabashed expression of it, I’m frustrated with their independent thought and unabashed expression of it. My wife points out to me in a private moment; “It’s fine for them to be free thinkers, as long as they think the same way you do.” I know she’s right, and rather than argue with her I walk over to the dog and we discuss the issues of illegal immigration and The Dream Act. She gently licks my hand a sure sign that she agrees we have a problem, then she turns to clean her butt. Dogs will do that, and if you don’t read too much into it, it could be viewed as an affirmative response, with a slight bit of reservation.

Riding my way through the Holidays

With the Thanksgiving Day leftovers gone, the banquet tables broken down and stowed, our house had six days of quiet before Hanukkah arrived. It’s like driving down Roller Coaster Road, without the view. Named for it’s theme park profile, it’s best driven at 40 miles per hour over the posted speed limit to capture it’s full effect, first Thanksgiving, then Hanukkah, an Anniversary, and finally New Years. By raising our arms and screaming as we crest each event; we manage to put on our best holiday face, using the brief intermission between each to collect ourselves before bracing for the next run. The thrill seekers ride of the Holidays; when we’re through, we give a gentle pat to our front hip pocket to see if our sanity is still there. It’s reminiscent of that quick mental check we do to see if the loose change and our car keys are still there, before we make the long walk back to the dark parking lot.

The next series of whoop-ties; as my Mother would call them, is coming into view, visiting in-laws an anniversary, an old codger’s birthday, and finally New Years. The ride is only half way through, and already I’m regretting the cotton candy and that chili-dog I had for breakfast.

Talk to you later.

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