Top 10 Favorite Athletes

One of my friends, a former teaching colleague posted his list of his 10 favorite athletes. I did so too. Here they are from me.

  1. Muhammad Ali: Sat next to him at a fight in Madison Square Garden. Nicest guy ever. Sad what happened to him. I remember when he met the great but ancient Joe Louis who was in a wheelchair, drooling, nodding and mentally out of it. Ali said, “I will never become like that.” God has a vicious sense of humor doesn’t he? Ali wound up far, far worse.
  2. Joe DiMaggio: Kind of a family tradition. Met him at Yankee Stadium in 1953. Despite what authors have written about his aloofness, he shook my hand and talked to me about my (MY!) playing baseball. I was six years old and I remember the meeting clearly. So I am a die hard Yankee fan because of that meeting.
  3. Jackie Robinson: He’s in heaven now (if there is a heaven). Took a lot of crap and performed athletically and intellectually at the highest level. Not many men could have done what he did and done it brilliantly. Met him once at Ebbets Field. I was also a Dodgers fan until they moved to California.
  4. Oscar Robertson: The best of all time. I know, I know everyone thinks it is Jordan but Oscar is and was the man. His nemesis, Jerry West, was another great one but no one was Oscar.
  5. Larry Bird and Magic Johnson: Entwined together in my mind. The greatest rivalry in basketball of all time. Two of the top 10 greats in the sport.
  6. Sugar Ray Leonard: Just a shade below Sugar Ray Robinson, the fighter who was truly the greatest of all time. Leonard fought the best of his generation in some spectacular matches.
  7. Jesse Owens: Fuck you Hitler! An American who showed the truth about himself and the freedom to compete in a free society (well, not quite as free for some Americans). Of course, it has taken almost a hundred years of struggle but we are (I hope) moving in the right direction. Jesse Owens showed us that we can win.
  8. Lou Gehrig: One of the five greatest baseball players of all time. Courage and class all the way.
  9. Babe Ruth: A serious abuser of food and booze and cigars. Those three things should now be banned from sports because look what they did for “the Babe.”  An amazing hitter, an amazing pitcher, an amazing guy. His statistics topped many entire teams in his day and they are still a high standard to live up to.
  10. Willie Mays: One of the five best baseball players of all time. Brought joy to the game and was great to watch even when he was older.

(There you go. I do have my “don’t like” list too. Maybe someday I’ll post that. There is no football or other sports on my list since those aren’t in my vision.)

My Everest of Annoyances

I am annoyed. Most of these annoyances are petty. I admit that. They itch like mosquito bites.

  • I am an attractor of mosquitoes and these annoying creatures leave my skin burning in the aftermath of annoying bites.
  • Loud leaf blowers that break up the still of the day and overpower beautiful bird calls annoy me.
  • People driving around my neighborhood in annoyingly loud cars or on annoyingly loud dirt bikes annoy me.
  • The annoying jingle of the ice cream truck calling forth hordes of annoying children annoys me.

My petty annoyances have grown into an Everest of a mountain. But a mountain is still a mountain be it grown by pettiness or not.

  • I love baseball. I’ve been a Yankees fan since I was six years-old after meeting Joe DiMaggio. I even like this year’s shortened season, but what truly annoys me is the fact that they are now putting up commercials as the game progresses.

You are watching a tight moment and bam! on the now split-screen you have an annoying commercial and the ballgame simultaneously. This is ruining my viewing of the game.

I set my DVR to tape the first hour or so and then I watch it on tape, fast forwarding through the commercials as the DVR keeps recording. The fact that the game is an hour behind doesn’t matter. I have no idea of what happened, so it is as if I am watching it fresh. But now those annoying split screen commercials have brought my annoyance level sky high.

  • I do not like women, adult women, who pretend they are little girls. (“Oo, I’m a widdle gurl.”) The first one of these I met was in college. She was a big girl, cute, but large, big boned as they used to say, and she affected this widdle gurl She sat next to me in a writing class, taught by Rod Serling no less, and she’d drive me nuts when she asked her widdle gurl questions. I figured Serling would write a story where some monster killed her by chopping out her annoying vocal cords. Didn’t happen.

Then two days ago a widdle gurl with tufts of grey hair came by to talk to my neighbor. I couldn’t understand exactly what she was saying because she was wearing a mask, but she was saying it in annoying widdle-gurl talk. Ubie doobie wa wa wa. I secretly hoped the annoying ice cream truck making the rounds would run her over.

  • On Facebook, it annoys me when posters tell me to share this or that annoying post of theirs or one they had reposted. Some actually challenge you: “Repost this if you dare.” A lot of times it has to do with religion, “Jesus loves us. Share this if you agree.” “Heaven is real. Share this and God will save you.” “Mary has appeared in this tree stump or a potato chip. Share if you love our Virgin Mother.” I didn’t share any of these.

The political ones are truly annoying when someone commands you to share an annoying analogy, “So and so is Hitler! Share this to save America!” I didn’t share it.

“Dr. So-and-So stated that COVID-19 is not real, vaccines are unhealthy, and people should not wear masks. Share this to alert your friends!”

Well, I looked up Dr. So-and-So. She also believes that incubus and humans have sex during the night and that there are lizard-men in the Deep State. I didn’t share it.

Actually, I do not repost any of these. I have no problem sharing posts I like, but, let’s face it, these people are annoying.

  • How about those car commercials? Just about all of them, just about all the time run special sales or events. Does any car dealership not offer continuous discounts all year long? Does anyone actually pay full price for a car? Not according to these commercials. “It’s our get-ready-for-summer-time special offer!” “It’s our fall, winter sale!” I surmise that the real price of the car is the sale price, and the phony sale price is simply the basis for an annoying commercial.

If you are going to give a discount on any one of the 365 very special days of the year, then make it a discount of the discounted price. And please silence that annoying actress pitching your annoying product.

Like my annoying Everest, I must handle it. Why? Because it’s there!

Frank Scoblete’s books are available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, e-books and at bookstores. Receive Frank’s articles in your email. Join up today!

The Icing on the Conspiracy Cake

 

They are out there. The folks who truly believe in unsubstantiated conspiracy theories of all types. They could be your friends, your neighbors, members of your family, and perhaps they could be… you.

And now a new conspiracy based on an old conspiracy, at least a current old conspiracy, is about to put icing on the cake for many conspiracy advocates.

Many conspiracy theorists believe that the COVID-19 crisis was manufactured to hurt Donald Trump. This conspiracy must be worldwide, as over 160 countries have had their own horrible taste of this pandemic. Of course, the Democrats must be in charge of this one with the whole world following their plan. Look, our enemies hate Trump and want him out; our friends don’t like him either. They are all conspiring to get him go away!

And the Democrats don’t actually control anything because they are being manipulated by the grand conspiracy masters.

Some theorists believe that Dr. Anthony Fauci heads the International Conspiracy along with his fellow conspirator Bill Gates. The duo is trying to take over the world with the help from, well, the whole world. The assumption is that Fauci and Gates want to inject us all with GPS-type systems, so they can follow our every move.

An amazing percentage of American theorists believe that wearing masks won’t help prevent the contagion. Of course, early on they didn’t believe there even was a contagion. Remember how Trump announced that there were only 15 sick people and the disease would disappear like a miracle? That led to the cry that being made to wear a mask was a violation of our inalienable rights. These theorists have sided with President Trump’s disdain for masks. In fact, there have been actual fights—of the physical kind!—in stores, buses, airplanes and streets between those who wear masks and those who refuse to wear masks.

Some conspiracy theorists point to the low percentage of people who die from the virus— somewhere around 0.5 to 1.5 percent. Those of you who know anything about card counting in blackjack, know that a 0.5 to 1.5 percent edge over the casino will get you the pit boss reading you the Trespassing Act. To casinos, such a small edge is considered highly dangerous and damaging.

Other conspiracy theorists will cite the number of people who die from just about everything else under the sun or in the shade to show that such things are far worse than COVID-19.

But it goes far further than the above. Indeed, some conspiracy theorists believe that all the conspiracies in history can be laid at the feet of the one great worldwide conspiracy created by some ultra-powerful group from the Illuminati to the Catholic Church to the Masons to the United Federation of Teachers.

The list of conspiracies is impressive, so I’ll just name a few:

JFK’s assassination

Hoax of a moon landing

Mass murders

Gun control

Obesity

Lizard overlords

Incubi

Chem trails in the sky

Recently conspiracy theorists have theorized that the “Deep State” is inflating the COVID-19 deaths by counting deaths from causes other than COVID-19 in their statistics including heart attacks and falling down the stairs.

Come the winter statistics (now remember this!), deaths from flu will be lower than in many years past; deaths from pneumonia will be lower as well because so many millions of Americans are wearing masks and social distancing and quarantining themselves; therefore, those other disease numbers must come down. They are not being added to the COVID-19 statistics.

COVID-19 has its own statistics; a reduction in the flu and pneumonia deaths will not impact the COVID -19 statistics at all.

However, the conspiracy theorists will take the reduction of other deaths to mean that these deaths are now being recorded as COVID -19 deaths. That will prove to them that this giant conspiracy exists.

Future reality will be created by the illusion of a grand conspiracy because reasonable analysis of statistics by reasonable people will be unreasonably interpreted by conspiracy theorists.

Come on, believing in a grand conspiracy makes you a powerless, hapless nobody. So, if you can’t take down the almighty conspirators, there can be no individual power in wearing a mask or keeping socially distant. However, if you look to science for your information, you are accountable for your actions—and in that case, wearing a mask and keeping socially distant are mighty personal statements indeed, despite what the United Federation of Teachers says.

Frank Scoblete’s web site is www.frankscoblete.com. His books are available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, e-books and at bookstores. Why not get Frank’s articles by email. Sign up today.

The Meaning of Marriage

My friend Tom is one hell of a guy. He is also the funniest person I know. In a totally weird way. When the Beautiful AP and I first met Tom and his lovely wife Martine in Cape May, I was thrown by some of the things he said. I couldn’t figure if he was being humorous or out of his mind.

Let me give you a recent example. The four of us were eating lunch at the Mad Batter Restaurant in Cape May. By this time our friendship was sealed tightly and I knew he was outrageously funny. I also knew that most people didn’t get his humor, especially at first, and they would look at him aslant.

The server was taking our order. My wife the Beautiful AP and I ordered our usual, the orange-almond French toast, Martine ordered a salad and Tom then put in his order: “Can I have the salad that she’s having but I want salmon as well. I’d like some toast with butter on the side.”

“Okay, sir,” said the server.

“Wait, wait,” said Tom. “Now it is very important that there is no salt put on anything.”

“No salt,” the server nodded.

“Maybe write it on the order form so the chef knows no salt. I have dangerously high blood pressure.”

The server nodded, “Okay,” she wrote down the “no salt” instructions. “There we go, sir!”

“And I’ll have some ice tea, no sugar,” said the Beautiful AP.

“I’ll have just plain water,” said Martine.

“Water is fine for me,” said Tom. “Make it two glasses, large ones.”

“Seltzer for me,” I said.

“Okay,” said the server. “Let me just repeat the orders.” And she did. She finished with, “And no salt for you sir.”

Later, the server placed the orders in front of us. Tom looked at her as she put his order down, “No salt in this right?”

“Yes, sir, no salt,” she smiled. She had served the four of us many times before and we were good tippers so she was happy to serve us again.

“Everything fine?” she asked happily.

We all nodded. Tom smiled then reached across the table, grabbed the salt shaker and poured salt over his entire meal! You could see salt crystals on top of salt crystals all over everything. “Ah, looks great,” he said and dug into his food.

During this pandemic Tom and I have a special day and a special time each week when we talk for about an hour on Zoom. Tom is the head of a giant non-profit Jewish organization that he nursed from an almost storefront level 40 years ago and made it a big player for seniors of every religion and race that employed people from every religion and race. The man is—in my opinion—admirable.

But he is not perfect.

On our last call, Tom said, “Scobe, I made a big mistake with Martine yesterday. I’m in trouble. I’ve been working seven days a week the last couple of months and she told me not to do any cleaning this weekend. I’m just to relax. But you know I like a clean house (he does) and I do some cleaning on the weekends. I’m not crazy about it (he’s not) but the upstairs bathroom needed to be clean; the shower, the floor, sinks, you get me (I got him).”

“So you told her you were going to clean?”

“No, that’s the problem. I told her I was going upstairs to take a shower. I snuck Mr. Clean and a roll of Bounty paper towels with me. So I took a shower and then I spritzed the shower with Mr. Clean and wiped everything down with the Bounty paper towels. I cleaned everything in the bathroom. Then I heard her outside the door.

“’You okay?’ she asked.  ‘Yeah, yeah, I’m fine,’ I said. ‘I was just enjoying a nice hot shower’”

I jumped in. “You know Tom, you are a disgrace to the male sex. You should have trained Martine to let you do all the cleaning.”

“Very funny,” he said.

“We’re not talking about me, Tom. This is about you. If you want to clean, then she should let you clean. I mean you’re the man, Tom; act like a man. Demand that she let you clean.”

“I kept cleaning throughout the day, Scobe; here and there, when she was out gardening or cooking. I just want a clean house.”

“Doesn’t she do any cleaning?”

“Yeah, but she’s French and they use rags. It takes forever. She dips the rag, cleans a little, then cleans the rag and then dips the rag again and cleans a little more. It takes three times longer than it takes me. I just use Mr. Clean and Bounty and it is really fast. Spray and wipe. Spray and wipe. Spray and wipe. It’s over, just like that. Then I go read.”

(Tom and Martine do not have a television set. They read. Tom will read books and the newspapers online. Martine reads books in French.)

“You do realize that you are sneaking around Martine because you don’t want her to catch you,” I said.

“I know that,” he said.

“Your problem is that you are married. You have just explained the real definition of marriage. It’s not anything Shakespeare wrote or any of the flowery cards from Hallmark. No, it is you sneaking around in your own house wanting to clean but being afraid of your wife. That’s the true definition of marriage.”

“I suppose you’re right,” he said. Tom paused and took a deep breath and then he said: “Martine is putting salt in my wounds and, you know, I hate salt.”

Frank Scoblete’s web site is www.frankscoblete.com. His books are available at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, e-books, and bookstores. Receive Frank’s articles in your email.

Perfect Presidential Poll

 

You have the Rasmussen Poll, the Gallup Poll, the Quinnipiac Poll, the Elway Research Poll, the Fox Poll, the CNN Poll, the NBC Poll and assorted other polls by various universities, news media and political parties.

In the 2016 election right up to the very start of the voting the polls stated emphatically that Hillary Clinton would win the Presidency. As the returns came in, many news anchors changed from certainty that Hillary was a shoe in, to uncertainty to complete disbelief that “the Donald” would actually become the President of the United States. There was sadness in many a newsroom that day.

What was with those polls? How could they have been so wrong? Easy. There were many Trump voters who did not say out loud that they were Trump voters when the pollsters came a ’calling. Their mouths may have said one thing but their votes said something entirely different.

And today, right now, the polls of every stripe have Joe Biden clobbering Donald Trump. I do not trust those polls because I have discovered the truly precise 2020 Presidential poll—and I don’t mean the election itself.

The true Presidential poll is this: who is wearing a mask and who isn’t? Since the COVID-19 crisis has been turned into a political football, the Trump voters—like Trump himself—eschew the mask because the virus is a hoax, a world-wide conspiracy against Trump, a bid to deprive citizens of their inalienable rights, proof that you are a wuss, or all of the above. The anti-Trump voters wear the masks because they believe it is a public health crisis that masks can mitigate.

President Trump is leading his people to the polls—and they’re not wearing masks.

So, go ahead and count the number of voters who wear masks and the number of voters who don’t. True, there might be some little crossover between them, but overall my poll, which I am naming the Scobe 2020 PPP (Perfect Presidential Poll), will be the most accurate of all. Count on it!

Frank Scoblete’s web site is www.frankscoblete.com. His books are available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, e-books and at bookstores. Get Frank’s articles in your email by signing up today.

Three Strikes and I’m Out: Amazon, Delta, and P.C. Richard

 

Strike One: Amazon.com

Amazon.com has benefited from the Covid-19 virus because mail order is now a bigger part of our economy than ever before. Amazon’s profits increased by close to 30 percent. Indeed, on Wednesdays our village collects cardboard and just about every home is overflowing with Amazon boxes to be recycled.

Over the years Amazon.com has been a big seller of my 35 books. Like many authors, I have also had a special Advantage contract with them under which they sell autographed copies of my books. Amazon sends me the order, I then autograph the book, and mail it to the customer. I get to keep a part of the sale price, as does Amazon.

I’ve been getting orders that I can’t fill because the Advantage program suddenly didn’t accept my password. Okay, so I created a new password but Amazon did not recognize that one. Then I created another password and Amazon didn’t recognize that one either. I continually receive orders through the Advantage site, but once I log in using any of these passwords, no orders are listed. I can’t fulfill an order without knowing the purchaser’s name and address.

I looked for ways to contact someone at Amazon who could combine my three Advantage accounts and then figure out who had ordered books. We’re talking a good number of books here too.

No one was “home.” No chat, phone, or email was available to get through to Amazon Advantage.

Okay, so at the moment I have lost money that I would have earned had Advantage functioned. That isn’t a huge problem. But here is the problem: People who have tried to buy autographed copies are being told that they can’t because the orders can’t be filled! That frustrates the customer and makes me look bad.

Yes, my wife the Beautiful AP and I have been trying to contact someone at Amazon to solve this problem. We thought we got through to Amazon and were told there is no direct line to Advantage, but someone from Advantage would call us back within 24 hours. It’s been 168 hours and no call.

Strike Two: Delta Airlines

“I’m sorry but we have many phone calls and our agents are all busy. We cannot answer this call.” Click! Hang up.

The above is a paraphrase of a message I received from Delta Airlines when I called to find out about a refund or credit on my tickets. It took me several hours to get through to them. Well, to get through to the click!

I had two round trips scheduled for Canada, one in June (Montreal for three people) and one in July (Calgary for two people). That’s five first-class tickets in total.

On the website, I saw that they were giving me personally, but neither of the other two fliers, a few hundred dollars as a credit for the Montreal flight. Three first class tickets do not cost only a few hundred dollars. One first-class ticket does not cost that either.

I also received (now get this!) a notice that I could fly from Calgary to JFK in New York when I was originally supposed to—just me, no one else.

Of course, there was no such flight because Canada is closed to Americans! So I couldn’t fly to Canada but I could fly home from Canada. Indeed, the flight was cancelled by Delta even as they were telling me that if I sneaked into Canada I could get back to New York. Of course I would not be with my wife, the Beautiful AP, but I guess Delta figured we had been married a long time so we needed a little time apart.

Finally, yesterday, the Beautiful AP received a boarding pass for Calgary in an email. Yes, she could now fly to Canada. Wait a second; isn’t Canada still closed to Americans? So we checked Delta’s website to see if there was a flight taking place to a country that doesn’t want us there. No.

So we now have a boarding pass for a flight that doesn’t exist to a country that won’t let us in. But if I do get illegally in to Canada, somehow and in some way, I can get back home.

Strike Three: P.C. Richard and Son

I write just about every day and when I am done I either read a book, a magazine or watch a good movie or television show. Actually I do all those things. In short, I reward myself for my daytime efforts.

I had an in-house theatre installed when I came home from a particularly lucrative trip to Vegas, with speakers that can blow the roof off my house. “Will you lower that?” the Beautiful AP says constantly as she hides in the bedroom. “Wear noise cancelling earphones!” I yell back but she can’t hear me because the speakers are too loud.

A couple of years ago I bought an LG 4K HD television—a big one—so I could watch my shows with the fullest of pleasure. I figured I deserved that, right? I mean, I started my life in a cold-water flat where three of our six rooms were not heated in winter, and now look at me!

Yeah, look at me. My stinking LG 4K  HD television is on the blink. Every so often the set pauses and displays the LG logo, interrupting the show or movie for about 30 seconds. This can happen over and over or just every once in a while. But it has now been going on throughout the virus lockdown.

I bought the set from P.C. Richard and Son here on Long Island, along with a five-year extended warranty from the store. So they should send someone over to fix the screwed-up set. That’s what the extended warranty stipulated. Yes, it stipulated that in clear terms. I have the paperwork. (Actually, my wife has the paperwork.)

P.C. Richard and Son states they will honor all warranties except those—yes, you guessed it —for television sets. Refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers, clothes dryers, toasters, stoves, air-conditioners, microwaves – all of which by the way we have bought from P.C. Richard and Son over the years— are essential items and will be serviced during the Covid-19 virus. But no televisions!

On its official web site P.C. Richard and Son states clearly: “We Are Here for You!”

Mr. Richard and Son, I’m okay, but my television isn’t. Why bother with a warranty if you won’t honor it?

So, my friends, no autographs, no flights, and no television. This is almost as bad as the pandemic itself!

Frank Scoblete’s books are available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, e-books and at bookstores. Receive Frank’s articles in your email. Sign up today.

 

 

The Big Bang…Boom!

 

I like the idea of celebrating the United States of America on July 4th.

The fact that we were not perfect at our start or during the early 1800s or after the 1800s or during the 1900s or right up until yesterday is no reason not to celebrate our great experiment in self-government.

I think we are heading in the right direction. Our ideas are strong and slowly we will see them manifest themselves more completely as time moves on. Most of our citizens are decent people and their decency will win out in the long run. We are created equal even though it is taking centuries to establish that fully throughout our states.

However, can we jettison the street-side fireworks on this important holiday? My neighborhood was a war zone, starting at dusk and heading into midnight. There were explosions that shook our house. There were Roman candles that landed close to our roof. A barrage with no pause, no intermission; a relentless cacophony of booming.

What is the point of keeping your neighbors awake and, for some, have them trembling in fear that their houses might be damaged or even burned? Are those explosive experts romping in the streets aware that what they are doing is morally wrong?

Indeed, it is morally wrong to light up the night with fearing, flaring flights of Roman candles and generate explosions so loud that birds, squirrels, and people quiver in their nests, unable to read a book, listen to music or watch television. Our local yokels were hopping and skipping and bellowing out on the streets as they threw their bombs with nary any consideration for those who didn’t want to hear their whoops and wham-bangs.

We tend to think; “Oh, they are just kids” as if being a kid allows one to be stupid and totally self-centered. Yes, these were kids—a few decades ago. They’ve grown up postulating that making noise has some valuable meaning in the scheme of life.

They have probably read neither the Declaration of Independence nor the Constitution. Maybe they should expose their brains to knowledge and not ka-booming on Independence Day, and, perhaps, lead the country closer to the ideals expressed in those documents.

Some might say, “Oh, buck up, Scoblete, it’s just one day of the year.” Unfortunately, they are setting off fireworks just about every evening throughout year—it’s just louder, longer, and more loathsome on July 4th.

My wife, the Beautiful AP, is of the opinion that these July 4th bombers—and also those drivers who remove the mufflers from their cars so they can be heard for miles—are people who have accomplished little or nothing in their lives, thus making noise is their way of getting attention.. “I’m loud, therefore I am.”

So if you are one of the noisy masses, perhaps next year you should do something more meaningful, or at the very least—do nothing.

Frank Scoblete’s web site is www.frankscoblete.com. His books are available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, e-books and at bookstores. Sign up to get Frank’s articles sent you to you.

Mom

 

I sat on the couch as I had over the weeks and months prior to this moment. I had my arm around my mother’s shoulder. She was snuggled into my chest. My father watched from a chair opposite us.

“I was in the backyard on 92nd street and I saw my mommy kissing my daddy,” she giggled. “They were kissing right there.”

Mom was 83 years old. “They kissed a few times,” she giggled. I squeezed my mom’s shoulder. She was skinny by this time.

She would call me “Frankie” as in “Frankie, I saw my mommy kissing my daddy in the yard.” But today she had forgotten my name. She knew she knew me – at least I think she knew me – but my name was now lost to her. Most of her memories were lost too – although some long-term ones still could be bubble up a little here and a little there.

My Mom was born in 1925. Her father died in the mid-1930’s leaving six kids behind; five daughters and one son. There was no welfare in those days so my mom left school in sixth grade and she and her sisters went to work in the factories. My grandmother cleaned schools. They skimped and saved and they were able to keep their house on 92nd Street in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Where they lived is now an entrance to the Verrazano Bridge.

The son joined the army for World War II. He always volunteered for the most dangerous assignments. I do not know how many enemy soldiers he killed. Those who knew him called him fearless and daring.

My two strong memories of him concerned how much he smoked. He always had a cigarette in his mouth. And second, he would twist my arm behind my back and tell me to say that my father was a “bum” or “I’ll break your arm in half.” I’d cry but I never gave in. I am surprised he didn’t break my arm. Oh, yes, he was a hunter too. That might be my third memory of him. So it was his smoke, my pain and various creatures’ deaths.

The five sisters were loving. They doted on each other. They emotionally supported each other. They had an unbreakable union that lasted until the very last one passed away almost a decade ago.

The sisters held their brother in very high esteem. As a kid, I never told my mother that he tortured me. It wasn’t until I was older, an adult actually, that I told her about him. She wouldn’t believe me. She couldn’t believe me. Then the other male cousins started to tell their tales about him, how he would get each of them alone, and hold a lit cigarette closely over the palm of one trapped hand, daring them to flinch. The sisters started to believe. The female cousins had no tales about him. He spared them.

My mom’s was an immigrant family. Italian laborers. Hard workers. Perhaps the New York City version of the salt of the earth. The sons in such families were often lauded and revered. It was true of my family. It didn’t really matter what the child was like, if he were male, he was premier.

This fearless and daring son sent his army paychecks home during the war and my grandmother saved the money so that when he returned from duty, he received a substantial nest egg. The daughters had worked tirelessly for money through the Great Depression and the War, but they had no nest eggs. Instead, they had supported the family. Their brother took his bank account, and left.

My uncle died at 50; as far as I could tell no male cousin shed a tear. I didn’t go to his wake or funeral.

My mom was the middle sister. She worked until her mid-60s. Her final job was at the World Trade Center. I could talk to my mom about anything.

At another visit, my mother snuggled into me, “I have a picture of my daddy.”  She would always say that and then she’d point to someone in a picture, some relative or friend, and say, “That is my daddy.” It never was.

Until this day.

Up to that time I had never seen my mother’s father.  But this day, on the wall near the couch, was a new photo – an old new photo – a little grainy but it showed the clear picture of a young man. He was dressed in a leather overall and he was standing on the side of an ice-truck. He was an ice distributor, an iceman.

I didn’t look like him. But then I realized that this man was indeed my grandfather. His hands! I looked at his hands. They were my hands or, rather, mine were his hands.

“He is your granddad,” my dad said.

His hands and my hands.

“My daddy,” my mother nodded and then: “I saw my mommy kissing my daddy in the backyard.”

“Where was that?” I asked. “Do you remember the street?”

“My mommy was kissing my daddy.”

I am Frankie, mom, your son.  I have my grandfather’s hands. I have your father’s hands. I held my hands up. “Look at my hands,” I said.

She was looking far away. “My mommy was kissing my daddy,” she said.

In a few days, she stopped talking. In a few weeks, she stopped eating. She died. March 22, 2008.

Frank Scoblete’s web site is www.frankscoblete.com. His books are available from Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, e-books and at bookstores.

Trump: The Art of the Steal

 

Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series (now 25 books!) has a hero who is closer to a superhero or to Tarzan than to an ordinary man. I am guessing that many American men who read these books (such as yours truly) wouldn’t mind being Jack Reacher even for a day.

Is it possible, perhaps even likely, that the President of the United States, Donald Trump, would also like to be Reacher? Is it possible that he stole Jack Reacher’s demeanor and evinced it during the recent protests? Did he borrow a litany of ideas from the second novel in the Reacher series titled Die Trying?

Read these quotes from Die Trying and then hear President Trump echo these very sentiments.

…need to get some dominance here. Situation like this, it’s very important…. Just do it okay? (page 64, Kindle edition)

…gain the upper hand. Establish dominance. Classic siege theory. (page 341, Kindle edition)

…kiss goodbye any hope of dominance. That was to lie down and roll over. From that point on you are their plaything. (page 341, Kindle edition)

A few weeks ago Trump wanted to use the United States military to “dominate” protesters and he seems to have also desired a dominating “occupying force” in America cities.

He tongue-lashed the governors of those states experiencing rioting and looting, telling them they were fools and jerks. “If you don’t dominate, you’re wasting your time. They’re going to run over you, You are going to look like a bunch of jerks. You have to dominate.” (Business Insider, June 2, 2020)

Later that same day Trump ordered that the protesters outside the White House were to be disbursed by tear gas and rubber bullets. It turned out that this was simply a method to clear the way for a photo session with a dominating Trump holding a Bible outside St. John’s Episcopal Church at Lafayette Square. The next day he and Melania stood reverently in front of the statue of John Paul II. What was the message he was sending?

Is Trump trying to be Jack Reacher? Has he bought into the idea that using the military might of America against Americans upholds the American way?

Does he want to dominate because he thinks not doing so makes him a fool and a jerk?

Did Trump’s tongue lashing of the Governors come straight out of a Jack Reacher novel?  Is Trump actually preparing a new book titled The Art of the Steal?

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A Second Virus Attacks!

The coronavirus has caused the world to turn upside down and inside out. My travels have been interrupted; no casinos in the last two months; no trips outside the country either. My wife the Beautiful AP and I are having a sedate life at the moment—the most sedate life of our lives. Our lives now revolve around our home, our pets and Zoom calls.

Our village is quite quiet now. We are stepping back in time to an older, finer world.

Except:

There is a second virus out there; a hideous one, perhaps more hideous than even the coronavirus. It is called the carownervirus (pronounced car-owner-virus) and it entails humans removing the mufflers from their cars and speeding on New York’s highways and boulevards.

Intermittently during the mornings, the days, the evenings and the middle of the night when I get up for a refreshing urinary expulsion, I hear them zooming in the distance as they race one another. The closest parkway is about two miles away but even so that mufflerless cacophony assails my ears.

Who are these life-forms that think removing mufflers and stepping down on a gas pedal makes them special? Are they believers in the idiom I am loud, therefore I am? Are they the adult version of those beings that spent years trying to ruin the educations of all the other kids who wanted to learn something? Is it true that the young idiot usually grows into an older idiot? I do ponder these questions.

The carownervirus might be here (hear) to stay as the infected take over the roads while healthy people hunker down to avoid catching or releasing the coronavirus.

Perhaps those infected by the carownervirus will even have their own PPE uniforms to wear: short-sleeved T-shirts with a pack of unfiltered cigarette rolled up in one sleeve, adorned with gold chains dangling from their necks, along with greased hair and leather jackets bearing their gang’s name (Misfits!).

Will their saying now become for all time, “Hey, Daddy-o! What’s happening?” And when all our lives settle into a new normal, will we be challenged to a perpetual drag race each time we venture on the open road?

I know what I’ll say when I am challenged: “Sorry sir, but I have a bowl of goldfish on the front seat.”

Frank Scoblete’s books are available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, kindle, e-books and at bookstores. Receive Frank’s articles in your email box. Sign up today.