Franklin versus Franklin

 

This information may be apocryphal but so what? Apocryphal stories can be fascinating. A biblical apocryphal story titled “The Wisdom of Solomon” has the author (the smartest man of all time!) caution men not to marry more than one wife, as the anger and conflicts caused by those backbiting women couldn’t be contained.

Ben Franklin and his illegitimate son William Franklin were close for a while, but when the Revolutionary War was brewing William was a “loyalist” to the British, while Ben supported the Revolution. That didn’t enhance their relationship.

William and Ben also disputed which language should be used by Americans; it was a tossup between German and English.  The Germans dominated the northern populace throughout the early days and they were the first of the hated immigrants.  Ben wanted people to speak only English while William leaned towards German. That didn’t enhance their relationship either.

But their big blowout came about because of a bird or, rather, two birds—the bald eagle and the wild turkey. There was a big debate flaring in the colonies as to which bird should be their emblem and later on, the emblem of United States.

William championed the bald eagle because he and his supporters thought the bird was regal and a true monarch of the air. Ben advocated the wild turkey because it was combative and didn’t take any guff from other birds or people. It also tasted a lot better than the bald eagle. Perhaps Ben liked the wild turkey because it was quite promiscuous, enjoying the intimate company of as many lady turkeys as it could.

To this day Americans love turkey, consuming over 750 million pounds of it, according to the University of Illinois Extension.

William’s predilection for the regality of the bald eagle probably came from his love of the British crown and royalty in general. Although not as promiscuous as his father, William did sire his own illegitimate son much like Ben and King Solomon.

Although a close look at the bald eagle will reveal that although it does nail fish and small varmints, it will also chow down on carrion. So it isn’t as regal as William at first thought. Still, unlike the turkey, the bald eagle does not make a habit of attacking people. It’s generally a loner, while the wild turkey prefers gang colors.

Father/son relationships can be fraught with difficulties, as many of you know; just look at Luke Skywalker and his dear old dad, Darth Vader. That relationship cost Luke an arm, although I actually prefer the leg (of a turkey that is).

Visit Frank’s web site at www.frankscoblete.com. His books are available at smile.amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, as e-books and at bookstores.

 

The Worst Players Club on Earth

 

I walked up to the Players Club counter. There was no line and I was able to get to a representative of the Club in a hurry. She was talking to the representative next to her and also checking her fingernails.

“Yeah, well, I told him that he could just pack his bags and go home to his momma if he kept cheating on me and you know what he said? He said his mother loved him more than I did. Well I threw the drink right in his face that’s what I did; smack in the face….”

“Ah, excuse me,” I interrupted.

“Just a minute, I’m talking can’t you see that? God some people,” she said, referring to me. “They think they can just jump into your conversation. Now, where was I?”

“I have some questions about the Players Club,” I said.

“Take care of him fast and we can get back when you’re done,” said her co-worker, a disheveled young man with little sprouts of hair on his face.

“What do you want?” my representative asked me as she checked both sides of her fingers.

“Hi, Ma’am, I just signed up for the Deluxe, Glittery Gold, Super-Dooper Casino Players Club, could you tell me how the points and comps are established?” I asked.

“I don’t have all day, you know, and it’s Miss, not Ma’am, got that? I ain’t that old. Oh, jeez, can’t you just follow the simple formula, for crying out loud? I could really use a cigarette. Joey, baby, when is my break?”

“You just went on a break,” yells Joey, her co-worker, from the position right next to her.

“Could you tell me what that comp formula is?” I asked.

“It is so simple even a two-year old should be able to figure it out. Can’t you figure it out?”

“Help me, please, okay?” I asked.

“Listen now because I don’t want to have to repeat myself. You earn one point for every one hundred dollars you put through the machine and when you have 13,567 points we subtract the weight of one-billionth of the earth from that amount then we divide by 16 and subtract 7 to assess your play. Of course on Tuesdays and Wednesday’s we subtract one ten-billionths of the weight of the planet Pluto from the formula to give you something extra as your slot club return. Good luck because you’ll need it if you gamble in this joint!”

“Look, I didn’t quit understand….”

“I have a whole line of people waiting.”

“Uh, there’s no one behind me,” I said.

“They’re coming. They’re coming.”

“Do you need to know the time?” I asked.

“I’m looking at my watch to see how much of my time you’ve taken.”

“What kind of comps do you give out for what types of play?” I asked.

“You’re full of questions, aren’t you? Oh, jeez, what do you play?”

“Some slots and some tables. I play 25-cent slots. And $5 on the tables.”

“You’re a squirt of a player so you won’t get much. You should play more and maybe we’ll give you something but right now you are just wasting our time when you play. The plastic in your Players Club card costs more than you’re worth.”

“Ah, ha, ha, ha,” roared Joey at that joke. Then a patron came up to him.

“I want to know how much in comps I have?” he asked.

“Can’t you use the automated machine? It’s not hard you know,” said Joey. “They are right over there.” He pointed and the customer begrudgingly obeyed him.

“You don’t get much in comps for my level of play?” I asked my representative.

“You’ll get some little ones and some crummy little gifts every so often, like plastic key chains and some cheap cups with our logo on them and the paint probably has lead in it. What do you want from your level of play anyway? You’re lucky we even give you a Players Club card.”

“I thought every player was valuable to the casino?” I asked.

“Yeah, right, where did you get that idea? I could really use a cigarette. Do you smoke?”

“I never smoked. Mark Twain discouraged me,” I said.

“Who’s he, some dumb doctor?”

“Never mind, thanks for your time,” I said and walked away.

“Yeah, well, you got any more questions we have some kind of booklet.”

“Could I have it?” I asked.

“Go over to hotel registration and they might have one.”

“Thanks,” I said into the air.

Okay the above scenario is not real and I have never met Players Club representatives who are so grossly uncivil and demeaning – and I belong to Players Clubs all over the country and in Canada. But there is some truth in exaggeration.

The purpose of a Players Club is to get players to want to play longer and for more money than they planned to. If you didn’t realize that, give some thought to the casino as a business entity. Any good business wants its products to be attractive so that a customer coming in to buy a toaster just might also spring for the unplanned microwave, if the microwave is presented in an appealing way. The representatives of the business need to be pleasant and friendly and encouraging so that business can thrive.

The representatives I wrote about above were the worst of all possible worlds – who would want to deal with people who were like that or even somewhat like that? No one.

Players must feel they are being rewarded with freebies for being such a great customer – and all players should feel that the casino wants their action, even if it’s small-roller action. But the bottom line is, after all, the bottom line. Good players clubs increase the bottom line for their casinos; bad players clubs don’t.

All the best in and out of the casinos!

Frank Scoblete web site is www.frankscoblete.com. His books are available from smile.amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, kindle, e-books and at bookstores.

Birds and Bugs

I love birds. I hate bugs.

Now there are people who love bugs. They study bugs; they touch them, hold them, they even talk lovingly to them. These people are called entomologists or maniacs. The bugs I hate the most are mosquitoes—those flying derringers of disease who deposit death by way of itchy lumps on one’s skin.

I am a man beloved by mosquitoes. They attack me ceaselessly when I am outdoors or, if one or more have the brazenness to swoop into my house, they have an unquenchable lust to suck every last drop of my blood leaving me a formerly scratching, now lifeless husk on my bed or floor.

Let me give you an example: My wife, the Beautiful AP, and I recently took a leisurely bird walk at our favorite nature preserve at Jamaica Bay. I slathered myself in diethyltoluamide—Deet as it is known in the trade—in the hopes that my tiny but vicious enemies would leave me alone. That stuff is supposed to work, right?

Wrong!

When I got home I had the traditional bites on my exposed skin but these monstrous creatures had even penetrated my clothing, thereby making the rest of my body look as if I were turning into the lizard man.

On that walk in that bucolic environment, I wanted to see beautiful song birds and those awesome raptors dominating the sky, but instead I succumbed to a flying, buzzing, biting bug. We left the walk early and I commenced moaning about my lot in life. I am (I must admit) a good moaner.

Why are mosquitoes attracted to me? It could be my sweet blood or blood type (type 0 is one of their delights) but it can also be the type of bacteria I have on my skin. Yes, these little brutes are attracted to a certain type of bacteria that about 20 percent of us have. I must have it in abundance.

Mankind almost extinguished some of the most wonderful birds on our planet; the eagles, ospreys, and peregrine falcons, among other raptors, trying to eradicate disease-carrying mosquitoes by using DDT, which certainly did kill those little bugs that cause a host of diseases including Zika, West Nile, Malaria, Dengue and the new one Eastern Equine Encephalitis, also known as EEE or Triple E.

Killing the mosquitoes back when was great (in my humble opinion) but discovering that our raptors were laying eggs with shells that were so brittle they broke apart before the offspring could get a claw-hold on life was not so great. DDT was great at killing bugs but awful for raptors.

What am I to do now? I’m buying mosquito-repellant clothing because I’m itching to never have them bite me again.

Visit Frank’s web site at www.frankscoblete.com. His books are available at smile.amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, as e-books and at bookstores.

 

I Beat My Bird Bad!

 

What I wanted to do more than just about anything was beat my older bird, Augustus, and today I did it! I wanted to beat him bad, yes, real bad, for the years of his disdainful disobedience to me. Today would be the day.

Let me back up a little. I have two parrots, Augustus, a monk parrot, who is an old bird of about 22 – 24 (his life expectancy is about 25) and Mister Squeaky who is about seven or eight.

Mister Squeaky is a dynamo. More interesting is that Squeaky is a sexual maniac. I know I am about to lack decorum right after the word “but” but this parrot tries to screw everything. He screws the inside bars of his cage—top, bottom and four sides. He screws them when he is on the outside of them too, which is just about all day.

When he screws he makes all sorts of sounds. I assume they are pleasure sounds.

He screws the toys in his cage; the soft ones and the hard ones. He screws the handles of his cage which are used to transport him to wherever we need to transport him. Since Squeaky and Augustus’s cages are right next to each other, Squeaky goes into Augustus’s cage and screws everything he can find in there. Then he eats Augustus’s food, the same exact food Squeaky has in his own cage.

Oh, don’t feel sad for Augustus because he goes into Mister Squeaky’s cage and eats Squeaky’s food. Except Augustus doesn’t screw around. If a monk parrot can be a monk then Augustus is a true monk—celibate as a strict churchman.

Squeaky wants to be Augustus, who is the alpha bird in the house.

Mister Squeaky is my bird. He obeys my commands. If I tell him, even from across the room, “Go in your cage,” bingo! Squeaky goes into his cage. At 4 pm every day Augustus squawks that he wants to “go sleep.” That time is his bedtime.

So I call across my office, “Okay, guys, in your cage!” Squeaky zips in but Augustus sits atop his cage with his head tilted and his face telling me, “I don’t have to listen to you, bub.” At this point I bring Mister Squeaky’s cage into the dining room where he will stay the evening until he retires at 8 o’clock to have sex through most of his “sleep” time. Squeaky is with my wife and me as we have our usual evenings—meaning my wife, the Beautiful AP, tells me what I should do and I do it. “Lower the set! Stop watching TV and read a book instead.” That is, of course, marriage. Her demand is my command.

Squeaky does not obey my wife’s commands. He is also strong-willed, unlike Mr. Marshmallow, who is me.

Augustus, on the other hand, is my wife’s bird and he obeys her with true affection. They kiss and snuggle. Disgusting!

When I get back into my office Augustus is still on top of his cage, squawking that he wants to go to sleep. When he was young he could actually say, “Go sleep!” But words are not his thing anymore.

When he sees me, he deliberately moves to the back of the top of his cage where it is hard for me to reach him.

Since Augustus has aged he isn’t as dexterous anymore. He finds it hard to move down the bars of his cage and go inside, so I have to help him.

But every day, every damn day, I have to try to reach him across the top of his cage. He enjoys not making it easy for me to reach him.

“Augustus,” I say each and every damn day. “Don’t you want to go to sleep?”

Then I maneuver myself through the labyrinth of my wife’s desk, her chair, her music stand, and her treadmill to get to the back of the cage and that’s when Augustus scoots over to the front of his cage to force me to make the trip in reverse.

We do this several times every damn day, until Augustus relents and lets me pick him up and put him in his cage for a good night’s sleep. The last I see of him when I cover his cage with blankets is his head tilted and that superior smirk upon his face. Yes, a smirk. Parrot owners will tell you that even though a parrot’s face can’t change, you know exactly what it is thinking.

But today I had had it. I was not going to hustle through the obstacle course to get him. He would either come to me or sit outside his cage all night long.

I stood several feet from his cage and just looked at him, my face smirking as best as I could get it to smirk. “You’ll stay out here all night,” I said. “I am never going to chase around your cage again.”

From the living room I could hear Mister Squeaky screwing something. At least one of us was having fun, I thought. Or maybe two, if you count Augustus reveling in being his usual annoying self.

Augustus looked me. I looked at Augustus. Augustus tilted his head. I tilted my head. He squawked. I made some kind of sound back at him.

We looked at each other and then—yes! yes! yes! —Augustus walked to the side of the cage where I stood. I easily picked him up, placed him inside, and covered him for the night.

I won! I won! Yes, I did it! I beat my bird badly. In doing so, I once again established that man—that I! —was the master of the earth, not some recalcitrant parrot.

Flushed with triumph, I decided my next conquest would be my wife. Such a feat requires both strategic and tactical planning, as it is she who has won every encounter for the last 32 years. A man might be the master of the earth, but his wife, damn it! is the master of the universe.

Book Frank Scoblete to speak for your organization.

 

 

 

The Birds Are Coming to Get YOU!

 

“The Birds” is not a novel. Rather it is a short story by Daphne du Maurier that appears in her book The Apple Tree. I’m guessing that you probably know about those birds from Alfred Hitchcock’s movie The Birds.

The short story and the movie are quite different but that doesn’t matter. Both have our flighted friends, now turned enemies, attacking us with horrific designs such as —to put it mildly—wiping us out. Yes, “The Birds” and The Birds both feature fierce, feathered, beaking, clawing killers of planet Earth’s dominant creatures, meaning us, meaning you and me.

Not a nice thought is it? Those often spectacularly-beautiful creatures ripping us to shreds don’t fit into our concept that birds are peaceful, non-aggressive beings out to make the world a more beautiful and loving place. We don’t think of them as “fierce, feathered, beaking, clawing killers,” do we?

Du Maurier’s “The Birds” focuses on a farmer in England in post World War II whose native birds decide to take matters under their own wings and begin the extermination process. It appears that the birds have gone crazy throughout England but no person seems able to communicate with anyone else. The birds have cut our communication channels.

In Hitchcock’s The Birds the small town of Bodega Bay in California gets a visit from the beautiful Tippi Hedren and then from a massive influx of really nasty avian whose purpose is to not only slaughter Tippi, but also to make an unsanitary mess of the town.

Oh, well, this is all fiction, right? Not so fast: I was attacked by a blue jay in Chicago and by one in my backyard in New York. I’m hoping it’s not the same exact bird, because flying from Chicago to New York to dive-bomb my head seems like a very long trip for one bird to achieve basically nothing. Neither blue jay drew blood; both just scared me. I will admit I’m easily scared and blue jays are notoriously tough.

But seriously, birds don’t attack people except for the occasional blue jay protecting its nest, right? Again, not so fast: Just go to the Internet and write in “mass bird attacks” or “birds killing humans” or find out what’s going on in Houston, Texas. Our feathered friends seem to have more aspects to them than we think or wish or pray. Sometimes we are indeed their prey.

But look on the bright side; we eat more turkeys on Thanksgiving than turkeys have eaten us and we actually have chicken farms that allow millions of us such delight in eating those feathered morsels every day.

The birds have not yet evened the score. Maybe though, maybe though, they just need a little more time.

Visit Frank’s web site at www.frankscoblete.com. His books are available from smile.amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, e-books and at bookstores.

 

 

 

 

“Hell, No! I Won’t Go!”

My wife, the Beautiful AP, wants me to participate more in The South Shore Audubon Society so that, as she says, “You don’t become more of a hermit.” She is wrong. I am not a hermit; seriously I’m not.

“You are going to the protest of the Williams Pipeline on Wednesday in Rockville Centre,” she said in her I will not brook any dispute voice.

“I don’t want to go to the protest,” I brooked. “I have work to do; a few deadlines are coming up.”

“You are going to the protest at Kaminsky’s office,” she said. (Kaminsky is a New York State senator.)

“Oh, for God’s sake,” I brooked again.

“You need to take a stand,” she said.

“Oh, come on, I made calls and sent emails; how much more do you want me to do?”

“It’s Noon until one o’clock. One measly hour,” she said. “You can take a break from writing.”

I stopped brooking.

I have learned that marriage is a loving relationship between two people where one is always right and the other is the husband. I have on some days awakened in the morning, turned to my wife and said, “You are right. I’m sorry.” That’s before anything actually happened that day but if something did happen, then I was covered.

“And I will make you a sign,” she said generously.

“I have to carry a sign?” I was almost at the whining stage.

“Of course, it’s a protest,” she said.

I nodded. Then I said, “How do you want me to dress?”

“You can wear shorts and even your crocs,” she said.

“The shorts I’m wearing now?”

“No, those make you look like a bum,” she said.

“You told me the other day that the other pair I had made me look like a bum.” Was it possible I could win this argument by trapping her in her own words?

“Those make you look like less of a bum than you do now,” she said.

So I lost.

Okay, I have two pairs of shorts; one makes me look like a bum and the other makes me look like less of a bum. I choose (because I must) to look like less of a bum.

She made me a sign. It looked great. I was now ready to protest the possibility that this pipeline might be brought to New York to carry gas.

The Williams Company says we are going to run out of gas; the people I am protesting with say that there are alternatives. Truthfully, I haven’t studied this enough to know what’s what scientifically, but I do know that some of the people      I’m going to march with seem to have a handle on the issue.  One thing is certain; my wife has a handle on me.

The day of the event, I told AP to call me from her job (she is a librarian) and wake me at 11am so I can scurry out of the house to get to Rockville Centre early to find a parking space. I had been up since 3am writing and I knew I would need a nap before I tackled protesting.

“Be friendly and charming to the people there,” were her last words to me.

“Okay, okay,” I said as my last words. Friendly and charming? Am not I always friendly and charming?

On protest day, I sat in my recliner and immediately fell asleep. No worries about oversleeping, because my wife will call me at 11.

I opened my eyes for a moment, secure in the knowledge that I had plenty of time. After all, AP hadn’t called me yet. I looked at the clock and it was 11:13! She forgot to call me! Damn! (Admittedly, part of me was gleeful that my Beautiful AP had made such a glaring mistake. She couldn’t win a debate about this! I would finally win one.)

I jumped from my recliner and ran into the bedroom. Where the hell were my “not as much of a bum” shorts? Where the hell had I put them a few days ago? I ran around the bedroom like a chicken without a head (that’s South Shore Audubon birding-talk).

I looked under the bed; I looked in drawers. They were on the bed. My wife had put them on the bed, along with a t-shirt. There was a note on them: “The sign is in the car. Be friendly and charming. Wear this so you won’t look like more of a bum. Have fun!”

In the back seat there (of course!) was a beautiful handmade sign. It said: Just Say No to the Williams Pipeline. (But I still had her on that wake-up call.)

And off I went.

About a mile and a half from my home, I was to turn left onto Lakeview Avenue and go straight into Rockville Centre which was about two miles away. Lakeview Avenue does actually have a view of a pretty lake at one point.

Oh, crap! There was construction on that road. I’d have to take another street to get farther up so I could get onto Lakeview from there. I turned left onto Hempstead Avenue as I was at an intersection called the Five Corners which has five different streets converging on themselves; one of which is Lakeview.

I turned right almost immediately onto Nassau Boulevard which is the block on which my beautiful wife grew up. I got to the end of the block and, oh for God’s sake, I couldn’t turn either way onto Rolling Street as a construction truck was on the left side and another construction truck was on the right side. They were huge and there was absolutely no room to go around them, and going straight ahead would land me in someone’s living room.

Time was ticking.

As I was about to make a quick U-turn to find another route where there was no construction, a third truck had shown up, right behind me! Right behind me! I couldn’t go anywhere as this monstrosity had taken up the whole street. I was trapped like a chicken without a head is trapped by a farmer as it falls to the ground stone dead. (I’m not going to do anymore gruesome South Shore Audubon bird references.)

If I’m stuck here I will never get to the demonstration. My wife will kill me the way people kill turkeys on Thanksgiving! (More death in my analogies. I’m beginning to think like a killer since I joined the South Shore Audubon Society.)

So I made a courageous choice right then and there. I drove up onto the sidewalk, skirting the truck and headed back down Nassau Boulevard.

I did finally get to Lakeview Avenue, away from the construction. At 10 minutes to Noon I arrived in Rockville Centre where parking a car is a competitive sport. Would I find a parking space within a mile of my destination?

Yes! A car pulled out and I quickly zoomed into the space. I was just around the corner from where we were slated to meet. Glorious!

I grabbed the sign from the backseat, fed the meter every quarter I had, and headed to the corner. As I turned I looked down the block. It was empty. We were supposed to meet outside Kaminsky’s office which was about 200 feet away. No one was there except some mailwoman pushing her cart.

Did I have the wrong day?

Then I saw them; about 20 people standing outside the lobby of the train station. Many looked like left-over hippies from the ‘60s and ‘70s. Some folks were young —but most people today seem young since I’ve gotten much older than I was in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Maybe I looked like some aging hippie too.

Several members of the South Shore Audubon Society were expected to be there. Not one.

So I stood in the midst of the 20. I was smiling charmingly and trying to look friendly. Some people smiled back at me. At least I think they were smiling back at me. A lot of them looked as if they were bums, just like me! Take that, you Beautiful AP, some of us do not have to look corporate as…damn it, some guy in a three-piece suit just showed up.

Everyone had signs; mostly homemade and almost all of them were not so hot. Mine was the best—I mean, my wife’s was the best. I mean mine (my wife’s) even had holders in the back to make it easy to put your arms through it. That’s craftsmanship.

Then there were some professionally made flags on poles that had seen much better days long, long ago. These were addressed to Andrew Cuomo, New York’s governor. Wait. I thought Cuomo was against the pipeline. That was confusing. Why yell at him if he already stated he is against the thing we are all against?

Audubon members arrived: Franklin was carrying a huge bag of pistachio nuts— unsalted” he announced. Richard, who could have been a movie star in the 1920s, with his classic good looks, arrived. That guy never looks like a bum.

Our VP, Brien who is a terrific writer and hard-hitting activist, stood next to me. A lovely lady, and like my wife, a librarian.

Across from me arrived Jim Brown, another former librarian (there’s something about those librarians) and his wife Gail, another director. Jim is a past president of the South Shore Audubon Society and he is also a big wheel in the Green Party of Long Island.

Yes, you could say this was a progressive demonstration. Some of these people look at me weirdly when they find out that I have friends that range from super-conservative all the way to socialist. Hey, I take ‘em as I like ‘em.

Now Franklin is an interesting guy. On our bird walks, he collects garbage to throw out once he gets home. He also knows a lot about plants some of which he rubs on his skin to keep the mosquitoes away.

“Hey, Frank, I bought one of your books – the confession one,” said Franklin.

“Ah, Confessions of a Wayward Catholic,” I said.  I love it when people buy my books. I just love it. From 5th grade on my life was basically dedicated to having people read my stuff or, at the very least, notice me.

“I gave it to my mother,” said Franklin. “She’s a hundred years old.”

“Wow!” I said. “I hope she liked it.”

“She hated it. She said she didn’t like your Irish humor.”

What the hell? My Irish humor? What does that mean? Oh, come on, she’s a hundred years old—an old battle ax right? What does she know about humor, Irish or otherwise?

I looked at Franklin and swallowed hard. I tried to stay charming and friendly to him as I turned away from him. I was elated when a whole ton of pistachios fell out of his bag. “You might have to clean that up,” I said to him (charmingly and friendly) pointing to the mess on the sidewalk. Then I walked over to Jim and Gail.

Did Franklin have to tell me my book sucked? Really? Couldn’t he have lied and told me his mother loved it and I had made her last days a fun experience?

More people had arrived while I was having my heart broken by Franklin. I noticed Marilyn, another very active board member of the Audubon Society. She took some flyers to hand out to passersby.

“You know,” I said to Jim and Gail. “This might look like a walk for affordable senior-citizen housing.” They laughed. See? I am funny.

The three community organizers leading the protest, two young women and one young man, herded us cattle to Senator Kaminksy’s doorstep.

I was checking out the new arrivals when suddenly a loud, deep, female voice started singing the Star-Spangled Banner—through a hospital mask! She had trouble hitting all the notes, which may or may not have been due to the mask. But people clapped amiably when she finished and then toddled off into oncoming traffic. I was relieved she wasn’t a part of our demonstration. There is a hospital nearby.

Now the male community activist went over what chants we would be using that day.

Chanting is a brilliant way to stop people from thinking. Warriors of all types chant before battle; religious people chant in churches and temples; picketers and protesters chant too. Monks chant their mantras to get them to go where no man or woman has gone before. I’m not a public chanter.

Then Guy, another member of our board of directors, came up alongside me. Guy is an activist’s activist. He knows every politician on our section of earth, and he belongs to several societies and civic clubs. Guy also has a huge pond in his yard – right there that endears him to me as I am a fish lover.

“So I see we’re making an activist of you,” he said.

“I did this long ago,” I said. That’s true. My past had some interesting demonstrative moment. I led two demonstrations when I was in college against the Vietnam War. Unfortunately, too many of the demonstrators seemed to hate our soldiers who were just guys who had been drafted. I had friends in the army, guys who didn’t go to college and were not deferred as I was.

In my first year of teaching three of us decided we didn’t like the superintendent of schools’ policies so we dressed like priests, went in front of the huge picture window of his office, and hung him in effigy. The superintendent wasn’t happy about that and was probably relieved when the principal later fired me for a different, but equally outstanding offense.

I’ve led union marches; I even once emptied an auditorium when the PTA allowed skits that maliciously made fun of teachers. I simply stood up and told those who were disgusted with this crap to follow me. A thousand students and teachers walked out, leaving the PTA parents stunned.

We planted ourselves outside Kaminsky’s office and the chants began. I didn’t chant; I just looked over the approximately 50 people who were now there. I was holding my (wife’s) beautiful sign but I was looking at each and every demonstrator to see which ones were crazy. Political action can be much like religious action. Some people wrap themselves in their beliefs to the point where they are—let’s be frank here—totally and completely nuts. Unthinking, chanting nuts.

There were some hollow-eyed idealists and others amped up way beyond the level of this event. After all, we weren’t confronting hordes of soldiers of the Chinese regime out to club us into submission. Our group was chanting against politicians such as Kaminsky and Cuomo who probably would vote as we wanted them to vote.

But most of the people present? Just regular folks.

For the first 15 minutes we stood in a horseshoe formation outside the office building. The prongs of the horseshoe touched the front façade; the curve was at the street. Between the prongs was a big flag.

The three community organizers walked about inside the horseshoe conducting the chants. People were into this big time. Individual protesters would shout out as if they were in some evangelical church meeting. “You tell ‘em! You tell ‘em!”

Then one of the young women organizers stepped into the center between the prongs and called everyone to order. Silence. She then thanked all the groups that showed up to demonstrate today, and the list was interminable. There seemed to be more groups represented than there were actual people there.

The speeches began. The first was Jim Brown who represented the Green Party and the South Shore Audubon Society. He had a prepared speech which he read and it was a good one; comprehensive, intelligent, and devoid of cheap chanting tricks.

As the next speaker was introduced, everyone noticed a newcomer. The newcomer would steal the show. No subsequent speaker could hold the crowd’s attention once the newcomer showed up—not that the subsequent speakers had much to say anyway. Nope, Fido had arrived at the protest and all eyes were on him.

Around the fourth speaker some woman with dyed blonde hair on a 60-year-old head grabbed Fido’s leash and brought the dog to the center of the horseshoe, so all of us could see her romping with him. She pet, cuddled, coddled, and commanded the dog to perform tricks. She completely upstaged the speaker!

While I was happy that the speeches were over, one of the organizers announced with great fanfare that there was to be one final speaker. Everyone applauded, although no person had yet been announced.

Then the person was announced—doggie-girl! The very one who had stolen the attention of most of the crowd with her antics with the dog, got up and called for the crowd to…chant. Oh, boy, would my wife hear about this!

Finally we took a group picture and my civic duty was done.

Will I attend other demonstrations? I don’t know. Ask my wife.

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The Warriors of July 4th

 

I like the idea of celebrating our country on July 4th but I do not enjoy the local residents exploding monstrous fireworks near our house. These bombs go off late into the night and some houses have even had small fires on their rooftops when roman candles land on them. Happened to my house one July 4th.

If people want to see fireworks they can go to the parks or to the East River between Manhattan and Brooklyn and have themselves a ball watching real professionals light up the night skies.

At 6:30 AM on this July 4th I went to my local supermarket to get some cold cuts for the day. Usually at 6:30 there aren’t many people – or any people – in the store, but today at the deli counter there were three people, a elderly woman in the process of ordering, a gray-haired old guy, and a short guy of maybe 40 years old waiting patiently.

I stood next to the short guy. We nodded at each other.

Behind the counter was Fred Laconic, who was the opposite of the meaning of his last name, and something of a pain in the ass if you were in a hurry. He would regale you with his ideas from the many “important” books he had read.

“Do you know people are idiots?” he once asked me as I was waiting to get my cheese. “Complete and utter idiots?”

“Ah,” I said. I have mentioned the sound “ah” before. It is an utterance that can be used to stop a conversation or at least one’s participation in a conversation. When it is used properly it merely means you heard the person talking but you had no real response. It usually works well. But with Fred? Not so much.

“I am going to kill my older brother!”

“Ah.”

The elderly woman who was ordering walked down the counter. “Could I have a taste of that ham please?”

Fred cut her a small slice of ham and gave it to her dangling on a plastic fork.

“Not so good,” she said wolfing down the meat. I can’t stand the supermarket nibblers who think they are entitled to samples of everything. You even see them in the fruit and vegetable aisles grabbing loads of produce and shoveling them into their gaping mouths.

“Good morning,” said the short-guy to me after he had nodded his hello. “A great day, the 4th of July isn’t it? The celebration of the greatest country of all time.”

I nodded. Please, please, don’t get Fred involved in….

“Don’t give me that crap!” said Fred Laconic. “This country isn’t the greatest country of all time. We’re a face with a lot of pimples; religious nuts and conservatives of all types. You want a great democracy go to ancient Greece!”

“Let me taste some of your Swiss cheese,” said the elderly woman.

He slowly sliced her a small piece of Swiss cheese, handed it to her on another plastic fork. She smelled it as if it were an expensive wine and then gobbled it down. “I’ll take an eighth of a pound of that,” she said. He started slicing it for her when she waved her hand. “No, no, I changed my mind. I’ll have an eighth of a pound of white American cheese.”

“To celebrate the 4th!” said the old guy in front of the short guy.

“You think we have a free country?” said Fred. “We don’t. Just about everyone is brain washed and has been for centuries. We had slavery for crying out loud. Our so-called founding fathers had slaves. That’s some free country, ha!”

Well, his ancient Greece had slavery too – probably the majority of the population of those Greek city-states did not allow women or the salves to vote. Some of those states had more slaves than citizens. But I wasn’t getting involved in that conversation. Picking out the faults of the United States is easy. But I always think of such talk to be the equivalent of looking at some pimples on an otherwise good-looking face.

Allowing slavery was the worst decision our founders made. I sometimes flirt with the idea that those geniuses who formed our nation should have just told the South and anyone else in our land practicing slavery that such would not be allowed in our new union.

Maybe we shouldn’t have broken away from England? Maybe. After all England outlawed slavery in 1833 without a Civil War. I wonder if that thought is sinful for an American to ponder, that maybe our country started on the wrong foot – a shackled foot for some of the population?

I don’t know the answers to almost every question I’ve ever asked myself. That’s how it is with me.

“We are ruled by the ad agencies!” Fred said forcefully. “We have no free will!”

Fred looked right at me. “You’ve read all the great modern day atheists. I know that.” He then started naming the authors, “Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens, Carl Sagan,,,”

I held up my hand to stop him. You see I had once made the mistake of having a conversation with him one morning about the group known as the “new atheists” and that conversation made him always regale me with his new atheist ideas. I really don’t want to be harangued so early in the morning even though I have read all the “new atheists.”

The elderly woman pointed to the baloney, “You are ignoring me,” she said to Fred, who looked at her as if she were a worm.

“Let me have a piece of that baloney over there,” she pointed. Fred sliced a piece of baloney for her and then he continued with his baloney. “There is no God; anyone who is intelligent knows that. But the society has been trained to believe in fairy tales. It keeps them quiet and controlled. We are all just subatomic particles working ourselves out. We are not conscious. We just think we are.” Isn’t the saying, “I think therefore I am.” (Or was it, “I doubt therefore I am.”)

“A small slice of cheddar please,” said the elderly woman.

The short guy turned to me and said, “Isn’t she full by now? She’s had her breakfast right here.”

The other guy left. It was now just the elderly woman, the short guy and me. And of course Fred, demonstrably waving his arm in the air, “I find myself disgusted with people. They are fools!”

“Let me have an eighth of a pound of salami, the cheapest one,” said the elderly woman. “Let me have a little nibble of that too.”

“Jesus Christ,” said the short guy.

“Jesus Christ,” said Fred. “He’s a joke.”

Fred obligingly did as requested for the elderly woman. He then slid over the small amount she had bought.

“Thank God it is over,” said the short guy as the woman started to move away from the deli counter.

“Oh, crap,” said Fred, “I forgot to put on the number sheets for customers to take.” He flipped a switch and the light went over the machine that gave out tickets to tell you what place you were in line. The short guy has just ordered something so he didn’t have to get a ticket.

I strolled over to the machine to take a ticket but this skinny guy of about 70-years-old practically sprinted to it and grabbed a ticket before I could reach the machine to get mine. I took the ticket after his.

“What numbers do you guys have?” asked Fred.

“My number is seventy-four,” said the skinny guy.

“I’m seventy-five,” I smiled. “But I should go next since I have been waiting while that woman tasted everything in the case,” I smiled again. I figured the skinny guy would let me go ahead of him because I had been there long before him. I was also being very friendly.

“No,” he said. “My number is lower than your number so I go ahead of you.” Then he took out a sheet of paper with eight-trillion things on it that he was ordering. Remember this was, of course, July 4th and he was stocking up for whatever the hell he was doing to celebrate the day.

“But I have been waiting here for over fifteen minutes,” I said.

“That’s right,” said the short guy. “We had a long wait.”

“So I really am next,” I said.

“The rule is,” said the skinny guy pontifically. “The lower number goes before the higher number. That, sir, is the rule in case you didn’t know.”

“Look,” I said, almost beggingly, “I have to get one thing, one thing. That’s all. Some Swiss Cheese.”

“I have the ticket that’s ahead of yours, sir,” said the skinny man, now looking up and down his monstrous list of items.

“Excuse me! Excuse me!” It was that elderly woman again. “Egg salad. Can I have a taste of egg salad to see if I want to buy it?”

“Lady,” said the skinny guy, “I am next after this guy,” he pointed to the short guy. “You have to wait your turn just like everyone else.”

“Fred, hey Fred,” I said. “Aren’t I before this guy?”

“I never interfere with customers,” said Fred. “Work it out among yourselves.”

“Lady,” said the skinny guy. “You aren’t getting ahead of me.” And he gave her the thumb to get away from the counter.

“Well, I never!” she remonstrated and walked off in a huff.

The short guy got his order and turned to the skinny guy and said, “He’s next (meaning me), and you should let him go next.”

“I have the lower number,” he said.

I haven’t had a fight in fifty years. But now I was ready to re-enter the arena.

Could I take this skinny guy? Maybe. You never know. He could be in great shape as opposed to the whale-like condition I’m in. He could be some MMA kind of guy but he didn’t look anything like that. He looked as if he smoked. The fight wouldn’t last long if I did the usual routine. Left jab! Right cross! And a powerful left hook! One swiftly after the other. I might be able to knock this piece of dung on his ass, get my Swiss Cheese and leave the store.

So I looked at him and I was truly ready to fight him in the deli section of my local supermarket.

We stared at each. I said in my scary voice, “I’m going next.” Just then, the elderly woman came back with the store manager. “I was ahead of these gentlemen,” she said. “But they wouldn’t let me order my two pounds of egg salad. They were totally disrespectful. You are going to lose a lot of business if you allow people such as these men with no manners to get ahead of an old woman.”

The store manager looked at us and made his pronouncement. “The woman is next.”

I looked at the elderly woman. I looked at Fred who was ignoring all of this. I looked at the skinny guy. Then I turned and walked out of the store.

The last I heard was the elderly woman saying, “I’d like a taste of the potato salad.”

I’ll save my return to the ring for some other time.

Frank’s books are available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, e-books and at bookstores.

Please, Just a Regular Haircut

My hair is curly and thick. It used to be really blonde, then turned brown in my twenties and now it is completely gray. I don’t mind that because it has stayed curly and thick.

There have actually been people who thought I wear a wig because very few men my age have such a great head of hair. I was once doing a talk in Las Vegas and some idiot came up behind me after I was done and pulled my hair.

“Hey, hey, it’s real!” he shouted to a friend. “You win the bet!” Some people have no manners. I told the guy that I should share in the win since my head hurt from the pulling of my hair. They laughed and left.

But the biggest problem I have is when I go for a haircut. Most of the barbers in my area do not speak English well. Those who do, especially the young ones, don’t really know how to cut my kind of hair. An electric clipper just doesn’t work that well on it and the older guys, what few are left in the profession, just cut from rote and do a crummy job as my hair is all different lengths when they are finished.

So the barbershop I am reduced to patronizing is owned by people who have trouble with our language. It is the closest to my home.

So this morning I entered the shop.

“Hullo!” said the owner who was trimming some bald guy’s tuft of hair. The barber next to him held open the apron he’d put over me.

“Hi,” I said to both of them.

I sat down in the chair.

“I’ll have a regular haircut and a beard trim. Leave the lines I already have on the beard; I don’t want it cut near to my chin. I keep it this way so the flab on my neck doesn’t show too much,” I said, waiting for a laugh on my last line. Nothing.

I continued: “Make sure you cut the hair sprouting out my ears and nose, and do my eyebrows,” I said. “Those are recommendations from my wife.”

My barber looked at the owner. The owner said to him, “Kaže da mu se sviđa sve kratko.” My barber nodded and turned to me nodding.

“Shurt,” he said. He rolled the “r” a little.

“Not short,” I said. “A regular haircut.”

“Shurt,” he said.

“No, regular,” I said.

He put the apron over me and took out an electric clipper. “Shurt,” he said.

I looked over at the owner. “Give me some help here.”

The owner said, “Kaže da mu se sviđa sve kratko.” My barber nodded and turned to me smiling and said, “Shurt.”

“Regular, normal, regular,” I said.

“Shurt,” he smiled.

I looked at him. He was nodding and smiling up a storm. I gave up. Let him cut it shurt. And he did. I looked as if I had just joined the Marines.

When he had finished and started with my beard I repeated to him not to cut it too short and to keep the lines on it the same. He looked over at the owner who said, “Kaže da mu se sviđa sve kratko.”

My barber smiled, nodded, placed the clipper on my beard and took a huge chunk of hair off. You could see more skin than beard. What the hell? I was stuck because a big section of my beard was so short that every section of my beard now had to be mowed the same length.

My hair was now short and my beard had almost disappeared.

He then did my eyebrows (he left them too long) and my ear hair (he left too many bristles) and my nose hair (he left a few sticking out). Gray hair sticking out of your nose looks as if something else is coming out of your nose; if you get my drift.

I gave the guy a good tip; I always tip well as that was my training in Brooklyn, New York where tipping is the true sign of a man—even a man with short hair and a beard that looks exactly like a five o’clock shadow, and with something gray sprouting out of his nose. I tip, therefore I am. It’s an old Brooklyn expression.

When I got home my wife, the Beautiful AP, looked at me and said, “My god, your hair is way too short!”

“Shurt,” I said. “It’s pronounced shurt.”

Frank’s books are available at Amazon.com, Kindle, Barnes and Noble, e-books and at bookstores.

 

 

 

 

 

Lover Come Back

 

It was 1970. I was 23 years old.

Peter Hemmings arrived right on time. We were to meet at 8 pm at O’Leary’s Pub and Dance Hall and at 8 pm my wife and I were there as were Lucy and Gorgo (we called him “Gorgo” after the famous British monster). Peter came in too and we all took a large table in the back of the room, as far away from Simon Says Banjo and Band that would be blasting its music all night long. Simon was a teacher at our school and we felt compelled to go to the Pub when he was playing.

Simon’s band was as loud as loud could be but no member actually played the banjo.

“So what did you think of tonight’s set so far?” Simon would ask.

“Great, great,” I’d say which meant Jesus Christ was that loud.

“Yeah, yeah,” he’d agree. “I thought it was great. Someday we’ll be discovered.”

“Yep, someday,” I agreed; which meant Keep your teaching job. It has a good retirement plan.

“Hi Peter,” said Lulu, my wife at the time, (the six-year divorce travail wouldn’t happen for another 16 years, so now we were cordial).

“Peter, great to see you,” said Gorgo, whose given name was George. Gorgo worked in a computer lab, all very top secret.

“Tonight should be fun,” said Peter who was a little shy; not a lot, but a little. “I guess everyone is late.”

“Uh,” said Lucy. “Ah” said Lulu. Gorgo just looked at them and then said. “Most of your teacher friends make it a point to be punctual. It might have something to do with living your working life based on bells.”

“Where is everyone?” I asked. “Anyway let’s order wings and fries and drinks while we are waiting to order those things when the others get here.”

“I haven’t met any of your school friends,” Peter said to Lucy who taught second grade; Lulu didn’t teach and she didn’t work either. She was “finding herself” in those days and it took about 16 years to find that “herself” never really wanted to work and thus she hadn’t. She used to stay at home, when we didn’t have kids, and also when we did have kids, reading British murder mysteries where the wives killed the husbands for sundry reasons.

“I’m looking forward to it, a nice night out,” finished Peter. He was a hell of a nice guy; six-foot tall, thin as a rail, snow-white skin, with white hair and a face that could turn red at the slightest embarrassment. He never went out in the sun for fear of roasting alive.

“I am sure the girls are going to be pretty,” laughed Lucy and then Lulu laughed too.

Peter’s face reddened.

At 8:30 Katie arrived. We were originally scheduled to meet two weeks ago but Lucy said that Katie was putting herself on a “strict diet” to be ready to go out with, “uh, friends.” I didn’t take her up on that by saying, “That’s stupid. Everyone has to wait on Katie?” But I knew that would cause Lucy to get into high dudgeon with Lulu supporting her all the way.

Gorgo asserted that early feminists supported each other all the time, no matter how stupid. One would shout out: “Men should all be killed!” “Yes, sister, you say that lady!”

To Gorgo married feminists talked a strong game. He thought they were all “full of it.”

Katie was a woman with big bones, as they called it. She wasn’t fat per se but if you were a betting person by the third year of marriage put your money on the fact she’d be ballooning.

According to Lucy who told Lulu which I overheard, Katie had lost 15 pounds in two weeks, a remarkable achievement considering this was just going to be a group of friends meeting for a good time. Why would the 29-year-old Katie go on such a strict diet? Made no sense to me or to Gorgo. “What the hell is wrong with her?” he asked. I think Katie told people she was 29 ever since she became 29 about three years before but I didn’t say anything about that. In marriage it is often best to just shut up.

Katie was dressed to the nines; a red mini-skirt which was too small and too tight; a see-through blouse that showed her large bra-busting bosom. Her dyed blonde hair was puffed up and held together with some kind of sweet smelling glue. She was perfumed to the hilt.

She stood over us at the table and made her hands go up and down her body: “I needed to finish this,” she said teasingly.

“You look great,” said Lucy.

“Absolutely,” chimed Lulu.

“How come everyone else is late?” asked Gorgo.

“Uh,” said Lulu.

“They couldn’t make it,” said Lucy. Gorgo threw her a look.

Katie nodded to Peter and gave her version of a sexy smile.

“You are all mine, handsome,” said Katie to Peter. Peter turned red. Gorgo threw Lucy a weird look and then he weird-looked at me. I gave the “what the hell is happening?” look back at him.

“You mean no one else at your school could make this?” I asked Lucy.

“No,” she said definitively.

“Oh, enough of this; let’s all have our drinks,” said Lulu. Katie yelled at the waiter to bring more wings and a “large mug” of beer, which was the pub’s specialty and a double shot of scotch for her. She also ordered a glass of whipped cream.

Katie squeezed in right next to Peter who squirmed a little out of the way so Katie wouldn’t wind up on his lap. “So what’s the conversation? I love a good conversation,” said Katie wiggling her large breasts a little.

“We were basically talking about Nixon and…” I started.

“Oh, forget this president stuff,” said Katie. “That’s all I hear, Nixon this and Nixon that. Peter how many children do you want?”

I almost choked on my drink.

“Well, I, I, never really, you know, I, I never really thought about that very much,” he said.

“You should,” said Katie. “You are getting on in years and you have to plan for your marriage.”

“I’m twenty-four,” said Peter.

Silence.

“I wonder if Nixon has a good marriage,” said Gorgo breaking the silence.

“I think the band should be starting to play again,” I said.

“I love music, don’t you, Peter?” and then she gave her “cute” little-girl smile and asked seductively, “Can I call you by a better name?”

“Huh?” uttered Peter.

“Peter is so formal. We should have especially cute names for each other, don’t you agree?” asked Katie and then she raised her eyebrows up and down the way Groucho Marx used to do. (Gorgo whispered in my ear: “She shaved her eyebrows. Those are made with a pencil. Jesus Christ.”)

“You just met,” I said. Lulu gave me a look, meaning the wife look indicating the husband should stay as quiet as possible. “Well,” I said. “They did just meet.” I got another of those looks.

“I am sure that you have special names for each other,” said Katie looking at Lucy and Lulu. Then she signaled the waiter. “Bring us twenty-four mozzarella sticks.” Then she looked at us, “You know the Italians in Brooklyn call mozzarella mutzadel? What’s with that?” Pause. “God I am so hungry, I could eat a gazelle.”

The waiter left with his new order. In a moment he returned with Katie’s drinks and that glass of whipped cream.

“I love to put my whole mouth on the whipped cream glass and slurp it all down,” said Katie doing her eyebrow thing. “I love slurping cream.” She stage-whispered this to Peter. She then put the whole top of the glass in her mouth and sucked down half of the whipped cream.

“It’s not the fresh kind,” she said. “I know fresh cream when I taste it.”

The band started playing again as Gorgo whispered in my ear, “She’s psychotic.”

Lucy kicked George under the table. “Shut up,” she whispered.

“I know what cute name I can have for you,” said Katie. “Pea-TEA with the emphasis on the word tea because you are drinkable.” And she put the top of the whipped-cream glass in her mouth again.

“Holy shit,” said Gorgo into my ear.

“What did you say?” asked Lulu.

“I didn’t say anything,” I said.

I looked over at Peter who was trying to move away from Katie who now seemed glued to him. “What do you think Pea-TEA?”

“We, uh, just met,” he stammered.

“But I can feel the heat, can’t you Pea-TEA?” she said. “The heat is building; I can feel it.”

I hadn’t noticed but Katie had finished her mug of beer and her double scotch. She called out to the waiter, “More!” and held up her three empty glasses.

The waiter brought over the drinks right away.

“Bottoms up!” he said.

Katie looked at Peter and said, “I always like my bottom up.” And she wiggled her eyebrows.

“I’m gonna be sick,” whispered Gorgo and he was kicked again by Lucy.

I got a kick too from Lulu. “I didn’t say anything,” I said.

“You thought it,” said Lulu.

Katie took a swig of beer, then downed her scotch and put the new glass of whipped cream to her mouth, “Watch this Pea-TEA,” she said. Then she put her mouth on the glass and sucked down all the cream at once. “I love cream!”

“Go ahead, kick me,” said Gorgo. Lucy kicked him.

“So boys, what cute names do you call your wives?” asked Katie, swigging more beer and motioning to the waiter to bring her another scotch, another beer and another glass of whipped cream. That would be three rounds of drinks for her already.

“Do you really want more cream?” asked Gorgo. Then he turned to Lucy, “Don’t you dare kick me again. I think I’m bleeding.” He lifted his left pants leg. “Look at how red this is.” It was indeed red but not as blood red as Peter’s face which looked as if all the red corpuscles in his body had decided to hold a conference in his cranium.

Thankfully the band was so loud you couldn’t hear these private conversations that we “guys” were having. The loudness was much like wedding bands that think you are there to hear them as opposed to attending a wedding.

Katie wasn’t listening to any of this. She was ogling Peter who looked as if he were a trauma victim in a war photo.

“Guys now tell me the cute names of your wives,” said Katie after a pause to finish the last of her beer and swallow several chicken wings in one long suck, slide and gulp. Some of the chicken sauce rolled down her chin and fell onto her blouse.

“Cute names please,” she almost demanded. “Cute names fellas!”

“I call her Lucy,” said Gorgo nodding to Lucy. Lucy frowned.

“Lulu,” I said nodding to Lulu. Lulu frowned.

Katie stared at us for a moment and then she rubbed Peter’s arm which was now almost as red as his face. “I have the perfect name for me, call me Kay-TEA! Our names go together Kay-TEA and Pea-TEA! How do you like that everyone?”

Peter looked at her. I looked at her. Gorgo looked at her. Lucy and Lulu laughed.

“You know,” said Kay-TEA, “we are like Doris Day and Rock Hudson. The heat between us is making me sweat. I loved their movie Lover Come Back. I love Rock Hudson. What a man!” Pause. “People think I look like Doris Day.”

Now even Lucy and Lulu were quiet. Gorgo and I looked at Pea-TEA; had a haunted look. Katie didn’t look anything like Doris Day and the all-white, but now red, Peter did not look anything like the dark-haired Rock Hudson.

Katie finished another round of drinks. The waiter said, “I’m sorry but we have run out of whipped cream.” Kay-TEA loudly laughed, then looked at her trauma victim Pea-TEA and said, “I guess three creams in one night is enough…” she did her eye-browing, “Don’t you think Pea-TEA?”

Pea-TEA had a distant look. Did he actually see her?

There was silence as the band took another break. It was then we could hear the loud sucking sound Kay-TEA made as she slurped down the meat from the chicken wings alternating with eating handfuls of ketchup-covered fries. Her chin now seemed to have a small but steady stream of dribble-sauce going down it.

“I am so happy we met,” she said to Pea-TEA. When she rubbed his arm she got some sauce on him. He didn’t seem to notice. “I am so hungry,” she said. “For food and…” she gave him a sexy look.

“I am sure,” she said, slurring her words a little now, “that there is some real heat between us. Everyone can’t you all feel that heat? We are Doris Day and Rock Hudson.”

Pea-TEA just stared ahead now. I wondered if his bulging head, colored red as heart’s blood, and now showing visible veins (were they pulsating?) would explode.

“You know,” I said. “I have to go to the bathroom. Guys join me.”

“Pea-TEA, wait, I’ll go too,” said Kay-TEA grabbing his arm.

“No, no, Katie, Lulu and Lucy want to talk to you…about, ah, another time to go out; all of us,” said Gorgo. He knew exactly what I was going to do. Kay-TEA swallowed some fries and nodded and did a delicate burp that could be heard across most of the room now that the band was taking a break.

Gorgo, Peter and I headed at a slow trot for the bathroom and then a quick left for the front door. Gorgo stayed on the inside of the front door – as a guard in case Kay-TEA came running to attach herself to Peter.

In the parking lot I turned to Peter. He was looking at me and then said. “That was the worse night I ever spent. Why did you guys set me up on a blind date?”

“We had no idea,” I said. “I thought it was a big get-together, The girls did this.”

“And I am gay,” he said.

“You’re gay?”

“I’m gay,” he said. “I thought you realized that.”

“So does that mean you don’t want to marry her?” I asked.

Sadly, it didn’t end there. Although Peter did make his escape that night (“He wasn’t feeling good so he went home.”) and Kay-TEA spent several hours dancing up a storm at the pub before she got sick, going back to school was kind of a trial. You see Kay-TEA would show up at lunchtime to have lunch with Peter. He wasn’t to be found.

She’d be at the front desk demanding of the secretary, “So where is he? He isn’t in the teacher’s lounge. Can’t you make an announcement to the school that I am here to have lunch with him? We are a couple.”

Peter had found a place to have his lunch that no one knew about, except me of course. Up in the lighting-booth of the auditorium.

I can’t deny that heading for the theatre was a stereotypical move but it was ultimately the place that saved Pea-TEA or should I now say Rock Hudson? Finally our school’s principal called Katie’s principal and that stopped her visits.

Not Adorable

They tried to pull the wool, or rather, the feathers over our eyes. But I discovered the truth and it is not pretty. I must share this truth with you.

You may have heard of this: There has been a tale of the on-again, off-again relationship of two red-tailed hawks that live in Tompkins Square Park in New York City. This pair, Christo, the male, and Dora, the female, have had a lot of press and most of it makes Christo out to be the Harvey Weinstein of hawks because it seems he has betrayed his love for Dora.

Now, Dora and Christo had 10 little hawks together and it has generally been thought that mated hawks mate for life—or thereabouts.

Well, the “thereabouts” seems more accurate, as “til death do us part” is not quite working out in this case.

You see Dora had a wing injury that required the services of skilled rehab people and when she was all well and good, they returned her to the park. This was in 2017. However, when she got back lo-and-behold Nora, another hawk, had entered the picture, taking poor Dora’s place.

About a year ago still another randy hawk named Amelia came in for a loving, landing in Christo’s lap (so to speak). Amelia was courted by the gamey Christo and then she also mated with him—and oh-my-heavens, they actually did the deed in Dora’s nest! Yes, now Christo had three females, Nora, Amelia and his old flame Dora.

Such contentment could not last. Hawks are not Mormons, delighting as they once did in polygamy. Dora decided to assert herself, taking back the reigns of lead wife, and she fought an epic air battle with Amelia high over Tompkins Square Park.

And she lost. She was no match for Amelia in battle or in bed (so to speak).

Dora had some serious wounds and had to be removed to Tackapausha Museum and Preserve in Seaford, New York, where she now spends her days eating rats and perhaps thinking of that rat she once loved.

Now the bones of this story certainly make Dora seem like the injured party in a love quadrangle, finagled by two other females and one horny male. But no story is really simple, is it?

According to Sara Dorn’s article “It’s a Coop D-Etat!” in the New York Post on Sunday, May 5, 2019, Dora was no wall flower, suffering from abuse by her mate and his new females. Instead she was a “queen,” a totally demanding mate who had Christo jumping (or, rather, flying) through hoops.

Cathy Horvath of Wildlife in Need of Rescue and Rehabilitation was quoted as saying that Dora was “not a friendly bird. She was the worst patient ever.”

Nature photographer Laura Goggin said that Dora indeed had a sharp personality and Christo “waited on her” claw and claw. It seems Amelia is far less abrasive on Christo than Dora. As far as those who watch Christo and his two current loves, Nora and Amelia, he seems like a far happier hawk.

The not adorable Dora has enough rats to keep her contented and out of Christo’s life. So you see, some stories have a happy ending.

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