My Rejected Screenplay

I sent in a pitch of my new screenplay in 2018. I had one almost accepted by DreamWorks when that company first opened in the 1990s. I’ve written about that particular ordeal in one of my books.

The new one was going to be a big, whopping, costing countless millions that would attract a gigantic audience. I thought it would be a better seller than Jaws or Star Wars or Titanic.

I was meeting with two top executives, Paul J. and James C.

James started the meeting off. “Good afternoon Frank. What have you got for us?”

Frank: “It’s a big one. A grand one with so many elements in it that will attract people to watching it.”

Paul: “Shoot!”

Frank: “It’s about a pandemic that circles the globe killing about 10 million people, about a million in America. The thought is that the virus, called Viral-18, came from a Chinese laboratory and was accidentally release—or even released on purpose—into China and then was picked up and traveled the world on airplanes and boats, especially cruise ships.”

James: “That’s not much of a death toll.”

Frank: “Ah, but there is more. Whole countries close down because there is no real way to fight the disease.”

Paul: “Doesn’t sound like much.”

Frank: “But doctors recommend wearing masks and then society splits in two on the subject. In America and in Europe. Fights actually start in stores and on the street over whether to wear masks or not. The people who refuse to wear masks think wearing a mask is destroying their freedom.

“People are laid off work. The housing market skyrockets as city people start buying suburban and rural houses. The suburbanites aren’t happy to have these people.

“The President of the United States is a guy who used to do a reality show on television. He refuses to read and is involved in shady dealings. He has an orange face too. And strange hair.”

Paul: “Like John Boehner?”

Frank: “Even more. He won’t wear a mask and his followers do what he does. Many evangelical Christians think this guy was sent from God to destroy the evils of the government. Right wing movements are growing in European countries too. Including Germany.”

James: “So far it is ridiculous.”

Frank: “There is a lot more here. Militias start forming and they join each other all over the country. They talk to each other over social media sites and stockpile weapons. At a certain point these people attack Congress and try to kill the Vice President who is himself an evangelical, who won’t be with a woman in a restaurant unless his wife is with him.”

James: “This isn’t going to be some study of sick men, is it?”

Frank: “No, no, they are just the decorations on the tree of the story.”

Paul: “Continue.”

Frank: “As this is happening cities come under fire from the left-wing. Radicals wearing Guy Fawkes masks. Cops are targeted and there is also a big black/white confrontation about racism and the left hates the police and the right loves them except something goes screwy with them when they attack Congress.”

James: “Where’s the sex? We don’t want G or PG.”

Frank: “Plenty of sex. Not all normal either. The President has had many affairs and he has to buy all the women off. The news media plays this up too. He even says he grabs women by their private parts. We can show this too if we go R rated.

“Also, an idea is that whites are inherently racist. This takes place all over the country. Some cities have nightly riots! Stores are looted and burned. This group is often referred to as the ‘Awakes.’ They destroy statues of people they hate like Lincoln.

Paul: “Who the hell could hate Lincoln?”

Frank: “So, you have a new civil war becoming possible.”

James: “I don’t know. Sounds derivative. But weird sex is a good element. Does he have a wife?”

Frank: “A beauty with a great accent. She was a model, even did nudes before she married the President.

“There’s more. While all this is going on, the country and the world is faced with a UFO problem. The government now admits, even a former President admits, that UFOs are real and do things none of our aircraft can do. There are all sorts of tapes from the military showing these craft making our planes look silly. Are we being invaded from space? The world hangs in the balance.

Paul: “I don’t know, The UFOs are kind of old. There have been a lot of movies about UFOs.”

Frank: “Oh, I forgot, Asians are being attacked all over the country because people blame them for the Viral-18 virus. Other minorities are attacking Asians but only one channel shows this.”

James: “But Crazy Rich Asians is making a bundle.”

Frank: “Yeah, but now here is another one to add. The President of the United States runs for reelection and loses the popular vote and the electoral college to some old guy who keeps falling as he walks up the stairs to his plane. This old guy is accused of being a pawn of the Chinese. The ousted President, who is supported by the Russians, claims that the election was rigged. His followers start going berserk. That’s when they try to take over Congress too and even beat up and kill police. They even have a sign saying they are going to kill the Vice President.

“The states certify that the President lost. Scores of cases are brought to the courts and the President is defeated in all of them. Doesn’t matter, a religion has now grown up around this guy. It is called ‘U’ and the President is now looked upon as almost a god that the Christian God has groomed perfectly and, here is really the weird stuff, the opposition party is now believed to be controlled by Satanists who have sex with children and drink their blood. ‘U’ claims that all over the world these Satanists are destroying children and countries and fixing elections.”

James: “Do you really think movie audiences could believe all this?”

Frank: “There is one fake ballot found during the election. One man murdered his wife and then sent in her mail-in vote and the vote was for the President!

“All of this going on with UFOs and the pandemic and an upcoming civil war between the left and the right. People are refusing to be vaccinated too with a new vaccine that was quickly created. They are leaving themselves open to this world-wide disease and some of them are causing trouble on airplanes. They’ll wear seat belts but they won’t wear masks.”

James: “Frank, listen. A worldwide disease, people refusing to be vaccinated against it, a wacky orange President, religious fanatics who think this guy is a god, UFOs, Satanists, pedophiles, a rebellion on the left and the right, a right-wing attempt to take over Congress and a new President who trips up the stairs? Who could believe all of this going on at the same time? Nobody.”

Paul: “I have to agree with James. Nobody would believe this. The story is completely nutty. It’s all over the place. There is no way all this could be happening.”

Frank: “Oh, oh, and hackers are hacking into our oil lines and meat-packing plants. America is in a cyber war too. How’s that?”

Paul: Adding more isn’t helping. The answer is no.

They were right, I guess. These things were just too much for a movie. No one would believe it.

Female Crapshooters

In post war America in the 1950s, men were the crapshooters. You rarely saw a woman at a craps table – at least one who was not accompanied by a man; probably she was not his wife or his beloved girlfriend.

The same was true right up until the 1980s. Women just didn’t take to craps. They dominated the slot machine world. Indeed, their husbands and boyfriends would usher them off to the land of bells and whistles so that the men could play the man’s game.

Most men learned to play craps in the military. It was a city game but the country boys took to it with delight. With the soaring attendance in Las Vegas, craps became the number one game until the mid-1960s when blackjack jumped ahead of it.

It is now 2021. Has anything changed?

Kind of; sort of; well, maybe; somewhat.

Check out the craps tables in the casinos across the country and you can still see clearly that the game is heavily dominated by men; most of whom have never spent time in a war. Their game was probably learned inside the casinos’ walls.

Yet, you will on occasion see females playing the game. They are the trailblazers.

In the 1980s I wrote an article where I described how the men, mostly World War II and the Korean War vets, looked upon the precious few women who dared to come to the world of men.

But in those days, the way some of these men talked was frowned upon by some of the newspapers and magazines to which I sent this article. Long story short; my article was rejected by all of them.

I am now resurrecting some of the men’s “insights” so we can see how these fellas actually felt about women who dared stand at the tables with them. The reading public has become far more mature than it was so very long ago.

Joey D. from Brooklyn [WWII army vet]: “I do not want a woman at the tables with me. I won’t allow my wife to come near the craps tables. Craps is meant for men. It requires knowledge of the bets and how they are paid off. I think it is too complicated by the woman sex. Your head has to be into the game. I don’t think their heads are capable of understanding the game.

“They belong at the slot machines. That is their place when they are in the casino. Craps ain’t for them.”

Paulie M. from New Jersey [Korean War vet]: “I am not a man who hates women. I have three daughters and a beautiful wife. But I have told all of them that when they are in the casino to not play craps. Craps players look at the game as their domain – meaning a man’s domain. It is men only!

“Do you see women at the craps tables? No, you don’t. They know they don’t belong there and we men know they don’t belong there. That’s the way it is and that is the way it will always be. Some things change in this world and some things don’t. Craps will stay the same at least for my lifetime. I am sure of that.”

David P. from Long Island, New York [WWII vet]: “I like a good cigar. When there are only men at the table, I can take out my stogie and light up. Remember when stogies were bad cigars? Yeah. Well, not anymore.

“I have never had a man tell me to put out my cigar. Never. But twice I had ladies at the table with me and the nerve of them! They told me to put out the cigar. I gave them a look that said, ‘Go jump in the ocean.’ And then they told the box man who told me we couldn’t smoke cigars at the table. You have to be kidding me?

“Craps is a man’s game and we men, most of us, like to smoke. Ladies, go away. You only cause problems at the game. You are slow to take the dice. You do the little girl routine so we feel sorry for you. All of this is a royal waste of everyone’s time.

“Learn your lesson. Okay? Craps belongs to men.”

Marty V. from Pennsylvania [Korean War vet]: “I played in the streets as a kid and I played in the army. I love the game. I’d bank the game in the army and that made me some cash. The casino game is fun too.

“I go to Vegas three times a year and all I want to do is play the game I love. Women at the tables? Nah, you don’t see many of them. Maybe here and there and they don’t stay long. Craps is the only game in the casino that is all men all the time.

“And that’s the way it should be.”

There you have it. Voices from another generation.

All the best in and out of the casinos!

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

Scobe’s Yay or Nay: Seaspiracy

 

I love documentaries, usually about anything. I have seen the greatest birds in the world on my television screen. I might not get to the top of a real mountain but I’ve been on many a televised mountain including Everest.

I’ve also been under the sea. And that, as of now, has done me in.

Do you love to eat fish? I did. When I was in Alaska, I ate King Salmon for three meals on many days! Now I won’t eat fish, of any kind, anymore. My wife, the Beautiful AP, ate so much fish in her life that she can stay submerged for seemingly hours. She won’t eat fish anymore either.

The documentary, seen on Netflix, titled Seaspiracy has done that to us. Actually, watching this documentary has led us to firmly conclude that our oceans are done in—and not just by plastic straws, plastic garbage bags and take-out containers. No, something bigger is happening. Much, much bigger.

Seaspiracy starts off rather relaxed, like a snowball at first rolling down the hill, and by the end you have a snowball bigger than Mt. Everest. The documentary maker never quit pursuing the topic layer by layer, even when his life was in danger. By the end my wife and I were saying, “Oh, my God!” “Oh, my God!” scene after scene. We looked at each other and nodded and said, “I will never eat fish again.”

I am not going to ruin this documentary for you—if ruin is the right word—but I must tell you that I think you might be saying “Oh, my God!” by the end too.

Seaspiracy is the most powerful documentary about the oceans that I have ever seen. It gets as many “yays” as I can give it.

Seaspiracy is currently playing on Netflix.

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

 

 

 

 

Oh, Boy! It’s a Girl!

 

My wife, the Beautiful AP and I have two parrots. Our oldest is a Quaker Parrot, Augustus, about 25 (give or take), and our youngest Mr. Squeaky, a Green-Cheeked Conure, is about 10 years old. We’ve had Squeaky for seven years. He’s a rescue.

Mr. Squeaky, named by his original owners, took about three years to get the hang of living with us. He didn’t like stepping up on our fingers; instead, he preferred to jump onto our arms. You also couldn’t hug and kiss him as you could with Augustus, a feathered sponge, lapping up affection by the gallon. It took years for my wife to teach him to give individual kisses without drawing blood.

I just chat with them since they reside in my office where I spend most of my day. I think of them as my “little birds Fauntleroy.” They have the good life for sure— Gourmet-level food, open cages, ahum, Daddy as company, while Mommy works outside the home.

We’re one big happy flock.

Augustus is madly in love with the Beautiful AP. Mr. Squeaky is in love with me. But Mr. Squeaky is even more in love with Augustus.

From Mr. Squeaky’s first day with us, he had his eyes on Augustus. He’d sidle over to Augustus and perch next to him. Augustus ignored him. Augustus was secure in  his place as the Alpha Bird…the Alpha Being, so this young bird was nothing to him.

Through days, weeks, and months—two years to be exact—Squeaky would actively court Augustus. Augustus was unmoved.

When the Beautiful AP would feed the birds in the morning, Squeaky would go into Augustus’s cage and gobble his food—but Augustus retaliated by simply waltzing into Mr. Squeaky’s cage to polish off Mr. Squeaky’s food. The food is exactly the same.

The only thing Mr. Squeaky did that did not require any attention from anyone was to have sex with everything in and around him: his cage, top, left, right, bottom; his food dish; Augustus’s food dish; the perches, the handles to the cages and his various toys and bells. A horny young fella, he had sex through the day and night.

Then Mr. Squeaky finally caught Augustus’ attention and Augustus realized that he could spend his days being groomed by this new servant. No reciprocation necessary.  Augustus learned to simply bend his head to signal Mr. Squeaky to start grooming. Augustus sparkled more and more each day.

Now these two guys rub against each other, kiss (yes, full beak kisses!) and stay close all day long. Except, that is, when Mr. Squeaky goes off to have sex with some inanimate object—or when they fly onto my head to bask in my  bushy birds’-nest Covid-19 hair.

And so, there they are, our two beloved gay birds.

This morning the Beautiful AP said to me. “I have a big surprise for you. It’s in the refrigerator.”

“A chocolate-pudding pie?” I asked.

“Guess again,” she said.

“Is it something to eat?”

She thought a second, “Technically yes, but probably not.”

I laughed. “Augustus laid an egg?”

Silence.

“Not Augustus,” she said.

“You’ve got to be kidding me!”

She opened the refrigerator. A shot glass held a little white egg with a sign above it “OMG!”

“Mr. Squeaky is a girl,” we said simultaneously. At the age of 10, he, meaning she, laid her first egg.

Now, everything makes sense. The sex we thought Mr. Squeaky was having was not that of a male fertilizing an egg, it was of a female receiving fertilization! The hours of grooming Augustus is probably a wifely duty.

All these years, Mr. Squeaky knew she was a girl. We were the ones who saw him as male…and still think of him as male, despite the evidence before our eyes. Perhaps in the future, we’ll adjust to the news and call him, or rather, her… Ms. Squeaky.

Scobe’s Yay or Nay: The Zoo

This is my “review” section where I will publicly take a look at various things that I usually take a look at without telling anyone I have taken a look at them. These can be books, articles, documentaries, short stories, or films. Maybe even comments by politicians that are for the birds.

Today, most people have wider tastes than in the past. In fact, our tastes have become so wide that we, as a population, have become rather wide too, but that’s probably from addictive junk food.

Yay stands for good. Nay stands for not-so-good.

So today I wish to inform you of a television show titled Zoo based on a James Patterson novel titled Zoo. I like science fiction and even before our COVID-19 pandemic I would read novels and watch movies about pandemics. Of course, my intelligent and insightful self never thought any of that nonsense would actually happen in real life.

The premise of Zoo is terrific. The animals, including all the birds, decide to kill all the human beings on earth. Correct. Little Chihuahua from down the block wants to eat your face off. (Actually, I think all those barking, scratching annoyances want to do that anyway.) Hummingbirds would go for the eyes, of course.

The first season was a Yay. The leader of the human group was a pretty blonde French woman with a normal face. They killed her off quickly and introduced a new attractive woman in the second season. Then, as the show progressed, something really weird happened. The lips of all the women on the show went from normal, to puffy, to puffier, to puffiest. From normal to pouty to poutier, to poutiest. Just like that!

Those of you old enough might remember those huge red wax lips from long ago. Like that. Some producer or director or who knows who must have told the actresses that the men who watch the show really like puffiest, poutiest lips. And so puffiest and poutiest they became.

It got to the point where I was constantly shouting out to my wife, the Beautiful AP, “Oh, God, they puffed up the lips of another actress! Her lips look closer to the Blob than to a human!”

It got to the point where I lost track of the story line. Birds attacking people? Who knows? I couldn’t follow the story; I could only follow the lips.

Finally, my wife came into the room, put her hand on my shoulder, and said, “This show is driving you crazy. Stop watching it. Read a book about a pandemic or something.”

I stopped watching it. Yet my sleep has now been disturbed by lip-mares.

The Zoo deserves a huge, lip-glossed Nay!

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. If you want to 

The Meaning of Cardinals

People are always looking for the meaning of life.

 

Indeed, people are usually looking for the meaning of everything. Brilliant people such as Einstein and Stephen Hawking are looking; stupid people such as conspiracy theorists are also looking. Conspiracy theorists think they have found it in some powerful plotting person or some powerful plotting group of people.

 

I’m looking too. I am looking and I have been looking since I was 17 years old which was long, long ago. Have I found it? No.

 

Many people have looked to birds to find such meaning. Birds fly not only in the sky but in our dreams, fantasies and desires. In our fears too. Many human beings look to birds for omens and information about everyday things.

 

We all know the dire meaning from the arrival of a Blackbird, Raven or Crow into our lives. In short, make sure you have your funeral expenses paid for yourself and perhaps for grandma, if you see one of these birds.

 

In stories, poems and friendly gossip you can see the strength of the bird superstition in the world from the distant past right up until the present; when your neighbor found one of those black birds dead on his stoop that could be a frightening moment. Much of bird mythology is upsetting but some bird myths are quite nice.

 

Many religious Christians love the story of the White Dove descending above Jesus’ head as a symbol of peace between God and man. In Judaism, the Eagle protecting her young was a symbol of God’s love and protection of his people.

 

While the Owl is often thought as the symbol for wisdom, it is also associated with the evils of ancient witchcraft. It was also associated with the devil. I love Owls so I am a little afraid of throwing my lot with them.

 

My favorite small bird is the colorful Cardinal, a family of which resides in the bushes in my Japanese garden. I see them every day, even in the coldest winters.

 

There is a strong myth connecting Cardinals and death—a good myth thank heavens, because it’s bad enough that I love Owls. I don’t want to become too popular with Satan.

 

If someone you loved, admired or simply liked recently passed away, the visitation of a Cardinal is thought to not only symbolize that person but for many believers it is thought to be a short-term reincarnation of that deceased person sending the message that he or she is all right and is thinking about you.

 

I do not know how many birders believe any of these myths but the good myths, meaning the ones that are uplifting as opposed to horrifying, could be comforting for them.

 

My Cardinals visit me every day. At this stage of my life, I have many relatives, friends and acquaintances who have passed on.  Maybe all those visits are in fact loving messages for me.

 

 

The Shoebill

Some birds are staggeringly beautiful, mostly songbirds. Some birds are fierce and alluring, mostly raptors. And some birds are completely, thoroughly weird.

The weird birds can be ugly weird or beautiful weird or just weird-weird. The Shoebill, a stork that resides in a dense forest along the Congo River, the deepest river in the world at 720 feet, is weird-weird.

At first, I thought of the Shoebill as a truly ugly weird. Now I am not so sure. The Shoebill’s image has grown on me the more I’ve looked at it.

This bird is big, standing five-feet tall and has a beak that looks just like the wooden shoes worn by the Dutch of old. The Shoebill’s beak comes straight down its face as he waits to hunt, much like a roadway over flat earth. It almost looks flat there.

The Shoebill is a carnivore, eating birds (especially baby birds), lizards (including crocodile babies and crocodile youngsters), some insects of the large variety, and sundry fish, including the truly disgusting lung fish. Some of those lung fish are close to three feet long, but the Shoebill gobbles them down.

When Shoebills eat, they chew in a way that brings forth the head of the meal to the tip of its bill where it is unceremoniously severed off. The head then drops to the ground where it stays, since the Shoebill only enjoys the body. How it gets the head to the front of its bill is amazing since the rest of the meal’s body is safely lodged in its throat.

Now, that’s weird-weird eating from a weird-weird bird isn’t it? Even a very large human would find it hard to eat a three-foot fish, especially in one long gulp.

The Shoebill’s favorite treat seems to be baby birds. It can stand along the banks of the Congo River and watch a nest up in a tree for hours without moving a muscle. It shows no movement whatsoever and in that stillness—even with the presence of its strange beak—the shoebill could be mistaken for a small boulder.

Sooner or later a baby bird comes falling out of one of the trees to be immediately devoured by the swift and hungry Shoebill.

Unlike the friendly stork of mythology, you wouldn’t want the Shoebill to be in charge of delivering human infants to their mothers and fathers; not if you didn’t want those infants gulped down with only the head remaining for people to identify.

Adult humans do not seem to interest the Shoebill but still—that beak is awfully scary and the fact that it couldn’t bite our heads off is of little comfort.

The sad part about the Shoebills’ story is the fact that, due to encroachment and poaching, the bird is designated as an endangered species. Seems some people think of them as trophies, despite the illegality of killing them or making them pets.

Despite its weirdness, I have come to think of it as a beautifully weird bird and I’d hate to see it disappear forever.

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. 

Stifle It

Players are not always going to play the way you think they should play. They aren’t going to play the way you want them to play even though the way you want them to play is the best way to play. If you have even minor casino-playing experience, you know the above sentences are the facts.

Still, if you have been playing casino games for even a moderate amount of time, you have run into the “experts” who feel it is necessary to tell other players how to play. Some of these experts might even feel the need to badger other players’ playing decisions.

You will find this most especially at blackjack but you will also find it at other card games. Even in games such as craps and baccarat, you get the “experts” informing others about what they are doing incorrectly.

At baccarat and mini-baccarat the numbers of superstitious players are legion. Such players will damn you if you start winning and they start losing because – for some strange reason – they think your wins are causing them to lose.

At baccarat, I once had a woman (a very small, tight-bodied woman) jump out of her seat and get into my face while screaming at me because I was winning and she was losing.

I actually had no idea what she was saying because she spoke another language but I could tell by her anger that she wasn’t yelling at me because of my good looks. It seems she would bet against what I was betting but I was winning and she was losing and so – ipso facto – I was causing her downfall.

There are times when the “expert” is actually giving another player correct advice. That actually is irrelevant. Unless the player asks such “expert” for advice then giving advice is uncalled for.

In fact, for me, I never give advice at a table even if another player asks for advice. I usually tell the other player to ask the dealer.

A long, long time ago in a casino far, far away, a player asked for my advice on how to play a specific blackjack hand. I was courteous and told him the proper play based on the correct basic strategy for the game we were playing.

He lost.

He then yelled at me for being an “idiot” and exclaimed “what do you know about playing blackjack?” What could I say except “I’m sorry?” I wasn’t going to get into an argument about what is right and wrong when playing blackjack hands. I accepted his concept of me as an “idiot” and left it at that.

I am no longer the “idiot” I was back when that happened. I don’t give advice to other players. Certainly, I see players making bad decisions in how they play this or that game, but it is their money to be played with as they see fit.

The other problem with many of the “expert” advice givers is that their advice is wrong. Craps players will tell other craps players to make bad bets. Blackjack players will stomp and scream at the last player to play a hand if the dealer takes a card and beats the players.

The key for all of us is to stifle it.

“Let There Be Light!”

The first paragraph of the Book of Genesis in the Bible is beautiful. Here’s how it goes: “In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth; the earth was without form and void with darkness over the face of the abyss and a mighty wind swept over the surface of the waters and God said, ‘Let there be light!’ And there was light!”

I want to go outside on January 2nd and shout out the exact same words to achieve the almost the exact result. But the light I am talking about is the light of holiday decorations. Twinkle twinkle little stars.

I love the time of Thanksgiving to New Years. Most of that time is not even winter, but what makes those days magnificent are the people who light up their houses with Christmas lights.

I can take or leave the religious aspects of Christmas. The birth of Jesus did not occur anywhere near December 25th. We know that the early Christians borrowed days and events from the various pagan cultures and in doing so, slowly solidified their hold on the world.

Mithras, the sun god, would be proud, perhaps, to lend his December 25th birthday to Jesus. But, if you want to believe the birth of Christ was on December 25th, go ahead, have at it.

The world from Thanksgiving through New Year’s is a twinkling, sparkling wonderland. Every trip outdoors is a treat to the eyes.

I dread the dull months of January and February. Here in New York, January and February can be bleak and the occasional snow brings more annoyance than joy. Snow is best in photos and videos. In reality, snow cleverly conceals treacherous ice and is soon bathed in filthy car fumes.

But I digress.

January and February should be the Let-There-Be-Light months. Homeowners should continue to display blinking, twinkling outdoor lights and folks who do put up lights should be given a tax break by their local governments.

I would not associate the Let-There-Be-Light time period with any religion either. Every home should be adorned with holiday lights. (Okay, okay: I never put up holiday lights…but that’s from sheer laziness.)

I want winter to sparkle!

If you need some holiday at the end of the season of light, then let’s change Thanksgiving to the last week of February.

Perhaps if we all go outside on January 2nd and shout, “Let there be light!” my dream will become a sparkling reality. And if everyone accepts my idea, well then, I will put up lights too.

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

Betty Bruiser and the Kiss from Hell

She was known as Betty Bruiser. I don’t remember her real name. I just know she was a fearsome presence in Our Lady of Angels Grammar School in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn in the early 1960s.

We were in sixth grade then. The boys were in one school, having been separated from the girls at the start of that school year. The nuns knew that boys and girls shouldn’t be together once the boys were experiencing adolescence. So, the boys were now taught by the Franciscan brothers, a tough lot.

The nuns thought of the girls as clean and sparkling Catholics. Heaven would be theirs. The boys, well, Hell probably knew our names.

Betty was a bruiser. In all ways. When she played basketball, she played the defensive end of the court. In those days girls’ basketball had three girls on one side of the court as defense and three girls on the other side of the court as offense. It was always three against three. Girls were considered frail and therefore they couldn’t play a full court game as did the boys.

Defense tried to stop the other team’s offense. Defense did not shoot the ball but tried to get the ball to their offense on the other side of the court.

Betty’s prowess came to the fore when she broke the nose of a girl from St. Thomas Aquinas. There was blood everywhere. It was Betty’s first game for our school. That one game sealed her as “the Bruiser.” Word got around the Catholic grammar schools in Brooklyn and girls were terrified of playing against her.

When she played dodge ball, that ball would knock opponents on their rear ends or cause them nose bleeds when it hit them in the face. Every player wanted Betty Bruiser on their team, not so much because she was cherished but because she was a horrifyingly relentless opponent.

Even though the girls had to wear gym uniforms that were styled like bloomers, Betty Bruiser was the only girl who seemed to fit into hers.

So, what did Betty Bruiser have to do with me?

She loved me. She loved me with all her heart and all the powerful muscles in her body. She would refer to me as “My Scobe.” She would wink at me in the schoolyard during recess. It was terrifying

Was she ugly? I don’t really know. Is the incredible Hulk ugly? You don’t hang around to form an opinion.

But it was a party at my friend Billy Benjamin’s apartment that caused the problem between her and me.

This would be my first unchaperoned party—meaning no parents. Stevie Labashio told me they would be playing a game I’d never heard of called “spin the bottle.”

So, as always, I went to my mother and asked her about the game. She explained it to me and added, “You can play it if you want.”

“I don’t want to play,” I said. I didn’t want to play the game because I didn’t want to waste my first kiss on just anyone; I wanted it to be with Mary Sassalo. Also, I didn’t exactly have the kiss down pat. (See my story of The Virgin Kiss and how I taught myself to be a great kisser.)

The night of the party and I was dressed to the nines, meaning I was wearing sneakers and a sweat shirt. Then Betty Bruiser entered.

She was invited to the party! Several of the boys asked Billy why he invited her. “I had to. Her mother is friends with my mother, so my mother forced me.”

“I’m not playing the kiss the bottle game,” I said.

Spin the bottle,” said Stevie.

“Not that one either,” I said.

The party was fine but Betty Bruiser kept trying to get me to talk to her privately. “Let’s go in another room, My Scobe,” she said.

I’d either pretend I didn’t hear her or start a quick conversation with someone else. I didn’t want to tell her that I wanted nothing to do with her. She might beat me up.

Now it was time for spin the bottle. I announced immediately that I wasn’t playing. I joked that I was too good a kisser and didn’t want to make anyone feel bad.

“Kissing the dog doesn’t count,” said Billy.

The first kid up was Stevie and he spun the bottle and it pointed to pretty Cathy O’Connor. Their kiss was quick and Stevie gave a thumbs up as if he had just hit a home run.

The game went around the room and finally Betty Bruiser was next. I sat behind Willie Williams, just near the bathroom. Since I wasn’t playing, I felt that this distance from the game was a good idea. I felt really sorry for the poor guy who had to kiss The Bruiser.

Betty took the bottle and looked around the room. I am not sure she could see the terror in the eyes of the boys and the hidden delight in the eyes of the girls. Some boy was doomed to kiss her.

The Bruiser saw me. She looked like a jungle cat eyeing her prey. Not a big deal for me because everyone knew I wasn’t playing, right?

Betty Bruiser picked up the bottle, looked right through Willie Williams, directly at me and smiled, mouthing the words “My Scobe.”

She then spun the bottle. Around it went, only once, and it landed on Willie Williams. There was a pause and then Willie Williams jumped up and ran out of the room, “No, no, no!”

“My Scobe!” And she ran at me. She landed on me, a powerful force of nature, and my chair tipped backwards and off we flew. I skidded into the bathroom, hitting my head on the toilet.

Betty Bruiser leapt on me—she was very heavy—and now she was kissing my face and—oh my God!—licking me trying to get her tongue into my mouth. I thought, what is wrong with this girl?

I fought as if my life depended on it—and maybe it did! I refused to let her kiss me on the lips but I just couldn’t muster enough strength to get her body off me.  My nose was wet with saliva now.

I was squirming like a worm but she was plastered on me.

Finally, I was saved as the rest of the boys showed pity on me and dragged her off me. It was like a brawl at a ball game as the boys stayed between her and me.

“My Scobe,” she repeated, charging at me. “My Scobe. My Scobe. My Scobe.” A few times she almost made it through the boys—she was so strong—but their lines held.

She finally calmed down and the girls led her to the bedroom. I hustled out of the apartment.

I swore off parties for the next two years. They were just too dangerous. Instead, I spent my leisure time practicing my kissing technique for Mary, the girl of my dreams.