The Boring Twenties

Taking a road trip with my one hundred and twenty year old, or something, mom, provides sweet humor.  I think she’s only one hundred and thirteen.  When it comes to her age, she tends to lie. Our driver was equally amused with our mother’s lack of age driven acknowledgement.

Hard of hearing, my mother required being shouted to from the backseat.  I made a critical mistake by thinking it may be fun asking her questions from our local newspaper.  It’s referred to as the “Super Quiz”.  Ironically, or just by coincidence, the subject of the quiz was, “The 1920’s”.   Since my mother was born before or during the 1920’s, depending on her mood, I thought she’d nail the answers.   The first question of this quiz was, “The “blank” Twenties.”  Our driver, one of her six daughters, quickly, had the answer.

“The Roaring Twenties”.

My mother, apparently tossing her hearing aid out the window prior to my inquisition, decided it would be better to just read lips.  She looked at our driver and responded, “The Boring Twenties?!!”

Following our laughter, our mother fell asleep after reading, out loud, several road signs.



One of my sisters once said camping in a hotel was much better than camping outdoors. My friend, one of the toughest guys I’ve ever met, would agree with my sister.

A terrific comedian, Jim Gaffiigan, did a fabulous bit on the miseries of camping and the possibilities of being eaten by a wild animal.  I can’t steal his humorous thunder, but I can describe the reality, vicariously, through one of my friends.

What you are about to read is shocking. These are text excerpts from a friend currently camping with his wife, family, and some friends.

Day one: “Let the wife do all the shopping for me and packing.  She woke up bubbly this morning, and my goal is to knock the bubbly out of her being.”  (I requested confirmation.)  “I need her to stop being bubbly.  So, I’m going to antagonize her until she is no longer bubbly.  I want her to be as miserable as me.  So, I’m knocking the bubbly out of her being.”  (When not camping, this is a happily married couple of over fifteen years with three wonderful sons.)

Day Two: He just described his wife as a Roman Candle.  She didn’t respond very well after she did all the packing and retrieved all the food. Evidently, she didn’t pack his favorite foods.  He may be sleeping in the car, if there is one near by.

Update: “I was a dick head to my wife at a subconscious level.”

How lovely.  This poor man loves his wife, but hates his weekend life in the woods. I’m not buying that entirely.

Day Three:  “I’m going to cover myself with honey and this expensive huckleberry jam we purchased at the campsite’s convenient store in hopes a bear soon takes me out of my misery.”

I haven’t heard from him since.



What Floor?

“Throw strikes, you ape!”  Vacationing in Seattle, Washington, relatively close to forty years ago, this is what my brother and I remember hearing when watching a Mariner baseball game in the, now deceased, Kingdome.  The inebriated stranger next to us was screaming at the rather large, white, semi talented pitcher, and the drunkard was more entertaining than the game itself.  Back then, Mariner baseball was even more abysmal than it can be these days.

Currently residing in Seattle, I often think about vacationing here as a youth.  Traveling first class in a car is much different than a plane. Even though you are directly behind the pilot of the car, you don’t get free drinks or hot towels.  You do get complimentary second hand smoke and a  “shut the hell up” lecture once you hit Seattle’s city limits.  With three brothers sitting next to one another, it would get a little cramped, but on the positive side, as the youngest, I wasn’t subject to ridicule as much being so close to the captain’s seat.  I’d still get picked on, yet it was quite subtle and delivered with far less profanity.  Whispering, my brother Greg might warn, “Wait’ll we get on that ferry, you little snot nosed towhead.  Don’t get too close to the railing.”  Those threats were futile.  According to our itinerary, I’d get to see a major league baseball game before being tossed off a ferry deck into the Puget Sound.

One of our older sisters was also on the trip, but she was allowed a friend as a carry on, so, for the most part, they stayed clear of us brothers.  This was fortunate for us, because she’d always keep an annoyingly watchful eye on our rascally asses.  Not because she was worried about us being injured or killed, but rather, she loved to rat us out for anything that was even remotely mischievous.  She actually received a tremendous thrill out of us getting a masterful tongue thrashing from our father, the head chief of scolding.  To her benefit, it must have been difficult constantly dealing with three irritating younger brothers.  To my benefit, I wasn’t usually the one on the receiving end of our father’s sharp tongue.

All the seats in the car were accessible to windows so there was plenty to witness on the five hour journey.  You could look through the rear window of the car and say goodbye to the city you never wish to see again. I could envision it vanishing like Atlantis.  (Sadly, that wish didn’t come true until my mid thirties.) You also have a first class view of the Snoqualmie Pass and the Cascade Mountain Range before dropping you off at Downtown Seattle, home of the Space Needle and a seemingly endless supply of elevators.

It was our annual vacation to the Emerald City, because my father’s best friend lived in Seattle.  We loved heading west from Spokane, because we knew we’d be staying at a hotel, eating at some of the finest burger joints, watching a Major League baseball game and even perhaps taking a short trip on a ferry.  But, for me, and my brothers, we loved those up and down roller coasters, also known as “elevators”.   For grown ups, it seemed their pleasures were eating, drinking and smoking.  For us, it was eating, sports, and best of all, elevators.

After arriving in our hotel in Seattle, we had some time to kill before everyone was ready for our first destination. With my sister out of the way, mom and dad gave us permission to roam around the hotel before we were to head to the Seattle Center, just blocks away.  Mom needed to get ready, and dad needed to knock back a smokey pack.  We were given one hour before we were to return to the lobby to meet them.  My two brothers, Tom and Greg and I headed to the elevator where I assumed we were going to drop to the main level and take a look around outside.  Greg, however, wanted first to head to the highest floor, exit the elevator, and find a window with a better view of Seattle.  He could have been doing this because he knew I was afraid of heights, or perhaps he did want a proper view of this magnificent city.  Either way, we managed to find a window, and peer out of it for five or six seconds before returning to the elevator where we could have more fun.  We had all ridden an elevator before, but not one with this caliber of speed intriguing us all.  This elevator was turbo charged.  You didn’t even have time to listen to its classical music before any landing.

Prior to descending to the main level, Greg wanted to hit a few more floors.  We’d shoot down to the second floor, get out and find the next elevator going up, and take it all the way to the top.  Of course, since there were other people staying at the hotel, we had to stop at other floors for them.  This became somewhat entertaining.  Greg, the oldest, and best actor amongst the three of us, when others would enter, he’d say in his best twelve year old stuffy butler accent, “What floor, madame?”  Or, “To which floor today, Sir?”  They’d provide a number and Greg would turn to me, just tall enough where my head would be covering the panel of buttons and give an approving nod, and I would proudly press the proper button as if I was a V.I.E.O. (Very important elevator operator). Tom would stand next to me, eyes peering at the person or people on “our” elevator looking at them as though we just earned some form of tip.  All I remember were some friendly smiles, and even some chuckles.  Upon exiting the elevator, I would hear Tom mumble, “Cheap bastards”.  Greg would also strike up conversations with the people on board.  “Might you be heading to the ball game this evening, sir?”  Awkwardly, the person may respond with more than a “yes” or “no”.  “Actually, I’m just heading to the lobby to find out where we should go for dinner tonight.”  Greg would reply with such grace, “Oh, excellent choice, sir.”  What a goof.

Of course, we’d end up on the main level on numerous occasions, but we’d just stay on the elevator and perform our duties.  Up and down, up and down.  I owned that panel, and for once, played a critical role within this threesome.  I couldn’t have been happier even if I were to catch a fly ball at the game later that night.  This must have gone on for more than an hour, because on our last descent to the main level, after our passengers had exited, our diabolical sister, Maggie, was glaring at us.  “What the hell are you guys doing?  We’ve been waiting for you, and dad is beginning to get pissed.  Dad, they’re right here!  They’ve been riding this stupid elevator for the last hour and a half.  (It couldn’t have been more than an hour fifteen.)  He’s going to send you back to the room and not let you go to the Seattle Center or the game tonight.  Ha!”

Dad only put out his cigarette, (glad he wasn’t trying to give those up at the time) rolled his eyes and told us if we did that anymore, he’d kick our asses up between our shoulder blades.  He added, “Don’t mess around too much at the Seattle Center.”

When entering the food court to meet my father’s friend, the first thing we noticed was the glass elevator smack dab in the middle of the center.  “The Bubbleator”.  You must be joking!  Where were we?  Maggie just shook her head, and while my dad, mom and their friend went to have a beer before lunch, we hopped on “The Bubbleator” like bums on a billfold the second they turned their backs.  Ten minutes later, pointing to the stairs,we were asked by staff to get off and not return.

I can just imagine my first grade teacher asking me what I wished to be when I grow up. Fireman?  No.  Baseball player?  No.  Elevator Operator?  Bingo.


Costa Robbery

My wife’s current place of employment, Deet Bug Spray, is sending her to Costa Rica for research regarding the recent malaria outbreak. She’s worried about the journey because she only speaks fluent English, a dose of French, some Gaelic, but no Spanish.  As an educated man, I provided some pointers. (Other than two years of taking Spanish in high school where the only words I recall are “caca” and “punta”, I had to reach deeper into my pocket of trilingual specialties for her survival phrases.)

My favorite movie, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, provided more practical Spanish than two years of me ignoring my high school teacher.  “Manos Arriba.” Estu Es Un Robo.”  Translation: Put your hands in up!  This is a robbery.  I haven’t explained what the phrases properly mean to my wife, but I know when she enters a restaurant, she will either get free tacos or sent to jail.  Either way, it will be funny.





God Bless Me

New York has never really been nice to me.  I’ve figured it out.  Unless you are from New York, it’s never really nice to anyone.  I get it.  I’ve been to this city several times, and just when I try to forgive it, IT reminds me where I am.

Yesterday, after arriving at John F. Kennedy Airport, for some reason,  walking from the jetway to the port, I had a sneezing fit.  Ten solid sneezes and not one “God Bless You.” I knew I was back in the Rotten Apple.   Thirty seconds of not being blessed frankly upsets me.   Perhaps, I’m just a little too soft and easily bruised.  Or, it could be my deep, dark, psychological hatred for the Yankees.

Maintaining very few solid qualities, I take pride in those retained from terrific parents and a very fortunate upbringing.  One of which is blessing people when they sneeze.  The typical response is a surprised “thank you” and both the sneezer and the God Blesser seem to feel better.  Much like tithing at the church I no longer attend, it just seems, for lack of better words, right.  Rather than channeling my inner anger, and dismissing those sneezing in New York, I am going to make a change.  I am going to walk through Central Park seeking those who sneeze, and God Damn it, I am going to bless them.  I hope it’s contagious.

Peace out.  Stay right.

Maids in Mad Hattan

Because of my recurring nightmares about our eight long days working and vacationing in Manhattan, I thought I’d resurrect a story by strict orders from my counselor.  She told me it would help rid myself of my semi-hatred for the city and its inhabitants.  I’m extremely sensitive.  Just ask my family, friends, neighbors, wife or dogs.

After my wife lost her wedding ring within the first twenty four hours of being in New York, I thought the worst of this trip was swept away by the notion that, although the ring represents our loyal relationship, it doesn’t define it.  Once recognizing this, I thought the worst of the New York trek ended in our hotel room.  Sadly, it didn’t.  The worst existed outside our hotel room on our twenty first floor.  Twenty one is an unlucky number.  Just ask the bartenders twenty one years ago when I celebrated my twenty first birthday.

Following the disappearing ring fiasco, the next day, I thought I’d attempt to to justify my life as a writer by working peacefully in our hotel room.  It was a weekday morning, and other than the room cleaning, I thought I’d be quietly left alone.  Six or seven sentences into solitude were interrupted by voices outside the room.  And, as Dr. Seuss would write about the “Whos in Whoville”, the voices started out low, and then started to grow.  These voices were not of English or Australian origin, (the only two languages I speak)  therefore, I couldn’t discern what they were saying.  Knowing it was none of my business, and not caring in the least about what their conversation may concern, my only wish was for them to decrease their volume.  After a minute or two of listening to these voices, which seemed to be located directly outside our room, I could not help but decide that in any language, although beginning as bickering, it had indeed increased to vehement arguing. In my language of origin, when a conversation swings from bickering to vehement  arguing, sometimes, it can lead to fighting.  And, as predicted, when the abject yelling began, I thought it best just to pack up my computer and head to the lobby where I could find a place to work, because, clearly, our hotel room was not as convenient as I previously imagined.

Walking out of the room, out of curiosity, I did wish to see who was making all the racket.  Two doors down, two men, employees of the hotel, AKA, maids, were nose to nose by their cleaning cart screaming what must of been the foulest of foreign obscenities I’d ever heard.  At that point, I merely chuckled, turned toward the elevator and noticed a female maid frozen with fear as she watched the spectacle.  I then told her she may want to call security.  She merely stared, watery eyed, and frozen with fear.  I then turned back to the Un-Merry maids only to witness the loudest, fiercest, most solid open faced sandwich slap I’d ever seen.  It was ON!  Retaliation didn’t come in the form of a slap.  Rather, it was a closed fisted smash to the nose, dropping the predecessor to his back.  Now, it is me in shock.  Here I am, second day in New York City, outside my hotel room, witnessing two fifty something maids, decked out in all their serviceable material glory, cleaning bottles dangling from their holsters like ammonia filled pistols, beating the Holy Hell out of one another.  Perhaps it was a Holy War.  Either way, this was a brawl. This is when I yelled at the lady to call security.  She wouldn’t.

Now, I’ve been told that breaking up a fight can be a silly thing to do, because you may end up with a bottle busted on the backside of your head, depending on who is watching.  With this circumstance, I thought I may get a broom handle bashed upside my  head, or smothered by a dirty sheet.  For all I knew, they could have been fighting over this lady!

I would have just walked away, and told security myself, but the man on top of the other, now rendered helpless by the headshot, continued to beat the man to a point where the bleeding looked a little dangerous.  So, instead of physically interfering, I used all my bilingual strength, summoned both my loudest English and Australian languages, and bellowed at the top of my larynx, “THAT’S ENOUGH!”  Evidently, they spoke English and the down under tongue as well, because they both stood up and bolted in different directions, leaving a derelict cleaning cart.

My heart was beating far too much at this point.   I felt I should have at least been allowed the opportunity to walk down a dark alley in Midtown Manhattan before something like this should happen.  Gathering myself, I strolled to the elevator, made it to the lobby without further excitement and talked to the concierge.  We never saw the un-merry maids again.

I’d like to tell you we slept well for the rest of the week, but we didn’t.  The man next door spent the remainder of our six days in New York throwing up each night as though it would be his last trip to New York, or anywhere for that matter.  I would also like to say it’s my last, but I know it isn’t.  I’ve watched the Yankees play, but I haven’t seen the Mets.  Leave it to baseball to bring me back to Hell.


New York and a Diamond in the Rough (Hotel)

I wish someone would be kind enough to write and publish this blog for me.  I will admit to being a little confused in this “country” or city affectionally known as New York, New Tips.  Evidently, four times isn’t a charm.

While traveling to New York for the forth time, since the third certainly wasn’t a charm, I thought I’d give it another gentlemanly shot.  We came on a business/vacation trip.  My wife came for work.  I came for vacation and to write to entertain, confuse, or bore people throughout the cyber world.  I also came to run in Central Park. That is my happy, semi- sane place.

My wife lost her wedding diamond in our hotel within twenty four hours after arriving safely to this place of  Metropolitan Magic.   I believe it was the first time something tragic happened in my life which wasn’t my fault.

Tears were flowing from her more efficiently than the faucet in our room.  Therefore, I can only assume, or, surmise, she loves me.  So, I guess I’ve got that going for me.   Not shedding a tear myself, I told her it was o.k.  The diamond can be replaced.

Tearing apart the hotel sink, I gave up when the hair and filth overwhelmed me with dry heaving and disgust.  I was willing to catch a flight back to Seattle, purchase her another diamond and be done with it.  She claimed I was being a bit too dramatic.  She was right.  That makes her my diamond in the rough.

Shrimp and Kiss These Grits

When traveling anywhere, I examine the menus prior to ordering anything.   More importantly, I also recognize hospitality.  That being written, if I choose one item on any menu and receive proper hospitality, everyone receives a tip.

Shrimp & GritsIf you ever go to Kentucky, order the Shrimp and Grits from “Proof on Main” in Louisville.  You won’t regret the tip, the grits, nor the hospitality.

Tip Friendly.



Along with the history and piety of Rome, hypocrisy runs amuck with fervent vigor.  When entering a place of worship where cameras and mouths should remain quiet, the peaceful atmospheres are tainted by men in suits screaming, “shut up!”

Personally, I don’t carry a camera, and within the United States of Catholic America, I was never once told to be quiet when entering a place of worship.  Somehow, it was merely implied by a honed glance from a parental figure, or receiving the Holy Slap from one of your siblings.

When entering the Sistine Chapel, the men in suits, or armed guards, were allowed only one weapon:  A microphone.  The microphone kept you in line like a surly whip wishing it was on vacation.  My wife and I kept our respectful mouths and cameras to ourselves, but the other members of our unchosen flock did not acknowledge the signs prior to entrance.  As though written with a quiet smile, the signs read,  “Please, refrain from talking.  Thank you”.    Those oblivious to the signs clicked and talked away like they were at a Nascar track.  It was at these moments when a medium, dressed in a tie and sporting a loud speaker, would scream at the top of his Holy Lungs, as though he were God or Michelangelo, “SILENCIO!”

With no chance of resurrection, it scared us half to death.  After standing in line for two hours to enter the Chapel, it took only five minutes before were were silently running for the exits.

Next stop:  Gelato Land……our own camera and mouth friendly place of worship.