The Every Other Daily Corona: 6 Seats Away

My old man indoctrinated strangers in a civil, albeit it odd, fashion back in the early eighties when a few of his thirteen children were still in school. You could say he was a man ahead of his time, as he seemed to encourage people to socially distance from him on a routine basis.  He was a suit wearing, neatly combed executive at a radiology clinic in Spokane by day, and well…..a bum in the neighborhood on weekends.  Some of my siblings hated it, but I actually enjoyed it.  One of my brothers didn’t care for it at all.  Our old man would attend baseball games, wearing a mangy sweater with cigarette burns, talking to my brother about his last at bat in between innings.  It was usually encouraging and his analysis was often times spot on.  Dad had the credentials after being drafted to play professional baseball before fighting in the Korean War.  When my brother would return to the dugout, one of his teammates would ask him what that hobo was saying to him.  My brother was ashamed to admit that it was his father.

Taking his six foot rule a bit further with strangers was a bit embarrassing for the rest of us and our mother.  On a short weekend vacation to Seattle, he would find a hotel with an indoor swimming pool and hot tub.  While four of the thirteen children were horsing around in the pool, he wished to use the hot tub.  Once, their was a group of young couples probably in their mid twenties monopolizing the tub when dad was trying to find a place to sit.  There just wasn’t enough room, so he stuck his foot in the water and tried to make small talk with one of the couples.  “I’ve heard one of the easiest ways contract this H.I.V. Virus is sharing a hot tub with others who may have the virus.  Isn’t that the damndest thing you ever heard?”  Three seconds later, he had the tub to himself.  My sister, Maggie, who became a registered nurse and is on the front lines to this day was thoroughly embarrassed by his behavior even at the age of thirteen.  “Dad, that’s a bunch B.S.” Good old Rodney Gannon would just chuckle.

During the aerobics era, we’d often have people in our neighborhood walking the streets to get exercise.  If they lived more than one house away, our old man didn’t know any of them.  He’d be outside smoking a cigarette, and stop them in mid stride just to offer them a cigarette.  I’ve never seen such sinister looks from people.  I thought it was hilarious.  “Well I NEVER!” would be the usual response from some old bag trying to exercise on our street.  You’d never see them twice.  Our dad’s shit eating grin was delightful.  Out of his office on the North Side of Spokane, he made the Valley his own little world by, in very civil ways, pestering those who didn’t know him all for his own amusement.  He took his job so seriously, I think it was his way of winding down, and lightening the world up a bit.  My friends, who knew him well loved it.  While tossing a baseball or football around in the front yard with my friends, they would stop the action and nudge one another and say, “Hey watch.  Mr. Gannon is going to say something funny to this person walking down the street.”  It never failed.  It brought belly laughs for them.  I’d just smile and shake my head.  I guess he was amusing those who knew him as well.

Rodney wouldn’t go to movies much because of the crowds.  We’d sometimes convince him to go to one we knew he’d enjoy.  Raiders of the Lost Ark was playing at a local theater and it was packed, thus difficult to find many open seats together.  You could have referred to it as social distancing from our father at the theater.  I was sitting next to Maggie when she nudged me and had me look up to where the old man was seated.  He’d always buy two supersized barrels of popcorn, one for him and one for others to share, even if they didn’t know him.  Normally, if it wasn’t a packed theater, the people sitting next to him would whisper, “Let’s get the Hell away from this weirdo.”  With no other seats available, they couldn’t move six seats down, so they’d humor him and take the popcorn and pass it on down the line.  That didn’t bother us.  Watching him eat the popcorn was borderline embarrassing.  Anyone who didn’t know him would be convinced it was his last meal.  One handful or front loader at a time, he would shove three quarters of it in his mouth leaving the other quarter in his or someone else’s lap.  That was during the previews.  When the previews were over,  the popcorn was gone, and not wanting to leave his seat, he’d offer a complete stranger twenty bucks to go get two more buckets, one for him and his girlfriend and one for himself.  He’d also tell them to keep the change hoping they’d just leave with his twenty spot and walk to the nearest Chinese restaurant for a decent meal.  They’d return with the popcorn and, by the end of the movie, they even seemed to enjoy his rascally behavior.  With butter soaked hands, they’d even bid our old man adieu by shaking hands with him.  “That was one Hell of a movie.”  And he, was a helluva man.

The Drive In Rookie

With winter around the corner, the drive in movie theater my wife wife works the concessions for, The Foggy Window, will be shutting down soon for the season.  It made me a little nostalgic with regard to my first experience at a drive in theater.

In 1977, I was four years of age when Star Wars hit the big screen. Apparently, I was too small for the big screen, so I was left at home while my older brothers and sisters went to the movie during the holiday season.  I vaguely remember being upset, but my mother made up for it by donating an extra gallon of egg nog to its most worthy organ……my stomach.  Three years later, some of my older siblings returned from working in Alaska for an annual visit.  That was always terrific because they had a load of spending money, and they would be very generous to the youngest siblings still living at home.  Maggie, 8 years my elder, Greg, 6 years ahead of me and Tom only four above.  Two of my sisters returning from Alaska, and I don’t remember which two, would show us some high old times in the city of brotherly tolerance, Spokane, Washington.  There was pizza, Chinese food,  skating at the downtown Pavilion, and of course carnivals.  My older sisters were always pleased to pay for everything even though our old man would kick in  a few bucks each to pay for some of the festivities.  He wanted them to save their hard earned money,  and they wanted to blow it.  Maggie, Greg, Tom and I didn’t give a rat’s constitution.  They were the limo drivers and we were riding first class.

Drive In Movie TheaterOne of my sisters, it could have been Anne, Theresa, or Dorothy, read in the Spokesman Review an advertisement for a drive in movie viewing of Star Wars being shown that night.  She thought it may be fun if we went, even though everyone had already seen it but me.  They all wanted to see it for a second time, and were thrilled to know I’d never seen it.  I was elated.  I can go?   I’m only seven.  My sisters said, “It’s PG, who gives a crap. You’re going, Ben.”  Hell, the movie could have been X rated for all they cared.  Even if the movie was titled, Ben Does Baltimore, they wouldn’t have given a crap.  They weren’t going to watch the movie anyway.  The drive in movie theater is a terrific place to baby sit and drink beer.  So, we loaded up the station wagon (limo) with people, beer and a few sodas from our own refrigerator, and headed to the local theater.

I’d heard tall tales about drive ins such as people hiding  in the trunks of cars getting  in for free.  I wasn’t in for that.  It seemed like we would be crossing a border,  and that was terrifying to me thinking I may never see my mother and father again.   Plus, it was a sin.  However, it would have given me ammunition for confession since I wasn’t much of a sinner in those days.  I still wanted to play for the Team of Jesus, rather than the Satan Slaves I’d heard so much about in church.   We went straight.  No laws had been broken, yet.

Greg, Tom and I hit the concessions like it was an Ali/Frazier rumble.  Popcorn, (extra butter flavoring) licorice,  gum,  soda, (we had already pounded the ones from home on the way to the movie) milk duds, M & Ms and anything else to keep us awake.   We were ready to head to a different galaxy loaded with Jedi Knights, some guy in a bigfoot costume making weird noises, a band of goofy aliens playing disco music, and a dude named Vader.  I’d just hoped it was better than Star Trek, the movie, because that sucked.

Before the speakers were set up properly,  all you could hear was laughter the medieval hand full crunches of popcorn and the opening of beer cans.  I didn’t know if that was legal or not, but I didn’t care.   Let the drivers get loaded.  I wasn’t doing anything wrong.

With the speakers set up, I noticed the sound was similar to the crunching of popcorn.  You could basically hear every third or fourth word of what was being spoken on the screen.  With the lot packed we had no choice but to listen, or not listen to the movie that way.  Looking back with the sounds of my beer drinking sisters’ laughter mixed in with the sheer volume of their normal conversation voices which couldn’t even be measured in decibels, would have drowned out whatever was being said through the speaker.  No chance in even a civilized Hell could I dream of shushing my sisters.  They seemed to be having fun and our bellies were more than satisfied.  That’s when I decided to utilize a talent I had developed during dinner time at the short table during the holidays.  I could read lips.

Always disappointed not being able to sit at the tall table with the adults, I was the oldest and angriest at the short table with my booger eating nephews and nieces.  What a crock.  Trying to ignore the youth at our table, I could always hear belly laughter at the big boy and girl table with several of my brothers telling stories which were apparently hilarious.  After grace was delivered, there was no pious nature at that table, and I wanted desperately to hear what they were saying.  I love to laugh more than I love a terrific stuffing laced with mounds of sensational gravy.  So, I would figure out who was providing the laughter and watch his or her lips to decipher what they were saying.  My nephews and nieces must have thought I was crazy, because I would join in on the laughter.  “What the hell is he laughing at?” they would utter during my fits of heavy chuckling.  It became a gift I would use at the drive in that night.

Unfortunately, I was not able to catch every word, but I could follow the plot, which was dandy for me.  However, my gift would soon turn to the dark side.  Darth Vader, a pretty significant character in the movie, wore a mask.  How the hell do I read lips when someone doesn’t even have lips?  I could only hear muffled breathing through the chunks of speaker remaining after Greg became impatient and gave it a few whacks with an old shalalie he found in the back of the station wagon commonly used as a threat when we’d get unruly in the car.

When the movie ended, I asked a few questions about what I may have missed, but I knew I’d eventually see it again, with sound.  Just being with my siblings, both young and old made me happy.   Camping in a sugar, butter, and booze smelling tavern on wheels was enough for me.  I think Greg drove us home.  He was only 13, but he was sober, and even drove us off road in a local field pretending he was captain of the Millennium Falcon dodging asteroids while my sisters screamed with laughter, begging him to go faster and faster.  Without seatbelts, we were flying around the station wagon like stove top Jiffy Popcorn. It was fantastic.

We made it home safely, and tried to clean the car as best as we could.  My sisters made sure the 24 cans of beer consumed remained at the theater grounds.  Dad wouldn’t have enjoyed seeing them the next morning in the trash.  It was a hell of a night for the Gannons.  No arguing, no bullying, no fighting, no atomic wedgies, no religion, no politics, and no sound other than laughter.  I’ll take that any day or night.

When I told my wife this story, it convinced her to apply for the tech support job opening at Foggy Window Drive In next Spring.  She’s pretty good with that sort of stuff.  I wonder if needs people like her.  I hear they pay pretty well.  We sure could use the extra scratch.

First Day (The Wooden Arm)

My wooden arm only lasted one day.

School was in session this week for those educators and pupils young and old,  and I began to remember, as a retired teacher, what the first day would bestow upon the students.

As a former middle school teacher, I once entered the classroom on the first day of school acting as if I had a wooden arm.  I don’t really know why.  Perhaps, I just wasn’t prepared and I thought I’d just wing it. (I hate puns….that was purely accidental).  It wasn’t my first year of teaching.  I just wanted to shake things up a bit by providing some mystery on the first day of new clothes, possible friends and enemies as well as their newest teacher.  I developed the idea from some friends of mine walking around at parties similar to the police officer’s antics from Mel Brook’s Young Frankenstein. This enforcer was a one armed ornery cuss who would place sharp objects in his arm, such as darts, just to keep track of them. My friends would have to move the fake wooden arm with their, quite capable left, (very scientific flirting) wishfully attracting the attention of girls.  They did attract attention, yet only making the girls stray.  The girls were indeed silent with intrigue.  Emptying my plastic cup of stale beer, I recognized how this could assist me in my professional career as a teacher.

When the, “what the hell did you do this summer?” essay, annually introduced by other teachers, I felt as though it sunk beneath the students’ ears and sailed aimlessly above  their heads like dusty glue only burnout teachers could clinch to themselves taking comfort in their inauguration assignments.

I chose a different route.  Evidently, middle schoolers are terrified of prosthetic limbs.  My wooded arm made its appearance before attendance call.  Stiff angled right arm was also in attendance.  Making myself three quarters present, my students were silent for almost a full period upon my entrance.  Unless you discount middle school day dreamers wishing to be home by the end of my preposterous scene, they would have given me an award for phoniest teacher.

By the end of the period, with mostly silence,  other than a call of attendance, I began looking aimlessly and helplessly for my pencil and pen holder.  Asking if anyone had seen it and describing it as a plastic great white shark with its mouth agape, they turned their eyes to the floor and elsewhere, either trying to help me or wonder when the actual lesson may begin.  The bright students believed in the phony arm, but they also thought I snuck into this school acting as if I was actually a qualified teacher, or just a bum who found some khakis left behind the thrift store along with a button upped collared shirt.

We continued our search for the pencil holder as if we were searching for the Northwest Passage.  Collectively, we became the middle school corp of discovery. One bold student asked me why this was so important to me.  I told her it was a gift holding dark memories for me, yet it was almost critical we find it together.   She was further mystified.  Is our teacher just flat out mad?   “Have any of you seen it?”  Most of them just stared in silence while others provided an awkwardly slow shake of their head.  I then stared at my right arm with disgust, fingers molded firmly for more than a half hour with elbow cocked in one position forming a right angle with my forearm and bicep.  Giving up hope on finding the pencil holder, I took my free left hand and lifted a sharpened pencil and said, not with anger or force, yet with subtle desperation, I have a place for this pencil. I was going to jab it into my wooden arm.

After the gasp, I displayed my proper upper torso and was embraced by the students . Then, I was informed, by my wonderful principal, Ms. Hoffman, who would fly by my room from time to time on her broom, I was never to pull that crap again.  One of my students had a relative who had lost his arm in a boating accident.  Not funny.  I obliged.  Ms. Hoffman and I still laugh about it whenever we speak.  She took great care of me, and was probably the only employer who could stop me in my tracks without being tripped.

The year went well, not without its glitches, and I can assure you, I pissed off plenty of students, parents and administration members along the way.  I can also say I taught them how to respect themselves, others, education and, yes, even a man with two arms,two legs, a full heart and half a brain.  At times, many could say I didn’t do everything the right way.  I didn’t.  That’s the beauty of it all.  I recognized it.  Those who thought they were always doing it the right way, sometimes missed the boat.  That boat could be surrounded by sharks.


Where’s the F—ing Chicken?!!!

Coeur d’alene, Idaho isn’t an easy geographical region to spell.  Googling it or describing its location when using a GPS system or a local phone book may drive one crazy.  One day, in this unfair city, no one required a map or GPS to locate my sister, Mary.  She made it loud and clear where she could be spotted, not only in the State of Idaho, but, additionally, the Pacific Northwest. It wasn’t “Where’s Waldo?” It was, rather, “We know exactly where Mary is.”

I truly believe she made the F word almost Biblical one sunny afternoon.  (I don’t really remember, but I hope it was a Sunday after we had just completed our weekly term of duty…Catholic Mass.)

My mother made a hell of a fried chicken, and some of our family members, including me, were vacationing forty five minutes away to have a picnic in a city in Idaho I’m tired of spelling.  Seven months pregnant with her third child, my sister, Mary, was aboard the station wagon.  She was also hungry, or as I’ve learned with my urban dictionary wisdom, hangry.

With mom’s potato salad on ice, and an angry, pregnant mother (Mary) looking as if she was a shark with chum in the cab, we found a parking space ten minutes away from a picnic table.  Knowing she was settled in a proper space and spying the table, everyone, including Mary, felt at ease.  That’s a terrific feeling when you are afraid of your sister.

Upon sitting on the picnic table stools, Mary recognized Mom forgot the chicken, and all Hell broke Mary loose.  She began calmly.  “F–K!” Embarrassing our mother as the brothers decided to take a dip in the lake, we heard Mary scream,  from a little less than a mile away, and to everyones’ terror, “Where’s the F—ing Chicken?!! Even the ants scattered.

I’ve never been pregnant, and I don’t wish to be.  Men are blessed by God in certain ways. There were times when Mary should have been blessed in the same way.

The memory didn’t scar me.  It merely etched, or branded a memory I won’t forget.  When we returned from the beach at a safe time, we were blessed with some grocery store fried chicken along with mom’s potato salad.  We were additionally blessed with a sister returning from fried chicken hell to Fried Chicken bliss.

God Bless her.


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.



Fox Tales (A Kool Ode to Summer)

Prisoners don’t sell Lemon Aid when they’re in jail.  They sell Kool Aid.  Lemon Aid will get you shanked or severely beaten.  Kool Aid will keep you on the safe side of the woods… matter what type of flavor it is.

While roaming the streets the other day, I stopped by an estate sale.  Not interested in purchasing anything, I thought I may find something to buy so I could justify using the inhabitant’s bathroom.  That’s when I stumbled across this picture.  LemonaideStandAs far as I know, people don’t usually sell family pictures at their sales. Clearly, the people promoting their trinkets were also preparing for a trip to a nearby transfer station.  Oddly, this specific picture was the only thing I could imagine buying.  The people working the sale didn’t know these two ruffians, therefore had no issue with me purchasing it. Perhaps, because I didn’t know the two boys selling drinks at this stand, it made the picture seem a little like a piece of serene summer nostalgia.  It resembled more of a painting, or a portrait. Prison cell Norman Rockwell if you will.

After purchasing the picture for less than the two boys were selling their aid, I could only imagine they might be brothers. If you look closely at the well lit cardboard sign, these two young fellows below are selling Kool Aid, and they look as though they are trapped in this makeshift, wooden, and glorious chunk of lumber confinement.  It could be a four by four, or six by six space……no big deal.  One looks pleased and the other looks as if he’d prefer lighting his store on fire, just to collect his allowance insurance. By the way, in the seventies, what kid didn’t light something like a dry field on fire?  Therefore, I believe my theory regarding their pyromaniacal behavior may be spot on.

I also wondered why were they selling Kool-Aid as opposed to Lemon Aid?  I guess they were just ahead of their times.  Taking a look at the background, the atmosphere beyond their faces told the story.  I imagined they were living on a dead end street where no one, with the exception of the mailman, may consider purchasing a beverage.

I’m glad this play pen wasn’t solitary.  It looks similar to what Gilligan and the Skipper might fabricate to gain the attention of Mary Anne and Ginger.  Or, it could have been a father building this solid oak convenient store just to keep them out of their mother’s hair on the inside.

I’ll bet that house behind them was filled with loving parents.  Or, I guess that’s what I wish to imagine.  I’ll also bet those two may have been in trouble for lighting some brush on fire behind their humble house, thus being forced to sell Kool-Aid after their mother had perhaps extinguished the fire.

Looking beyond their eyes and place of business, I imagined them taking breaks after nary a patron was to stroll upon their street, unless running from the law.   I thought of  them running through the foxtails, only to return to a mother telling them to dispose of their fox tailed socks so they didn’t destroy the washing machine.

There are a few things brothers or friends do during the days before you must return to the drags of school.  You play Wiffle Ball, mow the lawn, set fires, and sell beverages only fit for a parched and sympathetic mail man.

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.