Saturday, August 30, 2008

Let's Switch it Up

I was reminded today of a story that has always fascinated me. Back in 1973, two pitchers with my beloved New York Yankees made an interesting trade. Hurlers Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich swapped wives, and children.

You heard me right- a straight-up-deal, for real, way before that stupid wife swapping show. The two men not only traded wives and children, but their houses and pets too. The GM of the Yankees at the time said - "We may have to cancel Family Day."

The reason why the story is so fascinating to me is because of the motivations behind it. It was 1973 so I'm sure we're talking about a different mindset, but how does the conversation begin?

Peterson:"I really like your wife."
Kekich: "I love your wife."
Peterson: "And you have some great kids. God, I wish my kids were like your kids."
Kekich: "Huh, you can have them."
Peterson: "Really? How about the dog?"
Kekich: "You know, Fritz, I have an idea."

And how did it turn out you ask? I believe Kekich and Peterson's wife lived happily ever after. Peterson and Kekich's wife crashed and burned. I'm not sure the two pitchers remained friends, but if they had, it probably grew a bit uncomfortable for Kekich.

Peterson: "How's my wife, you bastard?"
Kekich: "Good, good - and your son is off to college this year. He's such a bright boy. How'd my kids do?"
Peterson: "Who knows? Your bitch of a wife kicked me out. The dog got hit by a car, and the freaking roof needs to be replaced. Want to trade back?"
Kekich: "Sorry dude, you got fleeced. Happens sometimes when deals are made. See if you can find another trade partner, I'm all set."

Seriously, you really must be reaching new lows if you're trying to trade it all in for what's behind door #2. Yet what Kekich and Peterson did isn't really that strange when you start reading about how people conduct themselves in their daily lives. Some men are comfortable trading their wives, kids, homes, and dogs for the stripper down the street.

As poor Friz found out, sometimes the best trades are the one's that you don't make.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Can't Get Enough

David Duchovney, the actor, confessed to being a sex addict. Once more, just too easy.

First off, why did he have to declare such a thing? I'm thinking he got busted and is trying to hold the old family together. Word on the street is that he has a beautiful wife who was unwilling to kick it up five times a day. Five times a day!!

Give me a break. I can't do anything five times a day. Unless you're mentally ill, why would you want to? Okay, so maybe it is an illness, but how is it cured?

I'm imagining that the other people in the rehab group are all sex addicts too. Isn't that asking for trouble? Do the meetings end with everyone coupled in a corner - saying "Sorry, I slipped up again."

Do they sit around swapping stories of how they fell off the wagon? "I was at the grocery store and the cashier bent over to get some new bags... and I'm sorry, I'm an addict."

Do the therapists cure the patients by hanging up photos of say, Roseanne, or Nell Carter, or Sandra Bernhard, or that Asian woman from Grey's Anatomy?

Are there pills you can take to curb the libido? Sort of an anti-viagara type of deal? Perhaps a strategically placed rubber band will limit the desire for activity.

I mentioned the story to my wife - I also put in a subtle request, telling her that I didn't need it five times a day, but twice or three times might be fun.

Can you guess her reaction?

Yes, one long, drawn-out stare that kind of put a quick end to a dream.

Sex addict? Give me a break. Duchovney is either doing it for publicity or he's one step away from getting kicked to the curb. Either way, he allowed me a good laugh, and that long, drawn-out stare.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Jesus the Moth

I don't make this stuff up - I swear. In a town called Pittsburgh, Texas a man found a moth who he swears looks like Jesus. The man, Kirk Harper, showed the moth to all of the news outlets, and I'll be damned, it does have a resemblance. There in the wings of the moth you can see the beard, the face, the striking pose.

"People see Jesus in Cheetos, and in grilled cheese sandwiches, but this is special," Harper claimed.

The news team went so far as to interview Brother James Jordan for the story - and Jesus the Moth is the talk of the town. Jordan said that he wouldn't bow down and praise the moth and cautioned against believing in a creation as opposed to believing in the creator.

I'm trying to figure out what to make of it. In the back of my mind, as I watched the video footage, I thought that I probably would have squashed that moth without even giving it a second glance.

I've always felt that people see the face of Mary in a potato chip because they need to see it. I've never taken the time to really study my grilled cheese sandwich before I dunk it in tomato soup, but I may have to change my way of thinking.

The other question that popped into my head was that maybe all moths have a picture of Jesus on them. Has anyone really looked at a moth the way Mr. Harper did?

And now what of the moth? Will they display it at the county fair? Will it make Harper a millionaire? He certainly has his 15 minutes of fame, and he seems intent on spreading the Good News.

Makes you curious, doesn't it? Let's all study where else Jesus has been spotted through the years?

Finally, what is the message? What is that moth trying to tell us? Jesus, help me understand!

Spinning Our Web

Every morning I get up, head for the car and trudge off to work. Lately I've been noticing a spider's web in the spot between my driver's side window and the side mirror. Each day, I smack the web away, wondering about the spider that spun it. I can almost imagine the spider settling in each night and thinking - "The son-of-a-bitch knocked my house down again."

Well, the son-of-a-bitch got to wondering about the persistence of that spider - starting over each night and spinning the web to get into position. How long does that take, by the way? I mean I know Peter Parker can spin a web, any size to catch the thieves just like flies - but is it really that simple?

Which brings me to my point - sometimes life seems to go by slowly - a guy on one of the jobs asked me if it was 3:30 yet. (It was about nine AM). "Don't wish away time," I said.

"Geez, don't get all philosophical on me," he replied, "I just want to get home and have a beer."

Still, there are days that seem to be throw-away days of sorts, huh? It's dark, dreary and has rained off and on most of today. The long weekend is coming up, and I spent the day spinning a web, wishing that the weekend was already here. Yet figure it out - throwing away days isn't really smart- giving up hours isn't something that I like to do.

Given the life average - on the high end a man will get about 27,000 days to live. The first 3,000 or so are spent in basic oblivion, and we grow real tired about 10 or 12 thousand days in. Yet it pays to get up, start over, and work it time and time again.

27,000 days doesn't seem like a very long time - unless you're already thinking about that first beer just a couple of hours in.

It's 3:30 somewhere.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Crying

I went out walking the other day, seen a little girl crying along the way.

I thought of those lyrics from Two Hearts by Bruce, when I saw a woman sitting at a traffic light, in the car behind mine, crying her eyes out as she talked on the cell phone. The wait on the light was, what, 90 seconds? The woman was a middle-aged lady who seemed completely lost. She shouldn't have even been driving. How do you cry, talk on the phone, and not drive your car into the back of my car?

Of course, she was out of my life in a matter of moments, but I couldn't help but imagine what caused her public sadness. Death of a loved one? Cheating spouse? Forgot to shut off the oven? Can't find the turn signal? Just a crazy woman with a penchant for sadness?

I once interviewed a Chaplin for one of my books. She told me a story about praying whenever she heard the hum of the Mercy Flight helicopter or the sound of an ambulance siren.

There certainly are days when I don't consider the sadness and the heart break of others. Even OJ couldn't be compassionate all the time - one of the radio talk shows always plays a clip of OJ, when being asked about the death of Ron Goldman says, "It happens. People die everyday."

We are all running around chasing our own tails - it is real difficult to feel empathy for each and every person - there are so many friggen' people - but it's weird when you see someone sobbing at a traffic light.

Perhaps they were tears of happiness. Maybe her kid won a gold medal. Perhaps she just heard that her loving husband hit the lottery.

As I drove off down the road, I thought of the rest of the lyrics of Bruce's masterpiece:

Sometimes it might seem like it was planned for you to roam empty-hearted through this land. Though the world turns you hard and cold, there's one thing, mister, that I know and that's if you think your heart is stone and that you're rough enough to whip this world alone - alone buddy there ain't no peace of mind, that's why I'll keep searching until I find, my special one.

I hope that lady found some comfort, not long after I saw her crying.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Fine Line

I caught the movie Mr. Brooks the other night - Kevin Costner was good in it - Demi Moore has aged well....

The movie was based on a man with split personalities and when it began I was sort of on the fence about the mental illness angle. The movie was actually quite well done and scared the hell out of me at the end - I swear - I had Bruce-bumps.

Regardless, it got me thinking about the fine line between sanity and insanity. It also helped me to recognize some of the traits in myself and in those around me. To be honest, we are all teetering on an edge. For instance:

1). My son Sam has to close all the shades in the house so the robbers can't look in.

2). My boy Jake swings on emotions that carry him to the top of the mountain and drop him hard on the valley floor - and God help all of us if he doesn't have pizza on Wednesday night.

3). My son Matt has been convinced that he was dying from a hornet sting, and a cancerous lump on his neck. Neither proved true - but he was prepared for the worst - he was seen drafting his last will and testament.

4). My wife is to blame for a lot of this - she must speak with her mother at ten each night - ten minutes late and EMT is called. They speak in code just in case one of them has a robber in their midst.

5). Me? I'm perfectly sane and everyone knows that!

Seriously, my wife works with some real nut jobs - people who pull to the side of the road to weep before starting their day. We are all obsessive-compulsive or attention-deficit disorder-er sufferers who are one doctor visit away from being filled with Prozac, or who's brains are vacuumed out like Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

Recently I've taken to carrying hand sanitizer around. If I shake someones hand, I immediately think of getting the hand sanitizer before I go near my mouth.

All of my life I have been a slave to routine after routine. How else do you explain pasta every Sunday? Pizza night on Wednesday? Doing the laundry every other day? Nothing on the 'fridge? Nothing out of place?

I'm just worried about my boys - where do they get it from?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Out of Focus

I sat down this evening to draft a blog and my wife, who requests that I write something every day, said: "Write a good one today."

I guess that I've been lacking a bit - I didn't think it was going so bad. She also supposed that I had to be running out of things to say. Like I told her, that'll never happen. So, with no pressure on me whatsoever...

My publisher requested photos of me for the promotion of House of Miracles. There is a big celebration of the people from the book to be held at the hospital on September 30th - I need to put my face on a few press releases and it reminded me of Springsteen and his cover for Born in the USA - he said that he stood with his back to the camera because his ass looked better than his face. I can't even do that - my ass is too big.

Yet it is often shocking to see myself in photos - I don't feel bald - but I'm told that I am. I don't feel old, but when I glance at the face staring back, I'm reminded that I need a stunt double. So, what is there to do? Hire someone as a stand in - like that Chinese girl who subbed for the Olympic singer?

I have a good buddy who learned photo shop and pulled a few of my face pictures off the Internet - he then proceeded to place my head in all different sort of poses. Here's Cliff with his prom date, here's Cliff in a bodybuilders pose, and most of all here's fat Cliff with an ugly date.

I can remember when it all changed for me - I graduated high school at 6' - 135 pounds - I came home from Freshman year at 6' - 196 pounds. My mother asked me who I was and why I ate her son.

Yet, I'm not the only one changing - every once in awhile I'll run into an old friend and I'll think - "Holy shit - what happened to you?" What I'll say, instead is - "You haven't changed at all."

So, I'm getting poised to pose for a few new photographs. The brilliant photographer at the hospital has a program where he can fill in bald spots, darken up my face, air brush away any lines or wrinkles and basically make me look like I did, say seven or eight years ago.

Perhaps I'll see if he can make my ass fit on the cover of the press release.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Opinions, Opinions, Opinions

Spent a few days on the road and in the words of Bob Seger, got tired of the sound of my own voice... so I'll throw a few things out there for you:

1). Thank God the Americans won the gold back in basketball. It's our sport, we invented it and we play it best. That much is true, but in the end, I couldn't tell if I was happier for the alleged rapist, the alleged drug dealer, the alleged wife-beater, or the alleged armed marauder. They are all equal, I suppose - how can we not be proud?

2). Joe Biden is the choice for Obama - a lot of people guessed it might be Hilliary, but in the end anyone-but Hilliary was probably the sound choice. Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton would have been too much to take - how many families are there in this country? And we can only find candidates from two?

3). Why do they name hurricanes with such sweet sounding names? Think of it - Hurricane Fay is hitting land - they make it sound like Aunt Fay is bringing by a Bundt cake. Why don't we name them nasty? Hurricane Hitler is descending on the coast. Hurricane Manson touched down today. Katrina, Fay, Andrew... they all sound too nice. Hurricane OJ makes more sense.

4). I'm an average golfer who would much rather shank one with a beer in my hand then pretend that I'm Tiger on the 18th green at the Master's. I spent the day on the links again yesterday and watched as one guy after another held their putter in the air, crouched down to read the green, and took seven practice swings while addressing the ball. It is my humble opinion that Tiger ruined golf for those of us who like to wind up and swing hard, and look for balls in the woods, and chase geese with the cart, and unhook the bags of the other guys in the foursome. "How about a little etiquette?" one of the men in front of us growled. "How about a Mich Light, Mickelson?" my cart partner answered.

5). My two night stay also took place in Syracuse where they are having the State Fair - the hotel where I normally stay for $75 a night was charging $195? Supply and demand, I suppose, but can't that be considered price gouging? For $195 a night there better be breakfast in bed served by six bikini clad co-eds. I didn't make it over to the fair, either, so I missed the new governor, Hilliary eating a sausage sandwich, and the return of the Village People.

6). Saw a story about a man who beat his 15-month old child to death. Of course, he explained that the child fell down the stairs, but CSI figured it out. The weapon was the man's fist. How is it possible to get to such a place?

In a related story the man who choked the 85-year old woman, and stole her purse in a cramped elevator (watch that video on YouTube if you must) apologized. He explained it away by saying that it wasn't his fault that he got hooked on crack at an early age and that he was just trying to finance his hobby. In a great quote - the woman said - "I can't accept the apology. He should be ashamed of himself."

Rock and Roll Lyric of the day: (Someone name the artist and the song and the album it came off of)

"My feets were flyin' down the street just the other night
When a Hong Kong special pulled up at the light.
What was inside, man was just c'est magnifique,
I wanted to hold the bumper and let her drag me down the street."

Pulling Pranks

Believe it or not, there's a lot of downtime at college. Despite the fact that parents everywhere believe their children are studying and working hard, there is plenty of time for beer, sports, and college pranks. In my circle of friends a good prank was just as important as an "A" on an exam.

My freshman year the four guys who lived together were natural enemies with the quad directly above us - nothing was out of bounds - I flopped down on my bed one day to find that my mattress was gone - I found it in the bathroom stall stored upright next to the crapper.

My roommates and I returned home one night to find our lights on the floor and all of our dresser drawers tipped over. We got our revenge.

One guy we nicknamed tortoise for his turtle like qualities loved a beanbag chair that he had since he was seven or eight years old. We not only grabbed the chair, we cut it open, and allowed the little white dots to rain down on the ground outside his window. "Look tortoise - it's snowing," - drove the joke home.

Bert - who never made it through college with a degree - once set about sixty alarm clocks around the head of his sleeping, nerd roommate. Each clock sounded at precisely the right moment as Bert sat at the foot of the bed and tried to calm the boy having the heart attack - "Good morning, Andrew," Bert said.

The kid in the quad directly across from mine once asked to borrow my Simon & Garfunkel album (yes, album) so that he could get comfortable with his girl. I gave him the album and then positioned about thirty guys to look directly into his room. When he leaned in for the first kiss we all yelled - "Get her, Tim!" The poor girl ran out of the room and Tim returned the album with a hearty, "Thanks a lot, ass---e."

We staged a kidnapping to impress a few girls, but the problem was that the guys who were supposed to knock us down with masks on their faces actually missed the meeting point by a few hundred yards, and really did scare the crap out of us when they jumped from behind the hedges - the girls ran off screaming and crying, and I was knocked to my knees and cut my leg. Idiots.

My brother, however, has pulled two of the greatest pranks ever on me. His first stroke of genius was intercepting my suitcase as we made a trip to a college basketball game. We were the only 2 on the trip, but as we arrived, I stopped to change clothes. When I opened my suitcase it was filled with just socks. He was on the edge of the other bed, watching me - "Forget something?" he asked. I had to buy new clothes at K-Mart as he laughed at me for two days.

The greatest prank ever pulled, however, was when he stripped all of the labels off of my canned goods at my apartment. Doesn't sound like much, but it was a classic prank that kept on giving - for the next six months I didn't know if I was opening canned peaches or cream of mushroom soup.

I still haven't got him back for that one.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Back to School

This week my wife has certainly done all of the heavy lifting as she gets the boys ready to return to school. There have been teeth cleanings, doctor appointments, school clothes shopping, and permission slips that have had to be signed. I've done little to help, because as they are willing to tell me - they like her better anyway. Seriously, it's a lot of work and I'm sort of happy to be out of the loop on this one.

Yet I always feel some sort of excitement around this time of year. I remember being in grade school waiting on the new lunch box. I remember being in high school wondering if I had the cool clothes that would finally attract all the beautiful girls. I should have realized back then that dressing well wasn't my finest attribute.

Yet most of all I remember returning to college - or better yet - going to college the first time. I recall my mom and dad dropping me off to a school and a city where I knew absolutely no one - I remember thinking that it was time to grow up, but I was real sad and lonely that first night - thinking - I miss my Mom. (Dad was an after-thought in that scenario - even though I can't say I liked Mom better - I just think it's natural to think of Mom - bear with me, I'm justifying here).

Anyway, the very next day I met Rosie, and Gag, and Fluffy, and Luke, and Bert - and it was on! We drank, laughed and acted like idiots for the next six months. Boy, I miss that.

Yesterday I was up near Syracuse University where I saw a mother hugging her son - goodbye for the semester - I presume. The son had on an Orange hat, was lugging a small 'fridge (for vitamin drinks) and he never turned back. Mom wiped her tears away and after a little while took off away from the school.

Things have changed since I went to college. For one - the stakes are a lot higher - the school I graduated from costs about $35000 a year now - I went for roughly the tutition my kids pay for Catholic School. I imagine that mother was crying because she realized that as Junior went on the drinking binge of his life, she'd have to stock up on macaroni and cheese.

Going back to school has a concrete feel to it - even the worst of students feels a twinge of excitement - a rebirth of sorts. I hope my boys enjoy it because life doesn't break for two months later on - then again, it could be worse - I could be my poor wife, having to prepare for all of the fun.

Tomorrow we talk about some of the best college school pranks and moments - like waking up to see my roommate emerge from the bathroom with my toothbrush in his mouth. Here went the dialogue:

Me: Dude, that's my toothbrush.
Him: I know. I lost mine.
Me: You lost yours? When?
Him: About two weeks ago - calm down I'm almost done.
Me: Please keep it, you sick bastard.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Across the USA

Each and every day I read the state-by-state account of what is happening in this great land of ours. I do appreciate that there are millions of people living the right way, but there are just so many negative stories out there. This is from today's news:

Alabama - a 41-year old man was arrested for stabbing his 59-year-old mother to death - they argued about the fact that he pawned her jewelry.

Alaska - A former instructor for the Boys and Girls Club was convicted of having 50,000 pornographic images. He was fired from his job.

Connecticut - A man was charged with running an identity-theft operation stealing mail from over 100 people.

Florida - A man was charged with leaving his two grandchildren in a hot car while he gambled at a casino.

Georgia - A school teacher - 24 year-old woman was arrested for having sex with a 14-year old boy.

Illinois - A man doused his two sons with gasoline and started them on fire.

Maine - A woman embezzled $87,000 from her church.

Kentucky - A woman was arrested at the state fair when a cop spotted her pouring wine into her child's baby bottle.

New Jersey - Two men dressed as ninja warriors were arrested as they delivered threatening letters to drug dealers while brandishing swords.

I suppose that I just don't know what to make of such news. Yet the disturbing part is that it happens each and every day. One story is stranger than the next and the news are filled with disturbing images and horrifying results.

One of my all-time favorite books is The Stand by Stephen King and I like it because society is broken down and re-started after a strange illness. One of the lasting thoughts is that shortly after people were made aware that life had begun again, the crime started. I suppose that the above stories are clear reminders that there are a lot of temptations on the road to freedom. Life is about making decisions and choosing to live one way or another. Every day, it seems that some people decide to make one dumb choice after another.

Makes me long for a national newspaper that would take their Across the USA section and turn it into a log of all the good that is done on a daily basis. Garbage in - garbage out.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I Kissed a Girl

A new song, sung by a twenty-three-year-old, attractive woman- Katie Perry - goes something like this - "I kissed a girl and I liked it." (I just sang it - good thing you weren't near).

First off, it's impossible to get the lyric out of your head. Secondly, it conjures up images of two beautiful women, preferably around the age of 23 kissing at the bar while beer is flowing and people are sharing a good laugh.

My wife and I often talk about the lesbian fantasy that men share without really saying anything aloud. Kathy, of course, believes that I'm mentally deranged, but I have trouble understanding how she sees it as anything less than erotic.

Anyway, the singer of the song was on Howard Stern this morning. She explained that she had, in fact, kissed a girl, and liked it. She also explained that her parents - ministers by trade - were not exactly enamored with her lyrics.

The discussion on Stern reached the highs expected. The singer was entertaining and basically down-to-earth about the song and her soaring to number one.

I think of the fact that the Rolling Stones had to change the lyrics of "Let's Spend the Night Together," to "Let's Spend Some Time Together," so that people weren't offended.

What offends us now? The "I Kissed a Girl" lyrics don't offend me. Yet there are people out there who have protested the gay aspect of the song. Which brings to mind the whole gay marriage flap. People who will never be affected by gay marriage are voting for or against a candidate based upon their stance on the subject. That makes little sense to me, but what can you do?

Shut-up and sing - I agree with Katie Perry - I kissed a girl and I liked it too.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Enough!

Slept like shit again last night and I woke up with a sense of purpose. Follow my thinking on this one. I'm growing weary of the obsessive behavior that has driven me my entire adult life - so there are changes on the horizon.

1). I ate a bowl of cereal this morning and not Crunch Berries either. That bullshit bran with two raisins hidden like prizes in it type of cereal. Then - I had a turkey sandwich for lunch - on freaking wheat bread. Don't know if I feel better yet - but I'm ready to gnaw off a limb.

2). I have declared that the wife and I are going to take a walk after dinner. This will help reduce the stress level - unless of course she brings the children along or talks about our future. It will also get me moving before the Yankee game (another stress provider right now - Damon drops two pop-ups last night - sick!).

3). I'm going to try to give up the Copenhagen - not sure I can pull this one off - but I did chew a few nicorettes today in an effort to curb my dependence.

4). I don't need the martini's or the beer. I'll cut that out as I see fit. Although Iam golfing this weekend and I'm hanging with work clients who like beer the night before. I'll keep you posted.

5). I'm not reducing stress at the freaking casino. We spent a couple of hours there yesterday and I failed to reduce stress and woke up with one dollar in my pocket.

Okay, there's the plan. Who's with me on this? My brother-in-law changed everything in his life when he found out he had sugar. He begged me to make some changes before I had a condition that I could never get rid of.

I've been thinking of doing something for several years now. You'll notice that I did not declare that I would reduce my pasta intake.

Let's not get ridiculous.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Up Before the Dawn

This morning I struggled to sleep as I had a dream about a huge, fat guy who was breaking into our house and sorting through our stuff as my wife and I watched from the ground below. I woke up just before the cops reached our house to bust him, and as is prone to happen, I couldn't get back to sleep - so I simply got out of bed and began reading the news on the computer.

I sorted through the Russia-Georgia conflict. How can a country just attack another country without due cause? Horrible.

There were a couple of A-Rod sightings with new girlfriends - how come we can't spot him when there are runners on 2nd and 3rd with less than 2 outs?

Jennifer Aniston is free again - having been cut loose by John Mayer. Think I have a shot? I'll stick with Kathy anyway - something must be wrong with Rachel - everyone lets her go after just a little while.

There's a coming hurricane to Florida. Just saw a 48 hours on the continued trouble in New Orleans where the citizens are murdering each other without fear of the police. Three years after the hurricane and the police were still operating out of trailers - they solved five out of 160 murders last year. Hard to enforce the laws when your working from a trailer.

The Olympics? Saw that the American girl got jobbed and the toddler from China won the gold. Of all the news this is the most horrifying to Americans. As I watched the girls spin on the parallel bars, I turned to my wife and said - "If they wanted to get higher ratings they should let me go in the middle of their two routines."

We had a nice laugh, but could you imagine me trying to grab the bar, dressed in a speedo, as the Star-Spangled-Banner plays in the background? That would be laugh out loud funny, and would probably distract the viewer from the cheating judges.

How is that even possible to go through such a routine? I swear - if the judges saw me do even one swing from the top bar to the low bar I'd win the gold on the sympathy vote. The problem being, I probably couldn't even grasp the first bar without splitting the speedo.

The birds are singing and it's time for me to wake the dogs to start the day. What is my new day proclamation - oh yeah - stay strong, stay hungry, stay alive. Enjoy the day.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Torture

National news out of Buffalo again. ESPN is running a story about a high school baseball team where the hazing of JV Players reached criminal proportions. The story is both disturbing and sad, and if you have the stomach to read all of it - makes you long for some sort of justice. Check it all out at ESPN.com if you'd like.

OJ played here. Tim McVeigh was born here. We shot a president here. The Bills lost four straight Super Bowls. We had Tim Russert and he died too young. Can't we get a break?

Yet the high school story is nothing to sneeze at - it is a tragic story about adult supervision that was painfully lacking. There were coaches on the bus where two children were allegedly violated with items stuck in their rectum. Are you kidding me? What were the coaches doing? Watching the scenery fly by?

Not to mention that there are rumors floating around that this was not an isolated incident - but more a rite of passage. Aren't there people in charge who are paid to monitor such situations? Are you telling me that no one ever heard a rumor about the incomprehensible behavior? I grew up in a small town and I couldn't even burp without my parents not knowing what happened - a bus loaded with mini-Charles Manson's isn't found out?

Now of course there is political spin and people saying it isn't as bad as it is being played out to be - the ESPN article talks about how the media is blowing the story up.

Close your eyes for a minute - think of your son or daughter - at the age of 14 - explaining what happened to you. Gauge your reaction. What is your mind telling you to do to react to such a story?

One time I was eating at a restaurant as my three boys played, teased each other and just acted like boys. They weren't completely out of control, but they were laughing a bit too loud for the man at the next table. The man pointed to my son and put his fingers to his lips - "Shut-Up!" he said.

I nearly buried that man's face in his lasagna. If I were any of my 3 brothers I would have.

Lord knows what would happen to the coaches on that bus if my son came home and said that something was shoved in his rectum. Torture wouldn't be enough.

All Clear!

I visited the Women & Children's Hospital of Buffalo today with Kathy and Jake. The visits are much more relaxed then they were in late 2001, but there is always a bit of hesitation and nausea as I reach the doors.

For the past seven years we have been bringing Jake by to have a CT Scan to make sure that the tumor that was removed stayed completely gone. Well, we are all clear and Dr. Caty said the words that we'd longed to hear - "He doesn't need any future CT Scans. He's good to go."

Jake has been good to go since we walked out of that hospital in November of 2001. We were all very fortunate - and not a single day goes by when I don't Thank God for that. Yet what was most remarkable about today was the human touch I felt. It was almost like there were huge hands wrapping us up and protecting us.

We passed a nurse in the hall who had worked on Jake all those years ago. When I said hello, she stopped quick and I saw absolute fear in her eyes as I introduced Jake. It was easy to read her mind - she was worried sick that he was back for treatment - "Just the routine scan," I said - and her smile lit up the hallways.

The technicians talked wrestling with Jake as they struggled to find a workable vein - the mood in the room was light - the monkeys on the wall created the perfect distraction, and Jake mostly smiled through the 3 pin pricks.

And then Dr. Caty sat beside my son - a child he had worked to save - and talked with Jake as though they were two school chums just sitting on a park bench.

People often talk about closing down hospitals, museums, and libraries - without regard to the real human condition that goes on behind the walls. For years I have been an advocate for the care at the hospital - is it always perfect? Of course not.

It was perfect today.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Used to Be a Ballpark

I mowed my parents lawn yesterday. It's not a big deal - but a few acres of grass, ducking tree limbs, and catching the mower in a bit of mud - thanks Chuck for the push out.

Yet the thing about it was that as I mowed, I thought about all of the other times that I cut the grass on the same terrain, and a funny thing happened - I saw the home where I grew up with my five brothers and sisters, in a whole new light.

I thought about the mulberry tree where we would gather and try to break the record for the most mulberry's eaten in one handful. We were just kids, laughing with mulberry juice running down our faces.

I thought about the area where the sewer used to be - what was once high grass where the mower always got stuck - is now perfectly landscaped with trees perfectly spaced. There's no longer that smell.

In the backyard the old cars are gone - my father used to store old convertibles back there so he could recondition them in later years. He never actually worked on them, but one time my brother John and I filled a sack with food from the house to run away from home. We ate the food, John got stung by bee, and we ran back to my mother for first-aid. She didn't even mention the candy we "stole".

Finally, I thought about the old ball field where we would meet with friends and family after school. The bases were no longer cut out - grass had filled the worn-out spots - and the old plywood backstop was long gone. In the trick of all tricks, I could hear the screaming and laughter over the hum of the mower. I thought about my brother hitting a ball threw the living room window - quite a shot - but there was no glory as my father wanted to kill him.

"What a beautiful home," I said out loud. "What a wonderful way to grow up."

And what a treat to spend three hours mowing my parents lawn, reliving the cherished memories.

I hope and pray my kids have the chance to look back and remember and miss the good old days.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Yankees - R.I.P.

Ever since Reggie hit those three home runs on my 13th birthday I've felt that the Yankees win for me. This year, they are reveling in the love of kicking my ass when I'm down. For the first time since 1994, I'm writing their obituary with over a month left in the season, and since I've answered the question a million times in the last couple of weeks - I'll answer it with a post - I'm going to be all right!

First off, despite the big money and the flair for the dramatic - it isn't the end of the world if they miss the playoffs. The World Series is an unbelievable goal each year and me and the boys can't expect that everything will always work out. It's difficult to temper expectations and one of life's best lessons is that sometimes your best moves don't pay.

Not that it isn't difficult these days - through the years the excitement of the Yankees has been at the forefront of our every day lives in the summer. My brothers and I grew up watching the Yanks when they weren't very good - we always had Billy Martin around for comic relief and Don Mattingly around as a true testament to all that was right with the game.

Then Torre, Jeter, Tino, Bernie and O'Neill won for us - 4 times in 5 years - and the expectations went completely out of whack. They were now supposed to win every year. Yet life doesn't work that way. Money doesn't buy happiness - of course don't give me the $ is the only reason they won argument - what team doesn't throw money at their quest for glory? (Oh yeah, the Bills and Sabres).

Anyway a funny thing happened to me to temper my love for the Yankees. On the morning of Jake's life-saving operation the Yankees lost the World Series to a crap team in the bottom of the 9th on a broken bat pop-up that barely made the outfield grass. Big deal.

Yet what was funny was that as we were celebrating Jake's success friends and family were consoling me about the Yankee loss. I couldn't have cared less that Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson (2 real idiots) won. On that day I learned that life was bigger than the Yankees.

There - I said it - life is bigger than the Yankees.

So if you see me in the next couple of months, kiss my Jeter ring, bow to my Yankee hardhat, ball cap, t-shirt, signed Mattingly jersey, my dog Melky, and my homage to the Yankee tradition. Just don't mention Manny or Ortiz, or the freaking Florida Marlins, of the Arizona Diamonbacks, or any of the a-holes that might be playing come October. I'll be soaking my head and waiting for the free agent signing period when Uncle George and Cousin Hank reload for another run at glory.

Seriously, it'll be just fine.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Man Versus Woman

We all know there is a real, true battle that is fought in this great nation on a daily basis. The idea for this blog came off of my post about Michael Phelps - a great college friend of mine responded saying that I should learn to relax and enjoy life a little - "Men get grouchy as they grow older," she wrote.

I must confess that I do get grouchy - I know my friend's husband too - and I know why he gets grouchy.

The thing is - I did respond - "Women are the carriers for grouchiness," I explained. "Men like to sit around and think about all of the golf they're missing, all the beer they've left undrank while they develop dish-pan hands, and fold the laundry."

I thoroughly enjoy sparring with my wife, my sisters, my sisters-in-law, and my old college friends about the great differences between men and women. Here are the distinct differences as I see them.

1). Talking about our day. I get up, go to work, come home from work, and try to read the paper - my wife says - "How was your day?" I say - "Great! and go back to the box scores.

My wife gets up, goes to work, comes home from work - and if I have the misfortune of asking her how her day was - she talks about her day until it's time to return to work.

2). Feelings- I'm not quite sure what it would take to hurt my feelings. I've never given it much thought. I can hurt my wife's feelings with one miss-directed comment about how we need to clean up a specific room.

3). Keeping an eye on the future. My wife has already scouted colleges for our 15-year old. She thinks about where we'll live when we retire, and how often she's going to babysit the grandchildren. When she asks me about the future - I usually answer with something about hoping that I'll have pasta again before the weekend.

4). Intimacy - women like to equate intimacy with love and security. Mention intimacy to a male and there is only one vision that enters the mind - I'm all for intimacy on a daily basis, by the way.

Anyhow - this blog is for my good friend - and her continued inability to understand the grouchy nature of men as we age. Always remember who is carrying this disease and presenting it to us on a daily basis.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

See You Tomorrow

Sleep deprivation was the big drawback when the kids were young. I can remember walking around in a fog, wondering what the hell happened to the life I used to enjoy. I've slept much better through the years, but every once in awhile...

I had a long road trip through New York State. I was actually 40 miles outside of Montreal before I turned around and headed towards home. This is actually quite a beautiful state, but I wasn't much in the mood to drive through the towns that are basically abandoned - a broken down home here, a car on blocks there, a gas station every thirty miles or so. I often wonder what the people in those faraway places do for entertainment, or even work, but that's a whole 'nother story.

I returned home, put the Yankee game on, and popped a Tylenol PM when Mariano came into the game. Mariano is usually lights out, so it was real disconcerting to watch him blow the save. Of course, the game went into extra innings, I fought the control of the Tylenol PM, and stayed up until the bitter end. Then, I slept as though I had to get up three times to change a baby - which I didn't do much of when they were babies.

Anyway, I was in a deep fog today - I slumped around, got half the usual effort, and kept reminding myself that there's always tomorrow. At dinner I mentioned to the kids that I was tired.

"Is that what happens when people get old?" Sam asked. "You just walk around telling everyone how tired you are?"

Sorry I mentioned it - see you tomorrow.

Miracles & Heroes

I'm sorry but I've never been a great fan of the Olympics. I'm not sure where my inattention comes from - perhaps the only Olympic event I've ever watched was the Hockey Team's go for gold in 1980.

I believe that it is the hero worship we put on the athletes that absolutely turns me off. If you didn't know it, these days you'd think Michael Phelps cured cancer, and solved the deficit problem.

I caught the end of one of his races and the announcer was giggling like a school girl about the accomplishment. Okay, fine - I get it - he's worked hard - and is astounding - but come on, he's swimming!

The announcer was throwing around words like hero, brilliant, and miraculous. It's not a miracle. He gets in the water and moves his arms and legs faster than the other guys - and just by nano-seconds too. He isn't walking on the water.

I have an eight-year old that can swim. My dog recently fell in the pool and without ever having been in water before - he broke Phelp's record to the other side. I turned to my wife and screamed - "Do You Believe in Miracles!"

The problem being that sports is simply a distraction - hero worship is ultimately sickening to me. Enjoy the Olympics, root, root, root for the hometeam, but for God's sake let's not make him king because he grew up playing Marco Polo better than the rest of us.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Denied Parole

I was a junior in high school when John Lennon was killed. I remember the exact moment when I heard the news. I was walking through the kitchen of my parents' home, my mind on nothing other than I was tired. My sister used to play the radio in the morning as we got ready for school and I was half-listening to WPHD when Harv Moore explained that Lennon was killed by a crazed fan. Unbelievable.

Like millions of others, I admired Lennon and all of the Beatles. I was more of a Springsteen, Stones fan, but I knew that if not for the Beatles rock and roll wouldn't have existed. I defy you not to sing along with some of those songs - and to think that they were all done by 1970 or so - God, it blows your mind. They were so ahead of their time - and they still sell millions of records. Amazing.

Anyway I couldn't get over the fact that Lennon was gunned down like that. I began reading about him, and his crazed killer - Mark David Chapman. I wrote a college term paper about Lennon's life - and learned tons of useless Beatles knowledge - the title for Yesterday was originally Scrambled Eggs - McCartney was working on the song and Lennon walked by and said - "That'd make more sense if you used Yesterday." Incredible.

I got an "A" on that paper, but it still didn't quell my fascination. The guy had just received Lennon's autograph on the Double Fantasy album (which with Yoko singing half the songs was only a single fantasy), and then he returned to murder Lennon. Ungodly.

Lennon was only 40. That also blows my mind. I often think about what he'd have contributed in the years that followed. It pains me to think that he would have just faded away. Sadness.

Normally, I have a soft spot in my heart when it comes to criminals and possible rehab and things of that order. Mark David Chapman is in an institution in New York State. I talked with a prison guard who met him at the prison - Chapman cooked him breakfast. The guard told me that they keep Chapman far away from the other prisoners, and that all-in-all, he didn't seem like such a horrible bloke. Forgiveness?

Whatever, I always feel better when I hear that parole has been denied for guys like Mark David Chapman, and Charles Manson. Happiness.

They say Chapman was a super fan that wanted to steal something from Lennon. In the end, he stole it from us. Imagine.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

County Fair

Walking around the fair always seems to present some real life lessons. First off, the cost of everything is completely out of whack with the real world - where else would you pay $3.00 for a glass of lemonade? Or $8.00 for a sausage sandwich that looks great, but turns out to be mostly bread?

Not that I'm complaining. The kids had a great time, running through the mazes as I held their prizes and drinks. Kathy was right behind them heading up the moving stairs, nearly falling on her ass as I laughed at her.

Then there are the games. I'm a dead-eye shooting basketball hoops, but the ball yesterday simply didn't fit in the basket. I eventually won a Yankee basketball but it cost me ten bucks.

Yet it's the walking around that's worth the price of admission. The carnival workers are fun to watch as they size up every woman that passes and bargain with the kids. It seems to me that the carnival dental plan isn't very good, but every job has its pitfalls.

I headed into the booth where they promised me a look at a four-horned goat, a two-headed raccoon, and the world's fattest man and tallest women. I'll save you the $6 that it took me to bring the boys around - it was a colossal disappointment.

Yet we walked for miles. We bought 8 pounds of candy, a blooming onion, a truckload of $3 drinks, a few chicken dinners, and a taco. We spent time with Uncle Chuck and Aunt Corinne and that was worth every penny to the kids.

We came home with a picture of John Cena, a Yankee basketball, a key chain (that cost about $25 at the push the token table), and all that candy.

What did it cost? A couple of hundred?

The county fair! On the way out, we thanked the lady for letting us park on the lawn for $5and then we searched for the car for awhile. The Fair's final game always has been - find the car.

See you next year - then again, Ted Nugent is performing tomorrow- I never heard Cat Scratch Fever live.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

I Sin Every Day

What caught my eye yesterday was that Clay Aiken had a child. When I found out it was through a surrogate mother it made more sense, but I'm still not sure what to do with that information.

Then there was the admission of an affair by John Edwards. This admission came after repeated denials where he lambasted his accusers for even suggestion infidelity. They always said he wanted to be like Bill Clinton - guess he was closer than we all imagined.

What is particularly horrifying about his owning up to an extramarital affair is that his wife is suffering with a terminal cancer, and his children have always been front and center. Far be it for me to dump all over someone elses marriage, but can he possibly win out in the court of public opinion? He wants to be Attorney General? Maybe he should speak with Eliot Spitzer.

The line that caught me is the title of this blog - "I sin every day," Edwards said by way of admission.

Certainly, let those among us without sin cast the first stone - I'm certainly not qualified to do that, but there are degrees of sin, right?

I certainly am capable of sinning every day. A temper tantrum here, a white lie there. Perhaps I grab a handful of pistachios as I walk around the grocery store, but cheating on your dying wife, as you explain that the media is creating a stink around you as you live a life of faithful bull crap and present an image to your very own children that is unbelievably contradictory?

Like the rest of the presidential candidates Edwards always struck me as someone who was polishing up his act to fool me for a few years. Unfortunately for him, he was found out well in advance of the other jokers.

I like to imagine scenarios - it's part of the writing gig - but I can't imagine what happened when he sat on the edge of his wife's bed and explained his sin for those particular days.

When we were kids we used to swear ourselves to eternal honesty by crossing our hearts. My kids now hold my feet to the carpet by asking me if I'd be willing to swear on the Bible.

I guess that Edwards would have failed each of my kids' tests. And now, fair or not, it is difficult for me to listen to the words coming out of his mouth and not be skeptical. That's what happens when honesty is breached.

I know that my beliefs teach forgiveness, but that's hard for me to do in this situation - perhaps that's my one sin for today.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Your Life is Now

I had a job that brought me close to my parents home, so I visited the job early and was pulling into their driveway at just about coffee time. It was a visit that was long overdue as being away on vacation kind of upset the usual routine. Their dog, Jeter, jumped on me when I opened the door, and my father poured me a coffee and offered to make some eggs.

I wasn't there to eat, however (believe it or not), I just wanted to catch up. My mother told me about her battle with the blood pressure pills and the gout in her foot. My father explained how difficult it was to mow the grass, clean-up the pool, and change out the new drapes. I felt a little guilty because I wasn't around enough to help out. Anyone who's ever heard Cats in the Cradle by Harry Chapin knows how I was feeling.

The conversation was light and I stayed for quite awhile even though I had other jobs to hit. We talked about the kids, how I was as a kid, the fact that someone in town asked about my new book, and the terrible rising price of everything. As I backed out of the driveway, I thought about how fortunate I am to have my parents around to share things with.

I also thought about the fact that my visit was a high point in their day. I thought about all of the things they'd done with their lives - their successes and failures - and high points and low points. I thought of the fact that time had to move much more slowly these days as there were no longer six children running around the house.

And I thought of the Mellencamp song and how my life is right now. These are the days when I am taking the light from my parents and holding it high for my children. All of the running around, and chasing things will eventually slow to a crawl and sooner than I think, I may be watching Sopranos reruns.

Whenever I'm around my parents I feel like a child, and that's because that is what I will always be to them. It is a comfortable role and one that I am content to play, but driving away, from a much too short visit, I had a million thoughts and ideas rattling around inside my heart.

Twenty-five years has flown by. Twenty-five more and it will be my kids lives in play, and I'll be hanging around with my dog and watching television. I sure hope my kids stop by to visit.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

What's With Kids These Days?

I came home from work today to see Matt, an able-bodied 15-year-old sitting on the couch in the air conditioning, wrapped in a blanket and watching an old movie. He was sipping green tea and he nodded at me as I dropped my car keys.

"What did you do to help today?" I asked.

He paused for a long moment, blinked his eyes a couple of times and said, "Absolutely nothing, and yet, I'm tired. Isn't that ironic?"

I thought about ripping him off the couch, but instead, I laughed.

"Maybe you can mow the lawn tonight?" I said.

"No can do," he answered. "I'm going to watch the Bills practice tonight."

Last week at Cedar Point as we waited on line for a ride, Kathy decided that Sam would ride with me and Jake would ride with her. The two boys took to discussing it, with Sam having the final word.

"You should ride with Dad," he told Jake. "You like him better than I do."

Beautiful! Every day there's something new with my three sons. Yet they are going to have to go a long way before topping the line from Jake back when he was about 4 years old.

Kathy was giving Sam a bath as Jake and I played a video game. Over the rush of the bath water, Kathy yelled out, "Sam found his pee-pee!"

Jake looked to me and with a straight face said - "He found his pee-pee? Where was it?"

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Meeting New People

I stopped at the bank today to make a quick deposit. In my head I was thinking it would take three minutes - tops. The teller, Norma, had different ideas. She asked me about the weather, what I was doing in Niagara Falls, the color of my car, whether or not I had any children, if I wanted to get a new credit card through the bank, and finally she explained why Wednesday feels like the longest day of the week to her.

I wasn't rude. I didn't feel much like talking, but I feigned interest in all of her wonderful words of wisdom. It wasn't like she was bothering me, either - she was just too cheerful.

It got me to thinking about perfect strangers and how if you give them a few minutes they will tell you their whole life story. As I waited in line at Cedar Point last week for a water ride this man stuck his hand out to me. "I'm Tim," he said. "Since we're stuck in line we may as well get to know each other."

Not what Iwas thinking, but no lies here, I found out that Tim was nearing his 40th birthday; he has 9 kids; he lost his job for punching his boss who was new to the business where he worked for 22 years. The result of the punch is in arbitration because the union has his back.

I also learned that Tim likes lots of beer - "I had about ten this morning," he said.

And that his wife tips the scales at over 500 pounds - "She's waiting for me at the exit, but she gets kind of ashamed about being out in public."

"She shouldn't be ashamed," I said lamely. I mean really, how do you answer that?

Tim didn't have anyone to sit next to for the ride. "My wife can't fit in the car. Do you mind going with me?"

I was in line with my sister-in-law and my mother-in-law. I wasn't real sure if they wanted to share a ride with Tim, yet, it was a four-seater.

As we hit the peak and started the descent Tim offered me a high-five - I slapped hands with him as we plunged into the water. I was drenched from head-to-toe and I shared a good, long laugh with Tim who reached across me and high-fived my mother-in-law.

I guess, as I write this, that there isn't a profound point to any of it, but despite my misgivings, I was glad to meet Tim.

Norma's theory is that Wednesday is too far away from the past weekend and not close enough to the coming weekend and that's why Wednesday's seem so long. I'll probably think of her each Wednesday.

In the end, I suppose, we all have a story to tell, and we might just need to tell it to everyone we meet.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Just a Line in the News

Boy I did not miss the news when I was on vacation. I don't know why I even bother reading the news or watching the nightly local news. Seriously, what good does it do you to know that there was a fire in a vacant building, or some local joker drove into a convenience store window, drunk off his ass.

I purposely changed things up on vacation, reading very little of the newspaper and not watching a minute of Fox News or CNN.

What did I miss?

There's a coming hurricane. Ever since reading the book about the devastation in New Orleans, I cringe when I hear that a hurricane is coming close to our shores. I can't think of much worse than flood waters and the devastation it brings.

Morgan Freeman was hurt in a car wreck - now there's an actor - Keeanu Reeves and Ben Affleck should be forced to watch that man act - hopefully he'll make a full recovery. Who was better than him in Shawshank?

More fallout on Heath Ledger's death - one of the Olsen twins has something to hide? I don't have much to say on that other than that girl needs a sandwich.

Brett Favre? Come on already, make up your mind. I really feel bad for him if he has to sit the bench however - he'll get paid 12 mil to do it. I sat the bench in high school for the free orange slices at halftime.

Vacation's over - couple days in - and I'm still not aggravated yet.

Monday, August 4, 2008

G.O.L.F.

Standing at the first tee - we all groaned, bitched and moaned because the foursome in front of us contained two women who addressed their ball, swung for the fences, and dribbled it thirty yards. They then high-fived as though they were on pace to shatter the club record.

"Gawd!" my cart partner said. "This is going to take forever."

The two women got to their first shots and promptly nailed it another 18 yards.

"Gentlemen Only Ladies Forbidden," I said.

My buddy just looked at me - "That's what G.O.L.F. stands for," I said.

"I know a few lady golfers that can wipe the floor with us," my buddy said. "Besides that can't be true. That's not how the game was named."

"Look it up," I said. "Women weren't allowed."

"Women should be allowed," he said. "It's just those women I can do without right now."

There were two more 37 yard rolls down the hill and I got out of the cart and started thinking about putting my tee in the ground.

"What I imagine for those women is that they took up golf so that they could spend time with their husbands," my buddy said. "You've had those discussions, right?"

I was definitely following his train of thought.

He put on a mock women's voice. "I want to share your interests," he intoned. "We can talk about our games afterwards."

The cart carrying the women finally got out of range for my tee shot. "Gentelemen Only Ladies Forbidden," I said.

I swung and watched the ball take off - it landed about twenty feet beyond the woman's tee box.

"How about gentelemen-only-overweight-bald-men forbidden," my buddy said. "It would have been called GOOBM."

I can't tell you what I told him.

By the way, golf comes from the Scottish word goulf which means to strike of cuff and/or from the Dutch word Kolf which means to bat or club.

I just imagine those ladies looking back at me as I hacked my way up the fairway - "God, why do they let those men play."

My Beautiful Reward


Bruce has a song where he searches through rooms seeking gold and diamond rings and wonders when he'll find his beautiful reward. He searches high and low and glides high over grey fields wondering where it is for him.


Sometimes I forget. A lot of times I forget actually, but I spent last week with my wife and three boys and the dogs went along too. We shared laughs, food, drinks, swimming and sun. My wife is now the sun goddess and I'm a bronze statue. The boys behaved well and seemed to appreciate the rest and time away from their video game systems.
Yet without even realizing it, I was reminded of what my reward in this life is - unlike the character in the Bruce tune - I don't need to fly here or there and wonder what makes me go. There is little confusion over whether I want to amass a fortune or remain dedicated to the people who surround me on a daily basis.
Nothing is ever perfect - when we plan a vacation - we don't think of sleeping in a hard bed, or waking up tired. It's always perfect when we plan, and perfect when we look back.
Unfortunately, time and circumstance drives us away from those we love on a rather routine basis, but I know that hanging with the family did we a world of good because I have a genuine love for everyone in it and it certainly feels as if the feeling is mutual.
Now if I can only remember all of that - at least to the end of the week!

A Plaque for Ned

Spent the weekend golfing and trying to decompress from what has been a fast-paced year. No sense in complaining - everyone I know is in the same boat - too much work, kids baseball games, high gas prices, an election where nobody knows what to do, blah,blah,blah,blah, blah.

Anyway at the golf course in Titusville PA, with a ton of friends all around reminding me of my personal deficiencies, and a lot of beer flowing, I stepped up to hit at a short par 3. I worried about nothing all weekend except where my ball might be, or what club I should hit, but there at the tee stand stood a plaque:

This hole is dedicated to the memory of Ned Carter from his loving children.

There wasn't any way that I could express my heartfelt feelings about such a plaque to the other guys in my foursome - I would have been laughed off the tee box (I was laughed off after hitting my shot - but that's another story) - anyway - I thought about good old Ned and what had to be his deep love of golf. I thought about his children missing him so much that they called the course where he played and asked how they can memorialize him.

I didn't know Ned, obviously, but I was golfing with a lot of guys just like him - guys who love their families, love their friends, and like to hack it up for relaxation.

I couldn't help but think of Ned's kids beautiful gesture. I thought that Ned might be watching over me and perhaps laughing at my drive. Yet a strange thing happened as I got to my ball. I stood over it knowing that I chip like a slow-monkey and in my mind, I said - 'Help me out here, Ned.'

I chipped to within 6 feet of the hole and although I putt like a slow-monkey, I made the shot for a par on the hole.

There aren't a lot of coincidences that I believe - I very rarely am able to get up and down as those who like golf are prone to say, but I did it.

Or we did it - me, Ned, and some kids that miss their old man.

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