Monday, December 28, 2009

The Hangover

No, this is not a movie review. I didn't like the movie and apparently I'm in a small minority, so I'll leave it alone. This is my story about drunken stupors and the morning after.

I don't know when it started. I honestly can't remember, but it might one day be my demise. I do not get hangovers? Sure I wake up wishing there were more sleep hours, but honestly, I never wake up with the pounding headache, the fear of light and the horrible sensation that the smell of alcohol will make me re-enact the pie eating scene from Stand By Me. There are times when I open my wallet the next day and wonder. What happened? There are times I find food in my bathtub or my clothing on top of my computer. I've woken up with a chicken cutlet in my hand with one perfect bite taken out. I've woken up in the bathtub with the shower on. I've woken up in my car (after my brother's wedding). I've even woken up in somebodies bed and not been 100% sure whose it was when I first got up. All these instances have been a subtle reminder that sometimes moderation is like a trigonometry equation, but I never have the typical hangover.

When I was younger I was a puker. Almost every night I drank I got sick. This was usually because I only did so on the weekends and tried to fit as much partying into three or four hours and paid the price. Back then. Hangovers! As I got older I started to have a strange ability to stay alert and keep my wits about me, despite some marathons at the bar. Going on vacation, I could go all day and then do it again. Sure age has started to slow me down. I need rests everyone once in a while. I also think my insomnia plays a big part in that. It's not like I am trying to win an award for alcoholism, but I've gotten to the point where I can drink pretty much anything all day and night and show up for work bright eyed and bushy-tailed. Sure there are occurrences when a three day bender meets up with a serious bought of sleeplessness, but for the most part, I'm good.

Now I'm not boasting. This really isn't something to be proud of. I'm not in college, so nobody really cares about my drinking prowess, but me. I'm proud of it, because it keeps me from having the tell-tale sign of a disease. Although I do fear, down the road, some others may occur due to this. Yes I am aware that being able to drink large quantities of alcohol doesn't mean you must do so whenever possible. I'm not that silly. I know when my body says "hold it now." I have even been known to call it a night prematurely, when I'm feeling the effects more than normal. I've also been known to stay out four hours too long. I'm not giving myself a proverbial pat on the back. Honestly.

This blog is actually a question. I know the answer, so it is a rhetorical question, in some ways, but it does make me wonder. Why would anyone spend an evening drinking when they know the repercussions will be painful and ruin the next day? I have told many friends and acquaintances that if I ever felt the way they explained the following day, I would give up drinking forever. I'm not kidding. I hate the act of vomiting more than any feeling I've ever had. The thought of doing that once a month, once a week even, scares me to death. When I was younger I persisted because it was cool to drink. Now on the rare occasion this happens, I go into hermit mode. I can count the number of times I've drank myself sick in the past ten years on one hand (with maybe a few extra digits, but the occurrences are few and far between). The last time this happened I wanted to die. I actually made myself sick, because of how awful I felt and that was the hardest thing I ever did. Obviously, it makes you feel better, but the act is so painful to me, I can't bare it. That coupled with what my memory perceives as a blinding headache? Why would anyone do anything that causes this? I honestly can't comprehend. There are few evenings I've ever had that are worth a completely lost day with the addition of pain and suffering.

Do I like to socialize over cocktails? Absolutely. Do I have plans to stop? Absolutely not. If I knew that every following day would result in pain, aches and a feeling of nausea would I continue? Never.

When I watched the movie the Hangover, they took a somewhat comical look at the results of a drunken evening. There was pain as a result of the festivities. I've never woken up with a tiger in my bathroom, but I have had a cheese puff in my bathtub and couldn't find a bag of them. I've never woken up with a tooth missing, but have had a hole in the back of my shirt covered in blood. I've never lost a friend and spent the next day trying to find him. Although I have spent the next day trying to remember what friends I saw the night before. The one thing I do always do (as long as I'm able to sleep at least four hours) is function. When that day stops, I'll know it's time to pull back the reigns. Fortunately, that day hasn't arrived.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Birthday Jesus

Over the past few weeks, we've all been inundated with the holiday bullshit that swamps TV and the airwaves. In this time, spirits are high and low depending, usually, on financial situations. Nobody can avoid this time completely. All we can do is grin and bear it or openly accept and enjoy it. I'm somewhere in the middle, but I'm doing my best to enjoy the awkwardness when people try to be politically correct or stand up for their religion.

For the past two weeks I've made a concerted effort to say Happy Holidays to people I know celebrate Christmas. It burns their ass and they get so flustered, because you're being nice, but it's not what they want to hear. I also have wished many of my Jewish friends a Merry Christmas. They usually don't react negatively, but it's funny, especially when they know I know they are Jewish. I do this for fun and because it shows how much has been lost in the marketing of this season.

I think the absurdity of Christmas hit me more this year than any other. It was December 4th and someone wished me a Merry Christmas. I think if you still have a stomach ache from all the turkey you just ate, it's too early to start wishing people a Merry Christmas. It actually made me pause and say, really? Like the fictitious fat man, I am making a list. I won't check it twice, because unlike Santa, I'm really not that anal retentive. My list has a name and a number. The number is the days before Christmas I was wished a Merry Christmas. So in 2010, I will call that person that number of days before their birthday and wish them a Happy Birthday. When they explain that it isn't for another two weeks, I'll let out a big hearty laugh and exclaim "yeah well if it's good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for you." If they don't get it or get offended. I'll say that they aren't being politically correct and then go on to explain that I should have wished them a happy birthday nine months ago, because their screwy religion believes that life starts at conception. Which leads to another question. If you actually believe that life starts at conception, then why aren't you one years old after three months? Answer that Father.

Honestly, Christmas has lost it's religious appeal thanks to advertising. I remember seeing those old coke ads with the polar bears and thinking. I get it, cute bears, North Pole, Santa, Christmas....I'll have a Coke because it's Christmas. Now its become girl in red and green bikini, laptop, and Happy Holidays...I'll have some, er, internet porn and wtf? Seriously, some ads just confuse me. Also, if you are of a Christian faith and you tell me that Christmas is the biggest and most important holiday, I will buy you a Bible, because it's not. Easter is. And another thing. Don't get offended if you're Jewish and someone spells Hannukah wrong, because honestly, it doesn't matter and two, nobody knows how to spell Hannukah or Chanukah, or Rumplestiltskin. It's not a big deal. I am a little upset that they don't have more Jewish based ads. Just once I want to see a hair care product and then see a Hassidic man with flowing peyes'.

I don't want people to think I hate Christmas. I really don't. I love getting together with family and friends. I love seeing a child's face when they get the present they wanted. I love the food and drink. I love every aspect about it. My problem is, why can't people be like this the other eleven months of the year? Why is Christmas time when people are nice to each other? Think about it. When was the last time in mid-April someone hugged you for being their friend? Bought you a drink and said thank you for alway being there? Called you to wish you the best? Why have we deemed the second half of December as the only time to shine? Think how great a world this would be if everyone carried their Christmas spirit throughout the year? Some people think I'm down on humanity, because it's Christmas. Nope, I'm down on humanity all the time. It's just that I'm being me, 365 days a year and you aren't. Nobody minds my realist (some deem them pessimistic) views in September, but in late December I'm a Scrooge or The Grinch. Why is that? Am I the one being a fake? I think not. Look in the mirror people. You guys don't think once about your mail carrier during the year, but leave him a couple of bucks for Christmas. I don't. I talk to my mailman both at work and at home all the time. I joke with them and ask how they are doing. When my work mailman hadn't been by for two weeks, I asked someone who works with him that I know if he was OK. When I found out he had a minor heart attack I was floored. I actually cared. He finally came back and then lost his mother. I felt for him as I would a friend. Every day I work, he comes in and we talk baseball. Maybe only for a few seconds, but every day, not just in December.

Christmas was always a wonderful time for me growing up. My mother, my father, later my brother, and I would always be joined by my grandmother and usually some friends of the family who didn't have a place to go for Christmas. Everyone and anyone was welcome in my home. It wasn't just family. The thing is, this wasn't just for Christmas. My parents opened their door and their hearts to anyone. In the course of my lifetime, we've had people stay the night, stay a week, stay a month. We had a friend of a friend, who we had never met stay for over a month at our home. We were sad to see him go and to this day I still have the gift he gave me when he left. One of the most thoughtful gifts I've ever received. Oh and did I mention...it wasn't during December.

This Christmas is different. My mother is gone. My brother is married and with his in-laws. My father is with his mother at his home in Ithaca. I decided to go it alone this year. I went out last night and hugged and kissed everyone who was out. I got a few invites for this evening, but decided to go it alone the whole way. A normal breakfast of bacon and eggs, some coffee and a few phone calls. I watched a movie and now I'm sitting in the office where I work writing a blog. I'm perfectly content. I'll go out and find an inn or a tavern and join those who are done with the holiday and watch some football. I'll shake hands, hug and kiss those I know. I'll wish them the best and then we'll bid each other adieu.

They call it holiday cheer. I'll call it Friday.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus and God

Over the recent Thanksgiving break, my brother brought up the subject of someone being too old to still believe in Santa Claus. The child is nine and the family goes through a slightly elaborate scheme to keep his belief thriving. My brother has a problem with it, I do not. It did get me to thinking though. Unless your parents go out of their way to provide you with evidence of the existence of Santa, the belief naturally dissolves fairly quickly. It's only when the facade is played up that these childhood beliefs stay intact. It's my feeling that we first stop believing in the tooth fairy, because we're either awoken or we see a note in a familiar handwriting. This happened to me at a very young age. I'm pretty sure I never truly believe a fairy flew into my room, but who was I to argue with cold hard cash under my pillow? Santa Claus...I'm not sure I ever really believed. Seemed to improbable and the fact my grandmother didn't have a fireplace kinda ruined the whole concept. If you're going to get mad, stop reading here. You know what's coming next.

So if we stop believing in outlandish tales of made up figures, why do so many people still believe in God? Isn't the concept of believing in God as far-fetched as say, Santa? Santa knows when you've been naughty and nice? Isn't that God's job? Are they one in the same? And honestly, I have a problem believing that everyone who is poor was naughty. It doesn't add up. Why would the Tooth Fairy, if real, give one child $2 and one child $20. Did they have better teeth? Or is their some type of Fairy dental plan that gets you more return? I have a problem believing in any entity that I can't see, hear or touch. I respect others beliefs, but I'm ready to debate them at the drop of a hat. This isn't meant to be a religious debate. My real point is these childhood beliefs end when we attain the ability to reason. So why does this ability not count when it comes to religion? My guess is because there is always that part of us that wants to believe in something magical. In faith, we basically revert to our childhood minds and take what is told to us without questioning it. I find this fascinating on so many levels. But back to Santa and the Tooth Fairy.

While discussing this with someone I brought up the point that if you are 9-10 years old and still believe in Santa Claus (I'm assuming the Tooth Fairy has been outed by now), there might be something wrong. Now I don't want to say that a child who believes in Santa Claus is learning disabled, because that would be irresponsible, but I'd like to think that at ten years old they have the cognitive skills and the deductive reasoning abilities to know the difference between reality and fantasy. Sure there's that child part that wants it to be true, but at some point the reality of the story should have them questioning it. Kids question everything, so why do some not question Santa Claus? Why don't all of them question God? Isn't that even more far fetched than Santa? At least on Christmas morning there are presents under the tree to play up the charade. What does a child see from God? Grandma died, Uncle Joe is sick, and the kid at school is in a wheelchair. Can't wait to get to sit next to my maker. Now if you believe in God, I'm not saying it's a bad thing, but why is this not questioned more? I have told many a person that if they can show me proof of God's existence, I'll believe tomorrow. Still waiting.

Now here's the oddest correlation to the whole thing. Lost in all the holiday hoopla, with the red suits and reindeer games is the fact that this holiday isn't about presents and mistletoe, it's about the birth of Christ. You know, God's son. Now obviously you're not going to tell your five year old that today we celebrate the birth of our lord and savior's son, who at 33 was nailed to a cross and died for our sins. Now in honor of him, we put up a tree and drink eggnog. Daddy and Mommy go into debt and inevitably your shithead aunt will get drunk and ruin dinner. Nope we tell them about Santa Claus, because it's a nicer story. Once they reach that golden age of bullshit recognition they stop believing and go into phase two of their lives. Bringing down the hopes and dreams of younger kids who still believe and showing them where Mommy hides the presents.

My friend said that she loves that kids who are older and believe still have that naivety and innocence. I feel that's dangerous. Being naive is a lack of understanding. One who is in many ways simple. When a child becomes a certain age and shows these levels of immaturity, I would question what else they might be tricked into believing. It's a crazy sick world out there and there are a lot of evil people. I'd like to keep all children safe from harm and a knowledgeable, realistic child will stay a lot safer in my opinion than one who is easily swayed to believe in fairies and an imaginary fat man in a red suit who flies around with reindeer. But then again, who am I to say, maybe I'm the one who is jaded. I mean I don't believe in an omnipotent being who created everything and watches over us and who we will get to sit with once we die in a cloud decorated place called Heaven. Wow, I guess Santa Claus being real isn't that crazy after all.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Letter to November

Dear November,

You came and went so quickly, I hardly got to know you. You made the ridiculously quick month of October seem like an eternity in comparison. Your first two weeks held nothing special. Your third week brought me illness and a slightly new outlook on my evening and weekend endeavors. Your final ten days brought my father's 75th birthday and Thanksgiving. A restful final weekend capped off the month. As the year draws to a close, I am finally starting to feel (and possibly even act) my age.

Sickness hit me for the first time since last November. A healthy year aside from some minor allergies in early spring. A week's worth of coughing, but a few OTC drugs and all was fine. I'm really starting to believe that this Swine Flu was nothing more than a government hoax to appease the pharmaceutical companies and doctors before the hammer drops and we join the 21st century with some, dare I say it, socialized medicine. One full year of useless blood tests to generate some medical revenue. I mean really people, Swine Flu vs Regular Flu? The only difference - more people die from the regular flu. Pandemic? I call it bullshit.

The lingering cough didn't stop me from looking forward with great anticipation for my favorite holiday. Thanksgiving started with an almost four hour ride with my brother and sis-in-law to Ithaca. A dreary day was brightened by my excited father. The 'kids' took my father to the supermarket and then we all took a nice afternoon siesta. I could definitely get into that routine. More of the same the following day, with a little football thrown in. We followed that with a deep fried turkey, some dressing, ("It wasn't in the bird so it's dressing exclaimed my father!" I was already aware of this thanks to Paula Deen and Alton Brown!), some mashed potatoes, cauliflower and some seasonal squash, yams, and a nice variety of delicious wines. I preferred the Chilean selection. A slice of pie later and some dishes and I was off to football land. Triptophan setting in, I relaxed on the couch. Eyelids started to get heavy and by midnight I believe everyone was in a food coma. The next morning we all piled into the car and headed back to reality. A good time was had by all.

November saw an odd twist for me. Three of four Fridays and Sunday were spent home. No libations and a lessened amount of football. Some were due to sickness, some sheer exhaustion, but I found myself not missing the weekly weekend grind and awoke each morning refreshed and ready to seize the next day. Am I maturing? I'd like to think not. Those I know who exude maturity definitely don't seem to be that happy. I'd like to think it's a re-juicing of the metaphoric batteries. Maybe it's a shut down with full knowledge that December holds holiday parties and yearly treks that include hours of ruining my liver and testing the kidneys. Good food, good friends and lots of drinks. It's what December is all about.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Kiddies Table

Thanksgiving just passed and hopefully everyone had a wonderful time. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday for a multitude of reasons. Thanksgiving in my house was always a time where we invited many of those close to us that didn't have family nearby. Sometimes we'd even pass up the opportunity to be with our own families to be with those who might otherwise be alone. This lead to some wonderful experiences growing up and made me value friendships as much, if not more than family itself. I also like Thanksgiving because it lacks all the religious nonsense that our other big holidays include. This to me is very important. It's a time to give thanks to those real people around us and those who are not. We don't have to worship false idols and thank them for all the hard work we do. We can thank our mothers and fathers for that meal that has been put in front of us. Sure some do, but the only time I say Grace is if someone with that name happens to be present. Somehow the idea of thanking God for us killing a turkey seems somewhat silly. Finally, the real reason to love Thanksgiving. It's really all about the food. A very integral part in my being.

Like all great things I feel it necessary to point out one thing I have always detested about some Thanksgiving dinners. If there is one "tradition" I can not stand, it is the kids table. Now I understand that some people just don't have a home big enough to accommodate everyone they invite (a topic for another blog), but one thing that truly drives me crazy is this idea that sitting all the children at their own table is acceptable. Thanksgiving is a time for family to be together. The children are part of the family, aren't they? So why should they be banished to another table, or in some cases room. I remember one year, I was about twelve and we went to a cousin's house for Thanksgiving and they had a separate tale for the kids in the kitchen. I refused to sit in there and brought my plate and chair out to the adult table and set it up between my parents. Instead of sitting talking about kiddie stuff, I sat and argued with my mother's cousin about stocks vs real estate and he told me I was a kid and didn't know what he was talking about. Three years later he had lost everyone in the family thousands of dollars in stocks and real estate values had nearly doubled. Maybe there's something to be learned at the kid's table.

I know some people will say the kids love all sitting at their own table. They don't. Think back to when you were a kid. Don't think back to how your parents said you felt. Don't ask a kid, because of course they will say they love it. Think back to that time when you wanted to sit with Grandma or your favorite cousin and you couldn't. It wasn't pleasant. Maybe it's just that my memory is better, but I remember friends, cousins, and other kids all hating it. The worst part about the kids table is that the only time the adults ever came in was to tell the kids to pipe down. Thanks for giving me shit, we were finally making the best of our prison sentence and then the warden told us to eat our food and shut up.

So next year if you have a kids table. Destroy it. Squeeze the little buggers into the big table. They will appreciate being included, they will have much happier memories of Thanksgiving and believe it or not, the adults will enjoy themselves that much more. If Bill Cosby has taught us one thing, it's that Jello pudding pops are delicious...oh yeah, two things. Kids say the darnedest things.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Proust Questionnaire

I had been contemplating doing this as a facebook note, but decided it might be a little personal and I'm just to shy to have my life displayed on facebook....OK I'm just fucking with you. Here it goes, the famous questionnaire that tells you everything you wanna know about someone, but really didn't care to ask.


WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST FEAR? Mine is nothing symbolic or some cliche like to die alone. We all die alone in some way or another. Unless of course, we die in a car crash with others, but metaphorically, we all die our own deaths. My true fear is very strong winds. I shit you not. I'm probably less likely to be blown away than 95% of the world, but strong wind scares me. I've seen hurricane winds, but the thought of a tornado absolutely paralyzes me. There was a street sign on my corner that would flap in the breeze every time a bad storm came through and I swore that one day the sign would dislodge and kill me, Final Destination style. Serious, wind. Scares the shit out of me.

WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT STATE OF MIND? I've been sick for a week, so it's one of aggravation. Aside from the sickness, I feel somewhat worn down from the routine of life. I need a new challenge, maybe even a new locale, definitely some kind of stimulation. I'm also very distracted lately. My attention span is that of a gnat. This must change. I need to get back the ability to relax, watch a movie, not worrying about this and that. I'm also looking forward to a family Thanksgiving.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE OCCUPATION?(WAY OF SPENDING TIME) I would have to say curled up on a rainy afternoon or evening watching a great movie with a hot cup of coffee. Alone is wonderful. With someone special is perfect.

WHAT HISTORICAL FIGURE DO YOU MOST IDENTIFY WITH? Richard Nixon - yes he had his faults, but he was borderline genius and did many good things while he was in office. All is overshadowed by the one bad thing he did, which in retrospect isn't half as bad as some of the stuff that has been done by president before and after Nixon's tenure. That being said, I think when all was said and done, he was more a misunderstood individual than a villain.

WHICH LIVING PERSON DO YOU MOST ADMIRE? I am not one who admires people for the most part. We're all human. Some invent things, some make money, some have talent, but is another human really worth admiring? I guess if a gun was put to my head, I admire truly good parents. Parents, who despite their fatigue or personal problems, cook their children dinner and sit and talk with them about their days. I admire the kindergartner's parents whose child said please and thank you to me the other day without being told. I admire the first grader's parents, whose daughter stopped me from doing my class because she wanted to tie the 2nd and 3rd graders shoes so they wouldn't trip and get hurt. I admire the parents of the child who during a snack break had four mini muffins and gave three of them away to kids whose parents forgot to pack a snack, leaving him with one. Then when he saw that another kid didn't have snack, he broke his remaining muffin in half and shared it. I admire those parents. They are few and far between.

WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE FICTIONAL HERO? Max, from Where The Wild Things Are, because despite the power he found, he never forgot where he came from or where he belongs.

WHO ARE YOUR REAL-LIFE HEROES? My parents and grandparents. Six people who showed me more in my life than hundreds of teachers could ever do. They also showed me that you don't always have to say what people want to hear. I learned this by saying those things to them first.

WHAT IS YOUR MOST TREASURED POSSESSION? Obviously family, but I don't think this is what the question is meant to mean. I believe this is a materialistic question so I will answer it as such. I do not own one thing in this world, I would not give up, in a second, for anyone I care abouts health and happiness.

WHEN AND WHERE WERE YOU HAPPIEST? There have been so many places I've been with friends and family and shared momentous occasions and feelings of happiness, but if I had to be selfish and only think about me, the choice is easy. The four summers I spent at Birchmont. Each one was special in a different way, but all were as close to perfect as I can imagine.

WHAT IS YOUR MOST OBVIOUS CHARACTERISTIC? I'm a big boy. I like to eat and drink and my body shows this. I wasn't always like that, it used to be my legs...or so I was told. Old age and bad habits will do that to you. Oh yeah and two torn ACL's.

WHAT IS THE TRAIT YOU MOST DEPLORE (HATE) IN YOURSELF? My inability to clean my apartment to the point I can't have company. My apartment is smaller than most walk-in closets. My apartment might be a walk-in closet. Yet, there is a stack of paper on the desk and on the floor that rivals Vesuvius. I've got dust with born on dating since before some of my friends had their children. Oddly enough, dirty dishes is my pet peeve and I almost never have dirty dishes in the sink. Don't ask.

WHAT IS THE TRAIT YOU MOST DEPLORE IN OTHERS? Ignorance, being proud of your ignorance, and not willing to admit ignorance. If I don't know I say I don't know. I feel ashamed. I then go home and spend long sessions looking up info on said topic on the Internet. I will spend hours sometimes, so the next time, if it occurs, I am more prepared than anyone in the room. If only I had done this in school. I just don't understand how people can be proud of not knowing common knowledge things. I don't understand how "devout" Catholics, Jews, Muslims, etc don't know their own religion. I don't know why people don't understand things that are important to societies well being, and brag about it. For every intelligent conversation I have had in the past year, I have had this response given to me ten times "Don't bother me with that shit, I don't read or listen to the news...why should I care what goes on in Iran or Iraq or wherever were fighting." Seriously, this is almost a verbatim response to any debate. Scares me.

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST EXTRAVAGANCE? Sadly, socializing at the bar. I probably spend twice as much a month on going out eating and drinking as I do on rent. This is not something I'm proud of, necessarily, but I find the people that stay home all the time when they do come out, they all talk about the same things, and honestly I don't really care about your kids first shit or the excitement that this years Real World is giving you. Tila Tequila is a drink right?

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE JOURNEY? My next one. I'm not a traveler, per se, but I do like to go away. I don't need a plane, or a bus, or a train. My next journey was planned last weekend, but rainy weather changed my mind. I was going to go solo to my old stomping grounds in Brooklyn. Hit up Grimaldi's or Difara's for some pizza. Then over to Atlantic Ave to Sahadi for some of the world's best hummus and coffee. Then over to the Promenade and just stare at the Brooklyn Bridge. That was it. Maybe next week or the week after.

WHAT DO YOU MOST DISLIKE ABOUT YOUR APPEARANCE? I've gained so much weight I don't think I look anything like I used to. I don't know if that's good or bad, but while I was never thin, I did have a pretty good physique back in my 17-19 years. I was strong, a good athlete, and could actually walk without limping or being out of breath.

WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER THE MOST OVER-RATED VIRTUE? Purity. You can slice this one any way you like. This is not a good virtue. What's good for the Virgin Mary and Jesus, ain't good for people here on Earth. Seriously, some sick bastards love having sex with virgins. Makes them feel good about themselves. Really, for how long? Six minutes? Seriously, find me an impure girl and now we're talking. OK, so it's not about sex, it's a spiritual thing. OK, if I'm with someone who is living for the after world, I'm fucked. First off, we're not on the same mental plain and probably won't be honeymooning on the same plane, so why bother. I don't need pure thoughts, pure anything really. Unless I'm going to eat snow. Then purity is fine and dandy.

ON WHAT OCCASION DO YOU LIE? If I lie it is only not to hurt others. That being said, my lies are few and far between. You wanna know how you spot the liar. He's the one who never hurts any one's feelings. Lying is for cowards. Lying is for those who don't have enough value in their own lives so they make things up to give the impression of greatness when in reality, once their lies have been uncovered, they become smaller than they once were.

WHICH WORDS OR PHRASES DO YOU MOST OVER-USE? I refer to things as the best a lot, when they are in fact not even close to being the best. They are just above average for that time frame. I also say "I heard," when a lot of times, I read, or I was witness to, but I tend to say I heard, which is weird. I don't now why I do this. I am sure to be called out on this by anyone who reads this.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT YOURSELF, WHAT WOULD IT BE? It's silly, but I wish I played sports in high school. I wish I did something at that time in my life that was more about a group than about me. I was a good athlete, and all due respect to people I went to high school with, a hell of a lot better than most of the better players in every sport. Obviously, I didn't have any thoughts of making it past high school, because at 5'9" 194lbs with speed like a baby cow, there wasn't much to dream about. I do wish I played for teams though. The camaraderie, the leadership, the coaching. I ended up coaching after high school and I realize how important it is to have someone show you how to do things better than you knew how. I always knew I could hit a baseball, but if I had played under our teams coach, I'm sure I would have hit it that much harder, that much further, and definitely that much more often. Big mistake, but I was young and dumb. It's silly now, but I think it would have made a big difference. I try in my own little way to make that difference in kids lives now.

WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT? Maybe saving someones life (a memory I'm sure she's long forgotten). I'll never know. I was leaving school in second grade and a friend of mine had walked ahead. We lived a few doors down from each other and always walked home from school together, rain or shine. I was talking to some of my friends when I noticed she was talking to someone in a car. I saw her open the back door and start to get in. I dropped my book bag and ran towards the car and grabbed her jacket and yanked it. She and I both went tumbling out onto the street and the car sped off, back door slamming shut as he drove away. We got up, I grabbed my books and we ran home as fast as we could. The man had told her that her mom had asked him to pick her up and take her home and she believed him. Maybe the story wasn't as dramatic as I remembered, but my mother told me that I came in the house crying my eyes out that someone tried to steal my friend. I'd say that's about as good as I'm capable.

WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO LIVE? I love Boston, but it's basically a quieter New York with a baseball team I adore. I don't think I'd wanna live there though. Nope, for me it would be in a little house with a screened in porch looking over Lake Wentworth in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. I wouldn't need a big house. Just big enough that friends could visit, a fire could be set, and in the spring and summer we could hang our feet off the dock and feed the ducks or gaze at the eagles as they soared amongst the clouds during some of the most beautiful sunsets I've ever witnessed.

WHAT IS THE QUALITY YOU MOST ADMIRE IN A MAN? Honesty. There is no quality, virtue, whatever you want to call it that matters most to me than someone being honest with me. Male or female, honesty is what matters most.

WHAT IS THE QUALITY YOU MOST ADMIRE IN A WOMAN? Honesty.

WHAT IS IT YOU MOST DISLIKE? I dislike that a world of similar people try so hard to be different to the point that they must kill or alienate others to prove that they are right. Religions, nationalities, political beliefs, even ways people dress seem to cause such furor. In the end, we must all realize deep down that if we truly believe that a higher power created us, he/she did not create us to play his giant version of the game Risk. He/She created us to get along and adapt together, to thrive on a planet that has everything, if everyone shared. I have a problem with anyone telling me I'm going here or there when I die. Does it matter. Wouldn't you rather take the chance that this is our only shot and to soak up every second of it and love someone rather than hate them? I know it takes so much more energy to argue with someone than it does to hold them and kiss them. It takes much more energy to hate someones point of view than it is to accept their ability to have a viewpoint. It takes much more energy to punch someone than it does to agree to disagree and shake their hand. I hate that people can't accept we don't all believe the same thing or look the same. We all seem to have two arms, two legs and a head...doesn't seem to me like that was an accident.

WHAT DO YOU VALUE MOST IN YOUR FRIENDS? I guess it would fall under loyalty, but what I value most is that I have friends that at times we don't speak for days, weeks, some months, some even years. When reunited, that isn't an issue. Sure we argue at times, we have differences of opinion, but time away, never strains our bond. I remember one time I had not seen a group of friends for one whole year. Not spoken to many for the year. We gathered together as we had on many occasions and there wasn't one awkward moment the entire day. At the end of the time, we said our goodbyes with the expectation that time would lapse before we spoke again, but all was good.

HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO DIE? Quickly and painlessly, but the reality is I'll probably die of a horrible heart attack due to being overweight and not taking care of myself. I just hope it's not one of those embarrassing things where people think I'm playing a joke because my face is in a bowl of chicken wings. I also hope it's not something where other people have to take care of me. I don't like wiping my own ass at times, god help someone else having to do it. See that's called levity. Death ain't a fun topic, but we all get to do it.

IF YOU WERE TO DIE AND COME BACK AS A PERSON OR AN ANIMAL, WHAT DO YOU THINK IT WOULD BE? I think I would come back as a woman who had 10 kids. I'm very nurturing with children and almost motherly, but not in that "ooh my baby scraped his knee" kinda way. I think I'm tender enough kids feel safe, but tough enough they don't over do it. I've seen kids change in my classes when they look for that easy way out and they realize they aren't going to get it. I had one kid in a class who I basically taught that winning and losing was ruining his fun and he was too young for that. His father then basically challenged me to a game of one-on-one in front of his son, which I obviously declined, although the temptation was almost overwhelming.

IF YOU COULD CHOOSE AN OBJECT TO COME BACK AS, WHAT WOULD YOU CHOOSE?
A penny. Plain and simple, I would like to make up for all the traveling I didn't do in this life.

WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO (WORDS YOU LIVE BY OR THAT MEAN A LOT TO YOU)? "The truth hurts, but it's better than lying." When people are fat you aren't supposed to say they are fat, because that's hurtful. I'm fat, kids tell me that I'm fat. Some are innocent and some are malicious. It's true, so how can I get mad. When someone says I'm stupid, I get mad, because the reality is, and some might disagree with me, but I'm not stupid. I used to have tests to prove it. But what about when you tell someone who is stupid that they are stupid. It's not socially acceptable, but it's true. Now if a woman says "does this make me look fat?" There is only one answer and that is no. This is the one scenario where telling the truth is in direct correlation to being stupid. If you lie on this one, you are smart. If you don't, you are celibate. I try to be truthful whenever possible, unless I feel damage will be caused. Then I have to adapt. I might not lie, but I might dull the truth. Political Correctness may one day doom our society. Truth never will.

WHO HAS BEEN THE GREATEST INFLUENCE ON YOU? This is the easiest question of them all. My father has been my biggest influence. There is almost nothing I do that is not in some way connected to him. He's one of the smartest people I know. He's read more books than I've looked at in some libraries. He started me on my appreciation to film. As a youngster he took me to a revival theater that was playing Kurosawa's The Seven Samurai. Who takes a little kid to an old black and white movie, with subtitles, where almost everyone gets killed? Did I mention it's almost four hours long? To this day, it's one of my favorite films. He opened my eyes to art and music. I was pointing out which composer was on the radio (at times) before he could when I was ten or eleven. He gave me an appreciation for fine wines and sometimes not so fine that were just as good. He made me do my homework and made me make sure that everything was grammatically correct and my spelling was perfect. I hated that, but now when people misspell words it drives me crazy. The one thing I think I learned from him that has stayed with me was when I would write a book report, an essay, or some type of research paper in grade school, he would read it once. He would make a suggestion or two and I'd add or subtract something. Then he would edit it. I would always ask him what he thought and he would always say "are you happy with it?" I would sit an reread it and go over it again and again, but in the end, I would almost always say "yes I am." He'd tell me "well, then you're done." When I got older, in high school and my college years, (with two complicated exceptions) I never once wrote a paper that I can remember that received lower than a B+. I sometimes rush through things, but if I've taken one thing from him, it's to be happy with what you've produced and be at peace with your effort. If my effort had been half of what I put forward, I don't think he would have pushed any harder. I think that was the lesson. He turns 75 today and I hope that one day, I can be 75 and have someone feel that I've impacted their life half as much as he impacted mine.

This concludes the questionnaire. I thought when I began this would be my shortest blog ever. It has taken me nearly two and a half hours to finish it. Albeit there were some distractions along the way, via calls, texts, etc. I don't know if anyone will read it start to finish, but I assume if you've gotten this far, you are not only a friend but someone who now knows me a little better than before. Au revior!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Confused and Torn

So many times I start one of these blogs and I write a paragraph, sometimes two, I've even written whole blogs and then erase them. Sometimes they are too personal. Sometimes they might hurt the feelings of a friend or someone else I deal with. I do not know who reads this and since I started the feedback has become less, so I write for myself. That being said, it's not penned into a book and hidden under my bed, but on the Internet for the public to see. Sure in my delusions of grandeur I believe that thousands of people hang on my every word. I'm spoken about at parties in the highest of circles, but the reality is that maybe 20 people read this at most. Some have signed on as followers, but my own family needs to be reminded of this damn thing. My ex-girlfriend wouldn't ever read it unless I read it to her. And yes I've thought of her terminal blindness jokes, but they aren't there.

In recent weeks I've started blogs bashing the true teachings of Sesame Street, but felt my writing was a little bit homophobic of which I am not. I mean the metro sexual bird with the imaginary friend, the two gay guys who loves rubber ducks, ball gags and pigeons. The only one who ever got any straight sex on the show was Kermit and that's because he fucked a pig. Metaphorically or not, that's some funny shit. It also recently came to my attention that Elmo is Mexican. WTF? No that deserves a real WHAT THE FUCK? When was the last time you heard a Mexican with a voice like wet finger circling a wine glass? The educational aspect is lost these days, because each character seems to have a new speech problem. Maybe this is why speech therapy is so common these days, because kids get plopped down in front of the tube and learn to speak from fucking muppets. This isn't healthy!

I also wanted to write about Obama. Sure he hasn't turned our country into the oasis that many thought he would. Republicans are loving this, Democrats are worried sick, but I remember taking an American Presidency class at Westchester Community College with Mr. Bataly (sp?) and he explained on day one in a first term the President has little or no power his first year, his second and third years he usually fights for one major thing that will be his campaign base, the fourth year is spent almost entirely campaigning. It's not until his second term where he can make a true difference. So unless people want real "change" they are going to have to stick through seven more years of this, or elect someone new and go through the motions again.

I think I've mentioned this in other blogs, but the state of television is a disgrace. On any given night there are numerous shows which need a hypothermic body temperature IQ to grasp. My favorite is Grey's Anatomy. I think this show separates those who want to be entertained and those who want to be lobotomized. Listen, in my attempts to appease a partner I've sat through this crap. Now it wasn't too hard to look at Katherine Heigl and the red-head, and if I was a girl I'd probably like Patrick Dempsey, but the script, the acting, the same fucking thing week in and week out? This show is about as intelligent and stimulating as reading an eye chart, with the exception being that at no time at the DMV does someone take you into a closet and bang you. And seriously ladies is this what you really want in a man. Sure he has money, but seven days after taking your dignity in a closet, he's taking your coworkers. But men are the pigs...right!

Farmville. Let me explain what Farmville is to those who don't know. it's a game on Facebook where you grow crops, buy animals and have a cyber farm. You get a barn, etc. It sounds like so much fun and you should enjoy yourself, but the constant messages asking me to join are driving me nuts. Seriously, it's like when you get to the bar late and everyone is drunk and keeps bringing up that funny thing that happened earlier in the night and everyone laughs. That is Farmville. Except, three people are laughing and everyone else wishes they weren't the three loudest people in the bar. I just wish there was some way to make crop circles or let wolves free on these people's farms. Maybe acid rain?

Shots. I remember back in HS we never did shots. We'd take swigs from a bottle. Inevitably I'd puke my brains out and swear never to drink again until the next weekend, or next night. Now, nearing forty I've found that shots are more popular than ever. I see college kids doing shots and then shitting their pants at the bar. I see them sleeping and falling down and making asses of themselves. I see twenty somethings hooking up, basically in public and wonder what happened and where were these girls when I was in my twenties. I'm sure they were out there, but then again I didn't go to places to do ecstasy, I liked to drink. Nope, in my thirties I've seem to have come of age. Which is a scary thing, because I'm sure a few weekend nights in the past few years have taken days, maybe even weeks or months off of my life. What scares me the most is having full knowledge of what you are drinking. I mean, when you know that you are on shot #12 and you've been out for nine hours and you only started doing shots at the seven hour mark, it's time to go home. I can count the number of times I've gotten sick in my thirties on one hand. And many of those have been caused by my hand, well a finger or two. But seriously, I need this trend to stop. I liked being the cheap date. Start drinking at 8pm home asleep by midnight. $20 end of story! These $150 days are killers.

I'll wrap this melting pot of shit up with this. There is an old saying that goes something like "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." People usually attribute this quote of genius to their grandmother or some older, more wise person. Well you know what, fuck that. If I only spoke when I had something nice to say, I'd have evenings where I'd be a fucking mute. Sometimes stupidity needs to be kicked in the ass. Sometimes just being loud and thinking that makes you right, needs a jab to the throat. There are so many times I overhear conversations between a newly formed couple and I just want to bask in their love...and then kick them in the genitals so they don't reproduce. I think it's our civil duty to stop stupid-on-stupid relationships. Let's give our future a fighting chance. I really want to know if stupid people know they are stupid. I don't think they do, because they seem to talk so much more and so much louder than everyone else. I wish there was a superhero that could fly in and save the day. I'd love to do the job, but my ass looks huge in tights.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Double Standards, Ironies and Quandaries

If a guy goes out wearing sweatpants, a baggy sweatshirt and a team cap on, he's a bum. If a girl does it, she's hot.

It's OK for a woman to wear tight short skirts in order to climb the corporate ladder, but it is completely inappropriate for a guy to look up that skirt while she's on said ladder.

30-something moms dancing to Miley Cyrus in the car...cute. Me dancing to Miley Cyrus in the car - Amber Alert.

Remember the 1980 World Series when the headlines included George Brett and 'Roids and the article was about Preparation H?

Why are the same people who want Roman Polanski's head defending Michael Jackson?

They say never wear white after labor day. Isn't every day "after" labor day until the next one?

If a guy drinks five beers, gets completely drunk by halftime and goes home, he's a social drinker. If a guy drinks 20 beers is completely coherent and goes home 10 hours later, he's a drunk.

I lived in an apartment that had a row of three lights and we called it track lighting. What do you call the lights that surround a track?

With words like paramedic and paraOlympics and paralysis, why the hell would anyone go para sailing? The outcome is inevitably going to be bad.

Is a parking meter called a parking meter because it measures time or because it's roughly 37" tall?

They say you shouldn't count your chickens before they hatch. Well if you are counting your chickens, they have already hatched, haven't they?

Have you ever held a stapler against your arm and thought "how much could this hurt?" Well if you do, look at a staple remover and then ask yourself that, because it does.

Why is it that people that don't smoke crack always talk about "the dangers of smoking crack?" How would they know if they haven't tried it?

The other day I bought a coffee cake for a house guest. The next morning she asked for a cup of tea with breakfast. I made her the tea, but didn't tell her about the cake. How could I? It obviously wasn't for her.

Isn't it funny how in an office if there is one of something left, nobody ever takes it? Someone always throws it away though.

How many movies have featured a guy with bad vision losing his glasses and someone stepping on them? One of them is almost always dead soon after.

I am a little squeamish when it comes to worms. So the last time I went fishing I hired a hooker and told her I had a boat and a big worm. Something got lost in the translation and she was not happy.

Do foreigners think Americans have sexy accents?

And finally: Has anyone ever had a priest tell them to "look both ways before crossing?"

Friday, November 6, 2009

Dreams

Dreams are truly magical. I know there are books that interpret them and people think they know what they mean, but honestly, it's one of life's magical moments. In dreams we fight our fears, we see people we can't see in reality and we deal with pressure, real and imagined. All of us have had similar dreams. In school naked, teeth falling out, being chased, falling, etc. We always escape unscathed. Maybe an increased heart rate, maybe a yell and some sweat, but we awake invigorated.

Dreams have always fascinated me, because when I was younger I was told "in your dreams you never die, when you fall, you wake up before you land, because if you die in your dreams, you die in your sleep." Thank goodness this was a falsehood, because I die in my dreams almost on a nightly basis. I have for over 30 years. To my knowledge, I am no Dr. Malcolm Crowe, but who knows, maybe I am. When I was younger I would dream I was falling and on a few occasions I landed on the floor upon contact. This wasn't that big of a deal, although my bed was about three feet off the ground. I was also a bed wetter when I was younger, so dreams of going to the bathroom were a nightly occurrence. In my dreams I was standing at the toilet. Dreams can really get you sometimes. They make you believe you are doing something you're not.

Sometimes dreams can be different. Sometimes you know you are having a dream and you can manipulate the outcome. You become something you aren't. You get the girl, you slay the dragon, you become the thing you want to be in your conscious life, but are afraid to grasp. These dreams aren't as frequent, at least for me, and these are the ones I find hardest to remember. I guess if we could remember them, we'd use the power in reality. Maybe that's why we don't. Imagine if everyone had no inhibitions?

Some believe dreams are past events. Some believe they are future events. Some believe they are nothing, but random junk being discarded from our subconscious. Psychologist and scientists have long studied and speculated, but there will never be a clear cut answer. Honestly, I don't think we need one. Dreams are magical. Let's leave it at that.

In dreams, I have had long conversations with my late mother. She's told me things that I need to know. She told me where lost things were and where lost thoughts were. Maybe they were, maybe they weren't in those places, but it didn't matter. In those moments of sleep, I got to speak to my best friend again. She's never the sick and feeble woman in my dreams. She's the young vivacious woman who taught me so much about life. She is always nurturing in my dreams, never angry at things, like she was apt to be in reality. So many times when things have gotten tough, she enters my sleep and tells me not to worry. Sometimes it's just a word or two. Sometimes a kiss on my forehead. Sometimes I don't remember the dream until later in the day, sometimes I awaken, more ready for the day than ever before. Whichever the case may be, I love these dreams.

Last night I had a dream involving a conversation with someone I wanted some answers from. In the dream, I held no animosity. I was calm and understanding. I could not make out the words, nor could I hear any sounds at all. All I knew was that I understood. Things happen for a reason and things end for a reason. That's what I awoke realizing. I took a breath, wiped a tear from my eye, and realized that if nothing else I'd have that moment in time, those few days and that was it. Wanting more isn't going to help me or her. Be happy with what was shared and move on. Only time will tell if I have.

My dreams are complex. I've viewed entire movies in my head that have never been made on film. If I could remember them, I'd make millions. They star big time actors and close friends. In my dreams there is no ending. Nothing actually finalizes. It only makes me yearn for another few minutes, but the dream never comes back the same. In dreams I've gotten the girl and I've lost the girl. Many times I awake, my hands clasped, knowing that in my dreams I held her hand. Sometime my eyes open to me desperately trying to grab something, someone that is not there. It's a futile effort and the day starts with a sense of loss. Dreams can be that powerful.

Tonight, while I slumber, I don't care if my dreams are those of happy thoughts or those of scary thoughts, I just care that I dream. Because so often, when I dream, I feel more alive than when I'm awake.

A Letter to October

Well October, you went by like a blur. I think you carried over to November, because a week is nearly gone and I'm just now sitting down to write you. You started me off very nicely. The end of the regular season in baseball and my afternoon gig at the school started. I did however start the gig a day late due to a golf outing. A great time was had and I actually played pretty well.

Being around the kiddies, even if for only nine hours a week has rejuvenated me. It's given me that little boost of energy and sunshine in what's been a tumultuous time. I'm financially strapped and emotionally drained from the last few months, but for those hours I'm responsible for the happiness of others. It's a duty I cherish. I have however found that it's a lot more tiring than it used to be. My odd sleeping habits, my nocturnal vices, and my general malaise have caused me to become quite the napper recently. The only real beneficiary of these naps is those who battle me in arguments about baseball either online or at the Kilt.

For those that don't know what I'm talking about with the gig, I run an after-school sports & tennis program at a school in Scarsdale. I've done so for either nine or ten years at this one school alone (with the exception of one). Two years ago the school asked me to do it on my own, much to my pleasure. Doing what I love and no boss to answer to or take two thirds of the money. It's a jackpot. The kids are great and it's something to see the second or third, in some cases even the fourth child in a family. I've known some of these parents for ten years. When I started most of the parents were older than me. Now we're about the same age, I'm sure, I'm older than some of the younger parents. It's something I love to do and despite jokes from friends of mine about my "tennis pro" status, it's something I'm good at.

My one regret, is a small one. I wish when I had started this, I wrote down every funny thing that was said by the children. Almost daily there is something said that would make for a great compilation. So far the best was, while picking up tennis balls I noticed a kid, who is five, putting them down his shirt and holding the bottom. When he couldn't fit any more, he'd walk to the ball hopper and pull the bottom out, dispensing the balls into their basket. I told him what a wonderful way to pick them up that was and he continued. Then, he got the bright idea to put them down his pants. I quickly stopped him and told him we can't do this. His response "is that because it makes me feel funny." What do you even say to that?

October brings the baseball playoffs and in doing so, each year, I prepare for what usually amounts to three to four weeks of constant going out. Either I'm rooting for my Red Sox or rooting against the Yankees. Either way, I'm out. This year my Red Sox were done quickly, so I turned my attention to rooting against the Yankees. They won their second round games and then faced the Phillies. Being that my father is from Philly and I was a Philly fan as a youngster, I got behind them. As of the 31st, they were down 2-1, but with two games at home. I had hope.

The middle of the month was rather mundane. The days blended together like clouds in the sky. Some light, some dark, but for the most part they drifted by, taking wonderful shapes at times, but for the most part just a blank canvas that seemed to stay that way. I didn't have the energy to make them any more interesting. November promises to be different.

Halloween approached and as usual, I was indifferent. I love to see my friends kids all decked out in their costumes. So proud to be a superhero or a princess, if only for one day. Our town threw their little parade, which has sadly become more pathetic as the years have passed. There used to be rides for the kids and hot and cold cider stands. This year it seemed more like a reason for parents to walk down the middle of the street. It seems it's not about the kids anymore. I didn't even see my friend's kids on that beautifully warm autumn day. Everyone is so busy these days, they don't stop to admire the foliage or do what their parents did for them. Hustle and bustle? I'm glad I've avoided it. I watched from a window and enjoyed some college football. I glanced a few times, but didn't see anyone I recognized. Sad.

The weather changed, but it didn't really feel like it until nightfall. Some seventy-degree days and thirty-degree nights made us wonder what is happening. I love this weather, even the middle ground of fifty is still shorts and a long sleeved shirt weather to me. No need for heat yet, as my full-time job is so well aware off. When will schools learn that this idea of cranking the heat on a 60 degree day does nothing but enhance the children's chance for sickness? These massive incubators harvest germs and bacteria and kids and parents alike are getting sick at an alarming rate. I have fallen victim too, but only for a brief while. I can't wait for my usual late November/early December cold where I'm usually sick for three weeks. Many times it spans Thanksgiving right up until college bowl season. Then I'm able to fight it with alcohol and leftovers from Christmas dinner.

October, you weren't to bad. Because of you, I'm gonna get back on track financially (for the most part). You'll keep me busy and out of trouble. Maybe I'll find someone who wants to share some time with me. I always do seem to find someone right before Christmas. Isn't that convenient? Aside from the going out six nights a week, I'd like another month like you. Throw in a Thanksgiving dinner with my father and November is looking quite promising. Goodbye October, you weren't half as scary as you tried to be.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Optimism Vs. Pessimism

We've all heard the saying about the optimist seeing the glass as half full and the pessimist seeing the glass half empty. It seems like an easy way to throw everyone in to two groups and in my humble opinion it is a great way to separate the two. One is correct and one is incorrect. Before I tell you which group is correct, I ask that you picture yourself in a restaurant. This restaurant asks you if you are an optimist or a pessimist when you entered and put an "O" or a "P" on your forehead so they would remember. You order your food and a fine bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine nicely compliments your meal and you both are enjoying it. The waiter walks by and sees that both of your glasses appear to have half the amount originally poured. He lifts the bottle from the table and pours it into the glass of the person with the "P" on their head and returns the bottle to the table. He walks off to tend to another table. The point is, in his opinion the pessimist saw the glass as half empty and wanted it to be filled. The optimist sees the glass as half full, so they obviously don't need any more yet. If this restaurant existed, my guess, is that a group of optimists would burn it down.

I am always being called a pessimist, but to be honest, it works for me. To me optimism is similar to religion, in that it is the hope for the best possible outcome. In religion, we live our lives in the hopes that in the end we are taken to a better place. My feeling is, we become nothing more than worm food or something to fill an ornament on the fireplace mantle. That is if we're every lucky enough to have a fireplace.

Now faith is fine. If that's what you need to get you through your day that is fine, but seriously, it's not optimism. I see faith as almost a pessimistic view. A view where you believe that no matter what you do, good or bad, that the end result lies in God's hands. Think about the story of Noah. Religious people love this story. God reaches out to Noah and tells him to build an ark and the animals get on two by two. Of all the characters in the Bible, Noah probably shows more faith than anyone. What's lost in the story, and to those of strong faith, is that God did not offer the weather report to anyone else and killed everything else in the desert and promised never to do this again. Yet every year thousands die to floods, tsunamis, etc. So optimists, is this the kinda trustworthy guy you are waiting to sit and have tell stories to you while dancing around on clouds? God in my opinion was the first politician. Now listen, I'm not religious, so my point of view is skewed, but the Bible (and yes, I've read it) is juicier than any Harlequin novel and a hell of a lot scarier than anything Stephen King ever wrote. Whole cities turning to salt? Wow! That God guy gas quite the temper. I won't even get into what he let them do to his son.

OK, I lost my train of thought for a bit. My point was that to me, optimists and religious yo-yo's seem to be one group and those people who do analytic thinking and realize that not everything is peaches and cream are the other. I wrote in my facebook status that I'm glad I'm not an optimist because "Imagine going through your entire life never having the ability to be pleasantly surprised."Maybe that sounds a little harsh, but the point I was making is that if you are truly an optimist, then when little things go right, you shouldn't be that thrilled, yet I'll do a fucking back flip if my baseball team wins. I'd also like to think that while a positive outlook is all fine and dandy, you have to get let down quite a bit. When I meet someone and think there might be a relationship involved, I stay positive, and turn myself into Opti-man. Then a few weeks, months, years later, I want to hang myself. A few days later I'm over it. What I've noticed is my truly optimistic friends go into a series of stages of depression in which they resemble a casting call for the role of Alex in Fatal Attraction. What I'm saying, is that when things go wrong, us pessimists roll with the punches, not into the fetal position like you optimists. Nancy Kerrigan was an optimist with dreams and aspirations. When faced with adversity (and a lead pipe to the kneecap) she screamed "Why Me" on national TV. Why you? Because God loves you Nancy.

It's funny, because the people who have been so quick to judge me over the past few years have so much to say about how others live their lives, but quickly shut down when that metaphoric magnifying glass is held over their lives. I've had people tell me I waste too much time in the bar and it's a sad pessimistic thing to go there all the time to watch games and get drunk. Let's see, going out to be with other people, have stimulating conversation over drinks and food is a pessimistic way to live? Yet, sitting alone watching hours upon hours of mindless shit like Grey's Anatomy with a pint of Rocky Road is going to lead you down a positive path? I think not. I'll take a sober or drunken conversation with a complete stranger over heavily anticipating to find out if McDreamy or McSteamy bangs the new girl in the closet. Sorry, my pessimistic views don't allow me to look forward with great desire to three hours of the full frontal lobotomy that has become network television.

You know what Monday through Friday is to an optimist? Hoping it won't fucking rain or be too cold during the weekend. How optimistic is that? You know what Monday through Friday is to a pessimist? Well, it's going to rain and maybe it'll snow, and I know it's going to be cold, but that's when apples are around fucknuts, it's October. When it doesn't rain and the sun shines bright and warms the land, the optimist throws their little brats into the car and heads off into the fall foliage and enjoys the day. The pessimist does the same, yet without five days of thinking about the weather and making back-up plans.

Half of all marriages end in divorce. That's a fact. Pessimists know this, optimists make excuses for those that didn't work out and say things like, "it wasn't meant to be." It wasn't mean to be is like my favorite phrase it is what it is. Basically, it's a cop out and a way not to deal with the fact that one or both of the parties probably shouldn't have gone through with this in the first place. We all die. That too is a fact. Tragedy not withstanding, this shouldn't come as a shock to anyone. Yet it amazes me, how optimists face this adversity compared with pessimists. My mother was given six months to live. I immediately gave her three. She lived over another year. While difficult I cherished every moment. Almost every moment. The moments I hated were when those optimists would call and tell her of some new drug they read of or how their half-sister's niece had cancer and it just went away one day. When my mother finally passed, it was time. We grieved, we moved on. Not the optimists, they wanted the grieving to go on forever. They wanted to remember her struggle every day. They wanted candles lit and events held in her honor. Let it go. It's part of life. The last part.

I'm always told that a pessimist can't have a positive outlook and that my negativity is apparent in everything I do. I wake up every morning and go to work. It's a necessary evil that we all must do. I don't enjoy every part of it, I need to vent often, but it's called work, it's not called Happy Hour. I coach children and honestly, In the 20 years of working with kids, I've raised my voice only a handful of time. I don't even own a whistle. I go into every session with kids expecting some behavior issues and some bumps and bruises and they happen. It's over, I go home. I watch as other's I've worked with expect the best and then when little Joey bumps his head, they rush to his side, like he's Ryan White (look it up). They take this home with them and carry it over into the next class and start that one with a 20 minute safety speech that bores the kids and myself.

In life, there are bumps in the road. Optimists see them as challenges and pessimists see them as inconveniences. Optimists figure a way to conquer them. Pessimist see ways to avoid them. I find that optimists work very slow and don't get a lot done, because they aren't as properly prepared as pessimists. I would like to think of myself as a realist, but s few people don't like that term. They think it's my mask for pessimism. Maybe it is. I really don't like to label things.

Next time you go out with someone who is all smiles and sunshine and they ask the waiter to fill their water glass, explain to them that they don't need it filled, it's already half full. Then explain to them that their life is like that glass of water, but in life, we don't get refills. Then smile and go back to eating.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Sleeping With The Enemy

Have you ever been in a situation where for the right cause you hide your loyalties and you jump on the bandwagon? I have not, but I know a man who has. This man is a happily married man with a handful of kids who loves his Yankees, but for the right price, can jump on the Red Sox bandwagon. A few martinis and a hot blonde can make me do a lot of things, but root for the Yankees is not one of them. Sit back and enjoy the tale.

I was at my favorite bar watching a mid-season game between the Sox and Yanks when I struck up a conversation with another local. I don't think it was the first time we had chatted, but this was definitely a turning point in the friendship. If my memory serves me right the score was tied and I was talking an immense amount of shit about the Yankees. Apparently, my incessant chatter had gotten to a very attractive young lady at the bar. She left her stool and walked over and said she would bet me that the Yankees would win. I asked her what she wanted to bet and for the life of me I can't remember what I offered to pay out, but somehow she offered to lift her shirt. I'm pretty sure that her offer came about due to my inability to concentrate and make eye contact with her, due to her tight white sweater, which seemed to be stretched to it's maximum resistance. The bet was a no-brainer and it became a source for a tense game.

Soon after the bet was made, my new friend seemed confused, rattled, even a little disoriented. He wasn't sure what to do. He knew all about commitment, his lovely wife, his wonderful kids, his love of the Yankees. This was his Eve. The Red Sox and a voluptuous set of foreign (to him) breasts were his apple. Now maybe this choice wasn't truly of biblical proportions, but seriously, how many times can a married man see a young ladies breasts without repercussion or a wad of singles being present? Apparently, enough Ketel One and hot blond was his serpent. I, if for only one night, had converted a long time Yankee fan into a Sox rooting lunatic. Innings rolled by, the score and lead changed and it got towards the end of the game.

By this time, I had drank so much beer, done so many shots, that I didn't know if the Sox were winning or losing. The game was down to it's final pitch. The Sox won and the young lady approached. She shook my hand and very politely congratulated me. She was quite stunning and suggested me and everyone else in the bar go to Atlantic City. I thought for a second, looked at the $100, maybe $200 in my walled and chose against it. She congratulated me again and went to leave. Thoughts of our earlier wager had left my drunken skull, but apparently had not escaped Mr. Married with Children's. He halted her exit and in somewhat slurred speech reminded her of her verbal contract. She returned and stood facing us, one of us on each side of her. She lifted her shirt and despite only showing us her bra, we were content and did not feel it necessary to to dispute the original contract. The young girl left and we shared a few more drinks.

Since that day, we have both shared this story with others, many times within each other's company. It was not a lewd moment by any means and we laugh about the fact that not only was the bet made, but how she so nonchalantly made good on her promise. Even funnier is that in all the time that has passed, I wouldn't know if I've ever seen this person again. Although I'd like to think that in a police lineup I could pick out at least parts of her. It was one of those funny moments, that make a single guy happy and a married guy even happier and nothing actually happened. I think if given the chance we'd both like to thank her and for one night a Yankee fan said "God Bless The Boston Red Sox."

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Best Day Off

Songs, stories, cliches about the weekend are everywhere. Hell, they even named a restaurant chain after one of them. Everybody looks forward to their days off and rightly so. A hard week's work should be rewarded with some relaxation or entertainment. Sometimes there are just moments that occur, usually insignificant at the time, that come back to us. One of these very recently came to me, almost like a dream. I don't know what the feeling was that day, or why it took place, but it mattered. That is all I know.

I was away in New Hampshire, working at Pierce Camp Birchmont. I don't recall which summer, but I do know it was a Monday. Our day off was always Monday. The bus took us into one of the harbor towns, I believe Portland. We ran off the bus and into one of the local pubs. Drinks were poured and swallowed at an alarming rate. The new staff did their shopping, while the old guard sat and downed pint after pint. Eyes became glassy, speech became slurred and everyone was giddy, because we still had half the afternoon and the evening ahead of us. It was business as usual at PCB.

When I would go away to Birchmont it was for a little shy of nine weeks. During that time I made calls home very infrequently. To go two, maybe even three weeks without a call home was not an oddity. Right or wrong, Birchmont time was mine, I did not share it with others, until I arrived home. This day, I got up and excused myself from the table. I walked outside into a slight drizzle. I walked about two blocks away from the pub in the direction from which we parked the bus. I remembered seeing a pay phone. As I walked the rain got heavier, but I didn't notice at the time. I got to the phone and dialed home. My mother answered and soon after my father got on the other line. We spoke, about nothing and everything. The tone was always the same. There was no joy, no sorrow, just touching base. We shared stories of our summers and talked about plans for the near future. We talked about our lunch that day, maybe our dinner plans. Like I said, nothing special. About an hour later I hung up the phone, we said our goodbyes.

I honestly don't know if we talked again that summer other than to make arrangements for my arrival and pickup in Roslyn, NY. To this day, I don't know what happened. I don't know what drew me to the phone. I know that my day was meant to happen this way. I returned to the bar and joined my friends. The magical thing about Birchmont is nobody asked where I was. There was no need for an explanation. I left, quietly and without fanfare. I returned and continued in the quest for a debaucherous evening.

Over the past ten to twelve years, this day has come back to me. A light drizzle, a pay phone, a school bus. Every day occurrences, that sometimes go unnoticed will trigger this memory. What was said will always be unknown, forgotten, maybe subconsciously making me realize how lucky I was to have my family, to have Birchmont, to have the life I complain about so often. Maybe something else. Maybe it kept me from something. Maybe it lead me to something. Maybe the girl of my dreams walked in the bar while I was gone. Maybe it was to be my darkest hour. I don't know why this seemingly insignificant moment is so emblazoned in my memory, but when that trigger does happen, I remember a day, cool by summer's standards, standing in the rain, just calmly chatting with my parents. As I closed my eyes that night, I thought about what a wonderful day it was. Others complained about the rain, the bus ride. Not me. In many ways it was a reflection of my life. The little things that make me happy. The little things that make me who I am. The little things that we take from our experiences that make the biggest impact. These I'd like to think are our heavenly moments on earth. Early Sunday mornings, feeding my baby brother his bottle, meeting eyes with someone you know you'll have some future with, shaking the hand of someone and knowing they will be a friend forever, and talking on the phone, in the rain when everyone else is there to party. These are the times in my life I remember. At times they bring me to tears. At times they bring a smile to my face. We can't manufacture these times. They just happen. I'm thankful this day did and I remember it fondly. I always will.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Letter to September

Well September, you showed signs of bringing me out of the doldrums at times and for the most part you did, although you left more doubts in my mind about certain aspects of my life. I don't really know what to make of you. Maybe that's why I have put off this letter.

I looked forward to you. An elongated weekend filled with BBQ's and other festivities was on the agenda. The holiday weekend had me laboring at home, fighting what started as a bad stomach ache and progressed to something worse. It cost me a day with some good people, eating and relaxation, always a good duo. A little respite from the bar as my social outlet. I took it with a grain of salt, as I figured it was better to be sick this weekend than the next. A few days later, my brother's birthday arrived with little or no fanfare. He had bigger things ahead.

In this time I also "met" someone new. An acquaintance from a time long ago. A friendship was born. Two hearts and minds that thought alike, but were in different places. In a different time, maybe we'd be more then just friends, who knows. But you helped me get through a difficult time. I can only apologize for my comments that made you decide against maintaining this friendship. I feel that if nothing else, we were someone to lean on, someone to trust with our feelings, if only through our messages and brief talks. I guess when the stakes are too high, the risk isn't worth the reward. I accept your decision, even if I do not agree with it. I miss you.

September brought my brother's union with his lovely wife Diana. I couldn't be happier for them and I'm proud of my brother for finding someone who gets him. If I prayed I'd pray for her sanity in the years to come, because 29 years of knowing him has tested mine. I won't repeat what has already been said in a previous blog, but September 13th was a special day. It will be difficult for anyone to top this day. The weekend couldn't have been a bigger success.

The last two weeks brought on Football, a BBQ, and somewhat tumultuous times for me and someone close to me. I somewhat came to terms with my new found status, but is it mutual. Things to preoccupy myself have made this month quite nice on many levels. I have a friend who has been there to listen to my stuff and I for them. I feel a lot closer to them now than I did even two weeks ago. It's nice at times to get new people's perspective.

If I have one gripe with September it is that you have decimated me financially. Lack of work, excessive spending (not all voluntary) and some bad habits have really tightened the screws. Many more nights spent at home than gallivanting about town.

I'm going to chalk up September as a good month, aside from the incredible weekend of the wedding, it's been a month of good and bad off-setting each other. Nothing too crazy, nothing too exciting other than that big event. I can handle months like September. October rolls in with promise for more money, playoff baseball, and possibly some new found friends or maybe some reconnecting with old. I look forward to October and the winter months with great optimism. I just feel something good on the horizon. Maybe it's just gas.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Autumn Morning: A Metaphor

Saturday morning I awoke with a refreshed feeling. I decided on an early departure from my favorite watering hole and in return I received a decent night's sleep. Seven hours to me is the equivalent of a mini coma, minus any brain deficiency (although some would say it's already too late to save me). I lounged in bed briefly, got up and checked my e-mail, had some coffee and headed out for some breakfast.

I stopped at a neighborhood deli and ordered my bacon, egg and cheese sandwich. I couldn't help but notice the woman standing next to her very muscular boyfriend. She was wearing black leggings and a heavy sweatshirt. A very attractive face and a very toned physique. She paced up and down the deli and I was admittedly too distracted by her appearance to pay any attention to the conversation she, her boyfriend and the man behind the counter were having. A few seconds later, a boy walked in with a high school football jersey on. The boyfriend wished him good luck and told him how much he wished he could play. There is always that awkward moment, that thankfully goes unnoticed when a man my age realizes that the young woman he is appreciating is, not a woman at all, but a girl. I grabbed my sandwich, left the store and proceeded to my next stop. Slightly laughing at myself for not realizing in the first place that the girl had been wearing a sweatshirt with her school's name on it.

I enjoyed my sandwich as I drove down to my old stomping grounds of Garth Road for some great bagels. I had visions and thoughts of the wonderful cider barn that used to be in Armonk. Those delicious warm sugary donuts. A cold glass of cider. Reminded me of younger days where maybe the young girl I had previously seen, might have shown an interest. The cider mill is long gone, as is my youth. I drive down the road, turned past my workplace, noticed some leaves that had started to change. I parked my car and entered the bagel shop. I love the smell in that place. It takes me back to a much easier time. A time when my mother cooked my meals, did my laundry, and my father taught me lessons without letting me know. I thought of the years, and the hundreds, if not thousands of bagels I've consumed from this place. Good times, happier times, healthier times.

As I left the store and walked down to my car. I couldn't help but notice the car parked behind me. A bright yellow Porsche. Out stepped a very nice looking woman, late 40's-early 50's. Dressed in black sweatpants and a black shirt. She smiled as she passed me and walked into the bagel store. There was no love at first sight, there was no emotion attached, it was just a simple gesture. A simple gesture from a woman, definitely out of my league, that made my morning. I drove off and she quickly caught up. We shared a red light and then her car took off into the distance. I turned and headed for home. Through the tunnel, up the hill, and parked.

As I sat in my car, collecting my belongings and purchases it had dawned on me that we only appreciate the seasons we've experienced. We never seem to embrace what lies ahead. In the spring, we appreciate the warming temperatures, but are hesitant about embracing the glaring heat of summer. Then summer comes and we run into air conditioning and talk about how the spring was so wonderful, but already start to talk about school starting and vacations ending by autumn. Autumn approaches and the cooler temperatures begin, holidays are abound and we speak of the lazy days of summer and their wonders and fear a harsh winter. When winter does arrive we enjoy the family fun together during the holidays, we embrace the new year, but complain about the cold and speak of how nice the Indian Summer was in October. Spring arrives and the warming air makes us forget about the winter cold, all the time we complain incessantly about the rain and mention how even the snow is better, never taking time to appreciate that vacations and barbecues are just around the corner.

It made me realize that our lives are like the seasons. In our younger years, we are so much like spring. We live in the moment, no memories matter, we're building them as we go. As we age slightly and get into our 20's and early 30's. We reminisce about our younger days and most enjoy meeting that person they want to spend the rest of their life with, or at least that is the plan in our summer years. Many of us try and hold onto those younger years. Dating younger men and women, trying so hard to hold onto the past. As we enter our late 30's to even our early 50's. We look back at those trying times. The awkward teen years, the loves we've had and lost. We look at those who surround us with great warmth and affection. We think nothing of giving those younger than us a wink or smile. We have become like autumn. Our hair changes like the leaves of a tree. Our faces age and our bodies become rounder like the ripening pumpkins of the new harvest. Many of us lose ourselves in our children's activities, those of us who aren't attached or don't have kids seem to gravitate towards each other, in some sort of land-based life raft. Grandparents have entered the cold days of winter. Their heat is the love of their children and grandchildren. Birthdays and holidays consume their thoughts. They go about their daily chores smiling at whoever will accept their warmth. It so often goes unnoticed by those moving faster, who have busier schedules and only take time to notice the younger girl in the deli.

On Saturday morning, the air was crisp, leaves had started to change and fall. As I drove home that day, I realized that spring was far behind, barely visible in the rear view mirror. Autumn was upon us; upon me. Summer is a recent memory, like the smoke coming from a dampened barbecue fire. The seasons change, as do we and try as hard as I do to ignore, I have but two seasons left. It's my turn to smile at spring and summer. I can only hope they appreciate it as I do. I will try and appreciate winter and what lies ahead. I know I have a while before it comes, so I will enjoy Autumn and whatever it brings. I hope that I can have someone to share it with. Someone to enjoy the colors, the cool, and the brisk walks on the leaf covered path to winter. Regardless, I'll take it in and embrace it. The same way I did the newness and innocence of spring and the passion and heat of summer. The seasons have changed and I welcome this new beginning.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Money doesn't buy happiness in Bronxville

My apologies for any Bronxville-ites who may be offended, this is absolutely a generalization.

Today, I had some change I wanted to cash in and I knew that there was a bank on Bronxville Road, right on the Bronxville/Yonkers border that had a change machine. I jumped in my car and headed south on White Plains Road over to main street. I headed down the hill around the funeral home onto Midland Ave. As I crossed over the threshold into Bronxville the scenery changed quite a bit. No moms or babysitters pushing baby carriages, no landscaping trucks or vans with ladders on them. Nope, we were in Bronxville. On the maybe half mile stretch from the corner of ICS to Bronxville High, I must have passed seven women, all above average in looks, and two men jogging. Mind you it was about 2:15, schools were getting out, it was well past lunch. So nine individuals, with nothing to do in the middle of the day, but jog. Nice life, I thought. As I approached the track, I saw another half dozen or so. Arms flapping as they got their daily cardio in. The scene changed quite abruptly as I got past Pondfield road and was greeted by Verizon workers and a hot dog truck. It was a like a brief oasis of carefree living wedged between the realities of life.

Another thing dawned on me. As I waited at the light, I saw a few people driving by, all in BMW's, Mercedes' or huge SUV's. All had one thing in common. A scowl. A look of absolute hatred of the world and all that was in it. Even the few people walking shared this look. Not a smile to be found. As I crossed into Yonkers I saw an old lady walking up a hill, using a stone wall to help pull herself closer to her destination. The people were less fashionable, but as I came closer to the Cross County overpass, I noticed a definite change in mood. Smiles or at least an impartial look covered the faces of everyone. As I pulled into the parking lot, two women joked about a sale at some store, I wish I had the money, was the punchline. I entered the bank to three smiling tellers, the change machine jammed and within seconds a woman was out to fix it and I returned to my business. As I left the bank I passed two more people, smiles abound. I stopped to let someone pass and a wave. As I pulled back into Bronxville, I stopped at a red light. No sooner had the light turned green, than the woman behind me in the Lexus SUV was on her horn, waving for me to go. Apparently, she thought she could make the turn before the oncoming traffic would catch her. I slowed down, just enough to make sure this didn't happen. I looked in the mirror to see an incensed woman screaming. Would she be miss the last sandwich at Lange's Deli? Would Sammy's Bistro close for the day? What could possibly be the rush that these extra 10 seconds had her so angry?

I rode back down Midland, a few jogger sitings added to the list and then headed down to Eastchester. Four town of Tuckahoe workers joking by the basketball courts. Down Marbledale to a few guys I know chatting outside a garage. Back up Fisher to three highschoolers outside Chubby's deli, enjoying a slice and some story-telling. I parked my car and thought about my travels. I just passed people who live in houses that cost more money than I have made in my entire life. They own cars that cost well over what I make in a year. Their biggest decision of the day is whether to jog down Midland or take their show to the school track. As I, sitting in my piece of shit car, wishing I was at work, wondering where I will come up with rent money or how to pay my credit cards I've been counting on for everything. I entered my tiny apartment, smiled, and resumed chatting with a friend online. How could it be that despite my woes, despite the hardships, my appearance never display the misery thes people showed. I guess in many ways it can, but I definitely believe that money, at least in Bronxville, can't buy you happiness.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Food Snobbery

I grew up in a bit of an odd house. While most of my friends were diving into a pepperoni slice in their 8-10 year old years my family had a different tradition. Escargot. Every week my father would bring home 18 deliciously prepared (and then frozen) snails. We had the special dishes and utensils for plucking the juicy mollusks from their protective shell. For every six shells we cleaned and returned, we received a free snail. So every two weeks, we'd have 24 of these delectable creatures. I loved them. Friends of mine could not believe I could eat this.

Like everything you can't continue having the same thing every week for your entire life. The escargot soon lost it's luster and we moved on to sushi and sashimi. Each week my father would buy an assortment of sushi and a nice slab of sashimi grade tuna. I used to get excited as my mother or father would unwrap the paper to reveal the bright pinkish/purple meat. They'd delicately slice it into bite size pieces, perfect for dipping in a wasabi filled soy sauce bowl. This stayed a tradition for many years. Upon arriving in Westchester, things changes, and we switched Asian cultures and Chinese food became the norm.

My mother was also an incredible cook. On any given night we could expect paella, moussaka, sauerbraten, jambalaya, lobster or crab (which my father was allergic too, hmmm?). I had lamb more in a month than most people ate in a year. Growing up I had duck, squab, pheasant, quail, rabbit, haggis, mutton, and a few other not so every day items. I drank wine at dinner from the age of seven. I even had a special cup, which years later we found altered the taste dramatically. We always had gourmet cheeses in the house. Brie, Camembert, Saint Andre, Roquefort, Stilton, Port Salut, many varieties of chevre, well you get the idea. Sure we had breaded chicken cutlets or steak or pasta for dinner, but these don't hold much memory for me. To me pasta, while sometimes good, has always been quite boring.

So the groundwork was laid. I had become a food snob. Another factor was I lived in Brooklyn and my father worked in the city when it was affordable to go out to eat quite a bit. We went to fine restaurants and ate things that were delectable and it too opened my eyes to food. Moving to Westchester curtailed that enthusiasm quite a bit, because honestly, there aren't many really good restaurants, let alone great restaurants around. Those that are are so expensive, that I can't bare to imagine spending that much on a few spoonfuls of risotto. Even pizza in Westchester, for the most part is terrible. What most people think is good pizza, wouldn't be served to the pizzeria owner's dog in the city.

S0 in coming to terms with this food snobbery, I have definitely offended some. Obviously, I would never eat at someones house and complain, but I have noticed that traditional meals have gotten dumbed down, even the easy ones. Listen, I am by no means a chef. To be honest, I'm not even a good cook. I like to cook, I usually get flustered and screw up some step, but for the most part, I make above average food. Here's what I mean about insulting people. I live in Eastchester, which until the market changed was basically like living in little Italy. So why, can anyone tell me, have I made sausage and peppers a handful of times in my life and the very first time I tried, it was better than any person's house, any restaurant, or any deli's I've ever had? I'm not saying it always comes out perfect, but this was amazing. Why is it that my crappy meat sauce is better than any Italian grandmother's and the single best onc I tasted was made by an Irish guy. Although, technically a ragu. I just think somewhere along the way, people stopped caring about taste. Seems like quantity is deemed more important these days, even in restaurants. It's a shame, because with the same products used, a meal can be decadent or disgusting.

Now I admit, I'm not that educated in all fine foods. I've never had foie gras, or sweet breads, or tripe, or other various innards considered a delicacy. I do know what's good and then I have problems with some foods that are staples in our family upbringing and that gets me to the real snobbery.

Pot roast. For years I've heard the wonders of pot roast. My boss tells me weekly during debates that I have no credibility, because I dislike pot roast. My argument is that cooking a crappy piece of meat doesn't make it good, it makes it tender. Tender doesn't equal good. I also don't like stews for the same reason. Sure the broth, sauce, whatever you choose to call it has a nice flavor, but generally the meat is bland and chewy. Not something I desire. I also hate prime rib. I never understood this at a wedding. Why the heck would you serve roast beef at a wedding? That's what it taste like. Ironically I love cold roast beef sandwiches, but hate warm roast beef. Another food I hate that people adore are cherries. I despise cherries. I can't say why, but I gag thinking about them. Beets! Please just explain to me why they are good and you win a teddy bear. I'm sure there are plenty of other foods I despise, but many are because of bad preparation, not necessarily the food itself being bad.

I also think my food snobbery has allowed me to retry things and gain new respect as my palette has become more refined. There's a long list of things I adore now that I hated as a child - spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, brussel sprouts, pork and almost all fish (still not a salmon fan). I've only gotten into pork recently and it quickly became my nemesis in the kitchen. I could not cook it properly. Then I bought some beautiful bone-in pork chops, got the pan really hot, threw them in for two minutes, then flipped and put in for one minute, then turned the heat off and let them sit for about six minutes. The result was the most flavorful pork chop I've ever tasted. Perfectly cooked (medium, and yes that means a slightly pinkish hue). I had conquered pork chops, shared my technique, which I stole from someone, with my father and he agreed it worked. the key is patience. It's difficult to let something just sit in a pan when you are ingrained with the idea that it must come out once the heat is turned off.

Being a food snob, in my opinion isn't a bad thing. You can hold your burger cravings, your pizza selection, or your favorite cup of coffee to a higher standard. For example, I don't get burgers anywhere really but Piper's Kilt, because I don't think anyone holds a candle to them. I once had one at Donovan's in Queens, which year in and year out it's rated #2 (behind Peter Luger's) as best burger in NYC. I thought it was crap. Only burger that is as good and maybe better that I have tasted since moving to Westchester was the steak burger at Jake's in Riverdale. About twice as expensive as Piper's but delicious.

I could go on talking about food forever. It excites me, it gets me heated, it gets me mad, it make emotions come out that have been suppressed, waiting to be unleashed either with a grand appetite or an explanation of why or why not I like this or don't. I can't always afford the finer things in life, but I've experienced a plethora of fine foods. I realize everyone's tastes are different, but before you judge me, remember while you munched on a pepperoni pizza, sipping Sunkist from the bottle, laughing at those silly Muppets. I was dunking my baguette into the garlicky drippings left in the dish from my escargot, sipping a Beaujolais, listening to Vivaldi.