I climb into my faithful old Tacoma pickup and head west. You can tell a lot about a man by the truck he drives. The cab smells of rag weed, muddy boots and fresh orange peels. I drive past the fields, the farms and the redundant strip malls. I eye pretty small town girls with odd names like Galenda or Karla. Their perfume scented skin I won’t stick around to touch. These places and girls belonged to other boys with their Friday night hot spots and their Sunday morning houses of worship,——— a community of suburban anchored hearts. I’ve tried to fit into such places, but never could.
I drive til I come to the ocean. I check into a cheap motel that wears the odors of mold and a thousand forgotten summer vacations. I wonder how many have made love on this tolerant mattress, or how many have cried themselves to sleep within the walls of this soul suffocating room. The walls are knotty pine with a bathroom sink that drip, drip, drips. Outside my gray skied window the pavement smells of early morning rain, the sun rises with a memory of how small her hands looked when she touched me. Once again I find myself at the edge of this sad stained continent. There’s a damp coldness blowing off the water that chills me to the bone. January is my favorite month to revisit this rundown seaside town. The boardwalk is empty and quiet except for the rusty Farris Wheel squeaking and moaning under the strain of a gusting wind. I pull my knit cap tightly over my numb ears.
All my once hip friends are now vengeful Republicans, need I say more? Out of nowhere I find myself singing “Into the Mystic”——I take a shot of Jameson with a beer back. “And when that fog horn blows you know I’ll be coming home——-I wanna hear it, I don’t have to fear it”.
The bed-stand clock glows with its red digital numbers, the sound from the dripping faucet warns me of time passing by. How do I carry on? Where do I go from here? Am I too old to start over again? Have I squandered too many chances. I’ve moved to new cites, I’ve found new jobs and I’ve broken promises to the few who might of cared for me. I’ve never been one to reinvent myself or attempt to tame my faults or bad habits——I’m all that’s left of my best mistakes.
I sit on a carved up and pigeon stained bench at the end of the pier. A wrinkled asian man is standing as still as a statue as he waits for a fish to bite his line——I suppose we’re all waiting at the other end of one kind of fishing line or another. A young kid with chin stubble and unkempt hair takes a seat next to me. He asks if I have a light. He helps me cup a flickering flame from my Bic lighter. He squints as he stares intensely out at the foggy horizon. I know that look, I know this kid. He speaks “You got a wife?” “Yeah, I’ve had a couple of them.” He continues his interrogation “You got a job?” “Yeah, I’ve had a few those too.” “Did you get everything you wanted?” “Like most, I suppose I got what I deserved and a few things I didn’t expect. Sometimes it isn’t what you get, but more importantly, it’s being happy with what you’ve been given——-gratitude is the scale on which to weigh a balanced life.”
An older me talking to a younger me, what a gift. “Take good care of yourself dude.” I grab his cigarette, then take a hit off it before stomping it out. “Look after your health kid, you’ll wish you did when you get older——-and yes, we all do get older, that is, if you’re lucky.” He pushes his shaggy hair back “Do you ever think about your parents?” “Everyday I do. You won’t understand the sacrifices your parents made for you until you become one yourself. You’ll look at your children and be amazed at how parts of you became their flesh and blood. The best of times will be the time spent with your kids. Remember to give your weary parents the love and respect they deserve. The kids grow up too fast and our parents grow old and frail too soon. Once they’ve passed on, they’re gone for good. Time moves in one direction, forward. Regret is the child of missed opportunities.”
“Many acquaintances will come and go, but few will be elevated to the position of trusted friend. Choose your friends carefully, because they’re the only ones who’ll enjoy your ridiculous humor, tolerate your irritating idiosyncrasies and stand up for you when this world leaves you feeling insignificant, irrelevant and unworthy of love. They’ll embark on crazy adventures with you and provide you with the sweetest of memories. Your friends and family are your tribe and their unconditional love is the only thing that will sustain you through the good times as well as the bad.”
“I know that at your age you won’t believe me, but this life is tragically short. Don’t squander the time you’ve been given being bored or angry. Monies a fleeting vapor, a job that doesn’t suite you is a snare, pleasure without sacrifice is quickly forgotten. Look for true love and nothing less. You’ll know it’s true love because she’ll bring out the best in you. She’ll make you feel things you never felt and it will cause you to do things like hold her hand when she’s frightened. She’ll bear your children and cook you your favorite meals. For her, you’ll fix the things that break, mow the lawn on hot July afternoons and snowplow the driveway on cold January mornings. All these seemingly insignificant small things will comprise a full life. Keep your priorities straight and you’ll enjoy each day as it unfolds.”
The kid offers up a grin. “When I grow up, I wanna be like you.” “Take your time kid, being an adult isn’t all it’s cracked up to being.” I climb in my truck and head back home as I give a glance in my rear view mirror.
I’d love to return home, but my vehicle was destroyed in the crash. I’ve been shipwrecked on this lame-ass planet ever sense. Let me get a beer and a chocolate bar and I’ll tell you what I’ve learned (and endured) while stranded here. I’m documenting this in a blog format, a means of communication designed to memorialize ones frivolous life events—-like posting a selfie of ones naked backside on Facebook. Just another way self promoting humans present their asinine shameless egos———or should I say ass-inine. They ought to rename Facebook to Assbook. All humor aside, I doubt this tale will neither be read nor believed. It will most likely be placed on the virtual floor to potty train a virtual puppy. So, with that said, let the shit show begin—
I was on my way to the Ramuloid system when I received what I thought was an emergency distress call. All I could hear was a broken-up transmission of someone screaming “Skipper, Skipper, Help, Help!” I had my computer operating system do a quick search of all prior available transmission records. I was alerted that the transmission was from a group of seven castaways marooned on a deserted outpost. On a rescue mission I entered your atmosphere and was blindsided by this piece of shit shack called a “Space Station”. That spacewalking astronaut would of went splat like a bug on my windshield if I hadn’t put my ship into an uncontrolled nose dive. This maneuver is what ultimately led to my shipwreck. The last thing I remember hearing from the transmission was the voice of the skipper saying, “Gilligan, you’re a nincompoop.” Shit!——Done in by a goddamn dimwitted sitcom playing in syndication. What kind of cockamamie creatures would find this crap entertaining? In horror, I realized that I’d entered an intellectual desert.
I swear, I can’t take another day with these moronic humans. They’re fucking nuts, not to mention arrogant and extremely violent. They possess a tiny un-evolved brain the size of a Argonian ass-nat. Its appears they’ve invested what little intelligence they possess into finding faster and more efficient ways of destroying their planet. They apparently lack the intelligence to comprehend that negative choices lead to negative consequences.
Until recently, these narcissistic a-holes believed that their run of the mill planet was at the center of the universe. Their inflated sense of grandeur would be amusing if it wasn’t so pathetic. They claim to be created in the image of their gods, but in reality, it is just the opposite. Their gods are created in their image. They’re vengeful, power hungry, angry, punishing, spiteful, mean-spirited and demand total obedience from all. The only reason they’ve evolved to dominate their planet is because they’ll eat, drink, inhale, smoke, inject and ingest anything—-especially if it makes them feel powerful and indestructible—I’ll spare you my assessment of their bizarre abuse of such poisons known as alcohol and drugs. They make their most prolific adversary, the cockroach, appear fragile and mild mannered.
These fuckers are constantly at war with one another, they just can’t get along. They’ll fight over anything; land, money, food, religion, race, nationality, pride, greed, power, glory and sometimes just to conquer who ever is within their proximity. The only thing they like more than fighting is fucking. They’ll fuck anything and everything. The pinnacle of their technology is this goofy thing called the “internet” and 80% of this device is used to watch other people fucking each other. All they know is fuck, fight and eat—that’s it, period.
The highlight of their space exploration program was a mere jaunt to their nearest moon. They soon grew bored of this as there was nothing out there for them to fuck, fight or eat. If there was gold or an enemy or something fuck-able in space, they’d of developed the technology to get them to Alpha Centauri and beyond.
The only thing more primitive than their communication devices is their limited methods of utilizing them. They text, talk, Skype and email one another insouciantly. They have selective listening skills and only hear what they want. They talk at one another (and about one another) incessantly, but have failed to learn the subtleties needed to master the art of communication. They have a proclivity to say mean and unkind things to one another and participate in the practices known as “gossiping” and “bullying”. The strong will gang up on the weak and tear them to shreds. They have a large selection of words in their languages, but they rely on a small number of foul four letter words to attempt to communicate their thoughts and emotions. I’ve even adopted their favorite word “fuck”. It can be used as an adjective, a verb or noun. It can mean anything, depending on how it is used and the voice inflection applied. I don’t fucking understand it, but it just feels fucking great to say fuck you. My communication translator device doesn’t even have a substitute term for the word “fuck”-–And that’s searching over three trillion other alien languages.
These humans like to believe that they mate for life, but they lack the commitment, honesty and integrity to stay true to this foolish principle. They are light years away from being evolved enough to appreciate the concept they call “love”. Their love depends on conditions, and the main condition is “what’s in it for me?”. Its a silly idea to only love one person when there are ten’s of thousands to love—just because you love one person doesn’t mean you can’t love many at the same time. They seem to believe that when you love another, you somehow own them outright; lock, stock and barrel—Their culture is controlling and procession oriented. They have a “yours verses mine” mindset.
They clan together in these things called gangs or armies. They have flags, uniforms, tattoos and slogans that help them differentiate the “us” from the “them”. They create maps with lines that specifies what space belongs to whom. They are very territorial and often times attempt to invade and control their neighbors space. One country went as far as to build a great stone wall to keep out foreigners. Some cross over into other peoples lands because they are seeking better life opportunities, they are called illegal aliens. It’s a society that lives by a divisive code of “us verses them”, “ours verses theirs”, “good verses bad” and “winner verses loser“. This creates a dichotomy that breeds aggression and selfishness. They’ll burn, bomb, shoot, mutilate, stab, hack to death, gas, poisson, behead, torture and exterminate anyone or anything they consider different or inferior to them. Sometimes they’ll kill so they can take what another possesses. Even their babies and children are not spared from these barbaric actions. They have perfected the art of killing and torture, and are extremely adept at creating a rational as to why these actions are necessary and honorable—it is a time cherrished tradition. In fact, they give medals and awards to those who excel at these endeavors. This competitive version of community is all they know—how uncivilized and sad. They will need to learn the art of collaboration and cooperation if they hope to evolve. Many spices never reach this critical step in the evolutionary process and they silently go extinct. Thank god the universe has a mechanism for cleansing itself and keeping all that “is” in balance——all is well, and all is as it should be——all that is, “is”.
These are the greediest of species I’ve ever studied. Even with their primitive technology, they have the capacity to provide food, shelter, water and medical care to all the beings on the planet, but they choose not to do so. Daily, thousands of their children needlessly die due to the lack of basic needs. It appears that these human creatures lack the capacity to openly express compassion and empathy. They have an odd aversion to sharing with one another. A very small potion of their population control the majority of the resources and currency. These ones are called the “haves”. The remaining majority are known as the “have-nots”. Without a financial incentive to redistribute the planets resources, the “haves” allow many to suffer and die. It appears that the “haves” require a means to profit from their charitable deeds. Without a way to make a profit, they refuse to make an effort to help those in need. I have never seen a specie so cruel to its own kind, it’s a disturbing thing to watch.
As a changeling, I’ve tried to provide some basic teachings on compassion and empathy, but my words have gone unheralded. I’ve appeared as a shaman and a holy man throughout the years. A few of my more recent incarnations included, John Lennon, Mother Teresa, Muddy Waters and George Carlon. The truth I’ve tried to disseminate is as simple as “All You Need Is Love”, but these humans fail to understand that words are empty if not supported by relative actions. The principle of “cause and effect” still seems to elude their basic understanding of the universe.
Their science remains in its infancy because they think in terms of “right verses wrong” rather than what “is”. They live under the illusion that by achieving an understanding of physics, that they will then possess the power to manipulate the universe for their own greedy needs and wants. They fail to understand that they are just a minuscule and insignificant flash within the enormity of eternity. They are blinded by their false sense of entitlement and specialness. This is as outrageous, as it is comical.
They are a wasteful and dirty specie. They are hell bent on destroying the only environment that will sustain them. They’ve fouled the oceans, streams, lakes, rivers, air, land and environment. They have managed to turn a once pristine garden into a toxic landfill. They mistreat and make suffer the other animals and living creatures that they have dominion over. Their early tribal ancestors were good stewards of the land and understood that they were just another piece in the greater whole that makes up a balanced community. But the violent greedy ones killed and conquered their wise elders. They ironically called these wise ones savages and subhuman. In a world of “winners verses Losers” things can easily get turned around. Their malleable history has been written by the so called “winners”.
My type of spicy does not require sleep. I stand alone outside most nights and stare up into the Milky Way Galaxy. It haunts me and reminds me that I don’t belong here.. I think of all the things I’d like to express. There are no words in their many earth languages to express my simple feelings. I am alone here except for my dog companion. Although we share no common language, we understand and accept each other completely. There is an unexplainable beauty in such simplicity.
In the 150,000 years that these humans have existed, there are but four things they’ve done of consequence. They invented chocolate, beer, ice cream and rock and roll music, all else is inconsequential.
What was once fiction is now science and what was once science in now fiction—-you may write this blog off as science-fiction, but the truth lies somewhere between the two. SOS*******
My lap top indicates I’m flying at 536 miles per hour at a hight of 39,239 feet. This is over 6 miles above the earth. Even though I’ve flown many times and the aerodynamics’ of flight has been explained to me in great detail on Wikipedia, I still find it hard to grasp the unrealness of it all. Animal shaped clouds drift by offering me a grin and a wink, several aisles over a baby wails, experienced flyers snooze, everyone is somewhere between “here and there”—ain’t life funny that way.
To forget how to fly at this altitude, to lose ones faith in formulas and physics would send this metal contraption plummeting nose first towards the brown wrinkled rug looking mountains below. I feel a sense of powerlessness as a wave of panic serge’s through my sweaty body. Physics is only numbers, numbers can’t keep a plane from dropping out of the sky like a rock—at this moment, at least for me, it’s magic and faith holding this metal tube in a state of flight. The fusel-lodge shutters as we pass through another set of turbulent winds and thermals. The jet engines drone on in the background as I throw back my third ginger-ale and Jack. I eat my stale pretzels and ask God to have mercy on my undeserving wicked soul—–the fear of impending doom brings out the dormant God in us all.
The air in the cabin is stale and smells and tastes as if it has been inhaled and exhaled by everyone on the plane five times over. I sit squeezed in my chair next to a middle aged guy who has commandeered control of our common armrest forcing me to tuck my elbow uncomfortably into my ribcage. Why am I always seated next to these infidel foreigners who have no appreciation or understanding of the American, Christian, democratic way of life. I’d love to challenge him to recite the pledge of Allegiance or ask him to spout-off a few bible quotes by heart. If he failed (which I know he would) I’d take great pleasure in confiscating his “forged” passport. I’m growing more angry by the moment, his wheezing breath, his mere presence beside me is unbearably annoying. I stare at him out of the corner of my eye to size him up. “Yeah, I think I could kick his scrawny imperialistic ass.” I fight back the urge to slam my left elbow into his right arm and rightfully claim dominion over my armrest. Or—-better yet, I could open a magazine and in the process covertly “accidentally” yet firmly nudge his arm out of my territory. As I consider my available tactics and strategies the stewardess comes by and leans into our hellish tangle of arms, legs, drop-down trays, newspapers and laptops to whisper something in my insurgents—I mean, neighbors ear.
The stewardess gives him a hug and I immediately seize the opportunity to claim the vacated space. What a freaking idiot to be so easily distracted and in the process expose his vulnerability. The stewardess isn’t even all that pretty, the poor fool probably never gets laid and is some kind of androgens eunuch. As for that bitch—I mean stewardess, she’s nothing but a glorified snack-bar attendant. I smugly settle back in my chair and relish my hard-won victory.
The alcohol has filled my bladder causing me extreme discomfort as I fight back the need to relive myself. I’m sure, that as soon as I vacate my seat I will lose the hard-won ground I’d so valiantly conquered. I decide that the situation is not worth pissing my pants over, so I brashly force my way out to the center aisle (without excusing myself) and head for the lavatory at the tail of the plane.
As I exit the restroom I come face to face with the stewardess who solemnly asks, “Would you mind taking this heating pad and pillow to your neighbor?” With a knee jerk reflex I respond in a voice of intolerance, “Can’t he get his own Goddamn pillow and hot pad.” She takes a deep breath and in an even voice responds, “Your neighbor, John—he has a shunt in his right arm. Once every week he flies to the Denver Medical Center to provide bone marrow treatments to his nine-year old son. His right arm gets sore, so the heat and pillow is just a small courtesy to try and help him feel more comfortable. It appears that its too much trouble for you, so just forget it.” I look down at her name tag and respond, “Ah—oh”—well—–uh-um–Cathy, well of course not, it’s no trouble at all. Now give me that pillow please.” My forehead breaks out in beads of sweat, I apologize to her and then turn to make that long trek back to my seat. The jet jumbles about and I stumble sideways. I wish this piece of shit plane would fall out of the sky and crash so I wouldn’t have to face this stranger, this guy named John, the person to whom I’ve invested so much hate. . . A sense of shame pulses from my temples, traveling down my throat and settling at the pit of my twisting stomach.
I’ve been trying to become a better person, but so easily and so often, I forget how to do the right thing. The briefness of being alive, the cruelty of nature, the unexplainable unfairness of life, the uncertainty of losing those closest to us, the inevitability of disease, calamity, misfortune and death, all this should teach us to be kinder to one another—to be accepting and forgiving, but it doesn’t. We pull and push at each other, we slash and tear at one another—-I have so much to learn and such a long way to go, and so little time to get there.
I take my seat and hand over the pillow and heating pad. “The stewardess Cathy, she wanted you to have this.” He shakes his head, “I told her not to make a fuss. She’s ridiculous, but she’s such a great spirit.” I ask about his arm but he skirts the issue and says its nothing. I’m tempted to inquire about his son but I get the feeling that this is sacred territory reserved for those who know and understand such a heartache. We fill our time with such mundane topics as the weather, smart phone apps and our musical tastes. He pulls up pictures of his family on his laptop. There is one of his son decked out in a blue and white little league uniform. He’s on one knee smiling with a bat slung over his shoulder. I’m a writer and pride myself in being observant and compassionate, but apparently I’m neither. It is only now that I detect the worrisome lines on his face and a sadness hiding deep his eyes.
The captain comes over the intercom telling us that the temperature in Denver is seventy-seven degrees and that the wind is blowing from the northwest at 15 mph. With the muted enthusiasm of a fast food attendant, he announces that in approximately eighteen minutes we will be touching down in Denver. To me, these words are proclaiming a miracle, we’re almost there. We’ve flown one-third of the way across the country without stalling and succumbing to the effects of gravity.
I look out my window at a patch quilt of green parks, subdivisions with backyard pools, golden fields and a skyline on a hazy horizon. With my finger against the window I trace along the path of a toy-sized road, its purpose and destination is a mystery to me. Down there, life is forcing itself over roads, across rivers, filling up water-towers, absorbing countryside, suburbs and cities—occupying space, falling through time, desperately moving its way through, over and inside everyone and everything that stands in its way. Down there, thousands of people carry on with their lives, their purpose and destination is a mystery to me—-so many people I’ll never know, so many things I’ll never understand. Where is god in all this? God isn’t, knowing. God isn’t, not knowing. God is in the wonder—ah yes, the enigmatic and elusive wonder of it all.
I want to say something inspirational or encouraging to John, but he doesn’t know that I’m aware of his dire predicament. I have no words for the secret revelations surfacing in me—so I sit dumbfounded lost in the sorrow of this solemn moment.
The wheels thump down on the runway, everyone lurches forward and there is a loud skidding sound of brakes being applied as the engines make a roaring sound. We taxi our way towards the terminal. Suddenly everyone is on their feet pulling down their carry-on luggage. John turns around, “Hey can you do me a favor?” “Sure, anything. What do ya need?” He hands me an envelope, “If I try to give this to Cathy I know she’ll refuse it. She’s a volunteer for the Wounded Warrior Program. They raise funds to help returning Vets. Ya know, for things like housing, counseling and medical needs. Could ya please give her this card and envelope.” He hesitates and then leans into me, “Her husbands a Vet. He was hurt really bad over there and is now confined to a facility where he receives around the clock care.” I nod to John and offer up a stern grimace to convey my empathy. Yeah right—-I’m suddenly Mr. Empathetic.
When you come to understand that God uniquely, personally, unequivocally and eternally loves you, that’s when it becomes easier to be compassionate—-and it also becomes less threatening to forgive all and give yourself to others—conversely it becomes more difficult to be selfish and unkind—who wants to disappoint God—–not me. It’s required a huge leap of faith to get to this place, but these divine convictions are what allow planes to defy gravity and mere mortals to let Gods love flow through them—-and then to be passed on to all others.
It’s not important my point of departure or my final destination, it’s the things I do between “here and there” that define me.
I’m sitting here alone in my room after dark, with only one standing lamp giving off a sunday evening glow. If you were here and the night became still, I’d have you tell me stories about your childhood. Your soft warm voice would put my worrisome mind at ease. I want to know you better, and to have you trust me like old friends do. Its so strange, I feel as if I’ve always known you, perhaps it was in a different time or place—or maybe a thousand lifetimes ago, your face is so familiar, like those in my dusty old photo-album that stare out at me from yellowed snapshots, leaving me with that sad aching feeling deep inside my chest, a mourning for days lost and moments that have placidly slipped by, unnoticed except for my thread-worn memories and aging keepsakes. At times the past feels as if it just occurred yesterday and then at other times, it feels like all these random events belong to another person from a different lifetime, do you know what I mean?——Maybe we once wandered down dark rainy streets of some unremarkable small town in the midwest, surrounded by an ocean of corn fields—ducking into smokey old taverns with the jukebox playing the likes of Merle Haggard, pool-balls cracking and the local yahoos giving us that familiar glare that says, “What the fuck are you two outcasts doing in here?”—-do you think this is possible? I do—but I’m a poet and a dreamer and such dubious notions occur to me all the time——-maybe you don’t know what I am trying to say and perhaps you never will—-but for now, we can share our stories and see where they leads us.
I imagine you cooking us supper, preparing it with those immaculate small hands of yours; hands connected to your arms and then to your body and finally to a heart beating deep inside of you. And I can see you smiling as you go about adding this and that to your unwritten recipe. Evening closes in and the kitchen is filled with that comforting aroma of seasoned dishes simmering on the stove, it smells like home. It’s no big deal to you, but as for me, I’m enjoying the tenderness that comes with being fussed over. I don’t know how you do these things, mixing all those mysterious spices and ingredients together, but I believe that sharing food is an act of love—
I watch you move thru space with an effortless grace; with athleticism and agility—oppressive gravity is envious of your dancers finesse. Unlike me, I trip over my own untied shoelaces. I dance like I cook—horribly. I lumber, I lurch, and then stumble——as I trample across the crumbling ground of my faltering days. My refuge has always been found in the eloquence of words, even on those darkest of nights when sleep eludes me, I am able to blend them silently together inside my frenzied head like watercolors that beautifully bleed and melt into one another. The sharing of words is also an act of love. It’s really all I’ve ever had to offer anyone.
I remember on a whim you and I headed up north on highway 1. The road traced along the rocky coastline, and everything was as it should be, with you sitting in the passenger seat smiling as the radio played the song Hero. Across bridges and up hill and dale we carried on as the rain fell on our windshield making the world appear blurry and dreamlike. Back then, we had no plans or outside distractions, we were sorting out this thing called life in real-time—-no past, no future, just you and I naïvely melding into one—and so it went—so on and so forth….forever and a day….and for the time being, that was good enough.
We holed up in a dumpy sea weathered motel and drank cheap wine, ate cheese with sour dough-bread and made love. Outside the world was dreary and gray with a damp fog blowing in off the sea. We had nothing to do or nowhere to go, so we drank more wine and shared our secrets of God, sex and love. We took walks on the windy beach until we were soaked and tired and then we went back to our musty old hotel room to talk. I lit a candle and we stared at our shadows on the wall as the flame flickered, we shared our thoughts in hushed voices, quietly falling in love, with the divine surprise of stone being sculpted into art.
I’m west-coast. I was born and bred to perceive the world in a west-coast state of mind—sorry Billy Joel. I’m a walking, talking stereotype of that laid back, have a nice day, flip-flop wearing, life is good —–West-coast kind-of-dude. It’s how I roll man, so to speak. I recently returned from a sojourn to the east coast to attend a wedding with the in-laws and I am once again reminded of the differences between the two longitudes. Neither coast is better or worse, its like most things in life, its all about the environment you’ve been marinated in—-we are all alien when entering foreign territories.
My memories of the East are pretty much incidental and insignificant. On our day trips throughout the north eastern states I was taken back by the beautiful green lush landscape. It was pretty in a dreary, sweltering, damp sort of manner. The humidity made the car seat sticky and the air was stale and muggy. It seemed strange driving through the gray rainy streets of Jersey with the windshield wipers flapping while the AC blew cool air across the beads of sweat on my forehead. This paradoxical weather was a new experience for me. I guess what they say about the weather is true, “it’s not the temperature, it’s the humidity”.
The busy schedule of attending dinners and family functions left me anxious and unsettled. I’ve never been much for small talk or cursory discussions about the fickleness of the weather. I like Mark Twains quote regarding the weather, “Everyone talks about the weather but no one does nothing about it”——although many of us sure wish we could do something about it.
In my state of nervousness I either say to much and come off as loud and obnoxious or remain quiet and appear aloof and haughty. Alcohol relaxed me but it can also relax me to the point of falling down, but that’s another story yet to disclose.
What Starbucks is to the West coast, Dunkin-Doughnuts is to the East coast. The East has a prodigious showing of Dunkin-Doughnuts, all night Dinners and family Italian restaurants. The food is good out there, not all that vegetarian or vegan crap that is heralded out West as being the savior of modern civilization. You can have your raw Sushi and bland tofu, I’ll take double helpings of the deep fried clam cakes with a side of cannoli.
One of the older Italian joints we ate at had a retro-sixties motif and was equipped with a waiter sporting a thick Jersey accent. He introduced himself as Pauly. Jersey is the only state I know where big burley guys add a “Y” to the end of their names just like little boys often do. It is sort of endearing in a weird gangster kind of way. From deep down in his throat he would roll his syllables into drawn out “ahh-s” and “Ohh’s”. As traditional accordion music played in the background he addressed our table, asking if we wanted “wahh-ders‘ or “cahh-fee’s”. He boldly gestured with his hands and smirked with a self-effacing nod of approval after explaining in detail each special on the menu. His hoarse voice and sleepy Italian eyes portrayed a man who was passionate about his food.
The red sauce was almost a dark brown color with veal and large pieces of garlic providing a southern Italy flavor. The bread had a thick crust on the outside, yet moist and soft on the inside. The place and its food was old school—-I loved it.
I imagined that our waiter “Pwauhhl–eee” was most likely a respected, yet dangerous thug from neighborhood and undoubtedly a “made man”. I made a mental note to tip him accordingly. The restaurant must be a front for a numbers racket or an after hours speak easy. Who’s to say what goes on in the basement in the wee hours of the night. Like they say, what happens in Joy-zee stays in Joy-zee.
I fought off an irresistible urge to done a long black leather jacket, accessorize with gold jewelry, comb my hair back in a greasy pompadour and slap the locals on the back and comment loudly “fooh-get-abowt-it”. That’s a bit of a stretch from the weak west-coast greeting of “Peace out brah”.
The wedding was a classy affair. The bride was beautiful and the groom dashing. The reception was complete with excellent food, music and dancing. I luckily found a seat next to Ed the family patriarch who is 92 years old. He is as sharp as a tac except for his loss of hearing. We made a good pairing as he requires little conversation, he wouldn’t ask me to dance and he’s well connected. In other words, he’d protect me from any cigar chomping, violin carrying, trench coat wearing uninvited guests.