It's that day that we give thanks and I have so much to be thankful for this year:
* The Big Balls in the dining room. The objects of Debbie's last interior design foray prior to the viral redo of our bedroom ... surprisingly ... she has kept them for a whole year without changing them out.
* Bicycles. On our walk today we were passed on the sidewalk by about 10 cyclists (ON YOUR LEFT ... ON YOUR LEFT ...). I'm thankful there were just 10. I'd be much more thankful if they USED THE BIKE LANES IN THE STREET.
* Dr. Van Loveren. He was the neurosurgeon who fixed my brain this year. I think that's his name. Isn't it? Wait a minute ... I seemed to have forgotten MY name. Where am I?
What was I just talking about?
* Sammy. I am thankful for Sammy because ... well ... because he's .... um ... I know there was something ... oh yeah ... because he is still with us and continues to give me great material for my blog.
* My kids. I am so thankful to have such great kids Nikki, Alissa and Josh and recent additions: Steven, Ned (oops I mean Nate) and Theresa. They are bright, successful, kind and best of all ... OFF THE PAYROLL!
* My wife Debbie. What can I say? She helped me through one of the most difficult years of my life. She cooks, cleans, works, nurses and even decorates. I take out the trash ... occasionally. I am so thankful that she keeps me around.
(I'm really tired of doing everything.)
* CNN This is one I added to the list because of their recent coverage of the Ferguson riots. I especially love the way the reporters stayed in the street complaining about the tear gas that the police threw into the crowd. as they coughed and teared up and stood there while rocks were thrown at their heads. One guy even talked through his gas mask (couldn't understand one thing he said). I can only hope for an SNL spoof this weekend.
There are so many things to be thankful for: My great job and the people that I work with and work for, my new closet (that's really Debbie's old closet), my extended family, my friends ...
And of course you, my faithful readers (all 3 of you) who read this blog and still manage to keep your food down.
But I guess if you live to 93, unless you are a convicted felon, you are allowed to be cranky, critical and demanding and not only will you be forgiven ... women will actually think you are adorable.
Today, I picked up Sammy to take him on a drive. He wanted to go to the beach.
When you pack up a 93 year old, it's kind of like packing up an infant. The biggest difference is that his stroller is a 100 pound wheelchair and his diapers are a little bigger. Throw in a box of kleenex, a few towels, and protective plastic covers for the front seat and you are ready to roll.
"You know ... I love the outdoors, the fresh air is great." Sam said as we drove away.
I opened the windows. "Does that feel good?"
"No. I'm too cold."
I closed the windows.
"What did you do that for?"
"You said you were cold."
"Whatever Joel." He scowled as he looks out the window.
"The beach is right up there. You want to sit in the park across from the water?"
"Sure ... whatever you think."
"Well, it's not what I think ... what do you want to do? I thought you wanted to sit outdoors."
"I do. I do."
So ... I pulled into the parking lot, unloaded the wheelchair and opened it up. I adjusted the seat and the towel that covered up something that I couldn't describe but knew that the towel was a necessity.
I rolled it to Sammy's door, locked the wheels and unbuckled his seatbelt. It was the exact process that I did in reverse when I put him IN the car.
"Where are we going?"
"Over there (pointing to the bench). Where you wanted to go."
"I don't want to get out. I'm fine here."
"I thought ..."
He closed the door on me.
Hmmm. I loaded everything up and started the car.
"Okay. So where do you want to go now?"
"You ever heard of Sonic? S O N I C?"
"Yes ... there aren't any close by. What do you want at Sonic?"
"I like their freezes."
"Yeah ... or milk shakes ... or something like that."
"Is it made with ice cream?"
"There's a Mc Donald's right up here. How about I get you a milk shake from there?"
"Are they as good as Sonic?"
"I would think they were pretty much the same. Hard to screw up a milk shake."
We pulled into the drive thru and I approached the speaker ...
"Wait ..." he said. "Are we going in?"
"No. We are in the drive thru."
He looked down in his lap.
The woman on the loud speaker said, "Can I take your order."
I said, "Um ... just a minute. (to Sam) Do you want to go inside?"
"Okay ... what flavor do you want?"
I talked to the woman. "Small chocolate milk shake."
"No ..." Sammy said. "I want a freeze."
"Dad," I said. "There isn't any ice cream in the other drink. Is that what you want? I think they have Strawberry? or Orange?"
"No ... chocolate."
The woman answered. "We ain't got chocolate freezes."
I said, "I know ... wait just a minute."
Sammy ... "Okay, I'll do vanilla and chocolate."
The woman on the speaker ... "You want vanilla and chocolate milkshake?"
"I don't know," he said.
I was pretty close to shoving him out of the car and driving over him at this point.
"Yes! Yes!" I said. "That's fine."
Sam said as we drove to the second window, "Think this is as good as Sonic?"
I said ... "Have you ever been to Sonic?"
"No. But it looked good on TV."
He ate three bites and put it down for the rest of the trip. I pulled out the wheelchair ... etc. and rolled him up to his room.
"That was a great trip," He said. "I had a great time."
It's just like having a child again. Just when you think you're gonna kill therm and you can't take it any more, they tell you something nice.
Bill Murray is "St." Vincent ... a sloppy, disgruntled, nasty curmudgeon who lays around on a lawn chair, smokes too much, gambles too much and has a Russian hooker as a girlfriend.
Yes ... he is my new hero.
Truth is, I always liked Bill Murray and related to all his characters ... even his sleazy nightclub singer, Caddyshack groundskeeper and Todd DiLaMuca (Lisa Loopner's boyfriend) on SNL.
But as St. Vincent he has touched a special place in my heart.
I think us guys are all Vincent at heart. When we hit our sixties, our innermost thoughts change from being cool to sitting around in our underwear, bitching about politics or sports or women and in general not really caring about much of anything related to appropriate behavior. We'd all be happy smoking and drinking and gambling (if we weren't afraid of immediately dropping dead).
Women are different. As they age, young "wild" women become clones of Mother Theresa. The wilder they were as kids the holier they are as older women.
There are exceptions of course. My buddy Mike was born a curmudgeon and can't wait until he's sixty to sit on the street in his underwear. My wife Debbie was born as Mother Theresa and continues that path today ... Never missing a mass no matter what part of the world she's in.
I keep my St. Vincent tendencies in check most days although lately I find it harder to sit in meetings where the discussions drift to where a comma belongs in an invitation or whose responsibility it is to fix the thermostat.
But I dream of the day that St. Vincent appears. My lawn chair awaits.
I never thought in a million years I would say that sentence ... especially during our construction period (which lasted a little over 52 years) ... but there you have it. Yes, Debbie was right (oh how that hurts to say out loud).
There is now enough room for my stuff. All my tee shirts are stacked, my ties all have hooks, my shoes have homes ... all is put away.
Thank you honey.
Only one question ... what the heck is that thing that Michael (who created the big balls in the dining room) put next to my bed?
My head hurt. I was feeling out of sorts. I turned on my phone and after getting through one move of Words With Friends, I wanted to go back to sleep. How could I still be tired after sleeping all night?
Last night we had dinner with one of my heroes, Les Muma who got rid of all his unhealthy habits in his thirties and is the most focused, committed man I have ever met.
Today's the day I do it. I'm ready for my new life. I started making mental notes:
Step one. Put on a pair of shorts and sneakers. Make the two mile walk downtown. It's a great start for a daily exercise program. I will make this a ritual every morning or evening and in few months it will escalate into daily workouts in the gym.
Before you know it, I will look like the stud on the left ... or his husband.
Step two. Eat a healthy breakfast at one of the cafes along the water. Fruit and nuts kinda food. No potatoes, eggs, bacon ... anything that tastes good. Apparently, from everything I've read, if it becomes part of your lifestyle ... you won't miss it.
Step three. No drinking, smoking or gambling. Too much drinking puts on lbs and makes you lazy and stupid. Smoking is bad on all fronts and gambling ... well I don't know ... I just put this in so Debbie will be happy. Bottom line is stay away from smoky places like bars and casinos.
I made a list of healthy options for afternoon activities like writing my book, going to a movie or taking a drive.
She was a beautiful bride and he was a very happy guy. So was I because I didn't blow my one line in the ceremony to the question: "Who gives this woman?" The answer: "Her mother and I do (after we figure out how to pay for this wedding)."
Actually I figured out how to pay my portion. I'm selling the big balls in the dining room.
Seriously, it was a great wedding week.
Alissa and Nate have some very special friends. They traveled to St. Pete from at least 10 different states. There were a few events planned for the guests including a rehearsal dinner at the Flying Pig Brewhouse.
The bridesmaids looked stunning ... until they closed down "the Pig" and found their way back to the hotel.
After all ... how many times do you see all your friends at weddings in a year? Wait a minute ... at this age about 30 or so at least.
It was great to spend time with josh, Alissa and Nikki ...
... Cole was busy playing pool. He made a hundred bucks off some poor suckers from out of town.
By the way ... there are new traditions that I hadn't experienced with Nikki at her wedding, like the "first look". As the father of the bride, I got to see her first (even before her husband) in her wedding dress. It's a very personal event which apparently was lost on the thirty people assembled to watch: including all the bridesmaids, her mother, two photographers and a box of kleenex.
I cried like a baby.
Cole was preparing for his walk down the aisle as well. He got some pointers from the two flower girls who agreed that without his shoes, he could get more traction.
Sam was there.
He sat next to me at the reception where he could get a play by play of everything that happened. His recurring question was: "Who is that girl sitting next to Debbie at our table (three seats away).
"That's Dennie, Debbie's twin."
Five minutes later he asked, "So who is the girl sitting next to Debbie?"
I repeated the answer.
"Who is sitting next to her?"
"Her husband Tom."
Fifteen more minutes ... "So who is the girl sitting next to Debbie?"
Toward the end of the evening, Sam looked at Dennie and said ... "Hello Dennie. I haven't seen you in a while."
Dennie patiently said. "Hi Sam ... we spoke earlier tonight."
"We did?" He paused and turned to Tom, "Hello Tom how are you?"
Oh well ... it was a beautiful wedding ... decorations were incredible.
And ... The bride and groom were elated.
Who are those people?
The next day ... back to reality as we hosted Cole's first birthday at our house. The "smash cake" that looked a little better before Cole massaged was shaped like an avocado ... his favorite food. Yep an avocado. Doesn't every one year old eat avocados?
Nate and Alissa headed off to Cancun ... Happy Honeymoon!