Friday, May 30, 2014

My Free Spirit Charges

I used to have a free spirit, but now, like everything else, it charges for anything beyond minimum spirit services.

So basically, unless I pay, all it does is show up, eats my Mallomars and naps all afternoon….


Who needs that?

I mean I can do that all on my own, with or without my spirit.

So I bit the bullet and went for the Nickel Spirit package, which includes 100 Gigs of mirth a month.

I thought about going another 10 bucks and doing the Silver Spirit package, which gives you double that…or possibly even the Gold package, for another 20, which gives you unlimited mirth and actually includes uninhibited joy…but that kind of thing just makes me nervous, not to mention skeptical.

I mean, do I really believe my spirit is capable of uninhibited joy?


I mean have you seen my Christmas party pictures?


Plus, while they claim “unlimited”, everyone knows there’s no such thing.

There’s a limit on everything.

And what would my neighbors think if I suddenly started flitting around with unlimited mirth and uninhibited joy?

Nothing good, I can tell you that.

Plus, I don’t have the clothes for that kind of thing.

So I went with the Nickel.

Despite the attitude I get from my spirit.

“What can you do with just a 100 Gigs of mirth?” my spirit asks, in that condescending way it has.

“I can do plenty!” I respond…although to be honest, I’m not sure what.

“Do you know how much mirth it takes to flirt with that girl at the Taco stand?”

“Uhm…I don’t flirt with—“

“Save it…!  25 Gigs…25 Gigs, just to flirt, which also costs you the extra burrito.  And that doesn’t even include innuendos. Innuendos are gonna cost you another 10 Gigs.”

So my Spirit, free or not, does have a bit of a point…which is odd because you'd think a spirit would be sort of round.

Just kidding…you know…the mirth thing. 

I paid for it, so I do have to use some of it…and the taco stand is out…at least until the next calendar year.

I don’t know…maybe I’ll run barefoot through the park.

Except the last time I did that I ended up with poison ivy all over my feet.

So that wasn’t good.

I couldn’t get anyone to give me a foot rub for a month after that.

I mean you should have seen their faces when I asked.

Like I was asking them to scrub my tongue…again.

But that’s what unlimited mirth gets you.

Odd looks.

Or maybe it’s my Tweety socks…not sure.

All I know is my Tweety socks bring me uninhibited Joy.

Joy's my Looney Tune neighbor down the street, who actually did spring for the Gold Spirit package.

And yes…let me tell you, there is a significant upgrade over the Silver, let alone the Nickel.

I mean Joy has been known to do more than run barefoot through the park.

Sometimes she’ll climb trees and have lunch with the squirrels, too.

And if you think like me—which hopefully you don’t—you know that’s really more nuts than mirth, don’t you?

But were talking about squirrels so they go for that sort of stuff.

And that’s the thing with this whole Free Spirit situation… no matter what package you have…you just don’t care what people think.

Which is kind of the same effect vodka has on me.

So as long as you’re carrying mirth and joy with you—especially Joy—you’re good to go…and let the naysayers spend the day watching the Matlock marathon on Hallmark.

Which is starting in about 15 minutes, so I have to cut this short.

Besides I’ve pretty much used up my 100 gigs of mirth for the month already, on that incident that got me banned from the supermarket.

Don’t ask…but yes…it was worth it….

Hey don’t blame me…blame the Free Spirit upgrade….

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Monday, May 26, 2014

A Memorable Family Tour

Memorial Day is here again—the unofficial start of summer—although, just a couple of short months ago we were all a bit hard pressed to imagine that summer would actually ever arrive.
Memorial Day is a time for remembering…remembering not only those who served and protected, but also those family members, now gone, who set the stage for us, along with all the significant places that served as those stages throughout the span of our lives and all of our extended family’s lives.

Extended families consist of many different pieces and mine is no different…except for the peculiar headwear, sported by some.

But that’s a topic for another day…if ever.

Z’s contingent is, well…large to say the least; large enough to fill up the state of Rhode Island.

Check that…make it Vermont, Massachusetts’s, Maine and pretty much all of the original 13 colonies.

My immediate family, on the other hand is, well…small, by any measure, and less of what it was by half in recent years, even though it too is spread out over 4 states, with no restrictions…as far as I know.

I have a number of Italian cousins in various incarnations, spread about the region. I know because I’ve seen them on Facebook and once they clear up that glitch, I’m sure they’ll respond to my “Friend Requests”.

And then there are my Irish kin, encamped across the river, at the same time, both familiar and mysterious, at least to me, most of whom, through no fault but circumstance, pretty much disappeared, after my dad died when I was just a month past 13 years old.

Yes, I said “died”. I’m not big on euphemisms of death, such as, “passed”, which, at least to me, is flatulent reminiscent, or the more elongated form, “passed away”, which evokes an image of fading into another dimension; although, of course, there are many who believe that’s exactly what happens.

Of course, I could always say, “I lost my father in 1967”, but then people might think I was just careless and misplaced him.

But the point is—and yes, I do get to them eventually—for various reasons, I fell out of touch with my Irish kin, until the more recent past, which, if I was to tell you the circumstances, I’d  have to repeat the whole euphemistic death routine, and none of us want that.  Trying to make people laugh at death is hard enough the first time.

I suppose it’s human nature to want to know you’re roots, and for the past 4 decades, the only roots that I had any familiarity with was the one that starred Levar Burton back in the mid 70’s.

I’ve mentioned in the past that I’m half Irish and half Italian, but, to be honest I’ve never felt I was anything but American. I guess mostly because both sets of grandparents rarely spoke of the “old country” or discussed family history, shaded or otherwise…at least not with me…maybe because they sensed I would be writing everything down someday.  And in that way, I come from a very wise people.

So when I say, I don’t know much of my ancestral past, it’s certainly an evenly weighted familial ignorance.

But that’s just DNA, and to be honest, to me, genes are the least important factor when it comes to defining family…despite the fact that I’ve had several tests done over the years in the hope of eliminating some holiday dinner guests.

Okay, I’m kidding…it was just the one test…and nothing was conclusive.

So now, having reconnected with the core of my semi-local, Irish Kin, it was with a great bit of pleasure and surprise when I was invited to tag along on their annual pre-holiday “Coming Home” tour,  this past year. 

Since I’m the last of the family hometown locals, the group assembled at my house for the first time, and I was actually surprised to discover how comfortable it felt to have them all gathered in my dining room, laughing and berating one another, while pursuing gramp’s old scrap book, much of which illustrates his exploits as a P. C. police sergeant nearly 100 years ago.

But I guess that’s the comfort and connection of family, another thing I’d unfortunately lost touch with over the years; something I thought I didn’t need.

Luckily our mode of transportation—provided by my cousin Peggy,
or Maggie as she goes by now, in some circles, especially if she is pretending not to know the rest of us, which is often understandable— was more than accommodating for our “small” group, especially since Peggy/Maggie’s hubby, James, is accustomed to riding in the trunk…even when it’s just the two of them.

I didn’t ask….

So, after literally packing the car with Moloneys, we were finally ready to set off on our Port Chester family tour.

We began with a quick drive by the High School, which, according to my nearly 90 year old Uncle Jim—my dad’s older bro—hasn’t changed all that much in the last 70 years. In fact he thought even the crossing guard might still be the same.

Then a quick stop at the cemetery to acknowledge the, now, somewhat quieter members of the family, who, apparently, always the nit pickers—a family trait—take offense if they miss the tour.

Luckily, after about 20 minutes, someone remembered to let James out of the trunk, which avoided a potentially unpleasant situation, especially since he was the keeper of the coffee thermos.

From there, the tour began in earnest as we visited the many streets my grandparents had lived on in P.C. dating back to the early years of the 20th century. I’m not really sure why they moved so often—though I suspect it might have had something to do with all the loud fiddle playing and laughs that routinely sang from their windows on Saturday nights—but if you happened to live anywhere in Port Chester during the 20s and 30s, chances are you were neighbors at one time or another and you sang right along with them. 

Rolling down upper Main, we passed the site of a now long gone and forgotten house where my Uncle was born back in 1924, then continued south, past familiar store fronts—most relatively unchanged—and down through Liberty Square, where my Grampa Jim once manned the original Police Booth; a village ambassador to all passing through and across our humble hardworking streets.

Then over to Washington, and around to Oak, then Parker Street where, according to Uncle Jim, Mrs.“Somebody” once threw a frying pan at Mr. “Anotherbody” presumably for consorting with Miss “Anywhatabody” on a warm summer night in 31.

Then a lengthy stop on Bush Avenue, where my Uncle spent the bulk of his early years and for which he had the warmest bundle of memories and stories, set aside.

As our car pulled up to the past, nestled across the street, the current residents were enjoying a sunny afternoon, on the front porch and were naturally perplexed by the site of an SUV packed with a bunch of middle aged folks staring up at their house.

My cousins and I debated the merits of whether or not to disturb their solitude, when we spotted Uncle Jim already crossing the street and bounding up the stairs, announcing his kinship by residency, back in 1927.

“1927!” I heard one of the porch sitters declare.  Followed by a shout across the yard to the next door neighbor, “Hey, this fella lived right here, back in 1927!”

“1927!” suddenly filled the air as it bounced back and around from neighbor to neighbor. It was almost as if George Washington, himself, had returned to claim his long lost wooden teeth.

My Uncle was glowing with all the attention and recounted one story after another of his family life on Bush Avenue; and you could tell from all the smiles, that he was echoing many of the same memories from the current residents as well.

My cousins, Patty and Peggy, soon joined the chatty group, up on the porch, while I—always the observer—was content to stand back on the street, bearing witness to some fresh family lore that I knew would live on for a long, long time to come.

After a while, poor, forgotten James knocked on the trunk door, asking to be let out, again, which I did, only to hear one of the neighbors exclaim… “Look, they’re even coming out of the trunk!”

Once my, now, celebrity Uncle bade his farewell to Bush Avenue, with a promise to return, we zipped up Poningo—a street I terrorized as a 4 year old—until we eventually wound up at the place where I first experienced this saga, on Rollhause Place, the last of the family homes, the only one, other than my own, that I knew, through 1964.

The house has been altered quite a bit since then, but as we all stood there in front, on the familiar sidewalk, the spirits and memories it held for all us, remained intact.  Grandma Nellie’s doilies atop the furniture, the varnished wood trim, the yellow kitchen table, the wallpapered dining room, hosting family holidays and parties, the old cuckoo clock that signaled every hour, all through the day and all through the night. The garage, still there, which once housed an entire wall of ancient license plates. The stone basement with the picture of the aforementioned George Washington, his unshakable eyes following you wherever you walked, the piano, the once state of the art, ring roller washtub and even the radiators that went clank in the night.

All the things that connected us as family, much more so than DNA ever could.

Finally, the day reluctantly wound down after a late afternoon lunch, and, following a few Irish toasts, we all said our goodbyes, at least for a while, already looking forward to next year’s family tour. 

And as I watched James, climb back into the trunk, even though now there were only two of them left in the car—once more, I didn’t ask—I couldn’t help thinking how nice it was to be connected to family again…even if sometimes you have to say goodbye, before you can really say hello….

So for me, this Memorial Day, I’ll be thinking more about what I’d forgotten, but intend on remembering, not only today…but all the days to come.


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Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Sunday Archive of Retort- 5/28/12

The Little Village on the Hill

I thought I'd repeat my Memorial Day story from last year...and the year before case you missed it, one time or the other...or in case we weren't speaking, both times, which is probably more likely.  Plus I like it, and I hope you will too.

Just sayin....

From 5/28/12:

The Little Village on the Hill


Also for Memorial Day, 2014

A Memorable Family Tour


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Friday, May 23, 2014

A Bounce in My Step

It’s the start of the big Memorial Day weekend—the unofficial start of summer…officially— and all kinds of unofficial things have been happening.

Officially…I think.

I was out walking, just the other day, and I noticed I had a bounce in my step.

Yeah…an actual bounce.

Which was kind of cool.

Although it did seem odd to others…me walking with this bounce.

Like I was trying to work out a leg cramp or something.

Even the squirrels thought it looked odd.

Not that they said anything to me…I’m not crazy…I don’t talk to squirrels,

Not on a Monday.

In fact, on Mondays, I rarely talk to anybody.

Because most people don’t like Mondays, let alone talking on Mondays…and that includes the squirrels, which I know sounds weird.

Because Wednesday is usually the busiest day for squirrels.

Not sure why…just is.

Anyway, so it was even more peculiar to discover this bounce in my step, especially on a Monday.

And I can’t even put my finger on why—who actually hates it when I do that— I just had this light airy feeling.

And I know what you’re thinking…I took an extra antihistamine again.

Which I had, but I don’t think that’s what it was.

Because when I take too many antihistamines, I usually just sleep through breakfast.

No…this was different.

This was like walking through a rainbow of bright colors. The sky was bluer, the grass was greener…even the birds seemed chirpier.

Plus the bounce made navigating the curbs that much easier.

I only tripped a couple of times.

And then I realized what it was.

It was Sprummer.

That time of year when it’s really still spring, but everyone says it the unofficial start of summer.

So Sprummer

That’s what it was.

And who wouldn’t feel bouncy for that?

Especially after all the cold and snow…last week.

The beaches are open, the BBQs are burning; even the fireflies are arriving.


The best time of the year.

And then I noticed it wasn’t just me…a lot of people had a bounce in their step…which for some, isn’t a very attractive sight.

But everyone was feeling it, even if they didn’t know it.

Sprummer Sprummer Sprummer…breaking out all over.

Spreading all around.

The world has woken up again and pretty soon before we
know it….

It’s gonna be really hot…and sticky…and sweaty…and hard to breathe, let alone bounce….

Sprummer…enjoy it while you can!

Cuz…you know…it doesn’t last…just like the bounce….


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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Thinking of Not Thinking…this time of year

Everyone loves this time of year.

Mostly because it’s not that time of year.

Or even the other.

So we’re lucky…because it’s not that…it’s this.

You know?

You do?



Makes me think.

Because when I don’t, I tend to get lost.

Not thinking does that to me.

I never know where I’ll end up.

Usually somewhere in New Jersey.

Or Connecticut…which isn’t as bad…because it’s closer….

At least to me…maybe not to you…because then it’s farther.

Then you might have to take a bus home...whether it's yours or not.

But if it’s Connecticut, I can usually walk back.

Unless it’s raining.

If it’s raining, I’ll call a cab.

Unless I have my car, which I might, or might not—because, you know I wasn’t thinking.…

Of course not thinking has its advantages, also.

And if I thought about it I would tell you what they are.

But I’m not…thinking…again, at least right nowobviouslyso I can’t.

I’ll let you know, though, as soon as I am.

See, the thing is…just a thing, really.

And a thing can be just about anything…which makes sense.

You know?

You do?



So you get where I’m coming from.

Good to know.

This way I can avoid you when I see you walking down the street.

Because you might start talking sense to me.

Or it might seem like sense…at least to me.

Then we’d be there all day…just talking nonsense.

And then where would we be?

Probably in the same boat.

Regardless, of the time of year.

I just hope you remember to bring the paddle, because I usually leave mine, up the creek…just in case I find myself up there without one…which happens more times than not.

So I just leave mine up there, to avoid getting caught short.

Because then...well, I don’t even want to think about it…which is good, because that would change everything.

Well…maybe not everything.

It’s not going to change Bieber…nothing is.

I just want to enjoy this time of year.

Because it’s way better than that time of year.   

You know?

You do?




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Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Sunday Archive of Retort - 5/11/12 Think I'm Missing Something

Everything is getting smaller, except the prices.
The prices stay the same.
Well, not everything is getting smaller.
Some things are actually getting bigger…like my feet, which is weird.
From 5/11/12:

I Think I'm Missing Something


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