You think you’ve got it made

As I pull into the CinemaWonder Multiplex my wife and I are looking forward to enjoying our evening out and then you pull in.  Oh yeah, sure, you’re feeling pretty good about yourself aren’t you, with that wavy, longish hair and that red convertible and that sweet young thing sitting next to you.  Rev it up, punk.

Think you’re smart, don’t you?  Think you’ve got it made.  I’ve seen your kind.  You think the world revolves around you.  Well, let me tell you, it doesn’t.  Let’s just see who has the last laugh when we both step up to the ticket booth and I save a sweet $2 on each ticket because it’s senior night, punk.

Whaddayahave in there?

When I was in high school, “back in the day”, you either drove the family car or maybe a 9-10 year old Earl Sheib painted four door sedan with paint on the tires, door handles and headlights.  That was unless you were one of those guys who worked at the hardware store and used your entire paycheck to support some kind of hot car that made everyone at school jealous.

I remember sitting at a light and feeling that rumble as he pulled up in his red ’62 Chevy.  Vroom, Vroom, Vroom.  The car lifted and twisted as he revved the engine.

“Hey, man.  Nice car.”

He looked at me like I was dirt as I sat behind the wheel of my dad’s two-door Plymouth coupe.

“Whaddayahave in there?”

“A 409 with dual quad carbs, a four speed, Hurst shifter and a positraction rear end.”  Vroom, Vroom, Vroom.

“What kind of”….and before I could ask another annoying question the light changed and he punched it. The engine roared, the tires squealed and off he screamed followed by the blue smoke of burning tires and a four door Ford sedan with a flashing red light on top.

That was a long time ago.  They don’t make cars like that anymore but then last Saturday I was sitting at a light when a bright blue two-door pulled up next to me.

“Hey, nice car.”

“Thanks.”

“What do you have in there?”

“SiriusXM satellite radio, navigation system, Bluetooth and a DVD player.”

Before I could ask him how many cup holders he had the light changed and he accelerated through the intersection at a sensible, fuel-saving pace.

Henry Ford wept.

There’s no place like home

My wife loves to have big family dinners whether it’s for Thanksgiving or Christmas or just because the sun is shining and there’s a bogo special on steaks at the supermarket.  The only problem is as the nieces and nephews get bigger we need more table space and that’s why I heard Jeanie call out, “You’ve got to go over to Sandy’s to pick up a card table and four chairs.  I’ll write down her address.”

I’m almost out the door when I realize I’m blocked. “Hey, somebody with a blue whatever the hell that is has me blocked in the driveway.”

My brother-in-law yells out, “That’s mine, it’s a loaner, my car’s in the shop getting the radio adjusted. The keys are in stuck in the visor.”

I think I know pretty much where I’m going as I head out but then when I go to enter the address in the car’s navigation system I see that this blue whatever has nothing but a radio and then when I reach to get my phone I realize that it’s still sitting at home in the charger next to my keys.

I’m okay, no big thing, don’t panic, so I don’t have a navigation system, I can do this, I think.  This is just like Lewis and Clark heading out to frontier points unknown except in my case, I’m alone, Clark isn’t here.  In my case I can’t ask an Indian to help me on my journey because there are no Indians in these parts only Pakistanis and without my iPhone and its translation app there’s no sense in stopping at the Mini Mart up ahead to ask for directions.

I pull over to plan my next step and after sitting there lost for what seems like hours I see a guy on the sidewalk running toward me.  I get out and call, “Can you help me?”

His eyes come up from the sidewalk and open wide as he pulls the ear buds out of his ears. “Hey man, I don’t have any money.”

“No, no.  I don’t have a navigation system and need directions”

“Oh, wow”, he says as he pulls the plug on the ear buds and switches off his music.  Snoop Dog?

He opens his navigation app and asks for the address.  I tell him where I was headed but that now instead of trudging on that I just want to get back home.

“Here, Dorothy, take this down.”

“I don’t have my phone.”

“Right.”

“Get a paper and a pencil.”

“Why would I have paper and a pencil?”

“Right. Then you’re going to have to memorize the directions.”

He clicks on the navigation app and I hear that familiar voice that is going to get me home.  Why is it that an English accent is comforting when we want directions or are buying auto body scratch remover off an infomercial?  I can almost see the Union Jack fluttering in the breeze as she begins, “If possible, make a U-turn.”

“U-turn, got it.”

“Drive 2000 feet.”

“U-turn, 2000 feet.”

“Turn left at the light.”

“Left.”

“Proceed 500 feet.”

“U-turn, 2000 feet, left turn, proceed 500 feet.”

“Arrive at destination.”

Thank you dear stranger and thank you dear English lady, and off I go.

As I pull into our driveway my wife is standing there, “Where have you been?

“I’ve been trying to get home.”

“What? Where’s  the table and chairs?”

“You know, Jeanie, before you send me out for something maybe you should look in your own backyard. Because if it isn’t there you didn’t really need it.”

“Is that right?”

Sitting in the blue loaner eating a hot dog while everyone else enjoys a steak dinner in my backyard isn’t all that bad.  At least I’m home and, “Oh, there there’s no place like home.”

Sweet Caroline

There are always things that you see and hear that you know are not right but just can’t seem to put your finger on it, you just can’t seem to put it into words.  For me the current political situation in the United States is a perfect example.  Something is definitely wrong but those in power keep changing the subject so quickly and so often that it becomes difficult if not impossible to know exactly what the problems are, who is causing the problems and what the solutions should be.

Thank you, Secretary of State John F. Kerry.  Thank you, former Senator John F. Kerry.  Thank you.

The bombing and then chase of the two cowards who killed and maimed American citizens on the streets of Boston brought that city and the nation together by showing our common identity.  From the flags waving and the chanting of U-S-A Friday night when the second terrorist was found to the speech given by Boston Red Sox designated hitter, David Ortiz to the singing of “Sweet Caroline” at Yankee Stadium the country came together.  The people of the country know America when they see it and when they hear it.

And what did Secretary of State John F. Kerry of Boston do?  Secretary of State John F. Kerry thanked the New York Yankees fans for singing “Sweet Adeline” as a tribute to Boston.  Red Sox fans have sung “Sweet Caroline” before the bottom of the eighth inning of every home game since 2002.  That’s going on 1000 times that Neil Diamond’s song has been sung at Fenway Park (in Boston) and the former Senator who represented Massachusetts (Boston is in Massachusetts) and current Secretary of State who represents all Americans didn’t know the song.

Following Saturday’s Red Sox game if you asked the fans exiting Fenway to name the song Neil Diamond had just sung they would have said “Sweet Caroline” or they may have said they didn’t know but I very much doubt anyone would have said, “Sweet Adeline” unless they were members of a barbershop quartet.

Baseball, the great national pastime, the all-American game is part of what makes America America but in this case it spotlights those who have no real connection with the American people whether it is John F. Kerry who doesn’t know the song sung at Fenway since 2002 or Barack Obama of Chicago (big White Sox fan, huge) who couldn’t name a single past or current White Sox player on a team that is over 100 years old.  They think they know what they should say, what we want to hear, but they haven’t a clue about why.  And we let them represent us?

Thank you, baseball. You are opening the eyes of America.

Communication

Communication , (from the Latin, “communis” meaning to share): a process by which information is exchanged between individuals.  Communication is said to be the key to every relationship, organization, goal and strategy.

If communication truly is the key to societal well-being than we must be on the threshold of swinging the door wide open to improving every relationship, every organization, every meeting and every goal since all people seem to do anymore is talk and talk and talk and text on cell phones.  It hasn’t been that long since communication was limited to talking face to face or sitting down to write a letter or making a call on a phone that sat on a desk or was attached to a wall.  Now we can’t seem to go anywhere without a phone and without that phone ringing and without that ringing phone needing to be answered.  When the concept of common courtesy was understood and observed there would have been no need to ask people to avoid the distracting behavior of using a cell phone.  In 2013 the problem is that common courtesy is not observed and now we need specific announcements and laws related to cell phones behavior.

Driving?

Laws have had to be passed to keep drivers from talking and/or texting while operating a motor vehicle.

Restaurants?

“Kindly refrain from using cellular phones.”

Movie theaters?

“Please don’t spoil the movie by adding your own soundtrack”

Stage performances?

“Please turn off your cell phone (and other electronic devices) or turn it to silent (not vibrate) mode, prior to the start of a performance.  Do not text, use internet, engage in social media, play games or make calls during a performance.  If an emergency call comes in, please exit your seat.  Cell phones should only be used during appropriate times at the start and end of a show or during intermission.  The glow and sounds of a cell phone are distracting to both performers and patrons.”

Weddings?

“We wish to remind you to please turn off your cell phone ringer and refrain from using your cell phone during the wedding ceremony. Thank you!”

Church?

“Please silence your cell phone in church”

If we assume that a good portion, if not the majority of the calls and text messages being sent, are related to social interaction this problem may be on the way to taking care of itself.  How many times have you seen a pretty young girl talking on a cell phone with her head cocked to one side to hold the phone?  How many more calls will she need to make before her head is permanently fixed to the side?  I’ll bet there are an awful lot of people who are well on their way to having that full head tilt look.

“Gee, she sure is pretty.”

“Yeah, it’s just so sad that she has that disfigured neck—she looks hideous.  No wonder no one calls her anymore.”

Problems solved.

How did this happen?

One afternoon, as I was slowly walking my dad to our backdoor he stopped, looked at me and said, “How did this happen?”  At first I thought he might have seen a crack in the sidewalk or something on the lawn or maybe he saw some dying flowers which had been dug up by the squirrels.  When I asked him what he meant he gave me a strange look as if to say, “Can’t you see?”  “How did this happen?  How did I get to be this old?”  Isn’t it obvious, I thought?  All you have to do is take the year of your birth and subtract it from the current year and that gives you your age which then confirms that you are indeed old.  “How did this happen?”  Why would anyone have difficulty understanding such a simple concept?

When my father died a few years later I thought about that afternoon but then his question just kind of vanished from my thoughts.  Last week, as I sat writing one of my future award-winning blogs, I looked down at my hands and fingers clicking away on the keyboard and wondered, “Why am I using Dad’s hands?  How did my young man’s hands turn into his hands? How did this happen?”