Each one of us shares a common ancestor in our family tree, and according to math, this person lived only around 3000 years ago. Even though we have no idea who that person is, we are basically related. WHAT’S UP, COUSINS?!
“Yes,” I said, blinking and frowning. “I was putting the gunk on my rash? So after that, I washed my hands. I must not have washed them enough, because I think I touched my eyes and now my eyes are burning. I suppose I got some of the gunk in my eyes.”
By then, I was trying to rub my eyes with the back of my wrists since apparently my fingers were not eye-worthy.
Garry started to laugh. Then I started to laugh. We both kept laughing.
“One thing always leads to another,” I cackled.
He went back to watching the movie. I found the eye drops. Everything is hilarious. Of course, I suppose it could also be tragic and dramatic.
Welcome to New England where our most popular regional sport is politics. Football, baseball, basketball and hockey cannot compete with the joys of arguing politics. That this year is politically the worst experience since we drove out the British only means that all our other complaints will have to wait in line until the political rage has been satisfied, at least temporarily.
When politics and sports are finished, we move on to the single sport in which everyone, of any age, can actively compete.
Weather. Or more accurately, complaining about the weather.
From bitterly cold to stiflingly hot, we’ve got the weather to cover it.
Winter is too long, too snowy, too icy, and much too cold. I couldn’t agree more. Everyone is cranky and whiny from the first flakes through final melting. Of course, mud season, the inevitable followup to the heavy snow, is no one’s favorite, discounting the dogs who revel in it.
Spring? What spring? Where are the flowers? Why can’t we get a decent spring season? Is this the punishment of a malign deity?
Until the lilies bloom, New Englanders are cranky.
Some time during May, summer drops by, usually in mid-afternoon. The morning is comfortable until the temperature goes way up and the humidity moves in. The leaves on the trees droop and it is definitely summer. Always too hot. Muggy. Humid.
Or, maybe it’s not hot enough.
“Hey, how come it’s June and we still need heat?”
In summertime, those triple H days — hot, hazy, and humid — give us a collective headache. Everyone complains. Relentlessly.
Autumn is New England’s winning season. It is everyone’s favorite time of year — except it’s much too short. There are oceans of dead leaves to shovel. We rate our autumn by the brightness of leaf and you can stand on line in the grocery and hear people commenting that “this one isn’t as good as the year before last. Does anyone remembers 2012? Wasn’t that a doozy?”
On a bad year, heavy rains from a tropical storm can push all the way up the coast. Those drenching rains ruin the fall foliage. Which makes everyone cranky.
We recover if the Sox are in the playoffs, but become downright grim if they aren’t.
Speaking of whiny, I know people on Facebook who, in the middle of a summer-long drought during which we haven’t gotten a drop of rain, will rant furiously on the day the drought breaks. I bet they’d be even more whiny if their well went dry . That would be a serious rant!
Most of you who know me from these pages or my working days know I’m hearing challenged.
It’s a life-long disability that’s has gotten worse over the years. At this point, hearing in my right ear is all but gone. I still have about forty percent hearing in my left ear — with hearing aids.
I’ve had a bittersweet relationship with hearing aids.
I hated them as a teenager. These were the primitive “portable radio receiver in a pocket with a cord in your ear” hearing aids. It was worse than being called “four eyes” when I wore the aids. There were lots of jokes, smirks and knowing winks at me. Oh, right, I also wore glasses.
I was short, wore glasses and hearing aids — and was one of a handful of black kids in my classes. I was also painfully shy.
Fast forward to college and my discovery of radio. College radio would lead to a wonderful career and brand new alter ego, the familiar TV News Guy. I turned my hearing disability into an asset. Friends pointed out diction problems, and speech therapy followed. Presto, I became the black guy with great diction. Amazing!
A few awkward social encounters convinced me to wear my hearing aids regularly. The new models were smaller and less conspicuous. Eventually, they would be invisible, all inside the ear.
My hearing problems gave me certain advantages. Court clerks would make sure I had a good seat for cases I covered. Judges would admonish lawyers to speak clearly so that all could hear. Ironically, I understood more testimony in some cases than my peers with normal hearing. Yes!
My disability provided many laughs in my career.
In the early 70’s, Boston Mayor “Kevin from Heaven” White started a new program to assist senior citizens. It was called “M.O.B.”. Forgive me, I forget what the acronym exactly meant, but it was a PR blitz for seniors. They needed a spokesman for MOB. Someone who senior citizens would easily recognize.
MOB? How about George Raft??
I got the call to interview the legendary old-time star of gangster movies on Boston City Hall Plaza. We met just after Raft had a liquid lunch with the Mayor’s people. The veteran actor, wearing his trademark fedora, greeted me with a grunt. A brief exchange about the interview, then we rolled cameras. I asked the questions. Raft grunted.
I asked Raft about “Bolero,” a film where he displayed tango expertise which earned his keep before he was called to Hollywood. “Call me George, pal” he rasped with a smile.
I called him George and he said “What”?
I figured he was kidding with me. I tried it again.
“What, kid?” was the reply. Back and forth several times. I could hear the cameraman giggling.
“George”, I tried again, pointing to my hearing aids.
“What’s up, kid”? Then, it slowly dawned on him. Raft pointed to his ears and gestured. Cautiously, I took a look. I thought for a long moment before speaking.
“George”, I said slowly and carefully, “You need to turn on your hearing aids.”
Raft gave me a long look, then that familiar smile which typically preceded him mowing down guys with a machine gun. He snapped his fingers. A crony walked over, reached in and turned on his hearing aids.
“Thanks, Pal”, George Raft smiled with relief.
I couldn’t resist the moment. I pulled out a coin and began tossing it in the air and catching it. Raft stared. We shook hands. He smiled over his shoulders as he walked away.
Just so you know, I was half an inch taller than the guy who used to duke it out with Bogie and Cagney.
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