To whom it may concern since my advancing years prevent me from remembering who I’m talking to or what I might be saying:
Yes, this past week I reached that wonderful milestone in my life that AARP has been salivating over for the past few years. At last they have the chance to send out their useless piece of paper to someone who meets their qualification but hardly deserves the honor. Social Security checks in the mail are the next thing I have to look forward to in the coming years but I guess that all depends . . . (ooo, I just got a cold chill when I typed that word) . . . on which side of the Congressional aisle you listen to. The checks may never come since I happened to be born in one the most unfortunate times in modern history: the Century of the spend-thrift Democrat and the spineless Republican. Isn’t it nice that we live in a representative republic? But due to my advancing age, I won’t have long to really care since the memory is the first to go, so I hear, now what was I talking about? President Hillary? Ah, who cares anyway. I’ll be able to get French fries that will clog up my arteries for half-price at Mickey D’s so I haven’t long left anyway.
I was pleasantly surprised the day after my birthday with a wonderful dinner planned clandestinely by my youngest real sister (it’s not that I have “fake” sisters, mind you, but anyone lucky enough to have two sisters [one “step” and one “real”] both named Susie can’t be too careful in identifying the responsible party) Susie–remember, that’s the real “Susie” as opposed to the non-“fake” but nonetheless “real” but not real “Susie” who lives in Nebraska . . are y’all getting the picture on why I’m like I am today with this confusing life that was foist upon me? They could have had the decency to at least spell their names differently like one with the “s” and the other with the “z” or something to make my life a little easier. Now my other stepsister Jenny is close to my heart because at least she had the decency to marry Mark with a “k” her first go round and the second was Marc with a “c” which made my life a whole easier. Unfortunately, I still haven’t forgiven her for the earlier years of torment when we all lived in the same house and the telephone would ring and all one could hear was ” . . .-enny! Telephone!” and we both would high tail it never really knowing if the phone call was one alerting one of us of a pending cheerleader practice or a girl canceling another date. To keep things straight for you, I never had the legs for cheerleading and Jenny liked guys, if it’s any of your business anyway. The point is I was born first and my -enny should have been sacred, thank you. But to put things in perspective, it only happened once because no one ever wanted to talk to me anyway so it wasn’t so bad.
Oops! Almost forgot. Not really. I actually like to rant more than Dennis Miller on amphetamines when he hasn’t had less than four cups of cappuccino during a fact finding mission to a Fedex training institution.
The birthday dinner at Austin’s in Metairie! It took me by surprise to turn the corner in the restaurant and almost see faces I recognized. Memory is not the first thing to go; it’s the eyes. Sometimes that can be a blessing. And when one who has advanced in years leaves his glasses at home during his 50th celebration, that’s kind of a portent of things I have to look forward to in the next few years. On closer examination I could swear my blurry vision could make out beautiful hemlock sprays decorating the table, but I couldn’t swear to it. Things only got worse when I had to order from the menu. I merely pointed to something and ’til this day, please don’t ask me what I had for my birthday; I could only answer “a party and “something” to eat. But . . . at least it wasn’t half priced French fries!
The table was strategically divided with family and friends to my right and friends to my left. I don’t know what that means since I really could only see shadows through my failing eyes. But over the course of the night as people spoke with me–usually asking me to pass the salt or whether my age would allow me to stay with them past nine o’clock–I gradually matched the voices to the faint shadows of humanity lingering before me. In appreciation to their attendance on this festive occasion where they mercilessly torment and embarrass me in public for attaining a state of being I have never had any control over, I’ll run down the daius for you.
John Moore and his wonderful children Kenton, Erica and Conner. John is the newly instituted host of the Westbank Gamers who now meet on the East Bank . . .but that’s just like getting back into the Susie thing and k’s and c’s so forget it. John is officially the Whine Maker of the Westbank Gamers since our long time and co-king of Whine, Greg Schloesser, up and went to the hills of Tennessee with his wife Gail and daughter Lindsay. The Schloessers made the attempt to come down for the celebration but the latest news blog I received found them holed up in their cellar while their neighbors Jethro Hatfield and Mabel McCoy settled their dispute. Last bulletin was Deputy Fife and the Mooresburg SWAT team were barreling in to get control of the situation but the team had misplaced their bullet and would leave as soon as it was located.
My sister Susie (“s”, real) had her two daughters, Crystal and Christine–are there any names in my family that won’t make you think for ten minutes because you’re afraid you’ll call the wrong name out and make you feel like your grandpa did thirty years ago when his mind was going south? Anyway, even if I nicknamed them “Cris” my life would not be any easier, would it now? I could use “Al” and “Inee” but one’s not a longshoreman and the other really has an “outtee” on her belly so what’s a guy to do? Crystal is part of the John Jay empire–or is it John Jay is part of her empire? Just ask her. And Innee . . . I mean Christine, thinks anyone over eighteen is over-the-hill. Honor roll students think that way.
My other niece, Joyce, daughter of my sister, Perri, who was named after a squirrel I saw in a movie as a child–please, I’m not making this stuff up–was also in attendance although Mom had another commitment. And she is my mom’s namesake, by the way, and the dancer in the family-the now “recital-less” (blessings do occur at random in my life) dance team member at her school.
And then there’s my long lost and lost for words cousin Colleen. She really needs to come out of her shell and express herself a little. Really, she’s the life of any party especially with a couple of shots under her belt. And the bachelor dogs in my party were all after me later that night for my cute cousin from across the pond. Sorry guys, niece “Al” and cousin “Col” hit the town and I still haven’t heard if they made home yet.
Now we switch to the more seedier side of life and tell you about the left hand table, that side of the table populated by the “Chilly Gentilly Gang” so don’t get scared just get out of the way.
Stacy and Sheri Edwards, my designated Barbecuist and Daiquiri Mixologist respectively who have fed me more at their place and about town than I managed to eat the first forty years or so in my life combined. A wonderful, loving couple with a combined work week of forty two hours and I’ll let them fight over who gets credit for the forty.
Berent Corkern, “Mr. Hollywood” himself, not because he wears shades or drives around in limousines, but because he owns everything Hollywood has ever produced. He’s swift with a DVD player but not so swift fixing flats securely on his touring bike. But one can’t be good at everything, right. Bachelor number one, say hello to Colleen.
Henry Hunger, the man who strenuously avoided eating and/or offering to get me food for almost twenty four hours on this fateful day which almost prompted me to call a specialist to test if he was still breathing and busted all Guinness records for self-denial in spades. Self-sacrifice for undercover work well done. Of course, once the waiter passed by he made up for the self-denial. Bachelor number two say hello to Colleen. And Berent joined willingly in as if he had fasted for the 24 hours, too.
And last but not least, Mike and Christy Laporte, the woeful couple who sat in dread the entire night to my left full well knowing that they were merely fast approaching pawns in this silly little game of life’s nasty domain of “over-the-hill” existence not because they were sitting so close to me but much too soon would be sitting in my hapless chair. Feel sorry for them? No. I’m itching for the chance to pass this torch, young ‘uns. Hah! What goes around comes around, baby!
It was a very special night in many ways. Colleen and my nieces collaborated in compiling a very detailed CD presentation of my life with photos galore in various degrees of nakedness and compromising positions. And as a long-held dream of any man who longs for the opportunity to have young women oogling at his naked derrière–not to mention the other disgusted patrons in the restaurant–it’s quite disheartening to have those younger women laughing and snickering at the same time they meant to honor you with their artistry. Maybe that’s the story of my life-hell, it was the story of my life–but what’s with that cyclical repetition of history–go naked, laughter . . . go naked, laughter–over and over again. And as evidenced by their presentation things haven’t really changed that much since I was two years old to forty eight years later. See, bachelorhood has its merits; I only have to put up with this every half century instead of every day with some “Mrs. Leo.” And I ain’t dropping my britches now, ladies, so you have something creative to do at my 100th! Sorry. This CD will just have to do for another fifty.
Finally, my sister Susie (“s”, real) composed a very nice card relating how I was her favorite brother (I’m her only one, so I’ll just let that one mean something special) and how I was also a best friend, but you know, somebody’s got to fix her computer and hook up her stereo so that’s to be expected if you think about really hard. I know she wrote the words sincerely. And a little later when I was reading the card aloud to the daius at the celebration of my upcoming decent into Alzheimer’s Top Forty Hits, I noticed a few tears running down Susie’s (this time it’s two “s”, real) cheek and I felt that little pang of family that has held us together through past and present difficult times. It was a heartfelt moment in my life.
That is, until I realized what unfortunate circumstance brought on the emotion. You see, our crack waiter, during the time I was so dramatically and expressively reading my sister’s sentimental wontings, had handed her the dinner check to sign. Little did I know at the time, Garçon ( I think that’s French for “goofball”) had inadvertently switched checks and handed her Henry and Berent’s meal check, all five pages of it, for her to pay. Needless to say–and I have been at the table many times with the Smörgåsbord Slayers and had someone handed me their check, I surely would have had the same feeling of doom trickle across my face. Now that I think back on it and at the time I dismissed her murmurings as holding back the emotion of the moment, I now distinctly reinterpret her words as “I guess I’d better start washing now so I can be back to work sometime next week.” But at the time it was just bittersweet testimony of sibling love.
Yes, folks, young or old, life is too short to let moments like these in your life pass by unnoticed and unshared with the world. We all must age and one should never mistake a celebration of that passing into a more progressive state of uselessness than you’re already a part of as a day of dread. Sure, I could have stayed home and won thirty dollars playing online poker against people that have too much time on their hands like myself. Instead, I got a free meal, spent time with people I’m close to and lost thirty dollars because I wasn’t home playing on line poker. Yeah, it would have been greater if some more friends like the crew of the Westbank Gamers would have cared enough to show up, even the ones who were holed up in their basement in Tennessee. But you wanna bet sometime during the night Settlers of Cattan would have appeared and I would have had to spend another five or six hours explaining to the non-gaming friends and family why I disappeared for five years on Wednesday nights and twice each year to some exotic place which seldom has anything to do with a “gulf” to collect sheep, wheat, rocks, bricks and so I could build the longest road? And by the way, Gulf Gamers, I guess the next thing I will hear is that it’s my fault I wasn’t born in the last part of July or all of you would have honored me at this wonderful milestone in my life. Now that I think about it, I used to like you selfish people, too.
Now what was I talking about? Ah, never mind. The Don Rickles marathon is about to start on the Old Man channel. He’s always got such a unique and refreshing perspective on the way things really are with the people he depends . . . ooo, there’s that tingly feeling again . . . on to appreciate his humor. I’m sorry. I should have said “tinkly.” Gotta go get the mop . . .