Posted tagged ‘humor’


June 13, 2012

There are few times in most people’s lives when everything is pretty much on cruise control, and the older you get, the fewer those moments.  One such time is the last month or so of senior year in high school.  Everyone pretty much knows where they will be attending college in the fall, and with few exceptions, graduating from high school is pretty much a given.  It is a time for cutting class, hitting Jones Beach or Half Moon Beach, and just having fun.  It is also a prime time for silliness, cutting up with your best buddies and girlfriends, all the time realizing, on some level, that this is the end of one part of your life and the beginning of another.  None of us had chosen the same colleges, and though we’d see each other on vacations and summers, things would never be quite the same.  We would all meet new friends in college and most of us would not be returning to Port Washington to live after college.  Some would get married; others accept jobs in other parts of the country.  So this was our curtain call as a group, and though it was never openly discussed, I think all of us, unconsciously, realized this.  Unspoken as well was whether the high school romances would survive the long periods of separation of the college years.  A few did. Most did not. So with something like quiet desperation, we all went about trying to make every minute funny and memorable.

Frub and I were best buddies senior year in high school and did everything together.  Don’t ask where the name Frub came from; I have no idea and I’m not sure he does.  His real name was Doug. We double-dated, ate and slept over at each other’s homes, and did many other things that should not be recounted on a blog page or anywhere else.  Donny and Paul completed our foursome.  All of us had girlfriends, but found plenty of time to hang together anyway.  I had ordered a new Firebird, but delivery was several weeks away.  My Mother often needed her car, but Doug’s Mom, Fran, could walk to work, so Doug often had the use of his family’s white Mustang during the day.  It was driving in the Mustang late one weekday afternoon that we encountered Klebby.

Doug was driving me home from his house and we had taken Ivy Way, a lovely quintessential suburban street.  There were fancier homes in Sands Point and Harbor Acres, but the area where Ivy Way is located was always my favorite part of Port Washington.  That my home was very nearby probably had something to do with that.  Near the end of Ivy Way we passed a beautifully maintained white house with a collie sitting in the shade of a tree in the front yard.   With perfectly cut green grass, immaculately pruned flower beds in bloom, the home looked like a postcard.  And this was not just your run-of-the-mill collie; hands down, the best-looking collie I had ever seen.  He made Lassie look like she was suffering from mange.

“ Frub, pull over and check out that collie,” I said.

We pulled to the curb right in front of the pooch and he thumped his tail happily a couple times in greeting.  We talked to the dog for a few seconds with the usual “Hi Boy” and “Good Dog.” Then for reasons I cannot explain, we began to converse with the dog in a tongue that sounded like Spanish, but wasn’t.  The reason it wasn’t is neither of us could speak a lick of Spanish.  Long elaborate passages of complete gibberish, the collie listening intently, his ears perked straight up.  You could see him searching our sentences for a heel, stay, come, sit; anything a dog might have heard from his family before, something that might register.  Alas, nothing like that was forthcoming.  The collie began to move his head from vertical to horizontal positions, side to side, in confusion.  Being mature young men, Frub and I found this hilarious.  We stayed and spoke to him for about five minutes and then drove off laughing.

“Let’s call him Klebby,” Frub proposed.

“We don’t know if the dog’s a he or a she,” I said.

“Don’t see that it matters,” Frub said.  “Have you ever known anyone named Klebby?”

“Not that I recall,” I replied. “Actually, make that a definitive no.  I see where you’re going, though. The Klebby handle really isn’t gender specific.”

“Exactly, “Frub said.  “Could be a boy or a girl.”

“Works for me.  Kind of has a nice ring to it,” I said.  “Klebby it is.”

Visiting Klebby for a couple minutes became an almost daily thing.  The collie came to recognize the car, and seemed to almost look forward to our visits.  I think he may have felt sorry for these two morons who were unable to communicate effectively even on a collies’ limited vocabulary.  The routine never varied.  Pull up to the curb, get a tail wag and ears straight up to digest the nonsense he knew was coming.

“Seuntulo byalo della foon?  Bassolo selumino,” Frub said.

Klebby’s head shifted to the left, questioning the wisdom (sanity?) of what he had just heard.

“Blapmolencantro chalassimo!  Veel plapt unimos leel? I inquired.

Klebby looked from Frub to me, full head shift to horizontal right, confusion reigning.  And we’d drive off.  Seemed like pretty harmless, if foolish amusement.  It might have continued for a long time, but things changed in a hurry.

A day or two later, we were sitting down to Dinner at Frub’s house with his folks, Fran and Bob.  My seat in the corner of the kitchen afforded me a view of the front door.  When the doorbell rang, I looked up to see two cops at the front door, two of Port’s Finest.  Fran and Bob got up quickly and went to the door to let them in, looking a little anxious.  Frub and I followed.

The two officers came in.  One was a big, red-haired Irish guy, 6’3’ and maybe 240 lbs.  His partner was a little Italian guy, slightly cross-eyed, who shuffled his feet nervously and had trouble making eye contact.  It was not difficult to establish the pecking order in this particular partnership.

“Sorry to interrupt your meal,” the big guy said.  “I’m Officer Mahoney and this is my partner, Officer Riccio.  We’re responding to a complaint from a family over on Ivy Way that two males have been speaking to their Collie in alien tongues on a number of occasions.  They became concerned enough to take the license plates on the vehicle, and we traced it to the white Mustang in your driveway.  Can someone here shed some light on this matter?”

Bob’s jaw dropped in astonishment, but he said nothing.  Fran however was rarely at a loss for words.  She turned to Frub and me, her face contorted in both anger and confusion, and said “You were doing what?

“Yes, Officer, my buddy and I were talking to the Collie,” I said.  “It wasn’t really an alien tongue, it was intended to sound like Spanish.  I see your first initial is “J”.  Is that for Jerry, like Paul Winchell’s puppet?

Mahoney fixed me with the kind of look one would reserve for a particularly repugnant water bug.  “No, my given name is John, my friends call me Jack, and you will address me as Officer Mahoney.”

“Yes sir,” I said.

“Why were you talking to a strange dog in fake Spanish?” Officer Mahoney asked.

“Faux,” I suggested.

“What the hell is faux?” Mahoney asked, his neck turning a little pink.

“It means imitation, artificial,” I volunteered.

“So fake, that’s what I said,” Mahoney said.

“Fake has such a negative connotation to it,” Frub said.

“I think fake works just fine here, and my question stands” said Mahoney.

“Fine, we’ll go with fake,” Frub said.  “It’s your syntax.”

“My what,” Mahoney asked.

“Never mind,” Frub said.

“So again, why talk to a strange Collie in fake Spanish?” Mahoney asked.

“Well, neither of us can talk real Spanish,” Frub said.

“And German sounds so harsh and guttural,” I added.

No,” Mahoney said, his voice rising. “No, you guys are not getting it. Why talk to a strange dog at all? In any language.”

“Well, had we had any idea the dog was strange, we probably wouldn’t have talked to him at all,” I said.

“We’d probably have talked to another dog,” Frub said.  “One that wasn’t strange.”

“The dog is fine,” Mahoney said.  “What is strange here has nothing to do with the Collie. When I say strange, I mean a dog you didn’t know, had never been introduced to.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever been formally introduced to any dog,” I said.

“Me neither,” said Frub.

“But you didn’t know the dog, right?” Mahoney asked, his patience ebbing at a rapid clip.

“Just in passing,” I said.

“Passing in a car,” Mahoney said.

“Right,” Frub and I answered in unison.

“Were either of you under the influence of anything on these occasions?” Mahoney asked.

“I’d had an egg salad on rye and a vanilla Coke at Greenfield’s,” I said.

“I had tuna,” Frub said.  He always had tuna.

“I meant drugs or alcohol.”

“No Sir,” Frub and I answered.

“Well, that’s good,” said Officer Riccio, his first words of the encounter.

“You think that’s good, huh Joe?  Talking in tongues to a Collie while completely in control of your faculties?” Mahoney said, turning to his partner.  His expression said that he felt he had drawn the absolute dregs of the partner pool.

“Well, I just mean its good they weren’t driving under the influence, is all I’m saying,” Riccio said, looking at the floor again.

Mahoney returned his attention to us.  “I’m asking you guys to give me your word that you will not revisit this dog or any other.  This has been a remarkable waste of time, and if I have to come back again, you guys will not like it.”

“We agree to that Officer, “I said.  “We won’t bother Klebby anymore.”

“Klebby?  The dog’s name is not Klebby,” Mahoney said.

“He never corrected us,” I said.

“And he is a she,” Mahoney said.

“Never corrected us there, either,” Frub added.

“Maybe if I’d seen her go #1, I’d have figured that out,” I said.

“Maybe,” Mahoney said unconvincingly.

“Officer, can I ask a quick question? I said.  “Do you do hard time for talking to collies?

My mind strayed for a moment and I had a vision of doing the ankle-shackled two-step into a maximum security prison, stripping, getting hosed down and issued my sheets and orange jumpsuit.  I was then led to my cell.  My “roomie”was a shaved-headed, heavily –tattooed, three hundred pound Aryan Brotherhood dude.  After the cell doors had clanged shut, I asked him what he was in for?

“I gutted my Mother-in-Law.  She griped too much,” the behemoth explained.  “How bout you?”

“I was pinched for talking fake Spanish to a Collie I didn’t know,” I explained.

Newfound respect registered in the con’s eyes.  “Whoa,” he exclaimed.  “Jesus, you are one scary dude.”

I shook off the daydream and returned to real time with a chuckle.

“Something funny?” Mahoney asked.

“No Sir. Sorry.”

“I have no idea what the charges would be against you, should the family on Ivy Way choose to press them, “ Mahoney said.  “We can get creative if provoked.  But you guys have promised to desist and I don’t see us having to come back.”

Fran had remained quiet for the whole encounter, hands on her hips, looking back and forth between Frub and me with a mixture of disgust and amazement.  She spoke up now.

“Thank you for your patience, Officers, and we’ll see to it that they occupy their time with something a little more constructive going forward.”

‘That would include just about anything,” Bob muttered.  The Officers left and we returned to the table to finish Dinner.

As we resumed eating, Bob said “I have to say that you two have made it possible to take part in what is probably the stupidest, most inane scene I’ve ever experienced.”

“Yeah, and you know the best part?” I happily asked.

“No, Jud, I did not see a ‘best part’,” Bob replied.

“We’re still young,” I exclaimed.


George’s Dilemma

October 18, 2011

George had no idea he even had a problem.  At least not yet.  His alarm had gone off at the usual 5:45 AM.  He rose, showered, shaved and selected one of his Wall Street pinstripe uniforms.   Ready for the day, he entered the kitchen, put on coffee and went to the front door to retrieve the Wall Street Journal.  Something seemed out of the ordinary, but he couldn’t immediately put his finger on it.  Ah, the cat!  Binky always bothered him to be fed and watered first thing.  Not today.  No sign of him.  George went into the living room where Binky slept peacefully on the carpet.  A little too peacefully.

George called to the cat, asking him to come and eat.  Nothing.  Approaching the kitty, George stamped his foot.  There was no reaction.  Bending down, George stroked the cat, feeling for a heartbeat, pulse, anything to disprove what he was dreading.  Binky was late, among the departed, no longer with us.  Dead. While George felt badly, he had always been pretty much a dog guy.  His Wife, Debbie, had wanted the cat, and five-year old George Jr. absolutely adored the cat.  George was considerably more concerned with how this should be handled than in Binky’s demise.  Binky had been an adequate cat, as cats go, but George was not devastated.   Little George knew nothing about Death.  That’s what was eating at George.  He dreaded being the one to tell his boy that nothing is forever. Things die.  As he sipped his coffee, he ran through some alternate scenarios.  He could always just get rid of the body and tell little George the cat must have run away.  That seemed convenient, but cowardly.  Maybe he could get Debbie to take the reins here; worth a try, for sure.

Running quietly upstairs, George gently woke Debbie and explained the situation.  He had been hoping for some guidance.  Actually, what he had really been hoping for was a transfer of responsibility.  It did not happen.  Debbie suggested a proper burial in the backyard after George had explained to the child about Life and Death.  After he had done the explaining; definitely  not the desired response.  She deflected the issue as if she were Teflon-coated.

George picked up Binky from the carpet, carried him to the kitchen and found a large brown paper bag.  Once he had Binky in, he put the paper bag in a large white plastic bag and went out to the car for the short drive to the LIRR.  He contemplated just putting the bag in his garbage can out at the curb, but balked at the idea.  The garbage guys knew him.  Maybe he could put the bag in the garbage can at the station.  Again, he couldn’t do it.  Parking his car, he boarded his crowded rush hour train to Manhattan.  As he found a seat, he placed both his briefcase and the Binky bag on the overhead metal shelf.

George was unable to concentrate on his paper.  He could just discard the bag in a Penn Station garbage can, but his conscience was kicking in.  That was no way to treat a family pet.  Binky had not just been an average cat. He’d been a damn fine cat.  Any cat that’d had to suffer the name Binky shouldn’t just have a grave; he ought to have a mausoleum.  No, George was going to face the music and do the right thing.  But obstacles still remained.  He had a whole day to get through and he could hardly keep the bag in his desk drawer.  At some point not too far in the future, Binky was going to get a little aromatic.

The subway ride was uneventful and George entered his office a few minutes early.  Good thing, too, because the Department refrigerator, though big, could get very crowded.  George put the Binky bag on the bottom shelf, as far to the back as possible.  Barring something unforeseen, Binky should “keep” until quitting time, right alongside everyone’s salads and sandwiches.  Nice. George hoped the Department had no closet “frig foragers.”

The day seemed to go on forever.  George made umpteen clandestine visits to the Kitchen to check on the bag; so far, so good.  When quitting time came, George grabbed the bag out of the refrigerator and was among the first to the elevator.  The subway came immediately and he arrived at Penn Station in time to catch the train before his usual one.  Again he placed his briefcase and the Binky bag on the overhead metal shelf.  Binky seemed to be noticeably less limber. Sort of stiff, no pun intended.

As George got off the train, his briefcase and bag in tow, he made a beeline for his car.  Leaving the lot, he cut off some guy in a Lexus, who flipped him off.  Following protocol, George returned the gesture.  Minutes later, he was pulling into his driveway.  The sun was setting and the backyard was dark.  Figuring he could get the grave dug before Dinner, he grabbed a shovel from the garage and went to work.  Though not yet Winter, the ground was hard and the digging was harder.  George comforted himself by imagining how difficult this could have been were Binky a rhino.  He got the grave finished and went in to eat.

Over Dinner, George was somewhat distant, wrapped up in what he would say at the burial.  After the plates had been cleared, George explained to his Son that all beings, people and animals, face a time when their Life on this Earth ends.  They go to join God in Heaven, a much better world than the one they left behind.  While we will miss our departed one, we must be glad for them and send them off with good, loving thoughts.  Little George, though very sad, seemed to understand, inasmuch as any five-year old kid understands.  It was time.

The family went out to the small grave, and held hands while George did his best impersonation of Minister delivering a graveside eulogy.  Some tears were shed, and Debbie and little George held hands as George brought the bag to the graveside.  They all bowed their heads as George opened the bag, knelt down and gently shook it over the grave.

Out of the bag and into the grave tumbled a cellophane-wrapped leg of lamb.

Remembering Liz Taylor

March 24, 2011

I just saw a blurb that Elizabeth Taylor had passed away today at the age of 79.  I had the good fortune to meet this lovely lady, although under false pretenses.  The story seems to be worth telling, particularly today.

The year was 1981, and Ms. Taylor was in New York to star in the play “The Little Foxes” for which she received a Tony Award nomination for Best Actress.  I had seen a small piece in one of the tabloids recounting a mix up with her limousine service which had left her stranded at the airport for hours when she arrived in town.  This bit of information turned into my “ticket to ride”.

I had agreed to accompany my friend Paul to pick up his Wife from work.  She tended bar at a restaurant that was a hangout for Broadway people.  It may still be there, but the name escapes me.  As Paul and I entered the restaurant, I spotted Elizabeth Taylor sitting in the restaurant area with Roddy McDowell.  Two gigantic guys, obviously bodyguards, were standing by her table to discourage the curious.  I told Paul that I was going to go over and say hello to Liz, as we had a lot of catching up to do.

“You know Liz Taylor?” Paul asked.

“No” I replied.  “That’s why we have a lot of catching up to do.”

“Fifty dollars says you don’t talk to her or even get near her” Paul said.  “You see those two goons?”

“I see them.  No problem.  I’ll take the bet.  I want a hundred if I’m able to join her at the table” I said.

“You’re on.  I’ll go for the C-note.  But there is no way you pull this off,” Paul said, shaking his head.

“Watch me,” I said and grinned knowingly.  Paul shook his head again.

I began my walk from the bar area where we were sipping beers around to the restaurant entrance.  Both of the bodyguards had their eyes on me long before I had even begun to approach their table, as if they had some kind of internal radar.  As I approached Liz and Roddy’s table, both bodyguards came together and blocked my passage.  A hand the size of a Virginia ham waved me away.

“They don’t want any interruptions,” one of the behemoths told me.  “You should beat it.”

“I think Ms. Taylor will want to speak with me.  I owe her an apology,” I explained.  “You want to ask her?”

“She knows you?”

“No.  She wouldn’t know me from Adam.  Never laid eyes on me” I replied.

“So why would she want to talk to you?  I’d rather you leave under your own power, pal; less of a fuss.”

“I’m the limo driver who hung her up at the airport,” I said. “I want to apologize.  Would you just ask her?”

At that point, Liz glanced up, probably to inquire as to why I was still there.  One of the bodyguards whispered something to her.  She looked up at me, smiled and waved me through to join them.

“It is wonderful of you to come and apologize in person.  With all the trouble you got in the papers, I’d have thought you‘d hate me.  The whole incident was really no big deal,” Liz said, smiling. “Please, join us for a drink.” I could not believe the color of her eyes; almost a lavender shade.  Like nothing I’d seen before; nor since.

I sat down and risked a glance up at the bar.  Paul was watching with jaws agape.  His eyes were huge!

“Ms. Taylor, I just wanted to tell you in person how very sorry I am for any inconvenience you had to go through.  No excuses, I dropped the ball,” I said.

“That’s ancient history and you’ve paid enough of a price.  The limousine company said you were fired”

“Yes, that’s true, but it really wasn’t working out” I replied.  “You weren’t my first faux pas, just my most infamous. It was time to do something else, anyway.”

She laughed.  “Well, I wish you the best of luck. And I thank you for making the effort to apologize in person.  That was very honorable and it took some guts.”

The honorable part was just plain wrong, and I’d probably have substituted balls for guts.  The waitress approached to take my drink order, and I raised my hand in dismissal.

“Ms. Taylor, I appreciate the offer but I’m going to pass on having a drink.  I came with a friend and he’s alone up at the bar.  I should join him.  Besides, he owes me $100.00. I told him I was going to go join Liz Taylor and he bet me it would not happen.  It did” I said.  “If I’m out of a job, I should go collect my money.”

“Did he know you were my limousine driver that never showed?” she asked.

“No, I was less than forthcoming in that regard” I replied.

“That was very clever and a little devious” she said, laughing. “I feel better about your losing your job after meeting you.  I think you’ll be just fine. It was a pleasure.”

“The pleasure was all mine” I said, rising to my feet.  “Have a wonderful evening.”  I left the table and began my return to the bar area, most impressed with how very warm and friendly Elizabeth Taylor had turned out to be.  And those eyes!  On the way, I decided not to tell Paul the limousine story which had made all this possible.  It was much more fun to have him wonder about it.

“How the hell did you pull that off?” Paul demanded as I approached, his brow furrowed.

“I really can’t explain it, you know?” I said.  “Sometimes people just seem to connect.”


Photographs by Google Images