Margaret (never ever again to be Peggy!) was determined to hop a freight train to some faraway big city where she could become a famous author. Having recently read Flannery O’Connor’s “Wise Blood”, she had found her vocation.
“The station’s just down here, Orville,” she cried out to her dog.
“English has always been my best subject at St. Gabriel’s, so I know I’ll be a good writer. Flannery’s symbol was the peacock,” she told him. “Mine can be dogs.”
“Has she called on her cell phone yet, Harvey?” her mother asked.
“Not yet, Shirley,” her father replied. “Give her time.”
Local Irishmen of Long Beach, N.Y., unlike the Irish of many other places, celebrate their ethnic heritage each year not on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, but on the first Saturday of October. Last year, however, it was on the last Saturday of September, in order to avoid any conflicts with the local Jews on Yom Kippur. Because they’re a seafaring region, their patron saint is Brendan the Navigator. The day begins with a parade down Beech Street. The Ancient Order of Hibernians figure quite prominently in the festivities. There are Pipe bands, Irish dancers, Irish music and all the other traditional Gaelic trappings. A large section of Beech Street is cordoned off and there are many food, beverage and souvenir stands throughout that section of the city. As with any other such occasion they have many vendors who show up predictably each year. Local establishments, including Swingbelly’s Barbecue Restaurant and the Knights of Columbus Monsignor Cass Council number 2626, are open to patrons. Tourists arrive from all over the United States in order to see this colorful spectacle. Newsmen from several local periodicals and television networks are always there so they can let people see what’s going on. It’s always difficult to park that day. Anyone in the city had better make sure he is willing and able to walk quite a distance in order to see all the interesting colorful sights.
“Yo,Ma,” blurted out precocious sixth grader Stanley, “Is that the Fregosi Emerald or what?”
“Of course not, Stanley,” explained Mrs. Baggiagalupe. “That stone is in Spain where it belongs.”
“I don’t know, Ma,” stammered the youngster. “It looks a lot like it. Brother James said yesterday in class that Archduke Franz Ferdinand gave it to Sofia right before Gavrilo Princip assassinated them in 1914.”
The lad couldn’t get over the jewel, or anything else even remotely connected with World War I. His mother was happy to indulge his latest obsession. As they continued their shopping trip she asked him to remind his father to get gas.
Each day ten year old Mildred Fleener sat on her porch reading her favorite comic strip, Charles Schulz’ “Peanuts”. She never could get over how its characters were all grammar school kids, with no grown ups to watch over them. In her neighborhood, in her life in general, all was so happy and pretty.
“We have grown ups to thank for that,” she thought. “Sometimes they’re weird but I’d be a-scared of life without them.”
Life in Daisy Hill, her hometown, was nothing like the strangely messed up environment she noticed in the “Peanuts” strip. Still she quite enjoyed the cartoon.
Twelve year old Alice Pleasance Liddell made quite a point of daily visiting her favorite garden. One sunny Saturday afternoon, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, local scholar and friend of her family, happened to have noticed her. He bade her go farther into the maze than she’d ever before presumed to attempt.
“You see, young friend,”-Alice was twenty years his junior-the gentleman exclaimed, “There are all manner of delightful surprises to be found in there.”
Naturally she expected merely to find merely a more colorful variety of flora and fauna. She was quite taken aback at what was in store for her.
“You know, friend Beelzebub,” said Mephistopholes, “The rule of three controls all of reality.”
“Yes, Master,” replied his smitten servant.
“Once I plug my machine in,” exclaimed the evil genius, “The world is mine. Text, context and subtext; melody, harmony and rhythm; plot,theme and setting. I can irrevocably own mankind, each individual’s very soul. Any fool can win deliberately evil sadistic people to us. These three switches, however, merely by distorting things, can bring all those well-intentioned characters to us too. Yes, that’s all it takes. Just juggle things around so they don’t understand.”
“Fostoogle” is an old word that my cousin Gary first told me about when we were in our teens. It’s new to everyone else though. It’s an obscure word, with antecedents that go back to the Old English of Beowulf’s era. I can imagine that characters ranging from Theodoric of York to King Arthur may have quite often said it. It means “to confuse”. Because this word hasn’t ever caught on with the general public, I often very much enjoy shocking and confusing people by using it, ever so casually, in a sentence. “Old friends and classmates often fostoogle me with other former friends and classmates of theirs.” “I get so fostoogled when I have to drive through someplace I’ve never been before.” To my chagrin, it will most probably never make the big leagues, to the point where it may fit in with such hep obscure words as “obviate” and “moot”. It’s such an exceptionally nice word though. In today’s word, there’s always so much confusion that we may even need at least one more word to cover all its varieties.
It’s the end of January and 2015 is settling in upon us. Last night I went to the first lay Carmelite meeting of the new year. I got my niece Bridget to drive me to Our Lady of Peace parish in Lynbrook. All went well. I made sure I paid my forty dollars dues. We’re studying Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity. I really miss both the St. Joseph community in Seaford, New York, and the Our Lady of the Mountain group in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, but these meetings seem to be working out very well so far too. Compared to my last two groups, this one has quite an exceptionally large membership. They said last night that there are over forty official members. The Seaford and Wilkes Barre groups only had around a dozen each. Karen Lee gave me a form to fill out so I can officially transfer from my Pennsylvania group. Next month there will be a day of recollection at the Immaculate Conception Center in Douglaston, Queens. I’m hoping to be able to go. I haven’t been there in quite a very long time. It would be so good if someday I could say that I’ve gotten things all figured out and all was right in the world.
I’ve always thought it would be so nice if Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quijote could meet Charlotte Bronte’s (Currer Bell’s) Jane Eyre. Bronte’s character was, virtually entirely, a rewritten version of the Cinderella story. Instead of a wicked stepmother and three wicked ugly stepsisters, she had a wicked aunt-in-law and three wicked ugly cousins. The unfair treatment she got was by way of the deliberate abuse they chose to heap upon her. By way of a variety of entirely mundane misadventures and hardships, she eventually married Mr. Edward Rochester, and they lived quite happily ever after. Cervantes’ Don, however, fell prey to all sorts of delusional fantasies that led to his trouble. That’s in the nature of the picaresque novel His Dulcinea of El Tobozo, in reality the homely peasant girl Aldonza Lorenzo, was as much of a distortion as everyone and everything else he dealt with. It’s quite a lopsided tale of courtly love. If the Don and Jane were ever to be properly introuduced, it would lead, I should suppose, to quite a colorful episode. The Don, quite aware of the fact that he is at all times obligated to treat a lady with absolute respect, would make every possible effort to be quite the gentleman in Jane’s company. Although she most certainly isn’t very comely of appearance, he may never notice. It’s quite possible that he may think she’s as lovely as he considered his Dulcinea. The pair would be driven to distraction because of all the distinctions between Counter-Reformation Spain and Victorian England. There would be significant religious differences. He’s quite the staunchly orthodox Catholic and she’s a demure Quaker lady. He may give her a bit of a speech pointing out to her all the problems with the errors of the Protestant Reformation. If he gets his hands upon Mrs. Reed and the Reed cousins there could be quiet a lot of big trouble. He’d have to be a bit tactful with Mrs. Reed, Eliza and Georgianna, but he’d really have to put Master John into his place. Sancho Panza would have to spend a lot of time keeping him in check. In Jane’s mundane world, where propriety is an absolute necessity at all times, the Don simply doesn’t fit in. She, however, politely accepts all his idiosyncracies, knowing quite well that he’s ultimately a gentleman. He could tell her all his tall tales and keep her petting Rozinante and Dapple. Jane understands what it’s like to be misunderstood and mistreated. At least hers is quite a practical approach to life. She could give him some pointers about how to deal with things in a more tactful and profitable manner. She would marvel at his and Sancho’s total lack of social skills. I should suppose that throughout their first meeting, the Rochesters and their new Spaniard friends would be quite taken aback at each other in seemingly insurmountable ways. After a while, however, both sides would be quite capable of accepting the fact that all could ultimately work out. The Spaniards would add color and excitement to the relationship, and their English friends, Mr. and Mrs. Rochester, could provide the voice of civility and etiquette. Such an extreme lack of compatibility could even be enjoyable.