Having lived in New York and northeastern Pennsylvania throughout all my lifetime, I’m most certainly quite used, by now, to insane amounts of snow. I’ve also seen lots of it in western New York, including their recent storm, their worst ever. Fortunately, however, I’ve never once been subjected to an avalanche. Were I ever to have to face such a calamity, without hope of being rescued until the next day, I should be forced to think of how relieved I should inevitably be to get out alive. Anxiety often overtakes me so I should have to attempt not to focus on all the first hand circumstances. Perhaps that would be precisely the perfect time during which to indulge my lifelong habit of wallowing in the past. Besides the obvious thoughts of the immediate future, during which I should be able to dwell upon the security of a nice warm environment, I could also think of winters of yore, when even the worst of snowstorms inevitably found me inside someplace, safely awaiting the spring. During the average storm previous to this disaster, I could always expect to be subjected to nothing scarier than shoveling and driving. I wonder if, under those circumstances, I may please be permitted to have in my possession a significant supply of hot coffee, a large cup, and creamer to show for all my troubles. If that were possible, much of my battle could already be won anyway. I could veritably rejoice in the peace and quiet, temporarily isolated from all the disgusting cell phones and pop cultural nightmares. How pleasant it all would be not, at least temporarily, to have to be forcibly reminded, of all the truly atrocious things that are going on these days. That’s having been said, the only truly insurmountable nightmare would be the temperature and other weather problems.
Phino’s computer broke down, so he decided to spend Saturday at the library. Unfortunately he found out that today’s libraries aren’t like those of his youth. Yesterday’s mandatory peace and quiet has been supplanted by today’s mandatory loud talking, especially on cell phones. Children were running around, entirely undisciplined.
“Excuse me!” he exclaimed to the librarian. “Could you please get something done about all the abusive noise?”
She looked at him as if he were the ignoramus.
“I beg your pardon, sir!” she screamed. I should suppose if it were up to you, others would have no rights?”
Muriel and Gloria went out for a walk Friday night, as had been their wont for the past fifteen years. Muriel, ordinarily such a happy sort, complained that she simply hadn’t been in such an agreeable frame of mind lately.
“England’s such a fun place though,” said Gloria with a smile.
“Get a load of that,” she said. “Even the Michelin Man’s defying you to have a good time with those tires.
“Oh grow up!” cried Muriel.
“I’m hardly the type to party with car parts!”
“That’s what sets you apart from the rest of us,” complained Gloria.
If I were ever forced to point out an era during my lifetime which I could refer to as the very best of times it would be fairly easy.I’ve always thought that there’s a tie between my very early days, up until my twelfth birthday, on 92nd Street in Jackson Heights, when I was attending St. Gabriel’s Elementary School in East Elmhurst, and the time somewhat after that, during my teens in Lindenhurst, when I was attending St. John the Baptist Diocesan High School in West Islip. During my very early days in Queens, I lived in quite an exemplary neighborhood where there were all sorts of colorful characters. Two thirds of the families on my block were either Italian or Hispanic and constantly spoke Italian and Spanish. I was involved with a lot of activities at St. Gabriel’s, in both the church and school, especially Brother Thomas’ bowling league, and the glee club with Brother Edmond and Brother James. My friends, many of whom are now on my Facebook friend list, were quite an exceptional group of kids. We spent a lot of time together, visiting each other’s families. During my teens, at St. John’s, I had such a nice time too. Many of the kids I got to know there are also now on my friend list list on Facebook. It was a time for me to learn about new things and ideas, and to grow into what would become ultimately my current persona. Then, as in Queens, I was known as the kid with the obnoxious sense of humor. Unfortunately that period was the disco era but once I got over that I enjoyed all the other things about it. I was involved with lots of activities, including the student council and chess club. I realize that those weren’t perfect times for me. I had all sorts of trouble in certain ways. They were quite exceptional though in the sense that the bad very far outweighed the good.
I’ve always been quite pathologically disorganized. My old friend Jo Anne, reminded me a few years ago that when we were kids in St. Gabriel’s she and the other kids from our neighborhood used always to have to wait quite an obscenely long time before I was finally ready to go home from school. It plagues me to this very day. If I could have a key
to one room to which I ordinarily don’t have access, it would be the key to Organization Girl’s room. Organization Girl, from what I’ve always heard, is such an exceptionally fine lady and she appears to understand that not everyone is good at keeping things very neatly arranged and clean as a whistle. She knows that some of us tend to be awfully seriously absent minded and less than sufficiently attentive to life’s unavoidably necessary details. From what I’ve always heard of her, she’ll give me quite a good stern talking-to and flatly forbid me to leave until I’ve mastered each and every single one of the minimum requirements that are involved in being truly tidy and good at keeping track of things. “I’m not getting down from this washing machine,” she’ll sternly inform me, “until you’ve truly learned how to keep track of things in an efficient manner, whether you like it or not!”
There are different waiting periods for different circumstances. Some things take only minutes and some can even be expected to take decades. Each individual should find out what the average time is for the specific goal he’s after and take it from there. Of course often someone may be expected to be kept waiting for an inordinate length of time. Under those circumstances it pays to be at least a bit pushy. I most certainly don’t ever intend to wait for an hour on a phone while some nasty customer service characters subject me to annoying music while they feel free to twiddle their thumbs. Still, one must accept what one must accept. Unfortunately I’ve always been quite impatient and that never works out to anyone’s advantage. The only answer to the question about how long someone should wait for something is, as long as it takes.
One day recently I wandered, as usual, into a time warp and met 2004 me for coffee. He was happy to see that I still drink coffee so compulsively. He reminded me of what life was like back then, with all its good and bad news. I told him about what was up ahead of him. He was happy to see that I’m still a lay Carmelite. I tried to explain to him that I still have all the same staunchly conservative ideas now as then, but that by now, they’re more fully developed. I gave him the impression that turning fifty didn’t seem to carry with it any major milestones, that the passage of time would, in many ways, leave me neither in better nor worse shape. I explained to him that both my parents died last year and that that left me with quite a few major irrevocable changes in my circumstances. Having lived for much of the past decade in northeastern Pennsylvania gave me some insights into what life in a radically different environment was like. The internet, of course, was quite a major topic of conversation. My younger persona was quite happy to hear of all the advances that were to transpire during the time between then and now. He got a kick out of all the things people have been doing with sites like Facebook, Twitter, Myspace and all the others. He was so happy to know that I’ve been able to keep in touch with all my oldest friends from school for so long. Most certainly, he was quite disgusted when I told him about everyone’s having a cell phone these days. He reminded me of the days when my cousins and I were on the Knights of Columbus’ bowling league, with the Wantagh council and recommended that I get involved in something like that again. He also reminded me that since my anxiety, temper and migraines have mostly subsided into virtual obsolescence, I should by now be hepper than ever.
It was a crisp bright Saturday morning one long ago Fourth of July weekend quite a few years ago. I was visiting Uncle Frankie in West Wyoming. As he occasionally does, he was telling me quite a lot of long stories about life before World War II. From out of nowhere, the phone rang. It was my cousin Vinnie, in Hilldale. He explained that he desperately wanted me to take him to Jitty Joe’s, in Moosic, for ice cream. Everyone knows theirs is the best. Since I really wanted to get the ice cream I was getting so overwhelmingly frustrated at Uncle Frankie’s story telling. Conveniently he only lives around two and a half miles away from Hilldale so it would only take me a few minutes to get there to pick up Vinnie. Moosic is about twenty five minutes from there though, and we desperately needed ice cream so once we started to go, we’d really had to fly like crazy. It’s always been quite an addiction for us. Eventually my raconteur uncle ran out of anecdotes about all our long-deceased, and mostly long-forgotten kin. I took advantage of his having run out of steam, and reminded him that Vinnie and I desperately needed ice cream so he let me go. With absolutely no remaining time whatsoever to lose, I ran out his front door, down to my car, and drove as fast as possible to Hilldale to pick up Vinnie. From there, we drove at about eighty miles per hour, on River Road and Route 81, until we finally arrived at our destination. It was worth it.
Sadie and Albert were obsessed with Lena Montego and Alfred B. Davenport,stars from the silent film era. Each September they attended the annual Silent Film Symposium, held in Hollywood. To their chagrin they understood that today’s Hollywood wasn’t like the one they so desperately yearned for.
“It’s so nice that we get to get all dolled up at least once a year in my coonskin coat and your flapper costume, isn’t it, honey?”, Albert pointed out.
“It’s just the bees’ knees, baby,” replied Sadie.
With that they set off to watch their favorite Davenport and Montego movies.