I was born and raised in Willoughby and wouldn’t think of leaving. My job is really important. I work in a band playing nineteenth century music to entertain tourists who come here wanting to escape their dull ordinary lives. Harried city slickers regularly visit to listen to authentic versions of songs like “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” and “Oh My Darling Clementine”.
Beware of one thing, though, if you dare visit. Our village is perhaps too authentically anachronistic. Some poor souls plum forget that it’s all in illusion. Willoughby plays nasty tricks on them. Think twice before coming here.
Of all our relatives, Uncle Jimmy has always been the most obsessed with our Irish ethnic background. This St. Patrick’s Day he explained to us all about how our patron saint chased the snakes-pagans and Druids-out of Ireland.
“Eventually,” he said, “we were confronted with those other snakes, the English and Protestants.”
Not surprisingly, he gave each of us kids a biography of Eamon de Valera and one of Michael Collins.
He’s like an Irish version of Michael Constantine in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”.
“Harvey,” asked Shirley, “Have you ever read about Johnny Appleseed?”
“What makes you think of him?” wondered her befuddled husband.
“Today’s Johnny Appleseed Day,” she explained. “Jonathan Chapman was a famous pioneer nurseryman, Swedenborgian missionary and friend to the Indians. Unfortunately he had a lot of weird ideas. He had views that PETA would like, and was, as an adult, supposedly engaged to a ten year old girl.”
“What’s the good news then?” her spouse couldn’t understand.
“He’s quite a prominent figure in the annals of early American agriculture,” she pointed out. “You should learn more about him.”
Having fallen in love with psychology, Muriel insisted upon taking a class at nearby Farmingdale College. She eventually cajoled her lifelong best friend, Gloria, into agreeing to be her subject for a class project. Knowing Gloria was afraid of both heights and mushrooms, she took her to the top of a building on nearby Melville Road and made her stay there at least once every three days.
“It’s called systematic desensitization,” she exclaimed. “Dr. Wendy Doret says it’s guaranteed to cure you.”
The dizzier and more nauseous she got, the more disgusted Gloria was.
“I don’t think I like Doret,” she gasped.