I always seem to go against what the fans and critics say. Although I’ve never read either Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code” or any of J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” books, I’ve most certainly read and heard enough about them, from reputable source materials, to know that I couldn’t possibly be expected to be able to stand anything like them. The television show “Friends” is a good example of something I’ve seen and never especially liked. I never watched either “Friends” or “Seinfeld” until a significantly long time after they were cancelled. Cathleen, in California, gave me the idea to watch them. Although I’ve always especially liked “Seinfeld”-considering my eccentric sense of humor that’s most certainly no surprise-I’ve simply never been able to find “Friends” even the least bit appealing. For some reason it’s just not interesting in spite of the fact that everyone has always bowed down before its very shrine. It wasn’t the least bit bad. It simply left me entirely apathetic about it, without even so much as the satisfaction of my being able to complain. Perhaps there was something about it that I couldn’t catch onto. Was there some inside joke, or hep 1990’s style or charisma, going on there and I could never get the point? I found it all so plain, dull and ordinary. I’ve never been able to understand why everyone’s always been so crazy about the cast’s looks either. They’re all conventionally nice looking but in such an ordinary way. They would be nice neighbors and friends for married couples to have so that when a wife asks her husband : “Honey, do you think Rachel, Monica and Phoebe are pretty?” he could say yes without provoking any suspicion whatsoever. I just don’t get all the hype about what a legendary milestone that show supposedly was. I enjoy “Seinfeld” though. The people on that show are lopsided individuals who are even enjoyably lopsided looking.
It seems as if it were only yesterday that I was a youngster. Now that I have all sorts of Facebook friends from as far back as my days in Jackson Heights, even before my teens, I’m constantly reminded that even my very earliest days seem quite recent in my memory. I also spend quite a lot of time with my niece and nephews. Bridget recently turned seventeen, Sam recently turned twenty one and Michael will be twenty six next month. That strikes me as quite an eye opener. It seems as if it were only yesterday that I was that young. I don’t really mind the passage of time and can even get used to the kids’ constantly rubbing it in. Perhaps you could say I tend passively to ignore how old I really am. A few years ago I told my parents that I could understand that twenty years was a long time, but that I couldn’t understand that the 1990’s were a long time ago, even though we were living in the 1990’s twenty years ago. Thanks to my lifelong obsession with the humanities. I understand well that time is divided into both objective time and subjective duration. Man has to deal, in one way or another, with units of time ranging from Grateful Dead time to the New York minute, depending upon his circumstances. I still think of myself as being young, though I realize quite well that it’s now a crock. All I have to do is to meet a former classmate or teacher of mine, or anyone else I knew a significantly long time ago. My appearance has changed, though I’m still recognizably the same as I was in days of yore. I sort of live in the past in certain ways. I should like to think that I shall soon be quite a very interesting old timer, the kind who knows how to tell legitimate stories about the past, and to compare and to contrast then and now, but not in a creepy way. It’s all a question of facing up to the inevitable. I’ve never liked that as-young-as-you-feel crap. I’ve also never been able to stand when characters such as Willard Scott refer to fans of his as a hundred and four years young, or anything like that. When someone pretends that old people can be young in some way he denies the legitimate goodness, beauty and worthiness of both age and youth. When that happens no one wins and everyone loses.
Over the course of my lifetime, I’ve gotten lost several times, some more significantly than others. There was the infamous and legendary Fourth of July incident in the late 1980’s, all over a mountain full of blueberries. Then during the 1990’s there was a job interview in Glen Cove, New York. On my way home to Lindenhurst, I somehow managed to end up getting there by way of Queens. My last misadventure, though, was no big deal. Recently, somewhere over the course of the past few months, I was supposed to drive my niece Bridget to work, a whopping grand total of around three miles from here, on Lindell Street in Long Beach. After I got her there, I was just supposed to make a U turn, back onto Park Avenue and to come back over here. Somehow I managed to turn right instead of left. I ended up in the neighborhood where all the streets are named after presidents. Not having gotten to know the city anywhere near so well, back then, as I have since then, I got quite frustrated. I wasn’t overly nervous because I knew nothing extremely bad could possibly happen. I was simply intensely restless, though, because I couldn’t wait to get it all over with. Conveniently I spent much of the time on streets that were parallel to the one I was supposed to be on anyway. It was during the cold weather and at that time of the afternoon the sun goes down, leaving a lot of glare to have to contend with. That, combined with the traffic congestion, made it quite an annoying ordeal. I’m notoriously bad with new experiences and anything that’s beyond my control. Of course I ultimately knew that sooner or later it would inevitably end anyway. I just wish it could have been less harrowing. At least if I could have gotten lost on a main road, in a business district, I could have stopped someplace for a while. Those side streets are nasty and unforgiving though.
Were I ever forced to make a final definitive decision about permanently relinquishing the ability to distinguish only one kind of taste which my taste buds would never again be capable of distinguishing it would have to be bitterness. That covers things ranging from radishes to most kinds of seafood. When my cousin Joe and his wife Nancy owned Byer’s Restaurant in Huntington Station during the 1990’s I found out the hard way that ginger beer is on the list too. O that was nasty! I’ve never really had any problem handling sweet, plain or salty foods and drinks. I just don’t like too much of any extreme. Bitterness in food and drink is barely acceptable. Everyone always reminds me that I’m quite capable of eating anything that’s put in front of me. Besides that I make sure I finish each and every single last speck of it too. Wouldn’t it be nice if I didn’t have to notice anything that struck me as less than enjoyable? Unfortunately life doesn’t ever work that way. I try to avoid bitter foods and drinks, scrupulously refusing to ask for them whenever I have to make a decision. One never can tell, though, when something will sneak up upon him without warning. Over the years I’ve had lots of nasty experience with bitter tastes. My problem is not that I get sick from anything like that. It leaves quite a nasty lingering sensation, though, upon my taste buds. I can’t wait to get rid of it.
The only thing I can remember having specifically said, when I was a kid, that I wanted to wanted to be when I grew up, was a priest. There were all sorts of other things I was interested in during those days. There may have been other things that came up, that I expressed an interest in doing, but I’ve appeared to have plum forgotten them all. Back in the 1990’s I got a chance to see if I should become a diocesan priest or a professed religious but I didn’t end up becoming one. I was always quite a very studious intelligent young fellow so I knew there was most certainly no problem with intellectual aptitude or conscientiousness. Not everyone is cut out for life in that world. The people in charge have to be extra exceptionally careful whom they accept. There are all kinds of psychological and emotional requirements that must come into play. Especially because of all the trouble with the liberals’ attempt to discredit and to destroy irrevocably the Church, and the scandals they’ve been exploiting, everyone has to be wary of any kind of trouble that may ensue if a diocese or religious community were to accept the wrong man for that kind of vocation.
If there’s one thing I absolutely can’t stand, and quite bitterly resent, it’s any unwelcome unnecessary noise. I can’t stand any kind of noise in general anyway but at least I’ve been able to resign myself to the kind that’s unavoidably necessary by definition. It wouldn’t be realistic for someone to hang around an airport or construction site and to cuss people out for being too loud. Over the course of my lifetime I’ve always had quite a razor’s edge relationship with sound. This is also true in my dealings with language, the written and spoken word. Nothing impresses me anywhere near as much as well written and well performed music, or when someone writes or speaks articulately. When,however, I have to be subjected to something that’s poorly written or spoken, played or sung, it gets me crazy.
For as long as I can remember I’ve always been compulsively articulate and very conservative. Whenever I either hear, or read, something that’s either inarticulate or of a left wing ideological slant it makes me cringe. Language should be used solely as a vehicle for the conveyance of the truth and not as a means of promulgating an ideological agenda. Besides that I’ve always been quite prone toward getting all my tenses, cases and other linguistic proprieties entirely in order. Everyone knows about my notoriously hypersensitive nerves. For approximately the past two decades we’ve been bombarded with cell phones. Ever since I was a kid I’ve never been able to stand the telephone anyway. I not only don’t like the sound of its ring, or having to talk on it. I can’t even stand to be in the company of someone who’s talking on the phone. Now that each and every single one of us has a phone in his possession at all times it’s quite a major chore for me to attempt to accept it. I’ve never been able to understand why cell phones are considered acceptable in churches and libraries. In the old days, churches and libraries were considered places where peace and quiet was mandatory. Now phones are allowed. A couple of months ago, Mary Anne, Steve and I went to see “Madama Butterfly” at Lincoln Center. I couldn’t help noticing that when the people who are in charge there say cell phones aren’t allowed they really mean it, and patrons respect that fact. In churches and libraries, though, the people in charge claim that cell phones aren’t allowed but they don’t bother to enforce it and everyone leaves his phone on, thereby subjecting the rest of us to endless unwelcome noise. Throughout my life I’ve always been subjected to people with very loud voices, as well as bad music and flagrant misuse of language. I can still remember, from when I worked at Citicorp Retail Services in the late 1980’s and 1990’s, a representative example of the unbearable impact that noise can have on me. When I was working in the Sales Processing department with Sal, Carole and Yolanda, Miz Kitti, Doreen and Kimbley, there was a department within earshot of ours where the employees were unbearably loud and unruly. They literally yelled, and even laughed hysterically for no reason, all day long. It was quite an unbearably torturous experience for me. Unfortunately it turned me into a nasty, anti social little creep. I got very bitterly angry and resentful. There appears to be something about unwelcome noise, and a poor command of language, which I truly find entirely unbearable. I’ve always really liked to consider myself quite good natured, a jolly good fellow. When I have to deal with noise, or with someone who’s inarticulate, though, I truly am subjected to quite a torture treatment. My ability to accept it and to maintain my cheerful side takes quite a beating. I’ve tried all sorts of ways to maintain my cool but it’s quite a frustrating problem. By now I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve learned to accept the simple facts that it’s a loud inarticulate world, and that all I can do is to try, as politely and as firmly as possible, to convince people to be a lot more respectful of others, both by being a lot quieter and by speaking and writing a lot more articulately.
Unfortunately I’m between jobs right now. My last two jobs were one with Citicorp Retail Services and one with the postal service in Melville and Bethpage. I could never stand the postal job because it was so physically hard and strenuous but at least it was something. The work was very boring and required a lot of heavy lifting. Many of the people there were hard to get along with but that’s a part of any job. My circumstances in Bethpage were especially difficult to handle because I was often forced to work the graveyard shift there. Most of the people in management were at least reasonably decent and easy to get along with. The only one who was a troublemaker was Marjorie, a surly black woman. There was a union there but I never got significantly involved with it. Of all the people I knew, Kevin and Anton were the most significant union officials. The one advantage to my having worked there was that I got a chance to meet a lot of very interesting characters. Before that I worke at Citicorp Retail Services in Farmingdale and Melville. In the first department I was in, Sales Processing, from the late 1980’s until the early 1990’s, everything worked out quite well and we all got along quite well. Sal, Carole and Yolanda were in charge. Most people there were quite decent and good natured, Besides the inevitable fighting and personality conflicts it was always quite a happy environment. Then after a while that department was eliminated. I got moved to Customer Service. That department was harder for me to handle because there were a lot more trouble makers there. There were still quite a few very good people too but there were entirely too many who were genuinely bad. For a while I was also a sacristan at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Lindenhurst. At that job I used to have to deal with a wide variety of diocesan priests, professed Religious and parishioners every day of the week. It was a nice part time job. I was required to get everything ready for the daily Masses and novenas, as well as weddings, funerals and other things that were required to keep things going at the parish. That was yet another environment where I was expected to deal with very many eccentric characters. having lived for most of my life in Lindenhurst I really knew my way around the parish and got along quite well with most of the people. I’ve never been a good salesman. In the 1980’s my eighth grade history teacher tried to get me involved with Amway. That’s a really good job for someone to have if he’s a capable salesman but I simply don’t have the aptitude for that kind of thing. That kind of job is very good for my teacher and his wife, who’ve always been better than I at dealing with people in that way. My cousin Gary tried to get me involved with Primerica Financial Services. Unfortunately even though we attended all the meetings and classes, and did well on the tests we were required to take, it didn’t work out for us. I consider it quite a worthwhile experience though. It’s always good to know as much as possible about insurance and the financial world.
In the early 1990’s I was working at Citicorp Retail Services, in the Sales Processing department, on Route 109 in Farmingdale, New York. Eventually we moved to Old Country Road in Melville, New York. My immediate supervisors were named Carole and Yolanda. All the people in that department were really good and likable. I enjoyed working with them. During the time we were still in Farmingdale Yolanda’s husband Stanley died. We all went to Stanley’s wake. Unfortunately one day while at work, only a fairly short time after Stanley’s death-it wasn’t any more than a few months later-something came up and I made a casual flippant remark about death. It was an otherwise entirely harmless thing and under much better circumstances no one would have even bothered to think twice about it. Because of Stanley’s recent death, though, Yolanda’s feelings were badly hurt. She was visibly shaken. The other people in the department told me that I never should have said such a thing. Fortunately it didn’t put any permanent strain on my relationship with either Yolanda or anyone else in the department. I felt truly bad for quite a while afterward though. I’ve always been a bit hypersensitive anyway and have never been able to handle being subjected to any extra strain. Another character defect of mine is the fact that I’ve always been prone toward saying things without first considering the context of the circumstances and how people may be counted on to react. That time, because of my having inadvertently said something that dealt with such a very personal matter, it led to a lot of trouble.