In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “You, the Sandwich.” For many years my cousins, Larry, Gary, Joe, and I were on a bowling league with the Knights of Columbus St. Jane Frances de Chantal Council 6526 in Wantagh, New York. We bowled every Friday night at Wantagh Lanes. While we were on the league they gave me the name B.L.T. It only makes sense that were a restaurant to name a meal after me it would have to be a B.L.T. sandwich. Of course there’s no rule that says its ingredients would have to be restricted to bacon, lettuce and tomatoes. I’ve always been quite smitten with Swiss cheese so it could have quite a healthy helping of that on it too. In order to be consonant with the way I operate it could, at least occasionally include things like turkey, chicken, ham, fruit and anything else that may remind people of my lopsided antics. Never having been overly fond of spices I could see how anything with an exceptionally intense kick should be kept to a minimum. I’ve never been able to handle anything too sloppy or sticky. The local Lido Kosher Deli has a hamburger that drives me crazy because it’s so hard to handle, being so extremely sticky. My sandwich, by definition, would have to be plain and simple in that respect. As long as its ingredients include those three primary ones, and it’s reasonably need and easy to handle, it’s quite the perfect edible symbol of me.
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.
If there’s one thing that can compete with cold weather for the distinction of being the thing I most bitterly despise, it’s when I’m forced to stay up late at night. Of course, I arrived, quite a while ago, at the conclusion that I have all sorts of major neurotic problems about control anyway but there’s something about staying up late that tends to drive me especially crazy. Besides that I always, whether I like it or not, and whether I’m obligated or not, end up waking up obscenely early each morning. I always tell people that I haven’t gotten an entire five minutes worth of sleep since the Kennedy-Nixon debates. That may be perhaps a bit of an exaggeration but throughout at least most of my adult lifetime I always have been incapable of sleeping well at night. What make things even much worse are the facts that I have a major problem with impatience and frustration and that I get unusually tired out anyway, combined with my inability to fall asleep. Many people claim to be able to fall asleep either by reading or by watching television. Things like that never do me any good. I just like to lie in bed and wait for sleep to happen. I got to the point, quite a while ago, where I finally decided to settle for as much rest, though not necessarily sleep, as possible. Often people have told me to go to bed later than I’m used to, based on the assumption that a later bedtime will help. Having taken them up on it, I found out the hard way that I wake up with a headache if I stay up too late. For quite a few years, my cousins and I were on a bowling league with St. Jane Frances de Chantal Knights of Columbus council 6526 in Wantagh. Although it was always quite an especially enjoyable experience for me, it drove me crazy whenever the night lingered on until very late. Whenever we ended up staying in the bowling alley’s bar for an even somewhat long time I got frustrated and restless. It was even worse at the end of each season at the annual party. Those nights lasted until at least midnight and always drove me nuts. Cousins Larry, Gary and Joe enjoyed being out all night long but I was the lone voice of dissent among us all. Another example of this problem was when Mary Anne, Steve and I, along with Mark, Laura and some friends of theirs, spent two consecutive days and nights in Manhattan a few months ago. It drove me entirely out of control. Besides the fact that both days were filled with non-stop activity, neither ended until insanely late at night. I simply couldn’t handle the strain. Those were examples of nights that are filled with activity, but I can’t even try to enjoy a late night of peace and quiet. After a while all I really want to do is to go to bed, no matter how especially nice and enjoyable my circumstances are, and to get it over with. I seem to be quite good only during the daytime. In the morning, no matter how much I may dread having specifically to get up out of bed, once I’m up and taking a shower, getting ready to start my day, I can count on having all the spunk and I’m going to have, as well as quite an exceptionally charming personality. I appear to be the veritable personification of the rule about early-to-bed-and-early-to-rise. If I do things any other way I’m simply incapable of functioning.
There were several episodes of the television show “The Twilight Zone” that dealt with a character’s traveling to a bygone era, whether before he was born-the most famous was the one about Willoughby-or to his much younger days. Those episodes always depicted drooling over the past as a nightmarishly dysfunctional thing, characteristic of a dissatisfied overwhelmed adult who couldn’t cope with his real life. If I could go back to an earlier part of my life, I should like to revisit any part of my school days. Although I most certainly recognize quite well that the time I spent in school wasn’t all one long halcyon era, looking back upon it has always been quite an enjoyable experience for me. By conventional standards I was never the least bit popular in school. In a way I was the kind of kid who could be classified as a square. Then, as now, I neither liked, nor was good at sports. My sense of humor was, and still is, entirely offbeat. When I was at St. Gabriel’s, in East Elmhurst, Queens, I was an altar boy and a member of the glee club and bowling league. The Sisters of Charity, De La Salle Christian Brothers, and lay teachers on the faculty were quite exceptional and the kids I knew were really good too. Then came two weeks at Copiague Junior High School, immediately followed by two years at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Lindenhurst. I’ve always remembered that part of my life as my especially uncomfortable transitional time, though I enjoyed it quite a bit. In high school, at St. John the Baptist, in West Islip, I had such a good time bluffing my way past the Dominican and Franciscan Sisters and laity on the faculty, and the kids I knew were really good too. I was involved with the chess club and student council. The time I spent at S.U.N.Y. Farmingdale was also quite exceptional. The professors and students were very good people and the campus was one of the nicest looking places I’ve ever seen. I lived in Lindenhurst all throughout my adolescence, as well as for most of my adulthood. From the point of view of negative constructive criticism, I should like to go back as a somewhat less shy, more confident kind of character. The neighborhoods I grew up in were quite fine too. Jackson Heights was populated by quite a cast of colorful characters, and approximately two thirds of the people in my neighborhood were Italians who spoke only Italian, and Hispanics who spoke only Spanish. Everybody was forced to get to know everyone there. Lindenhurst has always been noted for its emphasis on peace and quiet. My neighborhood there, known as the American Venice, was on a very small island that was perfect for someone like me who enjoys a relaxed environment. In each neighborhood the business district was very close and there were very many activities available. Everybody knows about the grandfather paradox. It’s a condition on time travel. Nobody can undo the very significant events of his past, or of the past in general. If I could go back to my past, I’d tell young Larry to loosen up a bit about all the hard parts, and that ultimately everything works out. I’m now back in touch, on Facebook, with many people from my youthful days. I’ve seen a lot of them in person over the course of my adult years too. I can’t literally go back to the days of my youth but there’s no harm in sneaking a peek or two at my younger persona every once in a while.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FvLikiVraHE My full name is Lawrence. I was named after my mother’s father, who died a few weeks before I was born. Most people have always called me Larry, with the exception of several teachers of mine and a few other authority figures and people whom I’ve been expected to deal with under exceptionally significant official circumstances, who call me Lawrence. My last name is a fairly large Italian name and everyone always has such a hard time when he tries to learn how to pronounce it or to spell it. Although I don’t have a middle name my confirmation name is Joseph. Over the course of my lifetime I’ve been known by several nicknames. Because I grew up having to associate with an Uncle Larry Senior and a cousin Larry Junior, both older than I, we had always been big Larry, little Larry and Baby Larry. After a while I got sick and tired of being known by such a childish name. When I was a kid, my Uncle Frankie had often called me Sam Spade, after Humphrey Bogart’s character in “The Maltese Falcon”. When we bowled together with the Knights of Columbus, my cousins got into the habit of calling me B.L.T. and it’s stuck with me ever since then. I first met Kitti when we were working together at Citicorp Retail Services. Very soon after we first met she started calling me Larrabee, after Robert Karvelas’ character on the 1960′ television show “Get Smart”, so I started calling her Miz Kitti, after Amanda Blake’s character on the 1950’s and 1960’s show “Gunsmoke”. We still call each other those names on e mail messages. Unfortunately I haven’t been active in my current Knights of Columbus council, Assumpta 3987, in Luzerne, Pennsylvania, but when I was really active in my first council, O.L.P.H. 794, in Lindenhurst, New York, there were very many people there who could never remember my name. I ended up getting into the habit of answering to Joe, Tom, Frank, Bobby and several others over the course of the time I was there. Although they have a humorous colorful side names can be very important too since they deal with ontological concerns and give people a kind and degree of power over others. Because I’ve always been involved with the culture war, as a staunch conservative, I’ve always been determined to point out to people how dangerous it is to get into the habit of letting liberals determine for us how we must refer to people, things, and circumstances in general. Names must never be used, from an ideological point of view, as a means of control. He who controls someone’s identity controls his life.
I’ve never had any one specific sweet food or dessert that can be classified as the only one that’s simply irresistible, although home made apple pie , ever since I was a kid, has always been my very favorite pie. I’ve always had quite an insatiable appetite for chocolate and other flavors of dessert. My one and only advantage, when it comes to this problem, is that I’ve never been especially compulsive, in a neurotic kind of way. When the absolutely ultimate ice cream, candy or whatever is, alas, all gone, I’m quite content to wait until the next time it’s available, though I know that very many people have such a hard time with that. My problem is that until it’s gone I can go nuts constantly absent mindedly eating it. Whenever there’s a significant amount of candy, ice cream or some other nice dessert around I always wander over to it and keep incessantly eating. When my cousins and I used to bowl together with the Knights of Columbus in Wantagh I was quite notorious for my habit of incessantly eating Cheez Doodles, simply because they were constantly there. The last time Mary Anne, Steve and I drove to Pennsylvania, to spend a little while in Wyoming, we stopped at such an especially nice old fashioned candy store, Sweet Expressions by Geri, in Denville, New Jersey. It was like a kind of ultimate fantasy land for me, filled with such overwhelmingly enchanting colors and smells. The entire time I was there it took quite an enormous amount of will power for me not to buy anything significant. It’s the kind of place someone would expect a real Willie Wonka to have. I’ve always been overly fond of things like chocolate, marshmallow, caramel, rocky road and anything rich and creamy. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups can drive me crazy too. In Moosic, Pennsylvania, there’s a really nice place named Jitty Joe’s. They sell the best ice cream I’ve tasted since Grablick’s that was in West Pittston when I was a kid. As nice as Mr. Softee and all those other kinds of ice cream companies are, Jitty Joe’s has everyone beaten. They have all the flavors I’ve referred to, and very many more. As smitten as I’ve always been with desserts and all the sweeter richer foods life has to offer it’s quite a good thing I make sure they’re not constantly available.
On September 16, 1999, I turned forty years old. It was nine days before my father’s sixty sixth birthday. At the time I was working in the customer service department at Citicorp Retail Services on Old Country Road in Melville, New York. I was also a part time student at Adelphi University in South Huntington. My parents appeared not to have bothered to make any plans for a significant party for me. My big day came and went without any significant attention beyond a perfunctory cake, cards and presents. Something happened, though, that should have struck me as somewhat odd. All my mother’s relatives from northeastern Pennsylvania came for a visit from out of nowhere. As a general rule they never bothered to show up for just any birthday or average occasion. That alone should have made me quite suspicious. Since my parents , and relatives in general, had always been quite the colorful characters, though, I just took it for granted that it was yet another of their offbeat moments. Aunt Mary Theresa, Uncle Frankie and Fran were there, as well as Aunt Lauren, Uncle Jim, Noreen, Michelle and Doug. During the time between my birthday and my father’s my parents kept trying to convince me make plans to go bowling with my cousin Larry. My cousins Larry, Gary, Joe and I were on a bowling league, for many years, with the Knights of Columbus’ St. Jane Frances de Chantal council in Wantagh. On the morning of my father’s birthday Larry called and we made arrangements to go to a local bowling alley. That day there was something going on at Immaculate Conception Diocesan Seminary in Lloyd Harbor and I really wanted to go. It was quite a good thing that I chose to go with Larry though. We had bowled a few games when his wife Rose called claiming that her car had broken down in the neighborhood of Katie Daly’s, an exceptionally nice Irish restuaurant on Merrick Road in Massapequa. Larry and I got into our cars and drove to the restaurant. We pulled into the parking lot, walked into the restaurant and it turned out to be such an exceptionally nice surprise party for me. After a nice big meal there we all went back to the house and kept things going for the rest of the night. Perhaps I should have known, throughout the entire week, that something must, by definition, have been going on but sometimes I can overlook the obvious.
Anyone who’s been reading my blog regularly knows at least a little bit about my early days by now. When I was a kid, until five days before my twelfth birthday, my parents, younger sister and I lived in a really nice neighborhood in Queens, on the borderline between Jackson Heights and East Elmhurst. Our address was 26-38 92 Street, between Astoria Boulevard and Thirtieth Avenue. The zip code was 11369. Like all the houses in that neighborhood, it was relatively small. There were only two bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen and a bathroom, from what I can remember of it. We only had one telephone. It was bolted to one of the walls. I still remember that our phone number was 212- HA-44oo8. At the front of the house there was a brick stoop, of a half dozen steps, that led to the door. Each house had a narrow driveway on one side and a very narrow alleyway on the other side. Like many houses in the neighborhood ours had a metal fence with a gate in front of it. We lived on the second floor. The window in the living room looked out toward the street. Back in those days my mother used to hang laundry on a line, with clothes pins, outside a window that overlooked the small concrete backyard. I can remember our having had a couch, a Castro convertible, that opened up into a bed. The landlords, Grace and Nick, lived on the first floor with their son Nicky, who was around ten years older than I. They had a pet beagle named Snoopy. Nick and Grace were both from Brooklyn and their thick broad New York City accents always contrasted so sharply against my parents’ equally thick broad northeastern Pennsylvania accents. Nicky was good friends with my older cousins, Ronnie (now known as the Ronald) and Joseph, who also grew up on 92nd Street. I should assume Grace and Nick were about ten years older than my parents. Because I was only as a kid at the time, though, I had always taken it for granted that they were quite ancient. My sister and I were only kids then, mostly in grammar school, so there were all sorts of activities going on that were typical of the young family. Although we’ve always remembered Nick and Grace as having been a bit too stern about noise they must most certainly been willing to humor us quite a lot because I can remember quite a significant amount of loud activity, including music from the radio and stereo as well as my guitar lessons. My parents’ friends often visited. So did my sister’s and my friends. We frequently visited the landlords too. I can still remember that Nick and Grace were big fans of Elvis Presley and the New York Yankees and liked to have a few beers every once in a while. For a while Nicky even helped me with the Roman numerals I was forced to learn about at St. Gabriel’s and he also showed me a few things I was expected to know as an altar boy. St. Gabriel’s was my school and parish. I was an altar boy there as well as my having been on the school’s bowling league and glee club. Holidays and special occasions were always quite colorful at our house. There was always more than enough food to go around. There were also a lot of presents, nice clothes, decorations and other things that were proper to each occasion. It’s important to remember always that the first decade of my lifetime was the 1960’s so the furniture, decorations, music and all sorts of other things were of the kind that could only have existed during that era. The Beatles have always been my favorites so their music especially filled the air. We were also always within earshot, during those days, of all the other then-current musical and pop cultural styles in general. I can remember a plain silver Christmas tree that my parents had. Right next to it was a small light source that looked somewhat like a round fan. When they turned it on, it spun around in circles and lights of several different colors were flashed toward the tree. As far as I can see that tree was quite a really good example and symbol of all the silliness and enjoyment that existed during that era of my life. Eventually September 11, 1971 had to arrive. Unfortunately that was the day I was forced to say good-bye to an important era in my life.
Last night I went to the St. Monica’s men’s group meeting at O.L. Sorrows parish. The women were also there for their group’s meeting. We met in the sacristy & they met in the church’s hall. It was quite a nice short meeting. I was especially pleasantly surprised when one of the men recommended that we try to start a bowling league. I’d always especially enjoyed the days when cousins Larry, Gary, Java & I used to bowl with the Knights of Columbus’ St. Jane Frances de Chantal Council’s league in Wantagh, New York. We’d always had such an especially nice time back then. If this proposed league is going to work out we shall have to make specific arrangements about whether it should be only for men or co~ed, since the ladies may be interested. We shall also have to get a specific minimum number of people involved because we shall have an obligation to meet the bowling alley’s requirements for that & other things. After the meeting ended we held our usual fifty~fifty raffle. I drank a can of beer & ate a donut.