bourbon and martinis

mezcalmartiniolivejuicebourbon (1)Usually I drink non-alcoholic drinks.  As everyone knows I’ve always throughly enjoyed coffee and tea.  All my life I’ve really enjoyed a good alcoholic drink too though.  Unfortunately I’ve never been able to drink very much because my constitution has always been so very fragile.  I have the same rule for alcohol as for coffee.   I quite enjoy the straight plain variety every bit as much as the flavored pretty kinds.  In my old Knights of Columbus council in Lindenhurst, where I was a bartender, I was quite fond of Kahlua and Sambuca.  Unfortunately I haven’t drunk either in quite a long while.   My current signature drinks are martinis at weddings and other large occasions, and bourbon whenever I visit my cousin Mark.   Surprisingly there isn’t any single specific reason for either choice.  I simply decided quite a few years ago to start drinking martinis at big parties, and last Christmas, at a party at Mark’s house, I got the idea to drink bourbon whenever he and I got together.  So far, it’s only happened twice.   There’s most certainly no entirely non-negotiable rule though.  I can always cheat a little and have something other than bourbon or a martini.  One day a few weeks ago my nephew Sam and I were hanging around and he got a glass of vodka.  I ended up drinking a glass of Salignac cognac.  It’s really good to be flexible.



the rover

So far I’ve only been to eleven of the fifty states in this country.    I have seen New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, Maryland, Virginia, Florida, Illinois and Michigan.    If I could have my way I should like to see the other thirty nine.     There are so many exceptionally interesting sights to see in this country.    Assuming that money and time are not obstacles I could put my G.P.S. into my car, set it for whatever destinations life may have in store for me, and keep right on traveling.    I could visit my cousin Vinnie  in North Carolina and my cousin the Ronald in the State of Washington.      Since I should have to get to everyplace by way of a car, I should have to miss out on only Hawaii.      Unfortunately I’ve always dreaded cold weather, so I’d better plan on spending as much time as possible in the warmer states, reserving all those cold climates for times of the year during which they can be the least damaging to my well being and sanity.    If it doesn’t have to be entirely land based-assuming I’d be allowed to fly a bit first in order to get started-then I should like to see Hawaii and Europe.    I’ve always wanted to see all the historical hot spots over in Europe.     The Carmelites have quite a history over there, especially in France, Italy, Spain and Ireland.     The United States’ history only goes back to the seventeenth century.    Europe’s history, though, goes way back to much earlier times.   I’ve always been quite smitten with the early days of western culture and civilization.    As everyone knows, western civilization is far superior to any other.   By finding out about all its roots, at their very source, I could have quite an exceptionally interesting time and satisfy my intellectual curiosity.    














ha ha lydia!

This past weekend, for Independence Day, my father’s relatives got together in Hilldale, Pennsylvania, as they have ever since 1961.     My cousin Vinnie, originally from Buffalo, New York but now living outside Raleigh, North Carolina, was there.    He and I, as always, got into one of our more seriously obnoxious moods, rehashing several incidents from our long-ago past.    Ever since we were kids, he and I have shared quite a long series of misadventures every time we’ve gotten together.    Over the course of our lifetimes, we’ve accumulated quite a supply of inside jokes and catch phrases.    Long ago a girlfriend of his claimed that we speak our own language entirely.     We spent the entire past weekend reminding each other of things like the time I side-swiped a school bus on the way to the beach, my polka-dotted jammies, and Lydia and Delfina, the eccentric sisters who, for decades, owned a most unusual candy store on Farrell Street in Hilldale.        Lydia and Delfina are entirely impossible even to try to explain to someone who never met them.    Their store was quite a one-of-a-kind fantasy land, in a world entirely its own.   Even the very best of writers couldn’t possibly even so much as try to invent characters of their ilk.    Vinnie and I did quite an admirable job of revisiting their world and relating all their rollicking misadventures.       Since Vinnie and I have known each other for our entire lives, and our escapades have been in New York, Pennsylvania and Canada, we did quite a significant amount of very intense laughing about all these bygone things, people and circumstances.     Anything that happens anywhere near us inevitably turns, by definition, into fodder for something inexplicably humorous.


elaine’s nose

All throughout my lifetime I’ve been quite seriously notorious for my having always disliked sports.   I’ve never been any good at anything even the least bit athletic either.    Each year since I was an infant, my father’s relatives have always gotten together in Hilldale, in northeastern Pennsylvania, for a few days around the Fourth of July.     My cousins, many of whom are exceptionally good athletes, usually like to go to a nearby ball diamond in Plains so they can play softball.    I don’t even like to bother to show up for the game but sometimes they even cajole me into playing a little.    Once, about twenty years ago, they got me to play for a while.     Somehow my cousin Elaine, who’s not a good athlete either, though her husband and son are, got nudged into pitching.   She’s around fourteen years older than I.   I got up to the plate while she was pitching.    She threw the ball at me.    I not only hit it.    I even hit it right into her nose.     Of course no one was the least bit happy about my having messed things up so much for her.     As if it weren’t bad enough that I’ve never been the least bit of a good athlete anyway, the first time I managed to get anything done it started such big trouble.   To this day it’s still quite a conversation piece among my relatives.    I’ve always tried to defend my misstep by reminding them that her nose had always been a bit off-kilter up until then anyway and it looks so very much nicer now.

happy cousin p.j. day

I have very many cousins.   Now, since the days of the internet are here, I have found out that I have many very distant cousins in places including Italy, Argentina and even Hungary and Turkey.   I assume we’re at least distantly related because we have the same last name.   Believe it or not, even with our distinctive name, some have even  expressed quite a bit of astonishment that I take it for granted that we’re related.

By now I’ve gotten to know most of my cousins in this country.   There’s at least one exception though.    I haven’t seen my cousin P.J., Uncle Jimmy’s son, ever since we were kids.    Uncle Jimmy was my mother’s younger brother.    I know I met P.J. at least twice then, once when my family visited his and once at Aunt Lauren’s wedding.     I’m practically positive he lives somewhere in New Jersey.    I should like to dedicate an annual holiday to P.J. and to all the cousin P.J.’s of the world.    As far as I know, each of us most probably has at least a P.J. or two in his life, especially if he includes all the people he knows of only tangentially at school, in his workplace or wherever else he may be.    Unfortunately I may never again get a chance to meet  you, P.J., but  I can at least doff my hat to you once each year.

so it shall be written. so it shall be done.

It most certainly wasn’t an absolute matter of life or death.   I’ve been known to get more desperately insatiably interested in many other things throughout my lifetime.   A while ago, though, I promised myself that if it turned out to be so much as the least bit possible, I should really like, by the end of this year, to get a nice digitalcanond camera in order that I could start taking pictures and making videos.   Last Christmas Mary Anne, Steve and the kids got me a really nice Samsung computer with Google chrome.   That may not have been quite their single smartest move considering that I’ve always been quite inordinately interested in that kind of thing.   Since then I’ve always really wanted to take every possible advantage of it by getting a nice camera.   I’ve been looking forward to taking some especially nice pictures and videos.   Over the course of the past few weeks I’ve been going to the Radio Shack on Park Avenue every once in a while to see what they have.     A while ago my cousin Gary told me on the phone that Canon makes exceptionally good cameras.    Yesterday I got one.    The price was originally a hundred and forty dollars.   The salesman said it was marked down to only a hundred dollars.   Unfortunately he said the memory card that was required for it to work wouldn’t be available until tomorrow.    Then I shall be all set.   Knowing me I can count on being quite deliriously happy once I have everything I need.   I can go  down to the beach and take lots of nice pictures and videos there now that the weather is so warm.   Besides that I also really want to see how it works for traveling, parties and vacations.     If ever I should have been entirely unable to get one,   I could very easily have gotten over it.    Not counting all the extreme annoyance of the short-term disappointment, I could have gotten along quite as well as I always had so far anyway.


good times bad times you know i’ve had my share

Yesterday I went to the funeral Mass at Maria Regina Church in Seaford for my ninety one year old Aunt Norma from Massapequa.   All went well.     After the Mass we all went to St Charles’ Cemetery on Pinelawn Road in Pinelawn.   Mr. Gargiulo, a teacher of mine from St. John the Baptist Diocesan High School, was the deacon in charge of the ceremony there.   After that we went to Sal’s Place in North Massapequa.   That was where I made my big mistake.    There was an open bar.    As soon as Steve pointed it out to me I made sure I asked the bartender for a gin martini, straight up, with an olive.    Unfortunately I drank it on an empty stomach.    To my credit I made quite sure I only got one, and that I drank it exceptionally slowly, only a sip every few minutes.    I know my limitations quite well by now.    Alas it soon backfired on me.   I got a very violent headache.   I thoroughly enjoyed being with both my cousins and their families and friends-I’ve known their relatives and friends for quite a long time- but the crowd, combined with the length of time it all took, and the drink, made me miserable.    After Steve, Bridget and I left, he wanted to go to Amityville to do something on his boat, and then to Lindenhurst to see my old neighborhood.    Somehow we managed to convince Bridget not to shop for shoes and ice cream.    As soon as we got back to the house I fell straight into bed, thoroughly exhausted and in pain, for the rest of the night.   I still feel wiped out and need quite a lot of rest to recuperate.   The worst thing that could possibly happen to me today  would be if I push my luck and for lack of sufficient rest, end up getting even sicker.    So far most of my headache is gone but it could come back very easily.    The best thing that could happen would be if I refrain from doing anything that could provoke any further trouble.   All I need right now is sufficient rest.    Nothing very eventful is happening in my life these days, so I don’t expect my circumstances to change especially drastically  in either direction.    All I want is to recuperate from this truly wiped out feeling.    I’m quite confident that I’ll be back to normal soon.

how do you sleep?

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 filledsleep_sheep 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.

i’m just a jealous guy

Conveniently I can honestly say that I’ve never been particularly envious or jealous in my dealings with others.   One thing, though, that’s always bothered me most especially is my complete lack of any physical strength, manual dexterity, or coordination in general whatsoever.   I can most certainly understand my not ever having had the right to use it as an excuse either to avoid difficult annoying physical work, or to feel sorry for myself,jealousybut it’s always driven me crazy that even most very slight fragile looking people have always seemed to have had an advantage over me when it comes to strength and coordination.   When I was a kid in grammar school it took me significantly longer, compared to the other kids I knew, to learn to ride a bicycle.   My attempts at learning to skate were quite an absolute nightmare.    Over the course of my school days, each of my gym classes invariably ended in pain and hyperventilation.    As a kid, of course, each of us is expected to deal with quite a collection of crude, anti social creeps among the people he’s forced to associate with.    It’s not so bad now that I’m an adult but when I was a kid the big mean kids drove me nuts.    I can remember that when I was a kid, and I  shook the hands  of my cousins Gary and Larry, who are two and a half and five years older than I,  when I noticed how firm their handshakes were,  I kept thinking that I needed a few more years to catch up.   When I shook hands with my cousins Ron and Joe, who are ten and twelve years older than I, I thought there was bound to be some improvement over the course of the next entire decade.   Alas, though, no such an increase in muscle has ever happened for me.  Since I’ve never enjoyed sports anyway, I’ve obviously never minded that nobody ever wants me to play on his team, but for other things, including simple practical realities, it would have been nice if I could have come up with quite a bit more strength and agility.    I’ve always realized that I could have been in much worse shape.   There are many millions of people in the world who have genuine handicaps.   My problem is just a well above average kind and degree of annoyance and frustration.  By now I’ve learned to accept the fact that it will always be significantly more difficult for me to pick up fairly heavy things, to do things that require a reasonable amount of manual dexterity, or to open the lid of a jar.    No one’s life is perfect.   Conveniently nothing life-threatening, or even significantly bad, has ever happened to me as a result of this trouble.   It’s just a major source of aggravation and frustration.   I simply bluff my way through life as everyone’s very favorite klutz and weakling.    There’s no point in an individual’s bothering to try to do what he’s never going even to be capable of anyway.

my name is larry      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.