The World According To Dad

This’ll be a short one today, Kids. It occurred to me to render to print a few of my Dad’s wit, wisdom, and hopelessly ridiculous comments; to wit:

  • “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him suck your dick.” Whaaaa…??? But there it was, delivered with an expression of abject solemnest; no further explanation was offered, and apparently should NOT have been required…
  • “I’ll break your arm and beat you with the bloody end of it!” I think I first heard this one at the age of 4, after trying to insert the tines of a fork into an electrical outlet. In retrospect, it prolly would have been “the lesser of two evils”…
  • “Quit that RIGHT now, or I’ll take you BACK to the orphanage where I GOT you from, and get ANOTHER one looks just LIKE you!” I somehow derived comfort from this, at least knowing that he liked the way I LOOKED anyway…
  • “You see that man in the car to my left; the one in the PASSENGER seat, with the WOMAN driving? That man is either a fag, or he’s got no legs.” Here was another slice of unsolicited Worldly Wisdom from dear old Dad; although Mom was a better driver than he was (Prolly ’cause she was SOBER just a tick more often), if/when we ever went ANYWHERE together, then HE drove — PERIOD! And I don’t care if it was cross-country, the old Man was THE driver; that’s just the way it was; we never DID find out whether or not that dude had any legs…
  • “We shouldn’t have stopped with only TWO Atom Bombs on Japan!” O.K. — give the guy at least a partial “Bye” on this one; 37 months in Okinawa during WWII, .30 caliber Japanese sniper bullet lodged in his right arm — I GETCHA, Pop! When I bought my first Japanese vehicle in 1982, The Old Man would make me part that thing a quarter mile away and WALK to his house; luckily, I only had it for a few months…
  • “You stay here and watch TV; I gotta take your Mom to the Groinocologist for a tubal litigation and a breast monogram.” See? This actually DOES work, in a convoluted, Archie Bunker sorta way; I mean, I DID know what he MEANT…
  • “You’re a bum, all your FRIENDS are bums, and all of youse are never gonna be anything BUT bums!” This was pretty much Dad’s DAILY send-off to me; it literally became my own personal “Mantra”. When I got old enough, I remember responding with “Then the apple don’t fall far from the tree, does it Dad?” (Insert stink-eye here)
  • “If I catch you and your friend Mike fucking around with that fire again, your FANNIES are gonna be on fire!” This was in response to another of my bright ideas; to wit: Make paper airplanes and throw them THROUGH the contained brush fire that Dad had made to burn up the tree limbs of the tree that he cut down for firewood; this was during the “Green Acres Years” when Mom decided that we would be farmers/ranchers/cattlemen. I can tell ya’ — throwing a paper aeroplane through a bonfire and watching IT catch on fire, yet still remain flying, is a pre-arsonist’s DREAM! O.K. — I never became an arsonist, but I WAS willing to learn!
  • “Do that again and I’ll hit you so hard I’ll kill your whole FAMILY! Relatives you don’t even know you GOT are gonna be droppin’ dead!” I wonder if Dad understood the irony of this — “Uh Dad, if you DO that, won’t YOU be dead TOO?” I never offered that poser to Pops; hey, I may have been STUPID, but I wasn’t DUMB; some “corrections” are better off NOT pointed out…
  • “I used to drink all the time, but recently I’ve REALLY cut back; now I only drink when I’m alone or with people…” Nice work here Pops; gonna use that one myownself!
  • “Fuck him — another drunken, skirt-chasing Irishman gets his.” This one repeated two times — once after each Kennedy assassination. I found particular irony in THIS one too, since my Dad was often drunk, and often (rumored to be, at least by Mom) a skirt-chaser; furthermore, most of his drinkin’ buddies were IRISH, f’er Chrissakes! I think it was because Mom liked JFK/RFK, so anything Mom LIKED, Dad automatically DISLIKED (this went for liquor and cigarette brands too).
  • ANYTIME you wanna move out, there Junior — I’ll get your suitcase down outta the attic and HELP you pack!” This was another of his “top admonitions” — I believe I heard this at least WEEKLY from ~4 years old on. I made good on this the DAY I graduated high school, never to return — ah, the kids today, eh?

So there you have it — the “Dirty Dozen”. I’ll be sharing more of Dad’s gems of wisdom right here, Boys & Girls — stay tuned!

The Bosco Bear Incident

Peggy and I are getting ready to move from a 2,700 square foot house into a 1,200 square foot house, so there’s a lot of “triage” going on around here; last night I came across my old “Bosco Bear” stuffed toy from the early 60’s, and it reminded me of another “flashback” that I’d like to share with you mooks…

When I was a snot-nosed kid back in the early-60’s, my first friend was a kid named Jimmy Fulton — he lived in “The Big House” in another part of town. What great times we had — this was before I knew about “Class Differences”.

Ya’ see — The Fultons were what would have been considered “Upper Middle Class”, or maybe even just “Upper Class”; in short, they was RICH!

Mr. Fulton had some kinda job where he traveled the world — in the 3 years that Jimmy & I were best friends, I remember seeing him ONE time — a suitcase in each hand, a yellow-papered “Gitanes” French cigarette dangling from his mouth (first time I ever saw cigarettes that were rolled in paper that wasn’t white; they sure weren’t anything like what MY Mom & Dad smoked!) — he put one of his suitcases down, gave little Jimmy (the Fulton’s only child; I’m guessing that was due to Mr. Fulton’s travel schedule; he didn’t have much time to give Mrs. Fulton the old “pickle-tickle”) a pat on the head, gave ME a derisive look (I guess I already had a rep in da ‘hood for being a trouble-maker, plus I was “lower middle class”, and from the other side of the tracks, so to speak), and out ‘da d’oh he went!

I remember Mrs. Fulton pretty much confining herself to the massive master bedroom, where she sat on the HUGE (musta been) California King bed and watched television all day, smoking and drinking; this left Jimmy & me to pretty much have free reign of the house, the “barn” (never saw any animals on the Fulton version of The Ponderosa, so the barn was “vestigal”; as such, it became another big play-house for two boys), the pond, and the ~1/4 mile long paved driveway that we tear-assed up and down on our tricycles, and later on our little bikes w/training wheels…

What was particularly interesting to me was, the Fultons had a full-time, live-in, Swedish maid — I guess she would be called an “Au Pair” these days. All’s *I* knew was:

1). She had a funny accent — we used to LOVE making her mad at us (which was pretty easy for two “urchins” like us to do!) — when she was mad, she got all “animated” an’ shit, and her accent got even funnier;

2). She had her very own suite on one side of the house, complete with a little kitchenette, etc. — again, this was utterly FASCINATING to me — a “foreigner” living in their HOUSE;

3). Since she wasn’t Jimmy’s Mom or Dad, we quickly figgered out that she didn’t REALLY have the ultimate authority to punish us, so this gave us carte blanche to fuck with her even MORE…

Anyway, I was down there one day, hangin’ w/my Home Boy, watching HIS very own television (a full-sized COLOR console right there in his aircraft carrier-sized bedroom) — if I remember correctly, we were watching The Captain Jack McCarthy Show — he was the “host”, who introduced Popeye cartoons.

In-between cartoons and Captain Jack’s (no doubt) alcohol-induced blatherings, there were of course commercials — commercials for products aimed specifically at little shites like me & Jimmy: Fudgetown cookies, all manner of toys by companies like Hasbro, Mattel, Kenner, and others, but MOST importantly — Bosco! Yep — start ’em off early and get that “sugar hook” firmly implanted in the youth of America — yes please!

I can tell ya’, I wanted me a Bosco Bear, peoples! He had a cool white sweater with “BOSCO” across the front, and he was WAY cooler than the crappy hand-me-down stuffed bear that *I* got when Sis “upgraded” to her Baby-Wets-Her-Britches-Doll back in ’59. I would COVET that bear ever’ day; hell, we BOTH did!

And then — it happened! Captain Jack (I wonder if this is the same “Captain Jack” that Billy Joel was talking about?) offered up a special promotion — get your VERY OWN Bosco Bear stuffed bear, kiddies! All’s you had to do was drink 152 GALLONS of this poison, tear the labels off each bottle, and send ’em in with $3.00 American Dollars. Hell, it might as well have been three HUNDRED dollars to a coupla runny-nosed 5 year olds, even that we WERE from New Jersey, and should have been STEALING that $ out of our respective Dads’ wallets/Moms’ pocketbooks like Soupy Sales advised

So — the quandary: WANTED the Bosco Bear, COVETED the Bosco Bear, had to HAVE the Bosco Bear; didn’t have no $ to BUY the Bosco Bear! What’s a pair of young, resourceful, Jersey Hoodlums-To-Be to DO?

“Shit Jimmy — the Bosco Bear is right there, INSIDE the television; if we take it apart, we can GET that bear!” says I.

Reminder — oxygen deprivation in the womb, 3rd trimester — prolly the umbilical cord wrapped around my neck, and/or Fetal Alcohol Syndrome — I was mildly retarded after all.

Apparently, my lack of intelligence and common sense was no match for my ability to CONVINCE young James to raid his Dad’s toolbox down in the cellar and bring up a coupla screwdrivers — we summarily attacked the back of that TV! A few quick spins of those screwdrivers, accompanied by the “Lefty-loosely, righty-tighty” chant that my own Dad taught me, and that Masonite backer board was OFF!

We peered inside — no sign of Le BB, but there WERE a bunch of pesky tubes in the way, impinging our view; thems got to GO! HOT! Fuck ME! I took off my Keds, skinned off my socks, handed one to Jimmy, and we each slid a sock over our hands to insulate our fingers from the heat — out came the tubes, but STILL no BB! WTF?!

We continued disassembling that rascal (pay no attention to those charged capacitors, waiting to jolt us into CERTAIN electrical oblivion!); our animated conversation apparently lured the Swedish maid out of her lair. Fuckin’ TRUH-BULL!

Chalk this one as THE first incident of me (and Jimmy) being hoisted OFF the floor and lead out the room and down the stairs by our EARS — now that HOITS! To this very day, my right ear is a tick more “pronounced” than my left, and I’m sure that Jimmy’s left is too.

A wonder we weren’t electrocuted — however, I believe that for some years thereafter, my parents DID get a X-Mas card from “Hoffman’s TV & Radio Repair” (Insert snigger here).

Sidebar: I landed up BUYING my Bosco Bear off FleaBay about 15 years ago — no labels, but a few sheckels more than $3.00, and no screwdriver required!

Aliens Here On Earth, Part IV

Alternate title: “Channeling Jeff McDougal” — “WTF?”, I hear you asking.

So Peggy and I made the GRIEVOUS error of actually BACKING out the driveway yesterday — LABOR DAY; aka: THE last day of summer in SoCal. NIGHTMARE!

See — if you live in a “beach town” — almost ever’one’s IDEA of Nirvana — you very soon discover the seamy underbelly of same; to wit: HUGE homeless population living there (and who can BLAME them?!) who have MASTERED the fine art of “aggressive panhandling”; extensive contingency of “beach bums/surf bums” (Two kinds: The “20-something” group — either WITH Mommy & Daddy’s $ or without ANY $; and the 50 & 60-somethings who have lived at the beach their whole lives with no $ — they drive broken-down El Caminos, Rancheros, and rusted-up-to-the-door-handles-and-in-primer surf vans); the Uber-rich, who decent EN MASSE on Memorial Day like locusts to their McMansion beach house — said McMansion the result of SCRAPING the lovely mid-century modern beach bungalow that WAS there since ~1946, then building a 4,500 square foot LIFELESS/HIDEOUS “monument” to their McMansion that they live in 9 months out of the year; and then there’s “the rest of us” — workin’ stiffs who “got here late” from back East/the Midwest, sold almost ever’thang we owned to downsize into one of the aforementioned shoebox-sized, at least 50 year old beach bungalow/surf shacks that if you’re LUCKY has a whopping TWO bathrooms, THREE 12’X12′ bet-rooms, and MAYBE 1,200 square feet TOTAL, counting the vestigial doghouse the previous owner left behind when they got shuttled off to the Old Folk’s Home — all that for just under ONE MILLION DOLLARS; but I digress…

Peggy & I decided Labor Day AM that it would be a pregnant idear to have a late breakfast at “Turks” — one of the VERY cool, been here since before WWII DIVE restaurants here in SoCal — Turks was a regular hangout of Duke Wayne’s — ‘Nuff said! Killer omelets served up by 50-something waitresses that have BEEN working at Turks since they were 18 years old — “Menu?” “We ain’t got no menus! We don’t need no menus. I don’t have to show you no stinkin’ menus!”

Ya’ go in, ya’ ALREADY know what you’re gonna order (and it BETTER include a Bloody Mary!), ya’ sit down, and you proceed to “people watch” — this place is ALL about “the regulars” — it ain’t fancy enough for the touristas!

If you happen to show up in your Izod shirt with your Tommy Bahama shorts, gold Rolex, and fake tan, you get “parked” on the long HARD bench right at the front door — since for YOU, Buffy, and those ill-mannered rug-rats you brought along with their Game Boys there’s a ONE HOUR WAIT; meanwhile, after a steady stream of REGULARS comes in, goes BY you with a downcast derisive look, and gets IMMEDIATELY seated, you “get the message” — about like Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Big Jack Nicholson “got the message” in the diner scene of “Easy Rider”.

Anyway, we back out the driveway, I point my 14 year old SUV northwest, and into Drive it goes — for about 1/16 of a mile! And then — GRIDLOCK! The 5 Freeway is STOPPED in BOTH directions — and I MEAN stopped! It normally takes us 11 minutes to get to Turks; we pull into the parking lot exactly FIFTY-TWO minutes later!

Needless to say, I’m about ready to pop an O-ring out my forehead after 52 minutes of driving with the genital public, I’m so hungry that I could eat the crotch out of a fuckin’ vintage rag doll, and I gotta piss like a brewery mule!

But I ain’t worried — I see the 74 year old shingled roof of Turks on the horizon, and I know that OUR booth is awaiting! Should be NO problem finding a parking spot — nobody comes here but the regulars — WRONG! WTF???!!! Parking lot is JAM UP! In ten years, I NEVAH seen it like THIS! Some local hack writer musta tipped the hand about Turks being “the place to go” in the local free fish-wrap of a newspaper — the parking lot looked like Macy’s the day after X-Mas! We drive through it THREE fuckin’ times; hell, there ain’t even a handicrapped spot for me to at least COVET.

“Time to channel McDougal”, Peggy says. So what’s THIS all about, Alfie?

Historical sidebar: I got a good friend — lives down in ‘Dago county (that’s San Diego, for you non-locals) in another beach town; he’s got this “thing” about him; to wit: He ALWAYS ALWAYS ALL-WAYS gets a parking spot!

Yeah, I hear ya’ — “Sure he does, Dick — but he CAN’T get one EVERY single time!” Wrong, Bacon-Breath! Repeat: He ALWAYS ALWAYS ALL-WAYS gets a parking spot — get it?

Flash back to ~8 years ago — I’ve just met him, we start our big Bro-Mance, I go down to his place and he suggests lunch in downtown Solana Beach at high noon on a midsummer (read: Tourist-infested) day; *I* look at him like he’s just spewed out a Tourette’s diatribe. As he slides it into gear, he looks at me and says: “I got this thing, see? WHENEVER I drive ANYWHERE, a parking spot magically appears for me.”

“Horseshit!” I say in my best New Jersey brogue.

He just smiles and says — “You just sit back & WATCH me, Sonny-Jim; now let’s go eat at Tony’s Jacal (Sidebar: THE best Mescan food in Solana Beach).

“Uh-hunh”, I say as we make the ten minute drive to Tony’s, which is RIGHT on the main drag and has exactly TWELVE parking spots; OR you can park in the $5/hour Pubic Parking that caters to the Genital Public — “In 23 years, I ain’t NEVER parked in the Public Lot”, McDougal replies.

I sit back in the passenger chair and chuckle under my breath. We swing into Tony’s, Jeff aims his SUV towards one of the TWO count ’em TWO primo spots RIGHT near the front d’oh — and SURE AS SHITE, a coupla yucks come walking out, get into their car in THE #1 spot, and back out!

“Unfuckingbelievable!” says I.

“Not really”, says McDougal — “I ALWAYS get a parking spot right out front, ANYWHERE I go.”

Since that day back in ’08, I been in a vehicle w/McDougal maybe 150 times — either him driving me or me/Peggy driving him/his wife; if he’s IN a vehicle at the same time YOU are, you WILL get a parking spot — PERIOD! NEVER seen it to fail — downtown ‘Dago, downtown El Lay; hell, even when we went to Rome together we got a spot!

Now, no HUMAN can POSSIBLY do this EVERY fuckin’ time, right? EGG-ZACTLY right — no HUMAN can; which makes Jeff McDougal some kinda alien being who fell out of a spaceship 50-somethin’ years ago…

Now Peggy, in HER infinite wisdom (I like to say that in her ENTIRE life, she’s only made ONE mistake; if you know what I mean and I THINK you do!), started her “Channeling McDougal Parking” chant routine ~2 years ago — and ya’ know what? It WORKS!

Not 100% of the time, but I’m gonna say 66% of the time; that’s one WHOLE HELLUVA lot m’oh bettah’ than WE have done historically. As we swing through Turks’ lot for the fourth time, we are both channeling the SHITE outta Jeff McDougal Parking — BAM! — spot opens up! Two geriatrics waddle out to their mid-80’s Chrysler K-Car (gotta be one of THREE left in running condition here in North America I’m guessing), back ‘er up, and we are IN; albeit not as close as McDougal would have gotten us if he were actually WITH us.

“Loaded Omelet, here I COME!” — a tip o’ the hat to another one of my Alien Friends!

It started early…

…My first recollection of “it” was when I was 3 years old, on X-Mas morning, 1959:

xmasgtr

Looks like an idyllic scene at first blush, doesn’t it? Mom leaning into the picture, older sister smiling ever-so-slightly, shiny new GIRL’s bicycle and a new record player in the background, hands clutching a new doll; fuckin’ Norman Rockwell, right?

Well, not so FAST, Kids — lemme play Paul Harvey here and tighten my readers up on “The Rest Of The Story”…

Uh-hunh, that’s yours truly, Little Dickie there, footie pajamas, big load in my pants and all — let’s zoom in with our Analyze-Meter, shall we?

We’ll start with Mommy Dearest first. All smiles, right — but EXACTLY how come? ‘Cause BOTH Mom & Dad are on their respective third highballs mostly — I mean — doesn’t ANY proper celebration of The Birth of The Late JC start out with a drink and a toast to the man? It did where *I* came from — and if ONE drink was GOOD, then THREE drinks is — a good START!

Mom put the Pall Mall Unfiltered aside for a quick second, right alongside her drinkie-winkie, so she could step in and try her best Photo Bomb; she was the GRAND MASTER of turning a frown upside down ANY & EVERY time there was a camera in the area!

Dad, on the other hand, didn’t give TWO SHITS about anybody pulling off a “scowl capture” on HIS pug-mug — WWII vet who came back from the Pacific Theater with a .30 caliber Japanese sniper bullet STILL in his forearm; LIFETIME smoker & drinker who had to put up with Mom’s incessant & nefarious efforts to “make him into the man that SHE thought he should be”; drove 90 minutes to work and back EVERY fuckin’ weekday — to NEWARK, no less; in retrospect, I guess I shouldn’t blame him TOO much for being Mr. Curmudgeon. During the infamous “Newark Riots” of 1967, he drove into work and back with a .12 gauge shotgun on the passenger chair of his ’64 Biscayne wagon, but that’s a whole ‘NUTHER Oprah!

And then there’s dear old Sis — she’s the one with the smarmy gloat on her face. Why? ‘Cause SHE is the proud new owner of that shiny bicycle, that scha-weet phonograph that she NEVER EVER let ME play, that Baby-Wets-Her-Britches Doll that she’s clutching with possessive pride — but MOST of all, ’cause yet again, here was proof-positive that SHE was Mommy & Daddy’s FAVORITE…

Then there’s ME — I was six fuckin’ years old before I found out that my name was really “Dick Jones” and NOT “The Mistake”. Back in those days, if you were the dumb-lucky bastard that popped out the hole LAST in your respective “Cleaver Family”, with more than a 2 year spread between you and an older sibling, ever’BODY above the age of eight just KNEW that you were “the mistake”. And in lower middle class America in the ’50s & ’60’s, that meant that you were an unplanned-for fiscal LIABILITY!

So — “Merry Fuckin’ Christmas, Dickie-Do — now here’s YOUR present — a 3rd-hand piece o’ shite plastic guitar that I snatched outta the pawn shop window on my way home last night, paid for with the money I had left over after my Fifth of Seagram’s Seven Crown & carton of Marlboros purchase; pay no attention to that big crack across the front of it — whaddya want for 59 cents?”

I’ll never forget what Sis said to me after the X-Mas festivities were over with; exactly 90 seconds after she opened HER 152 presents and I got my unwrapped Roy Rogers six-string — the one with the big crack across the face from some John Belushi/Animal House “smash the guitar on the stairwell” re-enactment in ITs recent past: “See — Mom & Dad like ME better!” Like *I* needed to hear THAT news-flash from HER!

But the “cherry on the Sundae”, following the obvious look of bewilderment on my face in this shot (“Uh — this is IT, Mom & Dad? This is MY X-Mas present?”) was Dad’s “send-off”, as he walked outta the house to go spend the rest of HIS day & night drinking & playing poker with his pals, were his parting words: “ONE more SYLLABLE about your present, and I’ll take you back to the orphanage where I GOT you from, and get another one looks JUST like you!”

It started early…