Reporting, Recording and Relaying - But Always Telling It As I See It

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Cryptic Phone Call, a High Speed Dash and a Question That Will Never Be Answered

There are times of the day when a phone call from your parents illicit little more than some chat time with mom. Eight forty-five Saturday morning is not one of those times.

The finishing touches to an egg, cheese and sausage sandwich were just coming together – my Saturday morning, after gym meal – when my cell phone rang. The screen displayed, “Mom.” This can’t be good, I thought.

“Hello,” I said.

My dad was on the other end. “You up yet or are you still sleeping?” My dad always thinks everyone sleeps too much. He is cut from the cloth when men were expected to be up and working every single day at the crack of dawn.

“I’m up. What’s going on?”

“Can you come over here this morning? We have some very serious business to discuss.” He didn’t sound like he was kidding. He sounded like he was going to tell me someone was dead or dying.

I asked him if everyone was okay. “Yeah,” he said, “me and your mother aren’t dead or dying.”

I am almost forty-three and have never been summoned by my parents to discuss “very serious business.” This must be what it feels like to be a mafia soldier when the don calls unexpectedly. “Hey thirty-fingers, can you come by the social club? Use the back door and go to the basement.”

My mind became a rolodex and the cards every conceivable eventuality that would qualify as “very serious business.”

I drove over – very quickly – the good mafia soldier. I settled in on the couch – prepared for something disastrous like, “It’s time you know that you were adopted. We decided to tell you because of the possibility that your real father, Newt Gingrich, may get the GOP nomination.”

“Well,” my dad said. Here it comes, I thought. “You know we are going to be in Florida next month. I can’t drive far anymore. Do you think you could come down there before we leave and travel with us back here?”

I wasn’t going to get whacked, Newt wasn’t my father (thank God for all that is holy). The racing thoughts, the dire predictions, the 85 MPH car trip was all to ask me if I could fly to Florida, load my parents and their car on an Amtrak train, ride overnight while we have dinner in the dining car, sleep in a sleeper car, get off the train in DC and drive them back to Pittsburgh.

Why they had to tell me in person, on Saturday morning, after a cryptic phone call is a question that will never be answered.

As I gathered my coat and my mental acuity, I asked if they had alcohol on the train.

“Wine with dinner and drinks in the lounge car,” My dad said. “But we usually sneak on a pop bottle full of Manhattans.” All aboard.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

I Have The Need, The Need To Better Understand My New Channels

I hate my new goddamn remote control. Or rather, I hate the fact that I can no longer efficiently navigate my television. After thirteen years, we gave up paying half our wages for cable TV and had Direct TV installed – producing a monumental cost savings. It also produced a monumental problem – I can’t find the stations I want to watch!

I used to have command over the remote like Maverick had command over his F 14 after he had his Godly talk with Goose, clenched Goose’s dog tags and re-engaged the MiG’s buzzing around Iceman. ESPN? Bam – channel 185. Discovery? Bam – 124. History – Travel – HBO? Bam – Bam – Bam! 130, 52 (not in HD), 199.

Now, I am Maverick after he flies through the jet wash yet again and Iceman says, “Maverick is disengaging” and the bald Captain back on the aircraft carrier screams, “Damn it. I knew it!” I am unsure - hesitant. “No, no, it’s no good,” said Maverick.

The only thing I am sure of is the local stations – miraculously they have re-emerged at their long standing original channel number. Channel 2 (CBS – KDKA) is somehow on channel 2. Channel 53 (Fox) is no longer on 109. (I bet there was a good reason to move the local channels on the cable system, but it may just have been a mind fuck.)

But now, I find myself having to relearn that which I hold dear – which is complete command over the remote. A neighbor mentioned that I should make a “favorites” list. But that is like flying on auto-pilot. Maverick never flew on auto pilot. He wasn’t on auto pilot when he requested a flyby and the flight controller said, “Negative ghost rider, the pattern in full.*” No, Maverick was a stick and rudder guy. That’s me. I don’t want a list. If I want to go from Spike TV to USA, I don’t want to have to scroll through eight of my favorites to get there.

So for now, instead of pulling “inverted negative G’s”, navigating my remote like Jester, I am resigned to trying to keep above the “hard deck.” (I said dEck.) The entire thing “takes my breath away.”

(* I never understood the “ghost rider” part of this. After a quick Google search, the best I could find was that “ghost rider” was the call sign for his aircraft. As far as I can remember, they never identified an aircraft in any other part of the movie; they always referred to the pilot’s call sign. If anyone has a better answer to this, please let me know.)

Friday, January 13, 2012

This Is What You Owe The Person Who Loves You

Okay, the last few days have not been the greatest. Garden variety self-pity, gonna be 43 type stuff. So I’m whining to a friend about it via email. Then he sends me this, reprinted with his permission. I’m not sure a more astute observation about love and truth has ever been made.

“so I feel like speaking although I was not asked.

you have two kids. regardless if you like it or not, they look at you. they watch your every move. there are days when they see their hero - days when they see an ass. but they are watching.

good Dave, bad Dave - you are soaking into their brains - into their behavior. into who they will become. it's might seem simplistic, but your boys are becoming you - and that's a huge fucking responsibility.

I know what my dad gave me. now that I know what he was capable of giving me - had he just tried a little harder when I was a kid - I realize I would be a better person if he had just had the courage to be open and honest with me. I wish that he had shown me his truth: the sucky parts and the good parts. if he had told me what sucked in his life, I could have formulated a plan to avoid it.

you are a dad. you have a responsibility to show your sons the best you. they need to see you respond to your dreams. they need to see you struggle to keep your passion alive. they need to see your truth.

warts aren't always ugly.

sorry about this. it's just where I am. I guess my dad couldn't be honest with me 'cause he wasn't honest with himself.”