Freudian Slips: May 2008

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Location: Irony, New Jersey, United States

Life takes us many places. It's a box of chocolates and a Hansel and Gretal trail of candy wrappers. I have filmed as an actor in The Happening, Invincible, The Lovely Bones, The Bounty Hunter, The Greek American, Bazookas, Limitless, TV's Its Always Sunny in Philly, Outlaw, New York, The Warrior, The Nail, Game Change, Cold Case, & commercial work includes The Philadelphia Eagles, Septa, Coors, Turbo Tax & Carnival Cruises. Freudian Slips spotlights irony in short story format.

May 29, 2008

Catching Rainbows

This washed out picture does not do justice to the maginificient luminous rainbow that formed after a recent rain shower. Right out the front door to our house, the color-rich rainbow could be viewed from arc to arc for about seven minutes. Our house sat like pot of mortgage in the middle.
In all of my 46 years, I had never seen a complete rainbow from one side to the other in such dramatic fashion. I made the most of the time that it could be seen. Grabbing my camera and camcorder, my wife and I took stills and home movies of the rare atmospheric event.
Appreciating rainbows are alot like not taken life for granted. You never know how long we are here to catch the next rainbow nor how long we or the rainbow will last.

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May 26, 2008

Where There Is Smoke, There is Fire

Where there is smoke, there is fire. I doubted whether I would live to say this but today was a stupendous day. Searching for kindling at the base of our woods to burn in our chiminera, I disturbed a yellow jacket nest. The bees refused to accept my sincere apology because I got stung in the neck, which for an anaphylactic with Mastocytosis is akin to a bulls eye in darts on the receiving end. I felt the pinch in my neck and heard buzzing all the way up the hill. A testament to my stubborness, I never dropped the kindling in fleeing. I ran into the house mouthing to my wife the same sorry doomsday scenario that she has heard for the third time in six years in only a seven year marriage.
I panted, “I think I got stung by a bee.”
By the time I checked for the stinger in my neck with a glance in the bathroom mirror, my concerned loving wife had already made it to the car with my Epi-pens. I jumped in the car and we rode to the hospital at breakneck speed. I worked to lower my heart rate to avoid spreading the bee venom even faster. She worked to save my life again.
A few tedious moments passed before I knew that something was going strangely right this time. Nothing happened. I never even used my Epi-pen although I should have erred on the side of caution. I wanted this to be the litmus test for the years of immunotherapy and clinical trials at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital. Other than a slight local reaction on my neck, no other symptoms developed. Against my wife’s better judgment, I never left our parked car at the emergency room entrance to seek medical attention in the hospital. Like a bulldog, I came home and built that fire for the chiminera. It was a stupendous day, a truly memorable Memorial Day weekend.


May 23, 2008

From Russia With Love

I once had a high functioning developmentally disabled client on my caseload who owned a magnetic personality. His name was Austin and he had blinders about his mild disability and the reason for his social services registry. What I did not know until after the fact was that Austin’s parents signed up for a Foreign Exchange Program during the summer of 1994. Between the time the family was approved as an official sponsor and before the students actually arrived, Austin’s dad died from a heart attack and widowhood caused his mother to sink into a depression that she hid behind a plastic smile glued together with pride.
As the legend goes, two young Pre-Med students arrived from Russia speaking very little English. There was no Welcome Wagon. There was no cohesive family unit. There were no beds made or clean bath towels folded. With mom wilting by the wayside, there was really only Austin. Each of his three hundred pounds was eager to show off the land, language, and our customs. If these students weren’t wide-eyed about the new country they entered, meeting Austin for the first time must have been an eye opening experience in and of itself.
“I welcomed them to America.” He later told me in an interview.
I cringed asking the logical follow-up question. “How?”
“I nuked Franco American Spaghetti-O’s in the microwave." he bragged. "I promised to show them around afterwards.”
Austin dragged the mattress from their guest bedroom down the dusty staircase and out the front door. He put it in the flatbed of the family’s pickup truck for no other reason than to offer the first real clue to his mental retardation. Acting like a tour guide, Austin told his visitors to climb in the back. Not knowing any better, the Foreign Exchange students climbed in the back of the pickup sitting on the mattress that came from their intended guest bedroom. Operating a newly issued driving license, Austin fired up the engine. He told them to not pay any mind to the bags of manure stacked in the truck and that before sightseeing he had to go on an important "terlet paper run." This was the land of the brave and sparing no pothole nor obeying all of the rules of the road, Austin showed them America.


May 19, 2008

Life is a Beach

My first mistake was asking my wife to record me on the camcorder walking the bulkhead rocks of a jetty below the boardwalk of Atlantic City, NJ. My second mistake was not realizing how miserable my wide body looks and feels these days. An honest mistake, I suppose I got caught up in the scenery - The seashore for a visiting shoobie. Abundant sunshine. An intoxicating breeze aiding high tide coming in. Ah, it seemed like the right moment and the right backdrop to capture a natural home movie clip.
My sneakers spit sand in my jaunt to the jetty. I hopped with glee across the first few rocks then came a harrowing moment of self-awarenes. I realized too late that my ginger waltz not only must have looked effeminate for the camera but it has been recorded for prosperity. The next couple of steps I faced the challenge of a grating slope, some further spaced rocks, and an ocean trying to reduce my land to sand with the next wave. With the ocean to my left and right, it was like walking the plank. I did not feel my mortality all at once but rather in steps.
My proud desired stride shortened to a laughable length. I tried to make light of my frailty by turning back and looking at the camera. The wind parted my hair in a way that I realized a shortage of follicles. I begin to breathe heavier than I should for this little exertion. In my mind’s eye, I could see myself in action and it wasn't pretty. I took a few steps forward and am reminded how embarrasingly different this much look than the bleached blonde surfer dudes attacking the beach to my left.
Further out on the jetty, ocean pushes itself up onto the rocks. The slime coat created underneath my footprints is a slippery slope. My left foot kicks out like an accident acting to happen. My balance shifts. It is treacherous sailing and I consider turning back. I fret about falling but manage a Joe Cool wave back to my wife. She makes no reaction. I knew that I looked like an old man but prayed that my wife didn’t see me for who I am.
I entertain irrational thoughts like hitting my head, falling unconscious, and being swept up by the sea to a death by drowning. I visualize the headlines in the obituaries of the Atlantic City Press. Ripley’s Believe It or Not Man Who Defied Death Strangely Dies Near His Museum Exhibit.
With more than 50 yards of the jetty ahead of me to conquer, I make a surrender plea. I turn back around. My feet shuffle along the same wet rocks. My steps can now be measured in inches. Nursing home patients would lap me. My hands wing out to the sides to brace a potential fall. My wife continues to film me and I am too preoccupied to tell her to silence production. In the end, I made my way back to shore without falling. My goal to conquer the jetty like a he-man was replaced by a middle age concession of not falling down and getting hurt.
The ordeal looked even more pathetic on the playback of the high definition camcorder.

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May 15, 2008

Foot in the Door

As children, nearly every neighborhood kid played the timeless game of hide and seek outdoors in the great wide open. When I was a kid, we often played with no out of bound markers and the playing field stretched as far as you could get away. One sun shining day, the exhilarating fun turned frightful when two neighborhood children failed to return from the game. The curious children, who had explored their surroundings, found an old abandoned industrial freezer in the woods. It seemed to be the perfect place to hide until the freezer door latch fell into a locked position. It trapped both of them on the inside of the appliance. The neighborhood banded together and formed a search party. By the grace of God, the confined children were found alive on only panted breath.
I began to recite this cautionary tale to my children who had started to play hide and seek games of their own. My children are no different than most in thinking they know everything of this world with only a foot in the door. They interrupted my parental toned voice and jumped ahead of the story just to hear me shut up.
My oldest daughter took the lead. “Yeah, yeah we know not to do that, Dad. These stupid kids probably would have froze to death.”
“Froze to death?” I repeated. “It was summer time.”
“The freezer, Dad.” reminded my youngest daughter. “I agree with sissy. It must have been ice cold in there.”


May 12, 2008

The Cost of Living

Inside a local pizzeria, I huddled in my winter coat on this drearily cold day in May. Staring at the menu trying to determine the price increase on a slice of pizza since my last visit, multiple live news broadcasts chattered in my ears. The owner seemed annoyed that I quoted aloud the price of inflation before ordeirng a vegetable neopolitan slice.
Behind the counter, a radio station broke for a live report of emerging bad weather conditions. High wind gusts and heavy rain from a nor'easter were traveling across our region. I looked to the blaring television on my right for possible coverage of this storm. Instead, the TV coverage showed destroyed homes from the deadly string of tornadoes that just ransacked Midwest states. Trying to get my mind off of the doom and gloom, I started to read the ticker scroll at the bottom of the screen. The ticker mentioned rebuilding efforts from the devastating cyclone that hit across the other side of the world. If that were not enough, television programming was interrupted by breaking news that a sizeable earthquake hit mainland China and ten thousand people are feared dead.
By the time my pizza was heated in the oven and handed to me, the owner could read the despondency on my face. He knew it had nothing to do with him passing on the rising cost of flour to make the pizza dough to his customers.
He smirked, “Two bucks for a pizza slice ain’t bad now, huh buddy?”
The cost of living I said in my head.


May 08, 2008

Tennis in Middle Age

Trying to play tennis every weekend in the great outdoors isn't what it used to be. As a decent singles player in more formidable years, I cannot cover the entire court now. I used to be a fierce competitor but now look forward to playing recreational doubles where I can share the fault with a partner.
The group of guys that I play with are not getting any younger either. We are former athletes who have traded in our physiques for baldness pot-bellies, and the huff and puff from lacing shoelaces before a match. We complain of injuries and laud the glory days of tracking down an across court shot and delivering a two-handed backhand winner down the alley. I can only plod after a ball and stick out my racquet now in what seems like self-defense. We don't get as many players to come out on the courts. I think it may be too humbling of a venture, easier to go out to a sit-down waitress served breakfast for a Western omelette, a double order of bacon and buttered toast. I am trying not to give in to the progression of life so I posted this solicitation on Craig's list today:
Dwindling group of middle aged men of commonly average skills seeking tennis partners. Group meets on outdoor hardcourts 10am every Sunday at Sterling High School in Somerdale, New Jersey. The cost is free and the gatherings are weather permitting from April-October. Contact to be added to group email invitations then come and join us.

Here's to staying healthy and emptying diners across South Jersey.


May 06, 2008

All-Star Converse

My eldest daughter was selected as a Gloucester County All-Star for Academic Excellence. The top five graduating seniors from each high school in the county receive this distinction at an awards banquet. My daughter finished third in her graduating class and has her sights set on college next year. Pictured is the cover story of the insert that was included in this past Sunday's Gloucester County Times newspaper. Congratulations from a father drunk with pride.


May 01, 2008

Something to Chew On

Somebody unwittingly asked a sarcastic person like myself what I thought about the following newspaper headline as it appeared in the Gloucester County Times:
Mars Buying Gum Maker Wrigley.

I replied, "When mankind finally lands on the planet Mars, let's hope we can walk and chew gum at the same time."
-Soemtimes chewing the fat is just that.


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