I’ll be happy to see 2013 go but sad to be leaving important people and things behind. Before we forge ahead to 2014, let’s take a last look at the year that was in the Kingdom of the Cat’s Pajamas:
The year started off with the retirement of my longstanding sixty-inch TV. I financed the big girl when I was 19, paid it off when I was 26, a few years longer than planned at inception. But it was mine and I somehow moved that 350lb beast six different times, up narrow stairs, down steep stairs, you name it, before the wife said it was time for the TV’s last move, the move out.
One night after dinner I noticed that my first I-Phone was gone. I had put it on the roof of my car outside Longfellow’s and forgot about it. My poor phone.
On Easter Sunday, the cancer cloud came. My wife felt a lump that ended up being advanced cancer. Things got real dark after that.
When it looked like Kobe might lead my Lakers to a surprise playoff run, he went down with a gruesome achilles injury with four seconds left on the game clock, while playing the best ball of his career at 35 years old. As I write this, Kobe’s out again. This was a bad injury to an all-time great baller.
Then the real life Erin Brockavich gets arrested. Say what?
If my wife’s cancer wasn’t enough, my little puggle, Sophie Cinnamon, was diagnosed with mast cell cancer. It was caught quick and cured, and Sophie waxed poetic to her heroic vet, Dr. Patrick.
Then it got real bad. The physically-devastating story of James Gandolfini’s death in Rome hit the world. I could never describe what Tony Soprano and THE SOPRANOS has meant to me. I can’t even see a picture of Gandolfini or look at a clip of him on camera without suffering a suffocating sadness.
I should’ve known any summer that starts with the death of Tony Soprano wasn’t going to go well. In July, my oldest friend, Chris Premo, was involved in a nightmarish accident on a construction site. After five days in the hospital, he passed away, breaking the heart of a whole community. Chris’s death rocked my world in ways that I still can’t completely understand. It is the saddest, sickest thing I’ve ever seen. It wasn’t supposed to be Chris.
One month later, Chis returned. Well, he kind of did.
Two months later, my wife went into remission.
I’ll leave you with the words of two great giants, both lost way too soon in 2013. Maybe "Giants" isn't the best way to describe them, because my beloved NY Giants SUCKED in 2013 too. Let's call them two legends then.
“If you’re lucky, you’ll look back and remember the little moments, like this, that were good.” –Tony Soprano
“There’s still hope in this crazy world.” –Chris Premo
Bring on 2014!
Sunday, December 22, 2013
I’ve become bored with going out to dinner. When my wife asked about Saturday night, I said I was happy staying home, eating w/ TV. Sadly she left, and a knock came at the front door. I opened and there was Steve Barnes from the TIMES UNION’s “Table Hopping” Blog. He told me I had to relearn the “true” meaning of going out to dinner, and on that night, I would be visited by three ghosts, to which I said, “Wow, three ghosts, huh?” Steve did not take kindly to my sarcastic tone, and squeezed a hand around my windpipe, dropping me like a sack. He screamed, “You fool, this is your LAST chance to learn the true meaning of going out to dinner. Don’t waste it.”
I forgot about Barnes’s visit, went to bed early, stuffed with homemade grilled cheese and canned soup. At 1AM, I felt a breeze blow through the window. I came awake and there stood Shannon, our former waitress from the Villa Valenti. “Are you the ghost,” I asked, and she said, “Of going out to dinner past.” I was then lifted over my sleeping wife and dogs and airborne into the night. We landed outside the Villa Valenti, and looked in the icy windows of a winter night. I was in the back booth with my wife and our friends: Jill and Brent. We talked over a table packed with breads and wines and apps, as Shannon delivered pasta entrees. Then we buzzed to the next destination, the icy window at Prime in Downtown Albany, and I saw me and my wife sitting with our friends: Jamie and Sana. The piano played as we talked and laughed. “That was the best night,” I said, and Shannon said, “But you forgot about that fun, didn't you?”
At 2AM the same breeze blew and I snapped awake to see Kay, our D’Raymond’s waitress, at the hanging mirror in our attached bathroom, fixing her frosted bangs. She told me to hurry up and follow her through the bathroom window. She doesn't have all night and wasn’t getting tips on this job. I jumped from bed and followed and then we were sitting at the LaPorto’s bar, and I saw me and my wife at the corner table, alone, and I was texting away while she stared off bored and unhappy. It was the same scene at Longfellow’s, the Old Brien Inn, and finally D’ Raymond’s itself, where I only tipped Kay six percent, which she read sadly off the receipt when we’d gone. “You didn’t even finish your shrimp parm or order dessert that night,” she reminded me, and I said, “Please, ghost, no more.” Kay said, “You forged these memories yourself.” Then, “You still owe me the other fourteen percent.”
3AM came and I woke to the TV on loud. I sat up and on the screen saw the 90-year-old sample lady from Hannaford. She was handing out some kind of cheese packaged in Dixie cups. Then I saw me taking one of those samples. I had a cart filled with boxed foods and frozen goods, and I looked old, and hunchbacked, and alone. It was a sad sight and I grabbed the remote, changed the channel, saw my wife older but looking alive, with a new man, laughing and drinking wine and having a great time on the town. I changed the channel again, I had to, and I saw myself inside a small apartment, hunched over a standing tray in front of an oozing TV screen. I tried turning the TV off, but couldn’t, and when I looked at my wife’s side of the bed, it was empty, and the dogs were gone.
I grabbed my cell phone off the side table and saw the time: 10AM. I was awake. I jumped from bed and ran to the kitchen. There was a note on the fridge that read: TOOK DOGS TO PET SMART. Then: GROCERY SHOPPING FOR DINNER. With the back of my hand, I smeared those dry erased words away. I sprinted to the living room window, saw a young couple in matching jogging suits power walking by. It’s the Burbs, what can I say? I threw open the window, and said, “Hey you, kind neighbors, what day is it?” They stopped at the same time, took a second to spot me, and the man responded, “Why it’s the Sunday before Christmas, sir.” And I pumped fist and said, “Do you still think there’s time to book a restaurant table for X-Mas Eve?” The man considered this: “Probably nothing before eight, but yes, sir, I believe there’s time.” I said, “Thank you, friend! Thank you!” And threw the window shut. The garage door lurched open underneath, signaling my family’s return. “I haven’t missed it after all,” I proclaimed.
Sunday, December 15, 2013
dEAr santé CLOSS
you are very good and VERy great THIS YEAR I HAVE BEen xspECelee GoOd and thIs iz what I WANT foR ChrismaS
I wOOd like a PaIR of GiANts sokS TO weAr when Dey play the SUPeRBol at theyare stadiuM And I want TxketS to the GamE to C my favorite PlayeR Eli ManenG wIN the GAME! aNd I WANT a new CELL phoNe so I can TAKe SELFies with PeOPLE WHeN someone diE LIKE HoW OUr PrezIDEnt doEs. CaN I geTT a big STUffEd TeDDY Bear SO I caN DaNCE DIRtY wITH it in PUBlic and Then I B FAMOus Like MILLY CYRiS. CAn I GETT a dvD of MOvIe RUNNER runner becuZ JusTIN TimBerLake is GREATESt ACTor wHO EvER Lives AND HE MaKE the GREATESt MOVieS EVER! CAN ME hAvE KAtY PERRY Just BeCUZ. AnD cAN me HaVE the Dvd OF SeaSOn 1 OF WE ArE MEN IT iS great SHOW. CAn I GET 100 dollars to bUY New AWSUm GlaSSes so I CAn LOOK like ERIC SnowDeN becuz He is MOSt loved AmeriCan in WorlD CaN I gET AutoGRAPhED Copy of ROllInG StONE MagezENE wiTh THAT REallY COOL ROCK StaR FrOM BOsToN He BE called THE BOMBER He LOOK so cool ON THAT MaGAZinE! AnD LAST GiFT is YOGa PANTS FRoM LULULemoN For mY FAVORITe TEaCHER At SCHOOl. SHE HaVE BIG Legs AND I KNOw THEY WOOd REallE work FOR HER boDY
TNAnkYOu SantE CLOSS YOU Are VERy GOOD aNd VErY GREat
Sunday, December 8, 2013
It may surprise you to hear that I was not always the captain of industry I am today. As Christmas 2013 comes close, I reflect on my station in life, and think wow how have I reached so high? Respected (downright revered) by my colleagues, making well over 17,000 a year, and pretty much killing it on a daily basis. My path to such heights wasn’t easy. In fact, it was pretty weird. I wrote a holiday song about it called “The Twelve Firings of Brian.” Here it goes.
Oh the first time a fired, when the boss got rid of me, washing dishes at the Villa Valenti
Oh the second time a fired, when the boss got rid of me, caught giving out free turkey from the Price Chopper deli
Oh the third time a fired, when the boss got rid of me, told by Grand Union “you’re not supermarket material-e”
Oh the fourth time a fired, when the boss got rid of me, found sleeping on Taft Furniture’s inventory
Oh the fifth time a fired, when the boss got rid of me, an administrative assistant at Orange Ford & Mercury
Oh the sixth time a fired, when the boss got rid of me, driving an ice cream truck through the inner city
Oh the seventh time a fired, when the boss got rid of me, some office place in Latham that did the deed immediately
Oh the eighth time a fired, when the boss got rid of me, assistant leasing manager at a Chrysler joint called Armory
Oh the ninth time a fired, when the boss got rid of me, at Mary Jane Books, bounced out by a peace-loving hippie
Oh the tenth time a fired, when the boss got rid of me, vacuuming cars at Hoffman’s on Central Ave. in Albany
Oh the eleventh time a fired, when the boss got rid of me, a Barcelona's busser till they got sick of sharing tips w/ yours truly
Oh the twelfth time a fired, when the boss got rid of me, dishwashing with a bachelor’s at a retirement community
For those who fired me, it’s rather obvious you had a reason. With that said, I hope you and yours have a happy holiday season!