Monday, November 29, 2010

Macho Macho Man?

I made pickles today. Is this the first sign of stay at home dad madness? I'm not sure. But I can tell you that I don't even like pickles - actually I despise them. But my kids and my wife love them so I guess that was my motivation. I have to wait 6-7 days before I find out if they actually taste good but it was fun to do.

But back to my original point - I'm canning now? What's next - crocheting sweaters for the little tykes? I already clip coupons so I guess the macho line has already been blurred. Gotta run - some great stuff on the  Lifetime Network tonight.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

One of the Good Ones

Have you ever encountered someone and thought - "That is a really good person. They're so good I feel a little guilty that I may not measure up." Well I received sad news that one such person in my past has died.

Dr. Bernard Rosenberg lived for 92 years and passed away on Tuesday. I can't say that I knew him well. I can only say that my brief encounters with him made me want to be more like him.

It was 2000 and my wife and I were finishing the renovations to our first house - a lovely little Cape Cod on a quiet street. Since this was my former life I was not home with kids - I was working as a painting contractor. I had just been hired by Dr. Rosenberg to spruce up his house before he put it up for sale. He was a widower and was set to be remarried (at 84 years old!)

The moment I walked in the place I knew it would be perfect for us. It needed a lot of work but it was in a gorgeous neighborhood and the architectural detail throughout the home was stunning. I immediately called my wife and told her that we had to put an offer in on the good doctor's house (it helped that my mother was going to be the listing agent). To my wife's credit she didn't curse at me or tell me I was crazy. She obviously wanted to actually look at the house first but she trusted my judgment. Once she saw the place she fell in love too.

Dr. Rosenberg learned that we were interested in the house and he invited me (only me) to come over to discuss things man to man. Although he was an octogenarian he had a very sharp mind and had the energy of a man half his age. We sat in the formal living room set up with antique tables and cozy conversation areas. I felt like I was asking for his granddaughter's hand in marriage or something but he was direct and honest. Most sellers would want to know the bottom line - how much? But he was more concerned with whether we planned on raising a family in the house. I assured him that we would and this seemed to please him a great deal. We talked about a myriad of things before we got to the question of price.

Once we did broach that subject I presented our offer which I thought was fair. I guess he did too because he agreed at once and we shook hands like men do. No contracts, no lawyers, nothing. Just my word and his. And he told us that he could wait until we sold our house. And he did wait just as he said.

Not only that, he paid the landscaper through the spring, filled the 1000 gallon oil tank and paid the yearly association fees in advance. We didn't request any of this - he just did it because he wanted to get us off on a good foot in the house.

Looking back I'm struck by his generosity but I am more struck by his trust. I was a young kid who he barely knew and he trusted that I would honor my word. It was a powerful feeling. I guess the way he treated me made me feel more like the man I was becoming.

Bernard Rosenberg was a doctor, artist, father and World War II veteran. However, he was none of these things to me. He was a Gentleman. I think the world needs more Gentlemen. Unfortunately it just lost one.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Garden of Eden?

At least Eve plucked the forbidden fruit from the tree before she (and Adam) damned all mankind to original sin. What kind of cro magnon eats an apple from a tree without picking it first? We pick things. It's what separates us from the giraffes and monkeys. Oh wait - a monkey would actually pick the fruit before eating it. Does this mean that monkeys are gaining on us? Are they actually more civilized than we humans are in the 21st century?

If the midterm elections are any indication I would say yes. The politicians were certainly slinging crap at each other like apes are wont to do. Shouldn't we have separated ourselves a little more from our primate cousins by now?

Therefore with this empirical evidence I will make a bold prediction. If we can't learn to pick our own fruit the monkeys will (continue) to win. Have I beaten this thought to death yet? I say yes. Ciao for now...

Monday, November 1, 2010

Why Won't My Body Do What I Say?

Every muscle in my body aches today. As a result I spent much of the day incapacitated. How did I get to this state? Allow me to explain...

I would say that I'm in reasonably good shape for someone pushing 40. I do the elliptical machine a few times a week, I do a lot of work in the yard, I do the occasional sit-up and push up. I even go for hikes when the kids allow it. Since I'm not a total load I decided that it would be a good idea to accept an invitation to play in a flag football league in my town. How hard could it be right? These weren't professional athletes - just a bunch of guys over 30 looking to run around a little bit on a Sunday morning. Great. I could run around a little bit, meet some new people,etc.

Yeah...well... not so great. Now as I said, I do stay active. What I don't do anymore though are wind sprints - which is basically what playing flag football this Sunday entailed. A punishing 1 1/2 hours of sprinting (on offense) and backpedaling (on defense). It didn't help that I was the slowest, least athletically gifted person there - so not only was I physically beaten (giving up at least 5 touchdowns); I also received an ego smack down.

At one point I turned to the jack rabbit quick Gastroenterologist who had already beaten me deep twice and asked:
"Am I pulling a plow behind me?"

He laughed and proceeded to run a blisteringly fast out-and-up route on the next play - taking it to the House yet again - highlighting my lack of conditioning to every player on the field.

At that point one of my teammates tried to provide support:

"You're in great position Joe. You're just giving up on the play at the very end."

Giving up??? What the hell? I never give up when I play sports (or anything). I am the most competitive person I know. The sad fact that I didn't share with my comrade in football was that I have an excruciatingly bad back which was just not allowing me to do what I wanted to. It was so frustrating...but I must admit it was fun to compete again, however badly. I'll be out there again this Sunday.