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Showing posts from March, 2015

Beautiful Funerals

I talk to my grandpa all the time.  Life is busy and there are lapses, but all over the landscape of my life there are markers, triggers that remind me to reach out and get back in touch.  Doughnut holes.  Baseball.  Firetrucks.  Laughter.  I rarely go very long without filling him in, and topics range from my family to the bleak outlook for the Phillies this year.  As a lifelong Cubs fan, he can understand my frustrations better than most.

Just the other day, while playing Go Fish with my two sons, I laughed with him about all the times he brazenly cheated me at cards while we sat with a box of White Hen Popems at his kitchen table.  He always feigned innocence, shocked indignation at my suggestion that he was cheating, before bursting into laughter.  I am sure he gets a kick out of seeing me do the same to my boys.

I have told him about the time my oldest son played with his fireman's hat, his wide eyed stare as I told him about his great-grandpa pulling people from burning bu…

Phones Part II: No Place to Hide

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When I was growing up, I got picked on a lot.  I mean, look at those clothes.  Yes, that is skin you are seeing through that mesh midriff. Not cool.  Not tough.

Kids started small, calling me Crater Face because of the marks left by chicken pocks, Strikeout King because I couldn't hit a baseball in Little League.  By junior high, performing arts had become my solution for a near total lack of athletic talent, and with that came harsher nicknames. Pussy. Fairy. Faggot.  I vividly remember sitting in a History class, mindlessly copying notes, when a kid one row over and one seat back started poking the butt of my jeans with a ruler.  "You like that?" he hissed, "You like that you little faggot?"

Like many typical bullies, the kids who went after me were relentless.  Like many typical kids who get teased, I was resilient.  I was also lucky.  I had no cell phone or computer, no Facebook or Twitter, Yik Yak or Burnbook.  This meant I could leave the torment at the…

Phones, Part 1: Silent Students and Solitary Socialization

A couple of weeks ago, I ended my last period class about six minutes early.  I don't remember why I ended class early that day, but I remember it was sunny and bright in that classroom when I relinquished those few minutes right before the end of the school day.  As host to thirty seniors, I prepared for the deluge of sound, the voices I thought would fill the room.  There were prom dates and prom houses to sort out. College applications were in full swing, and some acceptance letters had begun to trickle in.  Athletes were preparing for games, and aspiring actors for the play.  There were parties to plan, relationships that had formed or ended that week, outfits to analyze, television shows to talk about.  After a full day of classes I was sure everyone was dying to kick back and talk.

What I got was silence.

I am not implying that they all whispered to each other with reserve, trying to keep their thoughts from drifting over to my desk and my ears.  I am not talking about polit…

Pond Hockey

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Pond hockey is a simple game.  Wait for the lake to freeze, find a bunch of guys willing to put on ice hockey skates, buy some Advil and a bunch of extra pucks for all the shots we will miss, and play.  Those of you who have played know what I am talking about.  For those who don't, I am talking about a slip in time that lets you be a kid again.  I am talking about the reality of time travel. 
The excitement surrounding pond hockey begins early in the day, the first time one of us goes out and measures the ice.  Drill in hand we drive the bit into the frozen surface of the lake hoping like children that it won't give too soon, that we will feel at least four inches of resistance before hitting water.  We are dying to send out the text telling everyone that the ice is thick enough to skate, that the game is on. 

Once the news is out, we feel ourselves getting more and more distracted as the day goes on, maybe cutting corners on some task at work or reading a bedtime story a …