Me, Sher, and Ad

Me, Sher, and Ad
Bro Adam and sis Sher, my rocks!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Charlotte Drops Off Dinner

This evening, I stopped by my neighbor Charlotte's house to talk with her a moment. It wasn't important, just a chat between neighbors. I came to her back door and she beckoned me to "Come in, come in, COME IN! You don't have to knock, just come in! COME ON IN!"
"OK OK!" I exclaimed laughing.

She was standing there in her kitchen, all 5'3" 90 pounds of her, making mini lasagnas at the table. Charlotte is my 76 year old divorcee' neighbor. She absolutely loves cooking and is great at it. Charlotte also likes gardening, her wine, and BBC's (Banana liquer, Bailey's, and Coco-lopez). John and I joke that Charlotte must think we do not know how to cook because she is always bringing us food. But we love her for that and certainly don't mind.

After we had chatted, I made my exit. It was a long day and I just wanted to change out of work clothes, make myself a martini, and relax before dinner. I didn't know what I was going to make. Probably a veggie stir-fry as I had picked up some bok-choy and portabellas.

About 30 minutes later, my door bell rang and it was Charlotte carrying one of the mini lasagnas!
"I brought you dinner!" she said smiling.
"Charlotte, you didn't have to!" I replied but so happy I didn't have to cook. Anyway, I was secretly hoping she would!
"You'd better let me come in because this is getting hot!" She was carrying it with a little dish towel.
"Oh sure, sorry! Come on in," I said opening the door. Just then, Max the Cat tried to bolt. I blocked him but also inadvertantly blocked Charlotte from entering.
"Sorry, Max tried to bolt."
"WOW this is really getting hot! I need to put it down now!!!"

I quickly grabbled Max and let her pass. She went up the stairs to the kitchen, saying, "Ow! Ow! Ow!" But suddenly she made a left and made a beeline into the living room!
"Where are you going?! The kitchen was straight ahead!"
"I don't know! THIS IS HOT!" She turned around heading for the kitchen with me carrying Max trailing after her.
"Put it down!" I said.
"I DON'T KNOW WHERE!" she turned to play hot potato and hand it to me!
"Don't give it to ME!!!" I exclaimed backing up with Max still in my arms out of her reach. Max was meowing in fear. "Put it on the counter! The counter Charlotte! THE COUNTER!!!"

She went to put the lasagna on a bunch of old photos on our breakfast table.
"Not there Charlotte!!!"
"THIS IS HOT!!!!" she yelled.
"Put it on the stove! THE STOVE!"

Charlotte finally put down the lasagna, wincing. "Ouch, that was hot."
"Are you alright? I'm sorry! Are you burned?" I exclaimed.
"Oh no no, I'm fine. Takes more than that to bother me."
"OK, I gotta go, lemme know how you boys like the lasagna!" Before I knew it, she had already left the house and bolted across the yard towards her kitchen.

Crap, I thought, that is gonna be the LAST lasagna I get for awhile.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Open Mouth, Insert Foot

First example:

The week before I got my new car, I was still driving around my trusty red rocket Saturn wagon and stopped for some gas. While filing up, I spied the car on the other side of the the pump. It was a beautiful royal blue Toyota Camry, just like I was about to get, except mine would be gun metal grey. The lady pumping gas just reeked high glass: hair up in a tight bun, designer shades, designer suit, pearls, high heels. She glanced over at me and smiled.

"Hi, how ya doing?" I said back,
"I'm fine," she stated nicely but cooly.
"I'm getting the same car, I'm so excited," I gushed.
"Really? I just love it. It drives so smooth. And I love how it looks," she replied, now warming up to me.
"Yeah, I can't wait to get rid of this old Saturn and finally get a new car. Toyota Camrys are so reliable!"
"Camry?!" she exclaimed, her eyes turning to evil fire and brimstone. "THIS ISN'T A CAMRY! THIS IS AN INFINITI 'G' SERIES SEDAN. THEY DON'T EVEN LOOK ALIKE!"
I paused and stuttered, "Oh ... I'm sorry, it looked like a Camry ..."
"NO IT DOES NOT!" she exclaimed,
"Again, I'm sorry."
With that, she turned her back and refused to even look over at me. Someone's a bit touchy, I thought to myself.

Second example:

I came across an email I had sent to my brother way back in 2004. My sister and I went to a flea market around the historic Fairmont Prison in the Art Museum neighborhood of Philly. We were walking around and stopped at these ladies' table with all sorts of Zen, Buddha, and meditation stuff. I had been going through a particularly stressful and frazzled time (imagine that) and thought it would be great to try and find some peace in my life.

One of the women recommended a book on meditation saying, "This book helped me through a really dark time in my life. It is a step by step guide to rediscovering your light and energy. It will really help you destress, relax, and reach your goals."

My sister, looking at stuff on the table, stated real loud to the woman and myself, "You should do what I do, just try alcohol!"
"Yeah, right!" I agreed laughing. "Two drinks and I am on my way to feeling gooood!"

I laughed out loud and thought nothing of it. The woman just stared at me strangely and coldly. Okaaaay, I thought. I paid her the 25 cents for the book and moved on. It was only after I walked away that I looked down at the book and noticed that it was an Alcoholics Anonymous meditation book. I'm such an ass.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Top 20 Signs You're from Philadelphia

I came across this last night in my files. My sister sent this to me in 1999 and it still rings true today. This is for my Philly friends. I don't know who wrote it but enjoy!


20. You realize that your favorite dessert is wooder ice. It comes in churry, strawburry, and other assawrded flaverz.
19. You find yourself using "Yo" and "Youse guyz" when talking long distance to family members. (I still do this!)
18. You know how to spell Schuylkill.
17. You think $2500 a year for insurance on a 1977 Toyota Corolla is a bargain.
16. You find yourself at a nice restaurant thinking, "I wonder if they have cheese steaks?" (Brother Adam, this is for you!)
15. You can sleep soundly through gunfire and ambulance sirens. (I stay overnight at my sister Sheryl's and this happens. She sleeps through it while I am up the rest of the night!)
14. You visit New York and are impressed by how clean it is.
13. Double parking in front of your house in the 'hood is normal.
12. You can't eat french fries or cheese steaks without Cheese Whiz.
11. You know the street people by name.
10. You don't think Wawa sounds funny.
9. You snub a cheese steak that isn't on an Amoroso roll.
8. Your parents, brother, sisters, aunts, and uncles all live on the same block.
7. You know who Jim O'Brien and Jessica Savitch are and how they died.
6. You can't imagine breakfast without scrapple.
5. You know who Sally Starr, Captain Noah, and Larry Ferrari are.
4. A vacation at the Jersey shore (pronounced "the shoo-ore") is better then going to an island (There's more stuff to do plus you know everybody.)
3. You know where to find the Rocky statue and have done the run up the Art Museum stairs.
2. You know only tourists go to Geno's, Pat's and Jim's for authentic cheese steaks. If you go, it's only when you're drunk and at 3:00 am.
1. You buy a soft pretzel at a traffic light, without wondering where the guy goes to wash his hands. And you really don't care.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

My Friend at Nazareth College

I have a Nazareth College baseball cap that John gave me. It used to be his. I wear it from time to time. I also just found out today that the college is outside of Rochester, New York.

I was in Wegmans food shopping this afternoon and some college guy comes up to me and asks all excitedly, "Hey bud, who do you know that goes to Nazareth College?!"

"Jesus," I said flatly in a southern accent.

He just stared at me for a moment, shook his head and walked away deflated.

Friday, April 13, 2012

What's In a Name?

I was at a coffee shop the other day ordering a cup of coffee. The young 20 something girl at the register asked me my name so she could write it on the slip. I am always half tempted to say something groaningly funny such as “Bud Weiser” but I restrained myself and simply said, “Marc."

I waited patiently for my cup of coffee and spied my ticket on the counter. Buffy, the register girl, had written “Lark.” Yes, “Lark” as in the bird. I was a little shocked and annoyed. How can you get Lark from Marc??? Didn’t she hear me? I think that I speak clearly.

I often have people spell my name with a K when it is spelled with a C. My last name seems to confound people too. It is spelled Haynes. I often get Haines, Hayne, Hanes, Hayes. The list goes on.

Maybe Buffy didn’t hear me. I looked over at her. She was happily going about her day answering questions and taking orders. Maybe she was a lip reader? She didn’t seem like she had a hearing problem.

I would hope that she wasn't making fun of me because she knew I would see the receipt. You hear news stories about service industry people insulting others by assigning them derogatory names on the receipts. How is “Lark” derogatory though? Hello Paranoia!

Finally my coffee came up and the stoner dude working the coffee machine grabbed the receipt and began to yell my name - or I mean the wrong name!

“It’s MARC!” I screamed over him, not allowing him to finish.
“It says Lark,” he responded flatly.
“Well, it’s WRONG! It’s Marc. M. A. R. C.”

He stared at me blankly. “Whatever dude.”

I looked over at the girl behind the register now looking at me as well. “It’s Marc,” I hissed.

Everyone was now looking at me like I was crazy. “It’s Marc!” I yelled to no one in particular. That heat of embarrassment started to come over me and I fled the coffee shop to the safely of my beat-up Saturn.

Thinking in the car, I realized that I do normally sound nasal from allergies, so maybe she thought I said something else. When I have a bad head cold and have been asked my name, people have thought I said “Bart” or even “Bark.”

I think from now on I am just going to wear a name tag like the one you see at conventions. “Hello, my name is Marc.” At least then they would spell it with a C and not a K.


This week, John and I were lucky enough to have my brother Adam, his wife Teresa, my niece Angelica, and nephew Johnny visit us. I went crazy cleaning the house the week prior. Teresa evening called 2 hours early saying they would be there within the hour and I went into panic mode! John calmed me down and I just did the essentials and even got almost everything done by the time they arrived. What I did not get done, I turned down the lights or covered with a throw blanket!

Mom would have been proud as at least the bathrooms were clean, the kitchen was clean, and there was fresh towels in the bathrooms and fresh linens in the bedrooms! We spend the long weekend reminiscing. Friday night was spent at sister Sheryl's for Passover dinner. She put on a great feast. She is truly the gourmet of the family. We did a traditional (speeded up version for us reformed Jews) Passover Seder. I was the Leader and Johnny asked the traditional Passover questions. It was the first time in over 20 years and Adam, Sheryl, and I were together on Passover. After dinner, we went through Mom's stuff and divied it up. It was tough but a very special evening.

The rest of the trip was spent sightseeing and taking long drives around the countryside of Schuylkill County and the Amish Country. It was fun having the kids around. They played in the yard and climbed trees. They asked me for knives, hammers, and chisels. Being the nonparent, or course I gave them to the kids. LOL. Adam and Teresa asked why I didn't just offer matches and gasoline. All I could say is that is why I have cats! LOL. Oh yes, the cats have never had so much attention. They were exhausted!

John made an awesome Italian dinner on Easter and we made Easter baskets for the kids. Being the OCD control freak, I prepackaged the jelly beans and chocolate eggs in Ziplocs so the kids wouldn't spill any out of the Easter basket. I had the family cracking up. I just thought it would be neater and more orderly. We watched movies and videos afterwards and stayed up late talking.

Barry, my stepdad, and his fiance, Diane, had us over for a BBQ at his place the next evening. It was a very nice night and the kids enjoyed seeing their Grandpa Bear.

Overall, a great week that ended too quickly. It was bitter sweet as it was the 3rd anniversary of Mom's passing. We visited Mom's grave site at Fort Indiantown Gap National Cemetary to pay our respects. The kids decorated the grave marker with flower blossoms and a yellow ribbon. I brought along a bag of walnuts for the friendly squirrels and the kids placed them nearby. Ironically two of John's relatives are buried in the same area, so we paid our respects to them as well.

Next time, my turn out to San Diego!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Gateway Indoor Track, My Only Win (?)

At Gateway Regional High School, I used to run cross country in the Fall. In the winter, I ran indoor track with the same group of people. In the Spring, it was spring track with the same motley crew. The work outs were grueling to say the least and cross country was the toughest.

In cross country, we used to run up to 13 miles a day. By comparison, winter track practice was actually fun. I like spring track too, but sometimes the heat was G-d awful. Anyway, with indoor track, for those of you that didn't know, it takes place during the winter, LOL. We would work out in the back quiet section of the high school, running up and down the hallways or up and down the stairs, like 20 times in a row. We would also run these killer sprints called "suicide sprints" which involved running back and forth, turning 'round on a dime at the end of the hallway, sometimes feeling like your ankles were going to blow out.

The winter track meets were run on an small indoor rubber track. It would get so crowded that runners would constantly jostle each other for position. I was much better at jostling than running which is probably why I do well at flea markets as an adult. Coach Joe Focarelli would yell at me, "HAYNES!" rather cutting and abruptly, "YOU GOTTA FIGHT FOR YOUR POSITION!" I did and usually got it.

Each runner had a "counter" assigned to him from the track meet personnel who would scream what lap he was on. It was just so crowded, these counters were indispensable to keep track of the runner's laps. I remember specifically running one track meet which would change my entire senior year season. I don't remember the location of the meet. I just remember that my counter messed up and thought I was in third place. As a runner, we typically lose track. You are concentrating on overtaking the next runner, not what lap you are on out of 20 or so.

I was running countless times around the small track and didn't know what lap I was on. The counter screamed at me, "LAST LAP!!!!" I thought, "Gosh he is SO rude and then I thought, OK ... I guess I am running faster that I thought!" So I ended up finishing THIRD out of 20 runners!!! I was so excited and couldn't believe it. My first placement at an indoor track meet! The first and second place runners looked at me like "Who the hell is this kid? Where did he come from?" The counter kept insisting I came in third; I frankly had no idea what my place was as I was panting like a dying dog. I was awarded a shiny brass-toned metallic medal which I still have to this day.

My great cross country, indoor and spring track coach, Joe Focarelli, stood by me, and yelled, "Haynes did it, that scrawny kid! He came in third!" I received the only indoor track medal of my high school career that very day. Woo hoo! Only months later did Coach Focarelli break the news to me, "Ya know son, I think you were actually in 14th place, but the counter was supposed to keep track, so f*ck it. What's done is done." I was a little disappointed but everytime I look at that shiny medal, I smile and think ... sh*t happens.