As the man said, it's a drag getting old. You know how it is---the music's always too loud ---though you're pretty much deaf anyway. The only consolation prize that goes with being around the block a few hundred times is experience and maybe a smidgen of wisdom. With the creaky knees, the unfortunate and annoying middle-of-the-night trips to the bathroom, and faulty memory comes certain insight from the school of hard knocks. Gradually, you establish a set of rules to live by.
You don't---never, ever---ask a woman if she's pregnant or when she's due. A woman's water could break and spill over my shoes and I wouldn't assume anything And why not? 'Cause, folks---sometimes they ain't pregnant at all. Let them mention first. And make sure you heard them correctly.
And you better be careful about age. My charming brother, Chris, approached a friend at a wedding or some such affair and with Cary Grant flair asked, "Hey Rich, may I dance with your mom?" A long, very dreadful, pause followed. "This is my sister." Oops.
Don't assume you're being complimentary. In fact, best throw compliments like the proverbial manhole covers. Otherwise, you might get yourself, oh say, decapitated. You say something like: Hey, you lost a lot of weight; you look great. Don't be surprised if they respond with some variation of: Does that mean I was a fat pig last time you saw me?
You remark on somebody's hair and who knows what that will trigger. I asked for a perm they made me look like Don King....it's a wig, you idiot....are you telling me I'm going bald?....I asked for highlights not neon....I'm suing them.
Yep, best leave hair comments at home.
Another rule, you'd think it would be obvious, but some people just swat away wisdom like a house fly. You don't tell a cop that could give you a ticket or arrest you that he works for you. It's rarely a good idea to tell him that you're a taxpayer and he's just a civil servant. Can't you just picture a cop saying, oh yeah, that's right, thanks for reminding me. You're free to go.
Know who you're talking to. If you're at a Little League game, don't tell somebody you don't know that a kid stinks---you might be talking to the kid's parent.
Don't like the way your meal has been prepared at a restaurant? Never send it back more than once. (The truly cautious among us never send it back at all). Why? Just don't. Pay or refuse to pay, chalk it up to a bad night, whatever---but don't send it back more than once. Just don't.
Always look in the bag before you pull away from the drive-thru (better: don't go to the drive-thru---you always get stuck behind a guy ordering for the New York Giants and when it's your turn they're still gonna mess up the order).
And, if you're Congressman Anthony Weiner, don't write an op-ed piece in The Wave about how wonderfully efficient and impressive the NTSB is. Not here, not in Rockaway. And not less than two weeks after eyewitnesses to the crash of Flight 587 met to discuss their frustration with the NTSB and FBI. For those of you who wondered if the sewage treatment plant had sprung a leak, rest assured, the smell came from the rotten egg laid by our usually savvy Congressman. In holding up the NTSB as a model of efficiency and professionalism, he wrote, "from day one, evidence was sequestered, witnesses were interviewed and the public was kept informed through briefings and reports." Guess he didn't know that Kenny Good from the Sunset Diner had to call them---repeatedly--- to come and fetch parts of the plane from the roof of the diner. Guess he didn't know that the NTSB asked for email accounts from witnesses. Email! Don't have a computer? Uh, we'll get back to you. Yeah, right. And does the congressman know that the FBI was interviewing some witnesses and the NTSB others? Does he know if they ever compared notes? He said "within moments the NTSB was on the ground and a comprehensive investigation was underway." Had he said within moments the NTSB reached a conclusion about things he would've been closer to the truth.
Congressman, the NTSB as a model agency? You might have wanted that op-ed piece to run in every newspaper in the country---but you couldn't have wanted it to run in The Wave. Don't you know, the NTSB is mud in Rockaway? Aye carumba. Maybe you want to put on a few pounds, but putting your foot in your mouth is no way to do it.
Boyle-ing Over: Mark your social calendar. Keep an eye out for George Johnson for more details and maybe look for an ad in The Wave. (oh, and those on his email list---please give me a yes or no). But here are the basics: The First Annual Stephen "Hangdown" Harrell Memorial Jam is set for Sunday, August 25 from noon til 6pm on Staten Island at Kaufman Camp (1131 Manor Road---across from Susan Wagner High School). The big bash is in honor of the Stephen Harrell, the fallen firefighter. There'll be five bands (all musicians are firefighters), fun, food, drink, and family activities (games, volleyball---all that stuff). And there may be a bus from Rockaway. Bring blankets and chairs---talk it up, grab some friends and go. Sounds great.
***The Graybeard Basketball finals were held last Thursday. A packed St. Francis gym watched the Gray Panthers, led by Danny Leary, upset the Light Blue DFDs. In the JV championship that followed, Cliff Shevy Shevlin knocked down a 12 foot jumper at the buzzer to give the Green Machine a one point victory---and the championship hardware. (Details of the games might follow in the sports section if Phil DeBasket can be coaxed out of retirement).