That image above could be me dealing with WordPress. I am STUCK! I admit I’m not the most technologically fluent person but really – should it be this difficult??
You know that little bell icon located in the right corner of your page? This is what I see when I press that icon:
Yeah – nothing, zip, nada … just a little circle buffering, just a little obnoxious thingy going round and round and round, mocking me. I can’t see any of your comments, etc.
Not only that, when I go to one of YOUR pages to see YOUR latest posts, I cannot ‘like’ anything; I press and press and press the ‘like’ button but nothing happens. Dorothy at New Vintage Kitchen posted about a delicious-looking Tomato and Fennel Summer Salad. Can’t like it.Mitch Teemley wrote an interesting article about Vacation Homes for You to Try. Can’t like it. Richard Braxton has just postedanother of his great poems called Don’t Beg Me For Money. Can’t like it. The list goes on and on.
I’m not begging for money. I’m begging for H.E.L.P.!!!
I am in WordPress Limbo – a very real place. It’s horrible and full of stupid people and sites that don’t work. Just ask our friend and fellow WordPresser Cindy Georgakas at Unique Times about her recent fall down the WordPress rabbit hole. (Cindy, if you’re out there, drop me a lifeline!)
I’ve been communicating with WordPress. Not for nothing (as they say) but are we all speaking English here or what? None of their “Happiness Engineers” has been able to help me and the advice they do give is impossible to interpret. Stop with the computer-ese and talk to me like I’m four years old; honestly, I will not be offended. Happiness Engineers – I am not happy! My grandchildren could do a better job explaining this to me. Note to self: call grand kids.
I am at my wit’s end right now. I want you all to know I am not ignoring you; I’m stuck in a WordPress bubble and can’t find my way out. If any of you can help, I am open to suggestions and/or advice. I’m not kidding! Truly, I’m not kidding!
Thanks, dear friends. Now to see if I can publish this post! 🤞🏼
NB: This is a humorous work of fiction with no intention of disparaging any professions, persons, nationalities or ethnicities.
If you are seeking a woman with beautiful, exotic looks and a lovely disposition, a single Thai lady is the way to go. Thai women love to laugh and tend to be quite happy. They are demure and sweet in public, perhaps a bit shy, but when alone with their partner they are open and sexually accommodating.
Reading that online advert made Frank Morelli’s eyes widen. One of these Thai girls could be just what he was looking for. Intrigued, Frank decided to read a bit more. He scrolled down to see a bevy of available women – 922 to be exact. Beneath each pic was a name, age, contact address and the city in which the woman resided. There were also three options: 1) 💬 Say Hello; 2) 📧 Send a Message; 3) ❤️ Add to Hotlist.
There were some like Primmie who looked like she was just 17 and you know what I mean – a captivating schoolgirl-type with huge brown eyes, pouty lips and dewy skin. Primmie gave the impression of being a sweet, shy young thing with her glossy hair in pigtails wearing a short school uniform when in reality she could have invented sex. She was capable of teaching most men a thing or ten, taking them to erotic levels they’d never experienced before.
Then there were others like Opia who looked like she’d gone a few rounds with Mike Tyson – and won. She had an angry scowl and a leathery face that could stop a clock. She wouldn’t even be able to arouse a blindfolded Wilt Chamberlain – and he is reputed to have had sex with 20,000 women!
More than a few of the girls could easily be adult movie actresses while others looked like the ubiquitous hunchbacked dishwashers in greasy Chinese takeout joints that smelled like burning rancid oil. And by some miracle they were all available and willing to be dutiful wives and make anyone’s wildest dreams come true. At what cost? That part of the equation had not entered Frank’s mind. Even if it had, Frank was the type who acted first and thought later, if at all – a habit that got him into trouble more times than he was willing to admit.
The truth was most of these girls were looking for a ticket to The States, for some poor unsuspecting sap exactly like Frank to get them to fall madly in love and secure a green card and a one way ride out of Bangkok.
Frank made himself comfortable in his battered and patched pseudo-leather Barcalounger, his iPad nestled comfortably on his lap. A 25oz can of Bud Lite to his left and a bag of Utz pork rinds to his right set the stage for what could be the luckiest night of his vapid life. Frank loosened the drawstring of his sweatpants and wriggled his feet out of his Air Jordan knockoffs; this online mating game could take a while.
For lack of a better word, Frank was a “loser” – a thirty-something, short, stocky, balding, bespectacled, single, white, Italian Walmart shelf stocker living in his parent’s basement in Queens, New York. In other words – he was George Costanza.
This wasn’t exactly the ideal living arrangement as far as Frank or his parents were concerned but it didn’t cost him a dime and his mother did everything for him. Besides being as lazy as a slug, he just didn’t have that many friends and most of the ones he did have were married with children. He went on a couple of dates but he wasn’t what you’d call “a catch” and couldn’t hold a woman’s attention for very long. Frank wasn’t attracted to any of the women at work and the feeling was mutual.
There were a few things he enjoyed doing but most of them were solo activities like playing video games, listening to heavy metal music and watching porn. His father called him a no good, lazy bum and dreamed of the day he would move out of the house and stop being a drain on his wallet. His mother called him Frankie Boy and waited on him hand and foot, all the while lamenting the fact that she was not and probably never would be a grandma. She tried matching him up with a couple of her friend’s daughters but Frank left them cold.
Mrs. Morelli cooked all Frank’s meals and washed his laundry, including his fossilized jerkoff rags. She finally got fed up with her fancy hand towels being violated and bought Frank a case of cheap industrial-quality tissues from Amazon which he discovered in his closet one day. Neither he nor his mother ever said a word about the tissues but they kept being used and a new case would discreetly appear every month.
So there sat Frank, comfortably reclining in his “man cave”, taking his time perusing the ladies on the Thai bride website, adding his favorites to his hotlist when suddenly a photo of a girl named ‘Niki ‘ appeared. Frank nearly choked on his pork rinds when he saw her and he believed with all his heart she was the one for him. His iPad began to levitate as he felt himself getting hard. Grabbing a handful of Amazon tissues, he took care of business in about 20 seconds. She was a hot number, that Niki, and Frank was only looking at a still photograph!
Frank made himself presentable and clicked the FaceTime icon, his finger hovering over option #1: 💬 Say Hello. It was now or never so, mustering all the courage he possessed, he pushed the button which could determine the outcome of the rest of his life – a life with the enchanting Niki.
A few strange electronic sounds were followed by a shrill ring, then a child-like yet sultry voice was heard coming from behind what appeared to be a satin curtain:
“Ooh, swasdi. Hellooo, this Niki. You want Niki?”
Frank was flustered, intrigued and aroused all at the same time. “Oh, yes. Hi. Yes, I want nookie … I mean Niki. Hi, I’m Frank; is this Niki?’
Giggles from behind the curtain on the iPad gave Frank an erection. “Tee hee hee! Ooh, Frang want Niki nookie? Tee hee hee! Yes?”
“Yes” replied Frank. “No. Yes and no. Is this Niki?”
More giggles. “Yes, Frang. This Niki. You want Niki.”
“It’s Frank and, yes, I definitely want Niki.”
“What you want, Frang? You want tawk Niki, see Niki? You want marry Niki? Niki be good wifey.”
While Frank imagined Niki as his life partner from the moment he saw her photo, this was all moving very fast. On one hand he was thrilled to be speaking to a woman, especially a beautiful willing woman, and he hoped to have a relationship someday but on the other hand, was he ready to fly off and get married to a total stranger?
“Frang? Hellooo? You want Niki?”
Frank said the first thing that popped into his head: “How much will it cost me?”
Giggles. “Tawk free, see free on FaceyTime. Airplane tickie to marry.”
“I want to see Niki” replied Frank with an uncharacteristic smidgen of common sense.
“Okay, Frang. Here Niki” and the satin curtain was pulled back. There she was; Frank recognized her immediately from her photo. She was even more bewitching in person – long silky black hair, porcelain skin with tiny, doll-like features, a small mouth painted red and a diminutive body which Frank found delightfully appealing. Niki looked like Frank could snap her in two, like a delicate glass swizzle stick. She wore a lacy camisole which was surprisingly modest and revealed nothing. Niki was the opposite of all the blonde, busty, Botoxed porn stars he was used to where everything was supersized.
Frank was mesmerized.
“Ooh, hellooo. You Frang?”
“Yes. Hi. I’m Frang” was Frank’s dimwitted response.
Giggles. “Ooh, Frang hansom Merican man from USA. You big strong. Niki like you. You like Niki?”
“Yes, I like Niki very much.”
“Niki make good wifey. You come Bangkok. Marry Niki.”
Frank’s head was spinning. “Wow! Yeah, that sounds great Niki! But first can we just talk like this for a few days and get to know each other?”
“Ooh, Frang. Niki no do nookie on FaceyTime. Betta you come Bangkok. You like Niki, marry Niki.”
It was now or never time for Frank and he was squirming in his pants. He had to ask himself what was holding him back. There wasn’t a thing going on in his life; he had nothing to lose by jumping in. This could be his one shot at happiness.
As usual, before Frank knew what he was doing, he blurted out “You know what, Niki? You’re right, dammit! I’m gonna fly over there and make you my bride!”
“Ooh, yay!” Giggles and little hand claps. “Frang let Niki know when you come Bangkok.”
“I definitely will, sweetie. Talk to you soon, Niki. Bye bye” and Frank wiggled his pudgy fingers at Niki like a ten-year-old boy.
Frank jumped up excitedly. He was a man on a mission. He went into the laundry room to retrieve his luggage and there stood his mother. Her face was as red as her hair and her expression said it all.
Mrs. Morelli clutched Frank’s suitcase and screamed at him: “You ingrate! You are a complete moron! Look at you, all hot to trot! Why can’t you go out and find yourself a nice Italian girl like your cousin Gerald instead of traipsing half-way around the world to some Godforsaken placecalled ‘Bangkok’? What kind of sick, perverted name is ‘Bangkok’ anyway?Oh my God, I think I’m going to be sick!”
Befuddled and feeling like a little boy, Frank snatched the suitcase from his mother’s arms, yelling back at her “You don’t know anything about it. I’m a grown man! Just mind your own business!”
Frank’s father heard the arguing and was now in the basement. “What the hell is going on down here?” he demanded. “You idiot! Look how upset your mother is!”
Mrs. Morelli wailed “He’s running off to someplace called ‘Bangkok’ where he thinks he’s gonna find a wife!“
Mr. Morelli slammed his hand on the washing machine. “You ungrateful bum! Can’t you see what you’re doing to your mother? What kind of a sicko are you? I had a war buddy from my time in Korea who took off for Bangkoklooking for a little filly. Nobody ever saw him again!”
“If you leave here for that sex den, you better not step one foot back in this house!” Mrs. Morelli shrieked. “I work my fingers to the bone for you and your father. If you think I’m going to start waiting on you and some mail order sex kitten living in my basement, you got another thing coming!”
“You’re a disgrace to this family, Frank! A disgrace!” bellowed Frank’s father.
Frank sputtered ineffectually, pulled at what little hair he had and scurried back into his room. He could hear his parents shouting upstairs. Not live here? Where would he and Niki stay? Frank hadn’t thought about that. Well, he’d figure something out. Besides, once his parents saw Niki they’d welcome her with open arms.
“I’ll think about that later. It’ll all work out” Frank muttered to himself. “Right now I’ve got a bag to pack.”
Along with a group of about 100, I can proudly say I am a #1 bestselling author! We made it to #1 on Amazon!!
When I was first approached by Gabriela Marie Milton to contribute two poems to “Wounds I Healed: The Poetry of Strong Women“, I was somewhat taken aback. “I’m a storyteller, not a poet” I said to myself. Although I have written a few poems, poetry is not my wheelhouse and I was reluctant to accept Gabriela’s offer. However, after learning what this anthology was about, I realized I could not refuse. I put pen to paper and imagined I was Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
To my amazement both my poems were accepted and now I can add poet to my resume! This has been a unique experience – both profoundly rewarding and humbling – and the subject is of utmost importance in our society today: the challenges women face and how they found the courage and strength to overcome them. If I should ever be asked again to contribute my poems, I will do so without hesitation.
I am a wife, a grandmother, a lover, a friend, a singer, a writer, a poet and a dreamer. I am a woman. I hope you enjoy the first of my two poems, Bird of Promise. Thank you for the privilege.
BIRD OF PROMISE It was just a fling, just one of those things she fell upon quite by accident with no intent of malice or harm. She never meant for the strong desire so wrong to last so long.
No child, she. A life well spent with no sense or scent of doubt or regret for she was a one off, a rare and spirited bird of promise in thought, action and word.
She knew herself better than any woman or man who came to her with open heart and hand, never afraid to take a stand, without trying she could command a room of strangers or friends for she was the willow that always bends.
Never intimidated, she wouldn’t allow herself to be berated, deflated, abused or humiliated.
Then this thing, this once in a lifetime fling blossomed like the bouquets of spring, bursting with an uncontrollable, unstoppable, insurmountable force she could not rein in.
How did she allow herself to be so exposed, for him to see her inner core, wanting and demanding more than she could give or afford while inflicting pain with nothing to gain except stress and blame and risking the loss of all things she held near and dear, almost extinguishing her brightest inner flame.
Resolve restored she said “No more!” She’d said it before, two, three times, maybe four. Get up off the floor, open the door; be that bird of promise and soar. This time she meant it but her heart was broken and sore like those who suffered and bore the ravages of war.
My father was the type of man who liked to have fun, even if the joke was on him. I’m guessing the picture shown above ⬆️ was taken at least 60 years ago but I remember it like it was yesterday. While my mother, sister and I were occupied with other things, Dad quietly went around the house collecting stuff – in this case a scarf, a yarmulke from a friend’s wedding and our family Bible. He then sat there not saying a word until one of us noticed and we all cracked up. I’m pretty sure at that point he started chanting which made the whole scenario even funnier. I showed this pic to my husband last night and even he cracked up. Yes, dad, your legend lives on!
Dad’s jokes weren’t always funny and he didn’t have much of a filter. I remember a family friend was complaining that she needed to lose weight. Dad told her she looked fine just the way she was which would have been totally acceptable if he’d left it at that but he had to add that she was “pleasingly plump“. Our friend was not happy with that description and huffed off, angry and embarrassed. Meanwhile dad couldn’t understand what he said that was so bad. He’d often do things without thinking them through like the times he’d invite people over for dinner and fail to tell my mother until a couple hours before their guests arrived, usually resulting in mom reacting sorta like this:
She never really hit him over the head with a frying pan but she wanted to – lots of times. But that wouldn’t have stopped dad from telling the same old joke about the canary who ran out of gas or thinking he was entertaining countless waitresses by ordering an Al Pacino instead of a cappuccino which always resulted in an eye roll or a blank stare.
Speaking of blank stares, some of my relatives were hard nuts to crack and dad’s cornball jokes were definitely not appreciated. This was a particularly tough crowd; they look like they’re at a funeral instead of a bridal shower. ⬇️ And why is the woman on the left clutching her purse so tightly? She’s in my parent’s house; who’s gonna steal it? Probably fight or flight reaction due to Dad’s jokes.
What’s with all the purse clutching? Must be a generational thing. Man, I would have loved to have been around when this next photo was taken. ⬇️ Talk about surreal! The parents look like very nice, normal people but totally confused and amused at the same time; I think those guys had that effect on all of us. (I was going to say they looked “Dazed and Confused” but that was done by a much better band – no offense.)
My dad was a good guy who meant well and wouldn’t hurt a fly. He was all talk and no bite, like the time he convinced an art auctioneer that he was “connected“. The poor guy was wetting his pants and falling over himself to make sure ‘Don Vito‘ was satisfied and there would be no retaliation. Mom just rolled her eyes and called dad “stunad“.
Dad had a lousy head for figures so, naturally, he volunteered to be the church treasurer. He then proceeded to botch the books so terribly, the Elders of the church came to our house looking very serious and officious in their black suits and asked dad how he managed to screw up the numbers so badly. Even dad couldn’t figure out what he’d done wrong; he was totally flustered and way over his head. Everyone felt sorry for him but business is business and dad was officially removed him from his position.
Dad was an immigrant from Sicily who taught himself to speak, read and write English entirely on his own. And he barely had an accent. His biggest achievement in his eyes was being able to do the New York Times crossword puzzle in ink! Everyone loved my dad and it gave him so much pleasure to entertain his friends and spend time with his family.
Times were tough, often heartbreaking. In 1943 mom and dad lost their first born and only son, the brother I never knew, when he was only 2-years-old. Baby Frank passed away on New Year’s Eve; my parent’s never celebrated or went out on New Year’s Eve ever again after that. Then my dad got drafted and was sent overseas. I can only imagine what Father’s Day must have been like that year. Talk about rough times!
Now that I’m older and hopefully wiser, I regret being embarrassed in front of my friends when dad told a corny joke or sang a silly song. I wish I didn’t think of him as a clown or a buffoon; no one else saw him that way (except my sister) and he made a lot of people happy. I was young and stupid; I didn’t realize at the time everything he did was with good intentions.
My grown sons remember my dad, or ‘Papa’ as they called him, but I have four grandchildren who never knew him. I hope when my granddaughters start dating, my sons will wait up for them to come home from their dates, just as my dad did right up till the night before my wedding.
When you’re young you think you have all the time in the world, then you start to realize the older you get the faster time goes by. There are plenty of things I wish I could go back and do over; I can’t. I just have to believe that my dad knew I loved him even when I didn’t show it. I hope he’s proud of the person I have become. I’m proud of my dad and I miss him. I know he’s listening so “Happy Father’s Day, dad! I love you!”
Dedicated to my father, Vito Schembre, July 14, 1915 – August 1, 1998
The #6 subway from Grand Central to my station in Ridegwood Queens was surprisingly empty for 5:40 on a Friday afternoon. At first I questioned whether I had gotten on the wrong train but as I looked around I saw some of the familiar faces.
Diagonally across from me on my left was a man wearing a ‘sorta-suit’ – my made-up name for a jacket and slacks of slightly different shades that one tries to pass off as a suit but it never quite works. Not only was it always rumpled but it needed to be cleaned. His tie was missing and probably stuffed into one of his pockets. He always stood whether there were seats available or not. With his right hand he held onto a pole while he clenched and released his left hand as though squeezing a stress ball. I guessed he was a detective. He was probably in his early 30s but he looked older. Lots of people who ride the subway every day look older than they are.
Directly opposite me sat a young guy who always traveled with an oversized orange duffel bag. He was 19 or 20 years old and naive-looking, perhaps Scandinavian with blonde hair and cool blue eyes. There were numerous tags on his bag; the most prominent identified him as a student at Queens College. Living on campus could be extremely expensive and I wondered what he was doing for accommodations. It looked like all his earthly possessions were crammed into that orange duffel bag. For a nanosecond I entertained the possibility of offering him the spare room in my parent’s house; they knew what it was like to struggle alone in a foreign country but they were elderly now and this wasn’t quite the same as bringing home a stray!
On the other side of the subway car was a nurse in royal blue scrubs. My guess was she was just starting her overnight shift; she looked refreshed and her uniform was neat and clean. Her hair was nicely done and she didn’t have that after-work jaded look on her pleasantly round face. She hugged a large black bag tightly on her lap, her phone resting on the bag with her ear buds nestled in place. From the rapturous look on her face, she was probably listening to some “Help me through another day at work, sweet Jesus” type of music.
Sitting next to the nurse on the verge of dozing off was an Asian man wearing a windbreaker, corduroys and an N95 mask. I had him pegged as an IT guy or possibly a research analyst. He always had a flat yellow plastic bag with him which looked like it had a comic book or two inside, probably for his kids. I liked him; he looked like a good dad and a decent person.
Those were the regulars; here and there a few stragglers would wander on and off but these were my daily traveling companions. We rode together every day, rain or shine, come hell or high water, yet we didn’t know each other’s names, avoided eye contact and never talked. That’s how it’s done in the subways of New York – anonymity at all costs.
Today, however, there was a young couple on the train I had never seen before. They spoke softly and their vibe was very intense. He was in a navy uniform and she wore black pants, white sneakers and a black and white checked shirt, her fingers interlocked over a slightly protruding belly – a baby bump, I was quite sure. His back was to me and he wore a mask so I could not see his face; still, by his posture, I could tell he was ill at ease and the conversation was not going well.
It eventually became obvious they had reached an impasse; talking ceased and she stood with her back to the door, a symbolic stance I’ve seen 1,000 times. The frozen expression on her face was one of utter disappointment, despair, unhappiness, hurt and rejection. They mumbled a word or two but barely looked at each other. It was not a comfortable situation.
At this point I was compelled to take out my phone and snap a photo of the couple, pretending to be busy doing something else. There was a story unfolding before me; I could sense it and needed more than my memory to remember this sad turn of events. At the next stop the sailor prepared to get off; he reached for his seabag and his fingers fleetingly touched the pregnant woman’s arm but he made no other contact. He quickly headed for the steps, never looking back.
The doors closed and the woman leaned against them, staring down at her shoes. I could see streaming tears coursing down her face and her shoulders silently shook. I knew at that moment the couple had broken up and she was beyond heartbroken; she was shattered. I thought at any moment she might drop to her knees and wail in hopelessness.
Our eyes met and I held up my hand offering her a tissue. Without a word she walked the three feet to where I was sitting, took the tissue I proffered and sat down beside me. We were now connected yet we did not speak. I felt the need to console her but I decided to stay silent; if she wanted to say something to me she would.
Shoulders shaking, hands wringing, tears silently flowing. She tore at the tissue I gave her and I thought she was about to say something when her phone buzzed. Her voice was barely more than a whisper.
“Anita, Tommy is gone. Sí, just now. I don’t know. Just text it to me, por favor.”
She ended the call and looked over at me embarrassed, smiling poignantly. “Excuse me. May I?” and I nodded quickly, handing her another tissue.
“Gracias.” She wiped her face and shoved the tissues into her little purse. With tentative fingers she pressed the link Anita had sent her. She spoke softly with no emotion. “Hello. My friend gave me your number. My name is Esperanza. Now? Yes, I can come now.” And that was all she said.
The train slowed down for the next stop and Esperanza stood up and began walking to the door. I impulsively called out her name and she turned looking at me with hollow eyes. I handed her my package of tissues, hoping she would stay on the train. After a moment’s hesitation, she took the tissues, turned and left the train.
So many thoughts went through my head in that instant. I remembered from Spanish classes in high school that ‘esperanza’ means ‘hope’. I thought it was one of the most beautiful words I had ever heard.
Where Esperanza was going I had no idea. I wondered if I’d ever see her again? Above all, I hoped she would be alright.
N.B.: My usual routine when writing is to search for an appropriate graphic after a story is complete; sometimes this process takes hours. When my photo-snapping friend Eileen posted this pic, it hit me like a ton of bricks. To say it took my breath away would not be an exaggeration. It screamed out to me that something heavy, perhaps even life-changing, was going on in an otherwise seemingly innocuous photo. Some people will gloss over a pic like this, not really seeing anything; others will be glued to it and the woman’s face. I was transfixed. In a glimpse it can look totally mundane and unimportant – except for the excruciatingly heartbroken expression on the woman’s face and the sailor’s inability to look her in the eyes. This is a first for me – a story based on a photograph; hopefully there will be more in my collection. I hope I did it justice. NAR
In March of 1968 I went on a blind date. This was a new experience for me and I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was the guy’s name. I insisted my best friend and her boyfriend (who set up the date) tag along in case my date turned out to be Hannibal Lecter (hey, it could happen).
As soon as I answered the door, I felt like I was in the middle of a chick flick. I stared at him, smiling; I heard birds tweeting and angels singing “Today I met the boy I‘m going to marry“. On the other side of the door my date was staring and smiling back at me. I think he heard the music, too.
His name was Bill.
I’d just turned 17 and he was not yet 20. Bill was different in so many ways from any guys I knew, most notably was the fact that he didn’t look like he belonged to La Cosa Nostra. He was tall, lean, tan and blonde and the way his biceps looked in his white t-shirt made my stomach flutter.
We went to another friend’s house for a party and spent the whole night talking to each other. After that blind date, we didn’t go out with anyone else ever again.
Bill’s what I affectionately call “a mutt” and he’ll be the first to agree. He’s 1/2 Irish, 1/4 Finnish and 1/4 Italian. He’d never met a first generation Sicilian girl like me before let alone gone out with one (we’re a rare breed, you know!); he thought I was “exotic” and looked like Sophia Loren. Every time he said that I got goosebumps – and he said it a lot.
We were crazy about each other; two years after that first date we got engaged and two years after that we got married.
Bill’s a real handy-man, the kind of guy who can fix just about anything. Back in the Stone Age before Google, we had a bunch of ‘do-it-yourself-books’. If Bill didn’t know how to fix something, he’d read about it. And if the books didn’t help, he’d solve the problem himself. He wasn’t afraid of getting his hands dirty – whether he was repairing an engine or changing a diaper.
Not only is he a hands-on kind of guy in every aspect of our lives, he’s also very smart and I don’t mean smarter than your average bear. Bill is flat out brilliant and that’s not a word I toss around lightly. He’s got the degrees to prove it but he’s too humble for that and definitely not the type to rub his smarts in your face. He has a classic wit – a dry and clever sense of humor that makes me laugh every day.
They don’t come any better than Bill. He’s the homebody type, not one looking to go out partying. His one guilty pleasure is fishing. He’s loved fishing since he was a kid growing up on City Island and you can find him on his boat every Saturday. In fishing terminology, Bill’s ‘a keeper’.
Now you can go ahead and call me delusional but I know what I know – and I know Bill.
* He’s colorblind but can identify blue; that’s why it’s his favorite color. * He’ll ask other shoppers which bananas are ripe because he can’t tell yellow from green; he’s found people are very obliging and happy to help with his “handicap“. * He loves Carvel soft serve vanilla ice cream in a waffle cone with chocolate sprinkles. * All his food has to be cooked well done; if you think his burger is done, cook it for an additional 10 minutes. * He’s very proud of me and tells everyone I’m “an author”. * Our doctor adores him and will spend the first 15 minutes of our appointments looking at new photos of our grand kids. * He’s a die-hard NY Rangers Hockey fan. * He and his identical twin brother were number 18 in the Vietnam draft but they failed the physical due to pilonidal cysts. * He would walk our newborn baby to sleep every night for as long as it took, most times more than an hour. * He’ll do whatever it takes to avoid an argument. * Family comes first, always. * He’s a very generous tipper; people are grateful and remember that. * I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like him. * His favorite song is “Only You”. * He’s a ‘one woman man‘. He doesn’t flirt or stare at other women; that’s just not his style. * He’s never given me reason to be jealous. * He’s the most decent man I know. * He never forgets my birthday or our wedding anniversary, especially this anniversary because it’s TODAY. And today’s not just any anniversary – IT’S OUR 50th!
I have to believe God knew what He was doing when He brought us together. Fifty years – it just doesn’t seem possible! I look at Bill now and I see the same guy I fell in love with the night of our blind date. I’m awfully glad he was the one on the other side of the door that March night in 1968.
As the parents of four young children, Kay and Michael Morgan wanted nothing but the best for their kids – 7-year-old twins Jack and Luke, 3-year-old Ella and baby Ivy. After meeting in college in Philadelphia and living there for the past twelve years, the couple had recently moved back to their hometown. It was great reconnecting with old friends and making new ones.
Kay and Michael wanted to send the boys to a good summer camp and everyone recommended Camp Dino-Mite. Not only did the camp offer a broad variety of indoor and outdoor activities ranging from chess to archery and just about everything in between – it was an easy ten-minute walk from their house.
The Morgans were looking forward to orientation day when the boys would meet their counselors and the other kids in their groups. The day turned out to be great fun with games for the campers and a barbecue lunch for everyone. Before heading home, Kay and Michael stopped at the main office to buy camp t-shirts for the boys and pay their registration fee.
They were just about to pay when Michael heard an unwelcome voice call out “Is that you, Morgan? Well, the Boy Wonder has returned! Ain’t that just Dino-Mite?!” Michael cringed; it was his old childhood nemesis Rex Tirano. Michael suddenly realized why the name of the camp was so familiar; “Dino-Mite” used to be Rex’s favorite expression. Apparently, it still was. Slowly Michael turned around to face his one-time foe.
Let’s just say the aging process for Rex did not go well. He had become a caricature of himself – a living, breathing buffoonish cartoon character – and Michael bit the inside of his cheek to keep from laughing. Rex was pasty, prematurely balding and terribly overweight; he looked ridiculous stuffed into a camp t-shirt and a pair of khaki shorts. Rex was the complete opposite of the stereotypical tanned goomba high school bully with slicked back hair that Michael remembered; the only things unchanged were his pushy attitude, big mouth and cold, forbidding eyes.
“Rex” Michael replied coolly. “It’s been a while.”
“Yeah, I heard ya was back in town, living in a nice big house with your Wall Street job and your perfect little family. Must be nice being you, Mikey Boy – Mr. Quarterback, valedictorian, prom king big shot. Ain’t ya gonna introduce me to your wifey? Hiya, sweetie. What’s your name?”
Michael had always been intimidated by Rex – everyone was – but he wasn’t about to apologize for being successful and he certainly wasn’t going to allow his wife to be insulted or let his kids see him cave.
“Where are my manners? Rex, this is my wife, Kay. Honey, this is Rex Tirano. We went to school together.”
“Kay and Michael – just like from The Godfather. Ain’t that precious? Well, you got yourself a Dino-Mite little lady there, Mikey. A real looker.”
Trying desperately to avoid an unpleasant scene, Kay greeted Rex cordially. “Are those your children, Rex?” Kay asked.
Rex nodded enthusiastically; his kids were almost as big as him and just as neanderthal. They were porcine, slovenly nose pickers practically bursting out of their camp uniforms. Rex beamed proudly as he introduced his kids. “Yeah, this here’s Bruno, then Gino and my little angel Claudia. My wife’s around here somewhere, meetin’ and greetin’.”
“Aren’t you a little old to be wearing a camp uniform?” Jack asked innocently.
“And big?” Luke added, always unable to resist stating the obvious.
Michael wished his sons hadn’t said anything but they was just kids; he had to admit he was curious himself. Well, the cat was out of the bag now and there was nothing Michael could do about it.
Rex glared at Michael. “Whoa, Captain America, don’t tell me there’s something you don’t know!? Dino-Mite!! Allow me to explain: I own this camp! That’s right, Mr. Touchdown, hot shot class president – this is all mine” Rex boasted loudly, stretching out his arms causing his t-shirt to rip under his sweaty pits.
By now Rex’s crowing had attracted a lot of his attention and people rushed over to see what was going on.
Luke whispered to Jack that Rex looked David Banner about to transform into the Incredible Hulk. That was too funny for Jack and both boys started laughing at the sounds of ripping cloth and the sight of huge sweat rings under Rex’s arms.
“Why you little smart asses! Looks like your daddy forgot to teach you some manners so I guess we’re gonna have to. Bruno, Gino, let’s show these two skinny little bean poles what happens when they don’t give proper respect to Rex “Dino-Mite” Tirano.”
Kay started to take a step forward but Michael blocked her; no way was he going to let anything happen to her. Besides, he’d been waiting for this chance for a long time.
“Listen, Rex. We didn’t come here looking for trouble. We just wanted a good camp for our boys where they could be with respectable people with decent attitudes. Apparently we made the wrong choice. You’re right – I didn’t know you owned this place. If I did, we wouldn’t have wasted our time coming here. You may have gotten larger, Rex, but you certainly haven’t grown up!” And with that, Michael turned his back on Rex and began to lead his family out of the camp.
Before Michael could take two steps, Rex grabbed him by the shoulder, spun him around and took a swing at him. Michael ducked and Rex’s big flabby fist landed squarely on Kay’s face. Everyone gasped loudly and people immediately ran to help Kay. Michael stood protectively in front of his children. A group of men held Rex back while someone yelled for the police; within minutes camp security and the police showed up.
Rex was cuffed and hauled off to the police station; he was charged with assault and battery as well as endangering the welfare of children. Michael was asked if he wanted a restraining order against Rex. “Oh, hell yeah!” said Michael. “I don’t want this beast anywhere near my family“.
The crowd of people started murmuring among themselves. No one really wanted their kids going to Camp Dino-Mite; they were just intimidated by Rex and he bullied every other camp owner into shutting down. He was the only game in town. Now people were no longer afraid to show Rex how they really felt; they tore up their registration checks and pulled their kids out of Camp Dino-Mite.
Michael didn’t give a damn about Rex – it was time he got his due – but he felt awful about what happened to Kay. An ambulance had taken her to the hospital; she had a broken nose and a nasty black eye which she wore with pride. She told Michael it was worth it to bring down a prehistoric galoot like Rex. The kids were in awe of Kay; in fact, everyone was in awe of both Michael and Kay for doing something no one else had the nerve to do – stand up to Rex Tirano.
It turns out the restraining order wasn’t necessary but it was worth it just to see the expression of Rex’s face. After losing the camp and the power he held over people, Rex had nothing left and Kay convinced Michael not to press charges. Rex moved his family to New Jersey, his tail between his legs.
That was the end of the “Tirano Menace” and it didn’t even take a meteor shower to bring him down. No, it was a woman, a manasaur – the so-called “feral, dirty and sweet little girl” who knew how to bare her teeth, show her claws, bang a gong and get it on – since time immemorial! 🦕