Well, Philly tagged me with this meme in which I’m supposed to list seven unknown, weird, or unusual things about myself. Thinking about it, I decided I’m alarmingly ordinary. But here goes:
1. My mother was the world’s worst cook, and I was an extremely skinny child. I’m still not sure if these two facts are related. But friends’ parents felt some kind of holy obligation to try to fatten me up. I never turned down an invitation to dinner, of which I received at least two a week, because there was no doubt that it was going to be better than the underdone chicken and burnt canned stringbeans my mother would serve. When I’d get home, my mother would make me describe in glorious detail every single thing that had been ladled onto my plate, and she’d say, “Boy, were you lucky. Why didn’t they invite me, too?”
2. My Jewish-Russian grandfather told me his favorite joke in broken English every single time I saw him when I was a child. He would laugh uproariously when it was over and wait for me to respond accordingly. Here’s the joke, exactly as I heard it: So vwatz de deef’rens bitveen meshed pittaytahs en’ pyee soup? I don’t know, Grampa. What IS the difference between mashed potatoes and pea soup? You ken mesh pittaytahs ... [long, long pause, while he got his finger in perfect position to emphasize the punchline by poking me in the chest] ... but you ken’t [poke] pyee [poke] soup [poke]. I still find that funny nowadays when I think of it, and it hurts a lot less.
3. My first hero was Davy Crockett. My second hero was Perry Mason. I haven’t had a hero since then.
4. I always get teary during the last movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. It moves me so much, but for reasons I can't verbalize. That's saying a lot, because, obviously, I have no compunction about verbalizing at great length on most other subjects.
5. My last full-time job was as the “fine arts” writer and reviewer for a rag in a cultureless small Southern city. I complained all the time about the general lack of standards for theatrical and musical performances, and was kind of infamous in town as “the guy who never likes anything.” One fall, when I was ordered to write a chirpy news story previewing the upcoming “arts” season, I did so — except that the first letters of the sentences, when read in order, spelled “Help! I’ve been lobotomized! Help!” (The “Z” was “Ziegfeld,” as in “Ziegfeld, himself, could never even ....”) I was so proud of myself that I made sure everyone in the newsroom heard about the joke. Oddly enough, I was not fired over this incident, which I think disappointed me. I heard very recently that now, thirteen years later, the legend is still repeated at the newspaper. But the people who tell it, none of whom were there at the time, claim that I’d spelled out “Fuck this shit.” That’s not clever at all and I’d have considered it beneath my wordplay skills. But I must admit, it’s not completely out of character.
6. I’m afraid of heights. My wife is afraid of enclosed places. We did very poorly as a couple when we stayed at a hotel with an elevator attached to the outside of the building.
7. I lied once in a post on No More Hornets, just for humorous effect. The truth is: I actually like Brussels sprouts. They’re not my favorite vegetable by any means, but I don’t hate 'em. However, try to understand. It’s much more fun to say “Brussels sprouts,” than French-cut canned stringbeans (although now that I read it aloud, I realize that FCCS is a pretty funny term, too). Anyway, that’s the only vegetable I really hate. On the other hand, I stand squarely by what I’ve always said: There is absolutely no dessert in the world superior to a Hostess Sno Ball.
I really hate tagging people. I think the original version of this meme asked the writer to pass it along to seven others. Fortunately, the half-assed version that came to me from Philly via chappy (who shamefully neglected to tag her own husband) seems to require only three. I’m gonna further whittle it down to one.
SARGE, I hope you’re reading this, because YOU'RE IT! You can leave your response as a comment here, or as seven separate comments, one for each thing. Get busy, buddy.