Monday, January 19, 2009

Don't Fence Me In

I don't know when it started but I really hate crowds and really hate having people (strangers) sit next to me. Every time I see a news clip of massive crowds of people gathered to hear the Pope, at a football/basball game, at a rally, etc, I thank the inventor of the TV! Yes, I know that TV does not have the same atmosphere as being there in person but it is sure more comfortable and convenient.
It is not that I am a recluse. I have attended concerts for Johnny Cash, Neil Diamond, Ricky Nelson and ELVIS. No denying, the experience was great - even if the view was not. Greater than that though is the enjoyment of close-ups, stereo sound, bathroom breaks (where do people "go" when surrounded by 200,00 other people?), snack breaks etc. when watching TV.
What brought this to mind was a recent dinner at our favorite pizza place. It is an informal place - the type where you place your order at the counter and when your pizza is ready, the cook yells out your name and then you pick it up. Well tonight, my wife and I were the only ones in the place (which has about 20 booths. We sat in the only one that had enough light to read by. Shortly after we sat down, another couple sat down right behind my wife. That was just a bit annoying as they had 19 other booths to sit in. Bad as that was, it soon got worse. Another couple came in and sat down - you guessed it - behind me! Next a third couple came in and sat behind the couple who was behind me! So now we have four couples sitting in a row. All talking at once while the rest of the restaurant was empty. Sort of like all of the passengers in a rowboat sitting on one side.
At the movies most poeple normally try to sit in the middle somwhere past the first 10 rows or so. As we like to be alone, we often pick seats toward the aisle and in the last row. Why the last row? Well, if not people will either sit a seat or two away in our row our just behind us. And talk throughout the whole show. In the last row though, no one can sit behind us. We have also learned to throw our coats over the seats in front of us so no one will sit there. If the the theatre fills up however, we do have the social smarts to remove our coats.
The same goes for parking. I normally try to park my car far enough away so that no one will pull along side me, open their doors and bang into my doors. On really busy shopping days that is sometimes impossible to do. But on most days, I can park a gazillion rows away from the store, hoping that no one will park with me. Wrong. Invariably someone will park right next to me even though there are 40,000 other parking spaces.
Where am I going with this. I don't know, I just hate crowds. So if you see me in a restaurant, movie theatre, parking lot, please stay away.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Santa Claus

In todays world I wonder how many children stop believing in Santa Clause at too early of an age?

As an adult I know that the typical image of a stout old man in a red suit flying through the sky in a sleigh powered by reindeer is just a childhood tale. That does not mean that the spirt of that man does not exist. What follows is a true story that illustrates that Santa is real.

A month or so before Christmas 2008, my hometown newspaper asked adults to write letters to Santa. No restriction on content, just what would you - as an adult - ask Santa to bring? The best of those letters would be published in the paper just prior to Christmas. This is what I wrote:

"Dear Santa:

Ever since I was 12 I wanted only one thing for Christmas: a rifle. But not just any rifle (and not a BB gun). Mine had to be like the one my best friend Roy Maleka had: lever action, .22 caliber, octagon barrell with brass stock and butt plate.
Every year I peeked under the tree, but well, you know - no rifle. After awhile I begin to wonder if you existed or cared. So I stopped writing you you and instead dropped hints to Mom and Dad, then to my wife and eventually to my daughter.
Still no rifle. I am now 67 and maybe, just maybe, this will be the year?


Over 400 letters were received and mine was one of those published. Several days after the publication my wife and I returned home from playing cards with friends. The answering machine was blinking alerting us to a message. This is what the caller said: "If you are the David whose letter to Santa was published in the newspaper, please give me a call".

Well, my first reaction was that it was someone offering to sell me a rifle or maybe, it was my friend Roy Maleka that I have not seen for over 30 years! It was neither. The caller said he had a rifle for me. Not quite like the one I was looking for but a rifle nevertheless. And the best part? He was offering it to me absolutely free! That's right, FREE! The next day I drove to his home and picked up my "new" rifle. Yeah, it was not quite what I wanted but it will do. And the man who gave it to me? Believe it or not, he resembled Santa (without the beard of course)!

So you see, the spirt of Santa does exist.