Archive for February, 2011


Monday, February 28th, 2011

Dear H,

        “It’s a little bit funny…this feeling inside
        I’m not one of those who can easily hide…”

Stacy asked if I choked up at your party. Not really, I told her, except for the video—perhaps. Truth is I spent most of last night watching you bandy about, all aglow from love being sent your way. In a confluence from your work, play and family, everyone’s eyes were smiling.

It was hard though—no, emotionally impossible, not to span the sixty years. In her pictorial montage, Amy had us hugging on the doorsteps of Hopkins, mugging on the front lawn of Stonehaven, and loving our kids on Aldersgate. That’s a lot of road traveled—quite a journey. How blessed I am that from the “old neighborhood” of the 50’s to today’s homes in Lyndhurst, you’ve gone from being my little brother to my younger brother to….(at times my older brother), to… my best friend.

        “…I don’t have much money, but boy if I did
        I’d buy a big house where we both could live….”

Last night, yet again, you proved Leo Durocher wrong. Nice guys, nice guys like you, indeed finish first. Encompassed by the lifelong friendship of Alan, Howard, two Bruces and a Pear, you were also surrounded by all remnants of a family that never—never once in your lifetime—-had a bad thing to say about you. What a tribute!

You were so busy last night; everyone wanted a piece of you. I watched as your girls beamed, eyeing with pride their regal father. And Margie? She had things planned to a tee. In an evening of pomp and…precision, though, you may have missed some things.

Like Freedman telling me he wanted to sing his theme song, “The Twelve Days Of Christmas. Or Herzog, hat-in-hand, explaining why ‘though Ross, two Mandels, two Bogarts and two Fentons all played for the White Sox, Alan never made it out of the 11-12 year old minors.

You didn’t miss, I’m sure—perhaps even marveled at Mel Kroot’s omnipresence on stage, or Aunt Helen’s on mic in the evening’s finale: “Paradise By The Dashboard Light” . My favorite though, the “warm fuzzy” for me, was Cousin Gary finally getting out of his chair and joining us for “You Were On My Mind” and “I Saw Her Standing There.” Has there ever been a day in our lives we didn’t want to spend more time with him?”

(I’m just saying).

        “And you can tell everybody
        This is your song….”

The upshot of the whole thing is, H, that you are a beloved man. Last evening friends, family and colleagues displayed this not only by turnout, but by tempo. They proved once again that age-old adage that “what goes around, comes around.”

And I, as much as anyone else, am glad you came around.

Happy Birthday,  B

        “I hope you don’t mind
        That I put down in words
        How wonderful life is with you in the world….”

                                            Elton John/Bernie Taupin


Friday, February 25th, 2011

Patiently I waited. And waited. Weeks ago I’d requested an office meeting and here it was! Sixty seconds after its start though, my heart—if not my ass—-shot out the door. Voices spoke but I heard them not. I was, rather, replaying prior admonitions, earlier advice of others, all of which had urged “Get out.”

Small offices are collegial. Condensed time in comradery yields pleasure in relationships of people who would otherwise not have met. Proximity builds bonds which, although temporal, are strong.

That’s how I felt about this office…these guys…through it all…

A business is like family. People mix, personalities collide and though things tend to happen, the game goes on. It’s easier that way. Ours was no different. Five lawyers (4 Jews and an Italian, which, frankly, makes 5 Jews). Two held the lease and me? I was there on a handshake. For years we’d mix, collide and yes, a thing or two happened.

Like a few years back: tail end of the Jodi era. Not so subtly was it brought to my attention that an office mate, just one door down, had, was, and continued to be up close and personal with my future former girlfriend. Ouch.

“You need to get out of there,” said Burnside to deaf ears.
“It’s a blessing, “ I said, sensing relief. “Now I know and NOW I can move on.”
That wasn’t good enough for Dennis.
.”Well, at least can I beat him up?” he asked.

Time passed and the office survived, even when they raised my rent. 50%.

“This isn’t right,” I told them. (It was late ’08 and the world being what it was, rents were flattening all over Chagrin).
“Just pay it when you have it. You can owe.” they told me. “We’re all friends.”

I sat with Weiskopf this time. And Jacobson.

“I’d get out of there,” said Ed, (never a peacemaker).
“Bogie,” said Michael, “You need to do what’s best for you.”

What’s best for me? All things considered, I liked it there. It was a primo location, right in my wheelhouse: a minute from home, a moment from Corky’s. After all, I reminded, we were “all friends.”

That, alas, was two years ago. This last biennium one of my landlords, caught in litigation, asked that I take his case.  A personal matter, it was also a major matter.

“I need to charge you,” I cautioned. “’ Can cut you some slack, but—
“”No need to go there,” he interrupted. “I need someone.  I trust you.”

Time passed and his matter, like all good things, came to an end. Oh, he paid along the way of course…here and there…but the moment the gavel pounded the payments stopped. On a dime. To this day he owes money…difference-making money.

In December I approached him. Did he know, I wondered, how unique he was…how rare it was that someone actually owed ME money….real money?

“Could we just credit the rent?” I asked my co-landlord. “It’s not up to me,” he mumbled. And so it was that Monday afternoon at 2:45 we had a meeting. And that sitting there amongst my friends, the other landlord spoke:

“Bruce, it’s nothing personal. It’s all about the numbers. You should be happy we don’t raise your rent. Please, we’re all friends here.”

In that split second I thought of the pal that promised me a movie and the crony that assured me three rooms for three nights in Vegas and…instantaneously I realized AGAIN there’s nothing valiant about burying one’s head in the sand— there’s no splendor in the green grass of naivety.

When, oh when am I going to learn?

In that instant I wanted so much to turn to the guy that owed me—the smiling receivable sitting there quietly —I wanted to turn to him like my father would have and said “Monkeys should fly out of your ass!” But I didn’t. I wanted to say something sarcastic like “No problem..we’re all friends. But I didn’t. I was a gentleman.

“Do you want the door open or closed?” I asked, rising at 2:46.
“You can leave it open,” one said (as I closed the door on an era).

(God, of course, has a great sense of humor. For months there’d been scheduled an office night at the shvitz—set for this Thursday the 24th. (Last night). On Wednesday David approached me–mid afternoon.

“You’re still going tomorrow, aren’t you?” he asked.  “David,” I said softly, “ I love you, really, but monkeys should fly right out of your ass”).

It’s been four days and no one gets near me. You can hear a pin drop.

It matters not.

Cut a new deal yesterday…new office. The landlord’s a bit older, a decent enough guy—and he does divorce work. The best news is, though…the best news is…he’s no friend.

My move is mid-March and I’m excited. New home, nice location…maybe I’ll get a website up….can’t wait!  Taking my files with me, and my smile, and my dignity.  Oh yeah—and my receivable.


Monday, February 21st, 2011

Do I have to hurt to pay attention?

It was the late 50’s. There was this sidewalk. It jutted diagonally from Rowland’s north-west exit and we’d play “running bases” on it. Sliding to beat tags, we’d tear pants, skin knees, bounce up, and smile. From the Swift Pitching field fronting Bayard to an Over The Line diamond in back, games flowed unimpeded by the hazards of streets, curbs, trees or traffic. We were young and vibrant and our bodies were invincible.

(Those days are gone).

Ferguson Field, Euclid and Green… a Sunday morning in the early ‘80s:

Some jackass had come in high and flattened me. I made the play, but was hurt. From the bench I watched us finish with nine. At game’s end Malkin virtually carried me through the portal of Huron Road Hospital. “If it’s broken ribs, “he told me in ER, “there is nothing worse.”

Yesterday, worn by six days of sciatic torture, I leaned on a coffee bar at Caribou, debated whether to leave or stay, stand or sit, go home or to the office, “sh!#* or go blind.” There: half in—half out, I realized: Malkin, lied.

Dr. Bob called it my para forma muscle. So be it. All know is that more than the ribs, more than even “The Drive” game—this is the worst pain I’ve ever endured!

My mom said this would happen…so to speak. She’d always tell me “Take care of your body.” (I never listened—even as a kid). Not once did it occur to me—not once—that she could be right. Even in high school, immobilized by torn cartilage—“water on the knee,” they called it…I never stopped sliding, never paused. As a catcher not known to hit for power, I loved collisions. What better chance, I sensed, to show my worth, than a cloud of dust and a ball well-held? Throw to the plate, slide, bang-bang, he’s out! What better validation?

Now, though, it’s 2011. Pain mandates I finally learn the difference between Tylenol and Advil. Moreover, lying on a couch, just lying…examining the physical ME…I’m stunned…blown away at my discovery: I got old. I really did. I got old. Sixty-f’ing one.

Whodda thunk it?

Do others of my generation, (I wonder)…do my friends or their wives—-when they look in the mirror…have they aged too?

Do they have these “things” like I do?

I wonder…eyeing my left forehead in the mirror. Do others have scars of unknown genesis?

Do they see a crooked finger, the residue of blood poisoning? It was August. ’81 when, confined at Hillcrest, arm in I.V., announcement came that baseball’s strike had ended… the All Star game was on for that Sunday night. Season ticket trumping common sense, signing myself out against both medical and marital advice, I made it to the lakefront. Two rows from Bob Hope (I might add). He, of course, is long gone and at peace. Me? I, still own one ugly, misshaped finger.

Oh well…

We’ve had a pretty good run…my body and me. Did all right, (I suppose), for a typical Jewish kid with B (at times B+?) athletic prowess. Indeed, looking down at this Olympic frame, measuring it against the canvas of the past, it could be worse.

I have my hair—or more than most. And I can see, and hear. Don’t run anymore, but never did. Walking I’ll do, (weather permitting), and I still dance better than Elaine Benis. I’m OK.

I am hurting, though.

Michael insists the pain will subside if I only lose weight. My father, were he alive, would be incredulous at the comment. “What medical school did you attend?” he’d ask his grandson. (It should be noted however, that my dad was never accused of underweight).

Last night I saw Art at the party. HE’S been to medical school; he’ll know.

“It’s called ‘decrepidation’,” said my vet, creating a word. “We’re breaking down.” As usual, his was a message of candor and doom:

“Cars fall apart. So do people. We can replace our parts too.”

Thanks, Kraut.

The ultimate question, I suppose is if IF and WHEN the pain subsides, will I do things differently. I wonder.

My son would stress diet. That’s never wrong. Stuart would say “Walk.” Also good. My dad, perhaps most realistic, would smile.

“You’re 61 Little Boy,” he’d think. “Does it really matter?”

Makes me wonder if he went to med school too.


Friday, February 18th, 2011

        “Just one voice—
        Singing in the darkness
        All it takes is one voice…”

Although I hate the local paper and tend not to read it, somehow these stories catch my eye.  Never headlined—usually buried, they rear their ugly heads.  Almost casually, by internet/in print, learning of yet another incident, another school…   “Amen,” I say, and think of her: the bravest person I’ve known.

As a college freshman, she was assaulted in a dorm by pond scum. It was a crime of the most personal nature and he’d done it before. The school, of course, knowing this, kept him on campus and his past quiet. Administration cared neither for the red rage of terror nor the black and white fact that just nineteen days earlier another coed accused this same kid of on-campus rape. The realities of red and black were, indeed, outweighed by the banner of scarlet and gray.

        “…And when you look around you’ll find
        There’s more than one voice…
        Joining with your One Voice…”

In a company town, she learned, the wagons get circled. As such, despite school rules, despite regulations requiring removal pending investigation, the kid stayed in the picture…on campus.

“If I were you it would be in your best interest to wait until the criminal proceedings were over,” her school counseled….

It was different downtown. There, a quasi-parental male prosecutor listened. There, a grand jury, unfettered by “higher education’s” priorities, heard.

The vermin formally charged, she returned to campus, pushing for his expulsion. He had rights, urged the college, and the wheels of justice ground slowly. Three yards and a cloud of rust, you might say.

It was a closed hearing that Tuesday, nineteen months and a day post facto.  Attorney by his side, the assailant stood before a panel of five. The victim, but 21, was deprived counsel. (She had no right, they said). Her only ally, apparently, would be the truth.

In the hall we waited—three of us—remember, it was CLOSED.   Five hours, maybe seven. All day. Jacobson phoned; my brother called and time passed. What was going on in there?  Inside the walls, alas, the school was listening…

They expelled him that week. Finally. Gone from campus, criminal charges pending, a trail of toxin left behind. Yet it didn’t end there.

Hers was a voice that didn’t quiet. As family craved she “move on” her drum beat louder. Supported by godsend Daniel Carter and the folks at Security On Campus, Inc. she strengthened other victims and lobbied for protective reforms.

Recovery would not still her voice. Spurred by other survivors, she hit the road…speaking, sharing. From “Take Back The Night” to “It Happened To Alexa”, to …GET THIS: NBC’s Dateline, where on network TV this woman of valor dared put a face to her voice, buoying others to speak…to come forward….to recover….

It happened nine years ago this week…to a nineteen year old.

She was not the first, nor will she be the last to stand tall.  What resonates…clearly…to this day, is that what never mattered to her alma mater,was never silenced.   That today, due to this Little One and others like her, a crescendo rises…and the world, if only a little…is safer.

A decade is a long time…and yet, in some ways, it is still like yesterday.

She is our daughter, our sister, our friend…and she is the bravest person we know.

       “…We need just One Voice
        Facing the unknown,
        And that One Voice
        Would never be alone….”

                                                   Barry Manilow


Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

He’ll be a third baseman, no doubt. Taller, thinner perhaps, but in the RonSanto-Ron Pollack mold. Later, though. Right now Max just lifting his head, gurgling, smiling and sleeping means he’s hit for the cycle. MLB can wait.

The kid and I—we have something in common. Never was there a time that I didn’t feel loved. Ever. He’s playing in the same park.

‘ Not just nuclear family, by the way…I mean horizontal family. I’m talking aunts and uncles and cousins. Always around. It was years ago, but I knew then as I know now…that with all the tumult and all the noise comes all the love.

Hal and I, (reverentially referred to in family circles as “The Boys”), were surrounded from birth by a myriad of kinfolk, some of whom emerged from the woodwork.

WE were the lucky ones.

To our east lived the Fentons, transplanted from Detroit. The Gelfands next door had cousins in Florida and Eddie (two doors down)? He was the only child of only children. But The Boys? We had a corner house primed for Sunday pop-ins by a young, expanding clan prone to do “drive-bys.” For kids in the boomtown of South Euclid, it was idyllic. We were just never alone.

Enter Max Parker Bogart, similarly blessed.

Cradling him this weekend, cherishing the burps, the gurgles….sticking my tongue out (waiting for his smile), I couldn’t help but sense the enormous warmth around him. Not just the nuclear family either; I’m talking horizontal.

And don’t tell me kids don’t know. They know. Or at least they feel.

To this day Hal and I see the smile on Pinky’s face, the glow on Mr. Adelman…and Herschel on his head. These were not our closest relatives. (Indeed, Mr. Adelman came in the back door). But they were there. And no, we didn’t always get what was going on, but we knew what was going down. It was fun; it was love.

I’m guessing little Max enjoys the show. The house packed: Brother Steve blaming Michael’s seat for Wisconsin’s game-changing run…endless playing of the pre-recorded “Stacy Bogart” jingle…Brother Matt walking in with “Hey, Big Dogg.” It was fun. It was love.

I’m not an idiot. I know he really doesn’t know. But he DOES feel. Like we did. As a grandfather, can I be any less than thrilled? Can I be grateful enough that he’s encompassed by voice…by laughter? Plants given sunshine thrive. Max, nourished by family sunshine can’t help but be one happy camper.

I’m home now…two states away…

Out east the little tyke basks in the surroundsound of family in the spring training of his life. Healthy, eyes wide open…he’s working on a perfect game.


Friday, February 11th, 2011

Another flight east! Has it been two months? Were the life cycle events of last fall that long ago?

Looking out the window, staring at an iced runway, my mind taxied across the recent past.

…It was the night of the Pidyan Haben and I was saying goodbye to Max. Tugging his right toes with my left hand, I softly kissed his forehead…twice. One for him, I thought silently, and one for Haley.

…It was the morning of New Years—the wee hours, to be exact. Midnight to 3AM. Heading back from Columbus, retrieving voice mails, I was listening:

“Happy New Year! Max misses you!” said one “When you coming to New York?”
“Happy New Year! We miss you,“ said another. “When you coming to Chicago?”
“Hey Dad, just called to wish you Happy New Year.  Love you.”

My kids are getting their wish, to be sure. The infant year is already good. Today, flying east to share kinship with those that care to, it gets even better.

He is growing, they tell me. (I’ll be there soon). She is healthy, I’m told, and am grateful.

“Can I see Haley?” I asked.
“It’s not that simple, Dad.”
“Yes it is,” I noted, “It really is.”

Love IS simple. Strikes me that anger and resentment are complicated.

The agenda this weekend is family—no more, no less. In a few hours I’ll land at LaGuardia, shoot down Northern Blvd, and go for the gusto. Pulling up to the apartment, scurrying inside, I’ll lean over the baby and gently touch my lips to his forehead…twice.


Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

                       “We’re only as sick as our secrets.”

I debated posting this, but it’s my story. Sharing frees me up and freeing up makes it easier to rest my head at night. I’m sleeping well these days.

As “baby boomers”, we were the first generation to never live without television. I still picture the early 50’s night Channel 4 directed us to turn to Channel 3 for “The Roy Rogers Show.” It was a Sunday, a major event, and even our father was home.

My first loves, always, were sitcoms. How I remember grade school lunches! Rowland’s bell rang at 11:30 and by 11:35 we were ‘cross the street, perched in our kitchen, watching “Love That Bob.” Someday, I thought, I’d wear an open-collared VNeck shirt and being as cool as Bob Cummings. (It never quite happened).

Adolescence brought new goals. “The Many Loves Of Dobie Gillis,” the con games of Quinton McHale, the wise-cracking Buddy Sorrell—each brought larger-than-life characters for me to aspire to. Each was what I wanted to be; none…ever…was me. I never quite saw ME. Never quite had that “Aha” moment where I’d point at the TV and nod my head saying “You see that guy…that’s really me.”

Until recently.

It by accident that I met Adrian Monk. Looking for something to latch onto, having concluded an inexorable Netflix march through twenty seasons of “Law And Order”, it just sort of happened. Still, from the initial episode, I related. From the first time I saw his compulsive nonsense, his laughable fears…I “got it.” I saw myself and I cried. Watching this smart, successful cop avoiding cracks on a sidewalk, repeating ridiculous behaviors…

My nonsense started simply, through sports. CYO guys (in the ‘60’s), before hitting, carved crosses in the dirt; my bat drew a “J.” It was no different in the field. Never once (between innings), did I step on a foul line. Ever. (Clearly this got easier when moved to catcher. Thanks again, Brother Wieder).

It was for good luck, I thought, lying to myself. Bullshit! It was fear. Sugar-coated fear. Indeed, a few good seasons, a few trophies, and I feared NOT doing the things that found success. Three hits in a game: I didn’t wash the uniform. I did anything and everything to recreate—repeat the sequence that made things work. (It never quite occurred to me that maybe I could hit. There had to be more to it). Like…for more than a decade, having “salami and eggs pancake style, toasted bagel, cream cheese and coffee” for breakfast before each doubleheader.

Slowly, insipidly, I began to believe my expanding regimens were bringing results. There I was, a pretty smart kid, buying into my own idiocies. Knowing my thinking made no sense, I just couldn’t stop….”Just in case….”

Like fall of ’76. Checking into a St. Maarten hotel, we’d found roaches in our bed—on my pant leg. That night, to play it safe, I shook, then twirled my pants six times to assure their riddance. It was a regimen I would continue for thirty years….”just in case.”

Those were my salad days. Winning titles, making money…the mishigos not only continued, but expanded. Never once did I think it was fear-based. I was quirky, I thought…but it worked. The better things got on the outside, though, the worse I felt inside. As Monk would say, it was “…a blessing, and a curse.” Every good day made me prisoner to newer secret behaviors. Things I repeated….just in case.

And I told no one.

The worm, of course, finally turned. In one torrid decade my dad was gone, my marriage done, and my dysfunction blooming. Afraid of everything, I spent days looking over my shoulder and nights searching for the right combination of obsessive behaviors to turn things around. Alcohol only made it worse.

I saw all this on “Monk” that day. Cringing, I relived the years of fearing mailmen, telephones, bees, insects, romaine lettuce…and how I could never share it with anyone. Anyone. Watching “Monk” I recalled the time I’d returned to my car in the Bryden parking lot, found a squirrel in the front seat, and walked home. (In the morning a friend cleared it out).

I cried watching that show. Tears of relief. Seeing someone else with my issues, someone clearly intelligent…a protagonist…I felt OK and, dare I say….cleansed.

There were eight seasons of “Monk.” I watched them in order. All of them. One by one. The finale came Saturday, lump in my throat. It was half past four when, after 125 episodes, my friend faded to dark. Sitting there in silence, like one might after a good, long movie….it occurred to me. Watching it, watching me: it was a blessing (and a curse).

Saw Tom Gigliotti that night, (at a party). Not only a shrink, but a friend, he clearly “gets it.”

“What are you going to watch now?” he asked, knowing my penchant for serial viewing.
“Maybe ‘Mad Men’,” I offered.
“You know what Monk would do, don’t you Bogie?”
I was silent.
“He’d start all over again, Season One.”

We laughed together, and I can’t say I didn’t give it thought. It’s Tuesday, though, and I’m moving forward. Last night I met Don Draper. He’s an ad man from New York.

(We have nothing in common).


Friday, February 4th, 2011

         “The only rock I know that stays steady, the one
         institution I know that works, is the family.”

                                                              Lee Iacocca

In some ways, ours was the typical post-war suburban Jewish family. There were the Brothers Bogart, two parents, (each of whom had a sibling), and four cousins. Blending in was Tier Two, a ring of great aunts and uncles buttressed by six or seven second cousins and further inseminated by a slew of nice people also termed “cousins,” although genealogists never could confirm why.

They were simpler times. Indeed, as ignorant as Hal and I were of parental discord, we were just as comforted by the social fabric of our kinfolk. But for age differences, the clan had no caste system, with all treated equally. (It took me years in fact, to realize that Cousin Howard was really my mother’s cousin—not mine, and that, for that matter that Cousin Lil, though no one’s cousin, was everyone’s relative).

The playing field was level.

I suffer not from euphoric recall. Of course there were spats. Still, the ongoing consensus mandated family trumping feud. Always. From picnics at Forest Hills to Seders in Cleveland Heights, simchas topped tsuris. When the bell rang, all were present and accounted for. Family, …the respect for family, meant leaving one’s ego at the door.

Proximity, too, helped bind our ties. “In the day” we were never far apart. From the Hoffmans on Coventry to the Hoffmans on Hermitage…perhaps three miles? Multi-generational housing, as well, was socially acceptable. There was warmth in seeing Aunt Ruth and Uncle Irv live above her parents and pride in knowing Uncle Bob bought an apartment at Shelburne and Warrensville, named it for his wife (“The Arlyne Manor”), and housed both sets of in-laws. It was all in the family.

Perhaps that’s why I struggle at times. I’ve three kids, yet none within a car drive…Perhaps too, that’s what made the other night so exciting—so rewarding.
Let the word go forth that on Tuesday, February 1, our family passed the torch to a new generation of kinship; finding an even better way to beat geography.

It wasn’t just that we Skyped. That’s old news. In our minds, though, we brought even that to a higher level.

For weeks I’d been nudging Stacy to watch “Monk.” Busy lady that she is, it never quite happened. Now I’m glad. Tuesday, you see, we saw it together. In unison with Jason… together.

Step One: she logged on to Netflix;
Step Two: Adam perched on her bed, between husband and wife;
Step Three: Angling their computer, the TV screen in Chicago blazed across my Cleveland monitor, where for the next hour, with my daughter, my son-in-law and my dog, I watched Adrian Monk, Season Eight, Episode 11.

Oh, there were slight—even welcomed interruptions, (Michael in New York thinks he’s funny and kept dialing in…Jason himself kept folding laundry….), Still, it was TV Night in the family compound(s) and together, we had gone the distance.

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

It will be traditional tonight.

At 5:45, dinner table set, the troops will land in Lyndhurst. Hal and Margie, the girls, Renee, and me. Shabbos, the way it should be— the way it was commanded lo those many years ago when Mel Brooks descended Mt. Sinai with fifteen—make that ten— Commandments in his hands.

I’ll marvel at them all: mother, father, kids…under one roof—the best of all worlds. Quietly though, I’ll think of my brood—all of them.

New York, Cleveland, Chicago…it mattered not. We proved this week that warm hearts melt miles. This week, after all, we went the distance.


Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

It was an ugly day. More back ache…three courts in two counties in five hours…kids out of town…cold, gray, dreary. And that was the good part. Sixty-f#$!ing one years old—still busting my ass…..Oh well, TV on and phone off, I’m finally safe at home.

Maybe it’s the travel that’s got me down. (Well, not travel so much as virtual travel). For a guy that likes to stay put, I’ve been to Europe twice recently. Virtually.

Two weeks ago: Minding my business, screwing around on Match, an IM streamed across the Cuyahoga. Scrambling to read her profile, (this was no email; time was of the essence), I sensed something wrong, terribly wrong. She was a nurse, educated and (dare I say?), stunning. There had to be more to the story.

It’s 2011. Tired of deflecting last year’s serial and nuanced bullshit, my goal had been to stay date-free ‘til spring. Still, killing time on line, there she was and
truth be known, the subtle seduction of her note begged for response. I bit.

We rallied back and forth, but not long. I was eastside glib and, recalling the lesson from “The Rules,” opted out first. Giving it little thought and even less credence, I went to bed. By morning though, an email’d arrived: “Let’s meet at Salmon Dave’s this week,” she wrote. At 6AM it was just not a priority. I let it bake. Rocky River?

Day’s end brought coffee with Ed. Eyeing her picture, reading the email, his advice was unambiguous: “You’re crazy if you don’t meet her.”
“But we have nothing in common,” I noted.
“Including looks, asshole. I say go for it.”

Our meeting that Thursday went well and would have gone better if I understood anything that came out of her mouth. A Greek émigré, between her thick accent, short skirt and leather, it was like dining with Charro. Still, she was likable— even bubbly. Thought there might be something to pursue, but as I learned at dinner days later, I was wrong. Dead wrong. When you take away the perfume and pumps, nothing in common is still nothing in common.

My phone rang last week. “Haven’t heard from you,” (it sounded like she said).
Then, hesitating, I dropped the other F-Bomb: “You feel like a FRIEND.” (It was, for this poker player, one of the greatest pre-flop folds of my career).

Hours later it was coffee with Weiskopf: Caribou, 5PM. Same agenda.

“Just nothing to say to her,” I shared, explaining the blow off.
”Use smoke and mirrors, jackass.”
“Not my style.”
“Fine, then don’t complain the next time you’re alone.”
“Don’t worry, Dad.” I told him.

We spent forty minutes solving other problems of the world until finally, it was time to leave.

“You know,” he said crossing the parking lot, “You took points off the scoreboard.”

I pretended I didn’t hear him and kept walking. Like I said, it was a good fold.