Archive for March, 2016


Sunday, March 27th, 2016

To The Boys of 44121…to the core friends I met in the spring of my life,

As you know, I’m sixty-six. I smile more than I frown, laugh more than I cry, and feel better than I look. Moreover, reasonably comfortable with my age, I’m even more comfortable in my skin. But still, I’m sixty-six. Sixty-f’ing six. As are you, my friends, if not older!

Some of you are in Florida. Wieder, (true to form), is on the Left Coast). And while Kraut is seen regularly, even the world’s oldest teenager Brother Bob, moved out of county.

(Then there’s Randy. Randy).

Time marches on, my friends. Inexorably. Time ticks away, buddies, at quickening pace.

In my heart, as the song goes, I can see each of you “for miles and miles”. But I want more— do you?

Remember that moment? No, not one of the ad hoc high school gatherings Bobby tends to orchestrate. (Ed. Note 1: I mean, really. Who has a 46th year reunion? 45, maybe. 50, Yes. But 46?).

How many years ago was it that young in mind, body and soul we posed for pictures on Stuart’s back deck? Fenton had yet to see West Hartford; Art had his original knees; and Ermine? He had hair. (Ed. Note 2: None of us were forty then when, sitting circled in Fenton’s family room, Desert Flower predicted I’d be first to die).


And think about this: none of us is bullet-proof.

None of us.

This year alone we’ve seen two retirements and two other work changes. Our schedules have softened. This month alone, from heart issues to kidney issues our team has been threatened.

It’s time.

Time to convene again, to laugh again, to mock and share again.


We pride ourselves — we all do — about the wonder of growing up where we did, about the splendor of our friendships and the strength of our bond.

It’s time, I say, to all break bread together.

Word spread of Ermine’s six days in the hospital and we rallied. Stu passed a stone and reminded us of Kramer.  Enough of this long-distance crap. But I watch my sugar, Snyder his diet, and Arthur his office.

Seasons are passing.

For my part, I will waive my 4-state rule to meet with my comrades. (Ed. Note 3: Noun used to make Alan happy). So get it done.

Going to go now. Hope I’ve made my point. Let me hear.  Gonna go for a walk. It’s Sunday morning, and the sun is out — for now. Then home I’ll be … watching TV …. news channels … perhaps the week in review.

— Which reminds me:  Garry Shandling died. Just Thursday.  Unexpectedly.

He was a nice Jewish boy from the suburbs.

And he was sixty-six.


Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

After months of mulling over it, the inevitable office move went smoothly. For six weeks now the “fresh air” has been great.

No, it’s not the extra space. Surprisingly, it’s not even the one hundred and ninety-two less steps from the parking lot. Actually, it’s much simpler: everything just feels right. I wasn’t happy where I was, and hadn’t been — but now, for the first time in Obama’s second term I truly enjoy going to work.

(Not that I really ever thought I’d make the move. As recently as December I’d been resigned to pretty much playing out the rest of my run where I was. Sixty-six and counting— where was I going? Still, when I embraced the concept of going to Vegas for an event in this year’s WSOP, actually booking the travel …well … instantaneously it seemed, my phlegmatic “Why?” became an ebullient “Why not?”.

The landlord? Nice guy. Very nice. A Jew from California. Worldly. (Probably eats kale). Ah, but he can’t be that worldly. He doesn’t quite “get” me.


It was last Monday—

We were standing by the kitchen area when his secretary (Ed. Note 1: Make that “assistant” in Stacy/speak). (Ed. Note 2: Make that “admin” in Stacy/speak 201).

—When his secretary mentioned that she’d booked a trip to Costa Rica for her vacation.

“We were there,” said Ned, (referring to his family) “… and loved it. Have you ever gone?”
“No,” said I, not necessarily encouraging the conversation.
“Do you want to go?” he inquired. “Where do you like to travel?”
“My kids are out of town. New York and Chicago.”

Pausing, tilting his head oh so slightly, my new friend was clearly trying to figure out if I was toying with him. His mouth was closed but his face said “Really?”

“Let me make this easy for you,” I exalted, “You’re going to bump into people here and there and sometime, somewhere in this small world of ours someone is going to ask you if you know Bruce Bogart. Your answer should be ‘Yes, and he is one of the most intelligent shallow people I know.’ “

The whimsy (or perhaps accuracy?) of my utterance escaped him. Right-hearted, but from the Left coast, he lagged sentences behind.

“You really don’t travel?”
“I love Ohio.”
“So do I,” he said, “But—“
“Four places,” I told him. “New York, Chicago, Vegas and Florida.”
“Oh, so you do go to Florida.”
“East coast only,” I assured him, as serious as a heart attack.

He’s such a nice guy that I didn’t have the heart to walk away as he started his story of a recent trip somewhere. ‘Can’t remember where he went but it bore a Spanish name and apparently in the middle of the night down there his daughters heard, as he phrased it, a “pop pop pop sound”. The next morning, evidently, the ladies shared fears from the prior night — hearing gunfire and all — at which Ned laughingly told me how his kids had erred. Indeed, it hadn’t been gunfire that had frightened them, but merely the sound of falling coconuts.

Slipping back to my office I sensed an opening.  Time it was, I well knew, to let the landlord know where I’m coming from.

Quietly I called my admin Kathleen (Ed. Note 3: Stacy/speak 201—I’m a quick study), and asked her to make a stop on her way into the office. Happily, she obliged.

A bit later the two of us, arms deftly behind us, dropped grocery bags of coconuts in Ned’s office.

Pop. Pop. Pop.

“What was that?” asked the landlord.

“You’re having a great day,” I exclaimed. “I just saved you a couple thousand dollars.”


Friday, March 18th, 2016

“The f#+% wants me to walk”, I complained to my group. Midweek it was, at a men’s discussion group, and I’d been to the doctor. “Twice a week!”, I exclaimed. “Who has time?”

He approached me at meeting’s end — hand outstretched.

“I’ll walk with you.” How ‘bout this weekend?”

8 AM we convened days later! Outdoors on a December Saturday in globally warmed Cleveland. (Sundays came later). Bill T and me … walking the mall, talking, sharing in a manner physically beneficial and emotionally therapeutic. Indeed: just what the doctor’d ordered.

Truth was I was hurting but didn’t quite know why.

Out-of-sync. Out of rhythm. Reasonably happy, irrationally struggling — instinctively pushing, stepping, marching.


I had Michael, Vegas, Stacy, Facetime … and Carrie. I had family, friends, fellowship and fun.

Even more so, clearly, I had footwork to be done, and “miles to go before I sleep”.

Still the weeks sped by. Slowly. Often arduously. As I trudged.

— To meetings I enjoyed and to meetings I didn’t.
— To rehearsals I loathed full of people I liked in a play that I loved.
— Through the splendor and wonder and yes, ardor of life.

Off my game, but not off the tracks. Out of stride, but not out of spirit. To some it was obvious and to others, imperceptible. But I knew and she knew.

And He knew.

(Ed. Note: I talk to the guys I sponsor about “rhythm”. How it’s vital to have a pace to life: a regimen… a regularity… a tempo … a flow. Where, I was asking myself, was mine?).

Was it the loss of an aunt? The health of my loved ones? The erosion of purpose?

Perhaps the plateau of pleasure?

And then — OVERNIGHT — my fever broke!

Was it the music of my brother’s email? Ermine reaching out? Snyder making me laugh?

Was it the pics of New York grandsons? Chicago granddaughters? The play’s final curtain?

For some reason, instantaneously — call it “Daylife Savings” — sun returned. In some way, ‘though I barely noticed, my pulse returned.

I was breathing not the schism of my old office but the fresh air in the new. I was bouncing through my day — not trekking through its hours.

I was embracing, once more, the ordinary.

And smiling.

The heart of winter is winking at the light of spring, and me? I’m meeting Bill T 8AM tomorrow to go walking.

And to share.

—Because one night he reached out

“In 3 words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”                                                                                                                         

                             Robert Frost