“World’s are colliding! Ah you have no idea of the magnitude of this thing….”

                                           George Costanza

The first time I’d any conception of worlds colliding was ’75. The confluence of events: a once-per-decade Saturday night OSU telecast falling exactly on Al Bogart’s 50th birthday, creating a scheduling conflict of epic proportion. Indeed, as Harriet chose to not only schedule a surprise party for precisely that evening, but also opted to include family, friends and business associates, she was playing with dynamite. Putting his shtetl-born mother in the same room with both the card players AND his blue-blood employers could in no way be “…good for the Jews…”. No good was going to come from it.

—Which leads me to this past weekend and the cosmic challenge of Aunt Helen’s Thanksgiving debut at Carrie’s—

“Take notes,” laughed Wieder when we’d spoken on Wednesday. I didn’t need them. Truth be known, the lessons of Alan, learned decades ago, still yield dividend. It’s all, as he preached back then, about having a game plan.

In the mid-60’s Wido gathered five hoopsters and booked us in a tourney off Detroit Avenue. (Other than the Blanton Collier era of Jim Brown, it was the first time I’d heard of “game plans”). There we were, wandering Jews ‘cross the river, and there was Wieder, with gentle arrogance crafting a “game plan”. Insecure as I was (product of a broken home and all), I was convinced that my roster presence related directly to his need for five bodies. Alan was nice enough but I distinctly picture him pulling me aside before tipoff, growling, demanding “Don’t shoot and don’t foul.” THAT was how I figured in his plan.

Holiday weekend, heeding his teachings, we knew well it was still about preparation. We were ready.

Aunt Helen’s a veteran, we figured. The lady’s forgotten more about “growl control” than the half-dozen others at Thanksgiving combined. (Has she not, for nine years running, led the league in passive aggression?) No surprise then that she nearly took me out of my game when, ascending the front door steps…moments before the Hellos , she smiled, remarking “You know, if you’d have told me there was no railing I would never have agreed to come.”

Her weakness, we surmised, was her mobility. She has none! Can’t go left, can’t go right without help. We had, then, to isolate her.

Going to a strict man-to-man defense, needing a volunteer, Carrie’s mom stepped up. The thought was that if Sue could only neutralize her ‘til dinner, I could cover her second half. (I knew my limitations; I no longer have the strength to watch her a whole game; she’d just wear me down).

It worked like a charm. Entering from the open end we spotted Jan at mid-field. (Coincidentally, my aunt and I’d bumped into her at Marc’s just one day earlier).

“You remember Jan,” I said, ushering Helen right past her. (It was the classic pick ‘n roll. Eyeing Sue by the couch I head to the closed end). It happened so fast: before she could shout “Do you know my son Harold?” there she was: Aunt Helen on the couch: blanketed!

Yes, I sat down for a bit (before pivoting upfield). And No, talking with Tommy and Kyle was not being rude. My aunt—don’t forget— she just wasn’t my coverage.

Sans surprise then, the evening went well. Dinner came and, picking up “my man”, I directed her to the southeast corner of the table. No one to her left, I sat on her right. Sue helped out a bit, to be sure. (Her placement across from us, I suppose, made it a partial zone).

Time flew.

Dessert over, table being cleared…

“Would you take me home?” my aunt whispered, choosing to pass on Left-Right-Center. “You’d like it,” I urged, gently reminding her that we’d played it at Harold’s. It wasn’t her “thing” though…so…dutifully… I obliged.

We drove home silently, soon after. She broke the silence near Warrensville.

“They’re nice people,” she said. I just nodded. I was thinking, already, about hurrying back for the dice game.” “I hope your brother’s feeling better,” she added.  “I worry so about him!”

We said goodbye.  I waited downstairs ‘til she flickered the lights (before driving off).  It had been a wonderful Thanksgiving after all…as usual.

I had much to be grateful for that night, as always. From vital matters like life and health to the valued treasures of family and friends…to…Aunt Helen.   She stands, still: a unique living link to our family’s heritage.

For this too I am grateful.

3 Responses to “COLLIDE”

  1. bob says:

    For what it’s worth, Nostalgia, humor and warmth make for your best blogs. Always enjoy your way with words. Since I don’t see or talk to you as much thought I’d just pass that on.

  2. Grandpa Maysai says:

    So nu? My comments aren’t good enough for you?

  3. Aunt Helen says:

    Yes. Why do you continually disrespect Pa?

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