I did something this weekend that I rarely do: hid from reality. The weather, growing disgust with my appearance and imminent family surgery put me in a place where frivolity—however fleeting—was in order. The bad news (and the good news) is, it never lasts.

Tipoff of escape came Friday. The game plan was set: a quick Shabbos dinner, then Loew’s Theater for “Money Ball.” How long had I awaited the opening?

Life, however, interrupted plans. Margie served food as my brother offered laughter and nostalgia…and 7 became 8 became 9 o’clock. For two hours the world stood still.

The next morning was no different. Sometimes, even with work to be done, I just need to laugh.

Sitting on twin chairs at Caribou, Ed and I were stunned when a middle-aged lady, clad in armor of gold, walked in with a dog.

“Isn’t that against the law?” he asked me.
“Call a lawyer,” I mused, giving little pause.
“We should tell the manager to kick her out,” my friend advocated.
“PLEASE,” I shot back, “Do you think you’re dealing with an amateur?”

Motioning that he follow my lead, I rose from my seat and moseyed over to the table next to the now-seated patron. Pooch at her foot, head in a crossword puzzle, she was oblivious as Ed sat between us. Back to the lady, he was setting the perfect pick.

“What are you doing?” Ed asked as I played with my phone.
And then I found it. Channeling Youtube, I’d punched the prompt titled “Dog barking.”

Suddenly there came yelping and scrapping! The poodle’s ears perked up as just a bit the dog growled. From over Ed’s should I saw the lady look and look and look.

“Turn that crap off!” urged my friend (as I hit replay). Poor Ed. He had less patience than the dog. Sometimes, though, I just need to laugh.

Let the record show, of course, that there is laughter and then there is LAUGHTER. As a corollary, there is waterboarding and then there is Aunt Helen.

Ever the “good son,” H called her days before to schedule Sunday breakfast. Further proving that the good son is also a good husband, he set it directly opposite Margie’s teaching!

We were standing by the Manischewitz sign—the aunt and I—just Friday—when my phone rang.
“Who is it?” she inquired.
“Hal” I said.
“Ask him,” she began, pausing to ovulate, “If instead of First Watch on Cedar might we go to the one at Eastgate.”
“You ask him,” I offered.
Grabbing the phone she continued: “I was hoping we could look for towels; Macy’s doesn’t carry the right sizes.”

(It mattered not. Hal and I were in it together. History records that in ’72 my father asked him to go to the army with me, but he’d refused. Decades later, though, we share a foxhole). Truth be known, by the time Sunday came…in a bizarre “No one else will appreciate this” way, I was looking forward to breakfast. So was H.

Scooping her up at 9, in a hair under two hours we did oatmeal, Michael’s AND BedBathandBeyond…AND made an old lady happy. (Well, not too happy, you should note: BedBathand Beyond, it turns out, doesn’t carry the right towel sizes).

So we went home—both of us— to reality.

I had coffee last night, with Brother Burnside.

“You know, “ I told him, “I passed Daniels Park today. I caught in tournaments there—under the lights….my grandkids are out of town…I’ll never be able to drive past there with Max and point out where I played…”
“You don’t know that, “ he said. “You think they’ll never come to Cleveland?”

And in an instant…again…I saw things half full. And for a moment, again, my head sat straight.

Returning last night there was an email from Meredith. It was a video…of The Prince….leaning, almost walking. He was laughing, (as was his Dad), as at ten months he stutter-stepped to the camera.

And he was smiling.

It was a wide-open smile—broader than our continent of states! Shining, like the stars and stripes!

And I realized, once more, that smiles are better than laughs…and that Max’s smile, set betwixt those ocean eyes—is my reality.

Life is good.

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