When I’m off my game, even the littlest thing, as nice as it is, can get me out of sync. Moreover, the simplest thing—in this case a random text from New York—brought me home.

It began Friday. I was dining at friends’—prelude to that night’s theater reunion. As husband and wife worked the kitchen it fell upon me to occupy the 2 and 4 year olds. Easy gig. (It’s often noted: kids love me—only their mothers are challenged). Still as the girls giggled, falling for the same nonsense that charmed Jamie and Stacy in the 80’s, my mind wandered. Surface smiling only, gut filled with angst, tired of playing with surrogates… Fun as they were, Dru and Lucy were just not Haley and Max.

I was alone all weekend—in a crowd. Flooded with friends, family and planned activities, this “half-full” guy was anything but. Focused on crap rather than cream, I was my own worst enemy. It’s wrong to be this way, as seldom as it is. Sometimes, though…it just happens. I slide into it… like a virus.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way, I thought. Since when was geography an issue? I’d married this girl from the east but, heck—she came to OSU voluntarily! Home for me was always Ohio. Then three kids followed. Nice kids…raised right, all that. And poof!!! They were gone. Two east, one west…gone! The result: I sit in a foreign home on a cold night playing with someone else’s children. Where was that in the playbook?

The night was fun. I can’t say it wasn’t. Fifteen actors telling war stories in a bar. No one tells jokes anymore, just punch lines. Our game: identify the joke by its punch line. Jeopardy for comedy junkies. I sat between the guy that played Bialystock at Chagrin and the lead in “Frost/Nixon.” Somewhat like being at the featured table at a poker tourney. By ten, though, the laughter had stopped and I drove home alone. Quiet, in the car again, my mind rewinded. Max, alas: still 500 miles away and Haley: still under quarantine.

Morning brought a new day, a new attitude. With Dick in town, H included me in lunch with Alan, Howard and Boo. Convening, (quite coincidentally), in the left corner booth at the closed end of Corky’s—precisely where our Wednesdays start—it was time well-spent with the lifelong comrades. Even so, when Hal urged me to share a dating tale, I quietly marveled at these guys, each of them blessed by long/term marriage. Better it would have been, I thought, if someone else were telling stories.

In a weekend that had me laugh with Ed and cry at “True Grit,” my insides were brittle. Why? Feelings, they tell me, are not facts. Feelings, if you let them, pass.

Sunday was another new day. Not quite 8:30, I noticed that an hour earlier there’d been a text from Meredith.

Meredith texting me at 7:22 on a Sunday morning? My Meredith? This, I sensed, could not be good for the Jews. What was so important? Why didn’t she call? Maybe she tried but missed and didn’t want to leave bad news on voice mail? Why didn’t Michael call? (Clearly he’s not afraid to wake me).

I opened it up…immediately…and read: “Thoughts on Woody Hayes?” That’s all it said.

“?” I typed back, wondering if perhaps this was one of my son’s games? Could he not sleep and was just using her phone?

Minutes later the phone vibrated her renewed request:
“Your thoughts on him?” it said, (seeming legit).

“Next to my father and Lincoln…” came my response.

For a period the dialogue continued. She referenced the Clemson matter and I winced, briefly sharing my thoughts. Her final comment came moments later and warmed my heart:

“I love Woody Hayes,” she wrote, “if u and Michael do.”

And just as quickly as the little ones laughed that Friday, Max’s mother made me cry happiness on Sunday. Sure, I knew my feelings were brittle. Yes, it was no big deal. Still, I was smiling again and yes, once again my cup was half full.

Or more.

4 Responses to “WORDS OF LOVE”

  1. alan wieder says:

    Thoughtful sweet and wonderful but now to specifics. Your paragraph on punch lines replacing jokes is absolutely brilliant — another in the long line of Bogart insights. Now to the bone. Your daughter-in-law might love Woody because you and Michael do. Where you wrote Al Bogart and Lincoln, I would have written George Wallace and Josef Stalin — just saying

  2. m says:

    The glass is always half full and more. We just have to notice.

  3. Jackie says:


  4. Unknown says:

    That makes you cry? Oy vey.

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