Lame Adventure 446: Radiator Cover Gift Giving

Now that my father is no longer walking the earth this holiday season, my family is reduced to its essence: my siblings, Dovima and Axel, brother-in-law Herb (with a silent h), and my college student niece, Sweet Pea. There are also the animals: Dovima’s dog, Thurber, Fred, her geriatric fish (he’s 9; a year older than Thurber), and Axel’s two cats: Blackie, the feral guard-cat at work, and Bandit, the pampered, at home. Seven of the eight rate holiday gifts from me.

Sorry, Fred, you're screwed.

Sorry, Fred, don’t look so glum, but you’re screwed.

I am famous for saying:

Me: If I can’t get it online, you’re not going to get it from me.

I like fast. I like simple. If I must go to a store, as I did for my sister and Herb’s presents, I go at off hours when I know the crowds will be just the way I like them: anemic. After I exited The Grind on Friday, I blew into a store, found exactly what I wanted to get my sister and brother-in-law, paid, and was back out on the street in six minutes flat Toyota jumping for joy. Almost immediately, I suffered a flash of five alarm fire, heart attack-inducing panic. That was because I brilliantly left their gifts in a convenience store aisle when I absently put the bag down to pick up an eight pack of pocket tissues. Then, I walked away. I made it back to get their presents before the four second window of retrieval granted to preoccupied stumblebums had slammed shut.

On Saturday, I shipped my gifts to my sister’s house on the West Coast. I’ll wrap them during my upcoming visit. The gifts that I’ve ordered online are being shipped directly to her; how I’ve been sending my gifts for years.

Now that Trader Joe’s Brandy Bean season is over, and with necessity being the mother of invention, I rewarded my gift giving accomplishment with a bottle of port and a chocolate bar.

Happy holidays to me!

Happy holidays to me!

As I was entering my building with my treats, I noticed a tire pump outside the door.

Home is where the tire pump is.

Home is where the tire pump is.

I thought:

Me (thinking): My building: the gift that never stops giving.

Once again some nameless tenant, possibly the one who places the cardboard pizza boxes in the recycling can meant for plastic and glass, left this hand me down up for grabs.

Does this person also wear their shoes on the wrong feet?

Does this person also wear their shoes on the wrong feet?

If I were inclined to be Tightwad Incarnate to those near and dear, based on what tenants have left on my building’s radiator cover through the years, there are many offerings I could have given.  I occasionally photograph them. Pictured below is a selection. Often, there are books and magazines. Sometimes, appliances, including computer hardware. Once, a glove I lost was left there and once, I placed a glove I found on there. Hey, pay the good deed forward. With great regret, I did not photograph the samurai sword someone left in the trash a few years back, but that artifact from feudal Japan, or more likely, China via a Canal Street junk store, was not gracing the radiator cover.

This is the radiator cover as it is seldom seen: naked.

This is the radiator cover as it is seldom seen: naked.

Here it is with a trinity of plastic what the hells possibly produced by Acme.

Here it is with a trinity of plastic What The Hells possibly produced by Acme.

Acme what the hells.

Acme What The Hells. But anyone’s for the taking.

Currently, there's a soup pot someone no longer wants.

Currently, there’s a soup pot up for adoption.

And a calendar with both November and maybe December!

And a calendar with both November and maybe December!

In September 2012 there was an empty binder and card stock.

In September 2012 there was an empty binder and card stock.

A month later, there was the ceramic blob.

A month later, there was this glazed ceramic blob.

One summer there was The Mystery Box. It sat around for about a week screaming volumes about the lack of curiosity.

One summer there was The Mystery Box. It sat around for about a week screaming volumes about the lack of curiosity amongst the tenants.

These magazine paper wrapped boxes sat in the vestibule for several days last spring.

Magazine paper wrapped boxes that sat in the vestibule last spring. A few were taken by some schmuck or schmuck-ette addicted to clutter.

The annual Christmas tree that makes my friend Milton's heart melt as if it's a puppy. But I don't think it's up for grabs.

The annual Christmas tree that makes my friend Milton’s heart melt as if it’s a puppy. But I think taking it is theft.

Lame Adventure 445: iPhone, iPear, iForget

Last Thursday, on my way to The Grind I suffered one of the worst feelings in the world. Just as I was walking up West 73rd Street to cross Broadway en route to the 72nd Street subway station, I felt immense dread, if one were to rank worst feelings in this order (your personal preference may vary):

  1. Someone dear dying.
  1. Oneself dying.
  1. Death of a relationship.
  1. Death of one’s livelihood.
  1. Leaving one’s iPhone on one’s writing table: a feeling approaching death.

For a flash I considered dashing home to get my phone. But, due to a plumbing problem in my building, I was already running late. I had cleared out everything in my bathroom so building management could investigate a leak in my shower, not to imply that moving a trash can, a bath mat and a scale requires tremendous effort, but it requires aforethought, something I sorely lack before noon. The reason I had forgotten my iPhone was because my narrow sliver of morning memory, normally reserved to recall taking my phone and wearing my watch, was invested in remembering to strap on the watch and to bring a pear. As soon as I packed the pear into my satchel, my allotment of middle age morning memory was maximized. I raced out the door iPhone-less.

The pear that started my agony.

The pear that started my agony.

Dropping the f-bomb in my head, I decided to forego returning home to get my phone. I crossed the street and entered the subway station. The express train was running with delays so I hopped onto a local where I got a seat. I thought:

Me (thinking): Sweet! I can read The New Yorker!

But I could not read The New Yorker. I download it onto my iPhone and my hard copy of the magazine was at home on my writing table, coincidentally next to my iPhone. In my satchel I only had an umbrella and that pear. The pear had an organic label sticker I could read, but for the duration of a thirteen stop, 4.76 mile subway ride, that story was going to get real old real fast. At West 23rd Street, seven stops into my journey, my local train is delayed. I thought:

Me (thinking): I better text Godsend [my colleague] about this.

But I recalled that I am iPhone-less. I make a mental note to contact my sister and friends not to text me. I don’t want to miss texts from kith and kin.

Recent text from my friend Milton.

Recent text from my friend Milton.

At The Grind, I email the news to my sister, Dovima. She emails me back:

Dovima: Might not be so bad after all. You might actually feel free.

My sister’s philosophical outlook makes me reflect:

Me: Are we related?

The Boss gives me a bubble wrapped package containing two dead light bulbs. These light bulbs are supposed to have a lifetime guarantee. She says:

The Boss: You know what to do about this.

Indeed I do! This has happened to us six times before. I photograph the dead light bulbs with my iPhone and forward the image to our supplier. He sends us replacements. That doesn’t get done that day.

I have to call building management to tell them about the leak in my shower, but I only have their number in my iPhone. Then, I recall that I also have it in hard copy in my Filofax. I think:

Me (thinking): Oh happy day for paper backup!

But I left my Filofax at home. It’s sitting on my writing table, on top of my New Yorker that is next to my iPhone. They’re probably having a three-way.

Sluts.

Sluts.

For good measure, I wonder if I remembered to wear a bra. I did.

I do a computer search, trying to trace my building management’s phone number. Last January, I emailed them! So, I email them again anticipating this missive will end up in their spam folder, but for the first time that day, something goes right. They email me back — with their phone number! They want me to call them! Just as quickly, my elation turns to worry. Do they have something terrible to report about the plumbing problem? I imagine:

Building Management: We’ve pinpointed the source of the problem. It’s your bathroom. We’re going to have to gut it so you won’t be able to use it again until January. And your iPhone keeps ringing.

Inside my head I drop another f-bomb. I make the call. What they actually want me to know is that both their daughters are pregnant and they’ll be grandparents next spring. They add that they fixed my leak. I am thrilled on many levels.

When I enter my sanctum sanctorum that evening and I’m reunited with my iPhone, I feel immense relief.

Together again!

Together again!

Only then do I recall that I forgot to eat the pear that I took in its place.

Grrrrrrrrrr.

Grrrrrrrrrr.

Lame Adventure 444: Let There Be Night and Let’s Hang Onto Our Hats

Here it is: the season of four fifty in the afternoon looking like eleven at night. I hate it when the days are so short the sun seems to be setting at half past four. Logically, I know that shorter days and longer nights are natural for this time of year, but it just seems wrong. Even though my pasty white complexion will never be mistaken for the pelt of a sun worshipper, I appreciate daylight, but ‘tis the season when it is in short supply.

Five forty five in the evening on Amsterdam Avenue.

Frosty the Inflated Snowman at five forty- five at night on Amsterdam Avenue.

Meanwhile, on Small Business Saturday, I was buying my holiday cards and Filofax pocket size calendar refill for 2015 at one of my favorite small businesses on the Upper West Side, Cardeology. The storeowner noticed that I had a refill for 2014. I thought that was a good catch and thanked him. He told me that he was no longer carrying Filofax calendar refills.

I felt like I had been stabbed.

How can he cease to carry it? I had been buying my Filofax calendar refills from this guy when his store was located on Columbus Avenue, when his store was a few blocks south on Amsterdam Avenue, and since his store moved north to it’s current Amsterdam Avenue location between West 85th and West 86th Streets. For fifteen years, I have been stalking this man for my Filofax calendar refills.

Me: Are you telling me that the time has come for me to quit my paper calendar? I have to note everything in my iPhone? I like the paper back up. I’m old school.

Cardeology Owner: Go to Gold Leaf’s Stationers. They’re on Amsterdam at 90th.

Me: Are they’re even open at this hour?

“This hour” was five forty-five, but it looked like the dead of night in the City That Never Sleeps. Gold Leaf’s was open and a good recommendation. They had my calendar refill, but I sense night is fast approaching for my relationship with my pocket size paper calendar, this relic of a bygone era after soap on a rope was put out to pasture but before the advent of smart electronic devices. For the time being, my pocket size Filofax calendar refill search had a happy ending, unlike whoever dropped a glove on the sidewalk.

Waving goodbye to its mate.

Waving goodbye to its mate.

Then, I noticed someone had dropped a pair of gloves.

Misery and company.

Misery and company.

It occurred to me that this is lost glove, hat and scarf season. Night quickly overcoming day contributes to the proliferation of the dropsies at this time of year because it’s even easier to miss losing things in the dark. It’s unfortunate that when we drop our gloves, hats and scarves, an alarm doesn’t ring alerting us to the mishap. In fall and winter, there would be a cacophony of constant ringing all over New York City. I would prefer if a sexy, cinematic melody such as the theme to the film, Last Tango in Paris, would accompany my fallen knitwear as opposed to the obnoxious raspberry sound effect bad karma is actually sending my way.

Two weeks ago, I was at the theater on a very chilly night with my friend, Milton, when I suddenly realized that I had lost my hat; a knit cap I had recently purchased. No alarms rang or music played when that happened. Only the less than dulcet tones of my whining could be heard. Milton had seen it on my head when we took our seats, but after I removed it we could not find it anywhere. We looked under, behind and in the sides between our seats. But it seemed to have vanished. It was baffling. At the end of the play, Milton entered Sherlock Holmes mode, determined to find my missing hat. Somehow, it landed at the end of our row, several seats away from us, no doubt unintentionally kicked to kingdom come by Big Foot Bertha. Unlike people who are losing their gloves, left, right and center, never knowing what became of their missing mitt-wear, I got lucky and got my hat back thanks to my friend being part bloodhound. Even though I am headless about losing my things, at least for now I’m not hatless in the dark.

Lame Adventure 443: Test Time

Last month I had an annual checkup. I was wondering if my doctor might notice my fifteen-pound weight loss. She did:

My Doctor: You’ve lost seventeen pounds from a year ago!

Me (thinking): I was seventeen pounds heavier last year? That’s like packing a terrier!

My Doctor: This is terrific. For someone your age, it’s not an easy thing to do. What made you do it?

Me (thinking): Feeling like crap and looking like crap.

Me (saying): I thought things were going in the wrong direction.

I didn’t mention that my gastroenterologist had read me the riot act about my weight, prompting me to invest in a spin bike that I strenuously ride four times a week for forty minutes a session. In addition, I eat significantly healthier and do something highly un-American: practice portion control. I steer clear of processed foods. I am no longer on eating terms with cookies, chips and bread.

On my Do Not Eat list: beer flavored jelly beans.

Coincidentally on my Do Not Eat list: beer flavored jelly beans.

All year I have been predominantly eating organic: mountains of whole grain, acres of leafy greens and fields of fresh fruit. Gone are the days when I’d slap together a sandwich in twenty seconds and toss a banana in my satchel for lunch at The Grind. Now I spend over an hour preparing cous cous, sautéing tofu and steaming vegetables for a low calorie, nutritious mid-day meal.

Mid-day meal now: organic cous cous, mushrooms, kale and black beans.

Mid-day meal now: organic cous cous, mushrooms, kale and black beans.

As much as I hate cooking (and the subsequent clean-up), I hate feeling like flab on feet even more. Home cooking fresh ingredients is not only a cheap and healthy way to eat well but it keeps the lost weight off. My formula for staying fit is simple: eat less, eat well and exercise.

But now it is holiday season, a.k.a. eating season. My self-control will be sorely tested. I am not going to be eating less. That pimp, Trader Joe, has brought back one of my favorite seasonal indulgences: Brandy Beans.

Crummy iPhone photo (was not drunk when taking this image at The Grind).

Crummy iPhone photo (was not drunk when taking this image at The Grind).

I bought those the second I saw them — and brought them straight to The Grind. Sharing them with The Boss and my colleague, Godsend, allows me to eat them, but not inhaled in a single sitting, something that could happen if I were alone with them in my sanctum sanctorum.

I will be spending Thanksgiving in New Jersey with my long-time friend, Martini Max. With a name like that, he’s not the type who guzzles sarsaparilla. Max and I spend Thanksgiving Eve at his man-cave and Thanksgiving Day at his sister’s house. She makes a superb turkey basted in bourbon and butter. I am not much of a turkey fan. I think it’s rather bland, but turkey basted in bourbon and butter is quite tasty. If tradition prevails, Max and I will stuff ourselves royally on alcoholic beverages and appetizers. One year we ate so many deviled eggs, by the time dinner was served, they had expanded so exponentially they completely filled our intestinal cavities. I can say with authority that I know exactly what it feels like to be a hen. This coming Wednesday and Thursday are two days that I intend to thoroughly indulge, but I will practice restraint around those eggs.

In the weeks ahead, there will be more occasions when I will ditch my diet in favor of holiday conviviality, but I will still be riding my spin bike regularly, possibly closer to six times a week at five hour stretches. Come Christmas, my spin bike will remain in New York, cooling off, and I will be with my family. My sister, Dovima, who loathes kale, knocks herself out preparing food. She has some great holiday dining traditions.

Kale ready for steaming: nowhere to be found at Casa Dovima.

Kale ready for steaming: nowhere to be found at Casa Dovima.

On Christmas Eve, she bakes a spiral cut ham on the bone. She uses the bone to make a terrific split pea soup. Christmas morning, she prepares pancakes and bacon. Christmas dinner, we have Chicken Marsala, a dish she hit on several years ago that everyone likes. There’s usually a night when she serves fresh cracked crab with incredible San Francisco sourdough bread. She also always has a stash of Brandy Beans on site as well as other candy and a bottle of port we quaff together. When I visit, Dovima gets great wine. My niece, Sweet Pea, bakes her brains out. Her specialty: cookies.

This is one test I am destined to fail, but I don’t mind. This is why I time seeing my doctor before holiday season. The masochism of my healthy habits will resume after the New Year.

New Year's Day breakfast.

New Year’s Day breakfast.

Lame Adventure 442: The Misery of Company

Earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal reported that New York City’s population has hit a record high of 8,405,837, so the city with insomnia is getting even more crowded and that can undoubtedly bring out the worst in some inhabitants.

When I leave The Grind at 5:30 I hustle to catch the uptown express at the Chambers Street subway station back to my home base, the Upper West Side. On nights when the stars are in perfect alignment I can return home by 5:54. On other nights, when my train karma is comatose it might be closer to 6:15. On those nights when I have to do laundry, cutting it close is the cause for a level of anxiety that can almost merit professional psychiatric help. A mere nanosecond of delay can make all the difference in getting a washer or not at my laundromat. Last wash is at 6:30 and this is the only laundromat close to where I live.

To further fray what remains of my shredded nerves, the fleet of fully operational washers has been cut in half in recent months. I asked the attendant why the owner does not have the broken washers repaired. She explained that the repairman died. I remembered that guy.

Me: He didn’t look old and he didn’t look ill.

Attendant: He was fifty-five.

I thought:

Me (thinking): Ugh.

I said:

Me: What did he die of?

Attendant: He dropped dead.

Me (thinking): Ow.

I wondered why this dead guy is so irreplaceable? Does he not have a single successor in a city of 8,405,837, or now, 8,405,836? Was he really the only guy in the five boroughs that can work laundromat machine repair?

Last Thursday, my train karma was sluggish. It was rainy and I did not make it back uptown on laundry night until 6:10. I thought that the foul weather would work in my favor and deter customers from doing their laundry, but I was mistaken. When I arrived, every single load washer was in use. Customers avoid the larger washers because they cost more. I noticed that I had never seen any of these customers before. I thought that was strange. It brought to mind the lyrics in an old Doors’ song, People Are Strange:

The Doors: When you’re strange, faces come out of the rain.

I doubt that the customers in my laundromat were what Jim Morrison had in mind when he wrote those lyrics, but he was probably high so anything is possible. One woman hogged three washers. With the Washer Hog dominating forty-five percent of the single load machines, the attendant let me use a double loader, which usually costs $4.50, for $3. A single load machine is $2.50.

Half of the driers are also broken, but I was able to score one when the Washer Hog was plying the attendant with questions. I felt like I had won Powerball or at least five bucks on a scratch off lottery card. When I returned to retrieve my dried clothes, the joint was still jumping. There were three people, two millennials and a man in his sixties, waiting. I could feel three pairs of eyes on me as I removed my load. I figured that someone wanted to pounce on my dryer so I moved fast, what I consider basic public laundromat courtesy. What I didn’t realize was that in my haste to be considerate I dropped a green sock and a pair of blue underwear on the floor. None of my three witnesses said:

Three Witnesses: Hey, you dropped that!

Fortunately, the attendant noticed. Maybe I was mistaken and none of the three had seen my airborne garments. Possibly they had more pressing thoughts on their minds than my fallen sock and underwear?

From the Not Flashy but Practical Collection.

From the Not Flashy but Practical Collection.

When I was zipping my jacket to get ready to leave, the guy in his sixties weaseled over to my cart where I had placed my umbrella. He dipped his hand in and palmed it.

Me: What are you doing with my umbrella, Sir?

He let it go.

Would-be Umbrella Thief: I thought it was mine.

Me: Uh-huh. So your initials are also E.B. for Editta Bendix?

EB umbrella.

EB umbrella.

Would-be Umbrella Thief: It looked like mine. It’s black.

He scurried out into the drizzle, umbrella-less. I guestimate that ninety-one percent of the umbrellas in New York City are black, including the one Would-be Umbrella Thief didn’t bring to the laundromat. As for those initials, I’ll admit it here: they’re  for Eddie Bauer.

Lame Adventure 441: My First Public F-bomb

If dogs had life spans that equaled humans, my childhood canine companion, Mean Streak, would have turned forty-five this Friday. Meanie only made it to sixteen years and four months before he started leg lifting on the Pearly Gates.

Mean Streak was my brother Axel’s dog. We got him on December 26, 1969.  Axel wanted a dog for Christmas, but our parents were anti-dog. There was no puppy under our tree. Instead, they gave my brother $20 and extended anemic approval to him to find his pet.

With our sister, Dovima, driving our mother’s 1963 Chevy Bel Air, we spent December 26th combing San Francisco Bay Area pet shops in search of Axel’s four-legged friend. We discovered that the day after Christmas all that remained were the rejects. Axel felt that if we did not return home with a dog that day, we ran the risk of our parents changing their minds and telling us that we had to remain dog-less. We were determined to find a dog.

We met an adorable tan Cockapoo, but that dog was too small. We encountered a very exuberant Bluetick Coonhound mix that so desperately wanted to go home with us, her nails got caught in Dovima’s wooly sweater. Axel was concerned that she might be too big when fully grown. If he came home with the second coming of Marmaduke, he’d never hear the end of it. We kept looking.

As our hunt drew to a close, we went to Teddy’s Pet Shop in West Portal, not far from where we lived. A litter of just weaned puppies was playing in the window. The pet shopkeeper told us that these pups were exactly six weeks old. Off to the side, Mean Streak snoozed by himself. Axel selected the little sleeper, erroneously assuming that that pup was the most peaceful one of all. We later realized that Meanie was just being his usual anti-social self.

Meanie was a feisty, mighty mutt who was born to bark. He was very protective of our house and made it clear to all visitors — friends, neighbors and extended family members:

Mean Streak: I take no prisoners!

Puppy Mean Streak on the alert for trespassers, or anyone.

Puppy Mean Streak on the alert for trespassers or anyone.

Even though Meanie weighed only thirty-five pounds, no one ever called our dog’s bluff. He was equal opportunity and would gladly rip out the lungs of any perceived intruder i.e., every single visitor outside of my siblings, parents and grandmother, but he granted an exemption to my pet turtle.

Mean Streak: I cut the turtle a pass.

When my turtle died and I buried him in the back yard, Meanie, who was not a digger, dug him up. I could have lived quite nicely without ever having seen that sight. My dad reburied my turtle in another hole so deep in our yard Meanie would have had to dig all the way to middle earth to reach that corpse again.

Axel said I could own a five percent stake in  Mean Streak. I was allotted Meanie’s tail. A few years later, when my brother got a part time job, he paid me a dollar a week to walk Meanie when I got home from school. I  liked the job, but there were these two old guys with big dogs that were bad news. They walked their dogs unleashed, flouting the leash laws. They lumbered slowly and their dogs walked far ahead looking for trouble.

One day when I was walking Mean Streak, we encountered the two old guys exercising their pony-sized unleashed beasts. Both hounds from Hell came barreling at us. They pounced Mean Streak. The two old guys thought this was hilarious. I was a whippet thin twelve-year-old whose dog was under attack. I didn’t get the joke.

Me: Get your dogs off my dog you bastards!

They quickened their pace and pulled their dogs off of mine.

One Old Guy: You’ve got a mouth on you, little girl!

Me: Fuck you!

That was the first time I dropped the f-bomb on anyone in public. I reported back to Axel what had happened, including my use of profanity. Axel approved. He hated those guys and had his own share of run ins with them. One of the bullying big dogs died prematurely. We attributed it to the owner’s bad karma.

Looking back, those “old” guys were younger then than I am now. If there is an afterlife, I hope that Mean Streak is nipping them in the ankles for eternity.

 

Lame Adventure 440: Destructive Forces

When I was a scrawny kid standing barely four feet tall and weighing no more than forty pounds, my mother viewed me as a condensed package of pure trouble. She never wanted me near anything mechanical. She was taking no chances to give me any opportunity to break anything. She was certain that if I held my father’s “electric eye” movie camera I would drop it, the mix master was for someone else to use as I watched, and I should just forget about ever making a milkshake in the blender on my own. When I would enter a room when guests were visiting I was subject to “the look”, a fiercely watchful eye that screamed:

Mom: Don’t touch anything!

My dad would allow me to blow off steam and let loose my inner maniac. I would sit in the driver’s seat of his car where I would go crazy playing at the steering wheel. The engine was always off so there was no chance I could floor the accelerator I couldn’t reach and drive through a wall.

Fast forward to this year, early October. I’m walking down Hudson Street en route to my bank when I see a sight so incongruous, I almost throw out my neck: a mint condition Beatles lunchbox circa 1965 hanging off the handlebar of a stroller. It’s being pushed by a nanny tending three small fry. That happened to be the exact lunchbox I wanted when I was in first grade, but it cost more, so my mother bought me a compromise solution lunchbox featuring the Flintstones. The nanny’s charges were a tot of about two, a toddler girl around four and their big brother, a boy, I guessed was six and probably in first grade.

Me: Excuse me; I remember that lunchbox in my youth. May I photograph it?

Nanny: Of course! His father loves the Beatles. Everything with his daddy is the Beatles.

Does Mom have the Hope Diamond lying on the coffee table?

Does Mommy use the Hope Diamond as a doorstop?

So this lunchbox belonged to the little schoolboy. I thanked her for her time and moved on imagining that Daddy was at least my age, obscenely wealthy, and Mommy was a trophy twenty-five years his junior. Later I researched what a Beatles lunchbox in mint condition is worth: about a thousand dollars. There’s one on eBay priced at $6,500. I wondered what that kid’s lunchbox would look like at the end of the school year. Dented, scratched and battered? Who in their right mind would allow a six-year-old to carry his PB&J sandwiches in a collector’s item that will only increase in value over time? This isn’t yeah, yeah, yeah, but no, no, no! I ordered myself to calm down. Who am I to dictate what people do with their collector’s items? Let it go, or how about, let it be?

At month’s end, I spent a weekend on the West Coast with my siblings, Dovima and Axel. My sister lamented about how she wished she still had the Beatle fan book that she bought in 1964.

Me: It’s in Dad’s house.

Dovima didn’t believe me, but I assured her it was indeed there. It took us two days to dig through the entirety of our family archives, but finally, I unearthed it buried deep in a file box tucked high on a shelf that had not been opened in well over thirty years. My sister was elated. Hero-me gloated.

Back in the hands of its proud owner.

Back in the hands of its proud owner.

As we looked through it for the first time in decades, Dovima, in her excitement turned to the third page, but I insisted:

Me: Turn back; let’s look at it from page one.

On the lower right corner of page two we saw this.

Dovima was calm. I dropped a barrage of f-bombs.

Dovima was calm. I dropped multiple f-bombs.

I have no recollection of when or why I wrote my name on it, but possibly it was for  a school show and tell or maybe it was in frustration when my mother refused to let me set my own alarm clock or sharpen a pencil or ring the doorbell. Obviously, Mom did not keep me away from pens. I hope that that schoolboy with the Beatles lunchbox doesn’t follow my lead and do something stupid like give them all goatees. As for Dovima, when we saw that the autographed centerfold was still intact and unscathed, she breathed a sigh of relief. At least I managed to control my impulse to be the fifth Beatle, and I refrained from being the ultimate imbecile by signing my name with those of the lads from Liverpool.

John, Paul, George, Ringo and what a relief, no sign of me.

Signed John, Paul, George, Ringo and what a relief, no sign of me.