The Grand Slam Weekend

Carey Van Driest - The International Mr T Slams Paul Orndorf

Carey Van Driest

Paul Orndorf and Mr. T

View from my BarstoolTilda_Earl at the Cell

The View from my Bar Stool

Tilda and I in the backyard of the Cell Theatre

Buddy Holly


Back when I first moved to Lancaster, it seemed I was travelling back to New York on Amtrak almost every weekend. There was always a party or a show or something that I didn’t want to miss. Now, I only take that Amtrak ride if I have a couple things to do in New York. This past weekend I really got a lot of bang for my travelling buck. I call it the Grand Slam weekend. I was busy every day.

I went to an awards dinner on Friday honoring the 6 New Yorkers who were recently inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. On Saturday I went to a Country Western Dance in Port Washington. On Sunday I went to an off-Broadway show, The International. On Monday I spent a day at the Beach, and when I got back to Lancaster I went to a local theatre production of The Buddy Holly Story. As if that wasn’t enough activity for one weekend I also got invited and later disinvited to my nephew’s wedding next year.

It all started with the awards dinner. My friend Hilary Becker was one of the inductees into the Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Many years ago, I attended a little theatre production of Oklahoma which starred his then girlfriend, Geralyn, who is today his wife. So, now they’ve both “been in Oklahoma” without ever going there.

There were about 450 people in attendance in the Mellville Marriott Ballroom, and Hilary’s Becker Real Estate company had paid for a good number of them. I was one of those lucky individuals. I gobbled down course after course as the honorees made their speeches. They all thanked their parents, their wrestling coaches, and their children. Hilary, who is deeply religious, thanked God for his parents, thanked God for his wrestling coaches, and thanked God for his children. It appeared to me that now that he was successfully inducted into the Wrestling Hall of Fame, he was now campaigning for induction into Heaven.

You know how they play music at the Oscar’s when somebody goes overtime making their acceptance speech? Well, they had a buzzer sound that went off when the time was up, but they all disregarded it and kept right on going. So, the night went on a little later than expected, and eating all that banquet food gave me gas. Occasionally, the speakers told a joke and I was afraid that I might pass gas while laughing at a joke. Instead of going to the bathroom to relieve myself, I prepared to combat embarrassment with humor. I figured that if I accidentally let one rip, I would just follow it by saying loudly, “Time’s up.”

On Friday night I slept over at Brother X’s house, and they informed me that their son and his fiancée had set a date and I was invited to their wedding. They asked me if I could think of any good songs for the DJ to play when they made their entrance at the reception as the father and mother of the groom. By the time I finished my suggestions, which included If You Want To Be Happy For The Rest of Your Life Never Make a Pretty Woman Your Wife and Mother-in-Law I was disinvited to the wedding.

On Saturday afternoon we went out for Carvel. Mrs. X stayed in the car while Brother X and I went in to get the ice cream. He ordered a cone for her and then remembered that she preferred sugar cones to the wafer kind, but since the attendant had already started making her cone, he said he would just tell her that they were out of sugar cones. He went outside to deliver his wife’s cone and the man asked me what I wanted. “Same thing,” I said, “except give me a sugar cone.” I love busting their horns. I bet they wish they could really disinvite me from the wedding.

Saturday night was a Country Western Dance in Port Washington with my friends Tilda, Joan, Larry, Debbie, Nancy, Rad and Dotty, Patrice, and Jim. Normally I spend most of the night at the bar, but this time I spent most of the evening dancing with friends who wanted the inside scoop on my dating situation in Lancaster. I didn’t realize that they all read the posts on this web page and, therefore, knew I was seeing someone in Lancaster.

Sunday afternoon I went to an off-Broadway show with Tilda. It was called The International and was about the destruction of a village, and the murder of most of the villagers. The story is told by 3 actors. One plays a local woman who was raped by the enemy while the rest of her village was being murdered. So, it obviously wasn’t a comedy, but there was one good joke in the play. She was talking about her husband who was a blacksmith and shoed horses all day. She said that when he came home he smelled like a horse, but unfortunately he was hung like a man.

The writing was excellent, and the acting was superb. By the end, the entire audience was crying, but we were all glad we had witnessed such an amazing show. We were not surprised to learn that Carey Van Driest won a Best Actress award for her portrayal of the village woman. The show is only playing through May 3rd at the Cell Theatre on 23rd St. (between 8th & 9th Avenues). Tickets are just $35 and I would recommend it to any serious theatregoer.

Afterwards, Tilda and I had to go for a drink, and I told her about the online Bartending course I am taking. I told her that bartender’s don’t use shot glasses to measure drinks anymore. They just pour the liquor through one of those easy pour spouts and count. Every 4 counts equals one ounce. So, if you are serving a drink that calls for an ounce and a half of liquor, you would count to six while pouring.

“What happens if you stutter?” she said.

I guessed that the customer would get a really strong drink. She pantomimed pouring as she said, “W-w-w-w-w-one, t-t-t-t-t-two…”

We weren’t completely over the horrors of the war we had just witnessed on stage, but we were laughing again.

Then I went to Long Beach to visit my friends John & Margaret. When I told John about the idea of a stuttering bartender, he said he would probably order a shot of Scotch in a tall glass. That started us laughing and we just kept telling jokes and laughing for hours.

When I got back to Lancaster I took Debbie to see The Buddy Holly Story at the Fulton Theatre. We both loved it. Naturally, I enjoyed all the Buddy Holly music, but I especially enjoyed when everyone came on stage at the end to do Johnny B. Goode. That’s my karaoke song. I stood up and added my voice to theirs. Fortunately, everyone else in the theatre was also standing and singing, so I didn’t get disinvited to any future events.

Peace & Love, and all of the above,


Going to the Chair

Going to the Chair - 02 Going to the Chair


I was doing some luxury shopping at the Dollar Store opposite the Barber School, and I figured I might as well get a haircut while I was in the vicinity. I didn’t really think I needed one, but Easter is this Sunday, and I’m going out with Debbie and her mother for Easter Dinner. I never met her mother before, so I figured that a fresh haircut might help make a good first impression.

There’s never a line at the Barber School. At $3 a haircut, they do draw a lot of customers, but they’ve got a couple dozen guys waiting around just to practice on somebody. So, there’s never a line, but I always have to wait a little bit, while a half dozen future black barbers figure out who needs the most practice on Caucasian hair.

For $3 you get the hair cut out of wherever it appears north of your neck, your head, your ears, your eyebrows – all included. Like I said, these guys want to practice, and I usually get the guy that needs the most. That’s cool, though. When the student is finished and turns me towards the instructor, the instructor fixes whatever they botched up, and schools them. So, I get two haircuts for $3, the rough cut by the student, and the finishing cut by the instructor.

Today, I got a guy who was in his second week of training.

“How do you want it cut?”

“Just a trim.”

I think he was cutting one or two hairs at a time. He didn’t talk as he concentrated on his work, but after 45 minutes, he relaxed a bit and talked to me. His arms were tired from holding them up in the air with the comb and scissors so long. I asked him if his feet hurt. I would think your feet would get tired of holding up your body, before your arms got tired of holding up a scissors. He said his feet didn’t bother him a bit. I was surprised.

I told him that I had been getting my haircut at the Barber’s School since January. I told him that I was new in town. He told me that he was too.

I asked him where he was from.

“Prison,” he said, and I was surprised again. Not that he just got out of prison, but because he was so open about it. We talked about it a bit and he continued to snip away. He was determined to turn his life around. Now, he wanted to be a barber, instead of being a hoodlum. I hoped he would make it. Especially since he now had access to both a straight razor and my neck.

“You gonna be done by 6?” the instructor asked him.

“Sure, Mr. G.”

Six o’clock came and went and he was still snipping away. Finally, around 6:10 he put down the scissors, picked up the clippers and asked me if I wanted it round or square in the back. Ten minutes later he was done. He called Mr. G. over to inspect his work.

There wasn’t much hair left for Mr. G to work with, but he evened out the rough spots, and pointed out ways that the young barber could improve.

The young man paid close attention, and I hoped that he would graduate from Barber School and someday have his own barbershop.

When the hand mirror came out I didn’t quite recognize myself. Only in Boot Camp was my hair ever shorter. Oh well, it’s only hair.  I figure I’m still just a six-pack shy of handsome, and maybe my hair will grow in a little bit by Easter.

Peace & Love, and all of the above,


Rhythm of the Rain

Rhythm in the Night - 01 - 2bmdRhythm in the Night - 02 - 2bmd

By now, I’m sure you’re all familiar with my friends Marianne, Geralyn, and Maria. We’ve partied together for years. Last year we all went to Las Vegas and it rained for three days straight. The locals were amazed. We were just  wet.

Then, Maria was one of my first friends to drive to Lancaster to visit me and she hit thunderstorms all the way down. All the First Friday street activity was rained out, too. After that white-knuckle driving experience, she decided to take Amtrak the next time she visited me. Well, Marianne’s daughter Jessie, who recently toured China with an Irish Step Dancing group, was now touring the U.S. with a different group, Rhythm in the Night, and they would be playing the Whitaker Center in Harrisburg, PA., about 35 miles from me. I got two tickets and Maria said she would meet me in Harrisburg.

Actually, since I knew what train she was on, I met her in Lancaster, and we rode to Harrisburg together. It rained all the way, and it was still raining hard when we got there. Fortunately, the theatre was only two blocks away, but they were two cold, wet blocks.

More fortunately, there was a bar near the theater where we could wet our whistles and dry our bones at the same time. It was a huge bar called The Gingerbread Man. It was actually two huge bars, divided by the kitchen they both shared. One bar for smokers and one for non-smokers. We were in the smoking bar, even though we don’t smoke, because that’s where all the people were. I peeked through a smoky window by the rest rooms and saw that there was only 1 guy in the non-smoking bar.  He wasn’t even drinking.  He was watching the TV.

We left the bar a few minutes before show time, and settled in for the show. When the curtain opened all I could see was a vast field of stars in the background. “Space. The Final Frontier,” I thought.   Apparently, I must have been thinking out loud, because I got a few hairy eyeballs from audience members.

The first character to appear continued the space theme for me. He sort of looked like Ming the Merciless from the old Flash Gordon show. With his well-muscled upper body, he also looked a lot like Ray Mysterio, the Masked Mexican wrestler.

Then the dancing began, and it was practically non-stop dancing from there to intermission. We were in the front row of the audience, so I figured I’d be able to spot Jessie right away. You see those characters in the picture, dressed in what looked like haz-mat costumes.  She was one of them. Good luck trying to pick her out. Later in the show, though, the costumes got skimpier and the masks were removed.  Then we recognized her, and from then on we probably followed her dancing more than we did the story.

After the show, the cast came out to meet the audience. After two hours of incredible Irish step dancing, they all looked like they had just gotten out of the pool. You could feel the heat radiating off their bodies.

They were supposed to have another show at 7:30, but because of a scheduling conflict at the center it got cancelled, and they all looked a bit relieved. When you consider that the top finishers in the marathon usually finish in two hours and change, this cast had just danced a marathon, while wearing robes, hoods, and masks most of the time. At least marathoners get to wear short shorts and tank tops.

So, while we’re talking with Jessie, in walks her father, Tres. Since the evening show was cancelled, he’s going to drive Jessie back to New York to spend a little time with family.

“When did you get here?” I asked.

“I’ve been here for hours,” he said. It turns out that he was the one guy who was sitting in the non-smoking section of The Gingerbread Man. He was watching a Nascar race before the show.

After the show, Maria and I went back to The Gingerbread Man. It wasn’t raining anymore. Now, it had turned to sleet.  It was still sleeting when it was time for us to catch our train back. Thanks to the beverages we had consumed, we braved the weather and even sang a little bit of “Singing in the Rain,” as we sloshed through the sleet on our way to the train station. Maria was headed back to New York, but I got off in Lancaster. When I got off the train, the weather was suddenly clear, with no sleet on the ground.

When I told my friends the story, they wondered if the local farmers would pay for Maria to come and visit, the next time there’s a drought.  I remembered that she said that she would come back for another visit on May 10th, when I throw out the first ball in a minor league baseball game between the Lancaster Barnstormers and the Long Island Ducks.  Now, I’m just hoping that game doesn’t get rained out.

She’s probably thinking, every time I go somewhere with Earl, it rains. So, she must think I’m the jinx.  Who knows?  Maybe I am.  We’ll find out on May 10th.

Go Barnstormers.

Peace & Love, and all of the above,