One Down, One to Go

bachelor-party-originalEarl - Pointy Party Hat

My nephew’s Bachelor Party was last Friday.  I wasn’t invited.  None of the old guys were.  We were, instead, invited to a Bachelor’s Dinner, the following night.

I had about 3 hours to kill when the Amtrak train arrived at Penn Station, so I went to the movies and saw Spy with Melissa McCarthy.  It was a funny action adventure movie, but this isn’t a movie review.  Let’s get to the Bachelor Dinner.  I arrived at Tony DiNapoli’s first and found a seat at the bar where I ordered a beer.  Then Brother X and his friend Charlie arrived. They sneered at my beer and ordered more manly drinks.  X, the Father of the Groom, had his usual Bourbon on the Rocks and Charlie, a retired FBI agent, went with a Vodka Martini.

We had another round before the Father of the Bride showed up with the Groom and his entourage of 10 guys leftover from the previous night’s Bachelor Party.  All present and accounted for, we were led to our table in the party room in the basement.  We passed tables of young ladies having a Bachelorette Dinner, and other tables of people celebrating something.  Next to us they were celebrating Laurie’s 50th Birthday party.  They had 6 women and 4 men at the table.  We had 15 guys at our table.  I chose the seat nearest their table, and nearest the 2 women who weren’t sitting next to husbands.

The young guys at our table were talking about an upcoming Track & Field meet.  My brother’s son, the Groom, is a high-school teacher and a track coach.  To be polite, I asked Charlie what he had been up to.  He told me that he and my brother just gave blood.  That was enough polite chit chat with our group for me.  I turned my attention to the birthday party.

“It looks like somebody is having a birthday,” I said to the prettiest single girl at the birthday table.  It’s not a very brilliant opening line, but it was good enough.  She started talking to me.  “We’re celebrating Laurie’s 50th birthday party,” she said.  Maybe she said Lauren’s birthday.  The room was a little noisy, and I didn’t want to admit right away that I was hard of hearing.  It was bad enough that I was old enough to be her father.  A listing of my ailments and medications wasn’t going to impress her.  I hoped that maybe they’d been there a while and had a few drinks.  Maybe more than a few drinks.  That was the only way I would have a chance with her.  Then she might at least think I’m funny.

Her name was Nicole and she’s a Captain in the NYPD.  She told me that she used to work undercover in Vice.

“That’s why you look so familiar,” I exclaimed.  “I think you arrested me a few times.”

She laughed.  She was very friendly and chit chatted away with me.  Then the other shoe dropped, the reason why this pretty woman was being so friendly to me.  She was looking to find a date for her friend Sophie, sitting to her right.  Sophie turned and smiled at me.

“Nice meeting you,” I said politely to her slightly less-attractive friend.

“Sophie puts out,” Nicole said out loud.

“Very nice meeting you, I said even more politely, as Sophie blushed.

Before long I was sitting at their table, wearing a pointy birthday hat and joking that I would take Sophie as my plus one to my nephew’s wedding.

As the Bachelor Dinner was breaking up, my brother came over to see why I had deserted them.  I introduced him to Nicole and Sophie.  When Nicole found out that Brother X’s daughter was a Lieutenant in the Police Department, she practically offered her a job on the spot.  She was looking for a new Lieutenant in her department.  She gave him her phone number to give to his daughter.  I did all the work.  He got the digits.  Damn, I’m slipping.

So was Charlie.  He walked out of the bathroom and his legs collapsed under him.  Down he went.

Everyone at our table rushed over to help him.  I excused myself from the party table joking, “I’ve got to go check on Charlie.  He’s the designated driver.”

Eleven strong boys carried Charlie upstairs and out of the restaurant.  We hailed a cab, and my brother and I took Charlie to Penn Station to catch a train home while the boys, now well-fed, were free to resume the Bachelor Party.  We practically slid Charlie down the 7th Avenue escalator, and then down the next escalator to the LIRR Level.  My brother leaned Charlie against a pole, while I went to check the big board to see what track we needed to get to.

I was still wearing my pointy party hat and Brother X yelled out, “Hey Conehead.  Happy Birthday.”  Then he started singing Happy Birthday.  I encouraged the crowd to join in, and it looked like a Flash Mob as hundreds of people sang Happy Birthday to me.  That was the fun part.  When they announced that our train was on Track 16 and we had to get Charlie down the steps, well, let’s just say that wasn’t nearly as much fun.  Charlie’s legs gave way on the very first step.  We kept him from falling down the steps but were unable to lift him and the crowd was building behind us.  A couple muscular guys helped us get him down the steps.  There was no room on the train, so we propped Charlie against a pole to wait for the next train, but he slid to the ground.  Within minutes a half dozen cops arrived to see what was causing the commotion.  One of the cops looked at my party hat and asked if we had been drinking.  I didn’t think he would believe it if I said I was a Shriner doing late-night charity work, so I told him, “Of course I was drinking.”

“Was he drinking,” he wanted to know as he pointed to Charlie.

“I don’t think so.  He gave blood today.  I think it may be a reaction to that.”

Charlie pulled out his FBI badge and things mellowed.  Now it looked like they were more interested in getting us out of there than arresting anyone.  I asked if I might be allowed to use my phone to get a video of the scene for a YouTube video.  They didn’t think that was funny, and now they were really interested in getting us out of there in a hurry.  We had already missed our train, so they got on the radio to see what platform we had to get to for the next train.  They commandeered the elevators and whisked us to the next train.

We hoped that Charlie would be able to walk by the time we got to our destination.  He wasn’t.  Fortunately, a couple muscular guys helped us get him to the car, and we drove right to the emergency room to get him checked out.  Turns out he was just dehydrated from giving blood.  So they hydrated him and sent him home.

So, the supposedly quiet Bachelor Dinner turned out to be quite exciting.  I can’t wait for the wedding.  I just hope that Sophie doesn’t turn out to be an undercover vice officer.

Peace & Love, and all of the above,


One Step up and Two Steps Back

Somewhere along the line I slipped off track.

I’m caught movin’ one step up and two steps back.

  • Bruce Springsteen

I saw my primary care physician for the last time last week.  She got married and will be moving to Philadelphia.  So, on my next visit to the Health Group, I’ll meet my new physician.  Since this was the last time I would see Amy, we had a nice long talk, and after a while she asked me, “How’s your hip feeling?”

I told her that it was getting a little bit better every day, and I used that reference as a cue to give her a going away present, a copy of my children’s book, A Little Bit Better.  I figured that now that she’s married, it might not be too long before she’s looking for children’s books.  Then, I got back to my hip.  I mentioned that when I walk or bounce around on my wooden floors, I don’t feel any pain.  It only hurts when I’m walking on cement.

“My dad has the same problem,” she said.  “He uses a trampoline when he exercises to cushion the impact.”

That’s a great idea, I thought, and as soon as I got home, I went online to see what was available that didn’t look too dangerous.  I found a mini trampoline that comes with a safety handle bar.  I bought it.  It was pretty easy to put it together, but I didn’t have the tool to really tighten some of the screws, so I just hand tightened them.  Hopefully, I’ll find the wrench I need, before “The Little Tramp” gives me material for another story, one with a moral about a stitch in time saving nine.

My first workout wasn’t exactly the picture of grace, but before too long I was getting the hang of it.  I kept going until I was sweating pretty hard.  I stepped off and congratulated myself.  One small step for man, a giant leap for trampolining.  Actually, there weren’t any giant leaps.  I don’t think there was ever a moment when I was actually airborne.  It was more like just shifting my weight back and forth from left foot to right foot, but, trust me, there was sweating involved.  So it counts as a workout.

My cardiologist wants me to exercise for 21 minutes every day, and he only counts the minutes when I’m sweating.  Just walking doesn’t count as exercise.  He wants me to give him 21 minutes of sweating every day. Twenty-one minutes is not much time.  Anyone can easily find 21 minutes of free time in their schedule every day, unless they have a job, hobbies, a TV, and a computer.  Those items can suck up every waking hour if you’re not careful, and I’m not always very careful.

I retired from my day job in January of 2009, so I should have plenty of time now.  The problem is I have hobbies that take up a lot of time.  I love computers, writing, and horse racing, but they all require me to plop my behind in a comfortable chair for hours on end.

To help encourage me to get off my ass, I bought the trampoline – that’s one step up – but now it was time to take a step back, and look at where all my spare time was going.  It was soon obvious that racing was taking up way too much of my free time.  Since I left my day job, it has become a full-time job.  It’s time to let it go.

I’ve been a big fan of Harness Horse racing since Off Track Betting opened in New York in 1971.  There was an old gelding racing on the Roosevelt-Yonkers circuit named Earl The Pearl.  I put $2 on his nose whenever he raced.  Occasionally, he won.  So, I stuck around.  Then I learned how to handicap races, and I was really hooked.  Handicapping can be the most fun part, especially when the horse you picked wins, and for a brief moment, you feel like a genius.  I even developed a computer program that was an even better handicapper than I was.  It took around 40 years, but I finally succeeded.  Of course, it hasn’t earned me any money, but it did make me much better at creating Excel spreadsheets.  So, I’m calling it a win, and now I’m ready to retire from racing, almost.

I just have one more hill to climb, first.  For the past three years I entered into the annual Grand Circuit Handicapping Contest run by HANA (Handicappers Association of North America).  In the past, I finished 2nd, 3rd, and 5th.  Since, this will be my last year of computer handicapping, I’d like to go out a winner.  Unfortunately, I got off to a slow start this year and I’m currently in 15th place, but fortunately there is a long way to go.  It’s not over until December.

Standings as of Monday, May 25, 2015 – Leg 9
Total Points Points Earned Overall Position
Pos Handicapper Prior Week This Week Total Points Last Week
1st Michael Carter 331.70 45.60 377.30 1st
2nd Ann Stepien 91.00 192.60 283.60 8th
3rd Bryan Owen 173.30 94.70 268.00 2nd
4th Josi Verlingieri 87.60 179.80 267.40 9th
5th Gordon Waterstone 162.30 94.20 256.50 3rd
6th Ray Garnett 69.70 182.70 252.40 15th
7th Derick Giwner 111.20 137.90 249.10 5th
8th Bob Zanakis 50.80 175.30 226.10 17th
9th Sally Hinckley 129.80 53.60 183.40 4th
10th Brandon Valvo 100.10 66.20 166.30 6th
11th Mark Dezii 76.00 84.40 160.40 13th
12th Jay Hochstetler 85.20 68.00 153.20 11th
13th Dennis O’Hara 80.30 69.80 150.10 12th
14th Garnet Barnsdale 98.00 38.80 136.80 7th
15th Earl Paulson 86.30 50.00 136.30 10th
16th Rusty Nash 71.10 58.20 129.30 14th
17th Mark McKelvie 52.80 33.20 86.00 16th
18th Mark Deutsch 50.50 34.30 84.80 18th
19th Ray Cotolo 48.20 33.10 81.30 19th

So, I’m hoping to make my last year of handicapping horses my best, but first, it’s time for me to take a step back from the computer and another step up.  The doctor’s 21-minute clock is running, and The Little Tramp is calling.


Peace & Love, and all of the above,