Help! There’s a Murderer in My Home

 

“I can’t stand you anymore,” my Mother cried out. “I won’t stand for it.” Her eyes were full of tears.

“But you said I could go outside.” I pleaded.

“Stop it, stop it now!” she screamed. “Stop it or your father…” She was interrupted by the sound of the tea kettle. She ran into the kitchen.

What about my father? I had heard the threat before, many times. “Ouch, damn it, god-damn it.” she hollered.

I reached over for my jacket, just as my Mother came back into the room. “That’s it! You’re really going to get it. You’re in for it now. Wait until your father comes home, ” she threatened.

I stopped listening to her threats, put my jacket down and went into my room. As I closed my door, I could still hear her ramblings of helplessness. “He’s gonna get it good. When his father hears…”

My mind was preoccupied with thoughts of my father. I was trying to recall his features, which proved to be difficult despite his having left home just five hours ago. My father, Sam, age thirty, almost five foot, eight inches tall, Caucasian, Jewish, and HOMICIDAL!

Could my father murder someone? Not just anyone – his own son!

The idea of my father being capable of murder was incredible, but my feelings of apprehension were undeniable.

My father’s daily behavior was the essence of non-violence. He was mild-mannered, and rather gentle. He spent most of time working, eating, and sleeping. I couldn’t recall being hit by my father, nor did I recall him sitting my brothers or sister.

At his assaultive best, he was heard to mumble – “You’d better listen to your mother”, or “Cut it out.”

Why was I so apprehensive? I could almost understand, “Beware, the Ides of March”, but what did “Wait till your father come home” foretell?

Perhaps my fears of bodily injury were related to his muscles. I remember him carrying the washing machine on his back up two flights of stairs to our apartment. God, I was amazed! He put a large canvas belt around the machine and tied the belt around his chest.

With one heave, he had the machine off the lobby floor. When he reached our apartment, he wasn’t even sweating or puffing.

Now I remember, I remember him saying, “Don’t push me” or “You’d better watch out.” Some references to not making him mad, or “I’m warning you.” I am fairly certain the troublesome issue involved my mom. I recall him saying phrases that suggested pain, if not doom. With my mother threatening his punitive potential, and my father hinting at some sort of limits to his endurance I was left with my fantasies. There were no hard facts to draw upon. I might get slapped, punched, kicked, choked, or KILLED.

The murderer in the home, was in my head – was I alone?

Did other children harbor similar fears of patricide?

Style for the Infantile

I’ve been thinking about layettes. For those of you who have never thought about layettes, I’ll describe them for you. A layette is the first fashion wardrobe given to a new  born child. It is usually a blanket, pillow case, booties, sweater, panties and assorted accessories. If handmade, the layette is crochet or knitted.

Boy babies are given blue layettes, and girl babies are clothed in pink. Sometimes, the infant is given a yellow layette. Yellow why yellow?? That is because the layette was purchased prior to the birth of the child. There is no explanation for the yellow color, other than to match a rather jaundiced complexion.

There has not been a change in layette fashions for a thousand years! It is now time for a change. I suggest the opening of a “Layette Boutique”.

The fashions for layettes will be regal. A parent can buy yards of rich, black mink to wrap the baby. Hand  crafted, calf skin booties and jewelry of all sorts; gold earrings, precious stone necklaces, pearl head  bands. No more washed out blue or faded pink. The maternity doors of Bellevue Hospital open and a little prince or princess is presented to the world.

Another issue comes to mind, and that is the contrasting styles of death and dying as opposed to birth and living. Mourning families are led by police motorcycles, followed by flower cars and shining black limousines. Mourners are dressed in their finery. Who comes out of the hospital with a newborn? The father goes to the hospital and pays for his wife and child. The wife is weak, and whoosy. She hasn’t been out of the hospital for days. Her head is spinning. Father doesn’t know how, or who to hold first.

They drive home, alone, no fanfare and no public acclaim. When they arrive at home there is frequently a family gathering, but rather subdued    no grandeur, no cops, no politicians, no theatrics.

Why not beep the horns, ring the sirens, shoot the pistols. A child is born. A child wrapped in silk, magnificent Tahitian silk. Joy to the world. A child is born. Whose got the pampers???

 

Shinny Rocks (aka: Sea Glass)

SHINNY ROCKS (a.k.a. Sea Glass)

Joshua lived by the shores of Lake Erie. Every morning he walked with his friends along the shore and they searched for shinny rocks. The shinny rocks that they found were pieces of beautiful colored glass. The glass was made so smooth by the waters of the lake.

Joshua saved his rocks in an empty Skippy Butter jar that he had on his dresser. Every evening before going to bed Joshua separated the shinny rocks into piles. Some piles had the same color, and other piles were small shinny rocks, and others were bigger rocks. Before he went to sleep, Joshua placed the most beautiful shinny rocks in an old sock that his Grandpa gave to him. Each one was like a jewel, and so hard to find. Purple, orange, red, and black were the best but, blue and green were also special. The rocks in the sock were his favorites, and he would never give them away, or even trade them with his friends.

Many children who lived by the lakefront collected the shiny rocks, except for his neighbor, Francis. Francis couldn’t walk along the shore, because Francis was bound to a wheel chair. When Francis was born he had a disease and he was never able to walk like the other children. Every morning, Francis would sit on his porch, and watch the other children search for shinny rocks.

Francis had a pet goldfish. The goldfish was a beautiful orange color – just like a Halloween pumpkin. The goldfish was named Pumpkin. Each morning, Francis would take Pumpkin in the fish bowl and sit and watch the children searching the shore for shinny rocks. Francis really wanted to go down to the shore and search for the rocks with his friend.

Each morning when Joshua came back from the beach, he would stop to show Francis the rocks that Joshua collected. Francis was so happy to see, and touch the shiny rocks. The boys were such good friends.

One day when Joshua was walking back from the beach,  he saw that Francis was not sitting on the front porch. Joshua went to the rear of Francis’s house. Seated in his wheelchair under a big oak tree was Francis. Joshua walked over to say good morning. Joshua saw that Francis was crying. As Joshua got closer, he noticed that the fish bowl was empty. On Francis’s lap was Pumpkin the goldfish. Francis told Joshua that Pumpkin died last night. Joshua said that he was very sorry. Francis wanted to bury Pumpkin in the yard, and Joshua offered to help. Joshua went into his garage and got a small garden shovel. Joshua dug a small hole next to the trunk of a big oak tree. Joshua took Pumpkin from Francis and placed Pumpkin in the hole. Joshua put the soil on top of Pumpkin. Francis was crying so hard. Joshua told Francis that he had a big surprise and that he would return in a minute

Joshua went into his house, and returned in a few minutes to Francis. Joshua had his Grandpa’s sock in his hand. Joshua opened the sock and poured several of the very best of the jewel-like rocks on top of the grave. Joshua put a blue, orange, pink and peach rock on the soil. Francis stopped crying, and he smiled such a big smile. He never saw such beautiful shinny rocks. Joshua also smiled, and he held the hand of Francis.

The next day, Francis’ father decided to bring Francis down to the water’s edge to be with his friends. The wheelchair became stuck in the sand, and all the children helped carry the chair to the water’s edge. Joshua came over to Francis and when Francis was not looking, Joshua took a green rock out of his pocket, and secretly dropped the rock in front of the wheelchair. Francis noticed the rock and reached for it, and as he did he fell out of the chair onto the sand. Francis was so excited; he wasn’t even hurt by the fall.

Seeing how happy Francis was, Joshua once again secretly dropped another shinny rock a few feet away from Francis. Francis saw the rock and he crawled over to the rock.  He shouted for joy. All the children were watching. Francis’s Father was so happy for Francis. Joshua continued to secretly place his rocks further down the beach, and Francis excitedly crawled to collect his new found treasure. He never saw that it was Joshua who was placing the rocks for Francis to find.

On the beach was a very big tree trunk that had been swept to shore by a storm. Joshua placed a magnificent bright red shinny rock on the top of the trunk.  The rock was high up on the trunk. Francis saw the beautiful red rock. To get the rock, Francis had to grab onto the branches on the tree trunk and pull himself up to a standing position. He had to use all of his strength to pull himself up.  With all his might, he finally reached the shiny rock. Francis was fully standing for the first time in his life. His Father, and all the children cheered for Francis. Joshua cheered the loudest, and the longest. He truly loved his friend Francis.

The Elves Big Mistake

Joshua pulled the covers over his head, and put on his flashlight. Snug in his tent, from under his pillow, Joshua pulled a pile of Christmas wish lists. Joshua had 40 pages of wishes. Since last summer, Joshua had been adding things to his list, and now the wish lists had hundreds of toys, games and treats. Joshua knew he couldn’t have all the things he wanted, but he just couldn’t leave anything out.

Since Christmas was just one month away, Joshua asked his Father to mail the lists on his way to work.

When Joshua’s lists arrived at the North Pole workshop the Master Elve put the lists in the Santa Wish List Box. The next morning, each Elve took one of the pages to their workbench, and started to fill Joshua’s requests. They packaged trucks, game boys, skates, bikes, trains, hockey pucks, Karate suits, candies, gemstones, and many dozens of other treats on Joshua’s wish lists.

On Christmas Eve, all the Elves were busy packing Santa’s sleigh. Santa said goodbye to Mrs. Claus and his helpers. Santa climbed aboard his sled full of gifts for children all over the world. The reindeer were prancing and dancing and so excited to start their trip. Santa cried out –

“Up, Up and away –Hi Ho Silver! Excuse me. I mean HiHo, Rudolph!”

And with that the Reindeer flew higher, and higher, into the deep blue sky.

When Santa reached the Milky Way he stopped the sled in the middle of millions of stars. Santa was checking the packages so he could decide where to land first. All the Reindeer were so pleased to stop in the Milky Way because they loved to munch on the colorful and tasty stars. With every star eaten, the Reindeers glowed a glorious blue, orange, red, and yellow.

Santa chose one package, and it was addressed to Joshua Bowling Golden Asseo at 56 Woodlawn Drive, Orchard Park, New York,13411. Santa checked on another large box, and it too was addressed to Joshua Bowling Golden Asseo in Orchard Park, New York. A third box was also for Joshua. Santa started to throw presents all over the Milky Way, but all the presents were for the same boy. Santa was so upset. Santa saw that every gift in his sled was addressed to the same child, Joshua Bowling Golden Asseo.

It was too late to return to the North Pole. Somehow, the Elves had filled all the wish lists for Joshua, and none for any other children. Santa immediately decided to rush to the home of Joshua. Santa gathered all the presents back into the sled, and took off for Orchard Park, New York.

Orchard Park was covered with snow. Christmas lights made the town seem like a fairyland. Santa circled his sled above the Orchard Park home of Joshua. It was all aglow with hundreds of lights, and on the front lawn was a giant red sign saying,  “ We Love You Santa.” Santa landed his sled on the roof, and he carefully slid down the chimney.

The chimney led to the living room, which was decorated for Christmas. Santa went up the stairway, and luckily the first room he entered he saw a young boy. Santa walked over to the bed, and gently whispered into the boys ear, and said,

“Ho, ho, ho, it’s me, Santa. Are you Joshua Bowling Golden Asseo?”

Joshua was stunned. His eyes were popping out of his head. Joshua said;

“On no. Oh gosh. Is it really you? Are you really Santa Claus?”

Santa smiled, and said:

“Oh, it’s me alright, and Joshua I need your help.”

Joshua was so nervous. He really didn’t understand why Santa needed his help, so he asked.

“How can I help you Santa?”

Santa told Joshua that every gift in his sled was for Joshua. Joshua was speechless. His mouth dropped open, his tongue stuck out, but he couldn’t say a word.

Santa said that if Joshua received every gift in the sled, there would be no gifts for any other children. Santa told Joshua that the Elves had made a mistake, and they must have packaged every thing on Joshua’s wish lists.

Stunned. Joshua said;

“Everything I asked for? Everything?”

Santa said:

“I guess so, cause there are hundreds of presents in that sled. All for you. It’s not your fault, but I really have a big problem, Josh.”

Joshua saw that Santa was very worried. Joshua was thrilled to have all his presents, but he also was sad to think of all the children who wouldn’t have any gifts under their Christmas trees. Joshua was so confused so he asked Santa:

“Santa could you please help me make up my mind. I don’t know what to do?”

Santa smiled, and said:

“ I understand Joshua. I have an idea. I think that you should choose ten presents for yourself, and we will give the rest to other children.”

Joshua thought for a minute, and he said,

“Any presents I choose?”

Santa agreed that Joshua could choose any ten presents. Santa was very pleased, and he said to Joshua,

“Joshua I have another great idea. Oh, I’m so full of great ideas. I want you to come with me tonight and deliver the gifts. I’ll get you back home in time for Christmas morning.”

Joshua was so excited. He quickly grabbed his winter coat, hat, scarf, gloves and boots.

Santa had one more surprise in store for Joshua, and he said,

“Joshua I want all the children to know the gifts came from you.”

With that Santa took out a marker pen from his coat, and just on top of the place where Joshua’s address was written, Santa wrote the word, FROM. Now every present given to other children would say:     

 FROM

Joshua Goldeo
58 Pleasant Drive.
Orchard Park, New York 13411

Joshua was all smiles, and so was Santa. They quietly went downstairs, and out to the front lawn. Santa called to Rudolph and the Reindeers landed on the lawn. Joshua picked ten presents, and quietly brought them into the house, and put them near the Christmas tree. When Joshua returned, he and Santa climbed onto the sled, and with one crack of the whip, the Reindeer took off into the sky.

All night long, Santa and Joshua delivered gifts to homes all over the world.

When they finished delivering the last gift, Santa brought Joshua back to his home. Joshua went to his room, undressed and went into his bed He was very happy, but very tired. In a few minutes, his mother opened the bedroom door. She said,

“Joshua are you alright. What’s all the noise?”

Joshua was nervous, and he didn’t want to get into trouble. He said,

“ Everythings okay Mom. I’m sleeping.”

Joshua’s mother noticed that the bedroom floor was wet, and that Joshua’s boots were covered with snow.

“Joshua were you outside tonight? Tell me the truth. The floor is wet, and your boots have snow on them.”

Joshua couldn’t lie to his mother, and he said,

“ I’m sorry Mom. I did go out to see if the reindeer ate any of the carrots, or cookies that we put on the lawn.”

With that Joshua went to the window to show his Mom where the carrots were, and as he got to the window he saw Santa and his reindeer rising in the dawn sky. Santa was waving to Joshua. Joshua’s Mom walked over to Joshua and both looked at the sun rising.

The End……………….

God – Pay Attention

Six dead and several injured children in a school bus crash in Chattanooga, Tennessee. During an interview with a woman who lived on the street of the crash, she said that she saw a child lying on the ground, and it was God’s will that led her to help the child. The woman went on to say that all the neighbors joined to help. She once again attributed that helpful gathering to God’s presence.

Where was God several minutes prior to the crash? What was he watching over as the driver increased his speed? Where was he when the driver decided to take an unauthorized route? Was he preparing to watch the Macy day parade and make it safe? Was he lost in thought about the bombing in Aleppo? Was he cleaning the lead pipes in Flint, Michigan? What was God attending to. Clearly God has a lot to do in one day. But give credit, when credit is due. Good credit, or bad credit. You may not believe it, but God can be blasphemed. God can handle wailing. God can handle the greatest ill will that you can muster. God can handle the good, the bad and the ugly. God is truly powerful, flexible and always forgiving. God will be there the next day. God isn’t moving not now, not ever, so give God your best shot!

Racism at Six

 

The boy touched everything within his reach. The cash register, the combs, the hair brushes, the hair sprays, a blow dryer and the bowl of Christmas candies. Since he was behind the counter, I assumed that he was the son of the salon owner. The space behind the counter was cramped with both the child and the beautician getting in each other’s way.

The beautician said nothing to the child as she made change of my twenty-dollar bill while silently suffering the child’s body blocks, and hand thrusts. She was blushing. She seemed embarrassed. She smiled at the boy, and at me while reaching over his body to hand me my change.

I had just had my monthly haircut. While getting my haircut, the woman told me that she recently immigrated from Russia. Her English was limited. Perhaps that was why she said nothing to the child. Clearly she was not of Cossack descent, or she would had closed the register on the boy’s puffy little fingers, as he reached for the dollar bills. I was poised to make a corrective comment to the child, when a woman emerged from a near-by cubicle.

“Joshua, what are you doing?”, she said, while gently primping her newly blown coiffure.

“Oh nothin”, he replied, as he grabbed another handful of M & M’s and mashed them into his dark chocolate cavern called a mouth.

The woman was attractively dressed. Her leather jacket had a mink collar. She wore designer jeans, Nike sneakers, and a grey Tenafly Athletic Department sweatshirt. Her nails were new and artfully designed, although needing pruning. Her hair was painfully teased, and her nose was surgically bobbed. As she approached the candy cane kid, he declared,

“I don’t like dark hair. Your hair is dark.”

“Yes”, she said, with seeming indifference to his comment.

“But mom, your hair is too dark, I don’t like it.”
I wondered if he would get some punitive action.

“Joshua, my hair is dark brown. It is always dark. “  She didn’t show the slightest bit of annoyance.
“Mom, only Chinese and the Koreans have dark hair. I don’t like it.” His voice was firm and strident. In the best of all parental worlds he would have gone through a wall. The wall was untouched.

The mother turned toward him, although she appeared to look through him toward the mirror on the wall behind her son. Perhaps she was assessing the hair color, and its possible ethnic roots. She then looked at the cashier, and then at her walled, her money, the change, and casually she walked to the door of the salon. Following behind, her son pleased, “but mom, only the Chinese and the Koreans have dark hair.”

He looked to be six years old.

Out of Sight – Out of Mind

In Newton, Connecticut, five and ten year old children were shot not once, but multiple times with a .223 caliber bullet.

“When the Bushmaster .223 Caliber Assault Rifle hit human targets it tumbled forward into tissue and shattered creating large, internal woulds…Another “nice touch” was that the bullet would sometimes ricochet off bone and bounce around inside the body, shattering into tiny hard-to-remove fragments (which promoted internal bleeding) and ripping sizable hunks of internal tissue away. A human being can die a slow and horrible death from internal bleeding.” (copy from Blowback.223 by Dale Steinreich. www. lewrockwell.com/orig/steinreich6).

Dare to imagine the consequences of such an attack on the body of a child. The children were massacred, mutilated and not simply killed. Dare to stay with such images and contrast such imagery with the concerns of protecting gun ownership, second amendment rights and yes, a “well regulated Militia”.

March 22, 2013

Signs of Danger Missed – Again

 

Monday, February 27, 2012 , T.J. Lane, 17, admitted taking a .22 caliber Ruger semiautomatic pistol to Chardon High School in Chardon, Ohio. He killed three students and wounded two other students.  Why? What motive? Who knew something that day, or days before, or months and years before that deadly day? What were the signs of danger? Perhaps an abusive home life, a psychopath, a loner, friendless, bullied and dozens of other possibilities. The events of that Monday remind one of the Red Lake Massacre in March, 2005. Jeffrey Weise, age 16, killed 10, and wounded 7.

At Red Lake Minnesota,  2005 , a 16 year old kills five students, a security guard, a teacher, his grandfather, the grandfather’s companion, wounded seven others, and then he commits suicide. We all are stunned by the violence of his actions, and once again we ask how come we missed the danger signs. In fact, the danger signs were not missed at all, but rather many foreboding events were clearly noted by various persons, including peers, authorities, educators, and family members. The following are some of the danger signs reported after the horror.

The child’s stepaunt stated that the school or authorities could see the event coming in that,”the clues were all there….but did they not put two and two together? This kid was crying out, and those guys chose to ignore it…”

The high school principal, “…felt like this was a troubled young man, and someone whose problems we felt like we were addressing.”

Internet pen pals reported that they missed warning signs including a gory zombie, Columbine references, a killer who committed suicide, and his statement that he might disappear unexpectedly. On various internet postings, the child used German words translated to mean: forsaken, abandoned, death’s head, and skull. He reported taking anti-depressants, seeing a therapist, and he had new cuts on his wrists. He stated, “The law of existence requires uninterrupted killing…So that the better may live.”

During the prior school year the child claimed to have been accused of threatening to “shoot up” the school. The school principal declined to confirm such an event.

An internet administrator reported that the child wrote that his mother physically and verbally abused him. He wrote an internet story depicting a character dressed all in black, a teacher with a Hitleresque moustache, and references to the Columbine shootings.

Another adult resident of the community, and cousin of one of the victims stated, “There were a lot of signs of real trouble…and he had said last year that he was to kill himself. But somehow I was never scared of him. I don’t know why not. He never really showed that it could be directed this way.”

Fellow students saw his drawings of people with bullet holes in their heads, half-living people with blank stares and skeletons. “He was different, you could say, out of place around here.”

The likelihood is that as the investigation unfolds there will be other ‘signs’ of danger that will be revealed.  Other recollections by friends, family and information retrieved from his computer will torment us as to the possibility that the killings could have been avoided. Dr. Katherine S. Newman of Princeton University suggests that, “it is exceedingly difficult to see these kids coming, to put it together and see the pattern.”

Putting it together from such disparate, non-communicative sources is not only difficult, but often impossible. Only after the fact are we sometimes able to comprehend the behavior of a child so pathetically disturbed. How and when would the various reporters encounter one another, and share their information? What is the likelihood of informed collaboration between a website administrator, internet pen pals, a school principal, a stepaunt, community residents, and therapist? How much, if any, information could have been gleaned from the Grandfather and his companion? Why were they killed? What was happening in his Grandfather’s home?

Everyday we read of killings, by children, adults, men and women.  We are often left to wonder why the deaths couldn’t be predicted and hence avoided. Observations of children’s behavior are often disturbing, yet frequently ignored by peers, and adults alike. Reports of aberrant behavior are often kept privileged by educators, therapists, and other authorities. Acting-out and delinquent acts are seen as typical of a certain age, or sub-culture. Earnest reports are too frequently seen as over-reactions by the reporter. Peers are usually very indulgent of their mate’s bizarre actions, and they will keep the information from their parents, or other authority figures. Keeping secrets is a seen as a virtue amongst many youths.

Jeff Weise, the 16 years old, and T.J. Lane, the 17 year old knew all the facts. Jeff, and T.J.  bore all the tormented feelings. Only Jeff and T.J. lived with all the signs of danger. We owe them and their victims the resolve to speak out, to insist upon being heard, to resist our fears of retribution, to trust and to share our insights and best guesses, to act with a sense of urgency, to require responses to our queries, and to even violate the privileges of privacy when we believe that our actions will protect another’s well being. We can no longer view our children as personal property. We must as a society appreciate the communal responsibility for our children. The signs of danger must be seen, not as troublesome signals, but rather as clear evidence of crisis, peril and vulnerability.

THE FIRST POST-PARTUM DEPRESSION

Cold, not just a typical winter night. Bitter cold, gale wind without pause, and snow so thick that only memory led Joseph to the pub. The fireplace was ablaze, and the warmth brought immediate relief to Joseph’s shivering body. The regulars were at the bar. Seated at one end was Rachel and her brother Issac. Samuel, the local butcher, and his wife Muriel were busy talking to Moshe the bartender. Joseph sat on a stool just alongside Samuel, and with his head in his thawing hands, Joseph was gently sobbing.

Moshe: Joseph are you alright?
(no response from Joseph – just muffled sobs)

Moshe: Joseph, Joseph what is the wrong? Why are you crying?

Joseph: (barely audible) He is not mine.

Moshe: What? What did you say?

Joseph: He is not mine.

Rachel: Say Joseph can we buy you a drink?
(no response from Joseph)

Issac: Joseph, what’s up?

Moshe: Joseph, please- please tell me what is the matter?

Joseph: My son….
(Moshe interrupts)

Moshe: A son. Joseph you have a son!

Issac: A son – did you say a son – you have a son.
(all gather around Joseph)

Muriel: Mazel tov, Joseph. Mazel tov.

Samuel: That is great. Wow, wonderful, wonderful.

Joseph: (shouting) He is not mine.

Moshe: What are you talking about? How is Mary?

Muriel: And the baby, how is the baby?

Joseph: (Plaintively) Please leave me be. My son is not mine – he is not mine!

Moshe: Joseph, you are not making any sense. Mary has given birth to a son. What are you talking about?

Joseph: Mary says that my son is not mine. Do you all hear me? My son is not mine.
(Joseph gets up from the stool and heads toward the door)

Samuel: (grabs Joseph). Stop. Joseph you are not going anywhere. Please tell us what has happened.

Rachel: Yes. We are so thrilled for you and Mary.  We don’t understand what you are saying.

Joseph: Mary tells me, not once, but over and over again that my son is not from me – he is not mine.

Moshe: What happened? Why this crazy talk. You are not making any sense.

Joseph: And there are men in the stable, and camels. Big smelly camels, and three men with funny costumes, and weeds or plants that stink. The camels are stomping on our things. I cannot understand what the men are sayings. And Mary greets them as if they were our family. She is acting like they are kings – some kind of royalty.

Samuel: Did they talk to you? Did they introduce themselves?

Muriel: Is Mary save with them? Should we all go to the stable? I am worried for Mary and the baby.

Joseph: Mary says that I could go and not worry cause she was expecting the men. They came from far away, and followed a star to the stable.

Rachel: The more you talk, the crazier it sounds.

Moshe: Joseph I want you to sit down, and let’s go over all that occurred tonight. We are your friends, and we will help you, Mary and your son.

Joseph: Moshe. You do not understand. The boy is not my son. Can’t you understand?

Rachel: Look Joseph. Mary is your wife, right. Mary was pregnant, right. Mary gave birth this night, right.

Muriel: You hear Rachel. Is she correct?

Samuel: Joseph there is no need to talk anymore. We are going to the stable and find out what is happening.

Joseph: We can’t go back. Mary says she is fine. Not just fine, but perfect. She told me to go, and not to worry.  She told me that tonight is the most special night for all mankind. She told me that she loves me.

Isaac: Okay, so what is the problem?

Joseph: Isaac what is the problem? Are you serious? How would you feel if your wife told you that your first child – your son was not yours. How would you feel?

Moshe: Joseph, my lovely dear friend Joseph. I feel so bad allowing you to suffer so much. At times my memory fails me. My dear Joseph you have nothing to fear or worry about.

Joseph: (stunned) What are you saying Moshe? What do you mean I have nothing to worry about?

Moshe: Everybody listen up. Our dearest Mary is just depressed. Simply depressed. She means no harm. She is just suffering a POST PARTUM DEPRESSION!

With that pronouncement, all gather together and hoist Joseph on the shoulders of Isaac and Samuel and they joyfully head to the stable.

JUST KEEP PADDLING

The men, and women paddled by hand in the choppy waters near the beaches of Kos. Only 6 more kilometers to go to reach the beach. Just keep paddling. Sari, the 3 year old was pulled overboard by the last high wave. Sari’s Mother just lay in the murky sea water beneath our feet. She didn’t cry. She didn’t make a sound. Seven adults were lost last evening. Just keep paddling.

 

ELECTION THOUGHTS and OTHER THINGS

 

I love my grandchildren, as well as my great-grand children who I rarely see as they reside in France, but I am not concerned about any financial debt that they may incur after my death. So many politicians are sincerely worried about the financial circumstance of future generations. Actually I rarely think about subsequent generations financial needs. Perhaps there are grandparents who prepare financial packages for their grandchildren, but I cannot accept that a national election should rest on the need for such gift giving.

I have frequently missed giving the grandchildren birthday gifts. I sometimes hang their artwork on my refrigerator door, but even that I do only in their presence. When they see that the drawings are missing, I quickly hand out candy bars, and blow up colorful balloons. Balloon blowing has become more difficult, in part due to my aged lungs, and the cheap balloons from China. “Saving is a very fine thing. Especially when your parents have done it for you.”(Winston Churchill – what a guy!)

I do not mind that many politicians are rich. I mean very rich. Like the wealthiest men and women in the world.  If the laws of the land, loopholes, accounting regimes, off-shore hideaways allow for such wealth so be it.

What I find repulsive is my indebtedness. I wish I had a very close relative or friend who was mega-rich, and also willing to pay off my credit cards. Change the laws, loop holes, etc, but stop inferring some ill-will, or inhumane quality to the very rich. I was raised in a household that adored FDR. He was rich, perhaps not mega-rich, but still wealthy. When he spoke on the radio I put my hand over my heart in allegiance to him and God Bless America. . “Every morning I get up and look through the Forbes list of the richest people in America. If I’m not there, I go to work.”(Robert Orben – whoever he is?)

Opps, I did it! I just wrote in the prior paragraph a phrase that I find intolerable in terms of its frequent use. “God bless you, and God bless America.” Every politician, regardless of their party finishes their speech with “ God bless….”.  I  never liked the inclusion of ‘under God’ in the pledge of allegiance. The blessing offends me, as does the ever present American Flag, 24/7 on homes, and businesses.

Flag Day was solemn for those of us who cheered the troops on Iwo Jima, and Tarawa. When someone famous died, flags were flown, and then put in the attic. The reason so many flags are frayed is due to overuse. “When man is freed of religion, he has a better chance to live a normal and wholesome life”. (Sigmund Freud)

And what about the misuse of “love”. I love my dog, my parakeet, as well as my Uncle Henry, despite the pinch he gave me at every greeting. I love my wife, my kids, and my accountant as he finagles my tax return. I love my car mechanic, and everything bagels. Now we have LOL on every text message and twitter.

I am not adverse to saying “I love….” But are there any limits to the object of such an expression?  I think that when your lover asks “how much do you love me?”, that is meant to humanize and make earnest your affection. Your dog, or parakeet, or Uncle Henry never requires an amount.  “It is better to have loved and lost than never to have lost at all” (Samuel Butler – A long time ago)

Finally, should Obama lose the election of 2012, a primal cause is his color. Yes, he is not very black, nor is Colin Powell, Halle Berry or Mohammed Ali. Obama is black enough. As the beach sand looks white and dry to the touch, it only takes a few hand full’s to reach the damp, and darker subsurface.

The American sand has never been free of racism. That Obama won election in 2008, was a reflection of the despair, and bitterness felt by millions caused by the deceit and ill-will of the Bush administration. McCain was weak from the onset, and when he chose Sarah as his running mate, that certainly helped Obama. The flip-flopping of Romney and his pandering to the headline of the day is less painful to millions than the skin color of Obama, Michelle, and the children.

Last month during the Al Smith Catholic Charities ceremony, Obama jest fully stated he feared using his middle name, Hussein. Obama’s name, birthright, mixed parenthood, absent father, etc. all reinforce, but are not necessary to determine the votes of millions. It is sufficient that he is black. “Inny, minny, mity, mo, catch a nigger by the toe, if he hollers let him go, inny, minny mity mo.” (Chant from East New York, Brooklyn, 1938-1951)

A Case for Incinerators

“Take out the garbage”

A command that brings shudders to all within earshot. In a split second the kitchen is empty. Not a soul is in sight.

Mother cries out: “ Take out the garbage, please. “

Once again the house echoes with an earnest appeal to health and sanitation.

Mother hears some movement in the living room and she pleadingly says, “ Peter, will you take out the garbage? “

No answer. She puts down the neatly packaged Hefty bag, and she looks into the living room. It is only the cat she heard. The cat is eating the leaves of the poinsettia plant. The leaves of the poinsettia plant are supposedly quite poisonous, yet the cat has spent the last two months defoliating the remains of the Christmas season. We have looked for signs of illness in the cat, but none have surfaced. Perhaps the plant becomes non-toxic as spring approaches. Mother knows there is no time to worry about the cats’ health – the garbage waits. Besides the cat has nine lifes.

The distance between the packaged garbage and the outdoor garbage can is approximately 15 feet. It might as well be 15 miles. Mother shouts again, “Susan, would you come down here?” Susan is glued to her television. She is studying the Alpo commercial. Susan has never been so focused, so concentrated, and so deaf. Her room is on the second floor, just near the stairwell. With a slight movement of her left foot, she gently closes her bedroom door. A muffled sound comes through the door, and sifts through the barks of twelve Alpo satisfied Cocker Spaniels.

Peter is in the basement trying desperately to find his homework assignment. Peter is resolved not to take out the garbage. Peter is convinced that he is the unofficial house garbageman. In fact, he rarely takes out the garbage. He thinks about it the most, and he worries about it the most, but he also avoids it the most. Nonetheless, Peter is convinced that he has disposed of more Hefty bags than anyone in the family.

When Sigmund Freud wrote,“ Civilization and its Discontents” he must have been thinking about family garbage and Peter. Peters’ development was progressing quite well, until he discovered the meaning of, “Peter will you take out the garbage. “  At that critical moment, Peters’ bonds to the family were forever weakened. Peter was, for the first time, aware of the enormous demands of family living. He would never be the same obedient son.

What is it about the phrase, “take out the garbage,” that can so undermine the unity of a family? How can one common chore cause such personal and group havoc?

At one time the problem with garbage may have been the messiness of the plain, brown, union made garbage bag. Refuse such as sauces, grease, and egg yolks would melt the paper and cover your hands, clothes and stairways. Today we are blessed with the Hefty bag. The plastic garbage bags of today insure cleanliness in the home: garbage can, sanitation truck and in the dump!

If messiness is not the problem, perhaps the word garbage is the cause of such disunity. Said with either an American accent, or an English accent, e.g. Garrrbaaaage, the word is rather unappealing.

No, I am certain that it isn’t the word, garbage. I believe that the core issue is the act of, “ taking out,” the garbage. “ Taking out “ means finding shoes, putting on pants, coping with rain and snow, stuffing an already overflowing garbage can, missing the final touchdown, hanging up the phone, and in general disturbing the peace and tranquility of the home. After a day of work, school or play, home is where the heart is, and not in the garbage can.

 

Raise Your Hand

My teacher said, “Children, if you have to leave the room, raise your hand.”

I have never forgotten that rule, despite the passing of 69 years. Mrs. Hack, my teacher, was old. She was old like my grandmother. She had a slight mustache and some veins showing on her legs, so I knew she was older than my mother. The next age range was grandmothers. Between mothers and grandmothers are aunts, whose age no one knows. During that first day in school, the basic rules were given. So many rules and each one sounded so important. I wasn’t certain what she meant by, “if you have to leave the room raise your hand,” but I didn’t dare ask. It didn’t seem like a bad rule, and raising my hand was something I had done successfully in kindergarten.I was an excellent hand raiser. The best hand raise was executed swiftly, with a full extension of your right hand, arm and if possible your right shoulder. Even for lefties, which I was, the right hand raise was preferred since that was the hand used in the flag salute. If, God forbid, you exhausted the muscles in the right hand raise, then you switched to the left hand, but only briefly. At times, when I had to impress Mrs. Hack, I would increase the hand elevation by stretching my entire torso, but always keeping my buttocks firmly planted on the seat. Any daylight between buttocks and seat would be interpreted as standing, and that was totally unacceptable. If you were not seated, even the most exquisite hand raise was ignored, and you were guaranteed to be chosen last.One day, not long after the morning snack time, I felt the need to go to the bathroom. I raised my hand, and Mrs. Hack asked me what I wanted. I told her that I had to go to the bathroom.  She gave me permission, and reminded me to take the bathroom marker with me. The bathroom marker was a small block of wood with the word BOYS painted in blue, and another block in pink for the girls. I took the marker, went to the bathroom and returned to my room a short time later.

In a little while, my friend, Ira, raised his hand. Mrs. Hack was teaching a reading group on the far side of the room. Her back was turned toward Ira. She couldn’t see his outstretched hand. Ira stretched his arm higher. He started to waive his right hand, but still no recognition. Ira’s right side was fully extended. From his waist, to his finger tips, Ira reached for the heavens. Soon he began to whine. An almost inaudible, low groan kind of a whine. The reading group droned on. Ira’s face flushed red, and the whine grew louder. Suddenly Mrs. Hack turned to see the source of such pain. A teacher of many years, she immediately recognized Ira’s desperate situation. She told him that he could leave the room, and to take the marker. Ira ran to the marker hook, but the marker was not there. He shouted, “it’s not there!  Mrs. Hack said to look again. Ira looked, but there was no marker. He stood still and stared blindly ahead, and he shuddered ever so slightly. It was too late.

That night, my mother was washing my pants and she found the bathroom marker.