Greetings from Asbury Park, Rantakylä

One day when I got home from school Terry was sitting in our TV chair, his feet on our dog’s back, his eyes glued to a music video on TV. On the screen, there was a man in a white shirt that was unbuttoned halfway down and sleeves rolled up to reveal his biceps. It was Bruce Springsteen “Dancing in the Dark” with Monica from Friends, even though nobody knew it back then.

And Terry certainly didn’t care. He paused the video and waited for to give him my full attention as his often did. He was about to make an Annoucement, and I’d better be ready for it.

I sat down on the sofa and listened to Terry deliver his verdict.

“Man, he’s old,” Terry said. “He must be 35. Look at his hair. I bet that’s a piece.”

“Really?” I said.

“Just look at it,” Terry said.

Then he rewound the tape back to the beginning of the song, and sang along. Except for when he came to the line, “I wanna change my clothes, my hair, my face.”

Terry exchanged “my” to “your.” We both thought it was funny.

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Men in tights (or Houdini v Boudini)

“The two shackle-breaking artists stripped for the contest. Houdini wore tights under his clothing. Boudini did not.”
New York Times, Sept. 21, 1905

Bess wrapped her bonnet tighter around her ears. The wind was cold that morning, coming from the east. 

Harlem was quiet as Bess hurried west along the 112ndth Street, toward the 116th Street subway stop. She didn’t like traveling underground and she knew Ehrich didn’t like her spending 5 cents on the trip, but there was no other way for her to get to South Ferry in time.  

She pulled her handbag tighter under her arm as she walked inside the control house. She looked around to make sure she was in the right place, then walked in and bought a ticket from a man inside an oak booth. She carefully lifted her skirt as she walked down the stairs, gripping the handle of her handbag, making sure she still had it with her.

The handbag was the sole reason for this trip. Or, rather, what was inside it. 

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Happy birthday, Daughter!

For years, Daughter and I have driven to games and practices in four different sports, all year round. And over the years we’ve developed a few routines for our trips. Not all of them have made it this far, and some have changed a little. 

For example, we no longer listen to Ed Sheeran’s album +. These days, you’ll be more likely to hear Taylor Swift or any one of the One Direction guys in the car. 

But when we get to our destination, we always fist bump each other and I’ll tell her to go get ‘em. 

If I’m travelling and can’t get to the game, or if it’s an away game, I’ll text her the fist bump emoticon. 

The day Daughter was born was a cold one. We had been to the hospital once earlier, but were told that it had been a false alarm. Daughter wasn’t ready to meet the world yet. When we returned to the hospital a month later, it was way past her due date, so we both, but especially Wife, were more than ready. 

She was born at quarter to six on that cold March day. Since she was our second child, we knew a little better what to expect, which is why we had our special CD with special songs on it, to create the perfect mood. We were cool, calm, and collected, and since everything went well, and she was healthy and happy, I drove home later that night, and returned the next day to pick up my two girls. 

It was even colder the next day day as we walked out the hospital. It was windy so we had wrapped Daughter inside a fluffy white overall inside a blanket as I carried her in my arms, not lifting my feet on the icy ground on our way to the parking garage. 

I can still see her tiny face, with a little bit of cheeks and nose showing from underneath the blankets. And when I put her down on the car seat, I have a vivid memory of her raising her tiny fist for me to bump it. 

I may be imagining things. After all, it’s been seventeen years today. 

Anyway, it’s funny how certain parts of one’s personality never seem to change. She’s still often a little late, and likes to sleep in whenever she can. However, when awake, she’s always been an active child. She learned to crawl and walk at an early age. Well, maybe not as much “walk” as “run”. She’s always loved all kinds of games from football to darts to hockey to card games, and doing everything with a smile on her face.

I don’t think we have one photo of her in which she isn’t smiling. 

* * *

The other day, I dropped Daughter off at the hockey rink. We were late, things were chaotic, and she just grabbed her bag and took off. I sat inside the car, with my right hand extended out, my hand a fist. And sure enough, three steps in, Daughter stopped, turned around, opened the door and bumped my fist. 

“Go get ‘em,” I said. 

“Will do,” she said with a smile, slammed the car door shut and ran off. 

I couldn’t see her face, but she was probably smiling. 

Best pizza in town?

I love pizza. I could eat piza every day. In fact, about a decade ago, we went on a road trip in Italy, and I did eat pizza every single day for two weeks. Well, every day but one. That day, I decided that I couldn’t eat pizza every day and that I should at least try the pasta – when in Rome – so I had pasta.

It was in Siena, in a restaurant by the Piazza del Campo.

I remember it vividly because when I saw Wife’s pizza, I regretted not having the same.

I’ll never make that mistake again.

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End of Days

Is it end of day yet?
I see it’s dark, the sun has set
It’s time for dinner (soup with baguette)
But is it end of day yet?

What about now? Another hour’s gone by
when I fell asleep watching Cobra Kai
Pressed my nose against the window with a sigh
The end of day was not nigh

But the story ends, and it ends well
With a ring of a bell
And a message from a uniformed man named Marcel:
It’s not end of day until you see the man from DHL

Observer’s Report From Planet Earth

Traveller’s log, 76.542.110 Original time (December 31, 2022 Earth time)

Dear Orson,

Apologies, apologies, apologies, O Great One! I hope this report finds you well (fed) even though it may be slightly overdue. The conversion between Original time and Earth time sometimes throws me off. I hope the contents of my report make it worth the wait. 

It’s only been .104 shuzhas since my previous report, but over here it’s been a full one of their units, called “Year”. These “years” seem to go faster and faster, O Big One. Has there been a change in the Sun’s gravitational pull? (I sometimes feel lighter). 

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Santa Claus Doesn’t Feel Like It

“Mr. Claus. Santa Claus, Santa. Nick?” the receptionist whispered into the man’s ear, gently waking him up. “You’re next,” she added. 

“Did I fall asleep?” the large man said with a grunt. It wasn’t a question. 

He got up from the armchair with considerable difficulty. He straightened his beard with his hand, got a good grip on his large belt and pulled up his pants. Then he opened the door to the office.

“Welcome, and … merry Christmas!” said the man sitting in a large leather armchair. He had a salt-and-pepper hair, and he was wearing dark glasses, a moss green sweater, and cappuccino coloured corduroy pants. 

“Please, Doc, don’t even mention that word. You know that’s why I’m here,” said Santa, and lay on the couch without saying another word.

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James Bond Comes to the Supermarket

Bond opened the fridge door and let out a sigh. No champagne. 

Nor were there any other basic things you might expect to find in a fridge, such as eggs, bacon, chives, or milk. Well, there was never any milk in Bond’s fridge due to his lactose intolerance, but Bond’s conclusion was as expected. 

In other words, no breakfast nor Ms Holly Moley – or anyone else – asleep in his bedroom. 

Bond had only one option. He had to go grocery shopping. 

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A doggy-dog world

“My sister Carey had trouble with her husband, who, after a few years, refused to talk directly to her and instead would talk through his Labrador, saying things like ‘Tell her to bring the bloody paper over here.’”
Lady in Waiting by Anne Glenconner

As soon as I woke up, I knew it was going to be one of those days. It was best to put off, whatever it I was putting off, to as late in the day as possible. So I went back to sleep. I hid my head behind the curtain and dozed off.

Master Oliver woke up about fifteen minutes later even though, it may as well have been two hours, I don’t know. I’m not great with times. Let’s just say it was a short enough time for me to feel like I had just fallen asleep but also long enough for me to have dreamt a juicy dream.

You know the ones in which you chase a squirrel through a maze and just when you’re about to catch it, you wake up? I suppose we all have those.

I shook myself awake, from head to tail, and walked around the bed to Master Oliver’s side.

I made my eyes as big as possible. Those puppy eyes always made his heart melt.

Call it a preemptive strike.

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