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Youth Summer Jobs Now!


Next year, when my daughter turns 8, I’m going to get her a job parking cars. I won’t ask her to get behind the wheel and back into spots (yet) like valet parking attendants, but instead wave cars into the family lot, point out vacant spaces, and take $20 from each driver.

I used to think she was too young for this, but on a recent trip to Hull, MA, I found a parent who doesn’t baby his kids the way I coddle mine. Stuck in a nasty beach-traffic snarl, I peeled off down a side street and was surprised to find a young lass no taller nor much older than my own, getting valuable work experience taking crisp $20 bills from people desperate to get out of their cars and onto the beach. She even expertly directed cars into available parking spots. (Um... where are Mom and Dad, little one?)

Meanwhile, my daughter is spending her summer days with her nose in a book or running around in sprinklers and drinking lemonade. When I ask how her college fund is doing, she gives me a blank stare or just rolls her eyes. Imagine all the compound appreciation my daughter is losing while the 2nd-grade Hull parking attend-ette is raking it in. The charade ends now.

All I need to do at this point is pave our yard, paint a few lines, and put up no parking signs all over my neighborhood to create demand. (It would also help to have a beach nearby).

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Your Change, Sir


Looking for some water for my parched throat while at the North Conway Grand Hotel – a resort-y inn with a bar (still going strong at 11:28 p.m.), two pools, a game room, ping pong tables, and a possessed soda machine that contained 25 or so half liter bottles of chilled H-2-0, of which I wanted just one.

I wasn’t 100% sure if $2 gets you a liter of water in July, 2015 in New Hampshire, so I put in a dollar and punched in D5 (because that particular water looked the most refreshing of them all). No reaction from this machine, not even an additional amount I needed to part with for my precious bottle of water to be set free. So I put in another dollar, which was promptly spat out. Then my first dollar was returned as well – in the form of 10 dimes. Hmmm.

I put some of the recently delivered dimes back in the coin slot, but they didn’t make the satisfying engagement noise indicating that the machine was even aware of their existence. I hit the coin return, but nothing. Now my dimes were being held against their will!

I took the rest of my dimes and went off to get more dollars, given that this soda machine had issues with small coinage. I returned with more dollar bills and a few quarters, slipped a dollar into the machine’s mouth, and before I could insert a second dollar bill, the first was changed for 20 nickels.

I tried one last time, inserting two quarters into the coin slot first, but soon these were changed for 10 more nickels. OK, OK I get the point: drink the hotel’s (free, warm) tap water!

In other news, remind me to tell you about my new car’s navigation system.

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Dr. Hart To Cardiology - Stat!


In 1989 (were you even born yet, young blog reader?), I got into an ugly car accident that resulted in some broken bones, lots of blood, and for my (then) girlfriend, a lost front tooth. We were lucky to be alive, considering the car was carrying a few 15-lb. weights in the cargo area, which upon impact were sent flying from the back of the station wagon and straight through our windshield, missing our heads by inches.

In the emergency room, I was seen by a plastic surgeon named Dr. Stern. If my life had been set in a sitcom or daytime soap, he’d have appeared at my bedside with a scowl and knitted brows, sternly wagging an index finger at me for having failed to buckle up. A more appropriate name for this physician might have been Dr. Jolly, as he arrived to look upon me with a big smile despite my recently rearranged face. “Looks like ya lost some of your nose! We’re gonna hafta borrow from Peter to pay Paul.”

St. Elizabeth’s administrators wanted to kick me out of the hospital that day because it seemed like I had no health insurance (au contraire!), but later agreed to keep me a day or two in case I needed to get cut open to fix a punctured spleen or something along those lines, having discovered that I had broken ribs. So I got a bed on one of the wards, where the resident assigned was actually named “Dr. Jolly.” A portly fellow, his name seemed apt for about half a second. “Don’t ever become a doctor,” he told me with a grunt and a frown. This was a young physician putting in 36-hour shifts who hated his life. (Who thinks this is a sensible way to deliver medical care?) He gave me lots of Morphine and Demerol to blunt the pain and went off to deal with his next patient in a most un-jolly manner.

When my friend Chowder visited me and heard about Dr. Stern and Dr. Jolly, he told me that he’d heard of a dentist named “Dr. Chew” (Dr. Chu, in all likelihood), and a pulmonologist named Dr. Leung.

One has to believe our vast world contains many more of these synergistic names: podiatrists named Dr. Foote; urologists named Dr. Pees; laryngologists named Dr. Speech. Perhaps in Germany, there is even a proctologist named Dr. Schitz (pronounced “sheets” no doubt), who occasionally comes to the US for proctologic conferences and has his named unfortunately mispronounced.

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Red Gravy


A rare hot night in Boston calls for first-rate air conditioning, which can be found at my friend Howard’s favorite Chinese restaurant, Bernard’s in Chestnut Hill (which still has no website beyond a Facebook page!).

But restaurant’s websites don’t make excellent dumplings and Bernard’s does, so the kids order their collective weight in pan-seared Peking Ravioli (which one day will come to be called “Beijing Ravioli,” if the world’s transliteration experts can finally put aside their differences and get an agreement hammered out). While waiting for the porky nuggets to arrive, I scan the room for something to blog about.

The table next to us contains 2 curious-looking couples (or is it 4 unconnected individuals?) who conceivably are double blind-dating. Blog material, with any luck! Not much younger than me (i.e. old) they eye each other suspiciously as the ordering takes place, sucking on ice waters. Finally, one of their lot picks up the menu and orders himself a drink.

Our piles of dumplings arrive and we start to dig in, and soon the foursome next to us is eating as well. Then comes the red wine that had been ordered, arriving in a special little carafe that holds exactly 6 oz. of liquid comfortably. The man gazes at the fancy carafe for a moment, takes it up, and instead of pouring the contents into his glass, he sprinkles some onto his meal, assuming it must be special Chinese sauce.

I pointed this out to my dumpling-eating seven-year-old daughter, who had a good long laugh over it, and I had an even longer one when she told her mom later on, “The man poured his beer on his food!” (It was wine, but whatever).

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