PATRICK MCVAY

WRITER

My Musings

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Before You Were Born

While trying to sort out details of my life back in the 1980s on Murdock Street with Guillermo, Ted, and Huatsu, my mind wanders, as it often does, to a recollection about Dear Old Dad, an accountant who did work for a few decades for the grumpy then-owner of the Syracuse, NY steakhouse restaurant The Scotch and Sirloin.

My father spent zillions (not really) treating us and other friends and family to drinks and dinner at "The Scotch," as did his brother George. But, from what I recall, he was never comped a single meal. That's what we learned by listening to my Dad complain about such things to my mom. 

OK, not a big deal.

But then my father dies, and we come to learn that this lucrative restaurant is in arrears several tens of thousands of dollars to him, which my uncle George – executor of his brother's will – made right via several strongly-worded letters, cc'ing a few lawyers. I thought it was somewhat unseemly to demand money as my uncle did, but later in life I came to understand that this was my father's money. He had done work for the restaurant and hadn't been paid for that work. I also came across form letters that were sent monthly to people who had accounts at the Scotch and hadn't paid on time, which called for additional interest of 1.5%. Per month! In other words, an annual rate of 18%. And this restaurant was notoriously slow to pay my father.

But that's not what I wanted to post about.

Sometime in the 1980s around the holidays, when parking was hard to find at the now-defunct "Shoppingtown Mall" in Dewitt NY, in whose parking lot, detached from the rest of the mall, the Scotch was and still is nestled, my father went to deal with some accounting BS and found that there were no parking spaces. What a hassle! My father had had several heart attacks by this point and wasn't the physical specimen that I am presently: an avid biker, who nevertheless is well overweight due to the consumption of bread products and good beer and so forth.

Keep getting sidetracked.

In the early 1980s "handicapped parking spaces" were brand new. There were no tags for your rearview mirror in Syracuse, nor were there norms around who could use the spots. As I recall, early on it was the honor system.

So my father, who had been circling the vast parking lot of the Shoppingtown Mall for several hours (or maybe mere minutes – sorry, no video footage to review, alas), was encountering some of the same cars over and over, whose drivers circled the lots also without luck. Frustrated, my dad decided to nab a handicapped spot so he could drop off a redweld folder or retrieve "the books" or whatever – a five-minute task.

As luck would have it, he emerges from his car, now parked in a handicapped spot, to lock eyes with the driver of another vehicle, who had been looking for parking for as long as my father had. The driver slowed and stared, and my father, who by today's standards would have easily qualified for a pass based on his heart condition, was forced to fake it. As my Dad told it, he decided to drag a leg from the car into the restaurant.

Let's face it, it takes a really good actor to do believable fake limp, but anyone can drag a perfectly healthy leg for 50 or so yards.

Or maybe it's harder than I thought! I've never really tried.

(Coming soon: memories of Murdock Street)! 

  55 Hits

Traveling Companions

Tomatoes-that-made-it-from-Boston-to-Canada-and-bac_20220821-032320_1 Resilient

I'm not sure where these handsome little tomatoes were grown (maybe Canada?), but I can testify that they were purchased in West Roxbury, MA some 10 or 12 days prior to the publishing of this post. 

Since that fateful moment, they have voyaged far and wide and still appear to be in excellent shape. Even after a tense border crossing during which I chose not to declare their existence (nerve-wracking), then traveling through complicated Quebecer country in the heat and the rain, these little fellers appear entirely unscathed. Part of that is luck: I was well fed and didn't need to consume them. 

I will be honored to accompany these gutsy fruit back to their home, where I will proceed to consume them with olive oil and salt.

Next time you're traveling, consider for a moment the resilient grape tomato. 

  77 Hits

Hold That Rail

I would calculate that roughly half to three quarters of my conversations with my teenage children regard how to behave sensibly and avoid making stupid mistakes that you will regret later. I possess a Swiss army knife of advice, including these: bring water; a light sweater will help if the a/c is too high; the sun is low so wear a brimmed hat; hold the railing on these stairs.

That I'm mostly ignored when I say these things is no surprise. After hearing dad issue the same advice over and over, the value of the words has decreasing benefit. Indeed, after a while I begin to think that I should start to use "reverse psychology." Psychologists have a word for this: "psychology." There is nothing reverse about it. But anyway, in order to get my teens to bring water, I might say "whatever you do, don't bring water." To hell with Dad and his stupid advice! I'm bringing gallons of water! And sunscreen!

Of course, I'm a classic "do as I say not as I do" type of person. OK, mostly not – I tend to bring a rolling suitcase of items I might need "just in case" when I make a five-minute trip to the park. But occasionally, I could use my own advice. To wit, this morning I woke up in the middle Quebec City (awakened by chickens out the back window, no less), and excited for the day and wishing to give my wife some extra sleep to recover from our fancy dinner than ended at 11:30 PM, gathered all my stuff – shorts, a sweater, my backpack, my wallet, my watch – and then tried to sneak down the stairs carrying these things, which left me unable to hold the railing. You can imagine what happened next.

Somehow, falling down a flight of uncarpeted wooden steps left me with just a few very minor injuries. I seem to have the same number of teeth and eyes that I had yesterday, all bones are intact, and I managed to acquire just a few new battle scars. 

Lesson learned: prior to offering advice to your teens, practice saying your piece in front of a mirror.

  87 Hits

Stop Driving While Texting!

One thing that drives me nuts is when people are texting just fine and then, suddenly, they decide to pull out their car. It's like, wait a minute! You're texting. Don't you think you should be more focused?

No one will feel worse than you if you hurt someone because you weren't focused on your texting. It may seem like you're safe and in control, but all it takes is a split second of turning your attention to steering and braking for autocorrect to change your message from "I love u" to "I loathe u." And because you continue to be distracted by driving, you don't even realize that you've done this, wounding your friend or your mom or that person you've been admiring on Tinder. 

It can wait. You can drive when you're done texting. 


  104 Hits

 

 

J'Biden Era Haikuage

 

People's Arms. That's right!

200 million shots

In 100 days

 

We are good people

But we still have far to go

Repair. Restore. Heal.

 

There's nothing new here

The Affordable Care Act

We're restoring it 

 

America's Day

Democracy is fragile

The world is watching 

 

Strategy is based

On Science, not politics

Truth, not denial

 

 

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