Christmas traditions gone afoul



Friday, December 11, 2009

            Winter arrived in a rush today, blowing out the rain from the last few days, leaving the world in a chill that brings back the old days before Global Warming.

            As much as I hate the cold, this is how it is supposed to feel this time of year and why I was so out of touch with reality when I lived on the West Coast years ago.

            While I’m out of touch with the holiday traditions – the more Christians rant the farther away I drift – but I miss the close contact with my old friends, and that life we lived in the 1970s and 1980s when we still maintained close contact.

            Much of that passed with the passing of Hank in 1995, and yet, I still long for it, and know that is now beyond reach.

            Pauly ceased honoring that tradition even before Hank’s death, and in fact missed our last Christmas get-together on Christmas Eve 1994.

            Perhaps he knew Hank didn’t have long to live and  figured if he didn’t see it, it might not happen. I remember how old Hank looked when we waited for him to get ready for the drive out to west jersey, how he tottered around looking more like his mother’s husband than her son. I also remember how slow he drove on the highway during the trip with us following in our car, wondering if he was going to stall out.

            After he passed the following March the gang drifted, and only at intervals managed to come back together. Sometimes we don’t even talk for months.

            “I called Pauly last January,” Garrick told me last night. “He said he would call me right back. I’m still waiting.”

            I’ve talked to both men in the last week, Pauly now anticipating retirement – he turns 61 just after Christmas – and he aches to get back to the old Pauly, the Pauly I so admired from back in the early 1970s when we all assumed he would become a wizard or a warlock, living in some remote place, doing art work and magic for the rest of his life.

            Instead, he fell in and out of jobs until he fell into an offer he could not refuse, becoming an icon of a small town as its librarian, serving as the shoulder for public officials to cry and politicians to use.

            Pauly has a plan. Although he only has 23 years invested in his pension, he plans to retire at 62, buy a trailer, move to central jersey in a quite 55-or older community, and get back on track to becoming Merlin again.

            We’re all trying to get back to where we once were, and can’t get there.

            Pauly says he’ll even do some musical gigs since he has all the equipment he needs, and invited me down to do a “Simon & Garfunkel” set with him once in a while.

            Meanwhile, Garrick is fading out from the band he’s in, and is looking for a new gig. But we’re all getting old and playing out requires travelling too far and staying up to late for us to easily recover in time for work.

            Hank’s nephew is still a problem. Apparently the little bastard ripped off Garrick’s valuables stored in the basement of Hank’s old house. The nephew inherited the place after Hank’s mother died a few years ago, and since Garrick never removed his things after storing them there, the nephew picked through them for valuables.

            “I went over there to look and I was sick at what I saw,” Garrick said. “When I went to look for him, I was told he is out of the country.”

            A nosey neighbor apparently gave Garrick a hard time, and the nephew’s wife refused to answer the door.

            This is a sad state of affairs, but just more of what we saw years ago with the boy’s mother, who trained her son well in how to become a shyster.

            We must move on.





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