Wednesday, April 21, 2010

On Being Young

I thought to jot a thousand words on being young.  And about my sweet granddaughter, Katy, who is nine.  And about her sweet great-grandfather, Bill Flaherty, who will be ninety  February next.  But perhaps the picture will suffice.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Professional Cynic Meets Silverstein

I have been a professional cynic for so long that I had begun to think cynicism as essential as bone and blood.  So when Kathryn strolled up the jetway earlier this evening, I was struck by how grown up she had become at the age of barely nine, MP3-player and tween magazine in hand, hair streaked fetchingly red but so sophisticated.  My granddaughter has more air miles on her than I had when I was 30.  Now she flies solo, moving with confidence through Tampa International toward baggage claim, grandfather and great-grandfather in tow.  If the mark of good parenting is independence and confidence, Katy's parents are beyond good.  A blue-blood cynic would say this is a visit by a tiny adult-in-waiting.

After coffee and bread pudding - Katy declined the coffee, although she does indulge from time to time in a bit of decaf -  we began preparing for what will likely turn into a week-long game of Risk (the Game of World Domination, it says), parceling out game pieces and deciding that a layout on the coffee table will be least intrusive.  "We flew over Orlando," she says.  Florida is the Land of Disney, but she will settle for Busch Gardens this trip.  And, I hope, a few things she does not expect.  At nine, she is so much harder to impress, you know.

As we sat reading our respective historical novel and tween-zine, I thought perhaps we might read to each other.  The inimitable Shel Silverstein quickly became the weapon of choice.  I read "Captain Hook"; she read "Hug O' War"; I read "Sleeping Sardines"; she read "Listen to the Mustn'ts":

Listen to the MUSTN'TS, child,
Listen to the DON'TS
Listen to the SHOULDN'TS
Listen to the NEVER HAVES
Then listen close to me --
Anything can happen, child,
ANYTHING can be.

She read with conviction, with authority. 

Bedtime drifted around naturally. "Do you still like to cuddle before sleep?" I asked.  "Mm-hmm."

Lie in your granddaughter's bed, wrapped around all that innocence.  Then tell me you're still a cynic.


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Scene on the Beach

It's crazy season in Pinellas County - Spring Break - when the beaches fill with sex-crazed, nubile coeds who have flown or driven in from colder climes.  It's a happy time for those of us who cruise the sugar-soft sand wearing mirrored sunglasses and trying not to look like the dirty old men we are.

If you come - I'm talking to you, you dirty old man - here are some things to look for.

Ground zero for nubiles is Clearwater Beach.  It is no coincidence that Gulfview Boulevard, which parallels the beaches, is heavily laced with pedestrian crosswalks.  The road was, after all, laid out by dirty old civil engineers.  And the sovereign law of Florida requires motorists to yield to pedestrians pedestriating the crosswalks.  I can burn off a gallon of gas at a crosswalk, just waiting to yield to nubile pedestrians.  My wife gets impatient wondering why we are standing still in the road for no reason she can discern.  Motorists behind me get equally antsy, with blue-haired old ladies anxious to get on with it and their dirty old husbands wanting to take my primo spot at the crosswalk.

Walking the beach is far more scenic, of course, and I develop an acute sunburn every year about this time.  Do you know that if you hold your cell phone out in front of your face and talk to it, people never suspect you're really taking pictures? At least, I don't think they do.

For newcomers - dirty old men on their first visit, that is - you should know about the beach volleyball courts set up near Pier 60.  All the static sunbathing in the world does not beat nubiles in motion. In teams of six or eight.  One man's opinion, all right?  Well, no, actually.  You see, beach volleyball is a game whose rules are made in France (I'm not making this up).  If you subscribe to the Official Rules, as most dirty old men should, you get a rule book with this picture on the cover:

Well, as you can see there are a lot more nuances to Spring Break than meet the eye - or maybe not - but I must be getting on to it.  Till next time.