What a Christmas. I told you about that last week. Santa brought all four of our sons Indiana Jones hats. And two of the guys, Eric and Mark came to visit. We made what I would call a memorable sight walking into the diner together. My Lady Wonder Wench, and Ericâ€™s wife Brenda have other perspectives on it (there are simply some things that women donâ€™t seem to understand) but everybody had a lot of fun.
So now we have another new year. Another new beginning. I like new beginnings.Â Especially the small ones that only one or two other people share with you. Those small new beginnings are fragile. If youâ€™re not careful, they can get drowned out in the every day noise of your life. I think thatâ€™s one of the reasons we have dreams. Dreams come in the quiet of your sleepâ€¦and they are sometimes full of those images of half forgotton new beginnings.
Like your first kiss. I donâ€™t mean some loud sloppy thing your maiden aunt planted on you when you were two. I mean your first KISS. I got mine from Jeannie Cambell when she was six and I was seven. Good start. Jeannie was on to something. She didnâ€™t give me one of those little girl pecks on the cheek. It was a real smackeroooâ€¦right on the lips. It was a reward for teaching her which way the hat goes on â€œMr. 7.â€ She was just starting kindergarten, and I was a worldly first grader. I really liked that kiss. I followed up on it when I was 14, but thatâ€™s another story.
Who gave you your first kiss ? Who was your first girlfriend or boyfriend ? Mine was Mary Skillings who lived on the third floor across the street. Mary taught me a simple box step so I would be able to dance the slow dances with her at the record hops. That was nice.
How about when you have teenagers of your ownâ€¦and they all go somewhere at the same time leaving you and your lady all alone in the house ? Doesnâ€™t it make you feel like the first time your parents left you alone in the house with your date when you were the teenagers?
Some firsts you can have lots of timesâ€¦like the first sniff of a real Christmas treeâ€¦or the first whiff when you open a new container of coffeeâ€¦or when the lady next door is baking bread.
Then of course, thereâ€™s your first day at school. How was that ? Mine was full of the smell of chaulk and crayons, and trying to remember which door was my classroom. And how about the first day you bring your own kid to schoolâ€¦and have to leave her thereâ€¦all day? Not easy. But the real clincher first timeâ€¦is when you go to a parent/teacher meeting and you are the parent ! And the teacher is younger than you areâ€¦and calls you â€œMr. or Ms.â€
Iâ€™ll never forget the first beginnings of my work life. My first job was Saturdays in my Grandfatherâ€™s butcher shop. My Grandfather taught me what the word â€œworkâ€ really meansâ€¦and that was a help to me all my life. And how can you ever forget your first pay check. Mine was for $8.00. What was yours ?
I donâ€™t think girls have the same first time experiences as guys. I remember winning my first fight. It was at the beach at Coney Island in Brooklynâ€¦I was around six years old, and some older guyâ€¦he was probably at least eightâ€¦stepped on my sand castle on purpose. I jumped on him and bent his little finger back till he howled for his mommy. I loved it.
Then there was the first time I walked into a major league ball parkâ€¦up a bunch of stairsâ€¦down a long corridorâ€¦and whamâ€¦ there was Yankee Stadium. And Mickey Mantle. Back home in Brooklyn, I remember hitting my first stick ball home run against Eddy Kelly. Eddy was the Carl Erskine of 61st Street. He wound up and threw the ball and I closed my eyes and swungâ€¦and socked it. What a thrill.
And breathes there a guy whoâ€™s so cold and dead that he doesnâ€™t remember driving his own car for the first time ? I bought mine from that same Eddy Kelly a few years after my home run heroics. It may have been Eddieâ€™s revenge. It could doâ€¦topsâ€¦ about 30 miles an hourâ€¦down hillâ€¦with a good tail wind. But it was MINE !
Iâ€™m a pilot, and no pilot ever forgets the first time the instructor pilot gets out of the plane and says, â€œTake her around the pattern three times, and try to bring her back in one piece.â€ And suddenly you are flying an airplane all by yourself. I loved it.
I have all kinds of first times that most people donâ€™t have. For example, I remember the first time I could wiggle one ear at a time. My Dad could do that, and Iâ€™d been trying forever. Then one dayâ€¦it just happened. And I remember the first time I was able to get the milk and the cereal to come out even in my breakfast bowl. Now itâ€™s a challenge I face every morning at breakfastâ€¦seeing to it that the last scoop of milk has at least one piece of cereal in it. And Iâ€™ll never forget my first time on the air at WNEW Radio in New York.
Those of you who are non-guys will probably have about the same reaction as my Lady Wonder Wench has to that kind of stuff. Â There are just some things women donâ€™t understand. But if you are Lady Wonder Wench material, youâ€™ll have a good enough sense of humor, and enough flat out loveâ€¦to just smile and say, â€œGood for you. Iâ€™m proud of you. Iâ€™ll bet Randy next door canâ€™t do thatâ€â€¦and pump your fist up and down.
On this weekâ€™s podcast, I had another first time. For the first time in years, I sat down at my keyboard to play Auld Lang Syne. I donâ€™t know the literal translation of Auld Lang Syne. But to me it always meant, â€œHey, we made it through another another year together. It wasnâ€™t always easy. But we made it. We tried lots of things that didnâ€™t work, and a few things that did. The important thing is that we tried. And we helped each other the best we could. Thatâ€™s all you can doâ€¦give your bestâ€¦to each other.â€
A couple of voices that sang Auld Lang Syne with us last year are missing this time. That puts a painful hole in the harmony. But itâ€™s worth the pain, because it was so good for so long having them singing along. And we know that after a whileâ€¦the pain wonâ€™t go awayâ€¦but weâ€™ll get used to itâ€¦and it will be ok. Weâ€™ll help each other with that too.
I almost lost my Lady Wonder Wench when she had that horseback accident last summer. I want to say, â€œThank God sheâ€™s still with me.â€ But to be honest, Iâ€™d thank God a lot more if he hadnâ€™t let that accident happen to her. Sheâ€™ probably the only person I know who has neverâ€¦as far as I knowâ€¦neverâ€¦hurt anybody on purposeâ€¦and I thought God was all loving. Never mind. Iâ€™ll just say â€œThank Godâ€ anyway. I donâ€™t need more trouble.
The important thing is that she still giggles when I wiggle one ear at a time, and she still pumps her fist and says â€œcongratulationsâ€ when I finish my cereal and milk together with the last spoonful. Sheâ€™s never going to ride her horse again, but sheâ€™s driving her car again.
And the other nightâ€¦there was another first time beginning. For the first time since the accident, she was able to climb up on the wing and sit in the right seat of our little airplaneâ€¦looking like a pretty little girlâ€¦and put on those big co-pilot headphones and go flying with me.
So… the surprise I promised you is right there in this weekâ€™s podcast. My Lady Wonder Wenchâ€¦able to stand right there at the microphoneâ€¦and right out loudâ€¦wish you a Happy New Year.
Itâ€™s a genuine new start. And I always liked new starts. May this year be gentler on all of us than the one we just endured.
Happy New Year.