The Christmas stories are pouring in. Please add yours. ( Send them to: Dick@DickSummer.com ) Thank you. Here’s another very special one:
The Christmas stories are pouring in. Please add yours. ( Send them to: Dick@DickSummer.com ) Thank you. Here’s another very special one:
I’m sitting here in my big, black, comfortable, poppa chair in the living room looking over a printout on some of the stories about Christmas that you’ve been sending. Thank you for trusting me with them. Because they’re just as much about your life, and who you are, as they are about Christmas, or Hanakkah, or Quanza, or Solstice.
My email address is email@example.com …and if you’d take a moment to send your story, I promise I’ll treat it with respect and affection.
Big Louie, his own bad self…the Chief Mustard Cutter of the Louie-Louie Generation always says, “Don’t let your yesterday take up too much of your tomorrow. But also remember, that without yesterday there would be no tomorrow.”
Christmas is a 2000 year old “yesterday”. But for me…when the Jingle Bells rock, I always feel like Santa is telling us…one more time…that we really have got another shot at changing tomorrow into something better than today.
So here’s the deal…if you’re up for it. I’ll tell you one of my Christmas stories if you’ll tell me one of yours. You first. Here’s a note that came in from Proud Podcast Participant Len Segal, who was with me during one Christmas Eve broadcast on WBZ in Boston. We were on the air live from Boston Common…which is a park right in the middle of the city. Every Christmas, they put lights on every tree. It’s not spectacular, like the big tree at Rock Center in New York…but it’s beautiful, and quiet…a perfect place for Christmas lovers. Len’s note says, “You asked listeners to write to you with their personal thoughts on ‘what Christmas means,’ and you were struck by how much your listeners opened up their hearts in those letters. You decided to read the letters with the mic outside the studio trailer with the people who had come to see the broadcast. Your producer had a fit at the thought of you going into the crowd live, because of the possibility of some drunk yelling something naughty, but you over ruled him and did it anyway. I found a metal sanitation barrel which we needed, because after you read the letters you were going to burn them as a sign of respect, and to warm the crowd a little. Every one was standing around holding hands as you read the letters. I’m Jewish, but it was a wonderful thing to remember…that spirit of goodwill that makes Christmas.”
Right Len, and thanks. That’s a story I got from you. So now it’s my turn. I remember a little more of the story…although I’m not going to swear everything I remember is accurate after all this time. I was on the air from 8pm to Midnight. I planned on reading the letters about 11:45. I mentioned that on the air, and invited people to drop in. By 9PM we had a pretty good crowd. By 10, the crowd was in the hundreds. By 11 PM there was a traffic problem on Charles Street…just outside the park. Remember, this was a spur of the moment thing. I didn’t have permission from anybody including the police department or the radio station to do this. By 11:30, there must have been a thousand people gathered around, and the cops had some extra troops out trying to untangle traffic.
I figured I was in trouble. But one of the cops came over, saw what was going on, smiled, and just wished me Merry Christmas. Then some of the artists from the Unicorn Coffee House up the block came by. As I recall it was Tom Rush, Jose Feliciano, Jamie Brockett and Mitch Kertzman. At quarter to twelve, I took the mic outside and started reading the letters, and burning them. I consider that a sign of respect for something you can’t keep but is too precious to throw way. We had a pretty good bonfire going…and as if on cue…a slow snowfall started…and just before midnight, we all sang Silent Night together. Have you ever heard a thousand people sing Silent Night, while they’re standing close enough together to keep warm by a Christmas Eve bonfire in the snow ? Maybe you were there. If so, thank you. It was a long time ago. But I’ll never forget it. Never. Your turn again. My address is firstname.lastname@example.org
I put a note here on the Dick Summer Connection blog on the home page of the website ( www.dicksummer.com )the other day, asking for some of your Christmas stories. One of the replies was a quick few words from someone who didn’t leave his name. It just said, “Last Christmas Eve, I got dumped by my wife.” That’s pretty tough any time of the year… but when it happens at Christmas…wow. And it happens a lot around Christmas. Sometimes it’s the result of a company holiday party…when a hot new romance starts…and stops an old one cold. Whitney Houston sang a song about that. And there’s a story in the Night Connections personal audio cd that explains how it happens. I put the story together with the song…because I really think they go together. They’re on the current podcast.
You know the song. The story is on the Night Connections personal audio cd. If you like it, you can just keep the podcast. Or if you want a fresh copy…without the song…just download it from the Night Connections icon on the home page.
Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells…Jingle…all gone away. There’s a difference between being alone, and being lonely. Being alone can be a relief. Being lonely eats your heart out. So what can we do this Christmas…when we have a shot at making tomorrow a little better than today…for somebody who can use a little of your leftover merry. How about this: Let’s play pick a person…any person you know…but a person who maybe never got much of your attention…a person who never seems to get anybody’s attention. Eleanor Rigby’s friend Father MacKenzie maybe. Just pick a person…and pay attention to him or her. Don’t go overboard. Just soften your voice a little when you talk to her. Smile a little gentler at him. Clean up your favorite joke and make time to tell it to her. Look him in the eye and smile again. Start a conversation…even if it’s just the weather. Listen…really listen to her. Give him a very small present…a Tootsie Roll, a cupcake…and wish him Merry Christmas…and mean it. Most of us have never done anything like that before. But maybe that just means we’ve let too many of our yesterdays take up too much of our tomorrows. Or maybe it just means…Merry Christmas.
The Christmas stories are pouring in. Here’s one that poured in today…from “The Sgt.”:
My wife and I got engaged on Christmas Eve. It wasn’t exactly a surprise. I don’t remember if she was with me when I picked out the ring, but we did go looking at them together. We had dated for four years at that time, since about halfway through her senior year in high school. I sat her down in a chair in her parents living room, got down on one knee (I’m very traditional and anyway, it’s getting back up that’s the trick) and presented the ring. If you are very lucky and extremely observant, you may have seen someone as happy as that, but I guarantee you’ve never seen anyone happier. We went to midnight mass and, in church, she kept holding her hand out, catching the light with the diamond and watching it sparkle—enthralled. I watched her being happy, also enthralled. It was a good omen. In my life, she’s made most of the good stuff happen and she’s made most of the bad stuff bearable.
Would love to hear from you. Dick@DickSummer.com
As my great, great, grandfather, Myles Standish Summer used to say, “Turkeys are really dumb. They even walk up to you and they say, gobble gobble gobble”…and so we do.” If I were the Big Turkey, I’d tell my guys…look …enough with the gobble gobble. Shut up. And while you’re at it, go get yourself a trick or treat costume with big eyes and a funny little tail. And learn to take funny hops like the Easter Bunny.”
But that doesn’t happen. Those guys never learn. They’re like the deer around here. I could never figure out why Bambi doesn’t take the little bambinos aside and tell them, “You know those big, noisy machines with the two bright eyes that come roaring around at night? Don’t stand in the middle of the road and look at them. Get out of the way.”
It was on Thanksgiving night a number of years ago, that I started the Men Are Saints campaign on WNBC radio. I called it the M.A.S. appeal. Men are saints. The idea came from remembering a Thanksgiving watching what happened when my Lady Wonder Wench, and our daughter Kris, and my Sister in law Brenda were scurrying around preparing dinner, while the guys were…otherwise occupied.
Here’s the point:
Men are seldom given credit for our sensitivity, our intelligence and our selfless behavior. For example, here in the Northeast, Thanksgiving is usually celebrated on a cold day. So where do we men traditionally encourage our women to spend the day? Right. In the warmest room in the house. The kitchen. While we, on the other hand, in a manly display of selfless courage, throw ourselves in front of the tv screen to protect our loved ones from the terrible effects of the cathode rays that squirt out of the picture tube.
I think those harmful rays must be the reason for the pain so many of us get during commercials for erectile dysfunction medications, which if not used under a doctor’s HMO plan, can cause us to get permanently stuck in the upright condition, therefore making it necessary for us to walk bent over at all social functions till the following March.
And how much credit do we men get for that traditional self sacrifice? Right. None. And think about this: How often have you seen a relatively innocent Louie-Louie Generation man at a raunchy bar go over to a woman he has never even met, and invite her to the safety and comfort of his very own apartment to get her out of that dangerous environment? And what reward do we get? Right again. None. But we soldier on s we always have, even in the face of this shameful lack of appreciation. That’s the basis for the M.A.S. appeal.
As you can imagine, the M.A.S. appeal is frequently not well received by certain people with more evolved levels of social sensitivity, and mostly higher voices, although Big Louie, his own bad self, the chief mustard cutter of the Louie-Louie Generation has tried to explain that it’s testosterone that causes the bad reputation that many guys enjoy, and we’re therefore not responsible for our sometimes strange thought processes, and the things that we frequently can’t help doing.
Louie says a guy’s brain swims in this sea of testosterone, which absorbs some of the shocks of a guys life to which we are all exposed…like hitting a button on a radio and getting an unexpected blast of Yanni’s music, or getting hit in the head by a baseball, or being exposed to high levels of excess verbal communication. Testosterone, you will remember, is a preservative. And a preservative stops stuff from maturing. I seem to have a lot of testosterone, which protects me from many of the harmful effects of maturing…which is probably why the Men Are Saints campaign seemed like such a good idea to me in the first place.
Dick’s Details Quiz. (All answers are in the current podcast.)
1 – Why is Big Louie so pleased that so many people are Sleepless In Seattle?
2 – What would any man worth his saintly halo be glad to do for 78% of women?
3 – What does sleeping with a bat do for your overnight social life?
Dick’s Details. They take your mind off your mind.
I had a lot of fun with the Men Are Saints campaign…the MAS appeal. And I think there is a certain amount of truth to what Big Louie says about the impact of testosterone on those of us who are not women. I really do sometimes lose control of parts of me…like my left eyebrow which always flips up when my Lady Wonder Wench walks into a room wearing one of those little outfits she says is, “A little more comfortable.” And occasionally, under those circumstances, my fingers absolutely refuse to behave themselves, no matter where I try not to put them.
There’s a story about a young guy who managed to behave himself a little better than that, in the Night Connections personal audio CD. It’s called, The Young Guy Scores. The story proves that there is hope for us testosterone soaked wretches. I think he did just fine, don’t you? Of course…so did she. If you like the story you can just keep the podcast. Or if you want a fresh copy you can download it from the icon on the home page.
Funny thing about Thanksgiving. It’s not a religious feast. It was one of the best ideas that ever came out of the government. But it’s a celebration and a reminder of something that’s really the best part of what it means to be a person. Everybody likes Thanksgiving. But I must admit that I liked it a lot more before the government told us about salmonella poisoning. They say you can get if from badly cooked turkeys. I think what happens is that tiny little turkey dwelling salmon get into your blood and swim up stream to your brain to spawn, which causes you to completely lose control of your higher reasoning functions, which is what makes you rush out to the mall to go shopping.
So be careful. Cook your turkey in an oven turned up to stun for at least two quarters of the football game. Then give a piece to the dog and watch closely for signs of any fishy symptoms…like he goes chasing after a lot of little salmon that only he can see.
And while we are all giving each other the bird this Thanksgiving my fellow members of the Louie-Louie Generation…let’s all remember what Captain Kangaroo always taught. He said, “Thanks is the magic word.” And by the way, you might remember to say thanks to the Captain. He was only a Captain on tv. In real life he was a sergeant. Sergeant Robert Keeshan…of the United States Marines. And he was one of those sergeants who rate a salute. Because Sgt. Keeshan was awarded the Navy Cross for heroism exhibited in the initial landing at Iwo Jima in World War 2.
So I am going to take a moment to lift a drumstick to Sgt. Keeshan, and all the other men and women who have protected us through the years…and are protecting us right now. And I’m not going to forget the cops and firefighters and medivac pilots and crews who fly in all kinds of ghastly weather…and …how about all those security guys, like the one who took the bullet at the museum…there are lots of folks who are putting off their turkey right now, to keep things quiet enough to hear us slurp and chomp.
To every one of you, on behalf of Big Louie, his own bad self, and all my fellow members of the Louie-Louie generation…Thanks.
Just got back from a business trip…trying to catch up. Some wonderful things about the blog/podcast in the mail box. For example:
I was sitting in my big, comfortable, black leather poppa chair just now, wearing my bathrobe with the Louie-Louie Generation logo on it when my doorbell rang. It was my next door neighbor Randy. I call Randy, “The Fish Whisperer”… as in “here little fishy…come to pappa.” As soon as I opened the door, there was the distinct aroma that can only be acquired by a guy who has spent all day in an open boat on the ocean with two other sweaty sushi slingers. He had a smile on his face that was so wide, his ears were drooping, and he was carrying two very substantial gift pieces of trout in a plastic bag.
Randy is a buddy. And he knows that although I don’t go fishing a lot, I do like fish a lot…especially when they’ve been beaten into submission enough, so they’re sitting still on a dish in front of me. Randy likes the fishing as much as the eating. Maybe more. I don’t think he really cares how many fish he catches. He always says it’s called fishing, not catching. He’s a little like guys who build their own airplanes, and then fly them. Those planes are called home builts, and they usually come in kits…just like the model planes we had as kids. Except bigger. Much bigger. And more expensive. Much, much more expensive.
It’s not unusual for a guy to spend ten years building a home built plane. Then he’ll fly if for a few months and sell it. And then start all over building another plane. Quite often the wives of guys like that have a lot of free time. Randy’s wife, Bernadette is a very understanding lady. She has no problem with Randy going off with the guys to spend a day swapping lies, sweating, and… oh yeah…fishing. My Lady Wonder Wench quite often goes with me when I go down to the airport to fly my little plane, but she doesn’t mind when I go by myself…which I do sometimes to fly the maneuvers the FAA requires to stay current for flying at night or in the clouds.
But when Bernadette or my Lady Wonder Wench go away…it’s a slightly different dynamic. Bernadette and Lady Wonder Wench are good friends. And they watch out for each other. I heard them talking the other day, and Lady W.W. was telling Bernadette that she’ll keep an eye open for women going in or out next door while Randy is home alone. Bernadette is going for a short trip.
They both laughed, because they both know that Randy doesn’t fool around. But it’s an interesting perspective. It’s almost like they were tapping into the male fantasy world. Think about it. There she is…a Catherine Zeta Jones look alike and she’s keeping 27/7 watch from her conveniently located five bedroom tree house across the street. She sees Bernadette leave, and gives the signal to a restless regiment of lust crazed porn stars who just happen to be lurking in Randy’s bushes, and together, they leap on poor defenseless Randy’s bones and have their way with him. Believe it or not folks even though Randy is a reasonably nice looking young guy, it almost never happens that way.
In fact, on the sexy scale, if we all agree that my Lady Wonder Wench is a 10, and Catherine Zeta Jones is a 9, then Bernadette comes in there very comfortably with a solid 7 plus. So why aren’t Randy and I the ones who get worried when the girls are on the town? I guess either we’re too dumb, too self confident, or simply have better things to do.
A lot of things in this life are like that. They come under the heading of…”yeah…I could do that if I wanted to, but it really not worth it.” Bungee jumping comes to mind. Surfing 40 foot waves is also up there. So is saying nothing to a wife who has just informed you that she’s “not in the least bit interested in anything you could possibly say” is in that category too.
Some things could be useful, but they’re simply, really not worth the effort. Like whistling through your teeth. I’ve tried doing that and it doesn’t work for me. Could I learn how… sure. But why ? If I want to get somebody’s attention, I can just make the hand under the armpit sound, and wiggle my ears. The nine times table comes under that heading. I’m ok till you get to 9 times 6. But why sweat it ? For five bucks you get a little hand calculator. Spelling is like that too. I was a disc jockey and a therapist. Who had to spell ? Talk. Don’t write. Talk. Or if you’re backed into a corner like a trapped animal…use the spell checker, or subsititute some simpler word. Spelling is how Lady Wonder Wench came into my life. She was my secretary. She could spell. So…she’s smarter than I am…so what. I like being Wonder Wench’s arm candy.
Dick’s Details Quiz. (All answers are in the current podcast)
1- What percentage of New York Mets baseball fans believe in miracles ?
2- What kind of can will you never find in a supermarket ?
3- When is a colt really a filly ?
Dick’s Details. They take your mind off your mind.
We were talking about fantasies a while ago. Fantasies pack a powerful punch. Sometimes they sneak up on you while you’re just doing… what you usually do. And all of a sudden…your life takes off like a rocket in a direction you really didn’t expect. There is a story about that in the Bedtime Stories personal audio cd. It’s called “Nothing Happened.”
That story was a once upon a time, a very long time ago. But the guy in the story has never recovered from that night. And when the woman in the story talks about it…she always does it with a very gentle smile. If you like “Nothing Happened,” you can just keep the current podcast. Or if you want a fresh copy, just go back to www.dicksummer.com and download it from the Bedtime Stories icon on the home page.
You know, my life has been awfully good. Which probably proves that you don’t have to be rich, or good looking or terribly smart to have a good life. You have to be a little lucky, you have to be willing to work hard… but smart? Hey, Big Louie, his own bad self, the chief mustard cutter of the Louie-Louie Generation puts it this way. He always says, “If you want people to think you’re smart, just think of something really stupid to say, then don’t say it.” That always works for me.
Of course, I guess part of it depends on how you define a good life. Here’s how I define mine: I’m happy. That’s about it.
And one of the many things that makes me happy is the fact that the Fish Whisperer who lives next door, is comfortable showing up late at night… fresh from a fishing trip…with a big dumb grin on his face, a stinky sweatshirt and jeans…and a couple of big chunks of recently wiggling fish. And between us, we have a couple of wives… who think we’re still sexy enough so that they can at least kid about having to be on a constant look out for ladies like Catherine Zeta Jones.
I’m sitting here in my big, comfortable, black leather pappa chair in my living room, getting ready to ache all over. I’m thinking maybe I should have my entire body surgically removed while that’s still an option. I’ve been throwing out boxes full of…stuff. You’ve got to get rid of your junk every decade or so. And you’ve got to be heartless. Because a lot of that stuff…you thought was valuable enough to store away in the first place. I came across old pictures…that’s they’re really tough stuff to throw out…because they’re really scraps of your life.
I found a picture of myself when I had a mustache. I liked that mustache. It was like having a little pet right there on my lip. But one of my daughters called it the lunatic fringe. There was a picture of my Lady Wonder Wench taken at sunset at the Grand Canyon…with a look on her face that I remember well…because I had never seen it before, and I haven’t seen it since…that day. That picture kind of knocked me off balance for a moment. An unexpected picture of a beautiful woman can do that. Just the kind of expression she has on her face. I’ll tell you more about that in a minute.
There were pictures of family vacations with a car full of kids. You should never have more kids than you have car windows. Some old pictures of me on the air at WNEW in New York. New York is full of instant choices. One glance around you and you can look at the most beautiful woman in the world, and next thing you know, you’re looking at the craziest guy in the world…all in one shot. You can get run down by a pedestrian in New York. And New York in the summertime is a huge garden of highly suspicious smells.
There’s a picture of a grammar school buddy of mine. Eddie Kelly. Eddie came from a broken home. And I think he’s the one who broke it. I ran into him waiting for a train at Penn Station a few years ago, and we were talking over old times. And he’s become really nasty. The only thing he remembers fondly from the old days is his hair. I guess he got nasty because when he got a little older, he was always having problems with the kind of girls who had something against lice infected back hair. And he had these weird orange teeth, because he was always eating Cheetos.
There’s a shot of my high school girlfriend…Doris. Doris had the first designer jeans in the neighborhood and she wore them well.
I would like to think that when Doris grew up, one of the regular problems in her life would be the body lotion stains on her carpet.
Hey, how come designers get to put their name on your jeans, but they would have you arrested if you tried putting your name on theirs ? Doris had a poodle too. Nutty looking little mutt. I wonder if other dogs think poodles are members of some way out religious cult.
I have a theory that dogs are very respectful of humans, because we come home from the supermarket with an amazing haul. A couple of chickens, a bucket of pork, half a cow…they must think we’re the greatest hunters on earth.
Here’s a shot of Father Dan. He was a little different kind of priest. I suspect that by now, he has been caught walking up to one of the more attractive nuns in church with some line like, ”Hi…do you come here to pray often my dear?” He reminds me of the Rev. Father Flowers in the Night Connections album. I’ll tell you about him in a few minutes.
Dick’s Details Quiz…all answers are in the current podcast.
1- What legal adjustment seems like a good idea concerning the “Mile High Club?”
2- Who did Ronald Reagan call “The Little Schmuck?”
3- What four letter word won’t you find in these podcasts/blogs ?
Dick’s Details. They take your mind off your mind.
I promised to tell you the story of The Rev. Father Flowers from the Night Connections personal audio cd. That’s not his real name of course, but his story is based on something my Lady Wonder Wench told me really happened to a friend of hers, a long time ago. And it’s part of the current podcast.
I wonder what kind of memories were playing themselves out in the Reverend’s mind that night. And in his heart. Looking at a pretty lady, maybe a couple of kids who could have been his…how could you blame him for that? Even a holy man’ heart is made of flesh. And how about her husband…watching the priest give her the flowers. Watching the expression on her face…as she accepts the flowers from him…and holds them up to her face to smell the fragrance. Fragrances carry very powerful memories. That’s why there is perfume.
The story of the Rev. Father Flowers is from the Night Connections personal Audio cd. If you like it, you can just keep the podcast. Or if you want a fresh copy, just go back to the opening page of this website, and download it from the Night Connections icon.
Every decade or so, If you’re a member of the Louie-Louie Generation, Big Louie, his own bad self, the chief mustard Cutter of the Louie-Louie Generation says “If you don’t throw stuff out, you’ll have to move to a bigger house.” Some of the stuff you find in those boxes you can just chuck out and wonder why you kept it. Some stuff…like some expensive but outmoded recording equipment I found…that’s a little hard to get rid of. It still works. But I haven’t really used it in years.
But a few things you come across will make you sit down…kinda hard…and it must be the dust…yeah…it must be the dust that irritates your eyes and makes them water a little. Especially the pictures. Memory flakes of the way we were…before we had any idea of the way we would be…when we became the us that we are now.
There was a picture of me at a high school swimming championship meet. I remember how torqued I was because I came in second. When you think about it, I should have been thankful, because second in a city like New York is not bad. I wasn’t nearly as thankful as I should have been in those days. But I sat and looked at that young guy for a while, and tried to remember how he felt. He didn’t know enough to be afraid of anything. Gotta check around inside and try to get more of that feeling back.
And I came across a picture of mom and dad while they were much younger than I am now. I spent a little time with that picture, bringing them up to date on some of the things that have happened since they had to leave us. And this time…I did remember to say thanks.
But it’s the picture of my Lady Wonder Wench… I thought it was unusual when I took that picture all those years ago. But it was a lot of years ago. I never saw her look like that before, and I’ve never seen her look like that since. So that picture caught an important instant. Something was going on in her head…and probably in her heart…right then…right at that instant.
I asked her about it. And she said “Yes. You’re right.” And then she gave me that soft Lady Wonder Wench smile.
You almost have to be a member of the Louie-Louie Generation… you’ve got to go through a few decades of throwing stuff out of
your life…even memories, and expensive stuff…sometimes even people, before you can get it through your head that throwing out all that stuff you thought was expensive, and important enough to store in the boxes is the only way to discover the real treasures that have been in your life for a long time.
Proud Podcast Participant Michael has an observation that is cogent, timely, and pertinent. It’s one that only a member of the Louie-Louie Generation would think to make. In fact it’s worthy of Big Louie, his own bad self. Michael says:
We’re all in the same boat; except with different leaks.