The Year 2020

Thu, 12/31/2020 - 5:15pm

One day recently I was running our cairn terrier Maddox down at the Charlestown Navy Base and got to thinking how this year felt like it has been one of those decades. This has been a wakeup call for all of us to see the good, the bad, and the ugly of the human condition and figuring how to play your hand. Moreover, it almost seemed like a fool’s errand to make an attempt to follow the news cycle — which does a daily tap dance on my head — so I do what most people do when they have information overload; I look for a yuk or a lightness of being wherever I can find it. Subsequently, I’ve become a pretty easily amused guy these days. Being annoyed and irate are feelings we all have the power to engage; however, as a geezer I find those choices to be exhausting. Plus, I’m married to a cup-half-full woman: an eternal optimist and always looks at the upside of the long game. Therefore, I’ve become vigilant and work at being upbeat and amused and only mumble and grumble to myself in the privacy of my car and sailboat.

This is where Maddox the “Mad Dog” comes into the picture as he lifts the old man while on his little hell-raising jaunts where he throws down with other dogs who are three times his size. He gets exhausted while he raises hell, runs and tussles at the park and then will go home and flop for hours in my reading chair. Maddox is an optimist, and will go big at every available chance; he’s game for anything. This daily drill with Maddox makes me feel I did something very productive and I know many dog owners will concur. This guy provides my wife and me with endless entertainment along with our other dog, Sailor. Hey, in the time of the pandemic we must grab our yuks where we can find them. Furthermore, we need to find ways to stay focused, positive and active.

Here are a few routines I’ve found:

This past year-long decade, I developed the skill of burning steaks on a grill. This is a primitive old-brain kind of blast. In fact, I may just go out and burn a couple of ribeyes to celebrate the New Year. (I said it. Now I’m going to do it.) This is an affirmation of positivity where I will stand in freezing temperatures and burn meat. My wife can’t believe how I dialed in to this manly activity, because I’m a guy who just doesn’t cook. She created a monster with this grilling thing. It’s a nice new routine with a tasty endgame. Win-win!

Regardless of the pandemic, the bride, naturally, still rigged up her flowers this past spring. The woman loves to plant stuff and does a good job of it. People always stop and admire her flowers and it’s nice to see them when I come home from work. Cindy’s been digging in the dirt and planting stuff since she was a kid, and it’s a no-compromise routine for her. Plus, when I bring home any kind of swag in the form of flora that I may rustle up while out and about, I look like a prince and the bride is happy, and she gets right to planting or hanging whatever I find. Win-win.

Another guy who is big on routines is former Providence College basketball star and National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame member Ernie DiGregorio. I can’t remember not seeing Ernie walking early in the morning by the ferry dock, or up and down Point Judith Road and Sand Hill Cove Road. The guy is relentless. When I was a student at Rhode Island College, I’d run some laps before my classes at Robert’s Theatre, and I’d see Ernie grinding out laps at the same track. He was a man on a mission — still is. I beep at him every morning and give him a coffee cup salute while driving to work, and say, “Come on, Ernie, pick up the pace,” when he walks by the docks. Certain things simply do not change. While Ernie D is out in all types of weather and walking at a good clip, it not only keeps him in shape, but it can also inspire people to keep moving. Go, Ernie, go! Win-win. 

Being a grandfather is probably the coolest thing I’ve ever experienced in my entire life. Having kids is extraordinary in and of itself; however, when we become grandparents something else kicks in, and we have a different take on the world. It’s pretty hard to explain using words; it’s a deeper thing we feel and it’s powerful; words don’t really work for this kind of thing. Plus, you get to do some really fun things that are firsts. For example, pushing my grandkid Leo on a swing, and taking the little Dude sailing for the first time will stay in active files in my head for a long, long time. Moreover, you get to do all this cool and fun stuff and not have to do any of the heavy lifting of actual parenting, because we’ve already been there, done that, read the book, saw the movie, bought the teeshirt, and have the hat. Win-win!

The Hallmark Channel has 40 new Christmas episodes this year — yup, 40. The bride got me watching these things last year and they are in the mega-corny domain. These shows elicit eye-rolling and snarky repartee from both of us, but we can’t stop watching them. I dare you to watch these shows and not binging a batch right from the rip. I actually heard the Sirius radio guy Howard Stern raving about these shows last week. At first, I thought he was joking but I’ll lay odds he’s not. Stern knows good product when he sees it. Hey, get some hot cocoa, and dial in! Win-win!

Happy Holidays from the Scribbler, Cindy, and Maddox and Sailor!