The Last Sled Ride


We started yelling, “Watch out for that tree!”
We had put my mentally disabled niece on a flexible flyer sled. The slope downhill wasn’t very steep.

She was laughing when we pushed her off on her first solo run.
We realized our mistake when she headed for a small cherry tree. The sled hit the tree, and then she shot forward and hit the tree with her face dead center.

The impact was hard to watch, and when she lay motionless, I was sure we had accidentally killed her. Her parents and I ran to her. She wasn’t even crying, just moaning softly.
There was only a small cut on her nose and forehead, but then we saw that her two front teeth were broken. Her sledding days were over.


The cat


The cat was 200 feet away. It was a stray cat, resting on a stairway.
I told my brother, “Watch me hit that cat in the face with this snowball.”

I had a good arm in those days, but this shot was a million to one.
I threw that snowball as hard as I could in the general direction of the cat. A couple of seconds later the snowball came down and smacked the cat in the face. It shook its head and ran off.
We raised our arms and both yelled, “Yes!”



I forgot that Katia, and Maria, were coming to give me a price on cleaning our house.
When I opened my bathroom door to show them, the smell of burnt herbs hit us in the face. Katia said something in Spanish like “Stephen est loco-loco.”
I know a little Spanish, so I said, “Oh si.”
They laughed and said in very good English that they wanted 130 dollars.
Still thinking in Spanish, I thought that was “mucho dinero.”



My father is Catholic, my mother is Jewish.
I worship the sun, and as I have gotten older, I worship the almighty dollar.
I miss going to church, sitting in the cool air, the soft tones of the priest giving the gospel, with organ music. I would go out like a light–I slept like a baby. I miss that.

Our Tractor


At twelve I was catching a buzz with my cute neighbor in the barn.
My father yelled out the back door, “Stephen, get on the mower!”

Our tractor was a red 1948 Farmall Cub with a sickle bar, and it pulled three rotary mowers. Our five acres of grass also had trees, stumps, and groundhog holes.
Slightly miscalculating a turn, the sickle bar cut down Dad’s fruit-bearing cherry tree, and several small pine trees he had just planted.

I told him that, all at the same time, a ground hog crossed my path and a big horsefly bit me. I smacked my cheek a couple times to make it look red. The horsefly had caused the accident.
I waited until after he had his martini to tell him.

The Director


“Record Street Home, Chef Stephen speaking, can I help you?”

“Yes, this is Gladys Tushysmacker, my mother Anna is going to be out to lunch.”

“Please hold, and I’ll connect you to the nurses station.”

Then my boss, the director, pops in. She is an angry ex-Marine.
“Stephen, did you put two plastic containers in the recycle without rinsing them out?” 

I always say, if you can’t think of anything better, tell the truth:
“Yes, and I will work on my taking out the trash skills.”

She is really not bad for a macho, short-haired, man-hating type.
I think she is kind of sexy in a weird way.

Counting Calories


“Aunt City, can I have some of your country ham and cheddar spread?” I asked.
“Yes, honey,” she said, and then she would move her big body around that small kitchen.
With Dad and my three brothers in there too, aunt City might bump into you four or six times, just putting things on the table. I think she enjoyed the contact.

“Stevie, do you want that on homemade bread and Ritz crackers?”
“Yes, Aunt City, and a big glass of your spiked Egg Nog please.”

The calories consumed in the next hour probably totaled in the millions.