High Speed Chase

I walked in dejected.  I rummaged through my pockets, emptied my briefcase, and checked my lunch bag.

“What is it? What are you doing,” my wife asked.

“I forgot my phone on the bus.”

My wife called the bus company. With the third announcement of, “All operators are busy. Please stay on the line. We appreciate your patience,” my wife said, “Do you know the bus route?”

“I think so.”

“Why don’t you try and catch it?”

And so began a high speed chase.

Nary a moment passed as I hopped into my car. I would have gone in through the window ala Bo and Luke Duke getting into the The General Lee (I know Dukes was cheesy with Confederate overtones. However, I loved the car chases and seeing Catherine Bach in her Daisy Dukes.  I waited and hoped for a wardrobe malfunction). But, the windows were merely cracked on my 2005 Grey Honda Accord. This slowed me some but, to make up time, I didn’t allow the standard warm-up time for the engine.

Dukes of Hazzard photo courtesy of Google.

Dukes of Hazzard photo courtesy of Google.

Wait, it gets crazier.

I soon was on Saddle River Road (in case you want to plot my journey) but saw no sign of the bus. I cranked up the One Direction – “But when you smile at the ground it ain’t hard to tell, You don’t know…” Damn, that song is still catchy (http://larrydbernstein.com/top-40-kids/).  Of course, I’d rather have been listening to Springsteen.

One Direction - courtesy of Google.

One Direction – courtesy of Google.

This car chase motored into another city, Glen Rock, where the speed limit is a whopping 25 miles per hour. Larry Leadfoot was speeding along Ackerman Avenue at 35 miles per hour.

In the immortal words of Pee Wee Herman: I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel.

Despite my rebellious bad ass self, my mission was incomplete. Still no bus in sight. I was at a crossroads. I no longer saw bus stop signs and wasn’t certain of the bus route. While I was weighing the option of heading directly to the end of the bus line, I saw not one but two buses drive past perpendicularly. (By the way, I got a D in high school geometry. I hated that class with a passion.) So, I made a right turn on to Maple Avenue and was hot on the trail. I was feeling confident.

But which bus held my phone? I was two car lengths behind when I saw a passenger get off one of the busses. I know this guy. He is an older construction guy.  I’ve eavesdropped on many of his conversations. Actually, he talks so loud that “eavesdropping” is not the proper term. He doesn’t go two sentences without using the f-word (this chase scene is PG-13).  He also is very knowledgeable about his trade.     

A nagging question haunted me: how was I going to get on that bus? Where is Keeanu Reeves when you need him?

Speed Movie Poster courtesy of Google.

Speed Movie Poster courtesy of Google.

I considered parking and running after it. It was hot, and I am tired on Fridays. Next. I thought about trying to get in front of the bus, but we were on a one-lane road which did not allow for passing even when the bus dropped off more passengers. I decided the first thing I needed to do was to get the license plate number – which I did. And then, I forgot it 30 seconds later. I did, however keep the bus in my sights. Then, trouble came in the form of a traffic light. 

The bus made a left on to South Ridgewood Avenue. When I was ready to turn, the traffic light had been yellow for a few seconds. I went for it. And made it. And only checked three times for cops. I’mma crazy – right?

The bus finally reached the end of the line. But wait. The bus driver did not exit the bus. In fact, people were still getting on. I looked for a parking spot and only saw a filled train station lot. Well, I had come too far to stop then. I parked my car in an area that was not designated for parking. I ran out of the car without bothering to roll up the windows and made a run for the bus.

The Eagle has landed. I spoke to the bus driver, who was clearly overwhelmed by my good looks and therefore eager to help. She pulled out a case that was found. Alas, it was not mine. My search of the seat. A good Samaritan had the sense to call my number. The vibration went off and I knew I was good. I took my phone, expressed my gratitude, and walked off the bus.

I drove home at a more careful 25 miles per hour, the adrenaline gone, but my phone safe beside me.

The Afternoon Show

As a child, I loved the Three Stooges. I laughed at their slapstick humor. Because I was such a big fan, I read a book about them. While reading the book, I learned that they first began on Vaudeville. For those who don’t know what Vaudeville is as I did not know when I first read it, here is the definition according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaudeville

a theatrical genre of variety entertainment popular in the United States and Canada from the early 1880s until the early 1930s. Each performance was made up of a series of separate, unrelated acts grouped together on a common bill. Types of acts included popular and classical musicians, dancers, comedians, trained animals, magicians, female and male impersonators, acrobats, illustrated songs, jugglers, one-act plays or scenes from plays, athletes, lecturing celebrities, minstrels, and movies.

    The Three Stooges Courtesy of google.com

The Three Stooges Courtesy of google.com

I recently wrote about my commute to work (http://larrydbernstein.com/breakfast-on-the-go/) which includes a ride on a New York City Subway Train.  At the early hour of 6:45, the ride to work is generally sleepy save for a few odd characters.  The ride home on the other hand is much more lively and crowded.

I typically board the A train in the East New York section of Brooklyn at around 2:45. I find a seat and start off with something to read. Typically my reading time is cut short as my eyes get heavy, and out I go. I am traveling through neighborhoods where it would be wise to keep my eyes open and be alert.  Thankfully, nothing has ever happened to me during my naps. By the way, some of the naps have been so sound that I when I wake up, I forget if I am going or coming to work.

When I am awake, I am often treated to a show whose only ticket required is a seat on the train. Now, the performances are very uneven, but I suppose, as they say, you get what you pay for.

I have heard many different musical performances from rap to gospel to R&B to reggae. Some of those performances inspire the line from Billy Joe’s Piano Man – “Man, what are you doin’ here?” and others leave me looking for the gong (remember the Gong Show) to end the performance.

The Gong ShowCourtesy of google.com

The Gong Show
Courtesy of google.com

Is comedy your thing? There is one homeless comedian who I have heard on and off during my commute for many years. He has some funny lines, but many of them have not changed since the first time I heard him. He always ends by asking passengers to clean up as one would expect him to clean up if he visited their house.

Then, you have the fights. Some are verbal and some are physical. While some are into boxing, it is not my style. I worry the fight will turn deadly violent. The vocabulary used during the verbal fights would make a jailor blush.

Then, there is dancing. There are some dancers who could dominate Dancing With the Stars while others look like they are stumbling off a bar post rather than dancing. Every performance ends with a handout and a request for generosity.

Dancing With the Stars Courtesy of Google.com

Dancing With the Stars Courtesy of Google.com

Of course like any show, there needs to be snacks. Don’t fear there are candy men  regularly walking through the train selling Famous Amos Cookies, Fruit Snacks, and Nature Valley Granola Bars (you know how I feel about those). These guys always have some sort of rap that includes them saying they are selling the candy to make an honest dollar.

Now, there are more types that appear on the train – beggars, fortune tellers, preachers, jugglers, and more.

In truth there are plenty of days when the ride home is pretty quiet save the music from the mp3players, loud and excited school kids, and business men in suits. However, you never know when a show will break out. Vaudeville lives.

Amazed N’ Curious Splash N’ Dash

“Look how long this bridge is. Have you guys ever seen such a long bridge?”
“Wow, this is so long.” SJ
“No. Are we still over the water?” BR
“Yup. We are crossing over the Henry Hudson River.”
“Who’s Henry Hudson?” BR
“He was an explorer. You should look him up.”
“This the longest bridge ever.” SJ
“How long is it daddy?” BR
“I don’t know. Look it up. Guys, look to your right. You see New York City? You see the tall buildings?”
“Wow, I can see it. That’s amazing.” SJ
“How far is it to Manhattan from here?”BR
“I don’t know. Look it up.”
Amazed and curious – these are my children.

On Sunday afternoon, we strolled into the Discovery Museum in Connecticut. Well, it looked good on the website. My wife paid the entrance fee – $36 – as I distracted the boys. I hoped it would the rest of the museum was more impressive than the entrance.
Ninety minutes later we left the museum. Amazed, or SJ as I refer to him here, for some reason loved the color house. Curious, or BR as I refer to him here, was fully engaged with the simulated outer space mobility feature.
While my wife and I thought the museum was mediocre at best, the boys were content. And that’s all that matters.
Later, we arrived at the hotel. My children love staying in hotels. I can’t quite pinpoint what it is about hotels they love, but I think amazed and curious are happy to be in a new place. Unfortunately, amazed and curious’ love for hotels does not translate into their care for hotel rooms. In fact, their decibel level and trashing of the room would have made you think that amazed and curious were some pompous rock band or star duo had been the hotel guest and not two young children.
I thought the hotel and room were standard, not memorable.
On Monday morning, we went to a water park. Amazed and curious splashed away for two hours enjoying each of the water attractions.
I thought the water park was a bit small and was disappointed when the children were done after two hours.
Next up was the arcade. Off amazed and curious ran. They spent a good half hour playing games, collecting tickets, and picking out prizes.
As they went along, I questioned, “Don’t you want to try this game, no, do it like this, why don’t you get one big prize? I think you would have more fun if you did.”
Advice not needed.
By 1:30, we were on the road home. Amazed and curious were occupied in a game of seek and find with my wife before eventually employing various electronic devices.
While they were involved with their gadgets, my wife turned to me and asked, “Did you have a good time?”
“The museum was kind of lame, the hotel was okay, the boys were done so quickly at the water park and what is up with those prizes BR picked out. What about you?”
“I really enjoyed getting away.”
“I’m glad. It is nice to get away.”
“Yup. Besides the boys enjoyed it – you know BR actually wanted to go back to the museum, and SJ thought the hotel was awesome.”
“Really? Okay then.”
I’ll take SJ and BR any time. It’s good to be amazed and curious. It’s good to have a great trip.

Morning-Shower Phobia

Arachnophobia, claustrophobia, xenophobia. There are phobias for just about everything. I, thankfully, suffer from none of them. Well I’m not big on heights and you don’t want to see me around ketchup and iced tea. But other than that, I am just short of normal.

I took a self-imposed break from blogging though I continued commenting on other people’s blogs. Anyway, the break from blogging coincided with my break at school. Movies, Chuck E. Cheese, a visit to mom, editing of my novella, a staycation with my wife only, and sleeping in till 8:00 (yes, that is a big thing in my house) were just some of the highlights from my break. Of course, I found some time for self-loathing and questioning of my direction. However, the best part was not setting the alarm and moving at a different pace.
On Tuesday night, I had my clothes out, lunch made, lesson plans prepared, etc. I had psyched myself up and was ready to return to work. Then, I made a terrible mistake. I checked weather.com. The site said it would feel like 9 degrees at 6 a.m. That is the time at which I am standing on a street corner praying for the bus to come. My heart sank as my resolve froze. Uggh. I added a pair of long johns to my pile of clothes.
Wednesday morning came, and I got out of bed and headed to the bathroom for my shower. You see, there are two types of people in this world: “shower-before-bed” people and “shower-in-the-morning” people. I happen to be the latter. Thus my shower serves a dual purpose: a clean start and a wake-up call.
I looked at the shower and had reservations. Let me tell you about our shower, and you will understand. It takes a couple of minutes for the water to warm up. Once it does warm up, it can be scalding. Now, you may be thinking to yourself, why don’t you just balance the hot and cold knobs so the water will come out at a temperature you are happy with. Sounds logical. However, my shower is not logical. The knobs are inconsistent, so I never know where to turn them to in order to get a comfortable temperature.
As I have mentioned many times, I often lack patience. So, sometimes in my rush to warm up the water, I turn the hot up too far. It will be a comfortable temperature when I get in and suddenly the water will be scalding. Then, I will turn the hot water down and pump up the cold water and a minute later, the water is freezing.

I have little tolerance for extreme temperatures. So, I spend half the shower jumping away from the water. I jump so often in the shower that it could be a new kind of exercise. You have zumba, pilates, and shower dance (sounds like it should be way more erotic than it actually is). This drastic change in temperature makes washing my private parts an act of faith. So, one minute, I’m burnt like a beach bum and the next minute, I’m frozen ala Walt Disney.

Then, you have water pressure. Well, you may have water pressure, but my shower sure doesn’t. Give my two cups of water and an hour, and I can generate more pressure than my shower.

So now, I have made a change. I am no longer a daytime shower person. It is too scary in that shower on cold winter mornings. In fact, you could say that I have a fear or phobia of my shower. There’s got to be a name for morning-shower phobia.