Saturday, September 27, 2014

Uncle Slappy on the beach.

Uncle Slappy and I woke up well before sunrise this morning. We had decided yesterday evening that just the two of us would have some putative father-son time and would drive up to Larchmont and would take Whiskey to the beach.

Uncle Slappy is nearing 87 and I’m no dope. I know he’s long-exceeded the Biblical three-score-and-ten, and each time I see him, I can see the vicissitudes of age visiting upon him. Therefore, I take advantage of every possible moment we can together share.

I’ll admit my actual father and I were more often than not at loggerheads. From a very early age, I was closer to Uncle Slappy than I ever was with my old man. This wasn’t because, as is often the case with grand-parents or favorite uncles, Uncle Slappy indulged me. He was just as likely to smack me in the back of my head as my own old man. He didn’t, as they say, suffer fools gladly. And there are hardly on earth bigger fools that young boys and young men feeling their oats.

Uncle Slappy had no truck with pretense, arrogance, self-absorption or any of the other affectations of youth. To get along with the old man, you had to do one thing. You had to act like a mensch. You had to, simply, be a man.

There was no whining, no excuses, no bs. If there was a job to do, you did it and you didn’t spend the rest of the day telling the world how hard you worked. You hadn’t done anything special. You had just made the correct of the two choices a person faces. You have, after all, just two choices: you can be a schmuck. Or you can be a man.

In any event, Uncle Slappy and Whiskey and I piled into the Simca at around 6:15 this morning and pulled into the darkness as we headed north.

We rattled over the FDR, with potholes as large as the craters on the moon. Things were a little worse on the Bruckner, where the potholes are as large as those on Io, the fourth of Jupiter’s moons. By the time we hit 95, we were traversing up and down the potholes like an old wooden trawler fighting 60-footers during a major storm at sea.

Finally after a little more than half an hour, we wound our way through the stately homes and hit the beach in Larchmont. Whiskey bounded out of the back seat and headed right into the sea. Uncle Slappy and I followed by about five minutes. The old man won’t win any Olympic medals, but he makes his way ok.

I took ahold of Whiskey’s toy, a long day-glo orange float with a two-foot rope attached to one end. I slung it underhand into the water and Whiskey galumphed in after it, half bounding (it was low-tide) half swimming in the murk.

The sun was slowly coming up over Long-Island. The sky was clear and blue. The air was fresh and warm. Whiskey bounded in the surf. She played in the water with a German Shepherd named Truman.

Uncle Slappy took it all in.

He reached out and held my hand.

A perfect morning.

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