I left work last night amid end-of-the-world Thanksgiving traffic and headed straight to LaGuardia airport where Aunt Sylvie and Uncle Slappy were landing at 7 having boarded the 4:20 flight from Ft. Lauderdale.
Uncle Slappy, I was pleased to see, was carrying a small duffle bag, while Aunt Sylvie has succumbed to the exigencies of age and has embraced the roller bag. Uncle Slappy swears that when he can no longer carry his own luggage, well, that's when he'll finally give up traveling. They're 87 now, Aunt Sylvie and Uncle Slappy, and while they'd be the first to admit that they're certainly not getting any younger, all things considered they walk pretty well, and they look pretty good.
I wrestled their baggage from them, and we walked together and slowly to parking lot three, where I had parked the 1966 Simca 1600 I had bought some years ago and which was lovingly restored by Lothar, my Croatian mechanic in Toms River, New Jersey. Truth be told, the Simca runs today better than it did when it was new, and that's due to Lothar, who installed, when he overhauled the car for me, a practically brand-new BMW 3-liter engine. The car is faster than any I've ever driven, and unlike having a proper BMW, or an Audi, Lexus, or Mercedes, well, you don't see Simcas coming and going.
In just minutes, thanks to the assertive charms of my rebuilt German engine, we were back in the city and Aunt Sylvie and Uncle Slappy were already sitting down to a magma-hot cup of my wife's surpassing black viscous coffee and a plateful of cinnamon rugelach she had picked up at Fairway, one of the last places you can get a decent piece of pastry.
"Boychick," Uncle Slappy said between bites, "We've got Blumenthal tomorrow. You ready?"
Dr. Blumenthal is one of New York's premier cardiologists, and once-a-year Uncle Slappy and I visit him for our annual physical. It's not that there aren't good cardiologists down in Boca--Uncle Slappy has one down there as well, but there's no one like Blumenthal when you really want a check up, so Uncle Slappy and I have been going religiously since the early 80s.
Uncle Slappy stripped his shirt and t-shirt off first and lay down on the examining table. A young nurse came in and loaded him up with EKG sensors. She pressed a few buttons and in a moment or two had his readings printed out and ready for Dr. Blumenthal to read. Then, it was my turn and I stripped and traded places with Uncle Slappy and the nurse took my readings.
Just as we were getting settled, Dr. Blumenthal, all business as usual, came into the small examination room. He read Uncle Slappy's EKG and said to the old man, "your heart's as healthy as his is," nodding to me. Then he read my EKG and nodded to Uncle Slappy, "you'll live till you're his age," he reassured.
Without even weighing us he told Uncle Slappy to lose five and me to lose ten. Then he sent us on our way.
"Oh, one more thing," he said as we were leaving, "don't let me see you for another year."
Old man and older man, we walked together the whole mile home.