Sunday, June 20, 2021

"Rolling in Dough"

By Jerry Zezima

If I were to write a book about my adventures in Italian cooking — the highlight being a dish called Zezima’s Zesty Ziti Zinger, which did not, I will say for legal purposes, kill legendary actor Paul Newman — I would title it “Remembrance of Things Pasta.”

And the pièce de résistance (a French phrase meaning “resist a piece of anything I make”) would be my delicious homemade linguine.

Actually, I only had a hand — and a messy one at that — in a macaroni marathon that included my mother, Rosina; my sister Susan; and Susan’s adult children, Taylor, Blair and Whitney.

All of us contributed to a meal for the ages, the greatest age being 96, which is how old my mother is. Even now, she’s a kitchen magician who was inspired by her late mother, affectionately known as Nana, who began the family tradition of making pasta from scratch.

One of my remembrances was when my sister Elizabeth, then just a kid, sneaked into my bedroom and scrunched up strips of uncooked macaroni that Nana had carefully laid out on a large cloth on the bed.

Elizabeth wasn’t sent to bed without dinner, which I also remember as being delicious, but she must have learned her lesson because she resisted the urge to scrunch up strips of uncooked macaroni at the recent culinary confab.

One family member who was not known for his pasta prowess — or his cooking skill at all, unless you count toast or boiled water — was my late father, the original and best Jerry Zezima, who nonetheless was famous for his salads and often made a great dish of macaroni (from a box) with oil and garlic.

I got my skill (or lack thereof) from him — with the exception of my one gastronomic triumph: About 20 years ago, I created Zezima’s Zesty Ziti Zinger, for which I was first runner-up in the pasta sauce division of the Newman’s Own and Good Housekeeping Recipe Contest, a national competition that featured thousands of entries.

Before I brought a dish of the stuff to New York City for Paul Newman to try, I fed some to my dog, Lizzie, who wolfed it down and begged for more.

When I told Newman about the canine taste test, he asked, “Is your dog still alive?”

“Woof!” I replied, at which point his blue eyes sparkled. Then he dug in and wolfed the stuff down himself.

On the advice of my attorney, I am obligated to say that Newman’s death several years later cannot be attributed to food poisoning.

And I am happy to report that everyone survived my admittedly modest contribution to the homemade pasta dinner that was created in my mother’s kitchen.

The enthusiastic eaters included Taylor’s wife, Carlin; Elizabeth, an excellent cook who sat this one out, and her sweet pooch, Lucie, who was more than willing to wolf down a dish but had to settle for a bowl of dog food.

My mother started the macaroni making by pouring flour onto a large board on the counter and creating a powdery circle. Then she cracked two eggs, plopped the yolks and whites into the center, added a pinch each of black pepper and nutmeg, and used her fingers to slowly and carefully mix it all together until it was a softball-sized mound that she continued to knead until the consistency was just right.

Next it was Whitney’s turn and she did a terrific job.

“I need to knead,” I declared.

So I stepped up to the counter and, with all eyes on me, poured the flour, cracked the eggs, added the pepper and nutmeg, and proceeded to make a gooey lump that looked like spackle.

With the help of Whitney, who was Julia Child by comparison, and Susan, a wonderful cook who had made the sauce (we call it gravy) and fried up a bunch of meatballs and sausages, I finally got my dough ball mixed well enough that it didn’t have to be used in a bocce tournament.

Taylor and Blair, the Boyz n the Range Hood, showed brotherly love by running all the dough balls through an attachment on my mother’s Mixmaster to make the strips of linguine that Susan and Blair boiled and we all avidly consumed.

Afterward, my mother said to me, “You did a good job.”

“Thanks,” I replied. “Nana — and Paul Newman — would be proud.”

Copyright 2021 by Jerry Zezima

Sunday, June 13, 2021

"Poppie at the Bat"

By Jerry Zezima

If, as a former sportswriter, I could vote for players to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, I would cast ballots for a pair of superstars who deserve to have plaques alongside the greats of our national pastime.

I refer, of course, to my granddaughters Chloe and Lilly.

The girls, who are 8 and 4 and a half, respectively, recently showed off their hitting and pitching prowess during the first sleepover they have had at my house since last year.

Our activities, most of which also involved my wife, Sue, included baking cookies, eating pancakes, drawing pictures, watching movies (“Zombies” and “Zombies 2”), going out for ice cream, riding in a kiddie car, zooming down a slide, blowing bubbles and, the highlight of the visit, playing Wiffle ball.

One player who definitely won’t get into the Hall of Fame (unless he buys a ticket) is yours truly, who proved to be even worse at playing sports than I was at writing about them.

That was sadly evident when the girls and I set up a Wiffle ball field in the backyard, where they clobbered my pitches and made me whiff at theirs.

But first, we had to have spring training, which entailed showing the girls how to hold the plastic bat.

“Are you a righty or a lefty?” I asked Chloe, who held the bat on her left shoulder but with her hands transposed.

“OK,” I said after I had corrected her grip. When Chloe stood facing me, I said, “Turn a bit, hold the bat up, look over your right shoulder and watch the ball.”

Two seconds later, after making an underhand pitch, I watched the ball rocket past my head.

“Good hit, Chloe!” yelled Lilly, who picked up the ball and, with her right hand, threw it back to me on the fly.

“Good throw, Lilly!” I said.

“Thank you, Poppie,” Lilly replied modestly. “Can I hit?”

“Let’s give Chloe a few more chances,” I said.

My next pitch was low. Chloe didn’t swing.

“Good eye,” I commented.

Chloe fouled off the next pitch, which was inside. She chased an outside toss before digging in.

“Two strikes,” I said. “One more and you’re out.”

My next pitch was down the middle. Chloe parked it. In fact, the exit velocity must have exceeded the speed at which cars blow through the stop sign in front of the house.

“Home run!” I exclaimed.

“My turn!” said Lilly, also a lefty with whom I had to go through the same routine: hand placement, correct stance, raised bat, watchful eye.

She pulled my first pitch down the line for what would have been a ground-rule double.

“Nice hit, Lilly!” yelled Chloe.

Lilly missed the next two pitches.

“One more?” she asked as I went into my windup.

The word “yes” was barely out of my mouth when Lilly’s batted ball almost hit me in the mouth.

“Home run!” Lilly declared.

If I had been the starting pitcher in a major league game, I would have been sent to the showers. So I decided it was my turn to bat.

Chloe was the relief pitcher. Her first toss was low, but I swung anyway — and missed.

“Strike one!” Lilly yelled from what passed for the outfield.

Unfortunately, I never got the ball out of the infield. Chloe’s baffling assortment of pitches sent me down on strikes.

Then Lilly came in to pitch. The result was pretty much the same, although I did foul off a couple of pitches and actually hit one, but it went directly to Chloe, who scooped it up and tagged me.

When the game was called on account of pain (I hurt my knee), Chloe and Lilly had made a strong case for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

As for me, being sent down to the minors was the only option after being beaten by a couple of minors.

And the poet who penned “Casey at the Bat” might have concluded: “But there is no joy in Oldville — mighty Poppie has struck out.”

Copyright 2021 by Jerry Zezima

Friday, June 4, 2021

"The Cult of Poppie"

By Jerry Zezima

After a year and a half, which was how long it had been since I had seen my twin grandchildren, I can finally say, with great pride in my corruptive influence as a silly grandfather, that the toddlers have joined my other three grandkids in the Cult of Poppie.

This was one of the highlights of the recent visit my wife, Sue, and I paid to our older daughter, Katie, and her family: husband Dave; older son Xavier, who is 4; and the dynamic duo, Zoe and her younger (by 25 minutes) brother, Quinn, who will turn 2 next month.

The twins were only 5 months old the last time Sue and I saw them in person and had not yet fallen under my spell. But they are now full-fledged fans, along with Xavier and our oldest two grandchildren, Chloe, 8, and Lilly, 4 and a half, who are the daughters of our younger daughter, Lauren, and her husband, Guillaume.

Because all the adults in the family have been vaccinated, it was safe for Sue and me to drive to Washington, D.C., to be reunited with Katie’s clan.

After sharing hugs and kisses with Katie, we drove a few blocks to get Xavier at school. He also greeted us with hugs and kisses. It was like we picked up where we left off the last time we saw him, when he was only 2 and a half.

Even though the twins have often seen us on FaceTime, which has given me a marvelous opportunity to act stupid from a distance, they probably thought we were TV celebrities who stood only three inches tall. Katie warned us that Zoe, in particular, was skittish around unfamiliar people.

Those fears melted away a few minutes after we saw the kids back at Katie and Dave’s house. Following an initial reticence, Quinn and, yes, Zoe opened up with smiles and giggles. They especially liked my shenanigans, marveling at the fact that I could act stupid in person, too.

I continued my foolishness the next day, when we all went to a park to celebrate the birthday of one of Xavier’s friends. I chased Xavier and his pals around the playground, nearly collapsing in the broiling sun, then did kiddie lifting with Quinn and followed up by pushing Zoe on the swings.

Later, Dave and I cooled off with beer.

That frosty beverage also hit the spot the next day, when Dave and I took Xavier to Nationals Park to see the hometown Washington Nationals play their Beltway rivals, the Baltimore Orioles.

But first, Sue, Katie and I took the twins to another park for morning soccer. It was athletic competition at its finest, coordinated by coach John Jenkins, who at the beginning of the season had named Zoe the captain of the group because, he told me, “She took my hand the first day, so I said, ‘All right, she’s the captain.’ Zoe is our best player.”

All the kids — except Quinn, who was off to the side, munching on a bag of Goldfish — paid attention as Coach Jenkins asked, “Do we touch the ball with our ears?”

“No!” the little stars responded.

“Our noses?”


“Our hands?”


“Our feet?”


“Very good,” said Coach Jenkins, who turned around and told the adults, “Nobody listens to me at home.”

What followed wasn’t exactly Olympic-caliber play, but it was entertaining. At the end, Quinn finally decided to participate, kicking a ball the length of the soccer area into a goal.

“Better late than never,” Sue commented.

Chaos ensued, prompting Coach Jenkins to admit, “I see I’m losing control here.”

We subsequently went to another area of the park, where the kids cheered a couple of sanitation workers as they loaded trash into their truck.

“Poppie makes messes and these gentlemen clean them up,” I told the twins.

“I like that!” one of the guys exclaimed.

Zoe and Quinn also met Teddy, a 150-pound Great Dane.

“He’s even better than a Mediocre Dane,” I said.

The big dog barked in approval.

In the afternoon, there was the baseball game, which Xavier thoroughly enjoyed, not so much for the action on the field, where the Nats prevailed, 6-5, but for the hot dog and ice cream that Poppie bought for him. In return, Dave bought me and himself the aforementioned frosty beverages.

Katie, Xavier, Zoe, Quinn, Sue and I went to the zoo the next day. Xavier liked seeing an alligator that had just its eyes sticking up above the surface of its mossy pool and the twins enjoyed seeing a massively tusked elephant throw dirt on itself.

We also saw an otter, which prompted me to ask, “Where’s the otter one?”

A couple of fellow grandparents chortled and said, “The otter one? Very good!”

After a sea lion got my seal of approval, Xavier said, “I’m finished.”

“Me, too,” I said. “This place is a real zoo.”

The following day, Katie, the three kids, Sue and I went to West Potomac Park, where Xavier and I had a riverside picnic.

“There must be a lot of fish in the water,” I said.

“What about sharks?” he asked.

“I don’t know, but what other creatures do you think are in there?” I asked.

“Maybe crabs,” Xavier replied.

“How about worms?” I wondered.

Xavier stopped eating his cheese puffs, looked over at me and said, politely but firmly, “Worms live underground, Poppie.”

Still, I managed to worm my way into the affections of all three children. I also managed to see a good deal of Washington, including the aquatic gardens, the arboretum, the art museum and, from a distance, the Capitol.

In our week there, I also saw approximately 1,387 cicadas, five of which were still alive.

All in all, Sue and I had a wonderful visit. It was a long time coming but well worth the wait.

On the last day, we hugged and kissed Katie, Dave and the kids, who didn’t want us to go. By that time, the twins were completely converted.

“You’ll be happy to know,” Katie told me, “that Zoe and Quinn have officially joined the Cult of Poppie.”

Copyright 2021 by Jerry Zezima

Sunday, May 30, 2021

"Let's Get Physical"

By Jerry Zezima

As a geezer whose idea of physical fitness is doing 12-ounce curls and getting up twice a night to go to the bathroom, I had always thought that exercise and health food will kill you.

Then I decided, after packing pathetically paunchy pandemic poundage, to join a gym.

Even though I have maintained my boyish figure and weigh in at a trim 180 pounds, which is distributed nicely over my 6-foot frame, looks can be deceiving. So I figured that my sedentary lifestyle needed adjustment, if only to have an excuse to stop eating the many vegetables that my wife, Sue, a longtime gym member, often makes as part of what she calls a “balanced diet.”

Since I think a “balanced diet” is either spaghetti and meatballs or hot dogs and beans, I relented and signed up at Planet Fitness for a day pass, which I hoped wouldn’t lead to a bypass.

Sue and I showed up after dinner (chicken and, of course, vegetables) and saw that the gym was, according to Sue, uncharacteristically crowded.

“Maybe all these people are here to see if I’ll need CPR,” I theorized.

That was a distinct possibility after a grueling half-hour workout, which was broken down into 10 minutes each on a stationary bike, a treadmill and an elliptical machine.

“I’m not going anywhere,” I said as I pedaled furiously, two bikes over from Sue because the gym practices safe social distancing.

Since I was wearing a mask, which made it hard to gasp for air, she mercifully didn’t hear me.

At the end of 10 minutes, I had logged 1.61 miles and burned 47 calories.

I did even worse on the treadmill, going 0.34 miles and burning 34 calories.

The final indignity came on the elliptical machine, where I went 0.57 miles and burned 55 calories.

“Are you done?” asked Sue, looking fresh as a daisy.

“Huff, huff, huff!” I responded.

When we got home, I gulped down a beer.

“You’re having beer after working out?” Sue said incredulously.

“Why not?” I replied. “It’s better than broccoli.”

In fact, I felt so invigorated that I signed up for a gym membership.

Two days later, I met Joe Robles, a personal trainer who asked what I wanted to accomplish.

“My main goal,” I said, “is to stay alive.”

“I think we can help,” said Joe, who is 31.

When I told him that I’m 67, he said, “Get out!”

“My membership sure didn’t last long,” I said.

“No, I mean you look a lot younger,” Joe said. “And you’re in pretty good shape.”

“I owe it all to beer,” I said, adding that I had a cold one after working out with Sue.

“One is OK,” Joe said. “It’s empty calories.”

“My head is empty,” I remarked, “so maybe that’s where the calories go.”

Then I told Joe about my pathetic performance a couple of nights before.

“I was slower than a tortoise with a broken leg,” I said.

“You have to pace yourself and come up with a workout plan,” said Joe, who suggested that I go to the gym three times a week and do short exercises, including weightlifting on the Smith machine.

“If I don’t keel over,” I asked, “would you rename it the Zezima machine?”

“That would be awesome!” Joe said.

“Until today, my personal trainers have been my wife and my grandchildren,” I said. “They’ve kept me in good shape. Now it’s up to you.”

“I know I can handle it,” said Joe. “We have everything you need here.”

“Does that include beer?” I asked.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have any,” Joe said. “But that doesn’t mean you can’t have one when you get home. It’ll hit the spot after you work out.”

“I’ll tell my wife what you said,” I replied happily. “She’ll be amazed to know that my exercise regimen still includes 12-ounce curls.”

Copyright 2021 by Jerry Zezima

Sunday, May 16, 2021

"Pole Dancing With the Stars"

By Jerry Zezima

I may be happily married to the most beautiful woman on Earth (she’d be No. 1 on other planets, too), but it has always been on my bucket list to meet a pole dancer.

My wish came true when I made the acquaintance of Brandyn Phillips, a fully dressed guy who got into a bucket so he could install a new utility pole in my backyard.

“Your idea of a pole dancer has a whole different meaning,” said Brandyn, who was assisted by Robert Frederick Higgins III, known on the crew as Rob 1, and Robert Baldeo, aka Rob 2.

The terrific trio came over to replace an old pole on which was attached lines that provide power to homes throughout the neighborhood. The mission was to remove the lines and put them on the new pole, which had to be sunk in the corner of the yard before the old pole was removed.

“Can you dance?” I asked Brandyn.

“Yes,” he replied. “But I’d never do it in the bucket. And I’d keep my clothes on.”

“Nobody would want to see you without them,” said Rob 1. “The neighbors would call the cops.”

“He’d have to use the tips for bail money,” Rob 2 chimed in.

Rob 1 ranks ahead of Rob 2 because he has been on the job longer.

“You’re just a heartbeat away from being Rob 1,” I told Rob 2.

“I don’t like the sound of that!” said Rob 1.

Neither one had to risk his life by going up in the bucket — that’s Brandyn’s job. He became a friend in high places when he told me that his tallest order was being 350 feet in the air while working on wind turbines in Iowa, his home state.

“The highest I’ve ever worked on power lines is 180 feet,” said Brandyn, adding that the lines on the pole in my yard are a mere 29 feet up.

“I’m afraid of being any higher off the ground than the top of my head,” I told him.

Perhaps because my noggin is filled with air, I asked if I could go up in the bucket. Brandyn politely said no because of safety rules.

“If I fell out and landed on my head,” I said, “I wouldn’t get hurt.”

“I don’t doubt that,” said Brandyn, who did let me climb into the bucket, which was plastered with “Danger” signs. I found out why when I slipped while trying to lift one leg over the edge and almost qualified to be the lead singer for the Vienna Boys’ Choir.

When I finally got in, I saw all the tools that Brandyn uses to switch lines, which he did after the bucket — without me in it — was lifted to the top of the old pole by a huge vehicle with tank wheels and a boom that was operated from the ground by Rob 1.

“Can I drive it?” I asked.

“You wouldn’t get very far,” Rob 1 replied.

“I’m fat,” said Rob 2, who weighs 300 pounds, “and I can walk faster.”

But first, the 35-foot-tall new pole had to be driven six feet into the ground.

“If it fell on me,” I said, “I’d be six feet under.”

After Brandyn switched the lines, which carry 7,620 volts, the old pole had to be removed.

“If you want to be useful,” Rob 1 said, “grab a shovel and start digging.”

“I work dirt cheap,” I said.

At that moment, my beautiful wife, Sue, came outside and said, “What are you doing?”

“I’m helping out,” I responded.

“You’re bothering these guys,” she said.

“And he’s doing a damn good job,” Rob 2 assured her.

At least I didn’t get electrocuted, which would have prompted my final words: “That’s all, volts!”

But I did assist three great guys in keeping the power on in my neighborhood.

As I told Sue after they left, “Now I can take pole dancing off my bucket list.”

Copyright 2021 by Jerry Zezima

Sunday, May 9, 2021

"The Winner by a Nose"

By Jerry Zezima

Of all the famous bridges in America — the Brooklyn, the Golden Gate and, of course, Beau and Jeff Bridges — the most impressive is the Zezima Bridge, which spans a great natural landmark: my nose.

So prominent is my proboscis that I could have set up a toll on the bridge — using SneezyPass — and made money to pay for a recent procedure that was performed not by a road crew but by Dr. Gregory Diehl, a sensational plastic surgeon with a practice in Port Jefferson Station, New York.

I first saw Dr. Diehl a few years ago, shortly after my dermatologist told me that I had a basal cell carcinoma, a common type of skin cancer that another doctor removed via Mohs surgery, which did not, fortunately, involve Larry and Curly.

The next day, Dr. Diehl expertly took skin from the upper right side of my nose and used it to seamlessly cover the area that was removed during the operation.

As sometimes happens, however, scar tissue developed. So I went back for a revision.

“I am going to do a dermabrasion,” Dr. Diehl said, referring to a procedure to smooth out surface scarring.

“What will you be using?” I asked.

“A sander,” he replied.

“Did you get it at Home Depot?” I wondered.

“That’s where I get all my tools,” Dr. Diehl said with a smile.

“This one must be big if you’re going to sand my nose,” I remarked.

“It’s small, like a Dremel,” said Dr. Diehl, referring to a make of rotary-action power tools.

“I’ve never heard of it,” I confessed.

“I guess you don’t know your way around a garage or a workshop,” said Dr. Diehl. “I’m pretty handy. I work with wood to put up shelves and make flower boxes.”

“This is why I’m not a carpenter,” I said.

“Or a plastic surgeon,” said Dr. Diehl, adding that he also would make a small incision on the right side of my nose to remove scar tissue that had built up under the skin. “And I won’t even need a power tool.”

On the day of the procedure, Dr. Diehl took a felt-tipped pen and drew lines on the areas of my nose where he would be working.

“You have a flair for this,” I told him as I looked in a mirror to admire his artwork.

In the operating room in the back of his office, Dr. Diehl — ably assisted by certified surgical technologist Ann Rich — numbed my nose (not with an elephant dart) and began to work miracles.

In less than an hour, the surgery was over.

“You did great,” Dr. Diehl said.

“It was nothing,” I replied.

Ann said to put Bacitracin on the affected areas and told me how to change the dressing, which I had to do daily.

A week later, I returned so she could remove the sutures.

When Dr. Diehl came in, he examined my nose, grinned broadly and exclaimed, “I nailed it!”

“I know you’re handy,” I said, “but if you actually did nail it, you would have broken the hammer.”

“I’ve seen a lot of noses,” said Dr. Diehl, who’s 61 and has been in practice for 29 years. “You have a nice one. It’s very symmetrical. And now it looks even better.”

He added that he has seen countless cases of basal cell carcinoma and that his greatest pleasure is “getting somebody out of a tight spot.”

“Do you have any celebrity patients?” I asked.

“You’re the most famous one,” he said.

“You may not be the plastic surgeon to the stars,” I said, “but you’re a star in my book.”

“That’s why we call Dr. Diehl the real deal,” said Ann.

“Take care of that beautiful nose,” the good doctor said as I was leaving. “And stay away from power tools.”

Copyright 2021 by Jerry Zezima

Sunday, May 2, 2021

"Mother and (Grown-up) Child Reunion"

By Jerry Zezima

I was born more than three weeks past my due date, an act of monumental tardiness that kept my mother waiting for nearly 10 months to give birth to an 8-pound, 13-ounce baby who is even larger now but, sadly, no more mature.

But that was nothing (easy for me to say because I have not, as yet, given birth) compared to the 15 months my mother, Rosina, had to wait to see me after the pandemic struck.

Now that we have been vaccinated, it was safe for me to venture back to my hometown of Stamford, Connecticut, to visit my mom, who at 96 is in better shape than I am, both physically (except for her sore knees, which will probably sideline her for the remainder of the baseball season) and mentally (so are hanging plants, one of which I brought to her as a gift).

I pulled my car into the driveway and was enthusiastically greeted by my sister Elizabeth’s sweet pooch, Lucie, who is 14 and, in dog years, is as old as my mother and almost as frisky.

“Woof, Woof!” (translation: “Hi, Lucie!”) I exclaimed as the cuddly canine planted a kiss on my kisser.

“I think you’re barking up the wrong tree,” said my sister Susan, who with Elizabeth lives with our mom and helps take care of her.

We both laughed and hugged for the first time since January 2020.

Susan, Lucie and I went inside and waited for my mother to come downstairs from her bedroom, where she was getting dolled up for my appearance.

About 15 minutes later, I heard the sound of the stairlift, a contraption my mother calls “my magic carpet,” delivering her to the front hallway, which is next to the family room, where Susan and I were sitting.

My mother rolled into the room with the help of her rollator and said from behind me, “Hello, stranger!”

I turned around and, with mock indignation, huffed, “Can’t you see I’m talking with Susan?”

I turned back around and pretended to continue the conversation with my sister.

There was a moment of silence before we all burst into laughter. I got up and embraced my mother, who hugged me so tightly that she almost cracked my ribs. As a retired nurse, she could have fixed me up in a jiffy.

“I’ve waited for 15 months for this day,” my mother said when she finally released me.

“That’s even longer than you waited for me to be born,” I noted.

“And look what I got,” my mother joked.

What she got was a son who inherited her sense of humor, if not her punctuality. In fact, my mother is always joking, which in recent years has helped her bounce back from broken bones (leg, wrist and back) as well as a bump to the head, which, she said, “is too hard to break.”

Since it was raining, we couldn’t go outside, which was fine with me because the week before, my mother was visited by a bear.

“It came out of the woods and snapped two metal plant hooks like they were twigs,” my mother said.

“You could have scared it away with your trusty BB gun,” I said, referring to the air pistol my mom uses for — no kidding — target practice in the backyard.

“That makes you a son of a gun,” she quipped.

When Elizabeth came home, we hugged and laughed when I told her about the greeting I got from Lucie.

“She loves her Uncle Jerry,” Elizabeth said.

Susan’s son Blair, a wonderfully enterprising young man who also lives in the house, walked in wearing his “magnetic hat,” a baseball cap on which he attached magnets that hold some of the small tools he uses at work.

“That’s using your head!” I told him.

We sent out for pizza and had a laugh-filled dinner before I left for home.

“This has been one of the best days of my life,” my mother said as she gave me another hug. “And just like when you were born, it was worth the wait.”

Copyright 2021 by Jerry Zezima