Friday, December 23, 2011

"That's All, Volts"

By Jerry Zezima

The Stamford Advocate

Whenever people admire my thick head of wild and crazy hair and ask how I keep it looking that way, I tell them I stick my tongue in an electrical outlet. That’s why I was shocked recently when a fuse blew on what turned out to be a bad hair day.

This time, however, the electrical problem was caused by my wife, Sue, whose hair is much nicer and more manageable than mine, primarily because she irons it. Just so you don’t think she puts her head on an ironing board and presses her beautiful tresses the way she presses her beautiful dresses, Sue uses a flatiron to straighten her naturally curly hair.

One morning, Sue was using the flatiron in our bathroom, which is the house’s flatiron district, when she blew a fuse. Not only did the lights in the bathroom go out, so did the lights, the clock radio and the ceiling fan in our bedroom, as well as the lights and the ceiling fan in an adjacent bedroom. We tried to restore power by flicking the circuit breakers in the fuse box, but nothing worked.

I didn’t want to be kept in the dark any more than I usually am, so I called Shawn, who owns Luminaire Electric in Yaphank, N.Y. Shawn sent over his top man, Jose, who had done excellent work for us before and even showed me how to change a light bulb.

This job was a bit more complicated because it entailed working with wires that, if crossed, could have electrocuted me, though my hair would have looked nice.

“You have to know what you’re doing,” said Jose, who knew I didn’t. He added that even an experienced electrician can get the shock of his life if he isn’t careful. That’s what happened to a co-worker who was splicing wires.

“I saw him shaking,” Jose recalled. “I thought he was joking because he has a good sense of humor and is always kidding around. Then he went backward and fell over, like a piece of wood. He was lying on the floor with his hands and feet sticking up in the air. He looked like a table that was upside down. I said, ‘Are you OK?’ He was all right, but he was really stunned. Since that day, he doesn’t joke around anymore.”

Jose wasn’t joking when he told me that our problem was potentially hazardous because of faulty wiring. He traced the trouble to the next bedroom, not the bathroom, and said the wires were old. He fixed them in the bathroom and both bedrooms and suggested that we eventually update our entire electrical system.

He also suggested we go easy with the flatiron and the hair dryer.

“They use a lot of power,” said Jose, adding that his wife, like Sue, uses a flatiron to straighten her naturally curly hair. “Women spend too much money on their hair,” he said.

When I admitted that I sometimes use a hair dryer, Jose said, “My father-in-law uses one, too. I always say to him, ‘You mean you can’t even go out without blow-drying your hair?’ He says no. I don’t understand it.”

Jose, who has a full head of thick brown hair, doesn’t use a flatiron or a hair dryer.

“I use glue,” he said, removing his cap to show off his spiked hairdo. “It’s like a gel but stronger. In the summer, when I sweat, it drips into my eyes. Sometimes I don’t even want to have hair.”

“Maybe that’s the answer to preventing blown fuses,” I said.

“Our wives wouldn’t like it,” Jose replied. “That’s why the electric bill is so high.”

“Tell me about it,” I said. “It’s enough to make your hair stand on end.”

Copyright 2011 by Jerry Zezima

Friday, December 9, 2011

"Christmas Letter 2011"

By Jerry Zezima

The Stamford Advocate

Since I am in the holiday spirit (and, having just consumed a mug of hot toddy, a glass of eggnog and a nip of cheer, the holiday spirits are in me), I have once again decided to follow in that great tradition of boring everyone silly by writing a Christmas letter.

That is why I am pleased as punch (which I also drank) to present the following chronicle of the Zezima family, which includes Jerry, the patriarch; Sue, the matriarch; Katie and Lauren, the childriarchs; and Dave and Guillaume, the sons-in-lawiarch. Happy reading!

Dear friend(s):

It sure has been an exciting 2011 for the Zezimas! The highlight of the year was when Lauren and Guillaume got married. Twice.

The first (and official) wedding was in France on April 30, the day after Prince William and Kate Middleton got hitched in England. It was nice of the royal couple to be the opening act for Lauren and Guillaume, who had what was referred to in the press (or at least in Jerry’s column) as the Wedding of the Century.

The trip to France was magnificent (magnifique) and memorable (memorable) because Jerry mastered the entire French language on the plane ride over and remembered enough curse words to use them effectively when his and Sue’s luggage got lost. It showed up one day before the wedding.

Still, the hospitality of Guillaume’s wonderful (merveilleux) family and the beautiful (beau or belle, take your pick) ceremony made everything perfect.

The second event, for the people from here who couldn’t make it there, was held on Long Island, N.Y., on June 5. It gave Lauren and Guillaume one more wedding than William and Kate had. This prompted Jerry to write the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge a letter to thank them for playing second fiddle to the real royal couple. William and Kate wrote back (actually, it was their secretary, Mrs. Claudia Holloway, but close enough) to extend their best wishes to Lauren and Guillaume. The letter will be framed and hung in a prominent place (though not over the throne) in the House of Zezima.

Speaking of travels, Katie and Dave went back to college. They moved from Boston, where they went to college the first time, to Ann Arbor, Mich., where Katie got a fellowship to the University of Michigan. Not only don’t they have to take tests, but they get to travel to places like South America and Turkey. Best of all: No tuition payments for Sue and Jerry!

And speaking of school, Sue and Jerry attended their 40th high school reunion. They laughed, danced and reminisced with old friends. Everyone looked great, especially Sue. Jerry recalled his days as the class clown, except this time he wasn’t sent to the principal’s office.

On the financial front, Sue, Jerry and Lauren had a tag sale. Though they had plenty of liquid assets (Bloody Marys), they actually lost money. And the garage is still full of stuff. Next time, they are going to give cocktails to the customers.

On the medical front, Jerry has been waging a yearlong battle with kidney stones. One was removed, but another one remains. This, too, shall pass. That’s more than the doctor can say for the rocks in Jerry’s head.

On a sad note, Jerry’s dad, the original and best Jerry Zezima, passed away at age 93. He was beloved by everyone in the family and is missed every day. He was Jerry’s hero, not just because he was a great guy, but because he introduced Jerry to such lasting influences as Looney Tunes, Laurel and Hardy and “The Honeymooners.” The applehead didn’t fall far from the tree.

Well, that’s the news from here. Merry Christmas with love and laughter from the Zezimas.

Copyright 2011 by Jerry Zezima