Sunday, December 17, 2023

"The 2023 Zezima Family Christmas Letter"

By Jerry Zezima

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 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, and Sue, the matriarch, as well as two daughtersiarch, two sons-in-lawiarch, five grandchildreniarch and a partridge in a pear tree.

Dear friends:

It sure has been an eventful year for the Zezimas!

The flush times began when Jerry and Sue renovated their bathroom. The project became necessary because the plumbing was leaking (the bathroom’s, not Jerry’s), so she dragooned him into making innumerable trips with her to a home improvement store for tile, a vanity, a sink, a faucet, a mirror, lights, a shower head and, in the end, a toilet.

Even though Jerry “helped” with the painting (he was off the wall but on a roll), the porcelain convenience came out so nice that Jerry plans to invite fellow grandpa King Charles to come over and sit on the throne.

Speaking of grandpas (and grandmas), Jerry and Sue celebrated 10 years of being grandparents and had many great adventures with all five of their grandchildren.

The highlight was Jerry’s humiliating loss to his 6-year-old grandson in Dinosaur Bingo, which Jerry should have won because he is, of course, a dinosaur, a fact verified by the triumphant boy and his 4-year-old twin siblings, who gave Jerry a “PAW Patrol” Band-Aid when he skinned his knee while giving them horsey rides at the playground.

Jerry and Sue participated in a yard sale at their younger daughter’s house, where their oldest two grandkids, sisters who are 10 and 7 years old, sold $50 worth of lemonade. The liquid assets convinced Jerry that he was in the wrong business. He made up for it by having a beer afterward.

In other financial news, three of Jerry’s business ventures failed miserably.

First, he tried to talk Nike, which makes Air Jordan, into coming out with Air Zezima, a sneaker for geezers, but the company didn’t run with it.

Inspired when he saw 81-year-old Martha Stewart on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, Jerry tried to convince AARP The Magazine to put him on its cover in a Speedo, but for some reason the editors weren’t interested.

Finally, to celebrate 25 years since Jerry and Sue bought their house, Jerry pitched his own show, “House Blunders,” to HGTV, but he couldn’t get his foot in the door.

In fun animal news, Jerry rented a Vermont cow named Snookums to produce milk that was made into cheddar cheese, three bars of which were delivered to Jerry and Sue’s house. The cheese was, it goes without saying, but Jerry can’t help saying it anyway, an udder delight.

In sad animal news, Lucie, the beloved pooch of Jerry’s sister Elizabeth, crossed the rainbow bridge and went to doggie heaven. She was three months shy of 17. A mix of spitz and shepherd, with a nub of a tail she always wagged happily, Lucie was a sweet girl who exuded love and elicited smiles.

She was especially close to her fellow (in human years) nonagenarian, Rosina, the mother of Jerry, Elizabeth and their sister Susan. Rosina turned 99 and is still going strong. In fact, she went to Jerry and Sue’s house for a big family birthday bash and was the life of the party.

Speaking of which, Jerry and Sue attended a 70th birthday party with fellow members of the Stamford Catholic High School Class of 1971 and had a grand young time. Jerry, the baby of the bunch, physically and emotionally, won’t hit the big 7-Oh until January, but he celebrated anyway and proved he is still the class clown.

Last but certainly least, the literary world suffered a huge blow with the publication of Jerry’s seventh book, “The Good Humor Man: Tales of Life, Laughter and, for Dessert, Ice Cream.” If you’re desperate for a last-minute holiday gift, it could be a good stocking stuffer. Otherwise, Santa might tell Jerry to stuff it.

Merry Christmas with love and laughter from the Zezimas.

Copyright 2023 by Jerry Zezima

Sunday, December 10, 2023

"Sock It to Me"

By Jerry Zezima

I’ve always wanted to be a legend in my own time, but I don’t wear a watch. And I’d like to be a legend in my own mind, but I don’t have one. So it’s nice to know that I am, at the very least, a legend on my own feet.

That’s because I have just purchased, at the low price of $22, or $11 per size 11 foot, a pair of Legend socks from my granddaughters’ school fundraiser.

The hosiery is white, with bright red stripes, black toes and heels, several grinning mug shots of yours truly and, scattered over each comfy sock, the words “The Legend” in black uppercase lettering.

The socks have made me stylish from head to toe. They’re a feat for the feet. And they are the best item I have ever purchased from a school fundraiser.

My experience with these sales dates back to when my daughters were in elementary school. In those long-ago days, my wife, Sue, and I were guilted into buying stuff we didn’t want or need so we wouldn’t suffer the humiliation of being the cheapest parents in town.

The most popular item on the fundraiser list was — and still is — holiday wrapping paper.

You can be on a roll with enough paper to wrap not only innumerable gifts, most of them for the kiddies, but the entire Christmas tree.

But it’s all for a good cause, namely the school where children learn math but not the economics that can drive their parents and grandparents to the brink of bankruptcy.

Other popular fundraiser items are candy, chocolates, cookies, assorted nuts, kitchen utensils, holiday plates, candles, lanterns, planters, jewelry, coffee mugs and clothing, including hats, gloves and, the best choice, pajamas.

A couple of years ago, I ordered a pair of PJs with the school logo on both the top and the bottom. I proudly wore them not only to bed, but around the house and even to run errands.

I have gone to the gas station in my pajamas. I’ve also gone to pick up pizza and Chinese food. Once I even did some Christmas shopping in them.

Every time, I have met people who’ve either smiled warily or refused to make eye contact with me. In one store, a woman pulled out her cellphone, presumably to call the cops. I dashed out of there and drove home, where Sue expressed dismay but not surprise at my shamelessness.

My daughter, the mother of the girls with the fundraiser, shook her head sadly. My granddaughters loved it.

Now I have a pair of personalized socks. They are the highlight of this year’s fundraiser, which has an announced goal of $6,000. I fervently hoped it didn’t mean Sue and I had to spend that amount ourselves.

To find out, we went online — fundraisers used to be on thin brochures — and beheld countless choices.

Sue picked — you’ll never guess — wrapping paper.

I thought I would get assorted nuts because I am one. Then I saw the socks, which knocked my socks off.

So I ordered them. But to get the socks personalized, I had to upload a good quality photo of myself, a tough task considering no photo of me is of good quality.

Fortunately, my daughter is a talented photographer who had recently taken a head shot that made me look human. She uploaded it and sent it in with my order.

Not long afterward, my socks arrived. They are the height — or, considering they go on my tootsies, the bottom — of fashion.

I invited my granddaughters to come and meet my smiling feet.

“I like them!” said one of the girls, who is in fifth grade. “You can even wear them with your pajamas.”

Her little sister, a second-grader, added, “You’re a legend, Poppie! Just make sure you don’t stink them up.”

Copyright 2023 by Jerry Zezima

Sunday, December 3, 2023

"Withering Heights"

By Jerry Zezima

All my life, I thought I would end up in the gutter. And last week it almost happened. So it’s a good thing I have gutter guards.

I got them because leaves, twigs and acorns had clogged the gutters so much that there was barely room for my mind, which was in there, too.

When my wife, Sue, and I moved into our house 25 years ago, the gutters didn’t have guards. I had to climb to the top of the two-story Colonial to clean out the leaves every fall.

I came to the frightening realization that the word “fall” could also apply to me. That’s because I have acrophobia, which is an extreme fear of heights. Since I am 6 feet tall, this means I am afraid of being any higher off the ground than the top of my head.

So we got gutter guards, which enabled me to stand safely on terra firma instead of shaking like a leaf on the roof, where I could almost see people in passing airplanes laughing at me.

When we got a new roof a few years ago, our ace contractor, Anthony Amini, took me up there to check out the job and alleviate my fears. It didn’t work because one of my sneakers became untied and I just stood there, frozen in terror and afraid to bend over to lace up my size 11 shoe. Anthony kindly did it for me.

After I climbed down, which took roughly as long as the Super Bowl halftime show, I vowed never to go up on the roof again.

A couple of years ago, Anthony and his great crew replaced the siding on the house and installed new gutters. Unfortunately, they didn’t come with guards.

Not wanting rain spillage to get behind the siding and damage the walls, and refusing to relive haunting memories of the days when I had to clean the gutters myself, I arranged for Anthony and his terrific assistant, Carlos Garcia, to put on new gutter guards.

They came over with several boxes of the thick metal strips, which are perforated to allow rain through but which prevent gutters from being filled with ugly brown foliage and other disgusting gunk.

Before installing them on both the dizzying upper roof and the two lower but still scary roofs, Anthony and Carlos cleaned the gutters.

After the guards had been attached, Anthony invited me up to a lower roof to check them out. Even though it’s only about 10 feet above the backyard, I was petrified at the prospect.

“I’ll hold the ladder,” he assured me. “Climb slowly and don’t look down.”

Things were looking up because I made it without sliding off and landing on my head, in which case, of course, I wouldn’t have been hurt.

“What do you think?” Anthony asked.

“I think I’m about to go into cardiac arrest,” I stammered.

“No, I mean the gutter guards,” he said.

“They’re great,” I replied. “Nice and shiny.”

“And they’ll keep all that nasty stuff out of your gutters,” Anthony promised.

“Wonderful,” I said. “Can I get down now?”

After taking a picture of me admiring my new gutter guards — “It could run with my obituary,” I suggested — Anthony tried to help me get one foot onto the top rung of the ladder.

“Wait a minute,” I said. “I have a better idea.”

I pulled out my cellphone and called Sue so she could let me into the house through the bathroom window on the second floor.

She didn’t answer, but Anthony finally succeeded in getting me onto the ladder and talking me down.

Just then, Sue came outside.

“You didn’t fall,” she said.

“Disappointed?” I asked.

“Not really,” she answered with a smile.

“Good,” I said. “At least I didn’t end up in the gutter.”

Copyright 2023 by Jerry Zezima