#81 – Poster Child

Late last night, my young nephew apparently mistook passing headlights flickering over his bedroom wall for a giant bug intent on eating him. His resulting screams woke up the entire Gambino household, frightening everyone half to death. I couldn’t help but laugh when I heard, since the incident calls to mind a similar situation from my youth.

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#93 – Kissin’ Cousins

Last night, my wife’s brother, Giuseppe, informed her that their cousin Carlo (from Sicily) said to send Sophia “his love.” Her cheeks bloomed a surprising shade of scarlet at the announcement. When I asked what was up, Giuseppe answered: “You mean, my sister never told you about the kissing cousin? Oh, you’ve got to hear this!” I listened, and the tale did not disappoint. Here’s the story.

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#107 – Hot Buttered Popcorn

Zero Moskowitz called yesterday to follow up on my gravestone order. For the second time in as many conversations, he peevishly referenced food he hasn’t eaten in thirty-five years thanks to a practical joke played on him at sleep-away camp. While I admittedly participated in that particular prank, I’m pretty sure the statute of limitations on Zero’s claim has run by now.

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#126 – The Guns of Navarone

Sophia says her sister-in-law caught her five-year-old son smashing his sister’s American Girl doll to pieces with a rock yesterday. When asked to explain his conduct, Franco proclaimed himself “Thor,” and said he’d killed one of his enemies. Gina fears her son’s bloodthirsty impulses and their dire implications. I told Sophia to let her know all boys like to destroy things: “Just tell Gina about me and ‘The Guns of Navarone’; she’ll feel much better.”

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#133 – A Word of Thanks

My nephew, the college senior, called last night to thank me for a piece of advice I gave him several years ago. “Uncle Richard,” he said, “I had my first beer and tequila blackout this weekend. I couldn’t remember shit the next morning, and I’m sure glad I listened when you told me to lose my virginity first and then start drinking heavily! Thanks a lot!”

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#142 – Skating to Success

Last night, a teacher I know was bemoaning the sad state of our educational system. He complained about students who outright cheat or take massive shortcuts aimed at acing tests without actually learning anything. Though I didn’t disagree, I told him teachers and the system itself are to blame, since they permit the practice to continue. And as I can personally attest, it’s an age-old problem, existing at all levels. I practically perfected the art of the half-assed work ethic during my education, and I got away with it! Just to emphasize the point, I shared a typical example from my college career.

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#146 – Playing With Fire

When I spoke to my friend Jimmy this morning, he told me his boss just returned from a week in Vegas. The guy had flown first class, stayed at a suite at one of the fanciest hotels, and wined and dined at the best restaurants, all courtesy of the casino where he gambled. Of course, he’d dropped $30,000 at the tables in return for the five-star treatment. As I informed Jimmy, there was a time when a gambler could get comp’d without losing his shirt. I know, because my dad managed it, for years.

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#147 – Batteries Not Included

Today I feel compelled to discuss the importance of flashlights. When Prometheus ran into the woods last night, again, I sped to the foyer for the flashlight I’d purchased against just that eventuality. But I couldn’t find it. Luckily, this time the puppy returned at my call, before any accident could occur. This morning, my wife informed me that she’d “borrowed” the flashlight and “might’ve” left it in the garage. Boy was I steamed. I said her carelessness had endangered our lives.

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