I was funny, a long time ago, so funny I considered the life of a standup-comic. I grew up rich with material in New Jersey, a show unto itself. If you’ve followed this blog, you may remember the canasta grandmothers. Hey, who can top a story about a grandmother who puts the screws to a nine-year old over a card game with no money on the line? And I had two grandmothers who gamed me. Trust me, there is a funny way to tell this story and many others.
But I lost my humor when I was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1969—from comic to lean, mean fighting machine. Anyway, the interruption of military life is one excuse for why I didn’t end up at a Holiday Inn lounge somewhere off the freeway, playing to small crowds for starvation pay. Hey, no regrets. Like Aunt Irene used tell me when I went looking for sympathy: “Woodjas gatta here”–the Polish version of a universal Jersey saying.
And it just so happens that my grandmother, born in Vilna, Poland, had five vowels in her last name along with the standard “z” and “j” and some other consonants. I was 12 before I could spell it and I still stumble over the pronunciation. And as I’ve blogged before, she enjoyed going to church at 6 a.m. during the week. She also wore black lace-up shoes at all hours of the day. I miss her and those card games. Does anyone play canasta anymore?