Tag Archives: jersey boy

Harvey’s Mailbag

First, a big thank you to the many of you who sent me messages after my last post.  It is nice to be appreciated for your writing.  For me, it’s nice to be praised for something that was about my dad.

One of my sisters pointed out (rightly so) why Dad would have been laughing at me running.  He was an actuary.  Numbers never lied to him and the more data he could get his hands on the more complete a picture of your impending mortality he could paint for you.  Runners, it seems, tend to die.  Well, if I remember this one correctly, it had something to do with the fact that all human beings die.  In a nutshell, though, runners tended to enjoy a negligibly similar mortality with non-runners (there was always that control group).  In other words, overall, running doesn’t make you live longer or shorter.  But it did correlate with death from (do not quote me on this) an enlarged heart.  Again, there wasn’t a direct cause and effect, just a correlation.  Whatever, I’m going to keep running so I have a way to burn up the nervous energy of an ex-smoker – as in, “What do I do with my hands!?”

Now then, on to the rest of the mail.

Six and half years ago, right after moving to Texas, my wife, in-law’s, and I traveled to Oklahoma one night to see one of my favorite singers – the immortal Frankie Valli.  I then wrote a story about it.  I’m not even going to link it.  If you want, you can find it for yourself.  In that story, as in so many stories I’ve written over the years, I employed a sort of absurdist humor.  For the uneducated or uninitiated, this type of humor is represented by several key hallmarks including series of events that do not follow (often in an extreme fashion, also called “non sequitir humor”), descriptives that are patently false yet played for reality, and a sense that the narrator may in fact be suffering from dementia.  In my story about Mr. Valli, the reader ought to be able to tell a few things.  First, I truly do love this man, his voice, and his contribution to the world.  There is no denying that.  Second, I am using absurdist humor to prop him up.  In other words, at an age when every human on the planet has outlived his actuarily lifespan; Frankie Valli is still making a buck, doing what he loves.

So I received the following comment…

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Takeaway: People read Harvey!

At first I wondered if the person posting the comment was a personal friend of Mr. Valli.  Then I began to realize something…  There is at least one person who read a post of mine almost seven years ago and remembered it well enough to dredge it back up.  In an absurd way, this person just validated my writing.  But let me address the issue at hand because I do not like to stifle criticism.  I’m a big boy and I can take it.  The comment was civil in tone.  Let’s assume that we live in a world in which a guy from Newark, NJ can’t poke some fun at an idol of his who also happens to come from Newark, NJ (which is a pretty awesome place, by the way) and is a gazillionaire celebrity who’s probably seen worse on the pages of Billboard Magazine.  Let’s assume.  Well, then, Mr. Valli and your dear family, I apologize for hurting your feelings.  If you’d ever like to suggest that my writing is crap please feel free.  It’s on me this time.  I promise I won’t even cry.

In the meantime, if you’d like to keep reading I will keep writing.  And Frankie, if you’re reading this and you ever feel like sending me an autographed headshot for my kids (who also adore you), let me know.  I’ll send you my address.

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What? He Likes to Smell Good.

My son makes me laugh.  Very hard.

Here it is, a very lazy Saturday after Thanksgiving.  We’ve all slept in a bit.  We’re also in the midst of a three-day monsoon that’s going to dump another 5 inches of rain on us before the day is out.  Yep, it’s that kind of day.

As I sat down to check my mail and Twitter feeds, my boy approached from the other side of the counter.

“Daddy,” he said, “I’ve finished our schedule for the day.”  I didn’t realize we had a schedule today.  See above about the rain and laziness and SATURDAY.

“Sure, son, give it to me.  But go easy on Daddy.  I haven’t had much coffee yet.”

“At 10:30 we all get dressed,” he began.

“Son, it’s 10:30 now,” I said.  “That means I’d have to get up from this chair.  Remember what I said about ‘going easy on Daddy’?”

“Daddy, we can’t sit around the house all day,” he continued.  I suppose that makes a certain amount of sense, however, I WILL finish my coffee first.  He carried on with a few more of his favorite activities like visiting the library.  Again, not going to happen because I want to stay dry.  Truth is I had already determined that his schedule was a pipe dream and definitely not for me and so I had tuned out a bit.  Until he mentioned the following.

“At 11:30 I spray Ocean for Men on me.”

OK, back that one up.  For the uninitiated, Ocean is one of the men’s fragrances sold at Bath and Body Works, a store where his aunt does some part time work (pretty much for the discount).  My son, owing to his birthright (being born in New Jersey) is very much concerned with smelling nice and having perfect hair.  On that second front, I haven’t had the heart to tell him to enjoy it now because it will likely be gone one day.  But on the body spray front, I had to laugh.  I questioned his prioritization of his scent on a daily agenda.  “Son, did you just list spraying a fragrance on your schedule for the day?”

“What?” came his incredulous reply.  “I like to smell good.”

Of course you do, son.  Of course you do.

It’s About to Get Real

I’ve always appreciated my hair.  In saying this, what I mean is that it’s always done its job as far as I know.  I’m pretty sure it’s kept my scalp from burning and provided a little bit of insulation for my brain during the winter months.  When I was younger, I took a certain pride that only a young man growing up in New Jersey in the 1990’s could appreciate regarding the strands on top of my head.  Higher and bigger was the order of the day.  Then again, so were enormous lenses for those of us who hadn’t discovered contacts yet.  I swear this stuff looked good at the time.

But contrary to what some might think (my brother included) I have never been in love with my hair nor have  I held any grand designs that I would cheat the cruel hand of genetics and maintain my long flowing locks throughout my life.  And in fact over the past ten years my hairline has receded to the point where I believe I could make a decent second income selling ad space.  I understand that my forehead is visible from the Space Station.  And I am not one to ever try to mask the signs of aging.  At this point in my life I do not care that I’m getting old.  I have the most wonderful wife and children who love me regardless of my appearance.  If they aren’t enough, I am surrounded by literally hundreds of teenagers every day who think I’m the coolest guy they’ve ever met.  It is especially gratifying that all of my male students look up to me and try to copy my sense of style.  From the knot in my tie to my glasses, much smaller now and only occasionally worn since I did discover contacts; these guys delight in showing me when they’ve got one of my trademarked “looks” down pat.

This is why I think this next chapter is going to be pretty wild.  In just a few days what hair is left is coming off.  It will grow back, of this I am pretty certain.  Why am I doing this, you ask?  A very special lady, my mother-in-law Wilma, is going through chemo.  This is, quite simply, a sympathy shave.  But she needs no sympathy.  No, I’m doing this because I want to go through this with her.  I’ve been trying to prepare my kittens.  I hope it won’t be traumatic for them to see both Granny AND Daddy go Telly Savales on them at once; but I know they’ll adjust.  In the meantime, I’m going to say a prayer for her and for every patient enduring chemo around the world (especially little children who go through this shit) every morning when I look in the mirror and don’t see my blonde locks looking back at me.  Whatever, I always kept it short anyway (except the aforementioned 90’s).

And finally, just for laughs, let’s take a look back at Harvey’s Hair… and pray for Wilma (and me)!

Clockwise from top left: 1) Mardi Gras hair; 2) age 4 at Macy's with Santa hair; 3) short and standard cut hair; 4) Spirit Week red hair; 5) pumpkin patch autumn hair; 6) 90's black and white formal attire hair; 7) ME AND WILMA hair!; 8) winter dark hair; 9) grizzly, huge, 90's, Jerz hair.  Center: Wilma's hair/my flask

Clockwise from top left: 1) Mardi Gras hair; 2) age 4 at Macy’s with Santa hair; 3) short and standard cut hair; 4) Spirit Week red hair; 5) pumpkin patch autumn hair; 6) 90’s black and white formal attire hair; 7) ME AND WILMA hair!; 8) winter dark hair; 9) grizzly, huge, 90’s, Jerz hair. Center: Wilma’s hair/my flask

Camp Harvey

Somehow she did it… Mrs. Harvey got me on a camping trip. The Jersey DNA in me is fighting this with all its got. More tomorrow…

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Playing a Texan

I think this Jersey boy could pull off “Texan” if I really had to…

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