Monday, February 23, 2015

THE YEAR OF THE GOAT

It kills me to announce that...I suffer from Pseudobulbar Affect (PBA). Just when you thought I was invincible, flawless and perfectly well-adjusted, I bow my head in shame and throw a monkey wrench into the tight ship...that I'm known to run..

The Pseudobulbar Affect or Involuntary Emotional Expression Disorder (IEED) is an emotional liability or an emotional incontinence. This neurologic disorder is characterized by involuntary crying or uncontrollable laughter. In laymen's terms, it's an internal defense mechanism that allows certain individuals (like me) deal with the stress of a tragedy...or even less dire situations involving anger, frustration etc.  A prime example would be someone (other than me) laughing at a funeral.  While this behavior would seem inappropriate to other mourners and embarrassing to the PBA sufferer, psychologists agree that this venting of  tension is a normal response to acute pressure.

In my case, I don't laugh at funerals.  But the long reach of PBA does extend to my reaction to vomit, (honestly, I had to stop typing just now because I was laughing at the thought of the word).

I really can't explain it but as my son Andrew would attest, my laughing disorder is not limited to the one word, vomit.  It also includes many "getting sick" synonyms such as; barf, puke (yes I am laughing  heartily at this moment as tears stream from my eyes), as well as, hurl, spew forth, retch, heave, throw up, toss one's cookies or upchuck.
WHAT A CRAZY CYCLE...ALTHOUGH THIS PHOTO SEEMS "POSED,"  CRYING AT INAPPROPRIATE TIMES, LIKE A WEDDING COMES UNDER THE SAME PBA HEADING AS LAUGHING AT FUNERALS.  SO, I'M LAUGHING SO HARD AT THE MERE MENTION OF RALPHING THAT TO RELIEVE SOME OF THAT TENSION... I'M CRYING...WHILE LAUGHING...REALLY!    I TOLD YOU IT WAS CRAZY.

I am so intensely nauseated by the word "vomit" that I laugh.  Even worse, when I see someone do "it," I usually do too, (this is not a good position to be in, in casino work...but THAT'S another story).  My point will be proven by a conversation I had at work, with a clean-up guy.

In Las Vegas, the casino clean-up squad are called, "porters."  Here in Atlantic City they are the Environmental Service Department, (EVS).  For over ten years, I've been friendly with Ruben, an EVS man originally from Albania. Ruben speaks great English and is proud to now be an American citizen.  However, he is occasionally difficult to understand.  I remember years ago asking him why he was so sad.  Ruben said, "I just cleaned womit."  This was not a good time for me to forget that he pronounces "V" like "W."  I shrugged, "What's womit?"  The poor guy said, "You know, throw up, barf..."  Before he got to a third example, the picture of a puke puddle on the imported Italian marble floor came to mind. I couldn't help myself...I laughed in his face. I was ashamed as I held a hand over my mouth and scurried away.

I remember telling Ruben's womit story to Andrew.  I think he might have been too young to understand that I wasn't disrespectful of Ruben's difficult job...but it was a weakness in me that prohibits my brain from processing the concept of getting sick in the normal manner.  When I thought I wasn't making myself clear, I reminded Andrew that when he was a little kid and something (relatively bad) went wrong...like bumping his head on a coffee table, I would distract him from his pain,with a key word that always made him laugh.

Maybe I'm a better father than I give myself credit for because I discovered that five-year old Andrew laughed every time he heard the word, "goat."  It shouldn't sound far-fetched...that concept might be linked to him inheriting my PBA gene?   Please note, the word "guppy" worked too but without the consistent effect of, "goat."
MAY 18, 2000, EGG HARBOR CITY NJ  -  WHILE PLAYING TEE-BALL FOR THE SOUTH JERSEY SCREAMING NEWTS, ANDREW WAS POSITIONED ON THE PITCHER'S MOUND.  A FOUR MPH "LINE-DRIVE" HIT OUR HERO IN THE CHEST.  FOR A SPLIT SECOND I THOUGHT HE WAS OKAY.  BUT HE SAW THE ANXIOUS LOOK ON EVERYONE'S FACE...AND CRIED.  I WAS THE FIRST RESPONDER AND WHISPERED ONE WORD, "GUPPY."  THERE WAS NO RESPONSE.  IN A PANIC, I TRIED AGAIN AND SAID, "GOAT." IT WAS A MIRACLE! THE CHUCKLING PATIENT MADE A FULL AND IMMEDIATE RECOVERY...AND FINISHED THE GAME...IN  "DEEP"  RIGHT FIELD.

The word goat, even as Andrew matured, (a lot faster than I did), has remained a happy term between us.  Coincidentally, earlier this week, many oriental cultures celebrated their New Year. That's why I think this year is going to bring monumental positive energy because throughout East Asia, the Chinese, astrological zodiac chart, represented by a twelve-year cycle of animals, has named 2015 as, "The Year of the Goat."
FOR ASIANS, THE GOAT IS ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR YEARS.  THE ANIMAL REPRESENTS GENTLENESS, CALM AND BEAUTY.  TO THEM, 2015 IS EXPECTED TO BE TRANQUIL AND LUCKY.  SO, CONSIDERING THE CURRENT STRIFE BETWEEN NATIONS AND IDEOLOGIES, THE DEEPER NEED FOR WORLD HARMONY HAS NEVER BEEN MORE IMPORTANT. 

I hope that my Andrew, after he laughs at the mention of the word goat, finds serenity and good fortune in 2015.  Because, next week, he will be crossing into true adulthood with his hallmark twenty-first birthday.
LIKE CONFUCIUS HIMSELF, ANDREW WAS BORN IN THE YEAR OF THE DOG.  DOGS ARE KNOWN AS MAN'S BEST FRIEND  BECAUSE THEY UNDERSTAND THE HUMAN SPIRIT.  ASIANS REGARD THEM AS FAVORABLE AND SYMBOLS OF SUCCESS .  THEIR OTHER TRAITS THAT FIT MY BOY'S MOLD INCLUDE BEING: LOYAL, FRIENDLY, FORGIVING, AFFECTIONATE, HONEST, GENEROUS AND SPORTING. 

According to their zodiac chart, this year, dog people will experience a general stability in their lives. Whatever trouble they encounter can be easily handled with tolerance.  Progress in their careers will be temporarily sidetracked.  But through diplomacy, patience and hard work, their future upward mobility won't be jeopardized.

Of course, I don't put any stock in horoscopes.  However, it is amazing how they are general enough to fit most people.  I can't wait to share these thoughts with Andrew when we all celebrate his big milestone birthday next week with his friends, Tom and Matt.
HILLSBORO NEW JERSEY - JANUARY 2014.  THE "ATM" STARRING, ANDREW, (left), TOM (right) AND  MATT (center) .

For Andrew's first legal taste of alcohol, he has selected Houlihan's, a restaurant/bar at the Mercer Mall in Lawrenceville NJ.   Apparently, it's trendy to go there because this watering-hole does something special for newly crowned "adult" birthday celebrants, (apparently it's also necessary to keep dear old dad in the dark as to what exactly that something special is).
ESTABLISHED IN KANSAS (1972), HOULIHAN'S HAS EIGHTY-FOUR USA LOCATIONS, IN EIGHTEEN STATES.  THEY ARE KNOWN FOR FINE DINING AS WELL AS PUB FARE.

I love my son, I'm also especially fond of both Tom and Matt.  So I'm not setting any food boundaries. However, my mama didn't raise no fool.  So, having nothing to do with economics, I'll be limiting the ATM to two alcoholic beverages each with one additional caveat...ominous sounding cocktails will be strictly verboten like; Corpse Reviver, Zombie, Paralyzer and Irish Car Bomb.
NOBODY'S GETTING PICKLED BY ANYTHING CALLED A "GRAVE DIGGER" OR AN "OPEN  GRAVE" ON MY WATCH.

Obviously, even though they are "of age," I don't want to be responsible for getting them too liquored up.  First, I wouldn't want you to lose that saintly, perfectly well-adjusted image you have of me. Secondly, I don't want to lose that ideal, halo-encrusted conception I have of the "ATM.".  More importantly, you know what they say about an ounce of prevention. ***NOBODY ***is losing their friggin' lunch from drinking too much, in my car...because I'll probably die from laughing so hard.

You wanna know the deeper reason why I'm not letting the "fire-water" flow?  Because I've been there.  I know how "intoxicated"inexperienced drinkers can get with unlimited, free, (or extremely inexpensive) booze.

In my early years of drinking, a bar, (Grandma's) on Nostrand Avenue, (near my old Alma Mater, Brooklyn College), offered a five-dollar entrance fee for "nickel beer night." They even had a live band, (I wonder who would appear in such a rat trap?)  I went with DRJ7 and GRAMPS, (no relation to the establishment's proprietor).
(stock photo)  THE GRANDMA'S WE WENT TO WAS AN ,"OLD MAN BAR."  WHICH MEANT THAT MY CONTEMPORARIES WOULD GATHER WITH OLD BARFLYS AND GET "TANKED-UP" ON CHEAP HOOCH BEFORE THEY WENT CLUBBING. THIS GIN MILL WAS SUCH A DIVE THAT YOU WERE REQUIRED TO WIPE YOUR FEET BEFORE YOU LEFT...SO YOU WOULDN'T GET THE STREET DIRTY. 

I have few clear recollections of that night.  One was that the place was jammed...but even with a band, zero females were attracted to this nickel beer gimmick.  Another was, at some point, I was so wasted that I sat in a phone booth (facing out) and vomited between my legs, (pretty funny, eh).
MAYBE THIS IS HOW MY NICKNAME, "THE INCREDIBLE EDELSTEEN," STARTED.  JUST LIKE SPRINGSTEEN (above),  I WAS FACING THE BAR AS I GAVE THE OLD HEAVE-HO BETWEEN MY LEGS.  WOULDN'T IT BE COOL IF THIS WAS THE SAME PHONE BOOTH?  MAYBE BRUCE WAS THE LIVE ENTERTAINMENT THAT NIGHT...FOR HIS SAKE, I HOPE HE MADE HIS CALL BEFORE I GOT THERE BECAUSE IT DOES LOOK LIKE HE'S PRAYING FOR THE STENCH TO DIE DOWN.

Yes, my PBA has me laughing as I type this.  So it's important to mention that Grandma's was such a classy joint that management did NOT rush over to tend to my mess or eject me.

More importantly, while retching, through the din of the music and ten simultaneous conversations, I overheard bits and pieces of a chat between two strangers.  One guy said, "Hey Ernie, where's your brother Eric?" Even without being fully lucid, my storehouse of useless information started running through old files. Despite being impaired, my mind went into overdrive. When something clicked, my vaunted memory pulled out the document I was searching for. I struggled to my feet and staggered to my target.  I'm not sure what put them off more, me interrupting or the pronounced gob of putrid spittle on my chin. But for the sake of a good laugh, they heard me out.

I said to the taller fellow, "Are you Ernie?"  He smiled, "Yeah."  After a mammoth, caustic belch into their faces I said, "You have a twin brother Eric?"  Ernie took a half step backwards and said, "Yeah."  My voice went up an octave in anticipation as I said, "Did you go to Wingate Day Camp in 1963?"  Like looking at a lunatic Ernie squinted at me and stammered, "Y-y-yeah."  Then in triumph I said, "We were best buddies!."  My long lost friend fought off my bear hug because he had no recollection of me.

In my incapacitated state, I told him what I remembered about our past. I cinched the deal when I recited the cross street of his grandparents bakery in Manhattan Beach, (they don't call me, "INSTANT RECALL EDELBLUM" for nothing).  Even though his brother Eric didn't remember me from camp either, we wound-up with many mutual Brooklyn College friends...including DRJ7 and GRAMPS.

DRJ7 and GRAMPS were smart enough to let Ernie and Eric drive me home.  Their wisdom was proven when I stuck my head out the window as we crossed Ralph Avenue and painted the outside of their late-model, white Plymouth Coronet.
I CAN TELL, ERNIE AND ERIC DON'T HAVE PSEUDOBULBAR AFFECT.  THEY NEVER LAUGH WHEN THEY BUST ON ME FOR PUKING OUT THEIR CAR WINDOW.  NEVERTHELESS, WE ARE STILL CLOSE TO THIS DAY.  SO THEY NEVER LET ME FORGET THE PEA-SOUP-LIKE STAIN ON THE OUTSIDE OF THEIR FRONT PASSENGER-SIDE DOOR .  I'M FRIENDS WITH DRJ7 AND GRAMPS TOO, BUT ONLY THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA.  I  HAVEN'T SEEN THEM  SINCE 1977.

My main objective next week will be to usher in, "The Year of the Goat," while hosting Andrew's birthday...without enabling any drunken causalities. So in honor of the month-long celebration of Andrew's twenty-first birthday, let's all lift our goblets of skim milk high and salute my officially adult son. May he continue to spiral upward and maintain the wonderful traits of straightforwardness, faithfulness and fairness while remaining smart, warmhearted and fun (his virtues far surpass the Chinese zodiac or any other astronomical chart).

To a loving MAN who inspires confidence in others, HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANDREW!  And while you're at my little Farnsworth, remain stubborn to your principles when you know you are right!

                                   #

EPILOGUE - To my knowledge, Grandma's never offered another, "nickel beer" night.  Do you suppose, it was because of me?  Hee-hee-hee...

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dad, I do remember the "womit" story. The Year of the Goat was a great blog. Thanks. --- FARNSWORTH

Anonymous said...

Hey Cuz, I guess it's in OUR genes. I laugh at inappropriate times too. --- VICSON

Anonymous said...

Wonderful blog! Thank you for the shout out and looking forward to seeing you tomorrow! It's been too long! Also, Happy birthday, Andrew! - Matt

Anonymous said...

From now till forever, you'll always be, "74 DEGREES" and "THE INCREDIBLE EDELSTEEN." After I read, "THE YEAR OF THE GOAT," Andrew said from t-ball, he remembered the ball smoking him in the chest. Later, he said the best part of that day was seeing an orange butterfly. --- T. PICKLES

Anonymous said...

You can't fool me, you LOVE vomit jokes --- SBH