Sunday, March 13, 2011
The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #279
Note: I am writing this from a Holiday Inn in Kingston, NY. I took the a red-eye Friday night from L.A. and arrived on Saturday just in time to attend the start of my brother-in-law Gary's two-day wake. Understandably, it was sad, yet life-affirming. I saw many people I had not seen in many years. People I did not know hugged me. My sister Anne, who had told me she would understand if I couldn't come all the way from California on such short notice, wept when she saw me (in a good way, I mean.) Trying to keep it upbeat, I spontaneously told Gary's son--my nephew--that I will one day dance at his wedding only to be reminded that he had gotten married a few years ago. (This had momentarily slipped my mind. And yes, his wife--a very charming and intelligent woman who serves in the U.S. Navy--was standing at his side when I said this.) I smiled sheepishly and changed the subject.
The funeral mass and burial was this morning. It snowed big thick flakes, shrouding the solemn grave-side ceremony with a picturesque white blanket that was somewhat comforting. Still, I admit, it was uncomfortably cold for someone from L.A. who has seldom experienced temperatures under 60 degrees over the past ten years. I didn't shiver, but I did cry. The white-haired priest told us he knew Gary to be a strong and dignified man. He even mentioned that he was a "devoted fan of the New York Mets baseball team," lest any of us thought he was referring to an arena football team. Reaching for an anecdote to take the edge off, he recalled how Gary volunteered to change light bulbs on the ceiling of the church while tittering precariously on top of a ladder.
"This was something no one else would attempt." said the padre. "Gary was a brave man." he added with perfect comic timing that evoked mild laughter from the 100 or so assembled in the old and, yes, well lit church. The priest, spoke in an authoritative yet calming voice that commanded attention and brought comfort. He had a thick accent that I thought was Italian but later learned was Polish (either way it was very stirring). He said Gary died after confessing his sins and was "now with God." I choose to believe this.
Perhaps it was God's will but last week's cartoon was drab and listless. Not surprisingly it drew the fewest entries we've seen in many weeks. A few at the tale end of the contest remarked on the comments I posted on Wednesday about Gary. One was in the form of a caption. I picked it as the lone winner. Next week we'll get back to our old ways. Right now I'm going to finish this bottle of wine and watch the re-play of the Mets/Braves Spring training game--and think about a good man who did a lot more with his life than change lights bulbs in a church.
"They've all gone to pay their respects to Alinla's brother-in-law." (Very sorry to hear about your loss, Al!) --Steve_O (JUDGE'S COMMENT: Thanks, man. This cap definitely does not suck.)