Archive for July, 2009

Friends

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

I consider myself a pretty easy and outgoing guy, outside of work , that is. All things considered though , I don’t have many friends. I have had a lot of “friends” over the course of my life, but they never really seem to stick around.

Lets start with when we are young, say grade school age. How many friends do you have that stuck around since you were between thirteen and seventeen? Me, I don’t have any. I had at least 25 “friends” from my school days, two of which I considered brothers I never had. Those two were the toughest to lose. How about between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five? Most of us just started working or went to college during these years. I have one friend that stayed in my life since then. One other who stayed “friends” for some twenty years,  just decided one day he had enough and never called again. How can someone just walk away after so many years and not even wonder  how the other person is doing,  and just call .

After twenty-five it gets hard to meet new friends. Oh yeah we meet alot of guys from work or our kids father’s, or our wives friend’s husbands but they rarely amount to much. “True”, and I’ll say it again, “true” friends are extremely hard to find and even harder to keep.

What is it with guys and friendships? It doesn’t seem to work for us as much as it does with women.It seems to me that women go out of their way to hold on to friends , whereas men always seem to have a reason why they can’t just “get together “anymore. And not even that it’s  hard to get together but they can’t seem to tell you to your face that they have something else they would rather do. It’s always “I’ll let you know tomorrow ” but tomorrow never comes. I hear those words now and I start making other plans.

Probably the worst case of a bad friend is when he meets a girl. He no longer can say yes or no to any plans you might have because he’s scared to say yes without knowing how his girl will react. Or maybe he’s just afraid to do things without her because he feels she will do things with out him too. That’s the “insecure friend”. Say goodbye to him until she leaves him for someone else. Why do men suddenly turn into wimps when they meet a girl? Do women really have this strange mystical power over us? I do not buy into it and here’s why. The same guy who used to hang out with you meets this wonderful young lady and so starts his disappearing act. At first you guys still hang out most of the time, and then as double dates. Then you start noticing he always has something to do. His life just got so filled up he can’t find the time to hang out and watch a game. So after years of this you give up and look in another direction. But  just as you give up here comes Joe friend again. Now he’s married and he has a couple of kids that are older and he can’t stand being in the house anymore . His wife’s a nag and his kids don’t even pay attention to him unless they need something, like money. So now he’s calling you all the time and trying to hang out. So you see, women don’t have pixie dust, it’s men who somehow can’t give a shit about friendships unless it is convenient or self serving.

I do however notice a very strange thing about men and friendships. Men can go for ten years without seeing you, then meet up with you some day and talk like it was yesterday that you last hung out. They will go on and on about how it used to be and  how great those days were, and then comes the killer ending. ” We have to get together some time”  or “its been too long and we can’t let this happen again”. You know right there…it’s the kiss of death. You aren’t going to see this bum for another ten years.

What does it really take to have a friendship?  I have a very simple idea of what makes a good friend. Just call me. That’s it, plain and simple. Just call me every month or so and say hello. Not much huh? You know what happens when friends call each other? Things happen! Thats right, things happen. Just by chance something you talk about will lead to a get together or a lending of the hand to help move a piece of furniture. That’s all it really takes to keep a friendship alive. Think about all the friends you had in your life and how many of them would still be a part of it , if only they called you. I think about it all the time and it is the saddest part of my life. Losing my friends is the saddest part of my life.

I always believed that true friends were hard to find and that I would do my best to preserve a friendship. But I also learned that just one persons attempts will not keep a friendship intact. At some point you will concede and the friendship will end, because you were the only one in it.

I am happy to say that not all friendships end a ghastly death. I do have a few close ones that  weathered the storm over the years and came out intact. Funny as it may be, my closest friends all live either an hour or hundreds of miles away. We have worked at staying friends no matter how distant we are from each other. We don’t see each other much but we do phone each other  all the time. And that is, as I said earlier, the key to a lasting and true friendship. Hard to believe that with all the cell phones we have today some of us still can’t find the time to just pick up the phone and say “hello my friend, hello….”

How I lost my smile…

Friday, July 17th, 2009

I wake up most days thinking that I will relive the last day over again. Just like in Ground Hog day, the movie, where Bill Murray awakes each day to the same thing over and over again. There’s a moral there somewhere but I haven’t found it yet.

I used to be a very happy guy. Not that I am not basically happy but I am just not the same guy I used to be. Somewhere during the last five years I lost my smile. I know this because I am constantly reminded of it by people who say ” smile, you never smile” One time while eating breakfast alone in a restaurant, the waitress asked me if I was okay because I looked sad. That was a bad day for me because it was then that I knew I lost my smile.

How did I lose it? I believe that my job has taken it from me. I can’t find much to be happy about at work anymore. This is terrible because I once loved my job.I began in 1983 when I was just 22 years old and I thought I had the world by the balls. How many 22 year olds had a chance at their own business? I was so lucky or so I thought back then. Young and dumb, is what I was.

Today after years of just waiting for things to get better,  I have given up. It took me a long time to realize that I was different from the people that worked for me. Its like I am from a different planet. I am just so far ahead of everyone that it frustrates me that they can’t grasp what I want them to do. There are three kinds of people in this world. People who can, people who can’t and people who won’t. In my place, there are the latter two, and then there is me. I am the only person who can do. This puts me in a very stressful position where as I am the only one I can depend on. It turns out that after all these years I have never had anyone who I can turn to for help, advice, opinions or answers. Having no one to learn from or share my problems with has lead me to the depressed state that I now reside in.

I know that I am depressed. I can tell because everything has now become a problem. Little things that are so trivial just set me off. I wake up just waiting for the first disappointing thing to happen to me. I have had some help in getting here. I walk into work and I am hit with problems before anyone says good morning to me. Almost on a regular basis.That can wear you out very fast.

Depression, once in it, is hard to shake. I have my moments where I feel really good, and it is very rarely while at work. I can still find my smile when I am with my wife, on my motorcycle or with my friends. And thank God I can still get a solid nights sleep. A lot of my depression stems from me being the one that so many people rely on to take care of them. Whether it be at work, or that my parents rely on me to keep the business going, or at home where I do everything to make sure we are safe and secure for our future. It has become too overwhelming to handle on my own but everyone who asks” what can I do to help:” never listens to my response or cares enough to follow through on my requests. The part that they ask but never help is worse than the fact that I have all the responsibility.

So where does this leave me. I am sad most days. I am tired and I can’t stop thinking about how I feel. I can understand how many men run away.  I sometimes picture myself on my motorcycle riding away from here never to return. Not telling anyone because no one really cares or they would be listening to me now, while I have been crying out for help.

My friend is in a bad place right now. It’s almost funny in a sense because as we talked about how he is feeling I was able to relate to him. I think I finally found someone who feels the same way I do although we have demons of a different sort. Listening to him, is like hearing the voices in my head. Things that I thought were only happening to me are happening to him too. The scary part is I am worried about him. He doesn’t sound well and I am concerned that no one is listening to him enough to realize he is in trouble. I hope you are reading this and know that I am there for you, anytime you need me. I can understand your frustration with not being able to fix “this”. I have suffered that feeling for too many years now. Being a man we are used to fixing things and not being able to fix ourselves is a hard pill to swallow. Thinking about it all the time only makes it harder to ” fix”. You told me I need to live in the moment and I understand that this is important but as you know its not an easy state to attain.

Luckily, in the past , I have been able to “snap out of it” but these days it seems to get harder to do. I know what ails me but I can not reach for the fix right now. At some point though, I believe I will.

My smile is a good one. I have seen it and when it shows itself, it works fine. I like to smile so I know that its still in me to do so. I am tired of feeling so sad and depressed. It takes a lot out of me and it sucks. Even though everyday seems like  “Ground Hog’s day”, I am happy to awake and to have the chance that this day might be the one when things change. I won’t give up. I know that I will find a way out of this into a better place. I know my smile and it’s out there waiting for me on a beach at the foot of the waves, grinning ear to ear……….

The Regular Guy

I am not Homer Simpson!!!

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

Robert Young was an actor who played a father in a television show aptly named “Father Knows Best”. Growing up I watched some of the episodes in rerun and thought they were pretty funny. I also didn’t see anything wrong in this fathers approach to raising his children. In today’s world Robert Young’s character would be hard to find.

Television today portrays men as murderer’s, rapists, and cheats. Just check out the Lifetime channel for proof. Today’s father’s aren’t given much of a break either. In fact most of today’s fathers are shown as bubbling idiots and the brunt of most jokes. Find me a handful of television dads that are portrayed as smart, caring and in control and I will show you a hundred that are more in line with Homer Simpson and Al Bundy!

I have a problem with the way men and particularly fathers are not getting a fair shake in today’s world. I have, over the past twenty years, given my time as a volunteer, to help fathers get through the sad reality of divorce. I have devoted thousands of hours to help keep caring fathers in their children’s lives. I fully understand that divorce is rarely one person’s fault, as I too am divorced with a child. I know how difficult it is during and after divorce, for a man who wants to remain in his child’s life. After all, isn’t everything we see on television about Deadbeat Dads, husbands that cheat and men who run away? I am here to tell you, that is not the majority of men.

Deadbeat Dad. What does that phrase imply? Ask anyone and they will tell you that is a father who doesn’t pay his child support. Did you ever hear the term Deadbeat Mom? I know I never did. They just don’t exist do they? Lets face it, there are a lot of fathers who probably fit that term, but there are a hell of a lot more dad’s that fight just to see their kids, and they have to deal with people labeling them deadbeats because that’s how television portrays us.

So how did fathers go from such respectable men like Robert Young, Ward Cleaver, and Fred McMurray to losers like they are today? Did men really create this mess or were we dealt a bad hand? After all it is partly men who write, produce and create these televison dad’s as we know them now. Is it just that they can’t come up with a strong male parent who is loved and respected by their kids or have we all just given up.

I know that I have a lot to offer my child. I know that I can share things with her that her mom can not. I know that time lost now with my child can never be replaced. I know that lack of a father in a household is devastating on a child’s future, especially a boys. I know that men are just as capable of raising a child as a woman is. I know that real fathers are better than television fathers, because my friends dad’s were never idiots or fools or scammed by their kid’s. And I know, that as a man and a father, that I will never allow my child to believe for a moment, that her father is isn’t the single most important male influence in her life.

I say the Robert Young’s are still around, but we don’t get to hear from them too often. I say that if you are a Robert Young, let others know. Let others know, including your children, that you are not that idiot Simpson and teach them about what fathers are really like. My dad was always larger than life to me. When he walked into the room it was like everything slowed down. I always had a feeling that something special might happen when he was around and that I should pay attention. Maybe he quietly demanded that of us. Maybe it was just the awe I felt in his presence. Whatever it was it still exists today between him and I, and I wouldn’t want it ay other way. He is what a father should be. He showed me, what a father should be and that’s why I am so upset with how things have turned out …..

Charlie’s Angel no more…

Monday, July 6th, 2009

I hope that I am not coming off as being callous but why couldn’t Michael Jackson pass on one week later? Maybe if Michael had died a different week, Farrah Fawcett’s death would have gotten more attention.

I can’t remember just when it was that I began to like Farrah Fawcett. It definitely wasn’t during her short stint on Charlies Angel’s. And believe it or not, it wasn’t from owning that poster of hers, because I didn’t have a copy. I think it might have been when she turned fifty. A friend of mine bought me a copy of her Playboy video for my birthday. What a guy huh? Yeah that’s probably when I began to like Farrah Fawcett.

I know I sound just like a guy because I chose that moment in time, being it was Playboy and all, but something struck me about her that hadn’t before. She seemed real to me. Not like Pamela Lee Anderson, who was always so fake looking. Farrah just had something about her that made you think she was just a regular woman. The only other celebrity woman I can remember thinking the same way about was Cindy Crawford.

Even though that video was very corny and she came off as whiny and a little ditsy at times, she did seem to be real. Getting past her good looks you could see why so many people admired and followed her career. She definitely came off as a down to earth woman and someone who you could probably approach and hold a conversation with.

When I first heard that Farrah was sick with incurable Cancer, I was really taken back by it. After seeing her television special about her battle with the disease, I felt even worse. I don’t know what the connection is with Farrah but her life left a mark on mine.

The reason I said what I did about Micheal Jackson earlier, was because his death overshadowed Farrahs and she never got the attention that she deserved. After showing us just how horrible Cancer is and how she fought valiantly to the end, she deserved more in death. Maybe this sounds a little strange because after reading this I thought so too, but it seems like everything that happened to Michael Jackson he brought on himself. Farrah just happened to catch a bad break and in death had to take a back seat to a talented yet freakish superstar.

Maybe others out there will read this and agree with me. Maybe in some strange way Farrah affected them in a way they can’t explain either.Maybe this is just my way of recognizing Farrah’s life and death, and what she meant to me…..

Ebby’s Cafe Alfresco, Seaside Park NJ

Monday, July 6th, 2009

I love this place! Something about Ebby’s made me feel that way from the moment I walked in.

I turned forty nine years old this last Wednesday and my parents and their close friends asked my wife and I to join them for dinner at a place they thought I would really enjoy. I am not one for fancy restaurants so this one looked promising at first glance.

Ebby’s is a little delicatessen/ restaurant set back on a main road through a beach town here in New Jersey. You would never know from looking at the outside that such great food is being served on the inside. Walking in the front door you have to pass by the deli to get to the dining area but once inside the dining room you quickly forget that there is a deli attached to it. The dining room is dressed in crisp linen table clothes and comfortable lighting. I say comfortable because at forty nine its tough to read menus in most places these days. Ebby’s also dining al Fresco under the tent along side the building on the patio.

Ebby’s menu is filled with the usual items that one would find in a continental restaurant, but the taste is not so usual at all. We started with an order of fried calamari and an order of something that I haven’t seen before and quite frankly do not know the name of. It is a clam, spinach and  white bean appetizer that I believe is their version of steamed little necks. Whatever it is, it is fantastic. The broth is made for dipping your crusty bread into. The only problem was that there were too many of us for just that one dish. This is a must have if you visit Ebby’s.

Ebby’s menu has enough items to make you have to choose albeit agonizingly, between so many interesting twists on some regular expected dishes. And if that’s not difficult enough, Ebby’s serves up specials too. I had a very tough time deciding between the Pork Milanese and the Cowboy Steak. Both sounded great but I eventually opted for the Steak, being that it was a Rib-eye which happens to be a favorite of mine.

My choice turned out to be a good one as the Steak was done perfectly and accompanied with Broccoli Rabe and Roasted Potatoes, which set it off nicely. Every one’s meals must have been exceptional as our table got very quiet while dinner was being eaten. That’s not an easy thing to accomplish with our group.

I can’t tell you how much the dinner was but I can tell you that the pricing was very reasonable. Our server, Christi was knowledgable and very attentive. She did a great job with all our questions too, especially from me when I asked three times about the specials! I wasn’t allowed to partake in the paying of the bill because it was my birthday but I will tell you that I plan on returning to Ebby’s real soon. By the way, bring your own bottle. Another great reason to visit Ebby’s.

Regular Guy rating  * * * *

Ebby’s Cafe Alfresco

2013 Central Ave, Seaside Park

Toms River NJ