Here’s Some Of What I Liked In August. What Rang Your Bell?

Yup, August has come and gone. And in a few blinks of an eye, 2023 will have arrived. Zoom! I tell you, there’s no doubt that time flies at accelerating rates the older we get. And being genuinely old, I ain’t happy about that. To say the least. I don’t know how many grains of sand remain in the upper part of my hourglass. But, whatever the number, a shitload more would suit me just fine.

Anyway, there’s nothing I can do about it. So, to steer my mind away from the above paragraph’s depressing direction, let me mention some things that brought a smile to my crinkled face during the month that waved goodbye to us a handful of days ago.

First up are peaches and corn on the cob, without which life wouldn’t be as sweet. It being summer here in the USA, the harvesting season for those fine forms of produce, my wife Sandy and I would have been fools not to indulge in them during August.

I’ve loved peaches for nearly all of my life. I think, though, that their deliciousness began to make truly deep impressions upon me somewhere in my 40s. Man, what a treat it is to bite into a peach. A good peach, that is, not one of the mealy ones that have become more commonplace in recent years. Such beautiful flavor, as luxurious as you could hope for. And a texture, in the happy zone between soft and firm, that was made to seduce. I had some real good peaches in August. And tossed aside a couple of very sub-par examples too. You win some, you lose some. In any case, the peach season in the States hasn’t all that much longer to go, a damn shame.

Likewise, fresh corn’s availability already has peaked. Last month, getting while the getting was good, Sandy and I chomped down on boiled ears of corn at dinnertime three or four times. We gave them a thumbs-up. Helpful public servant that I am, I’d like to give you a tip for dressing corn on the cob: Peel back the paper a bit on a stick of butter, then rub the exposed butter all over the corn while twirling the cob. This method is much better than attempting to place pats of butter on the corn with a knife. Those pats, as we know, usually end up skidding all over the f*cking place. I’ve already accepted your thanks in advance!

Now it’s time to talk about television series, a media format that has pleased the hell out of me since the start of the pandemic. Hungry for entertainment, I began watching series in earnest at that time, something I hadn’t done in years. Sandy has been my viewing companion. And, even though Covid’s roar has lessened, we haven’t slackened our pace, for during August we devoured two limited series (We Own This City and the scripted version of The Staircase, not the documentary by that name) and one season each of multi-season productions (Capitani and Never Have I Ever). The first three that I mentioned are very much worth watching, but they are grim. Ergo, I’ll limit my commentary to the sole smile-inducing series among August’s fare.

Never Have I Ever, a thoughtful comedy on Netflix, tells the tale of Devi Vishwakumar, an Indian-American public high school student in California. Devi, smart as a whip but fairly low in the self-confidence department, isn’t one of the cool, popular girls at school. She has a loving family, fortunately, and several trusted, loyal girlfriends. Thus, her situation overall is quite decent, despite the cruel fact that the death of her father, during her freshman year, was a blow that tests her mightily.

There have been three seasons of Never Have I Ever so far. Sandy and I have watched them all, polishing off the latest run in August. During season three’s ten episodes, Devi loses a boyfriend, attempts to land a new beau, contemplates losing her virginity, and completes her junior year of high school with top grades. And her pals are no slouches in the busy-lives department either. Wow! There’s a lot going on in this show. Cleverly too, partly because of the sarcastic, sometimes-exasperated voice-over narration by, if you can believe it, John McEnroe. He’s the former tennis champ who was known for his verbal outbursts on the court as much as for the beauty of his game. McEnroe does a great job, adding volleys of whams and bams to a coming-of-age story that’s handled with insight and care.

With that, I’ll toss a tennis ball into your half of the court. What rang your bell last month, food-wise, entertainment-wise, nature-wise, anything-at-all-wise?

Time Flies!

“Doctor, you’ll be pleased to know that I don’t have any major problems to discuss with you today,” I said to my psychiatrist, Dr. R. U. Forereel, at the start of our most recent monthly session. “But there definitely is something that’s perplexing me.”

“Neil, I’m happy that you’ll be taking it easy on me,” she replied. “I’ve had a rough week, what with patient after patient yapping away about their lives, complaining about this, that and the other thing. What is wrong with these people anyway? I’m sure that I don’t know. Don’t they realize that life isn’t a bowl of cherries, let alone a bowl of oatmeal? I tell you, I should have listened to my parents and become a dairy farmer instead of going into medicine. Cows aren’t demanding. Oh well, live and learn. Neil, let’s proceed. Time’s a wastin’.”

“Funny you should use that word, doctor,” I said, “because time is precisely what I’d like to talk to you about. It’s moving too fast, isn’t it? Why, you’d think that 2021 has a fire cracker up its ass, pardon my crudity. Before we know it, Santa Claus will be shimmying down chimneys all around the world. And a week after that, 2022 will have arrived.”

“Your perceptions are interesting and valid, Neil,” said my psychiatrist. “Did 2020 also move quickly for you?”

“Indeed it did, doctor, despite all my worrying about COVID. But 2021 is zipping along faster than any year ever has. What gives?”

“Well, how can I put this politely, Neil? Hmmm . . . a quick glance at your patient information chart reveals to me that the last time you might have been described as a spring chicken was five decades ago. To put it another way, your glory days are ancient history. Here then is the bottom line: You officially are old as shit, pardon my crudity. And it’s been proven that, as the years pass, time moves unusually quickly for a particular segment of males in the old as shit category, far more so than it does for anyone else. Sadly, you are a member of said segment.”

She sighed and shook her head, gazing, with pity in her eyes, at the abundant prune-like creases on my face. Then she said, “Neil, I refer you to the writings of Albert Einstein. Apparently, you are not familiar with his Specific Theory Of Relativity For Heavily-Wrinkled Old F*ckers, a brilliant treatise that explains how time affects those gentlemen with your dermatological condition. Pardon Professor Einstein’s crudity, by the way.”

“You are in your life’s homestretch, Neil,” she continued. “This is true even if you manage to hang on for another 25 years. And as if that isn’t bad enough, your remaining years are absolutely going to zoom by so fast they’ll make 2021 seem as though it had been in slow motion. Poof! In the relative blink of an eye your days above ground will be over. All of what I say, of course, paraphrases the Specific Theory, which I urge you to read. Einstein certainly was a genius, no? Fascinatingly, he was a prune lover too.”

“Holy crap, Dr, Forereel! You’re bumming me way out! What am I to do? I feel one hundred times worse than I did when we began today’s session.”

“I’m so sorry to be the bearer of truths, Neil. And I would like to help you dissolve the bleakness that you’re experiencing, but I’m afraid that this session has reached its end. Please try to keep your chin up. It’s sagging, you know. I hope to see you in four weeks.”

As down in the dumps as I’ve ever been, I shuffled out of her office, got into my car and made my way home. Not surprisingly, I arrived there in no time at all.

Seven Pix For Seven Months

I don’t know about you, but for me this year has been flying by at an insanely fast pace. I have no idea why. I mean, time seems to zoom when a person is busier than usual and/or is having more fun than usual. But those conditions haven’t applied to me. And yet, boom! Just like that, seven of 2021’s months are over and done, and month number eight is nipping at their heels. What the hell is going on?

January 20, 2021 
(Sunset viewed from Willow Grove, Pennsylvania)
February 11, 2021 (Willow Grove, Pennsylvania)
April 12, 2021 (Abington, Pennsylvania)

So impressed am I by 2021’s fleet-footedness, I think it’s only right to offer up an essay that photographically honors its seven departed months. One photo from each month. I took six of the pictures and would have taken all seven if such had been possible. However, seeing that it would have been a major no-no for me to snap a selfie while being inoculated against COVID, I asked my wife Sandy to document the event.

May 14, 2021 (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
June 5, 2021 (Jenkintown, Pennsylvania)

I’ve decided against using any of the dozens of 2021’s photos that I’ve already placed in this publication’s stories. As for the seven included herein, only two hold any special personal meaning, and I’ll get to them in a minute. The other five just look good to my eyes, and would have been mad as hell at me if I’d not deposited them on the internet. The parking lot scene, for example, which contains a lady so wrapped up in her thoughts that she’s oblivious to the sharp red car doing its damndest to get her attention. Hey, the car threatened to sue if I gave it the cold shoulder!

Now, on to the two pix that, plain and simple, had to be presented, and about which I’ve got a few things to say.

March 19, 2021 (Elkins Park, Pennsylvania). Photo by Sandra Cherrey Scheinin

Sandy and I frantically and tirelessly tried to schedule appointments for COVID vaccinations when vaccines became available early this year. Basically, it was an exercise in frustration. But then, five or six weeks later and from out of the blue, appointments for March 19 fell into our laps. I tell you, it was a powerful day for me, one I ain’t going to forget any time soon. As the needle entered my arm I breathed great sighs of relief and shed some tears of joy.

Four weeks later my second dose of Moderna was administered, and since then I’ve felt free. Yes, coronavirus remains a major concern, but far less so for the vaccinated as opposed to the unvaccinated. Man, vaccine refuseniks, brimming with loopy and misguided beliefs, astound and annoy me. The common good is suffering because they won’t grab hold of the lifelines being tossed their way. I tell you, we reside in a world that too often is surreal and disappointing.

Due to the f*cking pandemic’s intrusion, the fireworks event that Sandy and I attended on July 4 was the first impressive show of any kind that we had been to in 16 months. (In the USA,  July 4 is a holiday that commemorates the states’ declaration of independence from Great Britain in 1776.) It took place on the sprawling grounds of a public school, in a town a couple of miles away from our suburban Philadelphia home.

We walked and walked on the school’s ball fields and lawns till we were very close to where the explosions would originate. And then we waited and waited as the skies grew dark and the time advanced to 9:40. At that point I got up from my chair to try and find someone who might know the scoop, as the show should have begun no later than 9:20. No luck, natch. So, I walked back to where our chairs were set up, looked at my phone to check the time, and said to Sandy, “It’s 9:49. I don’t think the fireworks are going to happen. We should leave.”

July 4, 2021 (Abington, Pennsylvania)

Three seconds later I was proven wrong, as the skies lit up with wonderful shapes and colors and thunderous sounds erupted. For the next 25 minutes Sandy and I oohed and aahed. In the end, we were in the right place at the right time.

(Please don’t be shy about adding your comments. Gracias.)