February 14, 2016

The Saint Valentine's Day Massacre

This charmer knew how to take care of business on St Valentine's Day...with a forget-me-nots bouquet
of Tommy Guns & Hot Lead

Back in the days before skinny jeans, soul patches, man-buns, and Weezer, every self-respecting straight guy in Chicago could give a fairly accurate summary of The Saint Valentine's Day Massacre when Al Capone's boys ambushed the Bugs Moran gang on Chicago's North Side on February 14, 1929. Bugs was trying to move in on Capone's numbers racket and bootlegging operation and Scarface wasn't pleased.

Good Catholic boy Bugs Moran thought Capone beneath contempt for dealing in prostitution.
Law enforcement recreates the scene of Capone's henchmen disguised as policemen lining up Bugs Moran's Gang against a wall before opening fire. 7 men were killed although Bugs, who was supposed to be there and misidentified by a lookout to signal the hit, lived to identify Capone as culprit. Capone was never charged.

GSL had his own Saint Valentine's Day Massacre. only without the high bodycount, that the Good Doctor gleefully reminds me of every year. I'll set the stage: What started as a blind Boxing Day coffee date extended well into the night (natch) with dinner/drinks etc. (ahem) follow-on....and then a NYE date and on and on and before you know it, GSL is in a pickle.

The shapely school teacher was a dead ringer for a young Meredith Viera (American telly presenter). Estella loves debriefing GSL on nocturnal adventures and to give her a visual, we often label them (to protect the innocent) with a public figure they most resemble.  Estella can recount the incidents with the Elizabeth Shue, Katie Couric, Lauren Becall (based on voice, not appearance unfortunately),  and 'Clarice' to name a few.

She was a very nice and attractive school teacher (which GSL loves) but relentlessly dull.  Getting thru dinner with her alone was work....even with 3 double-scotches and as the Good Doctor can attest, I'm often less than pro-active at extricating myself from these not-in-my-best-interest associations. Good Doc knew I was suffering and kept urging me to cut my losses but GSL kept enduring the punishment like a schmuck. Then I find myself locked into a Valentine's Day date?!?!?! How does a crafty old pro like GSL  let this happen you wonder? Well, me too as I've long railed against this most ridiculous of days.

Scene of the Crime: Brasserie Jo circa 1997: GSL would gladly have swapped places with one of Bugs' boys standing against the wall rather than endure what followed.

Ok, so GSL decides that V-Day will be when we bring all this pain and suffering to a close. GSL is awful at these little "let's just be friends" initiations as drama always follows and I wish they had texting back then to make a cowardly exit as I'd have been all over that. But we were in Brasserie Jo, then in it's late prime, when it had SATC ratification where all you girls used to order rounds of Cosmos and bandy that tired SATC dialog to and fro while aspiring to Conde' Nast sanctioned lives with a Mr. Big of your own...

Just as GSL summons up the courage to nip this thing in the bud, after inhaling 2 quick double scotches, shapely school teacher reaches into her bag to hand me a gift.  While this is occurring the smoking hot redhead that caught my eye at the bar was being seated at the table just behind school teach and she eschews the hostess's suggestion and sits so we can furtively make eyes at each other which we do and she was apparently in the same "put me out of my misery" sitch as GSL so we begin volleying clandestine pantomimes of "get me the hell out of here" which we both found amusing. As school teach hands me gift, luscious redhead can see the agony etched in my bewildered brow and stifles a giggle as her schmuck of a date turns to see what she's reacting to.

As I unwrap the gift, this is what I'm looking at and hold up so luscious redhead can take a gander.

Angling to take our 'relationship' well past 'item' status, school teacher and hairdresser, Brandon, set a Venus Fly-Trap..

The redhead nearly has a seizure and then sees the school teach hand me notecard that was matchy-matchy with the book's cover. School teach is quite anxious to have GSL read this mushy missive she had apparently spent all afternoon composing....with her hairdresser 'Brandon' who I was comforted to know "adored me" sight unseen. After a quick skim, GSL took an "in for a penny, in for a pound" approach and remembered that the highest literary attainments are written for the ear.

Reading that gooey Writ of Habeas Corpus aloud nearly gave me 3 cavities and I thought they were going to have to wheel the redhead out on a gurney.

Epilogue: Never saw redhead again and Good Doc shared her amusement at what had transpired. A few hours ago I got my annual Sonnets from the Portuguese text from Good Doc.

Has anyone ever had a Valentine's Day actually go well?

February 13, 2016

Character Development

GSL's Great-Great Grandfather, Colonel Porter, who I discovered only a few years ago. After fruitlessly pestering Auntie J for any tidbits regarding my patrilineal line and finally solving the riddle after countless hours of research, she mentioned this in passing at her annual Xmas Brunch: "Colonel Porter sounds so interesting! You know, I have some old telegrams some guy named Mackenzie used to always send him on his birthday..."
I wanted to strangle her.

GSL stands in stark contrast to his biological parents although is easily and immediately recognized as his Dear Mother's son. My father is a far cry from what you might suspect and our only shared trait is a near identical voice.

I am far more similar to my paternal grandfather, 'Pete', and he always thought so too as we had a very close bond when I was a boy. Pete's parents died six months apart when he was 17 which was such a painful ordeal, he never spoke of it and my father and siblings knew never to broach the subject so very little of his background was known such as even his parent's names with my grandmother 'Dodie'  of little help as dementia set in.

Grandfather JRL aka "Pete' and Auntie J.circa 1945
Pete's parents died six months apart when he was 17 and was so traumatized never spoke of them.
Pic taken in Scarsdale, NY to Auntie J's best recollection.

I was curious and did some digging at www.ancestry.com and made some startling discoveries. Pete's parents were both expat Americans living in Canada and my great grandfather founded an insurance company that grew into a successful business with offices throughout Canada and was just absorbed by a large company a few years ago. Pete's maternal grandfather was an expat American also living in Canada and was one of the most prominent newspapermen of his day. After learning some of his backstory, it broke my heart that he was predeceased by his only child (my great grandmother, a great beauty according to my Great Aunt Connie) and wife, and died alone at his desk writing the following day's column.
Colonel Porter aka Master of Hounds
In my new children's book series, I have cast it with characters based on real people I like and care about; some of whom I've never actually met. Colonel Porter is based on Colonel Garnet Clay Porter who operates the rescue dog shelter. This 'Master of Hounds' likes nothing more than finding loving homes for dogs in need. In Book 8 or 9 he'll be (with Mrs. Porter) adopting 2 little girls (sisters) and enlisting the protagonist and his 2 pups to be their fearless protectors. They won't disappoint.

As many of you know my Estella has a meaty supporting role. 'Mean Mel' as she is often referred in furtive whispers, is actually only a bit bossy and has a warm generous heart the boys and girls later discover.  Mean Mel and her pup Ripley will soon have their names echoed in classrooms and playgrounds from sea to shining sea.

Estella & her Welsh Pony 'Tell Me Secrets' circa 1977.
Estella will be known as Mean Mel in my book series and that pony will feature in at least 1 story.

Estella arrived in GSL's orbit in 8th grade as a very pretty but shy girl. She had an aura about her being the new girl, having recently lived in Europe for a spell, and an older brother who resembled Brad Pitt....if Brad Pitt was better looking, 6 foot 4, with a body by Michelangelo and an iconoclastic charisma that rendered his physicality an afterthought. Estella was greatly envied by girls and desired by boys. But for all this good fortune,  what was noteworthy was how much her classmates who weren't 'popular' liked her. I noticed how the girls without the perfect figure, beautiful hair, the popular boys fawning all over them, and who always at least felt shunned by the cool crowd always had beaming smiles when having a quick word and receiving acknowledgement and often a compliment from that girl everybody made such a fuss over. That's why GSL liked her best.

Estella still fills out a swimsuit quite nicely.

Happy Birthday Estella!

Taken 40 years ago today.