Bleach Monster, Part VIII

Dani woke up. Today is her birthday. She was pondering the text from Murray. She knew it was cryptic for a reason. She expected him to call with birthday greetings. He always called early. He is not vermin.

On Murray’s 18th birthday not one friend or family member called to say happy birthday. He spent the day with his parents and Dani. No one called. Not even his grandmother, who’s notorious for calling at around 6:00 a.m. on big days in one’s life. He decided they were all vermin.

Back to the text, she knew she had to meet Murray. He offered two choices. There was no way she was going to 161 Street. Sadly her days of going to the Stadium ended. She became a traitor and rooted for the Mutts.

She knew Murray hated coming back to the Island. Not sure it was that he hated that place so much or the harrowing commute to get there. A train, to a filthy ferry, another train and then being picked up in Annandale took longer than going to Boston. Our hearts are with them today.

So, she said she could meet him in two days at Wolfe’s Pond Park. Murray loved that place. He learned to inline skate there. Audrey came running into her room with a homemade birthday card and a cupcake. It was a little early for the cupcake. But Audrey was wearing such a loving smile when she handed it over to her mom. Dani ate it.

Audrey was excited that she got to spend the day with her mom. But she was more excited that she was going to the Staten Island Zoo. She loves animals. Unlike her mom, she isn’t afraid of snakes. Of course, that fear is Murray’s fault.

The trip to the zoo was easy. Everything was calm. They had pizza for lunch, watched Disney DVDs and got ready for a birthday dinner with Robbie, her husband and an ever-doting father to Audrey.

The day came. Murray stood in front of the restrooms at Wolfe’s Pond Park waiting for Dani. He decided to take the SI train or trolley as he called it to Huguenot. He walked down Huguenot Ave. to Hylan Blvd. to the park. He barely looked at Tottenville High School. That dump wasted four years of his life. Boy did he hate that place with a passion. He has no care in the world about that institution now. It was a faded memory of his past.

Dani drove in and parked in Murray’s traditional parking spot. He is very ritualistic and always parked in the same spot in the park and just about anywhere else. She knew he’d be standing by the park’s latrine.

He smiled and pulled a bottle of Segal’s Fusion Red out of his knapsack. He opened, decanted and poured. He was laughing and smiling every step of the way.

L’Chaim.

She reluctantly sipped her wine. She knew exactly why he did this. Even he though fought with bleach. He was a Sith at heart. The Force was always strong within him.

They chatted for about an hour. The bottle of Segal’s was finished and tossed in the recycle bin.

The two siblings agreed to get their little “weapons,” Danny and Tony together to start their “empire”. They would meet in two weeks at the South Street Seaport.

Over the next few days, Murray and Dani worked out and made sure Danny and Tony followed suit.

All were anxiously waiting for the rapidly approaching meeting date.

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Volunteering

How many of you volunteer? I’ve been involved with this since I was a little kid. Well, not sure the Cub Scouts was volunteering. I joined because I wanted to copy my fadder (That’s what a former Chappy camper used to call his dad. I think he still does.) I’m Eagle. He’s not. But from Cubs through the Boy Scouts the emphasis was helping others. We had to do our good turn daily.

I have always given back and been involved as an adult leader. These days I don’t do as much as I used to. I guess because I am no longer a Staten Islander. In my teen days when I was chief of Aquehongian Lodge #112, one thing I noticed we had a steady group of adult leaders volunteering. My job was to get the youth involved. One of my favorite leaders used to scream, “We need more boys. We gotta keep this program going”. I miss him. I’m proud to say my meetings usually had about 100 people attending. Most were scouts. These days we are lucky if we get 10 people in the room.

I had my core group of leaders and volunteers. I appointed them all. One once said, “Yeah you had to be nice to him and have lunch with him the Tottenville High School Library and rehearse the ceremonies. Then you got any position.” Of course, he is one my close buddies. Perhaps that was the case. Or perhaps it was not. I sense someone may comment about how many trunks I used to carry in camp? But that’s in another post.

Many of the fun adults are still around. Some left us for the great campsite in the sky. I hope if I ever get there it looks like Chappy Hill. The Hill I remember. That was my summer camp.

I never stopped volunteering. In my frat, Tau Epsilon Phi, I led tons of community service projects on SUNY New Paltz’s campus.

I was a trustee on the Ten Mile River Scout Camps’ Museum committee. I handled their PR and edited our newsletter, “Smoke Signals”. I could do more with the group. They are my camp family. Many of them watched me grow up. Some of these scouuuuts (our camp joke) met me when I was 12.

About six years ago, I had my best Thanksgiving. I was in Tel Aviv and worked with the kids from ELEM/Youth in Distress in Israel. ELEM’s N.Y. office does a lot in the U.S. to help these kids. I am part of it.

I‘ve noticed in all my activities is that no matter how hard you try to bring in new blood, it is always the same group. Whenever new people come to help out we usually wine and dine them to the extreme. Offer them cool patches. Whatever it takes. A few comeback.

Sadly it usually the same bunch that grinds it out. There’s nothing wrong with that. We all know who will be late and what everyone will drink? And of course, who will complain about something.

We are the ones who will arrive hours before the event and stay hours later. We will be the most stressed and sometimes the dirtiest. But it is us who will have the most fun. So join the party. You won’t be let down.

Imagine if we could double our attendance? Just think of how many more Eagles would soar? Or how many distressed Israeli kids could have a better life.