In heaven, men can smoke cigars and watch football.

Once a long time ago in the 1960’s when things were different. Friendships and families were etched in real life, and not “on-line”. Face to face with booze, cards, cigars, cheap bars, real talk, real people and you couldn’t hide behind a monitor and a mouse. The TV broke down all the time because it had picture tubes in it. Men watched the NFL because it was a great game and not a big business nursing over-paid egos. There were REAL heros on the REAL grass playing half back for half ass salaries. There were heros circling the earth in tin cans and The Daily News had “all the news that’s fit to print” Those were the days. Lucky Filter commercials on the tube while sipping Schaffer beer…..and me and my cousins were around to remember this. To witness the love and togetherness of two families.
Since my reunion with Jaybird my memories have broken open and the things that I thought I remembered were only the tip of the iceburg. That as a very little boy I went around the living room while Jay and George drank beer from cans (that you had to open with a can opener) and I was “allowed” to take sips. And I loved it, cause it made me feel all warm and fuzzy and it had nothing to do with Y.A. Tittle throwing touchdowns against the Cleveland Browns on a mud field covered in straw.
Jay was a very tall man with a pom pom and a military uniform. His laugh was contagious and his smile endless. He loved my father and my father loved him. They journeyed into the Bronx New York together to watch The New York Football Giants play in a baseball stadium. They drank beer and laughed and celebrated life like two happily married men with children should. The economy was good, The Beatles were on Ed Sullivan and the Worlds Fair (the most famous EVER) was alive and well and only a stones throw from NJ. Gas was cheap and driving to and fro even on school and work nights was easy.
Brother-in-laws that cared for and took time to see each other whenever they could. They created a pact whether they knew it or not. That life is way too short to fight or cry or ignore. Life was good. But then like everything that is supposed to last forever……it changed. The endless happy visits to military bases suddenly cut short because fate had other plans.

Jaybird and Butch. Las Vegas November 2011. George Sr. and Jay Sr are smiling from the eerie glow of the night sky.


Turns out George Sr. died rather mysteriously and quickly and Jay followed right behind him about a year later. They left a legacy of fourteen children and two totally confused and frightened wives.
They missed everything that life had to offer after that. The cousins fell between three thousand miles and over thirty years of weddings, funerals, grandchildren, Super Bowls, vacations, sunsets, new cars, sickness, disappointment, happiness, technology, and all the extreme highs and lows that life can bring.
And one windy Fall night on the roof of a Parking lot, in the depths of Sin City’s neon glow, “The pact” was renewed. And whether they knew it or not…it all came together again….survivors, dreamers and lovers. The first time he grabbed me and hugged me…it actually shocked me(it wasn’t in front of a pool)….and when I asked him about that hug he said, “It’s just the type of person I am.”

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