Do you remember what you were doing 25 years ago today? I vividly remember what I was doing. There I was on Harvard Ave in Allston, Massachusetts, bleeding on the street from a nearly mortal injury. People around me kept saying “Don’t worry, it’s just a flesh wound.” True! And yet the flesh that was wounded included a very important artery in my right calf, along with every muscle fiber right down to the bone. Gross! Once everyone realized that I didn’t just have a wee little scratch, we moved on from casual conversation to fashioning a tourniquet out of a shoelace.
You don’t remember Hurricane Pat because it was actually named Hurricane Bob, and also because you’re so young, you teen reader of mine. Or you’re one of my octogenarian readers and not sure if you can recall August 19, 1991. But if you had almost died right there in the swirling wind, with a tipsy street-guy standing alongside and commenting on the gruesome sight, you’d probably remember it as well. When I was a kid my dad often used the one-liner, “It wasn’t the fall that hurt so much, but the sudden stop.” Similarly, it wasn’t the 40 mile an hour wind at 3 in the afternoon that got me, it was the jagged edge of a broken window that the wind threw at me as I walked along the sidewalk with my girlfriend.
By now you’ve determined that I must have survived that ordeal because there are still no blogs written from the great beyond, but I assure you that I almost didn’t, and furthermore only retained the bottom half of my leg thanks to the efforts of a whole slew of people at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Brighton, including a surgeon from Lebanon who had seen it all. If I hadn’t survived, this very important blog of mine – which undoubtedly is essential in your life – would never have come into existence. What if the window had hit my neck and got my jugular? No Pat McVay and no Pat’s kids, which means maybe no cure for cancer, which is what I’m expecting my kids to accomplish in the next 20 or so years.
Any chance that you were bleeding on Harvard Ave in Allston on August 19, 1991?
I once had a roommate who was famous for saying “For sure, probably.” He was not internationally famous, but people around me knew of him because I made it a practice of repeating this phrase of his, which he used with me routinely. He also was famous for telling you what the score of a game was, even if he had been immersed in the paper and had no clue what quarter the game was in.
“What’s the score?”
“Uh, fifty to forty six.”
“…And with a timeout on the court, it’s the Celtics 10, and the Sixers 2.”
Some people would rather have the wrong answer than no answer at all.
Somewhere out there, this nameless past roommate is blogging about me without using my name, telling his readers how I am famous in his circle of friends for the time I was felled by a wind-borne pane of broken window glass and lived to tell the tale.
Our upstairs cat is beginning to lobby for us to abandon the downstairs cat. “That damned cat has outstayed her welcome anyway!” Upstairs kitty doesn’t care that downstairs kitty was living here for years before upstairs kitty ever showed up.
This is the way it is with cats. Diplomacy is for dogs, those stupid, drooling beasts.
We’ve had to deploy peacekeepers in the neutral zones to fend off skirmishes, but it’s hard to be vigilant 24/7. We can’t post a child on the front and back stairs every minute of the day to prevent an escalation of tensions. Instead, we rely on long stretches of daytime catnaps and general feline boredom to prevent comingling. Sometimes downstairs kitty will make a secret foray into enemy territory to eat the leftovers or get a scratch behind the ears from family members. The incursion usually leads to screeches and drawn weapons.
As of this moment it’s all quiet on the western front.
For the better part of the last month I’ve been telling people that our family vacation would be spent in Antarctica.
Everyone is fascinated. “Antarctica, just think! They live such exciting lives, those Pat McVays. Why can’t our family have a vacation like that?” My neighborhood is in a tizzy over the very thought. It’s a preposterous claim, but once I tell people there’s really no going back.
“Oh, yes, the beaches are very nice,” I say. “The water is a lot warmer than you think.” Of course, it’s the dead of winter in Antarctica, but you can always count on northern hemispherians forgetting that little detail. Anyway, it’s Antarctica. It really doesn't matter what time of year it is, the water is always going to be pretty chilly, if not a solid, frozen mass (at least for now).
Meanwhile, we actually went to New Jersey, a.k.a. “the Antarctica of the Eastern Seaboard.” I’ve pitched this slogan to Chris Christie several times, explaining that people will long for a place like Antartica except easier to get to. It matters not a bit that there is no correlation between New Jersey and the southernmost continent on our planet. Governor Christie was not impressed. "Get outta my face," he said.
Where did you go on vacation?