PATRICK MCVAY

WRITER

My Musings

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Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor's 'Hood

I’ve looked at a lot of real estate ads over the last couple of years, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that some neighborhoods are highly coveted. You may think you live in an unnoticed little neck of the woods, but it turns out that everyone is salivating over your school’s MCAS results. Whether it’s Revolutionary Ridge in Concord, or Prospect Hill in Lexington, or the Bates neighborhood in Wellesley, you might as well face it that people have an unhealthy and maybe even sinful longing for your leafy streets.

I was commanded as a child not to covet things like wives and asses and other “possessions” of my neighbors. Despite the fact that I was surrounded by wives – I mean you can’t imagine how many wives there were in my neighborhood when I was a kid! – I managed not to be covetous of them. (As it was a suburban enclave, there were no asses to be found, though there was a fair bit of random asininity). However, I don’t recall any directives about not coveting the school district in which one's neighbor resides.

Real estate agents must believe that a neighborhood cannot be classified as something its inhabitants “possess,” as they keep trumpeting which streets and school districts and neighborhoods are coveted in an effort to get you to covet these places as well, the implication being that if God didn’t want you to desire living on a certain street, he’d have etched that information into stone tablets.

Rest assured that I have little desire to possess that 3-bed, 2-bath split-level home on half an acre that’s for sale in your exclusive gated neighborhood. On the other hand, I can’t help but covet that Belgian ale you’re about to uncork.

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The Dental Nazi

The meanest person I’ve ever met in my life was the dental hygienist who visited my grammar school once a year back in the 1970s.

She looked nice enough on the surface, smiled when she came in and unpacked her educational toolkit of toothbrush and model teeth, but then she’d ask a question and the answer from one of my half asleep classmates would cause her to snap: “Didn’t I just tell you that teeth are stronger than bone? So how can you tell me teeth are made of bone!?”

There may be no stupid questions, but she was here to let us know that there were plenty of stupid answers. And frankly, she thought our questions were pretty stupid as well. This may be the only thing that she and I ever agreed on: there are stupid questions aplenty, and we kids were famous for asking them.

As the grammar school years wore on, I learned to brace myself for each yearly visit by our ornery dental hygienist, brushing carefully that morning in case my mouth was to be inspected, and reminding myself not to ask a question or answer one unless forced to do so.

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Flight School

What is it with British Airways? This airline flew me to and from Italy recently but didn’t give me the typical modern-day service experience I’ve come to expect in air travel, in which flight attendants offer thimbles of tepid water free of charge and pretzels for purchase at around $10 per handful.

Unlike my unhappy experience flying United Airlines from Hawaii two years ago, when I was given a small cup of water and no more “because we only have 18 bottles of water on the plane,” British Airways fed me and my family a full-blown “hot supper” of curried chicken, garden salad, roll with butter, and a cold chocolate pudding for dessert. Plus, they threw in a couple of wee-bottles of red wine. No credit cards were involved. There were fresh blankets and pillows on every seat, and coffee or tea at the end of the meal. When I woke up from my brief slumber hours later, there was juice and coffee, and little breakfast snacks. I half expected to find myself among clean-shaven men in suits and women wearing fancy hats and bright red lipstick, like it was the 1950s and Pan-Am ruled the skies.

It may be worth my asking Hache Verde to rate his airlines experiences, as he travels far and wide. Same goes for Mook, who allegedly was in Israel recently, no doubt eating falafel on our tax dollars.

Next time I fly, it won’t be across the ocean, and I’ll probably get the same no-food or drinks treatment, as well as no blankets or pillows. However, I won’t complain, lest I get dragged down the aisle, bloodied and beaten.

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Who's Your Uncle?

Now that the US Military has dropped “The Mother of All Bombs” on ISIS in Afghanistan (without scratching a single innocent civilian!), and Russia claims to have “The Father of All Bombs,” I might as well admit that I’ve long been working on The Uncle of All Bombs.

My bomb is a balding old fuddy-duddy of a bomb, with a comb-over and yellowing teeth. It sometimes forgets to zip its fly and makes stupid jokes that causes adults to cringe and teenaged girls to throw up.

Is The Uncle of All Bombs going to dismember or liquidate people? Probably not. It mostly inflicts an emotional and psychological toll on its victims. But when people see my boring old tippler of bomb come stumbling its way across the sky at the end of a long day of drinking Lambrusco, hiccupping and belching, they’ll clear out of the area in short order.

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