Friday, January 3, 2014

What kind of New Year did you say?

The question is - "Who wished Swansea Jack a 'Crappy New Year', instead of a 'Happy New Year'?"

Act 1, Scene 1:  Swansea Jack's family room - New Year's Eve, 2013:

Number 1 son (with wife and four kids) went out to number 4 son's house to watch the latter's three kids while he (number 4 son and wife) went out to celebrate. That left 'Mr and Mrs Jack' alone at home - though they had no Mcauley Culkin misgivings about the isolation. OK with the 'dramatis peronnae' listing so far? Good. Number 3 son had already suffered from the travelling 'stomach bug' several days earlier, and number 1 daughter, her husband and twin baby boys had just got the 'bug'. No word on the status of number 2 son's or number 2 daughter's health.

He, Swansea Jack, phoned number 1 son at 10:15 pm to announce that the 'Senior Jacks' would not be waiting up for the return of their guests after the midnight revelries had concluded. The old folk witnessed young folk in South Beach, Florida making complete asses of themselves on national TV - and looked on at idiots in Times Square, New York who had been waiting for as many as 14 hours to witness a tick on a clock. Those folk had been there, without the ability to bring in, or acquire once there, any food supplies and had no access to bathroom facilities. Mrs Jack suggested that they must have been wearing diapers - ugh! Swansea Jack readily admitted that the elaborately illuminated and decorated glass orb perched on top of the pole was quite a technological marvel as it cycled though hundreds of changing colors and patterns awaiting the final minute of the year - when it would begin its slow descent down the pole. People cheered and danced and looked skyward as fireworks rained down on the city. "Right", said Swansea Jack, "off to bed, eh?"  Too tired to stay up and watch TV coverage of what was likely to be a very impressive fireworks display over the St Louis Arch downtown, the old codgers climbed the wooden hill.

Act 1, Scene 2:  Swansea Jack's bedroom - New Year's Day, 2014:

It was 12:45. Number 1 son, wife and two of their kids entered the house and mounted the stairs to their bedrooms. Less than 10 minutes elapsed and Swansea Jack was compelled to clamber from the bed, rush to the bathroom and adopt a not unfamiliar posture before 'The porcelain god, Ralph'. The 'praying' lasted a few minutes and Swansea Jack returned to his bed. As if he was an actor in the film, 'Groundhog Day', the choreography was replicated within the hour.

There is an old saying in Wales, 'Three times for a Welshman" - nobody really knows its origin, intent or purpose - maybe it is some weird Cymric variation of 'double or quits'. So, as if to be true to his Welsh origins, about 5:30 am, Swansea Jack dutifully performed the earlier ritual for that third time! Sweating, weary and exhausted, he lay on the cold tiled floor of the bathroom and groaned for five minutes - thanking God - and 'Ralph' - that the Welsh were not addicted to Novenas!    

It comforted him none, that within the hour, Mrs Swansea Jack was mimicking his ritual - except that her performance was no act. It was one that contained an encore and concluded with (except for a fifteen minute exodus) an uninterrupted confinement to the bed for the duration of the first day of this New Year. Word came in during the day that number 1 daughter's oldest son had also had a mild inclination to 'pray to Ralph'.

Act 2, Scene 1:  Swansea Jack's garage - January 2nd, 2014:

Forewarned the previous night, Swansea Jack had assembled an assorted of implements ready to undertake the anticipated task that morning. As predicted, there had been an overnight fall of almost five inches of powdery dry snow. Late on the previous evening, Swansea Jack had dutifully (in accordance with city ordinances) moved the two vehicles normally parked on the street, into his driveway. This action was designed to facility the city's snowplows to clear the subdivision's streets.  However, the over-sexed dolt (let's hope he reads this blog) visiting the next door neighbor's daughter had parked his SUV squarely in the place that Swansea Jack (SJ) had vacated!  Sure enough, the snowplow arrived, a pile of snow up behind Mr Dolt's vehicle and was unable (or unwilling) to maneuver in front of it to clear the snow from the space once occupied by SJ's two vehicles. "Good intentions thwarted!", grumbled SJ - along with other unrepeatable adjectives and nouns mentally aimed at Mr. Dolt.

Nonetheless, the task remained; to brush the piles of snow off the windshields of the SJ's two vehicles and off that of number 1 son's van. Both he, and Mrs SJ, were to leave early that day; hence the 6:30 am driveway activity.  He to his home in Michigan, she to babysit three sick kids at number 1 daughter's house. Mrs SJ's car - and an assortment of tool benches, trash cans, spare refrigerator and storage units precluded placement of number 1 son's van in the shelter of the garage. Also, to avert the likelihood of compacted snow from later turning into ice on the driveway, the 16 x 70 foot driveway needed to be shoveled and vehicles had to be shunted around like pieces on a chess board - as it was unclear until the final minute, which of the departing parties would leave first. It was almost like a comic routine from the silent movie era, but then the comedy ended!  Swansea Jack, his task virtually accomplished, hands near frozen, gingerly entered the house holding his left lumbar region. A back-ache! Satan's evil way of exacting revenge for a good deed done!

Act 2, Scene 2:  Swansea Jack's family room - January 2nd, 2014:

The day brought a mixture of 'crappy and happy' news. Whilst number 1 daughter's babies, oldest son, and husband were 'over the bug', she was not 100%, nor was 'Mrs Jack' - and word came in that number 3 son's son now had the seemingly ubiquitous stomach bug.

The weather forecast for the upcoming weekend indicated more measurable snowfall on Sunday and temperatures on Monday ('Little Christmas' - the 6th of January) of only 1F (minus 17C) and an overnight low of 11F (minus 24C) - let's hope there is no wind (small chance!) else the windchill will be horrible.

Swansea Jack's backache persisted throughout the day, but though twisting the old man into a Quasimodo-like pose, did not prevent him from taking his 'new-teenager-today' grandson (number 4 son's oldest child) out to his favorite dinner spot - Texas Roadhouse, where he accepted the 'birthday ice-cream', but declined the 'photo-on-a-saddle' offer. Too mature for that now, but not too old to give Swansea Jack a hug as he dropped the young man off at his home. Maybe 2014 will turn out to be more 'happy' than 'crappy' - let's hope so!