I am not a medical researcher, but I think I’ve discovered a new disease: OMADD, pronounced Oh-Mad. Old Man Attention Deficit Disorder. And I have it. Since my last post on January 6, I’ll be damned if I can tell you what I’ve been up to. Or down to, for that matter.
I know that I’ve read two or three books, subjects unknown, so that has been a waste of Martha’s good money. With OMADD, I only need one book because every time I read it it will be brand-spanking-new to me. I think I’ll order a copy of The Little Engine That Could, one of my all-time favorites. If I remember, that is.
My long-term attention, however, seems unaffected. And that, in my usual roundabout gasbaggy way, is really the subject of whatever this is. I have decided, with no aforethought of course, to reveal some things about me that are still on my mental hard disk.
1. During my first attempt at college, the one that made Animal House look tame, my fraternity and our sister sorority took a field trip to Lake Placid, NY. The girls paid for the bus and accommodations, while we fellows bought the beer and a sandwich or two. Maybe some pretzels. We thought it was a fair split because some of those girls were real boozers.
The point of the story is that several of us visited Mount Van Hoevenberg and, daring each other, we took a bobsled ride on the Olympic bobsled run. It was a four-person sled: a professional driver and brakeman with two idiots between them. “What do I have to do?” I asked. “Nothing,” the driver replied. “Just hold on to those knobs and enjoy the ride.” Enjoy the ride my ass. I was scared skinny and have stayed that way ever since. The good news is my companion was a pulchritudinous redhead, so I had double the knobs to hold on to. When the ride was over and we realized we were still alive, the redhead and I fell in like over a few beers in the lodge. And a pretzel. And she never even noticed that I had wet my pants.
2. I was a member of a drum and bugle corps (pronounced “core”), back in the days when they were all male and the minimum age to participate was eighteen. Called “senior corps,” they were all about precision marching and music that could (and did) knock your socks off. The senior circuit was confined to the upper east coast and Canada, and each summer weekend we were competing in a different city: Philadelphia one week, Montreal the next.
The thing of it is, we were good. Real good. And we practiced hard. Real hard. We had an eighty-five man horn line (as opposed to about fifty), including six contra-bass horns that rested on a fellow’s shoulder. You could hear us from a mile away. We were the "Crusaders": We marched in the Macy’s and Orange Bowl Parades, and in the spring of 1965, played in Carnegie Hall with seven other corps.
Carnegie Hall. I will never forget performing on that stage where hundreds of musical legends have stood. It was a fitting swan song to my bugling days, too. I quit the corps to be with my Mom, who was dying of cancer, and even though the Crusaders won the national championship that year, the last few months with her were precious.
3. November 1978. I buy a Western novel at the grocery store while Martha is shopping for groceries. December 1978. I buy a Western novel from the same series at the drugstore while Martha is shopping for drugs. It joins the first one I bought in my “To Be Read” pile. October 2008. I buy a Western novel from the same series from Amazon.
November 1978 to October 2008. 360 months. Exactly 30 years. Published once a month, I am the proud owner of 360 Western novels, not a one of which I have ever read. Each one is encased in its own Ziploc bag to preserve its bookly freshness. I mean these books are mint, have never been exposed to humidity, and are stored in the dark recesses of my closet. Once or twice a year I open my closet to air out my socks, so the books get a nice airing too.
So why do I continue to collect something I will never read, eat, or shave with? Because I have to. What if I opened the newspaper tomorrow and the headline said, “MAN AUCTIONS FULL MINT SET OF 361 LONGARM NOVELS ON E-BAY FOR 1.4 MILLION DOLLARS!!!.”
Boy, would I feel terrible. 30 years of collecting right down the drain because I didn’t buy #361, or #362, or #363 . . .
[Click on the photo and notice the number in the "L". Also, please note that this is NOT a meme--those of you who know me know I hate memes.]