The Quiz

Sal is reading a magazine when Mike walks in. He appears to be agitated
“What’s the reason for the grumpy face?”
“I was balled out this morning for smoking in my room. I was told that if the smoking continues I am in violation of the bullshit paper I signed when I came here.”

“The smoking police will find you no matter where you go.”

“It reminds of when we were kids in the drugstore. You could out loud order cigarettes but you had to ask for condoms in a whisper. Now you can loudly order condoms but you have to whisper to buy smokes.”
You don’t have to worry about condoms. Even a snake charmer could not get your snake to rise.”
“You would be surprised. I am still dangerous.”
““In your dreams.”

One of the nurses told me that Mrs. Toffler caught two of the residents making love in a bedroom yesterday. She informed their families that they were engaging in inappropriate behavior. Maybe that’s what she needs a good roll in the sack.”

Typical male, you think that’s the solution to all problems.”

“It might be in her case; she is the all time tight ass. When you visit she gives you and your family the Mary Poppins routine but the second you live her she is like the warden in a full security prison.”

“Are you speaking professionally Doctor? Will you fill the prescription yourself?”

“No, but if she stays on my case I will find a way to piss her off royally.”

“I may become your accomplice because she pisses me off also. As a way for you to chill out now I think you should take this quiz with me.”

“What quiz?”

This one in the magazine. It is based on Dickens’s Christmas Carol.”

“And I thought Toffler was a pain in the ass.”

“Come on it will take your mind off all this trivial crap.”

“Maybe they should have three classes of people in this zoo. Those who are out to lunch, normal people like me and touchy feely nerds like you.”
Come on Scrooge, participate. First question, looking back on your past when were you the happiest?”

: “When I wasn’t forced to participate in bullshit quizzes.”

Come on be serious.”

Mike:” (Pauses and appears to be thinking) I guess there were a couple of times. When we were hanging out as kids on the corner, and when I was first married.”

“Second, part of the question is what made them happy?’

“I guess it was like being part of a place where people really knew and cared about you.. There was a commonality. Everyone was kind of equal, and cut from the same cloth. Our lives were simple, but we always had each other. I could not have named it my community at that time, but it was. Do you remember when we had six guys in a car all smoking at the same time? We would cruise the streets looking to pick up girls. If anyone was crazy enough to get in the car where the hell would we fit them?”

“The other time was the days and months right after Arlene and I were married. We didn’t have a pot to piss in but every purchase or event seemed special. I remember one time we went to the Philadelphia airport to watch the planes land and take off. We sat there mesmerized for hours and didn’t spend a penny.”

I can relate to those experiences but for diversity’s sake I will choose when my kids were small. In the beginning I was terrified but once John survived and was thriving my confidence as a father grew.. Both kids were such joys, and I loved watching each day be a new adventure for them. I think part of that wonder rubbed off on me.

The other time was when I taught high school juniors.”

: “What’s so great about teaching kids? Isn’t it just hormone control at that age?’

“For one thing when you teach kids you see things that you thought you understood in a deeper way. Also the kids I taught were bright and challenging.”

Sal picks up the magazine and continues.

: “What were some regrets in your past?”

That’s easy, I regret meeting Sal La Greca, because if I didn’t know him I would not be subjected to this asshole quiz.”

I will ignore the source, and take a leadership role in answering the question I am sure if you pondered the question for a while many would jump out. There are two that are immediate. The first is when I was eleven years old. One night about nine thirty my friend Bobby Smith came to my house. When I opened the door he said” my Father dropped dead, and my mother sent me to the store to get a quart of milk.” I said that I was sorry, but did not know what to do. He stayed for a couple of minutes,” and then left. I have regretted to this day that I did not go to the store with him..”

“But you were just a kid.”

I know that but the memory sticks in my gut to this day.’

:” What was your other regret?”

:” I adored my grandmother, but she could not speak any English. One day she was taking me to the Italian section for food shopping. She loved to make me home made pizza. While we were waiting for the bus two teen age boys started making fun of the old guinea lady” . She smiled and thought they were being friendly, but they were taunting her. I was embarrassed and afraid, so I acted as if I didn’t know her. This wonderful loving person had never done anything but care for me ,and I denied knowing her. I felt so guilty and mad at myself for not sticking up for her.”

Again you were a child, and it was an unrealistic expectation for you to be a hero at that time. You always tease me about Irish guilt and I have my share. One of my biggest regrets is not taking Arlene to Ireland until she was dying. In the beginning I didn’t have the money ,and later I didn’t have the time.We made the trip three months before she died, and despite her deteriorating health it is a wonderful memory for me.”

.. Any other regrets from the past?”

There was a long pause and it was obvious that the question had hit an emotional nerve.) There is a major family issue that I am not ready to discuss.”

Go ahead, it will do you good.”
It was obvious that Mike was annoyed at Sal’s persistence.”” I don’t want to discuss it and that’s that.”

O.k. Mike I understand.”

:” I think I’ve had enough of this quiz,”

Mike stands up and leaves the room.

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