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A pair of jacks?


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Published on: Thursday, December 27, 2012

By Brian J. Karem

So, here comes the New Year, and I sit firmly on top of two pieces of advice given to me by my father: only drink the finest bourbon and only associate with the finest women.

Taking these two pieces of advice to heart has led to a very healthy life, but nonetheless, I think I experienced my first seriously “senior” moment this weekend.

I’m too young for this nonsense.

It wasn’t over my music versus what passes for music today.

It wasn’t over how my young nieces or nephews dress, nor was it over the fact that my younger sister is now a grandmother – Ha!

I didn’t forget a name, nor did I pull my pants up under my elbows, and I certainly didn’t take my teeth out and put them in a glass – I actually am proud to say I still have all the original equipment in that department.

Nope, as I sat there on my cousin’s back porch indulging in a cigar and some fine Woodford Reserve with the other male members of the family, we began to talk about family.

My Uncle, who used to literally be in charge of a Ford plant in the city of my birth spoke about how he was happy to be above ground another day.

Then as we both took a large drag on an expensive stogie we began talking about the family.

Then came my senior moment;

I found that I knew and wanted my sons and nieces and nephews to know about those members of my family who came to this country at the turn of the 20th century. Moreover I wanted them to know why our family came to be in this country.

Being a Lebanese Catholic in the Middle East is much like being . . . well as Henry Jones Sr. told Indiana, it’s much like being a pilgrim in an unholy land – at least from the perspective of my great grandfather.

That realization that you want to pass something on to the younger generation isn’t all that gave me the sense of a senior moment. It was coupled with the younger members of the family not knowing any of our family history, their inability to appreciate The Beatles or The Rolling Stones and the firm belief in their own ignorance as being the pinnacle of erudition.

Now, this would be the perfect time for me to say my younger nieces and nephews remind me of recalcitrant school children – or the County Council or the Rockville City Council.

But that’s too easy.

I think I want to hang the blame on my generation again.

When I grew up, I wasn’t a contemporary of F.D.R. or Wendell Willkie, and places like Bastogne were just spots on the map. But I learned who the people and the entertainers were and I grew to understand what my family and others had gone through in order make my life much more comfortable than they had the fortune of experiencing while growing into adulthood.

I have nieces and nephews who have no idea who Frank Sinatra, Jack Kennedy or Martin Luther King are or why they are important to us all.

Nor do they know my grandmother was among the first female attorneys to ever plead a case before the Supreme Court or how forward thinking my grandparents were in raising a severely autistic daughter.

My senior moment comes from a realization that we haven’t handled – and by “we” I mean my generation – our stewardship of this country very well.

My Uncle, who is very conservative is far more open-minded than most conservative or liberal politicians I know who are of my age.

While he isn’t the strictest environmentalist, he acknowledged that those to the left have helped contribute mightily to the health of this country.

That sort of acknowledgement is not only rare but unheard of in today’s politics.

I know, I’m a crotchety middle-aged guy experiencing my first senior moment.

But, I can say I am still capable of getting out of it.

As we played poker at the family Christmas party I remarked how happy I was to have met my wife, and couldn’t believe I had the great fortune to do so. I couldn’t understand how she picked me.

My cousin said he and many of my relatives wondered the same thing. I thought about my dad for a minute and said, “Well, I understand why you wonder. But the alpha male always gets the best women and bourbon.”

Then I took all of his money with a pair of jacks.

Happy New Year.

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