BRONX, NY – So, it’s not even half over yet, and already I have no problem crowning 2020 as the runaway winner of “Worst Year of My Life, So Far.” What an absolute sh!tshow. Even Rod Serling would be like, “C’mon guys, all of these things at once? There’s enough material here for at least four or five Twilight Zone episodes.” I came back from exile in Florida to more unwelcome surprises waiting for me. My brother is currently in the hospital, and my great friend Cheesy Bruin, who is a brother to me as well, goes in tomorrow. This ain’t exactly shaping up as the Summer of Love. But, as I try to figure out exactly what this summer can be, let me stick with my two brothers.
I met Cheesy Bruin, aka The Cheeseman, aka Richie, when we were in third grade at Public School 7 in the Bronx. He cheated at punch-ball, cheated at cards, and was a Dallas Cowboys and Boston Bruins fan. That we actually became friends is a testament to what a great guy he is. If anyone could get through this summer, it’s The Cheeseman. The two of us were regular beach bums back in the day, getting up with the sun, hitting Jones Beach early, and beating traffic back to the city so we could shower up and meet later for burgers and beers. He’s also my main partner in crime when it comes to hitting the track and playing the ponies.
Even with most beaches and Belmont Park out of the picture, I know The Cheeseman would find ways to endure this summer. The sun hits a lot of locations other than the shore, and there’s always online gambling. Other than that, I can see him getting his mitts on some good food (including his own killer meatballs), cranking up some tunes, and maybe partaking in some socially distant wiffle ball. I’d be down for all of that, and actually just found a Wiffle Ball and bat in my hall closet. As for the upcoming surgery he’s facing? I’m sending nothing but positive vibes his way. You got this, big guy.
The Docs are still trying to figure out what’s going on with my brother. He’s improving, but still under the microscope, so to speak. I have a theory. He’s experiencing severe New York Mets Withdrawal. The Mets are the only team, and baseball the only real sport, that my brother really cares about. Having no Mets baseball—no Keith, Ron, and Gary, no free t-shirt Friday nights at Citi Field, etc.—has thrown his entire system out of whack.
Growing up, my brother Chris was an expert at keeping a very young Angry Ward entertained during the summer months. Sure, we went to a local camp at my grade school, like so many kids did at the time, but there was still plenty of summer downtime. Chris was a big fan of air conditioned movie theaters to beat the summer heat. Didn’t matter much what was playing. He saw Hollywood Knights without me, but I forgive him. He was also big on planning a day around getting some cool new thing for our room. I think the first thing he bought was an orange wall clock, but then got us an aquarium, a TV, and finally the best purchase ever, an A/C unit. Up until then it had been a creaky window fan and/or the occasional night sleeping on crappy Modell’s blow up mattresses on the living room floor where there was an air conditioner. We’d wake every morning sleeping on the hard floor with those mattresses flatter than Shelley Duvall… apologies to Ms. Duvall.Although no one knows when the Mets are coming back, and the movies are another thing that have yet to reopen, Chris could always make the best of those days when there was nothing to do. He made a trip to the grocery store to “hang out in the frozen food aisle for a few minutes,” seem like an adventure. I look forward to him getting discharged from the hospital, so I can return the favor of trying to keep him entertained for once. I’m not gonna buy him tropical fish or anything, but I will get him a Marino’s Lemon Italian Ice from Mr. Softee and go sit on someone’s stoop for a spell.
To both of my brothers, get well soon.
Come back tomorrow for Buddy Diaz, who has seen Undercover Brother too many times to count.