Tag Archives: family

the very short story of Pippin.

I didn’t believe that I could still sob like an eight year old kid. But I did. Today. Most of the day actually. Over a stupid, determined, tuxedo, lap-loving, purr-happy cat that I knew for maybe 10 weeks.

We adopted the tiny bugger from Daryl’s school. They have a relationship with the local ASPCA to let the students interact and sometimes learn to care for kittens. The kittens are part of their foster program.

Our first grand dame, Zazu, came from there 5 Christmas’ ago and we adore her, so after much cajoling from Daryl (3 glasses of good wine, and the promise of something naughty), I FINALLY gave into seeing a photo of this new kitten. “He looks a little sick. Like maybe he has a cold or something,” I snorted. “Just a cold, ” Daryl assured me, “He’s on antibiotic. He is THE friendliest kitten I have ever seen there. He came right up to me and sat on my lap, then climbed onto my shoulder to purr. It’s like he wants to snuggle all the time!”

“Okay,” I said reluctantly. Or as reluctantly as I could fake. “But you’re giving medicine, and litter, and clean ups, etc.” Daryl agreed. He takes such wonderful care of Zazu. How could we not welcome more love into our relationship?

I got home from work after 5 the day he came into our home. Daryl had off and got Pippin used to his new surroundings. We have a very small condo, and our initial challenge was going to be keeping the baby from his big mean old sister Zazu.

This kitten was pathetic looking. Runny nose, gook in both eyes, sneezing into everything, including a few cups of my coffee. But something about this cat was special. Something I haven’t seen before in any of my million cat history growing up. He was just LOVE. We kept him in the bathroom all night. He’d jump into the sink and fall sound asleep while his purr motor ran rampant and loud.

As soon as I would open the door, he would follow me like a puppy. He didn’t meow, didn’t bite, and rarely clawed at anything. As I would start the Keurig he would lie on my feet looking up at me. I’d bring my coffee to my sofa perch and he’d hop right up and plop onto my lap. Not in a cat way… but just a plop. Then he’d purr so loud as I stroked his tiny head. It was just what I needed to start my day. So calming. So loving. Every morning as I watched the sun rise and dawdle on FaceBook.

He was peace. At least to me. Not so much to the queen bee Zazz. She finally got to meet him face to face after the sixth day if “cat-solation.” She wasn’t pleased. He went immediately up to her face as if he were the new 8 year old kid on the first day of school. Hey there lady… my name is Pippin. I think you look really neat. I like you! I’ve never known Zazz to say an unkind word to anyone. She doesn’t even meow. Until now. A hiss and a growl that I think even surprised HER!

Pippin backed away as if to say, okay lady, that’s cool. You’ll warm up to me eventually. In the meantime, I have a lap to find. I left them alone that day and when I came home from work, they were sleeping in the same bed (ours) about a foot or two apart. Zazu looking at me as if to say okay guys… “It’s” really annoying me and when can you take “it” back to where you found “it?”

This behavior between the two continued for a day or two to mixed reviews.

Pippin’s cold wasn’t really progressing like I’d hoped. It wasn’t getting worse, but it wasn’t improving either. Kitten snot everywhere. The poor guy didn’t seem to mind. He continued his lap loving, purr mending ways.

I decided a visit to the vet was in order. I wanted to have him checked anyway even though the ASPCA did their routine shot treatment before he was adopted. As soon as I took Pippin out of his crate, the vet held his head (as he continued to purr loudly) and informed me that Pippin had herpes.

“You’re shitting me right?” was my elegant no filter response. Apparently, cat herpes is quite common in shelter environments. Kittens can also get it from their mothers milk. It’s an airborne version that is extremely contagious to other cats but in no way harmful to humans.

Did you say contagious to other cats?

What about Zazu? We’ve kept them separated for several days. They haven’t had any contact really. We still have their food and liters in different locations. Zazz should be fine right? “Unfortunately, your other cat is already infected,” was the vets response. “It’s THAT contagious.”

After getting a very expensive bag of various pills, powders, and liquids. I headed home to explain to Daryl what our next steps were. Pippin hopping in and out of the travel crate like it was an adventure without the least bit of hesitation.

Within a day, Zazu was a wreck. Her eyes filling up with gunk, her sneezing incessant, and she could not eat or drink without vomiting clear mucus. She got depressed pretty quickly and hid in places that were not her usual spots. It was very difficult to see this cat who was never sick, go downhill so rapidly. The herpes had taken over.

Daryl decided to get her to the vet within the week. He brought his own bag of prescription goodies and our home soon looked like the ward for wayward cats with bottle, salves, and liquids with schedules that rivaled any senior living lobby.

With patience, teamwork, and a little time, we got both animals to a sense of chaotic order. We did it together. All of us.

The two pusses even tolerated each other somewhat out of a resolution of we’re all in this together in this tiny little condo world. We can make this work.

Eventually, Daryl and I could not stop this kid from wanting to sleep in between us. He’d climb up and plop directly between our heads, never fearing getting crushed or being uncomfortable. He would stay with us all night. Purring most of it, as Zazu continued her nightly slumber at our feet.

A few weeks later, Pippin began walking with a slight limp to his hind left leg. I guess we just attributed it to him sleeping on it. He’d be running to play with his favorite laser light and he’d sort of trip with it. Way too quickly within a few days it evolved into he couldn’t walk without his back end sliding to the side. He looked drunk. Almost cute… if it weren’t so serious.

Back to the vet. X-rays, and tests and still no answers. New antibiotics in hand, we coached the little guy along. Hoping to see improvement, he deteriorated quickly. His entire back of his body began to lose function. He had to drag himself around. He never complained or looked in pain as he tried to come running to me looking like a funny seal. I had to pick him up to get him to my lap since he couldn’t climb. He had no control over his bladder or bowels. We were losing him.

Daryl made another vet appointment for that late afternoon. I ended up staying home with the little guy for the day. I cancelled all plans on my schedule and decided to wrap him in a favorite blanket of his (and mine) and sat with him on my lap all day. He was semi alert and continued to look at me off and on during the day, his tiny face staring at me as if HE was trying to comfort ME. At one point I even told him that I didn’t think things looked good as I wept and he stretched his paw out and touched my arm. He continued to sleep off and on, hiding his tiny head deep into the blanket. He couldn’t get up to eat so I would take him to his bowl and watch him attempt to stand as he’d flop into his bowl of water. He just looked at me and placed his head on the floor. I lost it. Like an 8 year old kid… I lost it.

I don’t know how animal volunteers do it. I don’t know how they can look at these faces of unconditional love, of painful eyes, of unspoken thoughts and continue to care for or lose these creatures of heart. I give them credit.

The back of my head kept saying to me, it’s only a cat silly… you haven’t even had him for long. Snap out of it! Stop acting like a big baby.

Daryl came home in cautioned silence as he opened the crate and we watched as Pippin hobbled in without question. Without hesitation. To the vet for blood work. We wanted to see if there were any solutions. Deep down, I didn’t believe the day would end well.

It didn’t.

So many of you reached out. So many of you understand this incredible loss of a pet. More than a pet. A family member. One that never really gives you grief. They just want to be with you is all. They don’t judge your looks, your attitude, your mood. They just see your soul and they allow you to see your own.

Thanks for the support. It is truly of value.

And thanks Pippin, for coming into our lives no matter how brief. We love and miss you terribly. 😿

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can’t we all just get along?

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cracked.

Innocence shattered. A broken reputation. A Cub Scout criminal. My initiation into the wrong side of the law was on a hot summer Sunday afternoon in 1968, when I was just a sun-kissed, freckle-faced, blond-haired skinny kid who was barely 11 years old.

My family had just moved into a newly built home in West Goshen Township. It was a small brick and stucco ranch house on a dead end street situated on a level sixth of an acre. I remember thinking upon entering the side kitchen door and then walking through the dining room, the living room and hallway that it seemed like it took hours to get to my own bedroom in THIS castle. Echoed footsteps on hardwood floors shadowed me from where we moved in our small cramped apartment in the country. I no longer had to share a room with my brother and I no longer had to sleep in the bunk beds of youth.

Freedom for sure… but at what price?

This particularly warm Sunday in June about a month after we moved in, my parents had invited some of our relatives over for a house warming party. The back yard was dotted with aqua blue and sunshine yellow folding web-woven lawn chairs. Red, white and blue Budweiser cans littered a plastic table cloth covered picnic table, as a brand new “colonial orange” charcoal briquette-filled grill from Sears Roebuck puffed white smoke. Several of my laughing aunts and uncles tossed colorful lawn darts toward circular targets among weaving toddlers. Sure, the game was dangerous, but my family was all about living on the edge… and on this day, the family tree was swayin’ and making this branch take a lawless twist to the ground.

In the late afternoon, several of my similarly–aged cousins and I had become bored of the back yard festivities and determined (after we checked with our parents, of course) that perhaps we needed to explore this new uncharted neighborhood and some of its adjoining wild territories. We voted to take a short walk nearby to the newly opened West Goshen Shopping Center across Paoli Pike. We were an eager handful of energetic youngsters looking for an adventure of discovery. We clapped and sang our own made up songs as we strolled to the end of this new street.

Once we crossed the highway, the group of us ran down a hill like an invading army and quickly filled the sleepy “Thrift Drug” store. It was the only store in the whole shopping center that was open on Sundays. We located a large freezer toward the front of the store and began to grab at the boxes of cold, colorful selections of flavored “Twin Popsicles.” The popsicles cost a nickel and they were just what we needed to cool down on this steamy day.

The shopping center was full of stores that were closed on Sundays and was anchored by the ACME Supermarket. The center also included a Hallmark card store, a book store, a Woolworths 5 and 10, a corner hardware store, a men’s clothing store called Ward & Ward and other assorted smaller stores that time has fogged from my memory.

As we sucked the frozen juice of the pops, we left the drug store and came out into the warm summer heat. We headed a short distance toward the ACME where there were groups of neatly stacked chrome shopping carts just begging for our attention. They were all lined up in a straight row of glistening metal baskets on wheels.

I’m not sure exactly who decided to pull a cart out from the pack and start pushing it, but soon the older cousins and I had the smaller kids inside the carts as we shoved them over the sidewalks of the shopping center. Their squeals of laughter at riding in these buggies provoked us to push faster as we raced each other in a frenzy of four-wheeled fun. Back and forth we went, occasionally bumping into each other while the sweaty tiny passengers with cherry red Popsicle lips were giggling at the metallic crash that the carts would echo under the awning of our cement sidewalk “street.” We continued smashing into each other creating loud metal on metal crashes.

“Faster!” the kids would scream. “We want to go to the train station over there!” as they pointed their tiny fingers across the lot. They were indicating that the Ward and Ward Men’s store entrance was the station where we would pretend to fuel our carts and load and unload our tiny passengers. Ward and Ward had an indented entrance. Their doorway was off the main sidewalk allowing their floor to ceiling height windows to display more suits, slacks, shirts, neckties and shiny shoes. It was the PERFECT “train station.”

We quickly made it a race to see who could get there first, bumping each other along the short path to the “station.” There was room for two or three of our carts to be in this “station” area at a time. I had two of my little cousins in my cart as we spun around quicker, now in circles in a race in this tiny vestibule of glass. I too, the driver, was getting dizzy as we laughed then choked as we gasped for air. Suddenly, my cart got out of control and SMASHED directly into the front large glass window of the shop.

It was as if slow motion took over as I remember watching my small cousins turn white from the shock of crashing into the window. I remember watching the glass crack from the point of impact then shatter in large pieces as a deafening alarm went off echoing even louder in the cramped area. I watched in open-mouthed amazement as the cart actually continued traveling into the shop itself as my cousins hopped out of the cart onto crunching glass and out of the store as they ran past me.

I froze. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t move. All I heard was the shrieking alarm and my feet were glued to the floor of the sidewalk. As I turned slowly around, I could see all my cousins running toward home, a few of them looking back with frightened faces to see if I was coming. “Come on Eddy!” they mouthed, “We have to get home now!” I was still stuck to the ground as my numbed mind began to awaken and I started to run. My cousins were almost near the highway as I tried to pick up my lagging, dreamlike pace.

Suddenly I heard the loud wails of sirens. Quickly, flashing red and blue lights were everywhere as I panicked and stopped in my tracks. I was immediately surrounded by West Goshen Police cars, with no way out. I watched as my cousins crossed the highway in the distance and were quickly out of sight.

I was an emotional child growing up. I was very shy and would cry at the drop of a hat. I once cried to get out of a school holiday play in the second grade so I wouldn’t have to put on a homemade doctor’s uniform to the girl’s nurses costumes. It was pathetic. And now, with this shattered window fiasco, I began to tear up thinking I was going to jail for a very long time.

I stood there motionless as the two policemen approached me with pads of paper out and looking like they were ready to cart me off to some unknown prison in the bowels of a West Goshen Township Building somewhere. The alarm continued to scream as I imagined a diet of bread and water and a hard iron holed bed with no mattress and I began to sob. This was no way to begin my initiation into this new neighborhood. I cried harder still, as the two policemen looked at each other and shrugged. The taller one put his hand on my shoulder and asked me to take a seat in the back of his still flashing police car. I was devastated. I could see a handful of Sunday shoppers looking at me. I was ashamed. I became a criminal that day.

The store’s alarm finally stopped.

My ears still ringing, I watched in silence as the policemen took notes, observed the scene of the crime, took a few measurements and put up some yellow tape. Was I going to be on the news? Would my name be in the paper? Would I get out of doing my math homework? I was contemplating my ruined future as my Dad rolled up in his black Ford Falcon with red bucket seats. Tears began to pour down my cheeks as he strolled up to the police officers while he glanced my way.

All I could think of was that I JUST got a new bed room and now I wouldn’t get to use it. What would my Mom think? Would my family have to move from their new home in shame? My Dad was making gestures and continued to talk as the tall officer continued to write on his yellow pad. Finally, Dad turned and started to walk toward me. I couldn’t read his face through my red and throbbing eyes. He told me to get out of the car and to hop in his. I stood as he slipped his arm around my shoulder and whispered that I would have to pay for the shattered window.

I never did.

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the gift.

It’s been awhile since I’ve written. Almost too long… but the mind has settled, the heart has slowed, the breathing has grown patterned once again and the fingers want to caress the keys from the soul’s bright spirit today.

I haven’t written lately because Daryl and I have been way too busy enjoying a summer FILLED with garden parties and iced teas, late night dancing ‘til dawn, orgies loaded with lube and Liza and dinners in Paris and cocktails in Amsterdam! Who the fuck am I kidding. I had no words to share. Period.

Many things have happened in the lives of Salt n’ Peppah in the past few months. Many things. We are on a twisted but determined path of continued growth as we look forward to a future filled with trials, tribulations, more challenges and… more lube and much less Liza.

One of the changes that we are looking forward to with great anticipation, is the birth of a grandchild in February 2012 (due date of 2/29 – Leap Year and SO appropriate). Ashley and Quintin told us (and my Mom) of their impending kidlet several weeks ago via a SKYPE conversation from Queenstown, New Zealand. Looking back in retrospect, I believe Daryl and I “like-totally” squealed as if we were two 12 year old girls at a Justin Bieber concert. Like a couple of scientists, we studied a blurry black and white ultrasound that Ashley held up to the monitor while she explained technically that our grandchild currently had a tail. Once our shrieking died down to a couple of very wide grins, the kids assured us that they were holding up well and are planning on heading back home to our area of the world toward Thanksgiving of this year. Sigh.

We were THE FIRST family members that the kids shared their news with (I found out later in the conversation, that we were considered the easy “dry-run.”) and we were told specifically (read: threatened) NOT to post on Face Book or my blog until they had shared their news with other family members and several friends.

We are VERY good at keeping secrets. Daryl and I didn’t tell a SOUL that we knew that had ANY link to Face Book or a computer. We told the mailman. We told one of the Mexican landscapers (who I think believes we were asking him to turn off his weedwacker). We told a lady in the checkout line of the ACME while she was looking at a People magazine with some pregnant model on the cover, and I actually told a design customer of mine who didn’t realize I WAS married to a woman several years ago and that I had three grown children at all, as she eyed me up and down skeptically while blurting, “No effin’ way you homo.”.

Daryl is as ecstatic as a show tune writer on an episode of GLEE. He is looking forward to a grandbaby… A LOT. He has always considered my children like his own. He has followed them with me through many things in the short seven year period that he’s known them. He’s been a very active part in birthdays, graduations, family game nights, holidays, dinners as well as my son’s difficult battle with drug addiction. They find Daryl adorable, caring, comedic and a very welcome member of our ever growing dis-functionally functional family.

It’s been several locked lipped weeks of laptop keyboard silence and I’ve had plenty of time to reflect and ponder on how “I” feel about being a grandparent for the first time. The age thing doesn’t bother me. You know, that thing where we THINK we’re still in high school and we’re not old enough to be a graaaannnnd parent. Fuck off, I like my AARP membership. I was a pretty good parent when the kids were small, so having a young kid around doesn’t intimidate me at all.

This child will have parents that rival Brad and Angelina with regard to spirit, tree-hugginess, intellect, worldliness, culture and love. One recent afternoon as I was driving home from work on a beautiful back road of Chester County during an unusually striking sunset, I began to tear up out of nowhere thinking about this new life, this new child growing inside MY child! I began to get emotional…

WHAT could I even begin to offer a young child at this stage of the game? Here is one half of a hopefully maturing interracial gay couple who basically lives from paycheck to paycheck in a job that pay the bills but is in no means what I aspire to be. I hang out with my guy when our mixed up work schedules allow with NEVER a full day off together unless I call out sick or plan way in advance. I don’t travel the world. My car is not a “Beemer,” and my suits aren’t Armani. So I wondered… what CAN I offer this child…

Then today… I read with much surprise and even more humility, this dedication to me from a fellow “blogster” whom I have known briefly in blog months (we write a lot of emotional stuff, so a month in the blogosphere is like a year or two in the real world). She, like I, continues to struggle with clinical depression on occasion and she has been “pourin’ her cotton pickin’ heart out” on her blog about dealing with the blackness, the loneliness and the strangling grip that this disease can have on people.

I believe she is an incredible writer and has a way of pulling out all the stops when describing the effects that this debilitating disease can have. I commented to her that I wanted to thank her for just being who she is. I told her she is a gift. I believe she IS.

That’s when it hit me about what I can offer this newest member of my growing insanely diverse family. The gift of truth. The gift of practicing non judgement. The gift of a world with less discrimination. I can not only speak about the amazing positive impacts of diversity but I (with the help of Daryl) can actually SHOW this youngster what it means to be honest with one’s self and what it means to be real with others. To not be as concerned with whether its important to wear the right designer dress or play in the dirt with American made trucks, as much as how important is to be a good person first… to care, respect and love whomever you want, whenever you want.

I personally, cannot wait!

(Please take a few moments to read PissyKittysLitterBox blog… she really is quite talented!)

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That FIRST Father’s Day after…

Dad on his boat, where he always seemed to be the happiest.

My Dad passed away last year two days after Christmas of heart failure. It was quick and, according to medical professionals, painless. I’m grateful for that and I believe my Dad would be grateful for that as well. He was a very proud hard–working man’s man who would have found it undignified to have withered away slowly and painfully, having to depend on others for his personal care.

It’s still odd that I can’t pick up the phone to wish him a Happy Father’s Day this first year without him. Something I took for granted. He had JUST learned to “text” from his phone. Something I’m sure he learned in order to stay in touch with his granddaughters. We would exchange text messages and I would always joke with him by teaching him to use emoticons and to sign off with “c u soon!” I’d criticize his typos and he’d LOL. I still have that last Holiday text wish on my phone. I still have his number on my phone as well. I just can’t delete it yet, as he may decide to call me someday if the brimstone and fire haven’t melted his phone yet.

I wanted to get a card for him while I was at the mall last week returning a shirt. I just wanted to get a Father’s Day card and send it SOMEwhere… ANYwhere really. I was frustrated with that a bit. I was also annoyed that the mall was decorated for “DAD’s DAY.” Photos and banners EVERYwhere indicating that Dad deserved this tie or that shirt. How could this “holiday” even go on without my Dad? I remember when I was younger and I would be at the mall with my Dad on the very rare occasion that he would go. I would always get so frustrated because he’d “dawdle.” He wasn’t a shopper. He’d walk so damn slow. It frustrated the hell out of me. I miss it now.

I don’t think any of us ever think our Fathers will leave this world really. We think them indestructible. Honestly, later in life, when I realized he was a mere mortal and full of flaws, I came to love him deeply and unconditionally. The funny thing about that was he did the same to me… accepting my own midlife “crisis” of coming out.

I think he’d find comfort in knowing something that Dad’s RARELY if EVER get to hear while living… “Dad, you did a great job with what you were given. I appreciate you and thank you for that.” Say it to YOURS today and as many other days as you can.

I’ll finish this blurb about my Dad with just a few words to describe him. He was a simple man and I think he’d appreciated this.

Flawed. Funny. Proud. Humble. Hard working. Dedicated. Sailor. Protector. Accepting. Quiet. Confident. Silver Hair. Thick glasses. Over-achiever. Annoying. Loved his family. Cash, never credit. Fast cars. Fast boats. Slow boats. Stubborn. And last but not least… he was a DEVOTED Dallas Cowboys fan from the word GO.

Love you Dad. Miss u much!

Your son,

Edwin Leroy Williams, Jr.

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just trade him in!

As I was driving this afternoon on my day off running errands, I came across this new store a few miles from our condo.

I wondered WHY didn’t someone think of this sooner? I mean, a place where you can actually EXCHANGE men? Brilliant I tell you… absolutely brilliant!

The sign has ALL the attractions to get your man to go with you (to trade him in on a younger, fresher, more um… healthy model). They have tools and tech and sports and gaming! Why that man of yours won’t know what hit him as you leave with your new and improved stud.

Just hang on to those receipts though folks, ’cause in a year or so, you’ll be back!

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i’m watching u.

Face Book is voyeuristic.

Are you one of those folks that like to look at the photos of friends on Face Book? I do. The problem is, the way Face Book works is that there are so many links to other friends and friends of friends and family friends and enemies of family friends that I find myself looking at the photo album of some college frat party where the guys are taking their pants off and vomiting in a trashcan!

I never was a good web surfer.

I get distracted way too easily and end up being online looking through layers of pages and photos for hours finally forgetting what I was originally looking for. I begin by searching for a new church to attend and end up looking at shirtless Christian men. Go figure. I guess it’s similar to when I open my spice shelf in the kitchen looking for cinnamon and I end up finding the dill weed and dry mustard and I start looking for a new recipe while the dessert burns.

Maybe I have ADD. I’d get a prescription for that, however, I’m sure I would forget to take it and end up swallowing two of something else and end up sleeping for a week.

What was I talking about? Oh yeah… voyeuristic Face Book. I guess that why Mark Zuckerberg invented it in the first place.

Have a great day and keep posting those shirtless photos!

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my twin fantasy.

If I can fantasize about having a twin, I'd imagine we'd look like this.

I read an article on the web this weekend about the twin 92 year old friars who both died of natural causes within hours of each other on the same day. How amazing to have someone who looks like you to share your life with for that long. I’ve sometimes wondered what it would be like to have an identical twin.

My mother was a fraternal twin who looked similar, but certainly not identical to her brother. She loves to share the story of when she and her brother were in junior high, he flunked the seventh grade. Apparently, my mother having missed him in her classes flunked her eighth grade year to be reunited with him again. Sounds a little codependent to me, but then again, I don’t have a twin.

I’ve often fantasized about playing the date trick in high school with my twin, where we would have sex with each other’s dates just because we could. We could play games with our parents and other siblings about who was who. We could try each other’s jobs for the diversity of it or just because we were bored.

I’d hope my twin would have the same warped humor and biting sarcasm that I have and not be an opposite personality type. What a drag to have a twin that actually DID his homework on time and cleaned up his room. I’d have to constantly measure up and follow HIS example.

What if my twin became a Yale educated scholar and was earning a six figure salary while living in a rent controlled apartment on the upper west side? What if my twin was in a relationship with someone like Ricky Martin or Adam Lambert? What if my twin had a fulfilling career as a well known novelist? I’d be in constant comparison. I can BARELY handle the pressure of living up to ME, let alone a twin brother!

After pondering this twin thing a little further, I wonder if I would enjoy watching an image of me grow older. Isn’t it bad enough when I look in the mirror I see my father and I wonder where that 18 year old fresh scrubbed, sparkly eyed guy went? Would we still dress in identical shirts at the age of 54?

Arnold Schwarzenegger was in a movie with Danny DeVito entitled Twins. We know how THAT went.

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