Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Bawdy Humor With A Snack Wrapped Around It

December.  The month in which an old, white-haired, jelly-bellied man completes his annual pilgrimage all in one night.  The old goat to whom I refer is - of course - Santa Claus.  Once upon a lifetime ago, he did not ride alone. 

At the time of his death in May, 1981 William Patrick Kenny, Sr. was fifty-seven years old.  Smart as a whip yet thick as a brick my old man was.  He used to love to tell everyone - whether you inquired or not - that he was the perfect height for someone nine feet tall - a lofty goal to be sure....and one that he fell approximately three and one half feet short of attaining.  When he died, the smart medical people told Mom that he had the arteries of a ninety-year-old man.  Had he lived to tell the tale, today he would be blowing out eighty-nine candles atop his birthday cake.  Presuming of course that an eighty-nine year-old man with the lung capacity of a one hundred and twenty-one year-old could manufacture enough air to blow out a single one - let alone one plus eighty-eight more. 

Some of my best memories of Dad are Christmas-related - including but not limited to the year his great friend Shelley Koplowitz (Mike and Jenny's mom) gave him a big bag of "X"-rated fortune cookies.  Bawdy humor with a snack wrapped around it?  'Twas enough to make Dad wish every day could be like Christmas. 

 Dad spent the final dozen or so years of his life at Wardlaw - first in its all-boys original recipe form and thereafter in the co-educational iteration.  Between school, ski trips and Saturday play group he was a magnet for Christmas gifts.  He received them from students, parents and faculty alike.  Born with an excess amount of the great Irish gift of blarney - his withering honesty was saved principally for those of us who shared space with him within the four walls of the familial home - he could make anyone feel as if whatever it was they took the time to purchase for him was the greatest gift he had ever received. 

Of course not every gift could be the greatest gift ever.  He was in fact a notorious regifter - passing off this year on one teacher something he had received from another teacher a year earlier.  If only he had ever bothered to keep track of who gave him what - and when he received it.  He did not.  Thus one year shortly before his death "his" gift to one of the female members of the lower school faculty (to this day I know who it was and since it matters not for purposes of this story, tell it I never shall) was the identical trinket he had received from her one Christmas earlier.  I suppose he could have tried to tell her that he was so impressed by the gift that he thought enough of her to buy her one for herself....had he not kept pieces of the original wrapping paper affixed to the parcel when he had only "kinda, sorta" opened it upon his receipt of it. 

Not a lot of reason to laugh or smile in these parts these past few days.  I will gladly take what I can get - whenever and wherever I can.  And even if you had as little chance of living to see eighty-nine Dad as you did of growing to reach nine feet, I appreciate the smile.  


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