Don’t Forget The Scary Man

Mom looks at me and asks if I remember that moment with the Marines in San Diego.

I do, but our memories are slightly different. Blame it on 40 or so years and the perception of a child.

We’re on a family vacation and as mom helps my baby sisters into their car seats her door hits the car next to us.

Here is where memories diverge a bit.

I remember them yelling at my mom and then jumping into their car because they spotted my father moving from the other side of the car towards them.

Mom says I yelled “Get ’em dad” and that they didn’t see my father as being the same giant a seven-year-old might.

My best guess is her memory of my words is accurate, that sounds like me. In some areas I am consistent.

The kid who used to introduce himself to others just before punching them might have said that.

BTW, that punching thing was a phase, didn’t last long nor did it endear me to people. I guess it is fair to say I was born believing in the value of a first strike, but I digress.

Don’t Forget The Scary Man

Dad retired at 58.5 or was it 59.

I remember him looking at me and saying “beat that” with a big smile. Thirty-seven or was it thirty-eight years at the county meant he had put some real time in.

At his retirement party one of his buddies from the county took me aside to tell me a few things.

“Your dad is one of the nicest and most honest men I know. But there is another side to him, that guy isn’t afraid of anybody.”

I thanked him for the kind words and told him not to forget the scary man and for good measure made a couple of cracks ‘cuz by that point dad was close enough to hear me.

And you know that Wilner men can’t help but make a smart remark, especially to each other.


“I scare the hell out of you. You can’t handle my intensity. Easier to just walk away and pretend.”

She shakes her head and tells me she isn’t afraid and I wonder if maybe I am wrong and we scare the hell out of each other.

That is probably more likely but I am too something, young, immature, afraid or stubborn to say it.

So I don’t and life moves on.

Sometimes I think about the song and wonder about grabbing an excerpt or two.

Will you recognize me?
Call my name or walk on by

I remember thinking about whether I would try to hit the Marines with the car door or at least I think I do.

If they had started fighting with my parents, I might have or maybe I wouldn’t. Hard to say after so many years.

Where To Focus

I am 125 miles into a 198 mile day listening to one of my favorite songs while thinking about the to-do list.

Somehow I haven’t had any Matza brei and feel a desperate need to have some because Pesach isn’t Pesach without it.

But this year isn’t a normal year and since we weren’t here for most of the holiday I didn’t buy any.

I make a mental note to grab some later and try calling my folks. Dad is sleeping so I don’t get a chance to ask him whether he thinks he feels better or worse.

So I head off to the store wondering if I’ll find any Passover products. This isn’t LA and I am in the mid cities so the pickings are slim.

There are signs are all over the store about the specials on left over Easter candy but there is no Matza to be found.

Some miles of driving and two stores later I find it, only $7.99 for a box. Gefilte fish is $9.99 and there are some other Kosher products as well.

“Can you read that mister?”

Leave it to the small child to notice me reading the Hebrew on the Elite Milk Chocolate candy bar.”

“Yeah, I can read it.”

“Is that cursive? They didn’t teach us cursive so I can’t read it, but my mom can.”

“No, it is not and I am not sure your mom can read it either.”

“She can read anything and she is smarter than you are.”

“Kid, that is not hard. Lots of people are smarter than me.”

“I don’t think you mean that.”

I shrug my shoulders at the kid and tell him to have a good Tuesday.”

“It is Thursday!”

“See, you are smarter than me.”

I wink and start walking.


Dad and I are Facetiming and I see a stronger focus in those bright blue eyes.

I ask him how he feels and he says he thinks better but he isn’t sure. I tell him I can help him figure out where to focus.


“Just pretend you’re in The Magnificent Seven and you’re kicking Cancer’s ass.”


I don’t like the “Ok” because it doesn’t have the fire behind it that I want to hear and I remember again that time takes a bite out of all of us.

The scary man who would have fought those Marines is quite a bit older and it requires a lot more to keep going than it once did.

But we’re not done yet and if things go the right away I think we’ll see him adjust and come back a couple of steps.

We’re not going to beat time because no one does, but we just might give it the slip and get away for a little bit longer.

We’re not just stubborn, we’re crafty too.

At least I hope so. 🙂

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