Cardella: Wise-cracking

I’m at the age when a young woman’s compliment can seem patronizing. Last week at the Navy Yard, the nurse, prior to administering my first COVID-19 shot, asked me if I were retired. When I told her I still worked, she became excited. “Good for you!,” she exclaimed. I feared that if she asked me if I were sexually active and I answered in the affirmative, she would’ve slapped me on the back and said, “Atta boy!” It’s not that I’m impervious to compliments. A young woman once admired my NORTH FACE jacket. I wore that jacket until the tatters became tatters. But a man knows that the surest sign of age is when a young female feels safe paying him a compliment.

My late father was a cop. Back in the day, cops appeared in court on their own time. They couldn’t hold part-time jobs as firemen could. Dad liked to complain about firemen who he felt spent much of their time on the job taking naps or making coffee at the fire station. His complaint was unfair, of course, but firemen thought cops had it easy, too. Dad would’ve loved being a cop these days. He was fearless. And he would’ve gotten a chuckle at the latest negotiations with the city. Visions of triple-overtime for consecutive court appearances would’ve had him smiling. The audacity of negotiating for an additional 5% pay for wearing a body cam would’ve struck him as incredible. What next, 1% for carrying a nightstick? The idea, I think, is maybe if the city pays cops extra for wearing body cams, they might suddenly work. You know how finicky those body cams can be during controversial police incidents.

We officially lost Columbus Day recently. Mr. Mayor, I’ve got nothing against indigenous people, even if I do have trouble pronouncing the word indigenous. Let them have their own day. After all, they were here first. Just not the same day when we’ve celebrated our Italian heritage for all these years. What’s that about? Did you get a bad roast pork sandwich? You know that, come October, my Uncle Nunzio is going to be in Marconi Plaza singing O Sole Mio. No offense to you or the indigenous people, but on Oct. 11, Italian Heritage Day, kiss me — I’m Italian. Relax, and have a cannoli.

The political Trump ass-kissers are still at it. We need these ass-kissers to remind us when the rest of us go too far with the name-calling. Let it be known that I agree with you, Sen. Josh Hawley.  I promise not to call former President Trump the “fuhrer.” Former twice-impeached president seems sufficient to me.

When former Temple basketball player Jay “Pappy” Norman passed away recently, I thought of an incident that happened at the Palestra in, I think, 1956. The University of Texas played the Owls before one of those screaming packed crowds. Temple had a wonderful team back then led by All-American Guy Rodgers. The coach was the legendary Harry Litwack. Litwack had been my high school gym teacher before he went on to an incredible coaching career at Temple. Temple played only six men that season, but that was enough to be among the top teams in the country. During the game, which Temple won, Norman tumbled to the floor with a Texas player. A white guy. It was a time when the civil rights movement was in its infancy. The Texas player supposedly said to Norman, “You know what we do to blacks in Texas, don’t you?” Pappy looked at the guy and replied, “Look around you, you SOB. You’re not in Texas.” The story might not be true, but remembering Pappy, I’d like to think it was.

I’ve been receiving ads for OUTLAW (no relation to our police commissioner) soap recently on my Facebook page. Apparently, this is a tough soap for manly men. Some of the scents offered are Calamity Jane, Mountain Hideout, Hair of the Dog and Gambler Whiskey — the last of which is said to smell like bourbon, tobacco and coffee. I know a lot of guys who smell of whiskey, tobacco and coffee without using this soap. And let’s face it, Calamity Jane was rumored to shower only when forced to at gunpoint. This is such a manly soap, I bet Jesse James used it after robbing trains. I’m tempted to try Lust in the Dust, but I don’t think my testosterone level is high enough for me to qualify. I wonder if they make one called Puny Tenderfoot?

The latest controversy over the national anthem was short-lived. Mark Cuban is the owner of pro basketball’s Dallas Mavericks. He announced that the StarSpangled Banner would no longer be sung before his team’s home games. Cuban is kind of a liberal-but-just-as-obnoxious version of Donald Trump. Now I, for one, don’t understand the necessity of performing the national anthem at sporting events. It isn’t performed before a performance of La Traviata or a Miley Cyrus concert and no one seems to miss it. But the idea of omitting the StarSpangled Banner before a sports event in Dallas would’ve been like serving barbecued meat without the barbecue sauce. It was a brave attempt by Cuban, but dead-on-arrival. The National Basketball Association mandates playing of the Star-Spangled Banner and it forced Cuban to rescind his ban. Be there a country that’s so secure that it doesn’t need to force a show of patriotism at sporting events? Not in America, where some folks still believe that “play ball!” is the last line of our anthem.

A wise man once said that, “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” Seems like we have trouble distinguishing the scoundrels from the true patriots these days.

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