When I was younger, I fell in love across time.
It’s not like you’re thinking, probably. I didn’t fall in romantic love. I fell in love with the work and artistry of someone, and it’s influenced my life to this day. I have his autobiography as well as a biography by his brother in law and wife. I have pretty much all his work.
Oh, yes. He.
His name is Jack Benny.
On radio, he was a skinflint, a cheapskate beyond compare, and not a kind human. In real life, he was one of the world’s more generous people.
And I fell in love with his work via the KNX 1070AM old time radio hour. Every night from 9 to 10, it was an hour of old time radio. I listened to Harry Lime, Sherlock Holmes, Sgt. Preston (and his Wonder Dog, Yukon King), the Six Shooter, the Cisco Kid, Burns and Allen, Edger Bergen and Charlie McArthur, and, of course, The Jack Benny Show.
I can recite many of his bits. I remember so many with absolute clarity. I had four cassette tapes that I listened to ceaselessly for years. I played them out. When I was in my 20s, I bought all the (then) known to still exist episodes on CD. I still have them.
Yes, I’ve listened to them all. I even pulled a joke on my wife (then girlfriend) with a quote of Jacks’ about how he couldn’t see clearly in his dreams because he wasn’t wearing his glasses. She thought it made sense. Then we were watching Jack’s TV show and he made that joke and she was so pissed off at me. But she married me anyway.
One of Jack’s schticks was how he was 39.
Jack: Rochester, on my birth certificate where it says date of birth, what does it have?
Rochester: A hole, boss.
Jack: A hole?
Rochester: Yeah, we erased it once too often!
So today is my 7th anniversary of my 39th birthday. my father always joked I loved Jack so much I would be 39 forever.
It’s also WordPress’ 20th anniversary, and about to be the 10th anniversary of my grandmother’s death. My father died 5 years ago back in February.
I have a lot of conflicting feelings about all this. Dad and Taffy never saw Cleveland win the World Series a third time. 1920, 1948. That’s it. We got close in 2016, but instead lost to the Cubs and opened the gateway to hell itself.
(This is a joke. I used to kid that if Cleveland played the Cubs for the World Series, in the bottom of the 9th of the 7th game, the portal to hell would open. Honestly looking at what happened in 2016, I think I was right.)
But here I am, 39+7 (46) and WordPress is 20 and Taffy has been dead 10 years and Dad 5.
I miss them a lot. Especially right now when the Cleveland Guardians are sucktastic. I mean, come on, a team that can’t hit fastballs down the middle? Who even are we?
But I hang on to the things that make me smile when I think of them. I listen to baseball. I drink from a mug with Mr. Natural on it (a lovely gift from my baby brother).
And I am 39.
Happy Birthday to everyone who shares this date with me.
Except Kissinger. Fuck that guy.