There were a significant number of conversations with my father that most people would agree usually occurs between father and son when the son reaches 20 or so. They are the first man-to-man conversations where sire and offspring bond and where the proud papa gets to transfer his “wisdom” to his son(s), you know – man stuff.
I began these conversations, and the relationship that accompanies them much later; in my late 30’s. It gave me and interesting perspective on parenting and living with other people on a planet and being a man. This one, by far, is my favorite of all time.
I was maybe 40 or 41 years old and my Dad was visiting my house. Suddenly he says to me: “Let me see your wallet, son. Please.” I don’t think anyone is ever prepared for that question. I asked him why he wanted to see my wallet, to which he replied: “If I don’t see your wallet, I won’t be able to share a particular thought with you that might be useful.” So I handed him my wallet. He looked into all of the slots and pockets or whatever they are called until he was satisfied and then gave me my wallet back without saying anything at all. He then took out his wallet; a brown bi-fold leather wallet; simple, classic and practical. He opened it wide to expose the two pockets that one accessed basically from the inside middle of the wallet. A common place for business cards and such that one considers “wallet-worthy” but don’t require quick access. He opened up one of those pockets and began to pull out a folded piece of paper, or at least that’s what I thought I was seeing. Suddenly the gesture became familiar: I’d seen him do this before; the folded piece of paper was money, usually a $100.00 bill. He pulled out the bill and unfolded it, indeed it was a nice crisp $100.00 bill. Then he looked at me and his eyes became those of a mischievous little boy and he smiled his irresistible smile – whatever was coming next was going to be, if anything, fun.
Even though we were alone, he looked to his left and then to his right and lowering his voice a bit, said to me:
“Now listen up Son, and listen well. This is what’s called “mad money” you should always keep a C-note in your wallet for mad money. It’s important. Do not forget this, okay?
I simply had to ask, so I did, I said: “What for, pop?” He grinned and let out a slightly sinister giggle as he looked at me and put a hand on my shoulder right before answering my question. He winked at me and said: “Because;… you never know!” and skipped out of the room, giggling all the way out the front door.”
As usual, pop was right. I carried my “mad-money”, as my father taught me until we destroyed the function and concept of money, but during the years that I did, on more than one occasion, it saved my ass, got me out of a mess or was that which allowed me to ask the gorgeous blonde sitting on a buddy’s couch looking bored after everyone else lost their pocket money playing poker if she wanted to have dinner, or drinks. Dad always said: “Never use mad money for anything that you should cover out of your pocket. It will let you know when to pull it out of your wallet. It most certainly did.
Mad money. I would have never, ever calculated the enormous importance of that concept in my life if my father had not passed it down. It may be one of the most useful tools I’ve ever had, because: you never know!
That’s my pop
My father, born Mario Francisco Vidal on October 4, 1923 in Key West, son to Victor Vidal and Dolores Lopez Mayg, also of Key West, FL, passed away this past July 6th, three months shy of his 90th birthday. You may have even ready my post of the day he passed and perhaps even been one of the countless well-wishers who crashed my e-mail server with e-mails! My father loved his home town and carried that love, and the name of Key West, to the 18 countries that he would live in during his career as one of the world’s top hoteliers. Before passing away, the only request he made of his wife and his five sons was that Key West be the final resting place for his ashes. Our family’s commitment to honoring my father’s last request is what is at the root of this message, but it can be much more than that, if we choose as much.
Our plan is to drive to Key West on Friday; October 4, 2013, what would have been his 90th birthday, and together with friends and other members of the family we will do as he instructed us to and spread his ashes out on the water from the Reynolds Street Pier, the very place where he learned to swim as a child. My father was a man who spread a great deal of love during his lifetime and that love was returned and has manifested in the multitudes of people who will join us on October 5th to bring a Native Son of Key West back home to rest and pay our last respects. We need your help to do this; How? We need a tiny bit of financial support in order to make this happen and you can be a part of it! I am asking for you help by contributing whatever you can. There are many of you and even though we only have 24 hours, I’ve never known you to back down or not step up. This is a chance to do better, between all of us, we can give my father the only this he asked all of us for: to go back home to rest in peace. I invite you to participate in what is a truly human event. I will be posting on the events of the upcoming weekend and everyone who was a part of this journey will have their name listed in the honor plaque that I will post next weekend; never forget – what any one of us can do, two can improve on and many of us can make it happen! Thank you for your support! Just click on the Donate button below to join the caravan and bring a native son of Key West back home!
Now this is what I call doing better!
Just click on the link below to be a part of this grand homecoming! Thank you!
This morning; February 16, 2013; I went for a walk. Yes, I said a walk. I actually walked a whole 6 blocks, just enough to reach a street near my home with a small shopping mall that includes a quaint little outdoor cafe-type place, but where people play Sudoku and a host of other modern-day activities that are still alien to me. I had come to think there weren’t any of these left, but it was nice to see, just as it was nice to see the two little old ladies sitting at a table in the cool morning air – oh wait, is “little old ladies” still the acceptable term? I’m not sure if it’s already evolved linguistically, maybe the proper term now is “GILF” (you figure it out). In any event, the two gray haired ladies were having coffee, coffee! They were also expertly and furiously manipulating their I-pads, or Galaxy tablets, or any of the devices that we can’t live without. They were reading the news: the Google news app, yahoo news, etc. As I passed the cafe, not more than 3 feet from where they were sitting; this is what I overheard one of them say as she read the news app:
The walk back home was priceless; I had the biggest smile I’ve had in weeks. We humans are outrageous, fickle, self-centered and even idiotic at times – but we are also spectacular! We can do so much with what we have. I don’t know if we actually will or not, in the face of what’s ahead, but no matter what happens, I love all of you; all 7 billion of you – after all we’re all we have!
We are so far advanced from where we were 10,000 or more years ago. We are such badasses! Just to think, not that long ago, we were little more than naked, nomadic semi-animals who spent the majority of their time looking for food.
Now, however, we have GROWN AND EVOLVED. Look at US! See what we have evolved into:
Today I received an e-mail. It was spam, just like the other 412 e-mails that I received in the last 15 minutes (it now takes a measurable amount of time for a person to “sift” out real e-mails from the spam). This particular e-mail caught my attention because of the bright colors (because I’m a recovering 20th century consumer) and when I read it, it really had an impact. At the end of this post there is a screen shot of the e-mail message. Just in case the text is too small and you can’t make it out well, the e-mail reads as follows:
Hey frank (then my email address which I blacked out)
Use this information to Blackmail Anyone You Know
Ever wished you could get back at someone by uncovering dirty information?
If they have a speck of dirt under their fingernails, we’ll find it and provide it to you. Find out background information on anyone in just minutes (arrests, past marriages/felony)
Get the Dirty on Anyone Here (in the green button)
This is what we have evolved into? This is the best we have?
Sometimes, we suck, big time.
(PS, in case the author of the e-mail is reading this: Get a life!!)
It appears that someone else has give “it” a name and assigned it a date. It is being called the “Fiscal Cliff” and apparently we are supposed to topple over it on January 1, 2013. Interesting. At least this gives some indication that there is a speck of sanity and an atom of awareness left in the human condition. It’s not a fiscal cliff, however, if we were to apply that metaphor to the actual world, we went over that cliff in 2008. After filtering out all of the “required modifications” to the language used, what is being called the “fiscal cliff” may very well be the bottom of the precipice that we have already fallen from (it is still incalculable to determine how far we will fall) and January 1, 2013 may be a probabilistic calculation as when we might hit that bottom.
It is simply insane that, at this stage of the process, all that we are capable of is to acknowledge the inevitable proximity of an unthinkable catastrophe and attempt to figure out when it will occur. All that is missing is to take bets and give odds as to the actual date for it to technically be lunacy.
It is a shame; and to think that preventing it from even occurring is so simple. All that we have to do is to realize that there is no spoon, because there isn’t.
I can’t let myself forget, even for an instant, that giving up is simply not allowed.