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Peter J. Oszmann

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Ruminations…
By Peter J. Oszmann
Last edited: Saturday, November 05, 2005
Posted: Saturday, November 05, 2005



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Recent articles by
Peter J. Oszmann

• Thoughts… just thoughts… (Part 1)
• Thoughts… just thoughts… Part 2
• About the Book -“Remember Us”
• About dicks and arseholes.
• Dotcomology
• Bringing up kids.
• 2 Blog Or Not 2 Blog.
           >> View all 26
Soliloquy about getting old, being romantic, teenage grandsons, a Welsh Rabbi, and youthful passions…




 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is simply amazing how age suddenly creeps up on you. One minute you are in school, trying to figure out what you are going to be when you grow up; next minute you are tottering towards your grave… still trying to figure out what you are going to be when you grow up…

 

Our home these days is like a place during a Jewish Wake.... all mirrors are covered... I think I will do one better and smash them all.... I don't want to see what became of me... It's bad enough to see what became of my wife... Only yesterday I was courting this smashing, extremely good-looking, clever young chick… now I sleep with a grandmother… and I mean SLEEP!…


But being that I am essentially romantic in nature I took her out last year Valentine's Day evening for a nice dinner, where I paid compliments on her good looks, good nature, and her gentle loving care.... (I did throw up between the soup and the main meal... but that may have been coincidental.. normally I have strong stomach for lying... especially when I do the lying...) ...I treated her to some romantic music, arranged for candles and flowers to be brought to the table, told her how much I loved her and how much I appreciated the 49 years we have spent together... (I did throw up again between the main meal and the desert... but that too may have been coincidental...) To finish the night on a high note, I then waved to the headwaiter to give her the bill, before I asked her to sign the divorce papers....


…. I then woke up and felt great for the rest of the day!...


The mirrors are still covered... I will break them soon...


My head is also covered... with bandages.... she broke it with her rolling pin... I have this unnerving feeling that she can look into my dreams.... But why, oh why do I have the leading role in everyone else's nightmares?
The St Valentine's Day’s massacre was temporarily postponed... She is still loading the machine gun...

That’s one advantage of advancing years… it slows you down…


 

Now about Kids… they are always cute when they are very young... it is when they start growing up...
 
One minute you are the "bestest granddad in the whole wide world"... next minute the brown stuff hits your head and they disown you as "that bloody old fool"...
All my grandsons are now geniuses. They already know everything better than anyone else... and when you open your mouth in order to voice an opinion other than theirs.... the brown stuff flies into your mouth...
I keep my mouth permanently shut these days... why bother?... let them be geniuses... I am content to be just a bloody old fool.... I also stopped building my character a long-long time ago... I realised that the more you build it the greater the chances are for a catastrophic fall… I am happy being just an invisible little grey blob...

 

I am just minding my own business these days; trying to get the maximum enjoyment possible out of my life by being as miserable as sin, only - quite frequently - to be told off for my honest efforts and reprimanded for not appreciating that other people have a right to feel, perhaps, a shade more miserable than I feel… What are people trying to achieve? Are they trying to rob me of my only pleasure of moaning and groaning? Shameful!


My philosophy has always been that things are never so bad that they could not be made a hundred times worse and, therefore, I have always been happy with the knowledge and realisation of how lucky I was for not having it quite as bad as it could be. Now other people are trying to ruin it for me.
I love wallowing in my misery; it's the greatest - and possibly the only - real pleasure left in my life and I am not going to allow anyone to take that away from me and make me feel guilty for it… (Mind you, feeling guilty comes a close second to feeling miserable, so perhaps they are trying to do me a favour?)
Well, all you people out there do me a favour and don't do me a favour! Just let me feel miserable and guilty, so that I can be happy. Everybody deserves a little happiness; even a miserable, guilty sod like me.


Way back, when I was working on the final proof of my autobiographical book, which I received back from the publishers with a two weeks deadline for returning, I decided to show it to my mother. I never mentioned to her that I was writing the story and then, belatedly, I decided to show her the final proof. I was curious about her reaction, not so much about the text, which she could not understand anyway - being that she never mastered the English language - but more about her reaction to the photographs within.
Her eyes lit up as she browsed through and recognised the photos; she then turned to me with a quizzical look.


   - "Who will read all this anyway?" – she asked.


Talk about critical faculties! It wasn't bad for a 92-year-old woman with Alzheimer disease!...
I could always trust her to take me down a peg or two....


About that time a cousin of mine recommended that I should get in touch with a Rabbi in Wales - who was a professor teaching Hebrew and literature at the University there - with the view to asking for his comments on my book. I was informed that the Rabbi was awaiting my call or letter; therefore I dutifully scribbled a letter to the learned man.

Within a few days I received a brief note from him. There were only four very short lines in reply... and immediately I developed a major headache... I was unable to decipher his handwriting...
Perhaps I should have pointed out to him that I was only a humble little Jewtheran and should have asked him not to respond in Welsh-Hebrew... It was not clear to me if his note started with a blessing in Hebrew... or “Dear… whatever”...


I was labouring to decipher it… I even thought about borrowing the Enigma machine from the Imperial War Museum to try to crack the code.... I decided that after breaking the code I was either going to telephone him... or going on Pilgrimage to Mecca.... depending on what the text was instructing me to do... I thought that if his diction proved to be as clear as his writing... then the only route of communication left would have been sign-language... which may just have proved a tetchy bit difficult over the phone.... But why worry?!.... "Prifysgol Cymru Llanbedr Pont Steffan Diwinyddiaeth ac Astudiaethau Crefydd"... as they apparently say in Lampeter... where the Rabbi seemingly lived…
 

Eventually it took five of us to decipher his four short lines of scribble.


After several attempt, I – personally - still could not make head or tail of it and this is how I read it:

   " Dew Peter Oszmann,
   Cow I am you to riymlo duius you looi.
                       Bob wily
                           Din-Cit-Si"

Even from my shallow learning I concluded that it made little sense either in Welsh or Ancient Hebrew.... not to mention the English language...

Luckily for me, we were at that time still in the printing business and, believe me, we did come across some real "cat's scratches" masquerading as human writing. However this Rabbi's script seemed to have beaten everything we ever looked at... But undeterred as we were, we - my graphic artist, my printer, my bookkeeper, my customer service personnel, the District Tax Inspector, a retired C.I.D. graphologist from Scotland Yard and a not so retired local streetwalker - who confessed to having seen everything there is to be seen - (whatever that means!) - all examined the script again under magnification.


After the lady - who walked the streets everywhere and seen everything - apologised and declared that she obviously missed something, a consensus of opinion was formed, which could have been summed up in one word: "Crap" (or something very similar!)... but even the lady who walked everywhere and thought she had seen everything, but had to admit that she hadn't after all, refrained using such obscene word and instead exclaimed: "F^*^ me!” - whereupon all males in the street promptly formed a long queue outside our shop to oblige...


   Now... before I lose the thread of this delightful little tale, I am compelled to admit that the above mentioned queue outside our shop was a figment of my overactive imagination, a mere wishful thinking, that did not add a penny to our daily takings; and because of the presence of the District Tax Inspector I would have vigorously denied the whole thing anyway... and in any case it had no relevance to the fact that the script in question was indeed almost indecipherable... Almost... as eventually one of us - and it was definitely not I or the lady who walked everywhere, etc. - came up with the following corrected text:

   "Dear Peter Oszmann (I almost got that line right myself!)
       Can I ask you to ring me to discuss your book.
               Best Wishes
                   D.. C…S" (being his signature)

Well, I never!... What could you answer to a Rabbi Professor who could come up with such an overpoweringly literary script? What indeed?… So I picked up my best-printed professional letterhead and with my best and clearest handwriting in large (at least 180 point) capitals I wrote in the middle of the sheet:

                       
YES!

I hope that answered his question... (Even though he forgot to put a question mark after his question... but of course a professor is entitled to be parsimonious with his script).

Needless to say that the eventual conversation with the great man turned out to be as cryptic as his short note… Now, had I asked him about why Jewish men are circumcised… (not an unreasonable question addressed to a Rabbi, after all, apart from God Himself, who can give a meaningful answer?)... but I popped that question eventually to another Rabbi… I wanted a real answer, not a cryptic scribble…

 

Well, this other Rabbi did give an answer... and it was the best and most satisfying answer to the puzzling question I ever heard. It simply stated:

 

“Because Jewish women refuse to touch anything without at least 20% off”...


Now why could I not figure this out for myself?... Here was the value of Occam's Razor proved yet again. Whenever in doubt, the simplest answer is the solution...
Now I also understand why I landed myself with a fellow Jewtheran as wife.... No self respecting Jewess would have ever touched....


Well, at least I am of full value...which is very small consolation, considering that when I asked my doctor about his opinion of my possible use of Viagra, he wryly commented that what would be the use of putting a flagpole on a condemned building?


That put me firmly in my place...

 

Oh, how different it used to be in my youth!... or was it?... When I started to write my book, the first story I wrote about was a tepid love affair I had when I was about seventeen years of age.

The story never got included in my first book and so I retained it with the intention of including it in my forthcoming second book… if I ever live long enough to finish the story… (You may read that saga here amongst my short stories titled: “Springtime and love behind the Iron Curtain”.)

 

I sent the narrative to the same cousin who recommended the Welsh Rabbi to me, for him to read and comment on it. After reading the piece he promptly enquired about my "amorous youth and passionate love affairs"… so I started thinking back… about my youth, about my "passionate love affairs"… What love affairs?... Did I feed him with some tall stories in those days and did he swallow them lock, stock and blazing barrels?...


Well, perhaps it is time to make amends and make a full confession about those "passionate" moments of my wayward youth.


Like most of my contemporaries, I too was full of dreams, fantasies and sh... you know what... whilst somewhat vague and hesitant on action.... I was an awkward youth; full of romanticism, but not exactly a dashing Don Juan emulating my stepfather, who really knew action between the sheets....
Further more, I was also somewhat confused about matters of "love and passion."
If there was any real passion in my life at that stage, it occurred around age fifteen when I had fallen head over heals in love with a thirteen year old girl called Éva Sugár. It culminated in one feeble kiss on the lips, after which followed rejection by the young lady and me withdrawing for the next three years pining after her, licking my wounds and scribbling some forty to fifty "passionate" love poems, including an attempted transliteration of Catullus's poem Odi et Amo.
So much for passion.


Then there was Vera... or Borbála Herczog as she was properly named. She was a very nice young lady, less than a year younger than I from a good Orthodox Jewish family. The tepid affair lasted almost six long months, always supervised by her mother, father, two burly uncles, one maiden aunt, the canary and half the Orthodox neighbourhood... Yes, I did kiss her... with the full approval and encouragement of her mother, father, two burly uncles, one maiden aunt, the canary, the assistant chief Rabbi and a very cross eyed and buckle toothed friend of her, looking on and smiling through heavy orthodontic wiring... That was the real, almost orgasmic climax to our "passionate" relationship...


Vera tried her utmost during our courtship to reconvert me into the folds of Hassidic Judaism...
Fearing an inevitably painful and eye watering circumcision, I did beat a rather hasty retreat... Call me a coward if you will.... there is only so far that a cowardly little Jewtheran dare to progress amongst the fearless Orthodoxy...


Then there was Éva Hadházy... who lived in the same block of flats as my Aunt Piri opposite our block of flats.
That affair lasted almost four full days… and I ran like a scared rabbit when she tried to kiss me... I don't quite know why... she was a very pretty girl... but a bit forward to my liking. It usually took me between three to six month to build up enough courage to hold a girl's hand and a further three to six month to contemplate a limpid peck... if I had a chance to get that far, that is... This girl tried to kiss me on our second meeting... Well!... I mean to say... I came from a good family, what did she think?... I was no slut!... So I left... running…


Admittedly there were a few short lived sordid little affairs... three to be precise... when three, more mature - and quite forward - girls, (not all three at the same time!) originating from the depth of the Hungarian provinces, played some funny games with me... These were the occasions when I learned my practical history lessons from the Punic Wars.... General Coitus was riding on top of the elephant whilst the Populus Romanus was crying out: "Coitus ante Portas".... Time for some wet dreams.... Well… wet anyway... So much about my "passionate love affairs".... Boy was I an idiot!?... The time and opportunities I missed!...

Then came the University years landing me on a choke collar and short chains... and I've been married to the girl who holds the chain ever since… So much for my many talents on the field of passionate love affairs... That's the full story.... Well, as full as I shall ever confess.... The rest is silence....


I am going to be seventy two next birthday, I've been married for over fifty years, my kids are middle aged, my grandchildren are in their teens, I've been in dentistry  - counting university years as well - for over fifty years, now retired, one of the nurses in my surgery had been with me for over thirty five years, the other one (the junior) over twenty five years, I've been in the printing business for over seventeen years, where one member of staff been with us for over fourteen years, more than half of our circle of friends are dead, the rest of them are either home bound or tottering on Zimmer frames towards their graves, I cannot see without glasses, I cannot hear - even with an ear-trumpet - a brass band performing in my living room, my last brain cell is dying... when I last visited my doctor he had one look at me and promptly issued a death certificate, saying that it will save us all time and hassle... but... I'll be damned if I lie down!...

 

 …I am yet to make a decision what am I going to be when I grow up.... But why bother to grow up?... you only get old when you grow up...

 

 

 

 

© P. J. Oszmann. (June 2003.  Revised July 2005)

© Illustration created in Photoshop (2005)

Web Site Jew Be or Not Jew Be
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Reviewed by Tracey O' 11/5/2005
Peter, This is Great! Fantastic!!!!. got me a big ol' smile going on here.You are the wisest man! I love this!! And I will not spoil anything for You be miserable and wallow away Just Be Happy!! that's what life is all about!! Thanks for this Peter You are just Wonderful!! Absolutley Wonderful! How do you do it all?
All my loving friendship, Tracey42xoox(c :)Oh yeah they do say when joined in wedlock you become one be careful what you dream and think!! (c ;) Take care, take a taxi or the bus and have fun. let someone else do the driving.


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