Wednesday 07 Dec 2016

Spring Break
Matt Seinberg

I am tired. Not dog or cat tired. Not even exhausted, but dead on my feet tired from spring break. Let me explain. My kids were off from school, so I thought it would be a good idea to visit my 82-year old father. He lives in Syracuse, New York.

I booked three airline tickets and the hotel my father recommended. You’re probably wondering why I didn’t get four tickets. Well, though she said she wanted to go, my wife really didn’t. Moreover, she didn’t have enough vacation time for this and our August vacation.

The hotel had a hot breakfast included, which is important, as Melissa and I love bacon. The hotel room had two double beds, which meant the girls had to sleep together. It was either that or someone, mostly likely me, had to sleep in the recliner or on the floor.

I also made plans to meet a couple of radio friends to whom I had only talked or corresponded. I wouldn’t take the girls to meet my radio friends. They would be happy if I came back with some t-shirts.

We get to the airport on time, two hours before take-off, at 10:15 AM. Guess what, a delay, first to 10:45 and then 11:15. No matter what airline I take or where I go, there are delays. When is transporter technology going to be available to everyone?

Luckily, we had brought some bagels to eat at the airport while waiting for the plane. In Michelle’s case, that was not a good thing. Michelle is not a good flyer, and can vomit at any time. Well, right after we landed, she turned green and grabbed for a white bag. She didn’t make it. Then Melissa decided to do the same, as she didn’t like the smell coming off Michelle. How embarrassing is it; both of your kids vomit in row 21?

We arrive in Syracuse. There’s dad, in his little red Saturn Astra. The girls are excited to see him and rush to hug him. The joy on their faces is priceless. We go to the hotel, which is five minutes from the airport. Even though I had called to request an early check in, our room wouldn’t be ready for at least 30 minutes. Back in the car and off to dad’s apartment.

I had previously met Dad’s two closest friends, John and Kathy, and had told the girls about them. We were particularly excited to meet Kathy’s cats, Sasha and Amigo. Little did they know that their cats would play with them, rather than the other way around?

Both cats came out of their respective hiding spots to check out these three new people. The purred, rubbed against our feet and decided to play nice. The girls got them worked up and then didn’t want to be bothered anymore. Then they discover the laser pointer and drove poor Sasha crazy with it. That was one tired cat by the time we left two hours later.

We get to the hotel and the first thing I try is the bed. It’s hard as a rock. I hate hard beds, as they hurt my back. I decide to accept two nights of poor sleep and morning back pain.

Dad and I decide to go to a local Italian restaurant, which he says is very good. The girls share chicken Parmigiano and Eggplant Parmigiano. Dad had chicken Parmigiano, and I have my favourite, Veal Parmigiano. The food, we discover, is good and the server, a woman, very funny.

For dessert, we decide on their homemade apple pie. The server suggests a whole pie, since the four slices would cost almost as much as the entire thing. We end up taking two big slices of this wonderful apple pie with us for a snack the next day.

The girls decide to sleep together and the problem is that Michelle is sleep kicker. She claims to have dreams of playing soccer when sleeping, which is why she kicks. Melissa says that Michelle did kick her during the night, and slapped her to make her stop.

The next morning, I’m tired and sore. A hot shower is in order and it certainly helps. Dad was meeting us for breakfast at 8:15 so we all had to be ready to hit the breakfast buffet.

There is Melissa, loading up her plate with eggs and lots of bacon. I mean lots of bacon. There is also a make your own waffle station, and those are always yummy. We finish breakfast, and head back to the room until it’s time to start our day.

I had made plans with Gary Dunes, the morning DJ of WSEN-FM. I was to meet him at the station at 11 am. We left the hotel around 10 am and went to the local mall until it was time for me to leave for WSEN-FM.

Dunes gave me directions, but I had trusty Maggie Magellan to guide me just in case. Since I had never been to Baldwinsville, I had to choose between directions from Gary or Maggie. I went with Maggie, just in case.

I arrive at the station, and it reminds me a lot of my first radio job at WGLI-AM, in Babylon, NY. It sits alone, with towers in the back of it. I go inside, and ring the bell for someone to greet me. Bryan the sales manager comes down and takes me to Gary in the production room.

It’s like two old friends meeting after years apart. I’m wearing my New York Mets jersey, and when I walk in, Gary is all smiles and it turns out he is a Mets fan as well. We exchange radio stories, and how many mutual friends we have, which once again turns out to be quite a few.

Gary is a radio institution in Central New York, having worked in the area for over 20 years. He’s been at WSEN-FM for 11 years and before that at WNTQ-FM 93Q for 10 years. I asked him if he ever wanted to work in New York City, and he said that while he wanted to, his family was against it. In addition, he has two bands. One plays mostly clubs and does 70’s and 80’s music, and the other does oldies for mostly silver and gold anniversary parties, corporate events. Gary keeps himself busy.

I pick up Dad and the girls around 12:15. We go back to see Kathy and her cats, and figure out what to do for lunch. I had heard about this great barbeque place called Dinosaur BBQ, which had been on “Man versus Food” on the Travel Channel. I had to try that out.

My father was cautious, saying the parking was tough down there, and we may have to wait. No big deal, so away we go. We find a good spot less than a block away, and we wait for about 10 minutes. The place smells incredible. Melissa and I already know we’re having ribs, Michelle gets a pulled pork sandwich and dad orders pulled pork and brisket.

You should have seen the plates piled with food come out. I was in BBQ heaven and loving every minute of it. The food was fabulous, and was the best BBQ I have ever had, anywhere.

We were stuffed and need to walk off all this food. We decide to drop dad off at his apartment and go back downtown to the Museum Of Science and Technology, known as The MOST. We get there around 2:45. We have plenty of time to explore before they close at 4:30. The girls play around with all the experiments and exhibits, and time flies. Just was we are exploring the upper section about space travel, the power goes off to all the screens and it’s closing time. It’s time to go back to dad’s apartment, and maybe see the cats again.

My daughters exhausted Sasha and Amigo during the morning visit. We don’t stay long. When it comes to cats, you don’t want to wear out your welcome; otherwise, they will not come out again.

It’s around six pm and Dad is tired. The girls and I head back to the hotel. Melissa wants to go in the pool and Michelle wants to watch television. Off to the pool we go, where I listen to music and check e-mail. Before I know it, an hour has gone by and it’s time for dinner.

Dinner for us consists of pastries from breakfast, and the leftover apple pie. Boy was it good, again.

Friday turns out to be the best weather day, so we’re going to visit the Rosamond Gifford Zoo at Burnet Park. First, I had an 11 am appointment to meet Tom Mitchell, at the Citadel Radio stations, which is 5 minutes from Dad’s apartment.

This is a four-station cluster, consisting of WNTQ-FM 93Q, WAQX-FM 95X, WLTI-FM 105.9: The Big Talker and WSKO-AM 1260: The Score. Once again, Tom and I go over our radio history and the many mutual friends we have, including Al Levine, Jeremy Rice and Robin Marshall. No matter where I go, people always know Robin.

I don’t walk out empty handed. Promotions Director Pam has kindly given me three t-shirts, two big sleep shirts, stickers and huge 93Q sign. Thanks Pam.

Okay, it’s now time to head for the zoo. I pick up Dad and the girls, and we’re on our way. There is a line of cars to get in, so I pull out Dads handicapped sticker and flash it at the parking lot guard, who waves us over to the spots. Dad walks with a can, and we have to get him a wheelchair since he can’t walk that much through the zoo.

The girls want to see the elephants, which were right past the entrance. Yes, the elephants are big and lazing around. That sets the tone for the rest of the animals. Most of them are sleeping or simply lounging around their enclosures, oblivious to the hordes of people staring at them.

We see a little building that has some sort of animals in it, so we go inside. Big mistake, as Melissa starts to make her “I’m going to vomit face” again. You know that face, the same one she made at Hershey Park last summer. Only this time it’s not from a ride, but from the smells of the pigs inside. She runs outside, and once again marks her spot.

It’s a beautiful day, so we take our time looking at all the sleeping animals. I’ve been to many zoos and these are by far the laziest animals I’ve ever seen. We’re lucky when the lions get up to stretch and yawn, but that’s about it. Even the bears are just laying down on the job.

We spend about 90 minutes at the zoo; then we decide its lunchtime. We hit a local subway back to dad’s apartment. We call Kathy to see if we can visit one last time, to play with the cats.

The cats are still wary of the girls. I sit in the recliner and fall asleep for about an hour. I have no idea what’s going on around me. Turns out Amigo didn’t want to be bothered; he stayed under the bed. The laser pointer tormented Sasha, again. That poor cat must be very happy the girls finally left.

Dad drops us off at the airport at 6:15 PM for a 7:15 flight. Then a surprise, the flight delays until 8:45. I watch “Tron Legacy” on my iTouch. We finally boarded at 8:30 and took off at 8:45. “Tron Legacy” is back on, and I’m almost done with it when we land.

Ah, you think, I`m done with my story. Nope. On Easter Sunday, we have tickets to see “Million Dollar Quartet,” on Broadway, and then meet up with a couple of friends for dinner afterward.

Now you understand why I’m tired. Those two kids of mine have worn me out, and writing this column, too. I had to chronicle this trip; otherwise, it’s gone in the wind. The next time you decide to take a quick trip with your kids without a spouse, think of me and do you really want to do it.

Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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