Friday, August 20, 2010


I don’t know why I so wanted to be different.

First-through-tenth-of-all, it’s not possible; though I think that idea made it all the more desirable to me. But, really, I wanted to be that …different.

As a youngster, I set my compass on the idea of being a priest. Not many boys aspired to being a priest. I was in a public school. I knew one other kid in the whole school who had thought of this vocation, being a priest. I wasn’t a particularly holy kid, but, right away, that ambition would limit the competition.

I imagined that, then, I would be a priest who was “cool,” a linguistic designation just coming into favor at the time, one that would make me capable of wiping out eighty, maybe ninety competing priests of every hundred.

Of course by that time, I had gotten kicked out of the seminary. I had discovered sarcasm, and was developing a hair-trigger mechanism that I had trouble controlling when faculty was about, when any kind of authority was about. After four years of pretty good training, I was told to nonetheless seek my, “…vocational satisfaction in a trade other than the clergy.”

It was an exceptionally good separation, I thought, honest and straightforward, even with a touch of dignity and humor on both our parts. The Rector asked me what were my plans for the next year, and I took that cue to tell him, humbly, that my plans did not include any more seminary training.

I think his exact, smiling quote was, “How convenient.” He didn’t have to bother with the rest. We could just chat.

I turned my sights towards teaching.

An English teacher who was cool might well do, so I trained for and tried out that, but the host of cool teachers in every school district was so disheartening (and the work level so beyond my energy and ambition), I gave up after two years.

I became a daily newspaper reporter.

There were two daily newspaper reporters assigned to every town, and in all my days…Well, I didn’t know. I was all of 23…I never had seen even one

I saw, and was even acquainted with, the local editor of the local newspaper. I saw him every time I went to the Village Newspaper office.

But I had never seen a daily newspaper reporter, a reporter whose work would seen by thousands, right from the start, right out to Montauk, every day, while he or she was, as far as I knew, hiding.

That was different. That was real different. That was more different than a priest (plus, a newspaper reporter, unlike a priest, could marry, which I, by that time, had done).

Okay. A newspaper reporter would do. My, “vocational satisfaction,” and I would gobble up newspaper reporting.

This is, of course, the short version.


I blinked, and next thing I knew, forty-one years had gone by.

There was a party to celebrate roughly, ah, say, 55 years of relatively different ambitions of newspaper folks who for various reasons aspired together to be different the same way.

They even successfully did it, in the main, or can successfully pretend they did it, some in a vaguely ordinary way, which is quite extraordinary. After all, the pace is somewhat erratic, or the work hours; the language is different from…other language, at least the language the public sees; the ego’s pretended to be larger. Maybe some were, but not now.

Some achieved difference in a quietly profound way, and subtle; some in a consistently spectacular way; and some in a way that others will agree was really, really different. Special, in its time. Prizewinning.

But the cool part was, no one knew that, except the partygoers, and not one of them cared. Not one. They were just glad to see each other.

The party celebrated nothing, commemorated nothing, heralded nothing. Nobody was singled out, except the person who thought, “Hey, let’s have a party.” We thanked her repeatedly.

There was no cake, no speeches, no assigned seating. The band wondered what they were doing there, except interrupting. It was remarkable. These people came to this boardwalk at Sunken Meadow State Park on a summer evening, 2010, just to see each other, and maybe make sure they were still different, and all right.

One man, maybe, might stand out in the minds of many. Henry Moritsugu. A Canadian. He was there years before my entry, and he’s still there now. He knew everybody. At a time where everybody had a good time, Henry may have had the best.

But, not by much.

1 comment:

  1. And few if anyone there could have recounted the scene with nearly as much insight or style.

    Ed Hershey