David Bruce: The Funniest People in Neighborhoods — Fathers, Food

Fathers

• Burt Strug met his future wife, Melanie, one summer. Within one month he had convinced her to transfer to his college — and within three months he had convinced her to marry him. Today, he tells their daughter, elite gymnast Kerri Strug, “If you ever do something that dumb for a boy, I’ll strangle you.”

• Tito Fuentes, a major-league infielder, disliked knock-down pitches for what may — or may not — be a very good reason: “They shouldn’t throw at me. I’m the father of five or six kids.”

Food

• William M. Gaines, the publisher of MAD magazine, loved food — and lots of it. One day, he treated the staff to a meal at the Gotham Bar and Grill, and when he ordered, he ordered LOTS of food. In fact, the number of entrees ordered at a MAD dinner usually numbered twice the number of diners. For one thing, Mr. Gaines would order a few entrees for himself only, as well as a few that were simply placed on the table so that anyone could help himself if he were so inclined. On this occasion, he and his staff ordered so many appetizers, entrees, desserts, and wines that a waitress appeared on an errand from the kitchen. “The chef sent me out,” she said. “He wants to know, Who are you?” On one occasion, the wait staff brought over an additional table — not for extra diners, but simply to have room for all the food and drink that had been ordered. (This occasion turned into a four-hour feeding frenzy.) MAD writer Dick DeBartolo was a dessert freak, and at his first meal with Mr. Gaines, he told him that he always looked at the dessert menu first, so he would know whether to order a heavy or a light entree. Mr. Gaines said to order whatever he wanted for the entree and let him take care of dessert. When it was time for dessert, Mr. Gaines ordered one of every choice, so the waiter brought over an entire dessert cart and left it.

• When figure skater Sasha Cohen was a little girl, her parents would not let her eat junk food at home, so she had to get spoiled at her grandparents’ house. She remembers her grandmother’s brand of discipline: “Sasha, you cannot have ice cream if you do not finish your doughnut first!” Sasha was a lover of ice cream, even at age 5, so she loved her grandmother’s other strict rule: No child is allowed to eat ice cream more than three times per day. Her parents would sometimes indulge her with a kid’s ice cream cone away from the house, and Sasha remembers once requesting of the salesperson, “Please make my kid’s cone extra large.” He thought that this was funny, and so the scoop that he gave her was huge. She once ordered ice cream in a cup at a restaurant, but the server forgot to bring her a spoon. No problem. Young Sasha knew that spoons were located in a big container nearby, so she went to the container, which was high above her head, and she started pulling on it. Soon, the container and lots of silverware tumbled noisily to the ground. Everyone in the restaurant grew quiet, but little Sasha triumphantly held a spoon up and announced, “I got it!” The people in the restaurant applauded.

• Queen Kaahumanu was the first feminist of Hawaii. When she was born, women on the islands had to live by many rules. For example, women were not allowed to eat with the men, and women were not allowed to eat bananas, or pork, or coconuts, or baked dog. However, when her husband, King Kamehameda, died, Queen Kaahumanu decided to make a few changes. First, she became the joint ruler of the islands, along with Liholiho, her husband’s son by another wife. Then she and Liholiho’s mother started to change society by doing such things as eating bananas in front of the new king. The new king was open to the changes, and soon, the new king started eating at the same table with them. The Hawaiian people also welcomed the changes and made great changes in their way of living, including destroying many wooden idols.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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