Thursday, July 16, 2009

Nephews around the table

Clint helping me in the yard.

MARK’S ARTICLE – July 16, 2009
“Guy talk”

I was involved in some pretty heavy guy talk with three of the nephews yesterday. I couldn’t identify with a lot of what was said, but none of the boys made fun of me. They must’ve figured I would tell on them.

The rap session took place at my dining room table after Clint (31 years-old and Big Al’s boy) came over with Nalin (32 and Dennis’ son) to meet CJ (25 and Susan’s grandson.) Hey, try to keep up.

Since you probably don’t know any of these macho men, let me tell you a tad about each. Clint is the nephew who used to come over to my house when he was just a toddler to help me work in the yard. You give that kid a water hose and you’re beggin’ for a soaking.

My favorite picture of Clint is the one taken when he was about two. Big Al was at work and Clint was sick, so his Mom called to say that Clint wanted to see his Uncle Mark. When I came over, he climbed into my lap and went to sleep in my arms. Kay snapped a picture. Clint doesn’t care to hear that story today, but I don’t care. Uncles like to remember the times when they felt relevant. Don’t we all?

I’ll never forget the first time I saw Nalin. The kid had just been born, and he was, uh… how do I say this? He was one scary lookin’ kid. The top of his head was tall and square. I’m talking four cornered. He could’ve played the “baaaaby” on that Seinfeld episode.

The doctor said that Nalin’s head would get normal if they kept rotating him in the bed. You know? Kind of round things out. It worked, too. I would’ve never believed it. His head straightened right out. Uh, rounded right out.

My favorite Nalin story is the one that took place at the Family’s 1987 Halloween talent show. Nalin had been practicing his Michael Jackson “Beat it” routine for days. Before the stage lights came up that kid was be-bopping right and left. He had Jackson down.

Being the emcee, I announced Nalin, put on the tape and opened the curtain. That boy froze. Michael was singing to beat the band, but Nalin was not mouthing the words, nor was he dancing. It was the ol’ proverbial deer in the headlights. Finally, I went out there and joined him, and showed some of my Michael Jackson moves. The kid snapped out of it a little. By the way, do you know how long that “Beat it” song goes on? Forever. Nalin with my grandnephew J Bear

I’ve already told you some stuff about CJ. He’s the nephew just back from Afghanistan. He’s the kid who has been six years in the army, and spent five of them in either Iraq or Afghanistan. I could fill this newspaper with some of the stories that he’s told, but I suppose you could do the same with some in your family.

Nevertheless, those were the three guys who sat at my table and talked through the afternoon. For awhile, the discussion focused on movies. I thought I knew a lot of movies and the names of a lot of stars. I know nothing. The girl in “Transformers”? No idea. All three nephews agreed that she is the most beautiful girl on the planet.

Was “Top Gun” your favorite Tom Cruise movie? Wasn’t even close for me. Each one of my nephews started reciting lines from that movie the minute CJ mentioned it.

Speaking of CJ, that kid knows more movies and actors than anyone I know. Are you familiar with the six degrees of Kevin Bacon? It’s a theory that you can take an actor and hook him up with Kevin Bacon through movies he was in with other people. Supposedly, every actor can be matched to Kevin Bacon in at least six movies.

For example, CJ matched me with Bacon in just four movies. Me! If you can match me, you can match a Romanian extra. Here’s how he did it. I was in “Return of the Outlaws” with Peter Sherayako”(1), who was in “Tombstone” with Val Kilmer (2), who was in “Top Gun” with “Tom Cruise” (3), who was in “A Few Good Men” with Kevin Bacon (4). Took the guy about 40 seconds to do that.

CJ got his Uncle Al there in three movies. I don’t remember the trail though. I think it started with Armand Asante in “The Man Who Came Back.”

After movies, the conversation went to sports. Nalin even brought up softball and the 1992 Deer Park Tournament that the Hayter boys won. I’m not joking. He mentioned it before I did. I instantly ran to the study and got the framed picture and the autographed softball. The boys passed it around. I can tell feigned awe, but it was nice of ‘em to at least act impressed.

I asked Nalin and Clint why they didn’t play in the game with us. They shot quick glances at each other before Nalin said, “Uh, Uncle Mark, 1992? We were too young.” I knew that.

All the while we talked, cell phones kept going off. Mostly the beep tones were alerting them to text messages. CJ is the fastest text-messager I’ve ever seen. He’d be in mid-sentence, pull out his phone, poke around on it a bunch of times and then put it back in his pocket. Didn’t miss a beat.

Typing out coded words and phrases on a keyboard the size of a business card is a talent. A talent their uncle will never acquire. Even if he wanted to.

The conversation went on and on, up until the time Aunt Kay got home. The nephews love their Aunt Kay, but this was guy talk. Before leaving, Clint and Nalin each gave Kay a hug, and then they came over and hugged me. That would be awkward for a lot of tough guys, but my two nephews did it without a thought. And, before heading back to Fort Hood, CJ also gave me a hug. Even told me he loved me.

CJ with his old Uncle Mark

Great kids. And, through it all they never made fun of me the times I couldn’t relate. There were moments when it likely took all they had. They just laughed along with me, not at me. Went out of their way to make their uncle feel relevant. Somebody must’ve raised ‘em right. I should probably tell their parents.

You can contact Mark at



  1. Mark... look at those tanned legs in the rocking chair picture!!! Impressive! Speaking of the rocking chair picture, does anyone else see a resemblance to Jilly's Ethan?

  2. Love the article and love the pics, Moke. I have a pic of Ma holding Ethan at his first Christmas. Ethan was just 15 days old and we're in Crosby at Ma's, and E is wearing a red Christmas onezee outfit that Al & Sue had bought him... one of my favorite pictures.
    Wonder what kind of Daddy you would have been, Moke? Wonder if your kid would have been a jock or a brainiac or FFA kid? I wonder.....

  3. Cora, today I am completely deficient of pigment. My legs wouldn't tan if I wore shorts the rest of my life. (Understand I do wear undershorts. You're s'posed to do that.) Aging has shut off a buncha stuff. I don't care to talk about it more.

    Jill, if Kay and I had a kid, I think we all know it would be a sissy boy. Play triangle in the marching band and wear skirts. I'd still love the kid, though. Try to get him to be a urologist. It be great if just one member of the family had a talent we could all actually use. Sheesh.

    What's weird is that I commented on this once, but don't know where the comment went. It's a bit of a mystery. A scary mystery.

  4. Yes Moke, a urologist! As Dennis would say, "Brilliant!" Then the 2 of you could suffer with kidney stones together?
    Do women have kidney stones too but they don't hurt us so much because we don't have one of those... I don't know how you guys walk around with those things (stated by Elaine Bennis on Seinfeld).

  5. What a wonderful story! I have shared some of the best times of my life with my nephews (I have 11 of them plus 3 nieces).
    Shirly Marshall