Friday, March 27, 2009


Except for a few unmemorable moments of my, somewhat, feckless and reckless youth, I have always been safe around women. I think I am aging like a fine wine.

This is a little tale about me. It's not really a story, it's just one of life's many experiences and it helps define a person and what they feel inside. For the sake of anonymity, I will call my two friends in this story Dick and Jane.

I've known Dick and Jane for a long time and we are pretty close. We might see each other every two weeks now, sometimes more often, sometimes less, but the fact remains, we are still good friends. I think the older we get, the more activities we get involved in, where we don't see all of our friends as often as we used to. We probably are closer to family members, including children and grandchildren, and that sort of detracts from our outside influences a little. What was that line in a John Lennon song? "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans..." How true. Now, there was a man before his time. In my opinion, he was a man for all seasons.

About ten years ago, Dick was out of town on business. I ran into Jane and we had a nice conversation over drinks. May I add that Jane is a very attractive woman? Jane and I have always enjoyed each other's company, so I didn't feel uncomfortable in the least. As a matter of fact, the more we drank, the more relaxed we became with each other, until...

... Jane took my hand and pressed it firmly into her full and  supple breast. That took me by complete surprise.

"Dave, how come you never tried hitting on me? A lot of guys have, but never you. Why? Don't you find me attractive?" I gently and slowly pulled my hand away. It did not belong there.

"Of course I do. You're a total babe," I responded. "I just don't hit on my friends' women, and certainly, not married ones." She stared into my eyes. "You and Dick have been my friends for a long time now. You are my friend. Dick is my friend. I could not do this to him. I have too much respect for him and I have too much respect for you. Besides, I could never live with myself. You are both really good people."

Jane continued to look at me and finally said, "You know, Dave, you are an honorable man." I really thought I had already known that about myself, but it's always nice to hear. "That's one of the reasons why I love you so much." She meant that as a friend.

We continued with our drinks and put the incident out of our minds. Years later, I had the opportunity to do it again, but she was way too drunk and I was still an honorable guy. I drove her home one night and safely tucked her into bed, fully clothed. Today, I can proudly look Dick in the face and feel no guilt. No remorse. No pain. I'm sure he never heard anything about those incidents and I'm not about to ruin a very good friendship. With either of them.

Today, I can look in the mirror and stare at a respectful man. I like what I see.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Presenting: David A. Kyle, my uncle

Uncle Dave, 2005

This is my uncle, David Kyle. He is recognized in the science fiction community as the elder statesman, certainly to the older generation and since the passing of two of his very close friends, Arthur C. Clark and more recently, Forrest J Ackerman, the man who coined the term, sci-fi. I don't know how many present day fans he has, but it's not all that important. He still goes to many sci-fi conventions around the world, but he has slowed down recently. After all, Valentine's Day was his birthday, and this year he turned 90. Of course, I called him. He still goes up and down the stairs in his home and he has no trouble driving into town, to church with my aunt, and to local social functions near Potsdam, NY, where they reside. Way upstate. He is married to my mother's sister, Ruth. His mind is as sharp as it was 50 years ago. Back in 1980, he was authorized by the late E.E. 'Doc' Smith estate to write further adventures in the 'Dragon Lensmen' series. He has written other books and many years ago, was an author and illustrator for detective, fantasy and sci-fi pulp fiction magazines, such as Analog, and was the founder of Gnome Press. Years ago, he and my aunt owned a radio station up there, WPDM.

I remember, when I was four, going to their wedding in New York City. I sat with my grandmother and great aunt in the front row. During the ceremony, I looked up at the stained glass windows. It was an Episcopal church, The Little Church Around the Corner in midtown Manhattan. Quite ornate and somewhat gothic, if I recall. The moment was very silent. Pointing upward, I blurted out, "Is that God?" And I meant it. The question from my young lips reverberated throughout the whole church and within seconds, the congregation roared in laughter. Was that me who disrupted the ceremony? I guess I had my 15 minutes of fame rather early in life.

When I was young, probably from around 9 to 17, they used to fly me up to spend summers in Potsdam. Mohawk Airlines. DC-3s back then. Sometimes, they'd entertain guests for dinner. Earlier on, it meant nothing to me to dine with Isaac Asimov or Robert Heinlein and as I mentioned, his close friends, Forrest J Ackerman and Arthur C. Clarke, like anyone would know who he was. Being famous was not part of my vocabulary back then. Somewhere during my early years my father took me to a midget or sprint car race in Flemington, NJ, where I'm from. "See that guy out there?" he asked. "That's A.J. Foyt." 

"So?" I responded. I knew who Superman was.

My uncle has always had a very vibrant and creative mind and a keen, dry sense of humor. He still does, but I have noticed him slowing down - finally. At 90, can we blame him? For years, he and my Aunt Ruthie used to drive down, to escape the brutal and long winters of the north country. Of course, he did all the driving. Alas, I think those days are no more, but I would love to go back to visit them and to revisit old memories.

He and my aunt have one of the most extensive libraries I have ever seen, along with old, old metal sci-fi toys from here and post-war Japan. This summer, a lot of those will be gone, gone to find other homes. I sure hope I can get up there. In the meantime, Happy Birthday, Uncle Dave. I hope you had a nice Valentine's Day.