Since my children were very young, they were always on me to tell them 'Sidney stories'. My father was a character who was audacious, clever and charming in equal proportions and was not above making up his own rules as he went along. When I would drive him somewhere and the traffic was bad causing long lines at a traffic light, my father would urge me to 'make a lane' which was his way of saying to pull out and proceed on the wrong side of the road where there would be no back-up and we could make some headway until, that is, cars coming in the opposite direction might want that section of road.
In the 70s, my father underwent lung surgery to remove a tumor. It turned out to be benign but it was a serious procedure and we were all concerned for him. While in the Intensive Care ward, Sidney managed to behave himself--hooked up to oxygen, IVs and with several nurses stationed in the same room, he hadn't much choice. When he was transferred after a few days into a regular room, however, my father began making side deals with his private nurse of the most outrageous sort buying, bargaining and cajoling goods and services that are not on any hospital's list of offerings and just how he got away with it, I'll never know. Honor is due.
When his condition had improved sufficiently, my father was transferred to a nursing home for another week or so of recovery. Here there were no private nurses to run his errands and accommodate his wishes and the nurses who were on duty weren't likely to be receptive to Sidney's shenanigans, but did that stop him? No.
Sidney would wait until the evening to clean up and shave. By morning, he had a five o'clock shadow. By early afternoon, he looked like someone living in an alley. By the time the evening shift of nurses came on duty, he looked a right ruffian and someone you would want to spend a minimum amount of time around. After the nurses had completed their evening rounds, Sidney would clean himself up and, looking quite dapper, present himself at the nurse's station and claim to be his own brother there to check Sidney out of the convalescent hospital for the evening. He would flirt with the nurses and they all thought it was very nice that Sidney's brother was seeing to it that he would have a nice recuperative dinner in a restaurant. Of course, that isn't what happened and women and jazz clubs featured largely in what was to follow on those evenings. Oh, yes, this became a routine during his stay in the hospital and no one ever caught on.
One evening, my father found himself at the check-out counter in a grocery store. As the clerk is ringing up his charges, Sidney hears something of an argument taking place at the check-out counter behind him. Somebody is complaining vociferously that the clerk won't cash his check and Sidney pays it no heed. As the dispute continues and becomes louder, he hears the man say, "I'm the best organ player in the world and you won't cash my check!" Without turning around to look, Sidney calls out, "If you're the best organ player in the world, your name had better be Jimmy Smith!" After the briefest of pauses, the other man said, "I am Jimmy Smith." And thus, Sidney and Jimmy became friends.
Here's to the Mojo of those two men...
truth is stranger than fiction; your dad created his own movie and lived in it perpetually.
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