A Tribute to a Treasure

I never thought the phrase “all dogs go to heaven,” was too cliche.  I truly believe there’s a special place for dogs somewhere.  The unconditional love owners (and sometimes strangers) receive from their beloved pets is unmatched by our species.  The loyalty, the vulnerability, and pure desire to be loved and cared for in return separates dogs from other pets.

Minnie was certainly no exception.  Her joy was contagious.  Not only would her tail wag when someone would come to the door, but her whole body would move like Shakira does in terrible music videos as she couldn’t control her excitement.  She loved the Mastrangelo family.  She loved happy meals.  She loved attention and affection.  Minnie – simply loved.
I didn’t get a chance to see Minnie as too young of a pup – but she earned my affinity within minutes of meeting her some 10 years ago.  She was a winsome portly young thing and had energy to spare.  She always greeted me with uncontrollable squeals of excitement.  Her mood was always the same.  No matter how bad of a day you had, Minnie knew how to cheer you up just by being happy to see you.
She will be missed and never forgotten.  We’ll always look back with fond memories of a dog so full of jubilee.  Minnie was more than a dog, she was a part of the Mastrangelo family and a friend to everyone she met along the way.  There was a special place for Minnie in this world and there’s a special place for her now.
-C.

My Man’s Special Day

A birthday wish for my special man.  Today is A’s birthday.  What a wonderful reason to celebrate.  Yesterday was his father’s birthday – the man that created this superior being.

Happy birthday, my dear friend.  There are so many reasons why I’m thankful for his birth.  He made my one year at Merrimack more than bearable.  Even though my stint at the institute of higher learning was short-lived, I developed a life-long friendship.  He makes my dark days brighter and my rainy days full of sunshine.

A is truly a legendary individual and on this day, I wish him the most happiest of birthdays and for many more to come.

Love,

C.

Celebration

A.,

This past week, I learned even more about the strength of our Bromance.  Something I’ve never doubted – but I always appreciate the tidbits and reminders of how truly special our relationship is.

I traveled to Orlando last Sunday so I could spend the week there for work.  The conference didn’t start until Monday, but I wanted to get there early enough to spend some time with my man.  I forgot it was Easter before I booked my travel, but I can’t think of anyone I’d rather spend my holidays with.

Before my conference on Monday, Alan took me out for a great breakfast in Celebration, Florida. A  town created by the anti-Semitic brain of one Walt Disney.  Disney doesn’t run the town anymore  – but its Disney roots are vivid.  As we wandered the streets of this Pleasantville-like town – I couldn’t help but feel close to you.  There was a slight breeze as we walked past the tree-lined streets. We took a short walk along the pond as folks dressed in their summer-linens drove their golf carts down brick-paths.  We felt welcomed in this community that was just a few short steps away from perfection.

We had quite the breakfast, flapjacks as big as my head filled with banana and nuts – they melted in my mouth with the hint of sweet maple syrup.  A sweetness that can only be compared to you.

A., you had to work every day I was in Orlando, unfortunately.  But, you still made time for me!  After your long nights (and days as sometimes you worked doubles), you would still come back to my hotel and pick me up for a night on the town.  We had late night snacks and even enjoyed some adult beverages as we closed down TGI Fridays.  You made sacrifices just to spend a couple of moments with me.  For this, I will be forever appreciative and cannot wait for your visit back home!  I already have so many things for us planned.

I’ve also already booked my flight and hotel for my next visit to you!  A week you will most certainly be busy – but I’m excited to be able to stand next to you during your time that will be forever magical.

I’ll see you in June, kind sir.  Not soon enough.

-C.

5X a Year!

Hey A.,

It’s almost unbelievable how many times I am going to be seeing you this year.  First, there was New Years.  What better way to ring in 2012 than spending it with you in Orlando.

I also traveled to Orlando the last week of February for work.  Even though my time was so limited there (just one night) – you took time out of your evening to take me to your favorite place.  Much fun was had at the Yellow Dog.  Especially once you told me that the cat I had been petting for a half an hour was actually a stray and didn’t belong to an employee of the restaurant.

This week at work, I finished booking travel to Orlando again!  One of our annual conferences takes us to the magical city once again.  This time, I’ll be there for 5 days!  I’m excited to be able to spend time with you.  I flew in a day early just so I could spend more time with you.

You’ll be up North again in June this year!  Then…I’ll be back in Orlando in November!  I feel so fortunate to be able to see you so many times this year.

Can’t wait for a April.

Love,

C.

Chili Today – Hot Tamale!

Hey A.,

C. here.

You know I’m no good with years, but I bet you remember you know the exact date.

As you can imagine, I’ve never really gotten over your move.  Folks, A.  moved down to Orlando, came back up north (that makes it sound like Canada…), then back down to Orlando.   A., I support you and your dream, but I always wished your dreams would exist in the same place mine did.  Even though you’ve spent the majority of the past 6 or 7 years over 1,000 miles away, we always figured out ways of seeing each other.  I knew I had to take advantage of opportunity that presented itself.

That’s why when you asked me to drive from Boston to Orlando with you, I didn’t even flinch.  You needed your car back down there and I couldn’t leave my friend hanging.  I couldn’t get too much time off of work during that time, so we drove the 25 hours down to Orlando and I was on a flight back to Boston 7 or 8 hours later.

I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything.  Even though we were in such a rush to get down there, you still let me experience South of the Border, our special rundown restaurant/gift shop/firework store/theme park.  I still have my poncho that lists the 8 steps of being intoxicated via tequila.

Thanks for stopping, big guy.

http://www.thesouthoftheborder.com/

Pedros Fireworks (does yours?)

Yours,

C.

Wedding Preparations

Recently, I bestowed upon C the great task of being the best man at my wedding. Of course, while he has been working on his speech since 2007, he has also been asked to be a best man a few times before. In dealing with a professional best man, I fully expected to have a conversation similar to the one we actually had:

C: “I started your best man speech!”

A: “Awesome!”

C: “Anything specific you’d like me to highlight? I like to be prepared.”

A: “I have total faith in your abilities.”

C: “I’d love to show you where my real abilities lie..”

A: “I can’t wait to see all of your abilities. I want to see them so bad…”

C: “Haha Oh Man. I think I’m just going to read our back and forth texts out loud at your wedding!”

And there you have it… the anatomy of a best man speech!

“Cut that meat!”

Peyton Manning being released from the Colts this week has caused me to take a trip down memory lane. Of course, Peyton played a very special role in our bromance.
One of the most important aspects of the Bromance is being able to share with eachother milestones and other special occasions. C and I have always found fun and exciting ways to celebrate our friendaversary. I know what you’re thinking, and yes.. the friendaversary is a wonderful day to stop and reflect on your friendship, and just how lucky the two of you are to have eachother. Well, needless to say, it was obvious to the both of us that January 18, 2004 was going to be one of those special days.

C and I were celebrating our two year friendaversary, which happened to fall on the same day as the AFC Championship game between the Pats and the Colts. What better way to celebrate that day?! We spent several hours in the cold and snow, drinking beer, grilling steak and watching Peyton Manning throw 4 INTs. We reveled in our victory, and punctuated the evening with 68,000 of our closest friends all cheering along our favorite Peyton Manning commercial.

Our Patriots were victorious! Super Bowl bound in the midst of a modern day NFL dyNASTY. There were many great memories during those years, but C and I will never forget the “Cut that Meat!” game. Thank you, Peyton…we will never forget you, or your 4 INTs that day..

Cut that Meat!

The Dollar Menu Marathon

The summer of 2005.  A. and C. decided they wanted to journey together.  this journey took them to the world famous Rte. 1 in Saugus, Massachusetts.  Below is their story.

Dollar Menu Marathon (DMM) a.k.a.… “I immediately regret this decision” or “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

The Goal: To eat at every major fast-food chain on Route 1 with a dollar menu. Not just in one night, but in immediate succession.
The Rules: One item from each restaurant that cost $0.99 – $1.00. The item must be finished and no other item must be purchased unless it is a beverage for the purpose of washing down the food.
The Players: A. and C.
The Establishments: McDonalds, Burger King, Wendys, KFC and Taco Bell (in that order).
Total Time of DMM: About 30 minutes… that’s real fast guys.

Ok, here’s how it went down. We left my house then headed straight to Route 1. We started off at McDonalds, got Double Cheeseburgers; we figured we’d start it off right. We ate in the parking lot next door at Burger King. We finished then went through the drive-thru at Burger King. We chomped on 5-piece chicken tenders. They were star and lightening bolt shaped. They were dipped in sweet n’ sour sauce and delicious. Next stop, Wendys. All of the establishments were hit up via drive-thru. The unfortunate event of the Junior Bacon Cheeseburger being removed from the dollar menu forced us into getting Junior Cheeseburger Deluxi. After this, the final stretch was in reach; we could see, smell, and taste it. We flipped around the other side of Route 1 and headed to KFC. Chicken Stacker sandwiches were eaten, which are believed to be the only choice in the matter. After this we scuttled over to Taco Bell and began to feel the stomach discomfort that can only be experienced after performing such an escapade. We devoured the Spicy Chicken Soft Tacos, probably not a best choice after a night of eating lots of fast food. We did, we hurt, but we are proud. It was executed wish sheer grace, wisdom and efficiency. I am proud of our accomplishment. Here is a little ranking scorecard. Please keep in mind that the following ranking was based upon these particular visits.

Speed. (fastest to slowest … with amount of customers considered)
McDonalds, KFC, Taco Bell, Wendys, Burger King.
Comments: Burger King was the most disappointing, while Taco Bell was placed in the middle, the staff was apologetic for the wait.

Taste: (best to worst)
Wendys, Burger King, Taco Bell, McDonalds, KFC
Comments: McDonalds was way too greasy, and the Snacker was just plain awful and very shoddy.

Overall look of packaging and containers. (best to worst)
Wendys, Taco Bell, KFC, McDonalds, Burger King
Comments: Wendys takes it because of its old-fashioned feel and yellow napkins. Taco Bell is far up the list for its innovative plastic bag and brown paper napkins. KFC’s Snacker was swathed in a funky metallic blue foil wrapper, but its other packaging material was sub-par. Burger King just looked like a school lunch bag and was an insufficient size.

Service. (best to worst)
Taco Bell,…everything else tied.
Comments: No other service can even be compared to how wonderful it was. Ralph was nice, polite, outgoing and makes you want to come back. Every other establishment was “Bam, wham, thank you ma’am.”

Well, there is more, but I just don’t feel like writing anymore. The experience was interesting, worthwhile delicious, but very painful.

C.  from the 2005 archives.

Dreams

Dear A.,

I started writing the best man speech for your wedding the other day.  When I saved it on my hard drive, an error message popped up and told me there was already a file saved with the same name.  It turns out, I started writing a speech for you for this very occasion back in 2007 – just in case you ever asked me to be your best man.

My dream came true.

C.