Tuesday, July 27, 2021

I, Olympian

I only got on base once; thereafter,
my team nickname was "H.P."
("Hit by Pitch.")
 As the world's greatest athletes gather in Tokyo for a few weeks of spirited competition, I address all those who, throughout my life, have mocked my athletic inabilities and limited physical prowess. 

To the Sea Cliff Elementary School kids, who always picked me last when forming kickball teams ("You take him; we took Nanette"); 

To Mr. Keller, the Little League coach, who kept me on the roster as "pinch-hitter," telling me to be ready to bat at at a moment's notice--and I'm still waiting for that moment;

To Boot Camp Company Commander Thomas Mikus, who punished me for my inability to do pushups by ordering me to do more pushups;

To my superiors and peers in the Navy, who, for 13 years, assigned me minimal scores at physical fitness tests, deriding me as a lazy SOB, who launched whispering campaigns accusing me of doing "girl" sit-ups;

Now Hear This:

Be it known that I, Frank Mullen III, am the product of a great athletic lineage. My grandfather, Frank Aloysius Mullen, competed on swimming and diving teams of the City College of New York and the New York Athletic Club. Early 20th-century sports editors of metropolitan newspapers tried to outdo each other in vividly glorifying the accomplishments of the Pride of New York Waters. 

The man who started it all, in whose
footsteps I humbly follow.
But New York could not contain him.

Frank Aloysius Mullen's physical prowess and competitive nature followed him into the Navy, wherein he dominated fleet athletic competitions to the point where--get ready now, because we're coming to the point of all this noise--they issued him orders to compete in the Olympics.

And, in 1920, it came to pass that Frank Aloysius Mullen represented the United States in the Summer Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium.

His heritage is my heritage, his blood, mine, pulsing through my veins with the same vigor as it did his. It is Olympic blood, the blood of a champion whose accomplishments were born in New York harbors and burnished in Belgian pools.

Hear me now, and heed me well: I am an Olympian. You insult me, you insult the spirit of the Olympics.

Have I made myself clear?


Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Frank and Jo in "Dick's."



Frank and Jo 

Scene: FRANK is sitting in the living room. JO enters, talking on the phone. 

JO: I love you too, Nicholas. Good luck on your new job. (She disconnects.) 

FRANK: What's up? 

JO: Our oldest grandchild has a summer job. 

FRANK: Where? 

JO: Dick's. 

FRANK: What's "Dick's?" 

JO: A sporting goods store. You've been there. 

FRANK: I've never been to Dick's. 

JO: Yes, you have. We went together. 

FRANK: Where is this Dick's you claim I have been to? 

JO: It's a chain; they're everywhere. 

FRANK: And which link in this chain of Dick's did we allegedly visit? 

JO: I'm not sure. The one in the Quad Cities, or maybe when we were in Denver. 

FRANK: I have absolutely no knowledge of any of these Dick's, and, further, I categorically deny having been inside either of these Dick's. 

JO: I was looking for a Cardinals baseball cap. You were stomping around the store, complaining. It's a big place, with camping stuff, and hunting stuff. How can you possibly not remember this? 

FRANK: I will now speak as plainly as I possibly can: I. Don't. Know. Jack. About. Dick's. 

(FRANK slides of his chair and collapses on the floor in a fit of laughter. Finally, he manages to drag himself to his knees.) 

JO: So, is this going to wind up on the internet? 


Saturday, March 13, 2021

I Become Seriously Anthologized

Serious, serious, serious.
MWC press announced today that it has chosen my essay, Cancel Culture: A Pandiary, for inclusion in the anthology, These Interesting Times, scheduled for publication later this year.

This sounds pretty serious, and, in a way, it is. MWC Press, the publishing arm of the Midwest Writing Center, Rock Island, Ill., is a serious publisher. The call for submissions was a serious request for essays and poems about dealing with life during 2020. Serious, serious, serious. 

So, I took it seriously. The experience challenged me to write in a longer form than my typical fast-attack humor, and to refrain from treating text as, basically, connective tissue between punch lines 

So, my work will appear in an "anthology," a serious word if ever there was one. I can't wait to work it into my brag sheet. ("Frank's work has been anthologized in...)

Geez, that does sound serious.

Monday, April 6, 2020

COVID-19 Theater Presents Frank and Jo in "Stop Doing That"

COVID-19 Theater 
Stop Doing That
A Play in One Short Scene
Frank Mullen III
Starring the Author and His Wife as Themselves

Setting: Dining room.

Time: Evening, Day 16 of quarantine.

Frank and Jo are sitting quietly at the table after having finished their meal.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Jo: Stop doing that.

Frank: Doing what?

Jo: That thing.

Frank: What thing?

Jo: That thing you're doing.

Frank: I'm not doing anything.

Jo: I hear you doing something.

Frank: So, it's a sound?

Jo: Over and over.

Frank: All I'm doing over and over is talking. Because you keep telling me to stop doing something and I have to explain that I'm not doing anything. Except talking.

Jo: No, it's not your talking

Frank: Breathing? You want me to stop breathing?

Jo: No, it's like scratching.

Frank: Is it this?

Jo: That's it. What are you doing?

Frank: Kinda scratching the leg of my jeans with my fingernail.

Jo: So, that's what you've been doing?

Frank: I guess.

Jo: Stop doing that.

Frank: Scratching the leg of my jeans with my fingernail isn't doing anything.

Jo: Obviously, it is.

Frank: No. Scratching the leg of my jeans with my fingernail is what I do when I'm not doing anything. Like right now.

Jo: Well, please stop doing that thing you do when you're not doing anything.

Frank: Jesus. Crap.

Jo: Stop doing that.

- - - - - - - - Curtain - - - - - - - -

Monday, April 1, 2019

April Fail

I suck.

The plan to fool my wife into thinking it was snowing on the morning of April 1 failed. And it's my own fault.

In the world of humor, we must be wary of the sin of Going to the Well Too Often. There are one-liners. (I just flew in from Vegas and, boy, are my arms tired.) A lot of jokes rely on "triples." (A priest, a minister, and a rabbi walk into a bar. Et cetera.)

But the comedy world does not recognize the "sixteen-tuplet." You can't tell your wife it's snowing on the morning of every April Fool's Day for 16 years in a row without expecting that, eventually, she's gonna catch on.

I woke up waaay before Jo, about 6:00 a.m. My plan was to get up when she did, hurry to the dining room, make a  big to-do out of raising the shades and call out "Wowee, it's snowing!"

So I waited an hour (and a delightful hour it was, envisioning the hijinks that loomed ahead) until Jo woke. When she started to get up, I jumped out of bed so as to spring my trap

That's where I went wrong. Like I said, I "jumped out of bed," but "jumping out of bed" is not a behavior for which I am noted. The last time I jumped out of bed, people were screaming "Reveille! Reveille! Drop your cocks and put on your socks!"

So, as I was racing past Jo in the hallway (There's another red flag: "I was racing." Anyone who has known me for longer than, oh, five minutes, knows that speed is not a Frank Mullen Core Value), Jo said, with a disturbing tone of self-satisfaction,
"Gee, do you think it's snowing this morning?" 
April Fool's, Honey!
Okay, so she finally figured it out. That doesn't mean I'm quitting; I just need to be more clever. So far, I've never had to resort to devices or gimmicks, but I think that Jo may have a bit of fake dog poop in her future.