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      Orange sweatshirts, pizza and poker: Matt's Memo

      We should have fired up a web cam and microphone to record the banter and repartee that could have set a whole new tone for Reality TV. The occassion for this particular family gathering was my father's 82nd birthday. He was most deserving of congratulations for reaching that advanced age with such youthful exuberance. I don't know if it was the cake or the crackers that led to the comedy during his birthday celebration. Or maybe it was the slidewhistles my brother John had imported from New York City that set the tone.

      He brought the primitive musical instruments creating the opportunity for us to attempt familiar songs while fighting off uncontrollable laughter. The whistling noises were amusing, but no more than the Reality TV concept that we concocted about a family that might be named Slidewhistle. It immediately conjured up a cast of actors with British accents. We assumed the accent would make everyone seem more intelligent.

      We assumed that until we started doing what we considered elite British accents. Instead they degenerated into cockney and other nuanced dialects further down the social ladder. Somewhere in the middle of trying to make the Slidewhistle family English they shifted to Eastern European immigrants. You see a family named Mulcahy has no mastery of dialect. We did have a brisk competition of who could top the other with the funniest line, face or utterance.

      There is something about the carefree foolishness that strikes when I am with my brothers John and Tim. They are both bright and completely unique in their points of view. I think their free thinking comes more from Dad than Mom. She and I have more reserve.

      We chatted, laughed and ate. Pizza, wings and salad. Tim's home made natural chips. Mom's cake. A little champagne toast, a couple of beers and our traditional game of poker. We've played since we were kids using the red, white and blue poker chips. Dad taught us how to play. We've all had to learn on our own how to win. We rely on a character named Johnny Finn who was featured in a "How to win at Poker" book written decades ago.

      It is a good day when on several occassions you have to wipe the tears from your eyes and gasp for air when the laughter is so rich.

      Oh yeah and it was Dad's birthday.

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