I was wrestling with this story about me and Rob based on It’s a Wonderful Life, which is a natural for this time of year and still one of my favorite movies (yes, I am that old and lame!). In my version, I got stuck on who should be Jimmy Stewart—me or Rob? And then it became obvious who Rob should be.
The night is full of stars and then we hear the following heavenly voices talking. As each voice is heard, one of the stars twinkles brightly:
FRANKLIN’S VOICE: Hello, Joseph, trouble?
JOSEPH’S VOICE: Looks like we’ll have to send someone down. There are a lot of people asking for help for a man named Larry Carlat.
FRANKLIN’S VOICE: Larry Carlat? Yes! Tonight’s his crucial night. You’re right. We’ll have to send someone down immediately. Whose turn is it?
JOSEPH’S VOICE: That’s why I came to see you, sir. It’s that little restaurant manager’s turn again.
FRANKLIN’S VOICE: [chuckles] Oh, Robbie. Hasn’t gotten his wings yet, has he?
JOSEPH’S VOICE: Too soon! And also because, you know, sir, he can be a real pain in the ass.
FRANKLIN’S VOICE: Yes, but he makes me laugh like no one else and has such a big heart. Joseph, send for Robbie.
A small star flies in from left of screen and stops. It twinkles as Robbie speaks:
ROBBIE’S VOICE: You sent for me, sir?
FRANKLIN’S VOICE: Yes, Robbie. A man down on earth needs our help.
ROBBIE’S VOICE: Cool. Is he sick?
FRANKLIN’S VOICE: No, worse. He’s discouraged. At exactly 10:45 p.m. Earth time, that man will be thinking seriously about throwing away God’s greatest gift.
ROBBIE’S VOICE: Hmm, lemme check it out.
The stars fade out, and a light, indistinguishable blur is seen.
ROBBIE’S VOICE: I can’t see shit.
FRANKLIN’S VOICE: Oh, I forgot. You haven’t got your wings yet. Now look, I’ll help you out. Concentrate. Begin to see something?
ROBBIE’S VOICE: Oh wow! This is really fuckin’ cool. But…that’s not a man. That’s my DAD! No worries. I got this, Frankie Frank! Peace out.
Hurricane Grill and Wings in Syosset. Larry is seated at the bar. He has had a great deal to drink—two beers—far more than he’s accustomed to.
LARRY: I’m not a praying man, but if there’s anybody up there, and you can hear me…
LARRY: YO! ROB! What are you doing here?
ROB: I dunno. Some angel dude said you were in trouble, so I came down to see what’s up. He said something about me helping to save you.
LARRY: From what?
ROB: I have no idea, Dad. I think they thought that you were thinking of taking your life.
LARRY: What the fuck!?
ROB: I know! That’s what I told them. I think they somehow got us mixed up.
LARRY: Hold on! Did they promise to give you wings?
ROB: Dad, there’s no way I’d ever fall for the old wings scam, although I’d definitely be into eating some hot wings here. They’re dope! Can’t find any where I’m at.
LARRY: And where is that exactly?
ROB: Sorry, bro. Classified.
LARRY: Look, dude, why don’t you go off and haunt somebody else, will you?
ROB: No can do, Daddy-o.
LARRY: Shit! You know, sometimes I wish you were never born.
ROB: Bingo, Father!
Larry wandering like a lost soul among the headstones in the Mount Golda Cemetery in Huntington, with Robbie, smoking a cigarette, walking at his side.
LARRY: So is this where you show me how everything would be different if you were never born, and how I would’ve had a wonderful life?
ROB: Dad, I never even saw that stupid movie! No, I thought we’d just hang out a bit and chill.
LARRY: You don’t understand, Rob! You’re supposed to say that each man’s life touches so many other lives and then you’re supposed to show me what life would look like if you were never here.
ROB: I know, but that’s fuckin’ wack! I’m not showing you that sad shit!
LARRY: And then you’re supposed to say “No man is a failure who has friends.”
ROB: Damn straight! I had tons of friends. Dad, this isn’t a movie.
LARRY: But what about Zuzu’s petals and Mr. Potter!?
ROB: Zoo-zoo what? Were you hitting the vape pen again? And is Mr. Potter related to Mrs. Potter from the Counting Crows song?
LARRY: What about Harry Bailey?
LARRY: I mean, Zach.
ROB: What about him?
LARRY: Um…I dunno. He’s gonna be at my house for Christmas. Just like last year.
ROB: That was a happy day, Dad.
LARRY: It totally was, Rob. Hee-haw and Merry Christmas.
ROB: What the hell is hee-haw?
LARRY: I have no idea.
ROB: Dad, I have to split in a minute, but I just want to make a toast.
LARRY: Unusual since we’re in a cemetery and don’t have any glasses, but sure, go for it, Rob.
ROB: To my tall father, Larry. Not the richest man in town! But still a pretty good dude.
LARRY: What are we gonna do about you getting your wings? At the end of the stupid movie, Zuzu says, “Teacher says, every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings.”
ROB: Well, since I don’t have my iPhone I can’t help with bells, but I’d be down to go to Hooters for some Buffalo wings. You know, on second thought, fuck that! Let’s just go to Din Tai Fung and grab some soup dumplings.
LARRY: Atta boy, Rob.