The Return of Felix and Oscar

Karen, Robbie and Joey are in L.A. for winter break and, since Nate’s college schedule differs from the high school’s, it’s the two of us together for one week. We’re not that  odd a couple, although he has an Oscar Madison attraction to clutter and I have a Felix Ungarish sense of order. We do fight, but it never ends up with Nate throwing a plate of linguine against the wall.

Nate’s pretty easy to please. On Friday, we headed to Oneonta for a thrilling day of Burger King (where the Stuffed Steakhouse burger sounded much better than it tasted), Office Max and Price Chopper. Food shopping with Nate is a treat. He had very specific wants: frozen Eggo waffles, doughnuts, bagels (all sesame) and, after a halting glance towards me for approval, a bag of red creme Oreos. Not a well-balanced diet, very breakfast heavy, but I’ll figure out how to keep him alive.

The next day we were planning on an Albany trip, where I could buy records at Last Vestige and we could eat at Five Guys (Albany location, not Schenectady). “Oh, and Dad, there’s a renovated McDonald’s in Rotterdam and…” By the time he was done, there were five new spots on our itinerary for “toilaroids.” Alas, there were cyclonic winds and drifting snow and the roads were unsafe. So we stayed home, I got Nate pizza from New York Pizzeria for lunch, and we studied American Government notes for an upcoming test.

Most of our time is spent separately, he watching TV, drawing, at the computer, me, watching movies, reading, at the computer. But when he plays video games he asks me to hang out with him a little and, last night as I was reading in bed, I asked him if he wanted to watch TV.

He came in and put on Renovation Realities on DIY. I’ve been reading Mark Harris’ Pictures at a Revolution, about the Academy Awards’ best picture nominees of 1967 and how they signalled the changes in Hollywood movies from studio dominated to independent producer-oriented. When I read that Richard Fleischer, the director of Doctor Doolittle, was the son of famous animator Max Fleischer, I had to tell Nate. It was a conversational pitch right down the middle. And he hit it out of the park!

“Fleischer Studios became Famous Studios in 1942,” he told me.

“Did you know that Richard was his son and that he directed Doctor Doolittle?”

“He also directed Disney’s 20000 Leagues Under the Sea.”

“Really, I didn’t know that. Nate, did we see the Eddie Murphy Doctor Doolittles?”

I got more than I bargained for with that question. Nate gave a full discourse of the four movies in the series, how many Murphy was in, which were direct to DVD and which we have at home and saw together. It was a great talk, really, and I learned a lot, like I always do when I hang with Nate.

Earlier in the day, while having lunch, I saw parts of Grumpier Old Men. There they were Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, the original Odd Couple, arguing and finding, yet again, a way to co-exist. That could be Nate and I, somewhere off in the distant future. It wouldn’t be so bad, as long as he picked up after himself.

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About Jeff Katz

Jeff Katz is Mayor of Cooperstown, the “Birthplace of Baseball” and home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. His latest book, Split Season:1981 - Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike that Saved Baseball, (Thomas Dunne Books, 2015), received national attention, with coverage appearing in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Sporting News and NPR’s Only a Game, among others. Katz appeared on ESPN’s Olbermann and The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap and MLB Network’s MLB Now, with Brian Kenny. Split Season: 1981 was a finalist for the 2016 Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year.
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