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How JP Didn’t Get His Name

October 7th, 2010  |  by  |  Published in Uncategorized


What with the looming arrival of the Second Coming, which my girlfriend has now instructed me must henceforth be referred to as “Ellie” (her name), I’ve been thinking about how we go about giving kids their handles.

Now, Christopher’s wonderful Greek cousin notwithstanding, I actually do have a rich uncle story.

My grandfather and his brother were fairly successful immigrant businessmen here in New York after fleeing Nazi Germany in the 1930s. They operated a German food importing business in Tribeca, in a warehouse that the CEO of BMW USA now likely lives in. They retired the year I was born.

Both decided to go into the stock market, and both did reasonably well, although my great-uncle, Frankie, did really well. Frankie, I should point out, was something of an eccentric. He lived his adult years in a one-bedroom apartment in Forest Hills, Queens, never had kids, never learned to drive, and never spent any of that money that he earned.

When I was in high school my grandfather, who a few years earlier had moved out of New York to live with my mother, called me and told me that I should go visit Frankie, who I hadn’t seen since I was perhaps 5 years old (Frankie didn’t keep in touch; I have almost no memory of him). He said that Frankie was lonely and he would be grateful for the visit. I agreed to go, my grandfather called his brother, and it was set for me to come by with groceries one day.

Unfortunately, I was 18 and had, in my mind, more important things to do, and I never showed. My grandfather never reproached me for my callous behavior, but he never brought up the subject of his brother again, either.

Years later, both my grandfather and his brother, then 99 and 101, died within a month of each other. I never learned the final disposition of my great-uncle’s will, but from what I can ascertain, his many millions went to Jewish charities.

About a year later, I got a dog, me and my ex-wife’s earliest attempt at having a child. Because I’m such a swell guy, I used to joke with my friends that if my great-uncle, Frankie, had left me even one of his hundreds of millions that I would have named my first-born son after him. Instead, my dog, my pre-son, Frankie, earned that privilege.

I’m a helluva guy.

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