I grew up with more than twenty first cousins–micks on one side and wops on the other. It made for an interesting, and crowded childhood for sure, where a boarding-house reach came in handy, and no one was shy about sticking their lunchhook out and grabbing their fair share of food or booze, or both. The quick and the hungry was the rule in our house, man.

Most of the cousins have married and the first-cousin once-removed mob has subsequently grown like mold on toast. John, above, my cousin Caroline's husband, has been representing in Little Compton (he's a firefighter–thanks for your service, brother) for the past year or so, and says he always gets compliments whenever he goes Old's Cool.


But I thought I'd share a favorite story with you. My cousin Cal and I were born one month apart, and we grew up together. One day when we were about three or four my mother was walking by the bathroom and heard me say to Cal: "You hold this while I pee."

My mother, more curious than alarmed, couldn't resist peeking her head in. Cal was standing there with my big red firetruck in her arms while I was chattering unselfconsciously away, pants at ankle, taking care of business.



Word of the Week (WoW) is another gem tossed out nonchalantly during the "Neverland" episode of Endeavour.

"At [King Arthur's] Round Table there was one seat kept always vacant. Reserved by Merlin, for the knight destined to claim the Grail, and heal the wounded land. The seat was named the siege perilous, for should any other dare sit therein, it held only death."

Interesting that "siege" gets its name from the French word for "seat" i.e. the attacking army would just sit and wait until the surrounded city or fortress surrendered.

Another Drop in the Bucket

I remember my old boss telling me that every contact with the enemy I mean customer, even if the situation is somewhat unpleasant, has the potential to win them over for life, or something to that effect.

I still think of his advice often:

I received your TOOCE III set for Christmas. A perfect gift. I enjoy just picking up one of the volumes, finding a spot and reading it. Alas, I cannot find all the answers to the Playbook on your website. Maybe it’s because I’m from Canada (Toronto) and although we drive on the same side of the road as you do, perhaps there are some things I just can’t understand - although born a Canadian I did spend 16 years growing up in Detroit…and maybe that’s the real problem.

Anyway, maybe you can help me.

John Reble

I sent the following message back:

The problem, Mr. Reble (Rebel!), is not that you’re Canadian, or that you grew up in Detroit. The real problem is that you assumed competence on our part. Big mistake– we only act like we know what we’re doing…

Seriously, you couldn’t find the answers to TOOCE III because I hadn’t posted them yet. Since corrected:


Thanks for your email and the kind words–made my day!

Johnny Mustard

He replied:

I always assume competence on my part. Maybe that’s why I’m currently sitting facing a snow bank in my car with a cold cup of coffee and not one of your books wondering how I got here. Many thanks. Really pleased to have been introduced to your wit and wisdom.

Johnny “Rebel”