May 26, 2018
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Texas Larry stars in ‘remember when’ game

By Emmet Meara, Special to the News

We all have our spiritual gurus. Deepak Chopra. Dr. Phil. Sarah Palin. Dick Cheney. “Car Talk.” Yogi Berra. But I take advice from one person and one person only: Tony Soprano.

On Sunday’s three-hour A&E “Sopranos” marathon, our boy Tony interrupted a Jersey reminiscence of murders past, mostly because there were civilian ears listening. He advised the table, since the feds were closing in, that “‘remember when’ is the lowest form of conversation.”


Of course, that was a few hours before Texas Larry and Hancock Sarah landed in Camden and we trotted out the old stories. No murders, honest.

Naturally, we ended up at the Waterfront Restaurant with the best view in town, if not in Maine. After a few Kendall Jacksons, the stories started to flow. Sarah has heard them all about 40 times but she gamely pretended interest, since, after all, she had married the guy.

“He came along in a period in my life when I was ready to get married,” she explained.

We laughed so long and loud that I was afraid that Leonard Lookner and Sam Appleton, the Waterfront owners, were about to show us the door. But then I remembered how lousy the restaurant business was, even in Camden.

They let us stay.

I had to tell my favorite Texas Larry story, which is my favorite Cobb Manor story. Let us digress. For reasons unknown, I purchased a three-bedroom house a few decades ago, since I thought my offspring were joining me. When they declined, I sought some paying tenants. At a breakfast at Ye Olde Coffee Shoppe in Rockland, Texas Larry and Grady Alice complained about their living quarters, rent and unappreciative landlords.

It struck me like a bolt of lightning. “Why don’t we all live together and share expenses?” It wasn’t the worst idea I ever had. That would be a Florida land purchase. But, it was far from the best.

We all moved into “Afghanistan,” a term coined by Larry since we all adopted afghans to counter the weak heating system, leaking windows and the cold Maine winter. (Larry also coined the term “Cobb Manor.”) The flaw in the arrangement was there were three afghans, all right, but only two couches for television viewing pleasure. Every night we grabbed, dug in and held our couches like the last few Japanese soldiers at Iwo Jima.

One cold winter night, Grady Alice had one couch and I had the other, under the afghans, when there was a knock on the door. Naturally, we ignored it since we expected that when anyone got up to answer, Larry would race through the barn and commandeer the empty couch. We were too smart for that. And much too lazy.

So we sat and watched the tube. Probably Fred Astaire, Grady’s favorite.

Finally Larry’s latest flame, whom we called Mopster (reasons unknown), came in yelling. She claimed that Texas Larry had broken his knee skiing and was knocking on the side of Cobb Manor with his new crutches, to gain admittance.

Right. Did she think we would fall for that? We were couch potatoes, yes, but we were battle-hardened couch potatoes. We shall not be moved.

It wasn’t until she fetched the brand-new X-rays from Larry’s car that we believed any of it. We even checked the dates on the X-rays to make sure this was not a couch takeover ruse.

Finally, we went out to help limping Larry into the house. I think it was Grady Alice who gave up her real estate for our injured roomie. I still didn’t believe him.

Well, on Sunday, 25 years later, we sat and laughed until we cried, playing “remember when.” Texas Larry said he might still have the X-rays. The house-knocking crutches were long gone, he said.

What does Tony Soprano know? He was killed in front of his whole family in the last episode.

I think.

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