Monday Musings….

Here are two quick bursts of chaos from my life.

#1: The Hook Meets A Charm School Graduate….

I’m strolling through the parking garage, my empty cart emitting metallic “tings” as it bounces ever so slightly along the cracked, wet concrete. I had just finished packing luggage into my millionth (at least) mini-van, when Fate steered me in the direction of a twenty-something female straight from an MTV pseudo-reality set attempting to load fifteen pieces into an SUV designed to handle two.

Actually, in this case “Fate” emerged in the form of a Honda Civic driven by a drunken frat boy who nearly clipped my cart, but either way, I found myself rendering assistance to a damsel in distress and that’s where things get interesting.

CHARM SCHOOL GRADUATE: (In a giggly, angelic tone that surpassed known speed limits for humans, even young females.) I can’t seem to get all of this shit in here!My boyfriend took off to find our friends!Now I’m on my own and don’t know what to do!Can you help me out?

Fortunately for me, I speak fluent perky, even the ultra speedy dialect.

THE HOOK: No problem.

One of us had to keep his speech economical. There is only so much air available in a parking garage….

A moment later, her vehicle was packed, with only a mid-size cooler remaining.

THE HOOK: I can get this in here, but it’s going to be a tight fit. The only spot left is this cubbie hole.

In retrospect, I should really have known better…

CSG: That’s okay, I like big things in my hole!

My response was lightning quick and instinctive.

THE HOOK: Where were girls like you when I was sixteen?

(Incidentally, if the wife is reading this: I love you.)

Her response (CSG’s, not the wife’s.) was equally quick and direct.

CSG: Most likely doing porn?


#2: And Now For Something Completely Different…

(And now, the introduction to my second book. Bear in mind, this is a first draft and I am in need of feedback from my trusted readers, whose opinions have always proven invaluable to me.)

When I was a boy, my grandfather was larger than life.


A Polish immigrant, he blocked out the sun whenever he appeared. It took me years to accept that solar eclipses were not an everyday occurrence. He was a bouncer at a bar/hotel in downtown, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada and patrons there knew better than to mess with that “Polack who was as big as a mountain”. But there was much more to my grandfather than met the eye. Much more.

He was a Polish resistance fighter during the Second World War. Most resistance cells were nothing more than a group of teenage boys with fire in their eyes and rage in their hearts. Untrained in the art of warfare, they fought hard, but not necessarily smart. As for my grandfather’s cell, their most significant contribution to the war became their last.

The full might of the occupying Nazi regime fell upon them after they kidnapped the daughter of a local politician/collaborator. They were hunted down, herded into the street and one by one, they were shot in the head before their bodies were burned – in full view of an impotent public, of course.

By the grace of an All-mighty whose presence seemed otherwise invisible, my grandfather escaped his compatriot’s fate. He fled Poland and wound up in Germany – talk about leaping from the frying pan into the fire – just as Hitler’s regime crumbled.

I firmly believe the saying, “out of the frying pan and into the fire” originated with my family.

My grandparents met behind the barbed wire of a United Nations internment camp. He was a security officer. She wasn’t. The horrors of war brought them together and they moved to Canada for a new start.

But memories have little to do with geography.

Nietzsche said “Be careful when you fight the monsters, lest you become one.” I often recall this quote when I think of those poor souls who fought so hard for their freedom from Nazi oppression. To those who knew him best, my grandfather was a hard-drinking, angry man whose heart had been stained by dark events that haunted him all the days of his life. Growing up, my mother felt his self-righteous, misplaced anger more than once. My grandfather may have survived the war, but he left the best parts of himself behind with his compatriots in the streets of Poland.

With one notable exception.

He treated me like his little prince, doting on me and buying all the toys I could play with. In fact, I don’t have a single negative childhood memory of my grandfather, but as I grew into a man, the truth slowly emerged.

On his best days, my grandfather was hero.

On his worst, he was a monster.

His greatest gift to me? The ability to read a person simply by studying the lines of their face. His legacy has served me well.

As kids, most boys wanted to be soldiers, police officers or firemen. Growing up, all I wanted to be was a writer – and Doctor Who. (I was a tall, skinny kid who loved to read and watch public television. You do the math.)

However, since I was reasonably sure my parents weren’t Time Lords, I had to set my sights on a future in literature.

Well into middle-age, that future is still being written.

Childhood dreams get tucked away in shoe boxes and buried in closets. We grow up and walk one of two paths: one leads to a career, a final destination, and the other appears to circle endlessly around a job. I chose the latter and entered the Niagara Falls hospitality industry, where I became a bellman.

That’s where the story would usually end, but as far as my life is concerned that simply isn’t the case for two reasons:

1) Most people are steadfast in their belief that a person doesn’t “choose” a job, they settle for one. Those people are idiots.  A job, like everything else in our lives, will follow the path you forge. I have mapped a course for myself. It has brought me here.

2) When you’re a bellman, you become part of a cycle:

  • People check in.
  • People check out.
  • They leave an impression – good or bad –  on you.
  • You move onto the next call.

The story never ends.

I have utilized my grandfather’s legacy every day of my life and nowhere has it proven more valuable than in the halls of a grand hotel where the ability to read a guest’s face can mean the difference between walking way with a tip in your pocket or shouting like a madman in the solitude of the service elevator.

About The Hook

Husband. Father. Bellman. Author of The Bellman Chronicles. Reader of comic books and observer and chronicler of the human condition. And to my wife's eternal dismay, a mere mortal and non-vampire. I'm often told I look like your uncle, cousin, etc. If I wore a hat, I'd hang it on a hat rack in my home in Niagara Falls, Canada. You can call me The Hook, everyone else does.
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71 Responses to Monday Musings….

  1. elenamusic says:

    Part 1: This wasn’t real, was it? Please say it ain’t so…
    Part 2: Great quote! “Be careful when you fight the monsters, lest you become one.” Very interesting about the “cycle”.

  2. JackieP says:

    What did your grandfather look like other then “Polack who was as big as a mountain”. ? Just wondering and maybe it would be good to describe him just a tad more so it’s set in the readers mind. Especially after describing yourself. We will have that distinct difference between the two. I have known people that came from Germany or other places after the war, my grandparents being some also. So far I like what I”m reading Hookster.

  3. The Waiting says:

    That was excellent, Hookster. It definitely has a place in your new book.

  4. unfetteredbs says:


  5. robincoyle says:

    “I speak fluent perky” is a great line.
    I think you need more of a transition between talking about your grandfather and becoming a bellman. The jump confused me because I thought you were going to give another bellman story a la your blog. Maybe that is what you intended . . . ?

  6. I want to read more……..a very good sign!!

  7. Enjoyable reading, my dear Hook. I do love it when you ‘expose’ more of your inner core; it’s personal, and as such, tender and sweet…. Not referring to #1 so much (that’s awful savvy of you), though most definitely #2. Most readers enjoy a little ‘inner time’ – feeling out the writer’s psyche and motivations…
    I agree with ‘The Waiting’s’ comment: Great fodder for your next book… 😉

  8. Carrie Rubin says:

    Charm School Graduate scares me. Keep her away from my teenage son.

    Good luck with the second book! Good stuff. 🙂

  9. "HE WHO" says:

    I’m hooked! Give me more.

  10. Katie says:

    Part 1- Hilarious as always. Your quick-thinking in the face of trouble never ceases to amaze, Hook.
    Part 2- A different side of you. Very well written and left me eager to continue the story. You better get writing!

  11. stephrogers says:

    To the first one – so funny and I think I may have met her doppleganger
    To the second – my family is Polish. I am first generation Australian. My grandfather passed away recently and some of his stories were haunting. In me it has left a sense of guilt that I am not living my best life, and I have more to eat than clear soup with a bit of potato peel. I loved the story you crafted. I felt like I knew your father because he sounds just like my grandfather.

  12. filledandfooled says:

    I can’t wait to read more, seriously. Tying your grandfather’s experiences and character in with yours should make for a very interesting read.

    • The Hook says:

      If I can pull it off, it will! The trick is maintaining the readers’ interest and the only way I’ll do that is to incorporate my grandfather’s lesson into my hotel stories.

  13. Lady Lovely says:

    First off, I loved the opening of this blog. Once again, I knew to put my coffee down and be prepared for a good laugh. You never fail to dissappoint me my friend. This time, I don’t need my bib and you don’t need to worry about buying me a new computer. Seems I’ve learned my lesson, no?
    Second, a lady doesn’t want to take up your comment thread, can she email The Hook 10-12 suggestions? I know it’s only your rough draft, but writing is my passion and you know me, I love to help.
    Third, Amber wants to buy your first book, so, I’m going to scower your site for links and such cause I remember they are there, I just kept forgetting to ‘buy now.’ I get so caught up in coffee drinking I forget to do my to do list. From a Torontonian to a Niag’era(?) Hmm….is your first book a prelude to the second? It’s more just a heads up to me, as I love reading things in order.

  14. Lady Lovely says:

    Crap, and Four-I was so busy making another coffee I forgot about four…I loved the intro.It’s not often I find a fellow Canadian author who can capture the history of thier heritage and youth so well. Me loves this part the most.

    • The Hook says:

      And me loves your comments and input!
      Send me an e-mail if you need to. I value your input. And the second book is simply a continuation of my life story, so you don’t need to read the first. My life is a series of stories that can be enjoyed independently of each other – fortunately!

      • Lady Lovely says:

        Will do! In a past life I was a book editor, but my close friend currently still is so I sent her work and asked her to help my friend Hook rock this S#^* some more, so that’s why there’s so many points. Ordered your book, can’t wait for it to arrive!

  15. Cameron says:

    Love the intro. And the CSG. Hee.

  16. Part 1 cracked me up.

    As for Part 2? Loved it. I was “hooked” (ha!) from the very beginning and couldn’t stop reading.

    • The Hook says:

      I’m a BIG fan of your work, Ashley – I’m trying to find the space and time to re-blog one of your recent pieces – and your input is priceless.

  17. Michael says:

    I liked the intro as well. Very moving. …and the CSG story has me reconsidering my current planned vocation as a law librarian. You do meet such interesting people. 🙂

  18. You have a dynamite story to share! My one suggestion would be to tell one thing and make it shine. Your grandfather is the perfect subject for a mesmerizing story. If you stick to this one subject and don’t digress, I think you will thoroughly capture your readers. Your story is worthy of all the effort you can muster to perfect it.

  19. susielindau says:

    Your intro was brilliant!
    I love the story about your grandfather. It drew me right in!

  20. Part one is hysterical. You have a gift for finding a tale to tell.
    Part two is memorably inspiring. This is quite the glimpse into the “stuff” The Hook is made of. It is very generous of you to share this part of you. I am humbled.

  21. Jennifer says:

    As usual your wit rules the day.
    Your draft.. beautifully written, you have a great way with words. but I have to agree with those that said there needs to be a more description of your grandfather, and the leap from him to Bellman was too sudden, i felt there should be more lead up to it. I like where it’s headed, look forward to reading more.

  22. mairedubhtx says:

    It was nice to read about your grandfather, Robert. I think we all have a soft spot for our grandparents. I’d like to read more about him.

  23. TBM says:

    Part 1: how do you meet so many of these people?
    Part 2: I enjoyed this. it reminded me of my grandmother who doted on me, but wasn’t so nice in her earlier years. Like you, I didn’t learn this until later. happy writing Hook, like many have said, I’m hooked.

  24. Lucky Wreck says:

    So glad you are still writing your future, and that your future is writing…because your writing rocks!

    P.S. I laughed out loud about speaking “Perky”. 😀

  25. The introduction reads well, but I’m not clear what the book is actually going to be about? Is it about your grandfather or is it your memoirs?

  26. MissFourEyes says:

    Loved your intro
    And the CSG? Hilarious! She’s as quick as you!

  27. djmatticus says:

    Good stuff! Can’t wait to read more, when can we expect the next installment? Or, do we have to wait until you finish it up?

  28. Part One – very funny. You are the man for sure!
    Part Two – very moving. Very well written. I have no critique because I was caught up in your story and your words. Keep writing, Hook, and we’ll keep reading.

  29. Wow Hook, I am impressed.

    I found myself wanting to know more about your grandfather.

    “His greatest gift to me? The ability to read a person simply by studying the lines of their face. His legacy has served me well”

    How did he give you this gift? Was there a moment(s) you remember that made such an impact?

    Not sure if those details are book worthy..but I sure would like to know. It also may be a nice transition into the world of Bellman.
    But I am no critic…just a faithful reader:)
    Beautifully written Hook…thanks for sharing your grandfather with us.

  30. The Hook says:

    Thank you for being such a loyal and helpful friend, Jessica.
    I have a long way to go, but with friends like you, I’ll get there.

  31. tracy fulks says:

    Two lines in particular really resonated with me:
    “A Polish immigrant, he blocked out the sun whenever he appeared.” I get an awesome visual from this.
    “…whose heart had been stained by dark events that haunted him all the days of his life.” -stained, perfect.
    then, when he is put into context with you, you reveal a softer side of him, how he treated you like a little prince, and taught you the valuable lesson of how to read people, which probably helped to develop your desire to write. I like reading about these two sides. I want to know more.
    But then you say he became a monster…how, what did he do? Maybe the answers unfold later in the story but give me a taste. Make me want more.
    You’ve cast your rod, the fish has taken the bait, now pull back hard and Hook me!
    Love it, great writing.

  32. The Hook says:

    This is why I love your work, Tracy; you cut to the heart of the matter and give me just what I need. Thank you for helping me paint a clear picture of my murky past.
    You give great comment, Tracy.
    Thank you.
    The Hook.

  33. munchow says:

    The charm school graduate might have had a giggly, angelic tone that surpassed known speed limits for humans, but she certainly knew how to answer. I guess she even made you speechless for at least a second. As for your grandfather, you have painted a picture of him that brings him alive, both the hero and the monster. And after what he had experience most people would carry a monster somewhere in them. He really left you with a great gift. With that gift in hand, what else could you have become, it’s just perfect isn’t it?

  34. renxkyoko says:

    Very interesting about Grandpa… do continue.

  35. twindaddy says:

    I like the excerpt, Hook. Very well written. Well done!

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