Derek Gentile: A holiday slice of the Gentile life

Friday November 23, 2012


It's slice of life week here at Derek's column, when I pontificate about things that aren't long enough for a column. But still interesting.

So there I am, in the line at the McDonald's drive-through window the other day, waiting to order my usual lunch of a grilled chicken wrap and a small diet Coke, and I notice the guy ahead of me is taking a long, long time talking into that little black box that takes the orders.

"Dude," I said out loud. "What are you doing, ordering off the menu? This is McDonald's! What, you want Monterey Jack cheese on the hamburgers?"

Then the guy starts yelling at the box and tries to hit it. [He's parked too far away.] He drives up to the pay window and starts yelling at the cashier. And I'm thinking, "This guys problems are bigger than the price of the Happy Meals!"

Staying with food, I remember that, before I knew I was a diabetic, I used to go to Cumberland Farms after work and buy two packs of Twinkies. One pack for later, and one to eat for breakfast.

If I didn't feel like eating Twinkies, I would buy those vanilla Hostess cupcakes with the chocolate frosting.

Sometimes, if I was feeling really wild and crazy, I'd buy the vanilla cupcakes with that queasy-looking orange frosting.And people are surprised when I tell them my blood sugar was 530 when I was admitted to the hospital two years ago.

Anyway, the point is, I haven't eaten a Twinkie or a Ho-Ho or a Ding-Dong in two years and not only do I not miss them, I don't even think about buying them anymore. Which is a triumph of will and common sense. Still, I'm sorry they won't be on the shelves any more for me to at least look at.

The whole Black Friday think is interesting to me. I generally don't start shopping for Christmas presents until probably about two days before Christmas. In part, it's because I shop locally in downtown GB and I pretty much know what the stores have, [since I walk by them nearly every day].

Also, I'm a relatively unimaginative gift-giver. I usually find out what people want and give them gift certificates to the store in question. By the way, my record for late shopping is actual Christmas Day, when I got a bunch of gift certificates to local restaurants that were open on Christmas.

I also like to think I'm a fairly generous gift certificate-giver. I usually assume that whomever I buy these things for will have a few drinks, which, as a rule of thumb, punches these certificates up by about $15-20. I'm okay with that..

Also in the Christmas mode, I can remember years ago, when I was living on Glen Street in Adams, at the top of the street.

When my sisters and I were really young, we would stay up almost all night and wait until my parents were done setting up our presents under the Christmas tree. Then, we would wait, oh, probably 10 or 12 seconds, and rush down the stairs to open them.

For some reason, my father wasn't okay with that. We had to stay upstairs through the night.

He insisted that we wait until actual sunrise to go downstairs. After some whiny negotiation on my sisters' parts [I was above it all], the ruling from the Old Man was that we had to wait until all the streetlights we could see from our house (which was at the top of the hill on the street) were out.

So we'd be up, watching the lights like hawks, waiting for them all to go out. And there was one light, that I found out later was a driveway light, not a street light, that would stay on forever. Man, we hated that light

Finally, I'd like to wish everyone a good holiday. Two years ago Tuesday, I was at BMC trying to stay alive. I made it. [Obviously!] So every day is win-win for me. I hope such is the case for all of you.

To reach Derek Gentile:,
or (413) 496-6251.
On Twitter: @DerekGentile


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