The Wolfsies have accepted two invitations to dinner on Thanksgiving. Our good friends the Haversticks always invite my wife and son and me to join them at a lovely buffet at a downtown hotel. Since Mary Ellen and I have siblings who live out of town, we appreciate this gesture. The truth is, I come from a pretty good-size family in New York, but we’re not talking to each other, mostly because of a very contentious Thanksgiving about 25 years ago. For you ornithology buffs, please note: I have seen a turkey fly.

Our friends the Goslings have invited us to their house after we dine with the Haversticks. This makes perfect sense because we all know that an hour after you stuff yourself at an all-you-can-eat buffet, you start getting ready for your next meal. The Wolfsies offered to bring something to share at the Gosling family dinner pitch-in. But what we contribute (and how much) might depend on the noon smorgasbord with the Haversticks—and whether the restaurant has those big Styrofoam to-go boxes.

If Mary Ellen decides to cook something, how much are we supposed to bring? Calculating this would have stumped even Albert Einstein, who came from a nice Jewish family where food, of course, played a very important role. Some biographers think the equation E=mc2 really meant the amount of food you can Eat (that would be E) is equal to the size of the average Mouth (that’s M) times the number of cousins (C) who were invited. Then Einstein’s mother just squared everything to make sure there would be leftovers.

Einstein has gotten a lot of credit for his theories on atomic energy, but very little recognition has been given to Mother Einstein’s classic formula for how much potato salad to lug to the family reunion picnic. Einstein said everything was relative—and his mother needed a way to determine just how much his relatives would eat.

Mary Ellen will watch her prepared food like a hawk, concerned it may go unappreciated, thus requiring her to slither out the door with the still-full casserole dish behind her back. But there is an even worse scenario: suppose her dish is completely consumed. Not a scrap left. Wiped clean. That would mean she did not bring enough. This miscalculation would stain the reputation of the entire Wolfsie clan. That’s why Mary Ellen will plan her recipe around Mama Einstein’s theory of quantum gorging.

So here’s how we figure it. Dan and Noelle Gosling are having about 20 people for dinner, so we need to make enough sour cream mashed potatoes for 40 people, because if the spuds are as good as they sound, everyone is going to have seconds. But other people are also bringing dishes. And these people may also be familiar with this culinary formula. So if all 20 people bring enough food for 40 servings, there will be enough fare on the table that night to feed about 800 people. That should be plenty. Wait, their son Anthony is a six-foot-four teenager.

I sure hope there’s enough.




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I have monumental problems logging into my bank account. The issue is that I can never remember the answers I had given to my security questions. Who was my favorite comic book hero as a kid?  Batman? Superman? The Flash?  I’d hate to think I picked Aquaman.

What about my favorite flower? I have never had a favorite flower. If I choose rose, there’s a good chance I’ll say chrysanthemum the next time—if I can spell it. Tulips are not me. And I’m no pansy, that I can tell you.

Here’s another stumper: What college did I apply to but not attend? Well, that would be all the colleges that rejected me, so it could be Syracuse, or Northwestern, or Boston University. Maybe Brown. The list just goes on and on…and on. And how about the name of my best friend? That’s a tough one because someone is always ticking me off, so it changes every week.

Last week, Mary Ellen and I went to see our investment counselor. (We’ve had several advisors over the years and the advice is always pretty much the same: Make more money.

Apparently I’m not good at taking advice from others.) In order to open a new account, our consultant Brent had to ask me some new security questions. In the past, the problem was remembering the answers, but now it’s knowing the answers in the first place. Brent started by asking, “What was your second grade teacher’s first name?”

Seriously? The name of the elementary school alone should have been enough. It was Roosevelt School. But which Roosevelt,  Teddy or Franklin? I can’t even remember my school’s first name. Now, 65 years later, they want my teacher’s first name? All I can think of is “Miss.”

“Let’s try another one,” said Brent. “What time of day was your first child born?”

“How am I supposed to remember that?  It must have been late afternoon, because I remember how beautiful the golf course looked as the sun set.”

“Okay, Dick, tell me your favorite TV series in the ’90s.”

“Well, if I live that long, it will probably be Survivor, Season 45.”

“Dick, there’s only one question left. In what city were your parents married?”

“Geesh, Brent, how would I remember that? I was only a year old.”

At that point, my wife explained to me that I didn’t really need a right answer, I just needed an answer I could remember. In fact, I could give the same response to every question, just to make it easy on me. So I told Brent to type “Indywolfman47” no matter what the question was.

You’re probably saying: “I can’t believe you revealed that password in your column. Now everyone who is reading this will know it.”

Please do remember it for me.  I certainly won’t.


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