My friends J.P. Marzullo and Jeff Chidester, political gadflies both, are neither Native American nor, as you might guess from J.P.’s last name, Englishmen who came over on the Mayflower. JP and Jeff had nothing to do with creating my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving.
My friends J.P. Marzullo and Jeff Chidester are not women nor, given their marriages and children, likely virgins. They had nothing to do with creating my second-favorite holiday, Christmas. (I know I haven’t mentioned Jesus’ paternity. Trust me, neither J.P. nor Jeff is Him.)
Although my friend Jeff Chidester is a proud veteran of the United States Army, my friend J.P. Marzullo isn’t a veteran of either the Navy or the Army, but together they created my third-favorite holiday, and it’s coming up this weekend, the celebration of the Army-Navy football game December 9 at Murphy’s Taproom in Manchester, with all proceeds benefitting Liberty House.
Details and tickets are available at the Liberty House website (libertyhousenh.org), and I’d encourage you to join us, particularly if you are a patriotic, proper-thinking American who will join Jeff and me, Cold-War soldiers both, in rooting for Army in its quest to remain unbeaten in this series ever since President Donald Trump was elected. J.P., having been house mother to Naval Academy midshipmen while living in Annapolis and having a love for bellbottoms, will be quietly begging for Navy to avoid humiliation.
Those last two sentences are why the Army-Navy Game celebration has rocketed to third place in my list. On December 9, I’ll gather with one or two hundred fans at Murphy’s, having made a donation to a good cause, and spend three hours trash-talking the opposition, eating more than I should and perhaps looking for bargains among the silent-auction items. But mainly talking trash.
I know a silly football game will not determine the better branch of the armed services, the bravery rankings of Soldiers versus boatmen, er yachtsmen, er Sailors or the relative badassness of soldiers, who are often required to travel long distance by foot to look their enemies in the eyes, and sailors, who flit about from port to port, occasionally shooting off fireworks. Football doesn’t decide those things; reality has. At the end of the game, when Army has trounced Navy, all of us at Murphy’s will have had a great time, the Navy fans having thrown in the towel by the third quarter and started rooting for Army. It will have been fun, the way life spozed to be.
I mentioned in the lead Jeff and J.P. are both political operatives/commentators. I didn’t mention they are both conservative Republicans. I am not a conservative, and although I’m a registered Republican, I’ve been a Democrat before and may be again, having switched to vote for John Kasich in last year’s New Hampshire Primary. Regardless of party, I am a moderate to liberal voter, certainly much more so than Jeff or J.P. Although I’d known Jeff a bit before the first Army-Navy fundraiser, I met J.P. through their work in setting up the event at Murphy’s. I have tremendous respect for their intelligence and integrity, even when I think they’re politically wrong, and I believe the feeling is mutual. Two weeks from now, Jeff and I will be together rooting for Army while J.P. will be dreaming of the glory days of Roger Staubach and weeping in his diet Coke. When the three of us walk out of the game together, I’ll be bonded to Jeff, sharing our Army connection, J.P. will be bonded to Jeff, sharing their political connection, and the three of us will be bonded together sharing a love of country, a love of football, a love of food and, in Jeff’s and my case, a love of victory.
Go Army! Beat Navy!
Join the event Liberty House Army/Navy event on Facebook. Tickets are $20 per person and the game starts at 2 p.m.
About the author: Keith Howard used to be a homeless drunk veteran. Then he got sober and, eventually, became director of Liberty House in Manchester, a housing program for formerly homeless veterans. There, he had a number of well-publicized experiences – walking away from federal funds in order to keep Liberty House clean and sober, a contretemps with a presidential candidate and a $100,000 donation, a year spent living in a converted cargo trailer in Raymond. Today, he lives in a six-by 12-foot trailer in Pittsburg, NH, a few miles from the Canadian border with his dog, Sam. There, Howard maintains tinywhitebox.com, his website, works on a memoir, and a couple of novels while plotting the next phase of his improbable life.