Today's theme is "geezers reminiscing." Anybody not yet middle-aged should turn to the sports page and spare the rest of us the groans. You know who you are. Don't give me that face, young man, you'll get here soon enough. And you kids get off my lawn!
A recent Facebook comment by Marc Rockford - "Facebook" is a "site" on the "Internet," the latter of which was famously and succinctly described by ur-geezer Senator Ted Stevens as "a series of tubes" - reminded me of the time I talked a bunch of guys into watching a rebroadcast of a moving picture on the television set. It was a suspense film that I had already seen, but the others hadn't. I was careful not to give anything away. Fifteen minutes into it, with an hour and a half to go, Rock walked into the room and said, in his 110 decibel voice, "oh, I love this movie! The fat chick kills all those guys!"
Watching my dreadful Washington Nationals reminded me of a baseball game Pete Mullin and I watched on television at the fratlodge. We were alumni living in Ithaca, but we had low-paying jobs, so we would meet at the fraternity for cheap amusement. The plan was to watch a Reds-Mets game and head out for pizza and beer. The Reds had the game in the bag, with nothing left but for outfielder Dave Parker to snag a lazy fly ball and trot to the infield for high fives. He hot-dogged it, booted the ball, Dykstra scored, and the game went into extra innings. The Reds lost in 14, but created a box score for the ages. Among the highlights: Pete Rose put himself in as a pinch hitter, and pitchers Orosco and McDowell both pitched twice each. Yes, they each pitched to non-consecutive batters. There were many other oddities and items of interest from that game. Pete and I were starving, so we left for food in the 10th and managed to get back for the end of the game.
My wife and I were in Ithaca for a day over the summer and saw a new saloon called "Johnny O's Collegetown Pub." It isn't our Johnny O (John Olsewski), but it reminded me of the time Bob Montione, Ken Lauricella and I went fishing for blues in Long Island Sound and came back to the house drunk and armed with a mackerel, which we used to beat Johnny O awake - it must have been 2 in the morning - hours before his medical board exam. He swore unholy revenge if it took him the rest of his life, and now I'm wondering why I'm telling this story. I haven't seen or heard from him in years. I don't think he reads this rag, which is probably the only reason I'm still safe here in my home in … Idaho. Or Montana. One of the big square ones. Yup, John, I moved out west! Love it! Drop by sometime, here at our lovely ranch in Wyoming! I'm raising alpacas! They're great on sandwiches and for times when a six-pack of Wiedemann's is too little and a bag of M&Ms is too much.
Doug Wright and I lived in a lakeside cottage miles from campus in the gauzy days of phonographs and black dial telephones. We were under parental pressure to have a telephone, but were under lifestyle pressure to be judicious in answering it. Some calls we wanted to answer, some calls we didn't. New girlfriends, yes - old girlfriends, their fathers, and creditors, no. There was no way to tell which was which in the '70s, because there wasn't caller ID, and early answering machines were wildly expensive. I had a tape recorder, though, so Doug recorded a "we can't answer the phone" message. When the phone rang, he would pick up the receiver and hold it to the tape recorder, hit "play," then he would make a beeping sound and put the receiver to his ear to check if it was Crazy Carol. That broad was out where the buses don't run. A couple of cans shy of a six-pack. Maybe I should have changed her name for this story. Maybe she married Johnny O. Hey, John and Carol! Come visit us in our lovely home in Seattle! I'll give you Doug's new phone number.
Jim "Gringo" Criscuolo and I shared an apartment in the attic of the Hillside Inn, conveniently located within crawling distance of the fraternity house. When we moved in, the owner emphasized that we would not be graced with the Inn's maid service, to which we assented, wondering why college boys would want maids, anyway. The pact was broken by management when, during an inspection, it became clear that our bathroom was capable of supporting agriculture. Leftover onions that Gringo couldn't cram into his world famous pasta sauce sprouted in the vegetable crisper and colonized the refrigerator. Cats would climb in the window and sleep on the couch. Oddly, the Hillside Inn stopped taking boarders after that, and reverted to pure hostelry.
My wife and I visited Ed Conti and his family at their new old house in Marin County, California, this past summer. It's old because they've lived there for years. It's new because during a recent renovation, the contractor got carried away and had the whole thing torn down. He was supposed to be adding a couple of rooms by tearing out a wall, but one thing led to another, and you know how it goes when you give a bunch of Dekes hammers. Ed came by the site one day and saw an empty lot. In his taciturn fashion he inquired after the contractor's kids, then said something along the lines of "so, have you seen the keys to my boat? They were on the armoire in the master bedroom on the second floor. By the way, where is the master bedroom? Or, if that's too specific, the second floor?" The new place is way cooler than the old one, but Ed had to sell one of the kids for medical experiments to make the payments.
Reunions for classes ending in zero or five are June 10-13, 2010. This includes my class's 30th. Five years ago I tried to rally the troops and four of us showed up, so I'm going to try reverse psychology and say that except for me, Chas Horvath, Jim Dake, and Peter Aufrichtig, class of '80 pikes are a bunch of wieners. (I called Donzo Wierbilis and made him promise to go, but I think he was lying.) The rest of you can suck eggs.