Sunday, August 06, 2006

Thanks, good friends, nostalgia, and reunions


First, before my dull observations of life begin, I want to say thanks to those of you who read these humble pages. I am honored (and a little more than surprised) that anyone reads these pages. One person actually complained that there was too long of a time between postings. Well...thanks for your interest. I am stunned that anyone cares.

Most blogs are all about getting the word out about something: a person's music, art or a political agenda. No, I am not doing this selflessly for the betterment of humankind, but there is no agenda. Quite honestly, this is more about therapy for me. It helps me put this insane world in which we live into perspective. So thanks for reading. I hope to amuse.

The fellow in the photo at the top with the strange expression is one of my best buds. I want to thank him for his friendship and for tolerating me for four days at his home. His wife and children are lovely as well. I had a great time-fantastic really.
He lives in a really rural area. I am used to city living and never being able to really see the sky, but boy where he lives there aren't any streetlights. The sky is incredible. To quote a movie, it's "real country dark." The first night, after we had a few "nightcaps," I got into my bed and could not see anything-not a thing in the room or outside. It was like floating in space (or was it something else?).

After the rest of his family went to bed at a sensible hour, he and I would stay up way late and chat. Most of the time, we end up laughing until tears about something silly. Sometimes our sense of humor runs a bit bizarre. For some reason, we started talking about watching Don Kirshner's Rock Concert back in the '70's. Every week old Don's introduction of each act had this flat delivery: "Earth, Wind and Fire are one of today's most exciting soul acts. Here they are performing their hit...." If you are as old as me, you know what I'm talking about. It didn't matter who Don was introducing, it was the same thing: "Helen Reddy is one of today's most exciting soul singers with a hundred million gold records...."

After mocking dandy Don, we then jumped on poor Mac Davis-an all too frequent guest. Mr. Hairy Chest, tight blue jeans with Ovation guitar singing "Baby, Baby Don't Get Hooked On Me." I mean seriously, if there were a penalty for crimes against music, what would this guy get for that horrible song? Flogging? Hanging? Life without parole? His own theater in Branson, Missouri?

But what was really odd about this show was the eclectic programming. Perennial schmaltz favorites like Mac Davis and Helen Reddy were followed by the Mahavishnu Orchestra or The Police. Today, with all TV programming so carefully homogenized, this kind of show could never exist. Can you envision a meeting of the suits at CBS or NBC talking about the lineup for the show?

Clueless Executive No. 1: Helen Reddy, good. Mac Davis, hey I really like that guy.
Clueless no. 2: Whose dis Mah-ha-fish-soup fella?
Clueless no. 3: Never heard of 'em.
Clueless no.1: Can 'em. Next!

Another fabulous source of late night entertainment is one most of you already know about: This one is a screamer: It is surreal and really clever.

Though we really tried, no footage of Don Kirshner or Mac Davis was found. Perhaps that might have injured us. My ribs were sore from laughing already.

Went to my first high school reunion on Saturday. Avoidance of these types of events comes so naturally for me. Actually I wasn't really invited because I didn't graduate from there, but since I had many friends attending, some I hadn't seen in decades, I ended up going anyway. My avoidance of these affairs is obvious: if I didn't stay in contact with you after high school and had no contact with you during college, why bother now? I know that sounds a bit grouchy, but I'll give you a for instance.

Upon arrival, I wandered over to where a few friends were gathered and this guy introduces himself to me. The light of recognition goes off in my aged brain and we shake hands. Now, here's a guy that probably spoke three words to me in high school (no offense-we just ran in different circles), but suddenly here we are playing catch-up. He's a nice guy and I didn't mind talking to him at all, but where I'm going with this.

As the evening wore on, I saw an old nemesis. In nineth grade, this guy sprayed a can of Coke on my hair and then, if that wasn't enough, he gave me one square to the face after school. A complete sucker punch, didn't see it coming. I was so shocked (and quite frankly scared-this guy wrestled and played football) that I didn't react. I just got on my bike and pedaled home. Humiliation never comes in small doses. I never spoke to my parents about it, but it hurt my pride and self-esteem more than my jaw. I hadn't thought about it until that night.

I have this sort of generic golden rule about the past called "The Ten Year Rule." Any wrong that has been done to you that is over ten years old must be forgiven. NOT exactly the Sermon on the Mount, I know, a decade being a bit on the slow side of divinity and forgiveness, but it is something that I genuinely try to follow and even (gasp) offer to friends when appropriate (And when they are least likely to tell me to descend to the lower regions of hell fire and brimstone). But upon seeing that mine enemy had gotten very overweight, was totally gray haired and generally looked awful (plus he lives in a part of the valley that I consider is punishment enough), I felt a smug satisfaction roll over me. No need for platitudes and forgiveness-good old, outrightly mean human nature was fine.

A voice behind me: "They let just about anyone in this place." A friend I haven't touched base with for over two decades. This was one of the reasons I came.

The guy hasn't aged. Granted, the hair had the sparse flecks of gray, but he looks like he did in college. I asked if it was the sleeping in the hyperbaric chamber that made him look so young. A few Michael Jackson jokes later, we were trying to play catch-up.

The ice now broken, we tried to talk over the loud and wretched hits of the '70's, made worse by the crazed female DJ doing karaoke in between. Beer cups in hand, we took a brief stroll down days past. I have learned that we have a collective memory: what I fail to recall remains vivid in the minds of others and vice versa. I threw "Percy Mean and the Liquidators" at him. He just shook his head and laughed. You could almost see those memory cells flash, reaching for files long erased. Later people were recalling high school pranks with each person adding their own details to the story.

After the evening concluded, I gave my (photo) friend a ride back to his hotel. It was a short trip, but we spent some time just talking just sitting out in the parking lot.

So, here's to friends. Friendships that outlast junior high, high school, college and all the grown up stuff of middle age.

Cheers to good friends!


Kat said...

So who was the friend that you were so happy to see? I just read your blog which is very much like Bill's newsletter. You both are funny guys and should do a show together.

eclectic guy said...

I'll answer privately Kat

Anonymous said...

Outstanding post. I agree, you go too long between these love letters to your public.

It delights me to no end you installed Ms. Crouch for our entertainment. I'm addicted, and must watch it at least once daily. I'm thinking of starting off my calc class with it this fall!

Thanks again for the kind words. Come back any time at all.

And, thanks much for the tap. We bin tappin out.

eclectic guy said...

Great news about Tap.

And so we say "Tap into America!"

So many quotable quotes, so little time.

"This one goes to 11."