It was the social event of the season. My friend Steve’s birthday is January 30, and when we were kids he always had a few folks over for plastic tumblers of RC Cola and a Kroger sheet cake, etc. There was usually a burping contest and a few well-placed farts, followed by cigars in the library and a sober discussion of world events.
Below are photos taken at two of those galas. They’re similar, but from different years. I thought I’d take a few moments today to analyze ’em. How’s that sound?
A little background: I grew up in the second house here. We moved in when I was in fifth grade, and I left when I was 22. Steve lived about fifty yards away, directly across the railroad tracks. And now, a million years later, we live near each other again in Northeastern PA. How weird is that?
Anyway, let’s break down these hideous pictures…
That’s me, at the end of the table, wearing a flannel shirt LONG before Kurt Cobain got credit for making it fashionable. You can see my Jiffy-Pop hair in full-flower. It grew up & out, never down. I knew it was time to get a trim whenever my dad started saying things like, “Good god, Jeff. A bushel basket wouldn’t fit over your head.”
To my left is Jeff H. He ran track and cross country with Steve, and graduated with us. I didn’t hang out with him much, but always liked him. He was a funny dude, and could bust balls with the best of ’em. You didn’t want to be on the receiving end of that shit.
Jeff is a doctor now, and so was his dad. I had a little encounter with his father when I was in high school. One night I came home a bit, you know, tipsy, and my mother was giving me the third degree.
She kept asking, “Why do you feel the need to do this??” Over and over. I knew she wouldn’t be satisfied with the truth: it’s a great deal of fun. So, I told her it was because I thought I might have cancer.
It was a smart-ass reply, as well as slightly bizarre. And so… she made me pay for it.
I was forced to go see Jeff’s dad, and am almost certain he’d been instructed to make it as unpleasant as possible. I don’t even want to go into it… But there was some heightened humiliation. I was in my tighty-whities for an extended period, people were coming in and out, and there was a THOROUGH examination. I was near-tears.
To Jeff’s left is my good friend Tim. We’re still in constant contact, and email each other a half-dozen times per day.
When I was in the running for a job with the FBI, Tim was in the army, stationed in Colorado. One day he was summoned to the office of a bigwig, and the guy began asking Tim questions about me.
He said he just sat there for a few seconds, blinking real fast, trying to process what was happening. He was in the military, halfway across the continent, getting grilled about his dumbass friend from high school. At first he thought I might’ve caused an international incident somehow. Heh.
It looks like someone spilled a little RC in the middle of the table, and nobody was lifting a finger to clean it up. I bet Steve’s mom wasn’t happy about that. And I have no doubt she blamed me for it.
Behind me is a dishwasher that to my knowledge was never used. Not once. I was mildly obsessed with it. Why not use it?? It’s right there! But, no. It was reportedly functional, but never in operation. It bothered me.
Around the corner from that neglected appliance was the utility room. There was a wall phone in there, with one of those long-ass cords that allowed you to wander out onto the lawn, and maybe down to the grocery store to pick up a gallon of milk, and still carry on a conversation. It was always tragically tangled. The phone number: 768-3883. Crazy. How is this information still in my brain?
I’m not sure whose nose and lips are on the left edge of the photo. Steve’s? It’s hard to know. But whoever it is… he’s wearing one stylin’ shirt.
This one almost causes me physical pain. It must’ve been taken a year or two earlier, and what the hell?! I look like a goddamn idiot. Why am I smiling like I’m brain-damaged? Wotta goober. And those glasses! It looks like the kind that changed from regular lenses to sunglasses, depending on the amount of light. It’s a wonder I was ever able to convince ANYONE to have sex with me.
I have a bad history with glasses. I think I look reasonably normal when I’m wearing contact lenses… but sweet sainted mother of Trevor Horn! When I’ve got the glasses on!! Check out this photo of me and Iggy Pop, taken in Atlanta. Iggy is usually the scariest person in every photo. Usually.
Anyway, back to Steve’s kitchen… To my right is Richard H. He was (and presumably is) a math genius, and worked as a meteorologist, and later an air traffic controller. He’s the same age as me, and is retired with two government pensions. Retired!
You know when I’ll retire? The day they haul my bloated carcass out of the building where I’ll be working as a grouchy old bastard security guard… My retirement will last for however much time passes between the coronary and the flatline. Oh, it’ll be glorious.
To Richard’s right is my brother Tim. Based on the shirt he’s wearing, I presume he auditioned for The Porter Wagoner Show, earlier in the day. Can I blame our mother for some of this stuff? Or is it the ’70s fault? I mean, seriously. What was going on??
I think that’s Steve’s back, with the number 7 on it. And at the other end of the table is Danny B. He lived next door to Steve, and was a year older than us. Along with Mike, who I wrote about yesterday, Danny was one of the best baseball players in town. When he was in Biddy League they made him pitch from second base, because he threw too hard. He was scary good. Literally.
And that’s going to do it for today, boys and girls.
I’ll see you again next time!
Want to help support the cause? Buy Jeff a beer! Nothing says ‘I care’ like beer.