I am a very sentimental person, but have hardened some over the years from realizing not everyone appreciates a sentimental sensitive guy. Being sentimental makes me a people collector. There is an unnatural need to keep everyone I have ever had contact with longer than ten minutes, in my life forever. Well Kit, what have you been up to since you broke my nose in 5th grade? Any parole violations? Mary, did you ever get help with that digestive problem you had in 3rd grade? It was really difficult sitting behind you all year.
Really, when I grew up, there were no computers, no Facebook, no My Space other than the one in my shared bedroom with my brother. Staying in touch has not been possible. Yet, I did have a band of friends that stayed pretty tight for a couple of decades until they started dying off. My friend Rick who I have written about before died on Saturday at the age of 84 years old. I knew Rick for 43 years making him my oldest friend in multiple ways.
I knew Rick and introduced him to my partner at the time Don. Amongst other things, Don taught me to appreciated Dolly Parton. For his birthday one year, I stood in line for hours to get tickets to her concert. It was the best present for both of us. Don was severely beaten on the boardwalk in Asbury Park, years after we ended it. He died of the injuries in the hospital.
Through Don, Fred and Eleanor joined the band of friends. Fred was a staunch Republican, flamboyantly gay man who worked for Exxon. Fred loved the old time radio shows and had a collection on records. Don and I would spend hours listening to The Shadow, Grand Central Station, and Green Hornet. Fred was one of the only people that I knew who made better critical thinking decisions after getting wiped on pot when he was straight. He was brought up on charges of conspiracy to commit murder. I was not working at the time, so took him to court every day until the trial after he was released on bail. Fred died of liver cancer at the age of 51. He did not drink alcohol.
Eleanor and Fred were friends of Don’s, but by coincidence lived in my apartment building. Eleanor was five foot ten inches and 102 pounds with a sense of humor that was boundless. She worked as a secretary for a Realtor who only kept her on out of sympathy. She had a heart problem and had quadruple by-pass surgery in addition to numerous other cardiac procedures. When she finally died from a heart attack, her boss discovered she had embezzled $10,000 from his company. Her daughter found it in the freezer wrapped in plastic and then wrapped with a steak in aluminum foil.
Rick also introduced me to Molly. Molly was a kick. She looked like the last of the Ziegfeld Follies who failed to turn in her old costumes. After meeting her, it took moments to realize it was a woman’s face you were looking at and not a topographical map of the moon’s craters covered in pancake make-up. To add to her charm, she had a voice like Harvey Fierstein with a severe cold. Molly dragged me into service as a hairdresser for her boss, who she loved. Kim could not keep help. I was an undergraduate at the time, but had my license as a hairdresser in NJ and PA. She pleaded with me to “fill-in” for a month until he could find someone. Two years later, I walked out. Molly died of a heart attack.
For years, this was my group for celebrating birthdays, Christmases, New Years, and any other event we could conjure up to get-together to have a communal feast.
For all of those who have made me laugh and made me cry, I say good-bye dear friends.
“We always thought we’d look back on our tears and laugh, but we never thought we’d look back on our laughter and cry.” Unknown.