Friday, October 13, 2006

Old Friends

The Warden and I decided it was high time we buckled down and did some serious searching for a couple we met back in 1984. The four of us were virtually inseparable for almost six months. We were witnesses at their wedding and we spent many happy times together in the Napa Valley area. The last time I talked to him was in 1989.

After much research and about a dozen phone calls, we got a hold of his brother. Turns out that he and his wife got into drugs and separated about 10 years ago. According to the brother she drinks Sterno, is living on the street, and works as a prostitute. The husband is doing better, but is still on drugs, is a chronic liar, and is working at the local Goodwill, which tells me he might be a felon that can’t get a job anywhere else. They had four kids, the oldest of which I should be able to get in touch with. The youngest, 12, lives with her uncle, the guy we spoke to. Did they abandon their twelve-year-old?

How depressing. We loved that couple. I remember touring the wineries with them, getting pie-eyed on free samples….then heading for the beach at Bodega Bay with wine and cheese. Oh, and a couple of fat London broils. Funny thing was that we didn’t have anything to cook the meat on and didn’t have any eating utensils. So….we gathered twigs, branches, and anything that would burn and built a fire. We skewered the meat on the thickest twigs we could find and cooked our cold, drunk asses off. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough wood. But being the ingenious drunks that we were, we started burning our blankets…and spare clothes….and anything else we could find to burn. Eventually the meat was done. Finally! And we ate. Without knives. Without forks. We ate the meat like animals, holding the nearly 2lb slabs of beef with both hands while tearing pieces off with our dull, human teeth. It was hilarious then, and it is now!

Update – About 20 minutes later:
The Warden called the Goodwill store and, if you can fucking believe this, our buddy answered. The Warden talked to him for a few minutes and brought the phone in to me at my blog station. “Chucky boy. How are ya?” We chatted for a few minutes before he said he had to go. Before we hung up, he said, in a stammering kinda way, “I can’t believe I’m talking to you friend.” I couldn’t either.
The Warden, hardass as she likes to think she is, got misty-eyed when we were talking about our friends after I hung up.

He’s calling back at 9:00pm tonight. I hope he’s doing well and not as bad as his brother made it sound.


On a similar note…I called another old friend. I met her in 1985 in NJ. Nina is her name. 100% Joisy Italian. Nina the dancing ballerina. We had a great talk during my drive home from work this afternoon. She’s been suffering from pulmonary embolisms for the past year-and-a-half, so she’s been living (or trying) solely on alimony. She’s on hard times, but I’ll be damned if she ain’t tough as nails. Nothing ever gets her down. One of the strongest wills I’ve ever known in anyone.

She sounded great, considering how hard things are going for her. She’s about ready to get evicted because of late rent and doesn’t know who she’s going to get to help her move. Her sons are out of state and her husband left her years ago for a guy. Her brother passed away a few years ago too. Wish I was there to help her. Her daughters and their boyfriends ought to be able help though.

A fun note about Neen. I can’t remember the last time she referred to me by my given name. Since around August of 1985 she’s called me Will. Her kids have always known me as Uncle Will, and still call me that today. Why? Well, she used to invite me down to her apartment for dinner, drinks, etc., with my roommate: “Come down and eat a fuckin’ cheese steak with me one night.” or “Are you ever going to [fill in the blank]?” My response to anything she ever wanted me to do was “I will.” One day she let me have it as only a New Jersey Italian chick can. “Will. Your name is fucking Will from now until I go to my grave as God is my witness.” And she’s kept her promise.

She was crying when we said goodbye – Touched that I’d called her after losing touch for three or so years and hearing from her son that she wasn’t doing too well.

I need to write some stories about her and our big, Italian Sundays at her ranch house in the country, complete with wine, Granny, and phe-fucking-nomenal Italian food.

Signing off for now. I have some bourbon to drink.

Here’s a Jon Stewart Video on Mark Foley
The last three minutes or so of it are so-so


Margaret said...

Getting in touch with old friends can be very interesting. My 20th HS reunion is next month but don't think I'll be going. I have a feeling I'd leave there feeling really really old.

When actually as they are becomming grandparents and sending their kids off to college, here I am having my first. It kind of makes me feel like 20 again and I like it.

Anonymous said...

wow, that's crazy about your friends! meeting up with old friends has never worked out for me. when I do it makes me wonder why I was ever such good friends with them in the first place.

jules said...

Man, that sucks about your friends getting into so much difficulty. I've been fortunate that I have a couple of friends that I've known for over 20 years, and they're still as good a friends today as back then.

The_Gator said...

Im still living in back then...however after only being apart a few years I am surprised a lot by some of the stories i hear.

Sheila said...

This post makes me think of the song "Bittersweet" from Big Head Todd and the Monsters.

I hope your friend called back at 9:00 pm so you could catch up on all that has happened since you last saw each other - good or bad.

Bunny ~N~ Early said...

I read Ellie Mae this post. I have told the kids story after story of people I know, that had so much going for them only to lose it all over drugs. This post was yet another perfect example. It always helps to hear it from someone other than Mom and with the emotion (feelings of loss) you added.
Thanks Will lol.