Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My best friend, Ed.

It’sed been over 30 years and still every time we meet someone new together they get to hear this story.
I was 16, it was Christmas break of my Junior year.  The department my father worked for was having a conference up in Park City, so there were professors from all over the world coming into the Salt Lake airport.  I was one of the people hired to shuttle them from the airport to Park City in my dad’s 1974 Dodge  Van, about a 35 mile drive.*  Ed (who was brand new to Utah, and whose brother danworked in the same department) was hired to assign people to the different vans.
I was getting paid good money, for a 16 year old, so my parents tacked on the added responsibility of taking care of my little brother.  No big deal,   there was room in that big old van.  Except…
Whentanja I picked up Tanja.  If you’ve ever watched “That 70’s Show”, Tanja was our Fez my junior year.  She was a Foreign Exchange Student from Holland that hung around with my group.
So, my little brother, Tanja and I walk up to the table where Ed is sitting in the middle of the airport and somewhere in the conversation I con him into watching my brother while I drive up to Park City (and back, alone with Tanja) shuttling professors to the hotel there.  For the next 3 or 4 hours my brother had the run of the airport, and I had 30 minute stints alone with Tanja on dark, and fairly deserted, I-80. 
I didn’t know it at the time, but as Ed tells it now,school he was a little bit impressed at my manipulations that night.  He says that as I walked away with this  tall blond Dutch girl, my brother  sitting next to him, he thought “I have to hang around with that guy.”
A month later we ran into each other on the stairs at school and the rest, as they say, is history.
*Yes, it was 1976, when a 16 year old was allowed to drive University professors 35 miles in a big old van without seat belts, and you could stick a complete stranger with your 10 year old brother in an international airport.  And nobody thought twice about it.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sadness, memories and humor.

I just got news that the older brother of my best friend in high school passed away this week.  The details are not important, but it did remind me of this story.
E was my best friend in high school, and we are still close as ever 30 years later. 01 We met because his older brother, C, taught in the same department as my father, and in the winter of ‘76-‘77 E came out to Utah to live with his brother.  (The night we first met is a whole other story).
I was 17 the one and only time I got myself arrested.  I had some beer in the car, and a little bit of an illegal substance.  As I was coming home from E’s apartment on the Avenues, I flipped an illegal U-turn on the U of U campus.  I was pulled over several blocks away, and immediately went for the registration on the visor.  Oh, crap! I was driving my mother’s car, and she didn’t leave the registration on the visor.  It was in the glove box, with my –ahem- substance.  Now, mind you, this was 1977.  Cops would still have their faces in the driver’s window as you went through your glove box, which made it really hard to hide anything you didn’t want them to see in there.  But hell, I was 17, I was smarter than any adult, I’d just quickly move the papers around and that dumb ol’ cop03 would never know.  Yeah, not so much.  He noticed, and I got handcuffed, stuffed in the back seat and brought down to the U of U cop station.  
As luck would have it, my parents were in the middle of hosting a party when I called home with my one phone call, and my dad and C were elected to come pick me up.  They got there right as the cop told me I had to pour out the beer (Heineken imported from Evanston, Wyo.), and the first thing my dad said to the cop was “Uh, I’m over 21, can I take that home?” Nope, it just needed to be poured out.  Some lucky squirrel had the night of it’s life.  I don’t even remember how long all the paperwork took, but I do remember the drive home.  I got some of the best advice of my life from my father that night - “Don’t break two laws at once.”  If you have illegal stuff in the car, drive p-e-r-f-e-c-t-l-y.  This has helped me many times02 in the last 33 years, for things as simple as making sure my registration is up to date before I go on any long trip, because I never really had many heavily criminal tendencies (and there’s another story to that). 
C, on the other hand, gave me a big lecture on how you NEVER hide your marijuana in the glove box.  Dumb, dumb, dumb.  Under the seat, in the trunk or even in your book bag, but never in the glove box.  Might as well sit it right up there on the dash.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A pain in the boob.

Both my grandmothers worked in the garment district in NYC.  My father’s mom (Nonni) made coats and my mother’s mom (Ida) made hats.  This is a story that Ida used to tell.
Ida had breast cancer and had one removed while she was still working.  Pins were a mainstay in the industry, and my grandmother decided that it was too cumbersome pincushion2 to carry around a pin cushion, especially when she had her own portable built-in pin cushion.  One of her favorite jokes to play on new hires was to, in the normal process of hat making, pull a pin out of a hat and jab it into her fake breast.
You can imagine how funny it looked seeing her walk around with a bunch of pins sticking out of her chest, but the faces of new hires must have been hilarious as they watched her take a pin and stick it in her breast (She would do it before there were any others there).  I still laugh picturing my grandmother mimicking herself jabbing the pin in.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Uh, Dad…

It had to be before we sold the Chevy in ‘72, so the oldest my little brother chevy could have been was 6.  We were coming home from a road trip in  our family’s 1963 Chevy Biscayne wagon.  Dad was upset for some unknown reason, it couldn’t have been because of us kids.  We always behaved so well stuck 4 across in the back seat for who knows how many hours, so it couldn’t have been us.  Nonetheless, Dad was not happy, we’d been threatened several times with being forced to walk the rest of the way home, but since we were closer than our elementary school that was no longer a threat.
We were playing that game where whenever Dad took a turn, we’d all slide into it and squoosh the kid at the end into the door.  We were making the final turn onto our street, all pushing on my little brother who happened to be on the outside of the turn.  I guess we pushed a little too hard because the door popped open and he vanished out the door into oblivion.ledgelawn
Uh, Dad?”
Shut Up, we’re almost home!”
But DAD!”
I said SHUT UP!”
We pull into the driveway, all get out and Dad asks “Where’s your brother?”
Uh, he fell out at the corner.”
Now, in my memory Dad came back with “Well, why didn’t you tell me?”, but since he is a smart guy I’m pretty sure he immediately figured out that we did try to tell him.  The entire family starts to run down the street, just to meet little brother two houses down.  He had hit the road, rolled into the front lawn of the house on the corner, got up and walked home.  Nothing broken, nothing damaged.