Category Archives: Buffalo

Bim Skala Bim unites us all on a Monday.

My musical tastes intersected with my wyfe’s, when we met, at exactly one place. And this was it. Bim Skala Bim. I saw them three times over the years at Nietzsche’s on Allen Street in Buffalo. Whenever they came to town, I would go. And when I inspected Erin’s CD collection when we met (the first thing I usually did back then when I met a chick) I was pretty pleased to see that she owned a CD by this hard-touring, fun and exciting band.

Lots of stuff happened at those great shows. Old girlfriends, faces from the past. Even then, the carcasses of bridges newly burned, their faces like young ghosts. We smelled of patchouli and leather. They played and the meeker of us would stand on the periphery and bend our knees in rhythm, the bold dancing on that small square stage in front of the band. I never had the guts, but it’s the closest I ever came to dancing in public until a certain wedding some years later.

Anyhow, go to their website and check them out. I see that lots of the same guys are still there. They dedicated their lives to this stuff. Failing that please enjoy this song. They did a ska version of “Brain Damage” as well as “Sunshine of Your Love”. Not gimmicky ones, either. They seem a perfect match. When they came to town, it felt like they were my little secret. Although I’m glad this turned out to not be so by a long shot.  And like most people, but for different reasons, when bands of the 80’s and 90’s would slip on thru to public consciousness, I would hope that Bim would slip on thru as well, but they did not. If a band that good, that energetic and unique didn’t make it to the next level, what kind of seedy soul-selling mischief would it take?

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Back to Carolina. But still not home.

It was great fun seeing some old friends back in Buffalo this past week. Having Mighty Taco. Reminiscing. Or, in Lauren’s case, trying not to reminisce. She thinks I reminisce too much. I reminisce too much.

I saw that beautiful new waterfront. Canalside is stunning. Well-conceived and expertly executed.  I sincerely hope it expands and goes on and on.  Thank you to Bob for throwing that little to-do in my honor or for whatever reason. Thanks to Mike and Michelle for letting me stay at their house. Safe travels old friend. I am sorry I missed a few people. I kept running into old acquaintances so I figured the serendipity would continue to grace me unabated. Next time!

I drove down Aurora Avenue the day after I arrived. Does everyone do this? Visit their old street whenever they go back home?

The last time I was there, there were new sidewalks and curbs. Some tangible improvements were turning the Winchester district into what I imagined would be the chic new place to buy a cheap home for a young family. However, this time there was some decay. Spray-painted house-numbers on corresponding plastic trash cans. Boarded-up houses. One of these shitholes used to belong to Eddie and Elsie, our next door neighbors. They used to sit in their back yard and pound Screwdrivers all day and night to the hi-fi strains of the Ray Conniff Singers. And sometimes mom would strut on over, and, hours later, waddle on back. Eddie had this blinking thing he did. He’d drink so much that I think the blinking was his means of expressing disbelief that he was still upright.

Next to them were the Platts. Lolly and Bird (her son, beanstalk thin; he taught me to ride a bike) and her daughter Dee Dee.  Lolly played pinochle with mom and some of the other girls. I liked her. Her poodle was her true best friend, for all intents and purposes. Suzette. I don’t know when that dog died, but I’ll be shocked if second-hand smoke wasn’t the cause.

And in that same house, in the rear apartment, lived the Christmans. An older couple. In fact, Mrs. Christman was beginning to lose her memory entirely. Occasionally wandering from house to house in search of her own. One Halloween, one of the kids down the street got the idea to play a little trick on Mrs. Christman. She rang their doorbell, and when Mrs. Christman answered, this girl, my age, 10, pronounced, “You’re in my house”.

Mrs. Christman was fooled into believing, by a 10 year old girl, that her house was not her house.

“Where do I live?”

“Oh, come with me. I’ll show you.” and she walked Mrs. Christman half-way down the block and left her there, in the cold West Seneca night. Slippers and gown.

I’d like to tell you that we, the ones trailing behind all this, immediately walked her back to safety like many of us had done before in more benign circumstances. One of us did, I know, but I don’t think it was me.

Anyhow, this past Monday, I sat there for about a half-hour looking at that door.

I know who the girl was who did this thing, but I doubt she’d remember. She seems like she’s evolved into a fine, independent woman with her own goals, misfortunes and mistakes. I hope the memory of that night haunts her like it haunted me throughout my vacation, in the silences between reunions with the people I love and have loved for decades now.

The food in Buffalo is so much better. The GAS STATION pizza is better than the shit here. The houses alternate with the local businesses, as it should be. The strict zoning laws here in Hillsborough make it difficult to get neighbors together naturally. There’s nowhere to go if you don’t have a car, which makes it a class system; passive gentrification. I was lucky to have lived in and around Elmwood Avenue. Walking places, taking a bus to work, seeing my neighbors in and around town as soon as I set out.

But the schools suck there, and the taxes are insane. A useless mayor, and a terminally ingrained ennui that seems so reluctant to dissipate. I can’t go back there. If I had no family and a great job, I’d go back in a second. I miss Buffalo.

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Kate Licata.

When I think of her, I think of the summer walks I would take from her apartment to the bus station. Hot streets and a warm wind. Elmwood Avenue or Main Street. Sometimes I tangentially drift off into the song “Sunday Morning Coming Down”…

On the Sunday morning sidewalk wishing Lord that I was stoned
Cause there’s something in a Sunday makes a body feel alone
There ain’t nothing short dying half as lonesome as the sound
Of the sleepin’ city sidewalk, Sunday morning coming down

My trips to Buffalo always follow a certain routine. I make appointments with the people with whom I have remained in contact. I talk to Mike Rizzo about staying at his place (he has a nice big house in Sloan, and generously  accommodates me). I look at all the things I need to bring with me and forget most of them. I fill out my schedule as best I can, leaving as little down time as possible, still left with too much when all is said and done.

And then I do a Google search for Kate Licata.

And I never find her.

Until this year. 

Kate and I met during a dinner theater production of Grease. We were instant friends. Outcasts who recognized each other as kindred drifting spirits. I was a musician trying to ingratiate myself with the cast, and she was an actress who felt more at home with the band. In short order, she was letting me stay at her apartment, even though she had a boyfriend. He would come in and out, looking askance at this unfamiliar presence on her couch. I was no threat. I never was a threat. I knew somehow instinctively that if we ever crossed that line that our good times would end, I guess. There was something about her. She made me do things I never did. She and I tried to buy pot from a dude in front of Reuben’s on Pearl Street after a show. He sold us tobacco.

She had this 2-album set of The Zombies’ Greatest Hits. And a little Casio keyboard. And we would take turns changing the lyrics to the songs we knew. “What’s your name, who’s your whorehouse?’ and on and on. We even wrote a song together. “I believe that there are flies, infiltrating all the dead dog’s eyes, and I never saw the spew until I drank the beast with you…” and we would go on and on deep into the morning just having fun.

I liked her right away. God, I loved her. She was wisp-thin, with short red hair. She was wild, and didn’t care what she said or to whom she said it. She was one of those people whose poverty made them free. She drank. She waited tables in the daytime hours to pay her rent. She lived about a half-mile from Reuben’s. So when Grease was over on a Saturday night, I would stay at her place.

Sleepy Sunday mornings. Drinking and laughing and scraping around for money. She came over to my house ONCE, and I think we played Frisbee.  I liked being in the city. The whole point was to escape my house, my surroundings. She let me.

We’d go to open-mike night at a local club and start singing our stupid songs—One lady was singing a song called “Tell Him What You Want”…

“If you want to be happy, tell Him what you want…”

Moreover, she’s have people come up on stage and sing along to this gospel favorite.  Kate and I, of course, were more than willing…

“If you want potato chips, tell him what you want…”

…this effectively ended the evening. We walked to Kate’s laughing hysterically.

She had me over to her family’s house in Lockport a few times. It was surprising to see that this girl, terminally scraping by, should come from such a wealthy home. Maybe my first clue to something deeper. Her father and I sat and watched Notre Dame vs. Michigan. He provided a satirical, barbed play by play not of the athletes or the action on the field, but of the socioeconomic and religious disparity between the two cultures. I thought he was hilarious and brilliant. They all were. Kate and I would sit at the piano and thumb through old music books and sing together. I loved that.  “Summer Me, Winter Me…”

I had, on the odd occasion or a visit from my mother, money. So I’d take her to dinner. We, on one occasion, went to some Indian Restaurant on Main St. and she told me I’d like Frangelico and I should order some.  She taught me the word “aperitif”. What she did not teach me was how fucking expensive that shit is in an Indian Restaurant.

And today I can hear her raspy, deep voice. Those thin, pale arms flailing as she described her philosophy to me. She was an excellent cook and made me dinners that I still recall as being spectacular in their taste and intricacy. We were exploring the idea of living together, even finding a place on Chenango St. with a Wilson Farms across the street. I demurred.

Toward the end of our salad days together, I took her to a wedding, but she was visibly and audibly and olfactorily smashed before she even got in the car. Even so, she got me to dance at the wedding. Did I mention she could make me dance? The song was “I Love You” by People, and just as I was getting over the shock that a wedding band included this in their set list (their FIRST set!) Kate’s swinging fist caught me good in the right eye. I hated weddings and I hated dancing and at that moment I hated her too, even though it was an accident.

Maybe a true friend would have staged an intervention of some sort. And I know it sounds silly, but when she got in the car that day, 12 noon, drunk and slurring, I felt myself letting her go. I came from alcoholic parents, an alcoholic neighborhood. It was hitting too close to home for me now.

I saw her a few times in the city after that, on return trips and whatnot. I bothered her sister a few times about her whereabouts, which I’m sure she appreciated.  I pictured her homeless, still struggling to make her jagged pieces fit into a perfectly circular but merciless society.

So I’m going back to Buffalo.  It was so long ago, but sure as eggs is eggs, I cannot eat a potato chip, drink Frangelico, hear the song “Summer Me Winter Me” or anything by the Zombies, go to an open mic night, listen to my first CD or Leonard Cohen without my mind snapping back to all those aimless evenings, all the laughter and all the freedom she shared with me.

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Looking back.

This blog has been quite a lot of work. There’s lots of writing on it. I like writing. I look back on some of the posts and in a better mood I enjoy the fact that some of these were written in an entirely different frame of mind than the one that follows. And I cannot imagine writing that much now, since my abyss seems to be getting deeper and deeper lately. But if you liked anything I did here I am happy. Going to Buffalo next week. Hopefully see some old friends and some  old new friends. I get the nagging feeling that this “vacation” will be the same as all the others. Hurry up, wait, end up feeling lonely, as if there’s no ‘there’ there. God knows there’s no ‘here’ here.

I know what I need to do. I’m just not doing it.

 

 

 

Say, fellows, that Jordan River, well, it’s chilly and, er…cold.

The kids were watching something really shrill on the ol’ DVR. I asked them what it was and they responded “Fred – The Movie”. I encourage them to give everything a chance at least once, as long as it doesn’t hurt ’em. But this movie was as devoid of whimsy, space, irony, humor, pathos, everything. It was awful. Horrible.

I searched for some info regarding this abomination. And found a review from Mark Kermode, a critic for the BBC, who compared the experience to sitting through another painful cinematic experience, apparently, “A Serbian Film”. So of course I needed to read more about THAT film, and I’m sorry I did. Here’s the Wikipedia article about it. I warn you, it’s fucking vile.

But if you must….

So as I understand it, after having read further, it may be that the film is an allegorical commentary on the Serbian tragedy of the past few years. It doesn’t matter. But whenever I hear of anything having to do with Serbia or Macedonia, my thoughts turn to Debbie. It doesn’t matter. Serbian folk music. Debbie. Macedonian Squirrel Cookies. Debbie. Yugo (the car). Debbie. When someone says “You Go Girl” at the doctor’s office. Bosnian Monkey Chunkers. Debbie.

See, Debbie and I met during my senior year in high school. We were at an All-County Chorus festival (ahem, only the best of the best). And some of the fellas were auditioning for solo parts in one of the songs we were singing, “Every Time I Feel The Spirit”, that negro spiritual that we West Seneca kids were so familiar with. “Dat Jordan River, it chilly and cold, it chill de body, but not de soul…” Hey, I could relate. Anyhow, I gave it my best shot, and they picked a couple other guys, and that was that.

Then, during break, the prettiest girl I had ever seen got my attention and sweetly, earnestly, somewhat sardonically opined, and I quote, “Don’t let this go to your head, but I thought you were the best one…” and her name was Debbie. And it still is.

It was nice talking to Debbie, but while we talked, coincidentally, one of the majordomos in the hierarchy of choral fame tapped me on the shoulder and informed me that I would, in fact, be one of the soloists! What a moment! I mean, the other soloist would be a genuine descendent of a former slave, but maybe they were making their own ironic statement by forcing the audience to process the sight of a black fellow and me, the Caucasian-iest of the Caucasians, in a battle for the choral ages, perhaps an ersatz re-enactment of the civil rights struggles of the 60’s. Or we were just the two best singers. It didn’t matter. It mattered that Debbie was there to witness all of it.”Don’t let this go to your head..”? How could it not??

I remember getting her phone number in the parking lot as the buses pulled away for the final time, and looking forward to breaking the “wait-a-day” rule. And we made a date to meet at Sambo’s on Union Road. According to my scorecard, it was, in fact, a date. I remember being really nervous, and I remember being crushed when she told me she would only consider marrying a guy of Macedonian origin. I guess I knew it was too good to be true, but still, it was nice to think, for a moment, that trapped beneath the boozy haze of my white-trash upbringing, someone as sweet as she could see my talent. That meant everything. And it still does. And we sorta lost touch after that.

So years later, our paths crossed again in college. She and I were both pursuing degrees in Broadcasting. Seeing her every other day was so nice, even though I believe she was dating someone else. A great thing about Debbie you should know: She liked my poetry. All those strange, intentionally off-putting poems and stories that all my old friends back in Buffalo know me for were written with Debbie in mind. Not about her, but to show to her and make her laugh. Once I knew she was a captive audience (we were in a classroom, where could she go?) I couldn’t be stopped. The night before seeing her, I worked for $3.10/hr. in the gym locker room, making sure nothing got stolen. I was terrible at my job, but I learned to pick locks.

I won’t post them all here, but I do have some pieces of paper still floating around with my deviant scribbles. Things like:

Roses are red, violets are blue, hot feathered smell-hole, I’ve got a Jew. 

I saw that she was working at a local college and I sought her out unsuccessfully for a few years, but when I found her on the Facebook, it was good to see her smile again. She had changed but she was still doing what she loved, out there singing, dancing, and still, through it all, I could still see the sunshine in her soul. I won’t say more about my friend Debbie except to say that I think about her at unexpected times, and she might not think about me, and that’s ok, because she probably never knew what she gave to me. A beautiful, wonderful stranger came to me and said something nice when I needed to hear it. For that, no matter how far we drift, I will never forget Debbie.

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I remember Joe.

My last job in Buffalo was as an order taker at Coit Cleaners on Genesee Street.  No, it’s not on my resume. No, it was not life changing. No, it did not help me improve my skill set. No. No, no, no,no,no,no,no,no,no,no,no,no,no,no,no,no,no,no,no. I got paid around minimum wage, but got $.25 every time I called a previous customer and convinced them to have us in for a free estimate for carpet cleaning. And every time we made an appointment for someone who made an incoming call, we got $.10.  When the phone rang, we all competed to pick up the phone. Can you imagine fighting three or four other poor Buffalonians for a dime every few minutes? It was pathetic. It was demeaning.

We sat in what had been an upstairs apartment converted to a shabbily appointed office. Thin brown rug, tiny coffee room, fake wooden paneling adorned ex-bedrooms which now served as offices for the girls doing accounting. Whomever was the Manager at the time (there were four during my 1.5 year-long stay) got what I imagine was once the master bedroom. I think they only hired women who had equine features so as to alleviate any possibility of office romance. Mission accomplished, horse-face. I was the only man who worked there. Nice job, fat-ass.

One of the offices served as the gathering place for the men who went out and either did estimates or cleaned the carpets themselves. In the Coit hierarchy, these fellows were the top. We had a CB radio in our office with which we gals would either inform the outside sales fleet of cancelled appointments or ask them if they could take an additional stop. This was hard work they were doing, admittedly. One kid named Todd lost 50 pounds after his first month cleaning carpets.

And downstairs, in the front office, the only office with a window bigger than a TV tray, was Joe Doro.

Joe was big and blonde, with big eyes and an average stature, but once he started talking, you knew you were in a room with an A. He’d get in your face about the smallest perception of laziness or not going all out. Then the spittle would form at the side of his thin-lipped maw as he gently admonished, then violently admonished you. I got that treatment once, but those poor managers got Joe’s speechifying on a daily basis. What was to be done?

One time a dude called to make an appointment for his house’s carpets to be cleaned. He was Mathew Barnaby of the Buffalo Sabres. It was the closest I’ve ever been to celebrity. After I earned my dime, I asked him which game it was where he scored a goal and skated right to the camera on the side of the rink to give his little grin. “That was Los Angeles”. “That was cool, man. We’ll see you Friday.”

I smoked then. All of us did. Going downstairs to the alley to grab a smoke was coordinated ahead of time among us rats. If someone was gone too long, we would let them know or let them not know by sniping behind their backs about it. I don’t remember loving smoking as much as I did when I was driving home from that job every day. This one withered husk who called herself “Debbie” talked like Lily Tomlin’s “One ringy-dingy” operator.  Maybe you’re too young to remember that.

“Jeesh, Gil, you’re late. I gotta go smoke my brains out…” she would say. Just imagine this voice about 100 times a day. Sometimes when I was late from coming back for lunch or a smoke break, she’d start sniping at me to others, thinking I couldn’t hear her. “I guess we’ll have to wait for the dummy to get back to do that…” while I stealthily made my way up the stairs to my cubicle. Those moments were awesome. This little old lady with shit stains on her dentures calling me names because she thought it was finally safe to do so. It was great.

I recall all of us burning out pretty quickly, and I recall us getting a free lunch one time. Across the street at some shitty greasy spoon. We all thought Joe was magnanimous, but we had a strict 30 minute limit, and a strict $20 limit as well. Then there was the Christmas party. At a bingo hall. So many cheap suits with cowboy boots for accents. I remember all us order drones huddling in fear as Joe and the technicians (!) drank copious amounts of beer (Joe wasn’t gonna pay for mixed drinks – are you fucking kidding me?) and began to devolve into the testosterone-filled, uneducated scumbags that they were. One of them, Roger, was dating Cheryl, our ‘supervisor’ and their constant on-again off-again violence-infused love drama permeated the office. I think they fought at the party.

I loved Saturdays, though, because I could sit and listen to the radio while nothing happened for about 6 hours. I would test my garbage can/wadded paper skills from various points in the office. No one was there but myself or whomever had that shift. I liked it but it was lonely.

When I look back on my “career” and my life in general, it strikes me as off how many times I have eschewed the traditional male roles and adapted the traditional female ones. I make lunch for the kids and drive them to and from school.  I worked in an office at Coit, where the traditional role was being out and about, hauling that hose, working on that rug. And cleaning carpets wasn’t easy, either. Rim shot.

I was in theater and chorus. Never played sports. Have no proclivity for small-talk but befriend women very easily. For a while, anyhow. I feel that I’m predisposed toward female roles, but I have no idea why. The lowest point was working at Coit, I think. I had no friends.

I’m looking for a job now, but it seems like my accrued experience is worthless. I feel like an old man. I wish I had a job to alleviate this boredom. It’s intellectual boredom.

 

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Cassette tapes, 8-track tapes, etc. Part 1.

Firstly, let me just say the words you are longing to hear in these troubled times: Donny and Marie sing “Johnny B Goode” but instead, it’s “Ronnie B Goode” as in Ronald Reagan, as in the 1981 Inauguration ceremony. If your soul isn’t dead already, let me do it for ya.

 

About 25 miles from West Seneca to Attica.

No one else in my department came to work today. everyone is afraid of traversing the slippery roads, but I, ever brave and true and dedicated to the company that will be spitting me out unceremoniously in a few days (unless “Can we have our access card?” is ceremony to you) am imbued with a withering Protestant work ethic. So here I am, writing in my blog. Casey says that blogs are a 2008 thing. But I know you can’t live without my thoughts on various nonsense so here again am I.  (cue harmonica music)

When I was 7 years old, the Attica Prison Riots occurred. I had no idea what that meant. However, shortly thereafter, my mother had in her possession a book (paperback) that detailed the entire unpleasantness. With pictures. Men being lined up naked, processions, even lines marching back to law and order. And it shocked me. I had never seen a naked male form before, much less dozens, shackled, emasculated, tamed.

So I naturally put our new 8-track living room console stereo with attendant low impedance microphone to good work by constructing a little free-form rap about it. I still remember it, too. I kept going until the track ran out. CHUCK-UNGGG! Let’s see. Imagine a 7-8 year old uttering the following in a living room somewhere in the poor part of West Seneca, New York. This is non-sense, I know, but it is what I said. All of it is [sic].

“…So we got a Attica book, and it showed a man’s DINK. That is not in the question, so when we got our record, then we go’ed it down. We used to think that we were great, even though we didn’t play our instruments at they…we used to…” CHUCK-UNGGG!

This was a hell of a thing, this 8-track console stereo. I’ve never seen one like it. You COULD record right off the turntable onto the 8-track. But I used it to record my own ramblings. Though you couldn’t play it back right away, the fidelity was much better than a cassette tape because the speed of the tape itself was faster, therefore less information per inch of tape. The same applies to audio recorded onto a VHS tape. Higher speed means better fidelity.  Usually.

The rotten part is that there’s no “rewind” button, so, since the blank tapes were usually 60 minutes long, you’d have to wait 15 or so minutes to hear what you just did. So when Paul and I started “Leo” when I was 11 and he was 12, we used cassette tape after cassette tape, recording anything and everything we did together. Writing songs, talking, passing the tapes back and forth between us. An economic anthropology. Labeling them, titling them like albums. “Leo VIII”, “Leo ’77” (an EP), “Sparks”, “We’re Comin’ For Ya”, etc.etc.

So copious was our archive in such a short time that one could literally spend hours on the floor, on your stomach, arms crossed in front of you for support, pressing rewind, fast-forward, or play and fast-forward at the same time, thereby enabling you to hear, in chipmunk voices, the next “incident” or stray recording on the cassette. Many MANY a night did I spend thusly. When we met Dan, that didn’t help. You could tell we all did the same thing. Little sentences here, a lyric there, maybe a riff or an attempt to flesh out an idea. There must have been hundreds of these tapes floating around at one time or another. Each sacred in its own way.

And here it is, 35 years later, and of all the tapes Paul and I did, I have one.

More later.

Take it to the limit…one more time. Won’t you?

Remember this?

I never EVER got the little plastic men to do what I wanted them to do on that vibrating sheet of metal. Through trial and error I was able to also determine that orange peels, little army men and live kittens are equally un-coachable. But still, everyone in my neighborhood had the game. Soon, it will pass from sasha to zamani and bringing it up in conversation will no longer illicit a glimmer of an understanding smile. I dread that day.

Don Meredith died just now.

My biggest sports hero was and is Roger Staubach, and my team was and were the Cowboys. Clean cut, their steely determination, their nattily dressed, paternal overseer, Tom Landry, gently but firmly guiding the ‘Boys on to another victory. His strong, silent jaw and his ever-so-masculine hat, those little gray eyes staring at me in the darkness. Veiny, muscular hands wrapped tightly (but patiently) around that thick, hard playbook. All the secrets inside, only for Mr. Landry, Uncle Landry, to decipher. To transcend…mmm…what’s that, Uncle Landry? You think I’m gonna need to come from behind?  Ooohh…I’m gonna have to drive deep into your territory for that…oh so deep into your territory…yeah…that’s it…penalty for holding…hands to the face…oooh, you’re calling for the “shotgun” formation? I’m gonna call an audible in my trousers if you keep molesting my defensive end…looks like you’re a down lineman, flag on the play…oooh….bring in the long snapper…..© 2010 Gilbert Neal/Harlequin Books “The Coach And Me” series of Romantic Novels, All Rights Reserved…

Where was I? Ah, yes. The Cowboys were my favorite team and Roger the Dodger my favorite quarterback. My happiness on Sundays, oddly, depended largely upon their success. And even though he didn’t always win, Roger was always a sure bet to get to the playoffs, sometimes to the Superbowl, and twice in that glorious decade, winning it all! They won, which meant that I won!!! I won the Superbowl!!! Better tell Julie Pawlowski!

As with all things, the great and glorious Roger Reign ended, mostly due to the fact that his head kept getting scrambled by concussions, and after a while, the only thing he was dodging was the dreaded “How many fingers?” quiz.

Then Danny White took over, and he was great, but aside from a few games during the regular season, it just wasn’t the same. No Superbowls, not even an NFC Championship. And in the early 80’s the hated Washington Redskins were on the rise, with their Hogs, and the John Riggins, and the Joe Theismann (rhymes with ‘these men’. Why would he change it?)

In fact, during one season (1983) the Redskins seemed literally unstoppable. Scarily so. They were scoring at will, had lost only two games by the slimmest of margins, and were well on their way to a second consecutive championship, everyone thought. And the day they went to Dallas to smite my favorite team, the world held out little hope that there would be much resistance.  As a matter of fact, dear reader, I was actually imagining them never losing another football game EVER.

Come with me, my fine friends, to December 11, 1983.

I met Melissa on the CB radio. The craze had long passed, and a few hangers-on to those halcyon days remained. Mostly Broadway/Filmore trash and me, frankly. Sometimes, a new voice would shine through the din. And I would apply to ol’ charm. But this chick was different. She had known me through my sister, whose opaque nature had yet to be addressed fully. CB radio was just the means by which we spoke before meeting that first date.

I wore my cleanest outfit, washed the prime real estate (twice) and brushed ’em good. She was taking me Christmas shopping at the local big box. Was it Big R? Big N? Neisners? If only Mike Rizzo could chime in. The place on Seneca St. near the Dunkin’ Doughnuts. What was it then?  Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnyhoo, there we went.

“So…what kind of girl do you like?” she asked as we ambled past the Customer Service kiosk. Every word she uttered dripped out of her smirking countenance as if she was playing with me.

“I like a gal with child-bearing hips…” I recall offering up. What even did that mean to a teenager? She opened up her jacket and showed me her jeans, directing my eye downward (as would so often be the case in the future) and as her voice seemed to dance the words “Will these do?” I felt a stirring. I’m not gonna lie. I thought I was driving into sexy town. Population Wheeeeeee!

She was a smoking hottie, short and bespectacled, pretty and sharp. Robust. Yeah. Robust. Fecund with possibilities unspoken. Maybe about 3 years older than me. Melissa is not her real name, but I’ll be dipt in horseradish enema juice if I can remember her name. We walked. Talked. Maybe even held hands. As her attention was diverted by something frilly, I heard a hi-fi-type sound seemingly synchronized with some flashing light eminating from a few dozen redundant screens.  We passed the TV section.

Just as this happened:

 

Dallas trailed 14-10 in the third quarter and faced a 4th-and-1 from midfield. Dallas lined up, obviously trying to pull the Redskins offsides. At some point during the snap count, though, Danny White decided to audible into a running play. He handed the ball off to Ron Springs, who ran left. Washington defensive end Charles Mann crashed the right side of the line, and guard Herbert Scott could not block him. Springs lost two yards, and the Cowboys lost momentum they had gained since coming back from an early 14-0 deficit.

The video clearly shows an angry Tom Landry screaming, “No! No! No, Danny, No!”

Though the Redskins did not score immediately, the tide had turned. Later in the third quarter, Joe Theismann hit Art Monk on a 47-yard touchdown pass, and the game turned into a blowout. The Cowboys could not even stop the Redskins from performing the “fun bunch” celebration after the Monk score.

 

And that was that. The Cowboys were smoten. Smoted. Smatt. The game went downhill, and my mood changed. What had seemed like a sunshiny day full of possibilities had turned into a thick swill of cloudy confusion. What started as a nice vinaigrette with walnuts had devolved into a devil-brine with a hair in it.

Our silent ride to my house. Snowy in Buffalo. Aurora Avenue is abandoned but for us. The caked accumulation muffled the noise of the church bells ringing their unchanging repertoire out to the sinners and the repentant, washing what was once called “the ghetto of West Seneca” in its sweet, gentle rhythm as the sun ducks to hide muted light behind the dark slate of evening.

I slid over to kiss her goodbye. She pushed me away. Her last words to me:

“God…you smell like cat.”

I think I still enjoyed la petite mort in her memory that evening. Ha! Joke’s on her.

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Whatever happened to Cory and the Fins?

This song does nothing for me, but this video has 4 million hits, and I can only guess it’s because the singer might be the sexiest thing I’ve ever seen.

WHIRRR—-WHIRRRRRRRRRRR

“Buck, why can’t you call up those nice Scintas and be in their band?”

With Bootsy:

Ah. Some sherbet for your palate.

Who dunnit? Answers.

So let’s see here:

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(After meeting you on a blind date) I’ve decided to stay with my boyfriend.

That happened! She was one of these BPO women. We connected via my phone solicitation and the “action” quickly went to my apartment (phone) where we shared many bawdy stories. Very, very bawdy. Needless to say, her boyfriend was on his way out and she and I should get together and do…stuff. When she opened the door to my teeny tiny apartment and saw my silly wardrobe and ill-groomed countenance, her eyes sort of dropped back into her skull like mine would when Scott Norwood missed. We had an awkward drink at some Buffalo bar, she dropped me off, no kiss, no fantasies that we had discussed would be acted out, and three days later (we spoke every day for a week leading up) I called her to give it the old college try…again…but she was going back with her boyfriend. The one that hit her.

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I have made a pledge with myself and my god to remain a virgin until I’m married. Even so, I am not attracted to you.

This happened! A devout catholic who’s snark and intellect would seem to be a dream match but that’s just a theory. A great gal. I remember going out on a date with another couple. I was asked to tell the story of how we met. I blabbed on like I was Shakespeare or Gore Vidal. Romance this. Chance that. And on the way home, all happy with myself for being so damned eloquent, she blindsided me with the line above. Does oral count? It doesn’t matter. She tapped my shoulder like I was being shelled by the Yankees.

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I have invented a paint that changes color when you look at it, and the government is after me to steal it. Also, I want to remain a virgin. I really like being a virgin.

This happened! Whoa nelly!!! I asked a stunning girl out in 1989 or so. she worked at the Towne Restaraunt in Buffalo. She had a delightful bodice, nerdy glasses, and random braids of random colors. Sweet poppa chongo I loved that gal. Or at least the idea of her. When she said yes to a date I was three feet off the floor and full of flippy floppy!! So we went to dinner and a movie. She sat down a seat from me, which really crushed me. I feel like I wrote this before here. Did I? Well, we went on a couple more dates, each one providing more solid evidence that no, she was not going to prance around in a silk camisole for me, and no, we were not going to act out pages from my own adaptation of the Kama Sutra, and no, I would not be getting a boyfriend discount on souvlaki. The kicker came when she told me about the paint she had invented that changed colors when you looked at it, according to your mood. And the government was out to get it, and her. I swear I told you all this before. Anyhow, even a horny fool knows when to bow out gracelessly.

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I must stop seeing you because your dirty apartment reminds me of my mother.

This happened! Dave and I were looking for something to do in Buffalo on a Friday night. And I needed to go to the Wilson Farms next to my apartment for some smokes, so that’s what we did. I made nice conversation with the gal behind the counter, and she agreed to meet us at the Towne. She was a little pedestrian, which is probably why she kept having to avoid cars on the road when they couldn’t see her, but she was also very attractive in that Buffalo girl way. I couldn’t tell you her name. But she dumped me over the phone with the line you see here after spending a few evenings in my apartment.

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I cannot date you because I am training for the Olympic Archery team.

When I was working at Ingram, I had a crew that I would go to lunch with on a regular basis. When I was with them, my cocksure ego overrode my normally shriveled self-esteem. Everything I said, it seemed, was funny. Every time a pretty girl was waiting on us, the charm got turned on. And so it was at one of those delightful pizza places on Hertel Ave. I couldn’t tell you what she looked like now, but I thought she was diggin’ my rap. So I asked her out. She gave me her number. I waited the requisite two days and called her. She told me that she was too busy. She was training for the Olympic archery team. Too busy. Sorry. I think I may have called the National Olympic Committee to check if her name was on any roster that they knew of, but the answer they gave escapes me, as did/does common sense.

See, when there’s a barista or a waitress or a service industry worker of any kind, they’re PAID to be friendly. They are friendly because that’s how they make more MONEY. It never occurred to me that her pleasant demeanor and tepid acquiescence to my flirtations were a means by which she would be able to get more cash out of me. How stupid was I?

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Your hygiene is terrible.

If anyone ever thought this of me while I was either smooching them, trying to manually close the deal that my other parts could or would not, or getting out of my fast-food wrapper-carpeted Chevy Spectrum smelling of repeated, un-showered layers of Pierre Cardin cologne in the phallus-shaped bottle from my mother for the 5th straight Christmas because once I said it smelled nice, they never said it. So congrats, one person who guessed this.

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