Posted tagged ‘high school antics’


June 13, 2012

There are few times in most people’s lives when everything is pretty much on cruise control, and the older you get, the fewer those moments.  One such time is the last month or so of senior year in high school.  Everyone pretty much knows where they will be attending college in the fall, and with few exceptions, graduating from high school is pretty much a given.  It is a time for cutting class, hitting Jones Beach or Half Moon Beach, and just having fun.  It is also a prime time for silliness, cutting up with your best buddies and girlfriends, all the time realizing, on some level, that this is the end of one part of your life and the beginning of another.  None of us had chosen the same colleges, and though we’d see each other on vacations and summers, things would never be quite the same.  We would all meet new friends in college and most of us would not be returning to Port Washington to live after college.  Some would get married; others accept jobs in other parts of the country.  So this was our curtain call as a group, and though it was never openly discussed, I think all of us, unconsciously, realized this.  Unspoken as well was whether the high school romances would survive the long periods of separation of the college years.  A few did. Most did not. So with something like quiet desperation, we all went about trying to make every minute funny and memorable.

Frub and I were best buddies senior year in high school and did everything together.  Don’t ask where the name Frub came from; I have no idea and I’m not sure he does.  His real name was Doug. We double-dated, ate and slept over at each other’s homes, and did many other things that should not be recounted on a blog page or anywhere else.  Donny and Paul completed our foursome.  All of us had girlfriends, but found plenty of time to hang together anyway.  I had ordered a new Firebird, but delivery was several weeks away.  My Mother often needed her car, but Doug’s Mom, Fran, could walk to work, so Doug often had the use of his family’s white Mustang during the day.  It was driving in the Mustang late one weekday afternoon that we encountered Klebby.

Doug was driving me home from his house and we had taken Ivy Way, a lovely quintessential suburban street.  There were fancier homes in Sands Point and Harbor Acres, but the area where Ivy Way is located was always my favorite part of Port Washington.  That my home was very nearby probably had something to do with that.  Near the end of Ivy Way we passed a beautifully maintained white house with a collie sitting in the shade of a tree in the front yard.   With perfectly cut green grass, immaculately pruned flower beds in bloom, the home looked like a postcard.  And this was not just your run-of-the-mill collie; hands down, the best-looking collie I had ever seen.  He made Lassie look like she was suffering from mange.

“ Frub, pull over and check out that collie,” I said.

We pulled to the curb right in front of the pooch and he thumped his tail happily a couple times in greeting.  We talked to the dog for a few seconds with the usual “Hi Boy” and “Good Dog.” Then for reasons I cannot explain, we began to converse with the dog in a tongue that sounded like Spanish, but wasn’t.  The reason it wasn’t is neither of us could speak a lick of Spanish.  Long elaborate passages of complete gibberish, the collie listening intently, his ears perked straight up.  You could see him searching our sentences for a heel, stay, come, sit; anything a dog might have heard from his family before, something that might register.  Alas, nothing like that was forthcoming.  The collie began to move his head from vertical to horizontal positions, side to side, in confusion.  Being mature young men, Frub and I found this hilarious.  We stayed and spoke to him for about five minutes and then drove off laughing.

“Let’s call him Klebby,” Frub proposed.

“We don’t know if the dog’s a he or a she,” I said.

“Don’t see that it matters,” Frub said.  “Have you ever known anyone named Klebby?”

“Not that I recall,” I replied. “Actually, make that a definitive no.  I see where you’re going, though. The Klebby handle really isn’t gender specific.”

“Exactly, “Frub said.  “Could be a boy or a girl.”

“Works for me.  Kind of has a nice ring to it,” I said.  “Klebby it is.”

Visiting Klebby for a couple minutes became an almost daily thing.  The collie came to recognize the car, and seemed to almost look forward to our visits.  I think he may have felt sorry for these two morons who were unable to communicate effectively even on a collies’ limited vocabulary.  The routine never varied.  Pull up to the curb, get a tail wag and ears straight up to digest the nonsense he knew was coming.

“Seuntulo byalo della foon?  Bassolo selumino,” Frub said.

Klebby’s head shifted to the left, questioning the wisdom (sanity?) of what he had just heard.

“Blapmolencantro chalassimo!  Veel plapt unimos leel? I inquired.

Klebby looked from Frub to me, full head shift to horizontal right, confusion reigning.  And we’d drive off.  Seemed like pretty harmless, if foolish amusement.  It might have continued for a long time, but things changed in a hurry.

A day or two later, we were sitting down to Dinner at Frub’s house with his folks, Fran and Bob.  My seat in the corner of the kitchen afforded me a view of the front door.  When the doorbell rang, I looked up to see two cops at the front door, two of Port’s Finest.  Fran and Bob got up quickly and went to the door to let them in, looking a little anxious.  Frub and I followed.

The two officers came in.  One was a big, red-haired Irish guy, 6’3’ and maybe 240 lbs.  His partner was a little Italian guy, slightly cross-eyed, who shuffled his feet nervously and had trouble making eye contact.  It was not difficult to establish the pecking order in this particular partnership.

“Sorry to interrupt your meal,” the big guy said.  “I’m Officer Mahoney and this is my partner, Officer Riccio.  We’re responding to a complaint from a family over on Ivy Way that two males have been speaking to their Collie in alien tongues on a number of occasions.  They became concerned enough to take the license plates on the vehicle, and we traced it to the white Mustang in your driveway.  Can someone here shed some light on this matter?”

Bob’s jaw dropped in astonishment, but he said nothing.  Fran however was rarely at a loss for words.  She turned to Frub and me, her face contorted in both anger and confusion, and said “You were doing what?

“Yes, Officer, my buddy and I were talking to the Collie,” I said.  “It wasn’t really an alien tongue, it was intended to sound like Spanish.  I see your first initial is “J”.  Is that for Jerry, like Paul Winchell’s puppet?

Mahoney fixed me with the kind of look one would reserve for a particularly repugnant water bug.  “No, my given name is John, my friends call me Jack, and you will address me as Officer Mahoney.”

“Yes sir,” I said.

“Why were you talking to a strange dog in fake Spanish?” Officer Mahoney asked.

“Faux,” I suggested.

“What the hell is faux?” Mahoney asked, his neck turning a little pink.

“It means imitation, artificial,” I volunteered.

“So fake, that’s what I said,” Mahoney said.

“Fake has such a negative connotation to it,” Frub said.

“I think fake works just fine here, and my question stands” said Mahoney.

“Fine, we’ll go with fake,” Frub said.  “It’s your syntax.”

“My what,” Mahoney asked.

“Never mind,” Frub said.

“So again, why talk to a strange Collie in fake Spanish?” Mahoney asked.

“Well, neither of us can talk real Spanish,” Frub said.

“And German sounds so harsh and guttural,” I added.

No,” Mahoney said, his voice rising. “No, you guys are not getting it. Why talk to a strange dog at all? In any language.”

“Well, had we had any idea the dog was strange, we probably wouldn’t have talked to him at all,” I said.

“We’d probably have talked to another dog,” Frub said.  “One that wasn’t strange.”

“The dog is fine,” Mahoney said.  “What is strange here has nothing to do with the Collie. When I say strange, I mean a dog you didn’t know, had never been introduced to.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever been formally introduced to any dog,” I said.

“Me neither,” said Frub.

“But you didn’t know the dog, right?” Mahoney asked, his patience ebbing at a rapid clip.

“Just in passing,” I said.

“Passing in a car,” Mahoney said.

“Right,” Frub and I answered in unison.

“Were either of you under the influence of anything on these occasions?” Mahoney asked.

“I’d had an egg salad on rye and a vanilla Coke at Greenfield’s,” I said.

“I had tuna,” Frub said.  He always had tuna.

“I meant drugs or alcohol.”

“No Sir,” Frub and I answered.

“Well, that’s good,” said Officer Riccio, his first words of the encounter.

“You think that’s good, huh Joe?  Talking in tongues to a Collie while completely in control of your faculties?” Mahoney said, turning to his partner.  His expression said that he felt he had drawn the absolute dregs of the partner pool.

“Well, I just mean its good they weren’t driving under the influence, is all I’m saying,” Riccio said, looking at the floor again.

Mahoney returned his attention to us.  “I’m asking you guys to give me your word that you will not revisit this dog or any other.  This has been a remarkable waste of time, and if I have to come back again, you guys will not like it.”

“We agree to that Officer, “I said.  “We won’t bother Klebby anymore.”

“Klebby?  The dog’s name is not Klebby,” Mahoney said.

“He never corrected us,” I said.

“And he is a she,” Mahoney said.

“Never corrected us there, either,” Frub added.

“Maybe if I’d seen her go #1, I’d have figured that out,” I said.

“Maybe,” Mahoney said unconvincingly.

“Officer, can I ask a quick question? I said.  “Do you do hard time for talking to collies?

My mind strayed for a moment and I had a vision of doing the ankle-shackled two-step into a maximum security prison, stripping, getting hosed down and issued my sheets and orange jumpsuit.  I was then led to my cell.  My “roomie”was a shaved-headed, heavily –tattooed, three hundred pound Aryan Brotherhood dude.  After the cell doors had clanged shut, I asked him what he was in for?

“I gutted my Mother-in-Law.  She griped too much,” the behemoth explained.  “How bout you?”

“I was pinched for talking fake Spanish to a Collie I didn’t know,” I explained.

Newfound respect registered in the con’s eyes.  “Whoa,” he exclaimed.  “Jesus, you are one scary dude.”

I shook off the daydream and returned to real time with a chuckle.

“Something funny?” Mahoney asked.

“No Sir. Sorry.”

“I have no idea what the charges would be against you, should the family on Ivy Way choose to press them, “ Mahoney said.  “We can get creative if provoked.  But you guys have promised to desist and I don’t see us having to come back.”

Fran had remained quiet for the whole encounter, hands on her hips, looking back and forth between Frub and me with a mixture of disgust and amazement.  She spoke up now.

“Thank you for your patience, Officers, and we’ll see to it that they occupy their time with something a little more constructive going forward.”

‘That would include just about anything,” Bob muttered.  The Officers left and we returned to the table to finish Dinner.

As we resumed eating, Bob said “I have to say that you two have made it possible to take part in what is probably the stupidest, most inane scene I’ve ever experienced.”

“Yeah, and you know the best part?” I happily asked.

“No, Jud, I did not see a ‘best part’,” Bob replied.

“We’re still young,” I exclaimed.



April 16, 2011

Pursing is an activity that owes its existence to kids with creative, if warped inclinations and too much time on their hands.  The basic necessities required to go pursing are a ladies handbag, a fishing pole with line, a dimly lit suburban intersection and no interest in really doing anything remotely constructive.  The handbag, ideally, should be white.  Pursing hours commence with dusk, and continue through full darkness, so the handbag must be easily visible.  A black handbag would constitute a poor selection.  The intersection must have some traffic, but not too much. You could not effectively purse in Manhattan as there is way too much traffic and no place to hide.  Conversely, rural Kansas would be less than optimal as you might not see a car. A four-way intersection with at least two stop signs is very good.  Four stop signs are perfect.  The fishing line is tied to the handle of the purse, which is then placed in the center of the intersection.  Letting out line as you go, you find a comfortable hiding place about 40-50 yards away, and sit back to see what takes the bait.  Much like fishing, some patience is required.  Not everyone takes the bait.  Some people see an object in a place totally out of context, and proceed to not really see it.  You get the idea though, right?  Sounds like a fun pastime for grade-school kids and maybe immature junior high students.  Well, we were high school seniors. We drove to the selected site, stopping off to pick up beer on the way.  A mature lot were we.

It was a balmy Saturday August night in 1969.  My buddies Donny, Al, Doug, Joe and Vince had declared it a boy’s night out.  All of us were off to college in September, working at summer jobs; landscaping and the like.  We arranged to meet at Doug’s folk’s house, and discuss the evening’s nefarious plans.  I picked Al up, stopped for beer and went to Doug’s house.  The others were already there.  We decided on an intersection, and prepared to set out.  Al went over to greet Doug’s Grandma, Nana.  She was sitting in her usual rocking chair as Al approached.

“Ah, this weather’s awful isn’t it?  The rain’s been coming down in buckets!” Nana griped. The weather had, in fact, been beautiful, but Al went with the flow.

“Yeah, hope it keeps up” Al replied, nodding sagely.

“What the hell you mean ‘Hope it keeps up’ you silly bastard,” Nana frowned, turning in her rocker to look up at Al.

“If it keeps up” Al replied, “it won’t come down.”

“Smart alecks, the whole bunch of you. Wisenheimers” Nana said, her eyes narrowing.

“See you later, Nana” Al said waving, as we went out the door.  We had emptied Nana’s handbag and brought it to use as that evening’s “bait.”

We arrived at the chosen intersection minutes later, and set up shop.  The handbag was attached to the line on the pole, and placed in the intersection.  We retreated about forty yards and found a fine lair, blocked with shrubs and well-concealed, but affording a clear line of vision to the purse. And close enough to hear the dialogue between our potential targets. We all opened beers and settled in.

The first few cars that passed the handbag showed no interest. Maybe they smelled a trap. But it would not be long; people are innately curious.  Minutes later, a car came to the stop sign.  I recognized the car, and knew the guy driving it; a would-be tough guy greaseball named Ricky, out for a spin with his girlfriend.

“Hey, check that out!’ Ricky said to his babe. “Pick it up, maybe there’s cash in there.”

Ricky drove slowly up to the bag and his girl got out to retrieve the purse.  She had almost touched it when we gave the pole a slight pull. The bag moved several inches, and the girl recoiled in horror.

“Ricky, it moves!” she yelped, jumping back into the car.

“Oh for Christ sakes, Diane, how could it move?” Ricky sneered.

“Maybe some animal is in there, I don’t know. But it moved” Diane said, beginning to pout.

“There might be money in that purse; we have to look” Ricky insisted.

“Does money move?” Diane whined.

“Not by itself, no” Ricky conceded. “I’ll take care of this.”

Ricky swung the car in a circle through the intersection, coming back around with the purse on the driver’s side now.  Still in motion, he opened his door and leaned out for a flashy, moving rodeo grab. As his hand brushed the bag, we pulled hard on the pole and the bag skittered several feet. Ricky almost fell out of the car and jammed on the brakes.

“Holy Christ!” Ricky screamed. He slammed his door and the car roared off.

We were rolling around in the bushes, laughing, tapping each others beer cans in a toast.  But the fun was just starting.

A few minutes later, a middle-aged man came along on foot, walking a beautiful Yellow Lab.  He went straight up to the bag and picked it up.  The Lab was far more interested in the myriad scents on the nearby trees and paid the purse no mind.  The man whistled to the dog and set off up the street, the purse in hand, the pooch at his side.

“Whoa, you let the guy pick it up!” I said.

“No problem, we’ll let him run with the ball a little. Watch this!” said Donny, holding the pole.

As the man walked up the street humming, Donny gave the pole a savage jerk. The purse flew out of the guy’s hand , he emitted a high-pitched scream that sounded like a little girl and broke into a full-tilt boogie. The dog broke into a sprint as well, probably frightened more by his owner’s shriek than the purse. They disappeared up the street.

We were beside ourselves; what do you do for an encore? But the frivolity was short-lived. No sooner had we retrieved the purse, repositioned it and got into our cover than a cop car came by.  The Officer got out and went straight over to the purse, picking it up.  He discovered the fishing line and began to follow it, coming straight towards us.  We scattered, all except Joe.  Joe, the guy with 1600 SATs and a scholarship offer from MIT, climbed a tree directly above the fishing pole.  The policeman followed the line to the pole, looked around, and then looked above him. There was Joe up in the tree.

“Hey, what the hell are you doing up there?” the Cop yelled.

“Staaaaaarrrrrgazing” Joe replied.

“Get your ass down here now” the Cop ordered. Joe complied.

We could not hear what was said, but apparently Joe convinced the Cop he was sorry. His tone of voice and body language fit the bill. After warning Joe there would be trouble if he came back and found Joe there, the Cop returned to his car and left. We didn’t.

By this time, there had been a lot of beer consumed, and although we set up the purse again, less and less attention was being paid to the handbag.  We were just shooting the breeze and cracking each other up, when the line on the fishing pole began to whine loudly.  The line was being pulled out so fast we could not touch it.  While we were not watching, someone had picked up the purse, gotten back into his car and driven off;  guy in a little Datsun. I used my lighter to sever the line.

“That’s my Grandmother’s purse!” Doug yelled. “I have to get that back.”

Doug and I ran to my Firebird and we set off in hot pursuit.  The guy in the Datsun had been driving slowly along, but when I flashed my brights and drove up on his ass, he panicked. I can only imagine what was going through his mind. What had he stumbled upon?  A drug deal gone bad? Whatever his thoughts, what ensued was a chase scene reminiscent of Steve McQueen in ‘Bullitt’, minus San Francisco’s hills. The guy seemed to realize his little Datsun was not going to lose my Firebird, and he drove directly to the Police Station, jumped out and ran inside carrying the handbag.  He was just starting to give his story to the Cop at the desk when Doug and I charged in.  I shoved the guy hard, Doug took the purse, and we headed for the door.

“Stop right there. Now!” the Cop ordered.  We did.

We explained our story and the Cop was not amused. He had asked the man if he wanted to press charges and it came to light we were high school seniors in town.

“You must know my son, Wally” the man said. “He’s in your class.”

When he told us his last name, we did indeed know Wally. The man declined to press charges and Doug and I apologized.  Handshakes all around, the man left and the Cop read us the riot act for a few minutes and we were told we could go.

Outside, Doug said “I think I’m putting pursing on pause.”

“Yeah, we’ll give it a little break” I agreed. 

Nana got her handbag back, none the wiser for its absence.