Friday, March 3, 2006
The night I met him, early in 1969, I was performing with the main troup at Second City. At that time the cast included J. J. Barry and Burt Heyman, two of the funniest character actors you've never heard of. During the day I had a real job too, at an ad agency, so I hadn't crossed over to the Dark Side yet.
In fact, I was just a sub, moved up for two weeks from the touring company, which included Harold Ramis and Brian Doyle Murray, while Carol Robinson was in Canada shooting a movie.
A guy I knew brought him to the show. During intermission he committed the cardinal sin of all civilians who think they're hanging out with funny people -- he kept telling me jokes. I just wanted to have a conversation, so it was not an auspicious start, nor was our late night dessert afterward at a place near my apartment.
In the middle of whatever I was eating, I felt nauseous and left the guys at the table to literally run the half block home and be sick for the next five days. So much for my big break at Second City. So much for making a good impression on someone I'd just met.
For some reason he still asked me out on a date. Not right away, of course. But it was bound to happen. What's not to like about watching a sick woman run down the street trying not to throw up? The memory must have been very special for him.
He invited me to a weekend at his college alma mater after I ran into him one Sunday afternoon at a local hang out. The pub had free chili during football season. I was low on funds and appreciated a meal for the price of a soft drink. He was leaning on the bar, standing near the front door, wearing jeans and a pair of well worn cowboy boots. After I'd filled up a bowl, I joined him at the bar and we chatted while I chowed down. This is an accurate description by the way. I once had a boyfriend whose father said, "Why don't you invite that girl for dinner -- she has a good appetite."
Since his school's team was a recent national champion I was familiar with a lot of the players, one of whom had been his roommate it turned out. So we talked sports for quite awhile. Finding common ground led to that first invitation to a football weekend. What's with the cowboy boots I wanted to know. Something about being the Lone Ranger is all I can remember.
We sparred a lot verbally. I ragged him about the first time I met him. How it must have made me sick. He gave as good as he got, making fun of all my dating rules. "If a guy likes you he'll call on Tuesday to ask you out for Saturday." On the following Tuesday he sent me a fake newspaper with a headline that said, "It's Tuesday, Brace Behmer." Brace Behmer was the original Lone Ranger.
My only reply was, "So where are your silver bullets?" That was the Lone Ranger's signature ammo. The next day a messenger appeared at my office door with a Tiffany box and two silver bullets inside.
On Fridays he would pick me up outside the Hancock Building where I worked. He drove a maroon five-speed Chevelle with a Corvette engine and six-ply radials. All that muscle visibly shook from the excessive horsepower under the hood. The car sat there waiting for me, idling at 60 mph, all sparkly and dripping from a trip to the carwash.
A two and a half hour ride to his old school never took more than an hour and a half that I recall. And seemed even shorter with Cream on the eight track playing Badge. Every time I hear it I think about those days.
Cream reunited to play one of those fundraiser concerts on PBS tonight. The first bars of Badge started and I got transported to that other time and place. Sometimes you just have to indulge me.
By eric clapton and george harrison
Thinkin’ ’bout the times you drove in my car.
Thinkin’ that I might have drove you too far.
And I’m thinkin’ ’bout the love that you laid on my table.
I told you not to wander ’round in the dark.
I told you ’bout the swans, that they live in the park.
Then I told you ’bout our kid, now he’s married to mabel.
Yes, I told you that the light goes up and down.
Don’t you notice how the wheel goes ’round?
And you better pick yourself up from the ground
Before they bring the curtain down,
Yes, before they bring the curtain down.
Talkin’ ’bout a girl that looks quite like you.
She didn’t have the time to wait in the queue.
She cried away her life since she fell off the cradle.