The Great Plotnik

Friday, May 31, 2013

The Jock-Cheerleader-Brain Trust Ruling Axis Parts 4 and 5

 4: Speedy

No one recognizes anyone at fiftieth reunions. I had studied our yearbook but in the flesh I was unable to pick off anyone at first glance. People recognized me right away though. Ha! This is such a lie. I should have made it easier for the astigmatized and cataract-ridden class of 1963 by stapling my name tag to my forehead.

But who can blame them? I had sprinted out of Encino faster than Usain Bolt. I was running from everything in those days, from Addie and Speedy and Marisol and my mom and my family and my house and my friends and my lame L.A. life inside the vacuum-sealed pouch. I played no favorites. I ran from happy and good and I ran from miserable and bad. I ran from Jews and Baptists and oranges and canyons and cars and beaches. My UC friends became my new people. Anyone from home was a waste of my precious time.

Except for Speedy. We called him Speedy for the same reason that seven foot tall lumberjacks are called Tiny. Speedy was the slowest person who ever lived, and that saved us. He couldn't keep up, so I couldn't get away from him. He never got it. He couldn't tell I wanted out. So with Speedy, I had no choice. I stayed in. We were friends from Ninth Grade until that stroke on the freeway.

(DAK: #42. Speedy: bottom photo, third from left on top.)

Speedy and I played basketball together for decades after High School. He did what others have never attempted: he took basketball (a fast game) and turned it into Freeze Tag (a slow game).

I have passed him the basketball. He has his back turned to the basket and there is a defender behind him, knees flexed, arms raised, in defensive position. Every other basketball player on Earth, within a very few seconds, will jump, or feint, or shoot the ball, or pass it, or dribble it, or at the very least let out a stream of trash talk.

Speedy stands in one spot, not moving. Someone must have shouted "Freeze!" The defender is flummoxed. He can't guess what Speedy is going to do, because Speedy isn't going to do anything. Ten seconds pass, twenty seconds pass. The defender throws down his hands and says "Come On!" which is the same as "UnFreeze!" Speedy grins, steps back and takes that stupid looking Wilt Chamberlain fall away jump shot. Bip! He never misses.

How can someone who moves so slow have a stroke?

When Speedy died I was a mess. I flew down to Las Vegas where they buried him, God knows why, because Speedy was also the world's slowest and worst gambler. It would take him all night to put one quarter in a slot machine. I told his weeping fourteen year old that her daddy was the best friend anyone could ever have. She thanked me. I promised to keep up with her. I lied. I run from the dead. Sometimes, I look at myself and wonder who pulled my heart from my ribcage and replaced it with a deflated hot air balloon?

5: Old Flames Should Never Die

The Delirian 1963 class reunion the other night was weird. No one welcomed us, no one gave a speech, no one took the time to prepare a thing. I had prepared something. I would have spoken. No one asked me. I waited for things to kick off. They never did.

Maybe that was because so few people came. None of the women who were beautiful in 1963 showed up. They most likely are not beautiful now or they'd have hired a limo and made an appearance. The working class kids didn't come either. Maybe they had as little contact with the Jock-Cheerleader axis as I had, or, I suppose, it's possible they were still working class and couldn't spare the $100 bucks each for two kinds of steam table pasta and a seafood risotto that tasted of the sea (The Dead Sea). But nobody ate it so they can serve it to the Cesarians 1963 reunion in August.

But I got a text this morning from Marty W. the overseas principal. I always liked Marty. His dad worked with Mel Blanc, the voice of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck and Sylvester the Cat. I ran away from him too, until Friday. But we will be friends again. I enjoyed talking to Mike Y., the non-religious Israeli, and both Darbara and I liked Joyce Q. the photographer, and I was happy to see Darb thought Addie was fun. But kI will not encourage Addie, lips or no lips. Her lengthy recitation of every boyfriend she had had since first grade was not only exhaustive but, I thought, distasteful, since I was but a blip between Al and Joel or maybe it was Ed and Clint.

But I think this was bravado on her part. During dinner, while I talked with Mike Y. on my right, I could feel Addie's eyes on me from the left. Right before dessert I walked over and kneeled down next to her.

"Why did you break it off with me?" she whispered.

After all these years, still?

So I told her what I remembered about her scary parents. It's true they had unnerved me, but that was only part of it. Marisol had been right. I had felt unchallenged by Addie. And she was tied to "Here." I was hurtling towards "There" and the rocket was ready to blast off.

But I didn't tell Addie that. We all try to keep the memory of our old flames alive. They remind us of when we were beautiful. I knew what Addie wanted to hear. I blamed it on her crazy dad.

"So it was my father," she said, placing her hand on my hand. "I'm really happy to hear you say that." She was trying not to cry. "I always thought Marisol was right. That I...wasn't smart enough or...pretty enough...for you."

"Addie, I was crazy about you," I said.

"I was crazy about you," she said. We both might have been lying. But we slept better that night. 


At 8:11 PM, Anonymous jj-aka-pp said...

I'm confuse. Who are Barb and DAK?


At 9:12 AM, Blogger mary ann said...

The Speedy piece is my fave, but I think they are all great!


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