Our relationship blossomed when we wound up taking the same Spanish course.
For school, I typically dressed in tatters, (shorts, tee-shirt in warm weather or bib overalls with a flannel undershirt in winter), MD was different. He was a tall, lean, good looking guy. Then as if it was his uniform, he wore shiny black dress shoes, perfectly pressed black slacks and a black silk dress shirt...EVERYDAY. MD also carried a guitar case in addition to his school books.
During the first few months of that class other than an indifferent nod, we never connected. It wasn't until we had a test on the ultra-difficult subjunctive tense that MD came by and acknowledge how much of a genius I was, (I got a 69% on the test...and EVERYONE else failed).
While MD complimented my grasp of the subjunctive, he told me he was a Spanish classic guitar major, (talk about a field of study with a intense limited window for opportunity). He was only taking our course (pass-fail), to fulfill the foreign language requisite. So as long as he finished with a "D" he didn't care. I soon learned that under his serious exterior, he took as many classes pass-fail as he could. That meant he was even more of a goofball than me because he found gaps in the system that encouraged him to coast, (the big difference was, he masked his lack of ambition by dressing well).
Still, we didn't really connect until the Spanish literature section of the course, (learning the language was difficult enough but understanding the subtleties of double-meanings, sexual innuendo and symbolism at the same time was nearly impossible).
MD was caught staring off into space. The professor knew he was unmotivated and wanted to make an example of him. He asked MD in Spanish, to tell the class about Cervantes. MD was clueless.
The professor knew MD was buried. After an agonizing forty seconds of silence, (to further throw his reluctant student under the bus), el maestro (as MD liked to to call him), repeated the question in seldom used English. MD stood up and in English stated with conviction, "Cervantes. Of course, I know everything there is to know about Cervantes. I went to grammar school with Calvin Cervantes, in East New York. He was an ordinary kid but his older, far more interesting brother Myron, was in and out of juvie hall a million times..."
To this day, I don't know how I contained my inner laughter from exploding out loud. MD was my hero and from that hilarity, a friendship developed. The first time we socialized, he invited me up to his parents' apartment in Howard Beach, (Queens New York). They had HBO and he wanted me to watch a Steve Martin comedy concert with him.
MD met me in the lobby of his apartment house. We were waiting for the elevator doors to close as a guy from his building gestured to us to wait for him. MD who was unemployed and broke whispered to me, "Just play along." The neighbor said, "I'm delivering for New Park (pizza), I make fifty a night in tips alone." MD pushed past the nimrod and said over his shoulder, "Big shit! I can buy and sell you, I'm selling Hon office furniture over the phone and make fifteen an hour before commission..."
I looked at that episode as an MD problem, not a me problem. But in his house, the lying sack of shit struck again! His dad was a fat, tired old man. This curmudgeon ignored me and was such a dullard that he probably wouldn't have cared if MD brought home Gina Lollobrigida.
|GINA LOLLOBRIGIDA (1927-PRESENT) WAS A HIGH-PROFILE ACTRESS AND SEX SYMBOL IN THE 1950's AND 1960's, (HIS DAD'S GENERATION).|
When the Steve Martin special came on, dad mumbled, "I ain't watchin' dat crap." MD stood tall and defended his right for him and a guest to see it on the "good" TV. Dad slunk into the bedroom to watch a ballgame. That's when MD told me, "Don't be fooled by blubber-boy, my dad made it briefly to the major leagues with the Red Sox." I perked up, "Really?" He said, "Yeah but he didn't get much of a chance...they called him Ted Williams caddie. So don't mention his baseball days, he gets upset."
MD had no idea how impressed I was about his dad being a major leaguer . He also didn't realize that I was a baseball history freak.Way before the Internet, I took great joy in leafing through the Baseball Encyclopedia. When I researched MR. D., of course nobody with that last name ever played in the bigs, (please note, I once told SLW that my father was ten-year major leaguer, Jake Gibbs. But I had the luxury of being eight-years old when I was a lying jerk).
Lies. Everyone in their own way is full of shit. I know that to be true because I'm the most honest person I know...and I'm full of shit too!
MD had his faults but he was a nice guy. I couldn't help it, I liked him. I never had to depend on him for anything important, so rather than tear him down, it was enough for me to just concentrate on him being good company and funny.
MD seemed to have no other friends. But he claimed to have a girlfriend at Brooklyn College...who conveniently always seemed to arrive after I left. I just accepted this unseen lady friend as another one of his fantasies.
The next semester, (our last college hurrah) just for the sake of being together, we took a tennis course. We laughed our asses off everyday while playing and learning the complexities of the game. The two main targets of our humor was our fossilized, dried-up prune of a professor and a fellow student, a gentle man named John.
|(STOCK PHOTO) OUR TEACHER WAS OLDER. LESS VITAL AND FAR UGLIER THAN THE WOMAN (above). THEREFORE, SHE MADE EXCELLENT FODDER FOR OUR SNIDE REMARKS.|
When the Phyllis Diller jokes about the instructor wore thin, we turned our humor on John. Unfortunately John wasn't especially nimble or athletic. He always looked awkward because his extra large head didn't match his body. So we childishly called him variations of "Johnny Big Head" or "Embryo Head" or because his name was John, he was also dubbed, "Toilet Bowl Head."
During our last week at Brooklyn College, when our tennis class was dismissed, MD's mysterious girlfriend showed up. I felt bad that I doubted him. Her instinct was to hug her beau but she recoiled when she saw how sweaty he was. While MD was gathering his possessions, I introduced myself.
She seemed stuck-up but I rattled off some of MD's better lines...that were aimed at our fossil of a professor and Toilet Bowl Head's expensive. I finished with, "When the teacher bent over MD said, 'it was disturbing enough to see her lavender drawers but if she wasn't wearing panties, I would have burned my own eyes out.'" His girlfriend looked at me like I was garbage and said, "My MD talks like that?"
In the year and a half after graduation, MD and I saw less and less of each other. We never had a disagreement, it was just a natural, going in different directions situation. In January 1979, I moved to Las Vegas. So I was surprised two years later when I got a phone call from him.
MD said he was living in McAllen Texas selling RV's, (I believed him, until he said he averaged thirteen hundred a week). MD said he was meeting his parents in Vegas but didn't want to spend all four days with them. When I offered to let him to stay on my couch...he told me when I should be at the airport to pick him up. His cocky attitude pissed me off long before I met his plane.
In retrospect, I don't think his parents were in town at all. Why he came, I don't know, but all he did was sponge off me.
Stupidly, I paid for all our meals. The food was cheap and I fell into my own trap of trying to come off like a big shot." In addition to rolling out the red carpet for him, I lent him my car while I was at work, (dealing craps at the Stardust Casino).
My car hemorrhaged oil. I left him with a full gas tank but reminded him that if the idiot light went on, to pull into a filling station and buy a can of oil. On his second night at 7:45PM, I was pulling up to the employee entrance to let myself out when I noticed the idiot light flicker. I didn't re-remind MD because it was obvious that he needed to invest a dollar and five minutes, in my car.
Dutiful MD was at the employee entrance at 4:00AM. I invited him to go out for a drink with the guys from my crew, (Don, Art and Jerry). On the way to Boodles, a bar in Don's neighborhood, on the edge of town, way out on West Sahara, I saw the check engine light was a solid red beam. I said, "Why didn't you put oil in my car?" He had the audacity to say, "I didn't know you wanted me to?" What a cheap prick. To avert seizing my engine, I pulled into a Union 76 station, to demonstrate the ease of preventing the potential catastrophe.
Boodles had a fair-sized crowd for that time of night. Their relaxing atmosphere included; country music on the jukebox, pool tables, dart boards and shuffleboard.
|MY CREW AND I PLAYED BAR SHUFFLEBOARD. ALL FOUR OF US HAD A PILE OF MONEY ON THE BAR AS WE EACH PAID FOR A ROUND OF DRINKS, (MD's TOO).|
MD neither played shuffleboard nor socialized with my friends. I gave him the benefit of the doubt because it was going on five in the morning. While playing, I lost track of MD until I looked over and saw him take a couple of dollars off Jerry's pile, to buy himself a beer. In that second, I realized that Mr. RV Sales King of McAllen Texas hadn't offered to pay for anything, in his two days with me.
During the ride home, I was trying to think of a diplomatic way to rid myself of this bullshitting freeloader. That's when he surprised me and said, "You gotta drive me to the airport at 7:30." I said, "What?" He said, "My boss called and there's a cherry of a deal on the table back home. But I have to be there to do it." I knew he was full of shit. Nobody called him while he was at my place. I didn't care why he was leaving so I shrugged, "Okay" Then I added,. "But I'm not taking you to the airport in an hour and a half. When I get home, I 'll call you a cab and have them pick you up. I'm sleeping past noon."
At exactly 7:30AM, there was pounding on my front door. I looked down from the bedroom window and saw the cab driver. I called out to him, "I'll be right there." Downstairs, I saw MD in his tightie-whities cowering with his ear against the front door. I was still rubbing my eyes and trying to get the cobwebs out of my head. But it was clear that this lying, cheap-ass weasel was hoping the driver would get frustrated and leave. I yawned, "Your taxi is here to take you to the airport." MD said, "I thought you were taking me?" I said, "You better hurry." I opened the door and asked the driver, "How long does he have before you charge extra?" MD didn't like his answer. Like a machine, my little sociopath began stuffing his shit into an old valise. I said, "MD, you can't bullshit a bullshitter." My only regret was not being at the airport when it was time to pay. I would have loved to have witnessed the moth fly out of MD's wallet.
While he hustled to pack, I never asked MD for an explanation...and he never offered me one. But "RIPLEY'S BELIEVE IT OR NOT," would have been impressed, MD was out of my condo and permanently out of my life in five minutes.
Everybody has their own agenda. Usually embellishment or fibbing is a harmless way people deal with being insecure. MD was different, he was the Rembrandt of bullshit artists. If I'm any judge of character, I got the last laugh because I can imagine MD telling people; when I go to Vegas, I stay at the mansion of a professional gambler and hang out with Hugh Hefner's throwaways.