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Main street in Hingham — a prestigious area where most of the homes are at least 200 years old and where homes are only allowed to be painted certain colors.  It’s a lovely slice of New England life to observe.  We were passing by on the way to the beach — enjoying the magazine quality look of the homes with their manicured and beautifully landscaped yards, when what should we see? A huge grouping of plastic pink flamingos at the end of a driveway, as out of place here as a Vegas showgirl.  In the center of the group: a sign that read, “You have been flocked!” In small letters it said it was courtesy of the Hingham High School Football team.  (I would have posted a photo here, but unfortunately the one I took with my phone was blurry and unusable.)  We both laughed and enjoyed the spectacle.

When I think of more destructive past times of 17-18 year old boys like smashing mailboxes or tipping over gravestones (which as a homeowner and history buff I find quite distressing), this struck me as clever and ironic.  Much more civilized than toiletpapering the owners’ trees.  If the team was looking for attention or donations, this was a great way to do it.  Bravo!



{February 14, 2011}   Scatter in New York

In our early twenties, Jane and I were part of a group of four who spent a lot of time together: me, Jane, Julie, and Sandy.  Our group did the usual things —  we went to the movies or out to eat and we went to clubs to see some favorite bands.  Several  times we went to NY City to visit Jane’s friend Jackie (the actor) and we went to clubs there or went shopping and sight-seeing.  Jackie was kind enough to let us stay with him; he had a small apartment, as befits a struggling actor, with almost no furniture.  When we visited, we slept on the floor in the living room.

We all knew there were cockroaches.  Every time we wanted to use the bathroom, we would flip on the light and let the roaches scurry back to their hiding places before we stepped in.  We laughed about their “scattering” since we didn’t live there and didn’t have to put up with them all the time. It was no reflection on Jackie; the apartment was not dirty, it was just the way it was.

One particular trip (when Sandy wasn’t with us and Jackie had gone to work — he was the obligatory waiter between acting jobs) we were sleeping late on the living room floor, arranged like the spokes of a wheel because it was easier to talk when we were falling asleep.  Jane suddenly screamed and sat bolt-upright.  Julie and I both woke up grumbling, “what’s the matter?”

“There was a cockroach on my face!” Jane exhaled dramatically.

“I don’t think so, Jane,” I murmured.

“You must have been dreaming,” Julie mumbled.

Jane was wide awake.  “No, it was on my face!” she insisted.  Julie and I started to snicker, figuring Jane was being a drama queen.  She snatched her pillow off the floor — there it was.

“I knew it!” she affirmed, jumping to her feet.  Julie and I were on our feet less than 30 seconds after her.  Jane was whipping her hair long before Willow Smith.  “Oh my god…I hope there aren’t any more…” she squirmed.

“Well, I won’t be going back to sleep now,” I announced.

“Neither will I,” Julie seconded.

“What shall we do then?” I threw out.

“Let’s go to breakfast and go shopping,” Julie suggested.  Jane was still periodically shivering and shaking sporadically.

It was a cloudy cool day and we didn’t have umbrellas, but we started walking anyway.  It wasn’t long before it started to rain, hard.  Everyone without umbrellas began to run for doorways and covered bus stops.  Someone (I don’t remember which of us) said, “Look, it’s like the people are cockroaches when you turn on the bathroom light!” 

Then Jane began to sing spontaneously like a character in a move musical, “Scatter in NY…they scatter, they scatter in NY…”  Julie and I joined in and we sang in harmony.  Soon we were laughing and Jane’s traumatic encounter with the cockroach was behind us.



{January 21, 2011}   Everybody Loves Jack

My friend Jane grew up with a kid named Jack (or “Jackie” as he was called in the neighborhood) who aspired to be an actor.  When Jackie became “Jack”, he got an arts education and performed in summer stock.  We were the proud recipients of one of his black-and-white 8 x10 promo photos.

As Jane’s friends, we got to know Jackie and we also became his friends.  We drove to Maine to see him perform in plays and flew stand-by to visit him in his roach-infested little apartment in New York. (The roaches were not a reflection on Jackie, who was quite neat; it was just the way it was back then.) When Jane and I were singing together and writing songs, Jackie was often our audience.  He helped us record one of our songs (nothing formal…we’re talking the old type tapes).  All this background is just to make it clear that what happened to Jackie’s photo was not out of disrespect or derision, but out of playfulness and affection.

It all started one day when Jane and I returned to her house after a workout at the gym. At that time she was still living at home with her parents and brother in the neighborhood where she and Jack grew up.  She walked down the hall to the doorway of her room and collapsed on the floor in a fit of laughter.  Trailing her by at least 10 feet, I yelled, “What’s going on?”  She couldn’t answer me; she just kept rolling on the floor laughing hysterically.  I stepped over her as best I could and looked into the room.  I fell against the wall, also laughing uncontrollably.  It was completely wallpapered with photocopied pictures of Jackie.  The culprit?  Her brother.  Hearing the uncontrollable laughter, he popped out of his room with a faux-innocent look, “What?”  The glove had been tossed.

Soon Jane’s brother Jimmy came home to find poster-sized versions of Jackie’s picture on the ceiling over his bed, and it didn’t stop there…shortly after that, the poster-sized pictures of Jackie migrated to the telephone poles in the neighborhood.  At that point some respect for his family kicked in and the posters were taken down.

But that wasn’t the end of the adventures for Jackie’s picture.  When my friend Julie and I got an apartment together, Jackie’s picture graced the living room wall.  He was an evolving part of the décor, changing for holidays, a chameleon who became the Easter Bunny and Santa Clause.  Jack may never have become the famous actor of his dreams, but in my mind and the minds of my friends, he will never be forgotten.



et cetera
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