Shell Shocked: Boyhood friends
Once a year I get together with two boyhood friends. These are guys I’ve known since I was five-years-old. We decided around 30 years ago to meet up annually to both stay in touch and bring each other up to date on our lives.
Much has happened to each of us during these past 30 years. None of us has avoided the typical flow of life sadness, joy, happiness and despair. Yet we continue our long time tradition of meeting once a year to maintain our heritage and friendship.
Nelson is a bit heavier and slower than he was when we played stick ball on the sidewalks of New York as kids. Marvin, the retired mathematics professor, still stays in shape by counting sheep when he tries to fall asleep quickly at night.
As for me, I continue to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. This means that I enjoy my daily afternoon naps with a light breeze providing my blanket.
Nelson: Do you remember when we put a ripe egg on the teacher’s desk in the third grade while she was out of the room?
Marvin: Why an egg and not an apple?
Nelson: We wanted to be different. Creativity was already snaking its way through our arteries.
Art: I don’t remember the egg but I do remember that the same teacher forced me to sing a song in front of the class. It was a novelty song at the time. I think it was called “Mairzy Doats.”
Marvin: I remember that song. It might have been a Spike Jones specialty song.
Nelson: No one under 30 years of age today will even know who Spike Jones was.
Art: Or Ish Kabibble, the strange guy in Kay Kyser’s band.
Nelson: Do you remember the first movie you ever saw?
Art: Mine was a Tarzan movie. I saw a lion on the screen and ran out of the theater. Honestly. My older brother had to run out and get me. My condition for going back in was to sit on the steps going up to the balcony and not be anywhere near the movie screen. I kept looking all around the theater for that lion.
Marvin: Did you ever see Joe DiMaggio in person?
Nelson: I did once. He was still playing for the Yankees. And he hosted a weekly radio show with a studio audience. My parents took me to see it one day and DiMag himself shook hands with every kid who was there. He was a handsome bloke. I can see now what Marilyn Monroe saw in him.
Art: Do you remember we used to go to the movies on a Saturday afternoon without knowing what time a movie would start? We’d walk in during the middle of a movie and stay to see a cartoon, a serial, a short, a second feature and then the main movie. We would leave when we came to the part we walked into at the beginning. Movie watching has certainly changed. Today it’s only the main feature at an exact time and nothing else.
Marvin: And we played touch football with a folded newspaper tied together with strings. We couldn’t afford real footballs. But at least we never got concussions. The only contact was tagging the guy who had the ball.
Art: And who plays stick ball anymore? It’s lacrosse and soccer, not stick ball.
Nelson: Well, all I can say is let’s let this annual dinner take place for at least another 100 years. Then we can share our memories of the year 2017.
-Art Stevens is a long-time columnist for The Islander. His tongue-in-cheek humor is always offered with a smile.