Friday, December 30, 2011

rim shots in the swamp

G.K. Chesterton tells us "the past is not what it was."

And he may have something there.  Our ability to recall the past sometimes bears only a slight resemblance to what happened years ago.

But not always.  Sometimes we are lucky enough to have witnesses to our best stories.

Such was today’s lunch.

Jordan and I met up with two of my friends from law school (Ken and Patti), their daughter (Kimberly), and her boyfriend (Conan).  We tried our hand at American consumerism at Clackamas Town Center until we lost interest.  And our thoughts turned to the greater joy of food.

I always enjoy eating with old friends. There is something about slicing chicken with people who know not only your background, but who share a part of your soul.

Today we started to share stories.  I have known both Ken and Patti since 1976.  During the 1980s and 1990s, I stayed with them when I performed reserve duty in Washington. 

I effectively turned into a brother to both of them.  At least that is my perception.  We went to plays and movies, looked for used cars, frequented fundraisers, attended baseball games, walked through open houses, and, of course, dined out -- a lot.  Doing our best Niles and Fraser routines around western Washington

Because Kimberly, Conan, and Jordan were a fresh audience, all three of us took our turn on stage to tell tales of some of our more humorous adventures.  Ken was the easy winner -- with what has to be one of his best lines.

In 1982 the three of us and another friend (Susan, who I was dating at the time) went to see Victor Victoria, one of Blake Edwards’s better films.  One of the biggest surprises was Lesley Ann Warren.  She almost stole the show.

So, the next year, when Night in Heaven was released starring her, the three of us trundled off to the theater to see it.  Somehow we missed that her co-star was Christopher Atkins.  The Justin Bieber of the 1980s.  We should have known better.

We settled into a theater that was sparsely populated with teenage girls.  The opening scene should have given us plenty of warning.  The movie opened on a wide shot of a space shuttle on its launch gantry. 

Taking into account the intelligence of the focus audience, a caption appeared informing us we were at Cape Canaveral -- Florida.  Apparently, for those of us who thought we were looking at the Washington Monument in Montana.

We should have left because the movie went into a death spiral from there.

Here is the plot.  Lesley Ann Warren is a community college instructor.  Christopher Atkins is one of her students.  A rather unintelligent student.  Because she is having trouble with her marriage, some friends take her to a male strip club where the headliner is -- wait for it -- Christopher Atkins.  Dropping his trousers to cover his tuition.

Because things happen that way in this type of movie, the two of them have a torrid love affair.  Husband finds out, and kidnaps kid at gunpoint and takes him deep into a swamp in a fishing boat with a small boat in tow.

Husband stops the boat, tells kid he is aware of what has been going on, and orders him to strip and climb into the smaller boat where the kid cowers waiting for the inevitable blow.

As husband raises the gun, Ken exclaims in something more than a stage whisper: “He’s going to shoot him in the dinghy.”

Patti and I nearly slipped out of our chairs laughing.  And Ken got the the fisheye from the teenage girls in front of us for demeaning their bit of teen meat.

It is one of those stories that just gets better with the telling.

If G.K. Chesterton sounds too much like Yogi Berra for you, Sondheim’s bit of lyrical fluff may capture the joy of old friends better.

Hey, old friend
Are you okay, old friend?
What do you say, old friend
Are we or are we unique?
Time goes by, everything else keeps changing
You and I we get continued next week.


Patti said...

Despite my best efforts toavoid  learninh things about you through the blog -- it it's important, you'll tell only me. . .I have to comment.  Today's lunch was wonderful, and yes, the blog was even better -- the right balance between laughter and tears.  You are a great friend!

Steve Cotton said...

It is moments liker this that I miss being so far south.