Jerry Wick and Jenny Mae part seven

There is a movie theater just up the road from campus smack dab in an older residential neighborhood, the theater is one of the oldest in Columbus but during the era of multi-plexes the theater struggled. For a while it had to resort to tactics to get people to view a movie, it had a bar, offered pizza and charged only $1.50 for most second run movies during the nineteen-nineties. It would also offer late night fare such as The Rocky Horror Picture Show and midnight viewings of Animal House or science fiction movies. One weekend Jerry and I double date and see a double feature of Mel Brooks’s films, “Blazing Saddles” and “Young Frankenstein.” We were both too young to see them in the theater when they came out. His girlfriend Jill and my wife at the time, Robin are close friends and always seems to have the opportunity to talk about how disappointed each one of them is with Jerry and me.

Neither one of the women really wanted to spend a Saturday evening in a bar masquerading as a movie theater watching two old Mel Brooks movies with their drunk boyfriends.  We could not understand why, for us this was the perfect night out. We had both spent the majority of the day getting loaded at Used Kids, Saturday’s were the busiest day of the week for us and I worked a ten hour day. Drinking usually started around three on Saturdays, and I would go to Larry’s at five for a couple of drinks consisting of either Maker’s Mark or a few Kamikaze’s before heading back for the last few hours of work. When the music got louder and the laughter was just as intoxicating as the Black Label beer we were drinking. We usually had regulars on these nights, just like a bar, a few customers who could come down and have a few beers while perusing the racks of records and CD’s. Bystanders just enjoyed the show. Jerry and I would take turns manning the turntable, alternating between punk rock favorites or George Jones, sometimes we would put on some comedy records such as the Jerky Tapes or Robert Schimmel.  I am sure on the night of “Blazing Saddles” we listened to a great deal of the comedy stuff.

We decided we would walk to my house after we closed, “Blazing Saddles” started at nine, we would meet the girls at my house. Jerry and I never made it there, we stopped at Larry’s and slowly strolled up High Street, stopping at Dow’s on High, Dick’s Den and then finally at the Blue Danube. We had walked right past my street. I phoned Robin who said they had been waiting; her tone was not conducive to laughter.  Jerry was leaning against the bar, chatting with the bar-maid, he glowed like a lantern on Hallows Eve, his ass crack sticking up from his black grimy jeans. He never wore underwear. In fact he came to me one afternoon after a Gaunt tour and said that he had a urinary track infection.  I was stunned, “I thought only women got those?” I replied. He lowered his voice and said “My doctor said I got it cause I don’t wear underwear and I only have a few pairs of jeans.”  I looked back at him as if he were an alien.

At the Dube he spied me from the corner of his eye, he leans back, putting the ass crack to bed “lemme guess, they are pissed off.”  The air in my balloon has not been sucked out yet, laughing with familiarity “of course they are, what did you expect?”  The kinship of disappointment was something we shared; it bonded us and directed us forming a steering wheel that chose our path through our lives. We intersected in all the right and wrong places, the weight of a relationship both crippled and fueled us with a sense of joy that ended up blinding us through the self doubt that we would need a pair of Wellington’s to wade through.

Jill was the most serious relationship that I ever saw Jerry partake in, he wrestled with this particular one than any other, he would haggle with me and my pre-occupation with striving to have a legitimate (i.e. stable) relationship with a woman. I was always in a drama soaked relationship, afraid of one-night stands I would jump from a series of women as I struggled to find a balance between staying out most nights and being at home with someone who wanted more than beer breath and a staggering gait at three am. Jerry’s advice always went something like this, “stay away from her, she is just a crazy as the last one.”  He said this for most of the women I went out with. I marveled at the way he could spend the night by himself; for myself I needed a warm body close by just to prove to myself that I was still alive.  This wasn’t just about sex it was about holding onto something that I never knew, I needed something after the laughter dissipated into the faint yearning of last call to get me through the next four hours. Jerry on the other hand, was content to sleep alone, as if getting close to someone betrayed an inner promise not to let anybody through his emotional gate. He could be almost monk-like.

In terms of a double date, the evening was a disaster, by the time we hooked up with the two women who must have been energizing one another’s disgust with us; Jerry and I were quite wasted.  As we sat at the bar of the Blue Danube, we did not have any insight into our equilibrium, leaning against one another, preparing ourselves for the laughter that would ensue when the movies started we were well flushed with booze and anticipation. We egged each other on, to the chagrin of anybody within earshot. Really, there was little need for our mates at this point in the evening, it would have been best if they had bailed on us. When the two women arrived with looks of consternation on their faces, we grinned as they shook their heads at us, at first the women protested about even going to the movie. It was late, the first movie had started and besides we promised them dinner. “Just get something to eat here” we said, “oh, and by the way we aren’t hungry.”  We both knew that a meal would slow the buzz that was building into a ferris-wheel in our brains. This was an offer that was an insult, apparently we had promised a real meal, one that entailed a waiter in a uniform, a table cloth and bathrooms that didn’t have miniature cockaroaches climbing up the walls..  It would not be tonight.

We stumbled to the theater, arriving mid-way through “Blazing Saddles” which annoyed the women even more, for Jerry and I this was now the most important event of our lives, even if we had missed half the film already.  Immediately our girlfriends found us past annoying, we were laughing too hard, there was no way a movie could be as funny as we thought it was.  They left us at the theater, they would never understand us we said to each other, and no doubt this was the same conversation the women were having as they walked home alone. Jerry and I stayed through half of “Young Frankenstein” before deciding we needed to go dancing, we breathed in the autumn air and felt reinvigorated, and managed to squeeze another round of drinks at the one bar on the way home. Telling each other that it was women who just didn’t understand, that the expectations they placed upon us were too much, too unrealistic, too unreasonable and that they lacked the ability to enjoy life as we did.  By the time we arrived at my house, it was just past midnight, I would have to drive us to the disco and we had gone about twenty minutes since the last drink. I had climbed over the edge of my buzz by that point and had settled into the slow comfort of exhaustion.  I had no desire to go dancing, besides Robin was still up, I saw the television flickering in the living room.  Jerry said he was going to head for a few more drinks at Dow’s or Larry’s and go to bed. He swayed off into the streetlights, cigarette in one hand the other hand buried in his coat pocket and I went inside and tried to make amends.

When Jerry was creating “Kryptonite” and “Yeah, Me Too” we were both struggling to balance a romantic relationship with our own sense of identity which involved a belief in our life style and a romantic sense of being an artist, a bohemian if you will. This was a chasm that for both us would not be reconciled with the women we were involved with, it was one that would most likely only be bridged by life experience, of figuring out how to compromise and be totally present in a relationship. Jerry tried his best with Jill; he had this belief in the wholesomeness of romantic commitment that bordered on complete fantasy.

For instance here was a Thanksgiving dinner that my wife and I had at our house, where my family was invited. My sister, who was a double divorcee was there with her two young daughters and she introduced herself to Jerry. Her license plates read “socr mom”.  Jerry developed an instant crush on my sister, I was completely perplexed by this, and for my sister was the epitome of middle-class. Living in the suburbs, she tried to construct the all-American household that I had no use for. Two kids, cat and a dog, she wore sweaters and loved Rod Stewart, and not the early stuff, the later 80’s version. And yet, here was Jerry obsessed with my  sister and his idea of her life, I knew her struggles with divorcee and the fear of raising two young daughters alone and attending college at night. Jerry had no idea of the incredible sacrifices she had made with her life, sacrifices that I could not fathom because I was to chickenshit to even try.  Jill, on the other hand was much more sophisticated than my sister, I could see where men would be attracted to Jill, and she had a cynical tongue that carried ingredients for laughter when she spoke. She was a tiny woman, with a black bob haircut and who pushed flirtation to the border of total come-on. She once gave Robin advice on men, “just give them a blow job on the first date and they will do anything for you.”  Looking back, Jerry had always tried to meld to incompatible parts to one another, hence the friction that boiled over in every part of his being.


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2 Responses to “Jerry Wick and Jenny Mae part seven”

  1. jill Says:

    Great writing Bela. Can’t say I remember that evening, at all! But I fully remember plenty of other stories! Regarding the b***job advice, I do remember that Robin said that to me and not I to her.
    I think Jerry was very open and honest to both of us in very different ways. I miss him, and that’s the truth. (Many people from Columbus sent me your writings and article from Other Paper, keep up the great work!)
    -Jill in Denver

  2. Johan Says:

    Charming, moving. Great piece of writing! Good things happen when you google
    Datapanik. Kind regards JK

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