Posts Tagged ‘children’

Jerry Wick and Jenny Mae: Violence

November 11, 2016

There was a tenseness discharging from the kitchen, small invisible globs that melted through the walls and open doorway into the yellow painted living room. The clamoring of pots and pans, slamming of the oven and a thick muffled grumbling. My brother eyed me, and we left through the front door, outside behind the changing leaves of the large maple tree that hovered above the Cutants gold-colored house the bright blue sky promised something better than what was going on behind us. We started making our way down the street, “Bela! Zoltan! Come back here! NOW!!” yelled our father in his thick Hungarian accent. “yeah, Dad?”

“Come here!” his eyes glared from the top of the porch.

“what’s up?” we were hesitant. Deliberate.

“I did not give you permission to LEAVE!”

This coming from man who wasn’t home to make us dinner most days of the week, a man who never put us to bed and who certainly didn’t think to provide direction as we fended for ourselves during most waking hours. “C’mon, Bela” my brother spoke as we sauntered back to the house, taking our time because perhaps, just maybe, he would calm down in the fifty feet we had to walk. Glaring at us, his eyes ordered us back into the house and we went into the kitchen. On the table were eggs, toast and fried potatoes with onions. “Eat!” he commanded and as we ate slowly, my eyes settled on the runny wobbly eggs, I felt nauseous. “I’m not hungry” the words slipped out of my mouth on a velvety whisper. BAM! His fist landed hard on the table, a sudden burst of rage. The milk splashed out of my glass, staring at its soft waves, I slowly scooped some egg onto my fork and swallowed, a slight gag as the lobby mass of egg caught in my throat. Why couldn’t he just flip the fucking things over and fry both sides? “Don’t you fake being sick, I made those eggs for you and you WILL eat them!”

That night as I laid next to my brother I felt safe under his words, he was always my protector, shielding me from the anger of our father and of any neighborhood bullies. “Don’t worry Bay, he doesn’t mean it, he’s just under a lot of stress.”

The party was in the back of a large brick building that housed the excellent Monkey’s Retreat, a bookstore that stocked “HATE” by Peter Bagge, titles by Daniel Clowes, Re-Search magazine and a plethora of other underground books, comics and zines. Monkey’s was run by two Brooklyn transplants, Rosie and Daryl whose thick New York accent made them almost as exotic as the reading materials on their shelves. The party held in the rear of the building was bustling, the New Bomb Turks were filming a video for their next record on the large indie Epitaph. Against the back drop of streamers, confetti and other assortment of party-like fair, people swayed, above the yammering of voices. In the back of the room, sitting on frayed couches a group of us drank from keg beer and the small metal flask I had brought filled with Maker’s Mark. My girlfriend had stayed home, studying for her last semester of classes before graduation, slowly tiring of the episodic binge drinking that would hurtle her man into a series of blind nights.

I held court with Jerry, we felt splendid as we made the woman around us laugh, holding court while some of the cameras rolled and soon with the prompting of Jerry, I shed my clothing, walked to the keg on the other side of the room, and filled our plastic cups. He cackled at me and soon even this grew tiresome, and I winded my way through the crowd, a small feeling of anxiety climbed up my shoulders and soon, I breathed in the air. Outside a group of people gathered around smoking cigarettes, cracking jokes and discussing music, books and the general gossip of High Street. The video shoot had ended and Bill and Jim for the New Bomb Turks were laughing, Jenny pulled on my shoulder as we gabbed in a small circle. “Hey, Jim Shepard is really fucked up, maybe he needs to go home?” We all looked at Jim, he was leaning against the brick wall, next to a spray-painted wall that spelled “Art Force One” his head slunk down so his chin rested against his chest, as if his next was a broken hinge, eyes closed he nodded up. His band, V-3 had recently put out their major label debut, “Photograph Burns” an album that was tighter than the other muddled pastiche of sounds that he had caught like a rusted hook from the inside of his clever mind, a mind that held secrets that in retrospect must have been as dark and scarred as Jim had looked now, head dropping down as he leaned against the stone wall. His songs were a play-by-play of the decaying of the American dream, filled with bleak observations that celebrated the depressive thoughts of a man that never quite fit in, songs titled “Hating Me, Hating You” and “End of the Bar”, the highlight was a lonely ode to variety of women, an inverse commentary of “California Girls” this one stinging with the slow burning sound of 4 am emptiness with Jim’s deep sing-song of a voice  carving out sound, “Bristol girl always giving you crap about this and that, London girl always giving you crap about this and that, find another human willing to put up with you.” You don’t know if he’s singing about the woman, or more likely, himself. The record wasn’t selling, as the pop-punk, shit explosion of Blink 182 and Wax was going to save the record industry.  “look at him, is he ok?” Bill remarked, as is we were looking at the video of the slow-motion crash of the skier from the Wide World of Sports. Jim lifted his head, saw us and made his way over, he crookedly walked into a young well-groomed man who looked more out of place because he tried too hard to look in-place. Jim accidentally crashed into the man, toppling the beer from the man’s hand, Jim kept walking as the fellow suddenly grabbed Jim’s shoulder and threw him to the ground. It was a flash, like a car accident, foisting his hands into Jim’s side, Jim hugged the man tight and bellowed, “Jesus, stop! I’m just a lonely alcoholic! Leave me alone! Stop!” His voice was as crumpled as his body, broken and bruised.

Unthinking, I dropped my beer, flicked my dark plastic glasses to Jenny and pulled the up the man, my fists dotted his head and chest the fight was over as quick as it took the plastic beer cup to roll across the gravel driveway. “Help!” I heard the voice below me, Jim Weber pulled me off and I heard Jenny say, “There’s Bela, fighting again, he has such a temper.” Eric Davidson’s girlfriend walked up to me, as I tried to calm down, blood splattered over a homemade silk-screened tee-shirt that had “Blood Family” written across it, “Jesus, Bela. You just beat the shit out of my hair dresser.” “Mother-fucker” to know one, while someone handed me a beer. Jim Shepard had gathered himself up, his clothes filled with tiny bits of gravel and beer. “uh, thanks Bela, I don’t know what that guy’s problem is.” When I got home, my girlfriend looked at me aghast, “what happened? Were you in a car accident? Oh, you are bleeding so much!” “

“I’m ok, it’s not my blood, I was in a fight.”

“What do you mean, a fight?” eyes aglow with surprise.

“yeah, sometimes I fight.” I said, slipping past her.

“You do?!” as if she just discovered I was secretly a woman.

“yeah, sometimes.”

From the other room, I heard her say, “what the fuck?”

The house was filled with broken things, a hole there and there, a chipped telephone there and smashed plates in the garbage can. There were times I went to the hospital because of hitting a wall, or putting my arm through a door, learned behavior from the earliest times in my life. Therefore, we can’t have nice things. There were other times where cars were filled with dents, or CD’s smashed, plates thrown or tables topped in a fit of explosive rage. Jenny came home one day, after I had tried to vacuum the house and surprise her. The vacuum was new, money saved from a waitress’s paycheck, it caught on the rug, and clogged. Outside the sky was melting into the atmosphere, the house thick with humidity and frustration, we could not afford an air conditioner. Wanting to please her by cleaning, I flipped the machine over and saw nothing. “Fucking piece of shit!” Grabbing the vacuum by the long metal handle, it was chucked out the front door into the yard just as she was walking up. Skidding across the lawn, she gazed down at it, as if it were a slow-moving ice puck as it rested near her feet. “What the fuck, Bela? What is your fucking problem?” “It’s a piece of shit, doesn’t work!” Pulling it inside, taking the machine apart she started giggling, “what’s so funny?” I asked as I drank a beer on the couch in the other room. “You are such an idiot, Jesus.” She walked in with a long white tube-sock dangling from her hand, “you fucking vacuumed up a sock. And because you destroyed one of my things I’m going to destroy one of yours.” She ran upstairs and locked the stairway door behind her. Standing in the back yard, gazing up at her as she climbed onto the back-porch roof, she held the first Galaxie 500 record on the small imprint Aurora. “What the fuck? Don’t you destroy that record! It is so hard to find!” Laughing and slowly taking the black vinyl from the white sleeve she paused, took a sip of her beer and as if she were doing a slow teasing strip tease she turned, swung her sun dress in the air, took another sip of beer and placed the record on the steamy roof. “Hey, it’s not funny anymore!” “You destroy one of my things, I’ll destroy yours”, tossing her head back she jumped upon the record and shimmied the record into the roof. It was utterly destroyed.

The end of the summer was fast approaching, and rural Ohio felt as if it were burning one corn stalk at a time. Tractors hummed across the valley from our house, grasshoppers jumped hither dither, while the laundry blew rhythmically across the backyard, a simple ballet of fabric and wind that was being replicated countywide in that instant. Rick’s brown sedan crackled into the driveway, Jimi Hendrix blaring “you gonna be ok, man? Do you think your mom can give me $20 to get back to Athens?” He had driven 2 hours to Catawba, to get me home. School was starting in a few days and I didn’t have a ride back. Speaking to my brother the day before he explained, “I can’t come down and get you, I have football practice, and mom isn’t coming to get you either.” My mother and step-father had wanted me to return from my summer working in Athens about a month earlier, knowing that there was nothing in Catawba to do over the month of August I stayed, continuing to clean chickens at Case Que Pasa, drink beer and be on the search for teenage sex. Rick had agreed to take me under the condition that he have gas money to get home, he had to work back that night. Eric Zudak had come with us, he could placate an angry mother, who came outside upon hearing the snapping stones of gravel. “Hi, Bela’s mom” Eric spoke first, his erstwhile charm trying to break the burning anger of a mother waiting for her son to be home weeks ago.

“Hello Eric, how are you?”

“I’m good, Bela’s mom.”

“Bela, come here I need to speak with you.”

“Ok, but we need to give Rick $20 for gas.”

“You didn’t discuss this with me, come inside and we will talk about it.”

Angry and frustrated, she glared at me, “you could have come home a month ago, and now you want me to pay for your friends’ gas?” “Uh, yeah, he drove me 125 miles to get home because you didn’t come and get me.” “Bob, come here please.” She yelled behind her, Bob, her husband the minister came out of his office. He looked like Andy Griffith, wearing a blue sweater over a buttoned-up shirt and carrying his wooden pipe. “Why the fuck is he wearing a sweater?” I thought. He didn’t address me but looked at my mother, “yes?” “Do you have twenty dollars to pay Bela’s friend for gas?” “I suppose, but didn’t you tell him he’d have to pay his own way home.” “Jesus, he drove me home, because you wouldn’t come and get me, you didn’t have to spend a dime on me this summer because I worked and stayed with Erica! Just fucking give him the $20 to get home.” “Don’t you talk to your mother that way!” Taking the money from his hand, my mother went outside and thanked Rick for driving me home. Bob and I went at it in the living room, I heard Rick and Eric drive away.

“Well that was fucking embarrassing. Guy drives halfway across the state to bring your son who you have seen all summer and you don’t want to pay him.” Full-on teenage rebellion bounced out of my sweaty mouth, I had grown up that summer, both physically and emotionally, breaking out of the isolated pimply shell that had been burnishing for years, I had found myself in the back kitchen of Casa, on darkened train tracks drinking whiskey mixed with grape Kool-Aid, various record stores and uptown college parties. The turntables cranking out the new sounds of the Replacements, R.E.M., the Smiths, and the Tom Tom Club, was the soundtrack that summer. Small town, Ohio this wasn’t. “I said don’t talk to your mother that way!” Bob bellowed. Turning, I thanked him for the $20 and reminded him, “you guys could have easily picked me up and seen Erica but you decided not to!” In my room, I put on an R.E.M. tape and blared it, pacing, with blood rising into my ears, I wanted out. Suddenly, the door flew open, Bob all 6 foot two of him stood scowling, “go apologize to your mother!” “Get out of my room, she should apologize to me for leaving my friend hanging!” I didn’t back down. He lunged at me, pulling me into him and tossing me across the room into the wall, a small end table buckled under my legs. While I was a bit stronger, I was still only 125 pounds or so, surprisingly I had no fear and I rushed him, arms flailing, into his stomach. Just as quickly, he turned me into myself and chucked me headlong into the wall where a chunk of plaster fell into my soft curls, my glasses fell into the floor. My mother appeared behind him, “what on earth is going on here?!” Horrified she looked at both of us. “Apologize to your mother!” “Fuck off!” He made his way towards me, “Stop it! Stop it!” wailing she stepped between us.


Violence was always present, like a silent spring just waiting to be sprung, from father to son. Alcohol didn’t help. Later, I would learn, depression and Attention Hyper Activity Disorder would help fuel it, as impulse control is greatly compromised in people with ADHD. Nearly 18 years later, struggling with addiction to alcohol, sitting on bare knees in the summer oven of Gainesville, Florida, thousands of pieces of glass surrounding me like rice on a wedding day, behind me, the large upturned dining room table directly to my back, I realized then that something had to give. Over the course of the next few years, sans alcohol but adding meditation, support groups and various sober activities, I tried to make sense of my anger. At times, it is there, especially when frustration settles in, it moves quietly within me, and I see it in my son when he is frustrated. Turning inwards, he can fling his small soft fists into his head. At these moments, a deep sense of shame fills me, as I do not want the rage to be handed down. In the nearly fifteen years after putting down the drink I have not bloodied myself or anyone else but have had uncontrollable rage, that continues to frighten those whom I love the most, a towering yell from my chest can freeze everybody present. And then, suddenly as soon as it rose and exploded it is gone and I am left with the small quiet space of unease at what just transpired.                                                                                                                                                                                                           





Jerry and Jenny: Fear, the devil and Archie Bunker

October 16, 2016

The television flickered in the living room, bouncing shadows off the stairwell, and the white walls of the living room, quivering lights made the other room almost vibrate within the otherwise dark house. Archie Bunker bellowed at his forever-suffering wife, his voice overwhelming the confines of the small shrill speaker from the black and white television, meanwhile I crouched under a blanket at the foot of the stairs, counting and checking my breath as it heaved inside my head; surely my father could hear me breathing. Laughter poked through the white twinkling lights of the television, they splattered over the walls and it was a comfort to hear my father laugh, a deep yawp the cut through the fear that seemed to grip me whenever I laid down. Life was a daily trial, as the mornings and early afternoons where spent braving anxiety that caused a child’s mind to stumble and worry, only to adjust on the playground then back into the classroom as the mind wandered, climbing up the posters of numbers, maps and playful cats and puppies that adorned the classroom walls. After school was a time of great relief, building rocket ships, tanks and caves from the prickly branches of various bushes in the neighborhood, exploring abandoned houses and playing pick-up football, eased the ill-fitting mood the fell over my mind like a shawl during school. At night, it could turn to stark cold fear, if I was unable to crawl into bed with my brother, who would at various times let me sleep at the end of his bed and at others would order me to “grow-up, you’re going to have to learn to sleep at night on your own someday.” Oddly, it would take me nearly thirty-five years to learn this lesson.

The comfort of my father’s laughter would help, soon I would curl up on the hardwood floor, the yellow blanket with the frayed corners that I would hold to my cheek, a soothing tactile comfort for a lonely scared kid, I would soon slip off into a deep slumber. Waking up briefly, while I heard my father’s heavy breaths as he cradled me in his arms and carried me up the stairs. Rubbing my eyes, looking up he excited the room, back to his own room that was littered with dog-eared paperbacks the appeared to have crawled in slow movements over his room, like they were small bulky insects exploring the world outside of their rocky abodes.

Realizing early on, I understood he was a lonely man, an immigrant not just in one country but two, fleeing Budapest at the age of four, into Austria and finally to Caracas, Venezuela where at the age of ten he was neither here nor there, not physically nor mentally. My two charming uncles, assimilated well in Venezuela, both filled sharp humor they, who in-the-end always identified as Latin while, their older brother, my father was left to grope for a place of origin. Perhaps it was the ever-moving sense of a changing idea of identity that he must have grappled with, along with the constant transient nature of my upbringing, there was an almost genetic predisposition to being an outsider, even when alone.

After divorcing my mother, he became a monk, spending his days in ivy covered brick buildings of the monastery, whose walls would echo the soft clatter of footsteps, where the quietness of the Lord’s campus could pardon the most reticent nature of humanity. Perhaps.

We would visit him, a broad smile expanding across his face, making his black moustache dance a tiny jig across his upper lip, in his brown robes and sandals, he did, in fact appear at peace; even to his littlest child. When he left the cloistered life, something turned inside, and slowly the safety of my father turned to mistrust as I grappled with swinging mood fluctuations that could result in shouting and violence. My mother had remarried several times at this point, and at the age of ten I attended a church camp where the instructor believed that Satan was walking the streets, and could, quite easily find a place to dwell inside of little boys and girls. “The Exorcist is a true story,” she explained over a plate of Nestle Chocolate Cookies, “if you don’t pray and keep guard, you too, can get possessed by the devil himself. He finds his way into your heart and mind through television, movies and of course rock and roll.” If I had hair on the inside of my body, they would have stood straight on end, mortified, I wanted to rid myself of her words. I asked my mother if the movie was true, could people be possessed? “No honey, it is a movie” she spoke while driving the car, she AM radio blasting out bits of soft-rock hits, perhaps the devil did reside in the easy going tunes of David Gates and Bread?

Going straight to the authority on all things God, I asked my father then next time I visited him and my new step-mother, “Dad, it the Excorcist true?” Sipping a glass of burgundy wine, his eyes peering through gold wire-framed glasses, “Of course it is true, you must always be on guard of the devil.” He swallowed a hearty piece of beef, and stabbed a tomato, “The devil could be anywhere, in a store, on the street or even a restaurant, and he will be charming, maybe even seem nice at first.” He took another gulp from his glass and looked over his wife, her lip quivered a tad and her eyebrows scrunched together, “Bela, yes, he can come at any time, it is why you must pray and go to church. You might see him at the playground or a party, most likely he will be a gay man.” At this, she lost me, “a gay man?!” I asked myself, that makes no sense. Turning off my ears at that point I was ready to pack up my twelve-year-old self and go back to my mother’s, this made no sense but the seed of fear had been planted. The weekly dinners with them always ended in this, a discussion of evil, Satan and to be vigilant and to attend church as much as I could. “But I do go to church, every Sunday, the Methodist church with mom and Bob, don’t worry we go.” I would answer while planning on how I could leave dinner early. “Oh, God doesn’t recognize the Methodist Church, you must go to the Catholic Church” my stepmother would answer as her face grew darker, more serious, my very soul was at stake. “I have to go, I have homework.” That summer between 12 and 13 was a time of constant fear, especially at night when even soft brushes of wind could startle me my deepest core, and while at the same time I was making an effort to distance myself from a father that grew longer in stature but much more distant, an almost statue-like presence in my life, who was harder and harder to relate to. Whose constant paranoia and fear of evil stood in pointed contrast into the stories I read of Christ, as I had delved deep into the New Testament and within a few years after graduation I would return to the Catholic Church, not out of fear but as a spiritual migrant. The rituals, and the deep quiet of the wooden pews, lending a salve to a drinking problem propelled by inner uncertainty. Eventually, the exploration would be solidified in eastern philosophy, and a keener understanding of suffering, and that in the end a breath is just a sacred as a prayer.

My children laugh and go to bed, relatively easy on their own, there are mornings when my bed is stuffed to sides with a clamoring of elbows, knees and feet fighting for space, somehow they migrate to their parents’ bedroom but the nightmares are few and far between. I desire them to laugh and not to fear the world, a world filled with forts, with comic books, with music that moves small limbs in extraordinary positions. Where bedtimes is a time to celebrate the day and a map to the new day of tomorrow, where differences are celebrated, and always a lesson to learn, to help, to be chip away at the loneliness that is a part of everyone, because in the end love should be on a child’s breath not fear.

Jerry Wick & Jenny Mae: Freak Scene-Kisses Sweeter Than Wine-Welcoming to the Working Week

July 3, 2013


Sunnyside Drive was idyllic, even the name gave credence to the pure nature of childhood. Eighty-Seven Sunnyside Drive, “The Sunnyside Gang” is what we called ourselves, my sister, brother, the Miller’s just two houses next door and Moose Moorhead. There were other kids on the block, but this was “the gang.” East Elementary was just three blocks away, my sister and brother walked to school, came home for tomato soup and grilled cheese and then went back to school. I played underneath the front porch, crawling through a small hole and dug holes in the moist dirt, with only fragments of sun slicing through the wood slats that covered the sides of the porch. At times I would dig for treasures under that porch, usually an old Matchbox car or plastic green army man or if I was extra diligent I would come across a copper penny or nickel to put away and be able to buy a piece of one cent candy at Andy’s Confectionary.

My father taught architecture at Ohio University, my mother was active in some of the radical political activities that was common on college campuses during the late nineteen sixties and early seventies. Some days, my brother and I would be dropped off at Mrs. Dougan’s, an elderly lady who lived on a small farm with her husband, we would play Batman and Robin behind her chair, get to eat sliced colby cheese and crackers and throw stones at the daddy-longlegs spiders that stuck to the sun-bathed stone wall in the rear of the house.

Childhood memories poke in and out of our days as the children grow older around our knees, asking questions, wanting stories and as they wrestle with growing up, some of us wrestle with growing old. In the third grade, I brought a record home I had borrowed from a friend, “Great Hits of the 50’s” or something like that, the songs sounded dated to even my young ears, “Sha-Boom,” “Chantilly-Lace”  and “That’ll be the Day, ” my mother went crazy. “I haven’t heard these songs in years,” as she bopped around on the cream-colored carpet, smiling and giggling, telling us about Poodle skirts and sock-hops. “what kind of world was that,” I thought to myself, my favorite song at the time was “Fox on the Run” by Sweet and “Sir Duke” by Stevie Wonder, this music my mother was agog over appeared to be out of a world that long since collapsed. At the time, it had not even been twenty-years since my mother graduated high school in Columbus. My father had only been in the United States for fifteen years or so, his world had changed drastically since fleeing Europe as a child, relocating to Caracas and finally ending up in Columbus, alone, at the age of seventeen as a freshman at Ohio State.

In the car we listen to the MP3 player, and in the house its compact discs, although there are at least a hundred vinyl records littering the white IKEA cabinet that holds our twenty-year old television, X-Box game system, a stereo system circa 1995 and a turn table that has been destroyed by the sticky-fingers of a blond haired, blue-eyed boy of four. The CD’s are stacked high, in groups mostly scattered by my particular mood, one stack is full of melancholy, Adrian Crowley, Nina Simone and Townes van Zandt, while another almost has sparks shooting from it as it shows a propensity of sudden dance sessions with the kids, Superchunk,  Blondie, The Soft Boys, and Mudhoney. The largest stack is broken into smaller mounds of peacefulness, all classical, Beethoven String Quartets, a Jacqueline Dupree box set, choral music from the Harmonia Mundi label, Arvo Part and some 20th Century avant-garde. In the midst of this emotional path are stacks of CD’s without cases, some burned, many unlabeled and a few that have been sitting in the same spot for over five years. The music is everywhere, still the lifeboat that keeps a middle-aged man’s head on securely. The children have their favorites, and it’s all timeless, Woody Guthrie, Elvis Costello, The Ramones, Justin Townes Earle, anything with loud guitars, Saskia is prone to sentimental music, folk, story songs and classical. In the car she would rather listen to “This American Life” than anything else. At this moment her favorite song is “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine” as recorded by the Weavers, done up with so much sentimentality and hokeyness it would make Martha Stewart blush. Bruno’s favorite song at the moment is “Welcome to the Working Week” by Elvis Costelvis (his was of pronouncing it, which is the embodiment of little-kid genius). When singing in the house  he snarls  about, whilst walking around the house, his little lip curling upward almost spitting the words out. He has no idea what he is singing.

Climbing into the future is not an easy task when considering the weight of the past, in one sense the idea of immortality is the tether provides the motivation, and so the subconscious provides this through our children, our songs, writing and painting but the mundane of everyday life is set aside, the waiting at the traffic light, eating a crappy meal and using the restroom, these are forgotten as if Christ, Beethoven or Mark Twain never did such things. The fireworks of our lives are remembered after we go but what we remember are digging in the dirt, looking for pieces of treasure, a bottle cap, a bruised nickel or waiting for our older brother to get home to help us make a city of blocks and forts of Lincoln Logs.

As an adult I couch myself in humor, it bursts out of me, discharging out of my mouth with no safety gauge, a loose cannon in a inkwell of tie’s and decorum at the Franklin County Courthouse where I work. At times, I mutter to myself, letting the joke release in hushed tones or else my jaw may fall off. Humor is the weapon of choice for the over sensitive, for many, the prickly sharp edge of a witty barb deflects the blunt emotional force of being left behind and isolated. From childhood on, when discovering that making a person smile could actually improve the environment. Jerry Wick had the same loose cannon, his inner filter must have broken by the age of 14. He was emotionally obtuse at times, with a chasm of eloquence between his intention and his speech. This proved dangerous for him at times, on one occasion Pat McGann , the forceful drummer for Greenhorn chased him around Bernie’s Bagels one night. All because Jerry insulted Dan Spurgeon, Greenhorn’s excellent songwriter and on-time roommate of Jerry. As Pat chased Jerry around Formica tables and plastic chairs, spilling beer and knocking half eaten bagels to the ground with teeth grit and leveling more threats than a chained up pit-bull, Pat clutched air and Jerry gleefully cackled about the room.

The humor was self-depreciating, always was and always will be, I suppose, it is easier to point out one’s own shortcomings than having another do it for you. Jenny was quick to point out her sexual promiscuity, perhaps annoying some of the men on the music scene. On her first tour t-shirt instead of cities she wanted to list her sexual conquests on the back and with a nod to the Staches motto, “Staches….I Been There”, she wanted to write, “Jenny Mae, You Been There.” It is the things that tend to hurt us the most that we mold into the humor that defines us, using a weakness for a strength, I suppose other’s bury it with shades or dollops of stereotypical bravado, feminmity or decorum but it was easier for the average Sub-Pop fan to self define himself as a “loser” than to have the middle linebacker from the football do it to him first.

One night, after I had fallen in love with my first New York Girlfriend, I had planned on meeting her on High Street with her old roommate J. Mascis who had almost single handedly defined my existence with his blazing guitar solo on “Freak Scene”. I was nervous, aware of my own sense of awkward and clumsy body, of wire framed glasses that had been bent and bruised by too many late night stumbles and having Jenny toss them across the room to see me scurrying after them, “God-Damnit Jenny, these are my only fucking glasses, I can’t fucking see without them.” “ahh, but you are adorable looking for them, Nerdla.” Sharon was beautiful, with a sense of style and she loved the same hip-hop I did (Big Daddy Kane, De La Soul) and fortunately she was attracted to witty guys, with crooked teeth, bumbling hands and a deep sense of emotion that sunk into a passion for music. J was visiting Sharon with his girlfriend at the time, Maryann, and they wanted to see Soundgarden at the large boxy, concert venue the Newport. I had seen Soundgarden at Staches the year before and was non-pulsed by them, they sounded like a lumbering Led Zeppelin with a heavy bottom and yowling vocals, with nary a semblance of a melody the entire evening. I did not care, I was excited, I had drank a great deal of coffee and a shot of Jim Beam. The alcoholic drinking that would develop was kept at bay by the fear of being emotionally adrift again. As I walked back from Bernie’s in the cool autumn sun, smiling to myself  with the wide eyed excitement of meeting J and maybe holding hands with Sharon (sex was out of the question for me at that time, again the fear of emotional disappointment loomed large), a small group of teenagers approached me, a thin white male with close cropped hair and wiry eyes approached me, “Hey look at Urkle!” he yelled to his friends and punched me full on in the mouth.  Spitting half a tooth into my mouth, “You little fucker” I stammered, knowing the hopes of impressing Sharon and J had disappeared with the teen-ager’s perfectly placed fist, I grabbed him and wrestled him to the ground, my glasses hurtling into the other direction. During the next fleeting moments, as the skirmish ballooned with his posse of friends trying to kick me and him scrambling under my clutches, a few college kids pulled them away and yelled for someone to call the police. I sat on the ground, heat rising into my ears, heart beating fast and for a moment I was back in high school–the nerd. It last for only a moment, and I went looking for my glasses. They were gone. One of the ruffians must have taken them. I was angry, but did not feel humiliated, we were taught to fight if we needed to fight and the back-yard grapplings and living room punch outs with my older brother had prepared me well. I could take a beating but now , on the eve of the date of a lifetime and meeting my favorite musician, I sat toothless and blind on the High Street sidewalk. Soon, Sharon and J walked up, I used my humor to diffuse the situation. We saw Soundgarden, J shrugged them off as I had earlier in the year and we ended up back at Larry’s and I let myself pound Jim Beam as my tooth lay open to the sensations of the world. Later that night I slept at my friend Joe Moore’s house, in the bed of his roommate who clutched me tight in the night while I resisted her overtures as I had already fallen and in my mind been taken by Sharon. The next morning, I went to Lenscrafters and bought a new pair of glasses with all the money I had, $90. The frames I bought were on the bottom of their sale drawer, a pair of darkish-brown Buddy Holly type frames that I assumed would hold up well during drunken evenings and the dangers of bar-room drinking.

Saskia looked at an old picture of me and Jerry Wick the other morning, Jerry who had been practicing poses long before had ever thought about it, is staring into the camera, smoking a cigarette and holding a Busch beer. His attire is all black, “Rocket from the Crypt” t-shirt and black jeans, the confidence of having his photo taken, for all eternity. I am standing next to him, a bit anxious, too insecure to look into the camera, knowing my inherent goofiness carries well into photos, I look over at Jerry. I’m wearing torn jeans, and a fraternity t-shirt I had found at a thrift store. The absurdity of me wearing a frat shirt always tickled me and I have Walkman in my hand. I remember the day well, I had just got finished with a run and Jerry and I went to Jay Brown’s house for the photo, it was late afternoon in the spring. I had not yet plunged deep into drinking as of yet and was in fairly good shape, and my dark plastic frame glasses suited how I felt most days; hesitant yet a bit bold. Saskia stared at the picture, “daddy where are your tattoos?”

“I didn’t have any tattoos, I never really wanted them.”

“Oh, well you look like a guy who should have them.”

She looked more at it, “Daddy, is that your dead friend Jerry?”

“Yes dear, that’s him.”

“Where are his tattoos? He looks like he needs some also.”

Sighing, “well, he didn’t really like tattoos either, they were not as popular then although we knew a lot of people with them.”

“What are you guys doing?”

“just standing there, in a kitchen, getting our picture taken.”

“Daddy? Was he famous?

“Umm, not really, I mean he made records and people liked his music but he never was on television or anything. But he had a lot of friends, we loved him a lot.”

Saskia continued to look, “did he want to be famous?”

“I think so.”

“Daddy, I’m hungry.”

“ok, let’s eat.” and Megaunt 2