Sunday, March 22, 2015


Curt was one of those guys that just sort of fall into your life. We had enough in common that we could hang out and enough not in common that it wouldn't be a daily thing. But when we were both stood up or unattached on a Friday or Saturday night, somehow we would end up together, usually in my parent's den, watching TV and drinking my dad's cheap, and I do mean cheap, beer. He would get the generic beer from the store that came in a white can that said BEER on it, or, god forbid, those little 10 ounce bottles of Lucky or Schaefer. Curt and I would sit back there and drink that crap all night long, with an occasional stop out in the back yard to smoke a little pot.

We both drew, though Curt was more into the "high art of it all" and I was just trying to put together a comic book. We would watch bad TV, drink bad beer, talk about the ladies we were not fornicating with and draw stuff. We would fold an 8 1/2 by 11 inch piece of paper in half and then fold it again to make four 8 1/2 by 2 3/4 inch panels. One of us would start out and draw a character from their head to their shoulders, then mark on the next quarter page where the shoulders ended, then fold the paper over to the next blank panel and hand it off. The new artist would draw a character from the shoulders to their waist, mark the next panel and fold it over again. The first guy would then draw the waist to the knees and mark them and the other guy would draw the bottom of the legs and any foreground he wanted.

Then we would have an unveiling of our masterpiece. OK, we would usually go out and take a hit off the joint first, but we would eventually get back the unveiling. Sometimes it was real strange what we had drawn. It was a way to pass the time with no female companionship as it were. I kind of liked those times, even if I wasn't getting any. The only thing I didn't like was how cheap Curt was. OK, we were both drinking my dad's beer, but Curt would smoke my cigarettes.

"Hey man, can I bum a smoke?"

"Hey dude, you got an extra smoke?"

He stopped asking that one once I started replying, "No Curt, they only put 20 in this pack."

Strange good times from my youth that would have been a whole lot better if Curt was not such a scrounge.

Copyright 2015 Barry Keller. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


Growing up I was always breaking things, so much so that I considered myself to be a real schlemiel and I was so unlucky I felt like an honest schlimazel. Of course, not being Jewish, I never used those words to describe me. No, I just felt I was the focal point of bad luck and the epitome of clumsiness and it embarrassed the hell out of me.

I remember my parents bought a glass-top table for the dining room and one day I was leaning on it and the glass shattered. I felt mortified and I remember going to my room and crying for what seemed like hours about it, my mother coming in every now and then to say it was not my fault, just an accident. But I knew. I was so embarrassed, it was my bad luck.

I remember later playing whiffle ball at a friend’s house where we had made a baseball diamond in his side yard, with wooden bases and how I hit a home run and in running the bases I cracked home plate in two when I stepped on it. They called me a cloddish, clumsy oaf. I was embarrassed, but I didn't cry in front of them, I waited till I went to bed that night for that. I was a schlemiel and a schlimazel, and it seemed like my childhood was a long list of embarrassing events strung together, a gauntlet of humiliation that I had to traverse to reach adulthood.

I remember the first time I met my fiancé's parents. It was at a high-end restaurant and they had gotten there first. They both stood as we approached the table and Tina said, "Daddy, this is Tony. Tony, my Father." He had one of those firm let's-just-see-what-the-hell-you-are-made-of handshakes that try to crack your fingers, but I was prepared for that and gave as good as I got. I think he was impressed.

Tina's mother was a rare, stunning beauty, almost regal in looks and demeanor. "Momma, this is Tony. Tony, my Mother." She had a presence about her. I almost felt I should take her hand and kiss it, but I didn't. Instead I bent slightly at the waist and shook her hand gently and as I did so, I broke wind.

Copyright 2015 Barry Keller. All rights reserved.