Friday, October 29, 2010

People like us always find each other.

I was thinking about this friend I had. Thursday was her friday, and I didn't have a week/weekend distinction, and haven't for 20 years, so Candice and I would go out and close a bar. Others would come out with us, but often by closing time it'd just be us, 4am, and too many two dollar pints. I didn't understand it. I still don't. One of those romances that never goes anywhere, or even happens at all. It could have been one sided, but after we stopped hanging out, I ran into her at this bar, the quiet bar, and she cried all over me, and kept apologizing and I don't even know why and she was blaming something on cocaine.

So I was thinking about this friend, and got to that point in the story, and remembered I saw Fred that night as well. He was in the bar, and looked real bad, lost, distant, heavily medicated. He may have had a guitar. Said something about being in Alaska, and wandered off. I knew Fred from the jacket-and-tie, all boys, prep school I tried going to for 9th and 10th grades. He was a year ahead of me, and we were in the jazz ensemble together. He played drums. He seemed to fit in there about as poorly as I did. One day, I walked into my shrink's waiting room, and there was Fred. He was freaked out and left. The next day in school, I was like, "hey, Fred and I go to the same shrink." I thought it was kinda cool, but now I know I shouldn't have said anything. Not everyone was as open about things like that as my family and I. I think we both got thrown out of that school. He ended up going to boarding school with my friend George, and they became pals. I remember heading home from my boarding school for some vacation, standing on the train platform in Trenton, and up runs Erykah, followed by George, and then Fred. Three of my friends that I knew from three different places all ended up going to school together somewhere upstate, and were on their way back to Philly too. George had once told my mother not to worry about us all going away to school because people like us always find each other. Here was pretty good proof standing right in front of me, waiting for that train.

After that final school year, some of us actually graduating, George and Fred hung out a lot, and I got together with them sometimes. We played a lot of music together, Fred now playing guitar. We made improvised performance art films. We ate at Days Deli. It was exciting and unpredictable because Fred was very unstable, and that volatility was kinda fun. Throw Marc into the mix, and it was non-stop mentally unbalanced creativity. I remember being in Days with them, and Marc talking about being on the highest allowable dosage of Lithium: 900mg. Fred, looking very serious, said, "I take 1200mg." Marc genuinely looked a little afraid. You could easily tell the difference between when Fred was on or off his meds.

I remember he spent time at George and Lex's place over the Taco House, before Lex decided to hate him, as one of the many people crashed out on that frozen livingroom floor. One time, their cat disappeared, but we could hear meowing coming from somewhere. Couldn't figure it out. That night, Fred came up to the top floor where I was sleeping, and whispered, "I've got to find that cat!" We searched around in some unfinished closet and decided the cat went back there and fell down between some studs into some wall space he couldn't get out of. We calculated where it must have ended up. The next morning, George smashed a hole through the bathroom ceiling, and out came a cat.

Eventually, George left for the west, and I never saw Fred again until three or four years later in that bar where I ran into Candice. Her, I saw again once or twice. The last time, I was at work. She was at the bar with an older guy, and there was some drama going on. Lot's of frustrated silences between them, and stares at the floor. They were the last customers to leave, and as she walked past, she did a long slow double-take at me, smiled in some drunken show of vague recognition, and silently floated out the doors. I never saw Fred again, and since this little reminiscence caused me to look around on the internet a bit, I don't think I ever will. Looks like he died around 2004. I'm not going to look up Candice.


Post a Comment

<< Home