By aging emmet
I never liked Cousin Jerry. But he was family. I never like Boston Leo, because he once invited me to fisticuffs on my own lawn. I never liked Lt. John because he always tells me how much money he has.
But I have kept them close (well, as close as possible) over the years. And I mean years.
Oh, all right, Jerry is a standout in our dismal family. The guy retired from Polaroid at 50, then went to Berkeley College where he got a degree with high honors in music. But his wife at the time quickly left him and forced him to sell his house so she could get half. Like a bad country song, Cousin Jerry never played the guitar again. His best story was when he was a barroom rock n’ roller on the North Shore of Massachusetts. He was lead guitar and loved to play “She Works Hard for the Money” because he got to vamp with the gorgeous lead singer, back to back. Well, on this night the act did not hit the wife just right. God love her, she jumped on the stage, grabbed the sticks from the startled drummer and beat the gorgeous lead singer on her gorgeous head. That was the end of that band since the gorgeous lead singer was married to the startled drummer.
Cousin Jerry has fled the scene and moved to Weipertshofen, Germany with a woman he met on the Internet.
Boston Leo one of my oldest (if not dearest) friends always reminded me of “Angel” (Stuart Margolin) that guy in Rockford Files, who routinely sold out Jimmy at the slightest opportunity. Lucky for Leo he memorized the best works of S. J. Perelman to help him through daily conversations. Lucky for Leo he married Mary, his child bride who has remained sensational as Leo continues to fade, bit by bit. While driving an Army tank in Germany he once levelled a house. Luckily, no one was home. He claims to be a Ukrainian, but Mary says he Armenian. Leo’s lowest moment occurred in my canoe in the middle of the icy St. John River when I screamed “left, left, left” and Leo paddled “right, right, right” into a very large rock. This transgression occurred in the very widest spot in the icy river, forcing me to wade ashore, hauling my (brand new) Old Town canoe to the very distant shore. I prayed that Leo would drown, but he was rescued, barely alive (damn it!) further down river.
Lt. John came to Rockland in his starch white U. S. Navy uniform, became an escort at the Maine Lobster Festival, where he met and stole the lovely (high school beauty queen) Cathy Field of Martinsville. His high point was singing “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” with Walter and Michael at the “Old” Black Pearl. Most people left. He once was confused by the traffic in a Rockland driveway. His low point was when he juggled blueberry pies at a Cobb Manor party. You can guess the rest. Lt. John tells you his bank balance and golf score at every turn and is no longer funny (like he was with those pies.)
You may wonder (I know I do) why I would keep this motley and mottled crew close to my bosom all these long, long years. Certainly a man with my personality and intelligence could have done so much better.
The dirty, dirty little secret is that Cousin Jerry, Boston Leo and Lt. John are all older than I, by weeks and months.
Cousin Jerry has already turned 74 in Weipertshofen, Germany. Leo is next, then Lt. John…if he makes it. Luckily, I was born on the last week of the year, so I remain a sprightly 73, the youngest of this quartet.
Next year, I will need this crew desperately. Why else would I keep them around?