days of naze
A little audio gift (85 kb .wav)
for my Faithful readers on
the first anniversary (7/14/99) of
the site. Hand cranked to help
you on the long march.
An obnoxiously large
(101k .wav) audio greeting
from the Author.
|April 18, 2000
I was never good at poker.
I guess when you're dealt very good cards, you're not supposed to show it. And there's my problem. I mean, as a tell, this is as about as unsubtle as you get.
On April Fool's Day, one of my very best friends got married to a wonderful woman and the vibes of joy have stuck with me like a song that you want to hear again and again.
Some of you may remember Errett from my episode with fire in Bend. Our families have been friends since we were wee tots. He, like my brother Craig, is a couple of years younger than me. The three of us spent many rainy Longview nights with our candy feasts, comic books and flash lights up in the tree fort in the property behind our house.
Errett has always been one of the most gifted and imaginative people I've known. I credit him with turning me on to comic books and role-playing games. We invented our own super-hero power (the ability to assume any other super-hero's powers - natch), made shields and persuaded our fathers to assume the roles of the deadliest super-villains and chase us around the basement.
When his family moved to Central Oregon, we both crossed the Cascades to continue our adventures. Long hikes in pursuit of Fruit Sours, cautious pokings into lava tubes, turns at the player piano singing "King of the Road" and marathon sessions of Dungeons & Dragons fueled by huge pots of tea thick with sugar and milk.
Errett introduced us to D&D in 1977 well before it broke out into the wider geek world. Lost on many, the role play is the heart of the game, and in this arena Errett excelled. He rolled a character with the physical prowess of Conan and the mental strength of Goofy. And he played it true, sometimes to the peril of his fellow party members. I admire that in a guy.
Cathy and I were busy wrangling the boys in the fourth pew of the Unitarian Church downtown, when one of the side doors opened and Errett motioned me over. In the hallway we hugged and then he looked me straight in the eye with this radiant smile and said, "Chris, I am so happy you are here" with a depth of sincerity that really caught me off guard (in a good way). Consider the power of words my dear Readers, and then the music you make of them. There will be a time when you are with a friend/mate/family member and you will have a feeling that will be a gift to them. Speak it as you feel it.
Errett came to my wedding eight years ago dressed in a French officer's uniform, so you can imagine that this wasn't going to be any ordinary ceremony. A group called Three Legged Torso (consisting of violinist, cellist, accordionist, and vocalist) performed Patsy Cline's "After Midnight", various klezmer-like tunes, along with Bach and Haydn. A slender man in his 50's with a close cropped gray beard danced and spun in the aisle.
At the reception, the percussion section from a marching band drummed you into the ballroom. The bride and groom entered to find all 500 guests in Groucho glasses. A local t.v. icon made an appearance. The first band played swing tunes and I danced with Mom. I drove Cathy and the boys home, tucked them into bed (I can't believe David actually fell asleep) and returned to the party in time to completely lose myself on the dance floor to a cover of Modern English's "I Melt With You", probably the happiest dance track ever. [It played just now as I'm cleaning this up. Thank you, Launchcast!]
In between the revelry, I talked with my brother, Craig, whose wedding reception had been held at this very spot a year and a half ago. We talked about our kids. Craig's baby boy, Hudson, had a very difficult go of it his first few months, and is now this extraordinary little package of cheeks and smiles.
Last summer, when he could tell I needed it, he took me out in his canoe for a little daytrip "river therapy". The first thing you notice is that the river looks a lot different when you're in it. The river is much, much more powerful than you. If you're careless you can get in a lot of trouble, not because it means you ill, but because you didn't respect it enough or you were just plain unlucky. The effort and concentration to stay on course coupled with the natural beauty quiets your mind and helps you see things more clearly.
My little brother really knows what matters in life and is one of the men I admire most.
Errett, me, and my brother Craig in one of his famous extended arm self portraits.
I got a chance to meet two of Dr. Errett's doctor friends who had flown in from back East for the wedding. I talked music with these young pups originally from L.A. and St. Louis. Jonathan Richman is native to the part of the country where they practice and Errett had helped me spread the good word.
An excellent cowpunk band, the FlapJacks, took the stage and launched into a barrage of high voltage rock-a-billy and surf tunes that had us bouncing and slamming across the dance floor into the wee hours.
Damn. That was one helluva night.
My memories of junior high are visceral things. Fear. Desire. Competition. Shame. Comradery.
I've talked a little about this elsewhere. Junior high was a very weird scene and a radical transition from elementary school. Hormones are just raging at this age. The tallest boys are two feet taller than the shortest. Violence and intimidation was somewhat part of the accepted hazing rituals of seventh graders (a.k.a. "sevies"). Drug use was rampant. Highly unpleasant.
Walking up to Mr. Luft's Greek Mythology class, a short, compact boy with dark hair and buck teeth takes a pratfall. And that was the introduction to my best friend in junior high, Rob.
Rob was not cool, but Rob was smart, crackling with energy and passionate about Tolkien and Star Trek. And this was what I really needed in a friend. We shared a locker (complete with green shag carpet) and had many adventures over the years including my getting us lost in Portland's Memorial Coliseum after a Trekkie Convention, getting bonked in the head by a large rock on Vashon Island in Puget Sound, the Mariners (Gaylord Perry?) striking out Reggie Jackson in the ninth to beat the Yankees in the now demolished KingDome. And, of course, the infamous Space Needle incident.
Rob goaded me into getting past the slow part of Fellowship of the Ring by making me read the flight to Rivendell that comes later in the book. He also turned me on to Stephen Donaldsen's The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever. All of which have had a tremendous impact on me to this day.
Toward the end of junior high, our bond weakened a bit, but when it came time for me to say farewell to my friends and depart for Scappoose, it was an emotional parting. I still have his epic farewell epistle scrawled across my yearbook (which we both helped produce - a very high caliber book I might add).
Rob with braces - 1979 (yes, the old junior high yearbook picture on the Internet. cruel? yes. entertaining? hell yes.)
I came back to visit a few times over the years. We both attended college in our respective fave cities: Portland and Seattle. After we graduated, I saw him once up near where he lived. Months later recollecting the visit, I thought that I may have been a little short with him, but his contact information now was no good.
His alma mater guarded his privacy well, damn them. But if I sent them a letter they would make sure it would be forwarded on to him. I did and didn't hear a word back.
I figured he was pissed.
I tried a number of times over the intervening years to get a hold of him, but he shares his last name with about a zillion other people. I didn't connect.
When did you get your last really great e-mail? When was the last time you were reminded how beautiful the Internet is?
Woohoo!!! We exchange e-mails.
Yes, this was really Rob. Evidently, he had been looking for me as well...
[For your edification, here is the Merriam-Webster
1 a : a supernatural power bringing bad
luck b : a magic curse or spell
Hmm. I'll have to ask Rob for the connection on this one, gang.]
Rob does not in any way represent a famous rap recording label, no sir, and even if he did we wouldn't talk about that here.
I must say that this place makes catching up with old friends that much easier. I was pleasantly surprised that days has served as his introduction to the world of personal web sites. Mark up one more convert. At this very moment he is wending his way to your sites. I wouldn't be surprised to see him join the fray.
The guys who know poker would tell me I'm on a monster rush showing plenty of paint.
And who am I to argue?
p.s. A certain queen (Elizabeth II) and a certain web author, ahem, were born on April 21. Last year's haiku still resound like the sound of one hand clapping...
p.p.s. Welcome Geoff, Carol, Goldi and all of you nifty new subscribers. Ah, the utility, the pragmatism of new days notification.
|previously on days of naze :
the urge to merge
what have you done for me lately? a small surprise very soon...
|May you never be more active
when you are doing nothing.
They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.
-Carl W. Buehner
|in the feedbag:
concept: Cathy and I spent Saturday morning arguing the merits of a movie neither of us had seen (Ghost Dog). And then the idea for a t.v. show struck us - "Pregnant Women and Their Husbands Review Movies They've Never Seen". It seemed highly amusing at the time...
book: Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Goldman. Am I allowed to give "mad props"?... Thanks, Beth! As some you may realize, I'm a huge Japanophile. Memoirs is an amazing novel.
drink: Bridgeport Porter. A fine beverage from the guys who were making the good stuff way before they started calling it "craft brewing".
cd: Pure 80's. Robert Palmer, Madness, Squeeze. Yummy.
PC: Indiana Jones & the Infernal Machine. In the Phillipines. Those pancake sized spiders scare the hell out of Jack...
sports: in the Western Conference Finals, the Blazers will reveal to the Lakers and the world that the last quarter of the regular season was an elaborate ruse to lull our opponents into a false sense of security (he said over and over to himself, rocking back and forth).
© christopher naze