Archive for January, 2011


Friday, January 28th, 2011

Last weekend, hours before kickoff: “You have to hear what your son did!” shried Stacy. “Do I want to?” I asked timidly. (Sibling interactions can be coin flips).

“It was the nicest thing…I’ll forward it.”

Exhaling, I opened an MMS of Max. Clad in snow suit and carseat, (all eleven weeks of him), he was holding a sign:

                   “HI UNCLE JASON
                          GO BEARS !!”

I wondered if Michael knew how nice it was…that gesture. Unsolicited kindness is powerful stuff. A little goes a long way. My kid had no stake in the game—no emotional involvement. His brother-in-law’s heart, though, was on the line and hence: the shout out. It not only warmed this parent’s soul, but made me think….

I wonder if Marvin Baskin knew. Did he even remember that Sunday? It was fall of ’69 and Dick was yet pretty much Hal’s friend; I was the older “kid” brother. Still, when Dick’s dad got wind of the fact that I wrote, we bonded. “Did Sue ever show you my poetry?” he asked (disappearing for a moment). Moments later he returned brandishing a box of papers. “I wrote to,” he beamed. We spent the afternoon, two guys…reading, talking women, and (one of us), smoking cigars. (Could he have known that forty years later I’d still picture that day?)

Or Wieder. I tell him now and then…but still: Gordon Park! Moving me up 8 lineup spots to get my at bats in, secure my trophy! It was not only unrequested, but unexpected. As close as we were, it was special. Lifetime special.

The little things—the outside-the-box things:

Like my first years downtown. David and I ate at The Theatrical, where the athletes and powerbrokers not only hung, but had their own tables. Every time Jacobson heard we’d be there he’d have me paged. Every time. “Bogie,” he once told me, “It’s good for your career.” Somehow he’d find time in his day to make the call. I’d be sitting with Linick, lunch after lunch, and the PA’d ring out “Bruce Bogart, telephone.”

The extra kindnesses—

Like the year I ran for Outer Guard. Fenton was living on Woodway—the same street as my opponent. Stuart, of course, could care less about the lodge, but he did care for me. And so it was that the night of the other guy’s campaign meeting Stuey walked the street taking down the license plate of each person working against me. He knew I was in it to win it.

I think of the isolated cheseds often—not just today. I know well that the softest gesture can ring the loudest bell. Acts of kindness, be they random or thought out, far outlive their shelflives.

Like my brother’s friend Herman. They’ve never really met, but when Glimsher learned H liked Archie comics, he Fedexed him a boxload. Just because.

Or Bonnie. First life she played mahj with the ex. Still, to this day, there’s never a time I don’t bump into her that she’s anything but warm, caring…We talk at Heinens—sharing with, (dare I say?) pre-decree warmth. She is SO the exception to the rule.

It takes so little to do right. My kids laugh when I drive friends to the airport. Is that so bad? Really, if I’m not working, what do I have better to do? Work harder?

Hal is my closest friend. Bar none. I wonder though, if even he knows which, of all the gifts he’s given me, from birthdays to simchas to…whatever…I wonder if he REALLY KNOWS which is my favorite.

It was business cards. No more, no less.
“Open the box, “ he told me on my 60th birthday. “Read what they say.”
Ripping them open I read.
There was my name…and under my name it said “The Richest Man In Town”, and under that it said “Attorney-at-Law, Essayist and Thespian.” What it didn’t note, but what was oh so clear, was that my brother “got me.” He really got me.

And he told me that with love…the greatest gift of all.


Monday, January 24th, 2011

OVERTURE (by telephone):

“I have a big bag of garbage. Would you prefer to come to the back door?”
“I don’t care.”
“Surely you must have a preference?”
“OK, the front door as usual.”
“Wouldn’t the back door be easier?”
“OK, the back door.”
“Why must you make things so difficult?”


“Please don’t start the car yet.”
“You should not take that person to the airport.”
“There’s nothing scheduled.”
“Do you want to know why I say this?”
“If you want me to know…if not…I don’t care—you brought it up.”
“Will you get upset if I tell you?”
“I don’t get upset.”
“And don’t put your hand on your forehead either.”
“Well, you are too nice to people.”
“Why would that make me mad? That’s a compliment.”
“It is not meant as one.”
“It was NOT an insult.”
“It certainly was.”
“Aunt Helen, we’re just different. You choose to punish people—I don’t.”

—-momentary silence, and then…..

“What about Michael? Remember when you gave each of the kids Chanukah gelt except him?”
“That was not a punishment.”
“Aunt Helen…I’m not judging you. That’s how you do business…but it WAS a punishment.”
“It was no such thing. I was just severing my ties with him. Am I not entitled to do so?”
“Of course you are—but he was a kid! Can you see how others would perceive it as punishment?”
“You are stupid, and further, why do you impugn my integrity?”
“I’m not impugning your integrity—just saying we handle things differently.”
“Do you even know what the word ‘impugn’ means?”
“Yes, Aunt Helen. I know I’m not as smart as you but—-“
“You certainly are not. Just drive. Don’t speak to me.”



(Accellerando) “And another thing, you once told me I find fault in everyone. I remember it well—it was right after your mother died.”
“That was two years ago.”
“Perhaps, but you have yet to name one person.”
“As I recall you were criticizing Barri Lee Cleaners and Norm Diamond and complaining about not getting a thank you from the Cleveland Institute Of Music..”
“Did I not have a right to?”


“And another thing: do you know that one out of three times you take me shopping I get upset?”
“Why do you get upset?”
“Never you mind. That is an actual statistic I’m giving you: one out of three times. Do you not believe me?”
“I not only believe you—I believe you write it down.”
“So you admit it then!”
“Aunt Helen, (staccato), do you think maybe when you’re upset you bring some of it on yourself? Do you own any piece of it?”

—–Fifteen minutes of silence—

“Please make sure the envelopes are completely in the mail slot.”
“You’re just not nice.”
“I try to be. I’ve asked you to dinner but you refuse.”
“Of course I do. Surely you know why?”
“I know what you say, but I don’t know why.”
“You insist on a weekday night. How dare you!”
“Why is that bad?”
“Why should I be relegated to a week night. Surely you see your friends on Saturdays!”
“Aunt Helen—“
“You are selfish—no less.”
“Do you say the same things to Harold? Do you call him names? Is he selfish too? ”
“Never you mind about Harold. Why must you change the subject?”
“I was just wondering—“
“Until Margie chooses to talk to me I choose not to ask Harold.”
“First of all, Margie talks to you.  But let me ask you:   Are you saying that if I had a wife and she chose not to talk to you that we wouldn’t be having this conversation?  That I could get married tomorrow and put an end to this?”
“Would it hurt you to have dinner with me on a Saturday night? Surely you must eat!”
“I offered five other nights.”
“You are stupid.”

ENCORE (by telephone)

“I would like to finish our conversation of yesterday.”

Interject the first four notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony

“Are you willing to admit you never once asked me to join you on a Saturday night?”
“Yes, Aunt Helen.”
“So there—then I am right, am I not?”
“Yes Aunt Helen.”


Friday, January 21st, 2011

Brother Michael’s turned 68. First of my adulthood friends, our kinship spans decades. Birthdays, like his today, are honored not with gifts, but with breakfast.

I’m not sure what this means (probably nothing), but when I met MJ he was the same age my son is now. We were, (believe it or not), in Bea Fried’s Studio—at dance rehearsal for a Deak play. He was the preferred candidate in the upcoming lodge election, and when the soon-to-be Outer Guard shook my hand I thought I’d touched royalty. (You have to remember, Hal and I’d been weaned on The Lodge. Our father had us in Shaker-Lee Hall long before our mother showed us to The White House. Priorities, you know).

I can still picture that night. As the new kid on the block, the only one I really knew was Jeff Schneider. Michael, on the other hand, was the Pope. Moreover, he’d just returned home, having buried his father. All eyes were on him…until they were on me, clumsily pirouetting into the star. More than once.

He was intimidating—larger than life—and I didn’t know what to expect. I waited for this Jewish Jackie Gleason to explode. What came though was a smile, and laughter. Arm around me, in his thick Philly brogue, he calmed me: “Relax, Bogie,” he said. (HE KNEW MY NAME!) “Be glad I didn’t stomp on you.” It was a moment of warmth and the first time I truly felt lodge-accepted. (Picture the end of “Casablanca” when Rick tells Renault “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship” and they walk together into the mist).

Indeed, the friendship has been wondrous. Still, while we’ve shared a myriad of social and life cycle events, what I most treasure is the fact that my friend has never lost faith in me. Ever.

Like at lodge, where he encouraged my innovation (and controlled my damage). It was ’83, the year I was Chancellor, and the average age of our brother knights was deceased. Eyeing the future, ignoring the wisdom of 600 or so altacockers, I chose Brothers Cutler and Widman to run the all-important entertainment committee. (Think: Secretary Of State). The Deaks never got behind us; they never responded. Heck, it got so bad that one Thursday Widman sat through an entire meeting with a brown paper bag over his face—eyes and mouth cut out, introducing himself as “The Unknown Brother.” Week in, week out though, Michael kept his game face on. Night after night he stood before his peers pumping up future social events, knowing full well each was destined for failure.

It was Michael, too, that cajoled me to travel. “Bogie,” he said back then, “You’ve GOT to see San Francisco.” (I’d have rather seen Youngstown). But we went. Oh, I negotiated a stop-over in Vegas…but five, yes five glorious days were spent in that city by the bay. My then-wife loved it, but me? Counting each hour, I knew it was time for me to keep MY game face on. From Finocchio’s nightclub to Fisherman’s Wharf to Julius Castle…you’d have thought he worked for the Chamber Of Commerce.

“Bogie, you’ve got to see Napa Valley.”
“Bogie, you’ve got to get wine labels with your name!”
“Bogie, you’ve got to see Sausalito.”

I never objected; I always smiled. He was, after all, ahead of me in the lodge. No, I never bitched, never moaned…but once. We were at Hanson’s Art Gallery that very first night. My wife saw a Susan Springer painting she liked and like thunder that east coast voice crackled “Bogie, buy it. It will only go up in value.”  We abstained.

Four days passed and our bags were packed. Three hours separated us from a flight home. And then I caved. The rat-a-tat-tat of Michael’s urging brought me to my knees. No mas! Retracing steps to the gallery, we plunked down $500 on the credit card de jour. “Bogie, when the artist dies you’ll be rich,” he promised. (Ed. Note: Our marriage died in ’95; last time I looked Springer was alive and well).

Those were salad years, to be sure. But when times went south, Michael stayed. Friending me when I deserved much less, he gave not only furniture and clothing, but love. There wasn’t a year in my odyssey that he and Lana didn’t invite me to Seder or the “break fast.” Not one.

Best of all though, Michael’s championed my recovery from Day One, readily accepting my new regimen while sustaining our lifelong bond. He remains not only the link to a chunk of my past but a directional to my future growth. In tandem, the Jacobsons integrate with all Bogarts, keeping up on not only Hal’s health, but…valiantly, on Helen’s stealth.

And so it is that as he teases the ripe old age of 70, I wish Brother Michael a hearty, happy birthday. And…maybe this year, maybe even a present. But he’ll have to pick it up. It’s at a house in Beachwood and I don’t have the key. It’s on the wall, though…nicely framed.

The artist is Susan Springer.


Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

You know how it is when you exit a dark room to be blinded by immediate light?  How your eyes aren’t quite ready for  illumination and you see more by opening the door slowly? 

Sunday morning, and in an “Ah Ha!” moment, the light bulb went on.

When Tom first mentioned abandonment issues, I’d thought it but a passing comment. “How couldn’t you?” he comforted, citing a string of unrelated events from our mom dumping our dad, to a forgetful fiancé, to decades later when a pal saw my erstwhile girlfriend on JDate. How couldn’t I? (he’d asked). Why WOULDN’T I? (I thought).

It was five years ago and he was counseling me through the obstacles of a dysfunctional liaison. Trust issues, he said (in one of our sessions together). I heard him, of course, but brushed it aside. Life was good and I was summoning courage to 86 Jodi.

It went right under the rug, his comment did. Until Sunday.

I was sitting at home, maybe 6AM. Private time. Thinking of office headaches and family discord and friends, from good guys to clowns….

As happens, my sights turned inward. Two themes surfaced in stories that kept replaying. Why is it, I asked myself yet again, that I’m always looking for that magical connection? How can I be so inclusive, so accepting of the people around me but so narrow, so restrictive in dating? It’s not ego—I assured myself….but what is it?

The answer came in the car, out of nowhere. In an instant of crystal clarity it hit me—and I didn’t like it. Maybe, (I asked myself rhetorically), maybe I still had “abandonment issues.” Perhaps I am, in my own way, protecting myself from further hurt. Safe with my family, secure with my friends, busy….perhaps it all boils down to fear—fear of further hurt.

It’s a healthy thing, this self-examination. But it’s a double-edged sword. In all the years, I’d not connected the dots—never tried. At 61, perchance I have.  That having been said, though….do I really want fill in the picture?


Friday, January 14th, 2011

                       “Sign Sign everywhere a sign…”

To paraphrase the old Grouch Marx line, perhaps I shouldn’t date anyone that would go out with me.

Two, maybe three times per week I glean whatever enlightenment I can from Brother Ed. Weary from the day’s travails, huddling at Caribou, we scrutinize matters incapable of analysis, (like my dating life), neither of us afraid to laugh too loud or see too much.

Women, Ed opines, set the gold standard for mixed messages. Reveling in the dysfunction of checkered romance, he points (of course) to my past as the object lesson:

Exhibit A: It was a Sunday that Rochelle called with a question—did I have any interest in going out with so-and-so?
“Blew me off on JDate years ago,” I noted.
“Well, she saw you at Heinens and asked me to call you.”
“I’ll get back to you, “ I sputtered, a bit leery, before hanging up to phone Rooney.
“You may not like her, Dad,” warned the kid. “She’s no whack job.”
I called Rolo back; game on.

The first date went well. She was east coast nice, yet pretty. Round Two was the next Friday and I elevated my game, blatantly discarding the prototype plan (Gamekeepers first, then Little Italy).

“ ’Thought we’d go to Tremont,” I told her. “Great,” she said, “I’m thrilled to get out of the ‘hood.” Crossing the Cuyahoga, the dinner was light, flowing, and much like the first– but better. Moreover, this time there was “incidental contact”—you know, those “message” touches like the ones you get from waitresses coaxing tips.

I continued to up my game:

“We should go walking some time” I offered. (She didn’t hesitate).
“I walk every day. Saturday or Sunday?”
“How about Sunday?” I asked, (no sense suffocating her).
“Great,” she confirmed and told me she’d call that morning.

Driving home I sensed…I was sure…everything was falling into place. Indeed, did not her voice mail moments AFTER the drop off “…saying goodnight” confirm it?

One would have thought so.

It didn’t, of course, play out that way. Sure, she called as promised that Sunday morning. I was in the office on Chagrin as it went to messaging:
“Hi, Bruce…It’s raining…” she said, blowing me off.

I looked outside and saw but clouds. Called Ed.  Clear skies on Cedar!

“I’m on my way, “ I told him, somewhat pissed. “Why can’t they just play by the rules? “ I thought. “Why can’t they just be consistent?”

The post-mortem was brutal: “How could you f#*! it up between Friday night and Sunday morning?” he asked. “What could she have found out about you in 36 hours?” he laughed. (We both did).

Her disinterest bothered us less than the mystery of it all. Women in their fifties know how to say No to a date. Who makes a date just to break it? What WERE we missing? An hour of analysis left us empty and the case closed. “It’s not you,” my friend said, “Not this time.”

I believed him.

Ed opts not to date. He gets the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat through his friend. Me? I can handle rejection. Just don’t shield me with warmth.

Like one of recent vintage: Two dates and her Facebook wall dubbed me “a keeper.” Before I saw her next she’d installed the Browns’ offense: 3 and out.

Stu says I think too much and Ed says I date too much and my son, of course, says I share too much. They may all be right.  I enter yet another weekend with no special plans—all well and good….

I am what I am, I suppose. I’ll continue to think, date, write and smile. But I won’t go back to Tremont. Ever.  There’s way too much to learn at the coffeehouse.

            “…So I got me a pen and a paper and I made up my own little sign
            I said thank you Lord for thinking about me, I’m alive and doing fine….”


Monday, January 10th, 2011

When I’m off my game, even the littlest thing, as nice as it is, can get me out of sync. Moreover, the simplest thing—in this case a random text from New York—brought me home.

It began Friday. I was dining at friends’—prelude to that night’s theater reunion. As husband and wife worked the kitchen it fell upon me to occupy the 2 and 4 year olds. Easy gig. (It’s often noted: kids love me—only their mothers are challenged). Still as the girls giggled, falling for the same nonsense that charmed Jamie and Stacy in the 80’s, my mind wandered. Surface smiling only, gut filled with angst, tired of playing with surrogates… Fun as they were, Dru and Lucy were just not Haley and Max.

I was alone all weekend—in a crowd. Flooded with friends, family and planned activities, this “half-full” guy was anything but. Focused on crap rather than cream, I was my own worst enemy. It’s wrong to be this way, as seldom as it is. Sometimes, though…it just happens. I slide into it… like a virus.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way, I thought. Since when was geography an issue? I’d married this girl from the east but, heck—she came to OSU voluntarily! Home for me was always Ohio. Then three kids followed. Nice kids…raised right, all that. And poof!!! They were gone. Two east, one west…gone! The result: I sit in a foreign home on a cold night playing with someone else’s children. Where was that in the playbook?

The night was fun. I can’t say it wasn’t. Fifteen actors telling war stories in a bar. No one tells jokes anymore, just punch lines. Our game: identify the joke by its punch line. Jeopardy for comedy junkies. I sat between the guy that played Bialystock at Chagrin and the lead in “Frost/Nixon.” Somewhat like being at the featured table at a poker tourney. By ten, though, the laughter had stopped and I drove home alone. Quiet, in the car again, my mind rewinded. Max, alas: still 500 miles away and Haley: still under quarantine.

Morning brought a new day, a new attitude. With Dick in town, H included me in lunch with Alan, Howard and Boo. Convening, (quite coincidentally), in the left corner booth at the closed end of Corky’s—precisely where our Wednesdays start—it was time well-spent with the lifelong comrades. Even so, when Hal urged me to share a dating tale, I quietly marveled at these guys, each of them blessed by long/term marriage. Better it would have been, I thought, if someone else were telling stories.

In a weekend that had me laugh with Ed and cry at “True Grit,” my insides were brittle. Why? Feelings, they tell me, are not facts. Feelings, if you let them, pass.

Sunday was another new day. Not quite 8:30, I noticed that an hour earlier there’d been a text from Meredith.

Meredith texting me at 7:22 on a Sunday morning? My Meredith? This, I sensed, could not be good for the Jews. What was so important? Why didn’t she call? Maybe she tried but missed and didn’t want to leave bad news on voice mail? Why didn’t Michael call? (Clearly he’s not afraid to wake me).

I opened it up…immediately…and read: “Thoughts on Woody Hayes?” That’s all it said.

“?” I typed back, wondering if perhaps this was one of my son’s games? Could he not sleep and was just using her phone?

Minutes later the phone vibrated her renewed request:
“Your thoughts on him?” it said, (seeming legit).

“Next to my father and Lincoln…” came my response.

For a period the dialogue continued. She referenced the Clemson matter and I winced, briefly sharing my thoughts. Her final comment came moments later and warmed my heart:

“I love Woody Hayes,” she wrote, “if u and Michael do.”

And just as quickly as the little ones laughed that Friday, Max’s mother made me cry happiness on Sunday. Sure, I knew my feelings were brittle. Yes, it was no big deal. Still, I was smiling again and yes, once again my cup was half full.

Or more.


Friday, January 7th, 2011

Surrounding myself with experts provides a great compass. Remaining “teachable,” I question but follow Michael on finance and Walt on cards. I accept brutal counsel from the Bermuda Triangle of Wardrobe (Meredith, Stacy, Tammy). And… more than ever, when it’s matters of the opposite sex, I heed the teachings of Brother Bob.

There’s a saying in recovery: Nothing changes if nothing changes. These days I listen. Therefore, as my friend turns 62, I honor he that has forgotten more than I can ever know. I salute this expert in his industry, this sage of sexuality— truly the Maimonides of the female psyche. And I thank him for his guidance, the wisdom of which I’m only now beginning to appreciate.

Bob doesn’t mince words. His positions, cultivated through years of research, are precise. As such, when addressing my foibles, he rarely holds back:
“Major mistake,” he’ll assert. (Never just that HE’D have done differently). “Major mistake.” But for his warmth, it is a mantra spoken with authority not unlike Wieder’s mound-growl to “Get back behind the plate.”

I listen.

What follows then are highlights of his collective enlightenment: The World According To Bob, the world I often ignored.

It was the late 90’s and the lesson was honesty:

Bob: “How was your date with that new girl?”
Bruce: “Had a nice time…”
Bob: “And?”
Bruce: “Didn’t even kiss her goodnight. Doesn’t matter—I’m not calling her.”
Bob: “MAJOR MISTAKE. Always let ‘em know you’re a man.”

Then there was Bobby on guilt, (maybe 2000):

Bruce: “Should I feel bad about being intimate with her?”
Bob: “No.”
Bruce: “What if she asks how I really feel? Should I tell her?”

More Bob on guilt, (circa 2004):

Bruce: “Not sure I want to sleep with her. I know already it will be ‘One and done’’”
Bob: “Always sleep with them in even amounts. Once is offensive. They’ll think they did something wrong. Twice tells her that while you may not have been into her, at least you respected her.”
Bruce: “What if I really don’t want a rematch?
Bob: “MAJOR MISTAKE. Twice, I’m telling you.”

Dialogues didn’t have to be shallow. Often we shared feelings, raw feelings. When Rochelle threw me to the curb I was devastated. Ripped apart. Truth be known, it was Bob’s insight that cleared the wreckage:

“Your problem is you never dated,” he said. “You married your first girlfriend. MAJOR MISTAKE.” (Somehow he made sense). “Having someone tell you they’re (sic) moving on is life. Get over it.”

I did.

Bob’s mishigos has been exceeded only by his true concern for me. This is borne out often with Stuart. Solicited or not, our friend expounds, Stuey laughs and I absorb missives of semi-tough love.

“You need to stop analyzing…”
“Are you sure she’s out of your system?”
“You don’t have to fall in love on the first date.”

He is my guru, Bob is—still attuned to the nuances of today:

Like the time I thought I was going to have sex with this girl I’d been out with.
“What’s the rule on protection?” I asked him. “If we’re at her place the first time should I bring?”
Pausing momentarily, he leaned over the booth at Corky’s:
“Well,” he pronounced, “Clearly it’s her responsibility. Like in softball. The home team always pays the umpires. She should.”
“So you’re saying I shouldn’t?” I asked. “Can I assume she knows the rule?”
“MAJOR MISTAKE,” urged my friend. “You don’t want nothing to happen ‘cause she’s stupid. Always be prepared.”

It is his unique prism that I marvel at, cling to. Guys joke here and there, teasing Bob’s unparalleled views. We laugh each December, knowing he sits by the phone, waiting for a call to replace Dick Clark. But we never, ever, doubt his sincerity, the depth of his friendship, or that he cares. That, you see, would be a MAJOR MISTAKE.


Monday, January 3rd, 2011

It’s the second rehab after his third hospital this year. My friend, barely audible, can’t walk, and though his mind is sharp, his spirit wanes. We hugged hello, shook hands goodbye and in between, for the most part, spoke with our eyes.

In the Baby Boom’s halcyon days, our entire world perimetered Rowland School. Daily— nightly it seemed, gravity sucked us to its fields, weather (and parents) permitting. The wisdom of our innocence carved a caste system from athletic prowess—nothing more. Bayard & Wrenford was the Tigris and Euphrates. There, then, in that cradle of our civilization, friendships were born and lifelong bonds cemented.

We were Jewish, for the most part, and our names ended in consonants. Jimmy Masseria was Catholic–no matter. He played ball with us, danced at our Bar Mitzvahs and…truth be known, missed school on all our holidays. The guy hit hard, ran fair, but was all heart and was one of us.

Adolescence came. I nerded up and he went through his “hard guy” stage. “Racks,” they were called, (short for racketeers). You know: the tough guys, greasers with the pointed shoes that clicked on the back heels. Sharkskin shirts, though, couldn’t change Jimmy. His front was fierce but to those that knew him, those grandfathered in by his Rowland past, he was warm and loving long before there was a Fonzie. Even with the black, leather jacket, Jim was what he was: nice.

Then life happened. College called me; Jimmy headed south, returning somewhere along the way. He was back by the 80’s and “born again,” he said. Found religion. Word was he’d lost his job at the dealership for, (get this) being too honest..

“Really?” I asked at an early reunion.
“Does it matter?” he responded. (Hang around Jews long enough and you too can answer questions with questions).

Years passed and I skid. Then more years passed and I came back. Would
see Jimmy here and there, but not much. Up north for good, his health fled south. He cheated death, they said.

Here and there, though, our paths would somehow just cross. Like in ’07, approaching a 40th reunion. Jim, days past yet another surgery, didn’t drive much and was passing on the weekend.

“The guys are meeting the night before,” I told him. “In Bainbridge. I’ll pick you up.” My friend balked.
“C’mon, Fenton will be there, and Bobby.” He was hesitant, though, ‘til I mentioned Wieder.

I had fun that night. Jim had more. Buoyed by camaraderie, Jimmy met Stuart and me at McDonald’s/Mayfield & Green the ensuing night, gallantly following in caravan to the party.

It was another great night and yes, we were young again. Indeed, even my brother, four decades post Rowland prime, graduate of a different class, appeared. And it wasn’t the sound of The Cellmates that brought me back to the sixties. It was something else—something you had to see to believe…see to appreciate.

The crowd, clapping to Motown didn’t view it; the throng, crowding the bandstand didn’t care. I saw it and I did. There, in the midst of the masses were Jimmy and Hal, dancing together…to Marvin Gaye and Tammy Terrell.

They were, alas, no better or worse than the glory days at Rowland: they were both trying hard, dancing fair, but all heart.

“Thanks for coming, “ he said yesterday, as I stood to leave.
“I’ll be back, “ I said, “Later in the week.”
“I’ll be here,” he smiled.