“…Now time turns the pages
       And oh, life goes so fast.
       The years turn the black hair all grey…”

When I was eighteen my friends were the center of my life, my Dad moved to Columbus to be near me, and no one made me laugh like Jerry Lewis.

Perusing the paper…it was early September…an ad caught my eye.
“Carrie,” I exclaimed, “Look who’s appearing at Mershon Auditorium!”

I’ve a warm spot to this day for central Ohio. The Karen Holbrooks of the world (surrounded by suits) have muted my feelings, but  differentiate I do between the rancor of the campus and the repose in my memories of the city proper. Columbus is one thing: warm and fuzzy; and yet, notwithstanding my collegiate times, The Corporate College (to my family) was toxic.

“You’re going to see Jerry Lewis?” “Is he still alive?” “Wow, Mershon!” Everyone reacted to our planned mini-trip. Surprised, they seemed…somewhat tacitly pleased.

In ensuing weeks we heard it all, planned it all, and waited. “The Fantasticks” opened and closed; the Holidays came and went; then so did we.

“Whose car do you want to take?” she asked (thinking of me).
“Yours,” I shot back (thinking of Howard Stern). Carrie, after all, has SeriusXM!

Max Burstyn was our point man with Marriott. “You know it’s Homecoming?” he admonished. (Did he not want our business?)  Yet he found us a room…and we hopped in her car … and we drove.

—- And for thirty-six hours, almost to the minute, we felt the comfort of an old sweater.

The Hollywood Casino was everything I’d heard Cleveland’s Horseshoe isn’t. Eighteen months it had been since I’d last played poker. “What would Walt do?” I internalized, quietly replaying Linick’s admonition from late 80’s Vegas: “May God judge the quality of your life,” he had urged me, “By the way you play today”. A wondrous mantra it is, and, playing tighter than Fenton at a flea market, I cashed.

A perfect start it was.  Scooping up Carrie from blackjack, heading to Courtyards, and Chinese food, and….

We met Lisa and Mark for breakfast. Old friends. Steadfast.

It was an interesting venue Mark chose. What with the marathon running downtown (I passed this year), we were dining all the way up High Street, just south of Granville Road, at the Worthington Inn. Recall it I did — from the Highlights days.

Staying out in Dublin we were, and my memory kicked in. Rather than take I-270 around, Route 161 was in order. Traveling straight across, the scenic route (if you will) …even losing ten minutes as a train passed ….I reveled in the landmarks. Poor Carrie, she sat there nodding and nodding at my running commentary. “This is where… and this is where …” I was saying, referring to absolutely nothing that had happened in the past forty years. Pronounced was her sigh of relief when I pointed out the restaurant ahead. Pronounced too was her silent groan when I bypassed the turn.

“This is where I student taught,” I beamed.  (Ed. Note: For some unknown reason an abandoned office chair graced the middle school lot. This I could not pass up! Leaping out of the car I bid one more request: “Please take my picture”, I asked. (The snapshot is available on line for the asking).

The Ermines were fun. We caught up a bit, spoke of Florida and Snyder…and parted. On a roll we were —

“Look at all the stones on my father,” I noted. (We had parked along side). “They can’t all be from Harriet”. (Poor Carrie, she was in for the long haul). “And these are Harriet’s parents,” I said, pointing at graves marked “GALAN”. Then, Kaddish said thrice I couldn’t help reminisce: “I called them ‘Galanma and Galanpa’”.

We broke bread with Harriet, of course. (Ed. Note 2: It’s a funny thing. You would think that when I speak with her it would be about the past — what with her burying my father 29 years ago, and all. Not so. We talk, rather, of our todays — what she’s up to…what we’re doing… my brother.).

—- Rounding third, we were .… on this, our Long Day’s Journey into Past. Next stop: “Hey Laaaaaaaaaaaaaady!!!”

I hadn’t been in Mershon Auditorium in over forty years. (It took the Jews less time leaving Egypt). Last memory of the place had me seeing “Carmen” with Linda Weisberg. A requirement for Theater 165 it was, the course itself being mandated for all theater majors. How bad was it? Suffice it to say that as stunning as Linda’s looks were, the opera was just awful.  I not only bailed mid-first act, but within days I had changed my major.

Ah, but the hall looked great these four decades later…..

—Median age in attendance: maybe 60.
—Median impulse of the crowd: love.
—And he nailed it!   Jerry Lewis: still The King Of Comedy.

Blending story-telling and video, with a twinkle in his eye he made time fly by…

Until it ended.
And the legend bid adieu….

I’m not eighteen anymore — yet I see it well through my rear view mirror.  

Driving upstate … nearing midnight…  I couldn’t help but think: my friends have remained and my Dad’s never gone. Oh, and Jerry Lewis: he still makes me laugh…

(Only these days…with perhaps a lump in my throat).

“…I wish I was eighteen again,
And going where I’ve never been.
Some old folks and old oaks
Standing tall, just pretend.
Me? I wish I was eighteen again….”

George Burns


  1. H says:

    Glad you had a great trip with beautiful memories.

  2. Marc says:

    sounds perfect

  3. Mark E says:

    What a great Sunday morning. I’m sorry we could have spent more time with you and Carrie. After hocking you for over one year to come to Columbus I was only able to spend less than 2 hrs. For that I apologize. We have to do this more often.

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