A mile and a quarter from Bob’s house to Kraut’s: Wrenford to Stilmore, then down. Halfway you’d pass Stu and me on Bayard. We were young then, in the idyllic Baby Boomtown of South Euclid, Ohio.

Fifty years passed. Art remains in field goal range. Me too. Bobby‘s found Bainbridge though, and Stuart’s fled south. Boomers still— babies no more, we stand, arguably, in different seasons of life. Still, after all these years, we stand together.

The most conservative, Stuart, I sense, is also most balanced. Criminally predicable, he lives, at 61, on a precise biological clock: in the autumn of his years.

And then there’s Arthur. No one with such a big heart should complain as much as he does….but he does. Indeed, the man’s not happy if he’s not in the winter of his discontent.

Call me springtime…renaissance. I’m the pro ballplayer his first call to the majors. Took long enough but alas, I am excited by life and ready for primetime.

Enter Bob: perpetual primetime. Everything about the Jewish Archie Andrews, EVERYTHING says Summer. Cruisin’ top down through his sixties, same game as always, he is, with or without music….the best dancer on the floor. Ozzie Nelson-comfortable in his own skin, Bobby, (ask Stu or Art), is always worth the price of admission.

We dined this week: the Four Seasons together again. Bobby set it up.
There was a time we’d pack one car, tumble into Manners and eat Big Boys.
Half-century later we drive separately, make reservations, and eat salad.

Someone brought pictures—black ‘n whites from Rowland. Circling the table the photos played to a backbeat of “Who’s this?” Invariably, no one knew; just as predictably we each spoke with authority.

I’d worn new contacts for the occasion and couldn’t focus. It frustrated Bob.
“B, get your own reading glasses,” he urged. “Go get them out of your car!”
“My kid said not to wear them in public.”

There were four pictures and just three of us. It gave me time to observe…to think…..It wasn’t time that bonded our friendship, nor was it youth. There were, after all, sixteen of us at one point.

It was something more.

The glue, I sensed, was the same adhesive that connects Walt, Alan and me, the same paste that cements all true friendships: that innate understanding that everyone knows everyone and that no one is being judged.

We sat there, each knowing each other’s ins and outs, and loving each other as much for our lives’ errors as its hits.

Dinner ended—time to move on. Kraut’s sister, two years our senior, was in for a reunion. At a private house— hosted by a total stranger….Perfect.
Not unlike high school when we’d swarm to Vicki’s house and just move in for hours on end…we went. Like Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean…we went.

There weren’t, (go figure), many people to talk to.

The evening was about to end. Four men stood outside in the driveway of their unknown host. They were evaluating the talent pool still inside.

“I thought so and so was good looking,” one suggested.
“She was there?” asked another, clearly trying to agitate.
A third looked up: “You didn’t tell me she was there! We’ve GOT to go back in,” he demanded.

We did.

He flagged her down and suddenly it was “deja vu all over again.”

“Hey,” he asked her…”Do you remember me?”
(We laughed– not shyly).
“I used to hang out with the Kirchenbaums,” he added, seeking credibility.
(She stared—still blank).
“We made out once under their ping-pong table. You were two years older than me and let me tell you lady, you kissed a lot better than the girls our age…”
(Three of us each took an immediate two steps back; we’d seen this movie before).
“You know,” he told her…”I still get the feeling there’s a connection between us!”

(Two more steps each).

The film finally ended minutes later as it always does: with Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring bidding each other well, smiling goodbyes, and driving off in separate cars.

Stuart was flying south in the morning with Marilyn to follow. Fifteen hundred miles would separate the four seasons for another half year. None of them, however, would feel it.

Don’t tell me—DON’T TELL THEM…they’re not in Kansas anymore. We are, each of us…blessed in a web of friendship and, at least when together, living in an idyllic world.

2 Responses to “JERSEY BOYS”

  1. alan says:

    This is absolutely great, wonderful, brilliant in all ways.

  2. CBL says:

    Did they embarrass you with singing and a birthday dessert?

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