There is no substitute for life-long friends. Not only do they understand us best, but they respect the nuances — even the idiocies — of our behaviors. As such, still, from time to time Walt may sense my upset and utter “Now, now B”. Or Kraut, exasperated at incessant teasing, will lovingly growl “Are you going to let it go already?”

Alan, of course, has long since fled Cleveland, spending the guts of his life in South Africa, Carolina, and even now Portland…you know: places Jews fear to tread. Ermine as well has evaporated. Splitting his time ‘tween Columbus and Florida … well…he’s never quite been the same since he started with the hockey. (Talk about places Jews fear to tread)!

— Which makes the gift of Bobby (and even a half/year Stuart) so special.

I should preface my comments by asserting that as much as anyone perhaps, I hesitate not in sharing personal experiences others may well deem unconventional. The anecdotes of my life make me who I am — which is someone quite comfortable in his own skin. Moreover, if the Bobbies and Stuarts and Marcs and Mark’s and Arthurs can accept me — if Carrie and my family can embrace me…then why the hell should I care if others roll their eyes, chuckle, or shake their heads?

— So I tell the stories, await the musings, let them call me “Costanza”, and smile.

Like last Wednesday. We were having breakfast when I shared how, over time, I’d gotten Carrie to relax her decades-old house rule that no food went upstairs. “Compromise”, I called it — having myself eaten dinner on my stomach in bed for the better part of nineteen years.

“No one eats in bed,” glared Himmel.
“I wouldn’t say no one,” I shot back.

The upshot of my story, however, was that Carrie would bring up bowls of fruit for each of us, and that we’d nosh on them watching TV ‘ere nodding off. (And that one night last week I fell asleep before eating…and that when I woke in the morning I took my bowl and hid it in my dresser for future use). Carrie, of course, was mystified a day or so later — it was a Saturday — when in the afternoon, after napping I casually rose, took two steps toward the bureau and returned with fruit cocktail.

“Why would you that?” gnarled Himmel.
“What do you mean? That’s the ‘B’” defended Snyder.
Himmel shook his head: “There’s something wrong with you,” he uttered.
“Why do you hate women?” I asked him.

You see, my core friends get me. They know that if I really thought there’d be insects, or if I really felt Carrie minded, that I wouldn’t have done it. This, to my mind, was but a logical convenience, and, clearly: no harm, no foul.

(Not that Carrie always buys in). As I was telling the boys that same morning:

Recently I’d mentioned to her that en route to the Chardon Theater I’d be stopping at the wake for a friend’s mother.

“You never mentioned him”, she exclaimed. “How do you know him?”
“We won the World Championship together on the White Sox in 1960.”
“And nothing since?” she asked.
“I may have messaged him on Facebook.”

Only then did this stunning lady, this woman who would indeed take a bullet for me, push back.

“Don’t you think he’ll wonder why you’re there?”
“Did you ever play Little League?
“Why go?”
“It’s never wrong to do the right thing” I threw at her. (When in doubt, go with an aphorism).
“Do what you want,” she conceded. “I can’t tell you what to do.”

Short-lived silence ensued. Had there been no blizzard out, I sensed she’d be acquiescing.

“If you’re really going, drive carefully.”
“Maybe what I’ll do is tell them I’m there on behalf of Stuart Fenton. He had a thing for the sister, and I could say that since he was living down south, he’d asked that I stop by on his behalf.”
—This new concept didn’t play well—
“Really?” she said. (Sweetly, with a sense of tart. Thank God she loves me).

I was torn. No one — clearly no one — cares as much about me yet gives me the latitude CJ does. It was not an important thing, of course, but… but:

For the second time in two days —since I first saw the death notice –– I called Fenton. When again he didn’t answer I wondered if he was on one of his cruises.

…So I didn’t go. I looked at Carrie and knew she was more right than wrong. I didn’t hear from Stuart, the one person who would sure egg me on. And I changed my mind. More than once. More than twice.

Until I thought of my father. And I heard his voice.

“Surely you must have something better to do with your time,” he would say.

“I’m not going to the wake,” I told Carrie, proud of my growth.
“Whatever,” she nodded (perhaps surprised at my growth).

I told that story as well last Wednesday. Les and Arthur ignored it while Himmel glared through it. Snyder though: he smiled warmly, and beamed acceptance at me, his lifelong friend.

One Response to “LET ME BE”

  1. Stuart says:

    Is it ever really wrong to pay respect to someone?

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