Conventional wisdom dictates that carrying resentments, even justifiable ones, is useless. Still, it was hard not to laugh and impossible not to rejoice when, appearing on Letterman a few weeks back, Howard Stern ripped into Leno. One had to applaud the way Stern had his friend’s back.

It reminded me of events from freshman year. Transferring to OSU for Winter Quarter ‘68, I shared a dorm room with Fenton, Fischer and Wieder. Alan, I came to learn, had developed intense dislike for another fourth-floor student named Preksta. Stuart, moreover, had issues with Marshall Miller, also down the hall. My allegiance, while predictable, led to mixed results.

Preksta—a westside Clevelander, ultimately corralled his roommates, and in Alan’s absence, swarmed upon me, pushed me into a bathroom and gave me a “swirlie”. (This, I learned that day, is what you call it when they thrust your head in a toilet and flush).

Interaction with the other guy went better. Stuart arranged a boxing match—gloves and all—between the Miller and me. We fought to a draw just outside the fourth floor elevators—three full rounds. Neither of us, I recall, landed a punch. It was two days later that I caught my breath.

So much for carrying buddies’ spears. Life, short as it is, mandates peace, not war (let alone someone else’s battles).

Well, not for everyone.

At Wednesday’s breakfast discussion turned to the NBA Allstar party. Administered annually by Les, this gala’s attended primarily by Ohio State Sammys and is held at a restaurant on game night. It’s an evening of reunion, sideboards, and fun.

I was lamenting a conflict in scheduling and noted the concurrence that night, of the Academy Awards.

“I can’t believe you watch that show,” said Les.
(I reminded him that both Clooney and Pitt were nominated).
“You know,” he asserted, “I’ve boycotted the Oscars since ’69”.
“You’ve GOT to be kidding me!”

Turns out he wasn’t. Turns out that so incensed was our friend when Dustin Hoffman (“Midnight Cowboy”) lost Best Actor—-so unnerved was he that John Wayne (“True Grit”) got the nod—that he just stopped watching. On a dime.

You can’t imagine how intrigued I was that this erudite professional could sustain such rancor.

“Let me ask you,” I pursued, “Are there any other grudges I should know about?”

“Well…” he began, reciting a list…

“Wait a minute—I NEED to write this down.”

And I did—the whole list (or what I thought was the whole list).

Methodically, then, he recited. It was like the scroll of yahrtzeits read weekly at Shabbos services. Still, there was method to his madness…even logic.

The City Of Cleveland Heights (for cause we all knew), and Mel Gibson (anti-semite), and Spike Lee (racist) and Vanessa Redgrave (see: Mel Gibson) and…Charlton Heston.

“Charlton Heston?” I interrupted, (the rest being obvious).
“For his N.R.A. crap.”

Parting shortly thereafter, I felt invigorated by the morning’s rant. How refreshing that our mild-mannered friend held such strong resentments! I wondered what he thought “in the day” when his pal Pollack’s jumped teams to play for our Sol’s Boys. Oh well, fodder for next week…

Just yesterday I thought to crafting a blog of it all: The Letterman show, the dorm wars, and Les’s whole list. It was 8:18 last night when the text came in.

It was from Les—unsolicited. Hadn’t talked to him since Wednesday. ”I forgot to mention I’m boycotting the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame until the Moody Blues get in,” he noted.

I smiled…and chuckled.  Forget Ronnie Pollack; come Wednesday I’ll ask about Jan & Dean.

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