Friday, September 17, 2010

100 Years of The Kiddo

The Kiddo and I met in Boy Scouts. I think we must have been around 12. Well, maybe I was 12, and he was 9. Or maybe he was nine and I was six. Age is just a number. Sixty, I’m told, is the new 40, but that never consoles me because the speaker might have thought in the past — as one does until he or she reaches that milestone personally — that 40 was an age at which one becomes decrepit, senile, and unpleasant-smelling. I like to imagine that I am none of those things, but how would one know for sure?

In any event, The Kiddo was terrific at knots, and I at anything else related to the outdoors — camping, archery, arson, you name it. The question wasn’t whether we would both become Eagle Scouts, but which of us would do so first. In the end, though, neither of us actually attained that goal; after hearing The Beatles and later Jefferson Starship and experimenting with drugs and Eastern spirituality, it began to seem like a foolish thing to aspire to, as hollow as a corner office and a new Buick every other year.

With a couple of others of like mind, we formed a skiffle group that we called Christopher Milk & His Lactose Intolerants, which we shortened to Christopher Milk after realizing that no promoter was likely to hire us with the original name, for fear of having to pay an intern, or whatever they were called in those days, overtime to put all that extra verbiage up on the marquee.

We didn’t perform far and wide, but semi-far and narrow, getting no farther than the southern Oregon college town of Duckburg, where poor Rollo, the guitar player, was nearly incapacitated by hemorrhoids. We took turns driving the van in which our equipment was crammed. The Kiddo alertly avoided a log in the middle of the highway at one point, and I, sleeping atop some speaker cabinets, consequently wasn’t crushed to death. But what a rock and roll exit that would have been! And I still had my looks at the time.

At one point several years later it appeared as though we might both be on the verge of big things, I as the host of a rock TV show produced in the UK by Australians, and he as the new fair-haired boy of a pair of powerful managers. Both of those dreams got cruelly shattered, though. I married a one-time girlfriend of his, and he remained footloose and fancy free. I marveled then as I marvel now at the fact that I, the product of a toxic home environment, would be the one with a history of long committed relationships, while he, from a much more salubrious background, would steer clear of such entanglements.

After 37 years of friendship, we had a frightful falling out, and didn’t speak, at least civilly, through most of the 90s and aughts. For all he knew, I hadn’t repatriated to the United Kingdom in 2002. For all I knew, he was married with a houseful of kiddies. We finally got back in touch thanks to the miracle that is the Worldwide Web, but not amicably; we sent rancorous emails back and forth for around four years, and I even composed and recorded a song about my great frustration. Like the rest of the album of which it is a part, it remains heard only by me and Gail, though there’s a chance that NPR affiliate in Wisconsin might have heard it when they were preparing to interview me.

In any event, we are sort of speaking again, if almost entirely on Skype, and today I have this to say to him: Happy birthday, my friend. Long may you waive.

1 comment:

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