SEW, Week -1508 (That’s 29 years ago for you math-challenged people)
Real estate news coverage is suspended from December 21 through December 31.
John Miles, Bobby Dunham, Tony Bliss and I have been close friends since junior high school. As Tony’s conditions worsened, John was in a position to go visit him and spend a significant amount of time with him near the end. During one period, Tony was unable to write, so John stepped in to recount the good times and try to keep Tony’s spirits high.
If you couldn’t figure it out from the title alone, your usual author is on strike. He’s demonstrating his sympathy for the poor NFL officials who have been locked out by the League. Now who knew that Tony was such an advocate for organized labor? Actually, I should have seen this coming. After all, Tony was one of the founding members of a small but powerful union that brought management to its knees during the construction of what is now Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas during the summer of 1989. I’ve got $50.00* for anyone, excluding former members of said Union, who can identify the name of the Union that was founded on that hallowed ground. I’ll even give you a hint – IBVG. So while Tony is using his new radiation induced superpowers to negotiate on behalf of the NFL officials, you’ve been relegated to reading a replacement writer – yours truly. Hopefully I’m better than the NFL replacement refs.
Who am I? I’m John Miles, a longtime friend of Tony’s. My qualifications to speak for Tony include: (1) I’ve known Tony since Mr. Boles’ 8th grade Science class where we shared A/V duties turning the filmstrip when the cassette tape went “bong”; (2) I’ve formed an airline with Tony; (3) Tony and I purposely scheduled the removal of our wisdom teeth on the same day so we could convalesce together; (4) I practically blew up my older brother’s 1965 mustang (and actually melted my Def Leppard – Pyromania cassette – kind of ironic, no?) when trying to shoot a bottle rocket from my car to Tony’s car that was driving behind us (Mr. Bliss (Rod, not Tony) if you are reading this, thank you for living outside the city limits at the time – otherwise the cop that pulled up while the smoke was streaming out of the car would have given me a ticket instead of just laughing and telling me that my brother was going to be pretty mad at me); (5) . . . I could go on, but I think the court will now stipulate to my qualifications.
Fortunately we were just outside the 24:00 hour when I destroyed my brother’s ’64 Mustang with fireworks, so no tickets were issued!
So, having learned from the failure of other replacement writers who have hastened the demise of other great entertainment franchises, I’ll stick to what has been successful up to now for Tony. So don’t expect Cousin Oliver or Crappy Doo here.
Nope, I’m going with the tried and true – SEW. Having said that, I don’t really have a current side effect to discuss, so I’ll just choose a random bodily injury that occurred about 29 years ago. If nothing else, it will give you a little context about our hero.
I’m sure that anyone who has ever had the privilege of driving with Tony has noticed that he has an uncanny sense of navigation. It won’t surprise you then, that during high school, Tony was a delivery driver for Pizza Hut, the one right behind old RHS (that’s Rogers High School for those of you not fortunate enough to have gone to school with Tony). Tony, Larry, Bobby, and I worked there with lots of other guys. I still remember a guy called Milo every time I pass the turn off to Milo, Missouri on the drive back home to Kansas City from NW Arkansas. I remember Milo looking like a “now” picture of a 1970s southern rock guitarist after too much touring, booze, and ingestion of other mind-altering substances.
Needless to say, the atmosphere at the Pizza Hut was a lot like the atmosphere at All American Burger in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. We had a lot of fun during and after hours
Those who know Tony and me well can probably surmise that, unlike Milo, our after-hours fun did not include any mind altering substances of the liquid, plant or chemical kind. No, we were much less adventurous and much more virtuous than the norm. So it should not surprise anyone that we would sometimes close up the Pizza Hut and then turn on the stereo in my 1970 Thunderbird (note I blew up my BROTHER’S mustang), play my now-long-since-melted Def Leppard cassette and have a righteous game of Frisbee. This may actually be the time period during which Tony got addicted to Mt. Dew and Nacho Cheese Doritos, but I suspect that he had that habit before starting work, and only delivered pizza to support it. Honestly, we could play Frisbee into the wee hours of the morning (which is not surprising considering Tony and I prepared for the ACT test by hanging out in the pool at my house and tossing a nerf basketball back and forth until some ungodly hour).
So our SEW originates with one of these Mt. Dew and Doritos hazed late evening Frisbee sessions. We were doing the normal thing, having fun, flipping the Frisbee back and forth, listening to some cool music when Tony let loose with a toss and hit the deck like he’d been hit with a sniper round. When I went up to him, he was on the ground and half-laughing half-crying like he’d smacked his funny bone on the side of a car, which was entirely possible. But when he got up, it was clear that there was something wrong. One of Tony’s arms was about six inches longer than the other. Oh crap!!
So here we are in the parking lot of a Pizza Hut sometime after midnight** and we’ve got what appears to be a life-threatening injury. So you figure, we head to the ER to figure out what is wrong and get it fixed. Of course not. We figured that we had done something wrong and needed to fix the problem without the likelihood of anyone ever finding out. Fortunately, Tony chose to get this injury while I was around. Like Jeff Spicoli (sorry about all of these Fast Times references, but my wife of over 20 years has never seen this movie, and I always take the opportunity to educate her), I had the father who had the perfect set of tools to fix this problem.
For those of you who don’t know my father, he is a doctor. By all accounts he’s an excellent doctor. But when we were in high school, he was the parent you went to for permission for anything – ANYTHING. “Dad, Tony and I are going to go water skiing tonight at midnight, is that ok?” “Dad, I’m thinking about taking a gun to school for show-and-tell.” “Dad, I’m going to kill my little brother and hide his body in the woods.” His response was always “Hmmm, sure, whatever.” Of course he had no memory of the conversation the following day. So we figured, we’d get Tony’s arm fixed by a real doctor and nobody but the two of us would ever know.
So we loaded up: Frisbee, check. Mt. Dew, check. Nacho Cheese Doritos, check. Def Leppard cassette, check. Guy with a disabled arm with abnormally orange fingers (Doritos, remember?), check. Fortunately, Rogers isn’t a big place and it took about 4 minutes to get to my house***. Tony was obviously hurting more and more with each passing second. He was drinking Mt. Dew at record pace in the hopes that some of those artificial colors and flavors had some analgesic effect. So we get to my house and go in through the New Room (the name of the room that my family cleverly named after we added it on to our house. It had a full-court nerf basketball court, but that is a story for another day.) I then ventured into my parents’ bedroom to get my dad. It was well after midnight, so he was pretty out of it – making it even less likely that my father would remember anything the next morning.
In typical style, my dad lumbered out of the bedroom in his boxers and a t-shirt that were not even close to covered by the gray bathrobe that was somehow tied, but mostly open. Dad went into the New Room (he may have stopped for a sandwich first, but I don’t recall for sure), and looked at Tony for about several seconds. He didn’t say anything at first, but after about 10 seconds, he simply said to Tony, “Lay down on the floor.” Tony went ashen white. I’m not sure if it was the pain or the fact that he, like me, was imagining my father doing some sort of WWF atomic knee drop on Tony’s shoulder to get it back into place. Keep in mind, my father is not a small guy. He’s over six feet tall, and weighed more than 250 pounds at the time. I was getting very nervous when Dad reached down, twisted Tony’s shoulder and it popped right back into place. Dad said “dislocated shoulder” and turned around and went back to bed without another word. By the look on Tony’s face, it apparently relieved the pain much better than two liters of Mt. Dew.
I don’t remember what happened next, but I’m pretty sure we didn’t play any more Frisbee that night or any nerf basketball in the New Room. But I am sure that we thought we had gotten away with it and were very proud of ourselves. But, Tony’s shoulder ultimately had other plans. The shoulder soon decided it would dislocate from time to time. Tony got to be pretty good at resetting the shoulder, but he eventually had to have surgery to repair the damaged limb.
This is a true story. I may have embellished it a bit here and there or misremembered a few of the exact facts, but it essentially happened like that. What? You don’t believe me? Proof you say? Objective proof you say? Ok. Our hero actually inspired me to write this post when I saw the picture of him getting ready for radiation therapy. Here’s the picture.
So there you have it – a glimpse into the adolescence and the true character of our hero. A man of few words, rugged good looks, high tolerance for pain, a serious addiction to yellow/orange junk food, and lots of caring friends. I really have no purpose to this guest appearance but to distract and entertain you readers and hope that I can spur some comments. I know that Tony appreciates and reads all of comments on his posts. Down time and boredom can be big enemies while in the waiting mode. So please keep commenting, writing, praying, and sending positive thoughts.
And don’t forget to submit your guess for a chance to win $50* if you can identify IBVG. I’ll post the answer in the comments in about 3-4 days if nobody has come up with the correct answer.
Get well soon Tony! I know I speak for everyone when I say we miss you and love you!!
* Author/replacement writer may provide a substitute prize of no value if anyone actually figures it out.
** Warning – Tony Bliss addition here! First, please note that I’ve learned two things in my 20 years in IT: never leave your screen unlocked at work, and never give your best friend in the whole wide world the password to your blog account. Basic security precautions should ALWAYS be taken with the person that has the most dirt on you! Plus, by not giving him the password, I get final say on the post, woohoo!
Second, my recollection is that we actually closed that night, meaning we didn’t actually exit the pizza pie facility until shortly after 2am, the closing time on Fridays/Saturdays in those glorious teen-worker-exploitation days. Thus John’s description of us playing “sometime after midnight” means about 2:30 am. Not critical to the story exactly, but it adds to the ambience in later parts of the saga.
*** Warning – Tony Bliss addition here too! Up to this point I can only accuse John of telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Alas, here we have a sad omission, one unworthy of the moral stature of my good friend. Plus, you know, ultimately it IS still my blog, and I can add want I want, and he can’t really stop me.
It’s perfectly true that we were approximately four measly minutes from his house. In fact, if there’s any embellishment anywhere in this piece, that may be it – it may have been closer to 3 minutes at 3 in the morning. Let’s just say that traffic in Rogers in 1984 wasn’t exactly an issue at 3pm, much less 3am, and since both of us were seasoned delivery drivers, we knew the route with the fewest stop signs we’d get to illegally run in our ‘emergency.’
No, John’s sin in his re-telling of the story is one of omission, not commission. He didn’t actively tell a lie – he just left one little bitty part out that I feel compelled to mention…
You see, before we made this three minute emergency, two-wheeled, stunt driving, ambulance-imitating drive to his house, we actually ran into someone we knew – need I say it was a couple of the waitresses from our beloved pizza sweat shop? They’d gone out in one car together to check out the happening party scene in Rogers, which explains why there were back less than an hour after PH closed. So we’re sitting in the driveway of PH waiting to execute our harrowing escape to John’s Dad’s 24-hour Unwilling ER, when who drives up but these two cute girls we both had the hots for (ok, I don’t even remember if they were cute – but we were 17, and they were females and currently alive, so…close enough).
So John sees their car, and says, “Hey, it’s so-and-so’s car (names omitted to protect the innocent, and because I don’t remember now exactly who it was. In my defense, I was in a great deal of pain!), let’s say hi!” So we wait for them to pull in, and they stop opposite John’s side of the car, and John proceeds to roll his window down.
As John has mentioned, he had this kick-*ss 1970 T-bird, complete with suicide doors and the full electronics package – electric seats, electric mirrors, and of course, electric windows. That car was, in a word, awesome!
This is pretty much exactly John’s car, color and everything, though technically it’s a ’69 model. There’s no telling which one of us is shooting a wild animal in the left background there – we both loved killing all God’s living creatures from the convenience of his T-bird so much that we did it all the time. Judging by the look of stunned admiration and sexual attraction clearly evident in the Pizza Hut waitress at the hunter’s feet, we must have just released Gilligan and given him a 10-minute head start before hunting him down on the island…
However, it had 1970’s electric components. Bless ‘em, let’s just say they weren’t built for speed or endurance. So John proceeds to roll down his window. Picture all this in super-slow-mo:
- John reaching for the electric window button
- John depressing the button
- The electric window motor comes whirring to life, making sort of a dying bee-hive sound from behind his awesome 1970 T-bird door panel, something like a warbling-but-deep-throated “errrrrrrrrrr”
- The window begins its 1970’s-era inexorable slide to oblivion
- 20 minutes later the girls have fallen asleep in their car, I’m practically passed out, and John is pumped because the window has finally disappeared from site
Then the conversation begins:
- John: A very pumped up “Hey, ladies!” (He was always such a gentleman)
- Ladies: Equally pumped “Hey!”
- Me: (unintelligible grunt)
- John: “What are you up to tonight?”
- Ladies: “Oh, you know, just seeing what’s happening around town.”
- John and Ladies: (amused laughter, because we all know nothing is ever going on around Rogers in 1984, no matter how cool you think you look in your polyester PH uniform with the black pants and matching black shoes)
- Tony: (silently sliding down in the passenger seat)
- Ladies: “Um, is everything ok, Tony?”
- John: (sensing a sympathy opening) “Oh my gosh, you should have seen it! We were playing Frisbee and his arm, it just like, went out and stuff. I mean, like it’s out right now!”
- Ladies: (Gasp!)
- Tony: “Uhhhh.”
- John: (thinking his father’s career choice might bat cleanup in the contest to steal a kiss from one of these lovelies at some point before we all expire) “Yeah, we were just headed over to my house right now, my Dad’s a doctor, he can fix it!”
- Ladies: “Like, for real, it’s out right now?”
- John: “Oh yeah, he’s in tons of pain!”
- Ladies: “Well…don’t you think you should get going…?”
- John: “Oh!” (chances of kiss tonight – now approaching approximately negative 1000 – in other words, a normal dating night for both of us) “Um, yeah, you’re probably right… (Sigh) Well, see you later!”
Then he rolls up the window. Picture the rolling down sequence, except longer and louder because it’s actually fighting gravity this time, not aided by it.
And then, at long last, we make it to his house and awaken his father, and its full-on 3am by now.
In all fairness to John, I hoped he’d get lucky, and I was fine with the minor sidetrack and wished him luck. I personally was 17 and still awaiting my first kiss, and I was just hoping someone somewhere was having better luck than I was. And in all actuality, it was probably about a 2-3 minute exchange. But it was 2-3 of the funniest minutes of my life, and so I had to share it.
Did I mention his T-bird was friggin’ AWESOME…?!?