A little fictional diversion for the weekend….a tiny homage to the 1970’s when I was a teenager – a much different time than today.
“Thuuude!” he shouted at me as I came up the stairs to his bedroom. “Check it out, man!”
He took off his shirt, brushed back his shoulder length, golden blonde hair behind his ears, affixed headphones, took his place behind the drum set and started in.
Instant, ear-piercing noise filled the room. But it was cool. He was jammin’ along to Alice Cooper’s “No More Mister Nice Guy”. He was in heaven. I was stoned but with it enough to dig it.
It was July, 1973. Great rock n’ roll ruled the day, along with long hair, bell-bottoms and groovy hippie chicks. To be seventeen years old at the time, living at home, working some dumb ass, part-time job – it was all a cakewalk. No worries, no troubles – do whatever you want with hardly an issue. A little money and you had pot, could take in a concert, drive a beat up but cool Volkswagen Super Beetle and live for the next good time, over and over again.
As Danny was flailing away, beating the skins mercilessly, head bobbing, screaming the lyrics out, his 14-year-old sister burst into the room and yanked the stereo plug out. Instantly, headphones were slammed to the floor, drumsticks thrown against the wall, with a blur of older brother chasing younger sister to administer his brand of disciplinary action.
“You little bitch,” he screamed as he caught her leg, tripping her to the floor.
I turned away as I’d seen this episode before. The outcome was always the same. Younger sister usually got the best of older brother. Besides, I was too stoned to really care what happened.
After the screaming, cussing, slapping and name calling had settled down, he came back into the bedroom, yelling at the top of his lungs, “oh yeah, well eat my shit!”, slamming the door behind him. The last cordiality, one of Danny’s favorites, had been directed at his mom who had joined in the scream fest.
“Thuuude,” he started in, ‘thuuude’ was his nickname for me, a variation of ‘dude’ that he thought was cool, “check out the latest issue of Playboy.”
“Where?” I asked, as there only happened to be about ten Playboys mixed in with twenty Penthouses scattered throughout his bedroom.
“Top of the speaker.”
I opened it to the centerfold. “Nice!” I managed, rubbing my bloodshot eyes.
“You damn right, nice. Thuuude, what I wouldn’t give for just one night with her…ohhhhh yeah!” His view of women hadn’t quite matured beyond that of a thirteen year old.
He was back to the drums. I couldn’t focus on the photo as the room was shaking. The bedroom door burst open again, this time his mother was in the doorway, shouting something at the top of her lungs. Who could hear her? The drumming continued. She took several deep breaths, finally giving up and turned and walked down the hallway. Apparently the rattling of the house caused her to forget her exclamation point. She came back and slammed the bedroom door shut. I guess closure had been obtained.
“Thuuude, light a smoke for me,” he said, finishing his performance.
He grabbed the shirt he had taken off, wiped the sweat from his head and chest, and put the shirt back on.
“So, what are we doing tonight?” he asked.
I wasn’t the social planner for our group of friends but always seemed to be the one who had a line on the festivities for the night.
“I don’t know. Paul’s parents are out of town, and they got tons of booze. Pretty sure we’ll start there,” I said, taking a hit from the Marlboro and handing it to him.
“Boss,” he said, his way of giving blessing to the evening. The group always had to have Danny’s blessing for about anything we were going to do. “You got the shit?” Danny always wanted to know if I had the ‘shit’.
“Yeah, I got the pot.”
Apparently the closure Danny and his mom had with their previous encounter wasn’t quite settled as the bedroom door burst open again. His mother stood there, this time with scissors in hand.
“You little shit,” she fumed, baring her teeth, standing in the doorway, making sure Danny saw the scissors. “When I tell you to stop with the noise, I mean just that. Next time you don’t do what I say, I’ll take away some of that god-awful hair of yours that you love so much!”
“Yeah, well eat my shit,” he shouted back as she left, again slamming the door behind her. I could hear her stomp down the hallway, her ranting frightful enough to send the neighborhood running for cover. Being accustomed to the insane atmosphere that, at times, was quite Shakespearian, I was unfazed.
Paul was the third member of the group. He was quiet, skinny, had long, curly black hair and smoked a lot of Winston’s. He drove a green Volkswagen Fastback, stick shift of course, that fit his personality…quiet and unassuming.
Paul had just come up to the bedroom and must have passed Danny’s mother on the way. He was visibly shaking. He wasn’t use to this particular brand of peace and love as this was his first visit to the asylum.
“Don’t worry about it, man,” Danny began. “She’s a raging bitch today.” Colorful. Sadly, he was talking about his mom.
Paul stood there still frozen from whatever encounter he had with Danny’s mom. Danny took the pack of Winston’s out of Paul’s hand, lit one of them and handed it to Paul.
“Uh, yeah…thanks,” Paul said
“Your place tonight, right? I asked, hoping to bring him back.
“Uh….yeah, right. Parents are out of town,” Paul managed in his catatonic state.
“Thuuude, it’s cool if you bring that girlfriend of yours. Sorry I was such a shit about her the other night.”
I didn’t have a girlfriend…none of us did. This was just Danny’s way of letting me know it was cool to invite a few outside our group that included a girl in the neighborhood who none of us liked. He wanted chicks at Paul’s. We all wanted chicks at Paul’s.
Our group grew up together, went to the same grade school and high school and lived in the same Catholic neighborhood – a tight group of families who each were pretty much certifiable. Every so often we’d let an outsider into the group, such as Paul. He lived a few miles away, wasn’t from our city and came from a type of family that none of us were familiar with – affluent.
“DANIEL!” Came the blistering scream from downstairs.
“Jeeezus,” he angrily muttered, jumping up to open the bedroom door.
“Get down here and clean up this mess you left in the kitchen…NOW!
“It’s not my mess, its that little bitch Rita’s mess,” he screamed back. Such tender, heartfelt emotions expressing sibling love and affection were commonplace at Danny’s.
“No, it’s your mess…get down here and clean it up!”
“SCREW YOU!” he shouted, slamming the door and coming back to sit behind his drums, grabbing the sticks and doing a little jazz rift on snare and cymbal. It was a nice touch of emphasis just to make sure his mom knew he was declining her request.
Now, like I said, I was used to all this. The situation was at the point where either calmness would prevail, or all out hell would break loose and Paul and I would have to high-tail it out of there. Thirty seconds or so, I thought to myself.
It started off as a low rumbling sound from downstairs. Mother and daughter were hatching something. It gained momentum. I heard what sounded like dinosaurs back from the dead pounding up the stairs. They had to be enlisting heavy-duty help in the form of Danny’s two older brothers. Danny’s eyes rolled, signaling that he would have to deal with something shortly. I thought about crawling out the window and jumping the two stories as all hell was about to break out. I looked at Paul – out and out panic was in his eyes. Danny was already out the bedroom door, in the hallway and ready to engage. The love fest started at the top of the stairs and escalated into another bedroom. Our moment of escape presented itself. I grabbed Paul by the arm and down the hall we ran. Out of corner of my eye I could see that Danny’s two older brothers had pinned him to the floor…God only knew what was going to happen next. We were down the stairs and out onto the street in about five seconds. As we were running down the block, laughter covering our absolute fright, we could hear the screams and expletives rebounding off the trees. Like I said…a cakewalk.
Photo Credit of Mr. Watts: By Rolling_Stones_-_Charlie_Watts_(1981).jpg: Michael Conen derivative work: Miss-Sophie [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons