Every once in a while would be the big Friday night date or big Friday night dance with “Mickey Eisley and His Hawaiian Men of Rhythm,” a bunch of guys in the Junior class, a rotten band with saxophone players. At that time everyone was going through a tenor sax phase. One sax player wore his tenor sax neck chain all the time, in geography, in algebra, to let everyone know he played tenor sax.
Every Friday night all of us—me and Flick and Schwartz and Bruner and Bolis would go to the dance and there’d be girls. We’d dance. So we had this great society of girls, guys, a whole bunch of us being together. Everything’s cool. First year goes by, second year goes by and now Flick’s got a different car, scragging is becoming even more interesting. Got a convertible, and you can really scrag in a convertible. Now we are juniors. I got a car. Schwartz got a car, so we would scrag now in threes. There would be this V-formation of cars, me, Bolis, Flick, Schwartz, Bruner, Jack Martin, and once in a while Gaza, and we would go drifting down these soft spring streets and it would be this great cloud of scragging: “Hey, baby, wow!” or “Whooo!” or “Hey, holy smokes!” Great pieces of wit.
Now we’re getting to the point. We are growing up together and we are now in our senior year. Approaching that great moment of truth. We are all seniors together and we know each other so intimately. When we would be playing pinochle in that period, I could instantly tell what Bolis had in his hand to the last card, just by the look on his face. We knew each other so well, and we played infinite numbers of ballgames together. We had played sixteen million hours of pool together on Flick’s table down in his basement. We wore out nineteen thousand pool chalks. We had gone ice skating together, roller skating together, we had played ping pong together. We went on and on—while our lives had been shared. We had gone and busted into the Lithuanian-American picnic every summer. We used to go bust into picnics in the forest preserve. We’d done all this together. The whole crowd of us.
Once in a while we had a girl we’d talk about, but none of us were really involved with a particular girl. So we used to think that guys who went steady—ah, come on! Going steady! Tall, skinny guys with pimples went steady. Or short, fat guys went around with tall, skinny girls—they went steady. Of course we would make remarks about each other once in a while. Flick would take Dawn Strickland down to the Red Rooster and get her a cheeseburger. “Oh, wow! Dawn Strickland, wow! What a chick! Oh! Look out, baby!” Of course we were just whistling in the dark.
Well, then one day. That incredible day—it happened. I couldn’t…! Even to this day I can’t accept it. One of those momentary glimpses of something else—out there.