May 26th, 2015

Boomer Phone

Met an old friend

I was out on my morning constitutional, my walk, as Doggies would call it. I was taking an underpass to the highway, and watching from below as a possible light truck was smoking heavily at the top of the on-ramp, just billowing out and emergency crews were on the scene.

I was aware of a guy walking through the parking garage under WDVE's high rise office building and coming towards the street, but I was still watching the truck smoke. The guy came up and asked if I remembered who he was, I didn't know, but he called me 'Jerry' as the neighborhood kids did as young teens. He said he was Earl, and I barked, Earl Oehm? That's it!

Now, I almost never remember friends I knew as kids if I haven't seen them since then, they always pick me out of the lineup. I remembered the stuff we used to do though, we were hanging around a lot for a few years in the later 1970s. We didn't spend too much time at each others' houses, we'd get together and go checking dumpsters in the area industrial parks, visit dumps, just do lots of stuff outdoors, like making shacks, and pranks like spraying shaving creme on someone's car at Parkway Center and them chasing us way into the woods, climbing on the school's roof, or burning paint cans in the dump to make them explode.

In about 10 minutes of chat, we were firing remembrances back and forth, like his dad liking 1950s rock and roll and having me over for listening parties a few times, blasting records at the top of his old wooden console stereo's ratings to pound that rock and roll in. Back then, Earl had two white little Dogs, Bull and Pig were their names. I had a Dog named Pongo later on, and was also calling myself Pongo too, after the famous Disney Dalmatian. Earl was one of the early ones I let know about some of my Dog ideas.

I brought up the Twilight Bark like the Dalmatians did in the movie, something I did from a local hill, and he went along with me once, and that I was still into Dog stuff and being a Dog, and still into radio, showing Earl my pocket radio, tuned into my own AM station, see, that's me! He said he saw me in Dog costume come to WDVE a few times, and wondered if that's who it was, since he's seen me around without the costume at other times, like today.

He remembered when we both got money together and my dad driving us to Gee Bee's, a big discount store, to both get CB radios, and I remembered the Bay City Rollers' Rock And Roll Love Letter song played on Earl's stereo in the basement, and his mom boogie-ing to it, she liked that song.

There were not so nice times too, when we went through a local train tunnel and bullies, bigger kids were knocking us around, and how we stopped hanging out, after we were seen exploring an abandoned house and lying about it. Our parents talked and we were supposed to stay away from each other after that. I was borrowing a radio and had to give it back to Earl, and we kind of cut ties.

It was the next year or so, I was going up Hamburg Street where he lived, past his house, and we met somehow, so he invited me in. I guess it was school vacation in the summer and his parents were out working, and we sat around for a little while shooting the breeze about things in the afternoon. That's when he had one of his Dogs, either Bull or Pig, who kept jumping up on me on the couch to lick my face.

I wanted to kiss the Dog back, but being odd enough already being a Dog, I thought it wasn't a good idea, so I pushed Bull or Pig away. Earl said he had to go and check with his neighbor about something, or go next door for a minute, something like that, so I stole a few kisses then, but thought Earl might be able to look in the window and see, so I left it at that.

Earl and me saw each other for a few times after that and chatted, but never really hung out again. I think that Earl's family moved away not long after, so the latest I would have seen Earl was around 1980, when we were 14 or 15, and I don't remember meeting him since.

We discussed our parents, and how his mom was gone, and dad was still around, but in a 'home' now, and how Earl works as maintenance on WDVE's building and the two other buildings in the complex, and lives in Wexford, with two German Shepherds.

Earl wondered what I was doing now, and I'm still at my same house as I was then, and I barked about my estate issues with my half sister briefly.

He asked what I was doing for a living, and wondered what I'm doing to support myself. It's complicated, and I gave him my short answer, and he still asked it a couple of times, like it was a bigger issue. Maybe it was just curiosity, but I've gotten this before from people from my past, school friends, cow-workers, with a focus like it's a bone of contention with them. Maybe all you see is a Dog, but if it's important, take the time to look it up, not rest on your thoughts. Don't sell me short man, I'm doin' fine!

All in all, a very cool meet with a blast from the past, a dude who was a buddy at a time when lots of important changes were happening in my life, and I was discovering facets about my inner Canine for the first time. Hopefully we'll meet again, that would be cool!