Barry, Chapter One, part XXIII

Sue: But that’s the problem.   Guys will date especially when its dating with sex, for a long time, maybe forever, without ever committing openly to the relationship.

Me:  I gotta relax, and unwind.  Lisa, can we grab some beers from your parents’ refrigerator?  I’m sure they won’t be home for a while.

Lisa:  But then everyone will want some, and my dad doesn’t keep count, but sometimes my mom does, and she’d notice if they were all gone.

Me: Why would I tell the other tents?

Sue: Oh you’re just rude.

Me:  Ok Ok, I’ll drop it, where were we?

Lisa:  We were at the different ways guys and girls approach each other.

Melissa:  Right.  Is it personality match, all about looks, blind luck?  I think the girls who think they are not pretty sometimes make things worse by adopting negative personalities.  Boys can still be jocks or even respected if essentially negative, but it’s harder for girls to pull off, don’t you think?

Me:  But the less pretty girls are rumored to be very eager to please, and loyal, so who would want to date a stick up cheerleader?” I insisted, noting that there were no cheerleaders in Lisa’s tent, albeit too late if there had been one.

(Oh, I surely stepped in it with that line. Three babes, and I’m talking up the merits of the also-rans.  What an idiot!  And looking back, what a wildly adolescent generalization.)

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Barry, Chapter One Part XXI

“Barry,. I guess you know Sue and Melissa, they go to Harley with me.”

“Yeah, sure, are you all in eighth grade?”

“Yes, and thanks to your little newspaper, we know all about you,” Sue said, with implications.

“I doubt you know all about me, but everything in the paper was true, or people were lying to me.”

“Maybe it was,” Sue went on, as if she had been waiting for a chance to get after me about a newspaper that only appeared five times, and at that, over a year earlier, “but a lot of people got into  big trouble over what you wrote.  Is that why you switched from Harley to Allendale?”

“Wow, the Inquisition, brought back form 400 years ago to this very spot in time.  Well, what makes you the judge of right and wrong?  I admit I had a blast writing that stuff, but I did not mean to hurt anyone, and apologize if I did.”

“You’re asking me what make me the judge of right and wrong!?  You started it.”

“I tried not to be judgmental, was I saying there was anything wrong with dating or smoking pot?  I don’t think so.  And besides, my Dad liked the stories, which is why he took my typing down to his office and ran off the copies.  How was I to know it would get me “not asked back,” to Harley after seventh grade.  I mean Harley is a pretty wide open place.  You’re right, it was surely the newspaper that got me ‘not asked back.’  That was last year, and you’ve been waiting a long time to get this off your chest, so what else is on your mind sue?”

“My sister, who is a senior now, started dating one of those boys you listed as a pot smoker.  Now she gets high all the time,” Sue explained.

“Well did she date him because she loved him or because she wanted to try pot?”

“That’s not the point, she countered.

“It’s not?” quirried I.

“No it’s not, you stinking drama queen!”

I didn’t realize it then, but by stirring up trouble the year before, and having it re-stirred right then, I felt the tingle of excitement, only a child brought up in a largely dysfunctional, massively sado-masochistic household could ever get a kick out of.  Took all these years to work through the fact that pissing people of was my modus operandi for one, two, three decades or so.

(Now back to the action at hand)

“Well I believe that was her choice, and if not for me, maybe she’d have found a pot head that was not Harley material, if you follow me,” I quipped. “So have you smoked any yet yourself? On the other hand…”

“OK you two,” Melissa jumped in, “why not change the subject?”

Was she worried I’d pull out a joint (I had never used the stuff) or just a peacekeeper?

“Yeah,” Lisa said, “here’s a subject:  what was my mom thinking in sending you boys down here anyway?”

Barry Parts XI-XX

Flying Dutchmen and everything from E-Scows to sunfish round out the contingency (mostly old-school wooden catamarans) that raced on Sundays.  If regatta-day was quite windy I’d race a 14-foot Hoby Cat considered gauche and nouveau-riche by the wooden hulled catamaran owners, perhaps because they are lighter and quicker. My girth gave me a decided “keep-the-boat-flat”  advantage on heavy days during the two legs that require tacking, and, being a one-men operation, it was a test of both nautical and tactical skills.  On light wind days I’d race sunfish but not with much success.

So I got past the yacht club, then the pump house, a Canandaigua landmark and scene of an emergency pissing pit stop four years later, when the choice was pee in my car, or behind the “pumpa housa” as Dad called it.  Might have gotten arrested and had a permanent sex-offender for that type of move these days. The walk this day though, back in 1972, was anything but funny.  I’m sure I bothered more than one sunbather, gardener, t-shirted lawn mower with off-the-wall questions or unexpected behavior.

On the walk down the gravel driveway that served four “cottages” on Tichner’s Point I slipped and fell due to a small patch of moss, and that woke me up enough to be a little more presentable, emotionally, for the inevitable inquisitive “where is your father?” “How did you get here?” “Your hand is bleeding, let’s get some iodine on that, and a band-aid,” etc.  Mom, God bless her, had wigged-out multiple times by then, having suffered severe stress due to my younger brother being hospitalized at Strong Memorial Hospital for his first five years.  Oh Adam is a story in himself, and in Mom it caused “hyperactive micromanagement” fueled by regular alcohol ingestion a 50+ cigarettes a day nicotine fix, both habits her shrink called “self medication.” For what, back then, was called manic depression.  As if the Nembutal, Secanol, valium, etc. weren’t enough.  Turns out Mom’s brother became addicted to a variety of pills (handful at a time) due to bizarre misdiagnoses by one, two five, ten VA hospitals in the southeast.  Addiction. It runs in human dynamics as well.

“I’m serious young man, how did you get here?” mom asked in her familiar bark.

“I hitch-hiked, it only took three rides to get here.”

“Then where is your father, and why didn’t he pick you up at John Harrison’s office?”

“I guess I didn’t give him a chance” (an unwritten “Schmidt Men’s code” was to cover for each other) I said in sarcastic battle mode.

“Don’t lay that crap on me.  Do you expect me to believe you just up and hitch-hiked all the way here?  Do you know how dangerous that would be?  Never hitch-hike.  I’ve told you we never pick up hitch-hikers, and thumbing a ride is just as bad.  You could have been kidnapped, or worse!”

“Well Harrison told me to go where my heart told me to go,” I said to the straight-forwardest of my ability.

“Like hell he did!  What is he a quack? No!  He has a lot of books out and researched at Duke and UNC at the same time…you know, that’s unheardof.”

“Yeah mom and I know you love his motorcycle, but when he told me to follow my heart, I made a short stop at Martin’s until Mr. Martin came home, and then made it here by hitch-hiking.  You should be proud.  I forgot Dad (slapped in my face) was going to pick me up.  That hurt!”

“It’s not surprising your father hasn’t called by now.”

And on it went.  Later that same summer my folks had a blowout fundraiser for Project Hope, the floating hospital.  My dad’s band from the 50s in NYC came up for a reunion.  Wild line-up of 15 layers including two pianos, basses and trombones which took turns making the lower-register melody lines that, I swear, were magic.  Never a guitar, and that says it all.  Most of the band had regular gigs in New York still, so many years after the fact.  Their hit was called “I’m Feeling Lucky.”  Dad knew a variety of stars from Johnny Mercer to Lana Turner to Charles Mingus.

On this fine night in July, about 300 were getting smashed, listening to one monster setoff jazz out on the lawn, and, it was a year after the hitching-hiking incident, one of them was Dr. Cleo Alexander : the most flirtatious/pretty doctor anyone ever knew, or hoped to know.

So it was a big night, and here the mom of little miss sexy from the other private school up in Rochester saddles up to the three teenage bartenders…

“Boys, do you know my daughter Lisa?”

“Sure we do,” Thomas said. Thomas lived down at the other end of Trevor Court, and most of the time his family’s obsession with golf prevented them from buying a cottage at the lake, some 40miles away from their investment in the Country Club of Rochester.  It was a rarity to have him down for the weekend.  Also handing out drinks that night was Jerry, the neighborhood basketball and soccer star.

“Well,” Cleo continued, “she’s having a sleep-over down the lake.  The girls have tents up behind the tennis court.  Why don’t you go down and have a panty raid,” she said, slightly tipsy, but matter-of-factly.

The three of us, dumbstruck, looked at each other as if all our dreams had come true.

Jerry “Thanks for the tip mum,” as if British, and we were off, out of there, sprinting 35 yards to the dock, firing up the inboard/outboard engine on a 16-foot Glastron, not checking the gas lever, nevermind that it was pitch black, I had only been to their house once, ,and I couldn’t remember whether it  was three or four points from Tichner’s Point  to (and beyond) Rochester Point.  Of course, Menteeth Point was first up as a landmark. But, at just around midnight, only points were a guide, and damn it, which came first Rochester or Seneca Point?  I knew Seneca was a much more dramatic outcropping, and guessed correctly that Rochester was before Seneca.  Even better, we didn’t run out of gas.

“What the hell Barry, it could be any of these places,” Jerry chirped in the cool night air.  Canandaigua’s water only gets to about 67 degrees in a good august, so at night, the lake cools the air.

“But I know their dock is square and they have a boathouse with a bedroom over it for guests.  Sure enough this place fits that, and I know I’m right.”

“I hope, Thomas said in testosterese. “Throw me a line,” which he tied to a dock post in a hasty but accurate bowline.

“OK boys, here we go, but if this is the wrong house, we just turn and run, right?”Jerry asked.

“Right.”

As soon as we got up the steps I knew I had gotten lucky because I recognized the compound which included two wooden houses carved out of a hill that led up to the tennis court.

“You can hear them up there,” I said, pointing to the tennis court. At full pace we jogged up and Thomas yelled “We’re here ladies.”

They screamed, then one said “who are you, go away, this is private property.”

“Is that you Lisa?” I asked.  “Your mother sent us down here from my parent’s party.”

“Get out of here, she did not,” Lisa belched as she said.

“It’s Barry, I’ve seen your dad out at the jazz club, we’re just out late to have fun, we’re not criminals.

“Let me take a look at you,” Lisa said, as she unzipped a six-man tent, her flashlight ablaze.  “Oh bit’s you three, I see.  Well then, why exactly would your parents let you drive a boat so far at night? And why would my mom send you down here to ruin our slumber party?”
Never shy around  women, Thomas spoke the truth: “she sent us down on a panty raid..”

“OK, that’s it, get out of here!”

“But wait,” Jerry protested, that’s exactly what she said, but thatb doesn’t mean that is what we came down here to do.”

“I have an idea,” Thomas said.  “There are three boys and three tents, if we put one boy in each tent, that wouldn’t be a problem would it? Just to talk.”
“Wait, I’ll ask, “ Lisa said, walking back toward the tents.

“Nice thinking,” Jerry said, jabbing an elbow into his ribs.

“I’ve got Lisa’s tent no matter who else is in there,” I said.

“How do you figure that?” Thomas asked.

“My parent’s party, my boat, my lake knowledge, my pick,” as the snob in me woke up for a late night stroll.

“Oh what an ass, “ Thomas said. “Let’s shot rock, scissors, paper.”

“You and Jerry are free to play for the last two tent, but Lisa’s is mine,” I reiterated. “Since you have no idea who she invited, what’s there to fight over?

Lisa’s flashlight came back in graceful motions its owner displayed, seemingly at all times.

“OK we’re agreed you can stay, but no monkey business with my friends,” she said. I grabbed at her hand, she pulled it away, but I followed closely to her tent where Susan and Melissa were giddy with anticipation, or so it seemed to me. She re-zipped the tent, hung a flashlight by a cleverly constructed intertwine of bungie cords.

Barry Chapter One, Parts I – X

I, Barry, took three rides and a long walk to make it from Rochester to Canandaigua.  I was told by my cousin’s husband, a noted child psychologist and researcher who developed the tests needed to diagnose mental disorders in blind, deaf or both adolescents, to just leave his office and go to where I wanted to be.  It’s hard to believe he didn’t realize how distressed I was, but I felt a type of freedom I never would have allowed myself at the time.

So I caught a ride down Elmwood Avenue from John’s office (appropriately 118 steps from Canon’s, John’s favorite watering hole, a place that also served a divine Welsh rarebit and steaks).  The couple who picked me up was young.

“Where you headed young man?” he asked as the car made it through intersections heading east-south-east past the “State Hospital” which is a catch-all for the mentally ill, eternally homeless or basket cases, known as “lifers.”

“If you’re going all the way to Clover Street, that would be super.  I live near the corner of Clover and East Avenue,” I boldly announced at circus barker volume.

“Oh we can swing that way right honey?” she said, with a look that acted like a nudge. Leaned back and imagined I looked relaxed, even if running on 14-year-old testosterone.  Ten minutes later, maybe less, there we were, in the very green and well manicured neighborhood.

“Thank,” I said, closing the door of their white 19to AMC Ambassador. Funny door handles, kind of square, that pulled open like the latch to an old freezer, only sideways.

Thoughts, a mile-a-minute came into my head, as I had been given official license to do whatever I wanted.  I didn’t notice the walk home, past “Catholic row” where children outnumbered parents by an average of five to one.  I didn’t stop by to see Derek, Jim, John or David as I swung down Georgian Court, a road Mom called “The Gaza Strip.” She being resolutely ethnocentric and “World War II conservative.”

I hung a walking left onto Trevor Court, in a neighborhood (The Barnard Tract)n recently made famous in a book showing just how closed off one rich family was from the others, but this was never true for the kids, back in the 70s.  No. There were pick-up sports games in all three academic seasons.  Summer found us at Canandaigua Lake, visited by cousins, and many others.  The Martins next door got a summer spot near us at the lake also, but were not always at my parents big blow-out parties.  Then, in an act of coincidental synchronicity, the McQuaids bought the ranch house my dad had built by himself (minus plumbing and electricity) 25 years earlier.  It was south of us and on the east die of the lake, near Bare Hill, the Iroquois meeting place.

So, while two hockey rinks kept us skating in the winter (both the McQuaid and Baume kids built rinks every winter), hot-box baseball, soccer, lacrosse, touch football, and basketball kept us moving in the non-snowy months.  It was a type of heaven, but how could we guess that playing outside everyday would become a luxury, and often overlooked in favor of PC games, cellular phones and 2500 “friends” on Facebook?  I was in no way a jock like everyone else, but I still had a great time playing every day.

One the corner of Trevor Court and Georgian court Sandy lived, and he lived to play lacrosse, so he had a goal set up in his back yard. Even well into his 30s when he was home visiting he’d take a jog around the neighborhood with stick, ball and trusty golden retriever.  The guy could run forever, cradling, playing catch with his dog, or trying to set new records for the bounciness of a ball…distances measured in kilometers if the throw was straight enough.

Once in a while he’d miss a shot and a lacrosse ball would lodge in a place where he couldn’t find it in our back yard. Who knows how many months or years later a free lacrosse ball would be found.  I’d throw it into his yard, inevitably screwing up his lawn mowing.  He was about 8 years older so I didn’t know him very well.  He was not the champion jock though. One guy, who almost never joined us in the neighborhood sport because he was at the far end of Georgian Court ended up on the Olympic team and had a few great write ups.  But no write up was as famous as the McQuaids, who had six boys, an exact hockey lineup. Back when there were two papers in town, the Times Union, the evening paper, did a full color shot (rare then)and it turned out at least three of the McQuaids ended up great players.

I blew by my own house, and, taking Doc’s instructions a tad to literally, marched next door and found the Martin’s door unlocked.  I was in love with the older daughter, who was exactly my age, but plenty attracted to her younger sister as well. In 1972 unlocked houses were fairly common, as the robust 60s lowered the crime rate considerably.

So, using the “follow your heart” command I took my semi-psychotic self up to the attic, where parties with Mark and his older friends introduced all of us to better music, alcohol, marijuana and kissing.  There were drinking, smoking and kissing games, with variations that inevitably led to the older attendees laughing at the younger ones.

I don’t remember taking my clothes off, or how I ended up lifting a dropping the barbells that mad enough noise for Mr. Martin, who was home form work to pick up his youngest daughter, Cathy, who had come into the house without me hearing it, two stories up.  But he heard it and came up two flights with Cathy close behind.

“I wonder what that was,” she said, and I recognized the voice without realizing I was buck naked.

“Put your clothes on Barry, what’s going on” Mr. Martin asked, somewhere between furious and humored.

So I put my clothes on while Cathy stared right at my groin.

“Do you need a ride to the lake, we’re heading down now,” he said.  Now Mr. Martin was a second Dad.  He knew all about the emotional fights that emitted loud noises toward his kitchen door.  He hadn’t fully gotten over the times I had chased Ann all over the two yards and beyond trying to get a kiss.  “Kiss Tag” in my mind…terror in hers, I’m sure.

I refused the 45-mile ride out of embarrassment.  Canandaigua didn’t seem like a long way to hitch hike that day.  My mind was split between going to Canandaigua and the  idea that I was free to do anything that day, having been sprung from both parental and super-ego barriers, I was, by any measure, out of my mind.

Thus I didn’t remember how I walked a mile down east avenue to get to the I-490 Linden road on ramp.  And still don’t remember much about the man who got me as far as Victor, the philosophical, if not geographic halfway point to Canandaigua.  From there, another universally-sent ride got me to the northwest corner of the city of Canandaigua, located at the north end of the westernmost of the picaresque Finger lakes.  It was probably anything but a beautiful drive for the 50s couple who picked me up in Victor.  They would have left me by the cornfield on the far side of Boughton Hill if it was up to the driver.  But, the second happy-to-help lady in a row  saved the day.  She managed to get me calmed down enough so I could tell her I lived on West Lake Road, and it was at the beginning of this 20-mile road that I was dropped off.  I got out and started walking, but my outstretched thumb wasn’t working anymore.

A four mile walk is not bad for a 14-year-old, though I had been over 200 pounds since I was 10.  Between 19 and 29 I never felt fat, though hit 330 at one point.  At 29 a member of the International Peace Walk (we were trekking through Russia for peace) told me it was nice to “have a person of size” on the walk, and right then (15 years later) I felt fat; but no one noticed my size again for another 20 years (girlfriends and wives included) until I moved to Korea, where lookism and the horrible looks one gets if chubby are augmented by comments like this one:  I was sitting with a retired opera singer and her photographer husband in his restaurant “museum” in Damyang.  She was about 70 years old.  The very first thing she said to me was not “hello” or “Anyon Haseo, but, “when are you going to lose your weight?” I informed her that I had lost over 23 kilos (that’s over 50 pounds) in the last five years (taking me down to near 240 pounds) and at that point I thought she was going to faint.

But I progress.

I was distracted by a variety of colorful yet confusing items as diverse as a potato bug and an F-150 pick up whose driver missed me by inches while honking his horn.  Where was I the middle of the road?  His truck was white but appeared to change colors over and over after the near-hit.

So in a flat between rises, just before the Canandaigua Yacht Club, I switched to the left side of the road.  It was close to my beloved lake, and maybe I could see cars coming better.  The sun was also different in 1972, and the heat not so pervasive.  You could easily sail, and I did, all day bare-chested with numbered SPF sun goop on (since it hadn’t been invented).  In fact we put on baby oil or Coppertone to ATTRACT more sun.

The yacht club had the largest fleet of wooden-keeled catamarans in existence, as they made fantastic racing boats on a lake where the wind changed directions all the time due to the surrounding hills.

Barry, Chapter One, Part XX

            “I have an idea,” Thomas said.  “There are three boys and three tents, if we put one boy in each tent, that wouldn’t be a problem would it? Just to talk.”
 “Wait, I’ll ask, “ Lisa said, walking back toward the tents.

            “Nice thinking,” Jerry said, jabbing an elbow into his ribs.

            “I’ve got Lisa’s tent no matter who else is in there,” I said.

            “How do you figure that?” Thomas asked.

            “My parent’s party, my boat, my lake knowledge, my pick,” as the snob in me woke up for a late night stroll.

            “Oh what an ass, “ Thomas said. “Let’s shot rock, scissors, paper.”

            “You and Jerry are free to play for the last two tent, but Lisa’s is mine,” I reiterated. “Since you have no idea who she invited, what’s there to fight over?

            Lisa’s flashlight came back in graceful motions its owner displayed, seemingly at all times.

            “OK we’re agreed you can stay, but no monkey business with my friends,” she said. I grabbed at her hand, she pulled it away, but I followed closely to her tent where Susan and Melissa were giddy with anticipation, or so it seemed to me. She re-zipped the tent, hung a flashlight by a cleverly constructed intertwine of bungie cords.

Barry Chapter One, Part XVIII

What the hell Barry, it could be any of these places,” Jerry chirped in the cool night air.  Canandaigua’s water only gets to about 67 degrees in a good August, so at night, the lake cools the air.

            “But I know their dock is square and they have a boathouse with a bedroom over it for guests.  Sure enough this place fits that, and I know I’m right.”

            “I hope, Thomas said in testosterese. “Throw me a line,” which he tied to a dock post in a hasty but accurate bowline.

            “OK boys, here we go, but if this is the wrong house, we just turn and run, right?”Jerry asked.

            “Right.”

            As soon as we got up the steps I knew I had gotten lucky because I recognized the compound which included two wooden houses carved out of a hill that led up to the tennis court.

            “You can hear them up there,” I said, pointing to the tennis court. At full pace we jogged up and Thomas yelled “We’re here ladies.”

Barry Chapter One, Part XVII

            “Well, “Cleo continued, “she’s having a sleep-over down the lake. “The girls have tents up behind the tennis court.  Why don’t you go down and have a panty raid,” she said, slightly tipsy, but matter-of-factly.

            The three of us, dumbstruck, looked at each other as if all our dreams had come true.

            Jerry “Thanks for the tip mum,” as if British, and we were off, out of there, sprinting 35 yards to the dock, firing up the inboard/outboard engine on a 16-foot Glastron, not checking the gas lever, nevermind that it was pitch black, I had only been to their house once, ,and I couldn’t remember whether it  was three or four points from Tichner’s Point  to (and beyond) Rochester Point.  Of course, Menteeth Point was first up as a landmark. But, at just around midnight, only points were a guide, and damn it, which came first Rochester or Seneca Point?  I knew Seneca was a much more dramatic outcropping, and guessed correctly that Rochester was before Seneca.  Even better, we didn’t run out of gas.