The night the Sun met Jupiter, she was getting ready for Bible study. He was at an upstairs apartment pre-party. He and the right Defensive Tackle and second string Wing Back from the Vanderbilt University football team were watching a Mohammad Ali fight when they heard a knock at the door.
Jupiter answered the door with a mouthful of popcorn. Without looking him in the eye, my mother asked that he and the other jocks please keep the noise down because she was expecting her Bible-study-friends in a matter of minutes. The story goes that Jupiter dropped the bowl of corn kernels and almost choked to death the moment he saw her…
I won’t go into the entire story, but I will tell you that four and one-half hours later there was chewing gum and rock and roll involved.
When I was nine, I walked in on my parents making love. From what I remember, it was a Saturday morning and it had just begun to rain. I know it was raining because I had — earlier that morning — ventured to the neighbors’ to go swimming. The dark clouds overhead prompted B.J.s overweight mother to send me home.
B.J. Langford (kaput!) was the very first “best friend” I ever had. He was buck-toothed and queer as the day is long. Even at nine years old, I remember B.J. wanting to, “see what is under those shorts.” Bradley Jefferson Lagford died of immune deficiency something or other in 1997. He was 29 years old.
Upon my return home, I don’t necessarily remember seeing “naked,” but now, looking back, I recall the horrified look of terror, shame and undeniable joy on my father’s face. I quickly turned down the orange, shag-carpeted hallway and proceeded to wonder if mother actually enjoyed wrestling.
My brother, the musician, is going to be a rock and roll star. He started playing the drums a few weeks after our father died. “This is a prime example of displaced anger, aggression and confusion manifesting itself in a very normal progression,” said the counselor. “Scott is simply looking for creative ways to express his insecurities.”
Years later, when asked by a local reporter why he started out playing drums, my brother simply stated, “I guess I just wanted to beat the hell out of something.”
Well put, Scott.
He would teach himself to play guitar, piano, mandolin and harmonica… among other things. But, it wasn’t until he appeared in his high-school presentation of Fiddler on the Roof that we—including him—realized he could carry a tune. He was Perchick, the student from Kiev:
“I used to tell myself that I had everything… But that was only half-true… I had an aim in life… And that was everything… But now I even have yoouuuuuu…”
Fiddler on the Roof, based on the short story “Tevye and His Daughters” by Sholom Aleichem, was one of the first musicals to defy Broadway’s established rules of commercial success. Set in 1905, the story takes place in Anatevka, a small Jewish village in Russia. The plot revolves around a dairyman, Tevye, and his attempts to preserve his family’s traditions in the face of a changing world.
An actor by the name of Paul Michael Glaser played the role of Perchick in the film version of the story. Glaser’s real-life wife gave immune deficiency something or other to her kids after a blood transfusion went awry (kaput!) (kaput!) (kaput!).
Ah, the circle of life!
Scotty didn’t care about the historical and political significance of Fiddler on the Roof, or even the tragic plight of the Glaser family… he simply wanted to sing.
Mother got spayed after Scott was born. As it turns out, he was an “oops! baby,” and my parents wanted to make sure something like that never happened again.
Joshua, the baseball player, is adopted. He was born in a trailer near Orange County, Florida, almost two years before father went (kaput!) Josh’s birth mother was my age when he was conceived. She had a baby, and I didn’t even have hair under my arms.