The Adventures of the Odd Boys: A True Story...Chapter 6
Rob AKA "Shaggy"
Freddy AKA "Fatz"
Javier AKA "Toro"
Francois AKA "Paris"
The Adventures of the Odd Boys on Thanksgiving
Intro: These memoirs are true tales from my teen years. These stories take place in Brooklyn, NY, between Spring 1983 and the Summer 1985—my “glory days” and the best time of my life. These remembrances are about friendship and young love. My recollections revolve around the close group of friends I had at the time, and about my first love—the one that got away. The one you never forget!
The Odd Boys meet the Model
It was almost Thanksgiving of November 1983. I was 18 years old and halfway through my first semester in college. The leaves were changing color and the days had gotten shorter. Every week was a little colder than the last and winter was creeping closer and closer, like a predator.
I was doing pretty well in my studies, which surprised my family, because I had been an under-achieving B-minus student in High School, but college was a bit different to me. Less time was spent dealing with bullies and cliques of vacuous teenage circle queens who looked down disdainfully on me. No one bothered me in college, which was a boon to my grades. True, I wasn’t exactly popular but that didn’t matter to me, because I had some good buddies to spend my time with off campus.
In the earlier chapters, I wrote about my three best friends “Fatz”, “Toro” and “Paris”. I was known as “Shaggy” (Like the guy from Scooby Doo) and we were collectively known as the Odd Boys. It was a self-proclaimed title, although no one else disputed it because the whole world thought we were a bunch of oddities. We were four freaks who didn’t belong anywhere, except with each other. I don’t know how I would have survived those years without my Odd Boys at my side. I’ll never have friends like that again.
As I was saying, Thanksgiving was rolling around again. It was Saturday and my parents had gone away for the weekend, as they often did. Once a month, they would go to spend the weekend with their close friends the Larsons, who lived in upstate in Putnam County, NY. They were due back Sunday night at about 8pm. Since Thanksgiving was going to be here a mere four days after they returned and they both had to work Monday-Wednesday, my mom was worried that she wouldn’t have time to get everything done in time for the guest arrival Thursday. Therefore, she left me a list of chores to do over the weekend. One was to dust and vacuum, which was actually a waste of my time because my mother would invariably re-vacuum and re-dust after I was done anyway.
Another thing I had to do was to bring the clothes to the Laundromat. We all had to be dressed in our Sunday best for Thanksgiving, so everything needed to be clean, clean, clean. Normally, we would just use our washing machine. The problem today was that we had no dryer. Normally we’d hand the clothes on the clothesline and they’d be dry in a few hours. However, there was a drizzle in the air, so we couldn’t use the clothesline. Also, the load we had this time was far too big for a single, or even a double wash in our machine. I was therefore instructed to go to the Laundromat so I could use the big washer and dryer.
After I was done with the wash and dry, I was ordered to bring the clothes to my grandmother who lived downstairs (my grandparents owned the house and my family lived on the second floor) so she could iron them. My mother didn’t trust me with the iron. I don’t know if she thought I was going to burn the clothes or burn myself or burn the house down, but I was forbidden to use the iron. (Not that I minded. That was one restriction I didn’t fight. I was selectively rebellious.)
Being a typical teenage guy, the moment my parents left, I called up my pals and asked them to come over. Paris was going to be delayed by some family obligation but he was going to join us later. Fatz had his own bundle of laundry which had been assigned to him by his mother, so he was game to join me on my little chore. He was much more familiar with doing laundry at the Laundromat anyway, because he had to do it every week for his mom. Toro met up with us and while he had no laundry of his own, he was willing to come along.
It was about 6pm before we ran out of reasons to procrastinate. Also, my Grandmother began yelling up the stairs “Did you do that laundry yet? I didn’t see you taking the clothes to the laundry!” Nag, nag, nag.
My two pals and I headed to the Laundromat. (It was open until 9pm) It was just around the corner, but any chore makes the trip seem much longer. It was dark already by the time we got there (I hate those short winter days) which increased the gloomy feeling of having to do chores on a Saturday. I always looked forward to those weekends when my parents were away and having to do laundry was a bummer!
When we walked into the Laundromat, there was no one there except for one amazingly pretty girl. She had long, blonde hair and blue eyes. She had very full, sensual lips. She actually looked quite a lot like a young Kim Basinger. The three of us paused for a second because none of us expected to run into someone who looked like that in a place like this. She seemed to be very distracted but she noticed us staring at her, so we went about our business.
Fatz began to load his wash into the machine while Toro took off his jacket to show off his bulging biceps. I was feeling out of my element. I wasn’t used to Laundromats and I was never comfortable around hot girls, so I was feeling doubly awkward.
Fatz had to leave us for a little while because it was dinner time for him and Fatz didn’t like to miss a meal. He went back home, saying he’d be back in a half hour. Paris still hadn’t shown up, so it was just Toro and I with the laundry and the cute girl.
Toro tried for a while to attract her attention but she didn’t pay him any mind. She went several times to the pay phone but she didn’t seem to get through to anyone. At least, she didn’t say anything. Toro gave up after a while. He and I sat talking about movies for a while, then he stepped out to pick up a pack of cigarettes from the store across the street. So it was just me and her.
“Excuse me,” she said to me. “Do you have a dime? I need to make a phone call and I’m out of change.”
“Oh sure,” I said, always a bit nervous talking to a female. I had a pocket full of change. Mostly quarters but a few dimes and nickels, too. “Here you go.”
“Thanks a bunch,” she said, and went back to the phone. She dialed again (It was a rotary phone), waited, than hung up.
“No answer?” I asked.
“No,” she said. “I got an answering machine, so I can’t give you your dime back. Sorry.”
“Oh, that’s okay,” I said. “I think I can survive without it.”
She gave me a weak smile and then stared at the floor, lost in thought.
“Um, is everything okay?”
She nodded. “Yeah. It’s just…Life, you know.”
“Anything I can do?”
“I don’t think so,” she said. “It’s just…problems, you know?”
“Do you want to talk about it?”
“Actually yeah,” she said. “I really do.”
So she talked to me for a while. Her name was Laura. It turns out she was a model who had moved here from Ohio and was living with some guy. They had a fight and were breaking up, so she was trying to get in touch with one of her girlfriends who she was hoping would put her up for a while until she found a place of her own.
While I was talking to her, Toro came back in. I’ll never forget the look on his face when he saw me…nerd that I was…talking to the ridiculously hot girl who’d snubbed him. Soon, Fatz showed up, and he was just as amazed as Toro was.
Later, the clothes were ready and everyone was getting ready to go on their ways. She thanked me for listening to her.
“No problem,” I said. “Anytime. Maybe I’ll see you again. I live right around the corner here, on 41st street.”
We said out goodbyes and I left with my two pals. Toro laughed. “You playboy! Who knew you were a chick magnet.”
“I was just talking to her,” I said.
“She was a babe,” Fatz said. “Did you get her number?”
“No,” I said.
“Idiot!” they both said.
When we got back to my house, Paris was waiting on the porch, suffering though one of my Grandfather’s endless stories. Even though it was a chilly November night, Grandpa was outside sweeping the leaves off the porch when Paris arrived and got trapped in a tale of the past. When he saw me coming, his look said, ‘Thank God’.
“Excuse me, Mr. G,” he said to the old man. “I gotta say hi to Rob.”
He came over to me and whispered “Kill me, now!” Toro laughed.
I dropped the laundry off with my Grandmother to iron and then my buddies and I went upstairs to my place. Toro was telling Paris about Laura.
“Sounds like she was totally into you,” Paris said. “You should’ve asked her out.”
“He won’t do that because she’s not Gina,” Fatz said. “He’s a one-girl dude.”
“Can we change the subject?” I yelled.
They continued to needle me for a while but eventually we segued into our usual topics of conversation and the whole thing was forgotten.
Well, not totally. Later that night, after my pals had left, I lay in bed, petting my dog Scrapper, and I thought about Laura, which was weird because this was the first time I had given a thought to any girl beside Gina. Ever since I’d met her earlier that year, it was like no other girl existed. I wondered what it was about Laura that got passed my Gina obsession and had me laying there thinking about her.
“She was gorgeous, Scrapper,” I said out loud to the little Yorkie. “The other guys were so jealous.”
Scrapper just wagged his tail, which is what he did no matter what I said to him. He was a great listener.
The Next Day…
The following morning, I got early to walk little Scrapper. We walked around the block and passed the Laundromat and thought about the night before and meeting Laura. It was a big thing for me because talking to a model was not something that generally happened to me.
As Scrapper and I were returning to the house, I heard a motor cycle coming up behind me. I didn’t think too much of it until it stopped in the gutter next to me. The driver took of her helmet. I couldn’t believe it.
It was Laura.
“Hi,” she said.
I was taken off guard. “Uh, hi. This is a surprise.”
‘I’m glad I caught you,” she said. “You said you lived on this block.”
“Yeah, I do,” I said, still a bit befuddled.
“What a cute dog,” she said, kneeling down next to my little yorkie, who jumped up and down, excitedly. He loved meeting new people. “What’s his name?”
“That’s Scrapper”, I said. “Uh…You said you were looking for me?”
Yeah,” she said. “I got in touch with my friend and she said I can stay with her as long as I want.”
“Anyway, I just wanted to thank you,” she said. “I was feeling pretty sorry for myself last night and you were a big help.”
“No charge,” I told her. “I’m just glad you’re feeling better today.”
“Much!” she said. “Hey, you wanna go for a ride?”
“On your bike?”
“Sure,” she said. “Come on.”
I decided to be spontaneous. “Sure, why not. Just give me a minute. I dropped Scrapper off in the house, fed him and rushed back out to Laura.
“You ready?” she asked.
Just as I was climbing on the back of the cycle, I saw the familiar brown Grand Am pulling up in from of my house. The shaded windows rolled down and I saw my long-time dream-girl. Gina was here!
She looked at me climbing on the back of Laura’s motor cycle. She had a strange look on her face. “Hey, Rob. Are you going someplace?”
“Yeah,” I said. “What’s going on?”
She looked at Laura and then at me. She seemed a bit cold. “I need your help. I’ve been trying to read this book called Les Miserables. Do you know it?”
“Of course I do,” I said. ‘Who doesn’t?”
Gina seemed unusually stern. “I haven’t and I can’t get through the stupid thing. I was wondering if you could help me with it.”
‘Yeah, okay,” I said. ‘I’ll be back a later. I’ll call you later today.”
She looked a little angry. “Don’t let me keep you,” she said. She quickly closed the car window and drove off abruptly. Was she upset with me for some reason?
“Girlfriend?” Laura asked.
“Uh…unspecified status,” I said.
“Well, hang on,” Laura said.
She took my hands and wrapped them around her. “To me, you dope.”
She gunned the engine and off we went, shooting up the street like a runaway comet. It was the first and only time I would ever ride a motor cycle. I was a bit nervous but also excited. I was starting to really like this girl. We rode to Sunset Park and up a hill which was one of the highest points in Brooklyn. We could see the Manhattan skyline. The Twin Towers, the Empire State Building and the rest.
“I like this spot,” she said. “I come here to think sometimes.”
“I’ve been here before,” I said. “I like this spot, too.”
“If figured you would,” she said. ‘You’re a really good guy. Last night when I needed to talk, you listened. Just listened. You didn’t want anything. That meant a lot to me. Most guys would have tried to hit on me while I was vulnerable, but not you. You understood that I just got out of a relationship and I needed a friend.”
Any thought I may have had of asking her out faded away. Mr. Nice-Guy had sabotaged himself again. How could I ask her on a date after that?
“I’m glad I could help,” I said.
We talked for a while and then she said she had to go. She thanked me again for helping her and we exchanged phone numbers. I decided to walk home so she gave me a hug and left me there.
“Stuck in the friend zone, again,” I muttered.
Later That Day…
I was back home with my three buddies Fatz, Paris and Toro. I was telling them about Laura. I think they were a bit envious, even though nothing actually happened. I was still too confused to even be sure what happened myself.
“She liked you,” Toro said. “She didn’t give you no ride on her bike just to say thanks.”
“He’s right,” Paris said. “And she gave you her number? She wants you to call her.”
That reminded me that I had to call Gina. I phoned her up and she was still sounding a bit distant. ‘Are you sure you have time for me?” she said.
“Why wouldn’t I?” I asked. “I always have time for you.”
She seemed to be placated by that a bit but still seemed a tad less friendly than usual. After I hung up, I asked my pals about it.
“She’s jealous,” Paris said.
“Word up!” Toro said. “She’s mad that she saw you with another chick!”
“That makes sense,” Fatz said. “She sees a threat.”
Jealous? Why would she be jealous? Unless she actually thought of me as something more than a buddy. Could that be true? And could it be possible that a model liked me? I found it all unbelievable. Two beautiful girls interested in me? Nah!
But what if?
So that’s the end of chapter six and my Thanksgiving week adventure. Join the Odd Boys again in Chapter Seven for an Odd Boys Christmas Carol.