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I’m back


It’s been a busy couple of months since I last filed a column at the end of June.
In July, my oldest and dearest friends, Frank and Jan, stopped by for a long weekend.
Frank and I go back to junior high.
In the earliest days of our friendship, we went stag to the Rolling Meadows movie theater and sat, an open seat between us, hoping a couple of lovelies would look over and find us irresistible.
Then, as we matured, we’d take dates to the show instead of hoping they parachuted into the seats next to us.
Frank was quite the lady’s man and taught me my first pickup move: pretend you’re yawning and then casually put your arm around the shoulders of your date to cop a hug. It was the day of the twin bill– two movies for the price of one– and, more than once, I walked out after the last credits rolled with an arm gone limp and a date with soaked shoulders.
From there, things got kinky.
Underclassmen in high school, somehow we got it in our head the best way to attract the attention of the fairer sex was to strew toilette paper all over her yard late at night. We were going for the bad boy vibe, not afraid to commit the heinous crime of littering. The ploy never actually worked, but we did get pretty good at it. The secret is to play out about a dozen sheets before throwing the roll. At the epitome of this weird dating ritual, we planned to TP an entire commuter train while it was moving. We’d have to beat the gals off with a stick if we pulled that off.
As upperclassmen, we swam in mainstream. Once we even double-dated and took our lasses to the restaurant at the top of Arlington Heights Hilton.
The Hilton was the epitome of posh. On the sixth and top floor, its large windows offered the discerning diner a view of the nearby Arlington Park Race Track and the smog obscuring the iconic Chicago skyline (this was before the Clean Air Act of 1973). It also had sophisticated entertainment. I don’t remember his name, so I’ll just say Larry Loungelizard was playing. He wore a polyester suit with a shirt unbuttoned to his navel to show off an improbable hairy chest and heavy gold chain. Larry covered Tom Jones.
It was also expensive, at least for us. We saved up money for months, and by the time of our tete-a-tete, we had something like 33 dollars and 42 cents between us. We misspoke a lot of French back then, Frank said he’d heard girls liked it. We were sure that was plenty, but then the menus came. Frank and I did the math immediately: if everyone ordered a main entree, we’d be bankrupt. Making matters even worse, the menus given to the gals didn’t have prices.
“Order what you want ladies,” Frank said magnanimously, and then offered he heard the hamburger basket was “exquisite’” with a French accent and a wink to me.
When it came time to order, my date seemed to pick up on what was going on and requested the very same basket. Bless her! Frank and I chimed in we were having the same, but then it was Frank’s date’s turn. She started with an appetizer of escargot and then pointed to the Surf and Turf.
So we ate the burgers, choking down every bite. When the check came, Frank grabbed it and announced he needed to visit the toilet, and motioned I should come, perhaps the only time I went to the bathroom with a guy friend. With “What’s New, Pussycat?” in the background, we counted our money. Thank God we had just enough, including a stingy 50-cent tip. And then the bathroom attendant– the first time either of us had ever seen a bathroom attendant– held out his hand, and Frank put a buck in it.
Nuts, out of space. Stay subscribed.