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The Blog Brothers

Two Black-Irish-American brothers from the mythical city of Albany, New York ponder their 20th century adventures from either side of the Pacific Ocean; Bob in Kyoto, Japan and Mick in Santa Barbara, California.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Tall Enough to Tell the Tale

You've got me there, Bob (see previous post); but as I've been saying more and more frequently lately, it seems to be the names that go first. That means I've got a lot of nameless faces floating around in my head these days, but I've learned to cherish the memories, with or without the names. I do remember that face vividly, though, and also remember his parents - and that '50 Chevy - very well.

I also recall spending an afternoon fishing with him from a rowboat out on the still, cold waters of Brant Lake in the Adirondacks. He was a true character, full of piss and vinegar; and unless my mind is telling tall tales on his behalf, I believe he landed what looked to be a pretty good-sized smallmouth bass that day. Of course, I was far more excited about it than he was; perhaps it looked much smaller to him?

I have a much clearer memory, though, of the dart sticking out of the back of my hand at the Delaware Tavern than I do of the legendary "turkey" moment, for understandable reasons. Not only did it dampen my love for the world of darts (a tough blow for one raised in bars), but to this day I have mixed feelings about the memory itself.

It seems that initially the crowd of revelers greeted my childish mistake - foolishly reaching for darts on the board while someone sober enough to stand but too drunk to see, was about to launch his shoulder-fired missile - with a roar of laughter. Time and the blessed imagination of the Irish, however, have given me a better ending.

As I stood there staring at my impaled hand - Christ-like, virtually nailed to the board - I calmly reached up and drew out the offending projectile, jammed it into the bullseye, and walked slowly back to my seat, droplets of blood tracing my footsteps to the table.

The silence in the room was palpable; but its vacuum was suddenly replaced by a deafening roar of cheering, clapping and the stamping of feet, quickly erasing any vestiges of shame left in my heart. Clutching my bloodied hand with the other, and lifting my head to the onlooking crowd, I whispered hoarsely, 'Don't worry, my friends; it's only a flesh wound.'

How do you remember it? Did I leave anything out?

Author's note, added the following day: I was lying in bed last night, about to drift off to dreamland, when suddenly the ceiling above my bed opened up to reveal a vast midnight sky filled to overflowing with glittering stars. From deep within a bank of silvery clouds came a voice, saying "Bobby! Bobby! Bobby Van Buren!" Then I fell into a deep and restful sleep until the room was once again full of sunlight. Morpheus always seems to do his best work in that twilight zone between wakefulness and the semicoma of deep sleep.


Blogger Mick Brady said...

It just occurred to me: Bobby!

9:25 PM  
Blogger Pauline said...

What fun to listen to the two of you unravel your boyhoods. I live just an hour from Albany and have been there numerous times.

5:52 AM  
Blogger Mick Brady said...

Pauline, it's great to hear from a former neighbor; especially such an apparently literate one.

If there's even the slightest chance that we might be in the same age range, it's possible (more than likely) that one of us (or perhaps both) tried to chat you up (hit on you) at one of the local pubs (meat markets) back in the day.

Thanks for the comment. I'll be joining you as you tell your story on your site as well.

12:11 PM  
Blogger Pauline said...

If either or both of you tried to chat me up I'd surely remember - you didn't by any chance work the carnival at the fair in Great Barrington one summer, did you?

3:58 AM  
Blogger Mick Brady said...

No, Pauline, but it's a tantalizing thought to consider: the spring of youth, a carnival in Great Barrington on a summer's eve, and a lovely young lady.... aah, you've made my day. :)

10:12 AM  
Blogger Pauline said...

more's the pity - I've been trying to track that carnival boy down for decades ;)

4:31 PM  
Blogger Bob Brady said...

Yo, Mick, late to the party... Bobby! That's right! I must've filed that in the mind-compartment with my own kidname and didn't see it. I wasn't there when you did the dart-from-back-of-hand-to-bullseye gesture that brought the house down, but I heard about it from many patrons of the Post. Just like you, to bullseye the moment. Thanks for the memories. Onward, into the past!

11:49 PM  
Anonymous Winston said...

Great story Mick! As to whether it actually happened that way, is digitally enhanced, or spawned from the loins of demon rum, matters not. It's a great story that secures your rightful place in the annals of Albany folklore, forever and ever amen...

But you know, Bob just asked if you remembered the Van Buren kid's name. Then you spin this wild yarn about being nailed Christ-like to the dart board. Methinks you're becoming one with Second Life. Give your avatar the day off... heh...

6:12 PM  
Blogger Mick Brady said...

Thanks, Winston, old pal. I'll plead part guilty, part innocent, and part simply victim of genetic inheritence.

First, of course, the innocent part.... if you'll notice in the second paragraph of the previous post, Bob asked me to "kindly elaborate on the dart-in-hand memory and its fringes," so I can hardly stand accused of throwing that story out gratuitously. I was just being kind.

Followed by, in its own natural progression, the guilty part: the bare bones story, which most would have to admit, is fairly boring and hardly heroic; in fact, barely worth writing about. Raised in bars, a kid reaches up to pull a dart from the board in the middle of the game, etc., etc. The rest may or may not have happened quite that way.. no, actually I probably ran to my father crying... but I couldn't resist a bit of 50s western movie melodrama to spice it up. Definitely guilty as charged.

But my case rests on the final part, and I assume this will get me off. I'm Irish. 100% Irish, down to the bone. This means that I have a certain irrepressible tendency to exxagerate, elaborate, spin fanciful yarns like sugar candy at a fair. This is the equivalent of an Italian talking with his hands. In short, I'm pleading innocent due to a genetic predisposition to fantasy.

Funny you should mention that Second Life business, though; I think you really are onto something there. Your comment happened to be posted while I was taking a four-day break in Chicago, sans computer. The odd thing is, tough, I would invariably wind up talking about SL to nearly every one I met, and I noticed that their eyes would soon glaze over before they began backing slowly away. Hmmm. You might have hit upon something I should take a Second Look at.

4:22 AM  

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