Memories and Memorials

The theme of this weekend was “Go!” Friday was spent trying to shake off the client session from Hell (that would be a commercial recording session that went too long and had too much drama).

But, after a couple of bourbons, some a wonderful dinner with J and Maya at a great restaurant in Concord (California) called “A and Noi,” and I was feeling much better. Ah…

Saturday was a much more reflective affair when I attended a memorial get together for Ron — a friend from high school who died earlier this month after suffering multiple heart attacks. We arrived late because I had to do a remote broadcast from some RV show at the Pleasanton Fairground (Yeah, I know you’re all very jealous. I can just feel you all seething with envy) so it was pretty much over when we got there. However, there were a lot of pictures and even a copy of a high school yearbook from the year I graduated. I never bought a copy of my yearbook, so this was the first time I was looking at it since probably 1984 (my friend Paul had a copy and I saw it a few times at his house).

Wow! Talk about a flood of memories coming back. It was very odd to see pictures of my classmates (and myself) between the ages of 17 and 18. But what I had forgotten was how popular and active Ron was in high school. I was kind of a quiet kid (until I started acting and television classes), and I only had a few friends. But looking at the yearbook, it was amazing to see how many photographs Ron was in. Gregarious, outgoing, enthusiastic, talented, friendly, and optimistic. Those are the words I would use to describe him. But like most people, he had other sides to him that were not-so-glowing.

Like many people, after high school it’s common to lose contact with people you shared your school days with. Ron was one such person. I wasn’t close to him high school, but we were friendly to one another because we had many of the same friends. So he remained in a larger circle of friends, but mostly was in the periphery.

From 1987 to 1997, I don’t think I ever saw Ron. Then, after moving back to California from Philadelphia, I got an invitation from my friend Scott to attend a film screening of some of his work. When I arrived, there was Ron working the room (Ron and Scott were partners in film ventures). He came up to me and gave me a hearty handshake and a hug and asked how I was. At the same screening was my friend Paul (who I lost contact with as well). Paul and I were able to catch up a bit, exchanged contact info, and have stayed in touch ever since. Ron, however, was more elusive in terms of staying in contact — or maybe it was me. Yes, it was me.

In 1997, as more and more people were jumping on email to keep in contact with their friends, I started getting jokes from Ron (I believe he got my email addy from the film screening). I know, you probably get forwarded jokes too. And if you’re like me, you just delete them. But, these jokes were coming fast and furious, (couple times a day, and there were 10 to 15 jokes per email), and I was getting annoyed. I asked him to take me off his group list, and he was kind of offended. He wanted to know why I didn’t want to laugh or smile. I just said “I am so busy with my dissertation, that I don’t have time to read them. No offense (even though I was probably causing offense), but it’s just that I’m dealing with a lot right now.” He dutifully took me off his list, but after that he was a bit cool and reserved around me when our paths crossed.

Then, when word came of his death, I just kind of went into a reflective mode where I started recalling all the times Ron and I were contact. Since I don’t want you to think that the two of us had a frosty relationship, I leave you with this:

In 1984, I was trying very hard to make a film in college that was a bathetic mess. I was struggling with the screenplay, and because I was insecure about my work, I dragooned as many people as I could into the writing process. Big mistake! Too many cooks in the kitchen and all that. I was frustrated, so I was getting ready to pull the plug on the whole thing. And then Ron (who wasn’t even a student at my college) stepped up and volunteered to help me finish the draft. He had written a few things, seemed confident in his abilities, and, most importantly, really liked the story. So, for a solid week, the two of us reworked the script into a presentable first draft, and if it wasn’t for Ron, I would never have finished the thing. It was never made into a film, but the screenplay was completed and it got some decent feedback from a couple of professors. And now it remains buried underneath a pile of letters and other assorted memorabilia in a box somewhere amongst my stuff. Every now and then, I happen upon the screenplay when search for something, and while I experience a lot of embarrassment re-reading some of the scenes, I mostly remember the hard work that went into it, and the wonderful contribution Ron made.

Lastly, I know Ron was a fan of Billy Joel and Elton John, but I have fond memories of getting ready for a performance of My Sister Eileen during my senior year of high school in 1983, and the entire cast (Ron included) dancing and shouting to the following songs prior to us going on stage to perform for 20 or 30 people who seemed to love high school plays.

The Vapors “Turning Japanese” (Listen HERE)
The Tubes “Talk To Ya Later” (Listen HERE)

(From L to R) Paul, me, Scott, & Ron (1997)


Ron probably wondering why I can’t take a joke anymore.
Paul and Scott are getting ready for the fists to start flying. πŸ˜‰

–PK

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