Jolly Old Joe’s

           While much has been written about the college days and after, given that they were significantly more interesting than high school which lacked the dramatic punch of say a Bayside or West Beverly, it is worth mentioning some of the Joe’s stories which have been alluded to here and there. My thought is publish them quickly and let Louis rail and denounce, making empty threats of furnishing the “real” story. Most of these, however, are extremely innocuous and pose little threat to reputations, though perhaps I will be proven wrong by some poor tool whose employer makes decisions based on a blogged account of events 20 years prior writes to fuss.

            Though I already told the tale of how a grand number of people mentioned herein met up, I’d like to revisit freshman year and how I met Louis, the catalyst for this group forming in the first place. Come to think of it, chances are it would have anyway but just without me in it which we all can assume would have been a dreary affair indeed. Both shoved into the honors program due to being scholarship recipients, we had most classes the same that year and happened to sit next to each other in Music Appreciation and established a consensus between us, and with Jim Matuzak next to Louis, that the class did indeed truly suck as a complete waste of time. We also began talking during the long trudges back and forth between the freshman building and the main campus.

            Our inaugural year was the last in which the Freshman Building (the basement of the church across the street) was utilized. The building held our homerooms as well as a few different classes, but the good Brothers arranged it so that it would be necessary to send us out into the cold, rain, and all manner of foul weather to get to gym, lunch, and of course music appreciation. As Louis was really the first person I talked to that year, I took to making the voyage while talking to him; a risky endeavor at best as it often seemed likely that we would be tardy. Louis was in the habit of lugging around a bag intended for hockey equipment in which he had stashed the books and material for every class. I never understood if it was an anathema to utilizing the lockers or he just preferred to be a heavy traveler. I also need to mention that he was only 12 at the time and had not hit any type of growth spurt, possibly a byproduct of his heinous diet, so going was slow as he struggled under the impressive weight.

            He did most of the talking, in these trips and at lunch when I was treated to the sight of him dinning exclusively on products made by Hostess, Hershey, and the powerful Mountain Dew conglomerate. My apologies; he also participated on pizza Wednesdays electing to grab a slice of La Hacienda, extra greasy with a tongue drying layer of flour underneath. His grand scheme was to launch a war games club apart from the war games club that already existed and roped me into talking to Mr Scott for permission to start it. I liked the idea of having my name associated with starting something and having to do relatively little work on behalf of it, so I went along willingly enough. You all know how the rest of losers were drawn in like moths by the most brilliant beacon of geekishness this side of Trekkies. This reminds me of one of Louis’s best quotes of the year, uttered in Br John’s religion class, “I’ve been called a nerd so many times I’m beginning to get a superiority complex.”

            One of the more notable things worth mentioning was Knaus’s ability to crack the combination of anyone’s locker within 15 minutes using a simple algorithm and taking advantage of the degree of ‘swing’ for any of the combination numbers. Although he didn’t have the propensity to steal, he did enjoy the power of being able to get into anywhere he pleased. Occasionally he would leave little indicators that he was there. Although many suspected he had this talent, he refused to confirm it. I was fortunate enough to catch him in the act once and thus became a co conspirator as the alternative was that he would direct his attentions toward my stuff. I once convinced him to play a prank on Sean O’Donnell by completely emptying his locker contents into Luke Pryzbla’s along with a note announcing his wishes to cohabitate cozily. As expected, much of his stuff was scattered and destroyed, Luke having little patience for our little games.

            The most memorable occurrence was when he began screwing with Mike Ende by breaking into his locker several times a day and rearranging things. He sidled up to me one day in the commons and announced his suspicions in a hushed voice. He had a plan though, and quite a reaching one at that given the frivolous nature of the intrusion. Mike elected not to take Doc Breem’s physics class but instead opted to take the electronics course instead; St Joe’s version of ‘shop’. As they had to design a simple project as part of the class, Mike used it as an opportunity to design a locker alarm that would emanate an annoying beeping sound when triggered. Although I was already in cahoots with Knaus as the time, I decided to play mum enjoying the idea of him being caught in his fledgling endeavors as a second story man. Mike finished his project, tested it, and set it up one day staying late after school.

            There are a few reasons why things went wrong. The first mistake was that he thought he could outwit Knaus at his own game, though in his defense none of us understood the extent of his manic tendencies. As predicted, Knaus broke into his locker the next morning, but immediately detected the presence of the trap, disabled it, then re-enabled it so that simply banging on the door would set it off for a several minute period. He did his usual rearrangement, shut the door, banged it with is fist a la Fonz, and stalked off.

The second mistake was the Mike picked a day when he would not be coming in until lunch time due to a doctor’s appointment. The third was that his locker was in fairly close proximity to the faculty lounge. Word spread quickly that a quick pass and bang of Mike’s locker would set the thing off to the growing irritation of both the lounge and the classroom beside the offending space. By the time Mike came in, a faculty posse had formed ready to lynch him then and there. Fortunately his father, a history teacher there and possessor of the worst comb over in history of bald denial, was able to have his life spared. In the end, he was still never able to prove it was Paul, who continued his daily harassment until graduation.

Knaus did, however, decide to punish me for not warning him of Ende’s alarm as he was correctly convinced that I knew about it and enjoyed the idea of him being caught. In his usual style he bided his time until I was no longer expecting it. A bunch of us were hanging out after school for a reason I can’t recall and remember O’Donnell and possibly Louis being present. In any case, at some point my bag disappeared causing me some amount of consternation since my assignments were within it, including a famously long Doc Breem lab report. No one would own up to having hidden it and I had to leave that day without it, and under the impression that it had been locked in the library behind a book shelf. O’Donnell pointed the finger at Knaus and Knaus at O’Donnell.

That night I spent more than a great deal of time talking to each of them on the phone trying to get some notion of the truth. By the end of the evening, Knaus in his crafty way had me utterly convinced that not only did Sean maliciously screw me, but that if I didn’t manage to grab my bag at the moment the library opened, it would likely be discovered and stolen or disposed of. I was enraged and spent my last call of the night hurling threats and slander against an obstinate O’Donnell. I spent the remainder of the night trying to recreate the lab so I would have something just in case, not getting to bed until 2:00 AM, with my alarm set for 4:00 AM. I wanted to get to school by 5:30 AM you see, which is when Knaus told me the library opened up. Bleary eyed and miserable, I made it there, only to sit waiting until 7:30 when it actually opened. I rushed in, pushing the librarian aside and combed the aisles. It wasn’t there! I demanded she tell me where it could have gone, and mid-frantic appeal I suddenly caught site of Knaus’s smirk though the window. He was holding my bag up like the prize marlin, having stashed it in his car the evening before.

Since I had to go and mention Doc Breem, and enough people have asked, I’ll go ahead and devote a little time to this character whose over the top style landed him a place amongst the most memorable of our instructors. Aaron is anxious to hear about the English long bow, and I have to admit, he told a memorable story about it. Doc in his fairly high pitched voice began the story with the adaptation of the longbow by the Welsh under Prince Llewellyn and how well they used it to give King Edward Long Shanks (yes, the same one from Braveheart) a really hard time until Ed managed to starve them out and adopt the weapon himself, much to the dismay and defeat of Mel Gibson; though Doc neglected to mention that part. He went on to brag as if he had been there, of the great battle at Crecy during the 100 Year War in which the English longbow proved to be a far more powerful weapon than the soon to be outdated crossbow. In this case Edward III and his son known as Edward the Black Prince for some reason, laid a clever little trap, setting up a small force of archers on high ground above a whole lot of muck. The French force, outnumbering them 3 or 4 to one, managed to wipe out perhaps as many as 10,000 men while only losing a few hundred by firing a seemingly endless volley of arrows through the Frenchies old timey plate armor.

Doc truly enjoyed his tales of mayhem and often made such claims as having seen such things as a man nailed to a tree with shrapnel from 40 yards away, although he refused to explain the circumstances in which his was treated to such a site. While he never directly claimed he was at Crecy himself, he offered no indication that he was not either. His experiences taken together indicated a man with a richness of experience far beyond his years. It also occurred to some of us that when he told of his bad old Brooklyn knife fighting days, the impetus of the story may have been that he caught ‘West Side Story’ on the tube the night before.

In addition to his personal experiences, he also had a great deal of knowledge concerning assassinations (presumably by the Russians) of leading scientists working on secret government projects. I believe it is possible his tales served as the inspiration for the conspiracy nut legend that the oil companies killed the man who developed a car that ran on water. He went so far as to offer sanctuary, no questions asked, if assassins ever came after any of us as he had been in that situation and knew what to do. Still to do this day I occasionally get the urge to don a battered trench coat and show up at Doc’s door some windy rainy night clutching a folder full of papers and sporting a haunted look. I don’t know if what stops me is the idea that I would give the old man a heart attack at having his bluff called, or that he would whip out a 9 mm and start firing into the night. Either way not much good could come of it.

I will round this hodge podge of memories out by coming back to Louis; a tribute to the most impressive prom date story as modesty seems to be preventing him from telling it, and because I suppose I owe after pulling the gruff on the bespectacled old goat so many times before herein this blog. It all started between our Junior and Senior year when Louis and I both signed up to take a summer AP English course at Canisius with Prof Butler. Once we both realized we were both in, we made arrangements to have his mom drop him off at my house and I’d drive him too and from school every day. I was never quite sure why either his mom couldn’t drive him all the way there, or why I didn’t just pick him up if that was a problem. In any case, such were the arrangements.

The class itself was fairly small; apparently not a whole lot of kids entering their senior year were all that jazzed to learn about the western in disguise in a stifling classroom during the best part of the year. Most were geeks like us with one notable exception: Miss Kara McKunn. She sat in the front row, was bright and engaging with golden curls and frame most appealing to the adolescent eye. It was clear that every male in the class was focused more on her than old Butler, and he too I believe than on the rest of us. Her presence was bewildering; a geek in disguise? In case she was not, I believe no male attempted to engage her fearing the simultaneous whammy of scorned laughter and spontaneous erection. No thank you! The summer ended with nary a word between her and me or her and Louis.

We rocketed though senior year at a stunning pace and inevitably prom season came around. My previous girlfriend and I broke up right before the junior prom, making it an unpleasant experience since she insisted on coming anyway having bought the dress, and my attempts to replace her had fallen short; one of the trials of being at an all boys school. Many were in the same pickle and began creative ways of searching out dates before the magic of the internet. I managed to hook up with Jody Schulebein, a friend of Ende’s girlfriend. Knaus, considered to be one of the least likely to score a date was hooked up with my cousin Ann.

Louis, two years our junior, president of the war-game geeks, 1590 SAT scorer egghead, was predicted to remain home that night. One evening he called me up and asked me if I remembered what part of town Kara from Butler’s class lived in as he couldn’t find her in the phone book. I knew then what he intended and told him it was madness. Undaunted, he asked again to receive a sterner warning. Still obstinate, I capitulated on the third request and revealed it to be Grand Island. Ah ha! The Niagara county phone book was needed! He set forth for the library on his bike for it was well before the internet and gathering information verily was still a sucky process.

Despite my admonitions, he called later that day to announce that he had indeed cold called her. She as expected remembered him not, but to my amazement had agreed to go to the prom with him anyway. There were some, I imagine who expected Louis to show up with his sister or cousin that night and may have had a bucket of pigs blood nestled up in the rafters. Doubt was silenced as he strode though the door with the lithe beauty on his arm, the crash of brass monuments thundering each time he took a step, looking smugly confident amongst the predators for the first time in memory. Lucas had scored his touchdown.

The prom was a fun night and memorable, and if I can get my scanner working again, or get around to buying a new one, I’ll post the pictures that you all know the truth of the power of the coup he pulled off. As it so happened, she ended up attending UB and was in a number of my classes where she was universally hated by all the rest of the women present. Later on JP started a rumor that she became a full fledged member of the LGBA, but was never able to back it up with corroborating evidence. Even if so, it would only add glory and mystique to the legend of Louis’s prom.

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16 Responses

  1. AWESOME!

    It is the “official” story, not the “real” story.

    To aid in his heavy load Louis finagled two lockers, one one the first floor, and another on the fourth.

  2. There is remarkable accuracy in this story compared to several of your others, and while I want to add some details, I will not try to do so late at night. If anything, your renditions may be a slightly understated version of this epic tale.
    However, I must confess that my SAT score was a bit lower than your version… I managed to “squeak out” a 1510 (on the harder scale that we had back in the day) and was sorely tempted to take it again, since I was only 14 at the time and had ample opportunity to do so. However, I definitely would have scored a 1600 on the nerdiness test.

  3. bluerazor – wow, 1510..sheesh… you’re like a freak genius. i envy you. i did well, but not that well.

    are you and athies annoyed that i’ve been as athies called it, “rambling”? i realize this post is for comstock folks, but i have such affection for UB and feel such an on-line affinity with you all that i’ve been enthusiastically reading every post (yes it’s true, i need a life, but there you have it.)

    was it improper internet etiquette to be so bold and wordy? your honest replies will be most appreciated. just don’t be MEAN about it, like ATHIES for example………. :*-(

  4. Being mean is my MO. I can’t speak for brianiac Bluerazxor, but I don’t mind you “ramblin”. I just got tired of scrolling down 🙂

  5. Well I will speak for all of us and say we have been more than pleased at picking up a regular reader who is uniquely similar to our own strange ways! You and your words are more than welcome here, and let me relieve you of the notion that this is just for Comstock folks; it’s for anyone interested.

    And yes Aaron (athies) is and always has been mean. Too many junior high swirlies will turn a boy a bit sour. 🙂 Seriously though, the post was a dig at me and you just happened to get caught in the crossfire. You will notice that we freely trade barbs, insults, accusations, innuendo and outright slander, but in truth they worship the ground I walk on.

    Now that should generate some nice responses!

    Please continue commenting as boldly and as wordily as you like. Frankly, I’ve missed the long discussions lately and have been forced my employees to endure my long and cumbersome ramblings, and I’m sure they would be grateful to be relieved.

  6. We’re not worshiping the ground you walk on. We’re picking up all of the hair that’s falling out of your head.

    Nice story on Joes. I got a copy of the Collegian yesterday and it mentioned that Mike Ende had a baby girl. Just so you know.

    On another note there’s a good book on crecy called “Warren Ellises Crecy.” I enjoyed it, and it seemed to get all of the basic facts straight.

  7. You stupid, silly, son-of-a-bitch! Hardly do I worship anything about you. Come to think of it your only use was an aid in the one-sided battle with Puddles.

    Not only do we pick up the hair from your head, but the hair you sculpted from your chest with the trail-sized Nair you bought at Tops. Superman indeed.

  8. Anna, all irritation should be considered feigned unless specified as otherwise! I for one am engaged in our time-honored tradition which is best described as “ball-busting”. See the previous two comments.
    As far as the ground Wolf walks on: That ground is probably better than a landfill or raw sewage, but not by much after your putrid passing has defiled it. It might have to be bagged up by men in moon suits, lest it communicate acne and uncontrolled bear-like fur growth to unsuspecting children.
    Finally Wolf, did you misspell her last name deliberately or out of ignorance and carelessness? The inclusion of full names here precludes me from telling the rest of JP’s tale in full. If I ever got around to it.

  9. Oh thank goodness!! I am glad nobody is po’d. I was feeling like the lone kid that nobody would pick for the baseball team. And BlueRazor (Louis) — YOU COMPLETELY ROCK! I can’t believe you had the nerve to ask that gorgeous girl out when you barely knew her. That is super cool, very very very very admirable….women LOVE that….guys with chutzpah. Add brains to the chutzpah…a fatal combination!

    (Mighty Wolf I don’t care if you’re hairy or not, ya still got a nice mug there.)

    I cannot BELIEVE how ridiculously smart AND cool all of you seem to be. And I cannot believe all these shenanigans and crazy things happened to you people…It’s like Seinfeld, only crazier. Are you making this stuff up? Come on now, how on earth can all these hilarious things happen to people? I can’t believe the locker combination stuff. What a RIOT.

    But regarding the gorgeous Kara, why can’t a girl be both pretty AND nerdy? It happens. I think I am mildly attractive if I do say so myself, yet EXTREMELY N-E-R-D-Y. I did not really make friends until 5th or 6th grade…rest of the time I was buried in a book, wearing coke bottle eyeglasses, your typical Asian geek, ate lunch with my other Asian geek friend. I bloomed only in high school after much concerted effort and pushiness by my cheerleader/ever popular/oh-so-perky perky older sister.

    My boyfriend at UB, Matt (an engineering major too, oh my god his similarities to you guys are scary), was UBER-geeky and was in denial that I actually liked/admired/felt an affinity with him. I basically had to ask him out. This was in (of all places), the Lockwood Library. somehow I felt safe from possible rejection there. If I got rejected, I could hide behind the many voluminous books.

    When I did ask Matty out, he looked at me blankly for about 15-20 seconds, dead silence, a deer-in-the-headlights/ going “tharn” look on his face, and he finally said, “Uh…what…what…what….can you repeat that?….What…what did you say?”

    On to other matters: Did this Sean O’Donnell character go to UB? Did he have eyeglasses, nerdy, super-intelligent and well-spoken, kind sounded like a newscaster half the time? Slightly condescending? If so, I think I interviewed that Sean O’Donnell for an article in UB Reporter magazine. This would have been in 1988 or 1989. The article was called “3-D Politics.” I had to get students’ opinions on politics in general, Bush (senior) and Geraldine Ferraro specifically.

    Did Sean O’Donnell write for Generation magazine with Jason? If so, it’s the same guy. Then again Sean O’Donnell is kind of a common name. But I wonder if it’s the same guy….That would mean I was only 1 degree of separation from you folks.

    By the way, the bulk of my off-campus living was at a dismal dump at 319 Lisbon Avenue. I think that address was just a stone’s throw from your Comstock house. My roommate Heather and I lived upstairs and the girls downstairs were, uh, ahem, to put it mildly……MODERN. As in, their bedrooms were revolving doors with any of a number of guys that visited them in the middle of the night (and it wasn’t to discuss Thoreau, let me tell you) and we would, ahem, HEAR THEM. I think the term now is f—-k buddies?

    Heather and I had a number of bitchfest/catfights with these walking examples of Girls Gone Wild. Normally I could care less who does what, but when I have an exam at 8:00 am on the Amherst campus the next day, and it’s 2 a.m. and it sounds like people shouting in Swahili while banging on pots and pans (or the bedroom sounds from Fight Club movie), that is where I draw the line.

    I am no shrinking violet, having grown up in Philly and then Queens, so I didn’t back down and it got pretty scary there for a while……..I will have to write a post about it, now that there is a post with my name written on it. (Be nice and share Wolf) Yeah I can picture you all salivating now, picturing these chicks….Patience, my friends, patience.

    I will also write in the future about the Central Park Grill on Main Street (CPG’s) and some funny things that happened over there too. Alas, I must now leave the PC as my hubby needs it for work.

    YOU GUYS ARE SO COOL!!!!

  10. Aha, but what made this incident so extraordinary is that it was totally out of character. But enough about that, it is a tale worth expanding upon in another story. I will once again threaten to post, leaving all and sundry to wait upon my words of wisdom.

    In any case, the vast majority of what’s on here is pretty accurate except for Wolf’s occasional heinous exaggerations or outright lies. I believe that the elements of this story in particular are basically accurate. I was personally shown at some point how to crack the locks so I know that part to be true. In fact, it occurred to me during the reading of this story that I suffered a major theft from my locker during sophmore year. At that time, most of my books were stolen. I was later tipped off that a number of them would be found in an unused locker on another floor. Unfortunately, some of them were never recovered, and I simply did not bother to complete the related assignments (using Cliff notes instead where necessary). At the time the entire incident was written off as the work of malicious seniors; but now I wonder if I had unknowingly committed a transgression against Knaus.

    As for Sean O’Donnell, his name is very common – and the one referred to here did not go to UB. I have run into him twice on flights back to Buffalo. I’m not sure anyone here had close relations with anyone who went to UB in the pre 1990 era, but I could be wrong.

  11. Anna, very glad we were able to clear that up! It sounds to me like you have a post or two brewing and I think we would all like to hear about you adventures with the ‘take a number’ roommates. I would say we were not after cheap thrills, but despite Louis’s delusional belief to the contrary, I am not a liar. I simply utilize a complex formula of literary technique and artistic license beyond his, and I daresay my own, understanding.

    Let me also issue a word of caution here as well. The rest of the members this league of unremarkable gentlemen are not used to being called cool and when confused may result to pulling hair or throwing snowballs, but in truth, it means they like you.

    Now for a moment of unabashed honesty; you make me blush with your compliments and thank you! I must also say that you certainly make it easy to return them and I can saw very honestly that you do indeed prove that a girl can be both nerdy and pretty, though in most circles you would be regarded as an urban legend or outright heresy.

    The stories herein are actually for the most part true with a tiny exaggeration here and there. There were some interesting years and the tales generated have actually proven very useful in situations where I am forced to tell a story of something or another. Content editing in those cases, however, is far more pervasive than in these pages.

    Finally, please share your stories! While as entertaining as it is to rehash the stories we all know, something fresh would be more than welcome.

  12. The nerdy and pretty girl is not impossible, just as one occasionally hears about some dude who enjoys both calculus and weightlifting, but the laws of probability apply here. Typically the more attractive members of both genders gain a certain attitude which propels their behavior in either an extroverted or highly self-centered direction (or both). But there are always outliers on the curve, given the relatively large number of people out there. Even if there aren’t enough people for any of them to have turned into a sneaker (yet).

  13. I found the following link highly relevant to the discussion at hand – the existance of the beautiful nerd. Whoever made this obviously thinks it’s an urban legend, but funny regardless. Aaron, Louis, Dan… as tempting as it will be, try to refrain from calling the number.

  14. Gentlemen (and any ladies that had the bad advice to be directed to this page),
    Please note the accurate individual who was instumental in causing Mr. Louis N. to participate in his prom. (now perhaps there is some confusion over whether this was Sr. or Jr. prom).
    My recollection places the requirement to pay and thus register for the big dance as having occured in homeroom. Therefore, the instigating force must be someone with an alphabetically sequential last name. I also recall that this person’s insistence on Louis’ attendance was met with no small amount of stress and recrimination from the same for months prior to the dance.
    however, the heroic conclusion is accurate. And I can also confirm that I do see him and his lovely wife on airlines from time to time.

    Finally, while I may not have made it to Comstock, my knowledge (and backstories) of that dubious cast of characters may have to see the light of day now that the sleeping giant has been stirred, yadda, yadda, etc.

  15. OD! I was wondering when you would get around to stumbling on over here. I will have to add you to the roster of the re-discovered; a group of miscreants and neer-do-wells to be sure, but a prestigious list nevertheless.

    Louis would often ramble on about the alleged airport sightings of you, but we took it with a grain of salt, placing the reports firmly in the urban legend category along with his tales of the yeti and Barry Manilow. It is good to hear you are not one of his fictions.

    I hereby bless your roundabout admission as being accurate as I normally do when confronted with an actual eyewitness who has the wherewithal to counter my admittedly off the cuff lies and tales.

    BTW, been meaning to catch up since I found you on Facebook, and honestly, I still mean to but am a horrendous correspondant.

  16. Your recollection is right, sir. In my version of this I was going to point out that there were three driving factors that caused me to go ahead and try the call for a date to a complete stranger:
    – The fact that otherwise I had to accept a set up arranged by you
    – Tom P. telling me to “get some brass balls and do it!”
    – Wolf’s threat that if I did not do it that week, he was going to do so himself.
    Now you know the rest of the story.

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