A year on East Center St. was obviously enough for me. After leaving 6D East and losing my job at Tinkler’s and the mess Melvin left of our cool apartment (with his failed experimental floor decoration) I was not only ready to move to a new apartment, I was ready to get the hell outta of Roachville!
Yea, I guess I was running away from a lot of things. The story quoted above, eventually tells of how I was also running towards something. But before I continue in that direction, Let me mention a few final things from that year on East Center Street.
At some point during that winter, Mark moved in with a woman I didn’t know well until much later in our lives. They would eventually marry and have children. Mark (and his family) would continue to be a big part of my life for many years, but I came to see him in a very different way. The slick, savvy and smartness I’d always admired about my old high school buddy became the desperation and despair of yet another struggling soul in my world.
The schemes and shenanigans started looking to me like childish pranks at best. Of course good times were always in the works with Mark, and the attending drama even occasionally made for some entertainment worthy of stories to come. But I found myself moving farther and farther away from him emotionally, as our respective life paths continued to diverge. I can’t remember now, the last time I had any contact with Mark.
I have yet to mention Windsor, so I’ll do it now. Windsor was a year-and-a-half-old, Old English Sheepdog I rescued from a rural family who (to their credit) recognized how foolish it had been for them to have purchased the cute little puppy who would quite soon grow to be a big responsibility for which they had not prepared at all.
I remember trying to wash him in our bathtub and finding large bits of fence wire embedded deep within his matted mess of hair. Obviously, he’d been left so long outside to lie in a too small cage, that his hair had grown around the wire. Someone had simply cut the wire and left it in there.
I took Windsor to a dog groomer before taking him to the vet and… Wow! you have never seen a happier dog. His whip-like tail (it was not cropped like most people do to this breed) was constantly knocking over things. It was great!
Mark was gone by then so Windsor got his room. The pot smoking room was opened up to the light of day and the happy dog ran all over the place. Especially out the window and onto the wrap-around deck that was the roof of the house’s porch blow. Windsor loved sitting up there and looking at traffic. He even got his picture taken doing just that and the photo ended up on the front page of the Rochester, Post Bulletin. I wish I could find that photo.
Oops! That photo got our landlord’s attention, big time but… no matter. The incident facilitated me looking for and finding a good country home for Windsor with a family who would love and take good care of him.
I never liked Ronnie but apparently he liked me more than I knew. Someone once told me he cried when I left. I have never confirmed this as I’ve had almost no contact with him since.
As I said, Melvin eventually got caught stealing all that stuff from Sears but that happened long after I was gone. I think he even went to jail but now, I’m not certain. Since Melvin had kind of been my main partner in the whole enterprise of getting our way cool party pad on East Center Street, it feels odd how quickly we became disconnected. Melvin was my first example of liking someone much more before living with them than after. I liked his quirkiness while we were in school but as a roommate, my opinion of him started changing almost immediately.
Melvin was truly weird. He was smart and could even be quite interesting, but there was something about him that began to bother me. It was a phoniness that showed up in almost everything he did. The fake woodgrain floor tile and crappy fake art in his room, the cheep imitation leather jacket and polyester clothes… but my favorite example of what I can now see as his budding “disco” personality, was what Melvin did to his car.
Melvin got himself a 1973 AMC Javelin and man did he think it was cool!
That car was so far from cool, it became quite the joke among the rest of us. Especially gear-heads like Ronnie and Buck. The Javelin was a cheaply made, phony. It was AMC’s lame attempt at making a “muscle car” and Melvin didn’t even have the where-with-all to get one with a V-8 engine. The wheels were cheep imitation mags, and the interior was mostly plastic and looked it.
Melvin then proceeded to make it even more fake looking by covering the fake woodgrain dash in a glittery kind of disco reflector tape. He also outlined the cassette deck with some kind of rope-like decoration and replaced the carpeting with something that looked like long pink hair. No one was allowed to wear shoes in Melvin’s car.
I was there when he had Keith make his Javelin’s “duel exhaust” (even that was fake) look like he had chrome headers. Keith chuckled the whole time as he cut off the ends of the original pipes and replaced them with chrome ends and then bolted three more on each side. Heh… that was so funny. I remember Melvin reminding Keith to be sure and place them just so… so the smoke would come out to look right.
We all left our formally cool party pad a mess, I guess. But Melvin’s was the most visible, and the funniest. Somehow, he got the idea to cover the entire floor of the place (except for his room of course) with sheets of news paper coated with a thick layer of this latex floor coating he (of course) had stolen from Sears.
It never worked. It was never going to work, and he never even tried to finish it anyway. Then the half-finished mess got trampled by the boots of goers to yet another epic party and… the place never recovered. I was the first to go, so I never saw how bad it got.
It would be many years before I even heard about the extent of, and the kind of messes I left behind but…
That’s another story.