rejectomorph (flying_blind) wrote,

Smacked Upside the Head

That's how I think of the sensation I get when I find something on the Internet which I never expected to see. I think, Whoa! How did this get here? Well, in this case the item is a picture, and it was posted on by a guy I used to know-- sort of. The guy, whose name is Mike, is the one on the left in the picture, and I only ever saw him a few times. Actually, I knew the other three guys. In fact, I lived with two of them, for one month, when I was 19.

In spite of the fact that the site where it was posted is exactly the sort of place where I might expect to find this sort of thing, I was still surprised when I saw it. I was surprised enough to steal it, so I could post it here. I haven't seen Mike in ages. If I got a paid membership at Classmates, I could get his e-mail address from them, and write to him to tell him that I've stolen his picture. (I looked on all those web sites that search for such things, and couldn't find it.) I doubt that he'd mind, in any case. (Mike: if you stumble across this post, I've stolen your picture. Thanks.)

Anyway, the guys are, left to right, Mike, Marty, Roy and LaVon. In spite of its extremely 1950-ish look, the picture was taken in mid 1963, a while before I met any of them. Even merely as a period artifact, if I knew none of these guys, I'd find this picture engaging. It's just so past.

The Guys
Monterey Park,California, 1963
Mike Savin, Martin Levin, Roy Caporale, LaVon Wright

I've written here before about the apartment on Main Street in Alhambra, but I don't feel like hunting down the post. (Someday, I might start putting relevant subject lines on my posts, to make them easier to find.) I'll just do a brief recap. But first, I should mention that anyone about 19 years old who is renting an apartment for the first time ought to be very careful and not choose two flat mates who are older and possessed of an extensive group of friends for whom they throw wild parties every week, with lots of drinking and such. You will be sorely tempted, you will lose lots of sleep, and you may come home to find strange people doing strange things in your apartment, your room, your bed! Enough said.

The apartment was in downtown Alhambra, occupying the second floor of a building that housed a chain photo studio on its ground floor, and there was a movie theatre right across the street. Traffic was heavy by day, and though lighter at night, still made considerable noise echoing off the brick walls of the dense blocks of commercial buildings. The month was September, and the Southern California sun baked the walls and pavements, which held the heat all night. I had insisted (since it was I who had found the apartment to begin with) on taking the front bedroom myself, for the view of the street, and though I left the big double windows (completely innocent of fly screen) wide open at night, letting the noise of passing traffic and the screaming sirens of police cars, fire truck and ambulances from the nearby public facilities fill the small room with frequent din, the heat remained astonishingly oppressive.

We got the electricity and water turned on, and a telephone put in, but we never got around to having the gas turned on, so there was no hot water. Because the living room never got much furniture, and I had a bed that pretended to be a sofa during the day, people naturally gravitated to my room. Because the front door opened onto a busy pedestrian street, and people in Los Angeles (especially younger people) were not accustomed to having private residential doors in such a location, from time to time total strangers would just walk in -- thinking it was some sort of semi-public office building, I suppose. Undoubtedly addled by both the heat and the (pre-smog regulation) exhaust fumes wafting up from the street, and never sure if these strangers might be friends of Roy or Marty, I would, often while in a state of dishabille, greet them with a non-committal "Hey, how's it going?" In short, the place was constant chaos. In shorter, I loved it.

Come to think of it, disregard my earlier advice. If you are 19, and you get a chance to live with older, irresponsible guys who have an abundance of drink lying about the place unguarded, do it! It was a month of delightfully hellish dissipation, and though it took me some time to recover from its effects, it was well worth it. Had it gone on longer, I suspect that it would have done me permanent damage, but fortunately it came to an end. It was like a good entertainment that leaves the audience wanting more, not yet jaded and bored. The guys found other places, and, unable to either find other flat mates or to pay the rent on my own, I left, too. I left with pleasant memories, and a bit of wistful sadness that it was over. Both are valuable.

I didn't see Roy and Marty too often after that. I had actually met them through my high school friend Gail, who was dating Marty. They broke up, and shortly thereafter, she began dating LaVon, which led to a certain bitterness between the old friends. Eventually, she married LaVon, and they got custody of me, so to speak. Roy also got married, and moved off somewhere else, and I lost track of him. Eventually, LaVon and Gail divorced, and he too moved away, and I haven't seen him since. Oddly enough, Marty was the last one of the group I saw, shortly before I left Los Angeles. He had taken over his family retail business, and had settled comfortably into a stolid bourgeois life.

Every once in a while, I think about these guys. I wasn't thinking about them the other night, when I came across that picture. It was actually a double surprise to me, because I had not known them at the ages they are in the photograph. That's probably why I didn't recognize them at first, even though I knew from the link which took me to the picture that it had been posted by Mike. I remember them being older. It's very strange to see someone once familiar changed, when you see them again, or see their likeness, when they are older. It is even more strange to see them younger than you remember them. I'm sure there's a story in all this, with some sort of small revelation lurking in it, but damned if I can tease it out right now, or have the energy to try to tell it properly. I'm still bemused. Whoa! How did this picture get here?

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