This is hard. I still tear up weeks later trying to write this. I lost a friend I’ve had since 1977. We met in Junior College while in a circuits class in the Electrical Technology program. He sat next to me and was completely overwhelmed. He had that deer in the headlights look about him and took detailed notes like a stenographer. “Hey man you’re so busy taking notes you’re missing the point”. My pal was kind of shocked that the class was seventy percent math and not just us making cool circuits for guitar amplifiers.
We had many classes together and got along because we helped each other with homework and we cracked each other up about stupid stuff going on in the classrooms. One afternoon classes were canceled and we were going to fly one of my radio controlled planes I had built. I brought two of them. One was in the trunk of the Pinto and Fuzznuts was holding the smaller one. He had his window open. He moved the plane out the window because he thought it would move up and down like his hand. I was doing 45! The wings blew off the plane in a loud crack and fluttered into the ditch. WTF! I slammed the brakes as I pulled over. I could have killed him. He was just sitting there with his mouth and eyes wide open. I just stared at him, fists clenched. I was gonna pop him one. You idiot! What the fuck man!
“Should have used better glue”, he said quietly. We stared at eachother for a few seconds and then burst out laughing and went to go retrieve the wings. “How are you going to be an engineer with a design like this?”, he said holding a wing. How are you going to even graduate with such a shitty understanding of physics!, I replied.
Charlie was a great guitar player. That was his passion and he was incredibly good at it. He could have easily played in any top band, in fact he was offered a few times to head to NYC to make it to the big time but for some reason I forgot, he missed his chance. It probably involved a woman. Charlie had the worst luck with relationships. We had some serious laughs over the phone regarding his love life which was incredibly crazy sometimes.
My pal had a topsy turvy life. Girlfriends came and went. Wives came and went. The things that never left him were guitars and friends. He had plenty of those.
We would still talk about “the one that got away” from time to time. No, it wasn’t a guitar it was a girl. To this day I think she could have changed his life. Not that his life was that bad but he did make a few mistakes that lead to some difficulty, flashing blue lights and an ankle bracelet.
The whole time I knew Charlie we never really called each other by our proper names. There were always nicknames. My friends hair was quite wild at one point and my 3 yr old daughter referred to her Godfather as Uncle Hairball. We laughed and continued to insult each other with various names and digs over all these years which always made us laugh because there was nothing behind any of it, just friendship.
I had tickets to a Genesis show in Toronto. At the time Charlie was out of school and I had a growing fascination with a girl in one of my classes. Hmm, take this girl to Toronto or call the Knob? Girl wins. At the show, Dance on a Volcano is played and I roar with my fist in the air not far from the stage. I look over and my date has hands over her ears and wants to move up to some empty seats. Fuck me I should have taken the Hairball. She dumped me a month later cause her boyfriend in the Marines is coming home. Geezuz what a dumbass I am. Later the Knob found out I went without him and I think it stung a little. I offered tickets to 10CC. You know the band that did, “I’m not in Love, The Things we do for Love, I’m Mandy Fly Me” songs. Charlie is like, “Serious? What the fuck, this a date Cornhole?” No! They are a great band! You’ll see. Anyhow he loved the show. It was a good time.
Later I bought more manly concert tickets to Deep Purple and later it was Rainbow. The Buttmunch idolized Ritchie Blackmore. He just called him Ritchie and we were all supposed to know who he was blathering on and on about. We had floor tix. We were as close as you could get and right up against the security gate at the Rochester War Memorial. Hairball was in a trance. Ritchie slid on his knees down to the edge of the stage and leaned back into a solo. The Hairball reached out with his hand and was literally less than inches away from touching Ritchie’s guitar. It was a great moment in our history together. I saw a tear of joy. “You crying fan boy?” Fuck off Melon Head!
As the years went by we drifted apart in some ways, especially politics. I tend be progressive on most things and Hairball hit the wall on the far right. I drove GM, he drove Ford. I’m not religious at all and Fartknocker became a born again Christian. We went in different directions in many ways. I left Buffalo, met Deb and started a family. Charlie stuck around for a while, met someone and started a family then moved out to the country without the family and ran with a different crowd. My partying days were coming to a close (OK maybe a tapering off) but the Knob kept going strong and eventually got a State job and continued his love of playing live music.
When Cowhead got married the third(?) time it was a really funky and very religious wedding and I was in the wedding party. I was told there is no alchohol allowed so I put some beers in a cooler in the trunk of the car. I was sick as a dog too so I don’t know why I even showed up. I probably gave everyone in the wedding party the flu. While at the altar there was some freaky ceremony with a woman and a dance of veils. It took forever. I was dying up there. I leaned in to another dude and said, “That’s not something you fucking see every day. If this chick dances another 10 minutes I’m gonna hit the floor”. When the dance was over the dude went to his dancing wife of veils and gave her a big kiss and then a glare my way. Woops. “Enjoy the flu”. I took a stroll out to the car after that. If I recall correctly Charlie met me there and we laughed our asses off much to the dismay of the bride and her family as we slipped the beers back into the trunk. Woops again.
As long as we’re on the subject of beers you should know that I took Fuckwit to his first bar. Yep. The Marlboro Inn or M building as we called it in school. I got him rightfully buzzed on his first pitcher of Molson Ale. yea his first beer was a pitcher 😀 He went home early. Years later his Mom blamed me for getting him started on the beer trail. Hope she was joking. I remember sitting at a piano with her, singing in between drinks. She told me I had nice teeth.
I have so many stories to tell about our adventures for those years but they will remain with us two and whoever is nearby after I had a few beers. We were so young and just smart enough to stay out of serious trouble and make our way through adulthood. Well, one of us stayed out of trouble.
The last time I saw the Porcupine he was living in a trailer in a small town in the sticks, surrounded by memorabilia, family treasures and guitars and amplifiers. Somewhere in the clutter there was a cat. It was hard to move around but I was in awe of the collection of crap he had stuffed in there. Dude saved EVERYTHING. He had bar tokens from 1977! He looked like shit and I told him so. He offered me a beer but I refused and pointed to the monitor strapped to his ankle. I had a serious look on my face and it made him nervous and maybe a little defensive.
“What the absolute fuck Charlie!” He recoiled a bit because like I told you we seldom used our names. We had a good talk about health, living conditions, life choices and all that but in the end we just laughed about old times and how we need to do this and that again and maybe make some music together and go to this bar and that bar. Oh man we knew that would never happen. His drinking days were done. The politics though. Damn. I told him if politics got discussed I would leave and I did. He just couldn’t help himself.
In the end that’s all my friend could ever talk about. Politics. Kill libtards. Civil war. DemonCrats. Non believers. Christians fighting evil liberals, Bill Gates vaccine nanobots… I can continue but you get the picture.
One of the last serious conversations I had with Charlie was to make sure he was vaccinated because he had a whole host of issues including diabetes of a serious level. He said he takes science seriously and he is vaccinated. I took his word for it despite his anti vax posts on facebook. He was so full of contradictions it made my head spin.
My fiends last post on facebook was a picture from his hospital bed saying it’s Covid time. The top of the picture showed the TV where Fox News was playing. How fitting. Your last gasp is on god damn facebook. How completely and insanely fucking fitting and god damn aggravating!
I never got to say goodbye.
My last message “You better not have died on me! Love you man.” went unanswered. I honestly thought he would reply and call me some new funny and insulting name.
Goodbye Charlie. I think about you every time I pick up the guitar and I promise I will learn one Ritchie song… and you’re still a Fucking Knob.
We looked so innocent.