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First Beers

We all have such a story. This is Jimbo’s & mine. Not sure how it was before Marc was out of the house, but 110 Allendale drive had a kind of oddball railroad configuration of two bedrooms as part of the upstairs. Tombo had the back 40, Jimbo was up front, closer to the authorities. We thought it was cool – partly because there was a good stereo and a stack of hand-me-down records plus some that had been swiped from Rhythm in Rye. We spent a fair amount of time there. One day Jimbo takes me up there, clearly in mission-mode. He shows me that he had found some beer that Tombo had left behind or failed to properly stash. Beer??? Wow. I remember vividly that they were Olympia brand. We knew enough to know that they were rare. They were special. And apparently we decided they needed some young idiots to drink them. And those idiots were us. We took two of them. The beers were warm, and we had no plan. But we knew we had at least had to relocate. So with some form of concealment we rigged, we hauled out of the house, generally heading towards Disbrow. Two hundred yards into the trek, we see a classmate of ours named Gina Pravada in her back yard. Might as well go visit and impress her with our beers right? Who’s cooler than us? So we saunter on in there, and discover that her folks aren’t home. Everything’s going our way. This poor girl was like washing her dog or something – she definitely had some outdoor chore to handle – but she was OK with our visit. Jimbo made her laugh for an hour. Though she wanted no part of our beer. Fine. I mean maybe she wasn’t worthy anyhow. We’re talkin’ Olympias, Gina! So we sat there on her parents’ patio furniture and had our damn beers. Very impressed with ourselves, we debated whether to save the cans as evidence of our coup. But then we realized that the girl would testify on our behalf if push came to shove, so we were good. I think she eventually got bored with us or annoyed, and told us we should go. But by then the streetlights were coming on, so we left, I said goodbye to Jimbo and walked my ass home. Fast forward 40 years. Now my son is in seventh grade, and one of his best friends and teammates lives on Thorne place. So sometimes when I drop him off there, instead of taking the proper route, I go a different way. I dive down Sonn, turn right onto Crescent and stop right at the end, where the chain is. I make him walk the short remainder of the way. Because right there, on the swamp side of the street, is where Gina Pravada’s lived. Where me & Jimbo first spread our wings. And unlike most of the houses in Rye Gardens, this one is basically identical to the way it was back in the day. I drop the boy off right in front of the place. I wave goodbye and turn around in the driveway that was once hers, without explaining the memory I cherish nor the enormous generational connection that I feel. Naturally, I haven’t had occasion to drop my son off in that neighborhood since a remarkably poised Henry called me with the news yesterday. But the kid will probably ask me again soon. And when he does, I know exactly the route we’ll be taking.


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