Take Me Back

Evening, friends.
Welcome to Day 23 and our first mini-milestone. Yep, that’s one week down (after today/tonight) and only about three weeks left to go.

So, the title?…Don’t worry, we won’t be lamenting any lost loves or, better yet, rehashing the making of Sly Stallone’s kid brother, Frank’s, early recordings. (Actually, come to think of it, Frank Stallone’s song was entitled “Take You Back,” 1976.)

In any case, what we will be doing is turning back the clock to age 23. That wasn’t exactly last week for me, gang, but I’ll reach into the memory vault and will see what I can find in the way of firsts from way (way!) back in the day.

PLEASE NOTE: That pic (not airbrushed – at least not to my knowledge!) was taken by an old buddy of mine, who probably didn’t have anything better to do that day. LOL!
Evel, I owe you one for this, sir. This may be the only evidence that would convince either of my daughters that I was once even anywhere near remotely cool. (-:

So, anyway, that list of all things 23 (in no particular order):

  1. First time driving more than 500 miles in one day – I flew down to Sunshine Land with my sister, Kerry, and we drove all up and down South Florida. Accept for my cross-country sojourn many years later, that trek through the FLA Keys and surrounding areas was my only experience with White Line Fever (AKA Highway Hypnosis).
  2. First time appearing in a movie – A lifetime ago, I did some work in film and TV and was asked to play the role of a limousine driver. (It seems that art imitated life – or vice versa – when just a year later I started driving limos to avoid eating Cornflakes at every meal.)
  3. First time feeling legitimately old – After playing 2+ hours of touch football, I awoke the next morning, feeling like I’d been hit by a train. (Yeah, one that backed up and over me a few times before continuing on.)
  4. First-ever booze cruise – Well, from what I remember of it, we certainly had our fun. Apparently (yes, the details were – and are – just a little more than hazy), I was asked to carry a very drunken dude off of the ship and into a taxi. Straight out of cult classic Super Bad, though, apparently, I dropped him once or twice along the way. (If you’re out there and reading this, man, I’m really sorry. Some 35+ years later, I still can’t drink.)
  5. First New Year’s Eve in NYC – Wish I could share some exciting story about ringing in the new year in Times Square or at some raucous ‘rager downtown somewhere. Instead, though, I rolled into the Big Town late on 31 December in a rental van that I spent all day in Elkton, MD (about an hour northeast of Baltimore) trying to get repaired.
  6. First sign of trouble in the NYC subway – I had a date with a girl I really liked and wanted to impress her. After taking her to a nice dinner (and then later visiting a long-ago classic car showroom/bar called the Hot Rod Club), I was pretty much tapped out. So, instead of taking a cab home, I hopped on the subway at West 110th Street. When I got into the station, I saw a guy on the opposite platform and nodded to him. To which he responded, “Why are you putting me in your field of vision?” Should have walked, I guess.
  7. First time meeting someone famous – Every now and then, it seems, you are potentially rewarded for doing those jobs that don’t exactly send your ego skyrocketing. (Yeah, the limo thing again.) On a sweltering mid-July day in Baltimore, MD, I drove both the Temptations and the O’Jays to their gig at Balto’s Navy Pier. The highlight of that experience was getting the chance to hang out with Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Sammy Strain, who wanted to talk and insisted on sitting up front with me. Yeah, that first brush with fame was pretty special, and I’m happy to report that young Mr. Strain is alive and well and hopefully
    still making music.
  8. First time running out of money while driving – Long before the days of
    E-ZPass, I was driving north on the New Jersey Turnpike with all of $1.88 cents to my name. (Lousy excuse, I guess, but ATMs and debit cards were still quite the novelty back then.) ‘Anyhoo, I come driving up to the toll both (yes, there were only toll takers back then), shy of the required fee. The guy manning the booth seemed nice enough, but he said it could cost him his job if he tried to give me a break on the fee. Next thing I knew, I pulled off on the shoulder of the highway, to the right of the toll, and was directed to a tunnel that took me beneath the Jersey Turnpike to the Southbound side. Once I got there, I filled out “no funds” paperwork paper that allowed me to return to my car and head home. A good lesson, sure, but how many people can say they actually ran beneath a major U.S. roadway and lived to tell
    about it?
  9. First time driving a motorcycle –  My Uncle, now 82 years young and still that guy who goes to the junk yard to look for spare parts to build his dream machines, had a few different cycles. Somehow, I convinced him to let me drive his completely rebuilt Harley Sportster Evolution. It was my maiden – and only – Harley joy ride, and I spent the entire time petrified that I might come flying off the damn thing.
  10. First time getting ‘hurled on – (Yep, you’re reading that right.) I attended a party in NYC (invited by a former girlfriend who, to this day, I’m convinced invited me to show off her then-new guy) that didn’t offer much – except a wide variety of libations. (I wish I were joking about the low-drinking tolerance thing, but I promise that it’s all too true.) Determined not to let my ‘ex get the best of me, I spent most of that evening talking with a lot of random strangers. (While I could never drink, I could always talk, so that made for an interesting recipe for disaster.) Later that night, I stumbled back to the subway to hop the Metro North train back to my parents’ home in Connecticut. I got on the subway without issue, but while traveling north on the 6 line, I tried to give a homeless man a candy bar (vs. giving him a few bucks), and he promptly ‘chucked on the upper left shoulder of an overcoat I’d borrowed from my father.

OK, people, now it’s your turn.

Please send me your list of age 23 superlatives; it’ll just be for us. (Yeah, only I get to make myself look like an idiot on our shared adventure! I’d love it, though, if you’re willing to share a few mishaps and memories. Held in the strictest confidence, of course.)

Have a great night, and stand by for the double-deuce tomorrow.



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