June Bugs

I have a couple of great male friends who all have Birthdays in the month of June. So, let’s rake them over the coals, shall we? Of course I’m kidding- I never make jokes at anyone else’s expense. Okay, I can’t even type that with a straight face.

Let’s start with Dan aka The Hyena. Dan is one of my oldest friends- as he’s just about to turn 40, maybe I should say one of my “longest friends.” Wait, that sounds pervy. Ok, I’ve known Dan for over 30 years. (Wow, that was a tough one to spit out, wasn’t it?) Dan and I went through Elementary and High School together and are still friends today.

When I first met Dan, as a 7 or 8 yr old kid, he had this super- raspy voice. Seriously, he sounded like Froggy from the Little Rascals. The thing I remember most about Dan as a child is that I had a huge crush on his older brother, Tom. Tom was 5 years older than me and I *seriously* thought we had a future together. I mean, why WOULDN’T a High School sophomore want to date a 5th Grader??? Yep, Tom was my McDreamy- and I’m sure I was nothing but a nuisance, a pest and an embarrassment to him. (Kind of like I am now, to my husband.) So Tom was, sort of, the glue of Dan and my friendship. I thought, Dan is going to be my brother-in-law someday… I better get to know him. Ha ha.

Oh wait, the whole reason I even knew Tom existed is because Dan and I used to do summer plays together in town and his brother Tom- was (and still is) an actor, and he was one of the older cool kids. But Dan and I were cast opposite one another in Oklahoma…and we had to kiss. Slightly awkward as we were both, not even, in 7th Grade yet. And while I don’t think it was my first kiss (yeah I’m a ho), it was certainly ONE of my first kisses. And I gotta say, The Hyena ain’t too shabby in the lips department. (of course it meant nothing, we were ACTING!!)

In High School, Dan and I remained friends despite the fact that he was in Marching Band and wore a big furry hat like Fred Flintstone when he was the Grand Poobah at The Lodge. I’m kidding about the Marching Band. I mean, yes, he was in it and he did wear the furry Poobah hat, but he certainly wasn’t a band nerd or anything like that. In fact, all of the trumpet players in the band (which is the instrument Dan played) were pretty cool.

Dan went to the cool parties and had cool parties- none of which I ever went to because my parents were, basically, the FBI. But I always loved to hear the stories of him throwing up and peeing in weird places. So glamorous.

In college Dan and I lost touch. But we saw each other at our 5 Year High School Reunion and had fun catching up. At the time, I was working for a very small promo agency and I thought that he would make a GREAT addition to the company. So I LITERALLY hounded him until he agreed to send in his resume. And he got hired! Dan always says that I got him the job, but it isn’t true. He got HIMSELF the job, I merely passed a piece of paper (his resume) along and lied about what a great guy he was (just kidding- Dan really is a great guy).

I think that job did change the course of his life. I doubt he would have moved back to the area if it had not been for that position with the little promo agency. We had a lot of fun there. We drank way too much beer and went on some crazy rafting trips- nothing like rafting down the Delaware River, with the hangover of your young life, in a rented bright orange wet suit (Oh the humanity!!!). We went on some awesome ski trips, on one of which Dan taught me how to “dip” Skoal… which was disgusting. That is also where Dan earned his nickname “The Hyena.” Dan’s laugh is completely infectious. When he starts laughing and laughing HARD, you can’t help but laugh. And his laugh is like a Hyena. Crazy, Maniacal, Loud and Amazing. That kid’s laugh is one of my favorite sounds in life.

We used to play a drinking game called “Vegetables.” If you are not familiar: every person playing chooses a vegetable to be. So let’s say I’m Celery and you are Squash. I would have to say “Celery, Celery, Squash, Squash.” And then you would have to say “Squash, Squash” and then someone else’s “vegetable name.” The difficult part is that you have to say the names of the Vegetable without showing your teeth. Try it…it’s hard and very funny, especially when there are 10 drunk animals playing it. Net/Net, if you laugh you HAVE to drink. So Dan was “Shiitake Mushroom.” “Shiitake Mushroom, Shiitake Mushroom.” I swear to God, I don’t think Dan ever got past himself to pass it along; he broke down in fits of laughter every single time. It was so funny.

One time, at work, Dan was NOT feeling well. He was having some trouble with his “caboose,” if you are picking up what I’m putting down. He was working on a presentation and he was running to the bathroom every 10 minutes. So he asked me if I could go to the store to get him some Imodium. I tell this story, not to embarrass Dan- because hey, everyone has needed Imodium from time to time- it’s a fact of life, but I can honestly say, I love Dan so much I’ll go buy him medicine to stifle his trots. That’s the kind of thing you do for a TRUE friend. And you know what- I know if I had the trots, Dan would buy me Imodium too!

Dan met a wonderful woman and got married almost 2 years ago (and they have a little bambino on the way), and I’ve never seen him happier. His wife is awesome- so funny and beautiful and she makes him so happy. That Hyena is one of my favorite people and I am so grateful to have had him in my life for all of these years. Now I get to see my good friend become a Daddy- and I can’t wait to see what is going to happen!

Next I will touch on my good friend, Herbie. Herbie Versmells (say it out loud to yourself as one word… you’ll get it). “Herbie” is an alias because I can not reveal his real name, frankly, he could be indicted for some of the ridiculous things in his past.

Herbie and I wound up working together for a few years. Let me start out by saying, Herbie is a torture chamber. He is like the brother I never wanted. He was born on Flag Day…but really he is more suited for April Fool’s Day.

While I love and adore Herbie, he also can be one of the biggest dicks you’ve ever met. He used to tell me – all the time- that he was going to beat me “like a redheaded stepchild.” The irony here is that he is also a redhead AND he’s a stepchild AND he was beaten regularly as a child. And trust me; most people who meet him want to beat him at some point in their friendship.

Perfect example. One day, after a long weekend, Herbie comes in with a picture of his wife holding a little baby. And he said to Ellen and me, “Hey, I wanted to tell you guys- Judy and I adopted a baby.”

At first we were like “Bullshit.” So then he went on to tell us how Judy couldn’t have children and they were on a list for a couple of years and they finally got a baby. They had not told us before because they didn’t want to get their hopes up if it wasn’t going to happen. He went on and on. It got to the point where we were like “Oh my God, that’s so great, he’s a beautiful baby, you guys are so lucky.” Etc. Etc. Etc.

Turns out he was lying. It was a cousin’s baby. Ellen was SO mad at him- she didn’t speak to him for weeks.

So from that point forward, we instituted a policy that if I asked him if he was lying he’d have to tell me the truth. He’d be like “I brought a Turkey sandwich for lunch.” And I’d respond “Are you lying?” And he’d say “Yes, I brought egg salad.”

Another method of torture is- he would whip stuff at me. Stuff that would hurt. Like full tubes of cream. Or he’d scratch me with the crimped end of a tube (sometimes after a tube is sealed the corners can be really sharp, so instead of testing them in a packaging laboratory, to make sure no consumer would be injured… he’d use MY SKIN as his test. Such a beast.). His favorite torture method was to take one of those cans of air, like that you would use to clean your computer keyboard, and to turn it upside down and spray my leg with it… yeah, it’s like liquid nitrogen- it FREEZES your skin.

Still, as with everyone I know, I gave him a nickname: Poodle. For no other reason than I liked the way it sounded. And Herbie called me “Pumpkin.” But he would never say it in an affectionate way; it would always be kind of mean, like: “PUMPKIN!!”

At the company we worked for- we were notorious for either making too much of something or making it wrong, so we do a lot of “re-work.” This means, you take whatever the product is, and fix it or make it into another form. For example: if an ingredient listing is wrong or a UPC is wrong- we would put a label with the correct information covering the wrong information. Simple enough, but let me tell you, the money that gets spent on this stuff is staggering. So Herbs and I thought it would be great to start our own company doing “Rework.” So we decided to call it “Pumpkin Poodles.” This if you say it fast, sounds like “Pumpkin’ Poodles,” so the name morphed into “Pumpin’ Poodles.” Which is kind of pervy, if you think about it. Our company slogan was going to be “You f*ck it up, we pump it out!” We would talk about “Pumpin’ Poodles” so much so that people would start to think that it actually existed. They would be like “Can we send this to ‘Pumpin’ Poodles’ for rework?” And we’d be like “Pumpin’ Poodles isn’t a REAL company.”

Like most men, Herbie had no shame about “dropping a deuce” in the office bathroom. Women avoid this at all costs, but Men bring reading material!! My office had the unfortunate luck to be located on Herbie’s route to the crapper. So he would always stop by for some reading material- while he was doing the poo-poo dance. So for the longest time I had this pamphlet from a freight company that he would take with him, then finally, he was like “CAN YOU GET SOME NEW READING MATERIAL!?!?!?!?” I was like… Jeez, ok. So I found this book How They Died and Where They are Buried, and brought it in for Herbie. Basically it was Celebrities, Sports Figures, etc. and it told a brief (one page) on their life, how they died and where they are buried (it’s pretty much all in the title). That kid got more mileage out of that book. He read it for, probably, a full year.

Finally, I asked him “What do you do with the book, you know, when you aren’t holding it?”
He replied “Well, I balance it on the toilet paper roll – when my hands aren’t available, and then when I’m washing my hands I balance it on the garbage can.”

Great. Sorry I asked. I now have a WARNING note in the inside cover of the book about where it has been. Kind of like that episode of Seinfeld when Brentano’s “flagged” the book that George took into the Bathroom. How They Died and Where They are Buried is officially flagged in “our system.”

I do not want to imply that Herbie is a jerk all the time. While he likes to create this façade of being a jerk and a tough guy and a bad ass, he actually has been a great friend to me. I mean, he helped us MOVE out of a third floor walk-up and into our house. Any friend who helps you move is worth their weight in gold. Also, when friends of ours had to replace their pool liner (a job normally done by a professional), Herbie and his wife were right there helping us with that too! In fact, the temperature was 95 degrees that day and Herbie walked up the driveway in a full wet suit- ready to go!!

Herbie has made me cry, he has permanently scarred me, he has made me want to choke him and he has certainly made me laugh until I’ve nearly wet my pants. I have seen him stuff entire doughnuts into his mouth, and whole pyramids of chocolate mousse. At my wedding he practically stripped down and dove into my chocolate fountain. He is a great source of entertainment and I love that kid.

Lastly, but certainly not least, let’s talk about my old pal, Bobby. (Again, not his real name.)

Bobby was this guy I worked with a long time ago. When they made Bobby, they broke the mold and probably slapped the shit out of the mold-maker.

Bobby is married with two great kids. I would not call it the happiest marriage I’ve ever known. The one thing I can say about Bobby is he LOVES his kids and definitely fears losing them if he ever were to divorce. Many years ago, I thought that his marriage might not last, but he’s settled into a place where he is content. He always said that his wife calmed him down a little and he livened her up a little. But she is still not happy with some of his “ways,” but I guess they have reached a compromise of some sort.

Bobby is a GREAT GUY. In fact, ask anyone who knows him, and those are the exact words you will here in response. But Bobby was a bit “wayward” in his youth. There was a time when you could open a charge account at liquor stores. So Bobby did this… at every liquor store in the area. He’d give a fake name and “charge it” until finally they’d be like “We need you to pay your account.” And then he’d tell them he had to run out to his car to “get his checkbook” and drive away. Consequently, the diameter of his liquor purchasing area got wider and wider and wider. He used to say his dad would ask him to go pick up a bottle of wine for dinner and he’d say “Ok Dad, I’ll be back in 3 hours. I have to drive to New Jersey to buy a bottle of Blue Nun.”

Bobbie was also the original “Wedding Crasher.” He and his buddy would get all dressed up- every Saturday – they’d put on their suits and their clip-on ties and go to a country club (the same country club every week) and attend cocktail hour at someone’s wedding that they didn’t know. They never had the courage to try to stay for dinner, but they managed to get a nice buzz every Saturday, and sometimes twice, if he could get a double header in (afternoon and evening wedding).

Once Bobby got married his fun lessened, slightly. Bobby is one of these guys that likes to gamble on games. But his wife did not like it or “allow” it. So Bobby would take money and keep in an old Baseball Glove in the basement. And he would use that money for gambling. So if he won, his winnings would go right back into the glove. So if he ever gave me a gift or something he would wink and say “Don’t worry, it’s from ‘the glove.’”

Bobby was given parole one night to go to a bachelor party in NYC. So he was ready to tear it up. He got good and loaded and at midnight the guys decided to go to a strip bar. So at midnight Bobby called his wife and said “Yeah, we had fun, but we’re going to hit the hay.” The problem was Bobby didn’t have any money left, so he went to the ATM. The next day, his wife (who worked in banking) called him SCREAMING, wanting to know why he was at the ATM at 12:23am when he was supposed to be “hitting the hay.” Ha ha.

Bobby was great to work with and we had such a great time. While most people would shorten Kristin to Kris, not Bobby, he shortened it to “Stin” or “Stinney.” So every morning, he would walk by my desk NY Post tucked under his arm and he’d go “Stinney, I’m going to the bathroom.” Ok. Not that I needed to know, but he would announce it anyway. A few minutes later he’d come back and sit down at his desk. 30 minutes later, he would walk by again and announce “Stinney, I’m going for a R.W.” RW = A Re-Wipe. (Why do all of my stories wind up with poop involved???)

Bobby had all of these crazy phrases, like the R.W. He calls a cigarette a “heater.” Or if you had misplaced something, he would say “Maybe it’s up your GHOUL?” (Ghoul = Butt) A few years back, Bobby couldn’t find his Shower Radio. So he marched into his kitchen, where he found his wife and daughter and his young son (probably 3 at the time) with his head in the refrigerator looking for something. So Bobby queried “Has anyone seen my Shower Radio???” And his son said from inside the refrigerator “Maybe it’s up your GHOUL….” The apple never falls far, my friend.

Unfortunately, the job Bobby had stressed him out. And he would be crabby sometimes. At one point I had purchased this “Eucalyptus Stress Relief Crème” from Origins. It was a crème scented with Eucalyptus and it was mentholated, and the directions were to rub it on your temples and breathe deeply. And it was supposed to make you relax. One day, when Bobby was particularly stressed out, I offered him the Crème. And so he used it and it helped. So from that point forward he called it “The Love Crème.” And he would bark at me “Hey Stinney, get in here and jack me up on the Love Crème!”

I was lucky enough to be able to travel on business with Bobby, once. We went to Chicago for a show, and one of our suppliers was kind enough to invite us to a party that was held on a Yacht that sailed around Lake Michigan for the evening. It was a really nice party, but as always with an open bar, people were pretty loaded. As there were several hundred people on this yacht, when the party was over and the boat docked, we had to wait to exit and it took awhile. So we were stuck in traffic on the stairwell. I was talking to another woman and Bobby was directly behind me, apparently bored and without Beer. Bobby leaned over and said “Beep, Beep,” as in – get out of the way. It’s literally wall to wall people- there was no place to go. So I ignored him.

A minute later Bobby leaned over and goes “Beep, Beep.” I turned around and was like- “Ha ha. Knock it off.”

Bobby said “You are right Stinney, I’m being obnoxious.”

1 minute later: “Beep, Beep.” I turned around and just looked at him, and he said “You are right- I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.”

1 minute later: “Beep, Beep.”

Again, I turned around and said “Knock it off.”

Again, Bobby apologized profusely. 1 minute later: “Beep, Beep.”

I just started straight ahead, said nothing, did nothing and listened to that fool “Beep, Beep” every minute for the next 20 minutes. We finally got off the boat and Bobby was like “Let’s go get a drink!!” I wanted to kick him in the Beep Beep.

I do not get to see Bobby too often anymore, unfortunately. His wife hates me and won’t let him play with me anymore. Occasionally, Bobby does sneak over to our house if we are having a party. He always says he’s coming over, but he’ll show up approximately every 2 out of 10 parties. But it’s always GREAT!! He walks right in the front door, with a 12 pack of Corona in one hand, a bag of ice in the other (because they always need ice at parties), balancing a Cold 40 oz Beer in a brown bag somewhere in the mix, right through the house and out onto the back deck! We always offer him food and the response is always the same: “Come on, Stinney, you know food ruins my buzz!!” And then he sneaks out without saying Goodbye. Bobby doesn’t like Good-byes.

I always swore that Bobby and I were soul mates. Obviously, I knew, with him being married that there was no way we would ever “be.” But I believe you can have friends that are “soul mates,” and I feel that way about Bobby. We can go for months without speaking and years without seeing each other, but when we do, it’s always the same: GREAT FUN.

When Tony and I decided to get married, I really wanted Tony to meet Bobby. So we met up for a cocktail at a seedy bar in Bridgeport. When I got up to use the restroom Bobby said to Tony “You have a diamond in Stinney. You better realize that and treat her accordingly.” How could you NOT love a guy like that.

Dan, Herbie and Bobby. I love all of them dearly and the only thing I would change about any of them is to fix it so we could hang out more often.

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One Response to “June Bugs”

  1. e to the h Says:

    Dan had cool parties? Does that mean I’m cool???? 😛 You forgot to mention Dan’s obsession with All My Children. Awesome story:

    I was working at the mall one summer, and I got a call at work. RANDOM, who calls Lechter’s looking for me? It was Dan, whispering, practically hysterical. “ADAM CHANDLER IS HERE!” He was calling from work, a small liquor store on the other side of town. “No way!” “YES! HE’S HERE!” Totally raspy stage whisper, hillarious. Mr. Chandler/Mr. Chandler’s Mentally Challenged Twin Stewart must have been able to hear him a mile away. “What’s he like? Does he look like on TV?” “HE’S TOTALLY COOL! HE’S GETTING THE GOOD STUFF! I GOTTA GO!” I will NEVER forget that. Dan rocks.

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