Wednesday, February 04, 2009

For a friend.

It’s been awhile so this is a long one.

Everything has a beginning, middle and an end.


Even this post.


Everything except Guiding Light.

And true love.

And herpes.

Sometimes those two go hand in hand. But most of the time one of those involves too much tequila and the city of Tijuana.

But everything else has a beginning, middle and an end.


Life ends.

Whether we talk about it or not we all check out at some point. The older we get the more we think about it. Maybe because friends we know start to go, maybe because we’re faced with those life changing health moments.

But at some point we all die.

I’ve done it on stage a few times but I get resurrected the next time I perform. In that way comedians are a lot like Jesus.

We even have disciples.

Unfortunately mine are two retired strippers that come to my shows and yell at me to “take it off”.

I swear I have never seen those two old broads before in my life.

But the other kind of death…. The permanent one…. I’ve been thinking about that lately.

January has been very tough.

So far this year my high school wrestling coach, Glen Takahashi and Ron Baldan, my best friend in high school, best man at my wedding and godfather to my oldest son have both passed away. They were both in their 50’s. In addition three very close friends were diagnosed with cancer. Thankfully with surgery they should all recover.

The thing is…. I’m in my fifties.

Fifty one.

Saturday my wife and I were at a wedding reception and we had our photo taken together. They gave us a copy of the photo while we were at the wedding. Who was that middle aged overweight balding guy standing next to my wife? What the hell happened?

I’m getting old.

I could die.

I think I’m going to start saying I’m in my very late forties.

I have been thinking a lot about Coach Takahashi and Ron Baldan.

I was a member of the first wrestling team Coach Takahashi ever coached. It was at the University of San Diego High School.

I only joined the wrestling team because I saw that the cheerleaders sat at the edge of the mat with their legs crossed…. or not.

That’s how they cheered!!!!

I was an Italian high school male.

What else can I say?

Coach Takahashi was one of the most soft spoken men I have ever met. He weighed about 130 pounds and could turn me into a pretzel. He never yelled at you in anger. He yelled encouragement and instruction. He was a great motivator and a man of honor.

I was never a star. I won more than I lost but my heart was never into that sport. When I graduated I remember telling Coach Takahashi that he was the best coach I had ever had. And he was. He was also one of the finest men I ever met.

Coach Takahashi passed away on New Years Eve. Ron Baldan passed away a week later.

Ron Baldan was my best friend. I would have trusted that man with my life. He loved tequila, food and strippers and not necessarily in that order. There are way too many stories to tell about Ron. I’m going to share just one.

We did a fundraiser once where the guys dressed up as female Miss Universe beauty pageant contestants. There were about a dozen of us. Not one of us could ever pass for a woman.


I was obviously Miss Italy and Ron wanted to be Miss Poland because Miss Mexico was already taken. When Ron came out on stage from behind the curtain he pretended he had a wooden leg and would bend over, pick it up, and then turn it in the direction he wanted to walk while he was on the “runway”. Later, as entertainment for the “contest”, Ron and I along with my wife’s cousin Albert did a rendition of Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy dressed as the Andrews Sisters.

Each of us weighed over 250 pounds at the time.

We all had moustaches.

It wasn’t pretty.

But the best part of that event was at the second intermission when Ron dressed up as my mother in a skit we did to the song Shut Uppa You Face. I was out in front singing and Ron was sitting behind me on the stage dressed as an old heavy set Italian woman. He was holding a large bottle of Chianti and was rocking back and forth to the song taking huge gulps of Chianti. By the time the song was over the bottle was drained.

It was real Chianti.

I told you Ron loved tequila. Well that’s what we’d been drinking to get the courage to go on stage dressed as women.

First tequila.

Then Chianti.

Tequila and Chianti.

Sounds like a new cop show on FOX.

By the end of the night Ron actually believed he had a wooden leg.

I will miss both of those men.

There comes a time in every man’s life when he asks himself the question, “Why am I here?”

I spent thirty seconds reflecting on that last night.

Why am I here?

Why am I here?

Am I just a collection of the atoms that were created billions of years earlier in the interior of stars, the fraction of a fraction of a percent of normal matter that escaped annihilation in the first microsecond of the universe?



Am I here for the food?

Does it really need to be more than that?

What if the reason I’m here is for a pizza with the works?

The average everyday Joe isn’t going to go down in history books for any great deeds. He isn’t going to leave some magnificent piece of art or music behind. He lives his life and when he dies those close to him remember their experiences with him. But when they die those before them are often forgotten by the next generation.

Everything has a beginning, middle, and an end.

So what’s the point?

Maybe there isn’t one.

I believe James Bond, or perhaps it was me at my bachelor party, said the following:

“Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we may die.”

But that isn’t enough is it?

So I’ve decided not to die.

I’ll just have a beginning and a middle.

Here’s my theory.

Everybody that retires.......dies.

If I don’t retire.

I can’t die.

But if by some chance I do die someday I need to have some “famous last words”.

That way I’ll be remembered. There have been some great famous last words.

Julius Caesar – “Et tu Brute?”

Lou Costello – “That was the best ice cream soda I ever tasted.”

Winston Churchill – “I'm bored with it all.”

Edmund Gwenn – “Yeah it’s tough. But not as tough as doing comedy.”

Union General John Sedgwick – “They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist. . . .”

I need to come up with some famous last words just in case. That way even if I don’t get to say them I can have it in my will that these are my famous last words.

Something like, “Et tu Andrea?”


“I think there’s a couple of twenties in my money clip son.”


I need something that will be remembered for all time.

Something profound.



AH HA!!!!!

“Chianti for everyone!”

Goodbye Coach.

Goodbye Ron.

You shall be remembered.