Thursday, November 09, 2006

Big Al & Me

I recently came back in contact with an old friend of mine-- Alan Scherstuhl. I met Alan in 1993 at the JCCC Campus Ledger, where I worked as cartoonist and he as a staff writer. The first exchange that we shared was when he told me that Pearl Jam "tries too hard"--an expression that I still use to this very day when commenting on an overrated band. Soon after that, he referred to The Replacements as "the greatest band ever." We became fast friends and quickly fell into the tight-knit group of party ponies and boozehounds who worked among us in that college basement. After two semesters most of the staff went their separate ways. I would ring up, or bump into, Big Al on occasion. But as time marched on, I began to see less and less of him. It's been several years--at least ten--since we last caught up.

I still consider him, to this day, one of the funniest people I've ever had the pleasure of knowing (I've always secretly longed to be the Ralph Steadman to his Hunter Thompson). As a matter of fact, thoughts of that entire group bring a smile to my face. I know that Alan had remained close friends with most of them. But I, as always, chose to take a different path and stay put in community college for much longer than I should have. In other words, my fellow colleagues went off to university, graduated and got jobs. I, on the other hand, moved out of my parents' house. Last time I saw Brad was at his wedding in the University Church at KU. Leslie, Alan's best friend, ended up getting married to a really nice fellow who I had only met once or twice (it should be noted that, although Brad's and Leslie's last names do not escape me, the spellings do. I would hate to butcher them within this context).

I was recently delighted to see Alan's name listed as a staff writer for Pitch Weekly. Whenever I get the opportunity, I pick myself up a copy to see what he has to ramble on about. I was even more delighted when I saw that Alan had written a piece about my cousin Pete's weekly improv performances at Comedy City. I immediately emailed Pete to let him know that Alan is an old friend and to tell him hello. Pete responded by telling me that, although Alan has attended a show or two of theirs, he has yet to meet him and, in his words, "couldn't pick him out of a line-up." He did, however, pass the message onto Alan via email. Alan seemed to be surprised to have read the name of Mark Teel before him in this context. The very name that he had been thinking about quietly for years. Eventually, Pete forwarded me Alan's email address, reminding me that he wasn't my errand boy and that if I wanted to tell Alan something, I should just be a man and do it. That address still sits in my inbox. I've wanted to write to him but feel a bit intimidated. His wit, humor and prose still threaten me, just as they did when I was twenty years old (This very entry, as a matter of fact, took the better part of the evening to put together). It's now been several weeks since this exchange occurred.

As fate would have it, I received an email from Pete yesterday. As always, the Comedy City troupe is presenting several shows this weekend. It isn't the first time Pete has requested my presence to come out on a Saturday night, but it IS the first time he's requested my presence on behalf of another. Apparently, Big Al has summoned yours truly to the event. After rearranging some Lisa and Audrey details around the homestead, I gladly accepted the invite and am now anticipating the reunion with Big Al, as well as the opportunity to see Pete perform again.

One of my fondest memories is of the evening in which the above sketch was produced. It was a cold winter night. Alan and I, through one of our wacky escapades, ended up locked in the Campus Ledger office overnight. Seeing as how it was winter break, we came to the realization that it would be days before we were discovered. We ended up keeping ourselves alive through rations of expired Dannon yogurt and hot apple cider that we found. Before long, fear turned to boredom and Alan finally stripped down to his bare ass, hopped on a desk, and begged me to draw his portrait. I figured why not? We're probably going to die here anyway. Needless to say, we ended up being rescued soon after and lived to remember the details of that fateful night. "Remember," being the keyword, as Alan made me promise to never utter the events of his nudeness to another human being. As his good friend, I happily obliged.

It should be noted that, seeing as how it's been thirteen years since that promise was made, the statute of limitations have expired and I am now free to say whatever the hell I want to. See you on Saturday, Alan.


Blogger Steaming bowl o' Calderone said...

I'm looking forward to Saturday night. It's been ages since I've seen you out in a social environment. Perhaps some of the rest of "the ol' gang" will show up too.

09 November, 2006  
Anonymous 'sawblade said...

It looks a lot like Elton John too.

13 November, 2006  
Blogger Steaming bowl o' Calderone said...

Sorry the rest of the group missed out. Did you and Brandon have fun?

13 November, 2006  
Blogger mwt. said...

Yeah. It was a well-needed good time. It was nice to hang out with you guys after the show. Brandon had a good time too. Thanks again. mwt.

13 November, 2006  

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