It is the middle of May in 1994 and I am living in an apartment just south of Ventura Boulevard in Encino. It is an older place built in the early 50’s and filled with quite the mix of residents.
There is a chef who works at the Benihana just down the street, a guy who works at Paramount studios building sets, a single mom with two kids, myself, a couple of people who work in the music industry and an assortment of others.
I am 25 years-old and live on the second floor with a view of the pool. A short time ago my father came by to visit. It is a short trip. He doesn’t plan on staying long because he is supposed to take my mom to a movie.
There is a knock on the screen door. “Jack, stop screwing around and come over. We are going to get high and then get some dinner.”
The invitation comes from my neighbor John. He doesn’t see my dad sitting on the couch. “A couple of Kelly’s friends are going to come by too. You should come, they like younger men. Maybe you’ll get laid.”
John isn’t trying to screw with me. He is a really nice guy who is friendly and generous. He is serious about getting high and serious about me getting laid. He is 31. I like him and sometimes we hang out, but for some reason I am always conscious of the difference in age between us.
My dad doesn’t say anything. He just looks at me. I am not sure how to respond here so I ask him if he wants a soda.
“Jack, you are old enough to know what to do. Be smart about it. You can have a really good time and still get into trouble.”
I nod my head. A short time later dad leaves and I go hang out with my neighbors. I don’t get high.
There is a group of us hanging out at the pool. We are drinking, eating and living it up. We’re listening to Sabotage, a new cut from The Beastie Boys most recent album. Later on I’ll watch the video and laugh. It reminds me of being a kid. My friends and I used to do all those things.
We’d chase each other around, jump over fences, dive into the swimming pools, wrestle and just let loose. Our mothers would yell at us and say that we were playing too rough. We’d nod and smile and then go right back to it.
Sometimes the mothers would stand over us to make sure that we listened to what they had to say. Occasionally we’d hear them complain to our fathers about how rough we were. Most of the time our fathers would say something like “boys will be boys” and we’d smile and get a bit crazier.
Years later I’d find myself saying something similar and shake my head at the sense of Deja Vu.
Adam Yauch died a couple of weeks ago, but that isn’t how I knew him. He was MCA. It feels surreal and a bit silly to say it. I hadn’t really thought much about this. I was sorry that he died and sorry that Junior Seau killed himself.
Maybe it is because I have been lost in my own world for a while. Maybe it is because I have been so caught up in trying to make some changes in my life. Maybe that relentless focus and pursuit is why I didn’t realize that it really bothered me. Don’t know if it matters knowing why, just know that it does.
What I do know is that earlier this week I was screwing around with my son and that I pulled a trick on him that he hadn’t seen. That kid of mine is a hair short of 11.5 and getting big. He isn’t fast enough yet to out run me. In a sprint I will still beat him. I can still hold my own with a lot of guys who are younger than I am, once…maybe twice.
After that it starts to get dicey.
Anyway, we’re outside and he is chasing me around the yard and I realize that my legs feel really good. They feel like they have some spring in them and I take off running, but I don’t go all out because part of the fun is keeping him close enough to think he can catch me. He gets close and then I start moving.
Eventually he catches up and promises that one day I won’t be able to do that. He is right. We both know it, but I know that it is sooner than I want it to be.
On this particular day I set off running and find a car parked in a driveway. Most days I would go around it but not today. My legs feel good and so I jump and slide across the hood. I am a combination of the Dukes of Hazzard, Starsky and Hutch and me.
A few minutes later I am sitting on my lawn, winded but laughing. My son catches up to me and smiles. I just reminded him that dad might not be all that old yet.
Goodbye MCA, I’ll miss you.