“When I was five years old my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life.
When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’
They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them them didn’t understand life.”
The Steering Wheel
All three moms just called them, “The boys.” They grew up in the valley of peace between the two wars of East Asia, 10,000 miles away. They were as inseparable as their Monopoly games that would go on for three or four days moving up and back between their houses. Mickey and Artie lived next door to each other with Don a few houses down the block.
They formed a triangle each having a unique corner. Mickey was thoughtful and introspective. Don was a regular guy always asking questions one after the other. And Artie was the quintessential irritant. But they got along and along and along. At that time Mickey had no idea that his inquisitive sensitive nature would lead to the transformation of his life where Mickey found the doorway into happiness.
Mickey grew up with dreams of Superman and Aladdin’s flying carpet along with his own dream of lying at the beach with waves of happiness washing over him again and again. Mickey’s transformation took a number of years. To be able to enjoy more moments of life Mickey had learned not to get caught in the stuff that comes up.
“Life”, Mickey would say, “keeps coming at you, some things you like some things you don’t like. And it seems there is a natural tendency for people to want more of what they like and to want less of what they don’t like.”
And one of the things that Mickey didn’t like was Artie’s constant jabbing, dishevelment, criticism and downright meanness. Now it may not have been Artie’s fault. Artie had a big brother about 10 years older and a little brother about 3 years younger. The older brother was a heavy set mean, nasty guy with a really short crew cut and an even shorter temper. And he did not just pick on his brother Artie, he picked on just about everybody. Mickey imagined Artie had gotten picked on a lot and he just kinda kicked it down the chain. Fortunately, Artie didn’t seem to belittle his younger brother; maybe he took pity on him. That’s why Mickey thought there might even be a little hope for Artie. The boys lived in Bellerose a suburb of NYC at the eastern edge of Queens, 17 miles from the city center. It was the 1950’s a time of peace and calm especially in this small community. The boys would often just walk into each other’s homes without even ringing the bell. They were in the school band together, boy scouts and summer day camp.
And that’s where it pretty much all started. They were just kids that grew up together. They didn’t know it was trash talking then but they all did it. Artie was the best trasher. He did it as a hobby and seemed to relish every moment. He used to rib Mickey in the school band about his clarinet. Artie played the trumpet although not very well. Mickey played the clarinet and was considerately better. Not great but certainly better than Artie. And Artie knew it and would even admit that to Mickey. Mickey had told Artie and Don all about Woody Herman, Benny Goodman and Woody Allen all great clarinet players and how Allen was also a funny comedian. And that he might want to become a professional comedian musician just like Allen or even Victor Borga. That was the beginning of giving Artie just what he wanted.
With that ammunition Artie started ribbing Mickey, he told him all the time, “You can’t play the clarinet. You don’t know what you are doing. Your clarinet squeaks, you can’t even put the reed on the instrument the right way.”
Mickey didn’t think too much of it. But Artie was relentless. He often said to Mickey that, “If you ever play in front of people you’ll just freeze up and never even finish the song.” Well little did they know that was exactly what was going to happen.
To be continued…..