Give Him Mine...Remembering Nicky

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« Brain food from the heartland


by Louie b. Free   | 349 entries

 

I don’t remember when I first met Nick...probably Jr. High (youngsters read: 7th/8th grade). I clearly remember being friends in High School. Nick was a weightlifter. I remember him winning a senior division YMCA lift competition. You needed to be 18, Nick was not yet 18, but entered as a senior and WON ! You could do that in the late 60s/early 70s and get away w/it. I was one of his ‘coaches’ Nick said, but all I did was encourage him and , I cheered him on! I was pretty scrawny back then (not my current 6’4” 240# of solid steel) I wore a size small T-shirt, maybe weighed a buck and a quarter. Nick was HUGE ! I clearly remember Nick, Dave T and Bobby K putting me on a bench and ‘spotting’ me when there were 100s of pounds of weight above my chest. “ Get ready, punk” Nick would say...but, he never allowed the weight to drop on me. I also remember Nick, et al, putting me in a Goodwill donation box in the Boardman Plaza and securing the door, preventing my exit. They were drunk, I was high, it was all good fun. As I think back, we were really different, or, were we? Nick drank and fought, I got stoned and tried to make peace. Nick acted upset when I called him a chocolate covered cherry: solid on the outside, but sweet soft and gooey on the inside...but, he was. We stayed friends over the last half-century. Nick was a law-enforcer….I was, well, not. Nick, always the tough guy outside, but, concerned and kind on the inside. Recently he said to me, “ isn’t it time you cut that F*** hair, you punk!” I was glad that he still had that spunk! He was on dialysis, had heart issues, etc. A few hours ago, I stopped to see him at the medical facility that was treating him. I could tell by the look on the staff’s faces that he was gone. As my tears fall on the keyboard, as I look at this through blurry eyes, I wonder why, two kids, then two teenagers , then two adults, so dramatically different, stayed friends for over fifty years…. As I try to find a way to complete this, I was JUST reminded of a Nicky & Louie story from years ago….Nick wanted me to go with him to a club that had ‘dancers’. Now, you need to understand this, chronologically. Years ago, many ‘strip-clubs’ had ladies who danced on bars. They danced in lingerie, panties & bras….on a stage or across a bar. Nicky wanted me to go to a bar on Midlothian where ladies ‘danced’. I being married, I was reluctant, but, Bun , who loved Nicky very much(Nicky was at our wedding) said,”it’s really ok, it’s Nicky, go with him” . I went. The dancer put a quarter in the jukebox and began dancing on the bar... stopping at every patron, serving up a bit of a personal show….as she approached me, Nicky said “ don't you f*** embarrass me, you punk!” When the scantily-clad young lady got to me, I put a 5 dollar bill in front of Nicky and said to her: “ give him mine”. The dancer, barmaid, and entire bar erupted in laughter…. Nicky, I miss you my friend….save a seat at the bar for me.


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