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Luxury riders

I’m back. Time for that story.

St. Patrick’s Day 1989 was on a Friday. Everyone at Arabi Park Middle School was looking forward to the final bell that day, since it would mean the beginning of one week off, the unofficial spring break, even though it wasn’t called that.

That night would be another of Arabi Park’s dances for the 7th and 8th grade students. Want to talk about awkward? Your intrepid blogger was the poster child for awkwardness. I didn’t have the guts to ask any girl to dance, and I often started crying by the end of the first hour.

Many girls were turned off by that, but I don’t blame them. They were 12 or 13, what were they supposed to do? Fortunately, Rosemarie Renz (now Huguet), who is my longest-standing friend on earth (37 1/2 years), was always nice enough to dance with me once or twice, and eventually, Stacie Dauterive (Seube), the young lady whom I had a crush on at Arabi Park, also danced with me near the end of the night.

Stacie was beautiful then and is now. But she has a wonderful heart. That’s why I really had a crush on her. Her sister, Andree (Addison), has that heart of gold, too.

I can’t say enough great things about Rosemarie. I hurt sometimes that we lost touch after 7th grade when I went to Brother Martin. Part of me wishes I would have stayed at Arabi Park fo the eighth grade and gone to Archbishop Hannah, the Catholic high school in St. Bernard Parish (county) with her.

On St. Patrick’s Day 1989, the APM student council sponsored a raffle. The winner would win a ride to the dance in a limo and would be able to bring five other people with him or her.

Let’s just say I spent as much money on trying to win the raffle as I would buying music credits during a long day at Buffalo Wild Wings. And $20 in 1989 was a lot more than $20 in 2019.

My classmates noticed I was going after the limo ride hard. During an afternoon class, I kidded with Toni LaRocca and Allison Richardson about inviting them to ride if I had won.

My heart weighs very heavy thinking about that right now. Allison Richardson (White) passed away in 2008 from cancer. Toni was extremely close to Allison, as was Stacie and several other girls in my classes at APM, and they are still devastated over a decade later.

If I could press the rewind button, I would certainly have invited Allison and Toni to ride. Rosemarie too.

That last sentence tells you I won the raffle. Shawn O’Neil informed me in the gym during a mini-carnival going on after classes ended.

Shawn never went to dances at Arabi Park. I tried to entice him to come with a spot in the limo, but he wisely said no.

I knew I couldn’t invite Stacie. She was going with Glen Weaver, her boyfriend throughout APM. She met her husband, Jeff, at Andrew Jackson High.

Jason Malasovich was going to ride, of course. It was an all-male crew: Jason, Jared Couture, Brandon Miller, Jack Bastoe, Joe Monaghan, and myself. Jared, Brandon and Jack were in classes with Jason and I, and Joe lived near Jason in another part of Arabi.

We met at Jack’s house since it was the farthest from the school, not too far from the bowling alley in Chalmette. The ride was fun. The dance was a repeat of the past, save for two things.

First, my mother was a chaperone, and Joe danced with her.

Second, I danced with Stacie’s mother, Kathy, who was then a teacher at Carolyn Park Elementary School, about five blocks from my house. She said I should dance with my mother, but I declined.

Confession: if I ever got married, I would be quaking in my boots over dancing with my mother. She is quite aloof and afraid of physical contact. I can name at least 50 people I have hugged more than her in my lifetime. Let’s see: Peggy, Caitlyn, Brenda, Dorinda, Liz, Lisa, Dawn…I’ll stop there for now.

The Dauterive family resided on Badger Drive, only 200 feet from St. Robert Belarmine Catholic Church, whose school I attended from kindergarten through fifth grade. After Katrina, Stacie and Jeff moved in with their sons to 905 Badger Drive, while her parents, Rene and Kathy, moved to Baton Rouge.

Rene owned a very successful plumbing company in St. Bernard Parish while I lived there, and he took care of our house at 224 Jaguar Drive. I’ve joked with Stacie and Andree that I want to bring Rene to Russell so he can fix the American Legion post’s plumbing problems for my parents, as well as those at 1224 North Brooks. Fortunately, there is a fine plumber in Russell, Donnie Boxberger, so we’re covered.

Two schools of thought on my fellow limo riders 30 years later. First, the guys were the right choice, because it avoided any awkwardness I would have had with girls. The other is I should have invited at least Rosemarie, because she and I had been friends for so long and she was always so nice. But Jason and I had been friends before APM as well, so he was a great choice.

I attended one more APM dance in late April. My mother did not allow me to go to the one in May, and rightly so, because I failed to turn in an assignment on time. I was very fortunate I was not forced to go to summer school. I could have been failed for not turning it in on time, but I was allowed to turn it in the following Monday for a D. On June 2, 1989, I was jeered out of Arabi Park twice, first at school, then by a passing school bus as I walked back to 224 Jaguar.

I don’t blame any kids who were unhappy that I was going to Brother Martin. I rubbed it in their faces for the last 3 1/2 months of the 1988-89 school year. I thought I was on another plane because I was going to a school in the New Orleans Catholic League and they weren’t. I was not welcome back on campus during 1989-90.

Sadly, Arabi Park closed in the late 1990s when St. Bernard Parish’s school system consolidated some schools. The shell of the old school stood until Katrina wiped it away.

I lost touch with so many until discovering them on Facebook in 2014, 25 years after I left for the school at 4401 Elysian Fields in New Orleans. I saw Jason last August when he was in town with his lovely family. I hope I will see more Epton (before it’s too late in Foots lingo).

After the dance ended, I got home in time to watch the second half of LSU’s NCAA tournament game vs. UTEP. The Bayou Bengals enjoyed a fine season with All-America freshman Chris Jackson (now Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf), but the Miners had future NBA standouts Tim Hardaway and Antonio Davis, plus the coaching acumen of the legendary Don Haskins, the same Don Haskins who led an all-black Miner team to victory over Adolph Rupp’s all-white Kentucky team in the 1966 championship game.

Many in Louisiana were salivating at the possibility of LSU playing Indiana and the hated Bobby Knight in the second round, but UTEP won 85-74.

If you’re wondering why LSU was playing so close to midnight Central time, here’s the dish.

Prior to 1991, CBS did not televise every tournament game prior to the Elite Eight. In the first and second rounds, CBS would select the games it wanted to show nationally, then the NCAA would put the other games up for bids. The NCAA produced the games and provided the announcers, and games were either televised by ESPN or a local network. In the Sweet 16, CBS selected two games a night, and the other two that night would be on locally in the areas of the participating teams.

In 1991, CBS took over all games, and contests before the Elite Eight were regionally broadcast. It stayed that way through 2010.

In 2011, CBS split the broadcast rights with TBS, TNT and TruTV, meaning every game would be televised nationally.

I’ve got a sinking feeling LSU will be one-and-done 30 years later, thanks to all the scandal surrounding coach Will Wade, who is suspended and may be fired. The field will be revealed at 1700. Not that I’m going to fill out a bracket.

Enjoy what’s left of your St. Patrick’s Day and weekend.

Jerk (not Caribbean)

I wish there were a way to selective eradicate one’s memory. If that were possible, I would gladly erase last night from my memory forever. It made me seriously question my worth as a living organism, much less a human being.

If I wonder why hundreds of people who’ve I met through the years have totally forgotten me, they would have been reminded if they had saw me in action last night. To say I was a complete and total asshole would be too kind. I acted so badly I probably deserved to be sent straight to the Missouri State Penetentiary in Bonne Terre. I was that bad. 

It began before I got to Buffalo Wild Wings. I set up the computer in my room at the Overland Park Marriott–yes, it was a different room; I checked out of 1123 Wednesday morning after sleeping in that room for 18 of the previous 20 nights–and got on Facebook really quick. 

What I saw sent me over the edge. 

I saw Liz had posted pictures of her, Sean and Cori Gardner out the previous night. 

It wasn’t they were out–yes, it kind of reminded me I’m lonely away from Kansas City, but I’m so old and I was in Russell the previous night–but it was seeing Cori which brought out my anger and sadness. 

 I met Cori before I met anyone else at Buffalo Wild Wings, Liz included. She waited on me at lunch quite a few times during the summer of 2013, and we really bonded. I asked her about a tattoo she had, and she told me she had type 1 diabetes. The bad kind. 

I have type 2 diabetes, but at least I can keep my blood sugar under reasonable control with medication. I wish I could stay away from the sugar and exercise more, but I’m just so bone lazy. 

Cori and Liz were two of the few I knew at Buffalo Wild Wings at that time. I would get to know Sean, Ronnie, Dana, Casey, Morgan Tomac and others over time, but my eyes lit up any time I saw Cori and/or Liz. 

The last time I saw Cori working at Buffalo Wild Wings was September 15, 2013, which also happened to be the same day Alex served me for the very first time. I didn’t go back there until October, and by then, Cori was gone, and I did not see Liz at all for quite a few visits. I thought I would not see them again. 

Until November 19, 2013. Cori came in a little after 4 that Tuesday to see some people there, and she was so excited to see me.  About an hour later, Liz came on for her shift. She was surpirsed to see me, too. 

This is where it diverges. I would see Liz regularly. Cori disappeared from my radar. 

It seems like I lose ladies in my life at regular intervals. 

  • Stacie Dauterive Seube and everyone else at Arabi Park Middle basically wrote me off once I went to Brother Martin in the fall of 1989, and disappeared from view until I finally reconnected with them on Facebook. 
  • Not talking to Stacie for so long really hurt. Really did. When I found out her son, Colin, has autism, I really felt awful. I felt like I could have helped her had I gotten in touch earlier, considering I’ve been through the same thing. 
  • I met Tiffany Peperone, then a sophomore at Dominican and a Brother Martin cheerleader, in May 1990. Became really close to her. Once she graduated, I saw her only sporadically at LSU, and then after a couple of chance encounters at Ivar’s in 1997, nothing. That hurts a lot. Still. 
  • Two teachers at Brother Martin whom I became very close to, Janine Koening (8th grade science) and Rebecca Hale (junior English), have faded from view, as has another, Eileen Depreo (senior Civics), the lady who helped me so much during the St. Patrick’s Day folly at the Louisiana Supreme Court (see an earlier post). 
  • The ladies I worked with in LSU’s sports information office have wiped me from memory. Other than Laurie Cannon Moll, whom I reconnected with on Facebook, they’re all gone. 
  • Wendy Wall, whom I met in 1997 when she was in graduate school at LSU, hurt a lot to lose. I haven’t talked to her since she and her husband, Sid, went to dinner with my dad and I in Houston following LSU”s 2002 baseball super regional vs. Rice. I’ve tried time and again to get in touch, but to no avail. 
  • Rebecca Borne could be a chapter in a book, or maybe a book, period. The daughter of LSU football and men’s basketball public address announcer Dan Borne, Rebecca was a super smart young lady (34 ACT) whom I met through the LSU sports information office. We slowly drifted apart until her graduation in May 1998, and then it was she didn’t want to have anything to do with me again. I cried almost every day for years over it. It didn’t stop until I moved to Kansas. 
  • Rebecca McCann Campbell and I bonded when I first met her as an LSU Batgirl during the 1999 season. We stayed in touch for over a year, but once she graduated, she quickly got marreid to her high school sweetheart. I was so ecstatic to be watching an LSU-South Carolina baseball game in Columbia on the night of her wedding. She’s still married and has two lovely boys, so that’s worked out. At least she hasn’t totally forgotten me. 
  • Renetta Rogers. I’ll skip her for right now.
  • Brenda LeBlanc, the winningiest high school volleyball coach in Louisiana history, occupied the perch Liz, Brittany and Lisa do now. I trusted her completely. I felt I could count on her whenever and wherever I needed her. And I would be there for her if she needed me. 
  • In Kansas, the list is endless. I could probably name 250-300 people. 
  • I thought Amanda Schelp wanted nothing to with me again for a time. Fortunately, that’s not hte case, but there are several at the hotel where she used to work who probably want me gone. 
  • Now I worry to death it’s going to happen with Crista, with Dr. Custer, with Dr. Jones. If that happens, my health will suffer greatly.  
  • I also worry about the crew at Buffalo Wild Wings. I know LIz is moving soon, Lisa will have a new job, and I’m sure Brittany will move on following her wedding in July. There still might be Alex, Tori, Raymie and a few others, but I don’t know. 

Back to last night.

I came into Buffalo Wild Wings at 6:30 and sighted LIz. I yelled at hear about Cori. She took me outside and chewed me out. I deserved it. I was totally wrong. 

First, I had NO RIGHT to go into her place of employement and make a scene. She should have slapped me, or kicked me in the nuts. 

Second, it isn’t her fault. Things happen with people and their lives. 

Third, she told me she hadn’t seen Cori much, either. So I wasn’t alone. 

When I went back in, I broke down and cried hard, the first time I had cried in public in a very long time. I started playing some of my favorite sad songs, “Against All Odds” by Phil Collins, “Sorry Seems To Be the Hardest Word” by Elton John, and “All By Myself”, first the original by Eric Carmen, then the remake by Celine Dion. Chad McCart, the manager on duty, told me I had to stop playing those songs. I did. 

I stayed until 9 and then left. I didn’t eat, and I hardly said goobdye to anyone. I did not say goodbye to Alex or Lisa. 

I was feeling awful by time I pulled back in to the hotel. Jackie wondered what was wrong. She had never seen me that down. 

At least something good happened last night.

I called Outback at Oak Park Mall to get a steak to eat in my room. I wanted prime rib at first, but I got a call five minutes later that there was no more prime rib. Therefore, I was offered the 22-ounce bone in ribeye at the same price as the prime rib. I jumped at the offer. That steak was so awesome. 

I got ready early this morning. My car is being serviced at Morse-McCarthy Chevrolet right now. The oil life meter was down to ZERO. 

It’s raining and cold this morning. Fits my mood. 

Drinking game

I got back to Russell at 4:45 this afternoon. Instead of going straight back from Salina to Russell, I went south on Interstate 135 to Wichita. I needed to pick up things at Best Buy and buy some groceries I could not buy in Hays or Salina. I wasn’t feeling too well on the trip back. I think I’m coming down with something. I’m thinking a visit to Walgreen’s is in order, either before or after my 10:30 a.m. appointment tomorrow. I’d like to do it before, so I can drive straight from Hays to Salina, spend some time at Buffalo Wild Wings, and then head to Beloit for Russel’s basketball games.

I stuffed myself last night at Buffalo Wild Wings. I ordered two of the delicious menu items which are only available for a limited time, the New Yorker, a pastrami sandwich on a pretzel bun; and the buffalo mac and cheese, which I also ordered Monday. Tomorrow will be the last Friday I can eat meat until April 10, since Ash Wednesday is coming up next week.

I left Buffalo Wild Wings a few minutes before 8 so I could watch the new episode of Law and Order: SVU in the room. It was a bust: the reception was terrible, the episode was a little over my head (video gaming), and I fell asleep. I woke up just before midnight with a gastric problem. I’ll go no further.

Today marks the 21st anniversary of my first experience with alcohol, save for the times I drank Communion wine in church. It was totally unexpected.

It happened at the Parkway Tavern, a popular hangout in New Orleans’ Mid-City, located on Canal Boulevard only half a block north of its intersection with City Park Avenue. It was all bar, no food, and sports on satellite was the main attraction. In most Kansas counties,an establishment cannot serve alcohol unless 30 percent of its sales from food. Johnson County, the state’s largest, has this requirement, as do Ford (Dodge City), Finney (Garden City) and Seward (Liberal).

Some counties allow pure bars without food sales. The only counties in northwest Kansas which do are Ellis (understandable because of Fort Hays State University), Graham (Hill City) and Logan (Oakley). Most of the others are in the eastern part of the state or contain big cities.

From 1948 through 1986, liquor by the drink was illegal in Kansas except at a private club. A handful of counties are still “dry”, meaning a private club is the only way to get liquor by the drink.

The alcohol laws of Louisiana are far more lax. Unlike Kansas, where anything except 3.2% beer must be sold in a liquor store, residents of the Bayou State can buy all sorts of alcoholic beverages anywhere and everywhere, including drugstores, grocery stores, convenience stores and any other establishment with a license to sell such spirits. Until 1995, the drinking age in Louisiana was 18. Technically, it was still 21, but there was a huge loophole–it was illegal to purchase alcohol at ages 18, 19 and 20, but it was not illegal to serve people in that age range

I was still eight months shy of my 18th birthday on February 12, 1994. I went to the Endymion parade, one of the largest Carnival parades in the Big Easy, planning to meet some adult friends of mine at Parkway.

Eventually, Ray Maher, an attorney whom I had known for three years, invited me in. I asked him to get me a Coke while I went to the restroom.

When I took a sip of the Coke, I knew something was amiss. I know Coke is loaded with sugar, but this taste was not the sweet taste of Coca-Cola.

I went into the bathroom and spat it out. When I emerged, Ray and Tommy Mitchell, a coach at my high school, Brother Martin, had big grins on their faces. Ray admitted it was spiked with bourbon. I laughed it off as we walked down City Park Avenue to Orleans Avenue and the beginning of the parade route.

The parade began at 4:30 p.m. Ray, Tommy and a few of the guys who were originally in the crowd left the parade early. I stayed until 7 because I wanted to see the Andrew Jackson High School dance team. The captain? Stacie Datuerive, of course now Stacie Seube. Once I saw them, I went back to the Parkway, where Ray greeted me enthusiastically.

It turned out to be the next to last Mardi Gras parade I have witnessed. In about 17 hours, I would be done with Mardi Gras, this time for good.

Over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again

I am in Kansas City right now. I did not go to Buffalo Wild Wings. Did not even consider it. Instead, I got takeout at the Outback Steakhouse on Barry Road, the same one I’ve gone to many a time, and just took my food back to my hotel room at the Courtyard on Tiffany Springs. I stuffed myself good–New York Strip (rare this time, not overcooked), the ahi tuna, plus a salad, and I still have a Caesar salad left.

I couldn’t go back to Buffalo Wild Wings. Not after the commotion I’ve caused on my last two visits. Not with the hurt I’ve caused to two people who opened their hearts to me and I proceeded to treat like crap. I deserve to be alone and deserve to be ostracized for the things I did.

Brittany Davidson and Lisa Toebben were nothing but nice to me from the first time I encountered them at Buffalo Wild Wings. And recently, all I have done is piss on it. They have gone above and beyond what anyone should have to do to help another human being, and I have taken it for granted.

Brittany and Lisa had no reason whatsoever to help someone who lives 250 miles away, even if I am a regular customer at Buffalo Wild Wings. They didn’t have to do so, but out of the kindness of their hearts, they did all they could to help me, and more. And what have I done? Taken it and spit on it. They didn’t do anything wrong to deserve this treatment from me. Yet I’ve done it time and time and time and time and time and time and time again. No wonder I’m lonely. No wonder so many people have cut me out of their lives.

Brittany and Lisa are far from the first people I’ve done it to.

First and foremost, I blew my chance with Renetta Rogers because I supposedly posted negative things about her mother on Facebook, and supposedly it cost Liz Rogers a job in Jefferson City when she moved there with her husband and Renetta in 2009. Renetta was everything I was hoping for in a partner, and Renetta was really able to look past all my flaws and see what I had to offer, but I blew it. Really blew it. Maybe all of the things I’m going through now is karma for the way I royally screwed up with Renetta’s mother. Then again, I keep doing it.

I’m just so damn lucky a few, like Stacie Dauterive Seube and Toni LaRocca, have given me another chance. They didn’t have to. They could have easily forgotten about me when I left Arabi Park Middle for Brother Martin in 1989. They should have forgotten about me when I left Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. But thank God they’ve come back to me. I know I haven’t talked to any of the others from Arabi Park as much as I have with Stacie and Toni, but at least I know they haven’t forgotten me totally.

Stacie and Toni have had it far worse than me. They lost Allison Richardson to cancer at 32. Nobody should have to live the last two-thirds of their lives without one of their closest friends. And it’s a damn shame Allison was robbed of her life so young. She had so much promise. I saw it in her when we were 12 and 13. I wish I could have gone in her place.

Brenda LeBlanc is another one who should have dumped me. If she wanted to take me to one of the bridges in Baton Rouge which span the Mississippi River and dump me over, I wouldn’t have blamed her. I let her down so much. So so much. I’m damn lucky there, too.

Elizabeth Psenski should have kicked me to the curb for the stunt I pulled before she went on her trip to Michigan in July. I pretty much pulled the same shit with her that I have with Brittany and Lisa. I thought she was going to do that to me on the Fourth of July, but she gave me a reprieve. She has more wisdom before 21 than I will ever acquire. It’s because she has a great mother. Nadine probably should have given me the cold shoulder, too, for treating her daughter so poorly. But she hasn’t.

Shannon Swanson came on board in June and has done all she can to help me, and I’ve let her down. I’m sure she’s frustrated with me. She offered to go to a group with me later this month. I need to. I need help.

Brittany posted something very harsh on my Facebook page last week. But she did it because she doesn’t want to see me sad. Yet here I was Monday still sad and angry too, and it had to not only make her angry that it seemed like I was ignoring her pleas, it had to scare her I was in that state. Over 48 hours later, I still can’t get it out of my head. If she doesn’t want to talk to me again, I understand.

Lisa had to put up with the same crap the previous week. She didn’t deserve it. She’s trying her best to help. She volunteered to go to the group with Shannon and I. She doesn’t have to. Lord know what I’ve put her through.

I know I will never, ever be forgiven. Brittany Davidson is probably out of my life forever. I deserve it. But I don’t know how I’m going to go on.

Conflicted

I had a lot of trouble sleeping last night. I was feeling miserable after all that went on, although it gave me time to do my laundry in the wee hours. I barely slept, but somehow, I was out of Russell just before 10 a.m.

I am convinced McDonald’s breakfast is the worst restaurant food ever created, at least food which does not come from that hellhole Spangles. I stopped at the Russell McDonald’s on my way out of town, and long before I got to Salina, I was feeling sick to my stomach. The Russell McDonald’s is especially horrible, since they barely put the English muffins in the toaster, and they look very sickly and soggy. I like mine crunchy. If I see black on the edges, I know I’m in good shape. But Russell NEVER puts theirs in the toaster. Another reason to avoid that place.

I got some food at Burger King in Abilene after using the restroom, but I could barely eat it. I was able to eat a couple of croissants and down a frappucino from Starbucks in Junction City, but that breakfast still wasn’t sitting well all the way past the eastern toll plaza of the Turnpike between Tonganoxie and Bonner Springs.

I veered south for the first time since the August 28 meltdown and went to Lukas Liquors in Overland Park after a brief stop at a Bank of America ATM. I bought three more six-packs of Abita Beer, two of which are fall seasonal brews, Pecan Ale and Oktoberfest Lager, as well as Andygtor, the bock which is 8.0% alcohol by volume, meaning under Kansas law, it must carry a higher price.

I was hoping Lisa Toebben would be done with her doctor’s appointment and work tonight, but she isn’t, so I gave the Andygator to Tori Weber, who really enjoyed the Strawberry lager I gave her Monday night. Alex Mullinax got the Oktoberfest, and I’m guessing I’ll give the Pecan to Brittany Mathenia-Tucker, although that could change.

Elizabeth Psenski reiterated she’s moving to Colorado soon. That has me really depressed. Another person comes into my life and becomes an important part of it, and boom, he or she ups and leaves. I understand why she is doing it. She has to improve her life. But here I am again, almost 40, trying to find a stable friendship, It has rarely, if ever, happened. I can go on and on and on about the people.

It started way back with Rosemarie Renz and Lisa Syrdal from St. Robert Bellarmine. Rosemarie and I reconnected at Arabi Park, but then I left her, Stacie Datuerive, Toni LaRocca, Lara Doyle, Tammy Gilbert, and saddest of all, Allison Richardson (rest in peace) when I left for Brother Martin. Of the guys, I’ve at least reconnected with Shawn O’Neil.

There weren’t any students at Brother Martin I missed, but there were teachers and coaches. I didn’t get to say goodbye to Bob Conlin when he passed away too soon. I cry over Janine Koenig, my very first teacher at the school. I wonder about Rebecca Hale, my favorite Tulane booster.

LSU and Baton Rouge? The bridges are burned enough to span the Mississippi River from the Louisiana State Penetentiray at Angola, near the Mississippi state line, all the way to the Hale Boggs Bridge in St. Charles Parish. Who should I begin with? Let’s see:

  • Bill Franques, Michael Bonnette, Herb Vincent, Jim Schwanke, Dan Canevari, Bill Dailey, Laurie Cannon, Fred Demarest, Wendy and Sid Wall, Erika Goulas and the entire Borne clan at LSU,
  • Robin Fambrough and a whole bunch of others at The Advocate.
  • Brenda LeBlanc is by far and away the biggest casualty from Baton Rouge, but as for other coaches, there’s Dorinda Beaumont, Beverly Russell, Bill Bofinger, Dale Weiner, Kenny Almond, Sid Edwards and Guy Mistretta, just to name a few.

Kansas isn’t even safe. Larry Mills, why have you forgotten about me? It’s not limited to you, though; half of Norton has basically flushed me down the toilet. I’m sure Morgan Baumann, Lacy Keilig and many others would like to see me burn or otherwise hasten my demise. I haven’t made any friends in Russell other than Larry Bernard and Mark Paul, who’s now at Ulysses. I’m sure many at Smith Center want me sileneced after that fiasco at the state volleyball tournament a year ago.

Without Liz at Buffalo Wild Wings, why come to Kansas City? I don’t know how much longer Lisa and the Brittanys will be here. If they’re gone, why bother? Braidey Howe has tried to convince me to keep coming. I don’t know.

Lonely days. Lonely nights.

Too shy shy

No I am not going to reminisce about Kajagoogoo despite the title of this post. Rather, I’m going to bring back another Arabi Park Middle School memory.

Actually this one came less than two months after my final day at Arabi Park, June 2, 1989. I had totally forgotten about until Andree Dauterive (Addison), Stacie’s younger sister, brought it up.

On a couple of hot days that July, I rode my bike from 224 Jaguar to St. Robert Bellarmine church and Carolyn Park, about a mile away. Of course, the big house at 905 Badger Drive was also looming. The Datuerive residence.

I peeked into the carport to see if the Datuerive family van was parked. If it was, it meant the matriarch of the Dauterive klan, Kathy, was home, along with her children, Stacie, Andree and Rene, the baby of the family who was four years younger than Andree and named after his father, the proud proprietor of Datuerive Heating and Plumbing. If the van wasn’t there, there may have been nobody home, or maybe the kids were home by themselves.

I kept riding around and riding around, too scared to ring the doorbell like a normal person. I didn’t see anybody looking out the window most times I passed, but there were a couple of times Andree caught me red-handed and had to duck.

Finally, I rang the doorbell on Wednesday, July 19. Andree answered and told me Stacie was in the shower. The second time, eight days later, Andree answered again, only to close the door on me. It wasn’t a slam, but I now understand why she was apprehensive. She was 11 years old and sees some guy riding his bike acting like he’s stalking her big sister. That was not my intention at all, but I could see Andree’s point of view, and Stacie’s if she was hiding. Andree was a very good little sister, and it’s no wonder she and Stacie have both grown up to be very successful both as career women and as mothers.

Stacie and I actually exchanged letters during the summer of 1989. How about that? Old fashioned letter writing! I wonder how Stacie and Jeff explained to their kids that there was no e-mail and no Internet when they were growing up. Some of my friends from Buffalo Wild Wings who are significantly younger than me ask the same thing. Elizabeth Psenski loves those stories.

I finally found the courage to call Stacie in September one afternoon after I got home from Brother Martin. We talked a couple more times in the following weeks, but then lost contact for a long time, until that meeting at the St. Bernard chapter of the LSU Alumni Association in 1993.

This has been a day from hell. Screaming match over the phone with one of my bosses. Screaming match with dad. Crying a lot. Wanting to end my life. Sitting alone at Buffalo Wild Wings thinking about how to end it. Trying to cheer up for Lisa and others. It can’t get worse tomorrow, can it? Oh yes it can. I am not looking forward to going to a stupid high school volleyball match in nowhere America. I just hope to get left alone.

Back to the middle

Now I’m on a middle school memories kick here. I’ve reconnected with one of the two young ladies I called a “stunner” from Arabi Park Middle, Lara Doyle (Meyers). She was as impressed with my memory recall as Stacie, Shandy, Shawn and Rosemarie have been.

In the summer of 1988, between my sixth and seventh grade years at Arabi Park, my parents, my brother and I went to Russell to visit my father’s parents. It was one of the last times we visited where my grandmother, Sophie, who was my dad’s stepmother–he never knew his birth mother–was lucid. She still had her 1970 Buick LeSabre, and we would ride around Russell in it, even though I wasn’t too keen on the fact it wasn’t as safe, or at least I didn’t consider it as safe, as my mother’s 1986 Oldsmobile EIghty-Eight which we drove up. We went to the Dairy Queen on US 40 in Russell every day. Sadly, that Dairy Queen closed in 1992, and it’s now a bad Mexican restaurant.

When I started the seventh grade at Arabi Park, I tried convincing my classmates, especially Shawn, that I was born in Kansas. Slight problem: Mrs. Gattuso and my mom were friends long before I was born, and she knew better. She made me confess I was born at Baptist Hospital on Napoleon Avenue, the same hospital where Peyton Manning was born seven months prior. Of course, while Olivia Manning gave birth in a palatial private room and got to stay for as long as she wanted, I went home the next day. Oh well.

I tried to rub Kansas in my classmates’ faces, especially with the annoying “Tweety Bird” shirt which featured a giant Jayhawk. Kansas won the 1988 NCAA men’s basketball national championship, and I would not let Shawn, Jared or anyone else forget it. They grew tired of it, as they should have. Good thing I didn’t wear the K-State shirt with the Tom Cat in front of Mrs. Gattuso, or she would have found a derisive name for that, too.

I told everyone who would listen I was going to KU or K-State for college. I had no interest at that time in LSU or any school in Louisiana. Nebraska was also on my radar, which was even more irritating to LSU fans, since the Cornhuskers defeated the Bayou Bengals three times in bowl games in the 1980s. And even Wichita State was having athletic success, going to the 1988 College World Series and winning it all in 1989, only eight days after I left Arabi Park for good.

Once I was admitted to Brother Martin for eighth grade in February 1989, I started wearing a crimson shirt with Martin’s mascot, Crusaders, on it. Another bad idea. I wore it on my last day ever at Arabi Park, and Mrs. Rando bragged on me. Stacie saw it and was not impressed. Shawn forgave me enough to come to my house the next night.

This was what I needed after what happened earlier. Very therapeutic.

More from the middle

Thanks to a Facebook conversation with four great people from my distant past, a flood of memories has been opened. Might as well get to them while they’re still fresh on the brain.

The drive from one end of Kansas City to the other gave me the chance to remember a heck of a lot from my days in New Orleans, and especially my friends from Arabi Park Middle.

Stacie Dauterive Seube and I had e-mailed each other twice before Katrina, and then we were in touch a couple of times after I moved to Kansas, but the last e-mail was in February 2006. Tonight, I recalled the last times I saw her in person.

One was November 1993 when the St. Bernard Parish chapter of the LSU Alumni Association held a meeting about its scholarships. Stacie’s dad, Rene, who owns Dauterive Heating and Plumbing, was also there, as he was active with the LSU Alumni Association. Two others from the Arabi Park days were there, Jason Malasovich and Christi Rehage. Christi’s brother, Steve, played football for LSU under Jerry Stovall and Bill Arnsparger in the 1980s, so it was not surprising at all Christi wanted to continue the family tradition.

I also saw Stacie on the LSU campus on our VERY FIRST DAY of college classes, August 29, 1994. Like me, Stacie didn’t stay at LSU; she eventually transferred to Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, 45 minutes east on Interstate 12. After the 1995 spring semester, I went home to the University of New Orleans, but I would return to LSU in January 1997.

Speaking of LSU, I saw Rosemarie Renz (Huguet) on campus one day in September 1997. It was in front of the LSU union when I had a break in Wednesday morning classes. At that time, I was back working in LSU’s sports information office, and I had just begun covering high school football for The Advocate, Baton Rouge’s daily paper.

Of course, having gone to five years of school with me before Arabi Park, Rosemarie’s memories  are far deeper than most. Last night, I recalled she came to my seventh birthday party in October 1983 at Showbiz Pizza in Chalmette. I returned the favor for Rosemarie at her grandparents’ house in May 1985. Of all the people in my classes at Arabi Park, Rosemarie was the by far the nicest. I think she got me because we had been together at St. Robert Bellarmine, and I don’t recall her teasing me like some of the others. Then again, I forgive everyone who ever teased me in middle school, because I don’t expect 12 or 13 year olds to understand Asperger’s, especially when it had not been diagnosed yet in the United States, as was the case in the late 1980s.

Actually, Rosemarie was not the only person from Arabi Park who attended school with me at St. Robert Bellarmine. I almost forgot about Aimee Roniger, who came to St. Robert’s in the fifth grade, the year Rosemarie left to to go to Arabi Park, the last year it was an all-girls school. Aimee stayed at St. Robert’s in the sixth grade before coming to Arabi Park in the seventh. She and another of the honors girls, Nicole Lowery, were best friends. Nicole, like Shandy, Vanessa Condra, Dayna Siebenkittel and Erin Billingsley, were not in honors until seventh grade, with Michelle Woodland transferring in to Arabi Park for seventh grade.

 

Showbiz was the rival to Chuck E. Cheese and was popular in the south in the 1980s. In fact, I went to another Showbiz location, this one in the Algiers neighborhood of New Orleans, for Shawn O’Neil’s birthday party in December 1988.

I’ll never forget Shawn’s party. His dad insisted on taking the ferry across the Mississippi River from Chalmette to Algiers, even though the new Crescent City Connection had opened and there were four lanes of traffic in both directions. I remember riding over with Shawn, Jason, Jared Couture, Jack Bastoe and Brandon Miller. The girls from our class were not invited.

Shawn also happened to be a damn fine basketball player. He lived across the street from Vista playground, so he and his brothers, Danny and Chad, went there often to hone their basketball and baseball skills. Shawn had a fine left-handed mid-range jumper, and he was hell on the boards. I remember going up against him three times during the 1988-89 Biddy Basketball season. His Vista teams went 3-0 against the Carolyn Park team Jason and I played on. Jason, Shawn and I had to play with the 11-year olds because we turned 12 after October 1. Jared’s birthday was before the limit, so he was with the 12-year olds. Another fine player in the 11-year old Biddy league that year was Michael Marques, who played for Versailles. He went on to become a two-year varsity starter at Brother Martin and was in my graduating class. Michael’s dad and my dad worked together at Air Products and Chemicals.

I didn’t see Shandy de St. Germain (Arguelles) after leaving Arabi Park, but tonight I remembered one of her best friends from middle school, Kim Carmouche. Kim and I were in the gifted and talented program at Arabi Park. We didn’t have the highest grade point averages, but we both tested so well that the school saw potential in us. We got to skip P.E. on Wednesdays.

The family of one of the boys who was in gifted and talented with us in the sixth grade, Lateef Khan, owned the Shell service station at the corner of Perrin and Judge Perez Drive. There was an Exxon across the street from the Shell, and on the other side of Judge Perez from the Exxon was the Little Fisherman, where my mom often picked up crawfish, corn and potatoes during the late winter and early spring for Friday meals.

During my final quarter, the boys and girls were separated for science class for four weeks so that sex education could be presented. The boys were taught by Susan Buras, while the girls went with Shelly Shumaker, who was the honors science teacher for seventh grade.

I’ll never forget my naivete. Shoulder pads for ladies’ blouses were big in the late 1980s, and I asked Ms. Buras if that’s where women kept their pads for their periods folded up. It cracked everyone up, especially Shawn, who always got a kick out of my antics. Looking back, I know much better, but I’m glad I could make the boys and Ms. Buras laugh, even if it was at me.

I’m also starting to fondly remember two girls who were a year ahead of us, Chastity Manzella and Jennifer Newell. Jennifer was the band’s drum major her eighth grade year. They were both very beautiful and very popular. Chastity flirted with me one day at an Arabi Park softball/baseball doubleheader at Trist Middle in Meraux; of course, I was too young and too uninformed to know what to do.

As much as I’m loving this, it’s obscenely late. I’ll be back later today.