CHAPTER 1 THE MEETING
In 1962, we were both sophomores in a catholic
about 1000 students. St. Thomas Aquinas was one of the first campus
high schools in the country. I was sitting in the cafeteria one afternoon having lunch pondering words. I would say the words over and
over again until they lost their meaning and only the sound of the word remained. I often sat alone because of stuff like this.
I believe I was working on a word like zoo. Go
ahead, try it
now. Say zoo over and over again until just the sound of the word
and I think you'll agree that it sounds stupid. Maybe I was working out a word like fark. Now to most of the world that word is fork
but when you're in St. Louis, most words that have an o.r. sound in them are said as though they have an a.r. sound. The ultimate phrase
is forty horses in a storm, which comes out as farty harses in a starm.
So, I'm sitting at my table when Jay sits down
next to me and
after a few minutes he asks me what I was doing. I told him that I was
words over and over again until they lost their meaning, and he says "I do that to". So I was saying the word zoo over and over, zoo, zoo,
zoo, zoo, and he said no, fark, fark, fark, fark. We both laughed our asses off. We continued saying words back and forth through lunch
and finished off a couple bowls of monkey balls, which were these little round "chocolate treats" that were served daily in the lunchroom.
We then agreed to meet after school, and continue with our word fest . So after the last bell we sat in Jays car in the parking lot for about
two hours trading words back and forth and laughing hysterically. It's amazing, but this one encounter was the basis for a friendship that
lasted, so far, almost 50 years.
In 1964, our senior year in high school, we
continue the tradition of pulling a senior prank. The previous class,
planning, came up with the brilliant idea of spray painting the back walls of two buildings with permanent paint. Of course this really pissed
off the nuns and priests at the high school, and prompted a great deal of ill will toward the senior class. So our class decided that if we
really did a senior prank, that it would be one that would be nondestructive and irritating. But not just irritating, spectacularly irritating. So
over the next few months under the guise of collecting newspaper for the Boy Scouts, we collected an entire garage full and stashed it at
a classmate's house that was situated over a chain-link fence right behind the school.
The plan was simple.
We would fill a space that was called the "fishbowl" with the
wadded up newspapers that we had collected. Now
the fishbowl was a four-sided glass structure, open to the sky, situated in the center of the two-story building in the front of the campus.
Inside the fishbowl was planted various shrubs, bushes, and small trees. Our intent was to fill the fishbowl with the paper in such a way that
the trees and bushes would not be harmed. We decided to wait until 9 or 10 o'clock at night to put our plan into motion so that we would
stand less of a chance of getting caught. Jay and I would act as lookouts because he had a CB radio in his car, and the other five or six
people in the group would be in charge of getting the newspapers on to the roof of the building, putting protective boxes over the plants,
and wading up the newspapers and throwing them into the fishbowl.
Little did we know that the school had hired some
police to keep an eye on the campus because they had heard rumors of a
Consequently, our plan was interrupted before the first paper was tossed. The police entered the parking lot and rounded up the five or so
guys that were on the roof. When they discovered that one of the guys had a walkie-talkie, they realized that there probably was a lookout.
We stupidly decided to drive by the front of the school to see what had happened to the others. When the police saw the car go by with a
CB antenna on it, they realized it was probably the lookouts and followed us to a gas station where we had stopped for gas. They proceeded
to search the car and found several rifles in the trunk. They must have thought that they had apprehended the new John Dillinger gang but were
sadly disappointed when we told them that the rifles were only props used in the production of Annie get your gun for which Jay was prop manager.
They took us all down to the police station where
them our benevolent plan. Luckily the juvenile officer was a pretty
agreed to just call Jay's mom ,(we all called her Momsy), and that she would decide what punishment would be handed down. He also told
us that if we had just waited until midnight or so, that we could have pulled it off without a hitch. None of the other parents were ever notified.
Momsy was a wonderful woman.
CHAPTER 11 EL MAYA RESTAURANT
During the 70's, Jay worked his way through
by doing waiting and bar tending at a Central West End Central American
restaurant. The West End is an upscale section of town about ten minutes from downtown St. Louis and situated just adjacent to Forest
Park, the largest park in the area and one of the largest in the country. Jay befriended Amparo, a Honduran woman and the owner of the
restaurant, called the El Maya. He worked there for about two years before we took the band out to California.
After returning from California he looked her up
found that she had closed the
restaurant but that she had found a location in the
West End in the basement of the Park Edge Hotel and wanted to reopen. It had its own entrance on Euclid, and seated about 50 people.
She said that she needed financial help getting it going and of course help with the day to day operations. Jay was more than willing to contribute.
Amparo could cook up a fantastic Honduran meal,
somewhat lacking in business acumen. As
an example, she would make phone
calls to every Mexican restaurant supplier to find the lowest price for corn tortillas and then would send a taxicab to pick up the boxes and
bring them to the restaurant. Unfortunately, even though she was terrible at it, she would not let anyone else do the finances, so at the end of
about two years she owed everyone in town and not one supplier would deliver supplies to her on anything than a cash basis. This made it
very hard to effectively run the operation.
In 1984, I returned to St. Louis to take care of
who was suffering with pancreatic
cancer, and Jay said that he needed me to
help at the restaurant. He also told me that, if I wanted, I could become a partner with the infusion of a little cash. He also had solicited
another friend, Paul, that he had known since grade school, to become another partner. We all met several times with Amparo to try to
work out the details and things were going along great until we asked her for the books so we could see exactly what the finances looked
like. We were met with a blank stare and were told that there were no books of any kind. We politely declined to become partners but
Paul and I agreed to work there to get the place going again.
Within two weeks, the restaurant was bustling with
who had not been coming because of poor service and a menu that only
about half the items listed on it available on any given day. I would spend at least two hours most days driving around town picking up
supplies, again because no one would deliver. We had every menu item each day and started doing specials for lunch. Jay, Paul and I
made a huge difference and business was great.
Bill, the cook, had been with the restaurant since
opened. In retrospect, we think that
Amparo had offered Bill a piece of the action in
return for his working for a pittance. When I came in and started basically running things, I was perplexed that Bill seemed to be always
angry with me and would barely talk to me. He was a very large man with a temper, a club foot and easy access to sharp kitchen utensils,
a potentially disturbing combination. At one point, he even threatened to smash me in the face with a glass ashtray and again I couldn't
figure out the problem.
Despice his issues, Bill made a great gazpacho
soup. This is a Spanish soup,
cold, and perfect for the hot summer
months. Usually it is made with tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, garlic, olive oil, red wine vinegar and spices. We would often have this
as a lunch special.
Jay had been telling me stories about some of the
that had been coming since before I got there.
He said that eventually I would
get to wait on these people and would get quite a kick out of them. The best of the bunch were two elderly ladies that would come in
almost every Tuesday. They would stare at the menu and then after several minutes would order the same thing in the exact same way.
The first lady would say “I'll have a tacca, a nacca, and a cream de cacca (sic)”. This was referring to a taco, a nacho and a shot of
crème de cacao which she would then pour into her coffee. The second lady would say, “I'll have a tasha, a nasha, and a quarter litter
of sangria (sic)”. This referred to a taco, a nacho and a quarter liter of sangria. Jay said that he would repeat their order each time
correctly, but that they never got the clue and continued to say it they same fractured way each time.
I longed to meet these two.
Finally after about two months or so, I got to wait on their
table. I knew immediately who they were
they always sat at the same table and matched Jays description of them. After looking at the menu for several minutes, I asked them what
they wanted and I waited with anticipation. The first lady said, “I'll have a tacca, a nacca, and cream de cacca(sic)”. I was delirious with
delight. The second lady said, “honey, normally I have a tasha, a nasha, and a litter of sangria (sic), but its so hot today and I'm not very
hungry, would you please just bring me a bowl of your gestapo soup”. I was beside myself and doing all I could to not bust out laughing.
I repeated their order correctly gently emphasizing "gazpacho" soup . I hurried back to the kitchen before allowing myself to lose it. I was
literally tearing up from laughing so hard.
Other incidents included a person asking if we had
frijoles, which is Spanish for bean soup.
I told them, yes, we have bean soup, and
she kept insisting that no, I want sopa frijoles. Again I said that we had bean soup and again she insisted, so I brought her a bowl of bean
soup and she was happy.
Another fellow was getting his dinner served to
asked for salsa inglais. He insisted
that we were not an authentic Honduran restaurant
if we did not have this. Jay asked Amparo what he was referring to and she grabbed a bottle of Worcestershire sauce and poured a little
in a bowl. Jay took this to the man and he was very happy.
There was a couple sitting at the bar, and for
without warning, the woman popped off her prosthetic leg and began
her companion. This event was the impetus for Jay starting to use a prosthetic leg as a weapon during his wrestling career.
After about a year and a half, I was begging Jay
to talk to
Amparo and allow me to take over the finances so that we could begin to
good credit back and get things delivered. He was the only one that she would somewhat listen to. After about three months of begging, it
was obvious that nothing was going to change and I started looking for another job. Eventually I found a job as assistant project manager
for a local construction company specializing in historic restoration and development.
The restaurant closed about two months later when
unscrupulous developer forced them out.
Unable to let things go, Jay kept the monster
grease trap and the stove at his house for the next ten years. They were stored outside and soon became rusted to the core and Jeanne made
Jay get rid of them. That was officially the end of the restaurant. We did however take away the ability to make a great pan of flan that was
once described as “as good as my Puerto Rican grandmother used to make”.
Occasionally Jay would try to revive the concept
as a mobile
burrito catering truck, but that never flew.
He now has his own restaurant, the
Maya Cafe. The cuisine is considered pan-latin that spans a wide range of food from latin countries and smatterings of Carribean and
African influences. When customers ask Jay what pan-latin means, he will generally reply "we always cook our latin food in a pan".
He also keeps a small supply of “gestapo soup” on hand just in case the ladies are still alive and passing by the restaurant.
CHAPTER 17 TITS ON THE FOREHEADIn the mid 80's, Jay was working at the Washington University Medical School in the Psychiatry Department. One of his collegues, Zoe,
Zoe and another co-worker had gone to the home of
particularly odd patient and done an in-person interview which left
seasoned mental health professionals agast. After returning to the office, they were discussing the case over lunch and the new co-worker
was listening to the particulars of the case. Her horror could not be covered up and this started the practical joke on its path to initiate her
to the world she had chosen as her calling.
Zoe knew that Jay was pretty good at developing
characters. He would do impersonations
at training meetings to model patients with
aberrant behavior of various kinds, so Jay seemed perfect to carry out their plan.
Zoe told the young girl that she would have to go
strange patient's home and do another interview to follow up on Zoe's
She was expecting a call from the person to set up the interview. Jay then went to his office that was at the other end of the hall and called
pretending to be the patient. At that point Jays imagination ran wild. During the conversation, Jay would start out very quietly, then he
would put the phone down, excusing himself for a moment, then scream at his imaginary mother and kick his trash can sending it crashing
across the floor and telling mother to “shut up”. He went on to scream loudly that he really didn't mean to stab the neighbor and he didn't
know that the girl he was dating was twelve years old. He would then pick up the phone and in a quiet, calm voice apologize to the woman
and continue the conversation as if nothing had happened.
He tried to give her directions to his home, but she was so freaked out that there was no way
she was going to go to his house.
she suggested that he come to her office for the interview. Then Jay, off the top of his head, said that he had a "little problem". He said
that he drank a little too much one night and, in a stupor, had the word “TITS” tatooed on his forehead in big bold black letters. He said
that he was embarrassed to go out in public and begged her to come to his home. She then suggested that he wear a hat to cover the tattoo
and that she would even pay him to come to her office. He then agreed to call her at a later date to make an appointment.
After a few days, Jay called her office again
she was not in, and left a message that he was just going to drop in on
morning this week. This really panicked her even more.
This is when Jay called me and filled me in on the
details. We agreed that
in and morning Linda drew
the word “TITS” on
my forehead. I donned a cap and drove down to Jays office. Jay was in his other office that day, and when I showed up I discovered that
the woman was not in. It was her wedding anniversary and nobody had told Jay. So here I am running around in an outpatient psych clinic
looking for this womans office. I pulled the hat even lower on my head, but you could still make out the tattoo. I was getting nervous,
especially when several doctorse suggested that I stay awhile and “chat”.
This time Jay made sure that the woman was in her
office. I showed up and started walking
up and down the hallway in front of her office.
I would peer in at her through her open door, but would not say anything, then continue walking. One time, I was leaning on the wall
opposite her door and I put my hand to my forehead in a gesture of exasperation, pushing my cap up onto the top of my head revealing
the tattoo. She quickly closed her door at this point.
I then went down the hall and talked to Jay and
explaining what had happened and suggested that she call the woman and
that I was there to talk to her. I went back down to her office and the door was open and I asked her name and walked in and introduced
myself and sat down. I could see the apprehension in her face, but, as a true professional, she muddled on. We talked for about five minutes
about things that I cannot remember. I was just trying to focus on being subtly strange and keeping in character as Jay had layed out for me.
I don't know why, but I started asking her if she
I could get some oatmeal, I had to have some oatmeal.
At this point, I lost it.
I started laughing and could not stop. By then everyone in the next office that had their ears to the door to catch the whole thing, started
laughing. She realized that she had been had. Her collegues came into the room nearly crying with laughter. I was just glad to get out of
there before the nice young men in their clean white coats and butterfly nets could corner me in the hall.