Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Affectionately known as "Meff." Some friendships are written in blood. Ours is written in vomit.

Meff is a guy who was at Magee. But I knew nothing about him. At that time, he was hanging around with Richard Wheeler. He had Mrs. Charter in 4th grade, Miss Hynek in 5th grade, and Mr. Stodola in 6th grade. I didn't get to know Meff until 7th grade.

For the most part, my classes in 7th grade had the same 25-30 kids in every class. But in a couple of the classes, a stray student or two would join us. One of those classes was science class, with Mr. Stodola. I sat in the front row. Toby Schwartz sat behind me. Jenny Malley was on my right. And Meff was on my left.

I'm not sure exactly what caused us to "hit it off" so to speak. But Meff and I got along great. He wasn't the troublemaking type. So he was a nice change of pace for me. Both of us had an interest in Atari. Meff also had a huge interest in computers. He wanted to see my Texas Instruments computer, and the various games and stuff I had to go with it. So I invited him to come over one day after school.

It was an odd time. I had some sort of weird cough thing going on. For a couple of weeks, everytime I coughed, I would come close to throwing up. Some sort of gag reflex was going on. Meff and I were in my room, when I started coughing. As was the norm, I tried to refrain from barfing of course. It had actually only happened once - and then, it was only one tiny bit, not much more than a big spit. But I wasn't so lucky this time. I was sitting on my bed, when it happened. I tilted my head to the ceiling. Then like an erupting volcano, waves of puke came spewing out of my mouth. Meff looked frightened, but calmly said, "And he's throwing up on his bed." That struck me funny. So as I was vomiting, I began to laugh like a maniac. I can only imagine what was going through Meff's mind, as this maniacal kid spewed vomit while laughing hysterically. But whatever the case, he chose to stay. I washed up, changed my shirt, and was no worse for wear. I think Meff came over a few more times that year. I never puked in front of him again.

One day in Mr. Fencil's class, Toby Schwartz and I began to experiment by changing the first letter of our fellow classmates' first and last names - "Devin Kehne, L.J. Butterman" and so forth. We then came up with "Meff Jesserman." And thus, "Meff" was born.

One day in Mr. Stodola's class, I decided to show Meff this new maze I'd created. So I knelt next to his desk. When Mr. Stodola moved to the front of the room to start lecturing,I stayed put. Yes, I wanted to get a reaction out of Stodola. Meff kept whispering for me to go away. But I refused. For about five minutes, Stodola never noticed. Was he blind? I was getting tired of squatting. Finally he saw me, and erupted. I smirked and went back to my desk. Then Stodola tore into Meff. He took the worst of the yelling. Meff... welcome to my world.

Meff and Richard came up with strange plan that year. It was the 1983-1984 school year. And they wanted to turn L.B. Clarke into the society that was protrayed in George Orwell's book, "1984." We were supposed to be some sort of strange society run by "Big Brother." They drew comics, charts, and all kinds of stuff. They chose various students for different rolls within the organization. Surprisingly, it took off. But before long, and enemy of Big Brother came around - the posse. The next thing you know, people were choosing sides. It was Big Brother versus the posse. Tons of people were involved. Of course nobody knew exactly what anything meant. But I can recall rumors that Jeff Gordon (a member of Big Brother) got beat up by a member of the posse, after it was revealed that he was one of the highest ranking officers in the organization. I recall that Jim Colby blamed me, and was planning to tell Meff about it, in order to have me kicked out of my high rank - so he could then take my place. What the hell was all this shit about anyway? I have no idea. But for a few weeks that year, it was a lot of fun.

Meff and I didn't have any classes together in 8th grade. But we stayed friends.

In freshman year, we had Mrs. Sapa's literature class together. We also had a study hall together. Plus we walked home from school together everyday. We sometimes had this game we would play. If we saw a young kid walking home, and in front of us. We would strike up an audible conversation, in which we described how we would rape our mothers and chop them up into stew. Man, did we get some frightened looks from some poor kids. Yes, we were bastards.

Meff had written two phrases on the wall in his garage. One said, "My kingdom for a VCR." The other said, "If you can read this, you didn't go to L.B. Clarke School." Meff finally did get that VCR in December of our freshman year. He then joined me as a movie fiend. We were obsessed with movies - especially horror movies. Both of us used to rent movies and copy them all the time.

In the second semester of our freshman year, we had Mrs. Fischer for English class. We had to give a few speeches in the class. For one, I recall Meff talking about how he had spilled a tub of popcorn while going to see the film "The Gods Must Be Crazy." I also recall him writing a story about an ugly potato that wanted to kill itself by jumping onto a knife. Mrs. Fischer had brought in a sack of potatoes and passed one out to everyone, with instructions to have them write a story about it.

Meff's dad ran Messerman Furniture, in downtown Two Rivers. It had been a family business for years. But by this time, business wasn't good. Meff's parents sold the business. Then Meff's dad found a new job at a carpet store in Milwaukee. So after freshman year, Meff's family moved. I think Meff's mom was happy about that, as she wasn't exactly pleased with my involvement in that ceiling tiles incident. Plus Meff's parents still kept in touch with Tom Grassman's parents. And Tom's mom had nothing but hatred for me. Did anyone's parents like me, other than my own?

So Meff moved to Thiensville. My best friend was gone. That sucked. But we obviously kept in touch. We sent each other audio tapes in the mail. Plus we racked up a lot of phone bills between us. He had it worse though. Because he was calling Richard as well. In addition, Meff's orthodontist was in Manitowoc. He seemed to have an appointment there at least once every month. And of course his grandparents still lived in Two Rivers. So he came to visit all the time.

In the summer between our sophomore and junior year, both Meff and I (as well as Richard) were getting heavily involved with The Beatles, Charles Manson, witchcraft, the occult... One night when Meff was over, we decided that we were going to perform a satanic ritual. We had a copy of the satanic bible, which gave instructions how to do it. But we didn't have some of the things one needed - a bell, a gong, a phallic symbol... So we took a Green Bay Packer glass, taped a spoon inside of it, and hung it upside down. That was our bell. I rode my bike into the cemetery and stole the cover off of a garbage can. We used electrical tape to put an upside down star on the inside part of it. We then hung it from my basement ceiling. That was our gong. For a phallic symbol, we carved a dick out of a candle. We also needed black candles. So we took some white ones and covered them in black electrical tape. Yeah...this was going to work. And what was the point of our ceremony? We decided to wish death upon someone. Who was the person we chose? It was none other than fellow graduate, Craig Rysticken. We set up a tape recorder to doucment the event. And let me tell you something, it's one of the funniest things I've ever heard. We were out of our minds! Were we on something? I don't think so. We needed "elixer" for the ritual as well. Our susbstitute - diet orange Slice. We had to have an object represent Craig. We chose a potato. As the ceremony went on, we stuck that thing with tons of pins, then took a hammer to it as well. Needless to say, Craig was no worse for wear. Neither of us took it seriously. I still have that potato to this day - pins and all, sealed in a bag. I'm sort of afraid to throw it out. So it sits in the bedroom closet of my parents' house. In the summer of 1989, when we were in the process of moving, my dad threw the garbage can cover out by the street for the garbage. The pentagram faced the street, and was a hilarious sight to see prior to the garbagemen picking it up.

In our junior year, Meff spent his Easter break at his grandparents' house. But his week off was different than ours. So Richard and I skipped out one day. The three of us drove around, and actually went all the way up to Green Bay. But we didn't do anything. We simply came back. We spent the afternoon at Richard's house eating Easter candy and making prank phone calls. I got Richard to sign a note "from my parents" for my absence. And we got away with it.

Senior year was weird. Richard and I were no longer friends. But both of us were still friends with Meff. Both Richard and I would occasionally (but not often) badmouth the other, through Meff. And he had to sit and listen to all of it. Thankfully he never chose sides.

Meff's parents moved to Brown Deer for his junior and senior year. So Meff is a 1989 graduate of Brown Deer High School.

In my senior year, I almost joined the navy. I even got dragged sown to Milwaukee to take the ASVAB test and get a physical. I made sure it happened on a school day, as opposed to the weekend. Meff happened to be home sick from school for those two days. So I called him several times. He pleaded with me not to join, repeatedly asking me what the fuck I was doing. As bullheaded as I usually am, I came to realize that he was right. I wasn't suited for the military. 90% of it is following directions and taking orders. That wouldn't have worked with me. And I'm sure I would have gone awol at some point. So I refused to sign. And holy shit were the navy guys pissed at me. But they did give me a bus ticket home.

It was never a well-known fact. But Meff is adopted. He was adopted as an infant (perhaps newborn?) Apparently one of his birth parents was Jewish. I think they came from the Brookfield area. Meff has never known who they are, nor as he had any interest in knowing who they are. I don't believe he holds any ill will towards them. But his adopted parents are the only mom and dad he's ever known. And that suits him just fine.

Meff was raised Jewish. Although for years, you'd never know it. I've seen him eat many slabs of bacon over the years. He just didn't care enough to be bothered with those sorts of traditions. Amen brother! Plus I think it irked his mother to do stuff like that. I think he got some perverse pleasure from flaunting himself in the face of certain Jewish traditions.

After high school, Meff enrolled at MATC in Milwaukee. His plan was to become a mortician. He went to school for one year, then got an internship at a Jewish funeral home in the Milwaukee area.

He lasted about a week.

The stories he has from that week are both amazing and funny. It was summer. And he had to pick up dead, elderly people from nursing homes. Often they were soaked in sweat and urine. Plus corpses tend to emit gas from down below. And you think gas from the living smells? Think again. Plus there was the time that he had to struggle to clothe an incredibly obese man. I think he nearly dropped him on the floor. Clothing a stiff body is no easy task. And of course there is the awesome experience of leading a funeral procession, not knowing where the cemetery was. He took a wrong turn down a dead-end street. One week was all he could stomach. It makes me wonder about the people who do that sort of thing for a living. If Meff can't do it, who can?

Meff had a "stupid human trick" that impressed me. He would take the tip of a pin and rub it across his eyeball. Why? Who knows. But it creeped me out. I've stopped many a moving fan with my tongue. But I'll never put a pin on my eye.

For his next year in college, Meff decided to do some sort of land surveying thing. I have no idea what that was all about. Neither does he. That too lasted one year, before he moved on. For the next few years, Meff was involved in TV production at MATC. He did a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff at channel 10 in Milwaukee. But again, he never actually graduated with a degree. I'm not exactly sure what went wrong there. But he left the program at some point.

Finally, I believe he enrolled at UW Milwaukee. I think he lasted a year or two. I don't know what exactly he was going to school for. It could be that it was just general courses, as he essentially started over with his college career. Eventually he tired of school and gave it up.

In 1994, Meff moved out of his parents' home. He ended up living with a long-haired comic book guy, and the guy's girlfriend. I called him "hairhead." He lived with them in Germantown for one year. Then he found a new roommate named Chuck. The two of them live together in Grafton for maybe five years. Chuck was a cool guy. I have always called him "The Frogman."

Between 1989 and 1997, Meff came up to Manitowc quite often. He'd usually hang out and spend two or three nights at my parents' house. We had a silly existence. He'd join me for work at T&R Video. But when we weren't there, we could be found hanging out at our friend John's house. Or we would be back at my parents' house watching vile movies all night. However there were several years where every single night, we would tune into Dr. Gene Scott. He came on at 1:00 AM on channel 5 out of Green Bay. We were fascinated by this religious madman. This guy would yell, swear and demand that his followers "get on the telephone" and give him money.

When we weren't watching TV, we'd be on the phone prank calling people in the middle of the night. Our calls were ridiculous, but very funny. We have several tapes to this day. It's a shame that caller ID has ruined the prank phone call business. Man, did we have fun.

Every night we had a ritual of driving around, occasionally yelling at pedestrians. Then we went to Coppes and bought three candy bars for $1.00. Then we'd sit and eat them in the Country Kitchen parking lot, while we poked fun at the staff and patrons inside. Oh yes, we were cool!

For a period of time, it seemed that everytime Meff was up, there would be some sort of police involvement. But it was always very minor. And we were always innocent. I loved it! Meff hated it. I would sometimes do things that caused the police to notice us for some reason. But upon investigation, we were obviously free to go on our way. To me, there was nothing more gratifying than being detained by a cop, knowing full well that I was innocent of everything - and would be able to prove it. Meff never understood my train of thought. But then again, he never got in trouble as a youth.

In the summer of 1994, I won a radio contest for an all-expense paid trip to Woodstock '94. It was a trip for two. Obviously, I took Meff. So we flew to New York and lived in a tent for three days. Thankfully we had security around our stuff. We also had VIP passes. For the record, Metallica put on the best show. They kicked ass! Our shoes were quite muddy upon our return.

Meff has always had one very annoying habit. He's unreliable. He's the type of guy who'll tell you he'll do something, then won't. And he won't even call to tell you that he won't be doing it. My wife and I have coined a word as an homage to him. The word is "meffinitely." It's just like "definitely" but without the assurance that defines that word.

Many, many times Meff told me that he was coming up to visit for the weekend. Then he wouldn't show. I'd say it was about 50/50. And for those times that he didn't show, I'd say maybe half of them he never bothered to call. But, that's just him. Over the years I've come to exepct it. There's no sense in getting angry about it. Because that's just the way he is. If you can't accept that about him, then don't befriend him.

The other big characteristic about Meff is his forgetfulness. In terms of memory, the guy is a polar opposite to me. He can't remember shit. He can't remember important family functions that he needs to attend. He can't remember anything. One must constantly remind him of things in order for him to recall. He'll be the first to admit this as well. It's just who he is. I've sometimes described him as scatterbrained. He's not stupid. There is a fine mind in that head of his. But sometimes I just shake my head at his constant forgetful and unreliable nature.

In the spring of 1996, Meff called me and suggested that the two of us move to California once I was finished with college. I only had a month or two left. And California sounded good to me. Other than my family, I had no ties to Wisconsin. Meff, myself and Richard had always had something in common. We were all good writers. In fact, I think it's safe to say that we were all great writers - especially creative writing. But Meff continued his craft beyond high school and college. He wrote screenplays. He always wanted to break into the movie business. He always had one idea or another on how to do it. But nothing ever came to be. He never had any follow though.

Anyway, California sounded like fun. Meff obviously wanted to break into film. That sounded like a good line of work for me too. When we next spoke a few days later, I discovered that he had forgotten about it. Geez! I suppose I shouldn't have been shocked by that. But nonetheless, I continued talking about it for the next few months. And Meff seemed to be liking the idea more and more. But he always wanted to push the date off. He always had an excuse like, "If this doesn't pan out" or "I've got this thing I'm working on now... But if nothing becomes of it..." By the fall, nothing had happened. Something else then happened. I was convinced that the Green Bay Packers were going to win the Super Bowl that year. So just prior to the season, I told Meff that I didn't want to go until after the football season. If the Packers were going to win the Super Bowl, I wanted to experience it in Wisconsin. Of course they did just that. I think Meff was happy to hear my announcement. It gave him more time to push the date ahead.

Once the Super Bowl was over, I renewed my push to move. I even went so far as to tell him that I'd placed ads looking for a roommate. I told him that I was going to go whether he came with me or not. I was doing everything I could to get him to go. But I was met with the same round of excuses. Finally it dawned on me that he would never get his ass in gear. He simply didn't have the guts to pack up and leave. And that's fine. It's not an easy thing to do by any means. So I went out and found a "real" job in Milwaukee. From that point, I was grounded. The California dream was over.

After a short stint in Sheboygan, I moved to Grafton, a few blocks away from Meff. So we saw each other all the time. It was nice to actually have a social life for a change. There were parties at my apartment, and parties at his. We watched movies all the time.

Things changed a bit in the spring and summer of 1998. That's when I met the woman who eventually became my wife. Meff didn't have a girlfriend at the time. And he experienced some of the tpyical jealousies that sometimes come with a new person. Call it the "best friend syndrome." In essence, she intruded on my time with him. But let's face it. I never had sex with Meff. This girl had sex with me all the time. And like most guys, I often chose the prospect of sex.

We got engaged in September of 1998. We moved in together a month later. Now she was "intruding" more and more. But to her credit, she tried so hard not to step on Meff's toes. She wanted me to have a life outside of her. And really, that's the way it should be. I couldn't be with someone who told me what to do or had me henpecked. But nonetheless, Meff had a problem with her existence. Finally I snapped at him and told him that we were through as friends. This happened around the summer of 1999 or so. It was sort of funny. I was E-mailing his roommate (the Frogman) about it. And he commented that Meff had actually turned into the kind of guy that he was accusing me of being. For Meff had a girlfriend at that time. She was a half Mexican/half American girl named Chana. Anyway, I forwarded that E-mail to Meff. And perhaps it struck a chord. Because a few days later we "made up." And everything's been cool ever since.

Meff and Chana got engaged in November, 1999 - I think. If I'm not mistaken, they got engaged at a Glen Campbell concert. I think they got married in March, 2000. And believe it or not, I wasn't invited! However, truth be told, it was a very samll affair with only family. So I didn't take it as a slight. Needless to say, when I got married in June of that year, he was my best man.

How these two found each other I'll never know. In terms of characteristics, they're exactly the same. Both are unreliable, as my wife can attest to. Many a time she has left her hanging without explantion as to her whereabouts when plans were made between them. It's amazing how similar they are in that respect. She isn't as scatterbrained as Meff though. She also decided to become Jewish. And her newly-found faith restored his for a time as well. Although I think Meff may be a bit bored with religion these days. I don't know. I could be wrong.

In march, 2001, Meff's daughter was born. About a year later, he and his family up and moved to Maryland. There was some sort of half-baked plan that living with his wife's uncle (rent free) would somehow get them to be more financially stable - even though Meff gave up a pretty high-paying job to do so. It made no sense to me. And I told him so. I even ran the math by him. But it didn't sink in. Needless to say, the Maryland experience didn't last. They came back about five months later. Meff told me that the whole experience ended up costing them around $5000.00 in the long run. See, I told you so!

Meff ended up getting a job as an IT guy at a car dealership in Hales Corners. He has that same job today.

In December, 2004, Meff had another daughter. She arrived just in time for tax purposes. And as I type this, there is yet another child on the way. And it looks like it's going to be another daughter. I think she's due in September, 2006.

In January, 2006, Meff and his wife bought their first house. They now live in Cedarburg. Although it is so far on the outskirts of town, that I personally consider it to be Grafton. But that's just me.

Meff has been the longest running friendship I've had in my life. It dates back to 7th grade - 21.5 years and counting. That represents about 60% of my entire life. Though he sometimes frustrates me, the good times far outweigh the bad. The two of us can gab on the phone or in person and can laugh ourselves silly talking about nonsense. I can't imagine my life without his influence. In fact, at the moment, he and I are trying to get funding for a screenplay he's written. We plan to film it ourselves in and around the Milwaukee area. Fellow graduate Greg Pagel is set to score the soundtrack. But first things first. We need money to do so. So if anyone knows some potential investors, please contact me! Who knows. 20 years from now I may look back at these memories and laugh. Hopefully I'll be some sort of success in the film business. And rest assured, Meff will be right there with me.

UPDATE - 9/5/06 - Earlier this morning, Meff & Mrs. Meff gave birth to daughter #3.

UPDATE - 10/9/06 - On Saturday September 30th, 2006, Meff showed up for the double birthday party for my wife and I. Fellow graduates Kim Nokes and Chris Staudinger were also there. You can see the results below.


At Wed May 24, 02:59:00 PM PDT, Blogger CindySue said...

Pictures, we want pictures....

At Wed May 24, 03:13:00 PM PDT, Blogger the_meff said...

Wow. As I sit and await a bag of film cash to fall from the sky, I'm working on a novel.

Can I use this as my jacket-flap blurb?

At Wed May 24, 08:27:00 PM PDT, Blogger Greg Pagel said...

You don't want pictures, Cindy. Trust me.

At Fri Jun 02, 10:10:00 AM PDT, Blogger Jeff G said...

i cant recall 'big brother' or the posse - your memories continue to astonish me.

if i did get beat up, it is buried deep and must have been a traumatic event.

are you sure I wasnt the one doing the ass kicking???

At Sun Jun 04, 01:11:00 PM PDT, Blogger TWORIVERSWALRUS said...

That's just it Jeff. I'm fairly certain that no one ever layed a hand on you. It was merely a figment of Jim Colby's power-hungry imagination.

At Sun Jun 04, 09:01:00 PM PDT, Blogger Greg Pagel said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Mon Jun 19, 09:15:00 PM PDT, Blogger Greg Pagel said...

Meff, he's just this guy, you know?

I met Jeff in 2nd grade. Shabloska's class. Recess. I was reading a comic book. Of course, I was reading a comic book. Rarely was I NOT reading a comic in 2nd grade.

Jeff comes up and says something like, "Good Comic?" It was issue #7 of Marvel's comic version of "2001: A Space Oddyssy." Written and illustrated by the legendary Jack Kirby. I think that issue picked up where the movie left off.

Anyway, we started talking comics and movies and science-fiction in general. A conversation which lasted about 4 years. We became best friends.

As you may have read in Jeff's post about me, we spent every recess of the entire year running around the playground pretending to be space-faring superheroes. It was intense. Jeff wrote a bit more about that, so I'll leave that alone. It sounds really dorky when I think about it.

I don't have anything to say about Meff anywhere as interesting as Burt's epic, but I have some amusing memories.

Jeff was a great storyteller. No. Jeff MADE SHIT UP. Pissed me off like crazy. He used to tell these incredible whoppers, like his family had a computer. This was 1978, when no one had a computer. But he said he had one of those big room-sized jobbers with the reel-to-reel data storage and lots of flashing lights. I was so pissed when I went to his house and saw no computer.

He also said he had a robot. That could shovel snow. Yep, I bought it. Turd.

He did actually own some pretty cool stuff. He had a ventrilloquist dummy. It looked a little like Howdy-Doody. He couldn't do the ventriloquist thing, but he could make it do the Jimmy Carter smile.

He also owned a battery-powered rotating spaghetti fork that he'd ordered from a magazine ad. For years, every time we've had spaghetti, I've told my wife & kids that I once had a friend who had a fork that would actually twirl the spaghetti for you. They are sick of hearing it.

Once when recess was inside because of rain, Jeff and I sat in a corner and read a Fantastic Four comic together. He read all the bad guys, and I read all the good guys. It was really fun. I remember it contained a new word, "sophisticated." We had to have Mrs. Shabloska pronounce and define it.

Jeff is probably the reason I started taking piano lessons. He played really well in 2nd grade. I remember him an Tom Grassman playing a duet in music class. I think it was called "A Foggy Night in London." IT WAS THE MOST AMAZING THING I HAD EVER HEARD!!! I swear I still remember every note, and I could play it if you asked me to. So that's when I started bugging my folks to get a piano.

Jeff's Jewish. I found that fascinating. He gave me a dreidl one year. I still have it. I told him that if there were ever a war between the Jews and the, you know, regular people, I'd defect and fight with the Jews.

In 2nd grade, I had a big birthday party. It was the only time my parents really let me have one. Tom and I think Ryan Remiker were there. And Jeremy Karman. Meff spent the night. We got up to watch TJ and the ANT (Late night movie parade). I think that was the night we saw Ed Wood's "Plan 9 From Outer Space." We loved it.

In 3rd and 4th grade we didn't get the same teachers. That was catastrophic for me. He and Tom and Mark Butala became sort of a trio, in Casperson's class, and I was in McGlin's class with kids I couldn't relate to very well. McGlin was a bizarre woman, to boot.

We reconnected in 5th grade in Hynek's class. That was a bad year. Miss Hynek was insane. And Jeff & I started out friends, but that was, I think, the year he and Richard started to hang out. Richard tortured me. He somehow managed to drive a wedge between Meff & me. It ended ugly. I don't know what it was with Richard -- he had a gift for genuine meanness. I'm sure he's a nicer guy now. I know a lot of kids, and it seems to be very common for them to be just evil to their best friends at that age. So, of course, it's silly to hold a grudge.

Anyway. In 6th grade, which is one of the worst years in the life of any child, Jeff & I spent a lot of good time together. We drew comics together. I could out-draw him, but man. That turd could write some funny shit, even back then. Here's an example:

We co-created a villianous character called "The Face Snatcher." He was this mysterious cloaked guy who would go around stealing people's faces. And he'd keep them in jars (I don't know -- whatever). And in Jeff's version, he steals the President's face. And all the jars are in a row on a shelf. And you get this dialog:

THE PRESIDENT: You won't get away with this! I'm the President of the United States!

THE GUY IN THE NEXT JAR: Wow -- are you really the president?

PRESIDENT: No, I'm the Jolly Green Giant.

ANOTHER GUY IN A JAR: Imposter! I'M the Jolly Green Giant!

Now, that's damn funny. Even for a much older writer, it would be funny. To this day, Jeff's greatest talent in his work is the dialog. Real genius stuff.

In 7th/8th grades, I didn't see much of Jeff. I remember reading some stories of his, including a bit of prose called "From Here to Defecation."

In Freshman year, we hung out a little bit, but by then my parent's weren't letting me out of the house much, so if I didn't have him in a class, I didn't have much contact. Although, that was the year he gave me Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" as a holiday gift. I still have it.

After that, he moved to the Milwaukee area. I saw him once after that. He doesn't remember it -- it was the summer of 89. He called and come over to my house and we took a LONG walk. We reminisced a bit. He said he was going to embalming school. We discussed StarTrek V, which had just come out. This led him to telling me about another Shatner movie called "Kingdom of the Spiders," which I have yet to see.

And that was it.

Then he found me via internet last summer. We emailed, we telephoned. Our first phone encounter was a 15-year conversation crammed into a 4-hour call. Very satisfying.

He asked me to write the score to a movie about spiders. "Spiderville." I'm like, uh yeah. Sure. Sounds fun. I'll write a score.

In August, I drove my wife & kids down to Cedarburg to meet the Meffs, and to watch a little of the last day of filming. Meff forgot to mention that I'd be playing the music teacher. So I had some film acting experience that day. One more line for the resume.

Oh yeah -- I also got to be the "hand stand-in" for the character in the movie who's supposed to play piano. That was way fun.

After that (before that, actually), that movie project started to fall apart at the seams. Very disappointing. Jeff had written an excellent screenplay, and a lot of people had put a lot of work into the project, but I guess some of the crew got lazy and now it looks like it may never get completed.

Well, a few months ago, I called him up and said, "Hey, how bout...'Spiderville: the Musical?'"

Meff goes, "Hm." And started writing. I'm very anxious to see this. I have all the people necessary to do this right here in Manitowoc. So watch the papers, folks. It's coming.

Meff and his awesome wife were here Friday to see a show i was in and hang out after. That was a total blast. His family is fantastic. Here's something funny -- Jeff's always been Jewish, but doesn't look like it. But his wife, who's a convert, does. Ain't life funny.

Jeff was a HUGE part of my childhood. We were closer at some times than others, but he had a tremendous impact on me. I'd be a totally different person today if I'd not met him.


At Fri Nov 17, 07:47:00 AM PST, Blogger TWORIVERSWALRUS said...

Good comments. By the way, although Meff may not remember that summer of 1989 visit, I do. For Meff was down visiting me for a few days. And that meeting took place while I was at work. Something tells me that Meff and I went to Vid Video either that night, or the night before, and rented about 13 films. I have a vague meory of him telling me that he told Greg about it, and Greg being shocked at the number of films I'd rented.

And by the way, Kingdom Of The Spiders kicks ass!

At Sun Mar 25, 02:18:00 PM PDT, Blogger vben said...

Interesting....I really appreciated your comment on his sisters senior picture since I was the one who took it(her and Chris's older brother.)NICE....No wonder she hated Washington H.S. so much!


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