Saturday, July 14, 2007

R.I.P. Frankie B.

Frankie B. 1955-2007
An old friend from grade school let me know this week that Frankie B., another former grade school classmate, has died.

Over the years, once and a while I have wondered what Frankie B. ended up doing and where he was… you know, how life was treating him.

I am sad. Frankie was my friend at St. Andrews, and for a boy, he was always so funny and great to sit next to in class. Whenever we got to choose who to sit next to, we found each other -- he always made me laugh so much all the time -- imitating Sister Vitusa in third grade cracked us all up!

I remember that cold, dreary November afternoon when JFK was shot and the principal's voice piped in over the P.A. Here is a story I have always remembered, just like people remember that day---what you were doing, and who you were doing it with. Well, That JFK moment in my life was shared with Frankie B.

On November 22, 1963, Frankie and I were paired together, doing an art (coloring) project and we were doing the usual: fooling around and laughing real hard about stuff. All of a sudden, he picked up a fat, brown crayola crayon and started swirling it around the paper, into a big ball, not letting up and with intensity - so I said, "hey, Frankie, what are we making here with that, a tornado?" and he leaned in closer to me and with that cute little grin he always had and his gravelly little voice he said "wanna hear what happened to my uncle?" (I think the uncle's name was Frank...) So I said "what?" and then he blurted out "he died. Want to know HOW?" So I said "how"?

Frankie kept looking down at the paper, swirling the brown crayon into what by then looked like a big brown mess all over the large paper of an assignment that was supposed to be a 'landscape' and he leans real close in now and he says

"He was sitting on the toilet takin' a dump and smokin' a cigar AT THE SAME TIME only then, he had a heart attack!!!"
At that point, we both really started laughing, and then he says "ya wanna know what happened after that?" So I said "what?" and by this time, we both knew it was something that we shouldn't be laughing about which made it funnier still and we couldn't stop laughing. He said "he was sitting on the pot and smokin’ his cigar and after he had his heart attack, his face fell down on the floor and SMASHED his cigar all over his face and his pants were down around his ankles!!" He could hardly get the words out between the tears from laughter and by that time, my stomach was killing me from laughing so hard. It was right then that the principal's announcement came. Stunned, in disbelief, we stopped coloring, we stopped talking. We stopped laughing.

That was the last laugh I can remember -- like yesterday --- having with Frankie B... cute and funny and good natured, with the big head of black hair, the gravelly little voice with a twinkle in his eye, my friend.

RIP, Frankie.


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