We Should Be So Lucky
Kevin drove a baby-blue VW bug, when he joined the crew at United Auto Stores, Story Road, in the late seventies. I only mention the bug because Kevin was tall, almost as tall as Big John. Like so many big guys I have known, Pescalone among them, Kevin never seemed to get angry.
He could sure get excited when discussing the Giants, though, or talking about his friend, some guy name Dave Righetti, with whom he went to high school. It seems this Dave guy was a professional ball player, playing for the Yanks, and I thought that was cool. I really thought so, on July 4, 1983, the day Righetti threw a no-hitter against the Red Sox at Yankee stadium. Talk about picking your moment. Then, when Righetti joined the Giants, first in 1993 as a pitcher, then as pitching coach, I felt as though he were my cousin.
Kevin sure got excited about Jimmy Buffet too. We went together, a bunch of us including Ann, to see The Coral Reefer Band at the San Jose Performing Arts Center. Kevin wore this white suit, and got Ann to draw a “pencil-thin mustache” across his upper lip. Bucking the trend of all of those hoping for a visit to Margaritaville, we filled a jug with lemonade and gin, and walked in as though we owned the place. When they asked Kevin what was in the jug, he answered, “Lemonade, Sir. Would you like me to remove the cover?” Kevin could manage to look as sincere as a fox in a hen house, but his response and his offer tipped scale in our direction, and into the concert hall we went. When the train stopped at Margaritaville, we remained on the platform, drinking our gin and lemonade.
Working at United, and seeing all of us doing the Spanish thing with the customers, fired up Kevin’s linguistic juices, and he joined me in my daily regimen of a 7:30 AM Spanish class at San Jose State University. It was only fifty minutes, but I always felt good after class, as we headed to the Student Union for a snack. Here it was 8:25 in the morning and I already had five units of Spanish under my belt for the day.
Also, because I arrived so early, I was able to park on the streets in the neighborhood, thus saving the cost of parking. Kevin, on the other hand, could get to class on time, but only because he did park in the garage, thus eliminating the need to first find, and then walk from, a parking spot on the street. Therefore, it was only logical that we would occasionally adjourn to the VW Bug in the parking garage to fortify our spirits during a long day at the grind.
There were three of us, one semester, who actually used to meet at Kevin’s car on Friday mornings, twenty minutes before Spanish class, to smoke a joint of Mendo green, which I was able to provide, thanks to some goodness sent down form the land. On Fridays the class used to meet directly in “la panaderia,” the bakery, where the instructor used to conduct class in the form of conversation.
We would order our coffee and sweet rolls, and then we would chat in Spanish, as best we could, in a very comfortable manner. One morning, when the three of us arrived, just after the others had all been seated, we ended up circling around the big round table, each of us seeking a vacant chair, and not being too worried about sitting next to one another. After we were seated, while introductory acknowledgements were being conducted, each of the three of us trying to keep our smiles from taking over our faces-and failing-the instructor stopped in mid-sentence and sniffed the air.
“Somebody has been smoking marijuana?” and he sniffed again, mildly amused at the idea. Apparently, in circling the table and getting arranged, the three of us returning from the smoking lounge, brought enough of the fragrance back with us to mingle with the other fragrances in the bakery, to produce enough scent to pique our instructor’s notice.
Since it seemed as though he kept looking in my direction, all I did was give him a huge smile, and say, “Senor, debemos que estar tan afortunados.” [We should be so lucky.]
That was all it took; he laughed and said in Spanish, “Yo tambien.” [Me too]
Kevin was an apt pupil and picked up the lingo quickly. It helped that he had taken Spanish in high school; it also helped when he met a young lady visiting from Mexico, quien no puede hablar una palabra de ingles [who could not speak a word of English], and ended up marrying her. That will give a guy a leg up on language acquisition every time.