Charlie was my best friend from high school, and he and I have remained close throughout our lives. Guess he’s a masochist; he just can’t get enough of my tortures. He claims I’m the Antichrist, calls me Dipwad, but I know he loves me like a brother. Why else would he put up with all I have done to him?
To begin with, I introduced him to his wife. Well, I didn’t really… my sister did. See, Mary wanted a party for her 16th birthday, complete with a band, and she and her friends were so ugly and flat-chested no guys would go. So my parents pulled me over and we had a little talk… Either I agree to coerce my friends to gigolo the party or I could forget about the ’65 Mustang or any dating life.
Would you betray a friend for use of a stud-mobile?
Maybe it was the European connection that attracted Charlie to Brunhilda. He was English, afterall: you know, real name Charleston, corn-cob up the ass, bad teeth and a Prince Charles better-than-you attitude, and she was a German émigré, complete with Reichstag attitude and a full set of command tools. Charlie was a pussy needing a whip and Hilda was Rommel without a dick. It was love at first sight.
I’d like to tell you that Charlie transferred to IU from Bradley because he missed me, but Hilda’s blonde hair, developing boobs and tight ass probably had more allure. Or maybe she just ordered him to transfer, that’s probably more likely. At any rate, he transferred at the end of first semester and moved into my room at the fraternity.
And the terror that has followed him his entire life began.
It was all about The Lovin’ Spoonful at first, Charlie’s favorite music. I couldn’t stand the lead singer’s wimpy voice. Blue-eyed Soul was my mojo, and hell, I’d been there first... It became routine for one of us to change the music whenever we entered the room. The problem was that I needed to buy time, distract him so to speak, or I could hardly get through a single bar of “Soul & Inspiration”.
Hot peppers became my weapon of choice. I’d been weaned on them, and as I’ve established, Charlie’s a pussy; he thinks mozzarella is spicy.
So whenever we ordered a pizza, I’d bury a hot pepper mound under the pepperoni somewhere on his side of the pie. The result was predictable: Charlie’s mad rush out the door to the bathroom sink, screaming and yelling curses in stilted British, while I made my way to the record player. Such tactics usually bought me three or four songs.
Now, Charlie wasn’t dumb. You’d think he’d catch on and know where to look. But with so many pepperoni on a large Pizzeria pizza and tomato sauce for disguise, I became creative in hiding my itsy-bitsy fire-chips. And of course, it was always me waiting for the pizza guy downstairs. Sometimes, just to be careful, I had to meet him outside. I’d crouch behind the front bushes and jump out only when the door was about to be opened. And after Charlie finally caught onto all my pepper tricks, lest he thought he had me stymied, I employed the best of Sun-Tsu’s strategies and changed weapons: Tabasco became my new WMD. Hell, it’s much easier to hide.
Once, Charlie and I worked a little hot pepper magic together. See, we were studying late and since the house seniors didn’t trust us together, they made us sit upstairs on the third floor, where they could keep an eye on us as we hit the books and they hit the bottles. I asked for permission to have a pizza delivered and was told to order two: Everything that went by the officer’s door had to be sampled.
Well, I went down to meet the pizza guy, and I stacked my mounds of peppers under the pepperoni on the Senior pizza. I really loaded that sucker up. Then I sprinkled a few on our pizza and took both boxes upstairs.
A few minutes after delivery, Charlie and I heard the officer’s door smash open and the stomping of hurried feet as the seniors made a mad rush to the john. You see, beer makes hot peppers all the more potent. For that matter, so does water. Believe it or not, the best palliative is bread, but they didn’t know that. There was a torrent of cursing, name-calling and angry shouts of revenge, then the House president and two of his cronies, one of them crazy Sam, came storming in.
“You sabotaged us, you little prick!” yelled the House president as sweat streamed down his forehead and dripped off his chin and his eyes watered over. “You put hot peppers on our pizza!”
“Gee, guys, “ I said, innocent surprise on my face. “I’m sorry. I thought everybody liked a few hot peppers.” I showed them our pie and pointed to a few peppers on my side. “See, we always order them.”
Sam left the room and moments later was back, carrying the other pie. He dropped it on our desk. “You guys can have this one too. Those damn peppers just about killed me.” The three seniors returned to the bathroom for another dunking then made their way back to their room. Once they were gone, Charlie and I could barely contain our laughter. We scraped off the peppers from under the pepperoni and ate their pie too. Damn, those pizzas were good! That may have been the only time Charlie ever ate a pizza with some hot peppers and had a smile on his face.
After Charlie returned from Vietnam, I helped him get a job with my company in Rockford, Illinois, and we socialized for years. But Charlie had learned his lesson: Whenever I cooked, Charlie was looking over my shoulder because he knew it would only take a second for me to stash hot peppers somewhere, and I always had them close by. Once or twice, I nailed him when his guard was down, for instance when we were at a restaurant and he was following his wife to the John. But usually they went separately, so one of them could keep a wary eye out for me.
As time went by, I bought a lake cottage outside Madison, Wisconsin, and from time to time I invited Charlie and his family up for a weekend. One particular weekend led to the greatest bore-ass of my life.
We’d had a good day out on the water. Charlie and I spent the day windsurfing and even got arrested for not having life jackets, although we told the girls and our four boys (two and two) that we’d been speeding. We played Oldies out on the deck, cooked steaks and settled in for a long night of drinking and lying.
The women and kids went to bed long before Charlie and me, and once we’d had our fill of late night fishing, we piled into the hot tub, naked of course, for some nightcaps and to challenge each other’s birth stock and manliness. By about two or three, we were pretty drunk and our skin was waterlogged and shriveled, so we climbed out of the tub. As Charlie walked in the front door, his oldest son, who was sleeping out on the screened-in porch, popped up, called out, “Dad” and when Charlie turned, nailed him with a full frontal picture, little pepperoni prick and all...
We had a good laugh about that one.
The next day, Charlie, Brunhilda and the little monsters packed up and took off early. They had just returned from Germany and wanted to relax a bit at home. It wasn’t until they were gone that my wife and I realized that they’d left their camera behind.
Heh, heh, heh.
Charlie lived on a cul-de-sac three doors down from me in a nice Rockford subdivision. On our way home that Sunday, we stopped for film to replace what was in Charlie’s camera, and after re-loading the new stuff and clicking off ten or so exposures, I dropped the camera off. As they’d had some family pictures from Germany on the camera, Brunhilda was very pleased.
Heh, heh, heh.
It took me a week to get the 8x10 and poster back from the photo shop. Frankly, I was a little worried that the sheriff was going to track me down and slap the cuffs on. I’d never processed a full frontal nude of a guy before, so I used a photo shop across town where nobody knew me, lest I forever be known as “that homo with the pictures.” I even used a fake name. Surprisingly, there were no cops and not even a strange look from the counter guy. Maybe the fellow who’d developed the shots had the night off, or maybe it had been a chick who liked guys with tiny pepperoni pricks. (All guys know what an hour of hot water will do to one’s manhood, reversing puberty and all...)
Now it was time for delivery…
I waited until Charlie and his oldest son were cutting the grass and had moved to their back yard, then I threw on a trench coat and broad-brimmed hat, pulled the brim down low on my brow and turned the collar up. Now remember, this was the middle of summer. As I walked over to Charlie’s place, I was dying of the heat but having the time of my life.
I sauntered down the middle of the street, carrying a note and a regular sized snapshot of his shortcomings. The note said, “Okay, little weenie, your secret’s out. To keep this between us, drop five large in the green mailbox three doors up by six tonight. This one’s a freebie, the others will cost you.” I signed it “Pecker Police” and underneath the signature put a makeshift logo of a little penis with an X through it and the words, “Stamp out little Peckers.”
As I dropped my blackmail note in Charlie’s mailbox, he and his son came around from the left side of the house. I guess they heard all the neighborhood dogs barking at the weirdo in the trench coat. Meanwhile, Charlie’s next door neighbor was returning home in his car. Charlie recognized me and yelled, “Hey you!” and gave chase. As Charlie’s next door neighbor pulled into his driveway, I tore around the right side of Charlie’s house, with him and his son in hot pursuit. Without any hesitation, Charlie’s next door neighbor jumped out of his Beamer and began running after me too, yelling, “Hey you, stop!”
It’s really hard to run when one is laughing his ass off. I was tearing around the back of houses cackling like a madman, and somehow made it to my back door without being caught. From my porch, bent over, wheezing and hacking, gasping for breath, I could see Charlie, his son and the next door neighbor talking, laughing and pointing at my house, as Charlie filled him in on my caper.
Then Charlie returned home and opened his mailbox.
That night, at six thirty, I checked my mailbox. It contained a note and five bucks. The note said, “Here’s all that picture is worth. I expect any remaining photos in my mailbox by Midnight. You should know that we know who you are and are prepared to take our vengeance. Ten large accompanying the pictures will persuade us to let this pass. P.S. The picture isn’t me.” It was signed “Big Dick.”
At Midnight, I dropped a red pepper in Charlie’s mailbox with a note. “Suck on this, sausage-boy…” There was no signature.
The next weekend, we had Charlie and family over for dinner. Everybody but Brunhilda thought the whole episode was hilarious. Brunhilda failed to see the humor in it, however. Maybe she was pissed because she thought that EVERYBODY now knew what she was getting, or not getting… so to speak. We tried to placate Hildy by giving her the photos she thought she’d lost, but not even that calmed her down. She had a frown on all evening.
Charlie thought the whole thing was over…
Heh, heh, heh.
The next week, I wrote Playgirl magazine, saying I had some pictures I thought they would want and asking for their submission guidelines. I didn’t really want their guidelines, and I didn’t intend to submit Charlie’s pictures. All I wanted was their stationary. Sure enough, a week or so later, they sent me a letter, logo and all.
Just what I needed...
I had my secretary blank out the letter and make a copy, borrowing the CEO’s color copier so I could get a four color blank piece of stationary. Then I wrote a letter from an imaginary editor at Playgirl to Charlie. The letter read as follows:
“Dear Mr. Edgerton,
Thank you for your submission. I regret to inform you that our centerfold committee has decided against publication of your picture as one of our staples would cover anything of possible interest to our readership. In the future, should you wish to submit additional pictures for our consideration, you may want to add a prosthetic device to enhance your portrayal.
Very truly yours
I dropped the letter into an envelope I’d had my secretary prepare, complete with a return address, then stamped it and mailed it to a friend in New York inside another envelope. I gave my friend — who also was a friend of Charlie’s — instructions to mail the letter, and I let him peek inside.
Sure enough, my friend came through and mailed the letter. Charlie got it about a week and a half later. I found out when Brunhilda paid me a visit, pounding on my door, yelling, “What have you done?”
My most earnest assurances that no pictures had been sent failed to placate the Mad German. Charlie had to come over and walk his Kaiserette home. He thought the letter was hilarious. I mean, hell, Charlie was used to this stuff from me.
Years went by and Brunhilda gradually forgave me, perhaps because I swore there were no more pictures.
Heh, heh, heh.
For Charlie’s fiftieth birthday, my wife and I were invited to a dinner party at their house, so we flew in for the occasion. While we were having cocktails, I snuck out to my car to fetch the poster. Slipping back into the house, I scotch-taped the poster to a picture which hung on the wall behind Charlie’s chair in the dining room. As all twelve of us filed in for dinner, a full blown Little Charlie was there to greet us.
And on Charlie’s plate, a hot pepper lay.
It may take another ten years for Brunhilda to forgive me this time. Just in time for his sixtieth, I figure... I still have the 8x10 afterall…