You met Malcolm in Crab CockTale, albeit obliquely. There is oh so much more to say about him. But first, I have to tell you that Malcolm is not his real name. Malcolm periodically runs for Congress, and I very much doubt he’d appreciate being linked to my twaddles. So, I gave him another name. Hope you don’t mind.
My father, a law school dean, one of the stiffer of the stiffest, who would recognize another stiff blindfolded, once said Malcolm was the oldest young man he’d ever met. I think that meant Malcolm was a stiff. Seriously, the guy was so dry and grave, he’d make John Kerry seem like Carrottop. And Malcolm was so conservative, he stood almost alone on campus as someone FOR the Viet Nam war. I used to say he wore his three piece suit to bed.
But like most stiffs, that distinctive and consistent rigidity made Malcolm the perfect foil, especially for two relentless pranksters like John and me. Oh what tortures we put that boy through! Ashton Kucher thinks he invented Punk’d.
Nonsense. John and I did, but we called it “bore-assing”, and Malcolm was our victim of choice.
Many things we did to poor Malcolm, like spiking his coffee with Ex-Lax, stuffing pot in his cigarettes, hiding his car, etc., don’t deserve much mention; they’re commonplace and kid-stuff. So, I’ll only tell you about some good ones.
But before I do, I have to say, John and I had nothing against Malcolm. We loved him like a brother, and despite all we did to him, he loved us too. Heck, he even named his first child after me. And no, the kid’s name is not “S#$thead.
Above all, despite whatever John and I did to poor Malcolm, he always kept his humor. Most people didn’t see that humor, but it was always lurking under the surface; it was always there.
Many of our bore-asses, Malcolm just endured with a grim smile, one that said, “Good try, guys, no cigar. But we always knew we’d scored big-time when Malcolm would run outside screaming, “I CAN’T TAKE IT ANY MORE!”
That would bring down the house. That would give us satisfaction for days.
Okay, first story.
You have to understand that Malcolm, for all his political activity, was a little shy around girls. Shy, hell, he was petrified. Tall, dark and handsome though he was, chicks were usually repulsed when his come-on line was something like, “Do you really think welfare should be parceled out to unmarried women who refuse to be sterilized?” Trust me, the look he’d receive in return was not conducive to reaching for a boob.
But Malcolm just couldn’t help himself. Politics and being a stiff were in his blood. The shyness came, I suspect, as a product of the cumulative build-up of wrong-topicitis rejections and a serious lack of moves.
So John and I had to help Malcolm a little, just a little, like over the side...
One time, a Kappa honey named Jenny, a silky-haired brunette with high cheekbones, blow-job lips and teeth so white you needed shades, a busty beauty in need of a permanent bodyguard if there ever was one, stopped by to see John and me. We’d had a long standing bore-ass battle with Jenny and her roommate, fun stuff but mostly minor league, and she was bringing us flowers to reward us on our latest success. Now, neither John nor I had ever dated Jenny; there’s no way she would have trusted either one of us for an evening, but we were good friends -- at arm’s length.
Well, while we were talking, Malcolm came down. One look and Malcolm was in love. But he spoke not; he just nodded and walked to the kitchen, then back again, then back yet again, and so forth for about six trips. I swear, the poor guy was wearing tracks in the carpet. But we weren’t paying attention, we and Jenny were laughing at how she and her roommate had fallen for our latest prank.
That night, after some hemming and hawing – that was Malcolm’s way – he finally confessed his undying love for Jenny, which for Malcolm went something like this, “Um… that… um… that girl today… um… what was her name?”
One of us told him.
“Um… How… um… do…um… you guys… um… know her… ? Um… how…um… I mean… um… did…um… you…um… date her or something?”
I swear, that’s the way Malcolm talked about women. Here was a guy who could deliver an address on the policy platform of the Republican Party for an hour with nary a stutter nor pause, yet when it came to sniffing out a date, he was nearly catatonic. Now earlier, I mentioned that Malcolm would make a stupid political statement about politics to a woman, and I didn’t portray him as retarded. See, that’s because he was talking politics, not love. Are we straight about this? When it came to love, it wasn’t that Malcolm lacked the emotion, he didn’t know the language, didn’t have a clue.
Well, it didn’t take long for John and me to realize that Malcolm wanted a date with Jenny, and being faithful and nurturing roommates, we agreed to intercede. John called Jenny, and he confirmed that all Malcolm had to do was call and ask her out. But Malcolm had to do THAT himself – Jenny didn’t like intermediaries.
Poor Malcolm fretted all day. He tried numerous lines on us, and of course we did everything we could to be helpful. We play-acted roles as if we were Jenny, and Malcolm tried various lines of communication, all leading up to the fateful question. After several hours, Malcolm felt he was ready. He was confident and he had notes to which he could refer.
We agreed that I would call Jenny, and when she was on the line, I would hand the phone to Malcolm, then leave. Malcolm thought having John and me present would tie his tongue, inhibit him, cause him to lose his edge. Hah! Malcolm’s edge with chicks on his BEST day was as sharp as tofu. But John and I had readily agreed to his demand; we knew we had three phones in the apartment.
Heh, heh, heh.
So, I actually called the Kappa House and asked for Jenny. Someone said she’d go find her. Now this was in the days when sororities had house phones, not individual lines. As soon as I heard John’s voice on the other end, mimicking Jenny, I handed the phone to Malcolm and flashed him an “OK” hand sign as I left the room.
I ran into my room, shut the door and picked up my hand-set, making sure I covered the lower portion with my hand.
“Jenny?” said Malcolm, maybe a bit tentative.
“Yes,” said John in Jenny-voice. “Is this Malcolm? John has told me so much about you.”
“Really?” Malcolm sounded surprised. “Um…”
Uh oh! Could he hold it? Would he lose it? What about all that practice? I could just imagine Malcolm consulting his notes.
I heard him take a deep breath, then, “Well, that’s nice to hear. Um… I meant to talk to you when you were here today, but you and John and Ben were laughing so… um… hard… um… I didn’t want to… um… interrupt you.”
He was doing okay. When was John gonna push it?
“Oh,” John/Jenny said, “that was nothing. I really wanted to talk to you too, but those two just kept going.”
“Oh yes, Malcolm, I’ve wanted to meet you for some time. I mean you are such a leader. I just love it when you speak on campus. That’s one of the reasons I came over today; I wanted to meet you. I’m just sorry we didn’t get a chance to talk and get to know each other.”
John was laying it on thick. I had to sit on the floor I was laughing so hard.
“Well, I… um… I’m a little surprised…um… Jenny, I had no idea… um… you knew… um… who I was. I’m…um… very flattered.”
“Oh, it’s me who should be flattered, Malcolm. I mean, it’s not everyday I get a phone call from someone like you.”
“Well, um… I’m glad to hear that…um… Jenny.” Malcolm was hitting a stride, well a crawl maybe. “See, that’s… um… why I wanted…um… to call you. Did…um… John…um… tell you why I wanted to call?”
“Well, he said you thought I had a great ass…”
Dead silence from Malcolm, then I swear I heard a gurgle. Malcolm cleared his throat. “He did?”
“Why yes, Malcolm, and he said you thought I’d make a great set of ear muffs.”
I was rolling around on the floor. I could hardly contain myself.
I could hear Malcolm breathing heavy. I imagined his head spinning, his thoughts whirling. But he said nothing for almost thirty seconds. Then, “Grady!” That was John’s last name. “You rotten son of a whore, you mother-f@#king asshole! You stinking pile of s$%t! You were dropped out of a pig and rolled in slop to be presented to your mother in a condition she’d recognize!”
Malcolm was so wrapped up in his litany of expletives he failed to hear the real Jenny say, “Hello?”
Malcolm kept going. “Your relatives are all vermin, you flea infested sack of dead rats! Your mother was a grub worm who sucked vole-dick, your father a cockroach with no cock! You are the slime that comes from squashed worms. Your hair is fur, your face is acne-ridden and matches your ass, and your mouth is a runny anal pore!”
“Malcolm?” said Jenny, who sounded a little surprised.
There was dead silence on the phone, followed by a soft click.
In moments, Malcolm was running downstairs, then out the door, screaming all the way, I CAN’T TAKE IT ANY MORE!”
* * *
Sometime during the summer of 1968, John and I decided to venture north to Indiana Beach for a weekend Righteous Brothers concert. We were able to get a weekend off from lifeguard duties at Lake Monroe, or maybe we were on suspension, I don’t remember.
Suspension, you ask? We’ll talk about that later.
Now Malcolm didn’t know the Righteous Brothers. When he heard us talking about Blue-Eyed Soul, he thought we were meeting with the Religious Right, and if he went along he might meet Jerry Falwell and Jim Bakker, two of his heroes. John and I were about as thrilled to have Malcolm join us as one feels receiving an enema from a pretty nurse, but we didn’t have the heart to burst his bubble, especially so soon after the Jenny episode. Malcolm’s presence would be a problem; we were planning on mooching a place to stay by leeching onto chicks, and well, Malcolm was a needle to the balloon of love.
But what the hell, we owed it to him, and Malcolm’s reaction to having been duped yet again would probably be worth the aggravation. So off we went in my white ’65 Mustang convertible, surely a counterweight to Malcolm, the human version of Off when it came to chicks.
Malcolm’s reaction to the concert was disappointing, I must say, but I suspect he was just determined not to please us by showing his surprise. He looked a little silly though in his three piece suit; heck, he looked like the FBI. As you might imagine, dubie was everywhere, so wherever Malcolm went, at least ten feet of open space encircled him. From the air in daylight, I’m sure the image would have resembled a negative of a Colorado crop-circle, with Malcolm you know where (See title). We distanced ourselves from him as much as we could, ducking down occasionally, staying on the move, but dammit, he always seemed to find us.
The concert was only so-so. Medley was on, but Bobby Hatfield was only slightly more animated than he is now. As the evening wore on, we paid less attention to the music and focused more on Malcolm-evasion, so John could work his magic and get us connected. Finally, just before the concert ended, John latched onto a chick from Butler who was hosting a slumber party in a Lake Shafer cottage. She and her friends were willing to let us join them, although it was unclear whether we’d be in the main cabin enjoying the fruits of love or be banished to the furnished garage. Alas, as we were leaving, our connection to Malcolm became clear, so you can guess where we stayed...
The garage was unattached, like us, but comfy. Wide enough for two cars, it had retained its doors, but lost its original purpose; a toilet, sink and rudimentary, exposed shower had been installed along with cots and a refrigerator. We were provided blankets and pillows for the cots.
Except for Malcolm, we were all a little drunk and most of us were stoned. We partied for awhile on the lakeside screened-in-porch and John and one chick went skinny-dipping (that bastard!), but I was meeting resistance in satisfying my love-muscle. Malcolm had arrived in my car, after all, so I couldn’t very well disclaim him, and despite my best efforts to cleanse myself, I couldn’t seem to shed his Junior G-Man taint. Somehow, John must have persuaded his babe that he didn’t know Malcolm, but she was pretty wasted. If that prick had been in more of a sharing mood, I might have gotten lucky too.
Sometime after three o’clock, I gave up trying to score and took my blue balls to bed, joining Malcolm in the garage; he’d preceded me by at least two hours. John and his chick were nowhere to be seen, although occasionally, somebody claimed to have heard oohs and ahs somewhere outside.
We all awoke the next morning when one of the girls thought it would be funny to open the garage door with the remote. Ha ha. We made her shut the door and bring us coffee as penance, and I snatched the remote while she put down our tray. She left us to our morning routines when we threatened to perform them in front of her..
While taking a dump in front of friends is a little disconcerting, the shower felt good, and that combination, plus the coffee, seemed to revive me. John and I were a little grumpy, I guess, although I’m sure our reasons for it differed. I don’t think John got much sleep, the bastard, but I didn’t want to hear about what he’d been doing. I told him I’d be on him like paint if I heard one word about it. Malcolm was chipper and that was pissing me off too; I was blaming him for my Blue Ball Syndrome. So I turned on a radio that was on the counter and cranked up the volume to shut them up.
John followed my bathroom lead, as Malcolm was slow to rise. Hell, Malcolm was slow to do anything, dammit, why should his morning routine be any different? Besides, it was best to have Malcolm go last; his showers were so notoriously long, to have him go first risked the availability of hot water. So we were used to making Malcolm go last; in fact, we always insisted on it.
As Malcolm showered, the bud of an idea flowered in my fertile imagination. John and I were so used to bore-assing Malcolm, we didn’t need much communication. I caught his eye, nodded over to where Malcolm was draining away the lake and pointed to Malcolm’s suitcase.
Moments later, we had removed all the suitcases, blankets, towels and clothing from the garage and we were assembling the girls outside by my car. There were eight of them, and they were in a playful mood. When we had arranged ourselves in front of the door, and one of the girls had set up her camera, I hit the remote.
The garage door rumbled open.
Perhaps it was the radio and Malcolm’s singing along with it that prevented him from hearing the garage door opening, or maybe he thought the sound was just a rumbling of the pipes. Regardless, he didn’t realize immediately that he was showering in the open in front of ten people, one of whom had a camera. He was scrubbing his ass, his legs spread wide, working up quite a lather, as the shower beat on his chest and face and the camera clicked off exposure after exposure.
It was when Malcolm turned to rinse that awareness struck him. I’d compare the moment to a deer in headlights, except a deer doesn’t understand his predicament.
But then, neither did Malcolm, fully.
As panic etched his face and his eyes grew to full moons, Malcolm screamed, and one hand flew to his crotch while the other reached for what proved to be the empty security of a bare towel rack. Screaming out obscenities now, he raced from the stall, one hand in front, one in back, trying to cover as best he could. Turning to the cots, he saw they were bare; turning to his suitcase and clothes, they were gone.
And the camera clicked on.
Now, I must say, this didn’t end quite the way John and I had expected, you know with our I CAN’T TAKE IT ANY MORE reward.
No. Malcolm surprised us, and for that I give the guy gobs of credit. If you’ll pardon the pun, I’ll even say he showed some brass balls.
Instead of reacting the way we expected, Malcolm dropped his hands, stood up straight, and with shoulders back and both chest and chin thrust out, he walked proudly past us to the car. Opening the door, he even turned around and bowed before seating himself in the back seat.
What could we do but applaud?
* * * Okay, so how did we get suspended from our lifeguard duties?
One of the crap duties attending life guard status at Lake Monroe was the rotational Sunday cleanup, and, of course, the crapiest aspect of that task was outhouse cleanup. But being smart college kids, John, Malcolm and I had developed a system that was both efficient and which minimized the amount of time any one of us were sucking in methane gas.
We didn’t have to actually climb down those holes -- sorry to disappoint you -- we just had to clean around them, do the mirrors, make sure the supply of sandpaper toilet tissue was adequate and wash the floors. The last job was the worst one for it took longer to mop than it did to wipe and store. Each time we had to perform these chores, we decided our tasks by a succession of paper, scissor, rock challenges, the only manly way to make decisions.
On this particular day, Malcolm lost, but he grabbed his trusty mop with resignation and awaited his turn in good humor. And everything went fine until we hit the fourth outhouse. You see, there was a very fat, very pregnant lady in that one, and none of us had seen her enter. Hell, for all I knew, she might have been in there all night. There are such perverts, you know.
Well, I was an outhouse ahead when I opened that door to wipe the mirror and add sandpaper, and in my shock to see this woman sitting there, I just quietly closed the door and moved on.
Okay, I might have been chortling.
John was next, and to his credit, his reaction was the same as mine. Both of us stood behind the next commode to see what Malcolm’s reaction would be.
Now Malcolm hadn’t been paying attention to us, so he didn’t ask how John and I had finished our hole duties so quickly. He just opened the door and walked right in, the spring action of the door closing it behind him. A moment later, we heard a scream, a blood curdling one, too deep for a woman’s unless she was a hermaphrodite, which I rather doubt (Truth be told, I hadn’t checked), followed by Malcolm bursting forth, his arms flying as he cast off his mop and bucket and made hay for the water. And he didn’t stop there; he kept going until he was submerged, and he stayed down for awhile.
But before he went under, John and I got most of what we wanted: We heard the first three words of I CAN’T TAKE IT ANY MORE.
I think it’s a safe assumption that the rest of the sentence was heard by the fishes.
Okay, you ask, why were we suspended? Well, the woman complained.
It seems some people just can’t take a joke.
* * * Conclusion.
You know, the thing that has always intrigued me was that those pictures have never showed up. I keep wondering if one of these times Malcolm runs for Congress, we’re going to see an exclusive in The National Enquirer.
In other words, I may yet hear I CAN’T TAKE IT ANY MORE one more time.