January 09, 2006

tom defore memories

as part of tom's memorial, they're asking for anecdotes and reminisces about tom. i've got a million of 'em, but thought i'd jot down the few that seemed best fit to print. figured i might as well catch 'em here too.

***

I'm B1-66er, I lived down the hall from Tom in the dorms and a year later, along with Mark "Solid" Goldstein, was his roommate in an apartment on College Avenue. In my seven illustrious and hateful years of college, Tom was my favorite roommate.

I'll stay away from talking about Tom's personality, since that was obviously his strongest trait and you'll be beaten senseless by what other people (redundantly) say anyway. I'll describe things I noticed about Tom and let you fill in the blanks.

Mostly when I think of Tom, I think of his idiosyncrasies ...

He cooked pancakes in Crisco, a trait that both Solid Goldstein and I labeled summarily as, "gross," even when he tried to defend it with, "but my Mom does it too."

He could play any instrument you handed him. Although his favorites were a small zither and (much to the dismay of Solid Goldstein) a first generation Casio synthesizer, I also saw him play a trumpet, a bassoon, a clarinet, a flute, a saxophone, a cello and a violin. This was before he ran across African instruments, but in general, the weirder the instrument, the more likely he'd be able to hammer out a tune on it in a couple of minutes.

He had an odd habit of cutting his own hair when he was nervous, which was pretty much all the time. I'm certain his patchy, short hair was a direct result of the high number of "girlfriends" that Solid G and I would spin through the complex. Assuming you weren't a member of the Sex Pistols, ring-worm-looking crew cuts weren't exactly the rage in the 1980's, but that didn't stop Tom from approaching the look of a what-kind-of-disease-does-he-have Mr. Clean.

One day he came in with heat-warped 45 of REO Speedwagon, a band (rightly) loathed by all of us. He poured mustard in a circle around the record, let it dry, and then hung it on the wall. We never asked why, but understood inherently that this would become the "Artwall" and proceeded to put weird crap up in and around that record for over a year. The artwall became an attraction that people who we didn't know would come by to see.

By far Tom's favorite thing to do in his off-time was to watch television with the sound off and listen to music. His very favorite combination was Devo and the Andy Griffith show. To this day, when I see Aunt Bea on TV, I think, "Whip it good!" That is because of Tom Defore.

There are a couple longer stories that come to mind ...


***


We were all fans of a borderline obscure English rock musician named Roy Wood. Tom decided we should have a party in his honor and make it a point of telling everyone we'd have food.

He then proceeded to make all the food out of Jello. So the pizza, for example, had yellow Jello for the crust, pink Jello for the sauce, dark red Jello for the pepperoni, sliced green Jello for the green peppers.

When the party started people asked about the food. "We've got chips, pizza, salad and Jello." Once people found out that everything was, in fact, made out of Jello, people laughed a little, bitched a little and then ordered several (real) pizzas. Tom said, "I knew that would happen. I just didn't want to pay for the pizza." For this effort, Solid G, the world's cheapest man, labeled him a "genius," a word I don't think I've ever heard him use since.

The capper, though, was we lived in an apartment complex called the "Crestwood Apartments." The sign outside our living room was done with red stenciled capital letters on white metal. In honor of the party, Tom went to McGuckin Hardware, bought red adhesive tape and perfectly cut out letters that said "ROY" to paste over the "Crest" syllable. His fix to the sign was so perfect that we lived in the "Roy Wood" apartments for the remainder of the year, and the sign stayed that way for more than a year after we moved out.


***


When we were still living in the dorms, Tom and I went to dinner one night and while standing in the cafeteria queue, I saw a small envelope on the community bulletin board. It had been turned face-down, but to me the size looked perfect to be a Select-A-Seat concert ticket envelope. Much to Tom's typically-nervous dismay, I unpinned it from the board to look at it.

Sure enough, it was a Select-A-Seat envelope and inside were concert tickets to see the Cars, in Denver, at McNichols Arena, at 20:00 that very night.

Tom saw them and asked, "What're you going to do?"

I looked at the clock, it was 18:20. I could see everything laying out, nearly perfectly, in my mind. I knew the schedules, I knew the drill. "In ten minutes the Denver bus picks up just across the street. That'll get us in Denver at 7:30. We won't have time to take the bus to the arena, so if you pay for cab fare I'll give you the other ticket. We'll grab some fruit from here, turn around and leave right now."

Tom shuffled and half-laughed like he did whenever he was nervous around me, which was to say, always. "I don't know."

"This is not hard, Tom. These tickets are a signal from God. We just go. And we go right now."

"Okay."

Like clockwork we made the bus, had a good ride, caught a cab and made the show. The tickets were for row OO and you could, literally, touch the ceiling from where we were sitting. Over Tom's objections we moved down to some empty seats and had a great time. The bus ride(s) back from McNichols went smooth.

But skipping back in the story a bit, the best part of the night was not the show, but rather what happened just as we exited the bus terminal. We were headed for the cabs when we were approached by a panhandler.

"You guys have any spare change?"

"No, man," I said, "sorry."

He looks at Tom. Tom said, "No. All we have is enough money to catch a cab to the Arena." Which was true -- buses were free during this heady period of time in Colorado history.

The panhandler looked dismayed. "You don't have any money"

"That's right."

It's weird. It's like the panhandler doesn't get it, so he just repeats. "None. You have no money."

"That's right."

"Oh man," he said. And the man reaches into his pants and pulls out a fistful of change about the size of a softball. He grabs a sizeable hunk of it and hands it to Tom. "Listen, fellas, it is no good to go through the world with no money. I should know." Before we can say anything, he leaves.

Tom's still standing looking at his open hand, laden with coins. "I can't believe you just bummed a bum," I say.

"Neither can I."

2 Comments:

Blogger suttonhoo said...

Tom just came to mind and I googled to see if the original memorial site was still up. it's gone. this post lives on.

good medicine. thanks.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014 11:25:00 AM  
Blogger Lauri Benblatt said...

I just came across this link as I was looking for something through old emails. I'm glad to see these memories still live somewhere...blessed for the love- Lauri

Thursday, July 09, 2015 1:20:00 PM  

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