Sunday, February 27, 2011

My Friend Fran

When I got married and moved to Florissant, my life came to an intellectual dead end, or should I say cul de sac? No one was interested in art, science, politics (with the exception of ultra right dogma), or philosophy.

This was where the neighborhood dads and I were taking our kids trick or treating, and one dad noticed a “Vote Democrat” sign in a yard. “A$$hole, I should egg his car!” he said. I told him I thought Republicans were the party of greed, sexism and racism. His response was, “So?” Later, I was in a poker game with him. He spent most of the game trying to convince me the moon landing was a scam. I’d never felt so alone in my life.

When I was working in the yard, I began to speak across the fence to my neighbor next door. His name was Fran, and I began to realize he was one of those truly unique people that live life from their own, individual point of view.

Fran and I shared an interest in computers. I was working on my MCSE at the time, and he was a tech at UMSL. He tried to teach me HTML, but I was lazy and only wanted to use web building programs. He was such a purist, he knew DOS better than English.

Fran and girl friend Sue had a hemophiliac son named Wolfgang. Wolfgang was a couple of years older than my son. Dylan idolized him. Wolfgang gave Dylan his Pokemon cards when he outgrew them.

They wanted him to have a normal life, so they encouraged him to skateboard and dirt bike. The neighborhood kids built ramps in front of our house, and Wolfgang was always the most reckless. I remember several times when Sue spent the night giving Wolfgang injections after he’d hurt himself. She was always in tears.

Fran had been raised in a Republican family but decided he couldn’t handle it when Bush wanted to stop stem cell research aimed at hemophilia.

Fran’s favorite band in the world was Yes. I remember trying to explain to him that, while I loved the guys in the band, thought they were incredible musicians, and even kind of thought of them as family, I just didn’t like their music.

Fran was the guy who dragged his guitar out at every party. He was never self-conscious, he just loved music.

Fran and Sue were on the Jerry Springer show. It was hilarious. Sue ambushed him. She had her friends and even some of Fran’s family condemning him. Fran refused to marry Sue, even after Wolfgang. After everyone on the panel condemned him as a jerk, Jerry introduced Fran to the studio audience. He was met with boos. I could see the sweat breaking out on his forehead.

I asked him why he would subject himself to that kind of public humiliation. He said, “Man, they put us up in an expensive hotel and gave us a limo!”

One of the best, and worst, things about Fran is that he refuses to be an adult. He’s always been his son’s best friend. He always hung out with Wolfgang’s friends.

One day the neighborhood kids banged on my door. “Mr. Udell, Fran’s hurt, you have to come!”

I followed them back into the woods where they had an elaborate bike trail carved into the terrain. Fran had jumped one of the hills on a dirt bike. He was supposed to come down another hill, but he missed. He lay there with a broken shoulder. He was in terrible pain but laughing. “You have to carry me outta here!” he said.

Kim and I witnessed Sue and Fran’s marriage at the St. Charles City Hall. I remember going to work drunk on Champagne after a small celebration in their home. I wanted to write Jerry Springer with the update.

When Kim and I split, Fran kept me distracted at several bars. I can’t begin to describe the variety of interesting people who love Fran. I’ll have to go into more detail later.

Fran and I are hanging at his pool in St. Charles. This is probably around 2002.


Anonymous said...

Fran had once told me that he was laughing, while he was laying on the ground, because he couldn't stop farting. I always thought that was hilarious.


Anonymous said...

While I did look up to Wolfgang, the one I was closest to idolizing was Fran.