Timbo’s Birthday

Thursday September 24th, 2009 – Milwaukee, WI

I remember birthdays forever. I don’t know why, but I do. My grandpa died in 1981 but I still remember his birthday was November 18th and every November 18th it jumps out at me. Once a birthday gets in my head it stays there, whether that person is living or dead.

September 24th is the birthday of my childhood best friend Timbo, the guy who robbed the bank he used to work at, TWICE, and tried to blame one of them on me. I haven’t had any contact with him since I had to testify against him in court and he ended up doing six and a half years in prison. That was a horrible experience and I’m never going to forget it.

Those who know me well know the story and I’ve told it on radio stations all across the country and every station I tell it on is blown away by it. Bob and Tom are on in over 200 markets and I was on there for about two hours telling it, because it has so many unusual twists and turns. It’s a fascinating story, even though it was hell on Earth to live through.

Looking back on it now it all seems surreal and from another life but at the time it was a nightmare that took about seven years to play out. There was no happy ending for me, and a worse one for him. I have to believe he regrets it all now but I haven’t talked to him. It’s like he died that day and I never got a chance to say goodbye. The whole thing is a mess.

What stinks about it most is I lost a life long best friend. We were very close through all of our coming of age stuff and he was closer to me than my own blood brother. We share a lot of great memories from our years together and then he decided to flip out and rob the bank and it all started going sour from there. It was like he turned into a wrestling villain.

We both loved pro wrestling as kids and we went to the matches whenever we could. It was a thrill to watch our mutual home town hero The Crusher stomp the guts out of some ‘turkey neck bum’ as he used to call them. Those were fun times but the memories aren’t the same now. It feels like they’re tainted. Timbo crossed the line and it still hurts today.

I know he still remembers those wrestling matches and going to Packer games together and all the other fun stuff we did over the years. He knows my birthday is in March and it both irritates and saddens me that we had to part ways so permanently for such a horrible reason. In the end he tried to pin a bank robbery on me and he knew I didn’t do it. He did.

I guess things get desperate but there was no excuse for that. I still have nightmares of it even now. I’ll dream I’m back on that witness stand having to testify against my life long best friend and nothing will come out of my mouth. Or even worse, I’ll be on stage killing  and after the show Timbo will come back stage and everything freezes. It paralyzes me.

Those dreams are very vivid and I always wake up in a cold sweat with my heart racing. That’s not right. Part of me wants to find him all these years later and get right in his face and say “Are you happy now?” Another part of me never wants to see him again but there are so many shared memories between us it feels like I lost part of myself along with him.

As luck would have it I was booked in Milwaukee today to do a morning gig for a very nice group of people called Ways to Work. They help people get car loans so they can get a car to go to work. It was their national convention and they wanted a comedian because many times there is way too much serious stuff to digest. I think that’s a very good idea.

My friend Steve DeClark got me the gig as he’s worked for them in the past. They were very happy with what he did for them and since I have a nice sized chunk of material that deals with my nightmares with old cars it was a perfect fit. Steve was there too and it was a lot of fun actually, even though performing comedy at 9am feels a little strange to me.

The whole situation was strange. Here was a group of people from all parts of America in Milwaukee and I had to entertain them. Usually I’m the outsider in their town but today I was the outsider in my own home town. It felt odd but they were really nice people and I made them laugh anyway. Afterward they were lining up to tell me how funny I was.

I thanked them all and I meant it and then Steve and I met for a while because he thinks there can be more gigs like this and I’m all for it. I kept it squeaky clean and didn’t come anywhere near anything that could be considered offensive or non PC or insensitive. I am experienced enough to know how to read an audience and not every comedian does that.

There was a gender and racially mixed audience from all over the country and that’s not always an easy assignment. I knew my material about the cars would click with them and it absolutely did but I also know how to turn up the energy and make it fun. I can do this.

Steve has always thought out of the box when it comes to traditional comedy clubs and he’s very smart in doing that. These kind of gigs aren’t easy to do for most comics but we can pull them off because we’ve both had years of experience doing it. I really had fun for the effort and I only had to do about 20 minutes as they were behind on their time agenda.

I was originally scheduled to have another show up in northern Wisconsin tonight but it was ‘postponed’, so I decided to make the best of it. I spent the day with my lady friend in Milwaukee and we relaxed and recharged the batteries going to thrift stores. She has been under major stress after losing her job but she found another one and starts next Monday.

She’s got a kid to feed and she needed insurance and there’s a lot less pressure knowing she’s going to have that. I didn’t tell her much of what I’ve been going through because it didn’t fit with the day. We hadn’t seen each other in a while and I wanted to keep it light.

I didn’t walk today because my legs were so sore from yesterday it was to the point that I had a hard time getting in and out of my car. They really hurt, but not as much as it hurts inside knowing I had to lose a best friend for such a stupid reason. What a colossal waste.

The story itself however is phenomenal. There are funny parts to it but it’s not an all out comedy. There’s drama and suspense and some pretty solid characters too. I wish I didn’t have to live it but I did. The only happy ending I can think of would be getting paid for it.


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