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Connections — BBB?and otherwise

July 2, 2010
Adirondack Daily Enterprise

Currently, based on an initiative from hizzoner Clyde Rabideau, a committee is working to create a walk of fame.

As I understand it, a portion of the sidewalk will be festooned with bronze stars, each representing a famous person who once resided in Saranac Lake.

I don't know who'll be among finalists, but I know who should be - Mark Twain.

Aside from Twain being America's greatest author (in my not-so-humble opinion), there's another reason we should honor him here: One of his great characters, Tom Sawyer, was reincarnated in a SL native - my wonderful pal Bob Griffin.

Maybe "reincarnated" is too strong a term, but certainly Bob had a streak of Sawyeresque rascality, and it was most evident in The Great Breakfast/Barbell/Brewski Connection.


Phase One

It all started innocently enough, several years ago, with me, Bob, and his cohort in crime Pat Bentley perusing the Blue Moon breakfast menu.

Peruse, by the way, is an interesting word. It can mean to read in depth, or to read casually. In our case, the perusal was superficial. We knew exactly what we were going to have; we only looked at the menu to pretend we were considering what we should have.

Since all of us had heart disease, we should've had the low-cal, low fat breakfast. But since we also knew the difference between low-cal, low-fat is the difference between a weak handshake and a hot kiss, we always opted for one of the Real Deals, with eggs, cheese, home fries and the rest.

I'd stay with them for the conviviality and cholesterol, but no longer: After their breakfasts had settled (always a matter of a couple of hours), they'd head off to the gym, to work off at least a few of their surfeit of calories.

It was good plan, going to the gym. It showed common sense, maturity and responsibility - and thus it was doomed to failure.

The failure was gradual: For quite a while, they went to the gym as planned and worked out for a solid hour or so. Then, feeling refreshed and renewed and wanting a reward for their Gargantuan efforts, they repaired to Grizle-T's to restore their fluid and electrolyte balance, as well as to regale everyone there with Tales of the Backwoods, Homespun Philosophy, Rural Legends, and the like.


Phase Two

Then the pattern shifted. The breakfasts got longer, the gym sessions got shorter. Finally there were no gym sessions at all, only the merest hint of them in the form of their gym bags, which they always carried but no longer opened. It was Tom Sawyer Syndrome, but not TSS at its best. That came in Phase Three. More on that later.

See, here's the situation: Phases One and Two imposed no strain on Bob's TSQ (Tom Sawyer Quotient). OK, so his breakfasts wouldn't win any cardiologist's approval, nor would skipping the gym workouts. They also didn't delight his wife Diane. But having been with him for almost a half-century, Diane was shrewd enough to know that when you went to war with an ex-paratrooper like Bob, you picked your battles wisely.

As for Pat? Since he's one of Tupper Lake's most eligible bachelors, he has no one at home he's beholden to.

All of which frustrated Bob, the Tom Sawyer avatar: Going astray by himself or with Pat was just business as usual. His real challenge was to lead others astray. And lead them he did, the others (in increasing order of astray-i-tude) being me, Jan Plumadore and Bill O'Dell.

As for me? Bob was here only in summers, when I don't work, so when I got my phone call requesting my presence at Grizle's, it interfered with nothing except some other, less enjoyable, form of hanging out. Besides, when I wanted to leave, I'd tell Bob I had to walk my dogs, and he, being the dog lover he was, immediately granted me my leave.

However, for Jan and Bill the waters were more muddied: Each is married, so each has a higher power to reckon with.

Of the two, Jan was more skillful at making his exit, and thus more skillful at avoiding a just comeuppance. Perhaps a career in jurisprudence sharpened his powers of persuasion so he could convince his wife he was adhering to the spirit of the law while in fact he was violating it to the letter. I don't know. I only know no domestic disturbances were ever registered, seismically or otherwise. The same, however, cannot be said for Bill.

Bill O'Dell is one of the sweetest, kindest, gentlest people I know. He's unfailingly honest and constitutionally incapable of hidden agendas of any sort. He's also a devoted husband and the most loyal of friends. In short, he was a perfect victim, unable to resist any of Bob's machinations to keep him in Grizle's and away from home and hearth.

Bill's wife Mimi is wonderfully gracious and generous. She's also a schoolmarm of the type we rarely see anymore: When Mimi draws a line, it's not in sand - it's in cement.

So by the time Bob finally called it quits and thus set Bill free, he returned home hours after he said he would, where he would immediately be clapped in the doghouse.

Bob would end up in the doghouse too, but just as no two snowflakes are the same, neither are any two doghouses.

Bob, silver-tongued devil that he was, could've charmed his way out of a viper pit. His doghouse had a revolving door.

Bill is as open and innocent as the babes in the woods. His doghouse door was solid steel.

So while Bob would be rocking the BBB Connection within a day or so, Bill's reappearance in the den of inequities took much longer.

On balance, the rest of us visited with Bob more often, but Bill visited with him longer. So, ultimately, I guess it all evened out.

Then again, the good things in life can't be measured in numbers -- and foremost among them are joy, warmth and the company of dear friends.



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