There are people you meet in life who speak your language. They recognize movie quotes from obscure films and can hold conversations only making references to these films. For example, El Flaco and I became friends after discovering our mutual love of the film Real Genius. Part of the reason I became such good friends with the owner of “La Bete” was due to a similar connection.
First, however, allow me to rectify a mistake. In a previous essay, I wrote La Bete was a BMW M3 when in fact it was an M5. If someone asked me what the difference was between those models, I wouldn’t be able to tell them. Instead, I would probably launch into Wooderson’s monologue about his car Melba Toast from Dazed and Confused or Billy Brown’s speech about driving cars that shift themselves from Buffalo ’66.
Let’s just say La Bete was a high-performance vehicle. Once when we were driving in the city I asked LBO (La Bete’s Owner) if he parked his car near his apartment?
“Oh, you don’t park 400 horses on the street,” he replied.
It was such a great line, I used it for the title of a story.
During the first years we hung out, I would frequently drop by LBO’s apartment to watch a movie, grab dinner, and a few drinks. At the time, I still worked for the theater company and had aspirations to become a filmmaker. LBO worked in finance. I recall once Vincent Gallo suggesting in an interview part of the reason he was friendly with Val Kilmer when they were both coming up, as they admired what the other had going for them. Kilmer was a burgeoning legitimate movie star and Gallo was more of a maverick.
After a little while, my sessions with LBO took on a routine which we titled “Greatest Hits.”
We’d usually pick up some beer from the corner store and order dinner from Big Nicks.
Big Nick’s was a landmark institution on the upper west side, coincidentally, near where I used to go to high school. We would get burgers, split a slice of pizza, and get a little something for the good boy. The good boy in question was LBO’s Bull Mastiff, Gordon, who weighed about 175 lbs. We also called him the land shark. He was extremely gentle around people. He would get excited to see you, come over, and lean against your leg. If you weren’t expecting it and hadn’t braced yourself, he would knock you over.
Unfortunately, Gordon didn’t fully comprehend his size and strength so he wasn’t allowed to play with other dogs. It’s a similar situation to when I did boxing drills with the Polish Heavyweight in a previous essay.
So, LBO, Gordon, and I would hang out much like the scene in Boiler Room, when the characters watch Wall Street at Ben Affleck’s house and wait for Big Nicks. 25th Hour and The Cable Guy were in the mix. Glengarry Glen Ross was another one, and we would adopt quotations into our lexicon. For example, when Rick Roma (Al Pacino) asks Shelly “The Machine” Levine (Jack Lemmon) about a client’s crumb cake, and Shelly replies it was “store-bought,” both of us began to refer to less than adequate things as being store-bought. The term “crawfish” was one I tried to establish as well. This was in the film Tombstone, and it meant changing your mind. Although, for some reason that one never took.
When I lived in Macau, I would sometimes think about a scene from the film Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade in which a character who’d gotten lost in his own museum, is walking through a bazaar in The Middle East asking if anyone spoke English or Ancient Greek? I would imagine I’d replicate the scene if I got separated from my friends, except I would say “Does anyone speak English or movie quotes?”
It’s wonderful to be able to reflect on these experiences. I used to want to be able to recreate the past, and now I’ve come to accept that these moments become fond memories and new moments will take their place.
In the immortal words of Andy Bernard (Ed Helms) from The American version of The Office
“I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.”
Thankfully, I’ve been able to adjust to recognize these are all the good old days.
Andrew Davie has worked in theater, finance, and education. He taught English in Macau on a Fulbright Grant and has survived a ruptured brain aneurysm and subarachnoid hemorrhage. He has published short stories at various places, a chapbook with The Daily Drunk, crime fiction novellas with All Due Respect and Close to the Bone, and an upcoming memoir. His other work can be found in links on his website https://andrew-davie.com/