GoStats web counter FRIENDS AND MEMORIES – NEO Magazine


By on July 30, 2023
Dimitri C. Michalakis

by Dimitri C. Michalakis

A friend from my old days in Chicago got in touch with me a couple of years ago (we had gone to school together—Lane Tech), and we caught up on old times. He was now in California, like many old friends of mine, for some reason, and had been an actor. In fact, in high school, we had both acted together in a musical, Guys and Dolls, where he had been Nathan Detroit one night, and I had been Nathan Detroit another. He was on the football team then, he proudly wore his football sweater, I was in ROTC, and I wore my uniform, I don’t know how proudly, on Wednesdays when he had inspection. We were acquaintances, not friends, but I do remember we took the bus home together one day, and he seemed to be amused by me. “You talk different,” he said. I don’t know how I talked, except I was born in Greece, had lived in Canada, and now I was in Chicago, so my language might have been a polyglot. “You use different words,” he said. Did I? Was that good or bad? And I remember we had a snowball fight once, outside the school. Also, I had my brief fling with acting in high school because I saw him in a play at the local Catholic school in Annie Get Your Gun. That’s it, I said to myself, that’s what I want to do!

Now he was in California, he had been through his ups and down, like the rest of us, but he was friendly (he was calling about a reunion he was organizing at the school), and he wanted to talk, and share some memories, as much as I wanted to. “It’s nice talking to you, Jimmy,” he said. “It’s nice talking to you,” I told him. And then we shot the breeze about the old days doing Guys and Dolls, and taking driver’s ed in the back of the school, in the old Plymouth Furys and Dodge Monacos, and me drilling in the football field with ROTC, and him playing football and being the football hero, in those days when we had all those dreams.

With all the hardships he had endured, he was very positive, and very much alive, and he had all sorts of plans. Like every transplanted Californian, he was trying to sell a screenplay to Hollywood, about his sister he had lost to Cooley’s Anemia, and he was very active in spreading the message about the disease, which, perversely, affects Mediterraneans very widely. He also knew every detail about life back in Chicago (all the streets, the neighborhoods, the schools) which I remembered vaguely. It was nice sharing them, it kept them alive, and made them concrete, and it was a balm as we get older: we dwell on the past, the early years, and it gives us solace, because life then was so fresh and vivid, every day like a new morning, and we felt ourselves invincible. Thank you for bringing back the warm memories, Tony.

Dimitri C. Michalakis

About Dimitri C. Michalakis

Dimitri C. Michalakis is Editor in Chief on NEO Magazine.