Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tommy More tales: Vodka, lemonade and laughter don't mix

In honor of my friend Bill Clair, who died June 16, I've also posted this on my poetry website:

It is the first in a series of "Tommy More tales" I hope to post in the future if contributors will e-mail me stories I can rewrite and post for everyone's entertainment. I believe the statute of limitations will have run out on all but the most serious crimes.

Bill Clair, Ed Nowak and myself shared a Falco's pizza one night long ago in Bill's garage where he prepared his big red Chevy convertible for a trip to Lake Geneva over Fourth of July weekend.

We were planning to take a formidable supply of pink lemonade mixed with vodka to drink in the car on the trip, and actually started drinking some that night. We wanted a pizza and Bill would have none but a Falco's pie, which I argued was too greasy, having once watched a Falco's cook pour grease (or oil) from a pitcher onto a raw pie before he popped it into the oven.

Palermo's wasn't good enough for Bill. So we ate and drank our fill well into the night before rising for the trip.

We took off in mid-morning and by about 11 a.m. came to a stop light on U.S. 12 north of Chicago next to a tall pickup truck with three other guys riding high and looking down at the jug of pink lemonade we were sharing.

"Where you guys going?" said the driver of the truck, enjoying the sight of three youngs guys already pretty wasted and driving under a hot, summer sun in an open convertible.

"Geneva," I said to him from the shotgun seat. "We thought we'd watch a little National Guard action and take in the bikinis," I added, which cracked up both the guys in the truck and Nowak and Clair beside me. A year earlier, Wisconsin's governor had called out his National Guard and police dogs to quell rowdy youths who were celebrating the holiday too raucously. We three had been there then, too.

 "Why don't you guys follow us and come along," I cracked. "We got plenty to share!"

Now Bill Clair was always known for his smile and easy laughter, and Ed Nowak, otherwise called "Dude," remembers him for the contagiousness of that laughter, especially when Billy kind of howled when things really got funny.

Dude started to choke as he laughed, and then cough -- and then wretch, as everybody else, including the guys in the truck, laughed harder and harder and the choking got worse. Until Ed puked, which was no laughing matter inside Billy's sparkling clean red convertible.

Besides that, Dude's vomit was pretty much marked by tiny bits of green peppers cut in perfect squares, lumps of Italian sausage and other liquid that Bill was very unhappy about seeing spread over the rubber mats of his clean car.

"I told you that pizza's too greasy," I said.

But Bill wasn't laughing anymore; he roared away from the green light, cut in front of the truck and looked for a pullout from the highway so he could quickly get the car cleaned up. And Dude, too.

E-mail me with your tale from Tommy More at


  1. This will be a funny series, but I think you should tell the people what St. Thomas More (Tommy More)is. It's a Catholic Church on the Southwest side of Chicago. We SouthSiders always designated where we lived by parish. If you lived West of Kedzie Ave., then you said "St. Dennis" and if you lived on the East side, you were from "Tommy More". We even identified our homes to cab drivers as "Tommy More" or "Little Flower". I'm looking forward to more antics to come. Mary Halloran

  2. thanks mar. You are my most faithful reader!