Bill Christie

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Bill Christie

Postby m0flei01 on Sat Feb 02, 2008 12:59 pm

This is an excerpt from a story that I wrote for a creative writing class at UL entitled "Charmin Bill"
Marvin Fleischman

Stopping in at Lisa's on Oak Street one Wednesday evening in May for the blues jam, I saw Bill after more than twenty years. Sitting at the bar, I ordered a Guiness Stout and was told they didn't have it. So I asked for a Bass.
"Hey, this is a low class bar," the cigarette smoking, whiskey drinking and slightly intoxicated man seated next to me said good naturedly, slightly slurring his words.
"That's okay," I responded laughing. "Bass is high class enough for me."
He smiled and laughed easily, and there was something familiar about him. His comment and attitude suggested intelligence and sense of humor. Rather than moving away or ignoring him as usual when seated next to a talkative drinker, I started a conversation. "Are you a regular here?" I asked.
"Naw, just come occasionally. Don't live too far away though. What about you?'
"Live in the Highlands. Just wanted to check out the music."
"You're probably about my age?" he asked, though the years had probably taken its toll and he looked older. Turns out that I was three years older.
"What do you do?" the drunk asked.
"You mean work or other things?"
He chuckled. "Yeah, work, what else? What do you do?"
His friend seated next to him interrupted. "Quit bothering the man. He doesn't want to talk to you."
"I'm not drunk, just intoxicated. There's a difference you know" Bill replied.
"That's okay," I said to the friend. "I enjoy talking with him."
"I may be intoxicated, but I can still carry on an intelligent conversation," Bill retorted.
"Okay," I said. I'm a retired UL professor."
"What'd you teach?"
"Environmental Engineering."
I was surprised when he then told me he graduated from Western Kentucky and had been a Lieutenant JG in the navy.
"What did you study at Western?" I asked.
"Industrial Technology, and I worked for Jones Plastics after the navy. I worked on moldings and designed plastic laminated structures."
Again this registered familiarity in my distant memory.He then began to describe some of his work, and I thought there's more to him than it seems. Fumbling in his wallet, he pulled out a business card and gave it to me.
"I do freelance plastic cabinet and fixture construction for homes and businesses. My shop is in the Lava House on Shelby Parkway, and I live in a trailer inside the building. I live simply and life is easy. Had two open heart surgeries, so I have to take it easy these days. No more skiing or tennis, occasionally some golf."
I read the card: Custom Laminated Products, etc. Reading further, the card said Bill Christie, followed by phone numbers.

The name stopped me cold and it took a few seconds to get my voice back. I was amazed, shocked, memories flooding me from more than 25 years ago. My G-d, remembering a dark wavy hair, good looking trim guy, could this be the same Bill?
"Bill Christie?" I said, surprise in my voice and forgetting to introduce myself, "Didn't you go to the Ski Club, in the 70s and 80s?""
His eyes flashed and a sad wistful faraway look gathered on his face, probably remembering his wild ass ski club days. "Yeah, those were the days," he sighed, "a lifetime ago. Did you belong to the ski club too?"
"Yes, I did and I remember you. But you probably wouldn't remember me. I was a quieter, light drinking member, not part of your inner circle. We didn't know each other well."

Driving home that night and the next day, I couldn't get Bill, one of the ski club legends, out of my mind,. Though I didn't know him well, man, I remembered Bill as a vibrant, good looking, hedonistic, womanizing fun guy. Thinking about Bill I began to remember my ski club days.

Nineteen seventy five (1977) was the first time I saw Bill, at a Ski Club meeting. The club was one of the best singles scene in Louisville. Many men and women in their late 20s to early 50s checked out the Ski Club during and after a divorce. There was something for everybody, and I was ready to re-establish my life as a newly minted single. Also, I wanted to learn how to ski. The most active area in the meeting room however, was the bar, and most people were drinking beer, the apparent meeting beverage of choice. It reminded me of a fraternity party. I noticed a good-looking guy holding court with several attractive women. Wish they would come to me like that, I fantasized.
"Marty" i asked my friend, "who's the guy over there with all the women."
"That's Bill Christie" he responded. "The women really seem to like him, even though he's a player and they know it. Irresponsible, love em and leave em, carefree attitude. He has a reputation, but it doesn't stop him. Don't know how he gets away with it, but he does, the ultimate rake."
""Wish I could be more like him. Though I didn't meet Bill that night, I was impressed and periodically glanced to observe a master in action.

There's more to the story and my observations of Bill during the ski club years. But I think that this is enough for now. Sometime after seeing Bill, I ran into him again at a function at the Lava House, and was impressed with how much he cared for the younger people there, sort of a father figure or a kindly uncle. I am sorry to see him pass and wish I knew him better.

Marvin Fleischman, 02/02/08
m0flei01
 
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