Culver City was the place that my dearest of friends, Lennie, was from and where our friendship blossomed and so did our hatred. Simply put, Lennie was the funniest natural comedian I have ever met. He was also exasperating and at times those who knew him best could sense the sadness within. Lennie was not in my classes, his grades started his slide before mine. Lennie mostly hung out with the school’s druggies. But when a situation developed he, unlike them, could be counted on to protest and lend a hand and voice for the struggle.
Lennie and I went to college together and found an apartment, becoming roommates in the Fillmore. No matter the situation, Lennie would laugh. Like when we made the long drive from Culver City to our new residency and sat down on the couch finding after a minute or so the apartment was full of very hungry fleas. After a quick trip to the hardware store we set the poisonous bombs and left, heading over to Geary to a Hamburger stand that fit our budget, a place called Munchies.
It was a long time ago but even at the time I shook my head in disbelief ho cheap it was. The slim burgers were 12 cents – for less than a buck you could bet two burgers, fries, and a soft drink with free refills for under a dollar. Lennie, who had nothing to do the summer after our graduation ventured North from Culver City and found the apartment. His excitement won me over and I agreed to the apartment unseen. Lennie let me know after I asked that he agreed to rent it from the hallway and never stood on thee carpets. He agreed to the apartment without examining it – there was a concert in the City that he wanted to go to.
Lennie, a very unassuming boy, would do outrageous things that somehow, he got away with. He wore pajamas with lobsters on them to school and added a sailor’s cap and deck shoes for school which he would fling off at home, ready for his bed and television.
He told our neighbors, mostly elderly black people that I was studying pre-med. I ran in those days and I often got stopped by neighbors telling me about their ailments and asking me about their care. Somehow, I thought it was a friendly neighborly action. I didn’t think I was dispensing free advice. I told Lennie one day how strange I thought it and he laughed and told me what he had done. Both the neighbors and I were furious with Lennie for his prank – someone could have gotten hurt. But Lennie had these sad puppy dog eyes – it was impossible to stay mad at him very long.