One of my dearest friends is Curtis Stone, the Grammy-winning so-&-so. Stranger than strange, last Monday, April Fool’s, we somehow called each other at the exact — same — time. Curtis said he just flew in from Nashville for a gig and did I want to meet for drinks at Marina del Rey? I countered with I just flew in to Nashville International and was running off with his wife. Could he be a sport and drop off a triple extra-large satchel of her unmentionables and a half-gallon of BENGAY?
In the 1970s, I printed a quarter-page help wanted ad in The Mighty Signal. It sought 50 people for light yardwork, no experience necessary, $35 an hour. Curtis’s private phone number somehow got published. I blame the backshop. Oh. And once I sort of arranged to have 10,000 pieces of junk letters from The Signal to be added to Curtis’s mail while he was on tour for four months.
We’ve both grown April Fool’s radar. No way either of us can sneak up on the other come April 1. Sub-contracting is required.
Years ago, I used an ex-fiancee of Curtie’s to get close to my friend.
Laura is the person the Mafia should hire for all their hits. She is pure, sweet, beautiful and guileless. The perfect assassin. We’re all close. She called Curtis back East to report she was getting married and they were in the process of adopting. Could she have Curtis’s permission to name the baby after him?
Laura was mortified at how easy it was to slip into what she called “The Boy Darkside.” She had the guy crying tears of joy and nostalgia. They talked for hours. I called Curtis April 3, every year for the past half-century to wish him happy birthday. I just let the conversation drift. I knew he would bring it up.
“Yeah and you’ll never guess what, Dude…” Curtis said in his one-of-a-kind brogue. “I talked with Laura and she’s not only adopting a baby, but she’s going to name it after me!!!”
I let the victim go on, then reported I had actually already held his little namesake. I made up details that went on for 20 minutes, saying this was the cutest tyke to stalk planet Earth.
“Darndest thing though, Foon.”
“What’s that, Zoney…”
Curtis childhood nickname was Foonman. Mine was Zonebreaker.
I paused. “I’ve never heard of anyone giving a baby the name of…”
I can’t print what I told Curtis his imaginary namesake’s handle. Why? This is a family newspaper. Suffice to say, it had two syllables. The first was a synonym for a male naughty part. The second was that lumpy sphere sitting atop one’s neck and below one’s hat.
Don’t feel sorry for Foon.
It’s the 1970s. Shortly after my first marriage ended. I’m having lunch with Foon. I’m understandably distraught. I look across the table at Curt, stare turning to hardened squint.
“Take… that … out of your damned ear… right… jolly… now,” I told my friend. Curtis was wearing one of my ex’s diamond earrings. Big. Expensive. One of a set I had given her last Christmas.
Ha ha ha ha ha. Ha.
He laughed. I laughed. Yay, friends.
Curtis once pestered me to watch him on the Grammys. No. Pester. No. Pester. No. Plead. No. Beg. OK. Fine. All right then.
I set up my typewriter that night in front of the TV. He sang. So what? As I start to turn away, something was wrong. Terribly wrong. I moved closer to the screen, waiting for his next close-up.
Curtis had broken into my home. He was wearing MY cowboy hat on the Grammys. MY belt buckle. MY terribly expensive bolo tie. MY shirt, pants, boots and Lord I hoped not my underwear.
Thought it was funny, Curtis did.
When I was a starving journalist, Curtis was in Fat City, cutting an album with Three Dog Night. He shared the only problem was the back album cover. The producers wanted something profoundly funny. In those carefree times, we lost a day, goofing around. Midnight, I get a call. Curtis is SO sorry. He blurts that he just now thought of this, but I’d be the PERFECT writer to create the back jacket, but it only paid $15,000.
Back then, that kind of money would have bought food and a better girlfriend.
Curtis gives me a couple contact numbers to call the next day. Mention his name. “Say, it’s that cat, Curtis.”
Musicians evidently call each other, “cats.”
I called the number. It’s the private line to the Los Angeles Cat Rescue Center. Even better? Curtis tells me to ask for either “Felix” or “Kitty.”
Ha ha. Ha.
Curtis once called me over to his ranch to “help tune two guitars.” When I got there, he said: “Sorry, Dude. I misspoke. I meant to say, ‘Could you help me move the grand piano from the guest house to the recording studio?’”
So please. Don’t ever feel sorry for Curtis or for what I’m about to do to him 360 days hence…
John Boston is a local writer and does not knowingly lend his clothes.