Thursday, May 9, 2013

David Oakland and the Stereo Story

Last Friday was the birthday of my best friend from college, David Oakland, who died five years ago. This put me in mind of what a terrific person he was and how much fun we had together. He delighted in 'put-ons' - where he would come up with an outrageous explanation for something, but somehow make it seem plausible.

The best of the best where I was involved was the "Stereo" story:
Background: It is 19-- [gah! too far back! Let's just say that it was long enough ago that a turntable was still a standard part of every respectable music system and any decent system was also a matter of purchasing separate (expensive) components.] So, I had a stereo which was a cheap, all-in-one affair with a then-stylish transparent smoke grey dust cover, from which I had been trying to upgrade one piece at a time - as I could afford it. My clever friend, David, had modified it for me so that I could use the all-in-one with my new good parts in the meantime. I had finally been able to buy the last piece and needed for him to undo the modification, so that I could give the cheap one-piece stereo to my younger brother.

So, David and our Sweet-but-Credulous-Friend (SbCF hereafter) were over early (as a group of us were gathering at my place before going out) and I asked David if there was time for him to do the stereo. He replied in the affirmative and set to work. SbCF came in the room and asked what he was doing. Quick as a whip, he responded "turning it into a lamp". When SbCF challenged this use of a stereo,("You CAN'T turn a STEREO into a lamp!") I - having backed his stories before - immediately chimed in with how the dust cover would be what lights up and the whole thing would sit on the matching speakers to double as an end table. David keeps working, chiming in with 'explanations' of how it would work, while other friends arrive and snicker quietly in the corners.

SbCF is listening but is being less credulous than usual and doubting, David (who really was very clever with stuff)continues to work on undoing the mods, and I am keeping busy fetching tools, etc as required, when the doorbell rings. It is the last expected friend, DT, who steps in, looks down at David and without missing a beat asks, "What are you doing, making a lamp?". Mass hilarity ensues. (DT is also a Very Sharp Guy who went on to a career as a comedy writer.)

I will always miss my friend, and am grateful to have known him.