David Bruce: Friends Anecdotes

John Tener, the President of the National League, was great friends with umpire Charlie Rigler. One day, Mr. Rigler got into a ferocious argument with a player for the New York Giants — an argument so ferocious he punched the player. Giants manager John McGraw wanted Mr. Tener to fire Mr. Rigler. At the meeting of National League president and umpire, Mr. Tener asked Mr. Rigler why he had thrown the punch. Mr. Rigler explained, “I want you to know that I kept my temper when he called me an ugly, stupid this-and-that, and I controlled myself when he said I was a blind, no-good so-and-so and every other name you can think of. That was all right. I’m an umpire. I can take that. But when he said, ‘You’re just as bad as that blankety-blank Tener that you work for,’ I couldn’t hold back any longer. I let him have it.” After hearing this explanation, Mr. Tener shouted, “You should have killed him!”

While the members of Monty Python were filming their movie The Life of Brian, Ian Johnson made a documentary of the process, during which he asked the various Pythons to comment on each other. They got together in a group to watch the documentary, in which they had been open about each other, including criticisms of each other, but after seeing the documentary, according to Python member Graham Chapman, there was a moment in which they all looked at each other as if to say, “Yes, I know you. I know your good points, your bad points, but, the hell with all that anyway, because — I like you.”

Edythe Eyde watched some new neighbors move in — two men, no women. Her suspicions aroused, she went over and said, “Hi, welcome. I’m your neighbor across the street. I see you have a couple of cats.” She played with the cats, then said, “You’re gay, aren’t you?” The two men were stunned, but she put them at ease by saying, “Well, so am I! Hi, neighbor!” They became good friends and traded jobs as needed. When they went away on business trips, she took care of their cats, and when she needed a difficult-to-replace light bulb changed, they did it for her.

Adolf Hitler felt that the 1936 Olympic Games in Germany would show the superiority of white Aryans over other human beings, such as blacks. Instead, African-American runner Jesse Owens became the star of the Olympics and most of the medals were won by non-Aryans. Hitler would have disapproved of the friendship that sprang up between Mr. Owens and white German long jumper Luz Long. Mr. Long even gave Mr. Owens good advice that helped him to reach the finals of the long jump.

During a church lesson on friendship, a woman said, “This is a good lesson. Friends. I’m glad I’ve got so many.” Jerry Clower asked her how many friends she had, and she replied, “I reckon I’ve got a thousand.” Mr. Clower then asked her how many of her friends she would wake up at 2 a.m. if she needed help, and she said, “Oh, I don’t know anybody I’d do that to.” Hearing this, Mr. Clower said, “Lady, you ain’t got a friend in the world. Not a single friend to your name.”

The family of a college student accidentally found out that their son was gay when they came across a few letters written by one of his friends from school. Things were very stressful at home, but his friends came through for him. Pooling their resources, they came up with enough money to purchase a plane ticket for him to fly back to school for a couple of weeks so that he and his family could get their bearings again before dealing with the issue.

Humor writer Cathy Crimmins was different even in high school. Besides being very tall, she wore evening gowns to pep rallies, she listened to albums such as Bobby Short Sings Cole Porter, and her three best friends were a gay man, a black man, and a Jewish man. In addition, her parents were different. For example, when someone died, her father would say, “He won’t do that again!”

Dorothy Parker and Elsa Maxwell once lunched with a pretentious man who was determined to put Ms. Maxwell down. The man said that he was a friend of the painter Augustus John, then he said to Ms. Maxwell, “Of course, I don’t suppose you know whom I’m talking about.” Ms. Parker replied, “Oh yes, she does. But they’re such great friends she calls him Augustus Jack.”

Author Peg Bracken knows a woman who enjoys snooping. Sometimes, she will go up to a house that looks interesting, knock on the door, and say, “Does Mrs. J. Robinson Higbee live here?” While the door answerer tries to figure out who Mrs. J. Robinson Higbee is and where she might live, the woman sneaks looks at the decor of the interior.

Often, people want to make friends with celebrities. Before starring in his sitcom, stand-up comedian Jerry Seinfeld was at a car wash when a man who had seen his act came up to him and asked, “Could we be friends?” Mr. Seinfeld replied, “Well, that’s really the nicest thing you can ever ask someone, but I’m a little busy.”

Geraldine Farrar and Enrico Caruso were great friends, and Ms. Farrar confided in him her fears about failure. Mr. Caruso encouraged her and predicted, “Farrar fara” — “Farrar will succeed.” She liked the motto so much that she used it on a seal for her letters.

Fanny Brice was very proud of her first contract to work for Flo Ziegfeld. In fact, he had to give her a new contract after she wore out the first one by taking it out and showing it constantly to her friends.

Lesbian comedian Judy Carter says that a good way to come out to your friends is to ask, “Are you friends with any gay people?” If they say that they aren’t, reply, “Well, you are now.”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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