Tribute to the Mad Dr. Weave

Chapter 30  (from Mereology:  The Origins of Garlic Cures and the Art of Telling a Tale of Ragout, which is available for free on this website)


Steve and I have been friends since we were five, and because we lived on the same street our families eventually got to know each other quite well.  As long as I’ve had memories, Steve has been there, and somehow, in the yin and yang of Existence, our early lives seemed to have mirrored one another’s:  While my dad was secretly coveting the neighbor man, Steve’s dad was secretly coveting the neighbor man’s wife.  Even in the suburbs it all has its balance.  But Steve took his parents eventual divorce much harder than I did mine.  Most likely because his parents hid their problems better, their divorce was more unexpected… or maybe he took it harder because his father was allowed to openly trade in his old model, Steve’s mother, for the new model wife, and Steve had to not only witness the ugliness of a failed marriage, but so did the whole neighborhood as well—whereas my dad, like suburbia, was caught up in the deception:  Man swapping amongst married men was (and I presume still is) not acceptable in suburbia, and is thus hidden from plain view.  As a result, his parent’s eventual divorce was more of a shock to everyone, and my dad’s gradual disappearance from the Western suburbs went unnoticed. 

Until high school, Steve and I went to the same schools.  He was also a math and science kid, and we intellectually engaged each other to obsessive levels.  I vaguely recall at around age nine calculating the number of seconds in a year together, and I can still feel the joy we felt in the endless games of chess that we played.  I can still see Steve sitting next me, our eyes glued to the screen, as we watched Japanese TV programs like Ultra Man and Space Giants together:  Goldar and Silvar will always be a key ingredient to my ragout.  In our competitive bid for being the smartest, he

was always there with a calculator in hand keeping track of my decimal placements as I calculated pi—as I was for him. We intellectually challenged each other, relentlessly, and by the sixth grade we got drunk and smoked cigarettes together for the first time.  But our talents weren’t always only limited to a love for booze and tobacco or to challenging our intellectual capacities:  In the third grade we chased the school bus together, hurling lumps of dog shit into the open windows as it carried away our schoolmates.  I even eventually knocked out his front teeth.  I figured that since I’d lost both of my permanent front teeth in an unfortunate accident, he should, too.  Humorously enough, I now know that he never had the right hair for Punk fashion:  He had more of an afro, and if he cut it too short there was nothing but cowlicks.  If I didn’t know his mother and father so well I might have wondered where he’d gotten the fro, but his dad was a thick-haired Hungarian who came over to the US shortly after the bloody Russian quelling of the 1956 revolution, and he, too, had bad punk hair.  Despite Steve’s hair problems, he was there since the beginning of Life, punk and skateboarding.  

As children, his mother inadvertently supplied us with much of our alcohol as we continually skimmed, skimmed, and skimmed some from her weekly refurbished alcohol cabinet…and we replaced every thieved gallon with water.  At first she suspected her older son, Johnny, but eventually he turned twenty-one and could purchase it himself.  It was then that a fourteen-year-old Steve got his first lecture about skimming from the hooch cabinet.  Humorously, his mother was upset because of the watered down gin, vodka, and scotch more so than she was about his drinking:  At some point most of the bottles contained nothing but water. 

After this scolding, a worried Steve and I, through the talents of our scientific minds, and a short chapter in 7th

grade science class on fermentation, started fermenting our own wine made from grape juice, sugar and yeast.  To solidify the deal, and in our own way of circumventing the birthing fanatical, neo-con Prohibitionist movement as led by Nancy and just say no, we built a still to make moonshine out of our fermented grape juice.  Steve didn’t want to upset his mother any more than he needed to, and rightfully so—there was nothing she hated more than watered down devil’s water—but Steve definitely wasn’t going to stop drinking.  To this day his mother still talks about all the crazy things we did, and she never forgets to remind us of our booze experiment which eventually exploded in her basement.  

It was in this same basement that I had sex for the first time, at age fourteen, with a twelve-year old girl.  Under the stairs leading into the basement of his house there was a little closet, and it was there that she and I made drunken love together:  Well, I was drunk, and there wasn't much love, but we got it on anyway.  In his naturally cynical way, Steve occasionally opened the door to ask if everything was working right, and when he wasn’t peeking he was playing DJ, and changing the background music—so as to keep the mood romantic.  The only song I can recall hearing was the Dead Kennedys, Too Drunk To Fuck.  Considering I was fourteen, terrified, and drunk, it wasn’t an easy feat let alone a pleasant one. As for the girl, I still, after almost thirty years (now going on many moon years) talk to her on occasion. She offered me something wonderful and I was just too insecure and suburban to enjoy it or to see the beauty in it.  

Although Steve and I now live in different countries, we still talk on occasion, as do his mother and I.  I might have had better friends at times, but he has always been my best friend.  In some ways, he was always there keeping my world together—even when I lived at the Tailor’s.  If I ever took a friend for granted, it was Steve.  He’ll probably be the only

person to show up at my funeral.  I’m sure he’ll outlive me. 

Steve and I also spent a lot of time with my older brother and his friends, and in 1982 when I was fourteen years old my mother discovered exactly what was happening every weekend in my father’s empty warehouses in our backyard. The garage doors were closed, and there was a general ban on band practices.  Evil Eye, the Anti-Bodies, and every other derelict musician west of Cicero were no longer welcomed.  Fortunately, that’s about the time Frank, my brother’s friend from Parochial school, opened his basement to us, and all I can say is:  It was fantastic!  He had two older sisters who always bought us booze and… and he had a kick-ass game room!  We spent every weekend, and many week nights there, and our drinking habits became even more excessive.  At some point Steve was drinking so much that he could no longer walk a straight line, and one night, while I, my brother, Frank and some others were drinking and shooting a game of pool, he came wobbling in.  In a blissful state of inebriated delirium, Frank slurred out the Weave, and we all turned to look at a Steve who could no longer walk a straight line but could only shuffled sideways.   

After we graduated high school, Steve was forced, because of economic reasons, to remain in Westmont, work, and go to community college while I went off to Loyola on student loans.  My dad had long since vanished to the Northern Woods, and my mother earned almost nothing, so I qualified for debt (nowadays everyone has this entitlement).  After another failed semester with the Catholic education (at Loyola), and before I eventually ran away to Green Bay, Wisconsin, my life was dictated by alcohol and drug consumption. The Happy Toons had since ceased to exist, and all my friends, for the most part, were finishing high school, working odd jobs, or taking a few college courses here and there. 

Around the same time that I was put into the nuthouse, Steve began cleaning a dentist’s office at night:  a job he would stay with for a number of years.  He also worked a few hours at Champion Auto Parts Distribution warehouse in Oakbrook, and he was picking up some credits at the College of DuPage during the week:  But it was his night job of working the laughing gas mask, and providing all of us with precision-like fluoride treatments, that earned him the title of The Mad Doctor:  Hence, the birth of The Mad Dr. Weave.

In 1986, I was back in the suburbs doing squat, but now, under the influence of nitrous oxide and LSD, I belonged to an army of lunatics.  Weave was busting his ass, trying to stay ahead of the confusion that was swallowing us up; and to his credit he always had a much better grip on things than I did.  In addition to working at least fifty hours a week and going to school full time, he opened his own after-hours dentistry service.  As our intoxicated, dosed-out group of friends arrived nightly from Brooks’ or Momma Lush’s house, Weave would put on the white kittle and dentist mask and gas us up one at time as we sat in the dentist chair.  If you were lucky he’d give you, in the pure delight of LSD hallucinations colliding with NO2-induced dreams, a fluoride treatment, as well:  That is if he wasn’t too fucked out of his mind on alcohol and LSD himself.  There was never a better feeling than sitting in the dentist chair at 2 a.m., juiced up on beer, LSD, and laughing gas, and seeing The Mad Dr. Weave’s eyes all sparkly and exploding with life as he peeked out from behind the Dr.’s mask.  It was pure magic.  At some point his laughter would take over, and it was like being in some strange circus of the insane.  If I were to suddenly wake up and find out I have been dreaming for the past twenty-two years (now a gazillion years) I would like to wake up in that dentist chair, gassed up on nitrous oxide, and with LSD flowing through my veins, a mouth full of fluoride, and the Mad Dr. Weave standing over me, laughing hysterically. 

We spent many nights at the office, and on some nights, because of the intoxicating gas, we almost didn’t make it out before the dentist’s assistants started arriving to begin their morning shifts.  The Mad Dr. Weave was on many occasions found in the daybreak hours, unconscious in the dentist chair, gas mask half strapped to his face, and drool streaming from his mouth to the floor.  Fortunately for him it was always a friend who found him in this state.

After having the office twice renovated, and the machines completely changed out, the dentist finally came to the conclusion that his machines were working perfectly well, and that The Mad Dr. Weave was abusing his NO2.  The dentist tried to reason with The Mad Dr. Weave, and to convince him of the dangers of passing out with nothing but NO2 flowing into a his lungs (I can imagine suffocation to be a horrible death, but in this instance I believe it would simply be a laughing matter), but, as much as The Mad Dr. Weave wanted to stop, he couldn’t: he was hooked.  NO2 reveals reality in a way that LSD can’t, and LSD reveals reality in a way that laughing gas can’t―however, being under the influence of either one is like being in a wing of the Garden of Eden, and that meant that being stoned on LSD and laughing gas together was, (and presume still is) simply heaven.  There is nothing physically addictive in either LSD or NO2, but the reality of the two combined was powerful juju.  I’m sure the dentist would have canned The Mad Dr. Weave had it not been for the fact that he was not only Weave’s neighbor and very good friends with his parents, but the dentist also had a daughter who sat in on the midnight dentistry sessions and, in some ways, Weave had him over a barrel.