The last time I saw Jim Frisnan was at a artsy-fartsy shebang in Bozeman. He was talking on Quantary Physicals and Shakespeare, neither one my fort. I only went because Maraleen seen in the paper where James B Frisnan was going to be at the U. Maraleen likes to get out once in a while, likes the culture bs. Or at least likes to show off her decorage and the bracelets and earrings at those kinds of parties. Besides, I had not seen Jimbo since high school, fifty years ago—fifty-one to be exact. And so Maraleen and me both thought it would be something to do.
The first time I saw Jimbo, I was a Freshman and he was a Sophomore, a big rube of a kid who, even then, was the know-it-all show-off, but who knew exactly zip about basketball or football. But Barse saw possibilities there and coached him along. Jimbo’s family moved to town from out at West Bench which had it’s own one room school, but which Darlene—Jimbo’s mom—thought was not good enough. (Which is rich, considering the whole bunch of them didn’t have a pot between them.) So his dad sold his ranch and moved the family into town so they could go to school. Unlike Jimbo, his dad was this little squirt of a fellow who took up a job with the D-Bar, calving, riding fence, irrigating, etc. Which he did not appear to totally like. I heard him say the biggest mistake he ever did was sell his place and become a cowboy instead of a cowman. And when he was really drunk, I heard him say if it hadn’t been for Darlee—we all called her Darlee—he’d still be out on the west bench running his own cattle instead of riding somebody else’s irrigating ditch. It was Darlee ran things. And it was her that Jimbo got his bigness from—and pretty much everything else he had.
In ‘67 we were a champ basketball team and Jim was our high-post—huge guy, football material, which he played—receiver. Very large, which served him well under the net, which is what made us champs. He was tall enough to get a shot over anybody we played, even Shorty Diabald who at 6’2” was still a hand or two shorter than Jimbo, and if it really comes down to it, not quite as quick in the noggin department. And he was heavy, too—muscle heavy—and ruthless, which made it dangerous for anybody under the hoop who thought they deserved a rebound.
Like I say his senior year, we had a pretty decent ball team, placed second in Division and eked out a third or fourth in District, which kept us out of State that year. Jimbo graduated in the spring and had a scholarship–not basketball, one of those know-it-all scholarships; and went off to Stanford or Princeton—one of them eastern hoity-toity places. Not something you’d expect of a kid whose dad was a hired-hand drunk and whose mother was Darlee.
Next year I was team captain, and usually high scorer (twenty, twenty-eight, thirty points a game, thirty-two in a game we lost against Twin Bridges), but we did only so-so (10 and 8 record). That fall, because I’d be goddamned if I was going over there to shoot gooks, I went up to State and Rodeoed. I managed to hang on until January ‘70, then I drew 321—the draft, my number was 321—so I quit the college-knowledge bull shit and came back here and started clerking at the First Last Lost Valley Bank. I was good at it and eventually, with a loan from Dad and my Uncle Eddy, edged out Joe Vastimony, and so own it now, the whole kit and kaboodle, all the loans, all the stocks, all of everything, with a gold plated sign on the office door and a gold plated name tag on the desk. Everybody in town calls me Banker Bob. I am a man who pulled myself up by knuckle and bootstrap.
Maraleen and me have a house up by the golf course across the street from the VerMalows and next to the Wallangers. Vic VerMalow is in real estate and has a decent account—nothing like what I have, but decent. We golf on Wednesdays in the summer and there is a monthly poker game at his house. Molly Wallanger’s family goes way back to when the Indians were run off, and he brother, Vern runs 800 head of beef on the old homestead out east of town. Up to his eyeballs in hock, but purebred stock for all that, longtime natives of the Valley.
My kids won’t speak to me because of their mother. So, they are getting squat. Squat. Squat. Less than squat if I had it. Maraleen is 100 percent with me on that. She supports me in everything and doesn’t nag. She’s the real Westminster winner. I didn’t think I could raise up such spoiled, ungrateful brats. Makes me wonder why I ever married their mother and got that all started off. I should have come out of the gate with Maraleen in the first place, but she was, what, eleven-twelve years old back then. Still, it’s all worked out.
Anyway, So Maraleen and me go to Bozeman to see ole Jimbo. But frankly, I didn’t see much that was all that impressive. From sneakers to sweatshirt, he still looked like the rube from West Bench. The sweatshirt said,
“Vote so Putin’s won’t count.”
What kind of bullshit is that.
And of course he talked complete know-it-all nonsense.
I invited him out to the place for a few rounds of golf; he said thanks but he didn’t play golf. “Well,” I said, “I was more inviting you out for a whiskey and beer and to see the old stomping grounds, how all us have come up in the world.”
“I know,” he said. “Thanks anyway.”
Somehow that came out snooty, like he thought a guy who made it on his boot straps was just another. . . . I don’t know another what, but another something he couldn’t be bothered with. And just to point out, he did not invite us to see him when we were down in southern California—which I told him we do every winter.
Maraleen, as usual flirted him up a bit (it’s her style), but he was just polite. He had this stout, butch looking woman with him that was probably his wife. Maraleen looked like a thoroughbred compared to her. And all he could do is be polite? A UCL of A professor, and all he can do is nod and be polite when a real prize of a woman notices his skinny ass? No class. No class whatsoever. Still Jimbo the rube from West Bench.
Of course, I didn’t say that. Maraleen was pretty disgusted. She thought he was queer. Which he isn’t, but I didn’t have to say anything, so didn’t.