Meet Buddy Valentine
Well it worked once, let’s try it again, “Sir can you give me a number between 1 and 15.
Flight two is in, and I’m back doing the random thing.
Blah…blah…blah…stuff to the stranger at the fence involving Media badges and a wild time growing up in the ‘60’s.
“Thank you….one, two, three, four….
…eight…hey dude what’s your name.”
“You a member of BASS,”
“Meet me when you come off the stage.”
I think I scared him.
Buddy Valentine…a big muscular brush cut 37 year old from Westernville, NY “5 minutes north of Rome, NY.”
That didn’t help me much but I wrote it down.
“Are you married.”
“Yes sir…just married…to Angela…married in June…and we have a baby coming next year. A baby girl, my princess…we are going to call here Arianna.”
“Pretty name (after he spells it for me 3 times), how did you pick it.”
Buddy smiles, looks away, then back to me, “Really, you really want to know.”
“We were out to dinner one night and the waitress who waited on us had a name badge on…and it was that name and we thought it was different and sounded pretty…sound crazy but that’s how we picked it.”
I’m smiling as I write it down…to me…the pick sounds perfect.
“So what do you do for a living.”
“I’m a tower rigger.”
I don’t even write it down, I have no idea what the big dude just said.
Buddy senses that, “I climb up those cell towers that power your cell phones and I fix things up there when they go bad, and I also build the towers.”
I’m thinking…oh that’s one job I wouldn’t want to do, “So how far up do you go.”
“To the top (I set myself up for that one), I’ve been as high up as 1,040 feet so far.”
Dudes…the EMPIRE STATE building roof height is 1,250 feet, the total height of the building is 1,434 feet and Buddy has just told me he climbed the equivalent of just 210 feet short of the roof of the Empire State building.
Takes a lot to impress me anymore…and Buddy just did.
“When I was growing up my father and mother taught me a strong work ethic, I’ve been climbing towers for 8 or 9 years now, been working since I was 14, everything I’ve got came from busting my back to work for…I work 14 days at a stretch…home a few days then gone to another tower.”
“Dad took me fishing when I was 3 years old…I don’t get to fish much now…still want to fish with dad…but he got busted up.”
Buddy goes silent for a few moments, begins his next sentence to me with words I can’t print, but understandable words for what he describes, “….drunken driver slammed into my father on his motorcycle, hit him about 80mph and then (more words I can’t use but understand why they are being said) and then, then…just leaves him lying on the road. Drives away…hit and run…”
I say nothing, give Buddy his time to pick Buddy Sr. up off the pavement.
“My father he gave me strong morals, love of the outdoors, be a leader not a follower, he was a millworker all his life, did the bull-work, my mother she worked, reupholstered couches, did it all for the kids.”
“Do you still fish with your dad.”
Buddy’s face get tight, his muscles under his tee-shirt flex, he is once again at the scene of the accident, once again at his father’s hospital bedside, “I take him out, he’s still busted up, uses a cane to get around, but he sits in the back of my boat…”
At this point, I give Buddy Jr. and Sr. their time together, their peace, and don’t ask any other questions but one.
“You excited to be a dad yourself now.”
And the smile comes back, “Can’t wait until my princess gets here…we have her room all set and waiting for her.”
“How did you decorate it.”
A bigger smile, “In tropical fish, sort of like living in a colorful tropical fish bowl, I hope she loves it.”
“I’m sure she will.”
And the last thing Buddy Valentine says to me is exactly this, “I’m not quite done decorating it yet…been out there looking to find some wallpaper with Large and Smallmouth Bass on it.”