Odd Couple: Hello stranger

"Well we all have a face
that we hide away forever …"

Dateline: The Odd Couple, Lake Murray, S.C.

Here's the first clue that I was rooming with an angler.

I tripped.

Over the orange extension cord running out from under the door, down the steps, around a post, under a pile of wood, through a bush, around a tree, under the laundry line, over a discarded tire, and finally up to the boat.

If you ever need to find an Elite angler, follow the ever-present electrical extension cord.

And so I did, and there he was.  Russ Lane.  Seven years on the tour, seven minutes as my roommate.  Seven minutes and already there was a bass boat backed up to right under my bedroom window.

Lakeside on Lake Murray, a three-bedroom, two-bath joint that a friend of his mother-in-law owns and said we could stay here for tournament week.


If you ever need to find a tournament angler, just say "FREE" and you'll be up to your arse in tourney anglers right quick.  Not that they are cheap, they are you know, just, ah, practical.

So here I am, a fat, bald with stringy uncombed shoulder length hair, stuck in the '60s hippy, non-fishing, non-outdoor thrilled, guy on the wrong side of middle age, with a strong dependency problem with Coca-Cola, Margaritas, donuts, and the B-complex of vitamins, and I have a roommate who IS NONE OF THAT.

Russ Lane, welcome to the monkey house.  No bananas, I don't eat fruit unless it's in a jelly donut.

Russ says he's 37 years old … I've been married longer than that which means, I could be living with someone who my wife and I could have birthed had we not been, you know, careful while dating.

Russ doesn't know this but at home, in the bottom drawer of the dresser I share with my wife Barb, the bottom right hand drawer as you be looking at it, is a jersey from the Buffalo YMCA that says Lifeguard on the back.

I got that jersey in 1968.

Which would be six years before Russ WAS BORN.

Sort of puts all this in perspective, don't it?

If not that, this.  I'm sitting here minding my own business slamming down Starbucks doubleshot energy + coffee shots to improve my writing style but instead of doing it while listening to Jerry Lee Lewis blasting in my "good" Sennheiser headphone cans, I'm doing it with naked ears.

Don't want my new roomie to think I'm ignoring him, so I have the satellite TV on the music station, it's killing my writing, but at least I can tell my wife I'm being polite.

The door opens and in walks Russ, after fiddling around in his room for a minute he comes out and picks up the TV remote and hits whatever button it is that tells you what you are seeing, or in this case hearing.

He squints at what comes up on the TV and turns to me and says exactly this, "Do you like this old music?"

I'm listening to the '60s channel.  When I want to hear new music I haven't heard yet I move up two to the '80s channel.

"Old music," I'm thinking as Russ starts backpedaling with a smile on his face, "nothing wrong with it. I like listening to the old stuff."  Russ, my friend/roomie, the old stuff is the Big Band music my parents used to listen to,  not this.

This my friend, my stranger, is the anthem of my life.


" … and we take them out and
show ourselves
when everyone has gone … "

Now here's where we are going to run into some trouble.  This story was supposed to be about the odd couple that we look like to be, but a problem has developed very early on in this roommate thing.

It was supposed to be I was the Oscar Madison-like character, and Russ was the Felix Unger character (from that "old" Neil Simon TV series that Russ has probably never seen or heard of) but to our horror we found out this about each other.

We're both Oscar Madison.

I was hoping this Russ dude was a great cook.


I was hoping this Russ dude was a laundry cleaning machine.


I was hoping this Russ dude would give me some healthy eatin' tips.


But here is the REALLY scary part of this, it seems in some instances, as inconceivable as it may be, in odds even I wouldn't set the chips on, I'm, I can hardly even write this …I'm … FELIX UNGER!


Russ doesn't do laundry, says his wife Jill "won't let me, I ruin too many things."  Then, as we are driving to the Super Walmart to buy food I hear him on the phone telling Jill he doesn't know what to do for food since the "old" microwave doesn't work.

At Walmart he buys one of those disposable $45 700 watt microwaves so he can cook at night when he gets off the water.

When we get back to the rental joint I walk over to the "old" microwave, look at it for a minute … hit the "time cook" button FIRST and magically it starts radiating the nothing we have inside it.

Russ:  "Huh, never saw anything like that before."

He doesn't say it, but I know that's exactly what he's thinking …

… when he looks at me.

His new roommate for the week.

Tomorrow … we go food shopping … talk about life on the road … and game plan for the upcoming tournament on Murray Lake.

While Strawberry Alarm Clock plays Incense & Peppermints on the '60's channel.

“They're the faces of the stranger
But we love to try them on”

The Stranger

Billy Joel


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