Lip was one of my closest friends in high school.
We were like Mutt and Jeff. He was a little over 5’6″ tall. He had jet black hair, combed straight back. He wasn’t athletic, but had a quick wit, a sharp mind, and a fiery temper. On the other hand, I was about 6′ tall, blond hair, an athlete, with less of a temper.
He was elected student body president the spring semester of our senior year, while I became the head varsity yell leader by the end of our junior year. He went on to study law; I went on to theatre arts. Two more different people you couldn’t find.
We had some exciting times together. Here’s one of them.
Friday Night Football Game
If was a cool fall night in 1961, and we had just beaten Long Beach Jordan High School in a football game at their place. As a cheerleader, I had to remain on the field until everyone had emptied out of the stadium.
Lip and my girlfriend had waited for me, and the three of us walked out to my car. As we reached the car, a group of six to ten Jordan High “toughs” (guys looking for fights) approached us. One of them stepped forward, and said, “congratulations.” He then reached out his hand. Lip responded by putting out his hand. As he did, the kid clocked him. Lip fell back and ended up on his wallet. The guy then stretched his hand out to me, and said the same thing. I said, “no”, and placed the big megaphone I was carrying between him and me. We looked at each other for a moment. He then turned and started walking off with his gang.
I gave the car keys to my girlfriend, and told her to go unlock the car and get in. I then helped Lip to his feet. His nose was bleeding. I told him to put his head back and get into the car. All the while, I kept an eye on the toughs, to make sure they continued walking away from us.
Lip Loses His Cool
All three of us were sitting in the front seat of the car. (My car was an old two door 1952 Chevrolet.)
The night air was crisp, and the car didn’t immediately start. I pulled the choke out a little, pumped the gas peddle and tried again. At that very moment, Lip opened the car door, got out, and started cussing at the gang. They turned around and started running back to the car. The car was still struggling to start.
The toughs surrounded the car and started pounding on it. They cracked the back window. Lip looked over at me and asked excitedly, “can’t you get this thing started?”
Just then the engine turned over, and the car slowly started moving. The toughs were now on the hood of the car, and running alongside it. They were shouting that they were going to kick the _ _ _ _ out of us. Lip started shouting back that “we” were going to kick the _ _ _ _ out of them.
“Lip, shut up,” I said.
Finally, the car gained speed, the toughs jumped off, I ran a stop sign, and we were on our way back to our home turf.
Lip Calls For Retaliation
As we arrived at our high school canteen, Lip started telling some of our friends what had happened. Not only that, he started enlisting them to return and exact vengeance.
Lip turned to me.
Lip: “Let’s go.”
Me: “Lip, this was over with a bloody nose. Now, my back window is broken, I have dents in my car, and you want all us to go back and have a gang fight. That’s not going to happen”
Lip: “You wouldn’t say that if it were your nose.”
I started walking away.
Lip: “Where are you going?”
I pointed to the dance floor.
(note: This is the second time I have written about Lip. I have two more articles coming out about our experiences together. My friend’s name is not Lip. I created the name for two reasons. One, is to protect his real identity. And, two, the name Lip fits his personality.)