We recently learned our former upstairs neighbor in New York passed away at the end of December.
Stomach Cancer. Ugh.
Now, it’s fair to say his body was no temple, but to go in your sixties seems too soon, even if that age did match his favorite decade.
We weren’t terribly close to Terry, but we were extremely fond of him. In Seinfeldian terms, he was our Kramer; the man who lived in a separate apartment so close in proximity he may as well have lived in our bathroom; a man who stopped us on the stoop to tell a long winded story when we were obviously in a hurry; a man we really didn’t KNOW, but SAW constantly, sometimes every day for over 10 years.
His sister sent me this photo of the plaque on a bench in Central Park to honor him. Apparently, the quote above his name was something he said all the time.
Below, I shared an edited favorite story about Terry. I’ve shared it before, but it seems like the right time to pull it out from the archives.
Our upstairs neighbor claims to have been an ‘entertainment lawyer’ at some point in his life, a statement we question. We think the emphasis lies on the former word of this title, rather than on the latter.
His most defining characteristic is the bandana he wears everyday around his neck to cover his stoma. In order to speak he slips his hand under his bandana to place a finger over the air hole in his throat. This produces a rough, raspy voice similar to that of a very masculine Marge Simpson. In his heyday he ‘worked’ with the likes of John Lennon, Mick Jagger, Slash, Roger Waters, Steven Tyler. The list goes on, so he says.
For the record, we are terribly fond of him and not just because he continually told me how good I looked when I was postpartum and hadn’t slept, exercised or eaten anything but Oreos for 3 months. I swear, I wasn’t fond of him just for that. No, really.
Terry also regaled us with stories we were sure were nonsense. Our personal favorite took place in 2006, when we saw him place a giant cardboard box outside in the recycling area.
‘Hey. Yeah, I’m just tossin’ out this box. Slash sent me a killer, flat screen TV, man.’
‘Slash? Seriously?’ I wanted to say out loud, but didn’t.
Instead I said, ‘OOOOOOoooooo, a flat screen TV. Fancy.’ In 2006, it was fancy. It had a certain cache, if you will. This was an era of, ‘Oooooo—a plasma TV—it’s so thin—wow, it can hang on the wall.’
slash is a very famous guitarist. 6lyrics.com
About a year later, when more flat screens had taken their place in the world, we attended the opening night party for Spamalot Las Vegas at the Wynn Hotel. (Doesn’t that sound fancy? The party was, but not so much the 9 months we lived there.) Rumor had it, somewhere in the giant ballroom lurked none other than Slash.
‘Oooooo, we should find him,’ I laughed to Michael, ‘it might be our chance to find out if he really knows Terry Donnelly.’
It didn’t happen.
As the evening drew to a close, Michael and I began the three mile walk back to our hotel room. There, in the distance, waaaaaaaaay out in front of us, drifted the tell-tale top hat of Mr. Slash himself. I quickened my step. When we arrived at the elevator banks, Slash and his wife had just stepped into the first car. As the elevator doors slid shut I thought, ‘Uggg…we missed our chance!!!’
But then a miracle happened. Slash held the doors for us. What a gentleman.
We slipped into the elevator and my brain lost its ability to form sentences. Here was our chance, it was just the four of us in here. Just us, yet I had no voice, I couldn’t do it. I turned to Michael with a look that said, ‘Help, toss me a life raft! Say something! Anything!’ He did no such thing. Instead we both stood in that elevator as the same thoughts ran through our heads and the same goofy, demented smiles sat on our faces.
We must have looked like a couple of lunatics.
The elevator reached our floor and I stepped out, thoroughly disappointed in our future as a united front. If Michael and I couldn’t handle this together, what could we handle? Now we would never know if Terry was a big liar pants or not.
Slash and his wife stepped out onto our floor too (!!!). We could still do it, there was still hope. They walked slowly behind us and I could feel my heart beat in my chest. Come on missy, just turn around and ask him, just do it for crying out loud. Just as I mustered up the nerve, we hit a T junction. Slash went to the right as we turned to the left.
Crestfallen, I admitted defeat when I heard a soft voice say, ‘Slash. No, come on. Our room is this way.’
Slash’s wife actually calls him Slash.
Clearly the stars had aligned now. Michael shot me a look as if to say, ‘Don’t you dare bother him,’ but it was too late. When the powers that be give you not one, not two, but THREE opportunities to ask Slash a question you had better do it.
‘Um, excuse me?’ squeaked out Mickey Mouse, who apparently had replaced my adult voice, ‘I’m sorry to bother you.’
Slash honestly looked like he was going to punch me. In fact, he’d probably turned the wrong way at the T junction on purpose just to get away from our creepy moon faces. Before he could call security I blurted out, ‘Do you know Terry Donnelly?’
He stopped for a second. Then his whole disposition changed. His face melted into a big, slashy smile.
‘Yeah, I know Terry.’
Michael jumped in at this point, he explained the TV, how we thought he must be lying, etc., etc.
His wife interrupted, ‘Who’s Terry Donnelly?’
Slash replied, ‘You know, Jack’s friend. The one who always says…’
At this point he reached his hand up to cover the imaginary hole in his throat and in his best masculine Marge Simpson voice said, ‘Hey Slash, what’s going on dude?’
Until the birth of my son, this may have been the single greatest moment of my life.
For the full post from 2011 click—>here.