Pour a few beers into him, and the Teahead’s childhood friend Buddy could unwind and appear somewhat normal. Unlike the rest of the folkies Buddy, got up early every morning, put on a suit, and went to law school. We regularly trotted Buddy out whenever the landlord showed up, the police arrived, or bill collectors descended on us. Buddy would trot out words like avouch, obtrude, jurisdiction, or nolo contendere. Then, after mentioning a few cases and precedents, the offending party would go away looking confused.

But Buddy needed us as well; several of our female friends had described Buddy as a turkey, a loser, or most cutting from Cheryl, “A sweet little boy in need of mama.”

Worried that our lucky charm would forever become relegated to a permanent state of purity, we acknowledged that dressing him in jeans and a T-shirt was not enough to overcome his lack of “cool” and negative sense of sex appeal. Then there was his inability to say more than three consecutive words to a woman. 

We had started with toning down his wardrobe, so it was more grunge-oriented. But, unfortunately, that did not work. So then we taught him to dance. As a party comedy routine, his jerky renditions of popular steps, in off-beat tempos, did have a comedic appeal. So, at last, we shrugged and let nature take its course.

Buddy now could arrive at a party, look good, and do a few dance steps. We had taught him some replacement phrases as ice breakers. But the rest, we reluctantly admitted, was up to him.

That was where it rested for several months until Judy showed up with her cousin visiting from Toronto. Colleen was a philosophy grad student. In a side comment, Judy mentioned that Colleen spoke a version of academic English only decipherable by grad students in obtuse specialties. 

The light bulbs went on, and two of us hurried to the Folkie Palace to fetch Buddy before he could change out of his suit and tie. We sat him down in front of Colleen, and while the rest of us drank cheap beer, we watched as the two worked on piecing together bits of common vocabulary and meaning.

A relationship bloomed that summer. They could be seen holding hands on the Boston Common deep in conversations that seemed to be in English but defied easy understanding; in his lap a dictionary of philosophy and in hers one of legal terms. It wasn’t an easy relationship. Regularly they’d arrive at the Harvard Gardens perplexed by something very mundane like what going “dutch” meant.

Within a few years, they married and published a magnum opus on the boundaries of the law, morality, and socio-cultural legal constructs. 

At six inches thick, the book provided lethal projectiles in marital disputes that neither the law nor philosophy could resolve.


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