Me and Billy

I took top billing on this one…Billie took top Billie.

I discovered my good friend Billy Lieberman was in Hollywood working as a producer. We were good friends for a lot of years and I had mixed feelings about talking about this largely because the relationship ended badly. This relationship kicked up a lot of feelings for me while I decided what I wanted to do with it. There were two choices talk about Billie or not talk about him. Talking about Billie could be good, bad or indifferent. Not talking about Billie could be only one thing, not good. It’s the same concept as publicity; there’s no such thing as bad publicity. The most hostile thing I could do would be to not post anything.  the issue was we had a good relationship for many years which finally broke down and ended badly.

Billie was way ahead of his time for our humble neighborhood and he was a pretty cool guy, but not too many people understood that. We went to the same Hebrew School and same grade school. He must have moved into the neighborhood in grade school. We decided after meeting to get together to hang out. He asked me though I was thinking about how we could get together to hang. We hung out at his house. His mom was pretty nice, kind of a generic mom though once she complained that we left the bathroom sink dirty, “You left all black in my sink!” Billy agreed, “Yeah, we did leave it dirty.” This befuddled me as we diligently washed up. My mom would have been happy with this. I think I also used the guest towels which I’d never heard of such a thing. We didn’t have guest towels, I’d never heard of them. We both had really humble homes and guest towels was an upgrade that didn’t make much sense. Put other than this she was really nice.

His dad was kind of “high-strung” which told me he probably worked for Disney or something similar in hind-site. I’ve actually never met any more high strung people than Disney employees. He came home once early and was screaming about someone eating all the “Bac-O’s”. We never had Bac-O’s in my house. I think I did taste them there, they were good. I think he was on a tight budget.

Billy had a little sister who was really cute but like most of us kind of alone and always stopping in to visit and flying out like a wisp of air.

I didn’t know that Billie was gay. As a matter of fact I didn’t know that anyone was gay. I’d never heard of being gay and had a hard understanding it. When I talked to my brother about it he mentioned something about sword fighting but that was as far as it went.

Billie had an amazing voice and loved music especially musicals. On one occasion we went to the record story and he bought one album and one single. You know what they were? The single was, “The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde” and the album…was Julie Andrews in, “Star!”

Now Billie would do an interesting thing when he bought a record: He’d play it, listen diligently, then play it again…and again…and again…and again!!! “I’m Burlington Burtie I rise at 6:30 then Buckingham Palace at eight….and so on.

We were friends for years and I think he would feel me out to see if I was gay or more likely to see if I even knew what gay was.

Billy moved out of Bensonhurst to a neighborhood closer to Ocean Parkway maybe closer to Ave I or J, a nice area but something terrible happened soon after he left. We were leaving Hebrew School, I was walking ahead with another friend when I turned around to see Billy being pummeled by one of the kids neither of us associated with, kind of a rough neck. To this day I have never seen anyone take a worse beating than Billy did that day. This kid held the back of Billy’s head and repeated punched Billy in the face, rapidly over and over while Billy attempted to cover his face. The kid attempted pull his hands away but it looked like Billy had become paralyzed and could do nothing but protect his face while this kid attempted to beat him to death. I think one or two of the teachers broke it up. We got Billy and I asked him what happened. He said all he did was wave to the kid after school and he was waiting for Billy after school. The story doesn’t make much sense unless you’re from Brooklyn where this kind of stuff went on all the time.

I suspect in hindsight Billy either sent him a love note or told him he liked him and the guy wanted nothing to do with him in the worst way. I guess Billy liked bad boys.

My mom patched him up with a nice frozen steak to his face, Billy took a pretty bad beating. Billy went home where his parents called the kid’s parents and got together. The kids parents agreed to pay all of Billly’s medical bills.

When I went to Billy’s new apartment his father asked me why I didn’t help Billy. I told him I was too far away to intervene. Which was partially true but in reality I really didn’t want to get in the middle of this. It would be another year until I learned some karate and at the time we mostly did a lot of running when confronted. This would change later on.

I think, Billy and his dad, especially his dad, needed someone to blame other than the bully or themselves. I remember on only one occasion his dad being nice to me or frankly anyone else. Except recently where Bily and his dad found out about me and were happy and sweet as sugar to me which tells me there’s an element of opportunism here but still I decided to post this. Why? In three words…”The Sterile Cuckoo.”

Billy and I went to a lot of films and I saw some things I never would have seen, “The Sterile Cuckoo” is one of those films. When I turned up in Ron and Cheryl’s basement I managed to call Ron by two of his very personal nicknames, the first one I can’t remember. The second one was, “Pookie”. And while I can’t remember exactly what went on, I think Paige intervened and said that’s what mom called Dad I remember thinking, “Pookie? Sterile Cuckoo?” Billy and I went to see Sterile Cuckoo and a bunch of other interesting films.

Now me, Billie, and my friend Louis were sitting one day and Louis said, “I want to be  a baseball player, they make 60 thousand a year. I chimed in and said I want to be a doctor; they make 80 thousand a year. Of course larger than life Billy said, I want to be a movie director. “What do they make a year Bille, I asked?” He said 2-3 million a year. Well Billy from what I understand produces film, I true to form became a doctor, and Louis…he became a dentist.

 

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