Have you ever met someone so unusual that their ability to sustain themselves is itself one of the biggest mysteries in your life? Someone whose life seems like it is defined by confusion and always careening towards disaster? And yet somehow these individuals survive without any apparent livelihood and with sources of income as mysterious as the riddle of the universe.
Often, quirkiness, is merely an affectation or a fashion statement. Or perhaps it is an expression of a strain of individualism, but deep down lies a serious, responsible adult with a career. Our friend Jenn (see her story here) is a good example. But other times, the quirkiness runs all way the way through and no matter how deep you dig, the inside is just as offbeat as the outside, perhaps even more so. I know such a person.
During my years as student at NYU and resident of the Brittany dormitory, our room became a nexus of sorts with all manner of people coming and going, a virtual real life TV sitcom like Friends, where apparently no one has a lonely moment and a social life comes with no effort.
Visitors included both students and outsiders. Often, we had no idea how or where these people came from, but for a newcomer to the Jungle, it was a dream come true. Every day was filled with adventure and bristled with excitement. One day we met a college senior, FJB, who we befriended past his graduation. He was truly quirky.
I had lost contact with him and about a year ago he called at my office, saying he had followed my business career. He also told me that he had a TV program that airs weekly on MNN.* I watched the show a number of times, seeing his odd character sneaking out of his weekly shtick.
I met with FJB this summer for the first time in nearly 40 years. I recently proposed the idea to do a story on him and he readily agreed. I met and interviewed him, appropriately in a corridor at MNN.
People love to throw around words like quirky, maverick, iconoclast, oddball or offbeat. Trust me however, that in this case, FJB truly fits the word quirky. How much so? Enough that seminal comedy legend Del Close once commented to him that he would love to do a film involving FJB's unusual character.
Tomorrow you will meet this man, someone virtually unknown but whose comedy writing credits include Saturday Night Live. You will read a story that has never been told anywhere, about a man who has good reason to believe that his character was used in a major motion picture with a title eerily close to his own name. He is a native New Yorker, born and bred. I do so love that, because there's no character like the offbeat New Yorker, where everything is just slightly askew or off kilter, right down to his missing big toe :)
*Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN) is a non-profit organization that broadcasts programming on four public access stations in New York City, located at 537 W. 59th Street. It facilities and equipment free for individuals and groups to produce shows for its network.