The Wise Novelist

Belated RIP to Bob Mahony. One of My Riverdale Heroes.

I really suck as a friend.

Just learned yesterday that a guy I pretty much worshipped in the old neighborhood passed a few years ago without me learning of it.

I’ve known the Mahony family since I was kid. Mike Mahony was my older sister’s age. Maureen – who was gorgeous – was Eddie’s age. Bob Mahony was a few years older than Mike.

I first met Bob and Mike when they taught a martial arts class in Yonkers where Lenny and I (I know, it probably should be Lenny and me, but fuck it) studied in the early 70s. Got our asses kicked on a regular basis, but we learned.

On the dojo floor Bob was a silent killer. But everywhere else he was soft spoken, articulate and just the nicest guy in the world.

I met up with Bob again when we were both older. He had married his lovely wife Lorraine and had two wonderful kids, Justin and Kristen. He was a creative. He could write with the best of us. He worked in PR for a major Electric Company. He was also an adjunct professor in a local college. He was a natural leader.

He started training a group of us again in our late thirties. Same old school approach. No pads, headsets, and mouthpieces were optional. Me and Lenny joined up. Again we got our asses kicked. Broke a few toes and fingers, got a few facial bruises, might have cracked a few ribs. But we learned.

The worst beating I’ve ever taken was the night Bob gave me my brown belt. I thought he was trying to kill me and I fought like I wasn’t going to let that happen. It was like fighting a guy with ten arms, and none of them were pulling their punches. It hurt like hell. I didn’t know he was testing me. When I finally got the upper hand, after a solid half hour of thinking he had lost his mind and desperately trying to escape through the doorway, which he kept blocking, he tapped out, smiled and said, “wear your brown belt next class.” I knew I had earned it.

But Bob also started a small writers group that would meet up in his apartment on Fieldston Road. Another wonderful writer, Chippy Nugent, was a member. Another amazing writer, Tommy Quinn, was part of the group as well. His brother Peter Quinn is in The Writing Irish of New York – I recently managed to sneak my essay into the end of that book.

I was the youngest guy there (last time that happened, I was sitting between God and Methuselah), and I was in awe of these other writers. This was old school as well. We read each other’s work on our own time and sat around his kitchen table talking about it. No bullshit. No ass smoke. And we talked as long as we wanted. Lorraine was a saint to put up with us.

I learned so much from this group.

I learned what it meant to be supported by a writing community.

I learned what it was to be a man.

And Bob was the most supportive of all. He could praise your work without making it feel like he was just being nice or polite. He always read my work carefully, and got all the fine nuances. I always came away from those meetings feeling like I may have had the goods to make it as a writer. That was Bob’s gift.

Bob came to the premiere of Revelations at The Village Gate in 1993.

But like everything else, life gets in the way and the group dissolved. My life became totally focused on my kids and their schools and their sports. I lost touch with Bob, except for the unexpected meeting in a store or in the park. And there was always that warmth, the smile, the softly spoken, supportive words.

This local news story captures Bob’s natural do goodness personality.,66741

So, anyway, the years passed and – yada, yada, yada – I end up in NoCo.

Six months after TWA was published, I tried to contact Bob using old emails and phone numbers, but came up empty. I thought that he might have moved to Florida after he retired.

But when I was writing Finding Jimmy Moran, I decided I was going to incorporate those 1970s martial arts classes into the story, and I also wanted to incorporate Bob and Mike into the friends-as-characters pantheon as well. As FJM was gettng closer to being published, I made a concerted effort to find Bob. But it wasn’t until I was on FB over these past couple of weeks that I found an avenue to track him down. I became friends with Jackie Nugent, the sister-in-law of Chippy Nugent – her husband, Andy, who is also a fine writer, is Chippy’s youngest sibling. I asked Jackie to ask Chippy for Bob’s latest contact.

A few days later, Jackie came back with the devastating news that Bob had passed a few years back.

Jackie gave me Lorraine’s contact information and Lorraine and I spoke for a bit yesterday morning. What a wonderful woman. She seemed more worried about my feelings. Bob knew how to pick ’em.

I wanted to send Lorraine the inscribed set of the Claire books I was saving for Bob. They went out yesterday, inscribed to Lorraine and the kids, Justin and Kristen. Here’s a shot of the whole family.

So Bob, my friend, you have joined all of my other friends who have crossed the veil. You are also one more dead friend who made it into the stories and will get to hang with everyone everytime someone reads those books. I know your pulling for me. That’s who you are.

I hope you are running a dojo up there and that you are kicking all of the rest of the neighborhood’s dead asses just to keep them all in line. Tell them all I said hello.

So, while I really suck as a friend, I did want to say my piece about you, Bob. You were one of my heroes. And I mean it.

See you on the other side – but go easy on me in our next class. If Lenny gets there before me, whip his ass for me, will you?

Anyway, I’m already running late because I had to drop Lisa at the airport this morning.

But I already got my kitty cuddle and rounds done. I’m giving the dreadmill a pass because I have to get the outside chores done.

But I needed to write this.

You fine, five readers find some time to reach out to your friends today.

Don’t be a sucky friend like me.

But no matter what, make today a great one.

3 Responses

  1. You don’t suck as a friend. Through childhood, adulthood, work, parenthood, neighborhood, we make friends. Some are those we hold close to our hearts,(even if they don’t know it) and others are people who are not visible in our lives or hearts in the same way. I have reconnected with women I was very close to in HS. We picked up 30 or 40 years later, and within 10 min. it was if time melted away. We are the same as we were then, but life got in the way….and then it didn’t. It is impossible to be present in the lives of everyone who was important to us at some point. But the fact that Bob’s family reached out to you shows that you were a part of his life as well.

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