Waldo Mark would house sit and take care of the pets of members of the Grateful Dead organization while they were out on tour. Buddy Cage, the pedal steel guitar player for the New Riders of the Purple Sage, headed out on a tour with the Dead. While he was gone, Buddy’s wife bought a small dog. Buddy came back from the tour and was angry about the purchase; he hated small dogs. The new dog had not been named yet.
Just before Buddy headed out on the next tour, Mark went over to Buddy’s house to get instructions for taking care of the dog. In the kitchen, the dog looked up at Buddy. Still disappointed with the purchase of the small dog, Buddy looked down at the dog and said, “you’re useless”. That instantly became the dog’s name, ... ‘Useless’.
The Waldos would take the dog for a walk. Some lady said, “your dog is so cute, what do you call him? And we’d answer... “Oh him? He’s Useless!.”
Teacher Sorrelle Energy Finger
One of our teachers at San Rafael HS was Mrs. Sorrelle, an English and journalism teacher. In her thirties, she wore some thick glasses and often wore hippy-style granny dresses... possibly influenced by the counterculture styles of the 60’s and 70’s.
Both Waldo Mark and Waldo Steve separately had her for different classes at different times during the day, but each independently observed some common and unique behavior out of her.
Kids would not shut up in class and wouldn’t follow her instructions, and she seemed unable to control them. At times she would get so frustrated, and all that she could do was blurt out to the class, “You guys are a ripoff of my energy!!!”
When she would say the phrase she would hold up her index finger in front of her so that you could see the whole finger from left to right. And she would bend the finger tip down, with the bend at the joint closest to the tip.
The rest of the finger from the joint near the tip, all the way back to the knuckle remained perfectly straight. (This she was able to do by putting her thumb underneath the middle section of the index finger, and bending the tip downward.)
Either she didn’t know what she was doing and it was some personal quirk. Or, we surmised it could be some finger-digital representation of disrupted personal or cosmic energy. Whatever it was, we found it hilarious and had to mimic it. At any time and for no particular reason, any one Waldo might turn to the other Waldos, hold up his index finger and bend it downward from the last joint near the tip, and declare, “You guys are a ripoff of my energy.”
Wherever and whenever the Waldos could get their hands on orange (safety or construction) traffic cones there was an opportunity. We would redirect automobile traffic or pedestrian traffic to bizarre places, weird objects, or confusing dead ends. For the Waldos, it was as much about the journey as the destination:
Any other teens that might ever do the same thing would laugh at the end result and the victim’s reaction. With the Waldos, the humor was not all about the end result, but rather about the ‘concept’ that people WILL OBEY orange cones. People don’t have to know who put them there or why they were put there, or whether they are official or not. People will just blindly obey them,...(which was funny enough).
Accounting Lessons While High
One Waldo was enlightened with new knowledge from his accounting class. After learning about FIFO first-in-first-out inventory systems, he understood that he could get fresher milk at the supermarket by reaching for the milk cartons at the back of the refrigerator shelf. One day all of the Waldos walked into a supermarket and the Waldo with the accounting knowledge instructed the other Waldos to focus on the freshness dates ... and cleverly beat the system by reaching to the back of the milk shelf for a carton of milk. The Waldos did so. Back in the car they opened up the cartons and started drinking, only to find that they were drinking Half and Half (not milk) — and humbled for being a little too smug with their superior knowledge of accounting.
Piano Bar Victory
The Waldos were wandering around San Francisco’s Union Square District one night...a district of hotels, restaurants, shopping, bars, and tourists. Standing in the doorway of a piano bar, we watched the piano player running his game-contest of Stump the Piano Player. In this game, the piano player challenges customers to name a song that he doesn’t know. If somebody can come up with one that he doesn’t know, then that person gets all the money in the tip jar sitting on top of the piano. The piano player kept bragging about how he would never get beaten by anybody, and that he was some kind of “State champion” at the game.
A dollar short and with an eye on the tip jar full of dollar bills, one Waldo raised his hand and said he “has a song the piano player would not know.” The name of the song was “Ein Keloheinu.”
The piano player was then totally flabbergasted as the contest-winning Waldos walked away with the tip jar proceeds. Unless he was of the Jewish faith, it was unlikely that the piano player would know the song ‘Ein Keloheinu’, ... a closing hymn at synagogues.
As they were walking away, the defeated piano player asked the Waldos for the derivation and meaning of ‘Ein Keloheinu’. The Waldos said that it was “an Irish song”, and that it means, “Crab Cocktail”.... “a song to sing the praises of crab cocktails.”
Emergency Room Finale
Late at night going into early morning, after various adventures, the Waldos did not want to end their evening and just go home. Sometimes, the very last stop of the evening was the check-in/waiting room for the emergency room at Marin General Hospital. If a situation wasn’t too serious, we would amuse and crack up the patients by joking about, or even wildly overreacting to, their injuries. The Waldos usually had them in stitches before they would get their stitches.