What ever happened to Bruce Caruso?
Pay no attention to the great gaping ape in the picture below. I am going to write just as many words as I have to this morning in order to move that fellow down the page, so that he’s not the first thing you see at Mr. Standfast.
Who do you wonder about when you wonder, “What ever happened to . . .”
I wonder about Bruce Caruso.
Bruce was a friend of mine in high school. Not a bosom buddy, not a guy I hung out with all the time, but for a brief while a member of our little click. He lived in the little town of Larksville, Pennsylvania. Let me tell you about Bruce Caruso.
Bruce was a fat, exuberant kid with the longest hair in school. It was sleek and black and down to his belt. His favorite band was Black Sabbath, and Ozzie Osbourne was, in his opinion, the guitar-god. This was 1973, mind you. Back when Ozzie was Iron Man. Bruce used to call me on the phone, every night. He had a phone in his bedroom, rare in those days, and he’d be playing Black Sabbath on his 8-track with the volume turned all the way up, so sometimes I couldn’t even hear Bruce because of Ozzie.
Yes, most of our relationship was on the phone. He’d say, “Bob, you gotta hear this song,” and he’d lay the telephone receiver in front of the speakers. So I’d be subjected to Black Sabbath, whom I detested (I was more of a Crosby, Stills & Nash sort of guy), and Bruce would simply walk away, completely forgetting about me. After a while I’d hang up in frustration, but in those days hanging up the phone would not necessarily break the connection. A half-hour later my mother would pick up the phone to make a call and be greeted with Ozzie’s, “I AM IRON MAN!!!” I can well-remember her none-too-polite response!
Bruce’s father owned the Ace Moving and Storage Company. His house was chock-full of gaudy furniture and lamps, etc., that had been "left behind" by people using his moving and storage services. At least once a week he would fly into a rage and throw Bruce out of the house. “Pack your rags and get out!” was his standard way of putting it. Bruce would laugh about this. He never seemed disturbed by his father’s anger. He seemed to know it was only for a moment, an episode, and would soon pass.
At one point Bruce’s dad decided he was going to build and in-ground swimming pool next to the house. So he hired the back-hoe and had the hole dug, but then he flew into one of his rages over something one of the kids had done or failed to do. “That’s it!” he shouted. “No swimming pool!” So: just a big rectangular hole in the ground right next to the house.
I can tell you more, but you get the picture. Bruce’s family was text-book disfunctional. I smoked my first illegal cigarette with Bruce, sitting on the loading dock of Ace Moving and Storage. I remember walking home and wondering, “Am I high? Is this what being high feels like?”
The last I heard about Bruce was a couple of years after high school. He’d been seen handing out tracts on a street corner in Philadelphia. He was a born-again Christian! It was my friend George who’d run into him there. George was the ultimate anti-Christian cynic. I remember him saying he wasn’t surprised about Bruce. Bruce, he said, was just the type. “People like him always get religion.”
Well, now it’s many years later, and I’ve got religion too! And I wonder where Bruce is, and how he’s doing, and if he's still sweet and exuberant, and if he still loves the Lord.