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One day a girlfriend of mine - the president of the Student Council - asked if I would be willing to pick up Andy Kaufman, his manager and his manager's wife, at the airport on behalf of our college. Mind you, I was a full-time college student at the time. I didn't have a TV in my room and therefore wasn't a big fan of "Taxi." I knew Andy was on "Saturday Night Live" once or twice but that was the extent of my knowledge of him. So I guess you could say I really didn't know what I was getting myself into.
I dropped Andy and his crew off at the local Ramada Inn. About an hour before the show I went back to the hotel, picked them up and brought them over to the college for the show. AND WHAT A SHOW IT WAS!!
Anyway, after the show I drove Andy and Company back to the hotel. I was invited to come up to Andy's room. When I got there he had a fully stocked bar, baskets of fruit and a few young ladies hanging out in the hallway trying to get in to see him. Around midnight Andy's manager (actually it was Andy's best friend, Bob Zmuda) pulled me aside and handed me 20 dollars. He said Andy sleeps all day when he's on the road so to him it was only about 5:00 P.M. (according to his body clock). He asked me if I would be willing to take Andy out for dinner (like he was a little kid), I said sure. Andy and I then took the school van back to campus where I picked up my car. We probably went to 2 or 3 Bob's Big Boy-type restaurants before we found one that prepared fried-fish the way Andy liked it. So there I sat sipping my Coke as Andy sat eating his fish and sipping a chocolate shake. All seemed fine until the waitress (who didn't recognize Andy) asked how his meal was. Andy was drinking his shake at the time and without stopping to put the shake down he turned his head and tried to say something like, "just great" but instead when he spoke his chocolate shake spit up onto the waitress's white uniform. Needless to say this caused quite a commotion. I jumped up and tried to console her but she was fit to be tied until I pulled her aside and told her who Andy was. Then she recognized him and laughter replaced the tension in the air.
I then rushed Andy through his meal and out the door. I wanted to bring Andy back to his hotel but he wanted to go to a party. I'm thinking, it's Thursday night in Central PA., where am I going to find a party? Then I remembered something about a party at a school just over the Suscauhanna River. It's a big "suitcase school" and most of their frats have Thursday night parties. So off we went on a 30-minute drive to an all-night party. During the drive Andy entertained himself with the contents of my glove compartment. (It's important to note that the car I was driving had a manual transmission.) I had my hand on the knob of the stickshift when all of a sudden I felt cold steel on my wrist and heard "click - click." Andy had found the Campus Security handcuffs I kept in my glove box and we were now handcuffed together!
I told Andy that the key was back in my off-campus apartment and I was turning around to go get them. Andy pleaded with me not to go back and to continue on to the party. He promised me he would be good.
The next thing I know, I'm standing in the middle of a frat party around 2:00 A.M. handcuffed to Andy Kaufman as he cruised every babe at the party. Andy and I danced with several young ladies throughout the evening. Andy got quite friendly with one young lady. I guess I did too but I wasn't in control of that side of my body any longer. I sat on the couch next to them trying to act cool and carry on a conversation with the young lady to my left while my right hand was having the time of its life.
I kinda had an angel on my left shoulder and a devil on my right shoulder.
You know, I think I'm gonna wait and save this next part for Bill Zehme. He's going to use it in his Kaufman biography, "Lost in the Funhouse." I mean, come on, this is just a Web site not a book. Who really surfs the Internet and stops to read The Andy Kaufman Home Page" anyway? Yeah, I think I'll save this next part for Bill. Folks will have to read his book to get the real scoop. Sorry, Brian.
(Editor's Note: For the complete story go to pages 248-249 of "Lost in the Funhouse.")
Anyway, I finally drove Andy back to his hotel. He got out of the car and walked over to shake my hand and I said "Andy it's been real." Andy said, "Terry, you've been a real sport partner," patted my wrist and walked off.
So to sum it all up: In one night I watched Andy rock the house, I wined and dined him, danced the night away with him, took in some literary culture at the checkout stand, I laughed, loved (my right hand that is) and cried with Andy (the handcuffs were killing us). We spent some intimate moments over breakfast and walked hand in hand into the sunrise (up the steps to my apartment at dawn).
I didn't really know Andy until then, and to tell you the truth I really didn't see Andy at all that night. Just a jumbled collection of characters that we called: Andy Kaufman.
So Andy here's to you, the Man on the Moon. You've been a real sport partner. I miss you.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Andy Kaufman Timeline
The Night Andy Hosted "Fridays"
Andy's Last Days
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