Some people are so iconic that they only need one name. Like Madonna, Sting or Bono!
And Stuie! Just, Stuie!
There are few men in this world that I love more than Stuie! For starters, I love all the people who knew me when I had hair.
They bear witness!
But anyone who has been around that long is more than just an interloper. Stuie is my paint-soulmate! My perfect match!
Stuie is a man with a plan: always! In 1996, we went to Atlanta to support the Yankees in their World Series quest (check out the chubby-me below). We didn't have tickets and this was decades before StubHub! But we had Stuie and he had a plan!
I wasn't confident. Stuie's plan started with meeting a guy named "Fat Jerry"; in a parking lot somewhere in downtown Atlanta. You're always lifting up some rope or moving around some barrier when you're with Stuie.
Eventually though, you almost always get in.
Stuie still owes me a night in the audience at SNL which he promised me in 1994 or so. I give him credit though, he got us right to the backstage door before we got turned away!
"But I know a guy!"
At around the time of that picture below, Stuie was bragging about the vast riches he was making buying and selling boxes of baseball cards. Stuie often brags about his "side hustles": baseball cards, horses, Beanie Babies! He’d often ask me to “invest” with him and I always declined. I never believed a piece of cardboard which could legally be printed in unlimited quantities could ever be worth anything.
But In a weak moment, Stuie convinced me to toss him a grand and buy some cardboard pictures: baseball cards today....bars of gold tomorrow! “It’s an investment!“ That might have been a stretch, but I bought some baseball cards with him anyway!
It wouldn’t be a funny story if it ended up doubling my money...and this is a funny story!
About a month after we bought them, some big baseball-card fraud was reported in the New York newspapers! In the war of the pulps, newsprint struck an early blow and cardboard was never able to recover. We were sunk.
Our bars of gold were baseball cards again!
Last time I saw a grand disappear that fast I was at the Buckeyes swag store on game day with Guy and Buck Wheat!
Why all the talk about Stuie? Because the paint is strong in our families!
I often tell you all about my deep paint-business roots. About how so many of my friends and family are involved in the paint business. Stuie is Lipton family, and paint royalty!
Stuie’s father Artie had been a customer in my father’s store since 1968. Aquarius Painting of THE Bronx, NY was founded around 1940 by Stuie’s grandfather Morris. Stuie joined his father as a painting contractor in 1985. In 1988 I met Stuie when I joined the counter crew at Tremont Paint.
We became friends; immediately. And 30 years later we are still thick as compound. If you want to know if Stuie is the type of person who will help a friend who calls with trouble at 3 AM, call him at 3 AM. I have!
I remember our father’s not wanting us to be friends because it may affect the business relationship. I can’t say we ever understood their reasoning. And obviously we didn’t give a shit since we are still friends 30 years later.
It was easy to become friends with Stuie. He came into my store for paint every day (for decades) telling jokes and tales. Covered in Yankee swag!
A paint geek in a Yankee jersey? It was love at first sight! Fair to say Match.com could not have done it any better than the paint-gods! And not just a Yankee fan, a true fanatic! I had to catch Stuie from hitting the ground once when he passed out from excitement at a Yankee World Series game!
About five years ago, Stuie’s son Eric got in on the act! Eric, worked for me as a store manager for a number of years. We needed help at the time and he wanted to see if the paint business could offer him a career like it had his father, grandfather and great-grandfather. Maybe take my stores when I was ready to go? It worked out fabulously! Even though he wasn’t interested in the paint career.
I know I just took you on a long journey through our relationship. Sorry, you can’t do Stuie short.
But..... (they say everything before the “but” is bullshit)!
I hate Stuie in September and October! Though a die-hard Yankee fan, he is NEVER confident and it drives me nuts!
Stuie is a fan who prays. “Please Lord let the pitching hold up!” “Dear God THROW A STRIKE!”
I’m not much for mixing my baseball and my praying. I’m the type of fan who always believes everything is ok! “THE Yankees didn’t win 100+ games by accident.” is more my thinking.
This time of year that difference in perspective makes Stuie a noodge (that’s a Yiddish word meaning "pain in the ass". No story of Stuie’s life would complete without at least one word in Yiddish).
Thank God we agree that eggshell is the better choice for interior walls than semi-gloss. Because I couldn’t survive his year-round texts: “Dude, I pray this semi holds up-I don't think it has the scrubs!”
At least the baseball postseason is only two months a year!
I am thinking a lot about my paint friends and family of late. And the people like Stuie who for the last 31+ years make up that life. I am getting very close to the end of my time as an independent paint retailer: maybe just a few weeks left now! I’m so excited for the path I’m on, but I do feel like I’m leaving something behind.
Because I am.
As I’m going through these last few weeks owning Tremont Paint, I may put up more than one blog per week. I’ve got a lot on my mind at the moment and I hope you enjoy the extra few posts. As I've shared with you about my transition, I’ve gotten so many emails and texts and from dealers, friends and random followers sharing similar paint stories. Please keep them coming! I can't ALWAYS be the one talking in this relationship!