Having read an ancient post from Magazine Man, I have taken to thinking about old friends. That went from wondering what they are up to now to wondering why we were ever friends in the first place. I don’t mean that to be facetious; I really wonder how we ever ended up as friends at all.
My first “best friend” was a kid named Dean. We didn’t become friends because we necessarily liked each other (though it turns out that we did), but more out of convenience. He was the kid nearest my age on the block. In the world of a child under the age of about, say 35 (that is what you think as a child), you really have to get close to those of the same age that live nearby. Neither of us had yet entered school, which meant that we had lots of time to play around out in the yard. Of course his yard was probably no bigger than the room I am sitting in (though well manicured), so most of the play went on in my yard, but with his toys, as he always had the very best, newest toys on the market. My yard might have had the wonderful little creek running through the back (come to think of it that might have just been a broken water line at the neighbor’s house), a wonderful dirt hill, a huge rock that I was never able to move, yes it was the ultimate playground, but I didn’t have the toys.
We played together damn near every day for at least a year (that being the year that my middle brother had to ship away to school day by day, leaving me alone) and it was a hell of a lot of fun. No offense meant to Dean’s yard, but it is hard to really have fun with action figures if there is not the threat of drowning in the vast river (broken water pipe?), being stuck alone in the middle of the desert (sandy area around the telephone pole where nothing seems to grow), that huge rock (which I am pretty sure was just a piece of bedrock, since there was an actual river only a hundred or so yards away), which sometimes served as a lunar base for action figures, sometimes served as a free zone while playing tag (if someone got a bit too winded they were safe from being tagged while touching it). In addition to that, my yard also offered access to the railroad tracks (less than 100 feet from the house, and with no fence), and a sewer access panel (manhole cover) within inches of the aforementioned ‘desert’.
It is a wonder either of us survived, the same could be said of my brothers.
Dean and I got along pretty good. He had the toys, I had the adventurous back yard. Yet there comes a point when you are playing ‘transformers’ (which he can transform in about 1.2 seconds, while it takes me a good ten minutes and the instruction manual to do the same) that I realize he has me totally out-skilled. Time to play the territory rule… At my house time will stop while transformers, um, well, transform. That was my first (and probably biggest) fight with Dean. He thought that rule was crap. He noted that the entire ‘Transformer’ franchise was based on one team always winning, and that if they all transformed at the same speed it would take away most of the drama ( no, he didn’t actually say it quite that way, his quote was something more similar to “If I let you win one then would it be fair?”). I threw him straight out of my yard! After all, it is not about playing the game, it is all about who wins and loses.
Dean and I were not exactly in constant contact for the next several years. That was due to my parents divorcing though, I didn’t have the luxury of the internet at the time and I had moved a good ten or twelve miles away from him (practically to Siberia to my young eyes). It wasn’t until I called him up, completely out of the blue, several years later that we started to hang out again.
Gone were all of the differences, we were now “men on the prowl”. Men, as much of a man as you can be at 12 or 13, on the “prowl”, thus looking for a simple boob feel. We used a roller skating rink as our venue to hunt the prey (by prey I mean beautiful women girls that were around our age). Both of us would go on to score tons of phone numbers, unfortunately, at least in my case, the voice that answered the phone was certainly not the little hottie I was calling for. It was always her father. And the father never, ever, wants phone sex with a young boy (thank god I didn’t happen across Michael Jackson’s number). Their daughter has to be asleep by a certain time, etc.
When I eventually did get a hook up (and by that I am not trying to imply sex, just a real phone number, for a real girl, that I was really skating with), Dean and whatever other friends were with me remarked that the girl was “way out of my league”. Well, it turns out that, on that night, they were all right.
It took me about four years (she actually consoled me after my father died), one promise ring, one engagement ring (which I actually pawned my guitar to buy, at the time it was like giving up a nut. That, the giving up a nut thing, I would do now, in a second, if my wife needed help, ), so I guess it really was just puppy love. Time will tell though (as it always does).
Dean’s mom didn’t exactly agree to me staying at her house, but she didn’t turn away the money (I think I was giving her 50 bucks a week, though it might have been more or less) when I decided that her garage was the perfect place to get ahold of myself…Ego and all…Thing is that there was no insulation in that garage, it was basically just plywood thrown over a stud or two. It was really frickin cold! Yet this is where Dean, Steve and myself spent the better part of the year (Steve was old enough to buy the beer).
Games of quarters would ensue. That is likely why I am writing a blog, as opposed to writing a thesis.
I know that Dean got married and still lives on that same little street. I don’t know what Steve ever did. Here is to hoping that he is alive and well!
If you are Dean or Steve, and you happen to find me, crack that beer open (or soda, yohoo, spritzer, etc.) and remember the days.