Due to my tremendous number of neuroses, I sometimes forget the fortunate aspects of my life. I have a wonderful marriage with my wife Charger Gal, an incredible outlet for unconditional affection from my dog B Is Love and, as Richard Starkey once sang, I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends. NBA legend Bill Russell once said “I have many acquaintances. I have few friends.” Your agreement with that statement depends upon how you define each. I prefer to think I have many friends with varying degrees of closeness. This is mostly because being my friend is a lot like picking up VD; I never go away. But no matter how you define it, we all have the people that we are closest to. Our brothers and sisters in arms, our two in the morning phone call. These are mine.
The first member of this elite group is my younger brother, Excrement. I bequeath him this alias not due to any simmering hostilities but rather because that description, in its far more common vernacular, represents his favorite word. He has the capacity to use it in all parts of speech: noun, verb, pronoun, adverb, adjective, interjection, preposition, dangling participle. He even utilized it when he proposed in front of a group of friends and family. Myself, I had the audacity to get down on a knee and ask Charger Gal to spend her life with me. Granted I followed that gesture by taking the wrong hand and then attempting to put the ring on the wrong finger, but dammit, I didn’t swear!
The best part about Excrement is that our bond is not beholden to our blood ties. I just like the guy. Charger Gal and I watch The Amazing Race religiously and always determine how we would do and who would have to perform what challenge. In reality, I know that Excrement and I would form a team that would blow that race away and lead us to immense popularity at TAR Conventions the world over. And we would utter the more common word for Excrement. A LOT.
Next up is Only Child. Only Child is the junior member of this group, which means he’s been around for 10 years. He is smart, articulate and has an innate ability to blow up a bathroom, and then proclaim each time this occurs that whatever he ate didn’t agree with him. I can’t give him too much grief about it; one time in his single days, I showed up to an event at his place with a Carl’s Jr. Double Western Cheeseburger in one hand and a Coffee Bean Large Mocha Ice Blended in the other (Suck it Starbucks). The results were not pleasant for any of us. And while I could regale you with stories like this about all of these men, this concludes the scatological humor for this piece.
Only Child is an exceptional listener. One time in Vegas, I was a little too free with my money in an establishment frequented by women with fetishes for glitter, fruity perfume, and excessive sized glowing white heels. The next morning he listened patiently to my tragic tale of woe and when I finished stated “I’m not going to give you any grief because you’ve already beat yourself up enough.” That, my dear readers, is having a free shot at your disposal and choosing to take the high road. I’d like to think I have that capability myself. Who am I kidding? Have you read this blog?
My oldest friend is Ponyboy. I’ve known him longer than even Excrement, and he’s 30. He is named such for two reasons. One, he has maintained his 80’s heavy metal long hair for the better part of 25 years, thus requiring it to be put in a ponytail anytime he wears a baseball cap, which is often. The other reason stems from one of the few times Ponyboy cut his luxurious WWE wrestler style locks. On most occasions where this momentous buzz occurs, Ponyboy is a splitting image of his High School senior photo, which I personally think doubles as his Dorian Grayesque portrait. I mean, the guy is the oldest member of this motley crew and can still look like he’s 18 on command. It also, however, lead to jokes referencing him as "The Junior Senator from the state of California". It’s not the best thing for a soft hearted hard rocker to absorb political comparisons so Ponyboy dyed his hair blonde. Yep, he looked just like C. Thomas Howell in The Outsiders and as a result, we still ask him on occasion to tell Dally to watch the sunset and Stay Gold.
Ponyboy is a quiet guy. If you meet him and get more than a few sentences out of him, you have a future in motivational speaking. It’s nothing personal; it’s just his way. But let me tell you something about quiet people, they see EVERYTHING. Whenever you go to a party and you’ve knocked back a few too many or gotten in an unexpected fight with your significant other, search out the quiet guy the next day. They’ll give you a rundown of all party related mini dramas in greater detail than Fox News after a Democratic faux paus. One time I was at a party and ended up playing cards all night with these people I had just met. I did pretty well for myself, but as the game broke I realized I was alone, far from home, and without a friend in the room. At that moment, the doorbell rang and there was Ponyboy. He came in and snatched me away like Judd Nelson saving Demi Moore from the gang bang in St. Elmo’s Fire. That’s why I always pay for parking and beers when I get a bug up my ass to relive my own 80’s hard rock heyday.
Last, but never least, is my best friend…. a six foot, two hundred seventy pound black man with a booming laugh and lazy disposition…Cowboy Jelly. He’s a massive Dallas Cowboys fan….but I forgive people for their indiscretions so I love him anyway. The Jelly moniker stems from his complete and total lack of spine. JA Adande once said about LA Laker and Kardashian husband Lamar Odom: “Lamar likes to be liked.” Cowboy Jelly desperately likes to be liked. When he turned 40 (something he’d been dreading since he was 28), he swore up and down that the hired DJ would only play 80’s tunes and keep the volume down. When I drove toward his house, I heard both the thumping beats of Diddy’s “Good Mornin’” and rabid cheers of co-workers 10-15 years his junior from two blocks away. The need to be liked may at times be to his detriment, but it also gives him a heart that would morph The Grinch’s after his excursion with the Who’s.
Cowboy Jelly and I are each other’s photo negative, capable of finishing each other’s sentences and reading one another’s thoughts with a look or a nod. We share a desire for mischievous behavior; when I married Charger Gal and Cowboy Jelly finished his best man speech, we kissed Bruce Springsteen-Clarence Clemons style so as to aggravate the racists and homophobes in the room. (You’ve gotta be fair when doling out subtle F-U’s to ignorance.) We can rip each other until the surrounding world stops in the hopes of a brutal engagement of fisticuffs, and then share a hearty laugh and warm embrace that leaves those bloodthirsty passers by in a state of eternal confusion. He is the only person besides Charger Gal who can make me belly laugh and I can talk to him on the phone for an extended period of time about anything and everything and still feel like the conversation was never long enough. I love him as much as I love to write; I can bestow no higher compliment to a human being.
They say you choose your friends, but what’s often overlooked is that they have to choose you too. Maybe that’s what Bill Russell was getting at in his acquaintance/friend theory. These guys chose me, just like the people in your life you’d describe with a mix of gentle jesting and great affection chose you. If I may be so bold, don’t let a day go by where you fail to thank your creator of choice for them.
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