The last time I traveled with my boyhood friends it was 1996. Paradise Island. I was a hundred pounds heavier and in the throes of my downward spiral through alcoholism. We had fun, the eight of us, but I can only remember the headlines.
Thirteen years have passed and the boys are the same, but the angle has changed.
I try now to see things (and myself) as they are, and not as I pretend they be. This includes the guys. That having been said, even in today’s focus, I would take a bullet for any of them. I know they feel the same.
Arthur has a heart of gold, and still talks to himself. With love he complains about non-issues of life without commercial interruption. (My father would say he is “Crying with a loaf of bread under each arm”). Bob is always “on.” Perpetual motion. If they ever produce a reality show called “Bring Back The Sixties” Bob will host it.
Stuart, alas, is Stuart. He continues to stir the pot, trying to aggravate Snyder.
“What’s wrong with you?” exclaimed The Nazi at dinner Thursday. “I thought you guys were best friends!” Arthur just doesn’t “get” Stuart. His game is “agitate and aggravate” …and when Bob gets mad enough to lose it, then Stuart laughs.
With Stuart, it’s all about keeping the ball in the air.
Mark missed the Club Med Trip. He added a special blend to the weekend. A Columbus resident, his life may have been lengthened by sustained absence from Cleveland. I don’t think he appreciates the warmth behind the constant bickering of some of the guys. Mark may be too reality-based. The trip featured several heated discussions between Snyder and Erv about matters that have already been settled, like where we should be staying in Vegas, or whether Arthur should be on Facebook. He is the voice of reason in debates where reason is a handicap. By the way, Stuart chimed in for ten minutes demanding that Arthur stay off the social network.
“It can’t help you. It can only hurt you, “Fenton railed. On and on.
Twenty minutes later the argument came to a screeching halt when we noted that Stuart himself was on Facebook. (Agitate and aggravate).
We convened in glorious AutumnOfOurYears splendor, talking more about family than ambition, and (unfortunately), more about ailments than women.
Editor’s note: Arthur’s legs always cramp. Mark “prays for a colonoscopy.” Stuart avoids doctors, advising us that if you look for something, you will find it.
So there we were…. Bob, at least, remained on course, ever providing his guru mentality at the pool. It was he that noted that just sixty feet away some young thing was spraying tanning lotion on the same leg twice because “she definitely wants to put on a show for us!” And it was Bob that insisted we wear sunglasses at the pool, lest people think we are staring.
Who knew? Certainly not me…not in ’67. Not now. Am I still a fat Opie?
I love Bob to death, but each of us got down on our knees and thanked The Lord that he has finally hung up his Speedos. Bob around the Mirage pool looked like Gene Wilder doing a remake of Miami Vice. Still Sonny Crockett. My favorite moments with Bob, though, remain when we are one-on-one. Here he opens up, shares, and is one of the most sensitive men I have ever met. Truth be known, he was the glue to the weekend, and the straw that stirred the drink.

Arthur has become more philosophical and apparently is now a vociferous reader. More than once I caught him looking up from his book, deep in thought. He is trying to carve out more time to see his east coast sisters, and seems to fret as he pictures the sands of life’s hourglass. I must add that he was also the perfect roommate, and a quick-study. Fact is I taught him how to fall asleep with both the lights and the TV on.
Stuart, though, was my constant. Like the wondrous, methodical repetition of a beating heart. The same rhythm after all these years. Early to bed, early to rise. Steady.
I am in flight now, returning to the real world. I am enriched by a still deeper perception of the boys that turned into men. None of us is much different, but the good news is that none of us is quite the same
Growth is a double-edged sword. I love my friends.


2 Responses to “BOTH SIDES NOW”

  1. Wether you have 2 loaves of bread or just crumbs hoenesty and kindness are or is there for all of us to achieve. All of which leads to love which should lead us through life no matter how old we get.

  2. Aunt Helen says:

    Please have your web-site administrator install spell-check capabilities for your friends to utilize.

    Have a good one.
    Thank you very much.

Leave a Reply