Dear Mark,

Remember how our parents would preach “time flies”? I never got it back then. Now sometimes, and clearly at moments like this, it seems there’s never enough…time.

Knowing your birthday approached, I’d been thinking perhaps we’d get together when I was in town recently. It didn’t happen, as you know, and even my cemetery stop on what used to be called Old Refugee Road was missed. Still, I figure if my father could survive without my presence (like the word choice?), so could my lifelong friend.

Anyway, I was thinking about you on your recent birthday. Two scenes stood out—one back from high school (relatively trivial), and the other of recent vintage.

Did you know that you were the first person to ever fix me up on a date?  Not Fenton. Not “Groovy”. ‘Twas you! Must have been 11th grade or so ‘cause I was already driving. You were seeing a Sherry K —she lived either on East Antisdale or Grosvenor (in the portion of South Euclid that went to Heights). Anyway, she had this friend—-a nice, somewhat nebbishy girl—the perfect match for a high school me. I mention this so in the event you appear on a quiz show you can spit out the Final Jeopardy answer.

The other memory, distinct in my mind, is from Vegas. We were breakfasting poolside a day into our mini-reunion…you and Bobby were still debating which was the right hotel to stay at…and during a lull in the action you leaned my way:

“Why were you always so insecure?” came your question.

It was a curious question, but such a tender inquiry that I never forgot it. It was the kind of thing only a friend of fifty-some years might ask. I wasn’t embarrassed at all yet frankly, it raised a question in my mind. Did you know
that I’d wondered the same about you? Did you sense (as I have over time), that we were but two sides of the same coin?

Sure, I was on the quiet side and you: less so. And yes, I lived on Bayard and you couldn’t hear me, but on a clear day day… from your house on Linnell I sure heard you.

And the decades dribbled by. When you drove me ‘round Columbus just two years back it was you that had mellowed and me that was heard. With reverence you spoke of your new home town.

I don’t know, Erv, why I was unsettled back then. Years fly by and more and more I see the strength and foundation of childhood friendships. I hope you feel the same. Those you’ve touched, still bound to Cleveland, remember well the smiles they shared with you.
Julie recalls how you pestered John Carroll in class until he stabbed you with his pencil, and how (in the days only “hard guys” had them), you called it your “tattoo”. And he remembers well your—should we say “audible”?— laugh.

You touched Barry too, both at Brush and in Sunday School. Community Temple—I almost forgot. C’mon, Mark. It’s been a half century since our Bar Mitzvahs. (I had no idea, by the way, that your Dad coached Little League).

People remember those things. Even in your absence.

I could tell you too the stories from Bobby and Stuart. I won’t though—you can get those yourself. I will share, however, a tale from Maddy. Goes back to the seventh grade…

You snapped her bra, she swears—from the back—right in the Greenview cafeteria.

She says she was mad at the time. I don’t know. Says you probably told all her friends from the SLAM club. Beats me. What I do know is that anyone who could pull that off couldn’t have been THAT insecure.

(Not that I’m asking).

Happy Birthday, buddy. Hi to Lisa. Come north.


c.c. Alan, Stu, Bob, Raisinbrain

2 Responses to “FOR THE GOOD TIMES”

  1. Mark E says:

    How does one respond to such a touching and moving essay. Thank you. I think you captured me better than anyone. My childhood friends as precious as gold. Thank you for such beautiful words.

  2. bob says:

    Leave it to the B. He knows how to hit the right spots. He knows how to make someone feel special. I’m sure that’s why in his adult hood he’s been so successful with the ladies. We really need him to write a book about our growing up in S. Euclid. Many happy returns to you Mark.

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