“…Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
       Grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of steel …”

(Polonius to Laertes, in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”)

I have a slew of compatriots —core friends. Through the years each has shared with me life’s blood, sweat and tears. Indeed, I am better for it. Still, while I “cut my teeth” with Stuart and Alan and Walt and Kraut and, and, and… my friend Bobby, celebrating a birthday today, stands unique, and special. To borrow a phrase from Seinfeld’s good friend George Costanza (“The Jacket”, original airdate 2/6/91): “Can I say one thing to you? And I say this with an unblemished record of staunch heterosexuality….”:

I simply love this man.

(And why shouldn’t I?).

In all the years, through incredible laughter and intermittent tears, through sometimes parallel bumps on our journeys, there has never been a time I couldn’t describe my friendship with him in two specific words: Joy…Loyalty.

How can I not think of the times we’ve had— the times we still share — and chuckle, well up … and just plain old smile!

I’m not alone.

One friend readily recalls watching Bob at a Chagrin Falls restaurant flirting away with a young lady near him — only to learn that indeed she was with her father. Another regales at the time Bobby, at another eatery, sent his food back because vegetables had brushed against his burger.

Yet another tells the tale of being in the Caribbean with Bobby, who had for some reason run out of SPF40. As the only inventory available was bottled lotion, Bob unabashedly cajoled his friend to rub the gook across Bob’s body. (Ed. Note 1: Never let it be said our friend wasn’t “comfortable in his own skin”).

Me? Images conjure still of so many of his hijinks, from the Bexley ballfields to the Rowland halls, from the days of elevator passes at Greenview through my nerd years at Brush … from R.E.N. to A.Z.A. to SAM… from marriages through divorces to our remarriages and rebirths … from radio days downtown to cinema days uptown …through communing at reunions to the NOW — even now: Wednesday mornings in the back booth at Corky’s.

(Ed. Note 2: Could I fill a tome with my Bobby stories alone? Of course. The downside, however, would be that not unlike JFK’s autopsy, formal publication would be held up ‘til some fifty years after he’s gone).

Fun stuff, it was…. no doubt. Still, when I reached out recently to those who’ve known him longest, what ran consistently through the thread of comments received was, as Linda so aptly put it, NOT his “killer” smile or his personality nor even his decades-long appreciation for beauty. It was, rather, as so aptly noted, his childlike sense of “joy and wonder”.

Among the luckiest of his friends were Stuart, Alan and I. “The Big Four”, we called our foursome in our halcyon days. (Ed. Note 3: The natural inner nexus was Bob with Stu and Alan with me. The first two chased women; Wied and I chased ground balls).

Sixty years ago we bonded, give or take. Resounding as the frolic of our association has been, however, it has always, through near six decades, been trumped by the purity of our friendship.  Laugh all we want about times with the Birthday Boy, (who since Dick Clark’s 2012 demise has been the World’s Oldest Teenager), but it is those poignant moments we hold dearest.

Well Alan recalls our buddy rallying him one day at a Sandusky hospital. Stuart echoes the theme with further tales of Bob’s tender side, as do I. We know that whenever that proverbial bell has run, our friend’s been there.


Yes, I’m among the lucky ones. Linda went steady with him for maybe a week or two “in the day”. (He was the “it” boy, she reminded). Others have joined him for business or golf or softball or whatever.

I’ve walked through life with him. He’s been at my peaks; he’s stayed through my valleys.


Happy Birthday, Brother Bob. I love you.

—And AGAIN: “I say this with an unblemished record of staunch heterosexuality….”.

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