God has always blessed me with a myriad of good friends and this was certainly true in my formative years. Indeed, our inner circle numbered sixteen. It was to be sure, an overlapping group of three or four subsets of friends, but together we created a bond that for the most part has survived the decades.
I was one of the “Big Four.” Bob, Stuart, Alan and myself. Probably named by Snyder, but maybe not. And within the quartet it was clearly Bob and Stuart, and Alan and Bruce. (They dated; we played ball).
All four of us went to The Ohio State University. We each graduated. It was 1971, and the world was at our feet.
Over time, we had nine kids, six wives, and three divorces.
We won major athletic championships, batting titles, professional awards and the like, generally tasting the thrill of victory much more often than the agony of defeat.
We have written books, sold magazines and been on stage.
We have lived in New York, Connecticut and South Africa.
We have performed charitable work, given eulogies, and made our parents proud.
We’ve done other things for which no one could be proud.
And held each others’ hands through good times and bad.
One of us is in recovery; one is in denial. Two are spiritual; one is intellectual; one is material; one is purely genital.
Two liberal democrats; two conservative republicans. One of us voted for Perot.
Three of us are content, and the fourth will tell you under oath that it is still the 60’s and pass the polygraph. And not know it’s not funny.
Chances are none of us would befriend the other if we first met at age 50.
But we met at a time when the only thing to worry about was whether it would rain the day a Little League game was scheduled.
Our paths cross less and less these days. Stuart spends half his time in Florida while Bob and I remain in Cleveland. Alan never really returned to town and just recently landed in (of all places) Portland. It is a new millennium; there are now Jews living in Oregon!
But the bond forged remains.
Last October I held the chupah as an absolutely giddy Alan said “I do” on a South Carolina beach. This year Stuart and I will marry off kids. Bob’s going to be a grandfather. We’re all going to be 60.
This is good stuff.
On a day (like today), when nothing in the world is exactly the way I would want it, I am warmed by the thread of my past, and the constancy of my boyhood buddies.
I’m glad I met them when I did.

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