Five men sat as one. Five friends honored past, reveled in present, and celebrated each other….

The common denominator was Rowland Elementary School.

We met in the innocence of Eisenhower years. Sharing emotional community, our true neighborhood was bound not only by religion but landscape. First, everyone at school was Jewish (including the Catholics. I mean really: did not Masseria take off all High Holy Days? And two days of Rosh HaShana, at that!). Secondly: tight geography. From 4111 Linnell to 1651 Wrenford to 4269 and 4249 Bayard to 1927 Warrensville –Mark ‘round our world to Kraut — was it really much more than a mile?

The common denominator was age.

Sixty-five this year (wink to Arthur). With Stu up north and Erv willing to drive, why not share milestones? (Not that it didn’t take sixteen emails, three votes, and ultimately — when Moxie was closed — a command decision). Still, we did last Sunday … at Red. Not a bad venue for five guys from South Euclid.

The common denominator was friendship.

First came the timely. Opening minutes filled with Fenton and Ermine expounding strategies of Social Security. If you have a wife do this…if your wife still works do that…if…if….

Ed. Note 1: Too much for this clown. Better with batting averages, unmarried as well, patiently I waited until their oral treatise mercifully ended. And then:

“Stuart, just tell me what to do.”
“B, you take it at 66.”
(No muss, fuss, or details. The way I like it. In Friends I Trust).

The night filled with mirth.

We smiled as Mark ordered “Grey goose chilled up very very cold, twist.” (At Greenview he couldn’t spell “goose”.)

The common denominator was sharing.

Laughing and listening to shouldas and wouldas and couldas…and “Ifs”.

IF I hadn’t been insecure about this…IF Bob had known that…I woulda done this and Bob woulda done that.

Mark would have been a physician. Bob would have stayed in broadcasting. It was Stuart however, playing doctor that night.

“Who at the table has ADD?” he posed coyly. (I figured Art).
“Why it’s The B!” he exclaimed. (I thought he was kidding).
“Absolutely!” chimed Snyder.
“Are you serious?”
“You don’t think you have ADD?” Fenton howled.
“You should see him at breakfast” roared Bobby, even before Stu had finished.
“Have you ever listened to him?” urged Stuey. “Every two seconds he’s on a new topic.”

This onslaught from Newman and Kramer was somewhat enjoyable. There were two lifelong friends, a half-century later, carving new territory. (Ed. Note 2: Not exactly true. In May Carrie’d mused “You know, if you were going to school now you’d be diagnosed”). So I didn’t push back; I let them laugh; after all, as my Dad would say: “They can’t all be wrong.”

The common denominator was that the more things changed, the more they stayed the same.

How difficult should it have been to grab a group picture?

“Before dinner,” Bob insisted. Then before anyone objected he voted again. “Before dinner, B”. “OK, Aleph Gadol.”

So from the center of the restaurant en masse we rose and walked to the front. “Not light enough”, Kraut opined as we regained our seats.

So from the center of the restaurant we got up again. “It’s light outside. Let’s take a selfie” said one overgrown teen. “Not good enough”, Kraut opined as we sat down once more.

So from the center of the restaurant we stood yet again. Five schmucks. Five schmucks that everyone in the room was now staring at.

Ed. Note 3: A wasted trip it was not. Reentering the eatery my friend whispered to the cashier: “Don’t take this the wrong way but you’re very attractive.” (Some things never get old. The man still has game. Indeed, hearing his play after all these years…well, it was like seeing McCartney live…with an AARP card).

History kept on repeating. (I couldn’t make this up). Midway through dinner the server behind us knocked down a tray. Clash! Bam! The dishes: they flew. First Ermine applauded. Then Art. And Stu. And me. AND THE TABLE OF SIX TO OUR IMMEDIATE SOUTH!

The common denomination was love.

I told the guys at the onset — before the appetizers… when I had their attention — that they were my baseline. Cornerstones in my life, they were.  Always.

I speak to Bob and Stu the most; Arthur had offered a ride up to Red. It was Erv however (Ed. Note 4: He being both the first AND the last person to fix me up on a date), that I texted as I sat in my car.

“I love you, Brother Mark,” I typed. “Drive safe. See you in October.”

His response was immediate: “Great evening…” he wrote. “…Love u….”

(Like we both didn’t know).


  1. Mark E says:

    And I do……….”love you”

  2. alan wieder says:

    Sounds like a very wonderful evening — wish I was there. On top of everything good, the dessert was that you ate at a place called “RED.”

  3. bob says:

    Alan would have found this to be a night when no one talked politics. All of us have an educated opinion on local and world politics but at this dinner that is the one thing that was not discussed. By this age we know we aren’t going to change anyone so why try.

  4. m says:

    not ADD, multitasking

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