There was no reason to be pals. Born across the river, he still stayed in Strongsville. I, on the other hand, was a product of Cleveland’s Miracle Mile. Further, he was a biker—had been to Sturgis for the rally. Me? Can’t change a tire. Sure we’re both lawyers, but truth be known, Greg was a fireman first. Me? Can’t light a match.

We had different games (even then). Ten years my junior, Greg has that innocent look with just a twinge of “bad boy.” The ladies loved it. Me? I can look naïve, but smell “safe.” It doesn’t play as well.

We met five or six years ago, though, and something clicked. So much so that— incredibly— this Saturday night I’ll offer a toast at his wedding— at his request. God truly does have a sense of humor.

Actually, it was laughter that first bound our friendship. This white bread mensch Republican is not only one of the wittiest people I know, but he shares (with me) one fundamental belief: Nothing, NOTHING, is inappropriate if it is funny. There is, for us, no line that can’t be crossed for the good joke. It is a precept honored each time we convene.

The second tie to bind was honesty; Greg doesn’t hold back. I need people in my life that will tell me what I don’t want to hear. He did that—does that.

It was the middle of the last decade and I was encumbered by a chaotic relationship. On any given Sunday it was on or off. “Susie’s having a New Year’s party,” Greg invited. “You can come, but you can’t bring HER.”

By the next summer my love life had hit a new low.

“It’s over,” I grimaced plaintively.
“No it’s not, Bruce,” he cautioned. “This thing won’t end until she ties you to a rope on the back of a pick-up truck and drags you down a hill.”


(He was right).

Still… though humor is the vehicle and candor the cornerstone, the best part of our friendship is that we get and respect each other. Oh, yeah…and still play like kids in a sandbox.

I went to the party that New Year’s Eve. Alone. One lap around the talent pool, I pulled Greg aside.

Pointing at two women, I had to ask: “Are they playing for the other team?”

Clearly I’d impressed Brother Greg. “Yeah, how’d you pick up on it?”
“Please,” I admonished: “You’re not dealing with an amateur.”

It so happened that as we spoke, our friend, fresh from divorce court was hitting on one of them. His chair was angled into hers.

“Mark has no idea,” I gestured.
“I see no reason to tell him,” answered Greg.
(Mark was to invest the guts of his evening to no avail).

Greg and Susie were just beginning then. By Sunday they’ll be one. In the interim, our course, our paths crossed less. He was building a relationship; I was rebuilding a life. The years, though, were good to both of us.

It’s curious, this toast thing. I want to wish him well…them well. Yet I suppose he’ll want me to be funny.

I don’t want to short-change my friends. Greg Schneider is one of the most honorable men I’ve ever met. He would be, even if he never made me laugh. And, as water seeks its own level, he’s found his Susie.

For both of them it is cause to smile….not to laugh.

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