When these things come up, Scott never comes to my defense. When he tells the story about a bunch of guys beating me up in a parking lot when I was seventeen, he leaves out the part about him running away crying just minutes before (this account may not be entirely accurate, by the way). But he likes to remind me of the time I threw him in a pool at a party on his first date with Stephanie Camille. He got me back later when he stuffed a chicken breast under the carpet inside my 1970 GTO. By the time I went on a date with Amy Long four nights later, that chicken breast smelled pretty rotten. I thought I had just run over a possum or a raccoon. All night Amy kept asking me why my car smelled so bad. We never went out again.
Of course, I got Scott back later when he was out on a date with a girl from Austin, Texas. I called and left a message calling myself ?Fabian? saying ?Remember me? We met at a gay bar last Thursday night. Thanks for the back massage? before I hung up laughing. Scott was dumb enough to play his messages later that night when he took the girl home to his apartment. He spent the rest of the night convincing her it was just a joke. It was OK though. They ended up dating for two years. We all laughed about it later. I get messages from ?Fabian? to this day.
Eleven years later, Scott planted the ?men seeking men? section of the local personals under the passenger side visor of my car. Tandy found it on our second date. She also found the Playgirl centerfold he planted in my Pottery Barn catalogue. When I was single I always tried to put something on the coffee table that my dates would enjoy reading. That was going a little too far.
When I look back on endless nights of drag racing and burying that GTO speedometer at 140 mph, I feel lucky to be alive. The most dangerous thing Jim ever did until then was to get into a fistfight with a bush. The bush won as I remember.
Whenever we get together we talk about the good times. Not the time that Bubba was stabbed at the drive-in movie theater. Not about the times that weren?t so good or the things that really hurt. Not the lies we told or the promises we broke.
We just think back to the promises we kept; the promise never to grow old and the promise never to stop laughing. And, above all, never to let old friendships die.
Old friends are blessings from God. And so are fortieth birthdays. Happy Birthday, Jim.
Mike Adams (www.DrAdams.org) is a professor at UNC Wilmington. He tells a lot of stories in class. But a few are just between him and old friends.
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