Here’s how my 2010 Instant Karma Resolution works. Each day, I will randomly draw a name from my Friends List and make that person the subject of a status update where I will cull from memory some funny or interesting anecdote about the person. I’ll do this once a day until I work my way through the entire list. When you’ve been selected, I will also post this note to your wall and tag 5 of our mutual acquaintances in the hopes it will spur some nostalgic commentary.
Today I drew #10 – my friend Rich Gobeil.
Of all the people who pledge allegiance to my core group of compadres, Rich is trumped by only one other as the longest lasting member. The other guy, who shall remain nameless unless he chooses to out himself, will get his day in court at the end of this grand experiment. That’s partly due to his request but mostly because I wouldn’t have it any other way.
But we’ll get to ‘Pole’ in a couple weeks time.
Today we deal with his polar opposite, the only hobbit I’ve ever had the pleasure of calling my own personal Samwise – good ol’ Rich Gobeil.
It’s amazing Rich and I became friends in the first place, let alone went on to share a locker through high school, a dorm room through college and a sleeping bag one awkward night in the Wyoming wilderness. After all, this is the same dude who crept down my neighborhood in the dead of daylight and spied me playing G.I. Joes in the street with a childhood friend, a full year after the rules printed on my Prepubescent Man Card dictated that I mothball Snake-Eyes and send him away to the attic gulag – which is where he still sits, in a home twice sold, awaiting the day that the current occupants unearth this Ninja Assassin and send him off on his latest mission – to rob some poor unsuspecting eBay consumer of their hard earned cash; over-inflated values be damned. (And that, ladies and gentleman, is how you construct a run-on sentence.)
Despite that fact that I chose that day to become a man, Rich made it to school before I could catch up and bribe him with a years’ supply of all the Now n’ Laters he could eat before his teeth yanked out (a shrewd move on my part as that nefarious nectar would put me in the hock for at the very most, a day or two before Rich was gumming his applesauce). And he wasn’t in that door a moment before the toxin was released. Within 10 minutes of him spying Snake-Eyes and Lady Jaye on a little (ahem) undercover assignment, my entire world knew that “Eddie Humphries still plays with toys.” As we stand a few weeks removed from the start of the 2010 Winter Olympics, I am still impressed with little Richie and his stubby legs’ dramatic land speed time. He raced the quarter mile to school, demolishing records and decimating any chance I had of dating before college, all while the Internet was still a twinkle in Al Gore’s eye.
Despite all of that, we somehow become friends and as I mentioned, the rest is legend. We hung together through thick and thin and had such a great time bunking in college that we actually chose to stay on campus in lieu of escaping to an off campus apartment. And then when graduation came and spun us off into different orbits, we still kept in touch. Sure, we originally came from the same home town, but Rich and I both come from homes split by divorce – which means the zip code we called home when we first enrolled at UMASS had changed a few times over in the four years that stretched since. In retrospect, that may have just been a covert attempt by our parents to prevent us from finding our way back to the nest, but we flew on instinct and successfully returned to roost, all while GPS was still a twinkle in Al Gore’s eye (yup, he also invented fire, water and the Touch n’ Brush).
Of course, I was home about two minutes before I started crushing on that sweet freedom I had tasted for four glorious years. So as swiftly as I came, I went and never looked back. If you see my Mom, say Hi for me and tell her I no longer need that ride home from the mall.
While Rich and I didn’t cohabitate with each other (that privilege belongs to the Joe we met last week and the unnamed third party whose tale is yet to be told), we did stay in touch. He did it more from a sense of fraternal loyalty. I did it from a warped sense of revenge. Still, I had to bide my time. I had waited decades – gotten as close to him as a man could get – and had earned his loyalty and trust. It was a cold, calculating plan and certainly one that I could wait a little bit longer until the moment was just right to spring the trap.
Finally, the table was set.
Midway through my first full year living on my own, I got a call from my Uncle looking to see if I wanted to earn a little extra scratch house-sitting for one of his closest friends. It would be a three week tour of duty in their home, where I was asked to watch after a vast menagerie of exotic pets. The upside to me – those three weeks would supplement my meager living meaning a little well-earned Sabbatical from the sordid stint of turned tricks that usually gave me the extra cash needed to keep the lights on and my pie hole swimming in gravy.
The call couldn’t have come at a better time as I was in the midst of planning a little extra-curricular activity. See, in the sunset days of my college existence, I had cobbled together a goofy little student film that did nothing to entertain anyone but certainly killed many a potential political career. Honestly, I wrote the script in The History of The Civil War and I was filming on a mammoth camcorder without benefit of battery back-up, meaning we were always plugged in and had a 4 foot radius from which to capture the action. Simply put – the film sucked and Hollywood is better for not having me in their waters – or at least they were until they released those Matrix sequels.
Anyway – post college, I started feeling those nostalgia pangs something fierce and I was feverishly trying to think of some way to get the gang back together. While the simpler route may have been a pub crawl, I decided I would script an ambitious rewrite of the original project and cast my friends in all the key scenes. Besides, this gave me the chance to draft love scenes for He Who Shall Remain Nameless and Joe and finally put to bed the rumors of who was “packing more heat”.
So, the script was completed and a shooting schedule drafted. We would film on weekends over the course of six months or so and then edit the whole thing together. Then we’d throw a raging kegger at our Mansfield headquarters for the official premiere.
Let this be a lesson to you budding thespians. Always read the script before signing on. Rich learned that lesson well when he showed up outside my loaner house on his day of filming and I handed him a hot pink shawl I had borrowed from the home owners for that day’s docket.
See, in the original film, I had somehow persuaded Rich to appear on film in a mauve silk teddy, on loan from our friend Amy who lived down the hall. Rich was saved only by the piss-poor lighting and shoddy camerawork – as the outfit largely remains in shadow. That could be Rich or Lindsay Lohan – there’s really no telling outside of some fancy forensics.
But for the remake, I needed the pink to pop. So, I found the brightest most vibrant hue, conveniently on display in the kitchen closet, and simply borrowed it for the day. Rich’s big scene called for him to be confronted by a minivan full of thugs who would engage him in a car chase through a parking lot. It was one of our big action beats – a major set piece on the flick. Rich would be on foot. The goons? In the car. We would cut to many different angles, giving the illusion that Rich and the car were a lot closer and thus boosting the adrenaline for the scene.
Now, an understanding director would have found a secluded spot and shot under cover of night. Well, no more Mr. Nice Guy. I brought Rich, the goons, the Minivan, the camera crew and the hot pink sweater to a busy shopping plaza and sent Rich through take after take where he ducked, dodged and wailed the hot August day away – all while clad in the most eye-popping pink ensemble this side of South Beach. And where most guys would dig deep down in their vocabulary and toss back a “F@#k You – You wear the sweater!”, Rich pulled it on and hit his mark every time. Anything for his craft.
And the footage was extraordinary. Of course, just saying it doesn’t make it true so as an added bonus, I have embedded the video footage on my Facebook wall. The proof is in the pink.
Anyway, the years flew by and as our hair hit the floor on pace with the calendar pages, Rich and I kept up with each other and made sure to save a space in all those momentous occasions – most notably serving in each other’s weddings. In fact, I was Best Man for Rich – standing by his side and offering all the encouragement and support in the world as he took his beautiful bride Kelly’s heart and pledged to keep it safe and secure and content and happy and beating just a bit quicker until their dying days. It was a beautiful day and a wonderful wedding and I felt that day that we had just crossed the threshold into something more sublime. With Rich being the first to take that Nestea plunge, the rest of us were falling into place, knowing the next leg of this grand journey was closer than it had ever been. Any moment now, the klaxons would wail and it would be our turn to leap from that soaring plane – and on the way down, we would spy a landscape of unlimited possibility that seemingly stretched forever – a wide and vast canvas awaiting our unique imprint.
And no matter what dreams may come, I will always hold tight to a precious memory. Rich in that shawl running his ass off.
Isn’t he pretty. Pretty in pink.