Man – this is getting uncomfortably close. After this one, two more and I die!!! The only way to prevent that inevitability is to stop writing but that sounds like the premise to a bad Jim Carrey flick. So, as the dude in Shawshank said, “Get busy living and get busy writing”… or something like that.
When I started this project, I swore that I was not going to rope in actual people. Then I broke that pledge a handful of times by picking up a supporting cast along the way – and even featured a few of my nearest and dearest in posts dedicated specifically to them – notably Colin, Andi and my Mom and Dad. Why no Aria? Her birthday is this Thursday – so now you know who gets Forty for Forty – #39.
But what’s that they say about the best laid plans of mice and men? Seriously, I have no idea what they say. I could Google it but sometimes it’s better to run on what you think they say and just go with it. Point is, plans change – and as I’m nearing the finish line – I’m hitting the nostalgia button something fierce. When I look back at the 39 years I’ve been on this planet, there is one constant that defines me.
I love my friends.
For a guy who kicked things off keeping to himself a bit – I WAS REAL SHY AS A LITTLE GUY – over the years, I’ve assembled a steady, stable of quality peeps. ‘Tis a shame we never shared a foxhole together – although if my paintball skills are any indication – each of you would have had a hand in crafting my eulogy ten minutes after we hit those war-torn shores.
And as I’ve written about before, my one constant dream is of that fantasy land where I never have to bid a fond adieu to a single one of you. That Impossible Dream where we all remain close in each other’s orbits – while still granted all the time in the world to enjoy everything else life rewards us with – family time, career lines, past times – and every little hobby and challenge that adds tiles to my mosaic.
Never gonna’ happen. We’ve got a better chance of winning the Powerball every single week. But that’s the beauty of dreams. After those sweetly, stirring lullabyes close your eyes – the wishes keep us safe and hoping, wandering and wondering – all the night through.
If I could sum you all up, it’s this. You’ve all made your mark. You make me wealthy beyond all means. You make this life worth living. You’ve made me the man I am today.
And I wouldn’t want to lose a single shared memory with any of you. That’s the contract we signed way back when – we are bound by these precious mental photographs – good times and bad, happy and sad. And while I’ll never fully do you all justice – and I am bound to miss a great number of you in this post – I’ve decided to focus this piece on all of you; giving one sentence per person to some of the most amazing personalities I am proud to introduce to people as “my friend”.
Note: To protect anonymity, I am giving first names and last initials. You know who you are. And if I think you are sensitive to these public displays of affection, I’m not listing you. So – if you don’t see your name, don’t despair. I just don’t want to publicly “out” someone as my friend if they don’t want that exposure. And some of you I’ve known for years while others – a few weeks. That said, for this post, everyone is on equal footing. One sentence each. Give or take. I only have so many words left in my brain. After this past year, I think I’ve almost broken it.
Also – There’s no real order to this – aside from the random way Facebook has listed you all. Nobody is more important than anyone else – except my Guys Night Out crew because they are my BFFs, they toss back some brews with me one a month and keep coming back for more AND most of those poor bastards have seen me naked at one point or another – so that makes them brothers for life.
And finally – I’ve included links to other posts where appropriate. If you don’t know the tale and want to, click the links when you see them.
Andrew B. – We will make “Me & The Kid” just as soon as I find a soccer-hooligan parrot named Beckham – who is willing to work for seeds!!!
Scott A. – Things haven’t been the same since I moved to my new office. Nobody there talks about zombies. Not one of the them is prepared!!!
Joni M. – We sure had a ton of fund under that table last Summer. But who were those other guys you invited?
Alex F. – You stole my childhood best friend… oh, well technically – my mother gave her away.
Erin M. – You turned me into a mean, nasty 90-year old bastard. You brought out the real me!!!
Mary G. – You turned me into a mean, nasty G-Man. You brought out the real me, as well!!!
Dave C. – You turned me into a mean, nasty Orderly From Hell. You brought out the real me, first!!! (I’ve been typecast ever since).
Elizabeth M. – Your yearbook inscription thanks me for giving you rides home from school in our Senior Year. Neither one of us remembers that. So, whose Yearbook do I have?
Jim O. – We were engaging in Grand Theft Auto way back before it was a game!!! But – we always brought those cars back. Otherwise Greenie and Jay would have had our heads. Which I think is also something you can do in Grand Theft Auto.
Sara L. – Only you can protect me from the Phineas & Ferb Guy!!! Seriously – he’s the only one with a case.
John P. – I have this vague memory of you and I getting together with Ken W. way back in 8th Grade – on some random Summer day – to craft our own comic book at your house. The one and only time our paths really, truly crossed outside of school. I don’t think we got one single panel done. Knowing what we know of our sensibilities now, I think we could have taken Hollywood!!!
Korinne R. – I’ve known you all of 2 weeks and already I know a funny, unfortunate nickname. I will not repeat. It’s in the vault.
Beth B. – With you, me and a guy further down the list – we could take ‘Squirrels in my Pants‘ on the road.
Sean O. – My true brother from another mother AND my Best Man. So many great memories but let’s peg this one on “midnight coffee talks“. They said so much about who we were and where we were going. Oh, and of course, let’s tip our caps to the paper route, Papas and all the other hijinks in over 20 years.
Billy B. – So THAT’s a Stage Kiss!!!
Justin S. – My other brother from another mother!!! As with Sean, we share so many great memories but let’s peg this one on “midnight calzone talks”. They also said so much about who we were and where we were going. Oh, and of course tip our caps to the pantsless UMASS weekend!!!
Jeanne D. – If it weren’t for you, your husband would have ripped me limb from limb. Always my protector.
Julie W. – “Do these jeans make me look fat?”
Gina M. – You had groomsmen in a tree. Not every bride can say that!!! And you stole my “wife”. Ehhhhh, you can keep him.
Rebecca B. – Another one of my old friends. We owe Mark Zuckerberg for making our reunion possible. So many great memories but here’s two nice bookends. Our daily one-mile walks to school AND our face-to-face family gathering at my place after almost 15 years of absence. We picked up like old friends should and within hours were rocking out to Rock Band in the basement!!! That’s how you know good friends!!!
Jon L. – I was going to pick a bad movie you made me see (DAMN YOU for Cabin Boy) but I prefer to go current. Reacquainting on Facebook makes me wish I never lost track. It’s one thing to share the love for movies. A whole dimension is added when you combine the pride in family and of equal importance – the desire to keep people light and laughing.
Alissa H. – Your poor ears. How many car rides to and fro UMASS did I ruin with my mangled Bryan Adams impersonation. Those rides flew by though, didn’t they. Usually because we were on the run from the mob. You are yet another person I am so happy Facebook found for me. And as a plus, always a devoted reader!!! You’re the best.
Kristen G. – You are Salad Girl, no longer. Nowadays we have so much more in common than silly vegetables. I expect you to whip up the East Coast fervor for Monkeybar. And this Summer, we need to get our families together.
Gwen O. – My little Moon Pie. Or I am your little Moon Pie? Wait, who’s Johnny Cakes?
Patrick B. – Would you get me a beer?
Suzanne M. – You may not remember this but I saw my first movie at UMASS with you – it was Fall 1990 and the movie was My Blue Heaven. Why do I remember that? I pulled the short straw and got the WORST. SUPER POWER. EVER. I can remember where I was and with whom for every movie I’ve ever seen. We saw that right at the beginning of my Freshman Year at UMASS. I believe you transferred in. First friend I made!!! Anyway – so happy to have you back in my orbit all these years later. That Neil is one lucky dude!!!
Ed V. – Another fave, we need to get together soon. I knew we had the connection when we would talk X-Files perched high above in the choir loft. Years later, nothing’s changed – except it’s all done in the ‘cyber cathedral’ these days. We need to remedy that and get a face-to-face reunion planned. I’ll hitch up the wagon train.
Joe D. – And yet another brother from another mother. As with Juice and Sean, there are way too many memories to pick from… but I think one of my favorites might be that snowy Saturday morning, when we were living with Sean in Mansfield, and we decided to walk to the town green and buy a Christmas Tree. We found a perfect specimen and started walking home – through the snow – even inspiring some Christmas cheer among the park patrons. And then – inexplicably – we bought two stuffed polar bears when shopping for decorations – and perched one atop the tree. To this day, you pop a polar on your family tree and we do the same here. We’re connected for life, bud.
Julie P. – Your laugh. That’s what I take with me, always. Every time we get together – it’s just tons and tons of laughter – truly the best of times. And that laugh is infectious. And once upon a time, my other super power was to make you laugh… and almost pee. Until Sean stepped in each time and saved the day. Your hero!!! My nemesis!!!
George A. – We became good friends in High School but I think the last few years have been more meaningful. It just goes to show that with technology, it doesn’t matter how wide the divide. You crack me up consistently and I live to entertain you. We are bound by one simple constant. S to the I to the M to the P.
Annemarie B. – Though you had a ring-side seat when The Real Monkeybar Mafia of Beverly Hills… errr, Dudley – formed, don’t come looking for royalties. After all, you’ve cost me two Super Bowls now. You and your stupid Giants.
Sue S. – Another Mafioso member. You ALWAYS cracked me up on that playground. But like I’ve said before, everything in that play is pure fiction except Phineas & Ferb Guy so you have no stake to any cash!!!
John B. – We bonded tight on Cuckoo’s Nest – which was no easy task with all that drool.
Kerry C. – We’ve said it before. We should have known each other in High School. I blame my parents and yours for moving to the wrong towns. Oh well, that’s what Facebook is for. We’ve crafted our very own home town here!!! Never to late to make up for lost time.
Casey C. – One of my best, frequent readers who I’ve only met once but feel like I’ve known a lifetime. I really need to get back to PA for a visit. Once per decade isn’t cutting it. Warn my sister I’m coming!!! (She doesn’t get mentioned in this piece. No family allowed.)
Dan M. – I was contemplating cutting you from this club as a joke but then I thought, that might be the last straw.
Jen S. – You married my brother from another mother – thus sparing me more Bruins talk. Last year’s dual-family vacation was an amazing highlight. So many great memories. I wish we were all still there – decked out in our pirate gear.
Scott M. – My perennial punching bag. That other guy in this past play was just a fling. My fists only have eyes for you.
Stacey T. – My former BFF who up and dumped me when she met Sarah P. That said, I’m not bitter. You still crack me up. You and your fruity pirate hubby.
Sarah P. – I don’t see you and Bobby nearly enough and we live soooooooo close and you guys just slay me. Love you both. We need to remedy that this Summer. Besides, you posed for an underwater “Not Penny’s Boat” pic and sent it to me. Nobody else on this list went that extra mile.
Beth M. – Of course, we go way back to Grade School but our Facebook exchanges are what it’s all about. That’s what is so great about rediscovering friends later – when we are all on a common ground. I love your updates and despite the fact you are North and East from my Western locale – it feels like we all live in the same small town.
Bill G. – I’ll always remember torturing you with my “Bye Bye Birdie” wing dancing last year. Horrible stuff… and yet – you saw fit to make me Phineous Trout. I will not disappoint you, sir!!!
Dana B. – The guy who did everything for my foolish little flicks – including losing an arm – temporarily. I miss you way down South. (Woah – that doesn’t sound “appropriate”.) HE LIVES DOWN SOUTH, PEOPLE. Get your mind out of the gutter!!!
Tracy M. – A High School friend who followed me to college. Hey, wait a second? Does that make you Felicity? Am I Ben? Am I the only one who watched that show? Seriously though, you kicked open the Collegian doors for me and I am forever in your debt – until our show was cancelled.
Jay B. – You started Streak Week!!! That’s a legacy, my friend.
Stacy G. – Early on, you threw my wallet in the ocean – and still, I came back for more. So glad I did. Years later when you and Matt were expecting – AND – Andi and I were as well; that friendship was key. We miss you guys. Get back here someday, would ya’?
Justin E. – The mad Photoshop genius who has stuck my head in some very strange places. Same goes for Dave C. above.
Mark C. – Interviewing the crazed Mr. Donovan sort of set the tone for things to come. We were a regular Woodward & Bernstein… or maybe, The Inside Track of RHS.
Sarah C. – That impromptu North End reunion for some of us RHS Facebook peeps was amazing – and we have you to thank!!! That was one of those nights that flies fast and furious and then lives forever.
Marika R. – We have never met but thanks to our mutual UMASS buddies, we were spun into each others’ orbits. One of these days, we need to rectify that. You are one of my favorite Facebook friends.
Stacy S. - That’s what she said!!!
Leigh H. – One of my first friends – I always knew you would go far. One of my treasured memories is when you came to me in High School, long after our paths had diverged, and asked me to escort you in to Graduation. The honor was all mine.
Tim C. – That vacation last Summer was fantastic and seeing Colin glom onto you – your own Mini-Me – was the best.
Brian M. – The Peterson’s days loom large especially when Matt tried to throw me through a wall… and all you did was watch. Fetching me Super Mario 3 was your penance.
Lynn B. – Your buddy Nicole kept going on and on about how complimentary you are of me. The checks are in the mail, my friend.
Chip L. – We could have shrunk the national debt with the shear number of movies we saw MULTIPLE TIMES in High School. But, those good times were surrounded by great memories.
Suzanne A. – Hands down, you and your family are one of the greats. So warm and friendly and funny. Half these shows I only do to get invited to the cast party at your house. Love you guys.
Rich G. – Another guy who I share many, many memories with. Hey, I once went on a date with a girl who thought I was he. Not my fault, she thought his name was Ed and called me and asked me out when in fact, she was trying to date him and not me. And she didn’t figure any of this out until after the date was over. Convoluted, I know. Click the link and get the full story if you don’t already know it.
All right – there’s so many more of you and only so much time in the day. I hope all of you understand how much you all mean to me – even if I didn’t mention you here. After almost forty years on this planet, I’ve assembled one Hell of a kick-ass posse.
I’ve got your collective back, every day of the week.
You all mean the world to me!!!