We all have friends, we have tons of friends, in fact I have 173 Facebook friends, and over a hundred and fifty AOL friends (accumulated over the years). One would think that having so many “friends” on Facebook and AOL would mean something, but it really doesn’t, you would also think having so many friends would make you popular, but again it doesn’t. I don’t know how popular I am, and being honest, being popular has never really been a goal. But I have always been friendly, 99 percent of the time I have something nice to say. The other 1 percent of the time I would day “God bless him (or her)”, if I can’t say something nice that’s what I say “God bless him (or her)”.
People, me included, have all kinds of friends. Like the 300 + I have between FB and AOL. We have those we will share a meal with, we have those that we chat with, those if their car breaks down we will jump to their rescue, those you talk to on the phone all the time (knowing you’ll never meet face to face), those you play cards or go to a movie with, and some people even have that special friend that you will share the deep dark or not so dark secrets and inner thoughts with. Though I can say in all honesty I have never really shared the deepest darkest secrets, some things are just best left unsaid. I believe that during my adult life I have had 4 such friends that I could share those secrets with if I chose to.
I am going to spend a little of your time talking those 4 very very good friends. I will talk about them in the sequence by which I met them. Each of them has been extremely important to me, and still are for a variety of reasons.
I met John in 1978. I was fresh out of the Navy and John was a part–time accounting Professor at Northern Virginia Community College. I took his accounting 1, 2 and 3 classes. He placed value on getting the work down and performance during test more so than attending class. He was a great teacher he clearly knew the material and could present it in such a manner that made it easy to understand. For whatever reason we hit it off immediately, and when I was no longer taking his class we began to socialize. First him and I would go out together to ball games and other male bonding adventures, and soon our families were included. John was well over 6 foot tall, where I am well under 6 foot. We looked like mutt and jeff. We had similar backgrounds, in that neither of us was very good in HS, John had even quit HS, but later went back for his GED, then on for his Masters in Accounting. He also passed the CPA exam 1st time he took it. For over 10 years we hung out together, we had a lot of great times together and we also had some stupid times. I was most likely a bad influence on John, and while he never got into trouble (except with his wife), hanging around me could have cost him his career. John and I shared many a thought over the years, and I could confide in him and him in me. For whatever reason we had a falling out, and we no longer talk, but I miss his friendship.
I met Terry in 1984. I had just begun my career at GSA and was working my way up the ladder at central office. Terry worked in a different region, and was that’s Regions, Regional Director. Terry was the 1st individual in management at the regional level that learned that I could be trusted, and that I always had the regions interest at heart. It was through our working relationship that we became friends. Terry is the single most colorful person I have ever met. I imagine for every word in the dictionary he has a personal story, and he is an amazing story-teller. I have been fortunate enough to hear some of these stories many times, and I still laugh my ass off. Terry is almost 20 years my senior, and has been retired from government service for over 15 years. For 10 years we got together annually for a golf trip, the last couple due to circumstances neither of us played every day, but we enjoyed the company of the others and had a great time. When I was gravely ill and in the hospital in 2008, Terry would call the nurse’s station in ICU every evening asking about me. He had told the nurses he was my older brother, and that because he was up north couldn’t come and visit. Terry sweet talked them into giving him a report on my condition each evening. And I remember the nurses coming to my bed in the evening telling me that my brother Terry called to check up on me. Terry and I talk via phone at least once a month and have done so for years now. We’re making plans to get together in December for dinner. And I am looking forward to it.
I met Mike in 2002. Actually I met his wife first, and I am glad you can sometimes change a 1st impression, because if you asked his wife, I was a total a….hole. And should that opinion have stayed, I would not have gotten to know Mike as I did. Mike and I shared a birthday (both on 10/25), he was a big guy, 6’4 or there bouts. He played football in HS, and I am sure he was a monster. But as big as he was physically, he was equally gentle. Mike loves his pets with a passion, and it was clear that his pets loved me equally. Even when Mike was ill, you could see him taking his dogs for their walk. He was moving slow and it would almost appear he was being pulled along. But the walking did him and the dogs good. Mike was serious about his career (a banker) and serious about being a friend. But while Mike was serious he enjoyed a good joke, being a touch of a dirty old man, and could sometimes cuss with the best of them, these were all qualities about Mike that I liked and respected. We played golf together regularly for 7 years, for over 5 years we played golf at least once a week. And when we couldn’t get to a golf course we would play on our game stations. Because we were both non-smokers we rode together a lot to avoid riding with smokers. We would chat about a variety of things, and we both shared a lot. Mike was one of the smartest people I have met, but sometimes he was as dumb as a bag of rocks. There are a several dozen card game stories that confirm this. Mike had his own health issues, and while I was gravely ill in 2008, Mike had a heart transplant (he out did me LOL). His heart surgery was only a week before my bypass, and Mike managed to get well enough to visit me in the hospital after his surgery. I can’t even begin to express how grateful I was for that visit. Mikes ongoing health issues forced him off the golf course, but both he and I had game stations so we played golf together on them. Where Mike would beat me without mercy on a real golf course, I returned the favor on his play station (or my Xbox). Between games we would chat and share our feeling about what was going on. In April 2011 Mike lost his battle with cancer. I miss him a lot.
I met Art in 2004. After commuting back and forth from the Northern Virginia (for 2 years), I finally moved to a job that allowed me to work from my new home and continue my career in Florida. After settling into the job and responsibilities here in Florida, the next order of business was to join a bowling league. Before the fall league started I had scoped out the bowling alley and league I wanted to join. The bowling center told me not to worry, there were always spots open for new bowlers. So myself and a next door neighbor decided to join the fall league, well as luck have it, there was only 1 slot available, after a brief conversation with my neighbor I jumped on that spot and ended up on Art’s team (Art’s wife was a team member as well). Immediately Art and I bonded. I grew on his lovely wife, and we are wonderful friends. He was retired Navy, and I had spent 15 years in the Navy (between active and reserves). We both enjoyed NASCAR, playing cards and other games, and enjoyed movies. We became fast friends. The 2nd year of bowling my wife joined the team and the four of us are great friends. When I became ill in 2008, Art stepped in and helped more than I can ever thank him for. I was in the middle of some renovations and Art worked with my contractors to get the job done, he played Mr. Step and Fetch for my wife and I for two months (while she recovered from bypass surgery). Art visited me in the hospital 2 or 3 times a week, sometimes even more, playing cards or talking or sitting quietly with me as my recovery continued. Because Art is extremely involved in the neighborhood he would share story after story about the going on which would liven my day up greatly. We also played cribbage and still do. Art has been there countless times for me since we met in 04. He lent me an ear as I watched my mom waste away to Alzheimer’s (brought on by a series of strokes). Art has been like a big brother to me but only friendlier.
I have been very fortunate to have 4 very close male friends as an adult, friends that I could count on anytime, for almost anything. Friends that I can chat with for hours and not have to worry about what I have said or the words I choose to say it. I haven’t shared any real deep dark secrets with any of these 4, but I really don’t have many to share. Guys don’t share a lot of secrets (not the deep dark ones) even with best friends. And guys don’t brag as much as we are given credit for. We do spend a lot of time telling lies and other BS things. The fact we don’t go deep into our souls when talking to other guys doesn’t mean we don’t trust them, it just means some things just don’t need to be shared.
Again thanks for allowing me to take up some of your time. Your comments are always appreciated. Take Care, Bill