Friends and Family

Published on December 30th, 2016 | by Richard Black


The End of a Bromance

2016 has been…well let’s face it something of a motherfucker. We’ve lost a lot this year. Prince, Bowie, Carrie Fisher, George Michael and this dude who used to sell me weed for twenty years. It’s been a rough year and even more so because I’ve also lost a good friend.

I should probably clarify that. My friend isn’t dead. He and his wife and two girls simply moved away which shouldn’t really be that upsetting… at least not for most people. Unfortunately I don’t have many close friends. I know that may come as something of a surprise given how remarkably congenial and well-tempered I tend to be but it’s true.

Over the past few years my friend Alan MacBoob and his wife Sadie and I and my wife Laura have become quite close. We’ve attended birthday parties and barbeques together. Our children have played and fought in parks across the city and in our homes. We’ve all spent many evenings together both as families and just Alan and myself drinking beers on the porch or in our kitchen as the three kids methodically destroyed our respective homes.

We’ve had some good times but our friendship was not a forgone conclusion. I didn’t care much for Alan when I first met him which shouldn’t be taken as a slight against his character. I don’t care for most people when I meet them and I generally believe that most people feel the same way about me.

Alan and I first met at a bar which was appropriate given our enthusiasm for hops. The event was a “meet and greet” for new parents at the local grade school and something my wife Laura had managed to cajole me into.

If memory serves I first encountered Alan ordering something from the server. He used the words “tasty” and “high ABV” at which point I immediately decided that he was a douchebag. A few minutes later he used the same word, “tasty” that is, in context with an obscure Latino band of which we were both aware. The word “grooves” may have been mentioned as well.

Alan, I concluded, was clearly an idiot. I’ve never met a single person in my life I cared to be around who used the word “tasty” on a regular basis. It is a word I always associate with creepy old men looking at magazines with a tagline like “barely legal” or jam band idiots too stoned to have a decent conversation.

Alan also laughed a lot. It was a loud booming laugh that could set off car alarms three blocks away and one I assumed was disingenuous. No one, after all, could be that happy or entertained.

I don’t remember much about the evening. I imagine that I smiled and nodded and made an occasional inappropriate comment in the way that I do to strike the wheat from the chaff. Alan, I assume did the same. We parted ways and I never gave the man a second thought.

Fate however had other ideas.

Over the summer our daughters came to be in the same swim class. On the first lesson and once our kids were in the pool I gave him a wave because I was raised in the Midwest and I’m polite despite my better instincts. We made chit chat in the 103 degree heat before someone, I can’t recall who, made a jackass comment about an overly officious lifeguard.

“I’m willing to bet that dude hasn’t touched a vagina or a dick in a good ten years.”

“We should buy him a fleshlight.”

“Let’s get one that looks like a butthole and one that looks like a pussy.”

“True. We wouldn’t want to make assumptions.”

The bromance began shortly thereafter.

Alan, it turned out, is the only person I’ve ever met whom was even more delightfully inappropriate than myself. Though a happy quirk of fate our girls came to be in the same kindergarten class and during that time I came to know Alan well.

Over the course of the next year we offended a small crowd of stay at home mothers at pick up after school. There really wasn’t a subject that either of us weren’t willing to discuss albeit with our tasteful flair for the inappropriate. Circumcision, oral sex, sex of really any sort, vasectomies, hemorrhoids, foot fetishes and thoughts on child birth were typical jumping off points. Masturbation featured prominently as well.

On any given day after school as our children were running around the schoolyard Alan and I would put on a show for thirty minutes that was both entertaining and informative in equal measure. More often than not it would end in some sort of anecdote and a brief summary sentence.

“…and that’s why I told my father in law that this is going to be a pro-spanking it household.”

“…this is why it’s important to always wear underwear particularly if your pants have a zipper fly.”

“…and that’s why it’s called earning your red wings.”

To say the least I’ve come to enjoy Alan’s company over the past few years. My wife Laura has as well and not simply because Alan is a delightful human being.

“He makes you less of an asshole,” my wife said one night a few months ago.

I tried to take offense to Laura’s statement but she was right. Since I’ve met Alan I’ve found myself to be more willing to engage in activities I’d cheerfully punch myself in the balls to avoid. Play dates, classroom parties, and school science fairs are just a few of the events in which I’ve taken part knowing that Alan would be in attendance.

The man even got me out to a local jazz festival which, prior to his acquaintance, is an event I wouldn’t have considered attending without massive amounts of illicit pharmaceuticals. The music was shit which was to be expected but beers were on sale and both of our families brought camping chairs. Alcohol played a prevalent part in the day but I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. He was my Statler and I was his Waldorf and together we were the two cranky old Muppets in the balcony.

The highlight of the day occurred when a precocious little shit of seven or eight, with whom Alan was familiar, began bopping him on the head with a pink balloon sword every fifteen seconds. Alan, to his credit, tried to remain calm and even managed not to curse the first seventeen or eighteen times the boy prodded him with what looked to be a giant pink penis. He shooed the kid away with a hand gesture and then increasingly heated versions of “get outta here” before grabbing his keys and trying to pop the giant penis balloon. A part of me was relived that he didn’t try to shiv the boy. Another part of me was also slightly disappointed.

“I hate that kid,” Alan said once the boy finally went away to assault someone else with his balloon penis.

“There are no bad kids Alan,” I responded, “just bad parents.”

“The entire family is an argument for eugenics.”

On the way to grab another beer Alan paused and did a little head bob dance to an ongoing guitar riff. I rolled my eyes and gave him a wry smile.

“Those are some tasty licks,” he said and gave me a knowing grin. I shook my head and said something about Larry Flynt wanting his tagline back. Alan laughed his booming laugh and suggested that I loosen the fuck up. I mentioned that he said that to all the girls and we were off and running, entertaining the crowd in line at the beer tent.

I’m going to miss my friend and not simply for his camaraderie. Alan and his wife and children will visit and Laura and Darcy and I will see them in their new home. More than anything though I hope that in addition to maintaining our friendship I’m able to continue to be the slightly less bitter and more adventurous man he has allowed me to become.

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