“Did you read the part in the book where the guy breaks his neck? It was awesome!”
Boyhood friends are like no other. The colors of our childhood are usually provided by our friends, and our friendship was no different. Brad and I lived about two and a half miles apart, down the two biggest hills on our side of the county. During the summer, and after school, we would be going back and forth several times a day, trips that today are unimaginable. Who would send their kid the next town over, just to play with a friend? and not worry about them? North Road was gravel at the time. Half of the houses on Reese Road hadn’t been built.
Brad was my first friend who was also a Yellow Jacket fan. That was the first thing I told my parents about him; “He like Tech!” There’s a few more today, but not many. As twelve and thirteen old friends, we had a lot of firsts; I borrowed my first Playboy, with which he responded by sneaking out his older brother’s Penthouse. Once, I took my dad’s pistol. While we were trying to load it, the cylinder fell out, losing a tiny part. Brad, Daddy just replaced it a few years ago. When we spent the night with each other, he was the first person I snuck outside with. One of us discovered you could sling a bicycle chain down the road, and it would throw up an amazing display of sparks.
Brad and I were the first ones to spend the night in Jack & Elaine’s house, where they live now. It wasn’t even finished; just dried in. We were terrified. Because it was his house, he had his BB gun, but all I had was a wooden baseball bat. I amused us to no end by calling it a “Slouieville Lugger”, early on, and the name for the bat stuck.
Another first occurred during another sleepover after their house was completed. I’ve always had active dreams; even now, I sometimes thrash about. I’m never hit my wife, for any reason, but I sure have pummeled her in my sleep. Several times. I had spent the night with Brad, and we had both fallen asleep in his bed. In my sleep, I reached over, and grabbed a handful of Brad’s rear end. So his was the first piece of ass I ever grabbed. I woke up, realizing what I’d done, and was mortified. So I’m lying there, hoping he’s asleep, and I mutter to myself “What the hell was that?” Beside me, in the dark, Brad says, “I don’t know!”
Brad was the first one to introduce me to MAD! magazine. I didn’t get all of the jokes, but he thought they were pretty funny.
Brad was the first person to take me to the Georgia Dome. (Did you know it had a top?) I can’t remember for what, but it may have been on the way to one of my first Georgia Tech spring games.
Brad was there the first time I threw a firecracker at my brother, and the first to build bombs with me. We’d cut the powder out of shotgun shells, and make stuff go boom. I think Brad was the first person I shot with a BB gun. He was the first person to take me turtle hunting, out on Lake Jade. Lake Jade was also another the site of another first; Brad and I went out on a boat with his brother, and that’s where I drank my first beer. I also picked off my first leech from that lake, also in Brad’s company.
I was there when Brad had his first (major) accident. A car came off of Highway 54, swerved, and T-boned him while he was sitting at McIntosh Trail.
Brad was there the first time I ever played soccer, at P.E. in middle school. Later, in high school, I tagged along with him to the fields at Elm Street Elementary, where I was so bad on the field, they stuck me in goal. I later played with him on the high school team, both JV and varsity, and later on in college. Thanks to Brad, both of my girls play, and I've had the pleasure to coach them in the sport he introduced to me.
He was also there the first time I scored a goal in a game. Bill Screws, our coach, had pulled me out of the goal, and I ended up scoring two or three. Nothing shocked that man, but we did that day.
Brad was also the first friend I ever got mad at about a girl, and I regret it to this day.
When I wrote my first novel, the first friend of my main character to show up was... Brad.
Brad, since you’ve been a part of so many firsts, I’m pleased to be the one to help you with a few firsts you’ll have coming up over the next year or so. It probably won’t take you as long to make the mistakes I did, but after fourteen years of being married, I’ve made them all. And I’m pleased to help you out – that’s what friends are for.
The first night of your marriage... you’re own your own. No help there.
The first time Leslie burns your favorite food, eat it. Every bite.
The first time you have a fight, you should be the first to apologize. No matter the subject, no matter who was right or who was wrong.
The first time you compare Linda to your mom... nevermind. Don’t ever make that mistake. (Even if it is about how Elaine would iron and fold your underwear.)
The first time Lisa cries, just hold her. You don’t have to say anything.
For your first holiday – any holiday – go all out. You’ll never have another “First Kloss Killing day”
The first time you see a hot girl walk by after you get married, look away.
The first time you two go to the beach, get some mirrored sunglasses.
The first time you go to a movie, let her pick. (And no complaining, either. I’m sure LuAnn will pick a good one.) Next time, it’s your turn.
The first time one of her kids is mean to her, hold your temper. That relationship is fragile.
The first time one of her kids is upset with Linda, remember to be the guy they met the first time. Consistency is the key to step children.
The first time you dance, always remember the song.
The first time Lisa gets mad at your friends, remember – she’s your wife.
Remind her of your first kiss often.
Be the first one to say “I love you” in the morning and the first thing as you go to sleep.
The first time she says something, and you don’t hear it (cough weren’t paying attention cough) always answer, “I love you too.”
And my final piece of advice...
The first time you call her by the wrong name, look at her and say.... “At least I wasn’t like that dumbass at our wedding!”