So there we were, Friday evening, downing our beers during happy hour when the conversation suddenly turned serious.
I have a friend; a really good friend who I think would crawl over broken glass if I asked him to. I know I would do the same, if not more, for him. We play golf together, we watch the major sporting events together, we share opinions on world events, and, at times we bemoan our station in life to each other. But, I guess, both of us being from the “old school” of “guys being guys” never talk about things of a personal or emotional nature. I think it’s where we draw the line and the practice has worked quite well over the years. You could be hurting all you want inside but whatever the topic of your pain should be best kept to yourself.
My friend is a couple of years older than I am, mid fifties or so, and we’ve both shared some common life experiences. Both of us served our country, both of us have suffered and struggled through the pain of unwanted divorce and the death of loved ones. We’ve both managed to survive pretty much unscathed and while our outlook on life isn’t the most positive, it isn’t the most cynical either.
So, as I said earlier, there we were, up to our eyeballs in beer when he turned to me and said:
Friend: “Bob, I got a favor I need to ask ya.”
Friend: “It’s pretty freakin’ important.”
A little history, when we ask each other for favors, it usually consists of something minor like spotting each other a couple of bucks till payday, watching the cat while somebody is out of town or some other trivial matter. I can’t ever remember when either of us has refused a request.
Me: “Sure man, whaddya need.”
Friend: “I want you to be the executor of my will.”
Now if that sentence didn’t get my attention, I don’t know of one that would. At first I was a little shocked and figured he was kidding or it was the beer talking. I could tell by looking at him he was dead serious though. I tried to lighten the mood a little.
Me: “What the fuck you talkin’ about. You ain’t goin’ nowhere”
Friend: “I know, I’m not sick or nothin’. It’s just it seems right. It’s been one of the true pleasures of my life to consider having you as a friend. I look around and see how you are with Anna and I don’t know, it just seems right.”
Me: “What about your family? What about your sister?”
Friend: “My sister is the only family I got and she’s been living in Washington state for the last twenty years or so. We talk on the phone every now and then but we ain’t that close. I’m goin’ to take a trip and visit her at the end of the month but I don’t think it’s gonna change anything.”
Me: “Why don’t we wait and see how that turns out. You never know.”
Friend: “Listen, you gonna fuckin’ do it or what?”
Me: “I’d be honored.”
And so it was, we made a commitment of sorts over the clink of glasses and a quick hug. We went back to whatever had caught our attention earlier and nothing more was said about it for the rest of the evening.
We played our ritual round of golf together this Sunday. All the while I had the feeling in the back of my head that maybe it was the beer talking after all. Maybe, in a moment of reflection, my friend needed someone to be there for him as he pondered the inevitable. No mention of our short conversation on such an important matter seemed forthcoming. As we were nearing the eighth or ninth tee, my friend, perhaps sensing that something more needed to be said, had this to say.
Friend: “You know I’m freakin’ serious right?”
I didn’t have to ask him what he was talking about. I just looked at him, took a deep breath, nodded my head and tried to put one in the fairway.
I guess our friendship might have reached some kind of new level. I doubt it will ever graduate to the point where we discuss our innermost “feelings” or any of that kind of “sharing” that seems to be so popular. I guess we’re just simple men doing simple things and taking simple pleasures. As old fashioned as that sounds, we like it that way. For us, it works.
And now it’s Monday, I’ve had time to reflect on my friends request. In a strange way, life seems a little bit more important today.