There are some farewells that truly are events, were people wear dinner jackets, and sometimes retired space astronaut shows up because they heard there was an open bar, and they really had no plans for the weekend. At some farewells drinks are consumed with such exacting repetition that those drinking could give any synchronized swimming show in Vegas a run for its money. Point of clarification here, by farewell I do not mean… passed on, no more, ceased to be, expired and gone to meet ‘is maker, a stiff, bereft of life, rests in peace, who’s metabolic processes is now history, is off the twig, has kicked the bucket, is shuffled off the mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible, or is an ex-parrot, err human, and thank you to the Parrot Sketch for their assistance in that explanation. No, by farewell I mean that person being farewelled simply has moved to a new location on this planet that is no longer a short drive away, but at least you can still talk on the phone.
Then there are some farewells, like the one I had this past Saturday, which consisted of the me, the fareweller, saying farewell to my friend Kyle, the farwellee. Kyle and I have been best friends since 7th grade. Now if we were both in 8th grade, it would really not be that impressive of a feat, but considering we are bother in our mid 30s some of you will think to yourself, “well done” while others will think, “what an old fart.”
It was the first day of school and I was standing in the lunch line, minding my own business, hoping that they would be serving tater tots for lunch, and the next thing I hear a conversation that sounds like it’s directed at me. I looked around and saw nothing. Then I look down, and there beside me was this little redheaded kid, in glasses, looking up at me waiting for a response. I half expected him ask, “Please sir, may I have some more?” But the second we make eye contact he instead said, “Don’t you just hate it when you are standing in line and some stranger walks up to you and just starts talking to you?”
I gave him an odd smile, and told him I really didn’t know… and so began the 25 year (and going) conversation that is my and Kyle’s friendship. As it turns out, I do not hate it when people walk up next to me when I am standing in a line and start talking with me, well unless it’s because they want to sell me a watch, or ask me for some money. I guess you could say I learned that from Kyle. There have actually been a number of things over the year I’ve learned from Kyle. Here are just a few of them:
- The only proper way to eat French fries it to dip them into your Wendy’s chocolate Frosty, or chocolate milkshake if the a fore mentioned Frosty is not available.
- The best way to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is with a glass of chocolate milk… which you dip the sandwich into. He has always been a firm supporter that if something is good, adding a chocolate flavored dairy product to the consumption process is only going to make it better.
- A great deal of my musical education is thanks to Kyle. He introduced me to The Cure, Depeche Mode, The Dead Kennedy’s, Benny Goodman, Leon Redbone, Blues Traveler, REM, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, The Grateful Dead, U2, Bob Marley, Concrete Blond, Patsy Cline, and Sigur Ros… just to name a few.
- He introduced me to The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran.
- He introduced me to the first girl I ever made out with. I was freshman, she was a senior… I was pretty sure I deserved a medal for it.
- He gave me my first Terry Pratchett book, Good Omens, even though it was a co-author project with Neil Gaiman… and he gave me my first Neil Gaiman book.
- He did introduce me to the work of William S. Burroughs as well, but has since apologized for that.
- He introduced me to the television series MST3K, for which I will be forever grateful.
- I went to my first concert with him, Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers.
- He also introduced me to the work of Hunter S. Thompson… he may have apologized for that too.
- He was my proxy drunk for the many years that I spent not drinking. He would always make sure that for every New Years we celebrated together he would drink enough for two.
- He introduced me to Opus and Bill, aka Bloom County.
- He gave me a lot of advice I ignored when I was young, and that I look forward to now that I’m older.
- We would hang out in my basement and write really bad open-verse non-rhyming poetry, which in looking back was my gateway writing style. It was the beat poets that really got us breaking out of the conventional boring rhyme writing process that was the lyrical love child of Dr. Seuss and iambic pentameter. I do think that my love affair with writing started back then. Removing rhyme and playing with words opened up a whole new realm of creativity and appreciation in writing. I started writing longer poems and eventually moved over to short stories, and have never looked back. Except now, because I needed to look back and explain it a bit.
I could keep going, but I think the point has been made. It has been quite the adventure so far. The farewell arrived rather quickly. He’d only been in town a few months. Still, it was a really good few months having him within driving distance again. The thing about Kyle is that he is the epitome of a true Goonie, the adventure never really ends with that man. This farewell is, for now, a 9 month endeavor. I mean regardless of how long he’ll be away, he’ll be back for New Years. It’s a kind of ceremony if you will. We’ve only missed spending it together a few times in the past 25 years.
So where is he off to? I only bring it up because it is so inherently him. He’s going back to his roots, back to the path that his forefathers took. He has chosen to become a farmer for the next few months. The one small difference, instead of corn, or wheat, or barley, or chickens, or whatever it was that his ancestors grew, the crop he’ll be growing is cannabis. Yep, the man is off to California to grow about 50 plants for a local dispensary. I think he loves having that conversation with people as well, mainly because he can. He’s not doing anything illegal. He will be growing the crow within the guidelines of the state of California. Plus, it’s a good way to make a year’s salary in only nine months time. His degree in directing hasn’t really assisted him with where he’d like to be or what he’d like to be doing, especially when it comes to theatre. The thing is, there is a good chance that becoming a farmer is going to enable him to pay off all his student loans in one harvest. I do find that to be subtly poetic.
Our farewell consisted of just him and me sitting in a booth at a restaurant, having breakfast for lunch and reminiscing about the past four months. Then it was time for the farewell gifts. What does someone like me get someone like Kyle as a farewell gift? It’s easy really, the first thing I gave him was the books he had lent me to read while he was in town. Second, I gave him a DVD of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along-Blog, but it is just the type of thing that is going to make him happy to watch and it will give him some new musical songs to memorize through repetition, so the next time he visits we can watch it together and sing along to all the songs while we act it out in my television room. Also, it is a standard viewing staple in anyone’s DVD library.
Finally, I returned the favor and gave him a copy of one of my favorite Terry Pratchett books, Small Gods, which he has not yet had the pleasure of reading. And then we said, “See you.” and that was that. The farewell was done and I went home to mow the lawn. A bit anti-climactic I know, but sometimes that’s life.
What are some of the things that you have learned from one of your best friends over the years?
Google Images, key words: Parrot Sketch, tall boy and short boy, fries in frosty, Opus and Bill, New Years, and Dr. Horrible.