Out of nowhere this evening, I remembered one afternoon many years ago when my friend Rick’s and my paths had crossed – in New Zealand I think it was – and he asked me what I’d been doing for the last couple of years, expecting one of my 6-beer-long monologues.
I paused, said the first thing that came to mind : “Tuggin’.” He laughed.
Deliberately dumb, that exchange became a shorthand ritual in later years when our travels would bring us back together in the same place for a day, or for a week.
“How’ve you been?” he’d ask. “Tuggin’,” I’d reply, and that would be that.
It was our code to signify that it didn’t really matter how long we’d been apart, that the thread of our friendship could be picked up again without missing a beat, no matter how long the time intervening, that we were more often than not men without women and not too worried about it, and that the telling of tales could always wait until we’d had a bottle of wine or three.
I remembered that this evening, and then I remembered that it wouldn’t ever happen again, because he’s dead. God damn it.


Join the conversation! 11 Comments

  1. That’s a nice story, Chris. I bet your friend Rick would have liked it, too.
    I wish I had something more to say than take care of you. To make it easier.

  2. *chokes up*

  3. You know, when I typed out that post last night, one-pass, off the top of my head as usual, I really really wanted to say something about how many people are dying in Iraq right now, or how many other people were killed in Bali, or how many nameless people are dying for the wrong fucking reasons all over the planet every damn second, but the enormity of it, the enormity of the sadness and grief and horror that must circle this planet like a black cloud of evil every goddamn second just about knocked me flat on my ass, you know, metaphorically fucking speaking, and I had to go and kiss my wife.
    *cracks a beer*

  4. Not that despair and averting your eyes are anything but a coward’s way, of course, but sometimes you just gotta, you know?
    GOD : What are you doing?
    Knight : Averting our eyes, O Lord!
    GOD : Well, stop it!

  5. I guess I should add, for the sake of blogging verité and for those not following along at home that tug=masturbate, which was a reference as much to our customary lack of success avec les jolies femmes, as it was to our inability to produce the Great Canadian Novel(s), which we’d both repeatedly threatened, in our cups….

  6. You didn’t avert your eyes; you focussed on one real event. How easy to crap lyrical about thousands dying; how much harder to remember and countenance the very specific death of someone you loved? What’s the smiley for “I am moved to silence, reflection and as much empathy as I can muster having never been quite there myself”?

    If I may, without causing pain, get a little lighter, the banter sounds oh-so-similar to that which a close friend and I engaged in over many years. We joked endlessly of enrolling in a Tibetan monastery, for there we would have good reason for being celibate. Of course we fucked it all up in the end by both getting married. And now he’s so wound up in his own mid-life crisis that he sees his wife and kids as part of the problem. So I rarely talk to him any more because I don’t like his attitude, except I’m hardly much better myself.

    He has a wife you know.

  7. perhaps your rational brain didn’t want to sully the memory of your friend with a politically motivated attack on the US.

  8. Oh fuck off, pukey.
    For what it’s worth, of course, you’re right – I did consciously choose not to express my rage at the fact that Rick died as a direct result of the pathetically mismanaged American invasion of Afghanistan – but I’ve decided since that that reticence helps no one.
    One death amongst thousands, I know.

  9. yes, the blame america crowd will always fault america for any tragedy.
    have you checked the news today? nKorea will accept multilateral talks and iran is voting whethere they should have better relations with the US. nothing gets idiots in line better than a good old fashioned display of military might.

  10. One hopes that this will be true. It worked for Reagan, right?

  11. the day he took office, iran released the hostages. so yeah.. it worked. today, israel has agreed to give up settlements for peace. looks like a bunch of dominos are falling.

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