“You’d eat all the potatoes in Idaho!” If you were to simply approach a random pedestrian and begin your conversation with that statement, about ninety nine point ninety nine percent of the human population would react in one of two ways. A fair amount of people would respond with a rather disturbed and bewildered expression upon their face, followed by a more than swift attempt to escape your apparent insanity. The second, the more drastic of the two, with a terrifying stoic stare, followed immediately by a quick injection of a mild sedative, only to find yourself awaking the following morning in a comfortably padded room, sporting a tightly fitted straight jacket. However, there is that point zero one percent who would respond with something like “Ha, Yeah man. Dr. Phil is such a ridiculous air head with nothing better to do than relay people’s problems right back at their face.” That point zero one percent is my best friend Ben.
Let’s travel back to the roots of an incomprehensible and unique friendship between Ben and myself. The year is 1999, and I had just been ever so fortunate as to have used my inconceivable array of knowledge to graduate to the third grade. Don’t ask me how I did it either. Anyway, one glorious day at Durham Elementary and Intermediate School, the class had just been released for recess. Please don’t tell me you don’t remember how excited you used to get for recess…Oh god, the sheer greatness was unheard of! I often compare it with winning the lottery, then re-enacting the story to a news station and winning again. Yeah, it was THAT good. Sorry, off track again, back to the story! So I ran outside to the top of the entangled mess of slides, monkey bars, and whatever the heck else they could cram into its multiplex of intensity. As I was crossing the rickety, and supposedly “disaster prone” bridge atop the structure, I had noticed a friendly game of tag in progress. Being the natural social butterfly I am, I knew this was something I had to get in on.
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That’s when I met Ben.
As the fierce game of tag drew on, I noticed someone who caught my attention. Another boy, donning glasses, a Texas Tech baseball cap, and stylish black Vans, had the AUDACITY to inform me that, I quote, “Could Never catch him.” This maniacal taunt enticed me to pursue the boy, as I had now made it my main objective to apprehend the arrogant little bugger. As my mission neared completion, I could feel the excitement boiling inside my tiny, third grade body. However, when I failed to accomplish Operation “Catch Charlie,” I was slightly disappointed to say the least. However, when I mustered up the courage to speak with my defeater, I was surprised to find he was not an enemy at all. In fact, he was the exact opposite. He became my best friend.
From then on, Ben and I became inseparable. We would do everything together! Baseball games, movies, sleepovers, you know, the whole nine yards. As we continued to grow, and mature into the stunningly gorgeous men we are today, our parents too became friends and seemed to hit it off just as well as us! Well, not exactly like us I guess. It would be rather atypical for groups of grown adults to get together and have overnight parties; playing complicated electronic gaming systems and postpone sleep with talks of developing girls. Anyway, as our mothers and fathers continued to grow closer as friends every day, they were oblivious to the fact that, with each passing minute Ben and I were getting even closer than before. Which isn’t ultimately a bad thing at all, but you don’t know what Ben and I are capable of getting ourselves into. And again, not in a negative fashion by any means, but basically, we were almost too alike for society’s “Social Norm.” Then things took a turn for perfection when our ever so loving parents announced to us that over the course of the upcoming eighth grade “Spring Break,” we would be embarking upon a ski trip together, as two families. In this moment, our parents were once again, ever so unaware of how much even closer this would bring Ben and me. After our first trip, we took numerous other vacations together as well, including another ski trip, three tropical cruises, and countless visits to the luxurious, and upscale “Hyatt Hill Country Resort and Spa” in San Antonio, Texas. From the moment we returned from our first epic excursion, the deal was sealed. Ben and I were no longer just best friends.
We were family.
The thing to most importantly understand about a family is it is eternal, indestructible, and has everlasting love for each other. When a person grows up in a world without a family, the sense of belonging, and acceptance in life, he or she becomes socially and emotionally crippled and scarred for life. It’s a proven fact that one thrives when nourished with care and love. The other important characteristic of a family to understand is that while families will always love you regardless of what you choose to do with your brief amount of time on this planet, they also do fight. Ben and I are no exception to this seemingly factual social, unwritten law. We have had our disagreements, and even at one point, falling outs. There was a point not too long ago in my life in which I was deeply and thoroughly confused with my life. I began spending time with people far different from Ben and me, and started changing physically, socially, and emotionally. For a while, Ben and I ceased talking. Three months passed, and with each passing day, it literally tore me up inside to know I couldn’t even face the person I cared about most in my life. After a much needed period of self reflection, I summoned up my courage and approached my best friend one day at school. In near tears, I confessed to him that I was sorry, and that I missed being with him so much, it was near killing me. He very calmly replied that he would converse with me on the subject in the near future. For the moment, I was relieved, but most certainly far from closure. For days, I anxiously awaited his call, his confronting, some sign of forgiveness. Then one day, I received a phone call from my best friend. He voiced to me that he too, wanted to sit down for lunch one afternoon and figure out what went so awfully wrong. I will not go much further into the details of what was discussed, as it is extremely personal, and incredibly close to my heart, but fortunately, we were able to work things out and become friends again. Best friends, like we always were, and always will be. To me, the true definition of a friend is someone who will sustain any amount of built up anger, or hostility, and stand by you regardless of whatever past events may have hindered your friendship. No matter what. And that’s exactly what Ben did for me, and I can honestly say I would stand in front of a loaded weapon, and take a bullet for Ben. That’s just how much I love him, and I’m not ashamed, or afraid, to admit that at all.
Well, enough of this emotional, doleful side to my story. It’s making my eyes moisten just having to retell it. The point I am trying to make is this. I would like to come across just one other individual who feels as strongly about their best friend as I do. Who can honestly tell me, that they and their best friend have eaten an entire box of Oreo cookies in just two nights? Or who can tell me that they and their best friend have spent 216 straight, unseparated hours together without wanting to ring each other’s necks? Or that they and their best friend have cruised down a suburban road, while one drives and the other furiously and senselessly twirls a household banana out the vehicle’s sunroof? (Much to the befuddlement of passing motorists). I’ll tell you who, no one. Because Ben is simply put, someone I can’t live without, and I am so fortunate to have had someone as wonderful as him be a part of my life. I leave you with this quotation.
“Life is full of people who will make you laugh, cry, smile until your face hurts, and so happy you think you’ll burst. But the ones who leave their footprints on your soul are the ones that keep your life going”.