Monday, March 4, 2013

Original Tunes and Friendships

I suppose that it is no great secret at least to me that I will soon have my seventieth birthday. That's about as breathtaking realization as any I can imagine. How on earth did I get this old? Aren't I supposed to feel some great increase in the wisdom that is supposed to come with age that I have been told we are going to experience. The coming event has caused me to think about that getting older and of course not getting older. I have focused for some reason on the 'birthday presents' that I as a septuagenarian might want to receive. It isn't that I need anything or really 'want' for anything. But it sure looks like someone quite by accident and without thinking about it gave me one great gift.
Today I went to the post office and found a package in my box. It was from a friend of mine whom I knew when he lived in Huntington Beach with another friend of mine and I lived in the Big Mormon House in Garden Grove more than forty years ago when we were both under 30. This package contained a short note from Joe and three CDs of music, one of which was simply titled Original Tunes. Joe if you haven't already guessed is a very fine musician, a guitarist, a banjo player, a pianist and lord only knows (and I can't remember) what else he plays and it turns out he's also a fine lyricist. I love the way his voice has matured.
Listening to Original Tunes has taken me back over the more of forty years of his and his wife Kay's friendship with me. Joe when I first met him just sort of bounced around. He worked construction and played guitar and did what we all did back then enjoyed life, enjoyed music and enjoyed a fair bit of pot. We discovered things and many of them we discovered together. I remember one our discoveries back then: finding out for the very first time that french fries should come to the table hot. One night I noticed they didn't and Joe did too. He pitched a bitch and we sent our orders of fries back to the kitchen twice complaining that they were ice cold. French fried potatoes really are better when they are hot! Since then I have always insisted on hot fries. I hope the server got over what was probably a pretty bad shift that night.
Then he met this breathtakingly beautiful blonde woman named Kay. The both of them quickly became an item and wandered through life together raising two kids and heading everywhere and landing everywhere in places like California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington sucking up free air, being each others' best friends and the parents to two amazing kids. All the while Joe is making more and more music, living his life all wrapped up in his marriage, his family and his music. We should all be so involved and happy.
They had moved away from California when I began the awesome task (in all senses of the word) of coming out to myself and to the rest of the world. I decided that the people I had to tell first were Joe and Kay so I sat down and wrote them a letter. It took me a couple days before I put it in the mail. Then I held my breath and waited. After what seemed like an eternity but was only really a few days I got a response. I was overjoyed with their response. They thanked me for telling them and praised me for removing “the one great impediment to our friendship” and expressed their great love for me. I have never forgotten that and in fact I still have the letter.
Something else I have never forgotten is that when Kay was pregnant with their first child, they lived a few doors east of me and used to go over there at night and Kay would make these phenomenal buttermilk pancakes and Joe and I would drink Wild Turkey and enjoy watching Kate build Jesse. I still use that recipe and everyone I ever make buttermilk pancakes for praises them. I am still shallow enough to accept the buttermilk pancake praise as my due rather than Kay's.
I am really enamored of Original Tunes and I am going to sit right down and listen to it again. It's marvelous and thank you Joe for sending it to me. You and Kay have never ceased to impress me with your love and the depth of your friendship.

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