Friday, March 6, 2009

Day of Death and Destruction

So today was pretty tough. Growing up my best friend and I did everything together. We pretty much lived in each others house. We were raised by each others parents and we watched out for each other. He taught me how to play guitar, as he was from a long family of professional musicians and had been playing in front of crowds since he was 8 years old. In fact his Dad used to play Steele guitar for an old Country Western legend.

As long as we are on the topic, his Dad was the example of what a family man should be, at least to a kid raised by a single mother. His Dad was a mechanic and he went to work everyday. He had a large detached garage that was filled with tools, old bicycles, musical instruments and home brew. Oh yeah, in that garage each weekend there was a gathering of friends, old and young, and they would sit around and play or sing or just listen. The whole family made their own brand of chalk beer, they called home brew.

Mike (my best friend) and I would hang out with them. Mike played guitar and drums so he was always in the music side. And we would all sip a bit of home made beer and make music until the neighbors called the cops. It was never a big deal since the mayor was usually there in the garage sipping beer and occasionally pissing in the front yard with the rest of us.

Mike's parents were older. They always seemed wiser and they were way more patient than I will ever be as a parent. They would do anything in the world for one of the kids or their friends. Mike and I once ran onto a cool old dude that made us laugh. He said with this goofy grin, "Old people are just cool. I think that's why I like being around my Dad so much." Funny how out of years and years of non stop chatter of little boys, I have that as a vivid memory of Mike. That and us steeling a tractor tire one day, but that's a different story.

As the song says "dragons live forever but not so little boys." When we reached high school we seemed to drift in different directions. We had different classes and different extracurricular events. We got different jobs and ended up with different friends. But I still feel that bond. I loved Mike as only a kid can love his best friend.

We have almost never talked since freshman year in high school. I moved away and he stayed home and had a family. I would visit and hear my friend's kids talk about how Mike was a terror on the baseball field and could play the guitar like nobody's business. Turns out it was Mike's son Mike Jr keeping the family tradition. Then I moved back home and he moved away. We have seen each other a couple of times in the past decade. We have never met each others children.

Today I was told Mike's Dad passed away at a hospital in Tulsa. The man had influences in my life even I may never realize. I have been trying to keep my shit together all day, but I keep seeing that goofy grin on 14 year old Mike's face when he said "Old people are just cool. I think that's why I like being around my Dad so much"

As if that were not enough there is a little town south of me. They used to be a big time railroad town about 100 years ago. Now they are just a backwater town that seems to have one tragedy after another. Not all that long ago two little girls were riddled to death by bullets just outside of town. The nation was shocked. Today, a big chunk of that town burned down.

Fires are everywhere right now. Grass fires surround us and the air is heavy and bitter with the smoke. The news is reporting some highways have been shut down because the smoke is so heavy that driving is impossible. All things considered this day sucks ass.

Oh yeah and my son impulsively decides to invite 4 of his best buddies to spend the night. No warnings, no kid foods, at the end of a long hard week. Did I mention this day sucks?

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