Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Greater Than The Sum of It's Parts

I want to tell you my thoughts on friendship - and particularly having a Best Friend. I have a Best Friend, and in about six weeks I'm going to be spending a week with him and some other friends in Scotland. I have no ulterior motive for tellling you about my Best Friend - I don't owe him money, he's not dying, I'm not dying, and I'm not coming out. If I was, he wouldn't be my type. I guess I just want to share my interpretation of what our friendship is through the memories that stand out in my mind. It might be that someone reading this will identify with what I'm saying - or I might be way off what most people would say a best friend is. I won't even mention his name, but he knows who he is.

Unless he has Alzheimer's.

Let me start by saying that our friendship doesn't live over the rainbow in a magical kingdom where everyone is happy. Many times my Best Friend has done things, and said things, and behaved in ways that I haven't agreed with - and I am sure he would say the same about me. In fact, we didn't get off to a very good start....

I met my best friend in about 1998. I was working in a toy shop on the sales floor, and was steadily working my way to getting the push. My friend was supervisor of the warehouse, and one he apparently saw me and thought I would be useful working with him as I was big and relatively strong so could lug stuff about. So I got moved to the warehouse, and pretty much instantly hated him. You see, I was a very naive and not very worldly wise young man. I'm not your typical bloke nowadays, but back then I was even worse. To make matters worse, my friend (who was now my supervisor) had little patience for mistakes and forgetfulness, and would almost daily ridicule me, shout at me, and embarrass me whenever I did something wrong. When it came to the Carrot or the Stick - I always got the stick. This treatment did the trick over time, as the mistakes were basically bullied out of me. I remember one night waking up because I had realised that I hadn't done a job he had asked me to do - and I was worried about the humiliation I was going to get. It was THAT bad.
But, like I said, over time I got better, and he got better, and we started getting on. Then he invited me to come and play five-a-side football for his team, and as it turned out I was a damn fine goalkeeper. Our team was called "Fulchester United" - a comic strip football team from the magazine "Viz", who's star player was Billy The Fish - a part man, part fish wonder keeper. Well, I wasn't quite as good as old Billy, but in 1992 when Fulchester United won the League and Cup Double, I got "Man of The Match" in the cup final.
By this time, I was lodging with my friend and his girlfriend, and working with him, and playing five-a-side with him. Honestly, he was everywhere!
My marriage failed in 1991, and not too long after me and my friend went the a mutual friends wedding reception - it might even have been his sisters (was it?). I was washing my hands in the gents, when my friend walked in, and stood next to me and asked me if I was alright - meaning that he understood that being at a wedding reception so soon after the breakdown of my (very short lived) marriage, would have been painful for me, and he was just checking I was ok. That was first time I saw that side of him - and I have never forgotten it.
The years rolled by, and for a few years we lost touch. I'm not sure how, but we didn't see each other or stay in contact. The five-a-side football had dried up, and we were doing different things. And then one day, I saw him driving a bus. he stopped (mid-route) and said a quick hello - and it transpired that he was now living less than 5 minutes away from where I was living at the time, with a new woman (well those old women don't last). This was about 1997 - it had been at least three years since we had seen each other.
Of course I visited, met his lovely new woman(now his lovely wife).About a year after my friend and his
woman had a son, and I used to read him stories when I popped round. I have a photo of my friends son and me on a shelf here at home. The son is now 13 years old!
Anyway, we fell back into the old routine, my friend was now playing eleven-a-side football, and got me into the team. we used to go training on a Thursday night - with a trip to KFC drive through on the way home - and we would have a full game on a Sunday. Quite often I would be invited over the my now best friends house to have Sunday Lunch with them, and they really were marvelous times.
And things pretty much stayed that way right up until I moved away in 2006 to follow my heart. We briefly saw each other last year, but haven't spent any length of time together in ages.

In this brief explanation of the years I have known him, I have missed out so many great memories - purely because if I started, I would not be able to finish. A few things that will mean nothing to you, but should trigger something in him are:
  • The Push Through
  • "F*ck Me! Dave's Scored!!"
  • That Skylight in Stornoway
  • "Winner!"....."Widower!"...."Wheelchair!!"
  • "It's Me - Bob!"
  • Jumping Out of Cupboards to scare new employees
The title of this post sums up how I feel. To me, Friendship is greater that the sum of it's parts. me and my best friend are able to pick up where we left off last time, no matter how much time has passed since our last meeting. he knows my exact sense of humour; we can both share a joke with a single glance at opposite sides of a room; we have had our differences, but you have to look at the friendship as a whole. True friends do fall out, and argue, and don't agree.

To me this sums him up: I used to tell people that he was my Best Friend. He would reply "No - you like me, I don't like you."

And I wouldn't have it any other way.

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