When you get a message that says, “Can you call me,” you stop and ask yourself, “I wonder what’s up?” Then again, you get those and you think the worst. Someone is very sick or someone has passed away. I got one of those this week and I just didn’t know what to say.
After I got the bad news, I simply sat and thought, and then I cried. Not about getting sick or how my buddy died, but I thought about that little boy back in the late 60’s. He looked a little funny because his head was kind of bigger than the other boys. He was also much larger than the other boys in the first grade.
I guess I was pretty smart understanding how valuable it would be to have a “Big Friend,” because he stayed with me as a friend for many years. We went to grammar school, middle school, high school and college together. Then we went our separate ways to start careers and families.
My big friend even liked the name we tagged him with – “Hawg.” Big, strong, funny and kind-hearted. He would remind you of Hoss Cartwright from the old television series, “Bonanza.” Hawg even had one of those hats that Dan Blocker/Hoss wore in Bonanza.
He was not a bully. As a matter of fact, he was quite the opposite. If he thought you were scared or in danger, he would set you at ease, usually by putting himself between you and the bad situation. I recall a football game when my friend saw I was getting whipped by a fellow much larger than I was. The fellow was actually much larger than Hawg was. But being like he was, he insisted on putting himself in front of the big fellow for the majority of the game which we lost miserably. It didn’t matter, he was going to protect his friends.
In the first grade, I seemed to have a knack for getting to stay inside while everyone else got to go outside to play for recess. I honestly don’t remember why, I’m sure it was something trivial like pulling little girls’ ponytails or something similar. My friend always asked the teacher if he could stay inside with me and keep me company. She always let him. I want to go back there and do that again.
Little boys who are true friends.
Then life happens and things get complicated. Life is filled with things we have to do, face and ultimately keep moving.
I guess not knowing what to say is a good thing. I have lost other friends - some to death, some to distance and some to life itself.
It’s funny what we remember. I can’t remember what I did yesterday or last week or a year ago, but I can remember almost all of the shenanigans that Hawg and I got ourselves into from age 5 to about 22. Some of them were things that only we knew about, and I always trusted him to keep it that way because I wasn’t sure about the statute of limitations for some things. (I’m mostly kidding about that.)
I remember sitting and waiting for the train to pass on the way to high school football games. I would be worrying that we would be late and miss the bus. He was more concerned about how much of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s song “Freebird” we could get in before the train passed. He also knew that the football team would have a hard time playing without us. We both played both ways and were 2 of a team of usually 20 less players.
He had this thing about the song “Freebird” and he would often measure time in units of “Freebirds.” He would answer a question like, “How long will it take us to get there?” with something like “3 Freebirds,” meaning about 30 minutes. He would then explain where on the album the song was a little less than 10 minutes, but played live they would sometimes get it to 14 minutes. I was always kind of amazed by his knowledge of trivial things.
What do I say? I say, “Spend time with all of your best friends, whether it be in person, on the phone or even just thinking about them, because you never know when your or their song will be over.
I figured it out. My friend, Hawg, spent around “3 million Freebirds” on this earth and almost a million of those were as my best buddy. He would like that for sure.
CMT Column from the week of January 8, 2017, All Rights Reserved and Stuff like that..
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I'm BN Heard and I like semicolons, dogs and remembering my best buddy Hawg.