Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Just another Manic Wednesday

I worked in a TV repair shop for seven years. For nearly all of them, M*A*S*H re-runs were on at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. There was always at least one TV on in the shop; there are certain shows that I have nearly committed to memory. I’ve been thinking of one, these last few days.
The main story revolves around a package that Col. Potter receives at the beginning of the episode. He’s mad and moody. Eventually, the main cast members are asked to assemble in his tent one evening.
Col. Potter was a veteran of WWI, and he and some buddies had found a cache of liquor in a French chateau where they were pinned down. They had formed a "tontine" – the only time I’ve heard that term used – wherein they would save the last bottle, and it would go to the last survivor of the bunch. Col. Potter is now the lone survivor. He’s been mourning for his lost comrades. His current circle of friends listen as he describes each one. Then the tone changes. "As much as I loved these friends, I love you even more," he says to those gathered around him. He asks them to join him in a toast to his departed buddies. The toast is, "Love and Friendship." I have to say that it’s a scene that moves me, just thinking about it. On those rare occasions when I choose to use it, it’s a toast that I can barely get out. Guess I’m just a sentimentalist. Big surprise.
I’ve been thinking about it lately, most likely because I’ve had the opportunity to rekindle some friendships that have been dormant for some 20-odd years. One of the things that I didn’t fully grasp until recently was that the relationships we build are "eternal" (scope of that word still yet to be fully realized by this larger-than-average, yet not-quite-ripe cranium). Some go stale, some go dormant, and some are forcefully terminated only to return via all of the complicated means available in this world. Six degrees of separation really isn’t that much. In fact, I’m considering having Kevin Bacon’s love child. The technology is here. But that is another story.
I don’t think it hits most of us until our mid to late 30’s is that the only thing that separates those octogenarians sitting at a park bench from the 6-year olds wildly to-and-fro-ing on the swings is time and the probability of a broken hip. As my mind begins to tick off a growing list of those things that I won’t do again, or can’t now, from piloting a plane (heart’s decertified) or climb the Matterhorn (too fat), to include riding that roller coaster or even trying kayaking, I feel a sense of loss of my own potential, but not desire.
So, here I sit, across the table from my Best Man. I see his face, which reflects my own subtle (but not really) maturation from my memory of our shiny, youthful foreheads as we stood on those church platforms half a generation ago. His eyes are the same, and the mannerisms, and the things that bound our intellects together oh so very long ago spark and sizzle and it’s as if nothing was ever any different. Rekindle is the right word, because there is a warmth between us that, sadly, I do not feel as often as I’d like. That we are both now staid members of our respective communities belie the sheer goofiness that we participated in adolescence, it provides a foundation for understanding each other’s current shenanigans.
I also got to spend some time with my "current" and geographically closer friends, recently. They mean so much to me in ways I can’t express, well, I just can’t express it. For reasons that could probably stand several years of expensive analysis (or that I could probably sum up in 3-4 paragraphs for you at a later time), I don’t have many friends. Let’s just leave it at that. The friends I do have, well, I like them a lot. Through the ebb and flow our our relationships, I feel like I’ve been taking more than I’ve been giving lately, I hope that I can edge the balance sheet back the other way, someday.
I hope the device of using someone else’s writing to set up what I’d like to say has worked for you – it’s part of the constant drama in my head. A little observation, a little humor, a little gratitude, a little confession, a little essay from me to you. Thanks to online community, there are some of you I’ve never been remotely physically close to. Some of you, I may never see again, this side of the veil. I may see a couple of you in a week or so. Thanks, today, for all of you.
Love and Friendship.
And no, I’m not drinking and blogging, but I am in the hospital. At work. Thanks for asking