"I met my best friend in the summer of
1972 (I think) at my wife-to-be's birthday party on Zoo Beach. I was
with another woman at the time. Years later, he'd be the best man at my
wedding and I at his. For most of the time I knew him, he lived mostly
in Milwaukee. His then girlfriend was best friends with my wife-to-be.
"I can't begin to describe all of the nonsense and fun we got into. Everyone knew we were best friends.
"My favorite memory of him was when he
lived on N. Weil St. in a basement apartment in one of the coldest
winters ever with a borrowed guitar amplifier the size of a Buick. We'd
drink at nearby bars until closing and then go to his apartment. Man,
was it cold. And then we would blast the night away with some of the
loudest noise you ever heard. Not one peep of complaints from the other
tenants. (?) And we did this repeatedly, all winter long.
"I could go on sand on with stories about
us, but let's just say that we considered ourselves to be brothers, and
I still do. I'll never forget when he visited me at my mother's home
near the bottom of my drinking. He said, 'Orbs, I'll buy you drinks all
day long, but don't make we watch you kill yourself.'
"Anyway, fast forward through recovery
and sobriety. We stayed friends. He and his wife (not the girlfriend I
mentioned earlier) bought a house on the cusp of the housing boom.
They got a nice brick home near Capitol Dr. and N. 76th St. There's a
school nearby and a huge park.
"Fast forward again to about 2005 and my
mother's home is sold. She and my father never bought, just rented.
Mom had lived in the same place for over 60 years. Now she had to
move. She did it. As my friend used to say, 'She's a tough old bird.'
"I was using her garage to store a ton of
stuff. Over the years, I had emptied and refilled her garage three
times. Anyway, there was an old wooden trailer in there that I had to
find a new home for. It was fall and I knew that the trailer would
fetch a better price in the spring. That winter the trailer spent the
season behind the garage of the apartment building I was living in.
"Here's where it gets fuzzy, but I don't
remember why I didn't sell the trailer. Somehow, it was decided that I
would tow it up to my friend's house and leave it wrapped in tarps and
chained to a tree. It spent four or five yeas there. Meanwhile, I
developed my major stomach problems that took 4 years out of my life.
"Early one summer, my friend called me and asked me to remove the
trailer. I said, 'Sure,' but I talked to his wife and told her how sick
I was. She said don't worry, he has plenty of other things to do.
This happened four or five times. Then one evening I received a
telephone call from my friend using a tone of voice I had never heard
before. It was obvious he was seething with rage, all of it directed at
me. I was to remove the trailer immediately. I said I'd be there the
next day. When I asked him if there was air in the tires, he screamed
at me, 'How the hell should I know?' and he hung up.
"Of course when the next day arrived, I was puking and puking my guts
out. I called and left a message on my friend's answering machine
saying I couldn't make it that day because I was going to the ER (which I
did). I told him to give away the trailer, sell it, pay someone to tow
it, whatever, get it done and let me know the costs, if any. The next
day I called again and repeated my willingness to pay for things.
:I never heard from or saw him again. 38 years of friendship, down the
tubes. Once I realized the finality of it, it was devastating. The
only thing I could compare it to was when I broke up with my wife. A
huge chunk of me died when that happened. So much so, that many thought
I was a dead man for sure.
"I'd say that breaking up with my wife killed half of me and losing my
friend killed a quarter. There's not too much left. Better get your
shots in while you can.
"It's one of those things that you never really recover from. You have to walk around it because you can't walk through it.
"The recent loss of some friends left me staggering once more. This
pattern has followed me since childhood. I get to know someone or some
people, and then I move on. It's obvious that I don't know how to
relate to people. Most importantly, I can't 'read' people. I take
people at their word. I'm an absolute idiot that way. 64 years old and
naive as a three year old. Something's missing. Something's broken.
I've never been able to fix it, nor has anyone else. I'm a born loser
"As for my 'best' friend, the last I heard, he was in the Elkhart Lake
area, but I don't know. Wherever he is, whatever he is doing., I wish
him peace. I love him and I miss him dearly."