Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Friendship, The Boss & Thanksgiving drunk dialing

It dawned on me a long time ago that parking at my funeral is going to be a real challenge.

I’ve always had a lot of really great friends. We laugh, joke and drink and just have a non-stop ball whenever we’re together. It’s been that way with me since kindergarten.

I was thinking about this late the other night when I was in my office unwinding with a beer and the tunes cranked to unreasonable levels. 

I was playing “Born To Run,” an album that features on the cover one of the greatest embodiments of friendship I’ve ever seen: Bruce Springsteen laughing and draped all over his legendary buddy, the late Clarence Clemons.

I’ve always wondered if the rest of the E Streeters felt jealous that Clarence was pictured on one of rock’s most indelible covers and they’re not. I don’t think so. The picture’s just too perfect.

The situation — me alone, sipping a beer, and listening to tunes — took me back to nights when that sort of reverie was more frequent.

Back then, I’d always pick up the phone.

I’m pretty sure I was pretty drunk.

I’d call friends from all over the country. It was never a problem because most of them were drunk, too. We’d spend about an hour or so doing things like recite dialogue from movies like “Slap Shot!” and “Naked Gun.” 

I haven’t drunk dialed in years.

Heck, anymore I barely sober dial. I can’t stand making telephonic small talk. I think it’s from all those truly compelling phone interviews I used to do for pulse-racing feature stories, mostly for National Enquirer. I’d talk for hours with some stranger until we became confidants and they’d tell me all their secrets. Many of them became friends, too.

So today I’d rather not phone chat unless it’s someone saying they want to meet so we can spend the evening laughing, joking and drinking.

I think the last time I drunk dialed was before we had kids and before things like Facebook kept us all immersed in the details that used to be reserved for warm conversation.

I remember it was one of my buddies from my days at Ohio University. He picked up the phone and said, “You must be listening to ‘Backstreets’ again.”

He had a 50-50 shot at being right. It was either that or “Bobby Jean” from “Born in the USA.” That’s the song Springsteen wrote about then-departing bandmate Steven Van Zandt.

Well if you do, you’ll know I’m thinking of you and all the miles in between
And I’m just calling one last time — not to change your mind
But just to say I miss you, baby
Good luck
Bobby Jean

Gets me every time.

It’s ironic that an artist so many of us admire for telling so many of life’s truths is initialed B.S.

That was all back when I used to get genuinely angry when I suspected any of my friends anywhere were having fun without me. 

They understood and so I was often invited for raucous, week-long carousals in New York, Orlando, Nashville and all over Ohio.

I don’t feel that way so much anymore and am mostly content spending my many social hours with my buddies downstairs in The Pond.

But at Thanksgiving especially I think of all those friends, all those great times, and wish I could spend the evening alone in my office with bottle of bourbon, a good cigar and The Boss cranking up out of the Bose.

I wish I spend the whole night drunk dialing all the people who’ve always mattered so much to me and still do.

But I no longer risk being hungover for Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday, and because I’m just so grateful for so much.

I think maybe the greatest of those is that I’ve begun to realize that with good friends you don’t need them to be right there in the room with you with you all the time.

In so many ways, they’re already there.


So if you don’t hear from me late tonight, please, my friends, don’t think I’ve forgotten all about you. Any of you.

I never will.

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