Saturday, July 08, 2017


Today, one of my oldest friends turns the big 3-9.  It wasn't always a guarantee that Dan would make it to this age.  Despite growing up in an idyllic middle/upper-middle class suburb, Dan's upbringing was different than the rest of ours.  Victorian houses, big side yards, and basketball hoops in the driveway surrounded Dan's family's plot of land on all sides, but his family decided to make use of the land, tearing down the large five bedroom house with a finished basement and putting up a small, three-room shack.  That gave them plenty of room to turn the yard into a turnip farm.

Despite being a partner at an AmLaw 50 law firm, deep down, Dan's dad was hurting.  Still reeling from the beatings he suffered at the hands of the Taylor Street Gang as a youngster on the South Side, he was upwardly mobile, but fiercely protective and prone to bouts of paranoia.  Ignoring the FBI's warnings, he would pirate movies, copying nearly every film in All-Star Video's catalog onto VHS -- sometimes three movies to a tape.  "That way, no one will ever know what movies I watch more than once," he would proudly say.  He would get eaten by a pack of wolves when Dan was 10, leaving Dan's mom to care for Dan and his two sisters, Penny and Kath, as well as their mentally disabled dalmatian, Sparky, who spent most of his days performing autofellatio.

Dan -- or Patches, as he preferred to be called -- was an earnest boy.  If you did something nice for him, you were bound to get a "thanky" in return.  Of course, he was subject to some ribbing at school, on account of his ragged clothes, the ax scar on his forehead, and his inability to correct pronounce "Detroit."  "DET-roit," he would say, the second syllable almost an afterthought.  He would also refer to having a bowel movement as "taking a bum."

Every morning before he went to school, he would tend the turnip field, picking up the dung left behind by Sparky, mashing it with his bare hands, and spreading it on the field.  Man, that dog shit a lot -- both in frequency and volume -- but that only helped fertilize the crops.

Dan's hard work on the turnip field helped lead Dan to success on the athletic field.  He became the starting tight end on the conference champion freshman B football team at our high school, earning him a full academic scholarship to the University of Wisconsin, from which he graduated in four years with a 4.0 GPA and degrees in physical education, philosophy (with a concentration in nihilism), and physics.  Six years ago, he achieved every man's dream when he married a doctor.

On Thursday morning, I received a string of text messages from Dan, and I'd like to share them with you now (with some names changed):
So short version . . . .Dream last night was about our high school.  Last days of school.  After many weird things I ended up at Gail Stanwyk's [a girl we went to grade school through high school with, who is not a baker] bakery with many sorta girls from HS.  Anyhow after earlier in the dream I was extremely popular due to a song that I composed and sang and Gail was interested in me.  You appeared and were interested in Gail.She chose me (again extremely short version) after your attempts at resting your head on her back didn't succeed.  You left very upset.She needed to close up the shop before we were probably going to hook up so I went over to your mom's house to console you.Your mom let me in and told me you were upset.  So naturally you were on a Nordic Track and while upset you understood by telling me to "earn this" and to "get your fuckfest on this summer."I left very confident that I would.This was about 3% of the total dream.
You deserve every fuckfest you get this summer, in dreams and in real life.  Happy 39th, buddy.  This one's for you.

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