Company of friends never grows old


Adventure on the high seas, a hand stuck inside a pop machine, seven-plus hours at the Indy 500 with tornadoes nearby, an attack of ground hornets while a voice similar to the Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom’s Marlin Perkins echoed in the background.

No, these are not tales from a Dime store novel or the figments of an overactive imagination. They are just a tiny sample of countless experiences I have had with a lifelong friend.

Many friends took part in one of those escapades, but two friends were part of them all. One of them I have not seen for two years, and the other I see a little more often. But by the time you read this I will hopefully be spending time with both of them and several other good friends.

I was contemplating this nearly annual gathering of buddies the other day, and also thinking of my youngest son at Morehead State University, when another adventure struck my mind.

One spring many years ago when I was a student at Morehead, the friend I have not seen in two years was working and going to school in the Washington, D.C. area decided to pay me a visit at school.

We were buddies from our elementary school days and had not seen each other in a while. Plus, the friend had attended Morehead shortly before my arrival there, so a visit sounded like a great idea – even if I did miss a class or two, or three our four, because of it.

Anyway, on the day of my friend’s expected arrival it was getting towards evening, and I was getting a little bored and antsy, so I decided to walk to the store and grab a snack.

I was on my way back to my dorm when it all started. I was lost in my own little world, minding my own business and walking on a sidewalk beside the road, when some dude on a motorcycle – dressed in all black and wearing a helmet with a black face guard – kind of pulled up alongside me and seemed to be staring at me. Having no idea who this masked stranger was or what their motives might be, I started walking a little faster.

The motorcycle guy matched my pace and kept staring. I was starting to get more than a little concerned at that point, so I started walking even faster. And the motorcycle guy kept right up with me, nudging a little closer to the sidewalk all the while and continuing to stare directly at me. What the heck, I wondered, as I contemplated a dash for the dorm. About that time though, the motorcycle guy stopped. He lifted off his helmet and broke into an all too familiar laugh.

It was my buddy from Washington, D.C., who just happened to come upon me as I was walking down the sidewalk. And he knew he had spooked me good. He was doubled over with laughter, while I felt like giving him a high-flying karate kick to the head. And so, another adventure started.

My friend explained that he had just purchased a new motorcycle, and with it being spring and all, he thought he’d take it on the road trip to Morehead. He said he ran into some trouble with snow in the mountains, but made it through unscathed. That was about to change.

That night or the next one we were sitting at a campsite in the Daniel Boone National Forest visiting with some friends. The sparkling new motorcycle was parked nearby. As we were sitting around chatting there was suddenly a crashing sound. No one had moved, but when we looked around, the bike had fallen over, damaging one of the side mirrors or blinkers. My friend was not pleased, but he picked his bike back up and took it in stride.

A few hours later we were headed back to my dorm. He was driving the motorcycle and I was seated behind him. Just as we were about to park, the bike fell over again. My buddy was grumbling something about me moving around too much on the back of the bike, and I probably said something about his lack of motorcycle skills. The bad part was that when we picked the bike back up, its other front side has suffered some minor damage.

My buddy didn’t take that mishap as well as the first one, but after a few seconds we shared another laugh and headed in for the night.

I could say the rest of the week was rather uneventful, and it was, at least as far as the motorcycle was concerned. I missed much more class time than I should have that week, but we sure had a lot of fun.

Over the years we had lots of other adventures. Many of them have been recounted in this very space. When we all get together this weekend – and for a short while slip back in time – there will be smiles, and hoots, many mostly false tales of bravado, and slaps on the back and hugs all around. It’s like that when good buddies rekindle old memories and etch new ones into the sands of time.

The years seem to pass more quickly now, and the visits are less frequent. But the company of tried and true friends never grows old.

Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.

Jeff Gilliland Staff columnist Gilliland Staff columnist

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