Sunday, May 29, 2016

Productive

I've had a very productive day so far. I got almost everything on the old honey-do list that Mary left for me when she left me.  I mean she left home to do her own thing. No, that doesn't sound right either.  What I mean to say is that she went to town this morning without me to meet Jonathan and our two beautiful grand daughters at the zoo.

I was not invited on the zoo excursion.  I don't know why.  Maybe I embarrass them when I walk around shouting "Free Willy" whenever a zoo official passes by. Or maybe because I hate zoos in general, seeing all those sad eyes and frowns on those unfortunate inmates lazing around in the dust, and sometimes mud, devoid of privacy or any of the real comforts of home.  No, I am not good company at the zoo despite Paul Simon's insistence that "It's all happening at the zoo."

Then again, maybe they only invited grandma along because they had one more admission ticket, and that they know that grandma loves the zoo.  The only thing I'm complaining about is that she gets to spend that time with our granddaughters, whom she loves almost as much as I do.  But a good thing that always comes with her spending time with them, is that she is then happier and easier to live with.  So even though she always leaves me a list of chores to do, I don't mind if she has a smile on her face when she gets home.

But I digress.  I started out to say that I've had a productive day, even though all the things I accomplished were minor piddling little irritating chores that you wouldn't normally set aside time to do.  Like I retied and replaced some of the cable ties that hold the windscreen on the upper deck railing. Like vacuuming the kitchen (even though it wasn't on the list. I just thought it needed doing). Like installing a hook in the bathroom to hang the little clock on the wall.  Like assembling and replacing in their proper place outside, the three burned out garden lights.  And get this--I even baked a dozen gluten free sugar cookies and a dozen gluten free banana muffins. And it's not even lunch time yet. And I emptied the dishwasher and took out the trash.

I accomplished all that and I didn't even have to put my pants on.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Peonies

Jannelle's comment on my previous post that showed the plantings I had done on our condo's walkway entrance stirred up some memories about the peony plant in one of the pictures. She had noted that the plant already had some buds on it, which is somewhat unusual.  The peony plant that this one came from typically bloomed in the week after Memorial Day. Those early buds make me think that I am being watched over by the man who gave me the original plant and taught me how to take care of it.....

When we moved into our house 45 years ago, we were entering a strange new world of responsibility that we may not have been prepared for.  Sure, we knew the basic duties that needed to be taken care of on a regular basis to keep our new home comfy and cozy, but we weren't quite prepared for the myriad mundane chores that seemed to increase in number every month.  The outside work, for instance, was a revelation.  I wasn't so naive as to think the grass would cut itself or the snow in the driveway would  miraculously melt before I could get my shovel, but I was unhappily surprised at the amount of time all those chores took.

But we learned to deal with all work that seemed to continuously pile up. As long as we knew what to do, we had no problem doing it. Our youthful enthusiasm and boundless energy saw us through most of the problems that were stacked on our doorstep. On those occasions when we were stymied by some household conundrum, we relied on the knowledge and expertise and good old common sense that our elderly next door neighbors had in abundance. Thankfully they were willing to pass some of that knowledge on to us.

When it came time to do some gardening or landscape work all I had to do was ask Karol, my elderly next door neighbor, how to get the job done.  Karol was a consummate gardener.  He could grow anything and have the plants thrive way beyond expectations. So when I put in a new concrete walkway from our front door to the driveway and decided to plant peonies on each side flanking that walk, naturally I sought Karol's advice on selecting the right variety of peony, how to plant them, and how to take care of the new plants. I got the idea of using peonies along the walkway from looking at the peonies that Karol had planted along his driveway.  Those peonies were spectacular when they bloomed each year.  I was hoping to get the same result with my flowers.

When I told him I planned on buying two dozen plants, he looked at me like I was crazy.
"Nah." He drew out the word into three syllables in his thick Polish accent, all the while shaking his head at such an absurd idea. "You don't buy. I give you." That made me shake my head at such an absurd idea.
"We take cutting from my plant.  We dig up like this." He took the shovel he had been leaning on and proceeded to split one of the peonies along his driveway in half, digging up a sizable chunk of root stock while leaving the other half in place.

While he dug up the two dozen plants I needed, he told me all about those peonies. When he first came to this country after WWll in 1948 (the year I was born), he lived in an apartment that had the remnants of a garden gone to seed. Among the weeds he found a rather forlorn and wilted peony plant that he took a special interest in. He turned that sickly specimen into a prime example of what a peony should be.  At that time he judged that plant to be around 75 years old, figuring it had probably been planted when the building was built. When he married Emma and moved to a different apartment, he took that peony plant with him.  Then when he and Emma built the house next door in 1962, he propagated all the plants that lined the edge of his driveway from that one plant that he had found abandoned in that backyard 15 years before. That made that original peony about 90 years old. We bought our house in 1972. At that time Karol's peonies, all propagated from that original plant, could be traced back 100 years. For the remainder of the time we lived in that house, 42 years, following Karol's example, I took great care to maintain those 24 plants that were the direct offspring of Karol's  original peony.

So when we sold the house two years ago, it was only natural that we would take a cutting from that row of nearly 150 year old peonies alongside the walkway, and transplant it here where it will serve as a reminder of our history and honor the memory of Karol.

Hopefully that line of peonies will continue for the next 150 years to bring good luck and beauty to whomever has the good fortune to take care of them.

Trains

We never notice it during the day.  But last night was one of those nights when Sleep was hiding just beyond the shadows, afraid that I would grab her and hold on until morning.  During the day there is too much of everything else going on that we would have to concentrate hard if we were to hear it.

Last night, however, during that sleepless interlude when Sleep was flitting in and out of the shadows, teasing me, I counted six times that I was almost lulled toward sleep by the urgent drone of a fast moving freight train. That drone, along with the vibrations that echoed through the ground from a half mile away, together were the unmistakeable announcement that something important was happening either north or south (I couldn't tell which way the train was moving) and it was paramount that the train be there on time, whether to witness or participate I could only guess at.

Clicketyclackclittyclack that train aimed toward its destination, roaring past the barricades that were meant to stop the feeble autos that would skip across the tracks after the train had pulled the last railcar down the line. That roar and its echo changed the night into a Doppler serenade, gradually dying off into a sigh that only those waiting for it could hear.

People have mostly given in to the notion that a passing freight train, heard from a distance, stirs the soul and fills it with romance. There is nothing romantic about a freight train taking its time passing in front of you with a stacked up jumble of cars jamming the one lane street, stopped and waiting for the damn train to pass on by so you can get to your very important meeting. There is nothing particularly romantic about a hungry hobo hopping on a freight train, hoping it was going someplace warm. There is nothing romantic about counting train cars as they move across your only route to that very important meeting. Stuck in a situation like that, I could never count past 50 or so because the cars were whizzing by like they were being chased by a guy named Lionel, who wanted to shrink the entire train and give it to good little girls and boys, or because the passing train was moving so slowly that I would fall asleep by a count of 30.

Can someone please explain to me the immutable law of the Train Gods that says the slower a train moves, the longer it must be with cars overloaded with exotic and other unusual goods destined for exotic and unusual places. And why does it always seem that the train workers controlling their behemoth hunk of machinery can walk alongside their slow moving status symbol, and become more haughty and seem as though they are thumbing their noses at us while we are locked in the parking lot that should be a street, where we are held at bay by that one flimsy barricade pole stretching across our path.  I'm sure that there are many like me who formed amazing fantasies about how the train workers would be tortured with rail spikes driven through their skulls with 20 pound sledge hammers, then tied to the tracks just before the express train arrived with its arrogance on full display, and while screaming for you to get out of the way, chopped those workers tied to its track into hamburgers that would later feed all the hobos on board.

Those hobos had it all wrong. I figured that if you were going to ride on the train, you would do so by sitting in a seat in the specially appointed passenger cars, or if you were really special, in the caboose.  I never bought into that romantic notion, preferring to dwell on the power of the engine that put forth the Herculean effort to pull so many boxcars behind it. That an engine, usually alone at the front of the line, was able to generate enough power to control its family of boxcars, tankers, flat beds, and the punctuation of a caboose, has always been a source of wonder for me.

My train training began when I was maybe 3 or 4 years old.  We then lived across the street from a set of tracks that sat on top of a ten foot berm.  There the tracks were so close that when it passed we could see the gleam in the eye of the engineer, who knew what a special place he held in the imaginations of the kids he waved to as he chugged on past.

That set of tracks also seemed busier at night, too.  That it passed through our neighborhood more slowly than normal may have been a concession to the local powers that be who wanted as little disturbance as possible for the people who lived there.  That was fine with me because I could curl up in my bed, listening to the monster across the street roar on by and feel the vibrations that nearly crumbled the walls of the house and feel safe.

I'm sure that the trains, those scary, noisy monsters, fueled my imagination and provided me the early lesson to pay attention to what was going on around me. That's why I would never cross the street without someone holding my hand to make sure I didn't get too close to the tracks. That's why, although I've never seen it, I have such a clear picture of that train in my mind, when I hear the night trains now, not across the street, but that half mile away. That sound wafting over the terrain that separates us will always bring back those early memories of when trains were exotic monsters to be respected, wondered at, and enjoyed for all their power to inflame boys, now men, with wonder.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Hardware

I was in a hardware store today just because. I wasn't there for any specific reason. I mean there was nothing that I needed from a hardware store, I just like to wander around hardware stores absorbing the aura of machinery, paint, chemicals, plumbing paraphernalia, electrical doodads, and all those nuts and bolts and screws of every size and  shape that you can buy by the case or single piece.  That aura will permeate my soul, keeping it satisfied and content until I can return to recharge that feeling.

Some hardware stores are better than others, of course.  The newer ones with their nice shiny floors, wide aisles, and professional merchandizing, are a bit too slick for me.  I much prefer the old stores that you will find in any prosperous small town.  That is where the business was started by someone's great grandfather and handed down through the succeeding generations.  The store would have solid oak wood floors with ruts in it where customers habitually walk to get to the back of the store to pick up that one S-hook they need to hang the pot of petunias that the wife got at the local farmers' market.   All the walls will be fitted out with heavy duty pegboard that is crowded with the merchandise you just can't live without. Some of that merchandise has been there for years; you can tell by the accumulated dust and the faded package. The seasonal goods will be rotated in the front left corner of the store.  But don't look for Christmas decorations there before Thanksgiving, or the grass fertilizer and  weed'n'feed before Easter.

You can always count on there being knowledgable clerks to help you find the exact thing you need, unlike the new places who hire teenagers who don't know their adz from their zax.  Whenever you go into an old fashioned hardware store to find that 10-24x2 hex nut with the plastic lock washer attached, look for oldest clerk there.  He will probably be named Otis or some similar name from the past, and he will know exactly where to find any esoteric item in the store. If you are unsure of how to do something with that item, Otis will teach you. Otis knows everything there is to know about hardware.

Those old time hardware stores always have guy who can fix anything from the screen door that
your grandson kicked his soccer ball through (from inside the house), to your 25 year old lawnmower that he had to make the parts for. His workshop is usually in the low ceilinged basement lit by 4 bulbs hanging from that low ceiling. Larry (what else could his name be) rarely sees daylight and has bumps that cover every square inch of his head because of that low ceiling. The proof of his dedication to his job is the fact that if he could stand up straight instead of moving around in a bent over habitual slouch caused by the cave he spends all his days in, he would be 6'4".

Give me that hardware store anytime. Entering a store like that is like falling into the rabbit hole where everything is magical. I don't need to need something as an excuse to go into that special environment. All I need is a whiff of the unmistakable air wafting out the open door to lure me inside.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Hypothetical

Mary has expressly forbidden me to write anything about her or anything that has happened to her.  That makes it tough for me to find something to write about since she is such a wealth of material, even on days when nothing happens to her.  So to comply with her wishes, I will just have to present to you a hypothetical situation that could happen to her or has happened to someone like her. I will insert myself as narrator into this hypothetical situation only to keep it simple.

Our protagonist (let's call her Mary, hypothetically, only because this is the kind of thing that would happen to her), was on her way to her hairdresser, with your narrator riding shotgun, cruising down a fairly long hill, building momentum for the climb back up the other side of that same hill. She was talking to me, pointing,and telling me that the bottom of this hill we were rushing down was a favorite place for the local police to set a hypothetical speed trap. Sliding down toward that hypothetical speed trap somehow created enough hypothetical momentum to get the hypothetical car up the hill and to the stop sign where it stopped to catch its breath.

The four way stop at the hypothetical intersection is confusing enough at times. Drivers from all directions vie to be the next in line to move forward, thinking that it is their turn to go. Of course, with all those drivers thinking it is their turn to go, there is a lot of starting and stopping, waving of arms, exasperation on their faces and quite a bit of finger messaging going on. Our protagonist finally got her turn to proceed and squeeled her tires to show how impatient she was. She was determined not to be late for her hypothetical appointment with her hairdresser.

After starting out from the stop sign, our protagonist would suddenly hear, nearby, the chirping sound a squad car siren makes when it is clearing its throat, readying itself for a full blast wail at the villain he is pursuing.
"Did you hear that?" She might hypothetically ask your narrator. " where is it coming from?"  She probably would be a bit confused upon hearing that same chirping getting closer. Finally she would see the flashing blue and red lights behind her.
"I should pull over and let him past." She is after all, a careful driver, observant of all traffic laws who has never gotten a ticket for any vehicular transgression. So she would dutifully pull onto the shoulder to aid the following policeman in his pursuit of the scofflaw that he was after.
U
"What is he doing?" she would ask upon seeing the police car follow her onto the shoulder and stop in the position of control that they do when apprehending serious criminals. "He can't be after me, can he?"  Her hypothetical incredulity was working overtime.

The hypothetical policeman was polite, but cold, when asking our stunned protagonist if she was aware that the law required her to pull to the side of the road whenever a police car was flashing its lights. She would likely answer, a bit petulantly, "of course I know that. I've been driving since I was 16."
"Then why didn't you pull over when you saw me behind you."
"Because I didn't see you there." She would then roll her eyes at the obviousness of it all. "I was looking where I was going, not where I'd been. So why did you stop me"
"I had you going 15mph over the limit coming down that hill back there."
"Well of course I would be going faster down that hill." She was certainly not going to let the logic of the situation be missed. "It is downhill after all."
The hypothetical cop would then take her license and vehicle registration back to his squad car and take his time writing her a ticket while our protagonist would sit and stew in the invective that would be choking her. She would dig deep to cuss that lowlife cop who was making her late for her all important appointment with her hairdresser.
A hypothetical situation like this would probably get a ticket that would set her back around a hundred bucks and the loss of 3 points. She would not be smiling when she told whoever was riding with her (like our hypothetical narrator) that he had better not post anything about this if he knew what was good for him. But all her companion could think of was all the ammo that just filled his domestic armory and how she would never live this one down.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

hang on

We have been in a replacement mood lately. It seems that things in our household that we take for granted are deciding to wear out at the same time. I just hope that we aren't part of the trend.
The truth is, I like having new machines and such around the house. Those new, technologically up to date gadgets and gizmos keep me interested. It seems like I always have a new toy to play with. That is, of course, if I've been good and Mary sees fit to reward my good behavior.
Well, I must have been especially good lately because she bought me a grand spankin' new, up to the minute dodad-wise, testosterone oozing, ready to attack first and damn the nametaking, VACUUM CLEANER! And it'is RED, my favorite color.
I'm telling you, this puppy is hot. This morning it was sitting in the garage in a closet that holds most of the rest of the cleaning stuff we have--you know, like the half dozen mops (each with a particular function), all those special rags I've mentioned here in the past, brooms, extra plastic bags just in case, a couple of rugs (the runner type in case someone with dirty feet wants to enter the house and defile it with their unwelcome dirt), you get the idea. I could sense that there was something amiss whenever as I approached that closet. I felt a strange vibe coming from inside. At first, I ignored it, but the longer I took to acknowledge it the more palpable that unhappy aura became. I finally gave in and freed the grumbling machine from its cell.
It sat in the middle of the room (I swear I could hear it purring the way a lion does when it anticipates a kill), arrogantly daring me to plug it in and see if I was man enough to take it for a spin. I figured no vacuum cleaner, no matter how red, was gooing to get the better of me. So, with a tinge of trepidation, I took the controls in hand and let her fly.
I was in control of the beast but could sense that it just wanted to take off and go where no vacuum has gone before. It handled like an Italian sports car, cornering like a Ferrari, and eating up the straightaways like a Lamborghini racing to the finish line. I felt like a real man chasing after that vibrant red machine. No toy, this one. When I was done with the vacuuming I felt like a conquering hero. I showed that pissant vacuum who was boss.
Mary must really love me. She buys me new toys and let's me help clean the house. What more could a guy ask for.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Mary's boys

I am frequently, no constantly, amazed at Mary's affect on high school age teenage boys and her continuing that affect as those boys become college students, growing into their young manhood. She has demonstrated an uncanny control in many different situations during her many years of teaching high school English to them, getting them to accept that Satire, Short stories, Science Fiction, American lit, and even English Literature are worth studying and knowing. Many of her former male students realize that they are better off because Mrs. C had the patience and ability to get them interested.
How do I know this? I know these things because they have told her so, with me standing, or often sitting as a witness beside her, after they have spotted her and run up to her to give her a big hug, while asking her at the same time, "Mrs C, do you remember me?" Her young men are never reluctant to approach her to express their joy at running into her at the mall, or at a restaurant where they are waiting tables, or at any public place where it is not unlawful to give your former favorite English teacher a big hug. Oddly enough, she once encountered one of those admirers in the back of an ambulance. The young man was a paramedic who was part of the response team that answered my call for help. When he recognized Mrs. C, I, the suffering patient lying on the ambulance's gurney, became an after thought. Such is her influence over them.
I bring all this up because we recently vacationed in Florida where she had occasion to exercise her abilities once again. I shouldn't be surprised at her handling of the "situation" that arose, since we have encountered the same thing on previous vacations at the same place. For the past three years we have rented a "cottage" that is next door to what we, and everyone else who has been in the vicinity, call "the party house." It is a large house with a small pool and a spa that will sleep, I expect uncomfortably, up to fifteen people who invariably turn out to be college kids on Spring Break.
Now we all know that when you get a gang of male college students on Spring Break wedged into an inadequate space for them to exist comfortably, mix in a quarter barrel or two or three, add in a few bikini clad coeds found on the beach who are, shall we say, pliable and willing to brave that churning cauldron of testosterone, then crank up the volume on the earth shaking music machine (they were playing classic rock,my favorite genre, so I can cut them some slack on the volume) and if you don't notice all hell breaking loose, then you are obviously dead.
In years past when our neighbor's in the party house were more than a little raucous into the wee hours, we just turned over in bed, put the pillow over our ears, and slept late the next morning. This year the fraternity brothers who took over the house that had made its reputation as THE PLACE TO PARTY, thought they were being clever by launching a preemptive strike at us before their turn to party got started. The afternoon they arrived, two of their more charming members, Robert and Stuart, came knocking on our door intending to reassure us that they were not a pack of rowdy hooligans who were unaware of the finer social mores that we, as members of their grandparents generation, were likely to practice. They actually had a pretty good idea--ingratiate yourself to the neighbor's, get them on your side from the get go so that they wouldn't immediately call the cops when the party was at its apex, teetering on the razor edge of sanity and total chaos. They came forward with the promise that they would not be noisy past midnight so we wouldn't be deprived of our much needed sleep. Mary, however, thought 11:00 PM was a better idea. She gave them her best "this is my world and you are welcome here as long as you obey my rules" look, which served her so well in the classroom all those years.

They never knew what hit them. Smiling all the while, Mary assured them that their mothers would be proud of them if they did as she expected. They were also informed that she would contact them each with a text right at 11:00 to remind them of their self-imposed curfew. To that end, she elicited each of their phone numbers, which they gave up willingly without another thought. By that point all that Robert and Stuart wanted to do was get away while they still had their balls in the right place.
While Mary, their new best friend, was laying down the law, I couldn't help noticing the sweat on their brows and the moistening of their armpits as they stood silently, in rapt attention. Nodding dutifully, agreeing to adhere religiously to the tenets presented to them by this most admirable of teachers, they were convinced that every thing they were hearing from this supreme being had been their idea. When Mary finally dismissed them with her motherly smile and a soft touch on each arm, they didn't realize how they had been manipulated, or how they had come to be in the presence of this motherly, nay, grandmotherly goddess of the Psyche. She had used her myriad magical psychological gambits to convince Robert and Stuart that this was all their idea: the 11:00PM curfew, the lowering of the music volume, the awareness of their language (Mary had indicated to them that the vulgar cussing so common in their conversation was unacceptical even though she could out cuss a horde of Huns if need be), that their clever opening move had succeeded beyond anything they had imagined, and that they had put one over on the nice, but simple, elderly couple next door. Mary had allowed them to leave with their dignity intact, their sense of manhood unscathed, and a feeling of accomplishment that will boost their confidence the next time they enter into negotiations with somebody.
From that moment on we had a great relationship. Every time they saw one of us, they were quick with a smiling greeting and a willingness to talk with the "elderly couple next door," whom they showered with "sirs" and "maams." They got a life lesson in communication with someone of another generation that in the past they might have been reluctant to approach. You can bet that if our paths ever cross again in some far away place and when we least expect it, Robert or Stuart will run up to Mary, embrace her with a monster hug, and say, "remember me?"
And best of all, the party noise never crossed the line into objectionable territory. We all got plenty of sleep, and Mary had provided those two young men a lesson in getting along with others, even the elderly couple next door. And I got material for another Mary C story. 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

friendship

I was sitting here thinking about all the people we know, the people we call friends, and the people we consider special in our life. We, of course, have some very longstanding friendships that are significant because of their longevity. Those are the people who are essential to our life story, the narrative that defines us now and how we got to this moment. Then there are the more recent relationships that have entered our life and are held there by a rather tenuous thread that can grow stronger with time or shred into strands of memory. Such temporary friendships are more common and can blossom into full friends of lofty status or remain as acquaintances, pushed to the sidelines and easily forgotten when the next new friend appears. We, of course, have experienced all those different kinds of friends, from the dearest of friends to the slight acquaintance, through the years and have enjoyed being one of those different kinds of friend, from "best" to "barely know them" to them in return.
We are very fortunate because we make friends easily. Smile at me as you pass me on the sidewalk and you are close to being my new best friend. Once we get to talking, you're mine. Mary has the real gift, though, that attracts people to her like metal shavings to a magnet. For some reason, total strangers feel compelled to confide in her. If given 5 minutes with her, she will know that person's life story, the names of all her family members down to her cousins, all their husbands and wives, all their birthdays, their political leanings, how many devout Christians and how many devout Muslims are in their family, and how regular they all are. Mary was in Kohls one day, standing in the checkout line when she struck up a conversation with the woman behind her in line. Five minutes later they had made a lunch date and a promise to get together frequently. That was nearly three years ago and they are still meeting for lunch. Not the same lunch, obviously.
Then there are the friends who get separated by living their lives and putting all their effort into the necessities of that life. They get married, have 2.5 children, change jobs a half dozen times, settle in a city far across the country and only occasionally, think of you. Then one sun shining day, without warning, the fates nudge them to look to their left instead of to the right. And there the friends cross paths 40 yrs down the road, quickly get reacquainted, and pick up their friendship right where they left off those many years ago as if there was no intervening hiatus. I have had that happen to me twice in my life, and feel enriched and thankful to God for giving me back my friends.
If I had to guess, I would say that at least half of you have had a so-called friend who hurt you by doing or saying something stupid that made you question the value of that friend. Friends can usually get away with an occasional insult or observation that cuts to the bone, like a razor sharp stiletto stuck between your ribs and twisted more than once. That hurts. But hurts will heal if given time and the cause of that hurt will mercifully be forgotten. Tolerance for the idiosyncrasies that made you want to have that person be your friend, is the key to the door that opens into the room that holds all the good attributes that drew you into that friendship in the first place.
It is important to remember that there are good friends and bad friends. Remember how often your parents questioned you about who you were hanging with and what you were doing with them? Isn't it amazing how right your parents were, how much they knew and how intelligent they became as you got older. Parents' duty is to protect their children from the hazards of life. Vetting your friends may seem to be an invasion of privacy at times, but how grateful were you when Mom warned you to stay way from that kid you thought was your friend who ended up in jail for dealing drugs. That is the quintessential bad friend. Of course, Moms and Dads can be

wrong at times. When the kid who would be your friend that they didn't want you to associate with turns out to President of the US, they will brag about your taste in friends and they will have to admit their error and eat their words.
Let's not forget the steadfast friend who has always been there for you from the first time you met. He is the guy who will always show up to help you move, to shovel that 4 yards of topsoil, to babysit your kids on a moment's notice, to lend you his car when yours is in the shop. He's the designated driver the night of your stag party. He's the epitome of "best friend." Everyone should have a friend like that, if only to use as contrast and to make you appreciate all those others who would claim friendship with you.
So there you have it, friends. I hope this little essay will stir your appreciation for your friends. I hope you all are blessed with fine friends. Feel free to count me among them.