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I don’t get along well with guys.  I’m sure that much of this stems from my nerdy insecurities formed as a bookish child, but the aftereffects of being a social outcast have been slow to leave me.  I have never cared about or been good at sports.  I don’t know how to change the oil in my car.  I don’t shoot animals for fun (except in Red Dead Redemption, but that is more for profit).

Knowing this, it is all the more surprising that my three best friends in the world are all guys from high school.  Ryan, Erik, and Bill somehow don’t seem to mind that I can’t name any of Cleveland’s professional sports teams, change a flat tire, or bench press my weight more than one shaky, terrified time.

We’ve been friends for a decade and a half, which means that we’ve built up a rather large repertoire of inside jokes, jabs, and insults.  We also clearly remember being 17 and stupid.  In fact, that came up often as we four, all approaching or just past 30 now, did the following stupid things:

  • Ate almost 2 kg of candy between us. That’s right, 2 kg, which is almost 5 pounds.  I blame Walmart for pricing their industrial-sized bags of fuzzy peaches so attractively.
  • Thought that not teaming up against me in Trivial Pursuit was a good tactic. Once, many moons ago, the four of us sat in Erik’s cottage around a venerable edition of said board game.  My three opponents wisely chose to pool their talents in a bid to dethrone me from my championship status.  It was a hard fought game.  They came close.  When I finally won, they had 5 wedges in place and were gunning for the last one.  This trip, age seemed to have clouded their judgment.  I still won 6 wedges to 5, but that was when you tallied up their combined progress at the end.
  • Tried kneeboarding. Again. I was never much good at kneeboarding.  It ranks up there with skiing, snowboarding, and all other sporting-type activities where I have a tendency to fall down and hurt myself.  This was no exception.  While bravely attempting to jump the wake, I managed to dig the nose of the board into the water and smash my face against what I can only assume was a floating piece of concrete masquerading as a lake.  The fall was reminiscent of one that I had when I was 18, doing the same thing, on the same board, in the same lake.
  • Decided that smoking cigars was still cool. It always seems like a great idea at the time, but then I rediscover that even the best stogie leaves your mouth tasting like someone puked an old gym sock into it.  In my defense, I smoked a Monte Cristo while the others partook in some fruit-flavoured thing that shared as muchwith a real cigar as a fruit rollup does with a peach.
  • Saw a three-person, towable tube and had the exact same stupid thought. “Two people should fight to control the middle seat… at high speed… while Erik tries to flip the tube by driving recklessly.”  And we did fight, which resulted in Ryan being run over by the tube when he was flung off the front of it, and me having my nether regions driven down against the slapping waves while Bill screamed, “I’m going to wear you down, boy!”

Really, that’s what friends are for.

The boys. The author is on the left, next to Ryan, Bill and Erik. The picture is on an angle, not because of artistic sensibilities, but because Bill’s fancy camera/camcorder was unable to stay upright on a flat surface. The end effect is, admittedly, pretty cool.