My daughter was married recently and the wedding provided an opportunity to reunite with some life-long friends that I met in college. Three of these friends, Dwight, Joe, and Tyrone were groomsmen at my wedding over 32 years ago. It was amazing having them together with me at my daughter’s affair since they were there for the entirety of her life and more.
Joe moved to Boston for Grad School and settled in Massachusetts, so I saw less of him over the years. Dwight, Tyrone, and I lived close together in New Jersey until my family moved to Florida a dozen years ago. They were and are brothers to me in every sense of the word. The funny thing is that we spent nearly all of our time together arguing for over 35 years.
Dwight and I are of a very similar mindset. We have similar views on politics, child rearing, personal responsibility, you name it. Unfortunately, we have always been argumentative as well as highly principled. We would find any nuance to debate about. We have even come to blows on occasion. Our wives would roll their eyes and drag us home, knowing that we would be at it again soon enough. I can’t remember either of us ever admitting defeat.
Tyrone, on the other hand, was frequently wrong. He’d take up any argument, usually based on some extremist nonsensical position, and just dive in. Even more galling was his politically conservative bent. This was unusual, to say the least, from someone growing up in the projects of Newark. Dwight and I would dismiss his harebrained ideas and debunk them in seconds, but Tyrone had a way of keeping us in the fight. Eventually, Dwight and I would break into an argument about the nuances of why Tyrone was wrong.
It’s been decades since all of us have been together. Dwight and his wife, Sue picked up Tyrone and his girlfriend Annette and left New Jersey on Saturday morning. They stopped in Washington, D.C. to pick up Dwight and Sue’s daughter Rachel. Tyrone later told me that Rachel was his new favorite person. It seems that she has the ability to do something neither of us could accomplish in nearly a half century. She shut her father up. Tyrone said that less than two minutes after she got in the car, she shut him down with a series of snappy comebacks. I have to assume that she learned it from her Uncle Bobby.
Several people at the wedding have read my novel and were looking forward to meeting Dwight and Tyrone, as three of the major characters are slightly better versions of the three of us. That leads me to the one disturbing part of the reunion. As much as Dwight and I are loath to admit it, it turns out that Tyrone may have been right about a few things after all.
To be fair, Dwight and I had some rather large fish to fry. We were going to eliminate racism, make the world safe for children, fix the education system, and possibly bring peace to the Middle East if we had time. Tyrone, on the other hand, was more interested on domestic issues…basically his own personal comfort.
Tyrone refers to himself as “America’s Guest”. Although he drives a limo for a living, he seems to think he is riding in the back seat. He seems to get invited to a lot of high-class events, most on someone else’s dime. He demonstrably tips the server at any open bar to keep the drinks strong and flowing. He’ll pay $45 extra on an airplane for eight inches of extra legroom while Dwight and I would sit folded in an overhead bin if it made a statement for the “people”.
The problem is that we now live in a world of reality TV, social media noise, Fox News, and slanted journalism. We still have racism, abused children, a significantly worse education system, and more hate than ever in the Middle East. Yet, at the same time, Tyrone has changed for the better. He is no longer a homophobe or a misogynist. He regularly participates in Toastmasters for self-improvement. Frighteningly, he has increasingly become the voice of reason.
Dwight and I agree that we don’t want to live in any world where Tyrone can be considered right. Still, it hasn’t changed our loyalty to one another. I hope there are more weddings, and we have many more opportunities to be together before the inevitable. Someday, two of us will attend a funeral and that will be a sad, sad day. Until then, we plan to keep each other honest, and keep pushing each other. We know about all of the skeletons and all of the laughter. It’s what brothers share.
Please check out my new book, Cruise Mob, the sequel to Flash Mob. It is available through Amazon and for the Kindle. Find out more at cruisemobthenovel.com.
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