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Remembrances in the rain

It's raining, so I'm typing this to the rhythmic ping p-p-p-ping ping p-p-p-ping of six drips into six buckets on my bedroom floor. The rain makes me think of Seattle again, where it rains a lot, and of one particular friend left behind when I left. 

From the time he and I were six years old, going to the same Sunday School, Bruno was my best and only friend. I was a loner even then, so I had no friends at school, and Bruno and I didn't go to the same school. His family lived in the city, while mine was in whitebread suburbia. But he was as friendless at his school as I was at mine.

At church, though, we were a matched set. And after church, almost every Sunday, either Bruno came home with my family, or I followed him home to his, and we'd spend the afternoon together, until evening vespers at the church, and after that we'd go to our separate families.

Thinking back on it this morning, I wonder where we'd be, Bruno and me, if fate hadn't brought us to the same church, the same Sunday School class. Without him, I would've been completely friendless all through my childhood. Nobody to talk to, ever. Nobody to laugh with, play with, be myself with.

There were occasionally kids at school that I could pal around with for a month at a time, but they were the new kids, who hadn't yet figured out what a dork I was. When they figured it out, I was alone at recess again.

Oh, and for a while in (I think it was) fourth grade, there was a retarded kid who hung out with me. Guess he was a friend, though what we could talk about was always limited, and then he got sent to a special classroom, and I hardly ever saw him any more. So almost exclusively, my one and only friend was Bruno, on Sundays only.

Come adolescence, Bruno and I were both hopelessly awkward with girls, so there was never any chance for some dame to come between us. 

For me, everything changed when I got a job — working with people my age who didn't know my certified outcast status at school, I suddenly had plural friends, and even lost my virginity (cue the applause sign, but I'll spare you the story).

Bruno wasn't as adept at reinventing myself, and as of last summer, the last time we saw each other, he said he was still a virgin.

And that's not the only difference between us. He still goes to church, and now he teaches a Sunday School class, and he's serious about his Christianity. Me, I'm an atheist. He believes abortion is murder and ought to be illegal, which I believe is ridiculous. He's a Republican, and I'm certainly not; there's no political party where I fit in. He works for the city government, while I'm either an anarchist or close to it. He's an avid collector of old LPs, but I have no interest in music. He tapes all his favorite TV shows, and I don't even have a TV.

Is there anything we have in common, besides thirty years of friendship? We both love movies, but rarely the same movies. Whatever we talk about, we're certain to disagree.

Yet when we disagree, it's always fun, never furious, and Bruno is still my best friend. Do other people have friendships like that? Do you? 

Bruno and I disagree about almost everything, and adamantly, so we should be enemies, but it's the opposite. I always want to hear what he thinks, tell him what I think, and we engage photon torpedoes and rock-em sock-em robots and argue about all of it, but as friends. We'll never change our minds, either of us, and we'll never take it personally.

Peel away the politics and religion and opinions about everything, and there's nobody I know who's so much the same as me. And the next time I see him, whenever that might be, we'll hug and laugh and start arguing again. He's the best friend a guy could ever hope to have.

I ought to drop Bruno a post card.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

"Come to the CopWatch office, any Tuesday after 3:30," they said, so again today I tried. I wrapped my socks in old bread wrappers, put on my holy shoes and purple parka, and trudged through the rain to the CopWatch office again.

I got there at about 3:45, and again the place was locked, so I waited in the rain until a few minutes past 4:00.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

On the walk back home, I was joined by Danny, the amnesiac homeless guy whose arrest around Christmas was the last straw that convinced me to join CopWatch. Which I will, one of these Tuesdays, but not today.

To my surprise and delight, Danny almost remembered me — first time that's happened. We've introduced ourselves to each other half a dozen times, even ate lunch together once, but Danny doesn't have much memory and when I said "Hi, Danny," he looked at me and smiled and said… nothing, for a minute.

"You're— wait, don't tell me— You sell fish, right? And your name is…"

"Doug," I said when I couldn't stand the suspense any longer.

"Yeah, that's right! How ya doin', Doug?"

We talked for a few blocks, and then he went west in the rain, and I went east.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Back home, I called CopWatch a few times over the rest of the afternoon, but kept getting a recording that said the office is open every Tuesday afternoon from 3:30 until 6:00. At 6:00 I stopped calling, but I'm stubborn so I'll try again next Tuesday. 

And I'm not even annoyed. More like, amused. They're a volunteer organization, and sometimes something comes up.

Actually, it's perfect for a lazy activist like me. I get to feel like I'm doing my but to help the cause, even if I'm doing nothing but trying every Tuesday.

From Pathetic Life #20
Tuesday, January 16, 1996

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.

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