caminante haciendo camino
friends, fathers, and fools
2004-01-02 | 11:27 p.m.

I met Tom in college. The first time I met him was at the game store. He walked in looking tattered and fierce. The red hair and sharp eyes making him look more formidable than his 5'10"ish, medium frame should otherwise warrant. Heís loud and obnoxious and sometimes even rude. But, on that first day, the way he cared for the small puppy that he had recently adopted and that he kept close to his side, betrayed an innate goodness.

Tom and I became fast friends. It did not take long to realize that behind the scruffy appearance and crass speech was a truly extraordinary man. Tom is one of the most intelligent people I know. He has a keen sense of humor, and, when he wants to be, he can be charming as hell.

When life comes at you with swords drawn, Tomís the guy you want covering your back. And even though he cannot be relied upon to show up for drinks at the appointed hour, you know heíll be there when it really matters.

Tom is about to become a dad. His daughter, Grace, is expected late next month. Poor guy, he looks absolutely terrified. I think heís imagining that, in this daughter, heís facing karmic retribution of apocalyptic proportions for the havoc he has wrecked on the female population for 30 odd years. Iím fairly certain that any child carrying Tomís DNA is going to cause her parents a few well-earned grey hairs before sheís singing the ABCís in preschool . . . high school is almost guaranteed to be hell.

I donít think Tom would be so frightened, though, if he could have seen what I saw as I had dinner with him and his wife last night. Heís finally home. And he wears his new married life the way you wear a comfortable pear of jeans . . . it just fits him perfectly. Iím sure heíll slip just as easily into fatherhood.

* * *

Tom is the only one of the old gang that Iíve remained in touch with. He gave me updates on everyone, though.

Greg had a big year. He earned his PhD and started medical school in Toronto. Greg is a good guy and deserves wonderful things. Iím happy for him.

Miguel is contentedly settled with a wife and a new son.

Chris and Carla are still going strong.

Alfredo and Leslie are now married. It was inevitable. And Iíve moved on. (Obviously, there is a history here, but itís too long a tale to go into in this entry.) But, if things are as Iíve been told, their lives are disappointing and sad . . . more so because they probably donít even realize it.

~J.



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