Dead Men's Tales

The trouble with choosing people older than yourself for friends is that they sometimes look at you with a wry smile, and you know they’re thinking that you’re just too young to understand _____. The condescension runs both ways. I only remember one time in my entire 40 years with Peggy that her father made an honest effort to act like my friend, and I turned him down—not in so many words, of course—on the basis of him being a member of an old, naïve, and completely out-of-it generation. I simply couldn’t believe that anyone who didn’t love my music, my movies, my writers, my marijuana, my hairstyle, and my slang, could possibly have anything worthwhile to offer.

Two of my best friends—K. (that’s him and me in the 1983 photo) and B.—were years older than I. Both started out as my teachers, in one way or another, but as our affection grew, the Southern-style deference that I paid them because of their age fell away. Then, we loved, drank, fought, hiked, traveled, botanized, theologized, philosophized, smoked pot, ate psilocybin, and loved some more—and no, I don’t mean sexually, despite the fact that B. made a determined attempt to rape me (I was so much stronger that I laughed as I fought him off).

While K. was awaiting trial for running the biggest marijuana farm in the history of the Southeastern United States, he and I went through a cemetery to find him a new identity, and the name we came up with that matched his birthyear was Robert _____. K. wrote off for Robert’s birth certificate and social security card, and got a driver’s license in Robert’s name. I don’t know if illegally changing your identity is still that easy. Probably not, eh?

K. and B. are dead now. B. was a likely sucide (he hit a freight truck head-on while driving at high speed in the wrong direction on the Interstate), and K. was a twice escaped felon with a doctorate who finally disappeared from my life for good 23 years ago. He was a homeless alcoholic with signs of liver failure by then; that’s why I feel sure he’s dead (besides, if he wasn’t dead, I would have heard from him by now). His letters are in the drawer beside me, but I never read them anymore because it would make me too sad. Life can sure hurt sometimes.

17 comments:

Elisabeth said...

Such sad memories, Snow, but tinged with real joy, and I agree with you, age can be divisive and yet there are times we manage to transcend it.

The Elephant's Child said...

Dead perhaps, but not gone while they are still remembered.

Linda said...

Yelp, a lot of us have those sad memories of friends. btw, I had a husband named Robert who probably would have matched birth years with K. He died of an OD somewhere around 1990 but would have been happy to have his ID carried on, but then that was in San Diego. But, he was buried in Tulsa.
I have a feeling if you wanted to change your ID, it might actually be easier today given the market.
Yes, life can sure hurt sometimes.
But, you aren't alone with the memories if that helps any. Like you, I've been thinking too much of those days.

nollyposh said...

Awwwwwhhhh i will try not to do the same to you my friend (((Hugs)))

The Blog Fodder said...

Memories keep coming back of people we have known. Keeps them "alive" and reassures us that we really were there.

Putz said...

wow, i have had friends like that also, a friend of mine ran across 15 lanes of los angelous traffic and was hit at about lane 6<><><>a girl i knew while in FRANCE spurned by a lover set herself on fire<>>died of course<>><<>my mom at age 59 fell over on her motorcycle<><>died of course<><><>just the fun of living i guess

Marion said...

What a bittersweet post, Snow. I have many friends/family who are now dead and gone. Only one friend was a suicide. I keep photos of them around and tell their stories often and, to me, that keeps them alive in my heart. Yes, life is suffering, as the Buddhists say, but well worth the trip. xo

Beau's Mom said...

I will be back to read the post. In the meantime, I'm like a one armed paper hanger, running this message from blog to blog:

I've tried to contact quite a few readers, but whoever hacked me is thorough. We obtained some professional computer help, and will have a forensic search done to the hard drive tomorrow.

Until then, NO POST on my LIFE IS GOOD, and some emails "from me" are NOT "ME", but the hacker.

I've started a tentative blog, and I say TENTATIVE because it is only a matter of time....moments....seconds....before the ex-wife, and ex-family members of HIS track it down.

In the meantime, we're constantly inundated with hate mail (for eleven years now) wishing us LONG and PAINFUL deaths, followed by the words: "we're praying for your soul"

THIS is what we're up against.

Kay Dennison said...

I think memories of those we've lost and tend to surface as we age. It sounds that you and your friends had a lot of fun 'back in the day' as my kids would say! I'm glad you have good ones!!!

All Consuming said...

Sad thoughts there but also, what an amazing life you've had. I should add 'are still having' as you clearly are still with us thankfully. It sounds wild and exciting and I bet it was. Sometimes when considering the fortunes of lost friends maybe we can see we have a 'happy ending' after all. xx

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

I'm thinking your friend K must've known my cousin who was one of the biggest dealers in the Southest in the 70s. That man's life should be a novel!

Beau's Mom said...

Life can sure hurt SOME TIMES? When I ran from Indiana, I left ALL the old black and white photos of my past and the past of my ancestors in her care. She said "Are you SURE?" I said "That person (me) no longer exists."

Nothing is more painful than photos and memories.

Stafford Ray said...

You have/had amazing friends and I can tell you are grateful for them dead or alive.
But what is this??? Two posts and not one word about physical pain! Go the big Medical M!

rhymeswithplague said...

You got a purty mouth.

Robert the Skeptic said...

I have no friends from high school I keep in contact with, just two from college and it is occasional. Each time I see an old friend, they look old. It makes me afraid to look at myself.

And with the passing of friends is the promise that we too will pass on as well.

Snowbrush said...

A local friend, Robin, couldn't understand how I could find any rape attempt funny. I gave her such answers as I could, but later realized that they seemed inadequate even to me. What I later came up with was the thought that I never saw it as a REAL rape attempt. True, it looked real enough, yet B had to have known all along that he wasn't going to prevail unless he injured me, yet he never tried to do so. Because I never believed that he would have truly raped me had he been able, my belief in his essential goodness toward me remained unchanged, and this made it possible for me to laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation.

Joe Todd said...

For alcoholics: Jails,institutions,death or once in a while recovery