I want to wish everyone wherever they may be a most peaceful, blessed and joyful Christmas!
May the peace of Christ, which the world can not give, but which is bestowed by the Prince of Peace be yours this day and for the whole of your days.
This is a post that has me going in two different directions. One the one hand, I have an obligation to write this, for I was asked to put down “on paper” some remembrances of my friend Phil who passed away recently. As you can presume, having to write about a dear friend who is no longer with us is tough, because the hard reality is that I won’t see his big smile or hear his hearty laugh anymore. These last few years have been one filled with a lot of family and friends who have passed away. I reckon I am at the age in life when this is what is more of a common occurrence, though it certainly doesn’t make it any easier. My prayer lists for those close and dear to my heart has been sadly increasing in length.
My hope of course is in Christ and in His Resurrection, that death has no more sting or power, for it has been soundly and resolutely defeated. That is the consolation that I have, that one day I will see my family and friends again in a place of peace, joy and happiness eternal. That is where my friend Phil waits for me and for his family and friends.
I first met Phil back in 1999, my first year teaching high school. Talk about a baptism of blood. It was absolutely brutal, but I made it through at the end. Phil was one of the reasons why I made it through that first year of teaching. He knew well the struggles that I was having trying to be a teacher without having any true or genuine experience or knowledge of how to actually do it. I remember well the first time we connect. It was during one of the faculty meetings. We were sitting by one another and he was making funny faces and noises which only myself could see or hear, being that he was covering his face so the administrator speaking would not be privy to what was taking place at the last table. Oh, how hard it was to not just bust out with an utter bellow of laughter. That is one of the aspects that I loved about having Phil as my friend, for he could just give a certain, particular look, something akin to say what Buster Keaton or the great silent comedic movie stars of a different age could do. He would have me laughing in no time at all, which of course he would start to laugh right along with me. The students would then give us quizzical looks as we walked by trying hard not to laugh, obviously not being very successful at it.
Before school, he would be in the copy room deep in study for one of his many MBA tests. I would come in and see him poured over his books. I could tell he was stressed, so I would sit down and he would look up and give a look of exasperation, which would slowly change to one of his comedic expressions and we would both start to laugh. It was salve that was much needed. He worked so hard to obtain his MBA. I know well how much of himself he put into obtaining that degree.
Besides his humor, he had a deeply reflective and introspective side. I think that is another reason why we hit it off so well, why we got so close. I shared with him my past of studying for the priesthood for four years within the collage seminary and how my Catholic/Christian faith meant much to me. It was the same for him. Phil was of the Egyptian Christian Orthodox faith. I can think back to times where we would go into the little chapel on the school campus and pray. We would come out and sit on one of the hallway benches and talk about God, life, meaning, purpose, suffering, all of the substantial and profoundly deep topics that are often seen to be too vast and personal to openly discuss with another these days.
Friday after school, a group of teachers would go out and “debrief”. We would alternate between a few of the local restaurants and have some drinks and food. Phil and I would sit there just start to laugh without any promo or anything being said. He would just look over at me and make one of his silly faces at me and that was it! Those Fridays are one of my most cherished memories, because of the camaraderie that was formed by way of going through a similar experience of being a high school teacher. Sometimes when everyone left, Phil and I would stick around and keep chatting. We would just hang out for an hour or so longer. Those “debriefings” are cherished memories to say the least!
One of the last times I saw Phil before he left to go live oversees for employment opportunities, he picked me up and we went to a local Carls Jr. to have lunch. For whatever reason, he was craving a Carl’s hamburger, so off we went! I can still think back to sitting in his car, driving down Pershing with the airplanes flying overhead as they had just taken off, the semi overcast beach haze was still hiding the sun. He was sharing his frustrations about how difficult it was to find a good woman to marry. He was telling me about some of his recent dating episodes. It goes without saying that he had me laughing at some of the stories he shared about going out with this or that girl. None of them were right for him. Naturally he was frustrated at not having someone in his life to share. I just mentioned how it would happen for him in Gods time, that he would find the perfect wife who God would send. Turns out I was right, for he did find the perfect wife. Suffice to say, Gods ways are not our ways and that it is all a mystery for us on this side of things.
Phil gave me a gift one day, an Orthodox cross that I have had within my room for all of these years. I see it everyday, for I have it in a prominent place. When I would see it, my mind would of course turn to Phil and I would wonder how he was doing, how I missed him. Now when I see it, I think upon our friendship and the dear memories I have of him.
A few months before he passed away, Phil kept coming to my mind when I was praying my nightly Rosary. I knew intuitively that something must be going on with him, but I didn’t have any idea as to the particulars. While it was uncanny that he would come to my mind when praying, I simply took it as a message that my friend needed my prayers. So pray I did. It was a few weeks back that I came home from being out and happened to check online, receiving a message from a mutual friend that Phil passed away from cancer.
I just sat in my chair, the answer finally revealed as to why I was being beckoned to keep Phil in my prayers.
A few Sundays back, I went out to the beautiful Christian Egyptian Orthodox church that Phil loved to go and pray in. I had the privilege to meet his older brother, sister and cousins, along with other close family friends who were family to Phil. I wish that I could have met them sooner, with Phil introducing me to them all. I wish that I could have been there for his funeral and to be there for his wife and young son.
Life is not fair and it certainly is a struggle in so many ways. Though it is also beautiful and worth every moment. While I don’t have an answer as to why my friend had to leave us too soon, I do know that I just have to accept it and recognize that it is ultimately part of God’s loving plan and providence.
Suffice to say, I am a better person to have known Phil and to have him as my friend.
God bless and keep him…and may we be reunited in heavenly joy one day.
Continuing along now with the third part of my Bunnymen adventure, now we move along with what took place at the second LA concert…
The next show was at the Orpheum in downtown L.A.
I sent an email to my buddy Peasy, asking if I could bring my dear friend Mark in to take some photos during the show. Mark is a real deal photographer, whose work speaks for itself. Peasy gave the ok, so I was really excited not only knowing that Mark was going to be shooting during the concert, but also in anticipation for how cool the photos where going to be!
Unfortunately, Mark tweaked his back earlier that morning and was in a lot of pain. Hence, he was unable to go and take photos of the concert. While I was feeling disappointed by the news, more so because this would have been an awesome opportunity for my buddy to showcase his talent with the camera, nevertheless, I took solace in knowing that at some future time when the Bunnymen return, Mark would be able to make a go of taking those concert photos
At that point, I started to ponder which of my friends would like to accompany me to the gig. So I started to ask around, with one of my buddies, who is also named Patrick said of course he would love to go and down we drove the busy streets of Los Angeles to the show.
After parking at one of the numerous outdoor open lots, we made our way to the Orpheum theater, which is located in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles. One of the few, original grand theaters within the city, that has been lovely and painstakingly preserved. The grand beauty of the front facade harkens back to a much different time long since past. Walking up to the Will Call, I greeted the person behind the counter and gave my name, as well as presented my id. Unfortunately , I was informed that there was only one single ticket for myself, with no accompanying guess pass whatsoever. I stood for a moment not quite believing what I was being told and must have looked quite perplexed, as well as perturbed.
After a brief discussion trying to see what could be done in terms of this particular situation, I realized that there was some obviously disconnect or simple mixup on the part of the tour manager, especially since Peasy had assured me everything was good to go. “Stuff happens” as the antidotal sayings goes, so I told Patrick that I don’t want him to be left outside the concert while I was inside, so that we could go find something else to do, since I didn’t want to leave him in a lurch. His response was both firm and emphatic, that I should go enjoy the show since it was both important that I take the opportunity to enjoy my friends concert, as well as giving me a much needed distraction from everything that had been stirring within my life. Patrick further went on to mention how he would happily and easily find something to do being that this is Downtown L.A. I reluctantly agreed to go in, telling him that when the show was over, I would find a way to get him in for whatever after show meet and greet there was. So with that, I went in and he went off to find whatever misadventure waited him.
Walking inside, I felt like there was a dark cloud overhead raining down upon me. My mood was quite sour to say the least. Asking one of the ushers where I was to sit, I was informed to go upstairs to the upper balcony area. Once I was finally sitting down, I was literally looking down upon the stage and out upon the vast audience seating. The majestic beauty of the theater was all the more apparent from the vista I had. It really was an impressive sight to take in. It was at that moment, I made the conscious decision to just let go with my brooding and allow for whatever was to happen that night to just allow it and enjoy the time and experience I was having. I would do what I could to work out something to get Patrick in after the show. For now, I was just going to “go with the flow” and take in and appreciate not only opportunity of being able to sit within the amazing balcony seating, but to enjoy the music that my friends were going to be providing to a sold out audience.
It was shortly after that moment that I heard someone sit next to me. Turning to look, it was an old friendly face, one of the the bands longstanding friend of many years. It was Lance, who as a point of reference is an amazing and truly talented artist. To say I was happy to see Lance, would be very much an understatement, for it was good to see both a friendly and familiar face indeed. After exchanging warm greetings, Lance asked me how I was.
Now that was a question that opens a proverbial can of worms. Ha!
I began to explain to him all of the life changes that had been transpiring from the death of my mother up to the present, where by I am trying to figure what to do next in terms of overall life direction. What he said next literally froze me in my seat. “When I saw you sitting there, I knew what we would be discussing and what I needed to share with you.”
He then proceeded to tell me what I have heard from some of my closest friends, only verifying what they have said to me, as well as lending to the truth of what Lance was imparting to me.
What struck me the most, was how clearly it was evident, if I could be so plucky in saying so, that the Providence of God was what had enabled all of the various factors of that night to go how they did, unbeknownst to all parties involved.
I related to Lance all that transpired that night, from Mark being bale to attend, to the mixup with the guest passes. All of which allowed for Lance to be present to me and to tell me what I needed to hear at that distinct moment.
Sitting in my chair, overlooking the throng of people within the sea that made up the audience, eagerly anticipating the Bunnymen to take the stage, I was moved to quietly reflect on not only what was said for my benefit, but how truly mysterious and utterly awesome God is and how He works within our lives in moments and places were we would least expect it.
I thought back to when I first want over to my friends Derek’s house after school those many years ago and how hearing the Bunnymen that first time the ramifications of which have played out within my life, be it taking a leap of faith and going over to England to meet the band when I was twenty four, as well as all the other interactions and personal connections made as a result, including sitting there in the balcony before the concert, having a heartfelt and deeply personal conversation with Lance.
Now, in terms of the actual concert, it was unlike any Bunnymen concert I have seen or experiences. Probably the best way in which I can convey what I mean when I say that is to simple relate that I felt both present and yet removed from what was taking place at the same time. Sitting within the balcony, overlooking the stage, I had quite a different and distinct vantage point of the concert, which added to the sense of being distant from what was transpiring from on stage. Though having said that, this specific location allowed for a specific overview of what was taking place as well.
Looking down upon Will while he played his guitar, I was able to follow his hand motions and movements in its entirely as he played each and every rift. At one point he looked up and I waved down, with a thumbs up sign. I wasn’t sure if he could tell it was me, so I simply called down “Love you Will”, which was probably lost from the din of the music and audience, though the heartfelt sentiment of what I spoke was true and genuine.
Throughout the concert, the sounds from various instruments literally moved through me in sonic waves. Besides watching Will work legendary skill below, I could also easily watch Mac perform his frontman duties as singer. Pacing the stage, taking a moment to get a drink to prepare his voice for the next song, saying something to the drummer or looking over at Gordie making sure everyone was on the same page and ready to launch into the next piece, were all things I was well familiar with, but from the vantage point I had, there was an ebb and flow that I was much more aware of over the course of the concert.
After the concert was over, I did manage to get Patrick in, thanks to the kindness of Chris the Tour Manger. Interestingly enough, Patrick ended up helping out a guy who was in need of some assistance whom he came across while checking out the sights and sounds of Downtown L.A.
One additional antidotal story to share was running into Ramses, who is one of the most gentle, sincere persons one could ever hope to have the pleasure of knowing. He runs an art gallery located on Melrose. We had not seen one another for several years, so it was great to spend time reconnecting with him. He shared with me about the passing of his father. I was able to totally empathize, being that I had just gone through a similar process and turn of events with my mom passing away.
Sadly, I didn’t get to see Will that night, while Mac was busy with a small cluster of people. I patiently waited to say goodbye and wish him and his daughter well and success for the rest of the tour.
Less is always more in that type of setting.
Later that night in the quiet of my bedroom, I laid there pondering all that had transpired over the course of both Bunnymen shows. One of the Rolling Stones song came to mind, “You Can’t Get What You Want”, in which one of the lines goes, “You can’t always get what you want but if you try sometime you find you get what you need.”
Suffice to say, I got what I needed at the Bunnymen concerts.
Continuing along now with the second part of my Bunnymen adventure, now we move along with what took place at the first LA concert.
The show at the Observatory in Santa Anna was in every sense what highlighted for me just how amazing and stirring Ian and Will’s music can be. The show that night I would summarize with a single word: Grand. Ian’s voice sounded strong, vibrant and rich, Will’s guitar playing was mythical and the rest of the band were tight and spot on. Opening up the concert was the new song “Meteorites”, which is the first song from their latest album Meteorites. The lyrics being:
Hope… where is the hope in me?
Can it be found… among all the ghosts in me?
Smoke… choking the fire in me…
Will I be found… by someone close to me?
It’s simply uncanny how Mac’s lyrics have always managed to mirror what I have been going through during different segments of life. I am quite sure that this is one of the reasons why the Bunnymen have had such an appeal, for both the lyrics and instrumental sound of the music have a combined richness and cognitive effect with which I find myself drawn within their particular sonic tone and fitment, which I have always been one to connect with in terms of the lyrics that are a mix and rage of the intimately personable to metaphysically esoteric.
A further elaborating upon a more personal analysis of the lyrics/sound of their new album is something that I will save for a future endeavor.
Retuning to the show itself, it was during this first concert that I could just take in and fully luxuriate the band for what they were doing musically on stage. A few feet from me during the show was an old familiar face, that of Delvis, who is an old friend of Mac’s. We were shouting back and forth to one another and periodically giving one another high fives and fist pumps, as we were both caught up within the moment and were relishing the Bunnymen work their sonic brilliance.
After the concert, I went backstage and had time to just reconnect with Mac and to my pleasant surprise to finally meet his daughter, who joined him upon this tour, thus allowing her to see firsthand the vastness and richness of what this country has to offer in terms of its people and culture. I was rapid firing off memories of back when I was a roadie working for Mac and Will during the Electrafixion phase. I was sharing some of the more humorous stories with Mac’s daughter, who seemed to very much enjoy my recounting of these misadventures. Mac wondered how I could recall with such detail what took place some twenty years in the past, but it really is quite easy, for everything had such a lasting and deep impression upon me, that it was one of those “once in a lifetime” experiences.How could I not take it all in and hold it close to my heart? Saying goodbye till the Downtown LA show, Mac gave me two bars of white chocolate. A simple gesture, but one that hopefully gives you some insight into the genuine kindness and warmth that Mac has.
Coming down the backstage stairs, I spied Will standing there at the bottom. He looked up and greeted me with a “Hey Grizz!”. He asked if I was thirsty and offered a soda from a truck that was providing a multitude of assorted types of microbrewery sodas. So walking over to the truck, the kind gentleman who owned the food truck gave me an ice cold ginger soda. I was making out like a bandit with my two white chocolate bars and now ginger soda! After a short exchange of greetings, a cluster of fans calling to Will caught his attention, so that he outside to the parking lot through the back gate entrance, in order to chat and hang out with the fans who were on the other side of the gate. He spent a good fifteen minutes taking the time for pictures, signing autographs and just polietly listened to their sharing how much he and the music meant to them. Standing quietly off to the side, I just observed the interchange taking place and thought how the inherent personalities of Mac and Will are so different, yet how they both are both gracious, genuine and kindhearted when it comes to their fans.
Being late and that I had to wake up early to teach the next morning, I had to take my leave. Saying goodbye to Will, I walked aways to where I had parked my truck. One of the security guards for the venue stopped me because he saw what appeared to be an open beer I had in my hand and he did not want me to get busted by the police officer, who was sitting in the car I had just walked by past. I just laughed and showed him the label of the ginger brew soda and said thanks for watching out for me. He grinned and shocked his head, saying that he thought I had big gonads walking by the police as I was taking a swig of my beer.
On the long drive back home, I was reflecting upon the events of the night. A collection of newly made memories playing through my mind, as I enjoyed one of the white chocolate bars Mac gave to me.
To be continued…
I have to qualify this post. What started out as a straightforward review of the Echo and the Bunnymen L.A. shows has morphed into something much more and different. So while I am will be sharing my experiences as to what took place over the course of the two recent Bunnymen concerts here in L.A., it goes much more personal and individualized.
This is definitely not going to be your typical “live concert” review. If your looking for a more objective, just present me the “facts” as to the shows, there are more than plenty out there to give one an excellent sense of the vibe and kinetic energy that a live show affords one, which without stating the obviousness of the simple truth that it is live that the Bunnymen truly shine. Where as some bands/musicians excel within the studio, where as live it seems as if there is a distinct essence or substance sorely lacking within a live concert, I would content that in the case of the Bunnymen, that live is where one can take in all of the majestic, haunting beauty that Mac and Will have to offer for ones sonic appreciation. Thus, this “review” of mine has more to do with what has been and is taking place within the context of my life, where by the Bunnymen have been interjected and interposed within this timeframe. Perhaps you may be nodding your head with a confused look upon your face, but that is perfectly fine, it all makes sense to me. Maybe by the time I finish this post, it will make sense to you as well.
All of this begs the question then, so what is going on with me and how do the Bunnymen shows have any connection with or relationship to what is transpiring during this distinct timeframe of mine. A bit of succinct history is needed, to be able to best answer this.
Two years ago my mother passed away from a long respiratory illness due to her years of smoking. I stopped working full time, in order to help care for her, since I had the luxury and ability to do so. These two years since have been a time for me to “level out”, to regain a sense of normalcy of life and to regain my source of things. Obviously there is a toil that is taken, physically I put on a lot of weight, physiologically I had to deal with what the reality that death was coming for my mom and lastly spiritually, putting my faith in God in a time and place where everything is so raw, exposed and within a situation where there is nothing other to be done, but just to go through it and show all the love and presence that I could to my mother when she needed it.
Where does the Bunnymen fit into this particular equation?
Probably the easiest way to explain this is to first ask the question, what band or musician did you connect with or relate to when you were growing up? For me it was the Bunnymen.
Over the course of my life, there has always been some type of overlapping when I needed it in terms of how their lyrics/songs/albums have in some profound, though unexplainable way been a support or parallel relevance as to where I was at.
How and where did it all being? That is easy enough to tell…
I was introduced to the Bunnymen by my best buddy Derek when I was a junior in high school. At that time, my other friends were listening to music like Van Halen, Billy Idol, U2, I was listening to classical. I just didn’t feel connected musically to any of the bands or musicians I heard, until after school one day I was over at Derek’s house and sitting in his ultra comfortable leather chair he had in his room. He said to me, “I think this is a band you will like” and proceeded to hand me his overly expensive headphones to put on. I asked what the name of the band was, his replay was “Echo and the Bunnymen.” I looked at him with a incredulous look and gave a short laugh…”Bunnymen…”
What happened next was life changing in every aspect of the word. The song was The Game. Hearing the intro…then the voice speaking out these lyrics, ” A sense of duty was my one intention and an ugly beauty was my own invention Pride a proud refusal and I refuse to need your approval Too many seekers Too few beacons But through the fog we’ll keep on beaming….”
I can’t describe or exactly tell you what happened at that moment, for the only way I can best explain it is to say that I felt affixed or fused to this unusually and peculiar named band. While it was mystifying to me, it also felt perfectly natural, much like putting on the ultra form fitting and walking on air sneaker. It just fits…perfectly.
Thus, as a teenager, I had received a precious gift, that of feeling apart of something more, something grand, something both special and personal. Perhaps it is a feeling that only one can have during that particular time in life, for while I have grown to both love and appreciate many different musical artists and bands, there has never been anything quite like that moment for me musically. I just chalk it up to being at the right place and time in my life to be open to something which would play a significant role within my life.
In my early twenties I “fell” into being able to be a “roadie” for them for a total of three tours. That is a much longer story for another time, suffice to say that it was by way of the kindness of Mac, Will, Heinz, Perry and Peasy that made me feel very much that I was and am still today a part of a family, where by no matter how much time has passed since seeing/chatting with one another, it always feels like no time has passed.
To be continued…
I made a brand new friend!
I am really both quite excited and very happy to introduce you to one of my newest (and dare I say coolest) friends…
How did we meet you ask?
Well my dear friend Andrea is an artist. She is in fact one of my favorite artists, for her style is very whimsical, playful and as adorable as adorable can be! I purchased one of her pieces a while back and started saving up money for when I could snag up another one of her works when she painted up one that I would totally must have have. Actually, if I could buy all of her artwork, I would, that just goes without saying!
The most recent painting I bought was this one entitled “Singing Lullabies To The Moon”
Well, to my surprise, there was another little bubble wrapped container…and what was I to find within…none other than Owlberto!!!
Turns out he asked Andrea if he could go live with me, since he knew that I have Eggbert and Henry here with me.
Well, I was able to find out some information about this little stowaway from Andrea, for she told me that…
“Sweet little Owlberto is a smallish, mischievous owl. His beak is always cold, and sometimes he tries to warm it on the feet of unsuspecting people; and he makes a big mess when he eats cookies and insists on eating dessert first, But he has a big heart and always helps out when he can, helping little old ladies cross the street and rescuing kitties from trees.”
Ha! Well I told her that he will fit right on, for I not only love eating cookies, but I always seem to make a big mess when I do…I have some shirts in the wash right now to prove it! Of course who doesn’t insist on eating desserts first! That is the best entry during dinner time! Of course I too can be quite mischievous, but when it comes to helping the little old ladies and especially kitties, well I am on it!
So I defiantly think Owlberto will make a most fine, welcomed friend here with me and Eggbert and Henry…all together!
Here are some pics of Owlberto on my desk that I took:
My friends Andrea’s art page:
A couple of weeks back, my dear buddy Daryl asked if I would be interested in buying just about all of his various gaming figures which he meticulously and artfully hand painted. There are like five different time periods/genres of figures which he wanted to sell off.
How could I say no?!!!
Over the years, we have spent many a day playing “war games/historical campaigns” with these figures*, along with the previous sets that I bought from him a few years back. Not only is there a sentimental attachment to these figures, but they truly art little works of art that have been lovingly painted, even down to subtle little nuances which are noticed only if one is holding them very close to inspect.
Along with the collection of figures, there are multiple buildings, trees, shrubs, and other assorted environmental knickknacks and fun little objects which one would find within a dungeon deep as well.
It is one thing to “have” them to enjoy for ascetics and “cool” factor, but it really is all about playing with them. So with that in mind, my hope is that in the near future I can host a game whereby my other gaming buddies can delight and cherish them as much as I have.
Of course what I have to do now is to start saving up some money, for the next time when Daryl wants to sell off some of his latest figures which he is currently painting and working on.
Maybe he can paint up some wild west figures.
Now that would be a Yippee Ki Ay of a game to play!
* Along with a glass of some smooth whiskey, wine, or heavenly rum…while puffing along an old school tobacco pipe to boot!
So excited to have read the news that my favorite T.V. show Agents of Shield is being renewed for a second season!
Also announced by ABC was that a new show entitled Agent Carter, based upon Hayley Atwell’s Peggy Carter character from Captain America will be a new show as well! She was awesome in the Marvel One -Shot: Agent Carter!
Agents of Shield started off as a slow burn, but really found its sea legs as the season progressed, which makes sense, for being a new show, the characters and storyline need to have time to fuse and find its niche.
I, for one am hoping that Ward turns out to be a triple agent, working for Nick Fury. He better come back next season, for I have really digged what the writers have been doing with his character. Perhaps we will finally learn what the truth is with him come next tuesday. I can not wait!!!
Saturday, I hosted a little bbq in honor of it being my birthday on Sunday, May 4th, which also happens to be the same day which the “Star Wars, may the 4th be with you” is celebrated. Of course I had my pirate flag flying, which my buddy Frank gave to me some years ago, so as to hoist it in good fun for just such occasion. Plus, it makes for a very easy landmark for those who are coming over to the house for the first time.
Sitting in the backyard, surrounded by my friends, with dad ensuring that my fire starting skills are suffice enough so as to get the actual barbecue grill going, made me reflect silently as to how blessed I am to have the good and dear friends and family that I have, those whose presence I was enjoying that day, as well as those who while unable to join the fun, are nevertheless ever dear, cherished and close to my heart.
Two quotes on friendship come to mind as I write. The first by my Confirmation saint, Thomas Aquinas. “There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.” Another by Samuel Coleridge, “Love is flower like; friendship is like a sheltering tree.”
It wasn’t long after everyone was sitting around in the backyard, with both food and drinks plenty, that the various stories and anecdotal tales of things that I have said or done over the years started to be told. It wasn’t so much a bbq at that point as more of a classic Dean Martin Roast. Suffice to say, I loved every moment of it.
A little antidotal story I want to share dealt with getting a birthday cake for the bbq. Along with getting everything ready and good to go for the bbq, it dawned on me that I needed to go get a birthday cake, for what would be a birthday party without cake right? So off I went to the neighborhood “mom and pop” bakery.
When asked what I wanted the cake to say, I thought for a moment as to what would be something really fun and unexpected for it to be. I knew in an instance as to what it should be and asked if she could put “Hail Hydra…Not!” She looked at me quizzically, but after I explained the reference to the Captain America: Winter Solider film, as well as the Agents of Shield tv show, she started to laugh. Sure enough, my buddies Mark, who gave me a Captain America shield keyring and Shield hat as a present and Matt, who made some “Hail Hydra” meme’s to tease me with were totally floored and utterly surprised as to my choice in birthday cake wording!
Such was Saturday, with new friends who I have recently made, to old friends from back in the days of Grammar school, to those in between the years were all there surrounding me. I was given the best give of all, their presence and love.
What a real, tangible blessing is the gift of friendship, one that I thanked God for, as I quietly sat there while being “roasted” with a big smile on my face!