Wednesday, December 11, 2013

#MyFirst ... Best Friend

It's time again to link up with Kerri Sackville and her #MyFirst Challenge. This week she told us about her First Bestie. (Sorry Kerri, I did have to adjust my subject title ... "Bestie" is just a bit ... well, Australian!)

I met Herb in high school. Yes, I had plenty of friends before that, but the way I look at it, Best Friend is more than just the friend who you spend the most time with ... but something else.

As with most of my closest friends in high school, Herb and I met during our Orchestra class. During those years, a strong group of us from that orchestra became fast friends.

By the time we were seniors, many of us had cars at our disposal (none of this business of having our parents buy us our own car when we got our licenses, we borrowed our parents' - if we were lucky. I was lucky) and Saturday nights became a floating jam session ... each week at another person's house - also assuming that the person in question had accommodating parents.

<--- This is indeed one of those floating Jam sessions (1969 most likely) ... this one was at my house. It is also one of the rare photos that I am actually in - rather than taking. That is me in the lower left corner ... and Herb in the red shirt over my shoulder.

During this time, Herb and I had a lot in common, performing together in the pit of many school musicals and were often together to the point that it was not unusual for us to even double-date. Naturally, we would often get in to trouble together.

In fact, I was witness to history because I had been coming to visit him. I was working at McDonald's (as all high school kids do, right?) and after work one night I decided to stop off at his house before heading home myself. Turns out that I couldn't get close to his place because of a huge crowd, which included lots of police. Remember the movie, Dog Day Afternoon? Well, it was happening right in front of my eyes. This was the incident that they would later make the movie about. Herb's house was just yards away.

In these days before cell phones, we both needed to keep our mom's informed if we were going to be out later than a certain time ... usually midnight on a non-school night. This particular night we were at a friend's house in Sea Gate ... a gated community in Coney Island in Brooklyn, NY. It was a nice night and some of us were in the house, and some were on the private beach behind the house.

Both Herb and I attempted to call home to let our moms know we wouldn't be home by the witching hour. Ironically, all of our attempts were met with busy signals. (This was also before call waiting was available.) We tried a few times and the results were always the same. About 1:00 AM we all started to head home. I knew I wasn't going to be in trouble as my mom was obviously on the phone herself - unless it had been knocked off the hook, in which case my story would still hold up. Herb was not so confident.

In those days, I was the one with almost total access to my father's car, so I would be chauffeur to many of my friends, including Herb. Since he lived very close to my house, he was the last one I dropped off, and when I walked in to my own house, my mom was still on the phone. She gave me the "one minute" sign and then said goodbye to whomever she was on the phone with and started laughing.

I quickly started to explain to her that I did indeed try to call her, but she stopped me and said she figured I had. Turns out that she was on the phone with Herb's mother - who kept asking, "why isn't he calling?" My mom kept telling her that Herb couldn't call if they were on the phone, but she wouldn't end the conversation - so Herb and I kept getting a busy signal. My mom said she knew I was on the way home when she heard Herb arrive at his house.

Herb and I stayed friends through college ... but I would prefer you not ask me how (or why) he was handcuffed to my dorm room door one night - in his underwear! He met my (now) wife while visiting us at college and was a groomsman at our wedding. He continued to be friends with my wife and myself for a long time after we were married. Eventually, however, we sort of drifted apart for a number of years.

It was at my 30 year high school reunion in 2000 that we next saw Herb - though he was using the name David now - and it was as if we had just seen him ... no uncomfortable getting reacquainted ... though there was a bit of catching up that needed to be done. (He was now teaching at the same high school we had attended.)

That's what makes a best friend ... we may not see each other for long periods of time, but when we do, we pick up right where we left off.


  1. LOVE that story. But... why did he change his name? Apart from the fact that 'Herb' is the name of an ingredient and not a person?

  2. Actually - the ingredient is an 'erb ... Herb is a name. ;-)

    And as to why? No idea.