Friday, November 14, 2014

Beastly things

Yet another thing that I didn't get into as it was happening last month because the blog was in full-on Halloween Countdown mode was that I got a visit from my old buddy Scud. It's true! Back in July I was ruminating with deliberate ambiguity about trying to re-establish contact with high school friends, but here's the conclusive rundown, in brief: I sent a friend request to Scud, he accepted, we exchanged e-mail addresses, started writing back and forth, and before too long had come up with a plan for him to swing by my pad on a weekend when he was going to be passing through Virginia anyway. Our buddy Kingsley, as far as we were able to determine, was not on Facebook, but by putting our heads together and utilizing other online resources Scud and I were able, during his visit, to track Kingsley down anyway and reach out to him, and although the communication has been a bit slower it's still crossed the vast gulf between "haven't spoken in 22 years" and "in touch at present". Boomer finally did accept my friend request, after a long and unexplained lag, just before I was going to start messaging his wife and asking her if her husband had some grudge that made him not want to talk to me after all this time (though I figured it wasn't that, more just that she's the social butterfly with a daily presence on Facebook and he's an intermittent feed-checker at best). So, all in all, a pretty positive outcome around the horn.

So, Scud's visit: probably just as well that the blog was otherwise occupied during the last couple weeks before his arrival, because of course I was in a minor (read: major-rager) tizzy over it in typical irrational fashion. You know how it goes, without a lot of shared history (or in this case, recent shared history) to draw on you really don't know how the extended period of time in another person's constant presence is going to go. It's like agreeing to go on a three-day getaway with someone for your second or third date, a leap into the unknown which seems like a fun idea and is probably going to be all right because things have been going well so far, but ... you never know. What if we ran out of things to talk about? Or what if one of us said something that really rubbed the other the wrong way, and we didn't have the time and space to calm down and shake it off before writing a response e-mail because we were trapped in close proximity under the same roof? What if he didn't like my wife, or she didn't like him?

All of which turned out to be pointless worrying, unsurprisingly enough. As cliche as it might be to invoke the ideal friendship where distance and circumstances can intervene and years can go by and yet later the thread can be picked up and relations resumed as if no time at all had passed, I guess that is more or less what Scud and I have going for us. Forty-eight hours together did not reveal any new (or best-forgotten) incompatibilities. Everybody got along, and the reciprocal sentiment come Sunday afternoon was not "glad that's over" but "we should do this again some time".

Anyway, one of the standout moments of the weekend for me came at one point when we were all hanging out in the yard and the little guy noticed one of Scud's tattoos and asked him what it was. Scud, understandably, began at the explanatory beginning and said "it's a tattoo" which got him an eye-roll from our little smarty-pants and a follow up "I know that, what's it supposed to be?" And Scud rolled with that and proceeded to explain that it was a design made up of overlapping zodiac symbols, one for each of Scud's children (he has four). That's all prelude, though, because once the little guy had absorbed that information, Scud rolled up his sleeve to show off another tattoo, which was also a symbol of his children's birth signs, but instead of black glyphs of the western zodiac, it was a colorful chimera incorporating different animal parts drawn from the Chinese zodiac years that corresponded to his children. And Scud explained how that all worked, while the little guy was mesmerized. We've actually talked to him about Chinese zodiac animals before (we even have Christmas ornaments for each animal represented in our family, although we still need to get a snake for the bino) so he got a handle on the concept pretty quickly, and suddenly he HAD to make a drawing of what a chimera for our unit would look like. And sure enough he did.

It was a funny, strange and wonderful moment of feeling like things had come full circle. Scud and I used to pretty reliably inspire each other all the time, when we were young adolescents with nothing but free time to fill with artistic pursuits, drawing and making up stories and writing songs &c. &c. One of us would come up with half of a crazy idea and the other would take it and run with it, and it just went back and forth like that. I always knew, on some level, that some day we'd grow up and have families of our own, but I never really envisioned how that whole collaborative vibe might play out through an extended intergenerational superset. As it turns out, it plays out pretty cool.

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