Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Proper Dues For A Bill That Is Long Overdue!

I strongly believe that we become who we are, based on the people who we know.  We pick up a little of them, and incorporate them into ourselves.  Like humor, habits and our likes & dislikes.  The most influential people are probably the family & friends we are around while growing up.

I is who I is...and I owe some of that to you!
For me, one person was both my best friend AND a family member.  Yet, that he was neither of those things when I first met him.

[Disclaimer: He is not a person in the public eye, so I am going to change his name to "Billy" to keep his friends from finding embarrassing photos of him, which I totally plan to post in this blog.  Also, he has not died or anything, but I think that he shouldn't have to wait until death for me to do a tribute.  So hopefully he won't die before he sees this, but if does, I will have his eulogy already for his funeral.]

A long time ago, well actually, March, 1974, to be exact,  my parents were moving us into our new home.  I watched as the boxes were being brought into the house.  I was just 3 years old, so I was not much help.  I remember standing outside at the back of the house, facing my neighbor's yard, and through the chain link fence stood an older boy (6 yrs old), and he just looked at me and said;
Do ya wanna be friends?
Which I replied;
...and after that legally bound verbal agreement, we became the best of friends.

Billy (centered) with his parent and me (oh take a guess which one is me) in my house!
It was Billy who gave me all of my knowledge on baseball, and in particular, the Chicago Cubs.  This is clearly not an achievement that he can tout about, since I have very little interest in watching baseball, or any sports for that matter.  Regardless, I do have an interest in playing recreational league baseball, clearly from our friendship. 

We hung out all of the time.  I remember that we started a U.F.O. Club, with a neighbor named Tracy, where we discussed flying saucers.  We would meet in a storage shed under his back porch, which had a small window, allowing us to peak on any visitors without them noticing us.  I am pretty sure that we didn't ever actually see any real aliens, but this was years before the popularity of Reese's Pieces, so it is no wonder why we were never visited.  This probably lasted for a few weeks only.

From that same shed, Billy once got his hand pretty cut up from the window breaking.  He told his mom that he tried catching a ball, a reaction, as it was thrown through the window.  This was later revealed to be a lie. The truth was, he was knocking on the window from the inside, trying to get his idiot neighbor's attention, which he never did...I was, I mean, the neighbor was too busy looking for U.F.O.'s.  He still has a scar to remember this incident.  

Billy saw the Star War movie at the theater 11 times, and I saw it 7 times, most of which I went with him.  The Force would have not been strong within me, if we didn't hang out together.  We would act out scenes from the movie, like running through his upstairs hallway pretending that Stormtroopers were chasing us.  (For the record, we successfully escaped!)

Or the time when he somehow concluded that I broke his Chewbacca necklace that he loaned me, while we were waiting in line to get our picture taken with Bozo and Cooky.  I still believe that Wizzo and his 'stone of Zanzibar' somehow had something to do that.

Billy holding my sister while I stood on my good leg while wearing my leg braces!
Everyday, we would get out of school for lunchtime and go together to each other's house (switching days) to watch Tennessee Tuxedo and eat grilled cheese sandwiches.  To this day, I still make my grilled cheese sandwiches the exact same way we did back then.  Here is that recipe:
  1. Take two slices of bread and toast them in a toaster.
  2. Then take the toasted bread and put a slice of cheese between them.
  3. Place the bread & cheese into the microwave for 20 seconds.
  4. Let cool before eating.
As the years went by, Billy walked me to grammar school, tutored me and my younger sis, and even became my Step-Uncle when his older sister married my father.

Billy and our family, aka the worst dressed group ever!
As time went on, I got married, moved away.  Then Billy got married and also moved away.  However, we still did things together, like going to the movies, going to family functions and especially still played baseball.

Billy out on the field
Playing baseball was the thing that we did most.  We would get together, making up two complete teams, somehow with only a total of 5 people.  Billy would bring most of the supplies, except I did bring my own black mitt.  I was pretty good at hitting, running, but playing any of the field positions, well, luckily Billy, as the pitcher, was good enough to run and cover my center field position too.

Billy and his wife
However, as the time went on, we did drift apart and eventually lost contact with another.

The End!

OK, that is not the end...but the story did take a few turns over the past 15 years while we didn't see or talk to one another.  I divorced from my wife.  We still talk, but everything else that we did, is now in our past.  I did an entire series run on TV!  Bill and his wife had a girl.  She is now a tween.  Bill's wife started a company and makes the most amazing cakes, cup cakes & bakery treats!

Recently, Billy & I got together for a couple days...to play some baseball.  My sister pretty much responsible for reuniting us.

We were able to just jump right back where we left off, as if a couple of decades didn't go by.  We both discovered that our lives have become a bit more complicated then it was years ago.  We use to rock to the an album with the theme song of S.W.A.T. on it while I was running around, pretending to fly his tie-fighter model around his house, (which I did not crash and break when I tripped and fell).

We talked, shared our new found troubles.  I gave him my advice and I also learned a few things about myself, just from talking with him.

Our first time in over 15 years that we were together, back on the same field that we use to play baseball on.
The best part, we were able to go out and play ball again, but this time, we recruited another generation to cover the field for us, his daughter and my niece.  Billy even still had and brought my original black mitt, which fit just like a glove...an old, tight, stiff glove, but enough about me... (Rim-shot!)

Billy pointing out to his daughter that she may be playing a little close for a shortstop
I can't really regret the time that we lost, as what happened, happened, and there is nothing that can ever change that...I am just glad that we got together again.

I do hope to be able to play some baseball with him and his family, at least for one more time...I am also aware that this is coming to an end again.  Within weeks, Billy, his wife and daughter are moving far, far away.

Many things that I am today, come from the friends and family members that were around me, but perhaps nobody influenced me the way that one person who is both my friend & family member.

Billy, I wish you and yours nothing but happiness.  Don't ever forget what you have and how great it is, and remember to always let them know that as well!

Billy & I in front of a really big sports bar!
I have been, and always shall be, your friend.  Live long, and prosper.  (Yeah, we saw all of the Star Treks too!)

Tony Lossano, Broadcast Producer (TV & Radio, Chicago), amateur bicyclist, a fantastic dog walker, and has never been married to Alyssa Milano.

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