Get By With A Little Help

Vic hugging me on defense

Vic hugging me on defense

Boy Meets World is one of my favorite all time sitcoms. Yes, in the long list of my other loves — NBA; select rock/rap music; Tarantino films; 80s HK cinema; dark, gritty, harrowing Batman books; Cormac McCarthy books — BMW sticks out like a sore thumb. But I love BMW because of three relationships:

1: Cory and Tapanga, true love.

2: Cory and Feeny, mentor/mentee

3: Cory and Shawn, best friends.

(What’s crazy is the Wonder Years also revolve around these three films, and Kevin Arnold is the real life older brother of Cory Matthews)

One and two, I can go a few thousands words on. But let’s blog about three for this post.

I think most of us growing up had a single person as a best friend. Throughout my years in elementary school I had two different ones, first in Terrace Elementary in tiny Lakeport, California, and then another in Northrup elementary in Alhambra, California. But then we get older and we realize a single best friend is no longer realistic. People change, passions and interests fade, shit happens — we’re all dumbasses or jackasses (some people both) at one point or another during the first 25 years of life. So a lifelong, mutual best-friend status with one friend, ala Cory and Shawn, is purely make believe courtesy of ABC’s TGIF. To quote YEEZUS in his Late Registration album opener:

They say people in your life are just seasons, and anything that happens is fo’ a reason

Still, I think it’s possible to have a group of core friends, people that you’ll always stay in touch with. People that, when you get together, even if it’s been months or years, conversations can be had; laughs can be shared.

Most good people I know have that core group — I think its a damning sign if someone doesn’t really have a core group of homies — I have a small one too. But unlike most of these good cats in Hong Kong, who kept their core group intact by being super good friends (they skype with each other and send care packages and hug and all that shit), I managed to keep a core group despite my being halfway across the world, sometimes awkward social behaviors, poor temper, and my snobby tendency to do-my-own-shit, simply because we love basketball.

I’ve been out of Alhambra for six years now. That means over that period of time, I’ve seen them maybe 8-12 days a year. We never talk on the phone, email, or skype — because poor straight dudes from Southern Cali don’t do that crap — in fact, I only really chat with one of them regularly.

But still, anytime I go back, the inside jokes come out, the clowning starts. Two of them, in particular, Marvin and Victor, are probably my best friends.

We’ve grown apart in many ways, and we have diverging interests and hobbies. But with Marv, we chat almost every night. Although we care about each other’s lives, the main common theme to jumpstart any conversation is our love of basketball (ok, and movies and clowning people and black sitcoms/culture), we always have something to talk about.

With Vic, to whom I talk less frequently, every time I step on the court with him, it’s like 2004 all over again. We know what to do: pick and roll; I drive, kick it to Vic, he shoots.

(Don’t confuse “we know what to do” with us actually being good. Last fall we lost to a team by 70 freaking points. I’m still hanging my head in shame over that)

Going outside of my core group, I have a group of old friends with whom I grew up, and we are in completely different stages of life. Many of them are married with a proper, lucrative, but boringgggggg 9 to 5. I’ve had no luck in love, and trying to have a career that doesn’t make much money but satisfies my passions and dreams. I see them once or twice whenever I go back. Although it’s always great to catch up the first hour, it eventually hits that we are completely different people.

But then we step on the court, or we watch an NBA game. And like that brilliant Radiohead Kid A opener, everything’s in its right place. The year’s 94 and the trunk is raw.

I can see us doing this when we’re 60.


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