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Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Where's Otis?

I should wear a candy cane shirt. Like Waldo. You know?

Lemme tell you about Joey Two-Hands.

He was that guy in college who lived a dorm or two away from Laws Hall. He graduated from a St. Louis area high school a year after my buddy, Marty. Marty brought him into the fold about a year after the fold established itself as a fold. At the time, we didn't know Two-Hands (who in the beginning was only known as Joe) would someday end up kissing a girl Marty was taken with. We didn't know that he would someday rat me out for hooking up with some girl with a French name. We didn't know that he would throw himself between a flying bar table and my head, probably saving me the stitches and scar that he ended up getting. In short, he ended up being exactly the kind of friend that we always wanted.

Go figure.

Thing is, despite looking like Joe Everyman, Two-Hands carries around a bit of untapped genius. I'm not sure exactly where he carries it, but it's in there. I think he fights it. He's got math equations running around in his head that most regular folk would have a hard time conceptualizing unless you used french fries and Whoppers as examples.

A restless soul, Two-Hands has bounced from Midwest to mountains for the past eight years. He taught high school for a while. Then he went to work for some computer company that had a fooseball table in the break room. He's still there, in fact. But when he's not protecting the integrity of the world's computer networks, he's living as a part-time bar owner. He and some friends pooled some cash and bought a bar near Coors field in Denver. They just bought a limo to carry them around Denver.

Go figure.

I think about Joey a lot these days. Not because he's any better or worse a friend than any of my other college buds. I had late night talks with all of them, some of which still make me laugh (and sometimes cry) to this day. But there is one talk I had with Joey that I've never been able to shake. I think about it a lot these days, because it speaks to a several-month malaise I've been suffering.

It was late at night as July 4th turned into July 5th. Two-hands called me out.

"I've never understood you," he said.

I thought apply replying in kind. I never really understood Two-Hands either. He was some mad, Golden Boy genius who spoke in terms of aritifical intelligence and higher game theory. He could make gorgeous women swoon just by smiling the right way.

But that wasn't what he was talking about.

Two-Hands simply couldn't understand how a guy who has lived as lucky a life as I could spend so much time brooding and bitching about life, women, et al.

Joey lost his mom to cancer several years ago. Though I know it must have hit him hard, he never fell off the deep end. I think the same goes for another close friend, Cappy, who just lost his dad. They're people who understand how to be happy. And if they find themselves unhappy, they make themselves happy. Smart guys, those two.

So, that night (it had to have been six or seven years ago), Two-Hands called me out for being a little bitch.

It was quite an eye-opener. He was more right than anyone who had every attempted to psychoanalyze me. Genius can be annoying.

I channelled Joey today as I returned to my desk from lunch. I heard his voice, late-night, vodka-laced and weary, throwing out that line. "I've never understood you."

If he were here right now, I figure he'd give me the same line. It's what friends do for each other. I carry him fall-down drunk out of a casino at 5am, he tells me to get off my self-pity trip.

Friends are amazing pieces of life. I've got a group of them coming down to see me for Bradoween weekend. I had a work opportunity pop up at the last minute that will force me to abandon them for a few hours while they are there. Without hesistation, Marty wrote only two words in an e-mail: "DO IT."

A lot of people would be offended that they're planning to drive so far and I'm taking off for something work-related. Marty only said, "DO IT."

My chest gets sort of tight these days. It's all psychosymatic and stupid. I've found that when I think about my friends, it helps to calm me down.

So, where's Otis? He's the guy in the candy cane shirt, hiding from the world, and waiting for his friends to show up.

Bring on Bradoween.


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Rapid Eye Reality is the personal blog of writer Brad Willis, aka Otis.
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