The Measure of a “Best” Friend

How would you define the word “friend.” What’s required of us to “be” a friend, or to “have” a friend? I reckon those simple questions have perplexed folk for about as long as the good Lord’s blessed us with thought. Some say a friend is someone you can share the deepest darkest parts of your heart with, certain they wouldn’t tell another soul.

Well… if that be the case; I figure the only one I got might be my dog, Yep… just the dog. Frankly, I can and have told him stuff… you know, the kinda stuff I’d be too embarrassed to share with anyone else. He just sits there, staring at me, soaking things in. (Maybe he’s just hungry?) I’m not sure, I figure I’m safe though, it’s not like he’s gonna run around telling complete strangers my worst secrets. But there are times I do worry about what he thinks of me, what he tells his dog friends when I’m not around.

No, I believe a friend’s a lot more than just a repository for our “worst” selves. A “Best” friend has to be “grown” over time, a walking talking measuring stick of who we really are. They learn us, not just our words, I’m talking about the real us. You see… we can’t hide that part from a “Best” friend. The trick is finding someone who’s willing to invest the time and dig past what we “put out there.” Then accept the worst of us as just, “part of the package.” Yea, kinda makes you feel a bit “ick” don’t it?

A “Best” friend won’t hesitate telling you how wrong you are either. Nope, you may not like it, but they’re usually the first to warn you about that bone headed scheme, and the first to say “I told you so.”

” A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Proverbs 17 : 17

It’s been said; “you can tell who a person is by looking at their circle of friends.” Think about that for a second, look around a bit. What would you think if you were just meeting you? So…keeping that thought firmly in mind, consider your clan. That’s who you are my friend, good, bad, or indifferent, that’s the person you’ve chosen to put out there.

Our boy Mikey has such a friend in “big” David. By the end of the book he’s gonna figure out just how valuable, such a person is. David’s one of those rare individuals that lead by example and not even realize it. They just do what they do, and in the process attract friends like bugs to a porch light. David’s character was instilled in him by his family, it’s to easy to forget that even the smallest of things have a lasting effect on our children.

” It’s impossible to straighten the bend in the Oak, the crook that grew in the sapling.” American proverb.

We all need a “Best” friend and I hope you’ve got one. I’m ashamed to admit, I don’t think I do. But that ol’ dog is sitting here, looking at me kinda funny, I wonder what he’s thinking.

The following excerpt is Mr. Bills advise to Mikey about friends. Our boy soon figured out, a “Best” friend doesn’t have to agree with everything that comes outta your mouth.

Excerpt ; Chapter 26 “The Tin Cup Clan”

Time fer a much-needed smoke break young’un. Let’s you and me go rest our legs for a spell.

I had just finished with the last trash can when I felt a tap on my shoulder.

The air was cold and damp; the constant wind increased the discomfort. Heavy clouds covered everything in a dark fine mist and it clung to the battered metal trash cans forming a thin layer of ice.

The cold weather didn’t seem to vex him none. He stood there; his thin naked arms dangling in the wind. Once again the same smooth singular movement of that ol’ Zippo lit the “smoke” he held clinched in his teeth.

He opened his mouth just a little; allowing a thin wisp of smoke to seep from his lips. The smoke hung there for a second before getting pulled back in through that hooked nose.

So… you boys still figurin’ on headin’ off up that mountain tonight?

Yes sir… I reckon we are. Looks like I ain’t got much of a choice now. What with everything that’s happened and all.

He backed himself up to a bucket, gave his britches a tug above the knee and sat down with a pitiful groan.

“We always got choices son, specially a lad yer age.”

He paused for a few seconds staring out in the fog; he seemed almost painfully deep in thought. It’s when you get my age that ye find yer choices have been made. But… I figure if yer minds already made; ain’t no sense in me tryin’ to change it. But for the record… I don’t agree with it.

When yun’z figurin’ on headin’ off up there any way’s?

We gotta meet Mark about seven at Kesterson’s Market I replied. I figure we’ll start up that way then. So long as it ain’t rainin’ or anybody else chickens out.

He lifted an eyebrow; who’s backin’ out on ye?

David I replied. Said he weren’t about to go fibbin’ to his folks. I spose bein’ friends don’t mean as much to some people as it does others.

He got an agitated look on his face.

Now you wait just a minute young man. Just cause a body don’t agree with everything that comes outta your mouth don’t mean they ain’t yer friend. I figure the best ones ain’t afraid to say no from time to time. Keeps us honest. Just like you did with that Mark feller. Gotta stand ye ground, even if it’s shaken under ye feet.

He rubbed his rough chin and leaned towards me. Ye get what I’m sayin’?

Yes sir, I get it. Just don’t make it any easier is all.

He stood up, wiped the stray ashes from his britches and flicked his cigarette into a puddle. Come with me a second; I got somethin’ fer ye. Jest might help ye out a bit.

We stepped over to the outdoor freezer. After fumbling with the frozen padlock for a second he opened the door and stepped inside.

He came out holding four small bags.

Here he said, I figure you’ll be needin’ these. He handed me four frozen frogs.

I figure that biology room could spare a few. Yer gonna be needin’ em where yer goin’.

I cain’t take these I said.

Why not? They’s just gonna be all cut up in a few days anyhow. Least this a way they can do some good. I’m just gonna set em here, just inside the door. When ye come to git em, just pull this pin out to open it. Jes make sure you put it back. You hear?

Now… let’s get back to it before ol’ Tuttle comes a lookin’ fer us.

We shook the cold from our bones and went back to our labors. As the ol’ saying goes. ”busy hands make short work.” It wasn’t long till the clock said my shift was over.

I hung my apron and hat before saying good-bye to Bill. As usual he was bent over loading trays. With-out ceasing his work he simply mouthed “be careful” from across the room. I was off and eager to tell the guys about our new-found prizes.

Published by The Tin Cup Clan

Mike had never considered himself an author until in his fifties an advanced cancer diagnosis for him to worry about the legacy he would leave for his children and grandchildren. Once the treatments began he needless to say, found himself with plenty of time to put pen to paper. The result was a culmination of stories soon to be named The Tin Cup Clan. A simpler time but not necessarily the greatest of times. The story of a group of young boys trying to survive the harsh reality of coal country, poverty, and just simply growing up. Along the way friendships are formed, old town mysteries are solved, and lessons are learned that will last a life time.

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