The only downside that I faced when I enrolled for my studies at NYU was that it would mean a significant reduction of my spare time, and thus fewer opportunities for adventure. Three weeks into my program, I already have a lot to handle; but sometimes, the Powers That Be throw you a bone when you least expect it. So it was that I found myself reunited with two of my best friends from college this past weekend for a brief twenty-four hours.
Readers might recall my previous adventures with Kevin, the aspiring doctor who’s more Bruce Banner than Jonas Salk. This visit with Kev would be all the more special because it would include our pal Brian. I met Brian during my sophomore year of college. He transferred to our school and joined the soccer team, and quickly fell in with Kevin. They were a complimentary duo: Kevin, the gregarious alpha dog, tripping over his own paws to be everywhere at once; Brian, the lone wolf, who couldn’t be a nicer guy, but always preferred to keep a little distance between himself and the shenanigans he was often led to. I was usually somewhere in the middle, which worked out well; any time I thought one of Kevin’s bright ideas was crossing the line from awesome to life-threatening, Brian was usually there to second my concerns.
The reason I was so excited to have Brian included was that he is notoriously difficult to get ahold of. Yes, it had been a while since I’d seen Kevin, but that was because he was studying overseas. Brian is just plain elusive. I saw him more frequently when he lived in Harrisburg, PA than I do now that he lives in Brooklyn. Giving credit where credit is due, I will say that he was the one who instigated this most recent adventure.
I met Brian at noon on Saturday to take the Bolt Bus to Boston where Kevin would be waiting. (Side note: “Bolt Bus to Boston” would be an excellent name for a Depression Era musical revue.) I’ve somehow managed to go this long without using the Bolt Bus, and I have to recommend it. My only complaint was with the woman sitting across the aisle from me, who kept stuffing her face with an enormous Rice Krispie treat despite the fact that she choked more and more with each chunk she tore out of the Snap, Crackle, and Pop family reunion.
Kevin picked us up in Boston and we drove to his brother’s house, where a large party was already under way. Kevin had sold this to me and Brian as a birthday party for himself, but it became pretty clear that this was just a gathering of his brother’s friends, and Kevin used it as a (perfectly valid) excuse to have us come visit.
Kevin is the youngest of his siblings by a wide margin, which meant that most of his brother’s friends were attending with their spouses and children. Add on the fact that Kev’s an uncle many times over, and you can get an idea of just how many lil’ pookas were running around. In addition to the small children, there was one large dog at the party. Kevin’s brother Chad is a police officer, whose specialty is heading the K-9 unit. This has meant that every time I’ve visited Kevin and his family, Chad’s household has included one or two German Shepherds that were larger than any actual Germans I’ve known. This visit was no different, with Buzzy the police dog, who was just as eager to join the fun as the kids were, and just as clumsy.
When we weren’t taking turns at the buffet Chad had set up (an impressive spread that included heroes, hot dogs, and the most comically over-sized rectangular pizza I’ve ever seen), the three of us sat by the fire pit in the backyard. As the night got colder and the party-goers got bolder, the fire grew with each passing object that was tossed into it. When chopped wood was in short supply, stray branches and twigs were used to keep the flames going. Eventually empty beer cases, old carpeting, and a decaying shrubbery were all sacrificed to the pit. Since half the people in attendance were police officers or firemen, we felt safe with this otherwise questionable activity.
In addition to Kev’s girlfriend, Kristen, we were joined fireside by our fourth Musketeer, Kevin’s six-year-old nephew, Evan. Brian kept Evan entertained by spinning some wildly convoluted story about he and Kevin as little kids, which was parts Twilight Zone, Treasure Island, and even The Picture of Dorian Gray, liberally shot through with instances of young, fictional Kevin peeing his pants in terror.
When the party ended, the original plan was for Brian, Kevin, and myself to sleep in Chad’s camper, which in my eyes was story-telling gold. Unfortunately, I was denied this narrative jack-pot, as we wound up staying at Kristen’s house; because as we’ve all learned, Kevin is easily frightened and might pee his pants if left alone in the dark. Kev’s weakness wound up being to our benefit, as Brian woke up sick, a situation that would have likely been made worse if we had slept in the great outdoors. He wound up being all right, of course. I only mention it as an opportunity to use this GIF file, which is pretty much definitive of how I saw future doctor Kevin caring for ailing Brian, and of their relationship as best friends.
Our ride back from Massachusetts was incredibly fast for a Sunday afternoon, which was another blessing for Brian. I was back in my apartment by 5:30, astonished at how much I’d just managed to cram into the weekend. I always jump at any chance to see Kevin and Brian, no matter how brief the visit might be. They’re those special kind of friends who, no matter how long you may go without seeing them, when you’re with them it feels like no time’s passed at all.
Even if it’s clear that time has, indeed, passed.