I have had the good fortune in my life to be blessed with a lot of great friends. It is purely by coincidence that the two friends that I have been closest to are named, “Robert.” This has worked out well for me. If someone asks me who my best friend is, I only have to reply, “Robert.” Neither one can be offended by which one is the better friend, because they will just assume I am talking about him.
My first friend named, Robert, was my childhood friend when I lived in Mississippi. He lived next door and we were in the seventh and eighth grades together. During this time of growth and change, it was so awesome to have a best friend I could count on to be there. We did everything together. We bowled together -- a lot! We made googly eyes at the teenage girls. We played baseball and basketball. We played Ping Pong together every single day at the Youth Center. I think he beat me every single time… Someday, I am hoping for a rematch...Maybe old age – on his part- will give me an advantage! We worked together at our very first job – we bagged groceries at the Base Commissary grocery store. And, a lot of the time we just hung out together.
During some of this unstructured time, we probably did some things we shouldn’t have. Once, at about 2:00 AM, we were on the military base in the housing area and for some unknown adolescent reason, we decided it would be a good idea to set off bottle rockets. Why would we have thought it was okay to set off fireworks on a military base surrounded by military police? Your guess is as good as mine! …But, guess what! …We got away with it! How? I will never know.
Another one of our other capers was to steal the valve stem covers off of tires on the military base. Maybe we had a death wish…I just don’t know. Why we weren’t hauled off and sent to military school for discipline? I have no idea…. When you go through things like that with a friend and they still stay your friend, you know they can be labeled as the “best” of friends.
After I moved back to Utah, I lost touch with Robert. Boys are not too good about writing letters back and forth. Well, this past week I found my old friend, Robert, on Facebook. It was amazing to see his name and face appear right there on my computer after all of these years. The modern technology to make things like this happen today is truly incredible!
We had the best time catching up after all of those years. He reminded me about one Halloween when I dressed up as a nurse. He dressed up as his sister. We walked about a mile in our costumes to the Youth Center. All dressed up as such fine-looking young ladies, we had two different cars of men try to pick us up. I’m sure you can imagine the side-splitting laughter this caused in two silly young boys. I must admit, we laughed just about as hard last week when we talked about it again. He also reminded me that I won the “best costume” award and my prize was a camera. He told me that he thinks he has pictures of the occasion somewhere. I said a silent prayer that he would NEVER find those pictures…I have plenty of incriminating photos of me on Facebook already!
I missed “Mississippi Robert” terribly when I moved back to Utah. How do you replace a friend like that…A friend who knows you so well and has experienced so much with you. It was difficult to lose him at that time in my life.
But, somehow I was blessed. Not too long after moving back, I met my second best friend named, Robert. He was in a similar situation to mine in that he had just moved to Utah from Texas. It is always intimidating to be young, and in a new place, and without a lot of friends. It was only by circumstance that I met him in the first place. I had done a lot of bowling as a boy and a teenager. When I was a teenager, I was also employed at a bowling alley for quite a while. I made a lot of friends during that time of my life, but never did I become as close to any of them as I became to Robert.
Over the years that I had been learning to bowl, I must admit, that I seemed to have a natural knack for it. Robert and his mother had come into the bowling alley to get Robert signed up in a league. At some point, his mother asked me if I would teach her son some of the skills I had learned at bowling. I was happy to do it, and I am so glad that I did. It lead to a great friendship. Almost immediately after meeting Robert and starting to bowl together, we were friends. You know how it is with some people? You just meet them and automatically “click.” We were like that.
As with the first “Robert” in my life, this Robert and I started hanging out a lot and doing everything together. Of course, we spent a lot of times at the lanes bowling, but we did a lot of other things too. We went to school together and went to a lot of concerts together. We had many double dates and for a while, I even dated one of his sisters. Hey, if your friendship can survive that, it can survive anything.
I have stayed in contact with this Robert as we have gotten busier with the more serious things in life. I have watched Robert grow into one of the greatest men I know. It’s funny how one minute your friend is just as big a goofball as you are, and the next, he is married and has an important job and being an overall responsible citizen. When does this happen? It feels like it just happens overnight!
His work has taken him back to the state of Texas. We have been able to stay in contact over the years by communicating on… you guessed it…Facebook! We talk on a pretty regular basis. He is coming to Utah in a couple of weeks and we have already made plans for me to help him move his mom and to do something fun together.
I am so glad to have both of these Roberts in my life. When I was a kid, I was just being a kid. I just wanted to have someone to accept me, hang out with, and have a good time. But, as I am getting older, I realize how much more these bonds truly are. They have helped to shape me into the person I am today, and I thank them for that. Also, I truly believe that if I ever needed either one of them, they would come to the rescue immediately. That is a good feeling to know I have developed two great friendships like that.
And, one more thing --- I have been thinking a lot about how great the power of technology is in my lifetime. Without the internet and Facebook, I may have never hooked up with my childhood friend, Robert and without Facebook; I may have never been able to stay in contact with my other friend Robert who lives in Texas. I am very grateful for that.
I look forward to continuing these friendships and to have them as lifelong connections. We have made many memories together and I hope to make many more with them. Hey, maybe at some point I’ll even be able to introduce them to each other. Then, we can all hang out, and I will introduce them to others as, “This is my friend, Robert, and this is my other friend, Robert.” How great would that be?