Tuesday, August 5, 2008

With Friends Like These . . .

I’ve been very lucky all my life with the friends that I’ve had. There are many childhood pals that I am still in contact with and I am very quick to state as an adult male that I have best friends. Sadly this is a statement that most men leave behind with their childhood. I could never understand why this is.

Women grow up saying, “I’m going out with my best friend,” or “I’m going out with my girlfriends,” but when a guy talks like this there always seems to be some question about sexuality involved. I don’t know why this is.

Well, as a heterosexual male I’m not only proud to say that I have best friends, but I am also very proud of my friends. I don’t know what I would do without them. At the top of the list is my friend Mario. He’s more than a friend, actually. I love the guy. It’s like having the kid brother I never had, especially since I grew up in an estrogen factory with four older sisters.

I defy anybody to find a better friend. I have already mentioned him in several blog entries, especially post knee surgery, with all the help that he has been to me above and beyond the call of duty (you can read the previous posts to find out more). I’ve even written about him in a newspaper article about when he taught me to snowboard more than a decade ago (you can see that story on my website by clicking here).

Friends support each other. They can be argumentative, but they should never be combative. True friends have your back and never put you in situations where they dare you to do something you shouldn’t or wouldn’t. True friends always have your best interests at heart. As comedian Dave Atell once said, “A friend will help you move. Best friends will help you move . . . a body!” Everybody should have friends like this, but I know that I am extremely lucky because I have such a friend and not everyone does.

As a matter of fact, I have a couple of stories that deal with people that perhaps you shouldn’t really call your friend. Two practical jokers are behind bars for setting their passed-out drinking buddy's crotch ablaze while boozing in Grover Beach, California recently (yes, another story with alcohol involved).

Matthew Craig Pillers and Jack Brent Nicholas Keiffer pleaded no contest to a felony great bodily injury charge. Elliot Tuleja was passed out when the men poured cologne on his groin and set him on fire on January 18th. Hilarity ensued! Tuleja had second-degree burns on his testicles. Prosecutors say the 22-year-old Pillers, a parolee, was sentenced to two years in prison and the 19-year-old Keiffer got 45 days in San Luis Obispo County jail.

Maybe the idea is to stay away from parolees, but I can guarantee you that if I fall asleep in the presence of my friends, I don’t have to worry about waking up with dry roasted nuts!

I also try to stay away from people who can’t securely deal with a firearm. I’m not a fan of guns; have never fired one or handled one, but my friend Mario has. He is issued one and it comes with 48 bullets (he keeps reminding me of that count); 47 more than Barney Fife had. Mario is a police officer. He knows how to use weapons and he knows how to use handcuffs. These are vital talents to have on the job and possibly when dating.

I would never be around such irresponsible clowns as these guys. In Great Falls, Montana, Henry Haviland, 23, and Zachary Enloe, 20, were having a mock gun battle. They had unloaded their pistols – a 9mm and a .45 calibre – and were having “quick draw” contests at each other.

After they were done, they went their separate ways, but several hours later, they were in an apartment when Haviland “dry fired” his gun at Enloe again. Enloe dove for his pistol and turned and fired at Haviland – “forgetting” that he had loaded it back up in the meantime. Haviland was hospitalized in serious but stable condition with a gunshot wound to his face. Enloe was charged with felony criminal endangerment.

This was one of three such events reported in Great Falls in the past three months. A 17-year-old boy was shot in the leg and 18-year-old Kirk Jordan is facing felony charges in an almost identical incident. The bullet hit the victim's left leg and then went into his right foot.

In May, Airman Jonathon Higgins was accused of firing a shot that killed fellow Airman John Howry while the two were joking around at a party at a home near Great Falls High School. Higgins is charged with negligent homicide.

Meanwhile in mid-June, 24-year-old Brian Walsh was sentenced to 25 years in prison for pointing a gun at his friend's head and killing him in May 2007, though he said he thought the gun wasn't loaded at the time.

As the NRA would say, guns don’t kill people. Stupid people kill people. It’s wise to choose your friends carefully and to always be vigilant. I know I have chosen my friends carefully and Mario is the best. We’ve even talked about going on a trip together someday. That wouldn’t be a bad idea, because spending quality time with good friends is always a worthwhile adventure. But just to be on the safe side, I think I’ll say no to Montana.

That’s the Stuph – the way I see it.


  1. Love that you grew up in an estrogen factory and you have best friends - you are too cool!

  2. Brings back to mind my years spent in St. Louis, Missouri doing post-graduate work at Washington University.

    In those days, the city was the homicide capital of the U.S. - and in any case, as we know, in the U.S., everybody and his uncle are packing a piece.

    I myself had a handgun, which, as a former Army sharpshooter, I used to keep my shooting skills up to par (at the local shooting range, of course).

    And then came my moment, alone, in the wrong place at the wrong time,
    and as I stared down this guy who had approached me with likely evil intent, I looked him in the eye calmly (not) and patted my bulging
    jacket pocket knowingly....

    This was enough to send the cad off scurringly - little did he know that I had left my 38 Smith and Wesson at home - and the bulge in my pocket consisted of a number of assorted pieces of ginger root and my car keys.

    Here's to the power of the bulging pocket!!!