Adam — Part 1
A friendship that started in 1982 and carries on to this day. Read the bottom of this story to see my true purpose in publishing this.
In the photo above, I’m two from the left, Adam is 3 from the left.
It all started in Mrs. Schmidt’s 5th grade classroom. Mrs. Schmidt was your stereotypical curmudgeon of a teacher who would be played by herself if John Hughes ever made a movie centered around 11 year-old giggling boys who grew up in suburban Northern New Jersey in a town dominated by Dutch heritage.
One of the highlights of my grammar school career was watching Mrs. Schmidt attempt to grab a bouncing ball that emerged from the line of students who were waiting to leave her classroom and head to lunch. As the ball headed towards her, eluded her and made its way into the hallway, she attempted to secure it not by catching it, but by inexplicably trying to dribble it like a 2nd grader learning to dribble a basketball.
Adam and I were on line next to each other and watched the event unfold together. I like to believe that our collective laughter went deeper than all of the other 5th grade students. While Mrs. Schmidt looked silly, it wasn’t the slapstick that made it so humorous; it was her choice of “dribble” as a means for the best ball security.
A bond was born.
Adam liked nothing more than making me laugh; specifically making me laugh when it was forbidden. Like when a 5th grader is called upon to read out loud to the class. This may have only happened once but in my now distorted memory, I feel like it happened multiple times.
Adam sat next to me (how we pulled that off I have no idea, as late as senior year in high school, we were separated by Mr. Sullivan during Calculus) and when I would read to the class, he would slowly and quietly read the same passage but like 2 seconds behind. I would alternate between keeping my composure and faking a cough to cover a laugh. It was painful and stressful and so much fun. Adam was never caught because I held serve but also because his comedic genius was in his ability to keep a straight face while being the funniest person I’ve ever met to this day.
6th, 7th and 8th grade were more of the same. Laughing, riding bikes, laughing, playing soccer together, laughing, starting to like girls and more laughing. We became inseparable and formed a “crew” of like-minded friends; not cool but not outcasts either. We floated in between. I think we felt smarter and more aware than the cool kids and sympathetic to everyone else who fell outside that horrific teen cliche.
By Freshman year in high school, both Adam and I were 6 foot 3 and painfully skinny. We were so self-conscious and I’m reminded of how I felt by watching my 14 year-old son today. He is just like me.
My morning routine in 1987:
20 minutes on the hair — just enough mousse to give it a spike and endless time adjusting each individual hair
10 minutes with the Oxy cleansing pads — one zit could disable me for a week.
5 minutes strategically applying cologne — Drakkar eventually replaced by Obsession (for men). Spray in the air and then walk through it. Repeat.
Adam and I would suffer through the 9th grade day and then report out on our days while talking on the phone for hours every night. Most of it centered around girls but then evolved to school work, family and just plain laughing. We were bordering on nerdy and kind of proud of it. It was almost as if we knew we would one day look back and realize that it all didn’t matter.
But I can vividly remember one exception.
It’s spring of 1987 and there’s a big bash at the M household. Again, Adam and I were just cool enough to potentially score an invite but also aware that rejection was a possibility. Four of us stood at the doorway to the house and the dude that lived there was evaluating each attendee with a “yes” or “no”. Friends #1 and #2 were let in.
This upped our chances significantly.
And then there was a curt “no” and “no”.
We felt devastated.
Usually I had a healthy outlook on teen life/drama but this one stung. Adam and I turned around, tails between our legs and walked to a local playground. We sat on the swings and vented. We vowed to disown our friends who left us high and dry. We bonded in our humiliation.
True story: Adam and I would sit in that same exact spot four years later where he concocted a story that his girlfriend was pregnant. I felt for him and bought him dinner at Friendly’s. Soon after he revealed it was a joke. He has no memory of this. It was a killer prank and I’m proud of how he pulled it off.
Back to our rejection.
It didn’t take long to plot revenge. We arranged a 2 on 2 football game for the next day. It would be Adam and I against our two lacking-in-loyalty friends. We stayed quiet and didn’t let our friends know that we were upset. Remember, both Adam and I are tall. We used that to our advantage and destroyed the other two dudes in the game. I’m sure they have zero memory of it. But the two of us do and immediately following the game, the friendship with our two buddies was back on track, no grudges held.
This is the end of part 1.
Part 2 will cover the remainder of high school, post h.s struggles and my wedding.
If you read the sub-heading above, you will now read why I posted this story. Adam is an incredible artist, he can draw like no one else I know. He used to draw cartoons in high school that mocked our frenemy “J”, and I’ve never laughed harder.
I want him to get back into drawing, back to his passion. My passion is writing. Together, I think we can put something together that is pretty special. This is my way of prompting him to get back into it. I want him to compose 3–4 drawings to accompany this story. I’m publicly calling him out hoping the pressure will result in him getting back in.
While we live three time zones apart now, I’ll never not think about our friendship. We survived awkward times together and I want to thank him for that. He is a one of a kind and everyone who knows him would concur.
This is my attempt to get the band back together. Please help me in recruiting Adam back to the land of making me laugh my ass off.