Happy Birthday, Jay-rad

"It's our birthday!" we always exclaimed every February, as though we were twins (and as a matter of fact we did later hatch a plot to be adopted by each other's parents). Born a scant five days apart, Jared and I have been friends since we were 14. And, today is his birthday.

We met in 9th grade, in GT English, I believe. I might be making that up. We met in one class or other our Freshman year at Robert E. Lee High school. Over the years we had gym and English together, and maybe a couple of other random classes. You couldn't help but want to be Jared's friend. With his sky-high IQ and sharp wit, it was easy to be drawn to him. 26 years later, he's still the funniest guy I know.

A few memories from days of yore:

  • During our Freshman year, Jared and I made a vow that we would make it all the way through high school without playing an organized team sport of any kind. And, we kept that vow. When we were allowed to choose different activities in gym class, Jared and I always chose either recreational games or archery. One time, we were playing ping-pong in the gym (one of the "rec games") and we lost several balls under the bleachers. Mrs. Rowe told us that if we lost another ball, we were done. Moments later, our ball rolled under the bleachers, far out of reach. So, we just raised our paddles and continued to bat them into the air with no ball in sight. Mrs. Rowe never noticed.

  • Our first job was at Kids R Us. We didn't work there too long, because we didn't have cars and we both lived on the other side of town. I was in the accessories department, spending countless hours straightening headbands and plastic earrings so that God's littlest angels could come along and demolish the displays. Jared, on the other hand, was given more responsibility: he got to run a cash register. We also used a label maker to create code names that we adhered to the back side of our name badges. Jared was, as I recall, Mr. Windex.
  • When we were Juniors, I was dating a red-headed boy named Clint. He was a theater type, as were many of our mutual friends. One day, at the lunch table, Jared noticed that I was wearing a red twill shirt with over-sized pockets in the front (keep in mind that this was 1987). He leaned across the table and asked, "What do you keep in those pockets? Besides Clint's hands, I mean?"

  • The summer after our Junior year, we set about the task of finding part-time jobs. I walked to Jared's house so that we could then head across the street to Springfield Mall. For some reason, it still brings a smile to my face when I think of his mom saying, "And don't come back 'til you're gainfully employed!" as we walked out the door. I got a job at Show Off (a women's clothing store) and Jared was hired by a store called Sport & Hobby, which sold model airplanes and whatnot. Honestly, I think we'd both still work at those stores today if they hadn't closed.
There was a lot of post-high school frivolity as well. Like the time we went to an Irish Pub and I was generously over-served. So much so that Jared was somehow able to convince me to yell "FREE BIRD!" to the nice young man playing classic Irish music. Or the time we visited a "haunted" barn right before Halloween, when Jared snuck under the ropes and re-arranged two gigantic rats so that they were fornicating. What a treat for the young families that were filing in as we made a hasty exit.

Happy birthday, Jared! Thank you for being my friend all these years.


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