Monday, November 28, 2005

Walk on the Left Side

Sometimes it's the little things you remember about a person that speak volumes about their character and personality.

Fifteen years ago, in another lifetime, I was walking down a busy street on a very narrow shoulder with a good friend of mine, Andy, the afore-mentioned "Improbable Bostonian". He made a point of making sure I walked on the inside, near the grass, while he took the more dangerous position on the left. I asked him about this gallant gesture and he replied that his mother told him that a guy ("a gentleman") always puts a girl, "a lady" as his mother put it, on the right when walking on a street.

I could tell several things from this one exchange. One, he listened to his mother and put into practice the things she taught him. Two, he put my safety ahead of his own. Three, this was not merely a gesture but habit. And four, it was one of the rare glimpses of his serious side.

It was one of those small moments when reality is cracked wide open and we see ourselves as cared for, companioned, given hospitality, and we are humbled by it. It doesn't take as much as we think it should to make a difference in someone else's life. A kind word, a touch, an apology or the acceptance thereof, a smile, a hug--all these can become habit when we practice them often enough.

And before I existentially ooze all over the place, Andy is also one of the few persons I can be totally irreverent with and not have to listen to the refrain, "But you're a minister!!!" It's important to have friends who knew you before you became you. He's also one of the few with whom I can wax lyrical about "Star Trek" and all its incarnations without rolling his eyes or letting them glaze over. He's been able to become a grown-up without losing his sense of humor nor the ability to let lose and have fun; in fact, it's become more acute over the years (if you haven't been to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster website, one that Andy directed me to, it is a must, especially if you like Monty Python). Besides all that, he's one of the two or three who actually reads this blog! A true test of friendship if ever there was one.

Live long and prosper, my friend.

(Andy: two points if you can name the movie from whence came the title for this blog entry!)


Andy said...


I am both amused and humbled by your BLOG entry. After reading it I have decided that I am either a geek-loving mama's boy or you have a really LONG and generous memory. It's probably both. :-)

Seriously, I am quite touched by this.

I couldn't agree more with your statement that as we get older it is good to still know people who knew us when we were younger. It's been a long road and I thank you so much for still being my friend.

I'll take your two challenge: I believe this was said by Father Imperious (Leo McKern)to both Philipe Gaston (Matthew Broderick) as well as a poor haples soldier (who did NOT pay attention to the good monk's warning)as they crossed a small bridge to his abbey in "Ladyhawke".

Cynthia said...

Yes, OMG!!! Two gazillion points for you! Only you, buddy, only you.

And you are not a geek-loving mama's boy. If more men really listened to their mothers, this world would be a different place.

It's the little things we don't remember doing that can mean a lot to someone else, but yes, I do have a long memory.

I hope I didn't make you least not at work in front of your co-workers.

Andy said...

There were no tears...but I was a bit verklempt. :-)

I love "ladyhawke"! I watched it with Jenna a few years ago and she really enjoyed it too. Now we watch it at least once a year. The legend lives on!

Now I have to figure out what I'm going to do with two gazillion points...