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  • Maybe it's something in the air tonight, but while perusing a certain social networking site, I've seen quite a few posts on friends and family (both good and bad), and it's put me in a bit of a reflective mood. Pardon me as I get a little nostalgic and break character to state I've been pretty fortunate with my family and friends. Other aspects of my life such as finance, romance, artistic endeavors and the like are a Falstaffian tragicomedy of errors, but I lucked into being born with a good, decent family, and somehow, I’ve managed to find and maintain some truly great (take a bullet for/help bury a body for) friends over the years.

    Now, one can’t choose their family. It’s like having a lovely singing voice or being freakishly tall enough to play pro-basketball; your family is a genetic lotto that some win and others lose. Like many other people from my talk-show watching generation, I’ve wanted to gripe about my folks, but there’s really nothing too heavy to bitch about. How can I complain about liberal, Buddhist intellectuals who gave me a ton of space and freedom, along with a roof over my head, lots of good food and cable TV and only asked that I cleaned the house once a week and cooked a couple of meals for the family during the week? Even if I wanted to bitch about any aspect of my upbringing, my present job has destroyed that. Over the last four years, I’ve graded enough Psych 101 assignments with my students penning papers about their blood relatives that read more like a series of capital indictments at a grand-jury, and that has made me realize my folks are pretty damn cool. They’ve never sold my young poop-chute for crack, speed or smack to their drug-head friends, not even once. Why not? Wasn’t my sweet, pasty-white, young tush not worthy enough? Having a family that has no possibility of winding up anywhere near the Jerry Springer Show or Judge Judy airing a trove of mongoloid squabbles that have torn the fabric of blood ties over a list of petty atrocities is a real treasure.

    On the other side of the coin, friendship wise, I know that all my friends over the years, especially the several close ones, are down for and with me. I know this because I’m just about the poorest guy in my peer group, and these fuckers will still hang out with me . . . in public even. Money wise, I wasn’t born into any kind of wealth, and minus three years in college on the grant and loan tit and a couple of several month unemployment vacations, I’ve worked pretty steadily all of my adult life, and until fairly recently, in a multitude of shitty, low-paying labor and service jobs. Regarding one-sided wealth, my good friend Devil Dean postulates that true love can only exist between two poor people, because anytime one or both parties has any kind of money, the poorer one’s love can be suspect as a con for financial gain. I think the inverse works for friendship. When people of means will hang with someone below their financial station and will not only not be embarrassed but will treat them as equals, that’s true friendship.

    True friendship of equals and a good family really are two of the most important things to being human. Everything else in one’s life can easily be lost quickly by mistake, random accidents or just a shitty run of luck. Money is but paper or mere electronic blips on a mainframe, worldly goods can be stolen or burned in a fire, a person’s reputation can be tarnished by jealous lies and petty gossip, and even one’s robust hard fought for health can be lost in an instant to something as haphazard a car accident, weird bug bite or random illness. When you have a loving family and close group of friends worth killing or dying for, you got the world by the balls; everything else is just the scenery and background noise barely worth noticing or mentioning.
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