There are friends, good friend, really good friends and best friends. Best friends can be both the best thing in your life, or the worst, depending on the day and the circumstances. Today I think I'm going to move Brad to the latter category.
I met Brad when we were both seventeen although it was more than a year and a half later before I knew his name. We both played football, but on different teams. The two schools were cross-town rivals and the rivalry was an intense one. Our first meeting came when I broke out of the backfield on what looked like a clear run to the sticks when all of a sudden a train hit me and I found myself face down in the dirt. As I shook the cobwebs out of my head I grasped the hand that was extended to me and when I was up I saw it was a player from the other team.
"Nice hit," I said, and he laughed, "Them's the best kind" and he headed for the defensive huddle.
Almost one year later, at our homecoming game, I broke left coming out of the backfield on a play that was designed to suck the defense to my side, but out of the corner of my eye I saw the ball wobbling in the air like a ruptured duck. The ball had been tipped at the line of scrimmage and I followed it with my eyes and saw the interception. I had the angle and I hit the ball carrier right in the numbers and rode him down. As we were both getting up he said, "I guess you think you owed me that from last year" and I recognized him right away. "Nice hit" he said, and I remembered what he had said the previous year and I gave it back to him, "Them's the best kind."
That fall we met for the third time when we tried out for football in college and we both went out and got pissy-eyed drunk together when we didn't make the team. That was thirty years ago and we have been best buddies the whole time.
In college we dated the same girls and it almost seemed like the girls were interchangeable. I'd date one for four or five months and then we would break up and two months later she would be dating Brad. A month later I would find myself going out with a girl that Brad had dated six months earlier. We compared notes on the girls and it led to a lot of getting laid. It wasn't a competition; it was just the way things happened. And then I fell head over heels in love with Becky. She was that rare woman that looked cute, drop dead gorgeous and sexy all at the same time. We stared dating and there never was any doubt in my mind that she was the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. After I had been dating here for about four months Brad came up to me one day and asked me when I would be moving on to some one else and I asked him why he was asking.
"Because I'd like to take a shot at her. She looks like the one I might want to make permanent."
I smiled at him and said, "Sorry good buddy, but that's the way I feel about her too. I'm keeping this one."
"You always were a rotten bastard," he said.
Three months later I asked Becky to marry me and she turned me down. She not only said no, but she broke up with me too, "You're too serious and I'm not ready for a commitment like that."
Two weeks later Brad started asking her out and she dated him for about a month and then dropped him too.
I graduated with a degree in Business Management and went to work for a communications company and Brad graduated with the same degree and went to work for our biggest competitor, but we still stayed the best of friend. We joined the Elks together, took up SCUBA diving and took a couple of diving vacations together to St. Thomas. We got in the habit of having Friday night poker games, went to ball games and other sporting events together, double dated a few times and formed a permanent bond between us.
About a year after graduation I was at home fixing myself dinner when the front doorbell rang. I answered the door to find Becky standing there. My mouth went dry and I wanted to take her in my arms, but of course I didn't - I would have died if she had tried to pull away.
"Can I come in?"
I stepped back and motioned her in. I told her I was fixing dinner and asked her if she had eaten; she said she hadn't and I asked her to join me and she accepted. While I was making a tossed salad she asked me in a very casual way if I was seeing anyone, and I told her no, that I was between ladies at the time. Then she said, also in a very casual tone of voice, "I'm ready for that commitment now."
We were married six weeks later and Brad was my best man. Thirty happy years and four grown kids later, Becky and I were still married and Brad was still my best friend and then, as they say "Shit happened!"
It all started on Becky's fiftieth birthday. For some reason that I could never understand becoming fifty depressed the hell out of her. It made no sense to me. She was still sexy and desirable, looked fifteen younger than she was, and still turned male heads. The only major changes in her were about ten more pounds, which only made her look more sensual, and a few gray hairs. At parties and other social events she still got hit on when my back was turned and it never bothered me because when we got home she would tell me all about it and then she would say, "You want to know what I'd do to him if he got me alone?" and then she'd show me.
But that didn't happen any more. As the days passed she got more and more down in the dumps and our sex life began to suffer. Not willing to let that happen I tackled the problem head on. I told her that being depressed made absolutely no sense at all. She was still attracting male glances; she was still being hit on and that she was as sexy as she had ever been.
"That's not true," she said," "I only get hit on by guys that know us and who know I'm going to turn them down. It's just flirting, nothing else."
"Bullshit!" I said, "You could have anyone of them any time you wanted."
We babbled on about the subject for another ten minutes or so and then dropped it. About a week later I was having lunch with Brad and he made the comment that I didn't seem to be myself lately and I told him about what was going on between Becky and me.
"What?" he said, "Hell just last week at George's party I saw three different guys trying to score with her and I can promise you the bulges in their pants weren't phony."
"I know" I said, "But she thinks its all innocent flirting. I almost wish one of those guys would score and prove to her that she is still a sexy and desirable woman."
About three months later Becky and I had just come home from a party and for the first time in over a year Becky said, "I got hit on tonight."
"Oh?" I said, "And if you were to have gone along with him what would you have done?"
.... There is more of this story ...