1/18/14 15:21 Home
I just came back home after having lunch with a good old friend Pete Engelmann and his wife Michele for the last twenty years. When was the last time we saw one another? It could have been the book signing I had for Killer Commute back in 2001; at Gunther’s in Northport. Pete hasn’t changed very much; well there is the extra weight and the wrinkles around his eyes which didn’t fade away so easily after smiling. Michele and I pulled out reading glasses to read the menu. There was a lot of smiling and laughing. What brought us together when we were kids, a mutual friend; Fred Hyatt, who I was close to when I attended the illustrious bricked Bellerose Elementary. Fred was involved with his church’s youth group and that’s where I met Pete. I heard many stories of Pete before meeting him and vaguely remembered playing with him in Little League; I guess he was not that good of a player. We hung out and he had a positive and destructive… but more - a lasting effect on my life. Pete was the ringleader for the group of us; there was Mark Johnson, Jim Duke and I remember the younger kid who was my height Charlie Pellagrino, Fred Hyatt and some kids from Harborfields will join in as well. There were others in the circle as well as the girls. They will remain anonymous at this juncture to avoid any adverse implications and mischaracterizations. But it’s true Pete dated Mariah Carey, I recall her when she was a skinny red-head fifteen year-old. So, over lunch hearing the stories again brought back some intense times which involved… well for the sake of drama….illegal activities which are typical for teenage boys… who become men and who drifted aimlessly till they find the love of our lives. And we wake up one morning married and a father. Those friends drift off to someplace else and far back into the past with each passing year. We were boys and now we have responsibilities. For most men, we have a very difficult time maintaining the relationships we had. For some, we’re just not social creatures and prefer to be locked away in our caves. I’m envious when I hear my father-in-law tell me a story about his old friend from somewhere; high-school or college… and they get a lunch or dinner and catch up. What happened to my pals? In the men’s group at my church we discussed just that, losing our friends, losing all contact we had with them and instead focusing on our tasks. I understand. Some live in a secret battle with the neighbors and try to outdo one another and at the end of the weekend, Monday morning rolls around and we begin the routine, start the work week. It’s a vicious cycle. So my task for some months was finding Pete. It was like a calling. We’ve always been different –meaning he’s conservative – I’m sorry, Christian conservative and I’m a progressive Christian who attends an open and affirming church. The conversation started with our churches and I’m happy to say we left that topic early and carried on with other stories. Like when I refused to make out with my girl-friend since it was Sunday (It was the Sabbath) having BB gun wars in the woods, riding motorcycles and horses and getting into fights with one another. Drinking beer and shooting his .22 rifle…what happened to the men who led their lives in different directions? Some include writers, sales, the president of a oil company, real estate, cop…they are out there and it’s up to us to get together with them and reminisce. There is nothing wrong with it as long as it stays in the past. Old friends can become new friends and Pete said he wants to keep this going, let’s get together for dinner, he said…next weekend…Saturday? We can’t, Michele said, since their son is going back to school on Sunday and they want to hang out with him. I understand. Pete looked at her, then the following weekend?
Thank you for reading this