A Guy Thing

A cup of dark roast with my son’s best man in a coffee shop on Douglas Avenue in downtown Wichita.

When I look out the window and squint, I can see a generation into the past.
I see myself and my best friend, for whom I was best man. Both named Mike, we’re all feathered hair and platform heels, standing next to my '71 MGB ragtop that just lost its drive shaft. 

We met amid the T-squares and triangles in Drafting class as sophomores at Wichita Heights High.

We’ve drifted apart for no better reason than we let it happen.

In Drafting class, we designed houses. Mine, a Brady Bunch-esque split-level rancher with two fireplaces, wet bar and a laundry chute. His, this ahead-of-its-time, post-modern monstrosity with curved walls and a batcave-inspired hidden garage.

He played French horn and dreamed of electric guitar rock star glory. I was a wannabe drummer toiling on treble clef baritone. Mike got me a job bussing tables at Angelo’s Italian restaurant. I got him one bagging groceries at Mr. D’s IGA.

Mike turned me on to Steely Dan, fast cars and other assorted vices. I returned the favor with the Alan Parsons Project and Olympia beer.
We had an unspoken reciprocal car tricking-out arrangement. Most things with best friends are unspoken. At least when youre guys. Especially young guys.

The back seats and trunk firewall of his ’65 Barracuda fastback folded down, leaving room for a guy and his girl to, uh... 
The very same day we upholstered the ‘Cuda with blue shag carpeting, I spilled a chocolate milkshake on the passenger side.

“Woops,” I laughed.
“Woops my ass.”

He helped me replace the u-joint in my MGB. A couple weeks later while dragging Douglas, the drive shaft just dropped.  


Milkshake payback? Nah. Our car repair prowess just plateaued with shag installation. Shoulda known better. Our industrial art was Drafting, not Auto Mechanics.
Mike forgave me for the spilled milkshake and for stealing his girlfriend and actually helped me clean up both messes.

He had a helluva back story. When he was a little kid, his father just up and disappeared, never to be heard from again. He owned a coin shop in downtown Wichita where he trafficked in rare coins, mystery and intrigue. Mike and I had our own theory about his old man.
20th century young men coming of age. Bob Seger labeled us young and restless and bored.

No wonder we were best friends. We had the same worldview and confidence in our abilities. Tomorrow didn’t matter. One summer, we hitchhiked around Colorado. Another time, on a whim, we borrowed some motorcycles and rode to Kansas City.

Neither of our first marriages took. He ended up in Colorado. I stayed in Kansas.

Mike and I drifted apart at about the same point in life where my son and his best man are now. Today, one of them is in Colorado, one in Kansas. 

What goes around, comes around.  

I was Mike’s best man. We helped shape each other. The only thing preventing a reconnection is false pride. A guy thing.

In the coffee shop on Douglas, I encouraged my son’s best man not to let him drift away. Then I conveyed the same message to my son.  

The sins of the father need not be visited.