This is my friend Marty. I have known Marty since 1971. At that time, I knew him as Mr. S., one of my new found friends’ parents.
You see I grew up in Teaneck, a town in New Jersey and went to a Junior High School on my side of town. The other side of town had their own Junior High School and there was not any mixing of the two. In fact, we had an ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality. That was until we got to High School. The High School is almost smack dab in the middle of our town. In September of 1971 we all got thrown into this mixing bowl of a school. Suddenly we met, and made friends, with people on, what could have been, the other side of the planet. In fact, they were literally on the ‘Other side of the Tracks’.
Now I don’t actually recall how our group on my side of town became friends with this group from the other side of town, but we did. Maybe it was because we were all members of the Audio Visual Aids Department. Something that does not exist with the invention of the PC, Windows, and the White board. (I have just lost all of my younger readers). In any event our group suddenly doubled in size and logistics. Just like the parents of our friends on our side of town, these new parents took us into their homes and made us feel like family. In the case of Mr. and Mrs. S. I suddenly had another Grandmother, and two ‘little’ sisters that came along with my new friend Jeff. This was repeated with all of the new friends that I made but that is a blog for a different day.
Over the years Jeff and I have kept in close contact, regardless of the fact that he is not on Facebook. And over the years, my ‘little’ sisters grew up and Mr. and Mrs. S. became Marty and Anita. At first I felt weird calling them by their first names but as time went by it became easier and our relationship morphed as well. Topics that used to be taboo with your friend’s parents were suddenly okay to discuss.
A little over a year ago Anita passed away. After her funeral, during a Shiva visit, Marty waved me over. He then asked me to teach him how to use Anita’s iPad, something that he had avoided, letting Anita, instead deal with technology. Of course I said yes. And so our true friendship began. All under the guise of the iPad.
I started visiting Marty weekly. We would sit in the kitchen and I would explain to Marty how to order from Shoprite, how to read emails, and how to surf the internet. Sometimes successful and others not. Marty reads his emails but is not fond of writing back. But I know that he loves to look at the pictures of his children, grandchildren and the grandchild of one of his daughter’s boyfriend. And now I send him pictures of my family and grandchild to see as well.
Somewhere along the way, the iPad, still the excuse for the visits, took a lesser role. We still sit and work with it for a while. He shows me pictures, I show him pictures, his son got him a keyboard to type on and that is making it easier for him, but more and more our visits and just plain social. We discuss everything. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Marty and I confide in each other and you would never know that there are about 27 years separating us in age. Recently we were exchanging stories about getting drunk and our not so great experiences with it. I found myself telling Marty about a night that his son found me wandering the streets in a Tequila haze and brought me home. How I passed out on the front lawn and ultimately locked my father out of the house when I tried to sneak in after the sun came up and I was covered in dew. We had a good laugh on that one. I love to listen to Marty tell me about growing up in Brooklyn, his time courting Anita, the time spent in the National Guard, stories about the kids when they were just growing up, etc. We go story for story. We look forward to our weekly visits together and are disappointed when we have to miss one.
Currently, I am in Florida visiting my Mother and Marty is preparing to go out west to visit his son and daughter-in-law. As I was leaving last week we hugged like it would be our last visit together. In reality I will be picking him up at the airport upon his return (I hope that I recognize him as he just shaved off his signature mustache) and will will have a few weeks of visits before I get a knee replacement. We will resume where we left off and have more tales to tell each other. Oh and we will work on the iPad some more too. After all isn’t that the reason for these visits? Wink, wink.