Bonding with other males has been difficult for me. From painful childhood memories of my biological and step-father coupled with several failed best friendships.     

I wrote last week about a painful teenage experience about my best friend at the time, Phil. Today I’ll be writing about my 2nd best friend, Ray. He and I became close a few months after the Phil and Mandy episode. He was my same age but a grade younger. I became friends with all his friends and this became my clique of people for next few years. We played poker on Friday nights and shared a few beers (I hated the taste of beer but wanted to fit in) if we could get it. I remember a Rolling Stones and a Beatles 8-track tape that we just played over and over. Some would call us the “Nerd Herd”.  If you’ve ever watched the 80s movie “Can’t buy me love” (I watch it every time it’s on). I see myself in this film as I hung around with the coolest kids in school as a freshman in high school, only to be left behind because of insecurities or fears of just going along with that crowd when smoking, drugs, drinking hard alcohol, and general rebelliousness became common. Ray was different. He seemed to have stronger morals. He comfortability said no to drinking and drugs. I don’t think Ray ever had a girlfriend and seemed quite shy around girls. I thought maybe I could do for Ray what Phil did for me. We’d go to the mall and try to meet girls, mostly unsuccessfully.

The following year, when Bertrand’s Island amusement park opened, we’d go frequently, whatever way necessary to get there (up to and including hitch-hiking). I tried to impart my “social skill expertise” and we did meet a few young ladies. When we got a little older, we’d go to the roller skating rink in Flanders or Rockaway. I learned to skate really well, and more importantly backwards where you could skate more romantically with a partner. We went several times per week. This routine lasted a couple of years until Ray graduated and pursued his dream to move to southern California. Ray regularly did everything he could to persuade me to move to San Diego and start a fashion magazine with him, but I was too scared to try that. I also had a good job managing the inside sales call center for the Paterson News and my off again, on again relationship with my longtime girlfriend Lisa was more serious than ever, and I had every intention to marry her (even though I was still a teenager and she was a senior in high school). My world would turn upside down a short time later. Long story short, my job became overwhelming, my parents divorced, and Lisa wanted her freedom during her last few months of high school. I sold my car and moved to La Jolla with Ray and his cousin. We did start a fashion magazine but Ray over the years had started to be quite deceiving, and tried to defraud others. One day when he was acting odd, I followed him from our office in downtown San Diego to a government office a few blocks away. I discovered that he tried to rename STYLE SAN DIEGO magazine  to just STYLE magazine and put it solely in his name. I changed it back a few minutes after he left without him discovering it. Even this didn’t destroy my friendship with him, though it should have. I finally gave up on the magazine dream and handed the sole ownership to Ray completely after he had another falling out with a new partner. I gave him $700 to pay my rent once that never made it to my landlord, and still I gave him more chances. Our friendship ultimately ended when he agreed to be in my wedding to Nicky and didn’t show up to the rehearsal. I never spoke to him again, though many have asked if I knew where they could find him (I wasn’t the only one who became his victim). This was now my 2nd disastrous best-friendship.     

Tony started his BONDED lesson today with a question and here are my notes… “What do you want to be known for?”  What kind of image are we projecting, and are we genuine when we do that with others. If people don’t really know you, they don’t really like you. The early Christians were real, authentic, obedient, and open about their lives. Confession is a tool for people who want other people to know what they’re really like. The more independent we are, the more NON-Christian we are. Gal 6:2 says to carry each other’s burdens and this fulfills the law of Christ. This is the way Jesus loved others. We need to accept one another and help to transform one another.     

I don’t know if I followed this advice if it would’ve worked out better with these relationships, as both parties need to be working on it. I do no know it couldn’t have been worse, as these events were painful and life changing to me.    Tony gave some practicals…

  1. Refrigerator rights. Are the people that come into your home have a comfortability to go into your cupboards, refrigerators, and most importantly, your life.
  2. We all have failings. Have a gentleness and inviting relationships that allow openness and be vulnerable.
  3. We fight lions together. Satan prowls around us, help one another to defend these attacks.    

Next week I’ll share about my 3rd best friendship and the most painful of them all. Have a great week everyone and stay close to God and one another.