On the final day of 2010, I found myself racing towards my friend Lisa’s home in North Carolina. She had called me just minutes after I had rented a car that I was going to use to drive from Atlanta to Savannah, where a car awaited pickup. But when I heard Lisa’s voice on the phone pleading with me to come there, all bets were off. If a friend needs me, really needs me, then I’m always going to be there.
I didn’t know what was wrong, but I knew it had to be important. She said she couldn’t go into detail, but she was in some trouble and needed my help. So I called the man I was to pick up from in Savannah and delayed it until January 2. Frankly, I think he was relieved not to have to deal with me on a holiday.
I tried several times to call Lisa, but could not get back in touch. This concerned me greatly. I drove a bit faster than I normally would, wondering what I could be walking into. Didn’t matter much, because all I know is I love my friend Lisa. And after the lesson I learned for Christmas this year, I’ve been thinking how good friends are the most important thing that a guy can have.
I arrived at Lisa’s house just after 8pm. There were several unfamiliar cars parked outside, and I immediately hoped that no one had died. I walked to the front door, and Lisa opened it before I could knock. She did not look upset, but in fact was beaming with joy. I was baffled to say the least.
“It’s my Bill,” she said.
“Well yeah, you said you needed me and here I am.”
“I needed you because some people were looking for you.”
I stepped into the house. “Looking for me? Who? What people are you talking about?” And that is when I saw Karen walk up behind Lisa. “Karen?”
Karen grinned and giggled. “I came to say Happy New Year.” She hugged me and gave me a passionate kiss.
Then a group of folks began to walk in, and I was equally confused and amazed by who I saw. Steve and Justin, my two best friends from High School. Pastor Rex from Florida. Jenny from the ranch full of dogs down in Texas. Tim Harrigan, an old and very close friend from California.
I felt a pair of hands from behind grab hold of my butt and squeeze mightily. “Hey there sailor, looking for a good time?” I didn’t have to look to know that it was JC. She turned me around and gave me a big hug.
“What are you doing here?” I asked her.
“Hey, I was invited, I’m an official guest. Nobody’s throwing me out.”
“Steve, Justin, how did you guys get here?”
Justin smiled. “First, our mother’s gave birth to us, and then—“
“Ha ha, no seriously,” I said.
Steve put his arm around Justin’s shoulder. “We flew to North Carolina separately, then rented a car together.”
Justin stepped up to shake my hand. “Hadn’t seen you in a while.”
Steve butted in and gave me a bear hug. “I’ve seen you more recently, but I couldn’t resist the chance to see you again. There’s always fun buzzing around you.”
Tim jumped in front of me and recited loudly, “Only nerds and astronauts stop for yellow lights…”
I completed his thought. “… but only fools run red ones, and only they’re the dead ones.”
Justin laughed. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Nothing,” I explained. “Just a silly little phrase I made up one night when I was in college, driving the pharmacy delivery car for Tim’s Dad’s drugstore.”
Pastor Rex bowed his head and said, "God bless you, my brother. Where's the egg nog?"
Jenny sauntered over and gave me a kiss on the cheek. "Hey there, Bill-doggie. I heard you needed some loving friendship for the holidays."
"Jenny, where is Tom?"
"Long story, I'll tell you later in private."
JC grabbed my stomach and squeezed the skin. “You’ve been putting on some pounds, boy. Time to come to JC’s Boot camp, I will whip you into shape fast. Long hikes, no fast food, no late night snack attacks. Oh, and sex, lots and lots of sex, can’t forget that.”
Karen came up and leaned close to me. “So at least you’re finally getting some.”
I shook my head sadly. “I only wish.”
The bathroom door opened, and I heard the sound of a toilet flushing. Out walked Frank from Birmingham. “Wow,” I said, “Is everyone I know here? Lisa, how did you contact all my friends?”
“There’s this wonderful new thing called Facebook, and I knew who among your friends you are closest to. You’ve seemed a little discouraged lately, and I thought you could use some love.”
“How did you know I was discouraged?”
“I read all your Blogs. We talk on the phone. Besides, I know everything about you, you’re my Bill.”
"So you tricked me to get me to come?"
Lisa grinned and nodded. "I sure did."
Frank stepped up and reached out to shake my hand. I looked at him skeptically and asked, “Did you wash your hands when you finished in the bathroom?”
“You can take my word on it.” Frank smiled and we shook, then embraced briefly in a manly way.
I felt sort of light-headed. “I can’t believe that so many of my closest friends all came here. I feel like I’m having a IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE moment. Will someone please pinch me so I know this isn’t a dream?”
JC promptly responded by goosing me, and I jumped with a start. “You awake now?” she asked.
“Yes, ma’am.” I grabbed a glass and lifted it to make a toast. “Here’s to the best friends that any guy ever had. You’ve all taken me into your home numerous times, and you’ve made me feel loved and special. May the coming year be a blessing to all of us. And God bless each and every one of you.”
The party went on until 4am, and it was wonderful. I had the chance to talk at great length to each one of my friends and catch up. At one point, I told Pastor Rex that I was going to have to write a Blog entry about this, and he asked me "Why? What's the point? Your Blogs are always funny, I don't see what's funny here." Well, I guess the point is that I want others to remember what I learned: no matter how down or discouraged you are, if you have friends who truly love you, everything will turn out OK. These people came from all over America to come and see me. That says a whole lot. I have a lot of very good friends.