This morning I received a phone call from my great friend Max Bobbitt, who "evacuated" from Wilmington last night up to our place in Chapel Hill, in order to escape Tropical Storm Opheila, reportedly sustaining 70 mph winds. He called to tell me something. "I did something bad," he said.
As I envisioned my elderly cat, perhaps accidentally smothered, I asked him, "What?"
"I locked myself out of your house."
This was no problem, I figured. "Max," I said. "That's alright, let's..."
"I locked myself out of your house and I had to do something bad to let myself back in."
I'd like to pause at this point in the story, to hearken back to Christmas Eve, 2004. Max, and others, had spent the night before at my parent's house after we'd all been out drinking. This was typical behavior - we'd all taxi back to the Rotondaro home and drink some more, passing out wherever, and the parents always knew that's where everybody would be. But on Christmas Eve morning, long after the others had gone home, as appropriate on such a major holiday, Max slept on and on until it neared 4 p.m., and I deemed it prudent to go and tell him that he should probably think about hanging out with his family, who no doubt figured he was sleeping the day away. See, Max is a notorious late-sleeper. Plus, he's pure evil when you wake him up. So I wasn't looking forward to this interchange, but when I got over to the room above the garage, where all these late night sessions are always held by my friends and I, I could not help but be filled with the spirit of Christmas joy. Lucy, the then six-week-old labradoodle puppy my brother and I had gotten to surprise our parents on Christmas morn (the way we pictured it: the most adorable puppy ever known to man, teary-eyed parents touched by the gift after the recent death of our poodle, Ziggy, and presents and hugs and magic - the way it happened: my father screaming "Oh FUCK WHAT IS THAT?")was sitting on the bed, wagging her tail wildly, while Max muttered incomprehensibly. Then I noticed the huge puddle on the sheets, where the puppy had obviously relieved herself sometime during the night. Max, I'm sure, went on tossing and turning and sleeping in it for a good 14 hours or so, without ever noticing, or yelling at her or moving, or caring really.
Then there was that time young Cecilia chewed up his wallet, license and other important cards when I lived in my studio, but he still lets her crawl up in his lap and sleep now that she weighs 65 pounds.
And the fact that Max told everybody I was going through "a transitional phase" and smiled and hugged me, or gave me an encouraging pat on the shoulder, when I was ending a five-year-relationship and getting together with J, while others just wondered "what the hell are you doing?"
Max is reading the always predictable Corinthians bible passage at our wedding, and when I asked him to do so he very practically explained that his mother was an Episcopal priest and he'd be a good reader.
So, despite the fact that my friend, as a "last resort" may have broken a window to get into my house, it is clear to me that in this short life, love and friendship and that beer he promised would be waiting for me when I get home...these things conquer all.