Last night I hadn't planned on going out, because I had to work early the next day (Saturday), but I couldn't say no to the crew that was assembled. It didn't used to be a big deal to get everyone together, it was all too easy and a dangerous pattern, but lately everyone has girlfriends, things going on, or in Grenade Jumper's case, a wedding to plan. He is the main reason I went out against my better judgment, because I so rarely get to see him these days.
I've known Grenade Jumper since I was in the first grade, he's one of my closest friends, and one of the funniest human beings I've ever known. All my closest friends are funnier than shit, and if they wrote their own blogs, this guy especially, you'd forget all about me. By the end of next month he'll be married, and it won't be long after that when he'll make his inevitable descent into the suburbs; They're already looking at houses. Yes I'm happy for him, but I'm going to miss the big fella (his shoulders are literally the size of bowling balls. I'm not kidding).
Here are some of my favorite things about him:
1. I go to lots of Chicago Cubs games with him, and every single game, and I do mean every single one, he bellows, "Get off your knees ump, you're blowing the game." Hearing one person say the same joke every game I see with him, season after season, would not work for most people. With him I'm practically rolling in the aisles each and every time I hear him launch into it, especially when there are kids around.
2. He can trace the lineage of the World Wrestling Federation belt from when Hulk Hogan defeated the Iron Sheik* to the modern era. Sometimes I think he's making up bits and pieces, he'd almost have to be, but he really sells it and never misses a beat, which is all the more impressive.
3. He and I have this thing together where we do third base coach signals to one another across the bar, putting fingers across our arms, tilting our brims to either side, whether we have hats on or not, clapping our hands, emphatically shaking off each other's signs, and lots of people think a serious "discussion" is going down. The signals mean nothing.
4. He's, as his name in this post and the title would indicate, and you may want to stop reading if you're one of my easily offended female readers, the finest grenade jumper I've ever known. By this I mean that he would run interference on a girl that would make a lesser man queasy at just the sight of her. There have been numerous times where he has jumped belly first onto a grenade, opening up doors for his fellow horseman**, doors that would have been impenetrable without his heroics. Sometimes he'd even go home with one of these well-fed, Midwestern ladies. There was one legendary morning where he rifled through a gal's mail, desperately trying to remember her name, and that's a morning that would be brought up to everyone's amusement countless times. Truth be told, I don't think he minded bigger girls all that much, and he may have had a bit of proclivity towards them. I'm laughing just thinking about this: There were nights where he'd be on a mission before we'd go out, and he'd say: "I wouldn't want to be a jack and coke or a fat girl right now, because . . ." You get the idea.
Being a groomsman for him next month will be an honor, and it will be one of those weddings where all my cynicism about marriage, couples, whatever, will not have a leg to stand on. My happiness for he and his bride-to-be will be unbridled, so to speak. I may even send him a squeeze bunt signal from across the reception hall. He'll no doubt think it's one of our usual, nonsensical communications, but this time it will mean something, to me. It will mean that it's the end of an era for our group of friends, but he's a guy I'll always care about and stay in touch with, even if he moves to the most remote suburb fathomable, and I'd do anything for him, any time he needs it. That's the road that a quality Grenade Jumper paves for himself.
*This was a bad guy wrestler in the 1980's who played into the U.S.A.'s hatred for Iran at the time, since we were supposed to be anti-Iran, while we funded Iraq to fight them, only later to attack Iraq. Twice. Anyway, The Sheik, even had an inappropriately dubbed finishing move, of which Mr. Hogan was the first to escape from, The Camel Clutch.
**Four of us used to call ourselves The Four Horsemen. It was really just an epic sounding, glorified, Biblical, downright juvenile name for four idiots getting drunk and trying to meet girls.