Male Bonding

I walk a lot more now. I walked a lot before too. But now I walk more times a day, just not as far as before.

It’s essential for my recovery.

Open Heart Surgery, Mitral Valve Repair. One week ago yesterday.

Age 56. Been healthy all my life, no known prior health problems.

Nothing like a little wake up call late in middle age to start you thinking about things.

Lots of things.

So I walk a lot now.

Today was as beautiful, crisp and vibrant a spring day as I could possibly imagine. I was heading back from walking the entire perimeter of my little 2.3 acre slice of paradise in rural Pennsylvania when I met the little neighbor boy at the corner of West Beersville and North Cigar Roads where our mailboxes sit on a shared post like cozy neighbors.

Beersville & Cigar

Beersville & Cigar

Baby Obama I call him. Half black, half white, 8 years old, and certainly old enough to hang around and be influenced by old radicals like me. Smart as a whip, curious and involved and inquisitive and interested in everything. Dennis the Menace to my grumpy old Mr. Wilson. He can get under my skin quickly sometimes, like when I’m trying to get a job done, or want to be alone, but I miss him when I don’t see him for a couple days.

We exchanged muted “heys,” as I turned toward my home. He seemed unusually shy or reticent, not a normally observable condition with this young man. I was tired. He was tired. I supposed we both just wanted to go home and lie down.

Then “Hey, Stan” again.

Awkward silence filled the air as I turned to face him.

“I’m glad you’re better. I’d really miss you if you didn’t come back.”

“Thanks,” I smiled back. “Good to know.”

I turned to go to my house as he crossed the narrow asphalt road between our places. Then, as we stood across from each other, he stopped at the top of his stoop and I on mine. In the golden glow of the setting sun, I watched the familiar huge shining grin spread across his face.

He said, “I mean who’s a guy going to hang out with, do stuff with, learn things from? A guy’s gotta have a best friend.”

“Yep.”

“Yep.”

Sitting on my deck afterwards I thought about things.

Lots of things.