This One’s for You, Tom

My friend Tom got married last night. He and his long-time girlfriend, Jenn, tied the knot in a beautiful ceremony at a cathedral and then had a warm and fun reception that went well into the night. I wish them nothing but the best, and endless years of happiness. Also kind of hope they have a kid, because I think they’d create an awesome kid.

I’ve known Tom a long time. Since High School, in fact, I’ve been happy to call him my friend. That’s not really the whole story, though; only the easiest way to introduce each other to people.

See, Tom and I were friends in High School primarily by virtue of the fact that I was very close with his younger brother, Kevin (who unfortunately later became known as Bacca Strap). We therefore traveled through similar circles and did many of the same things like Speech & Debate and Drama. He cast a long shadow in both as he was also a member of the band and kicked a little ass with a drum kit.

Tom and I grew closer through the lost art of letter writing after he went to college. I’m not entirely sure how that started, but I’m fairly certain he was the one who started it.

Over the course of those letters started a game of one-upmanship that didn’t relent for many years. I also lost virtually every round.

(Funny side note: the best letter was actually written to our mutual friend Scott, wherein Tom managed to convince him that he’d been stabbed in the leg while out walking. For some reason, the fact that the letter was dated for April Fool’s Day and Tom said he required more than 100 stitches didn’t set off any alarms in our puerile brains.)

So anyway, the letters continued. Tom and I were next paired up in the now-infamous trip to Canada in 1993 that gave birth to the “Pasty Seven.” By this time I’d say his friendship began to matter more to me than it had before. All seven of us on that trip bonded in a special way, too. I know that I count it as one of my favorite experiences from my youth and I’d like to think everyone else who went does, as well.

There are a lot of laughs between then and now that I could recount. I remember an incident where I got into a huge argument with an anonymous AOL user in the 1990s (when AOL was king!) about the musical heritage and value of The Doors. To shorten the story and lessen my own embarrassment, let’s just get to the point that it was Tom yanking my chain the whole time. Tutball@aol.com, I salute you.

I remember a very special trip to see a revival of Jesus Christ Superstar that had gotten virtually no press, to which Tom commented while we were driving to the show, “Watch it be the homo-erotic S&M version.” The house lights dimmed, the music started and the Roman Guards came out in very interesting outfits…that made Tom turn around with that trademark half-smile that said, “Looks like…”

And let me say, I’ll never be stupid enough to play “Never Have I Ever” with Tom at a party again, under any circumstances. Because he’ll go there.

There was that second trip I took to Canada, too. Yes, Tom, I drank myself sober. I’ll attest to that, to my dying day. I did start watching The Empire Strikes Back at the worst possible time for anyone.

Sammy will always be better than Dave, too.

But aside from the laughs, Tom is one of those friends I’ve always been very thankful to have. He has never been afraid to challenge my convictions, call my bluff and respect our differences. I hope that, by virtue of still being his friend, he feels at least a little similarly about me.

So congratulations, Tomas Vincenzo, you seem to have found someone who makes you as happy as you deserve. All the prayers and best wishes from my family to yours.

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2 thoughts on “This One’s for You, Tom

  1. My apologies for the delay in responding to this. Truth be told, I was humbled and touched: in the past several years, you’ve always been the more centered and balanced of the two of us, and I appreciate the fact that you choose to overlook in this post the fact that you’ve also typically been the better friend. We both know that my fetish for one-upmanship is motivated in equal parts by a passion for mischief and a crippling sense of mean-spirited insecurity…..a charming but highly volatile cocktail, no doubt. (I sure am glad that you’ve always enjoyed the craft of a good prank, and that you’ve developed such an awesome ability to laugh at yourself since those eggshell days of the mid-90s. I could learn a thing or two from that.)

    I really cherish the fact that you remember that letter-writing phase back in college. Yes, I did initiate it…because I was very lonely in Philadelphia, and having trouble making friends that first year. You, on the other hand, were a senior in high school, with an established network of friends and a full roster of activities. I always appreciated that you made time to put pen to paper with your oddly perfect penmanship (and all of the troubling questions that it raised in my head).

    I honestly value your friendship, sir. You’re a sympathetic friend (for not strangling me for flaking out the week before your wedding), a confidant (for sharing that one highly mortifying secret in order to make me feel less stupid after I wrecked my car that night) and a first-rate co-conspirator (remember that time we drew up that elaborate Boogie Nights-style plot to rob that total jackass you used to know??).

    Above all else, I must honestly say that there is no other man whose laugh fills my heart with quite so much joy.

    We should hang out more.

    (Heh. This would have been so much more appropriate as an e-mail rather than a public comment. Awkward…)

    1. I think that ‘awkward’ defines some of our best moments, my friend. 🙂

      Let me send a direct note to you, though, as we’d love to have you and your lovely wife over for dinner one night this spring/summer whenever we can make the schedules work.

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