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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
Tuesday, June 19 2001

Adolescent friendships

The new best friend I made when I was 16 is still a friend whom I talk with cross-country by phone occasionally (and I'm not a "phone person"; almost never call anyone to do more than transmit specific questions or answers). When we talk, the years fall away and we're the same Jon and John we were then. But none of my friends from preadolescence are in touch or even "touchable" at this point. I have no addresses or, except for the one who died without contact for over 40 years recently, don't even know their general locations. (I'm referring here to my school chums, not the neighborhood kids who were always there and for the most part about whom I still have general information.)

Maybe this is one of the big differences between adolescence and childhood, and is a reason we seem to focus many of our memories on our adolescent years. Lifetime relationships with nonrelatives begin then...or maybe I'm the exception and most of you are still in touch with your third-grade pals?

My best friend of third grade into eighth seemed to mature at a different pace than I so that, one day, we didn't have anything important in common any longer. (I find it embarrassing that this sounds sterotypically similar to the oft-heard lament of women who choose to end their marriages!) Though this is only one, superficial, example of our different directions, he was, literally, "country" and I was "rock and roll" by eighth grade. It seemed a mutual parting of the ways and, even though I don't remember any specific animosity between us, we never spoke again enough to be a conversation. I was surprised when another classmate mentioned him as graduating with us four years later, he had so totally "dropped off my radar screen." I'd have guessed he left school by our junior year.

When I was 17 I fell in with a new best friend and became a "disciple" as described over the past two entries, or more aptly, a member of a gang. The gang revolved around its alpha leader and though none of us would have compromised our characters to please him we would have probably (and unwittingly likely did) risk our lives to keep in his favor and in his "entourage." As a "gang" we had no agenda or code of behavior beyond having fun without breaking the law or community mores. The "breaking-the-law" part of it included not consuming alcohol under age; among the seven regulars and semi-regulars in the gang, I never saw any of us drinking (between ages 17 and 22!), much less intoxicated, and at least half of us didn't smoke, either, in a time when the proportion of smokers viz nonsmokers among young males was much higher than that figure. Those were probably "values" that joined us, apart from the comical cleverness of our leader who was constantly keeping us entertained. Just being in his high-energy presence was more entertaining than going to a movie.

The title of the old song, "Wedding Bells Are Breaking Up That Old Gang of Mine" became literally true for our gang, though selective service letters and relocations for out-of-state jobs were also major factors. Having been employed full time by the Journal at age 20, I was able to stick around Nanty Glo a few years longer than most of the others, and for those years I was in the alpha role myself, with a smaller group of close friends spending time together virtually daily until I was forced to choose between seminary and Vietnam and moved out of state like those before me.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

21 Ways to "freak out" your colleagues (collect 'em all)

6. Develop an unnatural fear of staplers.

7. Put decaf in the coffee maker for 3 weeks. Once everyone has gotten over their caffeine addictions, switch to espresso.

8. In the memo field of all your cheques, write "for sexual favors."

9. Finish all your sentences with " In Accordance With the Prophecy."

10. Don't use any punctuation.

Sent by Zan

Four more to grow on

"Nothing is more permanent than a government program that is 'temporary.'" Phil Steffen
"It is a besetting vice of democracies to substitute public opinion for law." James Fenimore Cooper
"The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be...The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists." Martin Luther King, Jr.
"Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans." John Lennon

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