Colorado 49er

When Lockwood turned 16 I made him a 16-layer birthday cake. My mother wanted to ring my neck. As she surveyed the flour-dusted room that was once her kitchen she warned me, “don’t ever promise anyone something like this again.”

I never did.

So when Lock turned 40, I sent him 40 helium balloons. His kids, still little boys at the time, had a great time with those balloons.

For one of my past birthdays, I don’t remember which, he sent me the corresponding number of Hostess Cupcakes. Or were they Ho-Hos? Whatever they were, they definitely made me laugh.

Today he turned 49. It’s not exactly a landmark birthday, so instead of making or sending him anything, I merely typed him an email message. It was certainly adequate for one of my dearest (old) friends. I love him like a brother. And at this point in our lives, we just want to be reminded that our friends love us.

I’m not sure why I remember his birthday so clearly when I often forget my actual brother’s birthday; but then again, I never made anyone else a towering frosted cake.

Lock and I correspond a couple times a year. We make a point of keeping one another up to date on our families. Last summer he surprised us with a drop in visit at our Wisconsin resort. Driving all the way from Colorado, it was a pretty big surprise.

Today’s catch-up included stories about his son and shopping for colleges. This is interesting to me, especially considering Lock and I went to both high school and college together. Are our kids really getting ready to go off into the world?

Citing the stock-market downturn and what he had anticipated would be a lucrative education fund for his three boys, he had once envisioned a college experience including “good schools, apartments with full-service bars, chicks hanging from the rafters and even an education.” But like the rest of us watching our portfolios disappear, now he’s “learning all about FAFSA and loans.”

I jumped back to our college days and thought about how relatively affordable our state school was back in the 1970s. At the time, I was the one buried in financial aid papers and scholarship applications, while he enjoyed a full-ride football scholarship. I was only a little bit jealous of him. After all, he deserved it. Not only was he a hellofa football player and an excellent student, but he also remains one of the nicest guys I’ve ever known.

And, more importantly, he used to set me up with some of his football friends. Now that’s a pal! (Photo at left is from a recent visit to our alma mater). Seeing all those cute cheerleaders made me recall some of the studs he had as friends back then, and for a moment I worried that I might have been one of those so-called chicks hanging from his dorm room rafters. Lock assured me, however, that I had no worries. “You can go about your day with a clear conscience,” he wrote, “because our connection is pews, not rafters. We used to attend church together on Sunday mornings, remember?”

Yes, I remember. Amen brother. And happy birthday. I’ve got a year to come up with what 50 items I’m going to send you next February 9. But for now, here’s 49 kisses for you and your beautiful family.

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