Sunday, June 30, 2013

Ode to an Old Friend

Another blogger recently wrote a very touching  blog about the recent loss of a long time friend of 43 years.

It got me to thinking about my longest ( living) relationship......a friend I have known, loved, hung out with, laughed with, cried with, shared with, disagreed with,  traveled with, caroused with, grown up with, grown old with.....all of the above in spite of the fact that we have been separated by 3000 miles for all but the first 15 months of our relatinship ( not counting the many times we have traveled together and traveled to be with each other).  Some day I may tell you a lot more about this friendship, but I have just realized that my frugality,my refusal to part with any beloved thing I have collected over my lifetime and my tendency to hoard the good stuff and not let it go sort of slops over into my relationships.  I do try to hold on to the good ones.  Just 10 or 12 years ago I still had 5 or 6 friends whom I had known for more than 50 years.   I have lost all but 3 of them to death over recent years, but  it sort of shocks me when I realize that my newest close friendship was engendered about 35 or 40 years ago.  Oh, I do have some newer, younger friends, but they are not quite the same as those others that have been part of me  for 50, 60, 70 years.  Even some of my lovers remained friends long after the flames of passion died down......quality lasts after lust and passion have ridden off into the sunset. But, I digress.....I was intending to tell you about my Oldest Friendship...... Stel.

I remember like it was yesterday that morning in September of 1940 when Sylvia Shahinian (my then oldest friend since age 9) and I climbed the steps to Shaw Jr. High School in West Philadelphia and Syl suddenly stopped and hissed, "Be careful....there's that girl".  What girl, I asked.  That new girl who lives on our street.  Why should I be careful I asked.  "She wants to be friends with us", Syl said.
I did not see that as a problem so I disengaged my sleeve from Syl's grip and sauntered up the steps to the new girl.  "Hi", I said.  "Hi", she said. and so began my very long association with Stella.

That was  more than 73 years ago and I have just paraphrased Bob Hope's old song, "Thanks For The Memory", hitting some highlights of this rare friendship and I intend to sing it to her........yes I will. Since she adamantly refuses to have anything to do with a computer since she retired as head of the Reference Dept of  the New Hampshire State Library, I will have to make a CD and send it to her.  Only Stel and I will understand all the references. but I am really tickled with it and will share my lyrics with you below.
I hope she will get as big a kick out of it as I have gotten developing it.   I guess I had  better hurry....neither of us is getting any younger.  Where did I put my pitchpipe?

Some may consider it maudlin and sappy, but I stand by it  proudly.

Thanks for the memory
of Paris long ago, trips to Mexico,
Stomach pains and hurricanes
and sharing Guillermo
I thank you so much.

Thanks for the memory
My only Broadway show
was Kiss Me Kate, you know
The transit strike caused us to hike
Manhattan high and low
I thank you so much..

I loved your father and mother
And had a huge crush on your brother
And you were a friend like no other
I felt lucky to be
close to your family.

So thanks for the memory
Las Vegas was such fun
I taught you 21
T'was in the Golden Nugget
Can't remember if we won
But thank you so much.

Second chorus

Thanks for the memory
of cruising Norway's fjords
we've toured and dined like Lords
and Frisco was two inches, and my wagon was a Ford
I thank you so much.

Thanks for the memory
San Miguel was so hypnotic
Our villa was exotic
The trip to Guanajuato
Showed that Don was Don Quixotic
Oh, thank you so much.

Many's the times that we feasted
I don't think that we ever fasted
And look at how long we have lasted
We've had great fun, for more than 71 (years, that  is)

So thanks for the memory
of music near and far
Guillermo played guitar
and Pete and Joe swung sweet and low
and look, here we still are
I'm awfully glad I met you
Stella darling, you're my Star
I thank you so much.