Together Is Better

From duos to ensembles...These teams mirrored a long-time friendship I once had.
June 01, 2009
Warning: This is another long article. I encourage you to take your time with it.

I was originally going to do a music article for my 39th piece, but something came about recently that changed my decision.

I talked about my old friend "Bruce" in my previous articles "The Age Old Question" and "25 Of My Favorite 80s Ballads".

Here are links to those articles:

The Age Old Question:

25 Of My Favorite 80s Ballads:

Something recently happened that sort of changed my opinion on "Bruce".

When I was pushing carts yesterday, one of his relatives saw me in the parking lot. We talked briefly, and he told me that "Bruce" was up here recently. He didn't bother to say hi to his cousins, but he did visit his old therapist.

"Bruce" didn't bother to see me, either, and that hurt my feelings knowing that. After all the things we did together over the years, for it to be swept under the rug like that is very hurtful.

Part of me doesn't give a fuck if I ever see him again, while part of me still wants to see him once more.

This got me to thinking about all the entertainments I've watched over the years. The movies, the TV, the people who make them, even the people who review them...While they may have had issues with each other off-screen, on-screen they presented great examples of the art of working together. Forever preserved on our screens, I would now like to pay homage to 10 of these collaborations. Straddling both the real and the fictional, they may appear to be random, but I have enjoyed all of them throughout the years.

I would like to start off by talking about Gene Siskel & Roger Ebert.

I knew who they were and I knew what they did, but up until YouTube came along, I hadn't seen any of their work. Once I did, I thought that this duo was great at what they did. Their reviews could make you think, but laugh out loud at the same time.

That reminds me of hanging around "Bruce". When we would go driving around, we would have long conversations about matters both trivial and serious, and we would entertain each other with our thoughts. It helped that we liked 80s movies, including many of those that Siskel & Ebert didn't like.

Even though I may not have always agreed with their reviews, they always provided great entertainment value.

When Gene Siskel died, a very big part of film history died with him. His interplay with Ebert was great, and while Ebert carried on with a variety of other reviewers, it just didn't provide the same kick.

When I hung out with "Bruce", we always had fun, even if we didn't always agree with each other. I miss that about him.

On a different tack, there's another pair I like that achieved great fame in the 80s. I'm talking, of course, about Samantha Fox.

A lame joke, I know, but she mirrors another aspect of my talking to "Bruce". He definitely loved the ladies. He went through at least 5 girlfriends during the time I knew him, and I'm sure I'm forgetting a few...I was envious, but at the same time, in retrospect, I think he might have been trying to boost his self-confidence in a rather unhealthy way.

Since I haven't revealed his true identity, I can tell this tale. One girl he had a crush on was HIV-positive, but he didn't know that until after they did it. Needless to say, this worried me. This was a long-time friend of mine, and I feared for his health. He wore protection, but that doesn't always work. He was healthy the last time I saw him, so maybe I was just being too worried, but ath the same time, one never knows how things can work out.

One of my favorite groups are The Blues Brothers.

I can connect this to "Bruce" because he was always on wheels and listening to older music. The two of us enjoyed older music when we drove around. This was back when I was in my "nothing's worthwhile in this decade" phase. That's what The Blues Brothers were all about...Older music and cool-looking cars. We never got into chases involving police cars, brown-water navys and flying wedges of helicopters, but when I was hanging out with him, I never knew what was going to happen next. "Bruce" also had some religious issues. I've always believed in God, but he sort of wavered in his faith. I didn't hold it against him. I'm not exactly a good Christian myself. I just wonder what he was able to find to keep him at peace.

That's another SNL duo that I enjoy...To be specific, Wayne and Garth.

I don't care for a lot of 90s movies, but I loved "Wayne's World" (and, to a lesser extent, "Wayne's World 2").

There's this scene in the first "Wayne's World" where Garth (Dana Carvey) asks Wayne (Mike Myers) about Bugs Bunny's penchant for dressing up in ladies' clothing, causing Wayne to break into hysterics.

It was sort of like that when me and "Bruce" talked, only we would be doubling up over the outrageous comments of comedians ranging from Sam Kinison to Andrew "Dice" Clay, both of whom were known for outrageous material.

The both of us are caring individuals, but we did enjoy the occasional tasteless joke. We're guys, after all. As we drove around, we were just being guys...Having fun, laughing at everything and nothing.

On a different tack, I occasionally find myself thinking of "Beauty And The Beast" when thinking about "Bruce".

"Bruce" loved the ladies, to be sure, but he was never able to find the right one, at least when I knew him. In a way, he was somewhat of a heartless individual. Most people are able to make a relationship last for at least several years. He couldn't even hold one together for one. I wondered why that was. He was always very friendly towards me. Maybe he was better at making best friends than being with girlfriends.

Confidence divided in half...I wonder if he ever found the right girl.

The both of us enjoyed British comedy as well. One of our favorite groups was Monty Python.

Considering that the both of us are of primarily Irish descent, it's difficult to wonder why we liked this British group. I guess, once again, it's because of their penchant for the outrageous. They were intellectual, yet capable of silliness at the same time. So were the both of us, even though we each had our own educational difficulties, with me dropping out of college after a month-and-a-half in 2001 and he graduating high school in 2002, even though he was born in 1983.

We both enjoyed comedy of all sorts, though. I gradually became a more serious person, though, while "Bruce" was still the type to laugh at it all. Maybe it was because I was gaining different ideas and beliefs, but he sort of seemed to stay younger.

With "Bruce's" dad being a police officer, we often pretended we were cops, quoting various movies and with him taking advantage of his dad's police parking certificate. We were a wise-cracking duo, much like Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines in "Running Scared".

The 1986 favorite revolved around 2 cops, Ray Hughes (Gregory Hines) and Danny Costanzo (Billy Crystal) trying to take down drug dealers in Chicago. Even though "Bruce" was the son of a cop, he was willing to lay it all on the line for the HIV-positive girl. He was so in love with her that he wanted to move in with her, and he was hoping to earn money by working with drug dealers as the guy who carries money in the suitcase to the people in possesion of the product.

Over lunch one day, I said to him "If you do that, I'll never be your friend again". He didn't go through with it, especially after finding that this girl went crazy and smashed his truck up.

He was getting ready to cross the line between good and evil, much like bounty hunters are known for doing. I know that "Bruce" would've liked the movie "Domino".

We enjoyed watching action movies together, and I wish we could've seen this together. Both of us had troubled lives growing up, much like Domino Harvey (Keira Knightley) did, and the both of us had a set group of mutual friends that we gradually drifted away from as we grew up, those friendships dying at various speeds, me and Bruce still sticking together. Eventually, though, things started drifting apart between us.

As he cycled from job to job (he couldn't hold one down for long), he started making more friends, and we started seeing each other less. I won't lie...I was feeling betrayed and backstabbed. A lot of that went on in the movie "Clue".

Much like the cast of that movie was guessing at each other's motives and wondering what was going on, I saw him hanging out with different friends more, and I wondered "Hey, what about me?". It started fracturing when I saw him and a group of, I want to say, 4 people walking into Wal-Mart one day. We exchanged only the most cursory of hellos before he became once more engrossed with his friends.

I felt like alliances were shifting. "Clue" was known for multiple endings, the idea of which is primarily showcased in the DVD version when you can see all the different endings back-to-back-to-back. I often wondered how it would all end. Would we still be friends, or would it break apart?

In 2006, it all came to a close. I saw him driving by in a car at the Wal-Mart parking lot. I said "hello" to him, he said the same thing to me, and he drove off, never to be seen again.

I can sort of connect this to Spike Lee's movie "Bamboozled".

The movie tells the tale of a black TV executive named Pierre Delacroix (Damon Wayans) who, when fed up regarding the stifling of his ideas of uplifting black programming, decides to create a modern-day minstrel show.

He hires two street performers named Man-Ray (Savion Glover) and Womack (Tommy Davidson) to play the characters of Mantan and Sleep-N-Eat. When the show first achieves success, the duo enjoys the perks of fame. Eventually, though, Man-Ray's ego gets the best of him, leading to the end of his friendship with Womack, and also to something even more dangerous.

It was a TV program that tore our friendship apart, albeit gradually. After this TV program aired, we hung out with each other less and less, eventually leading to an exit where neither of us were able to make peace with the other. We had made up shortly after our argument, but after that, we were sort of going through the motions.

He was always more out there than I was, and I wonder what's happened to him. Is he happy? Is he sad? Is he even alive now? I don't know, and I may never know.

In the end, I do have friends still, but my friendship with "Bruce" was one that will stay with me throughout the years. Our lives changed in both good and bad ways throughout our friendship, and I wonder what will happen next, if anything. I miss him.

With that, the floor is open for discussions:

Do you have any friends you lost contact with? Have you seen any movies or TV shows that remind you of these friendships? If you see these people again, would you want to start the friendship once more, or leave it behind?
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