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From the Publisher's Desk – Friend sheds some 'light' on past (April 22, 2015 issue)

One definition of friend is “a person who you like and enjoy being with.” Another is “acquaintance.” The second definition might come closer to defining my Facebook status. I just looked and noticed that I have 760 friends. Do I know all of them? No. Maybe many of them know me through this column and have asked to be my friend at some point.
I must say that I feel blessed with true friends. I can’t think of a time in my life that I didn’t have plenty of close support. My dear friend and employee Keeli Parkey accuses me of being too friendly. “You don’t have to make conversation with everyone,” she tells me.
Some people I have been extra close to and felt like we could talk about anything and understood each other. In fact, I have some of those in my life right now, with Keeli being one of those.
It is almost like friends enter on the ground floor and have the potential of moving up the scale to various levels of trust and closeness. In looking back over my life, I can think of people I was so close to and thought they would be in my life forever. It’s not that we had a falling out, but paths went different directions and life moved on.
I got reminded of one such friend recently with an email. I had thought of him often over the years and wondered how he was doing. I didn’t even know where to locate him or how to begin. I am speaking of Rick Lance.
Rick and I worked together at White’s when I was in high school. We were at the store on the south end of town. I couldn’t tell you if he was older, younger, or the same age as me. I know we were close in age and I know we connected and enjoyed working together and getting out some together.
Rick was, however, more comfortable driving than I was. He would often drive from Erwin to Spivey, where I lived, to pick me up, go to the lake in Carter County and then take me back home. I often would slip out of the house with my swim trunks and a towel, because mom would have been terrified of me being around the unknown depths of the lake. Rick was checking out girls for dating potential for both of us. I don’t remember either one of us doing any good. Maybe we weren’t muscled enough.
There were other things mom didn’t know and some things Rick recently reminded me of that I had forgotten. Following is the email I recently received from him.
“Hello Keith,
“It has been a long time, I now live in Panama City Beach, Fla.
“My mother sent me your article in the mail listing your confessions about things you did in your youth. I thought I would help you out with your memory – hey what are old buddies for.
“Remember the night that we were all out in the parking lot at White’s after work and Bobby was sitting on the back of your mother’s Grand Torino? For some reason still unknown to me you started the car and took off across the parking lot like Richard Petty with the gas pedal to the floor.
“Bobby instinctively grabbed the space between the trunk lid and the back window glass. He was begging you to stop and we were all waving our arms and yelling for you to slow down. You kept getting faster and faster until you came toward us and spun the car around and threw Bobby off and onto the bank that goes up at the edge of the parking lot. We actually thought he had broken his arm. He missed a couple days work and was black and blue all over his arm, shoulder and part of his back.
“Remember the night that the florescent light went out just outside the entrance and exit door at White’s? You and I took a ladder out there to change it. You said ‘I will get the light down if you will hold the ladder.’ What was I thinking when I agreed to that?
“You went up the ladder and I remember the word ‘oops’ coming out of your mouth just as that 8 foot light tube broke over the top of my head. There I stood still hanging onto the ladder, my hair was full of glass and that white mercury powder.
“I had my eyes closed and was holding my breath to keep from breathing that mercury dust when the ladder started to shake. I held the ladder tighter but it shook even harder. I finally looked up through squinted eyes and you were looking down at me with one hand over your mouth so I couldn’t hear you laugh like a donkey braying.
“We could not seem to get all the glass out of my hair and we could not get you to stop laughing. I thought we were going to have to take you up to the hospital to let you grease the hand rails and take the rubber tips off of the crutches to get it out of your system.
“Hope all is going well for you…it was good to go down memory lane.”
Obviously friends never forget dumb stuff we do. I don’t quite remember all of those details and not quite the way he told it. Maybe Rick isn’t clear on them either, seeing as how he possibly had a florescent bulb drop on his head and may have breathed in mercury. Be careful who you let into your life. Their memories may be sharper than yours.