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Venetian Salami, Yellow Submarine and Unicycles: How About Now?

By Bill Yanger

The email popped up a while back and asked, "I owe you a call. What's a good time?"

Elbow deep in captivating 14th amendment and long-arm jurisdiction cases and hearing the clock ticking on my filing deadline, I hesitated. Could an analysis of Venetian Salami v. Parthenais (I'm serious) relative to my particular set of circumstances wait? The answer came easily.

I tapped out a reply: "How about now?" 

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Ten minutes later my cell phone bleeped and Rik was on the line. This was no ordinary phone call from a friend. Regardless of who owed who the call we hadn't spoken in 10 years and even then by accident in a parking garage elevator only long enough for me to say "What the hell are you doing here?" when I thought he still lived a thousand miles away. We waved from our respective cars after promising to call and catch up.

Best laid plans and all that...

So he called and 10 years later we caught up.

Some context: Rik and I were, kinda sorta, womb-mates. Our mothers were pregnant neighbors on Barclay Road in north Tampa suburbia back when Eisenhower was President and the gaggle of moms-to-be gossiped while pinning damp sheets on backyard clotheslines. No human who is not my family has known me longer.

He was smarter. I was funnier. He was the third grade pulling-guard on the rec-flag team and I was the tail-back thankful for his blocking ability. We bought our first bell-bottoms at J.C Penney before seeing "Yellow Submarine" the day it opened at the old Loew's on Westshore. He played guitar, fiddled with electronic stuff and starred in Godspell. I took batting practice, tortured my poor little sister and, strangely, rode a unicycle. I went away to school and he toured with a rock band, righteously belting out Steely Dan's lyric "the weekend at that college didn't turn out like you planned, the things that pass for knowledge I can't understand" when I was in the audience.

His college degree emphasized practical stuff like engineering and communications; I was the idealist, intending to save the world with my pen. His career began as a pioneer in an industry that is now ubiquitous - television home-shopping. I shelved idealism and went to law school.

Like he and I, our sons were born in the same year. He dreamed of starting his own television home-shopping business and together we made that happen. And together we learned the hard lessons and heartbreaks that a failed venture can inflict. He went corporate (kicking and screaming), then had more kids and uprooted accordingly. I went back to the courtroom, had more kids and settled into a satisfied life of little league and carpools. We've both been kicked around a bit and have lived on to fight another day.

And in the proverbial blink of an eye he sent me that email saying "I owe you a call." I am grateful.

Is there a lesson here? Maybe not. But the longer I hack away at this life thing the more I realize the value of bonds and relationships...personal, professional, parental, domestic and particularly womb-mates. Perhaps now I see clearly that when the opportunity to connect or to reconnect pops up, the right answer is easy...

"How about now?"

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