Now that I have your attention get your mind out of the gutter.

Perhaps a better title would have been, the Benefit of Friends.

Question: How far would you go for your friends?

Your true friends, real friends, best friends, your Ride or Die friends?

Think about that for a moment.

First, a disclaimer, I’m going to change the names here to protect the innocent, just so there’s no guessing games or calls to the authorities.

Back in my 20’s I was at the Drive-ins with some friends. Yes I’m that old. Another friend showed up, he had walked in just to find me and said ‘Hey Rick just called. He said he’s in Montreal, bring rope.’
Fast-forward to the very stern Border Patrol agents not thrilled to see us towing a broken down ‘84 Audi Quattro behind an ‘88 Chrylser LeBaron.

Another of my ‘friends’, I’ll call him Derek, was my age and we got along great and always had fun. He lived in a secured building and he actually told the guard at the desk he didn’t have to call to let me up. But more than that he put me on the very short list of people who could do that. Me and the delivery guy from the Thai food place next door. Only he actually put my name as Martin Z. Rofuks. That was his nickname for me because on several occasions I said to him and it became clear that with so many things I just gave zero fucks. Get it?

Not a bad motto but that’s for another day. Back to our story.

Derek had a younger boyfriend, like much younger. Their relationship was fun but mostly toxic and I remember telling a mutual friend “At some point I’m going to get a call from Derek telling me he needed help moving something heavy.” But when I’d get to his place his boyfriend would be wrapped in his oriental rug and we’d have to dispose of the body somewhere.

The question is, is that something I would have gone along with?

Well because I live my life parallel to so many story-lines that have played out or should played out on The Young & The Restless I might have said yes at the time. But I remembered when Kevin did that for Phyllis and while that story arc took a few months to play out and yes Phyllis got away with what murder (yet again), Kevin did get more than just a slap on the wrist for being an accomplice. For those that get into situations like that in real life it would have ended much worse.

And no it never came to that with Derek and his younger lover. Their relationship did perish, however non-violently.

My friend ‘Jerome’ was someone I had lost touch with. I had heard he had cancer so I reached out. I happened to be unemployed so I offered to take him to some of his chemo treatments and was happy to do so.

Jerome and I had a good connection but came in and out of each others lives over the years. Generally I tended to forget why the ‘out of each others lives’ part happened. It came clear again with the chemo treatments. Some days it was just that, other days it was pick up his prescriptions. Some days he just needed company so I’d bring over coffee.

All good.

Then it became coffee and ‘oh can you grab me some toilet paper’ which as everyone knows they don’t sell at Starbucks but… yeah ok. Then it became coffee and ‘just a few things since you’re stopping by anyway.’ Soon it turned into full days at the hospital when I was only told it was a quick appointment. Jerome was a great guy and happy to help in his time of need but all too often his expectations were far greater than what was initially asked of me. This quite often left my own personal work neglected and even though he was aware of that he felt it was his right to take higher priority because of his illness. But I kept helping because again, he was such a great guy.

Was he…? Really…?

It’s hard to tell a friend he’s overstepping. Especially when he is in such a health crisis. But is he such a good friend if he is taking advantage of those who want to help? I asked myself this and realized this was the ‘why’ in all our years of friendship where we fell out of each others lives. Healthy or not his expectations were always more than I had the capacity and time to meet. So Jerome is now in my thoughts and prayers but not in my calendar.

My last story is about a friend named Oliver. Oliver and I had this intense spiritual connection since the day we met. I knew for some reason I needed to keep him around, we always vibrated on the same frequency and raised each other up and there was a lot in common. Mostly there was no judgment of each other on how our lives were unfolding whether by our own choices (not always good one) or not. There was this code of encouragement and support. Sadly on his part the code didn’t include complete honesty or sobriety.I knew this and loved him as a friend nonetheless.

Oliver had a drug problem. He was an addict. He wouldn’t admit it, he just admitted to ‘escaping when life and feelings overwhelmed him’. Which basically describes, you know, an addict. He would binge and disappear and reappear and be in the hospital for a few days or try rehab for a week but only make it ‘til Tuesday. This went on for years. He’d be clean for a while and ‘grounded’ and ‘elevating’ and then he’d start to get boxed in by living at home with his family and not having a car or anyone to connect with. That was the rock that started to roll down a hill and became a boulder, his drug of choice chasing after him and sooner or later he’d be using again, either at home or on one of his benders. All I ever asked was to just respond to my text so I knew he was alive but he rarely would do even that.

So I rescued him. A couple times.

I’d enlist the help of friends and I’d track him down using their gps-based hookup aps to find out where he was and who he was with. We’d use a fake profile to convince the other person to let us meet them. We couldn’t use our own pics because Oliver was keen to our game. The last time I did this was just recently. I dragged him out with my partner and although it wasn’t our original plan he ended up back at our place overnight where to our surprise he was clear and lucid and got some sleep. The next morning he actually agreed to go into a facility for rehab and he’d not put his family through any more stress. His family agreed he could stay with them overnight and they would bring him the next day so we decided to drive him home. Well while he was in the bathroom showering he used and passed out in the car and then vomited and aspirated. We couldn’t rouse him so we took him to the ER and he was intubated for a week.

I’ve put a lot of my personal time into being this guy’s friend and it hasn’t been easy at times.

Why do I get that involved?
After the first time when he relapsed I said I’m not doing this again but I continued to stand by him.
All his other friends abandoned him. Most merely said ‘good luck with that’.
The ones who helped me were MY friends and they knew what being a friend meant.

So do I. I didn’t want to get this involved this time because the past month with him had been complete chaos with my own life. But as my partner said:

“You’re not the type of friend to go half way.
You’re not the type of guy that just says enough.
You follow through for those that need it because that’s who you are.”

That my dear readers, is the benefit of being MY friend. What is the benefit of being yours?

They say surround yourself with people who you want to be like.
They say surround yourself with people who raise you up.
They say surround yourself with people that raise your own expectations of yourself.

I do that. But what of those that need to be lifted? Do you leave them behind?What kind of friend does that make you?
What kind of man does that make you? Yeah I went there.

One way the value of a man can be measured is through his bonds and the lengths he’d go for those he cares about.

This shade is all about that.

If you really get me and get who I am and give me all of you, I AM your ride or die.

I’ll take you to the airport, I’ll help you move, I’ll list your items on ebay for you YES, I’m THAT type of friend.

And if you call me and tell me you have a body that needs to be disposed of…God help me, just tell me where and when, I’ll bring the shovel.