It’s Good to Have Friends Like This…

So my wife and I had dinner and drinks with neighborhood friends recently: a married couple (“D” the wife is an Attorney and her husband, “S” is a Computer Science/IT Executive). We’ve known them for 20 years, watched our kids grow up together and celebrate 4th of July with a huge fireworks display in our backyards for our families. I’ll digress for a bit here with a funny (I think) side story that’s associated with that:

S was born in Iran and immigrated to the US as a child. He and I go to a county south of where we live to buy our fireworks. It’s kind of a rural, country, environment… lots of young to middle-aged (my age) white men with gun racks, etc. Which is not anything of note except that when you’re in that large fireworks store… they’re there, too, getting ready for the holiday celebrating America. A couple of years ago we walked in and made our rounds. In the center of the store, dozens of customers milling around it, there was a display of what I swear looked like RPGs but, in fact, were a fireworks mortar launcher (they’ve since stopped selling that particular item). S picks it up and he’s looking at it – we like big mortars in our fireworks show – and turns around. I look at him and laugh saying jokingly, “Hey S… you might want to put that down before someone gets worried.” Unthinkingly, he stops with it propped on his hip angled out toward the front of the store. And then I swear that everything, the hustle and bustle of shopping carts and people, all the sounds of movement in the store stopped. It was dead quiet. I looked around and every bearded, blue-jeaned, tattooed and beer-bellied dude in there had eyes locked on us. So I waved at them and said, “Nothing to see here folks… move along.” And I made a shooing motion at them as S put the mortar launcher back.

We finished our shopping and took our huge pile of fireworks to S’s car. As we’re getting into his car a police car pulls in beside us, the cop inside gesturing at us to stop. Thinking about what just happened inside I mutter, “What the fuck is this?” S looks a little concerned as the cop comes over to the driver’s side window and leans down. “Hey S! I thought that was you… haven’t seen you in years.” It was some guy that he had gone to college with. I laughed my ass off as we pulled out of the parking lot.

Anyway, back to my original story: so at our friend’s home we eat, drink and talk. S is tremendously interested in Persian history… and I’m a history buff, too. We talked about my thoughts when I visited the British Museum and realized how much it contained that was collected during the British Empire/Colonialism period. How I felt that it should go back to the countries they were looted from or some form of compensation be worked out to display outside the origin country (some of which is coming to pass but slowly). That led to talking about objects in the museum from Nineveh in northern Iran and what Nineveh’s name means. Then somehow we got off on talking about Carthage in Tunisia (during the 7th to 3rd centuries BC, its sphere of influence, the so-called Carthaginian Empire, extended over much of the coast of North Africa as well as substantial parts of coastal Iberia and the islands of the western Mediterranean). Sidenote: Years ago I visited Carthage and was at an outdoor café in Tunis one morning drinking some seriously badass coffee and down the sidewalk comes a young Tunisian boy wearing an Arkansas Razorback t-shirt (I’m from Arkansas and this made me shake my head at the surreal highly-caffeinated moment). From Carthage, our conversation rambled to Nizwa and the then Bahla Fort in Oman (built in the 13th and 14th centuries when the oasis of Bahla was prosperous under the control of the Banu Nebhan tribe. The fort’s ruined adobe walls and towers rise some 165 feet above its sandstone foundations—and it is impressive), which I’ve also had the pleasure of seeing. This led into talking about current events involving the Middle East and other serious things.

All in all, a refreshing and enjoyable evening of intelligent discourse over many beers! 🙂

We had a great time and were about to leave when S tells me, “You have to see this and listen to the song. I love it!” I’m thinking he’s going to trot out some lost classic (maybe something from the 70s). Instead, he plays this music video (see below). And I haven’t totally, mentally, disengaged from our serious conversation (the thought trails in my brain range far and go deep sometimes). So I’m standing there watching him enjoying this song and video I’ve never seen or heard before, shaking my head, and think, it’s good to have friends like this. I smiled all the way down the sidewalk to home.

Now… I’m all about that bass…

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