The next few days, my son’s bloody face dripped and oozed. His head ached and his teeth throbbed and then, he began to feel better. But while he was healing, I had the privilege of watching the most touching displays of childhood friendship.
A restored VW van, a summer project, pulled up outside. Four boys, all bigger than when the summer began, all with longer hair and beat up flip-flops from a summer of fun, unfolded from the van. They carried trays and platters. One of them had an enormous flower arrangement of delicate green stalks and hydrangea. It spilled from under his arm. He’d swiped the arrangement from a catering job he’d just finished working. They had brought my son, their friend, dinner.
As they set up a dinner party in our kitchen, a small space for five six-foot boys, they swatted each other with words, jokes and love. Somebody had a girlfriend. Somebody didn’t. Somebody had heard why a certain girlfriend had broken up with a certain guy. But, the boy who had the information? He couldn’t say what he’d heard….they vollied.
They’d made lasagna and lobster cakes because my son’s jarred teeth had him on a soft food diet. The boys warmed their dishes, added more cartons of ice cream to the freezer and asked about the accident.
They fell quiet for the recounting. Their faces grim. They asked questions. When they were sure he was going to live, when my son had convinced them, they erupted into laughter to loosen the scene. They touched his shoulder and told him they loved him and had he died? It would have really have put a damper on their summer. They asked more questions and told him how happy they were that he was okay. And, by the way, he looked totally bad ass. Would he have scars? Because scars are totally bad ass too.
After they’d eaten, they collapsed onto a couch turned bed for recuperation. They all piled onto my son’s bed-couch and watched a movie. The tiny room, the long bodies, the tangle of sneakers, the bloody pillow one had under his head, the old milkshakes, the abandoned cups of water, they squeezed into the room, among the mess they were riveted by a movie with guns and sexy women and fast cars. The movie made them all laugh too hard to breathe.
My son fell asleep, his friends from forever, draped over him. They covered him up, made room for his legs and put another blanket over him.
They are the sweetest boys, these VW bus driving boys. I’ve known them for years and years and watching them grow into big boys, young men, with compassion and overt love for one another? Well, it was touching, what more can I say?
Boys with such love for each other, with words to express that love? It must mean something in the midst of the world’s current insanity. If boys are learning to emote with greater freedom that before, that’s gotta be good news. Imagine a congress of men and women well versed in emotional language and filled with empathy for each other.