Friday, March 27, 2015

Flashback Friday: The Very Definition of a BFF

Today is the birthday of Steve Semmler, my longtime best friend and partner in crime. Back in 2010 i wrote a post about him and about best friends, and I share it again (with updates) on this Flashback Friday. Happy birthday, Steve! Looking forward to our next adventure!

I don't remember when I first began to hear students using the term BFF. I know it's been a while now, and I know that those who used it were mostly teenage girls. Hearing it always brought a smile to my face. For the uninitiated, the abbreviation stands for Best Friends Forever. I am sorry to be so blunt, but there are few demographics in society who know less about the concept of BFF than teenage girls. Their best friend today often turns into an enemy tomorrow. Forever is the time between arriving at school and the end of the day. If you listen to conversations or read social networking pages you would be led to believe that each girl has numerous friends who fall into this elite category. In fact, by definition, you can only have one BFF, because "Best" is an absolute. And that is what I want to talk about today.

In truth, a BFF is someone with whom you share things that you have experienced with absolutely no one else. It is a person who knows you in ways other people are clueless about; it is a friend with whom you share so many inside jokes and stories that your conversations can leave other close friends wondering what language you are speaking. A BFF is not someone you share a brief period of your life with before moving on to a new group of friends. People like that can be among your best friends, but there is nothing forever about that type of relationship. There is something in the BFF relationship that is eternal.

If this post was taking a spiritual or theological path, then I would write about how Jesus should be everyone's BFF- and that would be accurate. But that is not my purpose today. I want to tell you about my best friend for the past 43 years or so. Steve Semmler became my best friend in the 8th grade. In the years that have passed since that time we have shared so many moments, so many adventures and so many laughs. We have listened to music from odd folks like Hurricane Smith, Tom Lehrer and Gilbert O'Sullivan and thought it was cool. We took long walks on Myrtle Beach under full moons, complaining the entire time that the moon (The Turkey, we called it) was doing NOTHING to help us meet girls. We memorized entire Beach Boys albums that no one else we knew had ever heard of.  We spent hours playing basketball and eating Fig Newtons. We went to a Jimmy Buffett concert in 1974 at an ice skating rink, and a drunk guy threw up on our dates. We learned to play guitar and went through the desert on a horse with no name at least a million times. We could always immediately pick which waitress we would have as soon as we entered a restaurant, because we always got the least attractive one! And I haven't even brought up Schlock Rod or Jim Stafford yet...

We made a friend, Sabrina Perry, who dated Steve once, then didn't speak to either of us for a year. She then became our adopted "Sis." Her parents Bill & Linda were like a second family to both of us; we ate more tacos and peanut brittle at their house than you can imagine. When they moved to Jacksonville, FL after our senior year, we went to visit them. The picture on the left is Steve, Sabrina, myself, her little brother Billy and some unknown rug-rat. Later on Sabrina decided she wanted to date Steve again (I might as well have been his agent) and when he picked another girl instead, she punched me as hard as I have ever been hit! It was not always easy keeping his admirers happy...

Steve and I attended the same college our freshman year, choosing not to room together. His roommate was a drunk and mine a drug dealer, so we spent lots of time with amazing friends like Danny Hines, David (The White Boy) Nelson, Andy Walker, Bob Peterson, Tom Piner and Bill Moser- The Stallions! Later on we shared an apartment with Alan Brown for a couple of years. Steve was always there for me when things went wrong, not just when times were good. We were in each other's weddings, and shared many great moments with each other's families. He was simply a part of my life.

We have now lived many miles apart for a lot of years. We have seen each other occasionally, and we call from time to time. I called him the day before he turned 50 so I could be the last person to wish him a happy 49th birthday; he texted me recently to quote some obscure song lyrics- and I sent the next line right back to him. There are friends I speak with more often.  There are certainly friends I see with more regularity. He and his brother Carl came down a year ago and we had an amazing visit. But even if I don't see Steve for another 20 years (when we have moved in next door to each other at Friends Homes) he will still be my best friend. The reasons are listed above, and those would be more than enough by themselves. But there is one thing more. Steve, with his unending invitations to join him at youth group at New Garden Friends Meeting in the early 1970's, started me on my way to finding Jesus. He didn't do it by preaching or quoting scripture; he did it by being my friend. And thus, his impact on my life is never ending. Eternal. That is the true definition of a BFF. And that is the best kind of best friend...

I know he often reads this blog and saw this the first time I posted it. I hope he is reading today. There is talk of a beach trip in September, and when that happens, I look forward to hanging out, listening to Beach Boys, eating at Calabash and walking the beach and singing. "Hit it, Hal!" And if you didn't get that reference, then I guess you are not my BFF...

Because of Jesus,

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