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Filed Under on March 20th, 2011

Family Maxims #16

By Seth Kabala

The photo shows a boy in distress. Cords stand out on his neck as though a slide-lock chain were asked to support the weight of an oil-tanker anchor. His eyes are rolled back. Every muscle appears ready to release its stored nuclear power.

What are you picturing? The kid from The Good Son? Freaky little Danny from The Shining?

Relax. No psychopaths here. Just my best friend, Nick, and I in his kitchen almost 20 years ago after he decided it would be a good idea to eat a spoonful of Hershey’s chocolate cocoa powder and discovered (much to his mother’s pleasure), well, that he didn’t know everything.

That experience was funny as hell for me, as I sat on the other side of the table, graciously letting Nick go first (I’m just that kind of guy). Not so funny for Nick at the time, but he was–after multiple surgeries to correct the bitter-beer-face–able to laugh at it.

Through the years, we would share countless experiences that would cement the bond of friendship with other-worldly elements, impossible to break.

Then I got married. It’s no one’s fault. As you get older, responsibilities grow. It’s crass, but you go where the money is, and with the economy the way it is, you really don’t have a choice.

Thus it was that after my wife, Amy, and I left on our honeymoon eight years ago, I didn’t see Nick again until he walked into the tux shop last November, where I was getting fitted to be a groomsman in his wedding.

He had the same swagger, hair, cologne that I remembered. He was wearing slim tapered jeans, roughed in places, Chuck Taylors, a dress shirt over which he wore an argyle sweater. Same Cheshire Cat smile. He was my best friend. So we did the manly thing: hugged.

Why the almost eight-year gap? I don’t know. We tried to set up tee-times on several occasions, but they always fell through. Nobody’s fault. Just life.

That excuse doesn’t work with everybody, but with best friends, LIFE makes the grade.

My five-year-old son, Will, recently made a couple good friends: Seth, 4, and Jonathan, 2. Amy and I also hit it off with their parents, and so we were over at their house a few weeks ago.

Straight to the point, Jonathan was potty-training, and at one point during the evening, somehow, he peed on Will’s socks. It’s a mystery that shall be filed along with the Kennedy assassination. If military interrogators want to practice on the world’s toughest subjects, they should interrogate kids. They won’t crack.

Despite the details surrounding the crime remaining fuzzy, and Will’s immediate response being this: “I’m really not happy at all that you did that,” the incident was forgotten faster than a New Year’s resolution. One of those is bad, and it’s not the one that strengthened friendship.

The boys went on that evening and made no more mention of the incident. As it should be. This by no means should suggest that fake words degenerating into poop and pee this and that should be allowed unchecked, but as as much as we parents may detest that speech, I think it’s an essential part of building friendships. A way to find commonalities between personalities.

The Kabala family shall not hold it against a friend who pees on us. We shall realize that the bonds of true friendship stay strong.

Through thick and trickle.

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Seth Kabala

About: Seth Kabala
Seth is an entrepreneur, writer, musician, family man, and juggler of balls--big ones. He lives with his wife and three children in Portland, OR.

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