Mr. Sparkle

Tonight I find myself sitting in my apartment, looking at the boxes and realizing another page in my life is turning. In an effort to cut costs and help a friend over a rough patch, I am moving to Buckeye Lake, Ohio tomorrow. It is going to be an interesting experience, as this summer is going to be one filled with all the things I love - the water, bonfires, good music and bbq's. The downside is that it takes me a little farther from my boys, and from other very important people in my life. But it isn't a far drive and I should be able to keep things steady while I am there. But that is not what tonight's blog is about.

I remember the day I met him. Clad in a beige work jumpsuit with Mr. Sparkle branded on the name tag, Brad Stefanov had to be the most unique individual I had met since my family had moved to Columbus the summer before. It was 1988 and I had just started my first job, at Kroger in Gahanna. I was a bagger and making a paycheck and thought I was king of the world. Brad would chat as he came by with his mop and and bucket, and I would politely make conversation. I had been raised never to be rude, even to strange people. Little did I realize who Mr. Sparkle would turn out to be.

I remember very distinctly the night I was leaving work and it was pouring rain. I looked at my trusty 10 speed with dread, knowing that the hill on Clark State Road would be especially hard to climb in the rain. Here came this dude in his 1981 Cutlass. He tossed my bike in the trunk, tied it down with an extension cord, and saved me the soaking I was destined to have. Riding to my house, he cranked up his 2 Live Crew tape that rested in his 8-track-to-cassette converter that portruded from the dash.

After that we were inseperable. We hung out all the time, cruising Gahanna and Northeast Columbus trying to pick up girls, playing on CB radios, and getting into all kinds of harmless fun. When I met my high school sweetheart, who lived on his street, he warned me to "stay away from those Richner Bitches". Of course he is the one that wound up marrying someone with that last name, not me. But that happened later.

If you follow the blog you know I am recovering from surgery. You also are aware of the similar surgery I had in 1990. It was much more difficult than last weeks procedure, and things were very touch and go for awhile. But Brad, he was terrific. He came to the hospital everyday. In fact if he wasn't working, he was there. He snuck junk food in to me in recovery, sat and talked to me when the boredom of the room, was over bearing, and even sent my snoring parents home when I couldn't sleep due to the noise. "You need a break, I will stay with Mike tonight" he said. He was an absolute rock, not just to me, but for my Mom and Dad as well.

The next year he was off to the desert. I wasn't thrilled when my best friend enlisted, but was proud when he went to war in Desert Storm. Even prouder when he won a medal for his actions there. He doesn't talk about that a lot. But on my end, there was nothing cooler than phone calls from Saudi Arabia. It was 1991 after all, and cell phones weren't all the rage.

I went six years without speaking to him. He and I had a falling out, and both of us were too stubborn to admit we were wrong. It was a long six years. We both got married, I had kids, and we were grown ups when my Mom and Dad told me that they had been talking to him. My Dad told me that Brad was the best friend I had ever had, was like part of the family, and that I needed to make it right. We made contact, and soon it was like we had never skipped a beat.

Now here we are in 2011. Both have careers, have been divorced, and are getting old. Yet when we get together we are still like a couple of kids, making stupid jokes and having a great time. He has had his rough patches, as have I, and we have been right there, like brothers. He is more than my best friend, he's part of my family, and I am really better off for having befriended Mr. Sparkle 24 years ago.

The rest of you will not understand what follows. But he will be on the floor laughing when he gets to the end

Brad - Thanks for.............................

The ride home
Daddy O's
Running a red light
Unskinny Bop
Stop ahead
2 Live Crew
20 mile bike rides
Cushions
Cruising
Cruising with me and Am
306 B West Johnstown
Big ass cell phones
CB radios
Raquetball
Being there at the hospital in 1990
Being there when Amber left
Your service to our Country
Being a great "Uncle" to my boys
Being there when Mom died
Being there when I left Angel
Being there at the hospital in 2011
Being a friend to me for 24 years

You know the list could go on and on.................

Happy 40th Brad. Really glad you are happy and healthy today!

Good night all.......................

Comments

  1. Thanks brother! Would put more but have to many happy tears in my eyes!!

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  2. that was wonderful mike,thanks for being there for brad last week when he needed you.he is kind of wonderful isn't he

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  3. No problem, Dawn. That was me returning the favors he paid forward a long time ago. And Brad HAHA I made you cry lol.

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  4. This was simply beautiful. (Now you know I'm going to expect the same in Oct so start writing.)

    ReplyDelete

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