Matt frequently came and left from my usual group of friends. He was like a quirky guest star on a seasonal sitcom whom you always loved and anticipated their inevitable return, no matter how short-lived it may be. I suppose he could be thought of as the Uncle Leo to my Seinfeld.
I frequented his house often, and during his final year of high school we were inseparable for much of that springtime. We engaged in several juvenile antics, such as pointless scavenger hunts where we had to get ourselves kicked out of a gas station, and late night cruises about town in his hot little 1976 Buick Skylark. I’m not a car expert, but damn did I like riding around in that thing. I often caught him washing it (Top down is the only way to wash, he would say.) in his front lawn, shirtless and soapy.
Whenever we were together, we seemed to emit some sort of aura of perfect comic timing. He asked me to shave his head once. He stood to look at himself in the mirror, then asked if it looked all right in the back, claiming that it felt a little long. I told him it looked fine, to which he responded “Okay. Well, I trust you.” before letting his legs give way to what would have been a seat, had I not just moved it out from behind him.
Step 2 in a trilogy of events that led to me getting kicked out of my parent’s apartment began with me enlisting Matt in a revenge tactic against my father. He had promised me the use of his vehicle on my birthday, only to stumble in late at night, falling down drunk and stating he had walked home. The next night I stole said vehicle, locking my father out of the apartment and taking off with Matt 40 miles to the nearest city where something might be happening somewhere. We ate at a late night diner and eavesdropped on a couple’s breakup before traveling to the nearby college to visit a relative (or friend, I can’t really recall) of Matt’s. The night ended around five in the morning upon which I dropped Matt off and went home to a door that had been kicked in to deal with my consequences, which did not begin until the following morning.
But the item that triggers an involuntary memory of this man; this person I stayed up until sunrise discussing various teenage philosophy with, is a half-gallon of chocolate milk. During one of our outings, we stopped at a gas station, where I had a hankering for a massive amount of chocolate milk. I purchased a half gallon and we sat with a few friends at a gas station while I guzzled it down. The next thing I remember is waking up on Matt’s living room couch, unable to find my shoes. I asked myself, “How did I get here?” before rising up and knocking on Matt’s door.
He was still a little groggy, despite the late morning sun, and I asked him what had happened the previous night. He began to make up a story of some adventure I went on with his brother, but when my gullibility got the better of me, he paused and said, “Wait. You really don’t remember?” I don’t know if there was something in that chocolate milk, but every time I grab a half gallon I think of that night with Matt, still unable to recall the events, which I heard were lackluster.
In the future I may find myself with a severe case of insomnia. I may then take a few heavy steps to my refrigerator to swing back a few gulps of that liquid chocolatey goodness. Then maybe a burglar wielding a butcher knife will panic, slamming it into the back of my skull. If such events should occur, then I will die thinking of my friend Matt.