Many years ago, my son struck up a friendship in kindergarten with a boy named Chris who lived in the same subdivision. For the next 24 years, they have been the best of friends. This column is about the in-between years and another friend who made them one of the smartest and most sarcastic trios ever. I love them all.
There was some irony about the Daniel and Chris friendship. One of my best friends in elementary school was Michael Williams. I was very short, and Mike, or “Big Duke” as he would later be called, was very tall. In fact, I think he was taller than our first-grade teacher and all of our elementary teachers except one.
He and I were always hanging together. Sometimes, he would ride me on his back. And, on one occasion, both of us were kicked out of the fifth-grade choir at the same time for singing so badly off key. We were not sad about the decision by the choir director, who also was our teacher.
Well, my son Danny was short — still is — and Chris was tall. I sensed a connection there that made me laugh when I saw their friendship developing.
They also were good students, and I suspect there was some classroom competitiveness between the two initially.
They always got along, and they were always at the other’s house. In fact, my son calls Chris’ mother “Mom,” and Chris calls my wife “Mother.” I consider Chris my second son.
Around sixth grade, Terrel came along and made them a trio. She also was taller than Daniel. She was a good student, and she had a very challenging personality. So she fit right in.
Terrel’s dad would become Daniel’s private trumpet tutor in middle school. But, alas, even with the best of instruction, the trumpet and Daniel parted ways. It was for the best.
What developed over the years was a three-headed monster. Daniel, Chris and Terrel were essentially the same person, with the identical way-out-there sense of humor and the desire to question everything. That spilled over into the classroom, where they would challenge teachers, other students and anyone else when they didn’t believe in the answers they were given.
Collectively, their sarcasm could sometimes be very biting, which turned some folk off. But they didn’t care. They felt what they felt, and it didn’t matter what you thought about it. Ask me; I know.
I loved to hear their conversations, which touched on the great political and human issues of the day, along with the goings-on in the hip-hop community.
But there was compassion mixed in, and they would help people when they could. For instance, when Daniel was in high school, he volunteered to tutor students at a nearby elementary school.
Once they graduated from high school — Daniel and Terrel from McKinley High and Chris from Baton Rouge High — they all went to Southern University for their undergraduate degrees.
I’m feeling a little sad now because that group of three may be taking their final bows as a unit that I can see often.
As you are reading this, Chris will have gotten his MBA on Friday and probably will be moving away. Daniel, now married, is an engineer with an international company near Atlanta. Terrel is an assistant district attorney here in Baton Rouge.
Now, they are all grown and are going their separate ways. Terrel still invites herself to my house on holidays and finds a way to the house when there is a hint of barbecue or crawfish. Chris will stop by occasionally. He is now a member of my church, so I see him a lot. When Daniel is in town, they almost always connect if they have time. But I see the chances lessening of seeing them all together very often in the future.
I am very happy for them, though. I know they have made their parents proud. And I wish they will stay in touch — and be as sarcastic — forever.
Edward Pratt, a former Advocate editor, is assistant to the chancellor for media relations at Southern University. His email address is email@example.com.