Saturday morning, I packed a piece of carry-on luggage and headed across Florida on ugly and constantly-under-construction Interstate 4 so I could meet up with my friend Jesse, who is riding a ten speed from Seattle to Miami to raise money and awareness for Haitian kids.
I wish I was making this up.
On the way, I picked up an old friend of Jesse's, who, because he values his privacy, I will refer to as Humbug for this particular piece. Humbug and I drove the rest of the way from his house (located conveniently just off I-4) and met up with Jesse in Daytona. Jesse had been riding his bike for roughly four thousand miles by the time we saw him. And, as a result of his constant exposure to sun and suntan lotion, Jesse is pretty much covered in zits, which naturally prompted Humbug and I to make at least ten Floyd Landis/steroid jokes before the crazy cyclist even checked in to his hotel.
I mean, this is what I love about old friends right here.
Neither of us had seen or talked to Jesse in half a decade. Nevertheless, we all fell in to the same routines as if we had seen each other just last month. We were cracking jokes, sucking down beers and ribbing each other like we were still in high school. It was awesome.
Humbug and I busted out at least eight quality Forrest Gump jokes (“that's when I decided, whenever I was going anywhere, I was cycling”), which were further fueled by the fact that Jesse had the song “Running on Empty” from the Forrest Gump soundtrack in his IPOD. Here Humbug and I run into an old friend who is raising money by cycling across the country for a worthwhile cause, and we take every chance we get to make fun of him for it. That, my dear readers, is what friends are for.
Now, Humbug has an interesting past when it comes to how he makes his money. I can't go into details here, but I will let you know that Humbug was asked at least nine different times what he did for a living by the same two or three people (Jesse included). And you know what, we're still not sure what the hell he does. I didn't bother asking. I see Humbug at least twice a year, so I know that line of questioning doesn't get you very far with him. Nevertheless, it was good times watching Humbug inhale deeply and prepare a line of bullshit every time the question was posed. And, naturally, I still wonder how he pays his bills.
Not for nothing, but I feel it needs to be mentioned: in Georgia, a young boy shot Jesse in the ass with a pellet gun while driving by in a moving van. You can't put a price on that kind of comedy. Okay, fine. Then how about five bucks?
Anyway, since I've seen Jesse last, he's become a minister, formed a nonprofit organization, gotten married, had a beautiful baby girl and biked 4,000 miles in the name of Haitian kids. In that time, I got a job and vaguely remember the names of some of the girls I've slept with since. So basically, we're both doing well.
At any current exchange rate, Jesse will (barring some unholy tragedy) arrive in Miami on the 22nd of August, where he will undoubtedly be showered with praise by the impoverished Haitian community down there.
Meanwhile, Humbug and I will still be trying to come to terms with the fact that our old friend, who almost never met a crime he didn't like back in the day, is honestly trying to save a small part of the world from a ten speed.
Maybe people really do change.
But for some reason, I'm still skeptical.
What can I say? I'm a cynic.
Good luck (with whatever the hell you're doing), Jesse. Good luck.