Yesterday on July 3rd, or as what John Cleese refers to it as: “Dependence Day.” The whole family was invited to a very impromptu gathering. It had all the elements of a great gathering: An above ground pool, a couple of grills, Beer, and Friends.
I stress the “friends” part because that’s by far the most important ingredient. Oh I’m sure you would think the founder of ole’ “Beer Drinkers United” would stress the importance of beer but – let’s remember Beer is always best enjoyed in good company.
It was different for my family this year however. Throughout our lives our circle of friends tend to evolve and grow and sometimes shrink. And sometimes new friends are made or even old friendships are rekindled. While many friendships have been hurt by “the brew” I dare say many friendships have been kindled by “the brew.”
This year our family hung out with a younger group of friends. While they are younger, we have roughly the same age-gap in children as my wife and I waited a bit to start our family. After my first beer (A Harpoon Camp Wanamango BTW.) We realized we had forgotten our Hamburgers and hot dogs in the freezer at home.
I looked out in the driveway and realized as the first ones to show up (A rarity to happen for us.) there was no way our big ole’, gas guzzling, Yukon XL/Family Truckster, was going anywhere. Keys were handed to me for the last Car in the driveway. Coincidentally keys for the car of the friends who had introduced us to the rest of the group.
Taking the keys and getting in to this mint specimen of a car that I was told has many issues. (For me only that it was a Ford.) I began my trek across town to my humble abode to pick up my Burgers and Dogs. I realized as good friends: I needed to “do a good turn.”
I realized this as I was passing some older Scouts from my son’s troop who were all working on one of the Scout’s Truck. Obviously having a good time in their comradeship, but they were all focused on the one boy’s truck. Maybe they were doing nothing, maybe they were just hanging out, but as the outsider looking in I realized I needed to return the “Good Turn.”
The Slogan of the Boy Scouts is: “Do a Good Turn Daily.” During a “Scoutmasters Minute” at one of my sons meetings it was described to us like this:
Some Good Turns are big – saving a life, helping out after floods or other disasters, recycling community trash, working with your patrol on conservation projects.
But Good Turns are often small, thoughtful acts – helping a child cross a busy street, going to the store for an elderly neighbor, cutting back brush that is blocking a sign, doing something special for a brother or sister, welcoming a new student to your school.
A Good Turn is more than simple good manners. It is a special act of kindness.
I was also reminded of something my Father told me when I was a kid. It was long before he had owned his own truck and we had borrowed a friend of his’s truck to pick up some lumber for a project. After we had dropped off the lumber we went to go return the truck. But my dad suddenly turned off the road into a gas station. I looked at the fuel gauge and it was at just slightly over half a tank.
“Why are we stopping here?” I asked
“Filling up with gas” my father replied matter of factly.
“But why? The tank isn’t empty.”
My father looked at me and said: “When you borrow something “always” return it better than it came to you.”
I looked down at the gauge in my friend’s small SUV as I drove to retrieve our forgotten burgers and dogs, and it read ¼ a tank. I miscalculated. I figured it was an SUV and thought it must be a huge tank but this is one of them new-fangled “cross-over” SUVs that apparently has a smaller tank. I reckoned the amount I was willing to spend would put it up to a ½ a tank (I was apparently using the math for my Yukon.) but since it’s smaller and as it turned out, after my quick stop to a gas station, I filled the tank.
Sitting in the car realizing my mistake. And realizing my act of kindness would now be “Full-blown noticed” instead of the owner thinking later: “Funny I thought I burned more gas this week.” Thus setting up for a possible later joke. Thus now, I would have to “own up” to my kindness in an awkward way… Thus I resolved to blame the owner for leaving the car empty.
Because this what friendship is about isn’t it? Good friends will good naturedly rib each other over silly things. With a few beers in them they will laugh hysterically over it too. So when I returned with Burgers and Dogs in hand, I walked up to the pool and whispered into the car owner’s ear “I filled your truck up with gas cause’ you left it on fumes.”
And thus I felt good. I was told I didn’t have to do that. But – she didn’t have to let me use her car either right? I had to do it because according to the “Scout Slogan” and the addition of my Father’s beliefs I “Had to do it.” There was no choice for me. Thus, I felt good with myself.
As I consumed more Harpoon Camp Wanamangos, and helped our host cook as best I could. (It can be dangerous stepping into a man’s grill area. It can be rather territorial.) I looked around: All our collective kids playing together. The other folks playing a mixed up Bauchi game with obstacles both natural and man-made. Other groups conversing about stuff.
Our host confessed to me about TV shows we shared an interest in and we talked of other shows we should each check out and then as night fell the music was changing and as I was staring at the fire, My last beer hours in the past, Laughter filled the air as we listened to music from our collective past, and singing along to them, Badly, our kids looked at us with disgust of course, and mocked us, but who cares!
Friends, fire, music, food, and of course, beer, had “united” us. (See what I did there?)
On this 4th of July, I bid you all to reflect on your friendships both near and far. Be safe, and of course have a few beers responsibly. But most importantly “unite” with your friends, and “Do Good Turns” for each other.
Happy 4th of July everyone!