Thursday, May 29, 2014

Act One, Scene Two "Unexpected Friendship"

This is Part 2 in a multi-part blog post.  If you've stumbled across the page without reading Part 1, click the link below to go to Part 1.
Act One, Scene One

Max began working at the station with me during the summer of 1995.  Over the course of that summer, I would begin hanging out with him more and more, and this also led to me getting to know his family and friends.  I was nervous about hanging out with them at first because I expected to get a lot of pressure to attend church.  That just wasn’t something I was interested in; so, I went into things with my shields up.  It wasn’t long before I began to lower them though.

Max’s church held two services on Sundays, one at 10:00 AM, and one at 7:00 P.M.  After the evening service on Sundays, the young adults and some of the older teens from the church would gather at a fast food restaurant down the road.  Some of the adults would go as well, but they would usually sit in another part of the restaurant.  This would usually coincide with the time that I was ending my shift at the gas station, and I would go join them there.  While, there might be a mention here and there about God or the services that day, they just seemed to talk about the same things that other people that age would discuss:  movies, TV shows, music, and just general stuff about life.  They were a fun group of people, and I enjoyed spending time with them.

With my fears of him sermonizing me at work out of the way, Max and I got to know each other a lot better as well.  We actually had a great deal in common.  We were born less than a month apart from each other.  I was born on my dad’s birthday.  He was born on his mom’s birthday.  We also had some differences, too.  I had always lived out in the country on farm.  His family had just moved from living inside the city out to the more rural area they were in now.  Max was very much a nature buff though and enjoyed being in his new surroundings.

When we were at work, I could ask him about some of the other people from the church that I would meet when I gathered with them on Sunday nights.  I began to better understand the family relationships, their histories, and I began to see the connections.  I was beginning to feel like I was more a part of those connections as well, but there were many times that I also felt quite the outsider in those early days.  Some of these people had years of history together, and it can be intimidating to come into a group like that as a new person.

I don’t know why I’m sharing this, but it’s a funny memory.  It’s the kind of thing you do when you’re young and irresponsible.  Max and I both enjoyed video games.  We were neither one hardcore gamers, but we both enjoyed playing occasionally to pass the time.  Towards the end of that summer, Nintendo released a gaming system called the Virtual Boy.  The game system would ultimately prove to be a flop, but I was very excited that I was able to get one at the time, and I had just picked it up one Saturday morning before I came to work.  As we were working, I kept talking about it and telling Max how I couldn’t wait to get home to play it.  It wasn’t long before we had decided that I didn’t need to wait.  Max told me that he would cover the register while I got it out of the car and set it up in the manager’s office.  We justified it by saying that we could play it on our breaks and lunches.

Nintendo Virtual Boy Gaming System

Of course, we didn’t limit it to our breaks and lunches, and the phrase “just one more game” was heard many times that night as well.  At one point during night, the store manager, who almost never showed up on weekends, walked into the store.  Fortunately, at that moment, Max and I were both up front waiting on customers and doing what we were supposed to be.  We both held our breath as we saw her walk behind the customs we were waiting on and go to her office.  She stayed back there for what seemed like an eternity.  When she finally did emerge, she just motioned for me to come closer.  I walked over to her, and she pointed into her office and asked, “What is that?”

I could tell that she was struggling within herself to determine whether the anger she was feeling was an overreaction or not.  I explained to her that I had just bought it and Max and I were only using it on our breaks.  The look in her eyes told me that she knew I wasn’t being entirely truthful and appeared more than a little hurt.  I felt like an ass.  She didn’t say another word.  She left the store and never mentioned it again.  Nothing like that ever happened again either.

This demonstrates that Max and I were becoming genuine friends though, and soon I would find that friendship threatened as Max prepared to head to school in Athens.  I’ll share more of that in Scene Three.  Keep coming back, and comment below.  I'd love to know your thoughts on my story so far or how it might compare to your own.

© Joshua Culbertson 2014

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