I recently had the opportunity to visit with my old college roommate, Mark, who surprised me with his phone call and a message saying that he and his family were in town for a couple of days. I hadn’t seen Mark in probably ten or twelve years, and so I was eager to “catch up” with him and meet his family.
Mark and I first met when I arrived at the University of Georgia just a couple of days before classes began our freshman year. Mark was easy to get to know. But it didn’t take long for me to realize that he and I were a lot different. Mark liked hard-rock music. I liked pop and jazz. He was a football player. I was a golfer. He liked snakes, and well, I didn’t.
You see, Mark was studying to be a herpetologist – a reptile expert. So snakes weren’t just a hobby for him, they were his passion. Mark introduced me to those slithering creatures when he brought several of them back from Savannah, GA to live in our dorm room with us. Believe it or not, I got used to living with snakes, just one of the many things that Mark introduced to me.
I remember one night, Mark and I were in our room talking. He was sitting on the edge of the bed polishing the stainless blade of a large Bowie knife that he kept on his shelf. And it was right after someone left our room and closed the door that Mark – for no apparent reason – flung the knife at the large wooden door where it stuck about head-high with ultra precision. I was both startled and amazed. “How’d you do that?” I asked. “How’d you learn to throw a knife like that?”
As it turned out, Mark was also a skilled knife thrower. He tried to teach me, but even after a bit of practice, most of my attempts failed. He, on the other hand, rarely missed and went on to enjoy throwing that knife at the door for the rest of the year.
We gave little thought to that door until the school year ended and the hall inspector dropped by to check out the condition of our room. “Except for the door,” he reported to Mark, “everything looked fine. But the door,” he said, “would have to be replaced.”
I remember when Mark broke that bit of news to me, “Levi, we’re going to have to replace the door. It’s gonna cost us $350.”
“Cost us?” I complained. “Wait a minute. You were the one throwing the knife.”
“But you threw it, too,” Mark said.
“Yea, but how many of those gashes in the wood would you say are mine?” I asked.
Needless to say, Mark paid most of that bill. I think I may have chipped in $20 just to cover the few dents that I made in the wooden door.
Mark and I became great friends that year. And though we would go our separate ways at the end of the year our friendship would live on. I haven’t thrown a knife or slept with snakes since Mark and I first met. I’ll bet that he hasn’t listened to Barry Manilow or played a game of golf since that time either.
Day 6 Guide
Good times, laughter, friendship. Sometimes it seems that life becomes more serious as you grow older. But it’s never too late to forge new friendships and laugh.
© 2006, Levi Hill