Sunday, December 2, 2007

Sam Thinks He Can . . . Remember Everything (But He Can't)

Yesterday I posted my blog about friendship. Having survived repeated readings, it still appears below and I'm still willing to stand by my thoughts on friendship. But something bugged me about the post, something I couldn't quite put my finger on. Then, this evening, I was chatting online with my friend Tony Diamantidis and it hit me.

Tony's is the friendship that Q.E.D.'s the blog but I had forgotten to mention him or to post his photo. Tony runs a successful, multi-national software company that sells products to monitor hazardous waste handling. He is also the founder of an environmental organization that works with the Olympics to promote environmental awareness as part of the Olympic spirit and planning. A native of Athens, Tony and his family live in Northern California and Athens and outside Junction City, Wisconsin.

Over the years, we have enjoyed life together in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Minneapolis and Junction City. We have outrun the California Highway Patrol in a red Jag convertible. We have fallen asleep exhausted while on the phone to Athens after a night of club hopping. We have fed seagulls in flight on the Bay in Sausalito. We celebrated the end of the millenium at a karaoke New Year's party on his farm. We celebrated the Fourth of July on my farm. We are as close as brothers.

And it all started in Athens in August, 1972 when Tony waited on me, then a backpacking American student, at an outdoor cafe near the Parthenon. I can't remember the exact transition from "I'll have a Coke" to "I'll meet you in Beijing in '08", except that it involved discussing his love of "Micky Moosh" comic books. By evening, my traveling companion (Leonard Banks, another lifelong friend) and I were joining Tony and his brother as we experienced Athens. We hung out at a chess club where everyone was analyzing the day's Bobby Fischer/Boris Spassky match. Tony protected me when I started joking with the armed soldiers on the streets. I acquired a taste for Ouzo.

We had only one night to get to know each other. But by the time I returned to the U.S. in December, Tony had immigrated to New York and we were reunited. 35 years later, I'm "Uncle Sam" to his children and no waiter gets taken for granted.

P.S. Tony leaves for China this week on business. I've already introduced him to Nathaniel. No sense hogging my relationships.

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