I visited an old school friend earlier, first time I’d seen him in several years. When I say ‘old’ I mean the same age as me but, in his case, ‘old’ works. He answered the door and whilst it was obviously him what I saw was a little bent over old man.
This guy has been an alcoholic for a great many years. He’s lacked confidence for as long as I can remember and acted the fool at school as it was his mask to hide his insecurities. He was a young man growing up with an alcoholic father and a mother who was of a generation which were always old in attitude and look, a lovely lady but, never young from my recollection, probably into her 40’s when she had him. He has a brother who put it about, on wife number 3 and I lose count how many children he acknowledges. His older brother was gay, he passed with a HIV related illness a long while back.
He’s spent his life in the closet, not just for his sexuality, which he now acknowledges but also from life itself, too afraid to live a life in case it all goes wrong and, as a result, it’s all gone wrong.
By comparison, hell, forget the comparison, I have been really fortunate in my life, so much has worked out OK and I am mainly happy, healthy and looking forward. My friend has memories of his youth, predominantly around getting drunk and it wasn’t unknown for me to join him, back then it was just a social drink. How sad it was to see him drinking a cider so cheap it comes in plastic bottles with a name I’d never seen before.
He says he’s happy, I believe he thinks he is. I wish he’d made different decisions, life would have been so much kinder to this little old man I went to school with.