Monday, November 15, 2004

Happy 40th Birthday from Chris Heavener

When I turned nine years old I had a birthday party at my house. All of my friends were there, we swam in the pool, we ate pizza, I opened presents, the whole nine. It was irrefutably a great birthday for me, possibly the greatest. And while this may or may not be the reason for why it was such a good time, this was the day that I met Tim Gulick for the first time.

Annette, his loving wife, had been hired by my mother to watch over my brother and I only a few months before this day. I liked Annette, she was always very kind to me, she had a lovely smile, she laughed at my jokes and she threatened to leave my brother at school one day after he had been teasingly disobeying her wishes for him to get into the car for, no lie, the better part of half an hour. An all around good girl, that one.

So they both were invited to the party and I was excited to meet her husband. I imagined a tall man, barrel-chested, constantly wearing sweaters, even in the summer. What I met was a short, pale, skinny, black haired, erratic, and quite hairy ball of nervous energy. I must say that one of the strangest memories I have of Tim is from this day. I’m not sure what the circumstance was because it has been fourteen years since that day and time has ravaged my memory, but it happened during the end of the day. Tim was crawling toward me on all fours, snarling like a dog, his long, parted hair, draped over one of his eyes, as I was backing myself into a corner, pretending to be scared for my life. And so that strange memory, one that to this day I cannot imagine would be stranger for an onlooker to see, (a twenty-six year old man preparing to devour a nine year old boy whole) set the pace for the relationship that Tim and I have had over the years. Years of absurdity, childish jokes, ridiculous pranks and sidewalk chalk, countless boxes of sidewalk chalk.

I’m not good at rating. I don’t feel the need to rank the things that I hold in high regard. I couldn’t tell you what my favorite movie is, I don’t know what the greatest song I’ve ever heard is, I don’t have a “Best” friend. To me, all of the things that I love and care about have certain attributes and characteristics that I appreciate in one way or another and one doesn’t hold any higher placement than the other in my eyes. So I really couldn’t tell you what my favorite memory of Tim is, mostly because they’re all too good.

Being taken to the ice cream store or the skate park, being abandoned at the post office after a cruel April Fools Day joke only to pull the double reverse backstab on Annette, their white and blue two door coupe which seemed to be perpetually bouncing off the ground like in the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip, games of tag that would last hours, upon days, upon months, upon years (come to think of it, it’s very likely that I may still be “it”), these memories are indistinguishable to me. It's not possible for me to pick the best one because I’m in short supply in the bad ones, and if you have a situation as fortunate as that, choosing the best is irrelevant and a waste of time.

Over the years, I don’t see much of Tim and Annette anymore, which is the case with most of your old friends once you, yourself, start to get older. When we do see each other we laugh, talk about our lives, tell old stories and sometimes even play a few rounds of tag, albeit very slow and short of breath rounds. But that’s okay, because even though, we don’t see each other every day, it doesn’t change the fact that, to me, Tim was, is and always will be a great teacher, a great influence and a great inspiration, in addition to being a great friend and brother.

So it is with the deepest of sincerity that I would like to wish you, Tim, a happy 40th birthday and let you know that you deserve to live forty more years of nothing less than the happiness and joy that you have brought to the lives of your friends and family members.



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