When Facebook first come into the national consciousness I had no idea what it was or what it could do. I couldn’t even figure out how to get an account so I hired a recent college graduate, a 20-something computer whiz, to establish my Facebook presence. He created two pages; a John Bingham page [Facebook/jjbingham] and a “Penguin” page [Facebook/john the penguin bingham] What I didn’t know then was that the personal page, John Bingham, allowed people to “friend” you. The “penguin” page only allowed people to “like” you. And, as you know, you are limited to 5,000 Facebook friends, a threshold I hit pretty early on.
Not, I must confess, because I actually have 5,000 friends. I just didn’t understand how it all worked; when someone send a friend request I eagerly accepted it.
This morning when I opened my Facebook page and saw the collection of “friends” photos I was astonished at what an elegant, if somewhat bizarre, snapshot it was of my life. So, for those of you who are curious, this is who they are: From the top, left to right.
- Linda Raymond: My son’s mother and my first wife. I met her when I was 17.
- Nancy Stutsman, AKA “theQueen”: An old motorcycling musician friend. We’ve been friends since I was in my 20’s.
- Martha Raymond: My son’s stepfather’s sister. We met when I was in my 30’s.
- Peter Jacob: The service manager at my local BMW dealership. We’ve argued a bunch but share a passion for motorcycles and good Scotch.
- Pat Raymond: My son’s stepfather and one of my oldest friends. We share a long-standing love of motorcycles and a new-found love of our grandchildren.
- Jan Loichle: My high-school girlfriend that I haven’t seen or talked to in 45 years. She was the first, and only, girlfriend that convinced me to wear a “steady” sweater.
- Evan Wert. A newer friend in the running industry. We discovered early on that we’d rather talk about fast cars then about pronation.
- Howard Gould. My son’s mother’s younger brother. I met him when he was 8 or 9 years old.
- Michael Sardo: My cousin/nephew. I’ve known him his entire life, through the awkward transition from child to Marine to Chicago Police officer to father. VERY proud of him.
What do all these people in common? Me, I guess. I’m sure, though, that if each of them were to describe the “me” that they knew they would be very different “me’s”. Jan would remember the high school John the drove his sports car inside the school. [that's not Jan in the photo]
The “Queen” would remember a pretty decent bass trombone player who could “wheelie” any motorcycle ever made including a full-dress Yamaha XS1100.
Michael would remember an uncle that took him camping for the first time and explained that the bathroom was a stand of trees. Years later as a young Marine in Desert Shield, I’m sure a nice tree would have been welcomed.
Pat Raymond would remember working together at Cycles Incorporated and a time when riding was as important as breathing. He might remember 3 guys sleeping in a two-man tent in the rain. [that's Pat with our oldest grandson at the MotoGP race at Indianapolis. In the backround is my son and younger grandson with our buddy John]
In the end, though, this snapshot brings more memories to me than to any of them. It is a reminder of how far I’ve come, how difficult that path has been at times, how important certain people have been in my life whether they were there for a few months or 40 years, and of how fortunate I’ve been to have ever been able to call each of them “friend.”
It may be my age speaking, because the theme song from Golden Girls is ringing in my ears. I’d to say to every one of them: “Thank you for being a friend.”