Life With Toast

whispers of experience: somewhere in 2003

'hey cracker, get over here'. The strong rubber scent of the brown school bus seat has normalised into the upper crevices of my nostrils, leaking into my brain. I look over and see Jim looking back at with a big smile. His eyes have that edge of uncertainty; is he crazy, energetic, or unstable? We're on a way to some small town middle school for a football and he's beckoning for our pre-game ritual: calf massages. I don't know how this started but I can't back down at this point. Although we have mutual respect for each other as athletes and friends, he still has ~30 pounds on me and when Jim feels he should have something, he isn't shy about enforcing that whatever way possible. 

Another time, going to lunch with him and a few people, I sat in the back while he drove. It was my first time in the car with him driving. Winding down a big hill into town, unannounced, he pulled out his phone, took his hands off the wheel, looked down, and started texting. Sitting in front with him was Alicia who didn't have a driver's license. Luckily, she reacted, squealed, and grabbed the wheel. I asked Jim what the fuck he was doing, and him swung his head around with a bright smile and said 'texting a girl'. He laughed, no one else did. He knew exactly what he was doing. It was a game to him, and he was testing us. Would we respond and take control, potentially saving ourselves from a serious accident? If we didn't, would he let his car crash? Many of my experiences with Jim were like this, really pushing the edge of what was appropriate. It was never dull. I never had to answer those questions of what if, because someone reasonable was around to wrangle the situation in. I found out today the life of cutting it close and living to the boundaries caught up, and now he is gone. RIP Jim, see you on the other side.