I ran into Tom Davenport at the neighborhood Wal-Mart store late this afternoon. I hadn't seen him since Shelley and I were invited to a surprise birthday party for him early this year --- his 60th.
I remember that meeting with him because it was such an embarrassing event for me
Tom's sister, Mary Van Dyke, had called to invite us and told us the location and time of the surprise party. It was to be held at a restaurant in Bountiful on a Friday or Saturday afternoon. It was probably Saturday. Anyway, we got there a little early and saw friends, Brent and his wife Yvonne, in line, waiting for the restaurant to open its doors. We walked up and greeted them and visited a while and eventually Brent told me I had a hole in my pants. It ended up being not just a hole, but the entire rear seat of the Levi's I was wearing was split out. One wonders how that could have happened, because the britches were certainly big enough for me. I wasn't that fat, although I have put on considerable weight.
My son had given me the pants. He had grown too large for them. I guess!
Anyway, they were better looking than my best denims, so I had decided I would wear them. I had no clue they had been split out like they were.
In any event, something had to be done. By this time, the restaurant had opened its doors and we had moved on inside to wait until they could seat everyone in line. Brent went for me to the receptionist counter and borrowed a stapler, and I took it and went into the restroom. There, I removed my britches and stapled the seam back together. However, when I bent over to put my shoes on after I had the pants back on, the seam split right back out. The staples didn't hold. Nary a one held.
I didn't know what to do.
By that time we had been seated and the guest of honor had arrived. Everyone was there. Then I had an idea -- a breakthrough. I was pretty sure I had a sweater out in the trunk of my car. So I excused myself and went out and got sweater and tied its arms around my waist and let the body of the sweater and down over my butt.
Anyway, Tom Davenport.
We grew up in the same neighborhood. Well, at least until I moved away when I was twelve. We remained buddies after that, but were never quite as close as we had been in the neighborhood. The Davenports were an interesting family. They had this blackbird or raven --- I don't remember its name now -- and it knew how to talk. If you approached their place without the utmost diligence and wariness, it could scare the living daylights out of you. One day the raven ended up leaving. Nobody knew what had happened to it. The Davenports worried that it had been killed or died. I think it was gone a couple of years, but then it showed up again.
Tom had an aquarium. It was loaded with fish and plants and he knew just how to manipulate things so they looked perfectly. I was always so envious. He had beautiful dwarf gouramis that blew their bubble nests and spawned and had young ones. It was so exotic to me. I had nothing like that. They had a cat that roamed free and every winter they went fishing for whitefish in the Weber River and filled up a wheelbarrow with them for the cat to feed on. At least, that's what my theory is about it all.
It was in Tom's backyard that Brent Halls swung a bat before school one day that didn't have a grip at the end of it. The bat left Brent 's hands and flew into my nose and knocked it underneath my eye. I left a line of blood from Tom's house to my house, screaming bloody murder.
When Tom was a little older, eleven or twelve I guess, the younger kids in the neighborhood idolized him. They followed him around like he was Tarzan and they were his apes. He even had a conch shell to call them with. The rest of us boys --- Brent, Keene and Kelly, Jerry, Lyle, and I --- thought it was weird. But it wasn't weird for a Davenport.
It was good to see Tom. He said he had prostrate cancer, but it wasn't serious. I hope he's right.