It was the ritual some boys are lucky enough to have that forms brotherhood bonds with the same boys you knew then who, as fellow adult men would still, even now at 40, lie down in traffic for each other. That's brotherhood. Those guys are your bros. The celebrate you and keep you in check. They cherish every moment of life with you just to have had it and memorified it all for days when you need to be reminded of who loves and accepts you the most - just as you are - flaws and all. They are the ones who can tell you "SIT DOWN, SHUT THE FUCK UP, I GOT THIS SHIT" - and you'll let them handle it, even when you're running way too hot. BROS, motherfucker. RESPECT.
My bros and I used to love playing underwater hide and seek in the pool late at night. With the sun inked in bronze onto out backs and shoulders as is customary for all southern boys in the summertime, putting on our best good behavior faces to stay in good graces with the parents, nighttime was another matter. You were less likely to get caught stealing Mom's car at night. You were not likely to be missing when parents are exhausted and asleep for a good hour already to sneak out and be with the ones you trust most in the world, who would never hurt you or let hurt COME to you without it being mutual and shared, to do nothing but be together doing nothing. We were responsible for more shit than I can tell you that would have landed us in BIG trouble, and that isn't even including the ounces of pot smoked on a riverbank at all hours when any of us needed the other or just wanted to get high and bro-out together. I'd take the fall for them, only to find they'd taken it for me - and we would be grounded from one another and it was bearable because of what we'd proved to ourselves and one another, and it's how we learned to trust. My bros can walk in the room and I light up. My bros can kick my ass when I need it and it'll be like velvet, covering the softest pillow you'll ever be fortunate enough to land on.
Once we realized that muddy pool water made the game more challenging and therefore more fun, we set about throwing dirt into the pool - and the process for that made it another game within. We could dig up big chunks of porous, chalky clay and make balls out of them... A whittled out end of an old 2 X 4 makes an EXCELLENT bootleg cricket bat... What could be more awesome than having a bro stand at the end of the diving board, dripping wet, and to have another bro pitching up a dirt ball while another swings away - creating the perfect dirt explosion to turn your friend into an instant mud-man before jumping into the pool with the craziest flip he can improvise - and THAT'S how WE are going to fucking dirty up this here pool.
So I got the most wretched nightmare headache ever from the dust storm that dirtied up our pool when I was having that memory. To tell the truth, as sweet as that memory is to me, as precious and amazing and perfect as a pure thing can be in this world, the migraine was worth all 8 days just to have it all back. To have the honor of sharing this with some of them who are still alive and equally loved just makes it better. That I can do that even now means I'd suffer another one twice in a row if it makes them feel even one tenth of what the power of memory made me feel when they read this for themselves.
You know who you are. I love you like I will love no other men on Earth, because it can still amaze me that you love me even more, even better as grown men. More now in spite of everything I've ever turned to wreckage selfishly left behind that you had to clean up. So honoring you is just another way of professing my love for you, the loves you've chosen, and all of your children whom I adore as my own.
We're bros - you could never do worse than that. If you know what that means, I challenge you to step up and be better men for those who take the best care of you and FUCK everybody else, man. They either matter or they don't, and if they do then you work your ass off for them. If they don't, they can fuck right off.