So I was the last to know. I can be pretty oblivious, but even by my standards this was a glaring, incomprehensible oversight on my part. The kind of thing that makes me doubt if I am even capable of perceiving reality.
I have no idea when these two crazy kids got together. Even though I had seen them go to dances together, and every time I went to Adams house Claudia would always be there, and Claudia was always calling Adam honey, it wasn’t until the 3rd to last day of high school that I was sitting on a bench in the hall way next to Adam with Claudia sitting on his lap that I realized “holy cow, Adam and Claudia are a couple! And they have been dating for a while! How the hell did I not realize this?”
Now in my defense, It wasn’t uncommon for Claudia to be sitting in a Guy’s lap and call him honey. She was just a warm affectionate, outgoing person. But I was surprising slow in connecting these dots. I guess because I had been so close to both of them I didn’t notice the gradual evolution of their relationship crossing the couple threshold. Yep, that is the explanation I am going with.
I always thought of Adam as the friend that was most similar to myself growing up. If I liked something or thought it was funny, then I figured Adam probably would too. I thought of him as being just like me except he was “Tony done right.” He and I were so similar in everything from our interests, to complexion, to physical stature. He even worked out in the onion fields together during the summer, so he (and the Beej) might as well of been family.
If there was a right way for shy, skinny, pale, arrogant white boy basketball players from South Eastern Washington to be in life, it was the way Adam did it. Most of the time growing up, I always felt that I was bested by someone who had a quality or skill set or physical attribute, that I didn’t posses and they simply pressed this advantage against me. Adam didn’t seem to have a significant advantage. I mean we were similar. We were a Similar size (Although I get the feeling he grew like 6 inches after high school). We were comparable in strength. We had a similar fund of knowledge. We both hated to lose. We were both fairly reserved. When we were in drama class together, he and I ended up being the stage managers. We were “that guy.” Whatever “that guy” was, I think to most casual observers they would not be surprised to learn Adam and Tony were friends given our seeming similarities.
Yet Adam was always way more successful than I was. In Mr. Michel's class I got A’s at like 98%. Adam got A+ at like 115%. That is not an exaggeration.
Adam was a math whiz, and finished tomorrow’s homework in class before I could even figure out what the hell we learned yesterday.
Adam could type 168 words per minute (that may be a slight exaggeration) and I was hunting and pecking my way through computer class, but he still needed my help to win the 1983 edition of Sports Jeopardy.
Adam and I both agreed that “baseball is a dumb game anyway,” but I refused to play it, and Adam was a little league all-star. Seriously, one Saturday Casey and I had been playing basketball at the school playground and were walking past the Pacific little league field and recognized Adam was playing, so we stopped to watch. Adam is pitching. He retires 3 batters in order with a ground out, a dink fly and a strike out all on a total of 8 pitches. He then leads off for his team. Takes a walk. Steals 2nd. Steals 3rd. Leads off from 3rd and baits the pitcher to throw to third so he can put himself in a pickle, and then scored on a passed ball from the catcher to the 3rd baseman. At this point Casey and I left, because we knew there would be nothing worth seeing until Adam came up to bat again 3 innings later.
Now I’d love to make this a simple matter of saying Adam just had more discipline and work ethic, but he and I also shared the fact that we were notoriously lazy, at least when it came to trying to maximize the results of the least effort. We were both very Pareto Principle or 80/20 rule like that. I also can’t say that he was more determined, as I was the one notorious for saying “bring the pain” as I did when he beat me in a basketball game 71 to zip (I am not exaggerating), because I refused to stop or let him stop playing when it was like 10 to zip, or 20 to zip. (See how I take this seminal humiliation and try to spin it as a positive quality on my part somehow?) That game occurred when we were about 7 years old. I was literally wailing with tears streaming down my face for like a half hour. And I refused to quit or let Adam quit. He had to have known from that day on that I was nuts. But to his credit, he remained friends with the cry baby.
I spent most of that friendship and the 20 years since trying desperately to figure out what Adam had that I didn’t. And the difference is obviously not in our physical bodies, and it’s probably not even in our social development which is usually the place to find things like this in my line of work. I think the difference is not so much that he has something I don’t. I just think he uses what he has differently. Adam has always kept very orderly neuro-circuitry. Not that my brain is messy or unorganized, but Adam files things alphabetically or with the Dewy decimal system, while I sort into file folders labeled “things that go great with bacon” or “pictures in a science text book that make me giggle.”
(OK, I stole that joke from the short lived Jeff Foxworthy Show. I bring this up solely because I vividly remember a road trip to a basketball game in the Driver family van in which I had just taken a huge swig of soda before Adam's dad popped in a Jeff Foxworthy CD, and I couldn't swallow for the next 30 mintues I was laughing so hard. Had to wait for it to vaporize in my mouth. But with oth with out Jeff Foxworthy, that is what most of my teim spent with Adam was like, But I digress....).
Adam always appeared to be jumping 10 steps ahead of people, but I think he never actually jumped. He always took every step, it was just lightning fast. Like the pictures in a flip book. Each was its own drawing only slightly different from the last and he mastered each one quickly and was able to make a seemless and smooth transition through it all quickly. I on the other hand spent too much time trying to create a new picture to get to, and then have to rush so fast to fill in the pictures in between quickly that my flip book has no continuity and just looks alike a mess. I make sense of the mess in my mind, and it tends to get me somewhere new that I never expected to go. So it works for my purposes, but no one else can follow or ever get the same result. Adam’s mind however, always took the right path to get to exactly where he wants it to go. So it’s no surprise a well ordered mind would produce sustained success. Adam’s mind is a well calibrated electrochemical machine and he maintains it as such. He is a Model T factory circa 1920, producing consistent quality results. I am more like the Tesla warehouse circa 2006 where multiple prototypes were being built and experimented with, and nothing was standardized and nothing worked yet. But with time, effort, and Elon Musk’s cash and cachet, electric vehicles are now a profitable market entity (maybe someday I will be a profitable market entity too).
This seems to fit with what I have learned from grad school in psychology and my recent realization that that game of basketball I know and love is probably not the game everyone else is playing. (Or it might just be another Tesla prototype filed under “looks like Jimmy Johnson’s hair!”)
Despite his neurological superiority, and the fierce rivalry (on my part) between us at everything we did, or maybe because of it, Adam was my most consistent friend growing up.
Throughout the countdown I have made more than a few passing references to Adam and Claudia and speculated that perhaps they will get their own spot in the countdown. They were a conspicuous absence from the WWCS post in which I talked about all the students in my graduating class except them. They have been peripherally involved in stories with other countdown members. If I had to pick between them, or have a post for both, I probably would just pretend I never met them. But since they are married to each other, and It’s a 2 for 1 deal, I figured what the hell? Saves me one final spot on the countdown. Maybe now I can add my wife in there somewhere.
And speaking of my wife, the eminent Christina Daltoso, I would not be married to her if not for Adam and Claudia. The truth is, my wife very much reminds me of Claudia. Personality wise they both can command a crowded room socially and fill it with laughter all by themselves. They both were open to new experience and sharing those experiences with others. And that always made me kind of uncomfortable, and I was hesitant to have any kind of a relationship with someone like that. Someone so opposite from myself. Sounded like a recipe for endless arguments and resentment.
But then I realized that Adam was just “Tony done right” and that he and Claudia had been cruising right along for years at this point.
And so I had a very specific and orderly thought process to give it a try with Christina. And once I wrapped my brain around the idea of my relationship with Christina being like Adam and Claudia, it immediately felt right. And within 6 months we were engaged.
In fact, I was so sure that Christina and I were just like Adam and Claudia that I was also sure that Claudia and Christina would be best friends. I made several attempts to set us all up on double dates, and ensure we would be playing penuchle on our front porch together when we were 70, but for some reason Adam Claudia and Christina were all a bit dubious and hesitant to indulge my matchmaking attempts. I suppose it was a bit out of character for me to be a social catalyst. But a decade later when we moved back to Walla Walla and my wife started hanging out at Starbucks where Claudia works, well let’s just say caffeine was able to do what I could not.