Joel Greengrass and I have been friends since the 4th grade. Well, to be fair that's just when we first got to know one another, as I was his safety. Since during the New Jersey winters kids couldn't go outside after lunch but teachers still needed their break from their students someone came up with the bright idea of assigning a 'safety' to each class to be in charge. Consider the insanity involved there - I was a 4th grader in charge of 25 other 4th graders locked in a classroom for 45 minutes. It should also be noted that there were 4th graders in charge of classrooms filled with 1st graders - somehow this was approved. It was about the level of chaos you would imagine it to be. Joel, in particular, was the architect of my discontent. It was not fun for me, and I extracted my revenge by becoming best friends the following year when we moved on to middle school. Fool!
We've remained friends since then, through good times and bad times and other times when I probably didn't deserve to have him to put up with me. He was the best man at my ill-fated wedding to the Practice Wife and showed up when Lola and I eloped. In short, I'd be hard-pressed to think of time when he wasn't there for me. That's what friends do, right?
Almost a decade or so ago he was diagnosed with MS. As anyone who knows him might expect, Joel decided against sitting in a corner and bemoaning his fate. Instead he's continued to live life with as much passion and joy as he can. Hell, we even learned how to skate, grabbed hockey sticks, and formed a team together. He's blessed with a deep support system: his wife and kids are some of the most wonderful people I've ever met; his parents and siblings are so amazing that I more or less finagled my way in as the 5th child; his friends love him unconditionally; and pretty much everyone else who comes into contact with him, personally or professionally, gains from the experience. The amount of money raised for MS research in his name has been staggering. Simply put, he's an inspiration.
Lately complications from the MS have been making his life more difficult, and I started wondering what might be a good way to make sure I've got his back until he finally beats this thing. And so:
This is the logo of his support network, emblazoned on countless t-shirts, sweatshirts, frisbees, key chains, and, now, my right arm. The design is by Dave Bamundo and the ink was done by Scott Hill at Scott Hill Tattoo (funny story, that, as there was a mix-up with our new babysitter right before my appointment but hey, kids LOVE tattoo parlors. Actually, it's a well-lit, clean, very nice place on the main street of a ritzy town. Becky was fascinated by the procedure. Father. Of. The. Year). May Joel hang around as long as this tattoo does.
I now have three tattoos, which I believe marks me as either 'unsavory' or 'disreputable.' Perhaps both. That little sliver of poppet on the left is Becky, who wanted her own version - in henna.