How he paved the way to self-discovery for a childhood buddy.
Posted in , Sep 24, 2019
Ever had a friendship that changed your life?
I was a pretty dorky kid. Not athletic, a disaster on the ball field (when we had to play softball in physical education class, I remember trying to stand in the place where the ball was least likely to come. I was sure I’d NEVER be able to catch it).
The stuff I liked–old movies, Broadway show tunes, Sunday school–I would never have shared with another kid for fear of being branded a “weirdo.”
Then on the first day of fifth grade a new kid showed up, Jorge Jarrin. He exuded glamour even then. Quick on his feet, endless charm, agile. By some happy chance our teacher, the formidable Miss McGrath, put him in the desk next to mine.
Jorge became my friend. A great raconteur, he held me spellbound during recess with his stories, and he listened to my stories. We talked so much in class that we earned Miss McGrath’s glares.
The thing is, by appearances, we couldn’t have been less alike. Jorge was born in Ecuador. He spoke mostly Spanish at home, and we spoke English in my home. Moreover his dad spoke Spanish on his job. He was the broadcaster for the Dodger games in Spanish.
You know what? Sometimes the person who isn’t like you helps you discover who you really are. That was Jorge’s gift to me.
Not long ago Jorge and his father Jaime were in town for a Dodger game. Hall of Famer Jaime Jarrin is still covering the Dodgers–something he’s been doing for 60 years now–and Jorge has joined him in the booth.
They are the stuff of legend. But no amount of awards or recognition could give Jorge what I’d like to give him for being my first and dearest best friend.
We got together for lunch, joined by Jorge’s wife Maggie, and we talked about old times, full of stories of fifth grade, Miss McGrath and the musicals and plays we performed in high school.
Then I said, “You know, pal, your friendship made all the difference to me as a kid. It really did.”
It was about time I said it. It’s never too late to thank someone for their friendship. Endlessly grateful, that’s what I am. It’s the only way to live.