"Do you know how many people died in that???!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Our second grade music teacher was spitting the words out of her mouth while turning a deep crimson red. She was trembling while trying desperately to find the strength not to strike out at the subject of her ire. My best buddy in school, Alex. You see, Alex was a very creative child who found it difficult to keep himself entertained with multiplication tables and memorizing spelling words. So when he was bored he would draw. All day long he'd doodle out scenes from the most popular movies of the day. Images of dragons being slain by heroic knights. And dead soldiers during WWII bleeding out on the battle field.
Yeah, you see, on this fateful fall day Alex had drawn a scene with dead WWII soldiers screaming out "Oh, they got me!!!" while dropping to the ground with images of Swastikas all over the page. It happened to be what we were learning that week and he was just being topical. And the teacher happened to look down at what he was drawing. And she flipped her shit. I should mention that she was Jewish and didn't find Alex's artistic expression worthy of being hung on the wall of a French art museum. She let him have it and I don't think I have ever seen Alex so quiet and still the 6 years we were in school together. I also swear there was a little yellow puddle under his chair.
Alex was my first best friend growing up. We met in 1st grade and were thick as thieves from the beginning. I don't recall the first day we met or what we said to each other or even how/why we became friends. It was just too long ago. But we were inseparable. And no one made me laugh more day in and day out that he did. I cannot tell you how many times I got in trouble for laughing out loud because of something Alex leaned over and whispered to me almost as if he were daring me not to laugh. I'm sorry, but when your best friend in 5th grade refers to a girl getting her first "hot beef injection", you couldn't stop me from laughing if you put a gun to my head.
Alex didn't just make me laugh from telling jokes. He cracked me up because of some of the situations he got himself into. One a field trip one year at the zoo, he wandered over to the lama pen. He was petting one gently and seemed to be enthralled with this majestic creature when it suddenly sneezed all over his face and front of his shirt. Holy shit, we all howled as he stood there in shock as the lama snot dripped down his clothes.
We used to go to the Boys Club for our weekly gym class and swam every other week. One week Alex forgot his bathing suit. No biggie, he could just do gym class with the girls. Nope, the teacher had enough of this nonsense and made Alex swim in his underwear. Once again, hilarity ensued as poor Alex was doing the doggie paddle in his tighty-whities to the whistles and cat calls from the bleachers.
Alex taught me how to laugh at all the things happening around us. Even if that included laughing at ourselves. Ourselves and sneezing lamas swimming in their BVD's after their hot beef injections.