There are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather
My friend's name was John. John Stoddard. John David Stoddard.
I had known John since we were in middle school, 1986. He was funny, generous and never took more than he gave. Loved the Seahawks and the Sonics before the NBA straight up stole them from Seattle. Soccer? GFY!
A couple months back he took his own life. None of his core friends were aware of any problems in his life — we texted pretty often and we would try to get together when we can. Turns out something got into his brain that he believed. Whatever it was, it had to be horrifying.
John was by no means weak. He was tall and physically strong, and his mental toughness unquestioned. I consider myself to have these qualities but I viewed him as a notch better than me in both categories.
He had a shirt of mine since 1995. It is a classic now, a Texaco shirt with a star behind it. After the first year it felt wrong to ask for it back. I’m sure it is gone forever. Things that we shared, now neither of us have.
One of my favorite stories about John was in 1991 or so. I drove a $1700 Camaro Rally Sport and John had a 1978 Chevrolet C10 pickup truck with the “Big 10” option on it. The option allowed the 454 cubic inch V8 in it (that’s 7.4L to you and me). It was one of the fastest vehicles in Renton at the time by default.
I got my first car a little before him and had started to become technically competent under the hood. One afternoon we were replacing the drive belts on his truck. We got to the last one (there were three belts, this was before serpentine drive) and it was the alternator.
When tightening them down I was leaving a little slack as that is what I read in the Haynes manual. But John, and I know what he was thinking, was not happy with this.
He said, “Adam, you gotta crank that thing dowwwwwwn.”
I told him I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to leave a little bit of deflection in the thing but as I mentioned above, he imposed his will on me so I put all my 200 pounds of weight on that fucker as he tightened down the hold bolt.
When I plucked that belt it sounded like a D chord on a bass guitar. I mean, it was tight. John nodded his head knowingly.
We hopped in his truck and backed out of the garage and began to exit the cul-de-sac.
We made it half way to the street and we both heard and felt the THUMP under the hood. Neither of us looked at each other… we just stared straight ahead out the window. I did’t say, “I told you so,’ and he didn’t admit he was wrong.
We both knew.
We drove back to the garage and left ½” deflection the 2nd time.
This is friendship. This is funny. This is
one of my favorite stories ever. If you do not have a friend you can do anything absolutely wrong or embarrassing and then laugh about it until you cry and get on with life, I feel sorry for you.
I miss John about every day. I can’t delete him from my address book and I have even texted him time to time just because why not? The worst thing that could happen was I’d get a reply and find that he did what I wish he’d done instead: left civilization for the hills. He’s built an off grid place and it is neat as a pin. Everything a GenX kid needs to survive is there and there are no idiots around to bother you with their shitty loud, slow cars… you won’t get yelled at if you accidentally call someone the wrong pronoun and the fire is hot and the beer is cold.
Johnny, I hate you for how you left us. But I hated you already because the moon landing is not a hoax.
But above all I love you always and forever from the bottom of my heart.