About 42 years ago, I met the person you see pictured here in Room 9 — a third grade classroom on the campus of Cedar Grove Elementary School in East San Jose.

Today, August 15, 2017, he hit the half-century mark: 50!

While we met at a pretty young age, we didn’t develop a brotherly bond until a few years later in middle school. In fact, it was during that time that he and I figuratively and literally cemented our friendship by carving our names into a newly laid sidewalk near his home. (A few years ago I took my daughter to see if our names were still there. They are.)

In December of last year I wrote a blog about friendships — specifically “best friends.” I talked about the advent of “slang books” during middle school, which were simple notebooks filled with questions like “What’s your favorite song?” and “What’s your favorite movie?” and “Who is your best friend?” My answer to the last question during those days was always: Rodney.

He and I were inseparable, and we did just about everything together. We played video games, sports, and got into a little mischief — like the time we drilled a hole into a quarter, tied a string to it, in an attempt to get free credits from an arcade game at a local liquor store. The quarter got stuck, and we were summarily kicked out of the store. Of course, I raised a fuss, and Rod, who has always been the voice of reason, convinced me to give up on the quarter, and accept our losses.

Other than temperament (he was always super kind; I tried my best to be — most of the time), we were alike in so many ways. We were about the same height, and we shared many of the same interests — including our tastes in clothes, cars, and girls. When it came to playing sports, he edged me in short distance; I edged him in long distance; he was better in baseball; I was better in basketball.

Graduating from 8th grade was one of the highlights of our time together in school … and it would be our last. Shortly after the top photo was taken, my dad moved us to the west side of San Jose. And a couple of years after that, Rod moved to Oakland — a move that he reluctantly accepted, but grew to appreciate and absolutely love.

The picture below was taken ten years ago at his 40th birthday celebration. This Saturday, he and I will take another one at his fiftieth. And once again I’ll stand next to the person whom I’ve always considered my brother.

Happy 50th!

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