Two Saturdays ago, at around 2pm, I was getting ready to go to the Red Sox-Cubs game. When I say getting ready, I mean checking and re-checking my pockets to make sure I had the tickets, performing a few standard, superstitious pre-game rituals (touching the same Big Papi newspaper clip from 2004 while listening to Dirty Water by The Standells), then going to the bathroom one last time. I kicked my feet up on my new Squatty Potty and looked out the window: my good pals, Mac and Maureen, just so happened to be turning into our driveway on their bikes.
Mac and Maureen had taken the bike path from Cambridge out to Bedford then made an impromptu stop at Chez Gibbons on their way back to Cambridge. It was an awesome surprise. If I hadn’t taken so long getting ready, I probably would’ve missed them. We complained about pollen allergies for a few minutes and talked potential album names for Mac’s band’s new album before I had to take off.
I left and went to see the Cubs at Fenway.
Mac and Maureen left and went home. Then Mac played You Can Call Me All on his record player—and proposed to Maureen.
* * *
If there’s one consistent, enduring Mac quality I’ve noticed since I met him seven and half years ago, it’s his steady confidence. It’s a quiet confidence that knows what it wants but never takes up a lot of space. It’s sure of itself but also willing to explore and wait things out.
It’s a cool confidence that’s Cool Hand Luke in its assuredness and appetite for absurdity (our junior year, we regularly duked it out over Apple Cider Vinegar shots; our freshman year, a public safety officer asked what was in then 19-year old-Mac’s cup: Um. Some Jagermeister. A little bit of red bull—not too much. Some snow from outside. A touch of lemon. Some Gatorade powder. Some rum-whiskey mix. A little bit of beer. Some more snow from outside. Our senior year, he made this table out of beer caps.)
It’s a confidence that, in August 2009, allowed him to peel off into some tall grass on our first run together to—well, you know—tend to his own runs.
It’s a confidence that commands the stage as the frontman for his band, The Casual Ales (He also sorta looks like a young Paul McCartney which is kind of a hoot).
It’s a confidence that helped name our ragtag crew of seven freshmen cross-country dudes (We became (and still are) The TerryDactyls. Because our coach’s name was Terry. And because dinosaurs rock.)
It’s a curious confidence that coined the tH Scale, as a way to assess, rank, and diagnose bodily and emotional predicaments that begin with the letters T and H: thirsty, tired, ticked-off, hungry, hungover. (We checked off all 5 Ts and Hs in the first day of the tH Scale.).
But, mostly, it’s a confidence that knows what it wants and goes for it.
* * *
I’ve only made two bets in the last four years:
1. In March 2015, I made a prop bet on the Kentucky-Wisconsin Final Four game that the lead for either team at any point of the game wouldn’t exceed 14. I thought it’d be a super close game and took the under. And won! (That weekend, I was in Las Vegas for my brother-in-law’s bachelor party. Instead of involuntarily reenacting a scene from The Hangover, we camped out at the blackjack tables and gambled on games we didn’t really care about.).
2. In April 2013, I bet that Mac and Maureen would be the first of our friends to get married. They’d only been together for two months. But you just knew. They were like PB&J.
Two weeks ago, I cashed in on the second bet.
48 hours after You Can Call Me Al, Mac, Maureen, our pals, Dustin, Schmidty, and I were at trivia night in Porter Square. I was complaining about parking or something when they broke the news. My reaction (then and ever since has) wavered between dumfounded excitement,
and a reflective, congratulatory tip of the hat/fork.
____________________________________________________________________________________________There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done / Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung / Nothing you can say, but you can learn how to play the game / It’s easy / All you need is love. — Paul McCartney