Skip to main content

View Diary: * New Day * — Who was your first friend? (178 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  I can think back farther and remember at least (17+ / 0-)

    a couple of earlier friends, but the first intense friendship I had was with a guy named Billy H.

    His dad, Colonel H, was the Military Attache to the US Embassy in Vientiane, Laos in 1960. My dad was his assistant. We lived in two of the three-houses in our compound. The third house was another of their team, Major F.

    The compound was fenced and gated and sat on the bank of the Mekong River on the outskirts on Vientiane, which at the time was (if you could overlook the extreme poverty) a charming and thriving city with a heavy French influence (having once been a French colony) but with all the mystery and wonder of the East. Add to that the distance it represented from the first world. Laos in 1960 was ancient,  primitive in ways...but even at my young age, absolutely fascinating.

    Billy was my age and we were each other's more-or-less only American friends for the entire year that we lived there - and Laos was intense. Billy and I explored as far in every direction as we could hike or swim. We had a thousand adventures (ok, maybe not a thousand).

    I spoke to him recently by phone for the first time since we were living in Bangkok after the coup in Laos in 1961. Over fifty years since we had spoken, and he sounded exactly the way I remembered him. I had to keep reminding myself that this was a grown man I was speaking with, not that nine-year-old buddy you remember so vividly.

    Anyway, you made me think of him. When we spoke, we remembered those adventures that we both remember in near exact terms. The times we would swim with water-buffaloes and naked Lao boys in the Mekong, hanging around a brick-making operation watching them work. The workers invited us to make some bricks, which we did, rather poorly. But it was so much fun.

    We reminisced about hunting with blow guns and slingshots in the jungle, about the time a Laotian gentleman on a tricycle-taxi offered us a ride home and then demanded payment when we got there. We just thought he was being nice, we had no money, we ran.

    We remembered each other's pets. He had a bush baby and a gibbon named Blondie. I had a bear and a Siamese cat named Sputnik.

    It was so strange speaking to him. In a way it was like all that time hadn't passed at all. We spoke for hours. It was very cool.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site