His front door was always unlocked.
“Hey, hey!” He called as I walked into the kitchen.
Phillipe was in his trademark t-shirt and Muay Thai shorts. He was an amateur MMA fighter and roofer, I’d tried both with him for a stint over the summer, they were fun, and I ended up in the best shape of my life. The Mexican was standing over a hot stove, cooking up a batch of rice, steamed vegetables, and some potstickers. I heated the kettle to make some green tea. It was half past 11 pm, per usual. I still don’t know how I met him. He just appeared in my life one day like I’d known him forever, I think we were both at the same party and ended up both getting drunk and somehow woke up as old best friends.
“She said she needed to work early…” I said.
“Shit dude. Fuck that chick. We should go out and pick up some chicks, take ’em back here and bang ’em on the couches with the lights off,” came his usual joking reply.
I had just come from watching the baseball game over at Abigail’s, the girl I was hopelessly crushing on at the time. This had become a kind of tradition. One of us always seemed to be in an unrequited love scenario, I would come over to his place sometime between 10 and midnight every evening, we’d eat dinner (even if I’d already eaten), drink tea, watch an old kung-fu B or C movie, stuff like 36 Chambers of Shaolin, Showdown at the Cotton Mill, Fist of Fury, Lost Swordsmanship, play N64, turned Bible Trivia into a drinking game, sit on the roof and smoke shisha and look out at the city lights, I’d play some piano and he’d rap over it, I’d teach him guitar, do some kick boxing and sparing while listening to Wu-Tang and Bob Marley, my arms and legs would be aching from taking his blows, he was small, lean, but fast and punched and kicked hard, he could get me in an armlock or nelson within moments if it came to grappling. Unfortunately, he didn’t win many of his bouts once he started ranking up as he was fighting guys with a tremendous reach advantage. But, he always had me to beat up on. Needless to say, his MMA and rap careers never took off. I wanted to be a writer, or a filmmaker, or a musician, or a software designer, I could never decide, I always had some new personal project I was working on. We’d talk about our girls and how much they were blowing us off. It was silliness. We both should have just moved on early in those relationships, but we didn’t know when to quite, we lacked the maturity at the time, even though he had two years on me. We were adrift, going no where, working dead end jobs and going to community college. It was an interesting time, I can’t recall how long it lasted. A year, two, more? We both had delusions of grandeur, what our lives would be, glamorous careers we’d get into, the beautiful girls we’d be with. And I’d drive home alone through the darkness in the early morning.
I still think of Phillipe from time to time, wondering where he is and what he is doing. But, we lost touch. He disappeared from my life as quickly as he had entered it. I know we are both married now, both have kids, both of us didn’t end up with our ideal spouses or our ideal jobs. When did we decide to settle?
Whenever one of us failed to get off the ground with a girl, or broke up, we’d email the other a link to that one Main Ingredient hit. He’d always add “next time don’t be a sucka, just hit it and quit it, b.” It’d always make me laugh and feel better. Even though I was a virgin and had no intention of having pre-marital sex, and he knew it. He was the best friend a guy could want. I could always find him there in that kitchen, with his front door unlocked, he was always ready to make dinner and drink tea when I’d had a bad day.