advent journal: b-friending


    Tonight I had the privilege of experiencing another blogging incarnation. Jimmy stepped from screen to real life and met me, along with my friend Jay, who is here for Christmas, at the Durham Pizza Palace, which professes to be the oldest pizza parlor in the Bull City. Jimmy greeted us with some Tupelo honey harvested from his own bees and a hug and a smile. We sat and talked long after we had finished our salads, pizza, and beer. We talked over the karaoke that peppered the evening with everything from “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” to “New York State of Mind” to “Call Me By My Name,” the self-proclaimed “perfect country song” (written by Steve Goodman and John Prine) because of the last verse:

    I was drunk the day my mom got out of prison
    and I went to pick her up in the rain
    but before I could get to the station in my pickup truck
    she got run over by a damned old train

    and I’ll hang around as long as you will let me
    ‘cause I never minded standing in the rain
    you don’t have to call me darlin’, darlin’
    you never even call me by my name

    Most of the folks who took the mike did so knowing they were among friends, and forgiving ones at that. It was obvious we were in a room of people who knew each other, even as we were working to be better acquainted. Our technology affords us amazing ways to connect, even before we have adequate vocabulary to describe the connections. (We have e-mail for notes we send wirelessly; perhaps our friends we find while blogging should be called b-friends.) Something happens when we’re together in the flesh, looking at each other, talking, sharing food. A different kind of knowledge – the stuff stories are made of – gets shared and stored so that we can begin to be friends.

    I’ve often wondered what possessed God to decide to put skin on. I wonder about the others involved, the timing. I catch a glimpse of understanding on nights like tonight, as Jimmy became flesh before my eyes and an abstract connection became a person who did call me by my name.

    It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas . . .



    1. Thanks for reminding me of this perfect country song, introduced to me by new friends in my college days. And thanks for the blog, which I’ve been reading for a long time now. Christmas blessings to you and yours.

    2. Good to see your post mentioning “You Never Even Call Me by My Name” and Steve Goodman. He often doesn’t get his due. You might be interested in my new 800-page biography, “Steve Goodman: Facing the Music.” The book delves deeply into the origin of Goodman’s and Prine’s “You Never Even Call My by My Name” and debunks the notion that David Allan Coe had anything to do with the classic final verse. Please check my Internet site below for more info on the book. Just trying to spread the word. Feel free to do the same!

      Clay Eals
      1728 California Ave. S.W. #301
      Seattle, WA 98116-1958

      (206) 935-7515
      (206) 484-8008

    3. Milton,

      It was indeed a sacred evening. To spend time with brothers is a great joy and a “feeding” event. I look forward to many more. Give Jay an hug for me!

    4. I thought I was the world’s foremost authority on John Prine, but you may have proved me wrong. I have always accepted David Allen Coe’s claim to have co-written “You Never Even Called Me…” Given Prine’s relationship with Goodman, it would make sense that it would be him. It would also make sense, given his humility, that he not have taken credit for it.

      Thanks for illuminating me.

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