Thankfulness on 11/21.

In my previous post, I thanked Greg Johnson of Toejam and Earl fame – and thanked Charles and Tammy Stevens for introducing me to Toejam and Earl. There’s no way I could make it through this month without thanking both Chuck and Tammy for everything they’ve for me.

I met Chuck in the 4th grade. I had long hair and apparently looked fairly girly, because when the teacher first brought me to the class to introduce me, Chuck had said that he thought the class got another girl. (I can neither deny, nor confirm this, but I am pretty sure my mother dressed me in like my sister’s hand me down jeans! Talk about embarrassing!) So needless to say, he was shocked when I was introduced to the class and I was actually a guy!

Well, the charming personality that I have, I had done something to clash with a fellow class mate (I can’t even remember what it was). Said class mate wanted to throw down after class, and I don’t remember how or why it happened – but Chuck ended up stepping in on my behalf. Needless say, Chuck laid the smack down on said person – which sealed Chuck’s and I’s friendship. Ironically, this wouldn’t be the only time this would happen. In the 8th grade, once again, my charming personality apparently rubbed another person wrong who insisted on fighting me – only to have Chuck, once again, step in and beat the snot out of them. (And people say I have a great personality? Really? Then why did everyone seem to hate me in my youth!)

Granted, I had a pretty rambunctious attitude in my youth and probably deserved to have my rump handed to me at some point.

At any rate, Chuck was like a brother to me. We were staying the night at each others house, either reading comics, talking about Heavy Metal, or “air band” jamming out with crutches and clothes hangers (as our flying V electric guitars)! Ah, youth, thou art so blissful.

Chuck was the reason I initially got into my comics when he gave me Uncanny X-Men #121 and Avengers #159. (So now Amiee knows who to blame for my massive addiction, and Southern California Comics knows who to thank). The world of comics opened wide to me, as I became enamored with these colorful heroes who strive to do right in the world.

In return, I would drag Chuck into all kinds of trouble and adventures. Most of those said adventurers happened “Behind Mervyns” (which in hindsight, sounds much dirtier than it really should). It’s just there was an outside mall, where there was a Mervyns (are those even around anyone? The kids of today will be like, “What the heck is a Mervyns?”) – and there was a large forested area. Already infatuated with The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, going back into the woods sparked my imagination of adventuring through Mirkwood. We used to ride our bikes out there and wander into the woods and just do utterly stupid things, letting our imagination tell us there were orcs and goblins and such back there. We also used to ride our bikes up the Silver Strand and back, for no other reason than to go to the beach for a little bit and ride back. I remember also riding to Plaza Bonita from our place. Which, these days, being in the shape we’re in, I am not sure we’d even make it out of our neighborhood.

Chuck was the first one out of the Wallgroup (Chuck, Myself, Eddie, Shawn, and Mike) to get a car. I remember when he got the car – our bicycles became utterly obsolete. “What? Ride our bikes to Plaza Bonita? Why do that? Let’s drive!” Chuck was also the first person out of our group to own a computer (if you don’t count Shawn’s father who had a pretty tight computer network – you know, for back in the day!) I remember playing the text based adventure game on his computer (where the “disk drive” was an actual cassette drive!) I remember breaking the code and running a list command and seeing how it was made; and then teaching myself how to do it and creating my own little text games through BASIC.

In High School, Chuck met and began dating Tammy. How Tammy ever tolerated me – or any of us, come to think of it – is clearly beyond me. I won’t even go into detail about the poor things Tammy had to endure at our hands – but if anything, she certainly loved Chuck to tolerate his friends and still stay with him, rather than running away (which any sane woman would have done – of course, her lack of sanity was clearly a good indication that she was a good fit for Chuck and the group as a whole; since back then we were very much like a wolf pack). You didn’t just date the person you were dating; you dated all of us. (Of course, I don’t mean that in the dirty, sexual type meaning – what I meant was, that we were always pretty close to one another, and tended to do everything together. Well not everything – listen, you know what I mean!)

When my father passed away, I ended up moving to Tennessee for two years, to live in the same complex as my sister did, because I couldn’t afford life in San Diego. It was there that I met Amiee, and we eventually moved back to San Diego. It had been Tammy and Chuck, who with open arms, welcomed us into their place, until Amiee and I could get on our own two feet and get a place of our own. (“Hey, is that smoke coming out of the monitor?” So many good memories while we were living with them!) I remember the four of us playing Sierra’s “Phantasmagoria” together. We were glued to the computer.

These days, it’s tradition that Aim and I go to Palm Springs during the summer with the Stevens, to just get away together and have a good time. It’s a tradition I look forward to, because with them – they have known me for so long. I have no need of wearing a mask or acting a certain way or being afraid of offending them with something. They know me, and love me, down to the core of my being.

They had two wonderful children; Sammy and Matt. Sammy, to me is very much like my own daughter. There are no words to ever describe how much I love her and how much she means to me. She was the real first kid I had around me that I knew from infant and onward. I am, admittedly, very protective of Sammy. I have repeatedly told Chuck and Tammy when we go out, that if anything happens to her – they have no fear of Chuck, because they won’t survive me if I get to them first. Sammy is beyond beautiful. She’s intelligent. She’s funny. She’s everything that is wonderful about Chuck and Tammy combined into a single person. And then there’s Matt, who I feel like is like my own son. He’s a gamer, has a love of swords, and loves comics. Granted, somehow he got misguided and doesn’t like American Comics (like Avengers, X-Men, Nightwing, Batgirl, etc) – but he digs those anime comics. I keep hoping to one day correct his view on this. And when it comes to games one of my favorite things to do is challenge him in the various Wii Sports games (especially the archery one)!

This is probably one of the longest thanks I have done, because of the amount of love and memories I have with Chuck and Tammy, and their two now grown kids. I feel so very fortunate to feel like I am a part of their family, as they are very much a part of mine. My heart is richer for the love they give me. My life is richer for the friendship they give. And my soul is richer for the strength they have given me, whether they knew it or not – by always being there, even if I didn’t ask for it.

Charles appeared in Episode 58: VisionQuest.

Matt appeared in Episode 60: But I’m A Lover, Not A Fighter.

Tammy and Sammy appear in Episode 61: Reunited And It Feels So Good (Wait, Didn’t We Use That Title Last Season?)

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