Today’s tenth Think Kit hits home. I was delighted to jump on the keyboard to answer this: Homies. Friends are our chosen family. They have the wonderful capacity to make us laugh till we cry, to hold us up in dark hours and to keep our secrets under lock and key. Tell a friendship story.
Meet Tim Todd
I met Timothy Arthur Todd when I was a junior in high school. He was a senior, though only seven months my elder. To me, he was out of my league. I saw him as popular; I was not. He was outgoing among groups; I was not. He participated in plays; I did not.
His father and uncle owned a drug store in our hometown, Montague, Michigan. I applied for a job and began working in January, 1974. Soon, Tim and I got to know each other. Soon, he couldn’t shake me, and I wouldn’t think of shaking him.
My senior year, I was too shy to ask a girl to prom, even when Tim told me she would go if I asked. Soon after that fell through, he arranged my first date—without telling me. As we left from his house to see a movie, he made a wrong turn. I discerned the direction. He calmed me down. We had a double date. The young lady became my first girlfriend.
Tim is a nut. We did goofy things together. We would throw an imaginary football around the parking lot of a favorite hamburger joint. We went to high school parties where the alcohol flowed freely, but we only guzzled from our bottles of orange pop. We made store movies, gathering coworkers after hours to turn situations and customers into absurd and hilarious skits.
We were dorks. We continue to wear that proudly.
Tim went away to Western Michigan University. At the time, Steve Martin was as hot as anyone in the country, his stand-up act having resulted in Tim and I learning every gag. Martin was playing at WMU. Tim got tickets. I died and went to heaven.
The Lord returned me to earth. Tim and I played each other’s best man. He moved away to teach, while I stayed home to work. We talked way too seldom. Oh, to have had the Internet!
In 1992, I pulled up stakes to go to seminary. I would never live in Montague again. Soon after, Tim moved home to teach at Montague High, from which he retired two years ago.
My first parishes were in Iowa. Tim suggested I drive back each year so we could go to a Detroit Tigers’ game. It became our tradition, to take in a game a year. Now, he comes to Indy for Indians’ games against the Tigers’ farm club.
Early in 2013, my gender dysphoria finally crushed me. I needed to see if transitioning would help calm my brain. I needed to tell Tim. I always regretted never telling him this big, bad secret of mine, that I always wanted to be a girl. I knew Tim to be as gracious a person as I’ve ever met, and yet I was scared.
After fifteen minutes of his patiently waiting for me to begin as I could not stop crying, I rolled out my story over the next ninety minutes. He listened, never saying a word. His eyes told me everything. He did not skip a beat in his love toward me.
Montague is a straight line north of Indianapolis. With both of us retired, Tim and I have the kind of time to see each other as we had forty years ago. Montague remains home for me. When I visit, I can also see family and friends. In 2015, I found myself in Montague seven times.
Tim’s place is the Todd B & B. The doors are always open to me. Even if Tim has some activities on the schedule, Mom and I get along so well that, well, I call her Mom. We don’t even miss Tim. And she’s doing a better job than Tim in converting to calling me Gina.
Their affection and understanding is nothing short of dazzling.
Tim deserves this moniker: Mr. Montague. He worked hard for his students and they loved him for his personality as much as for his teaching skills. He remains active at school, in his church, and in the community. He is the kind of person that people should be.
I love you, Tim. I love you more than ever. Thank you for being one of the most important people in my life.
My best friend.