A few years ago, nine of my fraternity brothers and I loaded into our cars and made our annual Fourth of July trip to beautiful Lake Tahoe. We rented a cabin just past the Nevada line, and prepared ourselves for a weekend filled with Bud Heavys, gambling, and generally poor decisions across the board.
We arrived on a Thursday evening, and immediately started drinking like the prohibition had just ended before ultimately ending up at one of the clubs in the casinos. I don’t have many memories of the club, but I do remember kicking off my weekend in true Nick fashion by getting handcuffed by the police for the third Tahoe trip in a row. You can call me many things, but inconsistent is not one of them. Apparently in my inebriated state, I had mixed up the address to our cabin (by about a mile) and upon realizing my key wasn’t working, had attempted to break into a random strangers home.
Lucky for me, three of my marginally less impaired friends were walking the same route home, and in their words, “convinced the cops that you were a harmless idiot. We promised them that we would take you home and keep you out of trouble for the rest of the weekend, and that you weren’t violent. It helped your case that all you had been repeating was ‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry’ every time the cops tried to ask you where you were trying to go.”
Needless to say, I woke up with a mild hangover the next morning (being 21 was an amazing age), but I powered through my pounding head and deep sense of shame by blaring an electric guitar version of the national anthem and slamming whiskey shots.
It was this great nation’s birthday, and I wasn’t going to let almost getting arrested for breaking and entering ruin my weekend (I am a patriot after all). After getting inappropriately drunk at 10 a.m., our group decided to head out to Zephyr Beach, the fabled grounds where beer flowed like the mighty Euphrates and every girl was a perfect ten.
We had a fantastic time at the beach, playing slap the bag with warm Franzia and shamelessly hitting on every female we could see. However, by 3 p.m. our coolers were running low, and five hours of drinking in the blazing sun was taking its toll on our group. We elected to walk about a mile down the road to a Taco Bell before heading home and gearing up for the night. We were all stumbling down a busy highway, clad in star spangled apparel and backwards snapbacks like the douchebags we were, when I stopped in my tracks.
“Where the fuck is Joe?” I asked as I turned to the group. “I was literally talking to him 30 seconds ago.” I turned back the way we had come, and fifty yards down the road came my answer. Joe, who had seemed fairly coherent mere seconds before, was lying face down in a patch of grass, attempting to take a nap while two police officers pulled up beside him to wake him up (and take him to jail). “Wait wait wait!” I yelled at the cops as I flip-flopped my way down the sidewalk at full speed. “He’s good. He just got tired from the sun. We’ll take him home right now, and I promise he’ll be fine,” I panted at the officer as I arrived.
The cop looked at me hard, and removed his sunglasses. “Are you fucking kidding me? Aren’t you the kid we handcuffed last night? Is this sleeping kid the guy that said he would take you home?” Shit. Oh well, might as well go down with the ship. I looked at the cop and responded with a deadpan expression, “Yes sir, and I’d like to repay the favor to him.” After an increasingly tense fifteen seconds, the cop started busting up laughing, and his next words have stuck with me to this day. “You boys are a fucking disaster, but goddamn if you don’t look out for your own. Put him to bed, and if I see any of you assholes again, I’m leaving your whole group in the drunk tank for the rest of the weekend.”
We never saw that cop again, and I’m happy to say that the rest of the weekend went off with out anymore police interactions. What that cop said about our group has stuck in my mind as the greatest compliment I’ve ever received. I have a lot of friends who have faults, as I do myself. But one thing we are never lacking is loyalty to one another. I have friends who would hit on their own sisters if they’re going through a long enough dry streak but would never touch another friend’s girlfriend.
I have friends with whom I’ve fought on multiple occasions about things both serious and stupid alike, but they’d have my back in a brawl with zero hesitation. I have friends who piss me off, friends who are cheapskates, and friends who make stupid decisions and drag me into them, but they all share one common trait: loyalty.
That is the only trait that matters, and without it you cannot have friendship. You can overlook a lot of faults, and a lot of things that piss you off if you know your friend will always have your back when it counts. Conversely, without it, that person will never be a true friend.
They could be hilarious, share all your interests, and you can always have a great time when you’re with them, but if they are not loyal to you/the friend group, they won’t stay friends for long. It drives me crazy when I hear people (usually girls) talk about their “best friend” that fucked them over/stole from them/hooked up with their significant other. That’s not a friend.
If anything, that’s an enemy with which you share interests. You deserve loyalty from your friends, even when they know you’re in the wrong, and you should give the same loyalty back no matter what. Throw a controller at them when they beat you at FIFA, steal their beer when their backs are turned, and make lewd remarks about their mother (if you’re not scared of getting punched in the face). Throughout all that, let them know that you will have their back as soon as things get serious. True friendship varies from person to person and from group to group, but one thing it can never exist without is loyalty..