I’ll admit it — I’m a sucker for “how we met” stories. These can be romantic in nature and those are always entertaining, but I also enjoy hearing about how people became friends.
Sometimes the stories are especially funny or interesting. One in particular comes to mind.
A good friend of mine here at Fort Hood had been seeing a lot of stray dogs in her yard and was constantly trying to figure out who the owners were and how to return the pets to them.
She was getting a bit weary of doing this, understandably.
So when a little border collie came wandering around (wearing no identification), she decided she would call animal control, figuring the dog was a stray. They came promptly and took the collie away.
Within minutes, her doorbell rang and there was her new neighbor wondering if his wife’s dog had been seen recently. Suddenly, my friend felt like Cruella de Vil in “101 Dalmations,” and immediately went about trying to fix this disastrous situation, calling on her husband to get the dog out of animal control. Apparently, this dog was much-loved, but had escaped from the backyard while the family was moving into their house.
As it was a four-day weekend, getting the dog released required some serious string-pulling and schmoozing but thankfully, it happened and Riley was reunited with his family.
My chagrined friend said she hurriedly whipped up a batch of brownies and took them over in a peace-offering soon afterward.
Now she and Riley’s “mom” are good pals and still chuckle over their unique introduction (as well as walk their dogs together).
A different dog helped me meet a girl who became a dear childhood friend way back when I was very young. My family had recently moved to Louisville and knew virtually no one, and I was dying for a friend.
We owned a brown standard poodle named Dusty then and he was outside barking in our backyard.
I had leaned my head out my bedroom window to see what the commotion was all about and saw a dark-haired, very tan girl slowly approaching, clearly wanting to pet Dusty.
I remember saying, “It’s all right — you can pet him,” in a sing-songy voice. I’ve told my kids this story and they’ve found it quite amusing, imitating my 6-year-old cadence. (“Mom, you were such a dork!”) But in any case, I met the very Southern Mary Condon Russell and her sister Colleen and thus began a long friendship.
The military is a grand place to make close friends. It’s been documented that soldiers (and Marines) who serve in combat together often form bonds that are nearly unbreakable.
On a less dramatic scale, just wearing the uniform and being a part of the same mission can create lasting friendships.
I know my dad still keeps in touch with one or two of his Army buddies from the 1950s.
They briefly served here at Fort Hood and share memories of blowing their paychecks on a single decadent evening in Austin.
When I was in the Army, one of my dearest friends started out being someone I didn’t like that much. We were both enlisted back then and were assigned to a military intelligence company at Fort Huachuca. Jennifer was one of those impossibly beautiful, smart women who was also an excellent soldier — always squared away with impeccably shined boots (back when boots required shining). I can’t remember why exactly but I assumed she was a snob and figured we were not destined to be friends. How wrong I was.
Months later, we found ourselves at Fort Bliss taking the Primary Leadership Development Course, which is a precursor to becoming a noncommissioned officer. Not knowing anyone else there, we decided to be roommates and soon realized how much we had in common. The course was stressful and we bonded quickly, finding we shared a similar sense of humor and outlook on things.
The day before graduation we were allowed one evening of complete freedom, so we went out to dinner with some other classmates and spent the night at a swanky hotel in El Paso.
Jennifer and I had set the alarm but somehow didn’t hear it and overslept — on our graduation morning. We still laugh about our punishment — buffing what felt like miles of linoleum floors. But it didn’t seem all that awful because we were doing it together. Jennifer is now a lieutenant colonel still serving in the Army and we are still friends. Even though she is just as lovely and intelligent as ever.