“Dude, we don’t talk about this,” Kyle warned me in a low voice, shaking his head slowly. “Not until we’re in the car.”

I nodded. With our shaky agreement, we each headed in opposite directions down the main hallway of Appleton North High. He was returning to a metal-working class, and I had a pressing assignment in my science class that I had to return to; something dealing with water flow. As I walked, my mind replayed the events that had led us up to this defining moment in our friendship. I jogged up the sunlit stairs of the main foyer and rounded the banister to my classroom, allowing myself only one whispered “That was messed up,” before I rejoined my class.

The story of my friendship with Kyle actually began roughly ten years prior, about 1993. We hated each other for reasons that made complete sense when you’re still in single digits: The daycare he went to was located directly behind my house. This immediately made him one of the “Daycare Kids”, as opposed to the “Perry Boys”, comprised of myself, my brother, and occasionally our curmudgeonly female basset hound, Bagels. They resented us because we didn’t need to go to a daycare, and we resented them because the backyard of the daycare was like a paradise, filled with every sort of playground construction and contraption known to us at the time. They had forts and slides and cartoony animals mounted on springs that you could ride back and forth, we had a sandbox.

There was also the matter that several years prior, my kindergarten relationship with Laurie Smith, an acknowledged “Daycare Kid”, had ended messily one day, around milk time. Years later, however, Kyle would bodyslam Laurie on a cafeteria table, so take that factor how you will.

Our deep-seeded, toothless animosity would continue through my sophomore year of high school, when auditions for

Matt Perry
Happy Families
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