Tuesday, July 21, 2009

snapshot • GOFONGA

photo: Sarah Edwards

Dave, Paul & Rico at Amherst Coffee, Amherst, Massachusetts, 2008. Back in the day, the three of us used to hang at Rao's Coffee in Amherst. One day, we all arrived wearing, I kid you not, green jackets and black berets. It was obvious: we were a gang, and we decided we had to have a name. I had just read a history of New York called "Gotham," and in it there is a section on gangs of New York, c. 1850. (Scorsese based his film, in part, on the book.) One commentator on the prevalence of these n'er-do-wells, described a "gang of fellows of no good aspect." There it was: if you take the first letter of each word of the phrase, you get GOFONGA. We are all fans of Scorsese, and often quote gangster movie lines, so it all fit. Dave's mother was going to make us jackets with GOFONGA written on them, but it never came to pass. We are still GOFONGA.

I have spent a great deal of time thinking about friendship, and cultivating friendships. I have been fortunate over the years to have had some really great friends. There is a kind of synergy between two friends that is unique and complex. Without going into a long, rambling musing on the subject, it occurred to me that there is a unique synergy between a group of three friends (and four, and more, I suppose). There is a special bond, a set of shared references, between three friends that has its own life. For example, it is wonderful to go to Nonquitt with Dave, but there is something special about going to Nonquitt with Dave and Rico. We have spent so much time there together, that we have a kind of pattern to our interactions. We have been through some great times, from hours of lying on the beach, to doing cannonballs off the pier, hanging out at the house, preparing dinner (Rico does the main course, Dave and I do the salad), attending Dave's sister's wedding at Nonquitt, and so on. Nobody else gets the references, the jokes, the movie lines, and I suppose that is where the power comes from. We have a joint friendship that is powerfully personal and not dyadic, which can be great, but can also become more easily static. It is the third point that creates the dynamism, the triangle (I won't say the Trinity). So, Dave and Rico: I love you, men! Long live GOFONGA! 

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