Recently, I had the displeasure of attending an old friend’s funeral in Beaufort

It’s all I do

The only upside of that experience was the distinct pleasure I had of spending three hours in the car with my truly ancient friend Sydney Meeks Fowler

a/k/a Syd, Schneidah, Sweet Meeks, Syd-arth-thra

We have known each other forever

Our fathers were in the Marine Corps together.  Our families have been friends for four generations.  We went to school together in Beaufort, Chapel Hill, Columbia

Our eldest was the flower girl at her wedding

I’ve written about Syd and her family in the past

Some of our oldest and dearest

We’ve been through a lot together

I mean



I used to have a picture of me and Syd on the steps of the Basilica di Santa Croce in Florence, Italy, circa 1989. Thirty damn years ago. A great shot of us in front of the Franciscan facade.  Halcyon youth blithely unaware of the journey ahead.  Skinny.  Tan. Probably mildly hungover from cheap Italian wine.

Our traveling together has been literal and figurative for over forty years

This kid. Sydney. Wedding party brunch in Beaufort, SC. 1999. I still wear that belt buckle.

Anyway, after the funeral in Beaufort and our ride up Highway 17, Syd came back to our house for a restorative cocktail

As one must

Porch sitting

My favorite competitive sport

The next morning, I awoke and thought of the following:

In the movie Crocodile Dundee, someone is explaining what a shrink does to that fish out of water in the urban jungle of NYC.

The Croc asks, “Well, don’t they have any mates?”

And, that’s just it

Syd is our mate

Always has been

Always will be


Stuck with us

Stuck by us

We have been through a lot together

I mean



In three hours in the car with Sydney, there were

gut busting laughs

moments of quiet reflection

therapy sessions



roasts of friends and family

tears of laughter

tears of tears

updates on our families

retellings of shared history

revelations about other friends

knowing approvals

archaic references

acidic tongues wagging

Really, my side hurt, though, after so much laughter

At one point, I had to tell Syd to be quiet as I was going to have a major accident due to mirth induced incontinence

I really almost wet my pants

The only thing missing from the ride up and down Highway 17 through the Lowcountry were a few others who would have totally been in on the jokes, the shared history, the disdain and, most importantly, the unconditional love


You know who you are

We missed you being with us

We ran by my parents house on North Street for a bit and it was like two standup comedians had crossed the threshold

My parents never quit laughing at us and with us

My mother said, “Oh, you two are so irreverent.”


Arriving at the church for the funeral, one of the greeters, who has known the deceased and us forever realized Syd and I had ridden down together

The greeter looked at us and said facetiously, “Oh, I’m sorry for you two. That ride was probably really boring. No fun. Y’all didn’t talk about anyone.  There was probably no laughter.  Really solemn.”

Then that lovely Lowcountry lady said, “Man, I’d have loved to have been in the car with y’all”

One of the ones who would have been in on the jokes

After the funeral, we ran by Syd’s mother’s house

Again, the traveling comedy troupe caused some laughter over on New Street

As we departed from her mother, Lila Meeks looked at us and said, “I challenge y’all to not talk about anyone on the ride back to Charleston and discuss something lofty”

We failed miserably

Instead, we debriefed and debrided

The radio never played

It wasn’t just constant talk to be talking to fill an awkward void

As the kids say, shit got real

I hope you all have some mates

Especially like Sydney




8 thoughts on “Unflippingconditional

  1. 2 of my favorite kids and parents when we lived in Beaufort. Say hey to your folks. The USMC has blessed me with some incredible friends over the years many from Beaufort. Hope your’re doing well.


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