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What Are We Going To Do About This Hand Twin Thing?

Posted by Parker Hageman , 07 July 2020 · 4,156 views

A friend of mine passed away over the holiday weekend.

We had attended high school together, were distant friends through college, and spent two years as roommates back in the cities after that.

When we lived together, he was attending culinary school and the roommates would have the benefit of eating food that is normally not accessible to broke post-college kids trying to repay student loans. He would concoct four course meals and we were more than happy to be test subjects.

We’d declare it the best thing we’ve ever eaten and he, being his own worst critic, would inform us that it was garbage and would vow to make it better next time.

He modeled himself a bit after Anthony Bourdain. He had a beat up copy of Kitchen Confidential that he constantly implored me to read. I never did.

Eventually the house split up. We went separate ways and saw each other less. Everyone my age or older likely has friendships like that. I had a growing family and he was launching a culinary career that took him to Central America and Alaska for work.

The relationship became just a bi-yearly message to each other on Facebook, randomly sharing a couple inside jokes and stupid obscure pop culture references. We exchanged one just the previous week.

He sent a one-liner: What are we going to do about this hand twin thing?

It came from a Friends episode we watched years ago. He had an ability to bring groups of people together and our house used to host viewing parties during the final seasons. The line, delivered by Joey Tribbiani in the bathroom of a casino, always cracked us up. Sharing innocuous lines like that over the years just let each other know you were thinking about them.

I spent most of Sunday night reflecting on our time. I spoke with another roommate of ours who had moved out of state as well. We shared memories of the years we all lived together.

I realized how much baseball fandom can imprint on our lives.

He once hosted a weekend-long party at his college house in Duluth. It was epic, as the kids would say. Thinking back to the revelry, I also remember slipping away to see Matt Lawton hit two home runs in Cleveland.

Another time he went to visit a girl in New York City. He returned with a small panoramic of the old Yankee Stadium that he got at a secondhand shop because he knew how much I despised the Yankees. I still have that picture and I still hate the Yankees.

His family would host gatherings at their cabin in northern Minnesota. They were amazingly hospitable people. His mom legitimately made the best sloppy joes. When my daughter wasn’t even a year old, he invited us for a low-key weekend of boating and bonfires. On the drive home, as my little girl slept in the back, I listened to Johan Santana’s 17-strikeout performance on the radio.

When the Twins had a weekend series at Wrigley Field, we ran into each other at the Cubby Bear, the bar across the street from the stadium. We took time to share a Cubby Blue Bomb together, update each other on our current lives, and then went back to the separate group of friends we came with into Chicago.

The last time we saw each other in person I was handing off tickets to him before a Twins game.

We met at The Depot Tavern and played catch up. His seats were on one side of the ballpark and ours were on the other. We vowed to meet on the concourse or somewhere after the game but neither of us followed through.

You are not supposed to live with regrets yet we do. I regret not reaching out more, not making an effort to stay connected. I regret not checking in more frequently to hear about his family, fiancee, and other adventures.

Thirty-nine is way too young. You feel like you always have more time: There will be some other opportunity to catch up, there will be some other chance to reconnect, or some other time to say those were amazing memories.

Looking back, I admired how he followed his passion. We were just becoming functioning adults and he already knew that he wanted to run kitchens and make people happy through food. Someone shared a video of him teaching a culinary class in a Facebook remembrance, making the room laugh in doing so. In a way he did become a version of Bourdain, traveling the world and experiencing cuisine in parts unknown.

Maybe now I’ll listen to him and read that book.

  • Squirrel, dcswede, Musk21 and 9 others like this

Doctor Gast
Jul 08 2020 08:55 AM

My Condolences, Sorry for your loss. Friendship is a precious thing, we don`t know how much until we are w/o it. Some of my best memories are in baseball & MN. I took some culinary classes in college as an elective, proved to be very valuable 

    • Parker Hageman likes this
stringer bell
Jul 08 2020 11:16 AM

An eloquent eulogy and also a reminder of what is important in life and relationships. As someone about a generation advanced from you, I've experienced losing loved ones and the sudden passing of friends and it is never easy. We always look back and think how we could be a better friend or loved one and hopefully modify our ways to keep in contact with those who aren't in our immediate circle.

    • Parker Hageman and tarheeltwinsfan like this
Jul 08 2020 07:09 PM
I am sorry to hear about your friend. I lost one of my best friends from my youth when we were in our late 30s. It is a bummer as you can't get that time back.
    • Parker Hageman likes this

Thank you, beautifully written. Friendship and baseball = love.

    • Parker Hageman and tarheeltwinsfan like this
Jul 11 2020 01:40 PM

I am sorry for your loss. Thank you for reminding all of us how precious life is and how important our friends are. As for the regrets, we all have them at times like you are experiencing. It is normal. Don't be hard on yourself. Use these feelings to embrace those who are, and were, important in your life and tell them you love them. And now, because of your very real and very touching article, I think I'll go call my army buddy in Canton, Ohio who is battling Agent Orange related cancer. Thank you, Parker, for sharing.

    • Parker Hageman likes this