One of my favorite films of all time is a 1991 cult classic entitled Hangin’ With The Homeboyz, starring John Leguizamo, before he blew up. The movie depicts a group of friends who, although they are so different from one another, create a long-term bond in their younger years. As it progresses, you come to expect the inevitable end of their friendships because of the sharp contrast in which their personalities diverge. What made this movie so special to me was its similarity to the friendships of my own youth.
The group of guys I’ve grown up with is as dissimiliar as dissimilar gets, and yet we somehow managed to sustain a tight-nit bond for over a decade. When we were boys, and adolescents, we bonded through sports and music, never having truly grasped how much we needed each other in a world which slowly transformed itself from one of play and delight to one of censure, criticism, and doom. Initially, there were four of us in our group, which eventually turned into five; we called ourselves The Four Horsemen, named after the notorious professional wrestling stable which prided itself on being the absolute best group in the history of the business. But, as much as we wanted to resemble the likes of Ric Flair, Tully Blanchard, Arn Anderson, and Barry Windham, we were more like the guys in Hangin’ With The Homeboyz: a bunch of ordinary dudes who found solace from the world when together.
The difference between the two groups was the humanity of the guys in the film. Willy, Johnny, Tommy, and Fernando (uuuhhh, I mean Vinny) were obviously flawed, and in many ways, so were we. Although, we strove for Horsemen-like perfection, we invariably fell down to Earth, where the Homeboyz were. But, despite all of their imperfections, there was something really likeable about each of them. Although Willy constantly complained and played the role of the perpetual victim, he was considerate and caring when he was needed; although Tommy was codependent and constantly chose a night out with an attractive (or not so attractive, if you were asking Fernando, uhhh, again, I mean Vinny) girl over his friends, he provided financially for his friends when they were in dire straights; while Johnny was a complete goofball, and lacked any sort of courage, he was the most caring one of the bunch, constantly focusing on the plights of those struggling in distant parts of the world; and Vinny, well, Vinny may have been the only one who was a complete asshole, but I think every group has at least one of those guys.
My friends, my homeboys, and I were idiots in god knows how many ways. We did stupid things, we said stupid things, we had inside jokes that others didn’t get; and, we loved each other as though we were brothers. Back in those days, others weren’t allowed in our circle and we were happy keeping it that way. Those who knew us loved hanging out with us, but we never allowed them in, at least not fully. The film, like popular shows about friendship, was a portrait of the friendships all of us once had but lost somewhere in the bottomless pit of adulthood. In the film’s end, the director presents a poignant, and sober, statement, in which he dedicates the movie to the friends of his youth, and ends it with the phrase: “Wherever you are….” Fortunately for me, I’m still friends with the homies of my youth, but much like the director, I mourn the loss of my friendship in the way it was. We’ve all grown up now. Some of us are moving across the country, some of us have moved across the country, others are buying homes and starting families, and the tightness that once was hangs by a thinner thread. But, significantly, we still keep in touch and make time for each other’s big events. So, this article is dedicated to the homeboys of my youth; thankfully, I know exactly where all of you are. Thank you for your friendships. This post is dedicated to Max, Johnny Boy, Boris, and Rich.