For almost all of my adult life, my best friends have always been women, and my wife is my best friend of all time.
But during my mid-twenties, I had a couple of special male friends, too. And one of those was Morgan Dilver.
Morgan was a very dark black man who specialized in making people laugh. I’ll never forget this tale.
A drunk walked up to him on the street one day. “Are you a Negro?” (Yes, that’s the word he used.)
Morgan rolled his eyes as only he could do and said, “No, I’m from Mexico.”
The drunk looked at him kind of funny. “I’ve never met anyone from Mexico before.”
Morgan rolled his eyes again. “Well, this is what we look like.”
Morgan was a teacher—or was he a counselor? It’s been a very long time. *sigh* But he also served as the girls’ cheering squad coach at the local high school. And once he demonstrated to me the cheer he would have taught his girls if he’d had a mute cheering squad. Too funny to attempt to describe here.
We used to take an occasional Saturday day trip to Ocean City, Maryland—we drove the sixty miles in his big white car–“The Ghost.” We had the most fun laughing at the reactions of people who stared at him in disbelief when he sat there on the blanket slathering on an overabundance of suntan lotion.
In 1972 I wrote a rock opera which a cast of fifty or sixty people participated in our single performance of. Morgan soloed as John the Baptist. The Bible says this about John’s food and apparel: “John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.” Morgan borrowed some sort of camel-colored fur from his mother for the occasion.
Hmm. Maybe not quite biblical, but 100% Morgan.
When my first wife and I were getting married—nine hundred miles from my home in Maryland—Morgan and Bob, another good friend, drove through a snow storm to be groomsmen in the wedding. We weren’t sure how people would react to our having a black participant, but we loved Morgan for who he was. If anyone had an issue with his race, that was their problem.
Morgan won folks over in typical style. Especially my grandmother-in-law to be.
Once I was married, Morgan didn’t play as important a role in my life as he’d done previously, and we lost touch with him completely after moving to Richmond in 1984.
I’m not even sure how or when we found out that he’d died—he wouldn’t have been much over forty if he was even that old—but I still miss him.
Lord, I know he’s keeping You laughing up there in Heaven, and I can hardly wait to catch up on all of the stories I’ve missed or forgotten about.
P.S. I regret not having any pictures of Morgan to include with this post.
If you have memories of a special friend, won’t you share them with a comment?
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By the way, “On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I use “As I Come Singing”—check it out here—to post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. Check here to see the list.