The mood in the hotel restaurant was subdued, save for the witty banter taking place at the bar, where I sat with four men to my left, and four more to my right. You see, a friend was visiting Beantown with “some of the guys” for the Yankees-Red Sox game and we met for breakfast.
I watched in amazement as they devoured large plates of hearty breakfast fare and washed it all down with Bloody Marys and black coffee. In between talk of sports and politics, and poking fun at the guy who got carried away with his Fitbit, I caught a rare glimpse into the stuff of male friendships.
“How long have you guys been together?” I asked. “Eight years.” “Eleven years.” “Thirteen years,” they were all chiming in. One of them patted my friend’s shoulder declaring, “I’d do anything for this guy…” Their ages ranged from barely-thirty to mid-fifties, but these were no ordinary men and theirs were no ordinary friendships. Because they were firefighters. New York City’s Bravest. I’d heard about the brotherhood of firefighters, but I’d never seen it up close before.
When the bartender presented the bill, one of the guys called out, “Credit card roulette!” and took off his baseball cap, then pointing to me, clarified, “But she’s not in it.” Each of them took a credit card from his wallet and placed it in the hat. The fellow next to me explained the rules. A stranger – always a woman, preferably a hot woman – would be asked to pick the credit cards, one by one, and call out the names. The final credit card would be used to cover the entire bill. This is so NOT how women divide a check, I thought.
As we said good bye, I thought about their selflessness and their character, the extraordinary work they do, and the bond they share. I was in awe of them. NYC’s Bravest – thank you for your service, and thanks for breakfast.