Dan Morris: The knight in the shining hatchback

A friend who is more than a brother, and just a little less than a wife.

The knight in the shining hatchback
The knight in the shining hatchback

It’s one of my favourite movie quotes from 2019, and for me is the cherry on top of the delectable dessert that is Quentin Tarantino’s instant classic, ‘Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood’.

The sensational tale of an unbreakable bond between a washed-up American actor and his ever-faithful stunt double will, I suspect, have resonated among ‘bromances’ all over the world, inspiring fraternal reminiscence and Cheshire Cat grins between pairs of men whose relationship has defined them through every turn of ‘ladulthood’.

I’m fortunate to have plenty of friends I’d describe as ‘more than a brother’ – a swashbuckling bunch I would trust with my life, along with far more valuable assets.

But ‘just a little less than a wife’? There is one man who is always the first to come to mind.

For many years, my trusted pal Ed has lived in my heart as a wonderful combination of life-loving Labrador and moon-shooting rock star.

With a ceaseless capacity for loyalty, mischief, bravery and bravado, he has been both a strong right hand and a fantastically faulty compass through the many times we have guided each other in and out of trouble since we were in our teens.

When it comes to the serious business of my life, he has been both a rock and a wonderfully happy distraction, and our friendship will always in my mind represent so much of the formation of my character that I find it impossible to separate him from all of the best things I’ve become.

That being said, he’s a complete prat... And here’s only one of the beautiful reasons why.

We’ve always enjoyed a good bit of banter – it’s been the soundtrack to our double act almost from the moment we met.

Over the years we’ve developed a comedic telepathy that has often left our rallies of jokes on one subject lasting for hours – much to to the disdain of our partners, parents and the general populace. And on a certain cold winter’s day some years ago, things were no different.

‘Ping’ went my phone as I arrived at work and settled in with my morning cup of Joe.

“Bro!,” went the text, “totally saved a damsel in distress who was stuck on her drive in the ice this morning! I was her shining knight and you know she loved it baby!”

Insert winky face. Insert tongue-out face. Insert every Lad Bible worthy emoji he’d got.

I was – fair play – impressed by my friend’s unlikely ability to manoeuvre said maiden’s hatchback off a frozen driveway, and so I jumped aboard the inevitable banter boat with gusto, ready to rock and roll with his medieval metaphor.

After a long rally of laughs involving my dear brother’s assurance that he had won the nameless damsel’s heart, and me reminding him not to get ahead of himself – the cold weather had doubtlessly made his ‘lance’ considerably less impressive – lunchtime was quickly upon us.

Having depleted my store of euphemisms, I nobly decided – as a true knight would – to concede that whoever the mysterious maiden had happened to be, she was indeed the luckiest woman on Earth, was unquestionably in both love and lust with him, and he couldn’t possibly fail on his quest for her hand, and anything else she saw fit to bestow.

The afternoon progressed without much else said on the matter, and a couple of times I shook my head with a grin, thinking of the innocent woman who had been subjected to this village idiot’s charms.

The poor lass was clearly deluded. Yet it has to be said, the twinkle in my brother’s eye had rarely failed.

“Go on my son!,” I texted him with a winky face as the working day drew to an end. “Here’s hoping she’s waiting for you again in the morning!” Insert laughing emoji.

“Oh trust me mate,” he proudly replied, “this one’ll definitely be back for more!”

Laughing as I left the office, I reflected on the nice bit of banter with my bud that had punctuated the day, and jumped in my car, preparing to head home with a slight detour.

That day was one of the rare ones upon which my mother was in need of a lift home from work. I hadn’t asked why, but as a dutiful(ish) son, I was happy to oblige her and headed to where we had agreed to meet.

Immaculately attired in a thick winter coat, her nails perfectly polished, and keeping a firm grip on the remains of a Benson & Hedges Gold, my mother elegantly embarked the carriage that awaited her.

“Hi mum. Good day?” I asked as she settled herself in and we continued the journey back to the ranch.

“Well I suppose so. Just a bit of a shaky start,” she replied.

Now this was the moment. I could’ve left it here and remained both happy and content with life. But, intrigued, I pressed on – keen to hear, and perhaps remedy, whatever mishap had befallen her.

“Why, what was up?” I queried – an earnest note of concern in my voice for the woman who had brought me into the world.

“Well it was nothing really, I just couldn’t get the car off the drive in the frost. But luckily your mate was going past – Ed. He’s such a lovely lad, and so keen to help. I got a lift in the end.”

I nearly crashed. Right then. Twice. The horror of the day’s banter drained every spec of colour from my skin, though this quickly rushed back as a reflex of the embarrassment that I had fallen – hook, line and sinker – for a sublime eight-hour stitch up that had cemented my friend as the ‘Archbishop of Banterbury’, and left me polishing his shoes.

He got me ladies and gentlemen. Right between the eyes.

But when a mate is more than a brother, and just a little less than a wife, they should always be able to.

For your ability to catch me out even after all this time my friend, I will – as the great Jon Bon Jovi once said – love you… Always.

You’ve kept me on my toes for nearly two decades, and have never failed to remind me that brotherhood is one of the true spices of life.

Along with the mother you so charmed on that fateful winter’s morning, you have helped make me the man I am today, and I’ll be proud to laugh along with you for years to come.

Merry Christmas you pirate… And keep away from my house.

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