bonar crump

bonar crump
husband - father - reader - runner - picker - grinner - lover - sinner

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Life Brothers

“Keep it simple. Love your brothers. That’s what makes a club work. Just love your brothers.”
~ Marshall Mitchell, Bandidos, Nomad Chapter, President

Believe me when I tell you that being a member of an MC is not easy. No matter how well you’ve vetted potential new members you will always wind up with a mixture of personalities that don’t see eye to eye. Bylaws, rules, protocol, and hierarchy are important, but eventually you wind up with a group of grown-ass people around the table arguing about direction, procedure, and function.

It’s supposed to be hard. Struggle is what makes it valuable. Anyone that thinks a group of men joining together to ride motorcycles and drink beer constitutes an MC doesn’t understand group dynamics. That kind of overgeneralization reeks of disinformation and a perspective of someone that’s never had to work with a committee, operate on a team, or spend time with other human beings for more than a couple hours at a time.

Your club is as diverse as your biological family. The idea is NOT to develop ideological clones. The point of the whole exercise is to teach one another how to love, honor, and respect this weird family they’ve been adopted into. (I can hear the cynics scoffing now, “yeah, right. All they want to do is rape, kill, and strike fear into the hearts of law-abiding citizens.”)

Although there are some within the MC Community that have nothing else going for them than their club, the vast majority of us do, in fact, have far more to lose than we have to gain by wearing a patch. Intellectually honest critical thinking should reveal that when you have smart, talented, sophisticated, law-abiding citizens wearing a patch who are more vested in defending this lifestyle than cowering to the cynical mindset of the misinformed, then there has to be something of importance to all of this MC business. There has to be something more than good times and foolishness to justify the love these folks have for one another. It’s more about suffering through the tough times with one another that makes the struggle worthwhile.

When I lived in Tulsa, OK, a friend of mine talked me into running a 5K with him. I’d run a couple of 5K’s before, and I knew I could do it. Besides, I didn’t want to let this particular friend down. The fact that he was running any distance at all seemed like a miracle to me, and I felt like I’d be a dick if I declined the invite.

For all the years that I’d known Ed “Snowman” Snow, he’d weighed somewhere between 340 and 350 lbs. On a 5’10” frame, that ain’t good. I can remember seeing Ed take the fried skin off a Popeye’s chicken breast, roll it into a ball, and drag it through thick queso dip before shoving it down his gullet. Many a time over the years had I, and the rest of my college buddies, watched Ed eat while muttering  the oft repeated mantra, “Man eats like that…he gonna die!”

As it turned out, six months leading up to the 5K invite I hadn’t seen Ed. Rumor had it that he’d been trying to get healthier and lose some weight. When I first laid eyes on him after having heard this rumor several times I was stunned. I couldn’t believe that the Snowman could actually look like a “normal” human being instead of a crowd-sized beach ball. Ed had lost somewhere around 110 lbs. (of the eventual 190 he’d lose) when he asked me to run that race with him. How could I say no?

Also, Ed is a hard guy to say “no” to. He’s a career prosecutor and a Federal one at that. Ed knows how to change your mind and make you believe that it was all your idea in the first place. He’s like a fucking motivational ninja. If you don’t want to ever run a full marathon as long as you live…stay away from Ed Snow. I swear on a stack of Bibles that the Snowman can turn anyone into a lifelong exercising machine whether they want it or not. Then he’ll drink you under the table at the post-race event and talk you into a “recuperative run” the next morning followed by a brunch of Guinness and pasta. The man is insatiable, infuriating, diabolically egocentric, and oftentimes a complete dick. And I love him very much. But he’s a prick…know that.

That “one phone call” I made from the Waco jail after finally being placed under arrest started something like this:

Me: “Honey, I’m okay but I only have 5 minutes to talk. Do you have a pen and paper?”

Wife: “Yes. I love you very much. I’ve got you on speaker. Go.”

Me: “First thing, call Ed Snow…”

Wife: (Interrupts) “I’ve been talking to him and he’s on speaker right now on another phone. Jeremiah (blood brother) is right here with me.”

In April of 2005, my wife gave birth to our daughter. Then my wife died on the table. Then the doctors were able to revive her. Then my hero-for-the-rest-of-my-life, Dr. Yen My Tran, performed an emergency hysterectomy and saved Margaret’s life. Every day, for the next 7 days we remained in the hospital, Dr. Tran would come to check on us in the morning. The first three visits I would follow her out into the hall after her examination and she’d cry because she knew how close we’d come to losing Margaret. It was that close. It was “seeing a Dr. cry three days after she’s saved a life” close.

During the time when Margaret’s life was hanging in the balance, I got kicked out of the delivery room. I didn’t argue because I knew that I didn’t belong in there at that moment. I knew she was dying and I was only going to be in the way. But kissing her on the forehead knowing that it might be the last time we spoke to one another broke me. By god, I did it while telling her everything was fine and that I was going to the nursery to make sure Sidney was all cleaned up and ready to come hang out with her Mommy, but my heart was fully broken.

I’ve got a friend who is a Pediatric Cardiologist. We first met at Oklahoma Baptist University when we were finishing up our undergraduate work. Matt Kimberling has been best of friends with Ed Snow for decades. And like Ed, Matthew is insatiable, infuriating, diabolically egocentric, and oftentimes a complete dick. And I love him very much. But he’s a prick…know that.

As I was banished from the delivery room that day, I thought of only one person to call, Matt. I knew I wouldn’t be able to reach him by phone in the middle of the day on a Monday, so I called his wife, Mary (a very talented NICU nurse). The phone call started something like this:

Me: “Mary, I need Matt.”

Mary: “Okay. Can you tell me what’s going on?”

Me: “Margaret is dying. I need Matt.”

Mary: “He’s in clinic today, but I’ll make sure they pull him out. He’s coming. Hold tight. He’s coming!”
Matt arrived in the waiting room still wearing his white coat and carrying credentials that would get us any information we needed. Matt did not leave my side until late that evening after Margaret was safely recuperating under the watchful eye of a post-op nurse for the night. He was able to go in and speak to her while I waited in the hall. He made me leave the hospital with him to get some food and a couple beers. He showed up the next morning with double shot espressos from the doctor’s lounge. Matt saw us through the whole thing without hesitation.

In college, I met David Breedlove. He would eventually be the best man at my wedding. Breedlove got me into more trouble, questionable situations, and ill-conceived shenanigans than SHOULD be possible for one man in a single lifetime. He went about it as if it were his job.

This is a guy that had never had a drink of alcohol until his wedding night. I shit you not. But this was also a guy that would drive his Jeep up the steps of the OBU Chapel and smoke the tires on the way up just for shits and giggles. Some would say he was brazenly recalcitrant. I say he was just fearless. Put the two of us together and you had a recipe for wanton hooliganism. And we skipped a lot of classes to go fishing and hunting and anything else we could think of to divert us from classroom attendance. However, Dave pulled off his undergraduate in 4 years. I crammed 4 years of schooling into 6 years. I think Dave won on that account.

Dave was friends with Matt Kimberling and Ed Snow before me. And like Ed and Matt, Dave is insatiable, infuriating, diabolically egocentric, and oftentimes a complete dick. And I love him very much. But he’s a prick…know that.

Dave Breedlove, Terry Walters, Tim Kimberling, Matthew Kimberling, and Ed Snow were my “club” before I had a “club.” All we needed were motorcycles and cuts and we’d have had our own MC.  We’ve all done work on one another’s houses, babysat one another’s kids, decorated Easter eggs with all of our families together, cooked together, drank together, lived together, and loved together.

The fact that I’ve always had friends that were loveable egotistical pricks (said with the utmost respect) gives you an indication of who I am and what is important to me. I want to belong. I want to contribute. I want to spend hot days in Tim’s backyard mixing concrete for fence posts. I want to help Terry haul and scatter mulch to prep his backyard for our group’s weekly weekend grillouts. I want to spend night after night helping Dave tear apart his kitchen and put it all back together before his wife and kids come back from time away with family. I want to run my first half-marathon with Ed because he’s somehow tricked me, once again, into believing that I can run a further distance than we did last time (damn you, Snow). I want to re-engineer Matt’s upstairs HVAC in a 130 degree attic so that it’ll work like it was meant to.

I wanted to serve these guys because I love them and their families and they love me and mine.

“Keep it simple. Love your brothers. That’s what makes a club work. Just love your brothers.”

I’ve been practicing at this “love your brothers” thing for a very long time and I’m not sure that I’m very good at it yet. It’s hard. It is a constant humbling, pride-swallowing, work-your-ass-off-for-free, pain-in-the-ass hike up a steep slope. It’s especially hard when you’re on a team with so many egotistical pricks. But I love every bit of it.

The husband, father, family member, and friend that I am is owed to this CLUB of men and their families I grew up with and to the CLUB of men and their families I am currently growing old with. I don’t deserve a single one of them. They are all smarter, more motivated, and more talented than I’ll ever be. Every one of them is an asshat and I love them very dearly. My loyalty knows no bounds when it comes to these men and women.

When they bleed, my family and I bleed. We are better together even though every one of us fuss and argue, have differing worldviews, and generally can’t agree on anything other than we are invested in one another’s longevity, success, health, and well-being. Other than that, we’re all a bunch of stubborn, brash, potty-mouthed brutes – and that’s just the wives.

“Keep it simple. Love your brothers. That’s what makes a club work. Just love your brothers.”

This is by far the best advice I’ve heard in a long time. Wisdom is like that. It cuts through the bullshit and brings us back to center. Hearing that advice from a 34-year veteran Bandido while sitting across from one another on steel bunks wearing matching orange outfits makes it that much better. And it makes for one hell of a story. That’s kind of the point to this kind of life, too – it’s about living a great story.