Not many people call John Bruce JB anymore. He certainly doesn’t. I’m not even sure that I do; I think I say “hi John,” when I see him. But I still think of him as JB.
He’s a nice guy. Rabelaisian, gregarious and back in college sort of the social focal point of the group of friends that was very much like my family during my first two years of college. If you read this blog regularly, you have met many of the members of that group, including Birdman aka David Kraus, Shane Curcuru and Michael Gerber. Even big Chinese lawyer Dennis Liu has made an appearance, and you might have read Shane’s and JB’s comments. They make them from time to time.
JB turned 40 in February, making June a very good time for his wife, Kim, to throw him a surprise birthday party. He would never suspect — that is until she started getting ready for the party, at which point she told him. I imagine she said something like: “Get out of the way John, I’m setting up the grill. Happy birthday. Surprise!”
June is a particularly good time to throw a party to JB’s liking, as his favorite foods are lobster and ribs.
So Michael and I drove from Gloucester to the Bruce homestead in Northborough (I drove very briefly, while Michael spoke on the phone to his wife, Shoshi, in Israel; my driving terrified him enough that he made me get off the highway at the first possible exit after he was off the phone and switch places, which was fine with me). We stopped on the way for me to buy a bottle of bourbon for the birthday boy and for Michael to buy two bettas for a homemade gift he was preparing for JB: A blue betta over clear red stones, and a red one over clear blue stones, separated by a partition that could be covered by something opaque when JB didn’t want the two fighting fish to display their aggressive tendencies.
Michael set up camp in the kitchen and started making tuna sushi rolls for everyone.
“Should I bring one or two pounds of tuna?” He’d asked me.
“Two,” I said, and I was right. Celebrating chez les Bruce has always necessitated joy and indulgence, and it still does.
So after sushi I sat down next to Michael and we each ripped into a lobster. He instructed a young tween — someone’s daughter; I don’t know whose — how best to go at the crustacean. This was her first one and it was nice to see her learn. I then polished off an ear of corn and some ribs, grabbed my wine glass and hung out in the backyard where kids ran around and grown-ups drank beer and wine.
Thank goodness Michael was driving. He’s a teetotaler.