I’ve written before about the sometimes-troubled friendship I’ve had with my ex-roommate Hubert Graham. Hugh and I had a lot of the wrong things in common and I really disliked in him what I disliked in myself. He was who I feared that I would become if I didn’t watch myself. Short-tempered, self-centered, awkwardly social, and more. None of this is to say that I saw him as a bad person. Even when I reviled him, I could at least recognize that he was a decent guy. But living with him for four years, working at Parallax Productions with him, and more proved too much for the longest time.

Also standing in between us was a sort of rivalry. A need to one-up one another. To prove that we could get the better girls, be more successful, prove our superior intelligence, and invade one another’s turf. He is smarter than me, so I had to try to be smarter than him. I am more creative than him, and so he had to try to prove his creative mettle. The rivalry extended to everything, at one point getting so ridiculous that I was hurling expletives at my Epson printer because it had the nerve to be worse than Hugh’s HP.

The mend came in part when we had nothing to compete over. With the rivalry dead and the overextended intimacy of living together passed, we were free to approach one another on the grounds that made us friends in the first place with a lot of shared memories to boot.

He got the better job, but I have excuses for mine and it’s not something I care about. He has integrated himself better socially in the world, too, but I’ve never needed that as much. Our wives are too different to stack up against one another. I’ll be more comfortably financially in the long term. He’s won, I’ve won, and we’ve more or less settled in our respective places.

Anyway, he called me yesterday and we talked for a while. This is the first call since the whole Dead Babies incident, so I was glad to hear from him. For those of you that don’t keep track of my castlist-in-the-dozens, his wife gave birth to twin girls about fifteen weeks ago. So as we were talking he was raving about how insanely brilliant his little girls are and how they’re exceeding all of the charts of baby progress.

I am of course thrilled for him, but an ugly little part of me started creeping back. I had visions of trying to convince Clancy to undergo IVF so I can one-up him with triplets. And I have visions of talking to my young daughter, saying, “You can be anything you want to be when you grow up, sweetie… as long as you’re better than Lucinda and Emmilou Graham.”

I’m pretty much kidding, by the way.

About the triplets.

And maybe the other thing.


Category: Coffeehouse

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6 Responses to Old Rivalries Die Hard

  1. Peter says:

    Just triplets? I say, go all-out and try to beat the Octomom at her own game. Think of how fun it’ll be raising nine babies.

  2. Kevin says:

    At 15 weeks, all my girls did was cry, eat, sleep, pee, and poop. I didn’t even know they had charts of baby progress at 15 weeks.

  3. PeterW says:

    If you really wanted to go down that road, you could remind him that early childhood development is highly influenced by environmental factors, and is a poor predictor of adult intelligence. That should renew your friendship on the right foot!

  4. trumwill says:

    Ahh, but I don’t have any lingering fears of inferiority to Octomom. So there’s less point in making others miserable to compensate for my shortcomings.

    I think the thing that caught his attention was that the twins are acknowledging one another’s presence and that’s not something that’s supposed to happen until further down the line.

    And give him that kind of room to brag about the super-awesome environment that he’s raising his kids in? Dooon’t think so….

  5. web says:


    Just remember the following things about all babies.

    #1 – For the first ~6 months, their mode of self-expression is limited to (a)eating, (b)sleeping, (c)crying, and (d)eliminating.

    #2 – For the first ~6 months, we are genetically programmed to dote on them and find them cute.

    I don’t really doubt that they will grow up smart, wonderful children and eventually smart, wonderful adults. If nothing else, the traditional response to parents having high expectations of their kids (in other words, their rising to the occasion) will make this so. And Hugh is definitely going to have high expectations for his kids.

    But he gushes. All new parents gush. Heck, all new parents are trying to figure out what their baby’s “firsts” are – first walk, first crawl, first time standing up, first words, first time successfully using the bathroom instead of a diaper… all that stuff.

    I don’t think you should read it into a “Hugh going back to old ways” thing. It’s simply him gushing over his little girls because he’s gushing over his little girls.

    My proof? His wife is far worse. Trust me. Hugh is mild compared to her gush level.

  6. trumwill says:


    I pretty much agree. His children will do well. The only risk I see is if his parenting style induces rebellion. Even then, then rebellion is as (or more) likely to be that they would become Communist or atheist as opposed to a drop-out.

    I wasn’t thinking that Hugh was going back to his old ways. I was worried that we both were. 🙂

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