“Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company.” President George Washington

As Bubba drove me to Honolulu International Airport, I couldn’t help but think of how lucky I was to have so many wonderful friends in my life, many of them, in fact, named Bubba.

He and I have been friends for around 30 years.

He lived in the “mill village’ for the first few years of his life but later moved to my neighborhood where we quickly became friends.

We had a great neighborhood filled with so many kids.

There wasn’t a day that went by when we weren’t out playing football, basketball, stickball, kickball, wiffleball, or dodgeball.

If it could be played, chances are we did it and did it well in West Side Subdivision. For the record, we saved volleyball for the beach and tetherball for school.

If we weren’t outside playing, riding our bikes, or down at the creek catching crawdads, chances are we were at someone’s house trading baseball cards.

At one point, I probably had 25,000 cards. One of my favorites was a 1954 Tommy Lasorda rookie card.

It was the only card Topps ever made of the future Hall of Fame manager as a player. My mother gave it to me one year for my birthday.

There was about a five year stretch where baseball cards consumed much of my spare time, so one day I traded them all to another neighborhood friend, Michael, for a gold chain. It was the 80’s, after all.

I simply wanted to wipe my hands of them, although I did keep a few Bo Jackson cards.

One day, from 4,500 miles away, Bubba and I were reminiscing, about the good old days in the neighborhood.

He even recalled the day when I made the questionable decision to trade the cards for the aforementioned roped gold of coolness.

Of the thousands of baseball cards that changed hands in the transaction, Bubba brought up the Tommy Lasorda rookie card and did so without being enticed to do so.

I told him that I wish I’d kept that card and why.

I’ve been friends with my best friends for over 30 years. Anyone is incredibly blessed to have one really good friend who they can count on through thick and through thin.

I’m truly blessed to have a handful of them.

People with stable friends are more likely to live a stable life.

Although making new friends is also a wonderful blessing, particularly when present company is somewhat sketchy, I’d hate to know where I’d be without the core group of friends in my life.

Ten days in Hawaii was not enough. Not only was I leaving paradise, I was also leaving some really great people.

As we approached the unloading zone at the airport, the chit chat came to a halt. I secured my luggage, and then we shook hands, gave each other a quick hug, and said our goodbyes.

I’d taken no more than three steps when Bubba called my name.

“Oh, there’s just one more thing,” he said, no doubt doing his best Columbo impression.

He then extended his hand for what appeared to be one more handshake, but I noticed something in his hand and that something in his hand turned out to be the very same 1954 Tommy Lasorda rookie card that I had all but given away a quarter of a century earlier.

Bubba lived just two houses down from Michael. The trading never stopped.

Neither did the friendships.

Bill Cosby once said, “Show me your friends, and I will show you your future!”

There’s a lot of wisdom in those few words.

Finally, never forget what your grandpa said: “If you lie with the dogs, you will get up with fleas.”

Look around. Who are your friends?

Jody Fuller is a comic, a speaker, and a soldier. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit www.jodyfuller.com