It was last Friday, Nov. 12. We were one day removed from our trip to New York, sitting on exactly 500,000 made free throws, ready to take the first shot of the second half, sitting at the dining room table on Pizza Night, eating pizza (seemed appropriate on Pizza Night) with the four Beans — Jim, Kara, Seth and Chandler — when I realized that I barely know one of my favorite people, Mr. Jim Bean. (He’s the little guy up there in the middle, between Seth and me.)
“You went to Merrimack Valley, right?” I said, referring to a local high school.
“No, Pembroke,” he said. “Thanks for really knowing me.”
To which I responded, “Well, do you know where I went to high school?”
It went on from there, each one of us trying to outdo the other in terms of how little we really knew about each other. “You know how long I’ve been at my job?” No. “You know how long I’ve been married?” No. “You know my dog’s name?” No. “You know what size shoes I wear?” No.
(I think I might have made the last one up.)
And if that seems like an odd dynamic between a couple of guys whose wives have been best friends since high school, whose sons are classmates at Epsom Central, and whose houses are about three miles down the street from one another, it probably is. But that’s the kind of conversation Jim Bean literally brings to the table.
Which is all I really need to know about him, which is why, getting back to my original point, he’s one of my favorite people.
Here’s the thing with Jim: Nobody that I know takes his or her responsibilities in life more seriously, and nobody that I know takes themselves less seriously. That, to my way of thinking, is a combination for success. And that, to my way of thinking, is why he has the privilege of a fabulous wife, Kara, and two amazing sons, eighth-grader Seth and fifth-grader Chandler. Everybody digs the Beans.
They were with us in New York, by the way, Jim and Kara, where Jim won the award for Most Relentless in terms of reminding me about my makeup. (Chris Hodges came in second, by the way. Miss you!) The picture below — which includes Mark Decoteau (with the basketballs), Kara and her twin sister Tiff, Chris’s head immediately behind them and Jim standing tall in the back — is one of my favorites, and it’s pretty representative of their existence. Kind of like a sitcom: If the Beans aren’t laughing at this very moment, there’s probably one coming soon.
Where were we? Oh, right. The dinner table.
You’d think the Beans would have had enough of us in New York, but there they were for Pizza Night, with Gym and Seth fired up to head to the Jim. (Yes, intentional.) Away we went, and from there it was clockwork. They alternated positions every 100 or so. Seth was flawless. Jim was adequate. (Actually, he was great, too. I was just lashing out. I’m sorry.) The goal when we’ve got two balls going at once, as you may know, is 100 made shots every five minutes, and with this kind of thang going on …
… we beat that pace by three minutes — 2,007 made shots in an hour and 37 minutes. And Jim, who had succeeded in conquering his greatest challenge — no jokes during the shooting (so as not to lose count) — finally could exhale, and say: “You know, you should practice more.”
I’ll admit it. I love the Beans.
But I’m not alone in that.