Jake Hossin used to give me a hard time-but eventually, we became friends.
I hope he doesn’t take offense in the first few sentences of this post, and while I wouldn’t be surprised if he parachuted out, I would implore him-and you-to stick around. This is good.
We both went to Brentwood High School around the same time. Jake didn’t always look like Vin Diesel with a dad bod. Back then, you couldn’t spot him without wavy hair and a Blackhawks jersey. Yeah, he likes Chicago. We will get to that in a bit.
Jake wasn’t exactly a bully, but he could be an asshat to people. (Remember, in the end, we are all asshats in some way, shape, or form.) Hossin had the charm and the razor edge to woo a girl off her feet and shoot a laser around the room at the same time. We weren’t friends, and sometimes my stutter just got the best of me. It was like being trapped in your own maze that someone else happened to make. I couldn’t speak, and guys like Jake and Paul Kuthe were so quick with their words. I often needed a Robin Williams monologue to sound equal.
We all became friends towards the end of our Brentwood days. Jake was a huge influence on me when it came to hockey, and being daring enough to play it. I had zero experience when Ryan Douglas turned into the A-Team one Monday morning, basically putting a flier out for tryouts. I was a big, more peanut butter and jelly than chicken and rice, fella who didn’t mind using his body. I had also just found the Mid County YMCA, which is where I unleashed most of my rage. I wanted to hit things, and the hockey coaches told me it was legal. I was in, except for skating backwards. What’s up with that?
Hossin was a very good player, at times even great. He knew how to transport the puck up ice in traffic in ways that looked like a Christopher Nolan plot to me if I had the puck. It’s guys like Jake, Ryan, Ben Evans, Andy Hundley, Brad Holmes, Dave Roberts, and a ginger-haired coach whose name is fleeting me right now that made me want to work harder and get better. They pushed me around, but for good reason. That’s how you become brothers from other mothers: you crawl through shit and try to antagonize each other just to weather skin, but come together as one in the end. I’ll never forget what Jake meant to me in my last few years of high school. Kevin McClure was also a close friend at the end of our high school days.
Sometimes, it just takes a while for a couple random dudes to become friends-but those can be just as rewarding as the ones that came along easier.
These days, I correspond with Jake regularly on Facebook, our mutual den of choice for some of our thoughts. Hossin is a political warrior who takes your stance and launches it out of a missile, screaming “Muahahahhah” as you fly away. But he wears his heart on his sleeve more often than he thinks in his words, and he never takes a half-measure. The man can go toe to toe in sports and politics, two of the toughest battlefields to partake in on the internet. Or so I think.
One of those people I wish I saw more of (that list seems to grow as my age increases) but am glad that I still speak with. I need someone who is not afraid to tell me how wrong I was about Andrew Cuomo.
You need friends like Jake. That’s the moral of the story. The ones that can start out as antagonists teach you more about yourself.
P.S. I chose the pro shot from my second guest spot on the 12 Foot Beard podcast just because it’s a group of friends drinking bourbon and laughing their ass off.