Everyone assumes that since we were born in the same city, five weeks apart, have well documented militant streaks and share a passion for the same artform, me and Antonio have been best friends since kindergarten.  In truth, we never even met each other until my senior year at KU.  But with the number of things we did end up having in common, it did become a rare ‘fast friendship’ that ended up working out.

It broke a cardinal rule we both believe in (letting someone get too close to you too fast) but out of necessity we were roommates our first year at USC.  We barely had anything but the clothes on our backs, but we rarely complained about it.  Cooking on the George Foreman grill was the height of luxury in those days.  We chose this life path, this career path, we knew the sacrifices.  Neither of us are overly materialistic; that was the first real bonding point I think.

The next one did in fact become the movies.  You might be saying, “Well obviously,” but it wasn’t that automatic.  There are all kinds of different genres and styles to choose from; as it turned out, we both love the gangster genre, with The Godfather Trilogy and Scarface both being personal favorites.  All it takes is a well-timed ‘Her womb is so polluted” or “Maybe I don’ hear so good son’tine” to get either of us going.  Those became inside jokes 1 and 2 of a shorthand that’s still growing to this day…

And also reflected a very similar sense of humor.  KU showed me the beauty of the hypothetical question to get to know someone better; me and Antonio took it to new heights with the ‘Worst Case Scenario’.  Although by my own admission, the last question inevitably ends up being some version of, “So Malik, what would you do if you were doing an interview on the red carpet at the Oscars, and Jack Nicholson just started hitting on your wife on national television?”  Antonio’s been married since I’ve known him essentially, so I always get some version of the ‘Mister Bachelor’ questions…

Along those lines, because of our shared history in Kansas City, Kansas, the University of Kansas, and the University of Southern Cal, aka Los Angeles, Antonio definitely has the most unique perspective on my personal history.  It usually breaks down like this:

Me: “Man I was in the cut and Mandy Moore was giving me the Look all night!”

Antonio: (no response)

Me: “Man we were in the salsa club and I was up on this Dania Ramirez clone til the lights came up!  I thought you would be getting The Call!”

Antonio: “That’s cool…”

Me: “So, Alicia (Keys) looked pretty nice in that dress…”

Antonio: “Didn’t she?!?  And she smells like cinnamon too!”

Heh heh, OK, I’m exaggerating (slightly), but nobody, and I mean nobody co-signs for the sisters I express interest in more than Antonio.  I asked him point blank (and he admitted) that he would like to see my professional loyalty and sense of responsiblity cross over in a direct way into my private affairs.  That story hasn’t reached its conclusion yet so we’ll see how that plays out.  (And for the record I’m not one of those Hollywood brothers who flat out refuses to date his own kind.  I play my cards close to the vest, but I think there’s enough ‘evidence’ about me out there that no one would ever accuse me of being, as my friend Beavis likes to call them, one of those straight hair brothas).  Anyway, when I’m not confiding in him about my personal ups and downs, we’ll usually talk about yet another passion we both share: sports.  Since we pretty much came from and went to all the same places, we get hype and celebrate with the Trojans, and we die every Sunday with the Chiefs. 

Like I said, we didn’t grow up together, but even I’ll admit sometimes it doesn’t seem that way.  Life is funny like that.

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