Zach Packett plays with my scanner.
Zach and I were best friends from early childhood through high school, and we are still good friends to this day. We did just about everything together. And now: "Zach Packett: A History"
Zach Packett was born in December, which is in winter. A large-boned but not fat child, he has darkish-blond hair, wears glasses... er, contacts now I think, but most of the time I knew him it was glasses... also he is tall. Zach Packett (ZP) is a member of the Patrick and Rebecca Packett family, and has a younger sister named Molly. His family moved to Elkhorn, NE (a little town a few miles west of Omaha) when Zach Bardon (ZB) was about 8? ZB was probably in something like 2nd or 3rd grade (ZB was homeschooled until 4th). Oh, also, the Bardon family lived right next door. There was a big cornfield right behind their backyards. The Bardons moved there when little ZB was a mere 10 months old, years before the Packetts moved in. (The cottonwood tree was probably only 6 feet tall then, and the Bardons' house was this nasty brown/orange color -- we later painted it cream). So, after the Packetts had gotten settled in, Mrs. Bardon decided to welcome the new neighbors to the neighborhood. So, she made awesome yummy frosted heart cookies and then she and her two children, ZB and Melissa, who were both a little nervous, went over and said hi to them and gave them the cookies. ZP and ZB became fast friends. They both had exactly the same first name, and they were both smart, and they both liked to draw things and they both liked insects, plants, nature, etc. and they both liked to make weapons, tease and mock their sisters, climb trees (although ZP's parents told him not to because it was too dangerous), and especially... RIDE BIKES. Oh yes... many were the evenings ZB spent biking around and talking with the neighborhood girls... Courtney, Julie, Mia -- oh, wait... this is supposed to be about ZP. OK, many were the afternoons spent biking around with ZP. And sometimes also the neighborhood girls. ZP's parents made him come in when it got dark, and after dinner he could only be outside if he was in his own backyard (which is why when ZB went biking in the evenings, it was with the neighborhood girls). But ZB would go out in his backyard and they could still "play" across the fence. They had several interesting "fence games."
Many are the adventures ZB and ZP have shared. While together they have played four-square and basketball, ridden lots of bikes offroad in fields and doing wheelies in the street, played lots of tag with those neighborhood girls, gotten horrible injuries, made their own club, trespassed, designed zoos and amusement parks, burned things (good thing they had that air purifier to air out the garage), collected insects, been angry, built go-karts, thrown lots of frisbee ("firsbing"), designed shoes and squirt guns, burned grasshoppers to death in a jar with gasoline, broken things, mowed their lawns and raked their leaves, made mistakes, shot squirt guns, spied on people, went swimming, investigated creeks and streams, you name it. Once, ZB accidentally shot ZP with his BB gun. ZP still bears the scar. They have kept almost every insect or amphibian captive that Nebraska has to offer. Including lots of praying mantids, a cranefly, and a female Cow Killer! (a wasp whose sting is so potent it has killed cows... the females are wingless) Tons and tons of frogs and toads. Anyways. They even collaboratively built a beautiful terrarium in ZP's backyard.
ZP went to public schools, while ZB went to private schools. But although ZB and ZP didn't ever go to the same school together, they were inseperable after school and particularly during the summers.
Then, in the summer of 1998, Mr. and Mrs. Bardon decided to move into Omaha. It was a sad day for the Packett and Bardon children (Melissa had also become fast friends with Molly). This was the summer before ZB began attending college at Washington U in St. Louis. By this time, the cottonwood was at least 40 feet tall, and the Zachs had spent a lot of time in it spying on those neighborhood girls (shhh!)
ZP and ZB still try to keep the correspondence going via phone, email and AIM, but it is still a lot harder when he doesn't live right next door. ZB misses the days when he would hear that special knock at the door that the Zachs used, and he would open the door but stand behind it and pretend no one was there for a couple seconds and then step out, and ZP would say something like "rasp" and ZB would say "cle-hoek" and then ZB would go out and play with ZP. (the Zachs developed their own special "Zachspeak"... many people would not be able to tell what they are talking about even today.) Or sometimes, ZB would slam the inside door shut, and when he opened it, ZP would be lying on the lawn feigning death after having been blown off the porch from the pretended impact. ZP could always make ZB laugh. ZB misses those days. He misses those days a lot. This email has almost made him sad. He pines for the golden happy days of his childhood. I know that ZP does too, because he is saddened by the mess-up-ification of many of his friends, who began to involve themselves with drugs, sex, alcohol, cigarettes, and Bad Things. He has lost several friends to bad things. The Zachs have both lost several of the neighborhood girls to bad things. It is sad.
But this is not meant to be a sad story. It is a story of true friendship, of happy times, and of weird guys who somehow found each other and realized they were both really, really weird and they could be friends. Words that describe ZP are funny, nice, smart, knowledgeable about cars, good at Gran Turismo, a good artist, intelligent, a dead ringer for a Blues Brother in his outfit, and a great friend. ZB has enjoyed his years knowing him, and hopes, though it is harder now, that the relationship will continue.
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