Peanut Butter and Jelly Make the Best Sandwiches: Some Reflections on Friendship

Peanut Butter and Jelly Together Make the Best Sandwiches.

Let me begin by saying that this blog has nothing to do with a PB & J; although just reading the title is making me a bit hungry.  (Does it come with chips and a chocolate milk?)  This blog is about something more satisfying.  Something tastier.  Something nourishing.  It’s about friendship.

My long-time friend Stark Howell, an acclaimed Animation Director and Storyboard Artist and I recently worked on a music video project for my songs, “Ride To Find The Cure” and “AIDS Free World,” both from my CIM Records CD, “Songs For An AIDS Free World.”

So, why would I title this blog as I did?  Good question.  Stark and I have been friends since early 1976, our senior year in high school.  We both surfed.  We both had gas money to get to and from the beach from Burbank.  We both had blue eyes.  We were both shy.  We both had two brothers (although I had the three sister, too).  That’s about all we had in common then.   But it worked then as it still works today.
On a clear and sunny Saturday morning, we packed up our gear at Stark’s house in Valencia and began our drive north to the Cow Palace in Daly City, which is just south of San Francisco, for the kick-off if the AIDS Life Cycle/2012.  I completed the ride on bike from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 2007 and I must say, it is a long bike ride spanning seven days.  In 2007, I had also recorded and released a four song CD inspired by the previous AIDS Life Cycle events.  Now, Stark and I decided to film the videos, so we packed up my Scion Xb and headed north to the Bay Area.

The drive north was pleasant.  Through our hours of conversation, we enjoyed the coast from Ventura to Gaviota.  We were amazed with all of the vineyards planted in the Salinas Valley.  We ate Subway sandwiches in King City and saw the Artichoke Capital of the World.  We “inch-wormed” our way through the Santa Cruz traffic until we found ourselves at the old cemetery that would be the set for our first shoot.  We had a great time setting up the shots and getting the footage we needed in the naturally lit setting.

On Sunday we filmed the dedicated and courageous cyclists as they rode the first leg of the seven-day ride from Daly City to Santa Cruz.  We had a blast filming the riders as they worked their way to their destination.  After Santa Cruz, we filled sand bags in Sand City.  We lunched in Monterey.  We had dinner at this small but delicious taco stand in Santa Paula.  I dropped Stark off at his home and then drove the ninety-plus miles back to my home in Capistrano Beach.  What a weekend!  What fun!  What a friend

What a great friend!

Today, Stark and I are polar opposites in most aspects of our lives.  I’ve lost the gorgeous brown hair of my youth and I’m now bald.  His full head of thick, classic blond hair is still there, but now gray.  I choose to ride the waves knee boarding and he’s a soulful stand-up surfer.  I am a Democrat.  He is a Republican.  I am socially liberal and he is very conservative.  I am a questioning Roman Catholic.  He is an Evangelical Christian.  We both have two daughters but he also has four boys.  I live at the beach.  He lives inland.  My passion is surfing and music.  His is surfing and film.  It goes on and on.

So why is our friendship so strong?  Why has our friendship aged well over the years?  Why have we been able to adapt so well to each other, despite our contrary natures?

Why?  How?  The answer is simple.  Love.

It is amazing how love, even through a friendship like ours, can strengthen and grow over time.  I love Stark.  I love our history.  I love our future together as middle-aged men facing our sixties.  I love the way we still get excited about surfing good waves.  I love the way we both adore our wives and children.  I love the way we always seem to have different opinions about everything.  I love that we laugh at the same things.  I love the way we can complete each other’s thoughts.  But more than everything, I love the way we are the same – two surfers from Burbank.

In the movie “Forrest Gump,” Forrest describes his relationship with Jenny as the two of them being like “…peas and carrots.”

Stark and I?  Well, we are the peanut butter and jelly to this oh, so perfect sandwich.

So think about this…

·      Whom have you shared many years of friendship with?

·      What makes your friendship unique and special?

·      How have your differences, if any, worked to your advantage through your years of friendship?

Peace Always!



About Chris

Surf’s Up! It is amazing that I’ve been surfing for forty years. My wife and I enjoy life in the beach community of Capistrano Beach, CA. When I’m not at the office, I can be found surfing the breaks from Cotten’s Point to Church. I also run CIM Records ( which releases my CD’s, “The Roar Of The Approaching Night” and “Songs For An AIDS Free World.” My next release, “The Designs Of A Desperate Heart” is still in production with Rick Dellefield (Cantata Studios) co-producing. As a writer, I co-wrote the live-action screenplay “Ghost Dance” with animation artist/director Stark Howell. I’ve also completed my own screenplay, “A Day of Loss.” In order to avoid a fine, I must say that I am an active member and past president of the Rotary Club of San Juan Capistrano, CA. Service Above Self.

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  • Patricia Kolstad

    Wonderfully written, I can just picture you two together, where you were, and your opposites banter going on. You are blessed. My oldest living friend of 50 years died this past June. We met when I was kid of 15 and he was a “married for 5 years” 26 year old. I was the high schooler that babysat his 3 boys. He was 11 years older than I, but in our later years we were the same age. When I was 21 years old he helped me make a decision that was truly a life lesson for me. I was alone with a new baby and didn’t have any direction. He came to visit and said to me, “Are you just going to sit on your butt and do nothing? Get up and get out and find a job! You have a family now!” Even though in later years we didn’t see each other as much, we kept in touch by phone and through his sons. Even more after he got sick. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like not having Ronnie around. Now I know. Sweet memories come rushing to me every now and then, and I smile. There’s really something very profound when you have a friend of a lifetime. Someone who loves you, as they say, in spite of all your warts. I have wonderful girlfriends and boyfriends now that fill my life with love and joy and accountability. But none will ever take the place of my Peanut Butter and Jelly, Macaroni and Cheese, love-ship, friendship I had with my BFF, Ron. Thanks, Chris, for making me smile this morning and give thanks for my friend.

    • I love how long friendships create a vast library of memories to cherish and remember. They truly become the stories of our lives.

  • Lori

    I must admit you had me at the title. As you know, my lunch during my work week is a PB Sandwich. There is nothing like it on whole grain bread!
    What I love most about this post is it breaks the stereotype of male friendships, at least in my mind. You describe a decades long friendship filled with love that I usually think is reserved for female friendships. I love knowing that males share these special lifetime bonds as well.
    I have been fortunate to have lasting friendships with three women I consider my sisters. Judy has been my “sister” for the longest. We have been best friends since I was four years old. She lives in Arkansas so email, texts and telephone calls are the only way we are able to keep in touch these days. I look forward to her cards that contain pictures of my “nephews” in the mail.
    Melody has been my “sister” since I was nineteen. I have had the joy and pleasure of being involved in her children’s lives a great deal in their younger years. I add them to my long list of “nieces” and “nephews” that God has blessed me with over the years. I will be seeing Melody today in fact for a girl’s day at South Coast Plaza.
    My third “sister” is Stacy. She has been one of my very best friends since we met when I was sixteen. We had some wild and crazy times together until she settled down and added to my list of “nieces” and “nephews”. We have had the hardest time keeping in touch with our busy lifestyles lately since she has taken on a new business venture. Life is short and I need to make sure we reconnect soon.
    No matter what our age, gender, marital status, etc…..friendships are vital for a happy life!
    Thank you for sharing the story of your friendship with Stark.

    • Friendships that last are magical. I am happy that yours have given yo so much joy over the years.

  • Anne Collins

    A beautiful story of friendship that lasts. I too resonate. My dearest friend, Sheryl, was my get into mischief soul mate from 5 years old on. I had to move away when I was 10 but she stayed right in the #1 position in my heart. I went back to see her when I could. Unfortunately she was killed in a car accident in her 40’s attending a teacher’s conference. Then there was Kathy & Phyllis and I, the 3 Musketeers of Munising High.. We were in chorus together, Latin and all the other pre-nursing classes. We had great plans, the 3 of us. We even developed our own private lingo that was known only to us. Again, I had to move. We wrote constantly to keep our dreams alive. The list goes on over the years. Many were for a season, but nonetheless still precious in my heart. And, as you say, religion, politics, even geography cannot really separate you from a soul mate. The kind where even if it has been a long time, you just seem to pick right back up where you left it the last time. I am glad you have Stark.

    • So true. We find ways through the briar patch of difference when a relationship that works needs to be maintained.

  • Chris,
    One of my dearest friendships sounds a great deal like yours and Stark’s. I met this friend of mine on campus in a random marine biology class but we both happened to be English majors. She and I became quick friends, took a Harry Potter Class together, graduated, started our Master’s degrees, were given the same questions for our final exams, studied together and passed together. Those are the paths we walked that we had in common but individually we are very different people that appreciate the differing passions of the other. I would never have guessed that way back in marine biology that this girl would be in my wedding, my closest study partner, my fellow graduate and now a precious friend.
    You’re absolutely right when you say that it’s “love”. There’s no other way to say it.

    I’m so grateful for your post, for the reflection time it prompted me into and for the joy it gives me to write this response. Great job & thanks for sharing your friendship with us.

  • Carrie Bayer

    Chris, I love how you tell this story. I had an easy time visualizing your friendship with Stark & it was awesome! I am lucky enough to have 2 best friends- Debbie Greene & Jodie Campbell.

    I’ve known Debbie since before I was born, literally! Her mom & my mom were best friends in the late 60’s & got pregnant at almost the same time. Debbie & I were born 11 days apart & grew up together like sisters. I even introduced her to her husband! She is my dearest friend in the whole wide world & I have missed her so much since she moved to Florida.

    Jodie & I became friends during my Junior year in high school. We have been friends for 25 years, more than half of our lives! She introduced me to my ex-husband. I lived in Huntington Beach & she lived in Apple Valley for many years but she recently moved to HB & is now my neighbor. She’s also the one who got me started on juicing! I’m so blessed to have her near.

    I don’t think I could live without these girls in my life- they were both bridesmaids in my wedding, have seen me thru my best & worst, but they are still by my side. I love them! Carrie

    • Stark and I have shared weddings, a total of eight children, divorce, death and everything in between. It has been beautiful.

  • Jeff Turner


    I love the simplicity of this message. The idea that we can enjoy the company of someone who others might say would be polar opposites. Getting along, enjoying and loving someone else has nothing to do with political, racial, religious backgrounds or personal preference differences. It is an act of the will.

    Neil O’Connor included a phrase he learned from his yoga instructor who said, “Your response will determine your experience.” There is also the internal creed of our company that says “Attitude is everything, Relationship first, Task second.” My favorite of the week is a billboard someone shared on FaceBook that read this way.

    That “love your neighbor thing”, I meant that.

    It is simple to say. Hard to do. The dualistic mindset limits our ability to learn to love. We start off even as kids at play wanting to know who’s the good guy, and who’s the bad guy. That can then play into how we enter every arena, situation and relationship. Un-matured, this is a very difficult person to be around and I believe, a hard person to be.

    Christopher, I love you man!


    • I feel that at times, our personal classification of thought and ideas can define who we associate with. I like diversity of thought and ideas. It makes for a much more interesting life. It is always a bit saddening to me when I meet people for the first time and their judgement of me is made based of one thing said. Thank God, there are a lot of people to get to know!

  • Neil O’Connor

    Chris –
    Great post! We have more in common than we have in difference with people, regardless of race, religion or background. I love being with anyone who has a different perceptive, upbringing or religion. Life is so wonderful, we should all celebrate being unique, diversity bring out the best in our world. To bad some people fear the differences of our neighbors.
    The friends I have that are polar opposites of me help me understand God’s beauty of love.
    Thank you for sharing your love Stark! PS Forrest Gump is my favorite movie because it challenges the norm.

    Namaste Chris!

    • Most of the people I call friends are very different than me. Some are very similar. They are all friends. Therein lies the beauty!

  • Shayna Mallik

    Wow what a story of life long friends. Thank you for sharing!!! I think it is awesome that even though you have differences and might believe in different things you both are still great friends who can except the challenges each one brings to the table. I have friends I have known for years and know I will always be their friends and continue to grow and change with them. Once again thank you for sharing your life long friendship.

    • In twenty years, you will have a story to share. Stay close to those you love.

  • Amy

    I have to say my best friend and I have been friends since 2nd grade. Let me see that is about 30 years. We have been through so very much together. The loss of both her parents at a very young age to us both getting married, having children and both going through very difficult divorces. Through it all we have shown each other support and love. We may not talk everyday but when we do it’s like no time has passed at all. We pick up right where we left off. Thanks for the reminder of love and friendship.

    • It is so true that with deep
      friendships, the time in between togetherness or conversation seems so short;
      as if we’ve just seen or spoke to our friends yesterday. The beauty is that
      always seem to just pick up where left off.

  • Sharon


    Reading about your friendship with Stark, reminded me about a few of my long time friends – the ones that have stood the test of time, the few you share so many years of history with.

    Facebook has been a tool that has connected me to many of those friends that I knew and loved even in grade school It is fun to hear of how our life’s journey has taken different and yet similar turns throughout life.

    I agree that love is at the base of any true friendship and is the glue that binds it together through thick and thin, good and bad!

    Thank you for giving me a glimpse into your friendship world and help me to learn a little more about you through your writing.

    It is a pleasure working with you. I look forward to years of friendship.


    • The metaphor that great friendships age
      like fine wine is so true. I have been blessed with a great friend.
      I always hope that others share the same.

  • MollyKeating

    I love your perspective on friendships. I recently heard the phrase on Dave Ramsey’s radio show, “If you marry someone exactly like you, 1 of you is unnecessary” and I think that applies to friendship just as well as it does to marriage. It’s the differences between myself and my friends are some of my favorite things about them. One of my closest friends, Dana, has opened my eyes to so many foreign, fun & charming pieces of life that I would never have collided with otherwise. I love that about her!
    Thanks for writing such a great post & for letting me reflect a bit on my dear friends. Great post!