I am one of Kentucky’s most famous sons. Hunter S. Thompson, Johnny Depp, Colonel Sanders, Muhammad Ali, and George Clooney are a few who join me on the list. Illustriousness can be burdensome, but not nearly as arduous as being George Clooney’s 15th closest friend. 

Three years have passed since George handed out $1 million to each of his closest 14 friends. Fourteen is not a round number, so missing George’s cut by one seems to have been a thumbs-up/thumbs-down verdict by George, by George. 

George rounding to the nearest five would have been a real game-changer for me. And, had he kept the list at a round number of, say, five or 10, he would have missed my touchy nerve entirely.  

Gifting $2.8 million to each of his top five friends would have weighted the gifts on an appropriate curve. Who adds a sixth invitee and their plus-one for a Thanksgiving invite? If there were a firm budget, surely the top 14 would have been just as grateful with $933,333,333 to accommodate my inclusion.

George made his list, and it was thumbs down after 14. It’s kind of like he went out of his way to exclude me or something. There’s but one way to take this. 

I talked with Depp about this very thing, back when we younger, less tattooed, and full of promise. JD’s point was that true friendship doesn’t require constant reminders. Many years later, Jennifer Lawrence—also from Kentucky—agreed, and that’s why I stopped trying to advance my relationship with her past the ‘back-up plan’ stage.

So, when Cloons had a motorcycle accident in Italy, I didn’t call. When he married, I didn’t race to his Bed, Bath and Beyond gift registry to nab the Fizzi SodaStream. My list of courtesies goes on. 

Reading this month about the gifts triggered memories. I had forgotten emails to my two personal accounts in 2017. One addressed me as ‘Billy,’ and in the other as ‘William.’ The body copy was identical in asking for a donation to a cause of some sort. It was odd because he had never, ever called me by either of those names.

Jennifer Lawrence never called me by those names, either, and while being consoled by Hal Sparks—also from Kentucky—he told me I was wasting my time. “It’s better to waste money than time,” Hal said. “You can always get more money.”

After searching Hal Sparks on www.azquotes.com, I’ll never forget that piece of advice—to my dying day. 

Ranking 15th stings. The Cleveland Cavaliers had 19 wins to 46 losses in the 2019-2020 NBA season to claim 15th and last place in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. No one remembers Chili’s Raul Inostroza Arancibia, the 15th place finisher in the 1948 London Olympic Marathon. And who finished 14 places behind Nelson Mandela for the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize? 

Today I don’t seek friendship gifts from George. Or Depp. Heck, Jennifer just rethinking that whole restraining order thing would be a bonus; It’s okay; I’ve moved on. 

Moving on is essential, I suppose. Everything is relative. Raul Inostroza Arancibia did beat Canada’s Leslie Evans. The Cleveland Cavaliers did have a better 2019-2020 season than the Golden State Warriors. And I’m almost positive that Chuck Woolery—also from Kentucky—didn’t finish in George’s top 14, either.

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