Inspired by a Simon & Garfunkel song, two old friends travel the world to sit on a bench together

Larry Bans and Tom Edelstein met crabby.

It was their first day of seventh grade, and the outgoing Edelstein circled to introduce himself to Bans at the morning meeting at Highland Park Junior High in St. Paul.

“I know who you’re,” Bans whined, having finished his intel.

It seems that they have been attempting to date the identical woman.

Neither ended up with the woman, however Bans and Edelstein ended up as finest friends.

The form who painted homes together in highschool. The form who roomed together at the University of Minnesota. The form who trip together though they dwell 1,600 miles aside. And their moms grew to become pricey friends, to boot.

To have a good time their lengthy friendship, Bans, a urologist in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Edelstein, a Realtor in St. Paul, have tried to dwell out their “huge track” from highschool — “Old Friends” by Simon & Garfunkel from 1968.

“Old friends, old friends

Sat on their park bench like bookends”

It began 10 years in the past when Edelstein had coronary heart surgical procedure. “I used to be blue and mawkish,” he remembered. “And I mentioned, ‘Here we’re turning 60, we gotta begin doing one thing.'”

So, the old friends — whose birthdays are 4 days aside — took a journey together, and, as a nod to Simon & Garfunkel, they have been photographed sitting on a park bench. In this case, it was truly a pure bench — a piece of wooden over the headwaters of the Mississippi River in Itasca State Park.

They’ve been “benching” yearly since, save for one 12 months of the pandemic and one other when Edelstein injured his foot the day earlier than the scheduled journey.

They’ve been to the Grand Canyon, the Blue Ridge Mountains and the fjords of Norway, amongst different spots, searching for the proper bench.

They take turns selecting the locations, the old friends defined final month at Edelstein’s realty workplace in Highland Park.

“He likes extra unique travels,” Edelstein mentioned of Bans. “And he is actually a big-time hiker. Nature actually speaks to him.”

The buddies doc their sightseeing-oriented bench journeys with a lot of pictures. Each journey is commemorated in a hardcover e-book, which has ranged from 34 to 92 pages.

Their bench pictures are usually not selfies. The ever-smiling friends ask strangers to snap the footage.

“We walked into this artwork gallery in Santa Fe and there was a bench that was Native American, and it occupied the complete size of the studio,” Bans mentioned. “We defined the complete factor to the man who owns the studio, and he takes the panoramic [photo]. That bench had to be 15 to 18 ft and it form of curved round. I used to be there a 12 months later. The bench offered.”

On their journey to Zion National Park, a information helped seek for a great picture op. “This child will get us to this rock in the waters of the Narrows,” Bans remembered. “And he is in the water actually taking our image and he says, ‘This is so distinctive. I’ve by no means been on a bench journey.”‘

The benches range as a lot as the locales — from a wagon-wheel seat outdoors a restaurant in Jackson Hole, Wyo., to a pure resting place dubbed Clam Rock in White Pocket, Utah.

Not all the old friends’ journeys are about pursuing the good place to park their derrieres. They’ve traveled to locations on their bucket lists together with New Zealand, Banff and Patagonia, with facet excursions to Buenos Aires, the Straits of Magellan and Cape Horn.

They additionally often rendezvous for live shows in the States — Bruce Springsteen, Barbra Streisand, Chicago, Alabama and the Righteous Brothers, to title a few.

But the friends have by no means gone together to see Paul Simon and/or Art Garfunkel, coincidentally, two friends since grade faculty. Opportunities to see them carry out are restricted since Simon retired from touring in 2018, and this summer time Garfunkel canceled a European tour due to COVID considerations.

Turning 70 in New York

This month, Bans and Edelstein have a bench journey deliberate to New York City. They need life to imitate Simon & Garfunkel’s artwork:

Can you think about us years from at this time

Sharing a park bench quietly?

How terribly unusual to be 70

Old friends, reminiscence brushes the identical years

Silently sharing the identical fears

Both of them will flip 70 in late August. This time, for a change, they are going to be joined by Edelstein’s spouse, Randy, and Bans’ accomplice, Debra Revzen, who produces the annual bench books. They’ve received tickets to “MJ the Musical,” the Michael Jackson Broadway present, and reservations at some alternative eating places. But they have not picked out an all-important bench.

They are considering a few spots. Central Park at 70th Street. Or by the 59th Street Bridge, in honor of S&G’s “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy).” Or throughout the avenue from Simon’s longtime Manhattan condominium.

“We’re going to ask Paul Simon which bench and see what he thinks,” Bans mentioned with chutzpah and a prayer. “We need him to perceive how influential his lyrics have been for us for a lot of, a few years.”

And to see if perhaps, simply perhaps, he’ll snap the {photograph} of those two old friends on a park bench.

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