As It Happens

The Friendship Episode: A 30-year game of tag, an Irving Layton poem, and two pals - one with MS - run a marathon together

In high school, Mike Konesky and his buddies played tag. Thirty years later, they're still at it. The group of men have jobs and families and live in different cities. But each February, the game is on.Carol spoke to Mr. Konesky and his friend Joe Tombari in January 2013, just before that year's game began....

As It Happened: The Archive Edition

In high school, Mike Konesky and his buddies played tag. Thirty years later, they're still at it. The group of men have jobs and families and live in different cities. But each February, the game is on.

Carol spoke to Mr. Konesky and his friend Joe Tombari in January 2013, just before that year's game began.

"The whole game is predicated on just maintaining our friendship," explained Mr. Konesky.

The 10 friends go to great lengths to tag each other -- and to avoid being It. And so they tend to get a bit paranoid each February.

tag friends now feature.jpg

The tag team today. Mike Konesky (far left, standing) and Joe Tombari (second from left, kneeling) spoke to Carol.

Once Mr. Konesky hid his friend Sean Raftis in the trunk of his car in order to help him tag Mr. Tombari.

"Out flies Sean," recalled Mr. Tombari. "My wife back peddles, trips over the curb, tears her ACL. And at that point, Sean gets out of the car and tagged me. We all went into the city, my wife with her knee swollen like a grapefruit. It was kind of a nice, fun weekend."

On another occasion, Mr. Konesky snuck into a friend's house through the unlocked garage at 2 a.m.

"At this point, I'm starting to think I could get arrested or shot or beat up pretty bad," he said. "I go to the bedroom, opened door, flipped on the light. His wife started to scream. She knew exactly what was going on. She just told the guy to run, but there was nowhere to run."

A group of middle-aged men playing a kids' game might seem silly, but it's part of what has kept the friends connected all these years.

"It means everything," said Mr. Tombari. "I love these guys so much and it's worth every effort that it takes to keep in touch."

Mr. Konesky says he can't imagine the game ever ending.

"I see it going until maybe there are nine gravestones in the ground and maybe the last person standing, hopefully, will be It because that would be sweet justice."

That interview and much more about friendship in this episode of As It Happened:

An Alberta man becomes the victim of his pals' practical joke.

Irving Layton reads his poem "Some Of My Best Friends."

A pre-Facebook service for tracking down old friends.

Two buddies, one of them with multiple sclerosis, run the Boston Marathon.

A trek that tore a pair of Canadian adventurers apart.

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