My old buddy Doug took another big step into maturity last week, leaving me in the dust.

The Dougster, one of the U.S. Air Force’s finest, stood proudly while his two daughters each pinned a silver oak leaf on his collar, signifying his promotion to lieutenant colonel.

Doug, and his glowing wife Jen, were the first married couple I became friends with (not counting friends who married each other after I’d known them singularly). We met when my ex-wife and I, then married only six months, moved across the street from them into one of the many nondescript yellow cinder-block houses on an Air Force base in Panama City, Fl. That was October 1992. They’d been married nine months, and Jen was about ready to burst with their first daughter (a honeymoon child). This also made them my first friends with a kid.

Doug’s a very mature, responsible person. He is a commander, literally, and he works his tail off for the good of our country. His daughters are now 13 and 11 (right?), and he and Jen have been married 14 years.

But Doug can tell the most disgusting jokes I’ve ever heard. If it involves a body fluid, or a bodily function typically considered crude, Doug can work it into a conversation with masterful aplomb. He’s brilliant.

And still, his wife loves him. His daughters are well-balanced, intelligent kids. He’s obviously kept a steady job.

I know I sound old when I say this, but it just seems like yesterday when Doug was a fresh-faced second lieutenant with a young wife and two little babies. How could he be so responsible now? I’m just two years younger than Doug, but my daughter’s only 2.5. I’ve floated around jobs and have managed to move up (or, at least, not get kicked out, yet) without really taking on any more responsibility. The thought of myself as a manager is laughable, to command anyone would be preposterous.

Doug and I have a few different interests. He’s a very Godly man, which is why I chose him to be Ella’s Godfather (plus he’s Mormon, and I figure that gives me some leverage against Trish’s ultra-Catholic family). He’s never once proselytized, and I’ve never offered him a beer (I don’t think). He’s a walking history book, and though I love history I can never keep up.

But we share this really terrific sophomoric sense of humor.

So how could he go and grow up on me?

I’ve seen this coming. Every year or so, I’ve noticed a more measured approach to parenting, a more patient husband. I’ve seen him … mature.

This is Doug’s moment in the spotlight, and I’m extremely happy for him. The Air Force owes him big-time for all the hours he’s put in and all the crap he’s had to deal with. But this promotion business. It’s an undeniable sign of growing up.

Is this the fate that awaits me?

Hey Doug, you’re still watching documentaries about dung beetles, right?

What about those times when you were a little kid and you climbed up into trees and did what onto passing cars?

Please! Please for the love of god, keep one foot in immaturity! Stay grounded!