Now, this is not a Tyler Perry film. This is not a scene where you see an All-American family sit down to dinner. The mother gives a nod to her youngest son and he screams, “Houseguest!” An abnormally large – like a linebacker – black (wo)man comes bounding down the steps in a housecoat carrying an AK47. She hits the last step and opens fire on the table, each round perfectly massacres the main entree and side dish on each plate. Her firing perfectly mashes up the potatoes, her bullets perfectly slice up the meat. The youngest boy smiles like it’s Christmas morning and the mother says, “Thank you, Houseguest.” The houseguest nods and unwraps the AK from around her neck placing it on the breakfast bar. She pulls out her chair and the family sits down. In a lilting soprano, she looks at the father and says, “Paul, would you like to say grace?”
This article is not about that. That houseguest is one word and it’s a movie starring Sinbad (I’m not kidding). My house guest, this weekend, is a more demure two word split like you see at the beginning of this sentence. We’re having an old friend for dinner to quote Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs. Actually, that might scare our house guest, so it might be better said, “I have an old friend coming over.” An old friend from my New York days.
When I left New York to move to the UK to be with Wifesy for her last two years of school and to try my hand at comedy around the queen’s nation – one true thing happened. I lost A LOT of friends. Even though, I tried to guard against it. I had Skype already set up on my computer from a million Skype sessions between myself and Wifesy. In what I thought was a smart move, I decided to bring my Vonage phone with me. Now, if you don’t know about Vonage – it’s fantastic, if you’re involved in any kind of international lover affair. You can buy these packages where your entire country and one other country are bundled together. Every time you call the other country it becomes just like making a local call! This was a godsend for me when Wifesy when we first started dating. Before Vonage, my first phone bill was $1200, just about as much as my rent. (Yikes.) So, after a year or so, once I decided to move across the pond to be with her, I spoke to my Vonage representative and was told I could take my Vonage phone with me! “This is great!” I thought. “I’ll stay in touch with all of my friends!”
I was elated. I had some close friends in and around the comedy scene. One who I even called the, “Gayle to my Oprah”. When I was living in New York, Gayle and I talked everyday. If we had an issue with a friend or a business problem or a dating conundrum, we picked up the phone and we hashed it out with one another. We’d call each other at the end of the evening and call it, “final thoughts” like a terrible segment Gayle had seen on a Jerry Springer show. It helped that Gayle was and is mind-blowingly funny. She is, as of now, a very well known comedian in the U.S.. Her career blew up when I took off. I thought back then, “This is great, Gayle will be able to call me using only a local, New York number. Technology is so great now, you can live fricken’ any where and still stay in touch. I won’t lose any of my really close friends.”
But, I forgot that one simple, human, rule…Outta sight, Outta mind. It’s work to maintain friendships. And I have this thing – this shutoff valve. I’ll call you a couple of times and if I don’t get a reasonably quick call back, I stop calling. Then when you call me out of the blue, having ignored, or returned my phone calls after a ridiculously long amount of time – I start to pull away. Like a boat leaving the harbor, Momma is setting sail. This happened between Gayle and I.
After our two years in Scotland, when Wifesy and I returned home – I remembered the people who had kept in touch. I remembered them like a Vietnam veteran remembers the guys who were in the actual foxhole with him. There were only a handful. There was definitely Miranda. Miranda was my second Gayle – equally as funny, equally as intuitive, and bonus we fell in love with people in foreign lands at just about the same time. She met her Dutch husband right around the time I met Wifesy. So, we commiserated over long distance relationships and love and the differences between Europe and America. The biggest and best thing about Miranda – she does the work that friendship takes. She calls to check in, whether I’m in Scotland or Socal or New York. I am eternally grateful for this and I probably don’t tell her enough.
Truth be told, part of this is probably my fault. Now that I have Wifesy, I find myself putting less and less into my friendships. Well, plainly, because I’m married. However, I know – down in the deepest parts of me – that this is a mistake. A human needs friends. When Wifesy and I were in Scotland, everyone at her school was younger than Wifesy. Way younger, since Wifesy went back to school at 32. So, we hung around with these youngsters, which was fine, but I’m telling you – a 22 year old and a 37 year old, just do NOT have the same philosophical perspective on life. They just don’t. They can have a beer together, but they can not go deep. And I’m one of these bar-talking, gathering-having individuals who likes to go deep with my conversations. When I’m socializing, it’s my raison d etre. I remember I had a bar conversation with a friend of a friend – a Chicago man – who swore to me he was Jesus and by the end of the conversation, he was crying. Now, I understand he was a bit nutty. I know he was a bit much. However, he was such a good conversationalist that by the end of the evening I thought he was one of the best people I’d ever met. I was glad I’d had that conversation. I was glad I had met him. That must’ve been ten years ago and I remember that conversation to this day. Now, I’m not saying I’d want Jesus-man around me everyday – a bit intense, in reality, BUT there was something in his banter that conveyed what he meant. He was trying to say that there was god in all of us, even as he explained it in the most convoluted, yet highly entertaining way. I love someone who can verbally tap dance like that. It’s one of the many reasons why I love comedians, but not comedians who are on all the time. I like the jokey philosophers. I like the Gayles.
So, back to house guest. She’s not as close to me as Gayle or Miranda. But, she was in my closer circle of friends. Her and I were like Whoopi and Oprah. They’d had an unspoken feud for years. Whoopi thought Oprah was mad at her and Oprah thought Whoopi was mad at her. So, these two women who had had a life altering experience together making The Color Purple (like a Vietnam vet in a foxhole) never spoke. They never spoke due to some unspoken feud that never was. This weekend’s house guest is my Whoopi. All is smoothed over. (We went to dinner before this and talked about the fight that never was. I think sometimes you fall into a mad-love relationship and it’s all engulfing and your other friends, somehow – and mistakenly – interpret that as your angry with them or neglecting them. I think that’s what happened here.) When Whoopi comes over, we’ll have a great weekend. I see us playing some tennis and watching some basketball and a movie here and there, while drinking copious amounts of alcohol. And I can’t help, but feel like I’m back. Unlike, Sara Palin’s “bridge to no where” – this is my bridge to somewhere. And I’m hoping that somewhere is friends. Good, solid, friends. New Gayles. I want to be surrounded by oodles of Gayles. Gayles encircling me like a group of Jesus-men skipping, holding hands, and singing a fecked up version of “ring around the rosy” while we hash it all out. It will be work, but it may just be worth it.
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