TMI Questions: Ya Gotta Have Friends…
That wonderful Buzzy Linhart song, as sung by the Divine Ms. M! Doesn't that pretty much sum up everything there is about friendship?
In my lifetime I have been blessed with having made many. But very few have stuck around for very long.
And that's okay. That's the way it's supposed to be.
People enter your life for a reason... and exit when that lesson is either learned or goes right over your head. Ah, yes... lots of 'a swing and and a miss' for this guy, here.
Still, I keep trying. And who wouldn't? What's the alternative? Sad sack alone on an island. Boo hoo, hoo.
I used to believe there was something incredibly valiant and brave about being alone.
But now I see that the real brave ones put their hearts on the line every day, spending time with the one they love. Yeah, relating to others?
Now that's brave.
Questions designed to reveal Too Much Information
TMI Questions: Ya Gotta Have Friends…
Did you have an imaginary friend growing up?
I was a loner at a very early age. Always wandering around observing. I didn’t need company.
During adolescence, I developed an arsenal of diverse personalities to sub for me when faced with situations that made me uncomfortable or required skills I didn’t/don’t possess. I was part of a tightknit group of friends (we played in various bands together) and they thought my personas quite entertaining. A favorite was The Gutter Rat, who would appear whenever a little crudeness or menace was in order.
I was a good Catholic boy, so no swearing was allowed. But The Gutter Rat was obsessed with the seamy side of life. He was the lead singer in a punk band called The Jokes. He would prattle on mid-song, the band vamping behind him, spinning tales about Grace Slick giving Marty Balin a blow job backstage, as a means of demonstrating just how pathetic and sad corporate rock had become. Yes, Johnny Rotten move over, small towns throughout the Midwest had… The Gutter Rat.
Eventually all the personas were absorbed by their host and now… well, it’s hard to tell who is in control.
Are you still friends with your BFF or anyone from your youth?
Only my two younger sisters. BFF with the youngest. I know all her secrets and she knows some of mine. There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for either of them; they have both been very good to our parents.
And to me.
I lucked out in the lil’ sis department.
Who is your best friend now? (SO's excluded)
That would be my youngest sister. She is my ‘person’ and I am hers. Not in a sick way, but we are very close. I can tell her almost anything and those things I hold back she would probably accept, too, but I try not to burden others with my follies. Although I must say, she is a survivor of several stupid things I have done.
She was one of the financial backers of a rather terrible original musical I foisted upon the public back in the year 2001. She never saw a dime. Not that she expected to. Still, it would have been nice if the damn thing hadn’t sucked monkey balls. She was so good natured about it, taking the entire cast and crew out for drinks and appetizers at Nye’s Polonaise after opening night.
She’s quite an accomplished woman – a real winner.
She’s loud. And clever. And smart. Smartest person I have ever met.
I adore her.
Do you have same sex friends of the opposite orientation?
Yes. Always have. Examples:
My friend John has known me since the mid-eighties. He married an actress I was quite fond of, Beth. He is one of my biggest fans and to be honest – I don’t know why. But he has been incredibly loyal through the years and always eager to pick up where we left off after I would allow our friendship to wane. He’s very handsome – dashing, even – very matinee idol.
I am also friends with my former boss. A tree-hugging vegan with a Dylan fetish. He writes music. We’re the same age and share many of the same political views. He came to rely upon my gut feeling about people and situations. And I miss him.
Ex's as friends?
Yes. I have one.
After seventeen years “together” we decided we were better friends than lovers. Turns out our whole relationship was built on a minor misconception, one that I was appalled to learn about at the seventeen year mark. I was already heading out the door when he told me a tiny truth about our union. It took me three days to process exactly what it all meant and I was floored that anyone feeling the way he did would have been in a relationship with me.
For seventeen years I put up with his controlling behavior, OCD, hypochondria, and excessive detail-ridden way of getting to a point. Three weeks before we broke up, I had taken a survey about how I viewed our relationship and how being in it made me feel. I ended up being categorized as ‘Little Unhappy’.
Huh? That phrase stuck in my craw. I even wrote it on a post-it note and hung it in my cube at work.
Our lives were so enmeshed that I am still, to this day removing bits of the brain fodder that he planted. I have to be ever vigilant about maintaining boundaries with him and he frequently asks me questions a mother might ask her nine year old child.
But he’s also one of my business partners and has always long been my best advisor. We have breakfast almost every Saturday morning.
And I will always love him.
I’ll be there the next time he falls in love and hold his hand as his heart breaks over the last one. His next foot surgery, his next colonoscopy, his next heart attack? Yep, that’s me at the hospital, clinic, or emergency room. I’ll help him navigate what it means to age alone in an indifferent society.
And I’ll be there the day he passes from this world.
There are all kinds of love and all kinds of relationships to experience in a lifetime. I’ve made a vow to stop being careless with people and consider having him in my life a blessing and a privilege, not an obligation.
Do you have any non-human bffs?
I love my dogs, Atula, Millie, and Hercules. They are my kids. Before they came on the scene, there were three others, all equally special. But there was one…
Beau was my first new BFF, post L.A. I credit him for giving me the focus and will power to recreate a life here, in Minneapolis. There were several years when it was just the two of us and he got all my attention. I was fiercely protective of him and he rewarded me with his sweet smile and boundless unconditional love.
Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him. I was so grateful for the time we had together.
Are you friends with any relatives?
Other than my sisters? No.
Well, my Mom, in as much as one can be friends with your Mom.
Other than that? Acquaintances? Yes. Friends, no.
Friends at work?
I have one. My friend Mellissa. She’s sort of my writing muse. We’ve known each other for five years and have lunch at least once a week.
We had a huge falling out last year and didn’t speak to one another for nine months! We reconciled shortly after Gay Pride this year. Things are good, but not the same.
Whatever I thought the rift might have been about turned out not to be correct, or so she tells me. My feelings got hurt and when that’s the case I find it hard to trust again.
We’re working on it.
What's your Face Book number?
I tried Face Book. All I wanted to do was play that Sims game they have on there, but instead, all these people from my past came out of the woodwork and started contacting me. Ugh, no thank you. I have enough trouble living with my past as it is, I don’t need aging reminders sending me pics of their fucking kids and asking me ‘What’s new?’
What's the worst thing a friend has done to you? Are you still?
One of my longest BFF’s – Brent, suddenly stopped talking to me. He moved to St. Louis and I went for a visit. He’d been living in Miami before that and got messed up with the wrong boyfriend. So, St. Louis was a safe place for him to regroup and get out of the life.
I must have done one too many things wrong that trip. For it was the last straw. That, or his therapist and AA buddies convinced him I was a toxic fuckhead (guilty). But shortly after I got through a little medical emergency (I crushed half a lung), he stopped talking to me. My life went into a mini-free-fall (changed jobs, ended a relationship, ended a professional relationship, went back to school) and I never heard from him again.
Yet another person who avoids me like the plague.
I loved him. No one made me laugh the way he did. We could riff for hours, improvising scenes in the cadence of Edward Albee and Noel Coward. We’d devastate each other. Swilling ice cold gin, we were oh, so clever and a tad destructive. For the longest time (twenty years) we knew one another inside out. He’d call me on all my shit and I would attempt to make him own his. Our love for one another was proclaimed often, our loyalty ensured.
He taught me so much. In many ways, he was my Auntie Mame. And maybe my Gay Mom, too. He was there to soften my fall when I finally stumbled out of the closet.
And you would not believe how much he hated me when we first met. He was absolutely vicious.
I don’t think he hates me now. I bet he’s just relieved.
Most people are… once I leave the room.
Friends with benefits?
Oh, yes, please. Good health insurance is so hard to find.
Oh…. You mean… oh.
Yeah. That doesn’t work. At least not for me.
October 26th will always be a very special day for me.
I have never been so happy in my life… ever.