Had dinner with my two best buds in Chicago last night and it got me thinking how friendships change over the years.
When you’re a kid it comes down to who has the best stuff. At eight years old, you could have bought my undying devotion if you would have lent me the newest Hot Wheel or picked me for baseball. As a teen, getting to ride your mini-bike was the only thing needed to cement our BFF status. Before graduating high school my coolest interaction with a guy was when Rob L. bought me beer cause I let him cheat off me. What can I say, I needed the status and I had been letting all the pretty girls cheat off me for years-at least I got something this time. Although it was warm and sat in my trunk…never did drink it.
I wasn’t one to stay in touch with high school friends, perhaps because I moved away to the city while others stayed in the suburbs or went to college. Or maybe it was the fact that I lost a lot of weight and wanted to lose the old life along with the pounds. Or maybe it was because I went temporarily insane and that’s also the reason I got married at eighteen.
Whichever the correct choice (c, say it’s c, c is the right answer, everybody knows it’s c) I was divorced and onto a new group in my twenties.
The Theater, The Theater
These people were shaped by my interest in improvisation and performing. We played theater games, went to experimental theater performances and saw Woody Allen films because we thought cool chicks dug smart guys and if that little dweeb could get the hot girls then, pssh, I mean, come on. And by little dweeb I mean his character in his early films. I have the highest respect for Mr. Allen and I’ve got a great script if you feel the need to help a new writer get his first film produced.
We laughed. We laughed a lot. When class was over we went to El Jardin for killer margaritas. And then we really laughed. The great thing about a class on a Monday night is that you can get sloppy drunk because you’re the only ones that are in the restaurant.
But all the fun ends at eight weeks when the class ends. “Let’s Keep in Touch” and “I Love You Man” fade with the hangover. 🙂 And eventually people drop off. The performing life is a difficult one and very few end up doing it for a living.
So those that do, end up bonding together. Being in the comedy biz, we don’t tend to share as much as try to “one-up” each other. If you do happen to say something of a personal nature, it will be pounced on faster than Tigger rolled Pooh. The shared connection is the desire to get liquid to spit out of another’s (or in the greatest victory, everyone’s) nose. But you can feel the respect when you have a really good one-liner. Usually accompanied by jealousy that you didn’t think of it first. It’s a special club being a professional entertainer: it doesn’t mean you’re more talented, it means that you stuck it out and you’re on the phone and in front of your computer doing the work; doing the business of show. As time goes on, you talk about IRA’s and Google keywords as much as you do about “bits.” Eventually my show biz buddies married and had kids and we didn’t see each other as much. That and I moved twenty three hundred miles away.
So that brings me to the present. I don’t feel the need to be on all the time like I once did and as an aspiring writer, I want to explore emotion and depth. The majority of the time I do this on a laptop or an iPhone, and since I don’t have Siri, my thoughts and opinions go unchallenged, meaning I am always right and I’m brilliant.
But once every few months I have dinner with my boys Don and Thom when in town. We all have different jobs doing our own thing and we’re comfortable in our skin but still hungry for growth. I’ve never had an easier time talking to two people. Six months feels like five. We get the obligatory “what’s new” out before we even order and then the conversation darts in and out of all sorts of subjects. The focus goes from one person to the other as if our brains were doormen, tipping their hats and saying “after you.” And we do what good guy friends do: who gives a s#*t what you were saying when a pretty girl goes by. That’s why we always eat at outdoor cafes.
But the most important thing is, these two guys got really “good stuff” in their minds and hearts. I’m lucky to know them.