Monday, December 08, 2003

Not Unlike Joey and Chandler

I have to say, there's nothing in this world quite so cool as good friends. And I'm not talking about the guys at work that you chum around with at the water-cooler (to preserve a time-honored stereo-type)... Nor am I talking about the half-dozen or so people on your MSN contact list that float between "online", "idle", and "away" day in and day out, occasionally saying "hi" or sending you a pointless chain letter... No, I'm talking about those rare individuals that seem to have always "been there". You know, the ones who have seen you at your best and at your worst (sometimes judging, sometimes not) but on whom you can always count.

Now, I don't consider myself to be an overly emotional or sentimental type of guy. Not that there's anything wrong with those traits, it's just not how I was raised. Still, I was recently reminded how much I value my friends, even if I don't often say so.

I was out for coffee the other night with my girlfriend of 7 months and what I consider to be my two best friends. I've known one of the guys for over 15 years, and the other for about 13. As you can imagine, over the course of those years, we've grown to know each other pretty well... To the point where we know how to get a rise out of each other, how far to push a particular line of teasing, and which mine-fields to avoid altogether in a conversation. My girlfriend and I, on the other hand, are still in the process of getting to know each other, really. Yeah, we covered the basics a long time ago, but there's still the odd thing here and there that we learn from time to time. So, it was quite an interesting dynamic as the four of us sat around the table at Perkin's, slugging back pot after pot of the ol' Joe.

I don't know how we did it, but we managed to discuss just about everything from shoe types to corporal punishment... Could have been the 5 hours that we sat there, or the countless cups of Black Gold involved (relax, George W., I'm talking about coffee, so BACK OFF MAN!)... I don't know. But it was a great time. It felt good to just sit around with people and babble about anything, everything, and nothing all at once. No pressure to impress, no need to embelish the story so I end up being the guy in blue tights and a red cape (private fantasy, sorry...), and no need to wonder if buddy to my left is as full of crap as he sounds. Nah... Just good old fashioned shootin' the... er... breeze.

Of course, we're older than we used to be... When we discuss favorite movies, Breast Content doesn't always ensure an Academy Award Nomination like it used to. Bitching about power-hungry pencil-necked Math teachers has evolved into bitching about power-hungry, pencil-necked Supervisors. And, of course, talking about the girls we'd like to date has turned to talking about the girls we wish we'd never met. Yeah, life has a way of changing you, that's for sure... That's why it's so cool to discover every once in a while that the people who started this journey with you are still there and they still understand you.

So, anyway... There we were, just kickin' back and chatting about something or other, and then it happens... Out of the blue, my girlfriend asks my buddy of 15 years if he thinks I'm a control freak. Have you ever felt time grind to a halt before? Your skin goes cold... You can hear the deep "swish" of blood in your ears with each agonizingly slow heartbeat... And you can literally feel all eyes boring into your skull. Silence. And then, ladies and gentlemen, I knew I was at a crossroads, only I wasn't the one at the wheel. My very fate lay in the hands of a friend caught off-guard. You see, I am something of a control freak. I know it... He knows it... And my girlfriend was mere seconds away from knowing it. Not that I'm that bad, really... Just a little insistent at times, a little over-bearing, opinionated, stubborn... What was I saying? Oh yeah! But pretty much a nice guy when it comes down to it. But women have this amazing talent for taking your worst trait and making it your only trait. So, before my buddy even started to speak the words that could seal my doom, my brain was already racing at break-neck speed to formulate the Mother of all rebuttals...

But the axe never fell. I'm not sure if I'll ever understand it, but my friend, my buddy, my pal found a way to admit my flaw and make it sound like a good thing. I was stunned! Sure, I've been able to justify myself to, well, myself, before, but this guy goes and makes it sound like a trait to be admired! And to top it all off, my other friend jumps in and starts elaborating on it! It truly was a thing of beauty... And so, as the tension vanished from the room, I knew everything was going to be okay. My girlfriend's fears were put nicely to rest, and I knew once again why I call these guys my "best friends".

So, here's to good friends... May we never forget them and always appreciate them. Now, get off your damn computer and go call one!
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