06 March 2009

Every Girl Should Be So Lucky

I knew the economy was bad. But I wasn't expecting to see anything like this: A favorite Thai restaurant was empty at lunchtime on Friday.

On other occasions when Bruce and I went there, it was full and we had to wait for a table. But today we had the place to ourselves. The food was as good as it's always been. And, well, you couldn't get better service than we had.

The good news was that we had the place to ourselves. Bruce is just about the last person in the world to put on an act for anyone, much less complete strangers. But I guess I have been known to perform for an audience that didn't know they were my audience. I lapse into it unconsciously; sometimes I catch myself as I'm doing it.

Somehow, though, it seemed as if each of us had let our guard down. It's not the first time we've done that for each other. He talked about the emotional life of his family, and how he's been affected by it. His father in particular, he said, was emotionally distant. "He only called twice just to see how I was--and those were after he got sick," Bruce recalled. His father, he said, didn't connect well with people and wasn't demonstrative.

Bruce isn't, either. But the funny thing is that throughout my life--at least for the nearly three decades I've known him--he's been the most emotionally available man I've ever known. For a long time--in fact, until I saw my social worker for the first time--he was the only man with whom I'd ever talked about the molestation and other painful things I've experienced. And until I met Dominick, I never thought I'd talk about any of those things with any other man.

Yes, Bruce has always been a different sort of friend for me. We drank and looked at women together; once we were interested in the same woman. We acted like the Blues Brothers; another time we walked around Union Square and the East Village (when both were funkier places than they are now) in Hawaiian shirts and acted like tourists because--well, because we could.

I've seen him face his brother's and father's deaths, as well as other sadness in his family. He's seen me become sober--and Justine.

The funny thing is that all through this, our friendship has been the least gendered relationship I've had with anybody. Even when we were acting like a couple of crazy young men, I never felt like we were just a couple of guys. He said as much, back before either of us had ever used a PC. Even in those days, he called my sexuality "fluid" and that I "wasn't your typical straight guy."

And there we were today, talking about the ways we've been affected emotionally by people in our lives. Not the sort stuff that laces conversations about the Knicks or Giants.

He's as much of a straight guy as you'll ever find. But somehow I've felt free to be vulnerable--whcih is to say Justine, even before I "came out" as her-- when I've been around him. And I feel that all the more the longer I know him.

Now, you tell me who or what is a girl's best friend? Yes, I love Dominick, but that's different. He's in my life now; maybe he will be for a long time. But Bruce has been here. Every girl should be so lucky.

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