I was at my friend’s house a few nights ago, threatening to start a blog. The reception was positive, but my dear friend issued a threat of her own. “If you reveal things about me I don’t want out there in the world, I will sue you. Don’t think I won’t.” This friend will henceforth be referred to as The Duchess. The other friend present informed me his life is an open book, and I’m welcome to use anything. Thanks, Max.
Max is the co-owner, along with his husband, Tony (whose life, I hope, is an open book as well or I better lawyer up) of a home design store. Max is fabulous at all things. He is an artist, and along with Tony, one of the hardest working people I’ve ever known. I’m sure he doesn’t know it, but I always wanted a gay friend. Before I watched Sex and the City and admired Carrie’s relationship with Stanford, or Charlotte’s with Anthony, I wanted one. The onset of this desire may have been the movie, My Best Friend’s Wedding, when Julia Roberts was coached and cajoled by Rupert Everett. It amazed and delighted me that a woman could have a friend who was brutally honest with her. I think women are hesitant to crush your spirit, lest you crush theirs in return, so they prefer to NOT stick the proverbial pin in your bubble. In my imagination, my gay friend had no such qualms.
The reality, at least with Max and Tony, is a bit in between. They do not nod in agreement with everything you blather about. They also don’t come right out and tell you you’re making an ass of yourself. At least, not often. And I don’t think that’s because I don’t often make an ass of myself. (I am not mentioning The Duchess here for obvious reasons.) Instead, they find ways to redirect you. It’s like a gay After School Special. You find yourself being regaled with stories, teased, and slowly but gently guided to a better decision. Those decisions range from attractive eyeglass frames to the right thing to say in a text message that will make you appear flirty, but not desperate.
Their store has become my ditch opportunity to get out of traffic on my way home from work, have a drink, some conversation, and perhaps a little shopping. As I walked through the door last week, I saw Max behind the counter, a huge grin on his face. He had Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” cranked up and was sit-dancing. He was repeating the lyrics “Don’t be a drag, just be a queen.” When Max is really excited about something, he looks truly cherubic. (Sorry, Max, but you do.)
It was a freeze frame image of what I hoped to enjoy with my very own gay friend. But why did watching Max vamp to Lady Gaga feel like such a guilty pleasure? Maybe because if being gay was the sum total of what Max had to offer, I would have lost interest, just like I did with so many Christmas presents I thought I couldn’t live without until I owned them and realized they had more shine than substance. No, the best things about Max are his great attitude, his genuine kindness, and ability to lighten the atmosphere around him.
So, Max is not the gay friend of my dreams. He is my friend – which is even better. He just happens to have a husband who is yet another kind, gentle, considerate person who inspires us on a daily basis.
They also let me know when I am being an ass. In a nice way. And probably not as often as they should.