Make New Friends but Keep the Old

Posted: April 24th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: City Livin', Eating Out, Friends and Strangers, Husbandry, Working World | 7 Comments »

I know I’ve mentioned I have a new job. But I’ve failed to report even bigger news: I have a new husband!

A work husband that is.

And he’s dazzling—smart, funny, handsome. And 100% dyed-in-the-wool-Prada-pants GAY.

I know, I know, I’m gushing. But I’m telling you, no more than three minutes into meeting each other—an introduction where sparks of sass and sarcasm blazed off us like an electrical fire—we were in luv.

The next morning he sashayed past my desk to announce that he’d confessed his feelings for me to his partner. “I told him,” he said conspiratorially, “that I have a new BFF.”

Oooooh!” I squealed, clapping my hands and beaming. “I told Mark about you too!”

On my second day of work he analyzed our astrological charts at lunch (we’re compatible), and we discovered our birthdays are two weeks apart. We were even born the same year!

We’ve continued this way for days now: “You love neutral tones with a dash of orange as an accent color?!” I bellowed in disbelief. “Me TOO!”

We’ve discussed our yoga preferences (His: “Original Recipe” Hatha, Mine: Power Vinyasa ) and our current efforts to get bikini-ready for summer. And he’s managed to assess nearly every piece of clothing I’ve worn, rubbing the fabric between his fingers, raising an eyebrow then muttering his approval.

By next week we should be belting out duets and performing elaborately choreographed dance moves through the office. We’ll outshine Travolta and Olivia Newton John. I just know it.

I’m planning to consummate our union at his fabulous beach house. It’s off some island or other near Seattle. I picture myself poised on 900-thread-count sheets—blissfully alone, of course. I’ll do snow angels in the bed, soaking up the unbridled thrill of a weekend away from the kids, while he and his lawyer-cum-yoga-instructor partner slavishly cook for me and deliver mimosas and Vanity Fair magazines to what I can only imagine is a lavish guest suite. (The guest house is still under construction.)

It’s like a dream. A fabulous, exhilarating dream in which we spend lunches at the cafe at his gym ogling the hot guys working out.

The other day, while outlining the guest list for his birthday par-tay—old friends from high school, former co-workers, his San Francisco set—he pointed out matter-of-factly, “I collect people.”

And when Mark got an email last week, inviting him to a dinner in the city, I couldn’t help but think of just that.

One of the bennies of Mark’s job is that he gets to meet some pretty cool, accomplished folks. Well, I mean, I see that as a benefit since I like people. But Mark? Well, not so much. He’s kinda like those dogs people apologize for at parks ’cause they don’t like other dogs.

Now, I don’t want to imply my hubbie’s some social nitwit. He’s just discerning about who he’ll make an effort for. His attitude: He’s already got five friends. Why’d he ever need more? And while Mark’s not taking resumes for new friends, I go through life chatting up baristas while they steam my milk, and wanting to invite Jehovah’s Witnesses in for lunch.

But sometimes, someone Mark meets penetrates his Cone of Social Reluctance. And recently, this happened.

The New Friend is someone Mark’s interviewed and hung out with for work. The dude’s a crazy-accomplished genius. He seems to have the Midas touch with everything he does. And he’s done just about everything.

And whatever, so they’ve kinda become friends. It’s not like they go bowling every Wednesday, or have slumber parties and braid each others’ hair. But they’ve hung out a few times now for no work-related purpose.

It’s not so terribly strange, even considering Mark’s inclination to keep his friend count low. The thing that’s gets me about this new alliance is—well, it’s kinda embarrassing to admit—I mean, what’s weird about it is that the guy is rich. But not like rich by any mortal standards. Like, stratospherically mind-bogglingly loaded.

So, when this chap came to town recently (he lives up north) his assistant contacted Mark. Would he like to get together for dinner? New Friend was traveling for work and his wife wasn’t with him. So he and Mark and a another of the guy’s pals from San Fran grabbed some grub.

You know, 15 or so courses.

Then last week Mark gets another call. The assistant asks again about dinner. And this time I’m welcomed along. It turns out we’re going out with a couple other folks, and one of them who’s a chef picked some divey Korean joint as our venue. Because, hey, what’s more fun than slumming with a gazillionaire?

Aside from his immense genius, and a guess that he probably wouldn’t have holes in his shoes, I wasn’t sure what to expect. And I don’t mean to get all Us Magazine “Just Like Us” about it. (Look! He wears sunglasses outdoors! Wow! He covers his mouth when he coughs!) But to be honest, for the first fifteen minutes or so, I was TOTALLY like that.

The thing is, the guy is totally normal.

It was like any other night you’d spend in a dumpy Richmond café eating gut-cleansing kimchi with friends in your own tax bracket.

And sure, there were things that came up—the  mention of a dinner with Jane Fonda and Ted Turner—that weren’t the typical conversational grist my homies and I bandy about at the taqueria. (“Oh that JANE…” I chortled, slapping my thigh. “She IS that way after a couple Pisco Sours, isn’t she?”) There was a mention of Stephen Hawking liking really spicy Indian food. And an anecdote about a dinner he’d had at an inn in Montana or somewhere. The place was so remote (How remote was it?) that he still had to drive for an hour after the plane landed. Pause. “And I have my own plane!”

Weirdly, none of this came off as snooty or name-droppy. Just the opposite, in fact. The guy was totally comfortable with who he was (even if I wasn’t at first). He was tellin’ it like it was from his side of the tracks.

I mean, why pretend to fly Continental?

At one point, we got on the topic of Mark’s exploits in bread baking. I mentioned that one recipe he’d been struggling with produced loaves like pancakes. (Though I think I actually said “limp breast implants.”) This fast became a opportunity for the group to razz Mark on his inability to “get a rise” out of his dough. And quickly deteriorated to jokes about him “getting it up.”

Yeah, so not so much pretense at our table.

In fact, my favorite thing was how super-brilliant New Friend is, yet how often he says “fuck.” It turns out he says “fuck” a lot. (I’m going to remember how cool I thought this was when I make my gazillions. “What a fuckin’ nightmare,” I’ll confide to my chauffeur. “My new jet is totally fucked!”)

After dinner he asked us about how he could get a taxi. Most San Franciscans would agree that the best way to get a cab is to go to New York. So instead of making the guy wait, we offered to drop him at his hotel. This required us to remove a car seat from the back of our beater Subaru. And to wipe away some Cheerios. And to toss a pile of Captain Underpants books and a mermaid-shaped Barbie in the trunk. While smiling sheepishly over our shoulders.

“Ah, you’ve got kids!” I said a bit too loudly, scraping a withered fruit roll-up into the gutter. When what I was really conveying was, “Remember? This is what most family cars are like.” (I did resist bursting into the chorus of “What Do the Simple Folk Do.”)

We wove our way through the drizzly, dark city to The Ritz Carlton. And saying our goodbyes, he bid Mark a last word of luck getting his dough up, then grabbed the door handle once, then twice, finally leaning into the door with his shoulder. Fail.

“Ah yeah,” I said realizing what was happening. “That’d be the child lock.” And I hopped out to come around and release him.


As Mark turned the car out of the hotel lot and headed us home to Oakland, he put his hand on my leg and asked his typical end-of-the-evening question, “You have fun?”

And, trying vaguely to remember what I’d thought the night would be like, I said, “Yeah. I did.”

Then I smiled. Man, this’ll make a nice little story for my work hubbie.

And speaking of him—Happy happy birthday, darlin’! I cannot WAIT to hear about every last detail of your weekend over a quinoa salad at the gym. xoxoxo!


7 Comments on “Make New Friends but Keep the Old”

  1. 1 Mark said at 11:16 am on April 25th, 2011:

    I’m ever so slightly jealous!

  2. 2 kristen said at 8:21 pm on April 25th, 2011:

    Oh, honey. You’ll always be my primary husband.

  3. 3 Nell said at 2:47 am on April 26th, 2011:

    My brilliant and hilarious boss has been introducing her spouse as “Matt, my first husband” for the past twenty years. So you guys are in good company ;)

  4. 4 kristen said at 6:12 am on April 26th, 2011:

    love that, nell! i’ve often referred to mark as my second husband. as in, i married later and went directly to the second husband–the keeper.

  5. 5 Mary said at 9:55 pm on April 26th, 2011:

    How exciting! You must be on the moon. And I like this guy with the gazillions.

  6. 6 Sheryl said at 7:51 am on March 11th, 2012:

    Great story! Love your writing!

  7. 7 Mama Needs a New Pair of Boobs | The Bearded Iris said at 1:27 am on May 4th, 2012:

    [...] gay friend Rick thinks I have great tits. He admires them with the shameless gusto that only a guy with no interest [...]

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