“Ooo, you make me live, you’re the best friend that I ever had.” Queen
I think everyone has a best friend. And no, not this bullshit BFF crap where “forever” is until the first disagreement. I mean a real, solid, honest to God best friend.
I met mine just over fifteen years ago at, of all places, a Lamaze class.
The Wife was pregnant with our second child, who would become The Boy. We’d already done the whole damn Lamaze class thing the first time around and, aside from the dubious honour of wearing a damn sympathy belly and talking about your uterus falling out, I really didn’t get a hell of a lot from it the first time around.
Very little Return on Investment as my business colleagues would say.
So when the Wife wanted to go back for a second round, I really didn’t see the need. In fact, with the first child–The Girl–having taken 36 long, arduous hours to finally make her way into the world, I wondered if this time around some sort of classes to speed up the whole procedure might be in order. I asked for LeMans classes instead of Lamaze.
Yeah, that didn’t go over well. So we paid our money and booked the next class, to be in August.
For some reason, I couldn’t actually make the first class, so the Wife went with her sister. Now, many say they look alike, but I’ve never really seen it. And I think the fact that the prevailing theory after the first Lamaze class was that they were two lesbians having a child bore me out. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
So I think it really buggered everyone up when I showed up for the second class. Or it just added to the whole damn story. Was I the sperm donor? Who knew?
Anyway, being all New Agey, we got to sit on the floor. Yay. As it happened, the Wife was to my left. To my right was a pleasant guy, Ryan and his very pregnant wife, Lisa.
And, as it was a Lamaze class, and as it was the second time I was attending said class in three years…I was bored. And trying desperately to not piss off a wife that currently outweighed me.
So I figured I’d make nice with the dude beside me. So we started talking and the first thing that caught my attention was…well, I’ve give you the dialogue.
“So, you have any other kids?” I say.
“Yeah, we have a son, he’s just over three,” Ryan say.
“Oh yeah? Our daughter’s about the same age.”
“Yeah, well, Logan’s driving us nuts right now.”
“We already bought his Halloween costume and he won’t take the thing off.”
“Really?” I say, laughing at the fact that a three-year-old is calling the shots and also that they’ve already bought the damn costume and it isn’t even friggin’ September yet. These are the types that have their Christmas tree up right after Halloween, I think. Crazy saps. “So, what costume did you buy him?” I ask.
“It’s a Wolverine costume,” Ryan says. Now, two things struck me immediately. One was, Wolverine wasn’t anywhere near as popular back in 1996 as he is now, nor was he as well known. The first X-Men movie was still four years away. So I was impressed that his three-year-old had such discriminating taste. And then there was the second thing that hit me.
“Wait, you said his name is Logan?” I say.
“Yeah,” Ryan says.
“That’s kinda cool! Did you know Wolverine’s name is actually Logan?”
And without blinking, Ryan answers, “I know. That’s who he’s named after.” Then he smiles a little wider.
It was love.
Okay, if I’m honest, it was more jealousy. How come Ryan got to name a kid after a cool comic book superhero and I didn’t? Not fair!
But honestly, we ended up talking comics most of the class. And his wife Lisa tended to either laugh at something Ryan said, or give Karen a long-suffering look when we were deep into comicbookdom.
But Ryan’s humour and Lisa’s sparkling laugh and sunny personality did their work. As the Wife and I walked back to our car we both agreed we really liked them a lot, and we’d really only known them for an hour or so.
We continued to talk over the successive classes, then made plans to catch a movie. Ryan picked it and it wasn’t really until later we found out that, of the four of us, he was the only one that had really wanted to see Private Parts, Howard Stern’s autobiographical movie. But we all ended up enjoying it, and we had a great time.
Over the years, we got closer and closer. The running joke now is that either of us can apply the line from that lame-ass Tom Cruise movie Jerry Maguire. No, not the “show me the money” line. The other one. “You complete me.”
And, funny as it is, sarcastic as it is, in a way, it’s sort of true.
The last couple of weeks for both our household and Ryan and Lisa’s has been tense. One of those times when your normally fantastic kids aren’t quite so fantastic and the disappointment and strain takes you to your knees. At least it did in our case, I can’t speak for Ryan and Lisa. But I do know we were both craving an “adult night”.
Last night we had it. We went out for dinner and, though we had to wait a bit, we had fun chatting and catching up. Dinner was good, but I have to admit if we’d called it after dinner, I could have easily gone home and straight to bed. I was bone tired and it wasn’t from a lot of work or anything. Just…life getting in the way of living.
Instead, we went back to their house and pulled out a deck of cards and played two rounds of Euchre. Just two rounds. And somewhere around the middle of the second round, the magic happened.
I don’t know what it is about the four of us when we get together. I don’t think I’m bad with the humour, but Ryan is a frigging Jedi Knight when it comes to funny. He’s a black belt.
And it’s not like we’re all sitting there waiting for Ryan to come out with something funny. Because that’s not funny. That’s stress. It’s not like that. It’s just the four of us talking and joking and singing to bad 80s songs and complaining about our kids and complimenting our kids and…well, just easy conversation that comes from hanging out with people you are completely comfortable with.
And somehow, somewhere during that, damn near every time without fail, something is said that just…shuts. Us. Down.
It’s nothing I could ever do justice in writing out here. If I did, you as the reader would likely be left scratching your head wondering, what’s so damn funny about that?
And the answer would be, likely not much. Maybe it’s the line. Maybe it’s the way it’s delivered. Maybe it’s the look that accompanies it. Maybe it’s the unexpectedness of it. Maybe it’s the build-up of all the slightly less funny stuff before it that prepped us. Maybe it’s a combination of all of that. Who knows.
But when Ryan took an unexpected trick last night, picked up the cards and looked at us with a self-satisfied expression, pulled a slightly Hispanic accent, cocked his head at just the right angle, held the cards just right, and said, “mmmMMMMmmmm, tastes goooOOoood!” then stuck his tongue out as though to sensuously lick those cards, that was it.
And as much as the above description doesn’t do the actual event any justice (this is the what’s so damn funny about that part), the next description will absolutely fall short as well. But I’ll give it a go in hopes of a partial understanding.
When Ryan gets me, I typically laugh loud. Then, as I scale up, I go silent. Mouth open, one eye closed, the other squirting tears, chest spasming. It ain’t pretty. But that’s me laughing my ass off.
Then there’s the Wife. Snort……………..snort………….snort………..snort……….. Which eventually moves over to “Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh!”
Ryan gets this high-pitched giggle that sets me off into additional paroxysms of laughter.
And Lisa has this hooting laugh that sails above everyone else’s. Until she starts saying, “Oh my belly, oh my belly!” that Ryan mistakes for “Oh my golly, oh my golly!”
Again, I know this won’t mean anywhere near as much to anyone outside the four of us, but believe me when I say we’ve come to absolutely cherish these times. It’s gotten to the point where we’ll say we need a “Ryan & Lisa night” and they say they need a “Tobin & Karen night”.
And last night, I think the four of us needed a good, solid laugh. And we got it.
Don Henley has a song called Everything is Different Now. And in the song he says something about dropping to his knees and asking heaven to send him someone to love. The line that comes after that is
Heaven shot back, ‘You get the love that you allow.’ And everything is different now.
I don’t know if Ryan and Lisa know it, but they’ve probably saved my life more than once just by being the people they are. Just by bringing so much fun, support and laughter into our lives.
I’m so glad we have their friendship. I’m so glad this is the love that we’ve allowed.
I’m so glad the Wife talked me into that damn Lamaze class.