Tuesday, June 11, 2013

On Friends and Nicknames

I went to the hardware store, I mean, bar last night. It's a gay bar named "Hardware". My friend, Joe, joked that he needed to get me some paint, I mean, beers.

"Drunk?" Joe said. "On two beers?"

"Yes," I said, woozily. It had been a long time since I'd been to a gay bar. Or a bar, for that matter. Two beers plus the lack of a child hanging off of you makes a gal feel light as a feather.

"Blanca" and "Uncle" Joe at "Hardware"
Before we went to the gay bar, I took him to my favorite spot. The park. It had been a long time since Joe had been to a park. I don't think he'd ever been to a park with a child.

We used to get together to scope out eye candy of the male variety, to spend the night out on the town, and to swap stories about romantic adventures.

Our paths have diverged since. I took a right turn at the nuclear family exit.

I doubt spending time with kids is Joe's favorite thing to do. Hardware is more his speed. But he comes over and lets Claire call him Uncle Joe. He listens to my stories about how much she has grown, or our latest trip to the zoo. He helps Claire down the slide at the park, and pretends he's as excited as she is. Again, Hardware is more his speed.

You know you're friends with someone when you can change, and they still love you. Joe is a true friend. We share a connection that is bigger than our circumstances. Our relationship is deeper than our day-to-day commonalities. For all of these things, I am grateful.

I'm glad he hasn't changed either. Every now and then, he reminds me of my life passed. He reminds me of who I used to be. Sometimes, I need a reminder that I am not only a mom and a wife, I am a good friend.

After a few beers, he starts calling me "Blanca" (a long story that would mean nothing to anyone but us). I wonder if I'll ever share the "Blanca" story with Claire. I doubt it. It's an intimacy between Joe and me. Over the years, the story has taken on more significance than the specific event itself.

His nickname for me says, "We have a meaningful history that precedes you, Claire."

It says, "Joe was my friend long before he earned the nickname, Uncle Joe, and long before Blanca became Mama."


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26 comments:

  1. What a great friend to have! :)

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  2. Oh Joe sounds like an amazing friend and you are both blessed to have a wonderful friendship like yours!! :)

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  3. My cousin Joey is kind of awesome.

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  4. Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh. (more oh.)
    This is a perfect tribute to those who have given our stories meaning throughout the years...the years before we became the people that we are now. I thank you for reminding me of my excellent friend Scott who used to take me to bars and call me his sister. (oh the hot men)
    I thank you for making me want to reach out to him and find out how he was doing. I thank you for making me miss ALL of the old amazing friends that don't get my life but get me. Awesome amazing post, Rachel. As always. I'd like to hear the "Blanca" story. But have some of my own...so get it if you choose not to share.

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    1. Ha! The Blanca story really isn't that intriguing. I swear! I want you to go find Scott...

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  5. Girls who love boys who love boys. I dearly love my gay best friends. They are just so refreshing!

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    1. I am in love with this comment, Catherine!

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  6. Such an awesome thing to have such an amazing friend!
    www.mommysrambles.blogspot.com

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    1. Life would not be the same without Joe. He has been there for me through ups and downs!

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  7. Some friendships are just eternal!

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  8. Beautiful.

    I am that friend who is not too excited about the slide things, but I do my best to be because my friend is important to me and her child is important to me. Her child is an extension of my friend.

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    1. Such a lovely sentiment, Stephanie. Your friend is lucky to have you. I'm not surprised that you are such a good friend.

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  9. Oh my gosh what a great thought, that Blanca still exists but in Hardware's world not in Uncle Joe's. I think it is beyond awesome that your friendship has survived your (and his) life changing experiences. I bet you are both better friends for it!

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  10. Good friends are hard to come by, and it sounds like you and Uncle Joe have that close friend.

    Ew. It sounds creepy when I call him Uncle Joe.

    And make sure to let him know that although he can go to the park and scope out dudes with you, if he goes alone it screams "Pedophile!" Just an FYI.

    I love gay bars and I love my gay friends. Everyone needs a "main gay" which is your best gay guy friend. It looks like Uncle Joe is your main gay.

    I will stop calling him Uncle Joe now.

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    1. Lisa, you just plain crack me up! You are right. The only one who can call him "Uncle Joe" with a straight face is Claire!!

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  11. This is my favorite line: "You know you're friends with someone when you can change, and they still love you." That, my friend, is the heart of all good relationships, including marriage. Learning to accept each other's changes. :)

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    1. It's true. And to accept our faults and when we fall down too.

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  12. First of all, gay bars? That's a party.
    I'm so happy that you have such a wonderful friend in your life. Those are few and far in between. Anyone who sticks by through changes...etc. is someone that holds a special place in your heart forever.

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    1. Joe has seen me through MANY ups and downs.

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  13. Wow, what a great slice-of-life post.

    Having those friends who grow along with you is one of life's treasures. I don't mean to sound trite; sometimes you don't know the strength of a friendship until you are in different places and you are still inextricably linked.

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  14. This post made me smile. I miss my gay friends. One is touring with a musical group, the other lives in Georgia with his partner. They are very special guys to me.

    My friend who is touring now used to try to take me out to "find me a man", and maybe one for him while we were at it. The problem with this was that he was so amazingly good looking that everyone just assumed we were together. But we had so much together, I didn't really care. Gosh I miss that so much! He's doing very well now, and apart from a mini reunion a couple of years ago where I surprised him at one of his concerts, I haven't had the opportunity to see him in many years.

    And you've never really partied until you've been to a few gay bars, particularly ones with drag queens. Work it girl!

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