Sunday, February 24, 2008

All About Me

This is Megan.
She's a koala.
She's eating eucalyptus leaves.

(We had just been exercising in the Sheep's Meadow under a hot summer sun. I'm sweaty, red-faced, and blotchy the way you're supposed to be. She looks like she just stepped out of the shower. Maybe she's glowing. A bit. God, I hate that bitch.)

This is Jeff.
He's a clown.
He's wearing a rubber nose.
Also a hat.

(It's all right, he's a good clown, he won't hurt you. Seriously, he's really funny. Okay, okay, breathe...No no, the T shirt is a name, not an instruction...yes, I understand but- uh huh... look, he's also a great actor, and he doesn't wear the nose then. Usually. Does that help? ...All right, if you would just come over --look, will you calm down-no... no... Seriously dude, would you CHILL? Jesus Christ on a Bicycle!)

Jeff and Megan have known each other since high school in Northern Virgina (NoVA, to the cool kids, and believe me, these kids are cool), were sweethearts for a while, and managed to maintain a friendship throughout college and the years after. Well, last Tuesday the Koala and the Clown decided that their duo was too good, too right, and should be made a permanent thing. I couldn't agree more.

I've been trying all weekend to explain why this makes me so deleriously happy. The funny thing about trying to explain why you love people is it so hard to do without sounding like a Hallmark card, or just listing their fine qualities. On top of that, the entry about their engagement kept becoming all about me, and why I wanted this to happen. I don't seem to be getting anywhere though, and what the hell, it IS my blog, so here are just a few of the things that make me happy about all this.

I met Jeff doing the original play Significant Circus back in spring of 2001, and he was but one of many precious gifts I took away from that experience. I tend to treat straight men like timid woodland creatures when I first meet them, moving slowly and deliberately so as not to startle them, in the hopes that maybe eventually they'll feel safe enough to eat from my hand. Initially Jeff seemed like a prime candidate for this policy, but I soon found I was selling him short. You have to understand, in this play, while Jeff was playing a human being, I was playing a dog. A talking dog. Nor was this my first time (see, all about me...). We only had a couple of scenes together, and our characters didn't really interact much, we were usually just there as parts of crowd scenes. At one point we had stopped while the director attended to some other problem, me crouched at Jeff's feet, both of us lost in our own thoughts. It took me a few moments to notice that Jeff was petting me absent-mindedly, scritching me behind the ears... Just petting the dog. I doubt he was even conscious of it; like I said, it had been going on for some moments before I was. If that hadn't been enough, I knew we were going to be friends when he, I, and two other (hot!) actors decided to run our extremely physical, acrobatic, full-body-contact fight call in our underwear. Just 'cause. It was that kind of play.

He is one of the most disciplined, hard-working people I know, and at times I feel like he's driven, and too self-flagellating (like life in New York Theatre doesn't beat you enough). I'll tell him to lighten up periodically, yet I'm also awed by how much he gets done. Generally he's juggling roughly 493 projects at once, in three states and two countries (I'm not kidding), but even then, if you ask him to help you move, he's there. I swear, if I suddenly needed to move while he was working in Italy, he would find a way to be there that day, and still miss less than an hour's rehearsal. And you have to understand, we're talking about moving IN NEW YORK CITY. No place to park, five floor walk-ups with no elevators, doors and staircases that are too small for TV sets, let alone actual furniture... nope, he's there, and usually taking charge.

I met Megan a few years later, when she moved to New York as their relationship rekindled. As with Jeff, I initially thought she was sweet, lovely, a bit shy and reserved, a southern gal I might easily scandalize accidentally. I was just as wrong with her. While she and I haven't wrestled in our underwear (yet), I quickly learned she was actually a hot dancer, a rocker-chick with a serious Guns N' Roses fetish and several tattoos. At first I thought it odd someone like this was studying library science, but it just turned out I hadn't met enough librarians. She can drink me under the table, which granted isn't that hard these days, but she IS a lot smaller than me. Of the two of them, she's far more likely to be the one causing trouble in public, and she gets away with it because she can turn on the Bambi eyes, and just look like a sweet young thing. I adore this about her. I also adore the fact that when she's writing papers, she wears bunny ears because "they help me think." When she has her glasses on she looks like she's the librarian at the Playboy Mansion. She and I bonded when we learned each of us has a Muppet Dance (Jeff likes to make us sit on the same side of the booth in restaurants, so he can watch us do them simultaneously). Her sense of humor is often wicked, and I adore this about her too.

Then there are all the things I love about them that they have in common: their writing skill, their empathy, their ability to switch from serious to silly on a dime (and not belittle either one), their love of books, art, dance, theatre, music, good food, red wine -all the things that make for wonderful friendships and amazing conversations, but perhaps not particularly good stories. They've challenged me, supported me, and maybe best of all, helped me make my work better. I feel blessed by my time with them, hearing, being heard, loving, and being loved.

They're also both smokin' hot, and not afraid to give me smooches when I need 'em. (Which, for the record, is CONSTANTLY. Probably half the reason I went into theatre. All about me.)

The road to this point has been a long one, and what with them being human beings and all, not always easy. They were split up for a time, a few years ago. I've had good couple friends break up before (who hasn't) and knew I would have no trouble maintaining a friendship with each of them. So why was I so upset by the break-up? Sure I was sad that they were both hurting, that made sense, but this seemed like something more. Gradually I began to realize that I felt strongly that they were SUPPOSED to be together. Unlike in previous cases, I had an opinion, dare I say, an AGENDA even, in this.

I was good. I behaved. I did not breathe a word of this to either of them, because what the hell did I know, it wasn't my decision, I wasn't involved, I didn't know all the things that had come between them, and besides I know better than to advise people on much of anything but especially romance, yeah, let's look at my track record, and no one wants advice when they're in this much pain anyway, and they DEFINITELY don't need me pursuing my own AGENDA for god's sake, what kind of moron would risk alienating both his friends by meddling in their affairs like this because HE wants them to reconcile...?

(All about me.)

Nope I didn't say a thing (right, guys? I didn't, did I? I was good, right?). And I worked at picturing them with other people, starting new relationships, building different lives. They were mine, I wasn't going to lose them, and since it's all about me, that's what mattered.

BUT... I was thrilled when they reconciled, saw that if anything the bond was stronger and healthier now, maybe in some way the split had been necessary. It was good. So glad you two finally saw sense and did what I wanted, ya pinheads. (Me. All. About.) I'm sure I'm only one of many people saying this to you. Together and separately you have inspired, delighted and supported me. I hope you'll let me return the favor, whenever I can.


Moheggie said...

The Kuala and the Clown. I think you've just given me an idea for the "Save the Date" cards.
Oh Patrick, this was so wonderful! This post made me feel like I've just bitten into a Snice cupcake - warm, gooey, loved, utterly happy! Um, yeah, stepping away from that analogy....

You are such a great friend and have been such a big support through this! You've always listened to me talk, and talk, and talk, and talk..and, well you get the idea. I can't wait to Muppet Dance together at the wedding!!

See you soon? Like before winter comes again? ;)

tornwordo said...

Sounds like it's your job to throw the engagement party.

Moheggie said...

Dang it, I misspelled koala.

I was thinking about the cupcakes too much. mmm....

Jeff said...

Tornwordo: Better him than me.

Apart from getting a little mired in a cupcake analogy, Megan's feelings reflect my own, dear Patrick. Thank you. Indeed, you never revealed your belief in us when we were trying so hard to let that belief go, and your support during all the sundry phases of my relationship with Megan has meant the world. Even simple things, like chirrupping "I like Megan!" along with Mel have helped me see clearly.

YOU are amazing, and you damn well better know it. Else we'll have to wrestle in our underwear again. Megan will understand! She'll referee!

dantallion said...

I haven't had a serious case of the warm and fuzzies in quite some time. And now I do, thanks to you, the koala (or kuala, I'm not a stickler) and the clown.

Best wishes to what seem to be a comple of pretty extraordinary friends.

(I'm thinking the wedding should have a circus-esque theme...)

john said...

I like the nickname Koala!
Red and blotchy is the way most normal people are after exercising.
I think that friendship can be the strongest of bonds. It can be the basis for years and years of love.

Cooper said...

Patrick, what an amazing tribute to your friends! If I were them, I'd print this out and tuck it away somewhere to read whenever I was having a bad day. I'm with Dan, here ... floating in a cloud of warm fuzzies! This post could almost cure me of my lifelong fear of clowns. Congrats, Jeff and Megan!

Joe Jubinville said...

"It took me a few moments to notice that Jeff was petting me absent-mindedly, scritching me behind the ears... Just petting the dog."

Now that's acting! Is 'scritching' a word? It should be.

I knew a straight couple in NY whom I adored. I photographed their wedding. I would have been devastated had their relationship failed. They were MY Bonnie & Cal, and had no right to mess up.

Cool photos. Can I come 'fly' with you?

Brian said...

Awesome! Congratulations to them both.

Bill said...

That is a beautiful tribute to your friends.

Sooo-this-is-me said...

That was really sweet and I am glad that you guys have each other.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. You have excellent decision making skills in getting the world to revolve around you.

And I totally remember the audition notice in Backstage for the koalas!!! I can't believe I actually know the people who got the job...