Monday, November 12, 2018

Time is Telling

When you haven't spoken to your best friend from college in six months, you're overdue.

The two of us had spent all last week trying to ascertain when the best time to talk would be, no easy proposition since our phone calls usually last about two hours and I had all kinds of things I had to or wanted to accomplish on Saturday.

And getting out of bed early wasn't one of them.

She had a haircut at 10 a.m., but I had a walk to do that was complicated by the marathon going on, lunch plans in service of my hired mouth, errands to run and an afternoon show to catch a favorite band I hadn't seen in a while, so we finally settled on 5:30 p.m.

Good thing we started early, too, or we'd never have been off the phone by 9:00.

The walk was my annual reminder that somehow people are so totally clueless as to be completely unaware of how much of the city is closed down for runners. I know because I saw the same cars sitting in traffic or making repeated loops in their vain attempts to cross Lombardy or Broad (impossible) or figure out a secret shortcut that would set them free.

Get on the highway or go home, kids.

In Carytown running errands, I was delayed by the guy singing to recorded tracks in front of the Virginia Shop. Stepping out of the car to his smiling face and dulcet tones singing the Spinners' "I'll Be Around" was matched only by returning to hear him do Smokey's "The Tracks of My Tears." I could have stood there half the afternoon just to hear him sing so beautifully.

After lunch, I dropped off the car and walked over to Gallery 5 for King of Pops' "Popchella" show, arriving in time to hear the last few songs of the Wimps' set. I'm not going to lie, it was a cold day and the last thing I wanted was a frozen pop, even if King of Pops was giving them away, although more than a few people were sucking on a pop.

Not me, I stood directly next to the radiator to hear the Wimps' lead singer say, "This song is for everyone who's ever had a broken heart. So it's for everyone." True that. Favorite line: "I know I left a lot of holes. Careful, darlin', how you fill 'em." Conclusion? I'll go see the Wimps again for a full set.

The band had a look going on, with suspenders being the common thread. The singer's suspenders were blue, the bass player's patterned and the drummer's pink. Only the keyboard player had the nerve to let his flannel shirt go un-suspendered.

Next up was Spooky Cool, a long-time favorite and in his usual, understated way, lead singer Zac announced, "We're Spooky Cool. We have some songs" and began playing to a half-filled room of attentive fans. The one thing you can count on with Spooky Cool is how beautifully Zac's ethereal voice will blend with the female singer's in harmony, even as the band rocks out.

A few songs in, Zac was heating up and asked the bassist to help him pull his hoodie sleeve off without removing his guitar. "How's that belly sweat stain coming along?" he asked, tugging on a sleeve. "It's getting there," Zac said, pushing his long hair back and pulling his t-shirt out to give said belly some air before launching into "Time Will Tell."

"We're Spooky Cool and we appreciate you being here on a Saturday afternoon and not running," Zac said to close out. Who would run when they could be listening to bands play four blocks from home? And that's not even with a pop in hand.

I got home exactly ten minutes before She Who Hated Me On Sight and Has Loved Me Since College and I were to rendezvous on the phone. My only error was in not fueling up beforehand, resulting in multiple mini-meals being taken during the course of the phone call. She'd never have known if I hadn't started choking on a pretzel mid-story.

I'm not a good telephone person, never have been, but when your best friend lives in god-forsaken Texas (or North Dakota or New Hampshire), you have no choice but to suck it up and be a phone person, at least for a couple hours.

This time, we added a visual element as I sent her photographs throughout the conversation. First, it was one of Mr. Wright and me because she was naturally curious about this person who set my world on its ear. But then she wanted to see snaps of my sisters and parents, whom she hadn't seen in 30 years.

"Wow, Pat looks great!" she gushed about my Mom. "She's hardly changed at all!" That's one comment I'll definitely pass along to Mom, who won't believe it but will nonetheless appreciate the words. Some of my five sisters she couldn't recognize at all, while others she thought were instantly familiar. A photo of me with her and her ex in Dallas from a decade ago was one she barely recalled, although it set her off on a tangent about the color of her hair at the time.

Hey, we are our own worst critics.

And because she's been my best friend since I was 19, we laugh almost non-stop. Half the time, we don't even have to finish our sentence to elicit a response from the other. She still gives me a hard time about things she was giving me a hard time about in the '70s and '80s and I take it because it gives her such pleasure.

What I didn't expect was all the bonus points she, the athlete in this duo, gave me for some of my activities with Mr. Wright. Canoeing, tandem bicycle riding and going to a Cubs game all elicited new respect from her since none seemed like things she thought I'd ever do.

Let's just say we've come a long way since she tried to teach me to play tennis, 'though she loves to crack herself up thinking about what a failure I was at it.

Finally, after three and a half hours talking, she pointed out the time and it only seemed wise to wrap up the conversation, with a plan to talk again before the end of the year so we don't have so much ground to cover.

Next morning, I woke up to a message from her. "I haven't laughed that much in a long time. I cannot tell you enough how truly happy I am that your life is going so beautifully. There is no one in the world who deserves it more."

Pshaw, it's not for me to say I deserve it. But I was careful, darlin', and waited my turn for it to happen. Tennis was hard. Nothing was easier than this.


  1. You don't have to say you deserve it, I will.
    You deserve it!

  2. Says the man who told me at 20 that I was "hopelessly romantic!"