When I was in college, my mother gave me a book called "A Couple of Friends: the Remarkable Friendship between Straight Women and Gay Men."
Years later, I'm actually friends with the guy on the cover.
All my life, I've found a kinship with wonderful men, men who shot me the same mischeivious look the first day of drama club. Stick me in a bar, a hotel, an airplane or addiction treatment facility and I will find a fast friend in a gay man. One of the greatest gifts the good Lord has given me is this instant understanding and connection with homosexual men.
And tonight, I had dinner with my friend Ron. My parents will tell you Ron is really their friend, their fabulous find of gregarious laughter and warm charm wrapped up in a Hermes bow tie. But Ron and I have a special connection and when he sends me an out-of-the-blue email asking me to dinner...well, I pulled out the new dress.
"I haven't seen you in ages!" He screamed as I arrived. "Let me order you a martini!"
Ron and I obviously had a lot to talk about.
2 hours later, we emerged from the restaurant, hugging and laughing with plans to meet up at his new place in Palm Springs, a weekend retreat with something called a "dining pavillion." I thought about Ron the whole glowing drive home from dinner, wondering how someone supposed to be my folks' friend ended up becoming such a dear confidante of mine. And the truth, I suppose, is because when I confess that while everything is marvelous and life is grand, I feel the occasional twinge of guilt and worry for not having provided my family with the big weddings and bouncing babies their friends seem so busy with, Ron reached out his hand and grabbed mine.
"My dear, I know just what you mean."
He does, of course. Ron gets what it's like to be a little bit different, gets how it feels to peak late and gets why something called a "dining pavillion" is so much more fabulous than "the room where we eat." We can spot each other you know, the dining pavillion people. We can find each other in the darkest corners of the Earth. We can even find each other as children.
I vividly remember my first gay friend, a 11 year old two years behind me in grammar school whose parents were professional cabaret singers. We never really spoke, what with him being in 6th Grade and me being in 8th. But everyone, including this kid, knew he was gay. One day before some special Christmas Mass, there was a knock at the 8th grade door. It was the gay kid from 6th Grade.
He popped his perfectly coiffed blonde head in the classroom and asked, "May I please see Beth Spotswood?"
Confused and concerned a 6th Grader thought he was cool enough to talk to me, I walked to the door.
"Hi Beth." He looked up at me. "I understand you know how to tie a tie."
As we stood in the hallway, my hands perfecting the Windsor knot, he said, "I like you."
My dear, I know just what you mean...