A Guy Who Brings Out the Best (Man) in Me

We sat on a hill in Berkeley, looking down at the twinkling lights. Removed from the world, for just a while, we smoked one of those silly Bidi cigarettes, having finished off a disgusting bottle of Strawberry Boone’s Farm “wine” from the local grocery store. It was late summer, and I was visiting my friend Chris in San Francisco.

It was the summer that Andrew Cunanan had gone on his killing spree, and the gay world felt a little haunted.

It was the summer that Princess Diana died in a car crash after being chased by the paparazzi.

It was the summer I came out in the local hometown newspaper, but before I could summon the courage to do that, I needed to seek counsel from friends.

Best of all, it was the summer that solidified an enduring friendship.

Which brings me back to the opening scene.

On that hill, which was dry and brown with the drought of a dying summer, I sat beside my straight friend Chris. We didn’t know it then, but our lives were just beginning. (When you’re that young every day can feel like the end of the world.) We expressed our frustration with not finding love yet, and back then Chris seemed a lot calmer about the whole thing – our roles would flip-flop over the years.)

My fear of the straight male had always kept me from making many straight guy friends. Reaching out, and extending a tentative hand to someone who could be cruel and awful and abusive, and trusting that this person wouldn’t be. It was a leap of faith, one I wish I had taken more than I usually did.

In ways more numerous than either of us are willing to admit, we would eventually find that we were very similar. We’re both sensitive: I pretend I’m not, he overemphasizes how much he is. We’re both ego-driven: he pretends he’s not, I overemphasize how much I am. And we both tend to need other people who don’t seem to need us quite as much as we need them.

Our friendship has proven surprisingly effortless, yet incomparably enduring, evolving over the years and growing as we grew. Through dark periods of pain to elated planes of happiness, we’ve seen each other through a lot – through everything as adults really.

Chris planted the seeds of a tenuous start to trusting people, to having a certain degree of faith in humanity. It was a small start, but most beginnings are, and in the ensuing years of friendship, he’s reminded me that there are good people in this world, no matter how cruel and wicked it might sometimes seem.

I don’t give my true friends the credit they deserve, at least not publicly, but I’m getting better at it. As in most things, Chris is showing me the way. As I write this on his wedding weekend, let it be a little testament to a great guy, and a great friend.

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