April 13, 2019

Chapter 16 - Special Friends

Special Friends

I was fortunate enough when I was a kid to make a friend that would change my life for the better in so many remarkable ways. I met Marie on April 2nd 1969. I was 16 and she was 14 and love was still new to both of us. It started as the usual school age crush; more for me than her I'm sure. She had the most beautiful blue eyes I had ever seen that always seemed to be smiling. I was a nerd before nerds even existed. A gangly, awkward misfit who hid his insecurities behind a self-deprecating kind of humor. Making fun of myself before others could. I could make her laugh so easy and she laughed a lot. But from the start she never seemed to be laughing at me... just with me.

I still remember the very minute I looked into her eyes up the back stairs of her home. It was love at first sight for both of us. She won't admit it as readily as I do but she went right to her diary and wrote about me. That's why we both remember the date. She recorded it and it stands as proof of the special moment we both shared.

But instead of ending up as most crushes do, a few dates, make out sessions and the inevitable breakup; we wound up in the most special and uncommon friendship two people could share. For 36 years we have been the closest of friends and have shared a unique bond that most men and women never experience. She has been a big part of my life and will be the subject of a lot of future posts… but not this one.

This story isn't about Marie. It's about the most special guy in both of our lives. He is the guy who is most responsible for us being able to maintain our friendship for such a long time. A guy who is as unique a man as you will ever meet. One who serves as an example of what a real man is all about.

His name is Joe and he is Marie's husband. He is also the man that I entrusted to keep, care for and protect the most cherished friend I have.

Marie is the luckiest girl alive. In Joe and I, Marie has managed to snag two of the greatest men in the world for her very own. But where I get to spend time with her when life permits, go out, have a dinner, have some laughs, enjoy her company and then drop her off and go home, Joe gets to live with her everyday while they build their home and raise their family together. I got the best part of that deal.

I met Joe soon after he met Marie. As was often the case, Marie and I talked about the people we were dating with each other. One of the measures of any prospective mate for both of us was how they handled the fact that we were friends. We felt that if they were insecure or suspicious and didn't seem to believe us or trust that that was what we really were… friends… it wasn't a good sign. The popular myth was that men and women couldn't REALLY be friends. Eventually sex would get in the way since, for a man especially; sex was what it was all about. But that never was the case with us. As boyfriends and girlfriends came and went we remained genuine friends.

Everyone thought we were weird. Either I was gay or just some kind of stalker or Marie was just stringing me along and using me. What use I could have served was a mystery since I had no money or car then but people will think what they want.

After meeting Joe, Marie called and said she had a guy she wanted me to meet. She spoke of him in a way that indicated he was something special. Big, blond and hunky to the max… and he was a very nice guy to boot.

Bullshit, I figured… he had to be a dork. He was blond for crying out loud! But Marie is a pretty good judge of character and if she wanted me to meet him he must be special to her. She said she had told Joe about me… about us… and he didn't seem to think it was weird that we were friends. Now I was really suspicious. Guys will say anything to get a girl into bed. That sounded like a classic line. Now I was obliged to give him the once over.

I went to the dance club with Marie, or maybe I met her there. It was always dangerous to put Marie in my cars because they had a weird way of breaking down every time we went somewhere together in one. She introduced me to Joe and almost as soon as we shook hands I decided I liked this guy. He looked me in the eye and smiled in a very genuine way. He spoke like he was actually glad to meet Maries "guy" friend that he had heard so much about. He was as nice as Marie had described and we gone along well from the start.

I smoked pot at the time so later we took a ride and I smoked a joint while we talked. I told him how much Marie meant to me and how important it was that he believe us and accept our friendship. He said he thought it was great and that he believed Marie absolutely.

This was the part in our conversation where I usually mention to guys that if they didn't treat her right or hurt her I would hunt them down with my brothers and kill them dead. But I don't think I ever said that to Joe. He was bigger than me and probably could have kicked my ass too. But it was something that I didn't need to say. My whole impression of him was that he was an excellent fellow and that he would treat Marie as I did. Like she was the special and beautiful person she was.

Marie liked him and so did I. He trusted us in what we said and I trusted him right away. I knew that he would take as good care of Marie as I would if I were him. He has never given me any reason ever since to feel differently.

I loved Marie but I would have made a lousy boyfriend. And I could never have been able to be a husband to her. While it was important to her, it was not something I wanted. I focused on being the best frined to her I could be and give her everyhting that we have a right to expect from a friend. But it took Joe to do the rest. Joe has given her all of the things in life that I couldn't. He provided the solid and stable husband and companion that you need to build a family and a future on. He's done a great job of taking care of them both. Which saved me a lot of work and worry.

I approved his marriage application personally when he asked her to marry him. I was finally able to be sure that he was the guy that I could trust to hold in his heart the girl that I had entrusted with mine. Marie's heart was big enough to share with us both.

Marie and Joe married and raised two kids. I, in the mean time, have had my share of relationships and have two kids of my own. As is often the case with long time friends, our lives have taken us on courses that dictate how much time we can spend together

Marie and I went out a lot together back then. Not on dates mind you, but for walks or to a club or just hanging out having popcorn and talking about whatever. We don't get together for nights out as much. Maybe once or twice a year. But we talk on the phone and send emails regularly. She had her family to raise and out of respect to Joe I tried not to intrude on their lives too often.
But our friendship is important to us both. Joe took it well before they were married. But even more important, after she married Joe, he still took it well. Because of his acceptance and understanding, while the opportunities were less frequent and our lives took different paths as the years passed, we were still able to go out when we could. With Joe's blessing our friendship has survived 36 years and is still growing.

Without Joe I don't believe it would have ever been possible for us to remain as close as we have.

Joe throughout it all has been nothing but great about our friendship… even supportive. Where most men would have expected it to pass, he has endured it without complaint. Where most men would hope or even give me reason to go away, he has never made me feel anything but welcome when I call or go out with Marie. And, though he would be welcome to join us anytime, he has been respectful enough, not to mention smart enough, to allow us to go out together alone. We are kind of peculiar and prone to laughing and rambling about the oddest things. With the silly way we act and get goofy when we do it's probably a good thing too. Besides, he gets the house to himself on those nights. Having the house to yourself is always a good thing as far as I'm concerned.

His trust in Marie is so strong and secure that it serves as an example of what a real man is all about. A real man who truly loves his wife should be able to trust her but few really do. Joe truly trusts Marie. He has never seen me as a threat to his relationship. He trusts his wife and more importantly, he trusts me. I am sure others in his life have raised an eyebrow over our friendship and wonder if Joe is a fool for letting this go on. Joe is no fool.

Joe knows how much I love Marie. Most men wouldn't take kindly to another man loving his wife. Most would even go so far as to beat me up. Which I think Joe can still do. It takes a special sort of person and an even more special man to allow it. Joe has been more than a great guy in allowing me to continue being her friend and her to be mine. He has been a great friend as well. A friend in a way that is just as special to me as Marie has been. Joe and I share a friendship that is as unique between two men as my friendship with Marie when it comes to a man and woman.

I hope he knows that she is as safe with me as she is with him. I hope he knows that I would never violate the trust he puts in me when he entrusts me with her company. I hope he knows how much I trust him to take care of her for me as well.

In Joe, Marie has found a one-of-a-kind guy. And so have I.

I hope they stay together and happy as long as they live. In doing so, I know that Marie and I will too.

She hates when I get mushy and say this. And I say it a lot more to her than she does to me, but it's true anyway. It's not the same as the love that Marie and Joe share. They go to a level that is far beyond what Marie and I share. But what we share is every bit as special and even more unique. And he might not realize it but Joe shares it with us.

I love Marie… Marie loves me.

We both love Joe.

I'll bet he's smiling and blushing right now as he reads this. If not then I am going to get my ass kicked!

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