My friendship with Joe is like no other friendship I have. I feel a little like we operate out of a secret clubhouse with a sign that says “No Grownups Allowed!!!” Not that we do anything bad in our virtual fort, but sometimes we like stuff other people might think is weird, or eccentric. Or worse, boring. In my mind, we have lots of adventures – not extreme adventures, by any means – but things like a day trip to a cool cemetery is not for everybody. (Celia Cruz’s new mausoleum! Look: Miles Davis is right next to Duke Ellington!)
Another example: every outing, no matter how small, includes a search for the best hot dog. We’ve taken the subway to Coney Island just to go to the original Nathan’s; driven off many highway exits just with a billboard promise. Believe me, we have tried places lesser men (and women) would have passed over.
But my favorite part of being Joe’s friend is that we’re always trading favors, doing something special for each other. It’s not one-upmanship, or trying to pay back, or evening things out. There will be times I won’t see Joe for weeks, but today was a perfect example of the way we roll.
I was working at the store, and saw him lurking nearby while I was talking to a customer. “Wait 15 minutes,” I said, “and we can have lunch together.” He was saving his hot dog experience for the Yankees game he was headed to, but I bought him an ice cream cone. No big deal, just a way to say Thanks for stopping by. As he left, we talked about trying to go to the US Open tennis matches the next day. Joe took charge. “I’ll get out there first, intimidate a couple of tickets out of someone, and give you a call when all is ready,” he promised. Oh, boy. And then, as incredible luck would have it, I received a phone call at 5:01 pm as I was leaving work: two free tickets for tonight.
Who’d I call? You got it. We hop on the subway, and start our night’s adventure. First stop: Joe buys me a hot dog.
You get what you give.