An Entire Journal Entry All About Ed Kaz!
"I have somebody named 'Ed Yaz' on the line for you," announces Cathlene the Receptionist Person. She sounds vaguely wary, as though she's worried that she's transferring a call from a dangerously unhinged menace to society.
'Ed Yaz' has that effect on some people.
For about a quarter of a bazillionth of a second, I consider asking Cathlene to tell Edmund that I'm "out to lunch." Not because I'm dodging his call, or because I'm so incredibly busy doing Incredibly Important Executive Ass stuff that I don't have time for phone chat ... but because I have been a lousy inattentive preoccupied bad bad BAD friend to him, the past few months, and I'm embarrassed and ashamed of myself and not sure what I'm going to say to him.
But of course I take the call.
"So, you're getting married, huh?" he says.
The question is rhetorical. Edmund was on the short list of people who knew I was engaged before the ink was barely dry on the Zales receipt. Last week he received his invitation in the mail. (Even though it's doubtful that he'll be flying in from New Jersey for the wedding, I nonetheless felt compelled to send him an invitation. I'm still angling for that waffle iron.)
Yep, I reply. It's beginning to look like I'm actually going to go through with it and marry this one.
There is a moment of silence as we both contemplate this ... and as we contemplate the long and complex history that has brought us to this point in our friendlationship.
My friendship with Edmund has not, as a rule, gone over well with my Romantic Partners du Moment. The Ex-Husband once posted a "memo" above my computer -- this was while I was basically living under house arrest -- with a list of names of people I was no longer "allowed" to converse with online. "EdmundKaz" was at the top of the list. A couple of years later, the Oregon Boyfiend threw me out of the Jimmy when he found a printed e-mail from Edmund stuck into the middle of a library book.
"Why is this guy saying 'I love you'?" he snarled. And then he threw the library book out of the car, too.
It's been an interesting six years.
Trying to explain the nature of our peculiar but enduring friendship to my ex husband, to the Boyfiend, to assorted other romantic dalliances and diversions along the way -- that we consider ourselves artistic peers, that we provide each other with emotional and creative support, that we love each other but aren't "in love" -- was invariably a waste of perfectly good *explanation molecules.* Edmund was a GUY ... and a good-looking, charming, funny, sexually-compelling guy, at that ... and was therefore immediately and permanently suspect.
The truth, of course, is that they had every right to worry. I can think of at least a couple of times when, if just one or two critical elements in our lives had been different, the friendship could have gone in another direction completely.
But it didn't. And that's sort of the point.
David, not surprisingly, has been the enlightened exception to the rule. "Hell," he says, "if I was female, I'D fall in love with Ed Kaz, too."
Right from the start, David has not only supported the friendship, he has gone out of his way to help it along. ("Let's mail Ed the Springsteen bootlegs!") The thing David seems to understand, I think -- the thing that none of the others were ever able to grasp, in the midst of all of their testosterone-induced fussing and fuming -- is this: that there is an underlying element of sexual/romantic tension in every male/female friendship, regardless of how platonic it may be ...
... and that simply knowing someone could have been "The One" doesn't forever make them "The One That Got Away."
Our phone conversation lasts for most of my lunch hour. We touch on all of the important bases: his job, my job, his job some more (he rode the elevator with Leslie Stahl last week; he's on the same phone extension list with Barbara Walters) ... our kids, our former spouses, our current romantic partners ... shameless gossip about assorted former Boom Room people (including the handful who are flying to TicTac for the wedding next month) ... the new ELO album, and whether either one of us wants to shell out $18.97 to hear Jeff Lynne making his Aston Martin payments (we don't) ... ad infinitum.
The thing that sets this particular phone conversation apart from the bazillion other conversations we've had over the years, I think, is that we are in remarkably similar places at the same time. We're both divorced but happily involved. We're both working. We're both mostly-happy. We're both cranking out creative content on a semi-regular basis. Frankly, I can't remember a time when we've both been so disgustingly healthy, emotionally and otherwise.
"Now you have to write about me on your website," he says, as we're getting ready to hang up.
I tell him that I'm sorry, I've already written that day's journal entry -- a fun little entry, all about how I've been wearing my wedding dress backwards for the past month -- but that I'll see if I can 'fit him in' sometime in the near future.
"I might be able to mention you in passing, tomorrow or the next day," I say. He laughs.
It isn't until after we get off the phone that I realize we've hung up without our customary "Love you." I'm not sure what this means. Was it just an oversight? Are we drifting apart? Are we out of practice? Does he feel weird about saying 'Love you' to another man's bride-to-be?
Or is he still pissed about me killing off his character in "Pool Party '97"?
For a moment I consider calling him back, under one pretext or another ("I forgot to ask -- did you get the Springsteen bootlegs we sent you?"). But then I remember that I don't have his latest work phone number. I don't have time to sit down and write an e-mail -- my lunch hour is shot -- and it's probably going to be a couple of days before I have a chance to sign onto AOL and seek him out for an i.m. conversation.
But it's OK. I'm already beginning to realize that I'm probably overreacting.
The nicest thing about a friendlationship like the one I enjoy with Edmund is this: it doesn't require constant care and feeding. In fact, it tends to wither under too much scrutiny or micromanagement. We can go away for a while and do other things -- him on the East Coast, me over here on the Superior Coast -- living our lives, shlogging through our days, working, writing, doing our stuff, with only occasional fleeting Hihowyadoing? contact ... and yet, when we DO actually have the time and the opportunity to connect in more meaningful fashion, we invariably manage to pick right up where we left off.
Which is why verbalizing our feelings for each other isn't always necessary.
Still ... this might be as good a time as any for me to *verbalize* the following:
(Or, in the words of the immortal Earl Peterson, Michigan's Singing Cowboy: "YOU are so funny! WE are so funny! Life, for us, is one big CAPER!")