Published Thursday, 24-Nov-2005 in issue 935
I just realized that time is running out. Specifically on my deadline for this column, but in general it seems like I’m double-booked to do things with friends, and that I barely have time for myself let alone a date if someone were to ask me out on one. Now the holidays are just around the corner, with parties here, traveling there – and let’s not forget Christmas shopping – I have to ask… are we running out of time?
“Poker’s on; see you at my house at 7:30,” was the voicemail I got from Alex while I was on my way home from my final softball game of the season. I quickly realized I was double-booked – I had agreed to go out drinking with my team at Hamburger Mary’s Detour to celebrate the end of another season, and it was also my friend John’s birthday. I cancelled of course, but with it only being a few hours before the game I knew I was in hot water with Alex. It wasn’t until later, when I saw one of my poker pals, John (yes, a different one, and yes I could do a column on all the John’s in my life… and no I don’t mean like that, perverts!), that I realized I wasn’t the only one who bailed for a night out – and I knew there would be hell to pay.
My friend Aaron recently called to tell me he was going to be in town for a conference. I explained to him that I haven’t had a lot of free time lately, and the few free weekends I have had in the last couple of months I have been out of town.
“Yeah, I know you’ve been doing some traveling. I even saw pictures of you at Folsom,” Aaron said, as I began to wonder how a guy who lived in Indiana saw pictures of me in San Francisco.
“How did you see pictures of me from Folsom?” I asked, almost afraid of what his response would be.
“My friend Joe’s uncle took a picture of you,” Aaron explained, and described my outfit for the big leather fest. “We thought it was you, but we weren’t sure until we saw your tattoo.”
Strange things were afoot when Alex didn’t return calls about our regular dinner date on Monday night at Baja Betty’s. At first I didn’t think anything of it, but then when he didn’t show up for our regular night in front of the TV to watch “The Amazing Race,” I knew something was wrong. So I did what any friend would do… I e-mailed his boyfriend, Fox, to see if he knew what was going on.
Aaron got into town just in time for our little heat wave, and since winter had already started in Indiana he got a little more than he bargained for when he only packed business clothes for his work meetings out here. Of course, I took him to the coolest place in town to get lunch on a Saturday afternoon, Hamburger Mary’s, where the patio was already packed with people drinking and carrying on. It wasn’t long before Aaron literally got hot under the collar and had to get rid of his dress shirt. I thought we were going to have to cut the afternoon short, but after getting outside in the cool breeze he started to feel better again. Afterward, we stopped into Martin & Wall to do a little shopping.
“Whenever I’m feeling bad, all you have to do is take me shopping and I feel better right away!” Aaron exclaimed as he pulled a new Ben Sherman shirt off the rack.
Fox finally got back to me about Alex.
“From what I understand, Alex was frustrated that many people flaked on poker,” Fox explained via e-mail. “This has everything to do with Alex’s frustrations with being let down by his friends. I can sympathize with Alex feeling like he was let down after not having his calls returned, so perhaps he gave people a taste of their own medicine.”
My suspicions were confirmed that this was indeed retaliation for poker apathy.
Speaking of apathy, time was running out for me to get this column done, and I was short on material, including a topic to write about. It was quickly becoming a column about procrastination, in my mind. I met Brian, my friend, confidant, workout partner and source for endless entertainment, at the gym for our regular Monday night workout.
“I need you to be funny,” I told him. “My column was due today and I’m completely stuck. I need something good to write about.”
“Well, what’s it about?” Brian asked earnestly
“I don’t know yet,” I said. “Want to go to dinner with Alex and me? I need you there to laugh whenever Alex says something funny, so I’ll know what to put in,” I explained that Alex was finally back to his old routine, including our Monday night dinners.
“Well, I already have plans tonight… are you guys going next week?” Brian asked.
“If you commit to going, I’m sure Alex will make it next week,” I said, knowing how much fun the three of us would have… especially if there were margaritas involved.
“Well, don’t say I’m committing to it,” Brian said as I rolled my eyes. “But I’ll see what I can do.”
Alex did eventually return from his self-imposed exile, and we even managed to make it out for one last Monday night dinner at Betty’s before he headed off to see his family for Thanksgiving. The first thing I said when we sat down to eat was, “OK, I really need you to be on tonight. My column is overdue and you haven’t been around so I don’t have any good material.”
“I can’t just perform on demand,” Alex replied. “I need something to work with.”
“OK, Brian said he might join us for dinner next week, but he won’t commit,” I said. “Run with it, I’m sure you can come up with something.”
So here’s the deal: We all get busy, especially this time of year when it seems like there’s so much to do and so many places to be. But we can’t forget about our friends, because they’re the ones who are always there for us. Sometimes we really take them for granted when we shouldn’t. So while the holidays are here, give yourself a gift and spend some time with your friends – whether that means grabbing a drink at Flicks, playing Bingo on Wednesday night at Bourbon Street or hitting up Rich’s, Numbers, The Flame or Bacchus House for some dancing. Take some time to have fun with your friends this holiday season, because that’s the best gift you can give.