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Counting on friends

Learning to expect the unexpected

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Jesus God, I thought Grant's gayness was something I could always count on. I thought at least there was that, you know, as opposed to counting on him to help me move or something.

Ha! Come to think of it, I've moved three times since I met him, and each time I ended up with muscles so sore it was agony just to go about my daily routine of wallowing on the couch like a walrus with a belly full of fish -- and nobody would massage me, either. I mean, God! What am I, such a snarly-haired hag with halitosis that my so-called GOOD FRIENDS can't make a tag-team effort to massage my body continuously until I'm able to walk again without looking like I'm undergoing a nerve-gas experiment?

And talking about "good friends," where WERE mine the last time I had to move my huge-ass home-load of furniture? Scattered, that's where. Scattered like a batch of freshly hatched spiders the second they saw me hauling a load of used empty produce boxes back from Kroger. I estimate that the instant they saw that, they started conspiring excuses.

Daniel -- upon whom I have bestowed the huge privilege of having to carry me home on a few occasions back before I found out I can't drink like I could in college -- actually bolted all the way to Florida. He had to put a state line between himself and me, his friend in need. And Grant! As always, Grant had something planned with his daughter.

"She's practically an adult," I shouted. Which is true. He had her all the way back when he was straight, a condition I thought he'd gotten completely out of his system by now. And even when he was straight, he was gay; he wasn't fooling anybody but himself and his two ex-wives. "Your daughter is capable of lifting boxes; get both your asses over here!" But he had to drive her to her SAT test or something. Honestly, can we get some priorities here?

Lary, of course, came through -- but only after I left 28 messages on his answering machine begging him to help. "Stop pretending like you have a life without me and call me back, you crawling pool of pus!"

Finally my heavy flirting paid off, and Lary showed up at my door with a hand truck. That was the third time Lary had helped me move, and you'd think he'd ask for something huge in return. I can't think of anything I've really done for him except once, on the flight home from Amsterdam, I let him have my business-class upgrade -- but that was the morning after I'd accidentally locked him out of our pensione all night.

I mean, sure, maybe I should have been a little worried when he hadn't shown up by 5 a.m., and maybe I should have paid a little more attention to that shouting outside my window. But one of the last audible sentences I remember hearing him say that night was: "Hey, this place is packed with prostitutes and they're serving Afghani hash on the menu!" So I figured he was off getting a tongue bath from Russian hookers in a Jacuzzi of bubbling bong water or something. I mean, God! This is Lary we're talking about. Surely I could count on him to be off spending the night at a genital piercing parlor -- not throwing pebbles at my window. But I was wrong.

See? In a world full of wrongness like this, there are certain certainties you need in life. Certain things you can count on. Otherwise, everything might as well spiral into a total cosmic toilet flush. For example: Lary I can count on to always show up with a hand truck; Daniel I can always count on to never, ever, drive outside a three-mile radius of his own front door; and Grant I can always count on to be gay.

But evidently today was not the day for counting on friends. "I'm so nervous," Grant said. And I thought, "Well, isn't that nice?" Grant is calling me on my cell phone to tell me he is nervous for me because he knows I'm in New York and about to walk into Judith Regan's office at Harper Collins for the most important meeting in my entire life. He's calling to lend me support, to tell me to knock 'em dead and walk out with a big book deal, right?

Wrong. As I said, today was not the day for counting on friends. Grant was nervous because he was about to go on a date with a girl! A real date -- not just a platonic toe-dunk into hetero-land, but a full-on French-kissing slobberfest with a woman! Sex with the opposite sex! She was about to show up any minute, and Grant was busy putting rose petals on his bed or whatever, which I thought was a little over- confident. Then, right before hanging up, as an afterthought almost, he said, "By the way, knock 'em dead and walk out with a big book deal."

Normally he could count on me to do just the opposite. But, as I said, today was not the day for counting on friends. Was it? No it was not. Thank God.

Hollis Gillespie's commentaries can be heard on NPR's "All Things Considered." To hear the latest, go to Moodswing at atlanta.creativeloafing.com.

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