In the movie When Harry Met Sally, Billy Crystal's character makes a passionate case that a man can't be friends with a woman because he's always thinking about having sex with her. In 2003, when I became friends with Ted, a transplanted Yankee radio engineer who set up my NC recording studio, many suspected something was going to "happen" between us. Did the possibility of carnal episodes cross our minds? I doubt he would have denied me had I suggested it, but we weren't each other's "type." It just never went that way. Now, sadly, he's gone.
His employer for the last 15 years downsized him out of a job. Having never felt completely at ease in the Bible Belt, and with touches of the Southwest all over his house, he found a new position where he'd had some of his happiest memories: Santa Fe, NM. For anyone over 50 looking for work - or just longing for change - Ted is an inspiration.
He's also a shining example that a man can be friends with a woman and it won't get weird. But there is a caveat: A guy friend is not a girlfriend. The key is to not communicate often, especially in the beginning. We'd check in about once a month, do a meal once in awhile, be each other's rent-a-date for special occasions. Occasionally, when we were seeing others, we'd try to help the other decipher the baffling moments that single people inevitably encounter in the fragile and frustrating world of dating - especially in middle-age when the "baggage" gets heavier. Ted's personal life was far more interesting than mine.
We laughed a lot.
I was thrilled when he was offered this new job. He'd been raised Jewish but his parents converted to Christianity right before his bar mitzvah. My mother called him "spiritually bi-lingual." He saw himself as neither Jewish nor Christian. New-Age, cosmic Santa Fe would be perfect for him.
As I write this he's on an interstate heading west in his 1988 Bronco 2 that he just spent hundreds of dollars on so it would have cruise control for the trip. His guy friends teased him for spending that much on a car worth so little. "I can't let go of it," he said. "There are too many memories attached to it."
I know how he feels. As happy as I am for him I'm not ready to accept he's not here anymore. Sure we'll still talk and email. It won't be that different. But it will be.
I'm propping myself up with thoughts like: If you hadn't lost your cat Lupe you wouldn't have Tucker the Magnificent now. So look at this as making room for someone new. The more I think about that the more I wonder if we hindered each other from making new relationships. We were a no-risk security blanket, a safety net, for the other.
No, we were just good friends. And I miss him. Sometimes it's that simple.
Causes Jo Maeder Supports