Tuesday, July 25, 2006

My Best Friend

My best friend's name is K. She’s a clinical psychologist, and the first and only doctorate in her big, working class, Irish family. I call her "Doc" whenever I remember. It makes her smile and giggle and is therefore rewarding to me, and fun for her, and when she’s smiling it’s a thing of beauty. Despite her multitude of academic credentials, she has spent the last few years hidden away on top of a mountain with her husband, leaving only for occasional forays into academia. She teaches human sexuality to graduate and doctorate level students, and is a brilliant professor.

How do I start to write about K? To begin, just saying her name quietly in my mind, I imagine the words “My Best Friend,” with caps a-blazing following behind her name. I thrive on the intimacy that having a truly "best" friend provides, and K is without doubt the finest friend one could ever imagine. She’s a keeper and I hope she will keep me.

One of the things that is so fantastic about the good doctor is you can have a self in relation to her, in fact she demands it. Not suffering fools gladly, she wouldn’t tolerate a wimpy presence and I thank my lucky stars that I’m not a wimpy person, otherwise I would be so screwed. Being friends with K would be a living hell if I were a wimp (if I even made it through the, “Uh, hello, my name is…um… :::blush::: ”). As the saying goes, she doesn’t suffer fools gladly, and like many therapists, myself included, she isn't comfortable with small talk. K likes to go deep, even if it’s a conversation in a local breakfast joint with the biker, red-neck owner. She wants the dirt on you, and she wants it now – no waiting.

“The Bluest Eye” describes K’s eyes. She has crisp, clear, blue eyes like the Mediterranean after a rain storm. They stand out like tidal pools in the poodle-peachy pink of her skin. When her hair isn’t dyed, her true hair color is pure silver and the combination of silvery hair and turquoise eyes is, well, breath-taking. In my mind’s eye, K stands tall. But I’ve just asked her how tall she really is and she thinks for a second, and replies, “Five-three-and-three-quarters.” This surprises me. When I think of K, I think of height, of a person who occupies vertical space, somebody who towers over me. To learn that she is taller than me by a mere three-quarters of an inch comes as something of a shock.

K curves her shoulders protectively when she stands. Her arms, legs and upper body are averagely plumptious. However, her torso is pear-shaped and round and looking at K sideways, I am reminded of an over-large and precocious toddler. Once described as a “saucy wench,” it fits her perfectly. She comes across as having a hearty, healthy and delightfully lascivious sexual persona. Watching the toddler turn front-on and morph into a 17th century serving wench is a thing of beauty.

K occupies her space proudly. She doesn’t drag her feet and she appears to be constantly in motion. If she isn’t singing and dancing, she’s dancing and humming. If she isn’t humming, she’s striking a pose, with eyes flashing, head turned coquettishly as she flirts with whoever is in the room at the time. Karaoke is to K as guitars are to rock music. I’m dumbfounded by her recall of lyrics going back years and years, whether it’s Oklahoma! or Outkast.

K is dramatic, in the way of 30’s screen goddesses. She strikes poses like others pick noses. Frequently and with gusto. K announces impending feelings. “I’m getting angry now. I’m getting pissed off now. I’m beginning to feel sad right now.” She shows all these feelings strongly on her face. Between her eyes, two deep furrows appear when anger, irritation or deep concentration occupy her, and when she is slack-jawed two lines curve downwards either side of her mouth. When K smiles, her face is beautifully illuminated and expressive, eyebrows dance above her Lucky Charms eyes. K has a tendency to imbue emotional content with more complicated angst than necessary, but she does it so charmingly and with such earnestness that you hardly care. In fact, there’s hardly anything that K does that isn’t charming. She IS charm.

I love K in a straight-forward, uncomplicated way. Whenever I’m spending time with K, I feel like I’m in first grade, hanging out with my best friend in the school playground. I want to link arms with her, skip, leap and sing loudly. In fact, we frequently do all these things together. We say, to anybody who is interested, that we are twins separated at birth.

K has had sexual experiences with other women, and would do so again if her husband felt okay about it, but he mostly doesn’t, so she won’t. She describes herself as "probably bisexual" but I think she's probably more likely "pan sexual." Even if K had sex with another woman while still married to D, it wouldn’t be with me. We love each other down to the bone, but have no sexual interest in each other. Not that we don’t talk about it. We’re both sex therapists, so talk freely about sex and being sexual. “If we were lovers, we’d run out naked in the rain and roll in the mud, right K?” I say to her. “Right,” says K. “And if we were lovers, we’d lie around for hours reading to each other," she replies. Hmmm. Actually, we realize, we already do that. And there's no reason why we shouldn't run out in the rain naked together either. Wouldn't first graders do that given half a chance?


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