Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Friends in Thai Places: Nicolle Medina, Girl Friend

One of the best things about this trip to Manhattan has been the chance to spend some long-needed QT with one of my closest friends, Nicolle. She changes a little bit every time I see her and the girl is all city now. I've been crashing with her while here but this morning she had to leave town for a job and now I've got her pad all to my lonesome self. Which sucks because we really needed at least another week of catching up and I still need someone to wake me up when I sleep through my alarm. But it's been fun, and Nic did the right thing: knowing that last night was our last together for a while she took me to some dive in Hell's kKitchen and got us both good and drunk. At one point she was going to the bar and I asked her to snag me a water. She came back to our table with shots. I said: "Where's my water?" She said, "Oh, right! Well, this is whiskey..."

Nic and I have been friends for almost five years. The first time we met was (fittingly) at a bar, where we were introduced by my then-roommate, Max. The three of us were part of the same company but worked out of different offices. Nic had mentioned she grew up in the suburb of Northville, which I imagined being in total BFE, and I remember making lots of great jokes about her extreme rural upbrining. I came away thinking, "That Nicolle girl is fun. We had a great rapport." Nic came away thinking, "What an ass." But bad first impressions couldn't stand in the way of a great friendship that was meant to be. She ended up getting transferred to a desk two cubes down from mine and, well, hilarity ensued. Nic taught me the term "cropdusting" (farting as you walk down an aisle of office cubes), and I taught her about religious iconography when I accidentally nuked a veggie burger in the floor microwave that, after the charred fact, we both agreed looked remarkably like a silhouette of Jesus rising from the tomb on Easter morning. (We put it on ebay as a miracle for sale, but unfortunately there were no takers.)

I was a big supporter of Nic's decision to move to New York and study acting rather than toil away in an account position that totally didn't suit her and I think this brought us closer. After her move we talked more than ever and became lethal phone pals. Actually, the length of these calls became a bit self-defeating for us: Sometimes, if too much time passed without checking in, each of us would then avoid calling the other for even longer because neither of us ever had the necessary free three to six hours it would take to catch up.

Nicolle was the first true Girl Friend that I've ever had. She proved wrong a long-held belief of mine that women make terrible friends if you're not dating them (I know, that sounds terrible to say but it was based on many failed case studies). I never had a sister growing up and, with Nic, I feel like I finally know what that kind of relationship is like. There's something extremely comforting and essential about having a friend of the opposite sex with which your sex is beside the point. It's the best of both friend worlds. They never want more from you than your support and camaraderie, and yet you can still enjoy the compliment of contrasting male and female essences.

I should mention that becoming Nic's friend reminded me how freaking funny I used to be. Seriously, I was a funny kid. A phenomenal class clown. Just, really, really funny. And then I got older and sadder and... suddenly I wasn't so funny. The clown was a tearful clown then, you could say. But with Nic it's like a competition to make the other person laugh, and I got my old skills back and then some. Just ask Kirsten, she'll tell you I'm a flat-out riot. But seriously, becoming Nic's friend did help me come out of a shell I had crawled into without knowing it. And for that I'll always be grateful.

Beyond restoring my comedic powers, Nic saved me in more tangible ways. When I was at my most destitute, after returning home from tour broke and jobless years ago, she sensed trouble and loaned me her car indefinitely until I could get my own, which allowed me to sell the car I had and pay off some serious billage. In turn, I later built her a website for her burgeoning second career as a portrait photographer. Car/Web site. Fair trade, I think.

Speaking of her photography, yesterday I snuck her into the studio I am working at so that she could snap some high-quality pictures of me which I could then graphically defecate on for album art. We used the roof, where the engineers sneak off to during the day to smoke their designer weed. I told her: "Nic, I've been thinking. I should smile in my pictures. Look at photos of Al Green, or Otis Redding. They're all smiling. It's better than frowning." She said, "So... you want to look Jolly?"

"You're right," I said. "Nevermind."

But she managed to snap this shot of me that is actually a very accurate picture of what I look like smiling. It's funny how childhood insecurities can linger. My brother CHRIS used to make fun of my smile for being "all gums" when I was young, and to this day I feel weird about my gummy grin. But in spite of the massive gummage, I like this shot because it's real, and it's fitting that Nic took it because this is what I look like almost non-stop any time we're hanging out.

P.S. The next time any of you run into Nic, ask her to tell the story of her 9/11 date. It's pa-riceless!

1 comment:

Kirsten said...

No, I won't tell anyone that, actually. (I'd say you're more of a "hoot" than a riot.)

P.S. I'm making the face.