It was extraordinary and brave. I loved this production and I am thankful that I was able to make it. Proud of the creatives and proud of the members of the cast, several of whom I am lucky enough to call friends!
"What else do you like about him?"
I glare at my boss. We’re sitting outside at the corner of 50th and Broadway, eating salad in the lovely weather and he is grilling me with the same question over and over about my fiancé.
"Um", I mutter.
"He’s very level headed. His ‘yes’ means ‘yes’. His ‘no’ means ‘no’."
"That’s very interesting. Good answer."
I roll my eyes. I get really, really, really uncomfortable when talking about the man that I am engaged to. Is that weird?
And then, of course, like clockwork:
"What else do you like about him?"
Are you serious? Stop asking.
"You know. A lot of things. I like a lot of things about him."
Then I play something back in my mind: sophomore year of college, fall semester. It’s December, it’s cold, it’s really late at night and Owen and I are SUPPOSED to be working on our final for Intermediate Acting. Instead, we’re sitting on a couch in the midst of a fervent conversation about the future, about the show we found out we were cast in together, about our families, about our spirituality, about anything and everything. I tell him that he’s too critical of himself, he tells me that he loves me. We kiss. We leave. We go get coffee. Well, he gets an italian soda. We’re not dating.
This is my personal life. The deepest, most intimate, most precious part of my heart. I do not share it with anybody because it is mine. It belongs to me.
"You know," I say to my boss, not making eye contact with him, shoveling mixed greens into my face, "He’s been my best friend for a long time."
I think back to our freshman year of college, striking the spring musical, hiding in the tech booth while “cleaning up equipment”, but really we’re just sitting on the floor having another hour-long conversation about anything. We are two weeks away from summer. He says, “You know I’m going to miss you. You’re my best friend.”
Then it’s three months later and I’m picking him up at the train station, jittery, nervous. Why? I don’t know. We’re not dating. We embrace. “I have missed you”, “It is so good to see you”, “I love you”. My sister throws up all over the car on the drive back to my house. I’m embarrassed. He’s still happy to be with me. We’re best friends.
These days, I’m still picking him up in places, and vice versa. Usually airports. We don’t see each other for weeks at a time. The usual, “I love you”, “I have missed you”, “Do you want pizza?”, “What episode of House of Cards are you on?” (that one followed up with: “ALEX you have GOT to catch up to me”) We are best friends and we are definitely dating. Definitely.
I stash the empty salad container into the plastic bag that it traveled in over to the park bench. I can no longer use my lunch as an excuse to not talk about my feelings. “He is my best friend and I am going to do a very public thing to proclaim to the world that I love him.”
When he was 20, Owen said “I know we haven’t been ‘dating’ for long, but you’re my best friend, and I’m going to marry you.”
We’ve walked through some unexpected darkness since then. Some of it together and, unfortunately, some of it apart.
At 21, I never thought that I’d hear him say something like that again. But I did. “We’ve got some stuff to work out. But you’re my best friend and I want to get married.”
And even then, at 21, I certainly didn’t expect to hear him say, “Will you marry me?”
But I did.
Because he’s my best friend. He has shown me more grace than any other person in this world. He has loved me with an unconditional love that I have never been deserving of. He offered me that love forever and I’m clinging to it with my life.
That’s what I like about him.
And I don’t like sharing that because that is a really, really personal thing.
"So he’s your best friend?", my boss says.
"Yes. I just said that."
"So that’s why you like him?" And, again, I stare at him and very bluntly say, "Yeah. That’s why I like him. We are best friends." He looks off at the pedestrians, pigeons, and splendor of Manhattan and says, "That’s cool. I like that." Whatever. The torture is finally over. The only redeeming part of this dialogue with my employer is that it’s given me an excuse to think to myself about how I am so lucky that Owen woke up one day and decided that he was romantically interested in me. But I wouldn’t ever SAY that out loud. I wouldn’t think to. I’m way too awkward to come up with coherent things to say in situations like these.
I don’t know why I can’t endlessly rant about the reasons that I “like” my fiancé. I’m not an empathetic person. I don’t really show my feelings. I don’t proclaim my love for ANYTHING besides theatre, television, and food…and usually it’s over twitter.
What I want to make supremely clear is that the statement “he’s my best friend” means more than any person on this planet will ever know or understand.
And I cannot wait until January 9th.
Yup. This exists now. “Nobody Does Mean Like Me” from MEAN GIRLS THE MUSICAL. (As seen on SUBMISSIONS ONLY)
Give it to us Marla Mindelle.
Music by: Santino Fontana
Lyrics by: Kate Wetherhead