Above is a picture of me with Dan Crocker. Dan is my best friend. Seeing I write poetry, which automatically places me high on the "allegedly-gay" scale in this society (as if homosexuality is a character-flaw), I have no problem saying that Dan is my best friend in the world. In fact, I'm honored to say it.
Friends. Most of us, myself included, take them for granted: X is my friend, which is, I suppose, better than an enemy. But friends, I've noticed, are also something we like to quantify. Think about Facebook, for example. Does anyone really have 329 friends? Really?
"Friends" seems to be the wrong word, but I suppose it saves space on the webpage because if you were to label it accurately, it would read: "People I know, most of whom I either met once; or knew in high school and had completely forgotten existed, and there's probably a good reason for that; or people I know, call a friend, but don't trust them as far as I can spit; or don't know at all, but call my friend because of a need to be loved, which may or not be result of not getting enough attention from my mother." That might look pretty cumbersome on the side of the screen. Then, of course, you'd need a second list for your real friends, which would most likely include three or four people and, if you're lucky, your spouse.
But here's the thing: as far as I'm concerned, friends can't be quantified, in any respect. I've only known Dan for seven or eight years, and we've never lived less than 1500 miles from each other. Numbers. We see each other once a year, maybe, and maintain our friendship mostly via emails and talking on the telephone like two old widows. However, few people in this world understand me like Dan, and when you think about it, that is one of our core human desires: to feel less alone in this universe. Friends, like good art, will do that.
Like myself, Dan Crocker is a writer, a damn fine writer. But I don't care if my friends are artists or big names or people who can do something for me. I could care less if Dan ever penned another word. When we're talking to each other, we have a tacit understanding that we will not talk about writing. Why? We know what one another does. There's no need to discuss it. Friends shouldn't give a fuck what you do. The important thing, as I understand it, is who you are.
Look closely at this picture. Dan and I have always wanted an iconic photo, like the one of Kerouac and Neal Cassady used on covers of On the Road. This is ours. Look again. In this picture, you'll see two grown men, best friends, deep into their 30s, with wives and children and lives that, geographically speaking, exist far from one another. But you'll also see two men pleased to be in each other's company.
This is me and Dan Crocker in November of 2009. And he's my best friend.