I anonymize my friends
I’m not sure why I keep your names out of this here blog, friends.
So I am going to experiment in telling one story about a specific friend, and see how it feels to say your name in public.
Hampton is the non-romantic life partner of my brother-in-law, Andrew. Queer folks will understand “non-romantic life partner.” It’s not Gayle and Oprah friendship. It’s both simpler and more complex than that. Hampton and Andrew have been best friends since they were in their early 20s. They met as pool boys in Miami, first jobs out of college, being chased and chasing the same men. They never found themselves sexually attracted to each other, but they have known every one of each of their boyfriends and partners. Each of those boyfriends has known that Hampton and Andrew are a package pair. Or: if they didn’t, they’d be too miserable to stick around.
Hampton is legally blind.
I drove us 4 miles to Pawling this morning1 to get croissants from the Bread Factory in his Land Cruiser. I love that he bought a car he wanted, knowing no state would pass him for a driver’s license. To be clear, he does not drive despite this. Legally the car is registered to Andrew. But it’s Hampton’s car. He continues to pay its duties and provides for the gas (which is no small expense on a vintage SUV built when tape decks were still de rigeur).
On our way to the bakery, he said he wishes so badly he could still drive.
I recall once after the same errand on a different day, we returned to lounge in the TV room and he immediately went to his phone to look up cars. He trained his pin dot-size field of vision to a phone screen inches from his face, to peruse sports cars. I recall that he’d bought his mom a top of the line Benz fit for a princess. She drives it like a decanter of cognac, fingertips barely touching the steering wheel. Hampton has started a funny new hobby: a wine cellar of only wine bottles with hideous labels. The worst one at the moment is a private label merlot for a rapper we shall keep anonymous (because hey: wishful thinking: if I keep them anonymous maybe we’ll become friends).
I feel bad making people drive me places. I want to drive myself. I love driving so much. I love this car.
On the route between his house and Pawling is an old garage with a rotation of used cars in the lot, some advertised with bright orange and black price tags. On the way up I notice his head fixates on the lot, swiveling as we drive past. On the way home I slow down to give him more time to look, but am mindful not to slow down too much lest he feel self-conscious. I don’t want to call too much attention to him.
I never post anything in real time or in order, so this morning could be today or five weeks ago.