As you may have noticed, it’s impossible for me to talk about any aspect of my life without mentioning my brilliantly talented and completely hilarious best friend and occasional co-songwriter Gina. We met at age twelve and have known each for just over twelve years (half our lives!). Appropriately, here are twelve of my favorite memories of Gina.
(Since Gina might not remember them the same way I do (if at all!) her rebuttal will be forthcoming)
- In my new school in seventh grade I ate lunch with two other oversmart semi-outcast boys. Gina and her friends – all oversmart overtalented girls – sat at the table behind us. We met when the boys decided it would be funny to throw snack food (was it peanuts?) down the blouse of one of the girls. Soon thereafter our tables merged to spend lunch laughing and singing terrible pop music, at one point during which we were dubbed “Spockchild and the Lunchroom Cadets,” due to my bowl-cut and Vulcan-sized ears.
- Gina was already a stage veteran at the time of my first audition, and I was appropriately intimidated by the idea of performing a monologue in front of my peers and teachers. To this day I have a perfect mental snapshot of Gina walking up the stage-right stairs wearing her distinctive purple velvet shirt, her long hair flowing all around a perfectly serene face. I remember thinking, “this theatre thing can’t be so hard.”
- Gina has always been skeptical of people who pick up a guitar and want to be taught how to play, probably because no one follows through. Very early in my guitar playing she wrote the music to my lyrics “Falling Down,” and played it for me before a theatre rehearsal. Later that night I left a message on her answering machine of me slowly-but-surely picking out the same pattern on my guitar. Ever since she has taken my guitar playing a lot more seriously.
- Both living in the same residence hall at Drexel I became the unofficial male roommate of her entire floor due to my frequent visits, always with guitar in hand. One day that winter I played Gina my brand new “Under My Skin,” and she started playing along. When we were done she said, “I like that one; let’s play it again.”
- In line for Weezer at the TLA the summer after freshman year we ate our Chinese Food with makeshift spoons fashioned from fortune cookies because I forgot to get forks.
- Stopping by my cluttered first apartment to keep me awake during the 24-hour Blogathon I heard one of Gina’s original songs for the first time – “Real End“. Also, we played everyone’s favorite U2 song, and barked like dogs while covering “Fido, Your Leash Is Too Long.” After my long wakeful night, she showed up with the sun the next morning, bearing decaffeinated coffee and cookies.
- Stuck for Halloween costumes at the last minute, we had a twenty-minute shopping spree in K-Mart. Emerging with glitter and giant fairy wings, we hardly had costumes, but by raiding our vintage closets we emerged as the godparents of punk rock and disco, respectively. I kept yelling “Where’s James?!” and giggling.
- After experiencing a rough few months in the middle of college we declared a personal day, and spent it shopping in Chinatown and drinking bottled smoothies, laughing all the while about the little insecurities we left behind in high school and all of the larger ones looming in their place. We realized that day that we had never once been in a fight, and resolved never to have one.
- Gina’s mother, an amazing actor, operatic singer, and dancer, has always been slow to warm to Gina’s friends, and over the years I always had a difficult time discerning if she liked me at all. I took it as a great compliment when I was invited to cook and dine along with her family for Thanksgiving in 2003. Ever since then Gina’s mother has treated me like family.
- Through a series of coincidental events, Gina moved into my awesome upperclassmen apartment, where our bedrooms faced each other across a vast, stuffy, attic living room we dubbed “The Grotto.” We decorated it with hanging lights and lanterns so that it would glow 24/7, hanging our fairy wings outside our respective doors. The first time we went out drinking together after she moved in we wound up crawling up all that last flight of stairs together, one step at a time.
- I have always partied through the Fall Back time every October, except for one year, when Gina gave me a complex lesson in applications chemistry and I explained the finer points of copy protection. I don’t think we realized how long we had chatted until the next morning when we remembered to turn the clocks back.
- In my first show after college, Happy Birthday, Wanda June, each night we made our final exit together, both having suffered an emotional breakdown in the preceding scene. One night we had both worked ourselves up into sobbing messes during the scene, and in our in-character emotional rush to exit the room we literally threw ourselves out of the stage door and tumbled down the backstage stairs.
We wound up at the foot of the stairs in a heap, our sobbing resolving to barely contained giggling while the final scene played out above our heads.
That’s me and Gina, to a tee.