If there was one weakness to which my companion was always susceptible, it was to the seductive agent of flattery. For all his considerable powers, he never developed an immunity to that baser diversion of the ego, so that a talented harpist could, with the appropriate melody, occasionally pluck his strings. And while it was true Joey always expressed the most animated disdain for my published “embellishments” (as he was fond of referring to them), I did on more than one occasion find indication that he took some small pleasure in their enumeration.
One such story comes to mind as particularly singular in demonstrating those most enviable talents of my Friend, and which I would be remiss in omitting from any record which professes to be a complete account of his accomplishments. It was on the evening of February the nineteenth, a night which had up to that point been marked only by the despicable temperament of the winter season. A harsh wind had blown through the city leaving everything frozen and lifeless - Ross had not stopped by with a romantic quandary in days, and even our jovial little duo, the Chick and Duck, huddled quietly in the bathtub, shivering. So it was that when Joey stepped in, dusting snow from his lapel and shouting “Hoooooboyyyyyy!”, I did not betray a hope that even he could ameliorate the present melancholy of our cheerless lodgings.
As was my wont to do in those days, I had taken to retiring in my sitting chair, indulging in one or two of my trifling stories, which had become themselves diversions from those dreary periods when my friend found himself without commercial engagement. Perhaps it may be understandable to the reader then why, when Joey said, “hey Chandler, check this out. I bet you I can drink a gallon of milk in 10 seconds,” I practically leapt from my chair in excitement. “All right, you’re on,” I ejaculated, and just like that, he reignited the flame which was always to be the brightest and most powerful blaze ever to render my soul aglow.
As could only have been expected, Joey had the gallon of milk unscrewed and positioned accordingly within seconds, so that the experiment was nearly halfway begun by the time I joined him at the breakfast nook. He tilted the jug and I nearly forgot to click my stopwatch, so transfixed was I by the scene taking place before me.
With intent I have only seen matched by certain Nicaraguan jungle cats, and a focus shared uniquely by those ancient marble figures sculpted by the Greeks, Joey stood below the undammed levy of milk as wave after nacreous wave sloshed unto his eager, gulping face. My friend often shocked me—never had he so reduced me to tears.
As the clock ran itself aground of zero, Joey stood before me a white sopping mess of thick ivory cow cream. “Wow,” I said, “pretty good, Joe.”
As prodigious his gifts were in those areas to which he claimed himself to be proficient, I am often struck by the subjects for which Joey exists in complete darkness. His knowledge of the solar system is appallingly minute. His familiarity with (unsensational) literature equivalently sans valeur. But there is one thing I hope my friend will never be in ignorance of, and it is that fact which I now address directly to the man himself. It is simple. It is this:
“I’ll be there for you.”
Julien Darmoni is a writer and performer living in Brooklyn. You can follow him on Twitter.
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