Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

22 August 2011

Thanksgiving in August: Allan, Carlos & Marcos

In many ways my friendships with these three men are inseparable from one another (and from my friendship with Justin, who I wrote about here), but I also have and treasure unique relationships with each of them. Still, I will write about them together because we have worked together often and because our friendships seem to me imbricated with one another.

I remember first meeting Allan at an audition for a production we did in college of Anna Deavere Smith's Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992. Allan got cast; I didn't. I was kinda bitter about it, mostly because I loved the show so much. I also loved Allan in the show.

I can't remember when I first met Carlos... It must've been in acting class – actually I remember he was in a scene from Hello, Out There! with this girl Amber. I remember also really really wanting Carlos for the scene I directed the following quarter from Mario Vargas Llosa's Kathy and the Hippopotamus. I can't remember if I got him for that scene or not... ugh. All of this was so long ago.

I first saw Marcos in a production of David Rabe's In the Boom Boom Room that I pretty much hated. Marcos (predictably) took off his shirt. Marcos and I were supposed to be in a production of Tom Stoppard's Arcadia together, too, but that didn't happen because of family reasons, and then Marcos also got cast in the production of Twilight that I wasn't in.

The three of us did many shows together. Allan and Carlos and I were in Linda's production of Othello, and we took countless classes together. Allan and I did a ridiculous scene from Shopping and Fucking for Linda's dialect class. And I remember an amazing scene in an acting class where Marcos lip-synched while eating a half-gallon of ice cream, using a giant spoon as a microphone. We're not going to talk about The Myth of Pomona. Carlos was in the first piece I ever directed, a short play by Tony Kushner which was (surprise, surprise) about sodomy. Carlos was just wonderful in that show and he immediately became one of my favorite actors to work with. Marcos was in my production of Patrick Marber's Closer a year or so later, and we had a great time working together.

By senior year of college, we were all working together constantly, and plotting and being part of a self-styled clique. When the opportunity arose for us all to do a show together, we jumped. I directed Gross Indecency: the Three Trials of Oscar Wilde, Carlos and Marcos acted in it – Carlos was particularly moving – and Allan produced.

Allan was always silent during rehearsal, thinking way more than he ever said, and supporting me without ever questioning me. But on several occasions, Allan gave his opinion. I always took every note he had. They were  invariably on target and usually pointed out something I had been avoiding but needed to deal with. I have always thought of Allan as older and wiser than me (he is, of course), and I have also always found him inspiring and encouraging. He will scoff at that if he reads this – I don't think he sees himself that way at all – but he has always pushed me to be better, asked me to work harder, told me I needed to do more. And these high expectations for me have meant the world to me. It isn't that I feel inadequate when I am with Allan or when I talk to Allan, it's that being with Allan always makes me want to better at what I am doing.

Carlos is one of the slickest people I know. We have such a similar sense of things, but what I particularly love about him is his attitude about the world. He has the ability to approach life with a devil-may-care attitude that involves working hard but also being incredibly laid back. It's impressive, frankly. And whenever I see him we always end up laughing – at each other, at Justin, but even more frequently at the absurdity of the world in which we live. I appreciate this attitude so much, and I try to cultivate it in myself. Carlos doesn't spend a lot of time acting anymore, but he is also one of the best actors I have had the privilege of working with/for – in acting classes as a scene partner and as an actor I have been able to direct. I remember one of the first days we ever met, I think, our teacher Leslie had us (in a fairly stupid exercise) choose love or hate and then sit across from one another without dialogue and see who won. I chose love and Carlos chose hate. I won. There's a lot of mutual love between us now, so I guess it's safe to say I'm still winning.

Marcos is cool. Really cool. He's also incredibly earnest, which, of course, isn't cool at all. Marcos is also one of the most generous, gregarious, delightful people to be around. To this day he is the only one of my college friends who has come to visit me in Tallahassee. Marcos drove up from Orlando in the summer of 2007, and we hung out in Tally for a couple of days after my first year here. It was a total blast. I get to see him every once in a while when I am back in Los Angeles, as well, and every time I do I remember just how much fun he is to be around, how well he can work a room, and (dear lord) how much he knows about making a cocktail.

Before I close this overly long post, I want to note that when I saw Allan and Carlos at E&J's wedding this summer, Carlos brought up our late friend Andrew and the three of us had a moment where we just paused not knowing what to say. The absence of Andrew in our circle as we drank our Newcastles expanded between the three of us and I thought for a moment looking at these two friends of mine that we might all cry for a second. Someone toasted Andrew and we talked, instead, of happier things. Sharing this moment with Allan and Carlos, though, will be one of the things I remember most about the Summer of 2011. There were no two other people who could have shared grief over Andrew with me like that. I am so grateful for that.

Each of these men has meant so much to me in my life, and their friendships continue to be rewarding and fun – and if we see each other only sporadically, when we do see each other, those times are rich and filled and memorable. I have looked up to each of them in a lot of ways, and I will continue to do so as we get older. There is so much to learn from one's friends when you have friends as truly incredible as mine.