This is Uncle Gary. Â Not really an uncle by blood, but he’s promised to teach the Bean how to do things like open beer bottles with a car key, so we figure that’s close enough to being an actual uncle. Â When Uncle Gary isn’t sitting on our back deck or hanging out in the Man Cave, he is Gary Fields. Â Musician and jazz singer. Â Last night Gary had his first big show in New York at a night club and Chris and I left the Beanie with my parents and headed down to the city to be with our friends to celebrate.
When we were growing up, Chris had a tight group of friends. Â These were the guys who partied hard together. Â They were the ones who brought girls over. Â They were the ones who fought over endless games of pool and darts. Â They were “Chris’ friends.” Â Since Chris and I have dated from the time we were 16 and known each other even longer, I’ve grown up with with these guys, too. Â They’ve been apart of my life for as long as Chris has, really.
The group has changed some over the years. Â Girlfriends, roommates, college buddies and the like have all been added. Â And we even lost one of the core boys when he died unexpectedly a couple years ago. Â I think it was when Robert died that I saw the most drastic change in this group of friends. Â Chris got the call from Robert’s sister about his very unexpected passing and he told her that he would be the one to call the rest of the group. Â I remember sitting in our living room, shocked with grief, and listening to Chris make those few phone calls. Â He started every conversation with, “We’ve lost a brother.”
From then on, the group’s dynamic changed a bit. Â Suddenly, they weren’t just showing up in the Man Cave or at bars. Â They started to support each other in more substantial ways. Â Showing up at college graduations and weddings. Â They were the first people we heard from when the Bean was born. Â And I noticed that they were no longer “Chris’ friends,” but “our friends” instead. Â We became family more than just friends.
Last night, we all came together again to celebrate yet another accomplishment for one of the family. Â Our friend, Gary Fields, is a jazz singer who is blossoming in the New York area. Â He had his first big gig in the city at a night club and we all, of course, dressed up and trooped down to Time Square to sit in the audience. Â I looked around at all of us last night and it reminded me of how far we’ve all come. Â We used to sit on Chris’ dad’s back porch and make Gary sing for us. Â And now, here we were in a night club sitting among strangers who wanted Gary to sing for them. Â I was so stinking proud of him.
It was my first whole night away from the Bean, too. Â He stayed home with my parents who were ecstatic with the idea of feeding him, bathing him, rocking him, and getting up for those midnight feedings (be my guest…). Â And I’m happy to report that I did a great job. Â Sure, I looked at his pictures on Chris’ iPhone about a hundred times. Â Sure, every conversation I had with anyone started with “The Bean did the cutest thing the other day…” Â Sure, I kept asking Chris what he thought the Bean was doing. Â But, I didn’t call home once. Â Because I was happy to be out celebrating with our friends. Â It was a great night and – Bean or no Bean – I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
For more information on Gary Fields and to hear clips of his music, visit his website at www.garyfieldsmusic.com.