I want to dedicate this post to my best friend, Gelo. Happy birthday, buddy. I hope this is the best birthday you’ve ever had in your life. I hope that it’s the best birthday that anybody’s ever had. If you could somehow combine all of the greatest birthdays ever experienced by any human being who’s ever lived, I’d give anything for your birthday this year to make that hypothetical super birthday seem like a day stuck in the waiting room at the dentist, a visit where you have to get all of your wisdom teeth removed, and unfortunately you’ve got an allergy to Novocain and laughing gas, and so the oral surgeon is just like, “Well, sorry, but they’ve got to come out one way or another.”
Gelo is my best friend. And that’s not a term I throw around lightly. He’s the bartender at the restaurant where I wait tables. I know that I have a tendency to exaggerate, sometimes, but I’m not even kidding you, not only is Gelo the best bartender in the restaurant, I’m pretty sure the best bartender in New York City. This guy makes picture perfect cocktails sometimes when he’s not even paying attention. There’s a little printer that sits at the end of the bar, it spits out drink orders as the waiters and waitresses punch them into the computer. It can’t even keep up with Gelo. It’s like, before it even has a chance to finish printing the ticket, bam, the cocktail is already made, perfectly garnished, just exactly the right amount of ice.
For real, I’ve actually had customers get up and walk out of the restaurant when they found out that Gelo wasn’t working that particular night. One time this guy ordered a Manhattan, and after he took the first sip, he made this really pained face. Once he finished choking it down, he looked up at me in disgust, “Where’s Gelo? Who made this? Was it Sal?” And yeah, it was Sal. I pointed over to the bar and Sal made a friendly waving gesture. And please, don’t get me wrong, Sal’s a great bartender. It’s just that, Gelo’s the best bartender. He’s so far ahead of his colleagues in both proficiency and speed that even the second best bartender looks like he’s never learned to make a gin and tonic by comparison.
But he’s not just the world’s greatest mixologist, he’s also the best friend I’ve ever had. I was actually a little surprised when I found out that his birthday was today, because I’d always just kind of assumed that we were secretly long lost twins separated at birth. It’s the only way to really describe the bond that we share. Like, when I say best friends, yes, I mean it, he’s my best friend. But the English language doesn’t do justice in providing words even remotely capable of describing our connection. Maybe we’re not actual twins, but we’re definitely soul twins. Like we have twin souls. Soul twins can have different birthdays, I’m pretty sure. Sometimes I wonder if we’re not sharing one soul … you know what? It doesn’t even matter.
What matters is, Gelo, I’m seriously so lucky to have you as a best friend. The other night at work, it was really busy, I mean, the rest of us were busy, Gelo’s never busy, because he’s so good at his job. In fact, if you look at him sometimes, you might think, why is that guy the only one not running around like a crazy person? It’s because he’s already made all of the drinks. He does an entire team’s worth of work in like ten minutes. Anyway, he calls me over, I’m in the weeds, I’m having a tough time, and he hands me a cup, “Hey man, enjoy.”
It was a milkshake. I don’t even know how he had time to make me a milkshake, because yes, we have ice cream, but there’s no blender. Did he blend it by hand? Or did he sneak in a really tiny immersion blender? And it was the best milkshake I’ve ever had in my life. One sip, and time seemed to slow down around me. Suddenly, I didn’t feel trapped under a list of twenty-five things I needed to do at the same time. I just quickly organized my tasks and executed them without getting stressed out. Gelo, thanks man, that milkshake was so fucking delicious. If only I could be drinking it right now, but it’s OK, because knowing that I’ll get to carry around that memory, that first sip of the tastiest vanilla milkshake anybody’s ever had, it’s like, I’m content, happy in the knowledge that our friendship is the best best friendship anybody’s ever had. I hope you get everything you ever wanted for your birthday this year. And then I hope you look at the giftwrap, it’ll say, “To Gelo, You’re my best goddamn friend in the world. From, Rob.”