The blessing of a maple leaf


Los Angeles, 1997.

A guy walked up to the bar I was tending, and asked for …my best friend. Automatically, I kicked into BFF protection mode, answering his request with an interrogation. It went something like this:

Me: “E’s not working today. Who are you, and why are you looking for her?”  For all I knew, he could be a stalker. Or a process-server. Or a bounty hunter. Or…I don’t know….an IRS agent. We are actresses, living in LA for crying out loud.  Whatever. You get the point. If this guy wanted to reach her, he would  have to go through ME, and I wasn’t about to make it easy.

Guy: “Well, my name is JCD. I’m a film producer from Canada, and I’m staying here at the hotel on business. I met her a couple of nights ago while she was tending the bar, and upon learning she was an actress, invited her to an industry related party, but she didn’t show up.” 

Me: (sporting a deer-in-headlights look on my face) “Ooohhh. That was YOUR party we blew off last night? Oops. I’m Nancy, E’s best friend. Nice to meet you. Sorry we stood you up.”  (E asked me to go with her, but we tossed around the idea for too long, got distracted, and ultimately decided we were just too tired to go).

We shared a giggle at my blatant admission, and proceeded to chat for a couple of hours. Mind you, this was during a day shift at Skybar, while El Nino was in full swing, so the bar was empty and I had plenty of time to devote to making friends with customers 🙂 Lucky for me, because, during the course of our conversation, he invited me to a dinner party he was throwing for a few friends the following evening at the Conga Room. I didn’t flake, and several of the people who were in attendance that night are still close friends of mine to this day. One of the girls ended up being a bridesmaid in my wedding, and Sugar Bean was the flower girl at hers. From that friendship, other introductions were made, and what I like to refer to as “my friendamily” was born. The inner circles have blended, grown and blossomed, becoming concentric over the years. It’s a beautiful thing. There are a ridiculous number of people I feel blessed to have in my life (you know who you are), and they all landed there because of…


He is my very best, straight, unattached male friend, and has never been interested in me romantically. Never. It was that way from the beginning. We just became traveling buddies. He invited me to Palm Desert to a spa for a couple of days and I’d never been to one before. Then, he hosted me up in Canada for my first trip there EVER, and later was responsible for me being the only female allowed to attend a bachelor party weekend in Vegas. And for those of you wondering…NO…. I was NOT the entertainment. Just ‘one of the guys’, and it was priceless. In addition, he ignited my passion for watching live NHL hockey games by taking me to see the Toronto Maple Leafs vs. The NY Islanders at Maple Leaf Gardens, about 14 years ago. It was the first professional sporting event I’d ever attended. Lots of firsts. But that’s how best friendships are supposed to be, right?

Sometimes when people get married, their respective partners are opposed to them maintaining friendships with members of the opposite sex, and dear  friendships are lost. That was not an option with JCD and me. He was part of the package. So The Man married into the friendship, and they hit it off brilliantly. Now they even collaborate on film projects occasionally. When we are all together, I get to hang with the love of my life and my best guy friend. It’s a win-win all around!

The first time they met was at the Sundance Film Festival in January 1999, before The Man and I married. JCD rented a large house for the duration of the festival, and as a birthday gift to me (I’m a Capricorn–you figure it out), he invited us to stay there without paying a cent. We did, upon arrival, run out and stock the kitchen with groceries and the bar with liquor, because The Man felt we needed to contribute somehow. So there. After 8 days in Park City, where we partied like rock stars, and I learned to tumble down the slopes with a snowboard clamped to my feet, The Man and I, with JCD in tow, decided to route our flights home through Vegas. We stayed there for 4 days, gambling, eating at fancy restaurants and, finally, watching the Super Bowl. They were a Rat Pack duo, with a female chaperone…lol. After that, the plan was for JCD to come back to Los Angeles with us, and stay at our house while he attended to some business. Unbeknownst to JCD, while we were in Vegas, The Man and I had figured out I was…um…late. Therefore, we suspected there might be some big news to share upon our return to the City of Angels. As soon as we got home, we tested.

Sure enough, we were positive. 5 weeks positive, in fact.

Imagine what runs through your mind when you’ve just arrived home after 2 weeks vacation, having done everything you are not supposed to do while preggo, including but not limited to, tumbling down a hill on a snowboard–and finding out you are, in fact…preggo.  Yeah, I had those thoughts.

But I digress.

JCD was the first person we told. From that moment on, he was family. Plain and simple. Whether he liked it or not. Three weeks later, The Man and I were married, and JCD was the deejay. A fandamntastic one, I might add. His business negotiations in Los Angeles lasted almost 3 months, and he lived with us newlyweds for that duration. It was an adventure, I tell you! Unbelievable memories were made, including one about a Greek Easter party our neighbors threw on Malibu Beach, that needs a blog post all its own. I’ll get to it eventually. Promise.

Although I’ve known him for almost 14 and a half years, over the course of the last thirteen, he has been like a brother to both The Man and me, filling a role as vital oxygen does in our lives. He has listened to each of us bitch about the other, and never uttered a word or chosen a side. He’s witnessed emotional meltdowns over broken friendships, business partnerships, and finances. He has come to us with business opportunities, and kicked us in the ass when we needed it. But most of all, he has treated our girls like they are his own, always remembering birthdays and showering them with presents and attention. Last August, when Sugar Bean announced, just two weeks before the concert, that for her 12th birthday, she would like to see Adele perform live…he came through with stellar seats to a sold out show. Then, this past Christmas, which was a rather tight one, budget-wise, he asked what was on The Beans’ lists, and fulfilled the requests completely. He has worked miracles, and been Santa too 🙂

But it’s the little things that mean the most, and two days ago, he touched my heart with a totally out-of-the blue surprise related to something that happened a week ago. Something that didn’t go unnoticed, but deserved more attention than it got.

Last Monday evening, Sugar Bean found an iPhone4 lying on the sidewalk as we returned to our car after having dinner with family. Although she desperately wants one herself, her first instinct was to locate the owner and return it. The phone was pass code locked which prevented me from accessing the owner information immediately. So we took it home, with the intention of taking it into an AT&T store the following day. Around ten o’ clock that evening, it rang, and The Man answered. The owner was on the other end. He explained how our 12-year-old daughter  had discovered it, and insisted we return it to whom it belonged. The lady thanked him profusely, promised a reward and asked if they could meet ASAP, as “her life was on that phone.” The Man agreed and they decided upon a rendezvous point halfway between where we live and where she was at the time. It happened to be right smack where she lost it…or thereabouts. So he set out, iPhone in hand. Immediately upon arrival, he spotted the owner of the phone, but felt something amiss. There were two groups of guys engaged in what appeared to be a fight, and it was unclear whether or not the lady he was there to meet might be the cause. She hurried over, took her phone, thanked my husband and said there needed to be more people in the world like him. Then she jumped in her car and left. No exchange of names. No reimbursement for gas spent driving 20 miles to return it. No reward. Nothing. Just the act of doing the right thing.

The next morning, I posted a status on FB about what happened the night before. I was very proud not only of Sugar Bean for making the right decision, but also The Man and myself for successfully parenting her in a way, that led her to do the right thing instinctively, despite her own desire for the magical Apple device. Lots of friends ‘liked’ the post and commented on it. However, JCD truly went above and beyond.

Day before yesterday, an envelope arrived in my mailbox. It was addressed to Sugar Bean, and me. On the back it simply said, “From the Karma Fairy”. The only indication from whom it came, was the Canadian stamp. But I knew.  Inside the envelope was a note with the following words on it:

“Every good decision deserves a reward. Love, The Karma Fairy.”

In addition to the note, there were two ten-dollar bills. A reward.

Needless to say, it made her day, and mine.


I want to publicly thank JCD for his totally unnecessary, yet immeasurably thoughtful gesture.

“JCD…You are without a doubt one of the kindest, most thoughtful, honest, sincere, trustworthy and loyal human beings I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Life would never be the same without you, and we are blessed beyond comprehension to have you as part of our family. We love you to the moon and back.” 


Nancy (and The Tribe) 

Perfectly stated.

Perfectly stated.


  1. what a beautiful story. what a beautiful friendship. what a beautiful family. what a beautiful YOU! thank you for sharing xoxo

  2. Erica Snipes says

    What a touching tribute to your friend. Thank you for sharing! I also love your “friendamily” reference. That is a great word! Hope you are doing well–have a great day!

    • Thanks Erica! He’s a gem 🙂
      “Friendamily” came to me while at a ‘family’ gathering where, with the exception of maybe 2 attendees, everyone there was a dear friend, and a regular at all the shindigs. Plus, several of my closest friends from college have moved to LA and actually become family through marriage, relationships, etc 🙂 It’s a glorious thing!

  3. LOVE to hear stories like this! Love can transcend so many things and places… even Canada 🙂 I want to send JCD 2 ten dollar bills, myself!!

    • Isn’t that the truth? When I think about all the people in my “friendamily” I am in awe. Each and every one is priceless to me! After I posted this last night, JCD texted me to say he’d read it, what a great surprise it was and how it had made his day. Then he listed all the memories I didn’t have time to mention in the post. Honestly, I laughed out loud. Can’t wait to get each and every one up here 🙂

  4. Awwwwww… This is one of the sweetest posts ever! I bet this tribute made his eyes tear up! Mine did. I am blessed to have been apart of some of these amazing times with you and John and the before and during the Minkler family creation! Friends are the family that you choose and I truly believe we have made some brilliant choices and lucky the feeling is mutual. Love you. Alot. Always

    • I completely agree, Char! The making of our “tribe” has been a beautiful process and I truly feel blessed for everyone in it. Good times have certainly been had 🙂 Little did I know it would all start by meeting John!!! He’s an angel walking among us. Seriously.
      Love you too my friend. And always remember…”Girlfriends are the sisters we choose for ourselves.” xoxo

  5. It goes without saying that I LOVED this post. Ah, those Canucks, right???

    Sounds like a special guy.


  6. Super sweet


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