Today Tony Coutsoftides, my business partner, turns 42 years old. That’s no big thing. I keep telling him (in between telling everyone I see that he’s actually 54, or 63, or 75) that 42 is the new 41, so he’s really in pretty good shape.
But this morning, as I was thinking up all my best old-man insults, I realized something. Tony and I have known each other for 10 years. Outside my family, this is the longest relationship I’ve ever had. I mean, it’s a weird relationship, and a complicated one, but it has certainly endured.
Tony and I met a decade ago on an online dating site. (That’s back before the days of Tinder and Grindr and Bumble and everyone meeting everyone online.) I was living and working in northeast Ohio and he had just moved back to the United States after spending a few years working in Europe. He had moved in with friends of his from the Army who happened to live in Cincinnati.
Our long history together includes long-distance dating, living in the Hyde Park’s tiniest and most illegal apartment, getting married, moving to the suburbs, starting Legion, having our daughter Catherine, getting divorced and now making this journey through business partnership and co-parenting together. It’s been a roller coaster of highs and lows and there are times, I’m sure, when we’ve both wanted to kill the other one.
Tony and I were talking the other day, and I told him that he’s more like a brother to me now than an ex. But when I think more about it, I realize that we truly are family. Ten years of knowing someone is a long time. Ten years of at times living with someone, working across a divider from them, sharing the stress and joy of life and business and a child with them, that makes them your family.
There are three people in this world I trust with my life, my money and my daughter. And that’s my mother, my brother, and Tony. He’s the backup executor of my estate, should anything happen to my brother. And he may drive me absolutely bonkers with his stereotypical Greek penny-pinching, but I know the company would be in good hands if I had to go away for any period of time. (Don’t get your hopes up, Tony.)
Whenever I have to explain my relationship with Tony to someone, it’s not easy. He’s my business partner, co-parent, ex-husband, archnemesis. I think I’m just going to have to go with Partner in Crime. It truly encapsulates the weirdly affectionate, completely antagonistic, combative, caring, mess of a relationship we have. We’re in it together, and we always will be, no matter what. Trust me, we’ve tried to get rid of each other. It didn’t work.
So, on this, his 75th birthday, I want to pay tribute to Tony, my Partner in Crime.
Here’s to 10 more years. I hear life expectancies are increasing, so you should be around that long.
by Lacy Starling, President & Fearless Leader