Tuesday, July 16, 2013

I Am A Friend

     What is friendship?  There was a time in my life that friendship was getting high and trying to answer pointless and unanswerable questions like that one and the all important question of what would happen in you farted at the speed of light.  Thanks to adulthood and drug testing, though, those days are over and now I'm not sure how to define friendship.  A Supreme Court justice once said of pornography that he couldn't define it but he knew it when he saw it.  I feel the same way about friendship.  Of course, if you think it's telling that in the first paragraph of writing about friendship I managed to mention drugs and porn, I won't argue with you.
     This past weekend a bunch of us old friends, and a few new ones, got together in remembrance of Jared Weaver, our friend who passed away last month.  It may sound strange but we had a great time in honor of him.  It could be called an Irish Wake or just a bunch of people drinking and telling stories but it was a night he would've loved and a night that did me a lot of good.  This isn't going to be a blow by blow account of the night though because there are parts of it I can't remember.  Is that what friendship is, the moments you can't remember?
     There was a point in my life that identifying my friends was easy.  Friends were the people I would die for who would die for me.  Like it does so much else, adulthood ruined this concept.  I can't die for anyone except my son.  Unless Brad is standing behind me, if a bullet is coming my way I'm sidestepping it.  I have to live for my son.  Sorry Mom and Dad but you're kind of old anyway.
     I think this is why Stephen King wrote, "I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve-Jesus, did you?"  Twelve is when friendship is distilled in it's purest form, especially for boys.  You're filled with hormones but can't quite direct them fully at girls yet and you're just starting to become a separate person from your family.  Then you find these guys who accept you and tell you this is normal and you would quite literally die for them.  Of course, none of my friends ever told me I was normal but still.
     My answer to Mister King's question, though, would be yes.  I do have friends like the ones I had when I was twelve.  I still have some of the same friends I had when I was twelve. Friends might be busboys in a restaurant but mine are a lazy group of busboys that never clear the tables and like to linger in the dining room eavesdropping on conversations.  I really mean, however, that I still have intense friendships like the ones I had when I was twelve.  When it comes to relationships, and friendships are just another form of relationships, I can't really do half-assed.  It's not necessarily a good thing.
     Friendships are relationships and they have a lot in common with romantic relationships; more than most want to admit.  Those similarities are why the term bromance was invented but I hate that term.  I think it's mocking of male bonding and while the new age concept of male bonding, let's hold hands and walk in the woods and mancry, needs to be mocked mercilessly; a true bond between men isn't something to be trifled with.  I think bromance is a word women invented because they're uncomfortable with and don't understand male friendship.  After all, women had to invent bff to distinguish between best friends because in their lives most friendships aren't a permanent thing.  So rather than acknowledge that friendship is something men do better they feel the need to mock our lifelong friendships as a sign of laziness or a lack of personal growth.  I just heard a buzzer that means I've hit my quota of sexist comments and I must end this paragraph.
     There is a saying that friends are the family you choose but I prefer to invert this saying just because I like to argue with everything.  I think family are the friends I didn't choose. Just like with my friends, there are certain family members I want to talk to about certain things and certain family members I'll talk to about anything.  Just like with my friends, I have fought like an asshole with some of my family, and they with me, and yet we've never let those moments come between us.  I count many family members, especially my immediate family but many aunts, uncles, and cousins, among my closest friends.  Basically, what I'm saying is Jerry, my friend, is a brother to me and my brother, I'm not saying which one that way they both think it's about them, is a friend to me.  There really isn't much of a line between friends and family to me.
     Of course, thinking about friends as family and vice versa really complicates the whole friends with benefits things but I haven't figured that out yet anyway.  Anytime I've had that sort of relationship it's never been long before it became one or the other; just friends or a romantic relationship.  I like to think this is because I inspire such intense feelings in women that they can't deal with anything in between like that.  I'm a pretty good friend to myself so I have no problem deluding myself like that to boost my ego.
     The topic of friendship was going to inevitably lead to me talking about my son.  Almost any topic will lead to me talking about my son but friendship especially.  Finding that balance between being a friend and being a parent is the most difficult part of being a father for me.  I know there are those that say that you aren't supposed to be your child's friend but I think those people are wrong.  How does a child learn what a friend is and how to be a friend if not from their parents?  I always make sure that if I do error in finding the line between friendship and discipline I error on the side of friendship.  I'll admit this leads to me tolerating a few things from my son that I shouldn't but if you don't appreciate smart alec remarks you probably aren't hanging around me anyway.
     There is a short list of things I pride myself on and being a friend is one of those.  I'm tempted to say I'm a good friend but to me there is no such thing as a bad friend.  If someone is bad to you then they aren't a friend.  So know that if you need someone to talk to or laugh with or especially if you have the urge to buy someone a drink; I am a friend.

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