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TGR, Gutenberg, Rubric

March 2015



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TGR, Gutenberg, Rubric

How many friends do I have? ... No, really.

I'm not talking about Live Journal Friends or Facebook friends, or Twitter followers. There are just days that I really wonder how many friends I have. I remember that when I was growing up, I knew who my friend was. Yes, that's singular. Brian and I lived about a quarter of a mile apart out in the country on Elder Road. There were three houses between us and we knew the kids who lived there and sometimes played with them. There were a couple kids in church that we sometimes hung out with. There were two guys who rode the same school bus that we sat with. And there were the Indian Guides. But when it came down to friends, there was Brian. If we wanted to play with someone, we called each other. If we wanted to ride bikes, we called each other. If we played softball, we wanted to be on the same team. If we were headed to the woods, we met each other. We were friends. He was bigger than me, so each year I wore the clothes he had outgrown the previous year.

Then, just before my sophomore year in high school, I moved. It wasn't a long move--just forty miles. But Brian and I were in different worlds from that moment on. We saw each other only three or four times a year instead of every day. We were in schools that were so different the only thing the same was the age of the kids. We grew apart. Maybe--for the first time--we grew as individuals. We went to different colleges and chose different career paths. Eventually we moved to different states. I haven't seen or talked to Brian since my Dad's funeral in 1976.

Contrast that with the fact that my wife's best friend is the same person she went to kindergarten with 50+ years ago. I can name three people without thinking that she would call locally if she needed to talk--about anything. Each time she returns to her hometown, she has to decide which friends she will see and for how long. I know the one I would see there.

I'm happy that I know a lot of people who are friends. They all like me. I like all of them. Some great people. But I actually have to say that I have no idea who I would call to go out for a beer on Friday night or to see the next James Bond movie. (There will be a next James Bond movie, won't there??)

I've thought a lot about my dad lately. Might even write a book about him, now that I can stand the thought. But one thing that has come to mind has been that I don't know who any of his friends were. It's easy to identify who my mom's friends were. So it leaves me wondering if it is just a guy thing, or if it's just my genetic line. Why is it that we are unlikely to know who our friends are until it is too late?


I think it's a guy thing. When it comes down to people who will be there for you when you really need them, I think you probably have friends who would fit. But for the criteria you describe, people who fall into that group can easily come and go. It's about exposure. That's why for a lot of people, the "beer on Friday night" friends are their co-workers. I find overall that men tend to be worse about "keeping up" regularly with people when they are no longer a natural part of their daily lives. Women tend to feel guilty about losing touch (women send more holiday cards, no?). And so that's probably why you're seeing the patterns you describe. (On the flip side, I think female relationships require more maintenance, and men can go a year without talking and catch up with one phone call)

Soooo... if beer/movie companions are what you want, it's not hard to find them. You know so many people. You just have to find an event and invite people. And keep doing it. Maybe have a regular game night or a weekly Glee episode viewing night. Or rotating dinner parties. It might seem weird to send an invitation out of the blue, but people actually like being invited to stuff.