There is a lot to be said about friends. When we were kids, we chose someone, mostly at random, to be our best friend. As we got older, we realized the concept of the best friend was pretty ridiculous as we had gathered a group of people we simply called friends. Each one of these friends filled a spot in our lives that needed filling. If all worked out, each of the individual friends would have something in common with one of the other friends, and you would be able to mix the friends and have an even bigger group you could call friends.
There is always that one guy or girl who doesn’t fit in with the rest of the friends. I know a guy who I love dearly, but is so out there that he doesn’t fit in with the rest of my friends. It doesn’t make him any more or less a friend, but some people might feel a wee bit uncomfortable with some of his theories on why the world works the way it does. I’m okay with that because I agree with one or two of his ideas and think most of them are hooey. He knows I think most of his stuff is hooey, but it’s okay because I am one of his friends. He thinks I am provincial and square, but that’s alright by me. I don’t invite him to cookouts and he doesn’t ask me to join his flat-earth folks.
My wife and I have a lot of friends who are younger than we are. We have developed a surrogate parent role for some of them. They come to us for advice and guidance, because, in their eyes, we seem to have figured a lot of things out. If they knew we were just as clueless as they are, they would probably stop hanging around. They won’t, because we are true friends.
I have known some folks for 40 years and know them as friends, but we aren’t close. There are people I have known for five years and would give my life for. That’s how the whole friend thing really works. My teenage daughter has been having some friend issues lately and I know it’s bugging her. What she knows is what I know. In 30 years, it isn’t going to matter who liked whom and who got to hang out with whom, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
Social media has allowed us to reconnect with friends from long ago and we are able to see if we are still compatible. I have some Facebook friends that I knew 30 years ago in high school, and, surprisingly, through social media, we are still friends. “Friends,” in Facebook parlance, are not really friends, but simply social connections. I think I have a few Facebook friends that I don’t really know, but they are friends according to Facebook.
Events of the last few months have caused me to rely on some friends. When things were not going so well, friends rallied around my family and made sure we had the support we needed and gave us a helping hand when we needed it. Now, as our fortunes have changed, we are able to return the favor and we are doing so tenfold. This is how it’s supposed to work, or so they say.
My family spends a lot of time with our friends. A lot of our friends have become extensions of our family. We celebrate holidays and such together. When we are broke, we organize pot luck meals and put a movie on the TV and have a great time. It’s a far cry from the party days of our 20s, but it works for us.
Good friends are hard to come by. I have a few who, even after not seeing each other for a few years or decades, pick up where we left off as if it had been hours since we last talked. Most of us have a few friends like that.
I think I am a little old for a best friend, though. I don’t like any of my friends more than another, and I hope they all like me equally. There is one, though that I might like a little less than some of the others. I’ll re-evaluate that one when he brings back the rake he borrowed from my tool shed — in 2005.
Baltimore native Joe Weaver is a husband, father, pawnbroker and gun collector. From his home in New Bern, he writes on the lighter side of family life.