Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Fact and Fiction of Friendships

Originally posted in The Monthly Breeze

Awhile back I wrote about a New Years’ resolution that I had devised for myself where I would restructure my inner circle of friends. Truth be told, it’s actually been one of the very few New Years’ resolutions in my life that I have ever fully completed. I tend to think that I am happier and better off for it. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that I don’t have residual bitterness and resentment over the restructuring. And while talking to my sister recently I began to honestly fear for my own future as I tried to truthfully imagine my life proceeding down the road that it’s going down in regards to friendships.

Not to say that I don’t love my friends because I honestly do. But there is a certain amount of censorship that is involved when talking to just about everybody in my inner circle. It’s a censorship that has literally taken years to perfect and allocate. There was a time in my life when I was an open book for whoever had an ear, and I believed that the people in my inner circle would respond, react and reply in accordance to that of a trusted ally. I think I got this idea via pop culture. Laverne & Shirley, Bert & Ernie, Mary & Rhoda, Bart & Milhouse, these were bonds that were unshakable in my mind. I laid my inconsistencies, incongruities and indiscretions out to my friends thinking, Larry would never consistently humiliate Balki if he told him he frequented bathhouses, Richie wouldn’t abandon Potsie if he started dating his ex-boyfriend again, Rachel would make an effort to go to a Tori Amos concert if Monica really wanted her to go with her. But in real life, it doesn’t work out like that.

I remember one piece of pop culture that has shoved the concept of Teflon strength relationships down the throats of American viewers like a teenage boy with Viagra and a blow-up doll… Sex and the City: The Movie. No matter what those gals go through, their commitment to each other remained unshakable. When one of the main characters breaks up with her fiancé, they all hate the fiancé. When she gets back with him, they all love him again. It fascinating really. I saw the film with one of my closest friends and after it was over I was in the most romantic of moods. I felt so emotional and full of hope and love, both passionate and platonic. Still tasting that sweet aftertaste in my mouth after the movie was over I decided to tell my friend that I had begun to talk to my ex-boyfriend again. Just talk, nothing more, nothing romantic. I told him that he has moved on and found another boyfriend and through our talks I have successfully put to rest the immense amount of pure hatred and rage I had towards that man. I said that we are good friends who shared some intimate moments in the past and we are finally working on a platonic relationship and that as of date, it’s working beautifully and we’re both happy. I wanted him to be happy for me, understand that this is a good thing and that we both know what we’re doing and that we’re just friends. I wanted him to welcome him back into my life as a friend as much as the gals welcomed Mr. Big back in Sex and the City. But in real life, it doesn’t work like that.

He thought we were both being delusional. He thought I was especially being delusional. He faulted my ex for even talking to me when he has a boyfriend. He basically made up a scandalous little adulterous scenario and stood in judgment of it that was the complete opposite of the cordial, platonic, daytime friendship that I had clearly described. I was disappointed and a little hurt, and that sweet aftertaste soured horribly. I spat it out and vowed to never let that taste venture back into my mouth again.

I was talking with my sister about the whole scenario and the more I talked, the more I was realizing that I am, in all actuality, turning into a bitter old man. I’m going to be that lonely old dude in a studio apartment with fifteen cats who the kids fuck with on Halloween. I told her that over the years that I have learned to play certain cards very close to my chest, there are certain aspects of my life that I rarely talk about with anyone and certain aspects I just don’t discuss at all, in print or in person, and that over the past year or so, the list has grown exponentially… because no one that I know has proven to be able to handle it with a certain level of respect, empathy or decorum.

I tell one friend that I went to the bathhouse and I’m hearing about it for the next year or five about how much of a desperate whore I am.

I tell one friend that I am talking with my ex and I am automatically this weak delusional adulterous little boy who can’t say no.

I tell one friend that I started to manage my weight and now every time I put Equal into my tea it’s a thirty minute discussion about how I’m too good for real sugar.

I tell one friend that I’m thinking of relocating to the East Coast and now every time we meet it’s a thirty minute discussion about how I’m not strong enough for Los Angeles.

I told my sister that I have no one in my life with whom I can present myself to and they not respond with a sense of intimidation, judgment and/or jealousy and how I’ve given up on expecting any level of understanding, compassion or (God forbid) support of any kind from any of my friends… or the world in general really. And that’s when I got that crystal clear picture of myself at seventy-five years old, in a cardigan sweater that I knitted for myself, morbidly obese and sitting alone with a cup of tea sweetened with Equal, my twenty cats swirling around my studio apartment as eggs are pelted on my front door by the local school children. And I actually began to rationalize that… I would so much rather have that scenario than to talk about my sex life to my friends and have them throw it in my face and call me a spineless whore when it’s convenient for them to do so.

Sex and the City boldly proclaims that it wants to shatter the myth of fairytale romances but I think that what it does in turn is enable the myth of fairytale adult friendships. I think you would be hard pressed to find a group of four non related people over 30 who are THAT consistently dedicated to each other (outside of maybe members of fraternities and sororities which is a whole other story because those motherfuckers are nuts). In real life, relationships come and go, but so do friendships really. The only things that are real are your family, your God and yourself. And if you have a couple of really good people around to share those things with, I think you’re ahead of the curve. With that said, right now, I do think I have some absolutely excellent friends, flaws and all. They’re not perfect friendships but I dropped that little slice of delusional hell back in my twenties. What I do have are a couple of highly earnest people who are, in all actuality, there for me when I truly need them to be. The trick, for lack of a better term, is to determine when do you really need them, and can you be there for them when they really need you. In that, I got a couple of genuine people who would most definitely check to see if the cats have eaten my face off, will wipe my front door of splattered egg… tell tales about how I deserved my lot in life because I was a filthy whore who went to the bathhouse and started talking to his ex-boyfriend back in the day...

…and a sister with whom I can tell all this to and more and cry with when I miss my grandma something awful.

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