I know the title of this post sounds nice and salacious…just like me, right? Sorry to disappoint, but this is about a conversation the Silver Fox and I had recently regarding friendships. Ours, specifically, but it reminded me of my theory about friendships. Also, it was just a funny exercise of a conversation.
We were talking about how close we are and how much we constantly amuse one another. Don’t get me wrong, we have many serious discussions. Our ability to enjoy a frivolous chat and still speak about serious matters is what makes his friendship so valuable to me. I also appreciate the fact that he is so terribly affable that I can be all bitchy when I’m experiencing some internal dissatisfaction and he doesn’t get mad or take it personal, he let’s me wear myself out and then tells me I need to get laid. Wise, wise man.
This specific instance, we were both just on fire and amusing the hell out of ourselves – and each other. I don’t even think we had wine…it seems like we were heading out to The Big Legrowlski for a beer shortly after this conversation began. I mentioned what a shame it was that we didn’t have an audience to enjoy the show and he chimed in with “We totally need that! We should pick up a third!”
Which – of course – changed the topic of our conversation instantly. Let me fictionalize it for my own entertainment. Here’s the conversation, “based on a true story”.
We began listing the qualities this “third” would have to bring: intelligence, humor, good listener…all obvious qualities. Meanwhile, someone who is active and brings uncommon interests to the group would maintain our present outward bound spirit while also providing an infusion of new opportunities. Although, what hasn’t the Fox done?
We decided that income and employment were irrelevant. I think that last one was a cheeky nod to my lack of employment at the time. Seriously, though, it’s Portland – where young people infamously come to “retire”. The largest obstacle when we were discussing this wasn’t some stupid barrier like a financial ability to participate; it was ensuring someone wasn’t so married to their job that they couldn’t participate. In retrospect, I think we should have allowed for a bar owner to be married to his job, provided it was our local watering hole. Sorry, Brendan. <—actual, real-life name alert!
Age was a bit contentious. The Fox pointed out that too young (and, presumably, good looking) and I would want to date them. I countered with the fact that too young and they wouldn’t meet most of the criteria due to their limited life experience. (Play nice, SF!) On the other hand, with the SF being mid-60s and my having fewer days remaining in my 40s than there are behind, an older third couldn’t be ruled out. I like friends that keep me motivated, an older guy showing how it’s done is what I already have and love in the Fox, why not build in the ego boost of being “the young one” in this friend group?
Athletic-ish. No couch potatoes, it’s too easy for me to join them. At the other end of the spectrum, I think neither of us is interested in anyone who is uber-into extreme sports. We like to work out – not together, because I’m a curmudgeon and need my alone time. We often go to the gym at the same time and then frequently grab a coffee or something afterward. Part of what I enjoy most about this is part of our friendship is the almost perfect example of *someone’s* lack of impulse control, I’ll get texts from the Fox about what’s going on in the gym while we are both AT the gym. Nevertheless, I am also at that point in my life where I am slowly beginning to accept that my body is – ok, has – begun its slow decline to the grave, fitness and health are important to me but I’ve had to let go of the beach body self image I have striven to achieve and maintain for most of my adult life. I want someone that has a similar pace in life, not some punk that’s going to run up a hill without getting winded while I wheeze up behind him a few minutes later only to find him effortlessly doing pull-ups on a tree branch. Plus, drinking…ultra-sport people would probably weigh us down there. Wouldn’t want that.
We decided that they needed to be single. We wanted someone who was similarly unencumbered in their life. I’ve learned by observing my sister’s family that having a family and doing family right is a full time commitment. Spontaneity is something that is a luxury with a family, with the Fox and I it’s more of a lifestyle. Although to listen to him rattle off his upcoming engagements, you’d think the SF was running a small country. I tend to tune that shit out. Listening to someone read their calendar is well, I don’t care unless it directly affects me. Plus, have you met people? That calendar is going to move around. A lot. You just call me when you’re ready to get together. Feel free to be spontaneous. Guess who brought up “single” as a necessary quality in the third? So, I guess it’s me that wanted a single third. It’s not that someone who was in a relationship or dating would be bad, the family descriptor above is really relative to people with kids at home. It’s just that when you’re dating someone, you may want to bring them along and there’s no guarantee that the boy/girlfriend is going to mesh. Sometimes people have independent activities which vary from their relationship behaviors that a significant other wouldn’t enjoy being exposed to.
Sexuality and gender didn’t actually become a boundary. I’d assume our third would be a gay guy, but a woman or a straight dude weren’t out of the question. Several of the people we considered while discussing this were forgivably straight or – gasp! – even women! It’s just that my world filter is pretty much dominated by my sexual identity, so it’s the top of mind assumption. One that could remain in place or be jettisoned without an active thought about it.
And, yeah, our conversation evolved into a discussion about why this would be hard, which led us to scroll through the current friends of ours for viability. You’re all wondering now how you placed, aren’t you?
Maybe we should get a shared custody cat, now that I’ve thought it through.
Oh, my theory on friends? The theory is: I have generally wanted no more than five close friends.
If they have personalities that appeal to a specific part of mine, they may not all get along. For a long time, this manifested itself as: gym friends, drinking buddies, work friends, family, etc. A smaller group of friends reduced the potential conflict. As I’ve aged, I’ve better learned to blend socially which allows me to pretty much find something enjoyable to focus on in most situations. Which is an odd quality in an admittedly grumpy person. OK, that was hyperbole.
The second reason for my number was that if they all wanted to do something on a weekly basis – which I would welcome – I would still have two nights where I wouldn’t have to deal with people – er – I would have two nights to myself, y’know, to date or just spend a quiet evening with my favorite person.
Sometimes having a great friend doesn’t have to involve a second person, let alone a third!