How do you define a true friend? What would lead you to end a friendship?
The real question here is whether I'll get through this entry without burning Carole King into my brain on an infinite loop. Not that this would be a bad thing, per se. Carole King is one of my absolute favourite singer/songwriters.
Winter, spring, summer or fall - all you've got to do is call, and I'll come running, yes I will.
You've got a friend...
I suppose I've been thinking on friendship for a little while now, since I'll be taking my leave of one circle of friends and returning to another.
I hold my friends in high esteem, this isn't to say I find them faultless, but I don't see the worth in spending a great lot of my time going about with people I don't hold in high esteem.
Such as This One Chap...who delights in telling me all about the times that people who I don't actually know have had harsh words about me in his presence so's to can boast about how well he defended my honour. I fairly take exception to that ('cos what am I going to do - attempt to Sort Things Out with strangers? That's a bit weird, don't you think?), I question his motives, and thus he's been relegated to 'acquaintance'.
So, one criterion for friendship would be do not tear me down to build yourself up. I am fairly skilled at niggling away at my own psyche (for good and for ill), thanks very much. This is not a role in my life needs that needs filling; kindly desist.
Then, there was My Client...who's after deciding that I'm the next best thing to psychotherapy. Never misunderstand me, I'm not averse to lending an ear, being a sound board, or otherwise bearing witness to the spilling of one's guts (figuratively or literally). I do get that friends do this. Hell's bells - look at the title to this piece. Sure, I didn't write it myself, but I'm never scratching my head and wondering 'what the devil does that mean'. There's a stark difference between asking for support and wringing a person dry (much in the way there's a thin line between aiding and enabling). Do I feel oddly compelled to get to the bottom of things when one presents me with a parcel of mental woe? Hang me, but I do - and that's solely on me, I get that. However, it's not on me when somebody takes a notion to feel entitled to my perspective over that somebody's life. If nothing else, at the end of the day, I en't qualified - my advice could well prove bloody awful - why take that risk?
Thus, another criterion for friendship would be do not call me Dr Freud and expect me to wear a pointy beard and ask you probing questions about your mum. Especially, do not pull me away from doing This Thing Over Here that I feel defines my very being in order to douse me with a gulletful of your fortnightly spates of angst. I know...I know...I can always refuse, but meet me halfway, yeh?
Digging into my past friendships' dregs, I'm reminded of That Girl I Used to Go Round With to Stop Me Being Bored of a Friday Night (janey, what a title)...who's crashed headlong into middle age with an 18-page criminal report. As I recall, she's now been locked up at society's urging...five times? Six is it? Mostly for prostitution, but with the odd drug and armed robbery conviction tossed into the batter for a bit of spice and texture. As I'm sure the title I've given her depicts, I can't exactly call her a friend, really. Or a mate. Or...I don't know - comrade? That still seems too close. Circumstance might be the best word I can come up with. Ha. Thick as thieves. That's a good one, 'cos for a while our circumstance (apparently morbid boredom?) did render us nigh unto inseparable - and your wan there, she couldn't lay her hand to an object that it didn't end up sneaked into her handbag. Absolutely incorrible, she was - I honestly think she's a sociopath. I could go on - and I may do someday, 'cos I'm still baffled by what a thorough disaster is she - but that'll keep for now.
Which leads me to proclaim that an especially vital criterion for friendship is do not lead me into sin. (Mind, 'sin' is used a bit ironically here...only a bit).
That brings us to Mr Nose Is Growing...who singlehandedly ended his two-year marriage and slandered a mutual friend all in one calamitous go. There are many reasons that a monkey-based lifeform may deal in untruths. Fear, shame, cruelty, cowardice (not quite the same as fear) - some of which are more forgiveable than others. If a person panics and tells me a lie about something, then chances are I'll take that under consideration once the truth is out and my pardon is begged. If a person tells me a lie about herself 'cos the truth shames her? Again, I'm not heartless. I don't necessarily assume that a person will lie to me out of disrespect; more often than not, it's more about the strength of that person's self worth. Now yer man here...he lies to amuse himself. He's got this strategy when it comes to lying: tell as many lies as possible and as quickly as possible. The result is that people believe him out of self defence. He's filled up their ears with so many tall tales that to show them to be falsehoods should take rather more commitment than it's worth. In truth, most of the lies were harmless - tales of middle class derringdo meant to make the teller seem a bit more interesting than the average 30 something white primate. If he'd contented himself with being a bit of a Walter Middy, then I'd not want to spit something foul and sticky whenever I see him. Only he chose to take his lying to the next level, and in effect laid the blame for the dissolution of his marriage at the feet of somebody else (particulars spared to protect the innocent). I can fairly suss why he did as he did: he wanted out, and he never wanted it to be his fault. Sussing is not the same as excusing or forgiving.
Therefore, a third criterion for friendship is do not be a lying rat bastard. Especially not at the expense of myself or other people.
Last of all, I offer the Fellow With the Green Eye Shadow...whose behaviour was so ghastly at the end of it all that it warranted me writing rather a derisive song about him so's to completely exorcise him from my life. There are few people with whom I've burnt bridges. Even with people who've come into my life and acted many different maggots, I'm slow to slam the door, lock it fast, and then flee prior to blowing up the building. 'Cos who knows - it might be that all we need to come to common ground again is a few years' distance. He'd have been in the unburnt bridge drawer, but for one thing that he did. Pardon the dramatics of it, but he came spying for a group of people who'd made it known that they intended to do away with me. It got back to me through three unrelated channels (which lent the rumour credence to my mind), so I've no doubt that it was discussed. Whether they ever thought to actually go through with it? I can't say - and I'd be daft if I went to go find one of them to sate my own curiosity. In short, it was what it was, and I don't need to know. This fellow - once I'd said my peace to the effect of 'if ever I see you again, it'll be too soon' - had the absolute daft gall to wait a beat, and then begin telling me all about some person who was giving him fits or something. Sure jeez, boyo - what part of eff the fuck right off did you not get? I told him to keep still and then turned and walked away.
Which brings me to the most important criterion for friendship - do not try to have me killed. I can fairly guarantee you I'll not be laughing with you, or at you, or even laughing at all. Make a move to teach me the ancient art of shoving up daisies, and we're done. Sin é. So that we're clear. (Note: it's not escaped me how mad it is that I've got to include this one on the list.)
All in all...I don't ask for terribly much of my friends. Sometimes I get a bit whingety and crave reminding that I'm not some sort of undesirable sea creature (why's it always sea creatures?), but mostly I'm fairly self contained. At the end of the day, I think that if we can find joy in each other's company, compassion in each other's sorrow, at least a wee swath of common ground, and we're willing to accept (or at least ignore) each other's quirks and idiosyncrasies, then I see no reason why we shouldn't be friends.