I’m not sure people know what friendship is anymore. For my money, most of them use the term so casually that it loses all meaning. Social networking websites see a friend as anyone who visits their site and clicks on a certain box. For T.V. and radio hosts it’s pretty much anyone that watches, listens or calls in.
To me, a friendship is much more than that and is just as complex as any other relationship. Despite this complexity, my favorite definition is a simple one: A friend is someone who will laugh at your jokes when they’re not so good and listen to your troubles when they’re not so bad. I would hasten to add that it’s also important to walk through some kind of fire together, to cement your common bonds.
I’ve had only five people in my life that I’ve considered worthy of wearing the title ‘Friend’ … and I’m fortunate enough to still be in touch with four of them. The funny thing is, while I am friends with all of them, they are so diverse that none of them could ever be friends with each other!
Vigi actually knows who I’m on the phone with according to my speech mannerisms. Apparently, I adopt the appropriate communication style for the conversation … something I wasn’t even aware of until she pointed it out. It’s not a matter of being forced or phony, just flexible. I suppose it’s an ability that even merits a certain amount of pride.
Of the group, one is primarily a friend of longevity who is more formal than the rest, therefore our conversations tend to take on a more serious tone. I’ve always had the utmost respect for him and he has earned it, among other ways, by keeping my tendencies toward ‘over-the-topness’ grounded in reality. Another likes structure and almost always needs a specific topic for discussion … he even shows up with one when he visits. For him, life will always be a college debate. If Veege is within earshot of a political rant or hears musings about the location of human consciousness, she always knows the identity of the other culprit.
The bond with my third ‘bud’ is based almost purely on chemistry and we’ve walked through a lot of fire together. When we talk, we simply shoot the sh**, as we call it. Anything is fair game and we leap from subject to subject with the grace of a gazelle but stumble through a half-century of memories with all the poise of an Abbott and Costello routine … we usually both wind up on first!
My fourth friend is, in many ways, a combination of the first three. We exist somewhat at a distance but are joined at the soul. I don’t see him very often, we don’t talk much on the phone but we’ve always kept in close contact. When we do have a phone conversation, it scrambles Vigi’s radar … maybe it’s the blend of communication styles or perhaps she just doesn’t get enough practice hearing us.
In case you’re wondering, the fifth guy bailed out of our relationship after a relatively few years, around the time of my divorce. His wife was particularly close with my ‘ex’ and I guess, when it comes to heroes and villains, it was easier to switch than fight [to paraphrase an old cigarette commercial]. Maybe he wasn’t really a friend in the first place but I’ll always be grateful that our lives crossed paths and count him as one anyway.
Like anyone else, I’ve had hundreds of acquaintances in my lifetime but I have no known friends on any radio station or website, regardless of what their counters say. None of us have even met … and it’s too late for Veege to learn my conversation style with them if we did! What I do have are these four great guys, most of whom I’ve accompanied through the fire, and I’d gladly walk through it with any of them again.
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