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Working on the Craft: Friendship

Today’s exercise seemed a bit too close to journaling for my tastes, so I went fictional with it. The point was to describe friendship in a response to an amazingly convoluted Samuel Becket quote. Insert, as Kiteley puts it, “a little poison into the sunny world the word usually describes”. In the end, I created a made-up person — a composite of my actual close friends — and put him through a situation many of them have found themselves in with me.

Sorry! But in my defense, y’all knew what you were signing up for…

I stop talking – whether because I have finished venting, or to take a breath, I am not sure – and he does the literal worst possible thing he could have done in this situation: he offers advice.

It’s not the first time either. The temerity!

I love him like a brother. Or rather, I love him the way I imagine I would love a brother, if I had one. It seems to involve a consistently low-boiling desire for manslaughter. Still though. We connect on a quantum level, you might say. I express a thought, however awkwardly, and I don’t have to worry about clarifying. He gets it. Instinctively. He understands not just the words, but the convoluted meanderings of my brain, lurking behind them. When he doesn’t, he asks the right questions.

I get him just as well, or at least it flatters me to think that I do. He is sticking around, so if it’s not that, it must be my sharp wit or something.

He is hot too, but that’s beside the point. That ship has had its run, and has now sailed safely beyond the horizon. Brother, as previously stated. But hey, in this life everything is a status symbol!

Where he fails – where he utterly, bombastically, dramatically betrays me – is in dealing with my drama.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t have a whole lot of drama in my life. I am too self-analytical for genuine MTV/VH1, ‘Teen Moms of Jacksonville, Florida’ drama. Usually. But when I do, I go full Shakespeare with it. World on fire, woe-is-me kinda deal. Naturally, the massive performative aspect of this experience demands that I share it. It’s therapeutic too, in a way. Better out than in, and it frees up space for actually addressing problems. Being a mature adult, or the placebo effect version of one.

But when I vent, I want commiseration. Absolute, obedient agreement, and more than that – simple acknowledgement. I am a smart guy,  and it’s my problem. I’ll figure it out. Hands off! Your role in this is to tell me how right I am or cushion the blow of how right I’m not. Not to solve shit for me.

But he does try. Invariably, he wants not just to listen, but to help. It is a little dance we dance. I come to him, whining or ranting as the occasion demands. He listens. Understands. Sympathizes. Then, in an utter disregard of karmic justice, he starts telling me what I did wrong, and how to fix it. And naturally I want to murder him.

But here is the cheat code for all this. He knows what I need. In an infuriatingly masturbatory way – one both sub- and super-liminal – I have made something obvious. While I definitely don’t want to be offered solutions, the complete disregard of my wishes is actually the perfect distraction from my woes. I don’t know if he is conscious of his role in this little farce, but he plays it enthusiastically. In making me annoyed at him, he takes my mind off my actual problem. Helps me reconnect the synapses. Figure out solutions that are – duh – way better than his suggestions.

In the least convenient, most obnoxious way possible, he ends up helping me solve my problem. Completely unprompted, butting in where he is not invited.

This is love. This is friendship. I can’t say with any degree of certainty that I deserve it. Him. But it is my fervent hope that I am able to do something this meaningful for him as well.

Published inWorking on the Craft

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