Thursday, July 26, 2007

Friendly Fire

Girls have more friends than boys. You know what I'm talkin' about? Maybe this is a stereotype, but it seems like every female I know considers every person they've ever met to be their "friend." Know a woman long enough, and you'll hear about "my friend Matt," "my friend Josh," and "my friend Christina/Kristina." You'll learn about the four Kevins, the eight Steves, and amazingly, at least one Ian. (You'll also note they've got these crazy things called "friends of the opposite sex," which most of us dudes have only dabbled in.) When the friend-count gets high enough, I always start to wonder what their criteria is. You can only have so many people you really know. (See Dunbar's Number--ha! Dunbar!)

How do you determine who's a "friend" as opposed to people who are just, as my friend Pat once said, "in the filing cabinet of dudes I've met"? For me, you have to be someone I've actually spent a lot of time with on purpose ("at work" doesn't count!) for me to call you "my friend." No offense to some guy I give a nod to in an elevator and never see again--I'm sure he's a great guy. But a "friend"?

To me, a person who introduced himself to me at a party in 1998 and maybe exchanged email addresses with me just to be nice is just that: "a person I met once." To a woman, he's "my friend Rob." Welcome to the club, Rob. The "friends of hers named Rob" club, because you're definitely not the only Rob.

Recently, my girlfriend mentioned one of her "friends," and I broached the hell out of this subject. I finally got it out of her that this "friend" was someone she knew a little bit and hadn't seen in a decade--and I think she even said they had a fight and they hadn't seen each other since! "Friend" status, for that? I don't know.... Also, "friend" implies "current friend." Once you "break up," you at least have to call that person an "ex-friend."

While we were talking about this, I used this example: "Is Jessica Bennett my friend? We used to carpool--to nursery school. After that, her family must've moved, because I haven't seen her since. Sure, we were carpoolin' buddies. We had some good times together, playing in the sandbox and making pictures out of glitter and glue. We even had some bad times--me getting her a Magilla Gorilla-related gift for her birthday that went, uh, underappreciated. But if I'm listing friends, Jessica Bennett is not making the cut."

This story gets Jere-fied when, the next night, my girlfriend and I go to see Evan Almighty. Standing in line in front of us at the theater is, no, not Jessica Bennett, but, incredibly, the third person in my nursery school carpool, Leigha Cuniberti,* who went to school with me through high school. A friend of mine? Let's see, we had the carpool thing in '79; I swam in her pool a few times while her family was on vacation because my sister was feeding their cats; haven't seen her in 14 years....nice girl, but I'm gonna say no. But had I had the nerve to say anything to her and introduce her to my girlfriend, you can bet she'd be my girlfriend's friend right now.

*Since I didn't verify that it was Leigha, well, it might not have been her. If it was, though, I think this was an amazing coincidence, especially since, during the Bennett coversation, we'd talked about what it would be like if I suddenly ran into her, and if I'd introduce her as my "friend." I just Googled Leigha's name, though, and I'm happy to report that as of 2004, she's listed, at least on this page about a 5-mile run, as living in Boston. Her family was always into running, and her dad's a Sox fan, and with that unique name, it's gotta be her. (206th out of over 900 in that race. Nice work, my fr-- uh, my person I carpooled with and whose pool I swam in and who graduated with me but who I haven't seen since except for maybe at that movie theater. Hmmm, maybe "friend" is easier....)

I always defer to my favorite scene in "When harry Met Sally" when it comes to intergender friendship...

Harry Burns: You realize of course that we could never be friends.
Sally Albright: Why not?
Harry Burns: What I'm saying is - and this is not a come-on in any way, shape or form - is that men and women can't be friends because the sex part always gets in the way.
Sally Albright: That's not true. I have a number of men friends and there is no sex involved.
Harry Burns: No you don't.
Sally Albright: Yes I do.
Harry Burns: No you don't.
Sally Albright: Yes I do.
Harry Burns: You only think you do.
Sally Albright: You say I'm having sex with these men without my knowledge?
Harry Burns: No, what I'm saying is they all WANT to have sex with you.
Sally Albright: They do not.
Harry Burns: Do too.
Sally Albright: They do not.
Harry Burns: Do too.
Sally Albright: How do you know?
Harry Burns: Because no man can be friends with a woman that he finds attractive. He always wants to have sex with her.
Sally Albright: So, you're saying that a man can be friends with a woman he finds unattractive?
Harry Burns: No. You pretty much want to nail 'em too.
Sally Albright: What if THEY don't want to have sex with YOU?
Harry Burns: Doesn't matter because the sex thing is already out there so the friendship is ultimately doomed and that is the end of the story.
Sally Albright: Well, I guess we're not going to be friends then.
Harry Burns: I guess not.
Hah. At school dinner we had an argument about friends vs. peers vs. best friends. Although a couple girls sided with my male friend and me, the other girls considered everyone their friends as you say.

Oh, sociology. You dog, you.
I completely agree. Not every person you have ever met is your “friend.” I think most people use the word “friend” fairly loosely and really mean acquaintance. People have many acquaintances in their lifetime, but very few close friends. People really only have one to three best friends at most, especially as we get older. In fact, people should be very careful of whom they even consider a friend. I often use the phrase, “show me who your friends are, and I’ll tell you what kind of person you are.”
BSB: My girlfriend's a huge fan of WHMS! I finally saw it, pretty good stuff. They're pretty close, on that scene, ha.
Which nursery school? Pinchbeck's? Montessori?
Actually, we crossed the border for the extra-special nursery schooling that can only be found in North Salem, NY. (Actually it was probably the closest one to my house.) But all my schooling after that, until graduation, was in Ridgefield Public Schools.

Pinchbeck's. Ha. THE place for all your plant needs. The Squash's of, uh, agriculture.
I consider Squash's the Chez Lenard's of office supplies and new periodicals.

Pinchbeck's really did have a nursery school. Or maybe it wasn't Pinchbeck's proper but something next door to it. My sister liked it because they had a llama or something.
I thought Chez Lenard was the Bedient's of sidewalk hot dog vendors.

So you're telling me Pinchbeck's had a nursery AND a nursery school?
Here is a fun party trick someone taught me a long time ago. Ask the male in a couple you know (without his girlfriend/wife around) who their best friend is. Then ask the female (without the boyfriend/husband around). The female will almost always say that her best friend is another female friend. The male almost always says it's his girlfriend/wife.
Jere's Mom's History Watch for the benefit of all Jere's FRIENDS:
Pinchbeck's had a nursery school. I checked it out. Walls were a mass of shelves lined with big clear vinyl jars of crayons, legos, toy cars, etc. I figured the kids had to spend half their time putting things back in the correct jars. We ended up at the Co-op nursery school at Jesse Lee (the church). All parents had to put in a day per month as aids. We all had a good time. Then the school building burned down and the North Salem Nursery School (NY-just across the border) opened a special session to take in the Jesse Lee kids. And that is how Jere got to meet Jessica Bennett.
Oh, ok. I thought I went to 3-yr old nursery school in Ridgefield, it burned down and I lost that Easter suit in there or whatever, and then I went to a new one also in Ridgefield. Then for 4-yr old, I went to N. Salem, but I didn't know why. Now I get it, I went there because of the burn down. Thanks.
That's all too deep for me Jere! Can we just go back to writing and blogging about the Best Team in Baseball! Gutta go. My friend Suzy wants to go for brunch and then we're going to looks at pocket books! Right after a Brazilian...what ever that is?


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