The teenagers say BFF - What does it mean when you are not a teenager anymore?
One of the simple joys of having long time friends is that you pass through the same stages of life at the same time with buddies plus you have all the the shared experiences from whenever you first met them. Let me give you an example. Last night I celebrated a 54th birthday with some friends. I have been married for 25 years and yet I have known the majority of people at the dinner longer than I have known “The Artist.
This is a good thing because to be honest making new friends can be tedious and uninviting as you get older. In fact it’s often hard work. Lets face it, you have been making and losing friends since kindergarten. Through primary and secondary school, then university and/or your first job, then you might make more through a hobby or sport and then by meeting your life partner.
By then with a circle you feel happy with, unless you are unusual your friend accumulation process is starting to slow down. But then there can be an outburst of activity that occurs around pregnancy, during the birth and then the education of your children that gives you a final chance to gain some more buddies.
By now you are well into your thirties or maybe forties and to be honest you have other things to think about. So now loaded with history and experiences with a close group of friends it should be no surprise that the whole process of beginning new friendships begins to look less appealing.
It is true you might miss meeting the most interesting human who ever lived or the person who could have influenced the second half of your life in a most incredible way. But what are the odds?
Also it must also be pointed out that during this entire period some friends die, others move away, either physically or they just drift away as the force between the two of you is no longer strong enough to hold you together. But that’s life.
So maybe it is a little lazy and self defeating but having a bunch of people with whom you don’t need to go through the whole getting to know you process is really comfortable.
Look at the advantages. At any get together you can get relaxed straight away, pick up on stories and plans from the last meeting, compare parenting war stories, work trials and not worry about the fact that you are getting pissed too quickly and have some food caught in your teeth.
You can gather reviews on restaurants, TV shows, shops etc. from people whose opinions you value, or depending on the subject, can discretely and correctly ignore. This is handy. It is like having your own Choice consumer research team working for you. So if you are like most people, and have different circles of friends you can transfer this knowledge over and for example use that restaurant recommendation from one circle in another circle.
Also you can mouth off with impunity on various contentious subjects like politics, religion or various music genres knowing that the audience agree or at least have heard it all from you before and therefore if they are still around to listen then they must be friends.
Plus you know if you go to X’s house you know you are going to get great dessert or at Y’s house you will be served good wines or at Z’s, classic 70s tunes on vinyl.
Friendship is great.
It’s not all shits and giggles though. Bad things have been known to happen that can upset a cosy circle. What happens if there is a disagreement that gets out of hand and things are said or even worse violence is perpetrated and someone is gone and out of there, perhaps for good? It might be you.
Not so bad is the person who bangs on at every dinner or barbecue about the past. I love nostalgia more than some but there are limits. How many more times do we need to hear about the time when we were all sharing that house in suburb near the uni and we had X’s 21st party and so and so brought that guy she was going out with at the time and he got off his nut and climbed up on to the roof naked before falling into the hedge and emerging remarkably unscathed except for a stick through his scrotum. And when people saw what had happened grown men, admittedly drunk, grown men, fainted and Z vomited on the stereo and an ambulance had to come and then what’s her name’s purse was stolen and Z married the ambo and …..you get the picture.
Heard it before, was actually there when it happened, why are you telling me this again? And the answer is of course that the story is told again not to be boring, but because shared stories need to be remembered and repeated. Just like a tribe passing down clan history around the campfire, the circle of friends needs to remember who met who first and was it Midnight Oil or The Hoodoo Gurus who were playing that fateful night.
But what happens when there is a death or a divorce? Suddenly there is a an absence then maybe be a new partner, a man or woman without the shared history, who cant finish thoughts or sentences with the rest, who doesn’t already know all the kids names or their Uni courses, who hasn’t been to the weddings, housewarmings and the parties for the 30ths, 40ths and 50ths.
There is disruption of course, hopefully only temporarily, as free flowing discussions must pause for background briefings so the newbie is not left out.
Sometimes too the new person may not be to the tribe’s liking. What then? Can the clan survive?
Then there is the worst of all. Betrayal. Remember 15 years or so ago when one AFL footballer was discovered bonking his teammate’s wife in a toilet at a party? Now that is the kind of thing that will blow a circle to pieces. I haven’t had an experience of that first hand but the emotions, recriminations and the fact that people take sides in these things would mean your friendship circle could never be the same again.
Unless of course you and your friends are part of a swingers group in which case carry on, just as you were.
I belong to a couple of clans. Their dimensions and make ups are different but I feel they are my clans, I love all the members even when I scratch my head about something said or done or how a member might have changed in ways I never would have thought likely. I am sure they do the same about me. In the end we are friends and as our kids know, BFF counts for something.
Lots of songs about friends seem to be more concerned about lovers breaking up and staying friends, listen to Todd Rundgren’s bittersweet ”Can We Still Be Friends” as a perfect example. But in terms of friendship Randy Newman’s You’ve Got A Friend In Me”, James Taylor’s “You’ve Got A Friend” and Bruno Marr’s “ Count On Me” are hard to beat but a whole lot obvious and overused.
So some more obscure gems would be
Stay Free – The Clash
We’re Going to be Friends – The White Stripes
My Best Friend – Weezer
Tongue Tied – Grouplove