The Unbearable Banishment: <i>I had some friends but they're gone now</i>

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I had some friends but they're gone now

We went to Washington D.C. for a surprise birthday party. It was held in a private room in the back of a bar. The place was PACKED. It was a nice moment. I don’t think the birthday girl knew ahead of time. She seemed truly taken aback. I was commenting to someone there about what a great turnout it was and he said that the birthday girl and her husband are two of the most socially active people he’s ever met. It made me sad and a little jealous. I don’t know very many people and I wish I did. The friends I’m closest to are 500 miles away and I only see them every year or two if I’m lucky. A surprise party in my honor would be a bit of a joke.

I wasn’t a high school loser, but I didn’t run with the cool kids. College seems to be the place where most people foster lifelong friendships. Birthday girl belonged to a sorority and is still close to many of her classmates. The Coast Guard kept me on the move for six years, so friendships were fleeting and transitory.

I lost touch with a lot of people when I left Manhattan for New Jersey. Mrs. Wife has taken me on several husband play-dates but I’m a fish out of water out there. Nobody gives a shit about the Andy Warhol exhibit that just opened at the Brooklyn Museum and I’m not interested in how many home runs Alex Rodriguez hit so far this year. They’re nice people but I have no chemistry or common ground with those guys. Most of the plays, museums and walks through Times Square that I enjoy are done alone. It's probably why I enjoy this blog so much. My fear is that when The Daughters become self-aware, they’ll start to see their dad is a friendless drip.

* * *

Here’s a photo of the Coke machine in the hallway of our hotel:

Isn’t that sweet? A little baby drinking a coke. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it’s probably not a good idea to give a COKE to a BABY. This idea is brought to you by the same idiots who would poison children by giving them chocolate encrusted breadsticks that you dip into chocolate sauce as a dessert after eating a pizza.

DC is cool. Aside from the usual Capitol Building/Washington Monument, I saw the I.R.S., the E.P.A. and a lot of other agencies I read about in the newspaper every day. It’s like spotting celebrities. Nice architecture, too. We went to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. I thought it was kind of boring, to be perfectly honest.

The song lyric in the title is too obscure for anyone, right?


Anonymous daisyfae said...

friendships take time and effort - and breeding makes both of those things scarce. for what it's worth? they can be re-developed as the time you invest in your daughters evolves over the years.

best smithsonian museums? museum of american history and the museum of american folk art (by the portrait gallery, metro center). i think you'd enjoy both of these if you ever get back...

July 15, 2010 at 8:17 AM  
Blogger Nimpipi said...

My fear is that when The Daughters become self-aware, they’ll start to see their dad is a friendless drip. It's probably why I enjoy this blog so much.

Aww:) Don't be so hard on yourself. They'll cut you slack on grounds of you being a, you know, cool into-art-and-architecture kind of guy.

My parents never really shoved me in that direction, so now I feel I'd make a terribly uncultured tourist -- what with my zero levels of interest in architecture and paintings and even music, come to think of it.

When I come to New York though, I must visit your Mister Softee!

July 15, 2010 at 8:25 AM  
Blogger savannah said...

the divine miss M

xoxoxo (don't ever sell y'alls self short, sugar!)

July 15, 2010 at 9:02 AM  
Blogger Zen Mama said...

I don't recognize the obscure song lyric so I'm feeling rather daft. Don't worry about your girls - what they have is a loving father who love their mother. Nothing else matters. I'm off to see a group of friends I've known since like day 3 of my life. It's powerful and I know I am blessed beyond reason. I couldn't live without them but I think it's much harder for guys to forge and maintain those bonds.

Listen, when I'm around a group of guys who are scratching their never regions, talking football and bashing their wives, I see it as repulsive.

But a man who can appreciate beauty, pass that on to his baby girls and show them what it is to be loved is priceless. Why? Because they will grow up and seek out a man like you, not a dick wad with a passel of golfing buddies and good cigars.


July 15, 2010 at 9:08 AM  
Blogger Ms Scarlet said...

Tish. You enjoy your own company. You are self reliant and don't need other people to justify your being.
How the hell can that be drippy???!!!

July 15, 2010 at 9:33 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Daisy: Have you been to the Corcoran or the Hirshhorn? Those are some good collections.

Nimpipi: They had better cut me some slack or I'll cut off their college funds. How can you say you have no interest in music?! You boyfriend is a jazz musician. Come to think of DID need to be told the Billie Holiday was a woman.

Savannah: Correct! Although, technically it was written and first recorded by a guy named Buzzy Linhart. That's how I know it.

Mama: These are nice guys. They don't fit the ball-scratching models you describe. But I don't see eye-to-eye on things. They camp. I hate camping.

Scarlet: Actually, that's true. I've always enjoyed my own company. I feel sorry for anyone who can't just spend time alone and be comfortable in their own skin.

July 15, 2010 at 9:59 AM  
Blogger Ponita in Real Life said...

It's not how many friends you have, UB. It's having a few close friends, no matter how far away, that are there for you in good times and bad. That you can pick up with like you left off and never bat an eyelash.

My best friend, whom I have known since 1972, lives almost 1500 miles from me now, and has for 17 years. Sometimes years go by when we don't see each other, but when we do, it's instantly like we were never far apart.

Those are the kinds of friends that count, not the 500 acquaintances you recognize but don't have a meaningful relationship with.

July 15, 2010 at 9:59 AM  
Anonymous annie said...

I don't have a lot of friends. Even taking the time and effort that Daisyfae mentioned never yielded a large network and mostly, I find large groups and constant interaction emotionally draining.

And there's the whole thing about trivial. You mention your playdates and I can relate. My late husband was always hoping I would hit it off with his buddies' girlfriends, who were mostly transient and dumber than posts. I like to really have conversations and with people who read and know things beyond the latest Dancing with the Stars or whatever passes for tv anymore.

The daughter long ago noticed my lack of friends but doesn't seem too concerned about her dad's lack of friends and he has fewer than I have.

I don't think we are all made of the same social stuff and it's not a bad thing. Just different.

July 15, 2010 at 10:32 AM  
Blogger Poindexter said...

I don't recognize the song lyric either. not sure what you're worried about - you got invited to that very cool birthday party, right? hey, if you're on someone's invitation list, you can't be a total drip.

July 15, 2010 at 12:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had some friends for lunch. They were delicious.

July 15, 2010 at 1:03 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Point: You're not kidding about good times and bad. I had a close friend go to jail for using crack. That's when he found out who his real friends were.

Annie: Regarding my daughters, I'm probably worried about nothing. That's typical. But I like people (as long as I'm not working with/for them) and wouldn't mind having a few more at my beck and call.

Point: Savannah got it. It's "Friends" written by Buzzy Linhart and an early hit for Bette Midler. It pains me to point this out but the party was a family member. Not sure I would have been invited otherwise.

kykn: With fava beans?

July 15, 2010 at 1:34 PM  
Blogger Here In Franklin said...

Husband will go out of his way to visit someone he knew in the third grade that he hasn't seen since God was a baby. I, on the other hand, hide in the baby food aisle if I see someone (a friend) in the grocery store I don't feel like talking to.

There are acquaintances and there are friends--two different birds.

July 15, 2010 at 5:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...but it's gonna be alright 'cos I've got a couple now..."

July 15, 2010 at 6:01 PM  
Blogger CiCi said...

Some people are social butterflies. I for one am not. I'm not a scrooge but I don't want lots of people around. You are spending time with your children and what they will remember is how you were with them, not how popular you were.

July 15, 2010 at 6:06 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

HIF: Proof positive that opposites attract. I'd like to be more like your husband. It feels like I'm missing out on something. Don't know what.

MIT: So you're a lyricist now? Very clever, you.

TB: Like most (ALL?) parents, I love hanging out with the kiddies but would enjoy some adult conversation once in a while.

July 15, 2010 at 8:19 PM  
Blogger mapstew said...

Hello, I'm mapstew, and I'll be your friend tonight. What can I do to make you happy? :¬) :¬)

July 15, 2010 at 9:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

in my experience, a lot of those 'cool kids' relationships stay pretty shallow. It takes way too much effort to be cool. I know this because I tried, succeeded, then realised i was missing out on all the REALLY cool relationships with the people I didn't want to be like. Does that even make sense?

and now I have friends in my computer.

Dear god.


July 16, 2010 at 3:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Adding a line from the title song was shallow...
If the Pacific, plus your continental landmass wasn't in the way, I'd like to be your friend.

July 16, 2010 at 3:33 AM  
Anonymous nursemyra said...

I've got one friend I've known for 25 years but all the other people I feel close to I've only met in the last 5.

Never too late meet someone you click with... just ask daisyfae and dolce

July 16, 2010 at 4:55 AM  
Blogger Eryl said...

There are only two people I know who are never alienated or disconcerted by the way I talk or the things that interest me. One is my 24 year old son and the other my best friend who I only met ten years ago. Before I met her I thought I was on my own. I have a few other friendships but I have to be aware of myself when I'm with those friends so as not to discombobulate them too much. I used to worry that my son would grow up to, if not hate me, at least pity me and get as far away as he could. But, although he has gone quite far away geographically, he is still very close mentally, if that makes sense.

Anyway, all that is meant to convey my understanding of your position, and to let you know it will work out. Sort of. I live in the depths of the Scottish countryside, fucking hate it: I want graffiti, sculptures made of old camshafts and to stumble on a performance art piece in which someone sits beneath a chandelier of mummified scrotums, not trees and sheep ye olde Scottish gifte shoppes!

July 16, 2010 at 6:37 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Map: Well, if you know where we can find two empty bar stools we can start there.

Dolce: Tell me about it! I don't know what to make of these people I "know" in cyberspace. It's not really "real," is it?

MIT: Geography has been a problem for me for many, many years. Everyone is so far away.

Nurse: Again, with the excellent point. But it something that has to happen organically, isn't it? You can't really force the issue.

ES: I don't know. The Scottish countryside sounds pretty nice. Especially today with Manhattan smelling rather ripe from a heat wave. I'm going to stop worrying about what my kids will think of me. What control do we have over such a thing like that None. None.

July 16, 2010 at 7:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your girls will always have you on highest pedestal no matter how many friends you have. You’re a great dad. Did you know it's a fact that most people have less than 5 true friends; all other people they know are acquaintances’?

July 16, 2010 at 8:07 AM  
Blogger Ellie said...

I'm sure you have quality friendships. Trumps quantity everytime.

July 16, 2010 at 7:21 PM  
Anonymous RubyTwoShoes said...

I've never been able to relate people that 'work it' on the social scene, building up scores and scores of friends, something I find quite hard. I love having my small circle of very close friends - but I feel a surprise party for me would be a little on the, shall we say, intimate, side of things! I think many people - other than the girl you mentioned - would find it the same.

Speaking of kids drinking coke etc, did you see a show Jamie Oliver did over there, something like Food Revolution? It has only just screened here in Oz and it was really interesting to wonder about how it might have gone down. I mean, great points he was making, and his heart seemed to be in the right place, but he seemed to be coming off like an ego manic, so I just wondered about the reception....

July 19, 2010 at 6:07 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

MT: I think I'm working on less than five. I've always been below average.

Ellie: True, but I could use with a few mediocre friendships at this point.

Ruby: I think it aired a while back and it pretty much died without comment or notice from the population at large. You're right that it's a great idea but perhaps they needed a different messenger. This country is a mess in that regard and I'm not sure we can turn things around.

July 19, 2010 at 7:00 AM  
Anonymous Sid said...

I don't have that many friends - 10 at most? I guess. I don't know. I used to hang out with a brainless, soul crushing crowd. It got boring quickly. Now I prefer hanging out with ppl who like to hike, surf, read & do other nerdy stuff. Ppl who don't JUST like to drink and party. Ppl of substance.

July 19, 2010 at 7:59 AM  
Blogger Pueblo girl said...

I miss having good girl friends. It just doesn't seem to happen in Spain.

July 19, 2010 at 3:44 PM  

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