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The One About Friends

Blog Post #3 – June 12, 2019

Over the last several months, I’ve been binge-watching all ten seasons of Friends with my Mom. Seriously, could that show BE any funnier? Because I was busy getting dumped by an ex-husband and opening and running a theater, I’d never watched many episodes.

But it’s brought into central focus the idea of having friends and it’s really become a hot button.

I have Facebook friends, I have friends who have downshifted to Facebook friends due to distance, then there’s all the folks who were once friends (of either the former or latter flavor) who I’ve pushed out of my life due to my negativity. And truthfully, I’ve never been one to have many friends.

What I don’t have and really want, is a local friend or three who might text me and invite me to catch a movie, or to go eat, or to go for coffee and sit facing camera. (Sorry, “Friends” joke).

So I’m at the beginning of checking out gay men’s groups on Meetup. The first meetup, which I write a bit about in blog post #2 happened on Tuesday, June 11, 2019. I had it built up in my head that I would be ignored, and by golly, that’s exactly what happened. The meetup was held in a private section of a German beer hall in downtown Denver. When I arrived, I saw a small group of guys congregating around a bar table. They all looked like they knew each other so I just stood alone halfway across the bar, staring at my phone and trying to decide if I would stay.

Did I really just want to be ignored so I could moan about it on Facebook? Go to bed before sundown and tell myself, “I told you so”? I really wanted the courage to join the group. But this is an unfortunate pattern that goes back as far as I can remember. Again, it doesn’t solve the problem at hand, but I encourage you to read my memoir, coming out sometime before hell freezes over or early September.

I told myself before I went in that I needed to be brave, to force a smile, to talk to people. I told myself it was my chance to start rewriting my life. Instead, I stood immobilized telling myself what an ugly loser I was and “of course I shouldn’t be surprised” that I was standing alone again. Each time I thought I would walk toward the group, it was like my feet were anchored in cement.

After about a half hour of this, a guy came over. “Are you here for the gay meetup group?”

“Yeah, um, I guess I am. I didn’t know what to do and everyone already knows each other.” I stopped short laying out my full sad sack routine (you know, ugly, fat, nothing to offer, blah blah blah).

“Well, come meet some of the guys,” he said taking me over to the group where a name-tag was made for me. I dutifully put it on the left side of my shirt as if I were still with Disney.

I was introduced to several group members, and to my surprise, they were all warm and welcoming. And no one was a biter, at least not in that setting. But I was unprepared for the first question I was asked by nearly everyone: “What do you for work?” A difficult question for someone who’s unemployed, and only a part-time helper for his parents. I tried answering “writer,” but when someone asked if I made a living doing that, I didn’t know what to say. I half-assed introduced my book, but nobody cared. I finally landed on, “Nothing. I do nothing.” At least I didn’t mention selling my dead brother’s obsolete computer parts on eBay.

When conversation lulled and I was standing alone again, I had another choice point: to talk to someone else or turn tail and bolt. Guess which option I chose. Still, it was a start, but the night basically went nearly as I figured. Be ignored, then leave early. Maybe there’s something to this self-fulfilling prophecy hokum that’s been shoved at me all my life. I’ve promised myself to do better next time.

I was watching a special on Friends and actor David Schwimmer explained how his character’s trademark dejected “hi” to the other Friends always seemed to carry every past hurt, every disappointment, every failed relationship all in that one word. I can relate all too well.

Self-pity is never pretty and I really should know that by my age. It’s time to rewrite my life.

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