To Friends: The Old and The New
“I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was 12”
— Dr Steven Hanley, Stand By Me
“Make new friends. Keep the old. One is silver and the other gold”
Who is who is up to you. I know who I’m giving the medal to in a pinch. No disrespect to the new guys. They’re doing well. They’ve made it to adulthood or, at least, the cusp of it.
Certainly, they are no longer children. They’ve left that behind. These are reliable folks. You trust them to look after your dog when you leave town for the weekend. You borrow their strainer when you’re making pasta. They answer your text messages in a timely manner. And if they don't, they apologize for it.
And that’s all well and good. You’ll need these people in your life. Hell, I know I do. I can’t imagine the mess I’d be without my friends.
Then again, maybe I can.
I didn’t always have things this figured out. I can remember the small acts that gave me trouble. Like tying my shoe laces. Remembering to put underwear on in the mornings. Learning how to blow my nose without turning myself into a fucking mess.
It’s these small problems that made up my world. That isn’t to say that these little issues didn’t come with big ones.
When you can’t master the tissue box, do up your fly without almost circumcising yourself (again), and make it down the street without losing an aglet, you get given more lee way. Society compromises, to an extent, to accommodate for the fact that you can’t seem to figure out how to blow your own nose.
While some see the blessing, there are those who see it as an opportunity.
I walked off the school bus. Out the doors and onto my Middle School parking lot. The kid, who was in front of me, marched up to the first guy he saw and kicked him square in the balls.
I sat behind him the whole ride to school. He didn’t tell anyone on the bus what he was going to do. He talked. I don’t remember about what, but he and I had a conversation. In no part of it did he mention what he was planning to do. He didn’t even know the guy. Someone asked him why he did it, in the lineup after the bell rang. He said he felt like it.
It’s hard to take that experience out of a guy.
You’re friends from school aren’t exactly reliable. You ask if they can look after your dog because you’re out of town, and they’ll throw a banger in your pad. You lend them utensils and you’ll never get them back. Some won’t respond to a text for a year. Some will just ignore you.
And that’s okay.
In moments of mayhem, you relied on them. And they relied on you. A friend of mine cam up to me in the hallway. He told me not to give a guy a high-five, no matter what. When I asked him why, he told me the guy had a thumb tack wedged between his two fingers.
I had a friend cut me off as I was headed for the bathroom. He had a fresh shiner below his left eye. Some guys with water balloons were waiting around the corner. The moment he sat down for a shit, they’d rushed in and pelted him in the face. I would’ve been next.
I had a buddy who got in an arguement outside a pizza shop. His opponenet was a little guy, but he had a lot of freinds. They came out of that shop. I ran the length of the road, into a tangle of limbs, cheese, and pizza sauce.
Your friends today fit the bill. They are what you need at this time in your life. They will answer the call.
When chaos rears its ugly head, and the rules of men are torn asunder…
Given the choice between two numbers, I know who I’ll call.
Even if they haven’t picked up in years.