Thursday, August 7, 2008

Hello, Friend

I'm obsessed with you. No, not you, handsome male celebrity with well-defined jawline and prominent chin cleft. And not you either, starlet with perfect eyebrows and remarkable lack of body fat. Certainly not you, tight pants wearing rock star. Or you, bestselling author. No, I'm actually talking to you, person who is my friend. Hi. I'm your number one fan.

But before you think I'm a typewriter-wielding psychopath who might lock you up in a mountain cabin and cut off your feet, let me just add...

When I was about 11 years old, my mother was convinced that I would never have friends and therefore pushed me to make plans with random people.

"Ask so-and-so if she wants to go for a Coke after school," or "That so-and-so is a nice person. And smart too! If you ever wanted to hang out with her on a weekend and go to a movie, you don't have to ask my permission. Just go." Some of them were people I had never even talked to before. I could only imagine approaching someone and saying, "Hey, want to go get a Coke after school? No? How about some coleslaw? No?"

Let's face it. I wasn't the most desirable person to hang out with. My interests involved repeated reading of the same Nancy Drew books, poking mysterious things with sticks, and repeating my dad's snake killing stories. I had unicorn posters. I listened to old records and performed bedroom karaoke to Crystal Gayle. Most of the things I said started with the words, "Wanna hear something gross?"

Of course, my mom meant well with her pushing. She didn't want me to spend my entire life totally friendless. Friendless people amount to one of two things in life: serial killing and dressing their cats up like people.

I never bothered with creating social events for myself because I was entirely convinced that everyone hated me and would really rather not. Blame it on one too many forgotten birthday invites or being picked last at kickball or whatever. I thought I was a repellent loser and had an "EVERYBODY HATES ME" complex fifteen miles long. Even today, when people RSVP yes to my birthday parties, it confuses me a little bit. Like maybe they're only saying yes so they can show up and pelt me with my own cupcakes.

You see, I lived out in the middle of nowhere as a kid, literally 16 miles from the closest town or person close to my age. And I was terrified of using the phone. (Because what if I said something dumb? What if my friend's dad answered, didn't know who I was, and hung up on me?) And since I was so lonely and apparently friendless, I would have long conversations with our horse, the sky, a dog, myself, and my imaginary best friend D.J. Tanner.

That's right. D.J. Tanner. From Full House. No one in the world understood me the way that she and Lady--our 15-year-old, overweight, fat, and lazy quarter horse--did. D.J. Tanner didn't care that I talked to trees and animals. She thought it made me interesting and unique. And Lady knew when I was having a bad day. She would stand right next to the gate so that I could sit on her back and talk for as long as I wanted.

So now that I've vented all my repressed childhood friendlessness, I'll get to the point.

I eventually made some actual friends (and got over my fear of the telephone). And sometimes I talk about them obsessively. Chances are, if you have spent five minutes with me, I have spent 15 minutes telling someone else about how much fun we had.

A co-worker once interrupted me in the middle of a hilarious anecdote involving my friend T to tell me that I spend way too much time talking about T. (I suspect that he was just jealous that I would never tell a hilarious anecdote about him.) It made me think to myself, "Huh, do I talk about people too much? Is that wrong? It is abnormal? Am I a freak?" So I attempted to corral my anecdotes. But it didn't last long. And then I realized how much I hated hanging out with my asshole co-workers anyway. Lesson learned: you don't have to be friends with everybody.

I think I obsess because, deep down, I want people to know that I now have the ability to make friends. That I'm not that dork out leaning over the gate having a conversation with my best equine pal or dreaming up an 80s dance party with D.J. Tanner. In short, I just want people to like me, unicorn posters and all. Therefore, I obsess. I tell stories. I bake you cookies. I take care of your cat when you go on vacation. I email you every single day. I make myself into a royal pain in the butt so that you never forget that we're friends. And if you don't like it, that's just too bad. Because when you become friends with me, we're friends foreeeeever. I'll be on you like caramel on apples for the rest of our mutual lives. So.....

Want to get a Coke later?


Amy said...

Where's my daily e-mail? Am I no longer email-able!? SOB!

katastic said...

ACK! That's why I am unable to turn down invitations to any social event, ever- because I was angsty reject girl in high school. Now that I have friends, I CANNOT turn down the opportunity to hang out with them, even when I'm feverish and three states away and have a broken hip. I RSVP yes just because I can't stand to say no, and then I come out and drink when I'm dying of TB. Because deep down inside, I'm still the angry poetry-writing geek who got an apple smashed into her locker by the captain of the volleyball team. Obsession/ inability to say no= potato/ potahto.

The Honorable Mayor of Bethville said...

@amy: What? What? What? Ohhhhh....gotcha. I was just wondering this morning where you've been and how your move went, etc. I'll give you a call later. I'm seriously pooped at the moment.

@katastic: Right??? When I first moved to NY, I never turned anything down because I was so afraid that it would be my last invite. Now, I have to be that a-hole who turns down invites now and again because of being old and tired and unable to stay out past midnight. :)

Jen said...

Actually, I'd love to get a Coke later! I feel like I haven't seen you in ages.

angiesyounglover said...

you are ten shades of hilarious! i feel you on the birthday party rsvps. one time in third grade (it was when my stepmother was pregnant with my new sister-to-be and i was all jealous and moody and shit) i invited my third grade class to a roller rink party. out of a class of 30, 24 said they could come and that was great. but the day of...only 3 showed. I.WANTED.TO.DIE. i have never had an organized party since. i'm so afraid. i mean what did my mother think of me? "oh, my daughter's so great, only 3 people like her" ? i wanted to crawl into my bed and never get out.

and if i get cupcakes out of it, i'd totally be your friend! ;)

(i have a huge love for cathy bates!!!)

The Honorable Mayor of Bethville said...

@jen: Right? It's been ages.

@ayl: Aw, thanks! I'm so glad you found your way over here. I get really happy when I have new readers. Your roller skating party story breaks my heart. I've totally been there. In sixth grade, a girl I thought was my friend asked me to help her come up with her guest list for her birthday party. So I did. And then I never got invited. She invited EVERYONE IN OUR CLASS but me. I'm still mad at her about it, even though I was nice enough to be in her wedding years later.

Kathy Bates is a goddess. I adore her in everything. "Face it, girls. I'm older, and I have more insurance."

Yay! New friends! New friends! Cupcakes for everyone!

angiesyounglover said...

@bethville: that's so tacky! i would have tripped her down the aisle! did you ever ask her about it, like hey, 6th

i also can make funnel cake! woo!

peach said...

that's crazy. no one should be that forgiving. now that we're friends, beth, i can teach you how to hold a grudge. friends are only nice if you like them. i am forever grateful to Mean Girls for the term "frenemies."

The Honorable Mayor of Bethville said...

@ayl: Oh, I'm a bitchface and totally brought it up on many occasions afterward. Like, "Remember that one time...?" And she would always reply, "I'm sorry, OKAY? Geez. I was mad at you for blah blah blah and such." It's fun to remind people though...

@peach: See above. I can totally hold a grudge. Which reminds me that I still haven't forgiven you for that thing that one time, but I feel that it's only courteous to respond to this message. Humph.

Anonymous said...

Hi, friend. I am officially inviting you back into the past to pls. attend my 50s themed birthday party. If you would like to discuss this over Cokes after school, that would be OK, too.

msdirector said...

Can there be rum in that coke? Because you're still one of my Top 2 Favorite Drunk Friends.

p.s. - TOWANDA!!!

The Honorable Mayor of Bethville said...

@msd: Yeah, I get that a lot. Apparently, I do a killer Katherine Hepburn impression under the influence.

I would be the Patsy to your Edina any day. Darling, Sweetie.

jody! said...

if you stop being my friend, i'll kill YOU ms. mayor.

also, just because i am missing your birthday doesn't mean i don't adore you. please don't try and stop being my friend. you'll open all my childhood wounds as well. i sucked at making friends. or having friends. my mom gave me a terrible complex about it. and i didn't have d.j. or a horse.

wanna go out for coleslaw when i get back? no? why not?

okay fine. cupcakes. you win.

The Honorable Mayor of Bethville said...

@jody!: Dude, it's not very likely that I would stop being your friend at this point. I mean, we already had the traditional new friends underwear swap and you made me consecrate the sacred bonds of friendship by drinking the blood of a goat. Remember? Soooo, you're stuck with me now, budday.

You can miss my birthday this year and not face my wrath. But watch out in 2009. :)

*h said...

Oh man. Why didn't we live in the same town growing up? We were the same kid, in many ways. We could have started our own Fake Detective Agency and everything. I was more of a Stephanie fan than a DJ fan, but whatevs.

In high school, I was Daria and my sister was Quinn. That pretty much sums up my social skills. My mother didn't understand why we both couldn't be a Quinn. She still doesn't.

I don't make new friends very often, but when I do, it's the most exciting and bestest thing ever and I can't stop talking about them either. This year has been a kickass year for friends. :)

badenbaden said...

This was SUPERB.

It wasn't until I got to college that I realized I had no idea how to make friends. Growing up with a twin, I never really had to, and had never even thought about it. But when we separated, I was stunned.

It also wasn't until my early 20's that I realized I was also allowed to dislike people. That realization was groundbreaking!

The Honorable Mayor of Bethville said...

@badenbaden: I need to do a follow-up to this wherein I became friends with my best friend in 7th grade. That's kind of important.

I still get nervous when I realize I don't want to like someone and feel like I have to. But I'm slowly getting over it.

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