The Price Of Friendship

I have friends in the scene. Actually, I think I make friends pretty easily because I genuinely like people. You might not be able to tell with some of the writings on this blog but those little peeves do not preclude me being friends with anyone. Being a friend to anyone has obligations.

It took me a long time to understand what it means to be a friend. I had many close friends that disappeared because I did not know how to act or let my kneejerk emotional reactions dictate the way I viewed people. The first really mature friendship I ever had was with my ex – someone who is still my good friend. When we broke up, I was hurt. However, that hurt and the feelings it engendered did not make all the good feelings I had for this person simply disappear into the ether. I was no longer a child which saw someone “making me feel bad” as some sort of enemy, with me stomping off to sit in the corner and pout for all eternity, lashing out at that person with spittle flying in all directions.

I admit I have a soft spot for people who are my friends and I’ll perhaps give them more leeway than other people would – that’s just the way I am. I even feel empathy for people I don’t particularly like because unless they’ve committed some heinous crime, they don’t deserve the level of ire they receive.

There was a kid in my class when I was in Third Grade. No one liked this kid and for good reason – he was a bully. He played pranks on people and got other kids in trouble and was not a nice person. His parents threw a birthday party for him, sending out invites to all the kids based on some class list – not one kid in my class went to his party. In the years since then (and probably back then, too), I felt bad about that. I sometimes picture that kid sitting there alone in his home with no one showing up – his parents maybe not understanding the reason for it. It’s sad, really, and you might think that the person “deserved” what they got. I don’t know about that.

There was another kid years later in high school. He was a tough guy who had a “don’t fuck with me” attitude, a person the other kids were afraid of. One day in music appreciation class (the only class we had together), he turned to me and asked me if I understood “this white guy music” – he meant Classical. I told him I did and spent the next few classes helping him out and he did well on the test. From that moment onward that kid felt he had a friend and he was nice to me – eventually he met my other friends, people he would have never spoken to and became friends with them. He softened his demeanor and had ended his high school years being liked. Did I do anything? I don’t know, but it did show him that he was not some kind of monster and he changed.

I don’t really know why all of this came out of me today but it did. It’s not my concern whether 2000 people dislike a person, it only matters whether I do or not – no matter who they are.

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10 Responses to “The Price Of Friendship”

  1. This post seriously made me cry Rad. What beautiful thoughts…..and so unexpected. I knew many kids like that growing up – the kid that would try to buy friends by whatever means possible. The kids that acted tough because that was all they could do – and god only knows what was going o in their home. The visual image of the boy sitting there on his birthday waiting for someone – anyone – to show up to help him celebrate his birthday made my heart heavy. The emptiness he must have felt. And if in a divine form of turning back the clock – if even a few people had gone – would his life have turned out different? Who knows?

    Just wow.

  2. Thanks, Barb. I didn’t mean to make anyone sad, just wanted to illustrate a point.

    Although I don’t know what happened to the high school kid I knew, I oddly do know what happened to the little bully in third grade (heard it through another friend who kept in touch with childhood schoolmates). That kid actually went on to join the Marines and had some success there. After he left the service, he decided to become a teacher and as far as I know that’s what happened to him. A happy ending of sorts.

  3. Great ending Rad! Thanks for sharing. Does make you want to extend those little everyday acts of kindness though.

  4. Great post Rad! I remember kids like that when I was growing up and I can think of some of them in my school right now. I agree with you…people should go by their own feelings when it comes to friends. I tend to make friends easily…but then when some friends don’t like other friends…well a deep sigh is needed. Sometimes I wish people would just let us all be!

  5. Let’s face it, I’m a pretty snarky and sarcastic person. Sometimes that turns into mockery that exists, frankly , for my own amusement. It’s a defense mechanism to relieve a pressure that when built up, might result in nastier behavior towards particular people. Even though certain people in this world might get under my skin, I don’t really have hatred for anyone (save certain politicians).

  6. The high school guy was caught up in a cycle of behavior. He kept too much to himself, and then made up the wrong reasons for his situation. He hadn’t yet learned techniques of meeting new people. A lot of people that age haven’t learned yet. A lot of people 10,20,30 years older still haven’t.

    You broke him out of the cycle. And he deserves credit for learning to drop his bad act. But he was somebody who COULD be helped out.

    This brings me to thoughts about MY situation. A lot of the social clubs I’ve read about seem to have friendly people. I just can’t visualize going behind a thin curtain in a room full of thin curtains. I prefer a more private setting. So I am now thinking of just going for the social portion of the meeting or to a munch where possible, to meet and to get known, and then assume that the rest will work out one way or another.

  7. ThisGuy: I don’t think there’s anything wrong with going for the social aspect – it’s the only way to meet people and perhaps discover a new comfort level for yourself.

  8. I agree with Rad, ThisGuy. Sometimes I have more fun when I go to parties and just socialize without playing, or only playing with a few friends that I’ve gotten to know well over the years. I’ve done the parties where I played with a zillion people in one night and after a while it just kind of stopped being fun. In fact, about a year or so ago I instituted an informal rule that I don’t play with new people the first night that I meet them at a party. Granted, that is not a hard and fast rule by any stretch, but it gives me a little leeway to take my time and get to know a person as a friend before deciding to play with them.

    So, by all means, GO to a local party or munch! Chat, socialize, make new friends…you never know who you’ll meet. 🙂

  9. and you ARE a very, VERY good friend, Rad.

  10. This is a lovely post, Rad.

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