Hoarders: Friendships Edition

I saw an ad the other day that declared, in large, white, bold font, “FRENEMIES!” and I thought “Whoa throwback! I haven’t heard anyone use that word since my subscription to Seventeen ran out.” Now, I obviously have no idea what this ad was for, because if it’s not Miley Cyrus lyrics or Tina Fey-written quotes, I have no memory for it. But I can most definitely assure you that it was 100% crap. Because anyone over the age of, oh….let’s be generous and say….fifteen? who has a frenemy is a moron. After a point, we realize that a “friend” who is more like an enemy, is just straight up a bitch, and we’re over it. Frenemies of yore are those friends who you literally cannot stand to be in the same room with, but you would still invite them to your birthday party for some twisted reason. Maybe every other person in your group of friends is their biggest fan and can’t see that Cassandra is a heinous cow-beast. Maybe you’ve developed Hoarders-like tendencies with your friends and can’t seem to throw any of them away, even Tommy that rat-fink son of a bitch? Either way, you wish you could, but you just can’t quit them.

As twenty-somethings onward, we’ve got different friends. Friends that we actually like. Not to say all of our friends are biffles to the max power. No, we’ve grown out of frenemies and into murkier friendship waters. It’s no longer about outright contempt for a friend. Now we’ve got friends that we’re kind of ambivalent about. Friends who are so mediocre that you can’t even be bothered to come up with a snappy term to describe them.

Picture this scene: you’re assembling a group of your friends to go to Dave & Buster’s or Scores or Chuck E Cheese’s or whatever the kids are doing these days, and as you’re thinking about who to put on the email chain, you hesitate twice as long as to whether or not you want to invite X friend because you know they’ll just complain about their vertigo every chance they get.

This friend of yours, every single word that comes out of their mouth is like verbal porridge. Bland, colorless, and reminds you of your grandmother. Even events that would be exciting coming from the mouth of literally anyone else, are enough to put even Ben Stein to sleep. Say, for example, this friend of yours just got into a relationship. The only response you can muster for them when they tell you the news is “Oh. ::long, uncomfortable pause as they wait for your excitement:: Good,” because you know that for the duration of this relationship, they will find some completely irritating way to work this relationship into any conversation you two will ever have. Example:

“Can you believe this weather?”

“I can. John and I were just saying we like the cold weather because we like to wear our long johns in front of the fire for a little extra warmth. Isn’t he the bee’s knees?”

Fact: This friend will also use phrases like “the bee’s knees” unironically.

It’s like deep down, they just know they are the Thomas or Theresa Gilbert of your friends. So they overcompensate by acting incredibly impressed with the minute details of their own lives, hoping their enthusiasm will be infectious. 9 10 times out of 10, it’s not. “Wow! I just did my tax return! Can you believe I’m getting back almost 1,000 dollars? Good thing I knew what a charitable donation is!” or “Did you see The Sing Off last night? It was ok, but my college a cappella group was WAY better.” or “Call me Snooki” or “Guess what I had for breakfast? Mickey Mouse pancakes! How cool am I?” The answer, in variably, is not cool at all.

Lord knows every word that comes out of my mouth isn’t solid gold. Who am I to pass judgment on the lame friend, when I could very easily be that friend (Thomas Filbert?) to someone else? I, and most likely many of you, have one important characteristic that separates us from being the lame friend, and that is self-awareness. Many a time, I’ve shared information that was light years from exciting, but have then followed up with an acknowledgment of my lameness. The lame friend will never do this, because the lame friend genuinely believes that them having fixed the copier machine at work merits at least 10 minutes’ worth of discussion on Gchat.

Why keep this friend around? Unlike frenemies, this lame friend is actually a good person and a better friend. They’re perfectly harmless and they mean well. Like Milhouse van Houten. Or Kenneth the Page. They can be very nice, when taken in the appropriate dose but much like Tylenol PM, too much of them could potentially kill you, but just enough of them will lull you to sleep peacefully. Just use caution when engaging them in conversation, unless you have hours to spend listening to their traumatic experience with post nasal drip or their great-uncle’s tried and true method for removing sauce stains from clothes.


Sarah said...

I don't have friends like that.
Maybe I am that friend.

Anna said...

I know the relationship part of this post well - I've heard it referred to as "Bob likes carrots."

As in "Oh I think we'll give the baby peas and carrots for lunch"
"Oh, you know Bob likes carrots."

Or "I'm totally 'Bob likes carrots' over my new puppy"

Am I that friend too?!

Cassie said...

After spending far longer than I really care to admit wishing really hard that I was in a relationship and then finally acquiring myself a man, I was definitely that friend for a solid month out of sheer excitement and relief. And then again several months after that, but about how we broke up.
Although I always get invited to Chuck E Cheese. But that's probably just because of my mad Ice Ball skills.

Margo said...

I am so concerned now that I am THAT FRIEND. Nothing like paranoia on a Monday afternoon.....

maggie said...

another thing about this friend, if they happen to be in a relationship: not only do they work their significant other into everything, but unless they can mention said boy/girlfriend, they actually DONT have ANYTHING to say. as in, a perfectly amusing conversation will be going on in a group while silent bob listens in. then, at the first sign of a pause, she will jump in with a non sequitur about "Bill,"
"yeah, Bill just decided to ask for a promotion at work, i think he might get it!" even worse if no one else knows "Bill" and therefore gives less than a shit…

Anonymous said...

hands down, those people are the woooooooooooooooooooooooorst. one of the bosses at my job (thank CHRIST, not mine) is one of them. relationship-obsessed, which of course always boils down to the guy/relationship not actually being so hot. that doesn't stop her from plastering her desktop with pics of his mug and being incapable of saying his name without a possessive pronoun in front of it.

Nikki said...

Ugh, that's my sister! Love her to death but when she starts talking I hear humming and get an eye twitch. It's that boring. But she's sweet and I love her.

That Kind of Girl said...

Oh god, we definitely had a few of Those Friends hanging around our little salon of bright lights, back when I was social butterflying in San Francisco. Sometimes my bff and I would guardedly broach the topic of That Friend, and That Friend would inevitably pipe up: "Thank gosh there's no one like that in our group!" Riiight.

Although, beg to slightly differ on the subject of frenemies. There was a legit, Mean-Girls-style frenemy who infiltrated her way pretty deep into my inner circle even recently, because she came attached to one of the greatest guys I knew. Unfortunately, if we wanted him at the event, we were stuck with his too-nasty-for-words bestie, who somehow didn't get the hint that no one liked her. Shudder.

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