I've been told by those who love me most that I make a lousy friend. I forget to call. I forget to write. I just plum forget. We keep people in our lives for a lot of reasons. Love, like flea bane, doesn't need healthy soil. You can grow it in whatever dirt swirls up along the free way. It may die only to be reborn in a patch of grass behind the gas station fertilized by the resident Rottweiler. I serve a valuable function for my dearest friends: I am the one they must forgive and excuse again and again, thus putting jewels in their crowns in heaven, and making them feel as if they were fountains of compassion; I've never charged them a dime for the privilege.
I come from a neighborhood, a world defined by a few blocks of bodegas, pawn shops, and travel agencies. No one ever travels in my neighborhood, but the agencies continue. I wouldn't say they thrive; they continue-- a little seedy, the one place on earth a terminally angry woman with blue hair and an artificial leg can find employment. Once I had enough money to go somewhere. Just her scowl alone convinced me this was an unwise caprice. I stayed put and forgot to call my friends-- my true vocation.
Neighborhood friends can go twenty years without calling, then pick up the conversation where they left off: same old same old. This is one of the dirty secrets of friendship: they give us the illusion that some things never change. Once a friend has decided you are cheap, you are cheap forever, even if you sell all you have to the poor and follow Jesus. That's what friends are for: they tag you, they have you dead to rights, and they love you anyway. With a friend, you are always the same even if you're not. God bless em.
I used to have a lot of friends of the opposite sex. Then one day, lonely, in bad need of a shave, with a morning stiffy all dressed up and with no place to go, I realized these weren't friends. They were all women I couldn't sleep with who valued me because I was the guy they would call for commiseration when the "jerks" they did sleep with dumped them or cheated on them or forgot their birthdays. I call these blue ball friendships. You might go twenty years waiting for that friend to have a weak moment and sleep with you.Trust me: it never happens. Sometimes they have a weak moment and sleep with your best friend, but never you. I cleaned house, swore to give up my job as a beloved eunuch, but, now that I think of it, these are friendships of a sort: lots of false intimacy, tears at 2:am, declarations like: 'Why can't my boyfriend be more like you?" As I grow older and my testosterone decreases, I am capable of stoic resignation to the fact that I have the straight man's equivalent to "fag hags." I have taken to calling them at 2 in the morning and crying over mean, bad girl lovers I do not have. It doesn't have to be real. It just has to be painful.
False intimacy is America's number one consumer item. Friendship proves its value by never asking any intimacy of you whatsoever. This is why I think I have so many friends. I offer a safe and stable product. I' am the friend, the beloved friend who never calls. They can count on me. I'll never let them down.