Is this Friendship?
By Frank Baring
“I don’t need a friend who changes when I change and who nods when I nod; my shadow does that much better.”
The joke was made.
And before its riskiness could be fully considered, the particles in the air between us had carried it from my mouth to their receiving ears. I guess we’re speaking before thinking today.
The ball keeps rolling and new jokes bury mine. It’s great. This could turn out to be a successful amble through Riverside with two friends and enough snow on the ground to keep the number of electric delivery bikes on the footpath at a reasonable level. They will be the death of me, I’ve never been so sure of something —I hope it happens during graduation. God that would be beautiful. I can picture the headlines: ‘Undergraduate wise guy killed on his big day by motorised fast food’… ‘Shake Shack delivery customer gets their fries in record breaking time’… Fair trade.
But I’m not dead yet, and as the three of us walked I noticed in the briefest instant that Jamiroquai (fake name for his protection of course. Let’s call them Jamiroquai and Voldemort), on hearing my unfortunate joke, shook his head slowly with a surprised grin, wide eyes and a steady exhalation of condensing breath.
Wait a sec. Since when did you care this much? You’re lame but not THAT lame. So you made a dodgy joke. “Who cares?!” (Intended to be read in voice of Joey Tribbiani.) That joke isn’t who you are! No no no, that was someone else—you don’t have to worry about him.
Illustration by Jennifer Bi
Jamiroquai isn’t shaking his head at your schizophrenic dress sense or the way Voldemort’s nose (ironic) tends to whistle with every out breath. No. He’s surprised by the joke.
OK, fine. Maybe you shouldn’t have made it, but come on, Jamiroquai needs to loosen up a little.
And yet it seems, as you make your way back to campus with the two of them, you can’t help but fixate on Jamiroquai’s dissonant disapproval.
Why is it that this time you’re struggling to suppress any authentic emotion like you are supposed to, on account of being a male above the age of 10? Ah of course, stupid question: because you actually care about what he thinks. (Walked right into that one.) See, Voldemort is a good friend but it’d be wrong to compare him to Jamiroquai. He hasn’t been there on the Milano’s H17- for – lu nch – a nd – dinner days—Jamiroquai was always there. You haven’t imagined ditching everything and moving with Voldemort to the hills of Tuscany where you’d both sleep 17 hours a day, waking only to make fresh pasta and lie in hammocks complaining about corporate control over consumer data until your old age—Jamiroquai is always the one rocking slowly next to you in that make-believe hammock. Caring what he thinks of you is a given at this point … admit it.
The Riverside walk comes to a close. Jamiroquai lets Voldemort leave, pauses, and then says, “You know that joke you made back there wasn’t cool man. I think you already know that though.”
You don’t know what to say. For some reason all you can think about is pasta and consumer data.
“If I wasn’t honest with you, I wouldn’t be a friend would I? Even if it sucks to hear it.”
Yeah, that’s about right.
By Zoe Dansdill
Okay, so I’ve been trying out this whole ‘honesty’ thing since getting to college. Like trying to be super straight up with people? And, um, I guess this is where it’s actually important. Like, we definitely started out as friends, after that first NSOP day when we were the only ones not wearing our ID’s around our necks and stuff; we really bonded, but it’s kind of fallen apart since then. I think the real problem here is that, you’re not my friend anymore, but I’m still yours.
I know that sounds harsh, but I think there’s something to it. Like, I’m always trying to make you happy, like going to Ferris with you so you can maybe see that swimmer guy you’re so obsessed with, even when you know that all I want is a Diana smoothie. It’s not like you ever go to Hewitt with me when the wrestling team is there.
College is supposed to be a time for exploration and change, right? We’re supposed to be growing as people and making lifelong connections. So why do you ALWAYS have to do the same stuff as me? I don’t come to your a capella practices, so why did you have to sign up for the Pilates class I was in?
I know at the beginning of the year we talked so much about our futures in New York and living together and being the “Serena and Blair of the Upper West Side,” but everyone talks like that during first semester. (Oh, and this is probably a good time to mention that I got asked to room with some girls from my yoga class next year and I think I’m going to do it. Two of them are rising juniors so we’ll probably get a dope suite. Sorry!) Anyway, the point is that it’s kind of unfair of you to tie me to all of these one-off promises and stuff we made back then … things have really changed.
Illustration by Jennifer Bi
I don’t want you to think that this means I hate you or we can’t ever hang out or anything. We’ve just kind of grown apart. Honestly, I think that this could actually be a good thing for you too. I know how much you hate going out downtown with my dance friends and me, and now you don’t have to come anymore! Like, I genuinely don’t think you would have had any fun on our girls’ trip to Mexico—it just wasn’t really your scene so that’s why we didn’t invite you.
I just want us to have more space, more time to figure out what we really want out of college. Let’s not start acting like some old married couple that slowly grows to hate each other. Isn’t that what you said happened with your parents?
I mean, I think now really is the best time to tell you all this. If I waited any longer it would have been just cruel, right? We’ve just become very different people, and I don’t want either of us to hold the other back. Like that time you wanted to go to that art opening and I wanted to go to the D Sig darty? Apparently they were serving drinks out of a watermelon.
I’m not trying to be mean at all! Honestly, I’m just trying to make sure we both have the best college experiences possible. Oh, by the way, you can still get me on the list for St. A’s this weekend, right?