Sunday, July 5, 2015

My Friends are Weirdos and I Love Them

I've found that as I've gotten older, my circle of friends has, shall we say, tightened up. There are no more loosey-goosey hangers-on from the past sticking around out of pure loyalty with nothing in common. The ones I have now, the ones that I've chosen to keep around (and they've chosen me equally), the people I've forged relationships with in adult life, are gems. 

They're in my life because of similar interests, outlooks on life, goals, and bonding experiences.

I would say I have about five close friends. The kind of friends I go out of my way to spend time with, the kind I miss when they're away, the kind I will text an ugly-selfie just to make them laugh. And I think that's a good number. There are folks outside of that immediate circle, or course, the once in a while hangout and catch-up, the texters that you chat with but never actually see. We're all familiar with these unspoken levels of friends. 

I peruse Facebook sometimes and see people from high school in group photos, and every single person in the shot was hanging with that same crowd back in the day. There is one particular group of about 15 that still, it would seem through social media, see each other all the time, cottaging, marathoning, partying, and hell -  even marrying each other. 

While I see the merits of having lifelong friendships like this, I can't help but think, 'haven't you people changed?' I, personally, am not the same person I was in high school. One person from that time has remained a friend (the Bride from my previous post) and a few others have reached outer-circle texting levels, but that's about it. All of my current friendships were forged as a grown-up, once I really discovered, and became comfortable with, the person I turned out to be.

With regard to friendships, I think a lot of adults embrace quality over quantity as the years go by.

Anyway, this isn't meant to be a deep speculation on the nature of human friendships. What I really want to do is introduce my friends, because they're fucking awesome people.

First and foremost is my sister. Aside from maybe a five year period in adolescence when the age gap was just too big, we have been joined at the hip our whole lives. We often joke about how convenient it is to have your best friend in the family. But she is not a best friend by default - we have consciously chosen each other for this role. And it works for us.

Second, now in no particular order, is a former colleague. Out of a group of about 75 women in that workplace, she is the one to whom I bonded, and she's stayed a big part of my life for the last eight years, even though I only worked with her for one and a half. Friend, in the spirit of anonymity, I dub thee Cathy.

Next we have my current colleagues, one woman, one man, who are part of the reason I'm able to drag my ass out of bed on -30 degree Celsius days (Canadian, don't forget) and make the hour-long commute to the office. Over six years working together, we've passed from co-workers to great friends who would do anything for each other. And we have done some crazy shit for each other. You shall henceforth be... Kayla and James.

James' wonderful partner, Ross, has been welcomed into the fold with all of us as well. Meeting him for the first time was one of those moments where you feel a certain click and think, 'We shall be friends. Oh yes - we shall be friends indeed.'

Kayla has been on leave from work for a month due to a pretty intense surgery, and James and I have been wallowing ever since. It's not only a familiar, much loved presence that is missing, but also a cog in a well-oiled machine, so we've been sad and frantic at the same time to fill that void in the workplace. 

James, Ross and I went to visit Kayla after work on Friday. She was finally feeling up to visitors and was feeling deprived of socialization as well as suffering from major cabin fever.

After some huge hugs, we established ourselves in an array of comfy chairs in her backyard and got to gabbing. With the gabbing came wine, beers, and two joints, so we were all pretty happy. This is the kind of colleagues we are - all business in the office, we work so well together, but outside the building we switch to friend-mode and anything goes.

Once the usual catching-up of office and personal gossip was out of the way (I absolutely had to fill Kayla in on my wedding story - she was so proud), we turned to some classic games to pass the time.

Would you rather...

The options that popped up here were so hilarious and so bizarre, that I think this is a great way to showcase my friends, and the amazing way their brains work. I'll give you a taste of the Q&A.

Kayla: Would you rather wear your absolute BEST, most flattering outfit every single day and never be able to change... OR... wear frumpy, unflattering, out-of-fashion shit every single day but have variety?

Me: I'd take my best outfit.

James: Okay, but do people acknowledge you're not changing your clothes?

Kayla: Yes. People comment on it and it makes you a total weirdo.

Me: I'd like to change my answer to frumpy variety.

James: Me too. I don't have really frumpy stuff anyway.

Kayla: It's a game, James. In this scenario you do. You'll be in sweatpants at weddings, funerals...

James: Best outfit then.

Next up was this one, again from Kayla, clearly the master of this game.

Kayla: Would you rather... Cut off your finger, any finger - your choice, cook it and eat it... OR... have a dog shit in your mouth continuously for 24 hours?

Group: OOHHH GOD! What the fuck?!

Nobody could answer, so Kayla unpacked the choices for us.

Kayla: Think of it this way - cut off a finger you deem to be the least important, cook it any way you like and consume it, and be without the finger forever, OR keep your fingers and sacrifice one day of your life to something awful and disgusting and traumatic. How much do you value one finger? How fucked up would you be by letting a dog shit in your mouth for that long?

Thanks, Kayla. The choices are very clear now.

Ross: I'd take the dog shit.

James: WHAT? WHY?!

Ross: Because you'd just choke and die and it would all be over.

James: Death?! Then wouldn't you rather just go without a finger?

Ross: That's too hard! Imagine the actual cutting! I'd take the dog, then death would be fast and I wouldn't have to think about either of these two horrible options anymore.

Now THAT is some great logic.

The game then devolved into 'who would you rather fuck,' because I suppose that's the way our brains naturally work. Especially when we're in a group.

We started with tough choices like Channing Tatum versus Chris Pratt, Daniel Craig versus Jason Statham, then got into weirder territory like Tom Cruise versus Mel Gibson (we tried the old "Mel Gibson in Braveheart or Mel Gibson now?" trick, but it was always the celeb in their current state, making the choice that much harder."

For that particular one we got into debates about their beliefs. Which is better? Scary Scientology or Alcoholic antisemitism? Obviously there's no right answer, but Kayla cleared it all up by reminding us "It doesn't matter. It's just a one night thing."

Kayla's boyfriend, Eric, arrived at this moment, just in time for Jack Nicholson versus Sean Connery. Eric, a tall, burly, macho-looking dude, chose Nicholson without hesitation. I had to jump in with a question, because up until this point we were two straight women and two gay men. Nobody was crossing any sexual orientation boundaries by answering.

"But Eric," I asked, "as a straight man playing this game, and having to make a homosexual choice, have you considered whether you are the top or the bottom in this scenario?"

Eric paused a moment. "As a heterosexual man, I think I just assumed I'd be the top."

"Fair," I said. "But would your answers be different if I said you had to be the bottom?"

The conversation was lost to laughter at that point so I don't think I got an answer, but now I'm curious to play this game with more straight guys and get that clarification from someone.

Kayla, the undisputed master now, then came out with this amazing gem.

"Bea Arthur or Miley Cyrus?"

I instinctualy jumped to Miley just based on age, but the others, all hard-core Golden Girls fans, had other ideas. Once the initial laughter subsided and the tears were wiped away, the rest of the group chose Bea Arthur.

"Think about it," said Kayla. "She has a deeper kinda voice, and she'd probably have some shoulder pads to make her a big bigger, more masculine."

By this point I was dying of the giggles at the fact that she had obviously put some thought into this.

"And think of her facial expressions. It'd be priceless."

Kayla was the winner of Would You Rather that day.

Kayla, here's a visual for you. Enjoy.

In summary, my friends are weird and unique and, as demonstrated here, out of the box thinkers. What more could a quirky canuck ask for? If you can't debate which Golden Girl you'd fuck, what kind of friends do you really have? I think the measure of a true friend lies in their ability to help you make tough choices, like eating your finger.

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