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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Chapter One Hundred Forty-Eight, in which Friends abound

Our book blogging friend Litlove recently posted some thoughts on Literary Friendships. A brief comment was not enough to contain our divergent thoughts about the subject. When one is young, it is easy to walk up to another youth and say, "Let's be friends," and so be it. Why isn't this possible when one grows older?

Imagine two good friends of several years, Paco and Abundio: Paco is going to get married, and he wants Abundio to be his best man. Abundio graciously declines, and then proceeds to not even attend the wedding. Paco decides never to speak to him again.

What kind of friendship is this, if any? Who's behavior is more unfriendly, Paco's or Abundio's? Does it matter why Abundio does not attend the wedding? Perhaps he is uncomfortable at parties. Perhaps he is embarrassed by his lack of formalwear. Perhaps he has a secret crush on the bride. Perhaps he thinks weddings are a silly social custom. Perhaps he is hurt that what used to be Paco's friend-time will now be wife-time. Perhaps he merely got lost of the way to the chapel.

Should Paco forgive Abundio? If a friendship is based on one single act, is it really a friendship? What if Paco is offended? What if Paco suspects Abundio of coveting his wife?Is it wrong for Paco to expect Abundio to attend his wedding? Or should Paco be able to expect everything of his friend? If Paco asks Abundio to do something he does not want to do, is Paco really a friend? Is it selfish of Abundio to not attend Paco's wedding? Is it selfish for Paco to expect Abundio to do something that is not true to his nature? Is Abundio deceiving a friend if he attends Paco's wedding when he doesn't really want to?

Someone reads this blog: is she a friend? Someone reads this blog and occasionally exchanges an email: is he a friend? Someone reads this blog, regularly exchanges emails, and speaks on the phone: is she a friend? Someone vacations with us, but never reads our blog: is he a friend? Are coworkers friends: if one only works with them? if one has an after-work drink with them? if one plays street basketball with them? If we invite our neighbor out to dinner, is he a friend? If we invite him to dinner at our house, is he a friend? If he takes care of our llama and mail while we are out of town, is he a friend? When does an acquaintance become a friend? Are there specific criteria to classify a person as a friend?

If a friend is someone who subjects one to long periods of silence and careless remarks, is she a friend one would want to keep? Why do people find it so difficult to match Emerson's expectations of a friend? Do people generally prefer making friends to keeping them? Can a dog be a person's best friend? Can some indulgent friend help us figure all this out?


  1. Ah Quillhill, you state the problem of defining friendship most eloquently. I thought about this for a while, and eventually the best I could come up with was this: people vary wildly in their behaviour, so sometimes the friend who emails once a month may be as good a friend as the one you see in the cafe once a week. It's just a question of their habits. So I think that behaviour can be misleading. Friends are the people who awaken a particular quality of warmth, reliance, respect and affection in your heart, and the people you would trust to give you whatever you need, be it a listening ear or a helping hand. I suppose in that case a friend would need to be someone with whom you have a strong mutual understanding. Ok, I'll stop here before I write another post!

  2. Great post! I think there's a dramatic difference between people you would refer to as a friend and people who are true friends. I always class my true friends as the one's who are there through the bad times aswell as the good and I've proved this with my own 'friends' slowly discovering who the few 'true' friends are. And those are the friends I appreciate the most.