ETA: This entry is all about friends. For more information on friends and friendship, please refer to the video below:

Recently I’ve found opportunities to weasel my way into outings to some movies showing during the New Zealand International Film Festival with my flatmates and their friends.

And it’s occurred to me what a boon it is that I’ve got flatmates, particularly flatmates that I get along with.

Because I don’t remember how to make friends or even really meet people in a general sense at all.

I grew up in a relatively small community next to good ol’ Austin, Texas. I had the same group of friends when I was 18 and getting ready to leave for good ol’ Austin College that I had when I was 10 and getting ready to leave elementary school.

I've been friends with the lady on the far left since I was about six.

I've been friends with the lady on the far left since I was about six.

And even then, good ol’ Austin College does the best job it can of setting up little play dates for incoming freshmen for the first month or so.

I met each of these people through artificial school-enforced meetings

I met each of these people through artificial school-enforced meetings

So I can’t remember the last time I was stuck in a situation where I was expected to introduce myself to strangers and make friends using nothing but my oh-so-stunning personality.

Two things that seem very strange to me:

1) Making chatty conversation with unsuspecting strangers whose only crime was being in my immediate vicinity.

My chronic nervousness when speaking to strangers is generally overcome by desperate attempts to make other people laugh–I become very uncomfortable when other people aren’t laughing very quickly. To that end, it’s very unfortunate that, for the most part, I don’t seem to be particularly funny. Everything I say to a new person either tends to be too safe and therefore boring and unfunny or relies too much on other people having the same sense of humor as me (which, as far as strangers go, they almost invariably don’t) and as a result seems very odd.

But I’m too bored and uncomfortable with normal small talk. So I doubt I’ll ever work on that issue.

2) Transitioning from “person who is sometimes okay to talk to in X situation” to “person I am willing to call to invite for an evening out or over for dinner and movie watching or whatever it is that people who have friends do.”

I’m not comfortable with being the person to initiate communication (seems a bit desperate, doesn’t it? Initiating friendships? Especially when you are, in fact, desperate for social contact) and you really can’t rely on other people to make themselves your friends FOR you (NB: this is completely different in every way from asking all of your friends to make contact with a stranger on the internet on your behalf in an attempt to make new friends. Obviously, that is very different and TOTALLY ACCEPTABLE and NOT AT ALL WEIRD IN ANY WAY). I have a lot of acquaintances, friends of friends, boy/girlfriends of friends, etc. who I get along with very well but don’t really spend any time with outside of situations where random chance throws us together.

Being me, I turned to Google, Our Dear and Glorious Leader, for advice on the whole friend-getting situation. I was given the following pieces of advice:

1) You don’t have to be a superstar to be fun. You don’t even have to do cartwheels.

2) Buy an above ground swimming pool.

3) Talk to older people, maybe even your own folks. They will be less likely to ridicule you.

I’ve also been instructed to never talk about the weather. Normally, I’d ignore this advice as I talk about the weather with actual friends, but they cited a Tom Waits song as evidence as to why this was a bad idea. I’m certainly not going to refute a man who sings exclusively in a werwolf language of his own devising:

It is entirely possible that my obsession with old time-y leaves me with two friend options:

weird old man

weird old man

or

incredibly annoying hipster

incredibly annoying hipster

or wherever the twain shall meet. So, something like

member of a barbershop quartet

member of a barbershop quartet

which, let’s face it, is basically the perfect ideal.

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