notes on a napkin
I don't know everything about friendships, but as I hung up the phone the other night, the anxiety that was beginning to make a home for itself in my stomach fizzled. He's always had a way of doing that. Some people's particularities scratch the itches of life for us; rare traits not seen by others, demons that play well together.
I loosened the grip on the tub of a cacao-cashew concoction that tasted of forgotten college pig-outs. As I stood there, spoon in hand, I grabbed one of those white dotted napkin and started jotting down some of the chemistry that I had witnessed over the years:
The One and Only Moody: If you don't have a Hank Moody in your life, you're missing out. If you don't know who Hank Moody is, then you don't have one in your life. Moody, the protagonist of the TV series Californication, is erratic, smart, and scandalous. A “fabulous f-ck up.” The next best thing may be a Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother, but mej—not the same. It's carrot fries to the original potatoes. The glory is in the naughty calories, my friends. Unfortunately, I can't tell you where to find these people. I suspect that a Moody bond is made young when their wisdom has yet to form, and you haven’t come around to question why we you’re friends. This is probably the hook to why they love you; you just stuck—like popcorn butter oil on your favorite hoodie. Anyway, one time, my Moody showed up on a Friday night, middle of the evening, fully dressed for a date. Slightly off his usual splendor, he went in the kitchen for a snack and came back to tell me the story of why he'd cut it short. I could tell he was pissed, but he snapped out of it after the one vent. We ordered some food, got a movie, and didn't mention it again. Soon after, I found myself sinking into a bad moment, our eyes locked from across the room. He came over, pinched my shirt, and told me it was time to go. I could tell he was pissed, but he was quiet until we arrived at this dinky little spot where he ordered snacks. Like the night on my couch, with little fear or patience for my immaturities, he set me straight over tacos with truths that flushed my face and made my stomach turn. In time, you learn that Moody's calls aren't ones you should answer over speakerphone, serving as the verbal equivalent to a shot of whiskey. A friend of mine said she'd never had a Hank Moody-type friend. True. They are a special breed, but it’s only because dreamers and tender hearts need Bukowski-esque sass and vice versa. We save each other from our bullshit. A symbiotic relationship, a trade-off of insights otherwise unavailable to the opposing party. As he often says, "Wine is fine, but whiskey is faster." If you find a Moody in your midst, save yourself the 20 years, and let the whiskey do its job.
The Other: For character, you need a friend who other people don’t get, possibly even question--kind of like friendship mistresses. Nothing toxic, merely a harmless weirdo who is very much ‘your people’ in the quietest of ways. Someone who gets the unchanging essence that is you, who knows why you hate marshmallows, and knows about that weird song that you blast in your car. Someone who knows your other side, whether it’s dorky, nerdy, or even soft. If you have one of these secret soul touchers, good for you. A reminder that we can belong in different places. It’s the kind of person who replies to those stupid email questionnaires about you and answers the ones you weren’t even sure about yourself. You know, the ones who listen.
The Boomerang: Ahhh, the boomerang, the one who finds their way back. The boomerang is an uncomfortable reminder that what is coming is better than what is gone. Boomerangs are subtle hints that the universe can be trusted; almost validating the seasons. It’s wizardry to throw something out into the air and have it come back. It proves that stuff happens for good reason and sometimes, stuff does last. What boomerangs teach us is that time and magic don’t need our help.
The Pedestal: Still thinking about Moody, huh? You can google him when we are done. The pedestal is one we all have because we are all in awe of someone. Someone who always breezed through the things that perplexed you; who is, in truth, something of an anomaly to us. I have a friend who I sometimes consider to be superhumanly simple and focused. I wish I could drain the emotional discipline and focus right out of her. But then, I remember the first time that I saw her freak out. I starred at her like one of those weird looking animals they film in the abyss. I almost had a melt down myself. What was this? But I focused and walked her through it, like she’d done so many times before. When someone that you admire, admires you back, it’s a beautiful, nerdy, tingly lil’ thing that is enjoyed by the kid in all of us. It’s getting invited to the sleepover you had your eye on, ya know?
We are who are, and some folk are just our folk. They’re sent your way. Cherish ‘em.