Recently an ‘internet friend’ – a guy I’ve met only once in person—made a genuine offer of assistance at a time when I needed it and that got me thinking.
As always I’m going to ramble around the topic and hopefully get there in the end.
Many years ago I had a conversation with my father about friendship and what it was to have real friends. I think I was in my early twenties. I said something along the lines of My friends will help me bury bodies and go to war with me should the need arise. His response was that this was juvenile and romantic and that real life wasn’t like that.
And I realized he was correct.
But I too was correct.
I lived in London, Ontario at that time with several friends from high-school who were there attending university while I tried to figure out what the fuck I was going to do with my life. At one point there were five of us: Two friends from high-school, two others my friends had met while in university, and myself. My high-school friends were the same dudes I’d been role-playing with for years. One of the other two didn’t role-play and (gently) mocked us as nerds when we did. We’ll call that guy Pete.
One day three of us—myself, Pete, and Rich—were standing around the kitchen making fun of Pete’s habit of eating cereal from a pot when his car alarm suddenly began screaming. Pete was in love with his shitty late-eighties VW Golf and took off after whoever was messing with his baby. Rich and I shared a look (Should we? Yeah.) and followed after him.
Pete caught the culprits first and had launched into a tirade of dire threats when he realized there were three of them and they were no longer running away. In fact, realizing they vastly outnumbered their pursuer, they’d turned to face him.
Oh shit, thought Pete, his stream of profanity dying a quick death.
And then Rich and I arrived on the scene to flank our friend. There was some silly posturing but (thankfully) no one really wanted a fight and they soon fucked off. I might add that I had hair hanging to my ass which I’d died black, a month of stubble, and looked like a sleep-deprived psychotic. Truth is I was and am a teddy-bear; looks can be deceiving.
That day changed our relationship with Pete. Never before had he had friends who would stand at his side for no reason other than he needed us. Prior to that day he had no idea we were that kind of people.
Why did we do it, why did we rush to back up our friend?
Legend. David Gemmell. If you’ve read it you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, go read it.
Twenty years later Pete joins us every Monday to role-play. His understanding of what friends are changed that day. In recent years Pete has saved my bacon in more ways than I’d care to share.
My understanding of friendship may be juvenile and romantic but I’ll take that over reality any day.