Over the past three Harbour seasons, I have learned a lot about friendship– namely, how difficult it is to maintain even cursory relationships when you’re otherwise occupied drowning in the chaos you call your job. Don’t get me wrong: I value my friendships and wish that I could be a much more stellar and reliable amiga. However, for my own sanity and cognitive well-being, I’ve got to start accepting the fact that– for the most part– I am a flaky, preoccupied, over-stimulated, sleep-deprived, sad and sorry excuse for a compadre.
Let’s not mince our words here, shall we?
Sometimes I err on the side of optimism and believe that I’ll have time to “catch up” with my friends during the off-season. During the summer months, I keep guilty tabs on everyone who will need phoning and make lists of all the neglectful wounds that will need patching up come October, but suddenly it’s April again and I’m still as terrible a friend as I’ve been for the past three years. What gives? In the past month alone, I have unintentionally committed three grievous Friendship Code Violations– I didn’t call my best friend on her birthday, I didn’t RSVP to the same friend’s wedding invitation by the specified deadline (even though I had months to ponder my reply), and I didn’t even phone my youngest sister on her birthday last week. Yep. Optimism be damned: I am a rotten, stinking, no-good friend. 😦
Here’s the good news, though:
Rather than beat myself up over my lack of social reciprocity or my severe deficits in normal engagement levels, I’ve decided to use my weaknesses to my advantage and become a Horrible Friend Coach. Yes! I’ve got all the experience and tools you’ll need to have yourself deleted from every former friend’s day timer, address book, birthday calendar, or newfangled iPhone. I’ve even distilled my vast knowledge and years of expertise down into three simple, easy-to-follow steps! If you try my program and don’t experience 100% friend loss, I’ll even refund your money– no questions asked!
Wow! Be a GREAT Bad Friend!
Step 1: Get a job at the Inner Harbour!
Make sure you give yourself super long hours and stupid amounts of work to do. Don’t take any days off unless it is raining goats outside, and even then, use the precious hours away from work to run all the errands you don’t have time to do otherwise (groceries, laundry, banking, cooking, cleaning, sleeping?, etc.). Forget about weekends. Forget about “hanging out”. Forget about attending birthdays, weddings, funerals, baby showers, stag/ettes, or doing anything remotely resembling “fun”. In fact, forget you even know what “fun” is. (That last part will come naturally, don’t worry.)
Step 2: Make well-intentioned (but empty) promises and set unrealistic expectations of yourself!
Definitely tell everyone you know that you will call them in November (or get together for tea, or go out for dinner with them– whatever. The details don’t really matter here– the point is to make “plans” with people and to create a false sense of hope.) We’re not just playing with other people’s hearts here, though– no. In order for this program to work effectively, you have to set your standards bar unbelievably high, too. Believe that you will, indeed, follow up with all of these people and attend all of these future engagements. Fill your heart (and theirs) with optimism! You’re a good friend! People like you!
… Then wait until November. By then, your nerves will be frayed and your eardrums will be begging for silence. You’ll have experienced months of noise– people, buskers, boat engines, float planes, festivals, children, seagulls, and cell phones– so the last thing you will want to do is call anyone, let alone meet anybody in person somewhere public, aka noisy. At this point, you can take your bar of standards down from its lofty perch, clothesline your friends with it, and then take a stab (ha) at impaling yourself with it. The disappointment of letting other people down will be painful, but then again, so was listening to various buskers sing ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ 8 million times during the summer. It’s all relative.
Disclaimer: If any of your friends will happily attend a silent retreat with you come winter, The Best Worst Friend program is considered null and void.
Step 3: Move!
Maybe you’ve done a half-decent job of keeping in contact with your friends over the winter months, and maybe you’ve even made good on some of your phone call/tea/dinner promises. If you’re serious about burning bridges and losing friendships, though, the best thing to do is pack up all of your belongings and completely uproot yourself! So what if you just moved in December? It’s April now– move again!
Most of your friends probably have birthdays and wedding anniversaries in April, anyway, so it will be perfect timing for you not to have any phone or internet access. Keep ’em guessing! Did she really not have internet/phone access, or was she just being her regular Bad Friend self by not phoning on my birthday? Who’s to say?
Take it from me: you’ll be so busy packing, unpacking, cleaning, and oh yes, working at the Harbour!– you won’t have much time for frivolous things like “friendships”. A big part of you will feel sad and like you’re missing out on the most important aspect of life, but don’t let it get to you. We’re all good at something in this lifetime, and maybe you’re just an All-Star Horrible Friend. Own it!
Pitiful ed. note: I have been wracked with guilt about my non-availability and my non-awesome friendship skills lately. To my friends in real life: thank you for your understanding and for your continued ability to take my super crazy schedule in stride. To my online friends: thank you for being my friend! (And consider yourselves lucky that you only have to deal with Flaky Online Me, and not Flaky In-Person Me, too. Heh.)