The last time I really tried to make friends with a guy I was invited to join him for a cup of coffee at a local Starbucks. In simply being deemed as friend-worthy, I was enthralled. To be honest, it had been a while since I had been invited to spend time with another man and here was my opportunity to make a good first impression. Unfortunately the best thing that can be said about my first impressions is that they’re long lasting.
After my potential friend failed to specify which Starbucks to meet him in, I found myself desperately barging into every one of the neighborhood’s half dozen Starbi’s (my understanding of how to pluralize Starbucks) and still attempt to act cool by perhaps casually combing my hair back and resting my arm on a bookshelf before it would collapse and spill three pounds of coffee beans on the floor.
“Hey!” I would then yell and sort of laugh. “What was that all about?!”
Hearing or recognizing no response, I would then slowly back out the door until I abruptly realized the door needed to be pulled open from the inside instead of pushed.
My wife, who was then my girlfriend, picked out my outfit for the man-date. I was just too nervous. Luckily she advised me not to wear my corduroy jumpsuit and instead dressed me in casual jeans and a t-shirt.
“Ah,” I said. “What a brilliant rouse this is!” before she slapped me in the face.
“You just have to be yourself.” She told me.
Judging from the series of impatient text messages, it seemed as though my new friend was getting ready to call it quits. Just when I thought I had ran out of Starbi’s to visit, I found my potential friend waiting at the last one.
He sat in a leather seat across from a bench reading a book of poetry by Art Garfunkel. After I bent over to attempt a high five he turned it awkwardly into a handshake and had me sit down.
Looking relaxed, I realized, is very difficult to do when you have to sit on a bench across from someone sitting in a leather recliner. With my shoulders hunched forward, I waited for him to finish reading the poem he had just started before he began speaking.
“Let me tell you something Zack.” He said almost immediately. “Don’t get married. I know you probably love this girl and all that but if you ever get married it’s like having your wings clipped.”
I wondered briefly if he was speaking from experience, and then realizing that he wasn’t I also realized that I wasn’t invited on the basis of a friend request at all, but on the basis of being tutored by someone who considered himself a professional at life.
Having been ring shopping earlier that week, I had already decided who my best friend already was. The people who really care don’t need to impress me with the prose of any Simon or Garfunkel. They are people who tell me that all I have to be is to be myself. Finding new friends isn’t easy, but in being yourself it just seems to happen naturally.