Friends with Non-Sexual Benefits

So many, many posts ago I discussed my phase of “email bombing” old friends and people I went to high school with. Well as part of my whole attempting to push myself into living life and behaving more like a member of the human race I have had three pseudo-dates with old friend flames… some more successful than others, so lets take a moment to dissect the carcass of my friendships.

The first date occurred with my best friend from high school who I haven’t seen for roughly 8 years. We were part of a group of 4 and 2 of the members including Sarah M the friend in question had a relatively successful high school rock band. Yes I was part of one of those groups of people, my job in the group was to be the girl in a tight top with large knockers in the front row since I had no musical talent to speak ok. Sadly as is common with temperamental egotistical musicians the band had a falling out over each other’s boyfriends and paths to follow leaving one member to forge a small independent music career in London and the other left here attending University and spending time with me. We were inseparable and she was one of the handful of friends who actually spent time with my mum over the course of our friendship and grew to appreciate her quirkiness and childlike charm. I can’t even remember why we stopped talking, it was probably one of my hermit periods where I didn’t talk to anyone and it just carried on forever because neither of us made an attempt to get in touch.

So 8 odd years later thanks to the wonder of Facebook I found myself sitting at one of the small awkward tables at the Dome Cafe in Mount Lawley, looking anxiously out the window for my old friend. Eventually I spotted her strolling across the lights, her once bright red boy cut was now a conservative brunette bob and her grungy leather pants had been replaced by post pregnancy pants and buttoned up blouse. I dare say she looked like an adult ( and new mother to an 8 month old girl). In a moment of sheer panic I visually asses my outfit in the window’s reflection. For some reason I have managed to put together the most nauseatingly juvenile outfit known to man. Separate pieces that may work on their own but together look like I am auditioning to be the new bass player for Hole. Seriously, black dress with short sleeves that are too short to cover my new arm tattoos… a belt o chunky it looks like I got it off, red sunglasses that with this outfit look like I’m crying “overage Lolita” and worst of all….what really gave me that extra shot of self loathing adrenaline, I had on Blue fucking nail polish. No Joke, I had tried it on a few nights ago and forgot to take it off. So as my mature friend walked towards me I imagined her image of me as someone how was hanging on by a thread like it was 1998 all over again.

She greeted me warmly, perhaps I can salvage this I think to myself with some of my irreverent Enid charm and humour… so of course I say “wow those are some lovely breasts you have there…being a mum agrees with you” OH MY FRICKEN GOD just remembering that I said that is making me sweat buckets at my laptop. WHAT WAS I THINKING. Sure this is my type of odd comment I make all the time that people who actually know me and spend time with me found oddly endearing “oh that wacky Bernie is saying strange things again” It is however not an appropriate thing to say immediately to someone who hasn’t been around your personality for 8 fucking years. She immediately turned red and kept readjusting her blouse for the remainder of our coffee time. Ok so you are probably thinking humble reader that after the initial disaster I dazzled her with my warm heart and interesting conversation. Well not really, for some reason I decided to tell her this whole story about how I was experiencing a depressive episode and had resigned from my job and was seeing a shrink again. When I realised that this wasn’t fun conversation I attempted to steer the conversation towards old memories from our high school days only to fail again because every memory I brought up reminded her of something horrific eg her parent’s divorce and her failed relationship with her first love. So if you are keeping score I am currently 0 for 4.

As a method of last resort I turned to her daughter, asking questions and grabbing a lovely gift I had bought for her from under the table…Ahh classic move, Bernie: Attempting to buy acceptance and affection since 1989. That could be the title of my memories or at least a monologue. The present went down a treat and I was mildly interested in hearing about her child. Actually this would have to be the first instance in history where I was actually disappointed a friend didn’t bring their baby on an outing given that my fear of children under the age of 1 may have led me to behave more appropriately. At one gushing stage she pulled out her iPhone and started showing me pictures of her daughter to which I ooowwed and ahhhed appropriately. It became awkward when she let go of the phone entirely leaving me with a photo gallery of over 600 photos of her spawn. After 10 minutes of looking as she kept talking I felt like a bomb detonator, how long did I have to hold this fucking thing to prevent our coffee date from self-destruction. Soon she said “you don’t have to look at them all” and laughed, but of course the sadist in me felt silly taking the out immediately and I lied that I was enjoying looking at them…torturing myself for another 5 minutes.

Somehow three hours had passed since I initially humiliated myself and my pseudo date announced she had to head home and cook dinner for her husband and friends. I don’t think I have ever cooked dinner for another couple…another adult failing of mine. We parted on friendly terms and she seemed to have partially enjoyed her time with me… but on my way home I was overcome with an image of my dear friend running into the arms of her successful accountant husband in her 4X2 suburban house, with her little baby girl by her side and thanking the lord she didn’t end up like that blue nail polish wearing freak from her high school years. We have maintained sms contact since then but I am yet to receive that elusive invite to her house she mentioned…something tells me I had better not hold my breath

The second pseudo date was a lunch at an old friend from my check- out chick days who I hadn’t seen since my wedding nearly three years ago and before that probably another three years. Her name is Tash and she is one of those women who even thought she quite a bit younger than me I completely admire and hope that one day if I ever get over my issues I can be like. She just has it together.. not in a creepy Stepford way but in a confident, caring, I can take what life throws at me and move on kind of way. I can’t even handle when they change the chocolate in a kit kat bar over winter. The lunch date went off without a hitch, I listened eagerly as she told me about her two young children and her new partner, their renovation plans and her hobbies.. which include very adult sounding things such as Pilates on Monday, pole dancing class (for exercise purposes apparently) on Tuesdays and playing volleyball with her husband on Wednesdays. You know how I fill my nights? watching television shows on dvd, writing on this blog and stalking people on facebook..and as for sporting activities with my husband, the only activity my husband and I share on a semi regular basis is a shower and that is not for erotic/romantic bonding purposes, it’s the only place we can talk about movies without being interrupted by our needy, neurotic pack of dogs. I think that is the saddest sentence I’ve ever written. Of course I tell Tash nothing of this..I learnt from my previous mistake with Sarah. I will consider this date a success because I kept my crazy at bay..we had good conversation and due to her busy schedule she will be the perfect friend I see every now and then. I’ve done it! I can add someone else to the friends roster.

Finally we have my drinks date with one of my oldest friends, another girl named Sarah who I met in 6th grade and have had an on again off again friendship with ever since. You might think of us as the Ross and Rachel of female friends. The last contact I had with Sarah was an apology text sent after she abused me by text for a solid hour over my relationship with Andrew and how I wasn’t a good friend. Now call me what you will..Enid, Bernie, Crazy, but I really don’t think in all my life I’ve been a bad friend to anyone and for someone who is as down on herself and self-deprecating as I am to admit that makes it true in my book. I accepted her apology because basically I’m too friendly (read: gutless) to hold a grudge but we haven’t spoken since that incident in 2006. So one Saturday night I found myself knocking at her door, the very same door I had visited as an 11-year-old girl, bottle of wine in hand ready to see if we still had the illusive “it” that kept us friends for so long. I am happy to report we do still have “it”. We really are an odd couple because Sarah is in a lot of ways everything I can’t stand in other people, she is gorgeous, thin, no financial hang ups thanks to the money trickling in from her parents and she says things like “I never buy things on sale..there is a reason they are on sale” and yet I can’t hate her…believe me I’ve tried. My husband asked has she brought up the way she treated you the last time you were friends? and I told him No… we have known each other long enough to know that the key to a long-term friendship is denial of the past and the ability to resist eye rolling at each other. Since our initial get together I’ve seen her once a week and I have to say it’s been nice, so I guess that is a victory to the small, small part of me that isn’t a hermit freak. Look forward to future entries filled with social humiliation if I am to believe my new/old friend’s dream to take me to some of Perth’s “hip” 25 and over bars… I recall her elaborate description of one such place where an acquaintance of her’s is a “cage dancer.”



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