This is the second installment of Patrick’s three-part instructional series on acquiring, defining, and maintaining friendship. Read part one here.
I’m to meet someone whom I’ve met before and I’m terrified. What will we say to each other? Will we sit in silence? Will we, by the end of this next meeting, truly come to loathe one another? It’s possible.
It’s likely I’ve avoided the issue of discussing this looming meeting for superstitious reasons. Well, no. I’m not a superstitious person but I am superstitious about being superstitious. For instance, if I were to see an unhinged and propped ladder I would either: 1. avoid it and think how silly it is that I avoided it; or 2. barge right under it with proverbial fingers crossed hoping against hope that none of those superstitious idiots whom I’ve never trusted could possibly be right. And they can’t be. I’ve already said it. They’re idiots.
Pick up a black cat, smash a mirror, deny all wood knocking. Let the actor go on stage without a word. (The word [rather, words], if you’re curious, are “break a leg” for some reason. I’m sure we could both go look up their origin, which I currently couldn’t care less about.)
But I do look them up. I just have. And for twenty minutes I read account after account of horrible things happening to actors who were not told to break their legs before taking the stage. Horrible things include death. Actors, who were not told by their friends or people they’ve met who might’ve become their friends to snap some part of at least one leg bone, died. Ostensibly because of this verbal omission. These are the best cases.
But they didn’t die because they weren’t told this abracadabra bullshit. And I won’t. Die that is. But I might. But it’s unlikely. It’s the unlikeliest of things that I will die tomorrow when I meet this person who may or may not otherwise become my friend.
And for those of you who’ve found in reading these ramblings no place to assign yourself any sense of fellowship I say: we won’t be friends, I promise, so don’t concern yourself with the prospect, but you should enjoy your confidence. I’m sure it’s benefiting your ambition wildly. Also, all my gratitude for the evils of the world you provoke and keep in good repair. You can fuck off with Mikael and the rest of them.
Okay, okay. That’s a bit harsh. I’m just nervous about tomorrow and how I might die.
I intend to report back from the other side. Not the afterlife, just after the meeting.
I said I’d return and I have. Clearly I haven’t died, but sarcastically, now, I almost wish that I had.
These few days later I’m not dead but in a cabin (or a beach house? [or a cross between the two]) sitting across from the person I met at the bar, and we’re friends. I know we are. How we both ended up here, and not through serendipity (though it feels slightly as such) I can’t be certain. What I’m not agog to get at is how this will turn out.
Maybe I’ll die here. Still, like before, this is unlikely. Though it feels much more likely than when I’d been at the bar. But no. I won’t die here.
Well, I might. There is a large body of somewhat threatening water all of a few hundred feet from me. From us. From my friend and me.
They’re cracking wise and I’m cracking back and all’s well and it’s a sweet scene with a humidor much closer than a few hundred feet and closer still a friend.
To die wouldn’t be so bad. Rather, it would be the worst eventuality imaginable, but babies are stillborn every day. If I were to die now I should paint myself lucky in comparison.
“If we were all responsible for everything that happened to people that we’d had anything to do with, well it’d be very awkward wouldn’t it?”
“Oh yes, very awkward.”
“Awkward indeed. I’m glad you agree. What’s more, I was thinking before we boarded the train together this morning that I might be dead by now.”
“What would kill you?”
“I despise a tenacious line of inquiry but now I must know and will ask again: What would have killed you that clearly hasn’t?”
“I think we should just be acquaintances.”
“But I’ve worried so long and so greatly and now this? You abandon me here near the humidor without a key to unlock the Cuban delights smuggled in under the very noses of… Oh you’ve left.”
This is likely how that conversation would go.
But she sits across from me, not having this conversation, seemingly enjoying my various quasi-philosophical assertions. She avers that it was a good idea we boarded the train this morning. I sense she would like to be my friend. I’m likely wrong. An acquaintance of mine, who happens to be a friend of hers, is unlocking the humidor and I have to stop here as I’m being asked what sort of cigar I’d like.
To be continued…
Patrick Benjamin is a writer living near Los Angeles. He lives with his sister and grandmother.