Gee, how long have we been friends now? Forty two years. That's a long damn time. We've had our childhood differences. I recall the time at the beach when we were in our early 20's and we actually had a fistfight. I can look back at that now and laugh. God, how tacky! But, I must say, I felt a little better afterward.
We can't do that anymore. Or we don't. I guess we could. I'm not sure who would win. Would it be a long fight? Might be. We disagree on soooooooooo many things.
I can't remember our first real disagreement. Not one of those childhood things about who was spit sisters with who first, or who's sister was the meanest. We put more energy into those debates than anything we've discussed since we were 16.
There were those eye-rolling discussions. That time when you were finished with your dinner and a fly landed on your plate. You managed to kill him and slide him around in your remaining sauce and got a free dinner. You did not share this discount with me. I paid full freight. I'm not sure you even tipped. I also recall times when luck came my way and you demanded that I share. I wanted to share, but I also wanted to punish you for that fly incident.
These days, there are so few things we can talk about. Our children are fair game. Although my kid might have an eating issue, or lice, or difficulty learning how to ride a bike, or a tantrum. And I know as soon as I tell you these things, you will not commiserate with me or ask me for more information. The first thing you will tell me is that your kids NEVER had that problem. Shit. Why did I even bring it up. Oh, yeah. Because I wanted to share.
Religion. Good heavens I would never bring that topic up. And I do thank you for never bringing it up with me. I'm surprised that you haven't. Really. I know that you fear that my child (and the rest of us) will go to hell. I should thank you for never bringing it up, but that would be bringing it up, so I'll say nothing.
Politics. I do like to discuss politics. That's just one of my many annoying features. When was the last time I brought it up? Was that the Bush/Gore election? I'm thinking so. I had the audacity to ask who you were thinking about voting for. You told me you would vote for whoever your brother-in-law suggested, seeing that your Daddy was dead and couldn't tell you anymore. I'm sure I had the What-the-fuck look on my face, but since we were talking on the phone you couldn't see it so we managed to stay friends.
I know I haven't been the best of friends myself. When your mother was dying, I was having the time of my life in college and I wasn't there enough for you. I truly feel awful for that.
Why is it that we can't get personal anymore? I do keep a great deal to myself. I don't have many friends (could that be because of the politics?) so the ones I do have, I like to share my feelings with. When I had the nerve to tell you I was depressed because my artist life sucked and my real life sucked and I hated where I lived and I was having a mid-life crisis and I felt I had no future and all of that and your response was a little grunt and the suggestion that I get a job, I really wanted to say screw you that I real friend would want to talk about it. I just shut up and we talked about your job or store coupons or some shit that had nothing to do with me like most of our conversations go.
I remember a couple of years ago, if we went more than a week without talking on the phone we were shocked. We used to take turns calling each other on Fridays. If someone had to do the calling more than twice in a row the other one was called out. If we did skip a week, then the next conversation was a long one. For the past few months, its been me calling. And you sound so put out when I'm on the other end. I know you're busy. We all are, don't you know? I do think you can spare 10 minutes every other week. That's enough time for you to tell me about your recent bargains.
Does it hurt your feelings that I don't ask you to come visit anymore? It shouldn't. You know you are welcome anytime. I just got tired of asking and hearing really crappy excuses. Its really easy for me to pack it all up and drive six hours each way and visit you and my family every couple of months. However, I do think your five year (or is it six?) absence is a little noticeable.
This last visit was a bit hard on me. I am glad you took a few minutes to come see me at my Dad's house. I know my recent trip was boring for you to hear about. That's why I only talked about it for two or three minutes before you changed the subject to your recent trip. But I'd already heard about that twice, so . . .
And when you asked me about me, I'm not sure what you wanted to hear. I gave you a sentence or two about what I had been doing. You grunted. I guess that meant you were listening. And then I got a repeat of everything your children had been doing. I've heard that three times. I don't think you got the message when I was able to recite their comings and goings. But when you asked about me and what's going on in my life, I thought you meant what I was working on. You've told me all of your work trials and tribulations. So when I ventured that sentence or two about my new artwork, I thought I might get a grunt. No, I really did not expect you to ask me to show you something that I've made. I'm not sure that has ever happened. Of course, I did not expect you to say, "Hey, I'll have a look at your website." Why, oh why, did I not expect that sound of crickets. And the blank face. And then the immediate change of subject.
After 42 years, can't you just be honest and say, "I don't give a shit?" I must say, I'm getting close.
Well, I'm assuming no one has read this whole post. But I sure do feel better now. It's out there. It's written down.
And if you have read this far, we should really get together and discuss religion and politics.