Remember that ‘lightbulb’ moment I described, two or three posts ago, the one about not having to spend time with people who are as interesting as watching paint dry, once you’re middle-aged and cantankerous courageous enough to know better? I still stand by that principle, but where I’ve come a little unstuck recently, is the bit about not faking it anymore to make new friends. That’s bollocks!
Allow me to eat my words and regurgitate them for you in a more succinct way. And in future, please ignore any misguided detour on my part towards inspirational rambling because it’s not who I am. Sometimes the hormones or the age thing f*ck with my head and I have the desire to grow up and appear intelligent. I obviously fake it as a blogger as well as a friend.
You see, I’ve met someone. And I’m as strung out about it as a bitch on heat. This might even be my first middle-aged girl crush, because in spite of all that mature, newly-discovered wisdom about ‘pruning the tree’ that I spouted on about in the other post, I’ve fallen foul of my own, retrospectively, ill-founded advice, sold my social soul to the devil, and found myself in the embarrassing situation of needing social acceptance again.
To be honest, I would drink my own urine if I thought it would help me remove the feeling of neediness that I feel in the presence of this person. I’m usually the strong controlling type, not some blathering sychophant.
The problem is, a ‘potential’ bestie has walked into my life, (which as you know is as rare as cheap flights in school holidays), so I’m back in the saddle, whoring for friendship. Because, as we all know, soul mates just don’t walk into your life every day. I’m mentally back in Loserville High, being tortured in the playground, grovelling for acceptance.
We recently met for lattes. I obviously feigned the whole aloof thing, ‘treating her mean’, pretending that it was lucky that I had found a ‘window’ for us to meet, (when in reality, I had been religiously checking for her texts on an hourly basis). When she finally walked into the cafe, it took all my self control not to launch my full bodyweight at her and lick her face with gratitude for actually turning up.
I realized that I needed to impress her, this new and exciting BFF, in the presence of whom I felt completely so not worthy and extremely inadequate. (Mainly because she’s much funnier than me, and prettier; so by rights I should hate her. And did I mention that she’s also socially way out of my league, knowing all these fancy-scmancy, knobby-sounding social-climbers (I’m sure) who are probably half way up their own arses and who I would never get on with even if she did take pity and invite us to one of her swanky dinner parties? And I’d obviously have to leave the old man at home, because I’m sure they wouldn’t serve beefburgers).
I ordered a skim so she’d think I was healthy and fashionably organic; she had full-fat because she’s just so frigging comfortable in her own skin (bee-atch).
And then things started to go wrong. ‘Faking it’ has a limited shelf-life.
An hour into my repertoire of wit, to demonstrate just how freaking AMAZING I really am, my best fake awesomeness suddenly began to wilt with my energy, (embarrassingly if I’m honest), and the old fugly-girl-in-the-playground fear grew that I was about to say something quite boring, (or even worse, RUN OUT OF CONVERSATION completely). The pressure was frankly worse than trying to come up with a punchy line on Twitter.
And I realized that I had made a social faux-pas, in that I hadn’t asked her about ‘her’ AT ALL, and although she was looking politely on, I could tell she was disappointed in the real me, (whoever that is?). I hadn’t listened or made her feel important. Epic fail. I had let myself down, and I had let Dale Carnegie down. My conversation had been all about ‘awesome me’, who turned out to be not quite so awesome.
And as my fake confidence shattered into a hundred pieces, she began to fill my pregnant pauses; awkwardly.
And I had another lightbulb moment. And I realised that friendship needs to be on an equal footing, not living in someone’s shadow. And hero-worship is the most fragile platform on which to build it.
“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”